Sandys, John Edwin. Orationes Et Epistolae Cantabrigienses. London: Macmillan, 1910, 3-4.
J. E. Sandys: Oration at Cambridge University Upon the Awarding of the Mus. Doc. to Joseph Joachim, March 8, 1877
QUAE abhinc annos triginta in hac ipsa curia, coram Alberto Principe Cancellario nostro admodum deflendo, coram ipsa Regina nemini nostrum non dilecta, hunc, vixdum e pueris egressum, eximios cantus fidibus modulantem audivit; eadem Academia virum, per omnem Europam inter principes totius artis musicae iam diu numeratum, hodie reducem salvere iubet. Hodie nobis redditus est Orpheus, —utinam ipsa etiam adesset Eurydice;  nunc iterum, ut poëtae verbis utar quem Cremonae vicina genuit Mantus, Academi in silvis Orpheus
‘obloquitur numeris septem discrimina vocum
iamque eadem digitis, iam pectine pulsat eburno.’ 
Quid dicam de illis qui inter fautores tanti ingenii olim exstiterunt, de viris sempiternae memoriae Mendelssohnio et Schumanno? Nobis autem tamquam triplici vinculo hospitii coniunctus est Regiae Academiae Artium apud Berolinenses Professor, trium deinceps Professorum Cantabrigiensium amicus, primum Thomae Attwood Walmisley, deinde Wilelmi Sterndale Bennett, denique illius qui nuper horum sacrorum antistes a vobis est creatus,
Tantis igitur gloriatur praeceptoribus ars illa, quae in solitudine consolatur, in turba delectat vitaeque communis societatem iucundiorem reddit; quae fessos recreat, aegrotantibus, si non ipsam dare salutem (sicut olim insanienti Hebraeorum regi), auxilium tamen aliquatenus ferre hodie conatur; quae ipsum Dei cultum adiuvat, et intimos animi affectus exprimit, ipsa intima numerorum cantuumque nixa scientia. Quid autem si ars tanta Musarum nomine vere digna, in hac etiam Musarum domo quasi in ordinem redacta atque via quadam et ratione alumnis nostris tradita, inter severiora nostra studia sedem suam aliquando vindicabit? Quid si, inter tot ‘tripodas, praemia fortium,’ novam quandam laureolam Apollini Musagetae dedicare volueritis? Interim huic Apollinis ministro quem ipsum prope appellaverim Arcitenentem, huic interpreti certe divinorum in arte sua virorum Sebastiani Bach et Ludovici Beethoven; qui magnus ipse vates magnorum vatum memoriam non sinit interire;  hanc lauream nostram Apollinarem, hunc titulum Doctoris in Musica, donare licet: qui honos numquam antehac ab ulla Academia Britannica habitus est alienigenae, uno illo excepto, qui nascentis mundi primordia immortali cantu consociavit, Iosepho Haydn. 
At enim Λίνον μὲν ἐπ᾽ εὐτυχεῖ μολπᾷ Φοῖβος ἰαχεῖ, τὸν κάλλειφθιτόν
κιθάραν ἐλαύνων πλήκτρῳ χρυσέῳ. 
Gravamur hodie abesse popularem huius viri, alterum Musarum Teutonicarum decus, virum in difficillimo musicae genere facillimum, Iohannem Brahms. Quamquam autem ipse fato iniquo procul retentus est, carmen illius egregium quod ‘fatorum’ nuncupatur vesperi audietis; audietis etiam novum opus, quo non modo ceteros omnes sed se ipsum superasse dicitur. Post tot triumphos nemo negabit tanto viro consentaneam esse requiem. Ceterum quo maiore animi aegritudine illum absentem desideramus, eo elatiore gaudio praesentem salutamus Iosephum Ioachim.
 “Then the herald drew near, leading the good minstrel, whom the Muse loved above all other men, and gave him both good and evil; of his sight she deprived him, but gave him the gift of sweet song.” Homer, Od. Viii 61.
 Overture on the death of the patriot-poet Heinrich von Kleist, composed for this occasion.
Oil Portrait by John Singer Sargent Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto
Therefore I summon age To grant youth’s heritage
—Robert Browning, Rabbi Ben Ezra
n the evening of May 16, 1904, a brilliant and distinguished audience gathered at Queen’s Hall, London, to celebrate the “Diamond Jubilee” of Joseph Joachim’s English début. Outside on Langham Place, a crush of nearly 2,500 admirers in gala attire emerged from their carriages, or arrived on foot from after-dinner strolls down Regent Street, jostling to enter the ornate, high-ceilinged auditorium, home to the “Proms” concerts, then under the direction of their popular, 35-year-old conductor, Henry J. Wood. Among the evening’s subscribers were more than six hundred eminences from the arts, literature and politics.
In the three score years since the Monday in May 1844 when the chubby little Hungarian boy had given his historic début in London’s Hanover Square Rooms, Joachim had been the unrivalled favorite of the British public. “From early childhood Joachim never appeared on a platform without exciting, not only the admiration, but the personal love of his audience,” his friend Florence May observed. “His successes were their delight. They rejoiced to see him, to applaud him, recall him, shout at him. The scenes familiar to the memory of three generations of London concert-goers were samples of the everyday incidents of his life in all countries and towns where he appeared. Why? It is impossible altogether to explain such phenomena, even by the word “genius.” Joachim followed his destiny. His career was unparalleled in the history of musical executive art.” [i]
The Jubilee was the brainchild of Joachim’s friend Edward Speyer, a remarkable, indestructible old man, a prodigious collector of musical manuscripts and a musical connoisseur, familiar with all the most important musicians of the age. Speyer had grown up among musicians. His violinist father had known Weber, Ernst, Spohr and Mozart’s eldest son, Carl.  As a boy, he had met Mendelssohn in his father’s music room, at about the time of Joachim’s London debut. “Don’t forget, child, that you have just seen a great man; that was Mendelssohn!” his father had admonished him. As an old man, he still remembered.
Speyer had first heard Joachim in Frankfurt in 1856. It was in England, however, that their 45-year friendship flourished, beginning in the early ‘sixties, during Joachim’s annual visits to London to play in the Saturday and Monday Popular Concerts at St. James’s Hall. In recent years, Speyer had helped to promote Joachim’s concerts in England. For several years, beginning in 1901, he had been the organizer of the “Joachim Quartet Concerts” in London, an annual series of six musical evenings that Joachim gave with his Berlin colleagues Carl Halir, Emmanuel Wirth and Robert Hausmann. 
“Whilst the Joachim Quartet Concerts were following their brilliantly successful course, it occurred to me one day that in 1904 an event unique in the history of music would occur,” Speyer recalled. “Sixty years previously, on May 27th, 1844, Joachim, then a boy of twelve, made his first appearance in England, playing Beethoven’s Violin Concerto under Mendelssohn at a concert of the Philharmonic Society. I formed a small committee of friends to make this anniversary the occasion of a worthy public celebration. One of them, Sir Alexander Kennedy, travelled to Berlin to inform Joachim of our plan. After some hesitation, mainly on account of his age, he finally agreed. He asked that works of his beloved friends Mendelssohn, Schumann and Brahms should be included in the programme.” [ii] The date was secured, and Prime Minister Arthur Balfour, known for his annual “Joachim parties,” was enlisted to chair the event.
Queen’s Hall, London
For Britons, there had been really only one previous “Diamond Jubilee” — that of the Queen. On June 22, 1897, the entire British Empire had celebrated 60 years of Victoria’s rule. From Hyderabad to Hong Kong, from Rangoon to Regent’s Park, the day had been marked by celebrations and feasts, fireworks, choral concerts, electrical illuminations and prisoner releases. In London, a service of thanksgiving had been held at St. Paul’s Cathedral, “the parish church of the Empire,” with a host of crowned heads and eleven Colonial Prime Ministers in attendance. In deference to her aging Majesty’s difficulty in negotiating steps, the ceremony was held outside. [iii] The morning had dawned dark and overcast, but by eleven o’clock the sun appeared — “Queen’s weather,” they called it. Cheering crowds lined six miles of streets that had been “splendidly decorated with flowers, garlands of bay, arches and Venetian masts from which fluttered countless blue and scarlet pennants.” [iv] There they waited in hopes of catching a glimpse of the Monarch, as she rode in her open landau along a circuitous route from Buckingham Palace to the church, accompanied by pealing bells and booming cannon. “No one, ever, I believe, has met with such an ovation as was given to me,” Victoria noted in her diary. “The crowds were quite indescribable, and their enthusiasm truly marvellous and deeply touching. The cheering was quite deafening, and every face seemed to be filled with real joy.” [v]
St. Paul’s Cathedral, ca. 1900
It was a notable tribute, then, that Joachim should be fêted with a “Jubilee.” Who but the “Violin King” could stand comparison, without a touch of irony, with a queen who created her own weather? Joachim’s British career spanned and defined an era. Victoria died on January 22, 1901, after a reign of 63 years and seven months. When Joachim died in August of 1907, he had been before the British public for 63 years and three. 
To help “make this anniversary the occasion of a worthy public celebration,” Speyer’s organizing committee decided to commission Joachim’s portrait, and to present it to him at the event. Speyer elected to approach the great, irascible Italian-born American painter John Singer Sargent, who, the year before, had been personally chosen by Theodore Roosevelt as “the one artist who should paint the portrait of an American President.”  “On learning the object of my errand,” said Speyer, “he looked much disturbed and exclaimed almost ferociously: ‘Good heavens, I am sick of portrait painting. I have just returned from Italy, where I buried myself for six weeks to escape the cursed business, and now you have come and ask me to do another one, and that too when I have a large number of old commissions still awaiting me here!’ He finally quieted down, however, and remarked: ‘Well, if it’s Joachim, I must do it.” I suggested a three-quarter portrait, but he insisted that he could do better with a kit-cat. ” [vi]
Speyer’s “committee of friends” included the preternaturally gifted young pianist and musicologist Donald Francis Tovey. Tovey had known Joachim since he was a boy, and had become a special protégé of Joachim’s late years. Tovey’s guardian and mentor, Miss Sophia Weisse,  had introduced them. She later recalled how, when Tovey was seven years old, Joachim would “strum out” fugue themes from Bach’s Well-tempered Clavier on her sitting-room table at Eton, and have Donald identify them by rhythm. “When Donald was twelve he played a violin sonata of his own with Joachim,” she wrote, “and I remember how carefully and tenderly dear Jo played it.” [vii] That same year, a meeting between Joachim and Tovey’s father helped secure parental approval for the boy’s chosen career: “My father was for a long time convinced that no musician but a Church organist could have any social status at all. He was enlightened by a visit to Eton of Joachim, whose ambassadorial presence, perfect command of English and obviously profound general culture completely changed his ideas of what a musician might be. He never forgot how when Joachim was told of my progress in Latin and Euclid he asked, ‘And does he know it gründlich? (thoroughly)’” [viii] Joachim and Tovey gave their first public concert together in March of 1894, in the Albert Institute at Windsor, just before 18-year-old Donald “went up to Balliol” to further his studies. [ix] Now, a decade later, Joachim seldom gave recitals in England with anyone else. The Manchester Guardian reported: “The combination of this young and interesting musician with an older and so well-founded an artist was in its essence extremely pathetic [touching]. One travelled back in memory to the days when Joachim himself was consorting with the great musicians of his day, himself a lad praised and encouraged, and one felt how beautifully he had read the lesson of his youth in returning the example to a young man of the present generation who is, we are certain, destined to be worthy of his beginning.” [x] Joachim admired Tovey unreservedly, and was astonished by his almost freakish abilities. “After an hour with Donald, I feel as if my head were on fire,” he said. “I have never seen his equal for knowledge and memory.”  And elsewhere, he declared: “Of all the musicians of the younger generation that I know, Tovey is assuredly the one that would most have interested Brahms.” [xi]
Several weeks prior to the Jubilee celebration, a musical party was held for the Joachim Quartet in the elegant music room of Miss Weisse’s Northlands School at Englefield Green near Windsor. Among the attendees was Poet Laureate Robert Bridges, who captured the sentiments of the hour in a sonnet: 
To Joseph Joachim
elov’d of all to whom that Muse is dear
Who hid her spirit of rapture from the Greek,
Whereby our art excelleth the antique,
Perfecting formal beauty to the ear;
Thou that hast been in England many a year
The interpreter who left us nought to seek,
Making Beethoven’s inmost passion speak,
Bringing the soul of great Sebastian near.
Their music liveth ever, and ’tis just
That thou, good Joachim, so high thy skill,
Rank (as thou shalt upon the heavenly hill)
Laurel’d with them, for thy ennobling trust
Remember’d when thy loving hand is still
And every ear that heard thee stopt with dust.
The poem seemed appropriate for the Queen’s Hall gala, and Bridges granted his permission to print it in the program. When Tovey wrote to thank him on behalf of the committee, Bridges replied: “I knew nothing of the Jubilee. I was merely prompted to write because there seemed an opportunity, when I met him among his friends, of my expressing my lifelong admiration and gratitude. […] I wish the sonnet was better, but it contains what, or some of what, I wished to say.” [xiii]
Joachim spent the weekend before the Queen’s Hall fête in Woking, at the residence of Gerald Balfour, the Prime Minister’s brother and the President of the Board of Trade. Among the other guests were the Prime Minister and his wife, Liberal MP John Morley and Donald Tovey. For Joachim and Tovey, it was a weekend of music making. On the morning of the event, Joachim and Morley rode to London together. “Joachim told Morley with much emotion how proud and happy he felt at the idea of the Prime Minister presiding at his Jubilee,” Speyer relates. “Morley replied: ‘Don’t you be so sure of that, my friend. I am going to attack the Government to-night in the House on a subject which will undoubtedly lead to a long debate, during which the Prime Minister may have to remain in his place.’” Joachim, crestfallen, went on to rehearse for the evening’s concert.
As he entered his seventies, Joachim’s best performing years were behind him. He hadn’t his accustomed energy, and his arthritic fingers no longer automatically obeyed the letter of his desires. “I am happy if I can still play chamber music to my satisfaction,” he told Speyer; “I am reluctant to think about solo playing in the long term.” [xiv] As his technique began to decline and his execution failed to live up to his eminence, Joachim’s detractors found him an easy mark. George Bernard Shaw’s classic barb has stuck in the mind of posterity as effectively as any jibe ever penned by Mark Twain: “Joachim scraped away frantically, making a sound after which an attempt to grate a nutmeg effectively on a boot sole would have been as the strain of an Aeolian harp. The notes which were musical enough to have any discernable pitch were mostly out of tune. It was horrible – damnable! Had he been an unknown player, . . . he would not have escaped with his life.” Shaw notwithstanding, the wisdom of experience and the inspiration of occasion could still be counted upon to elicit a memorable performance from the veteran violinist. Care had to be taken, though — this was not an occasion on which one could afford to have a bad night. After the morning rehearsal, Speyer urged his friend to get some rest. Returning home, however, Joachim found a note from Queen Alexandra, Edward’s queen, asking him to go to Buckingham Palace to “do some music for her.” The Queen had mistaken the day of the celebration, and was unaware of the inconvenience she was causing. It was a Royal command, nevertheless, and Joachim felt unable to refuse.[xv]
That afternoon, as Joachim was “doing music” for the Queen, the Prime Minister adroitly deflected Morley’s challenge, and adjourned the debate in time to arrive at Queen’s Hall before the overture.
Queen’s Hall, London
Dedicated with a children’s party in 1893, Queen’s Hall  was famed equally for its perfect acoustics and its short leg-room (“it appeared to be the understanding that legs were to be left in the cloakroom” sniped the Musical Times on one occasion) [xvi]. To E. M. Forster, it was “the dreariest music-room in London.” [xvii] No wonder: it was said that “the predominant colour” of the cavernous space “was that of the belly of a London mouse,” and that the hall’s architect, T. E. Knightley, kept a string of dead mice in his paint shop “to make sure that this was no idle boast.” [xviii] Be that as it may, with its large capacity, its curved splays at the orchestra end for the diffusion of sound and its free-standing wooden walls (“as the body of a violin — resonant”), Queen’s Hall was the place to go in London for orchestral music or political speech, and the most appropriate place for friends and admirers to honor the reigning musician of the day: Dr. Joachim, the “Violin King,” the “Last of a Classic School.”
Sir Henry Wood conducting the Queen’s Hall Orchestra
The Jubilee festivities began with a performance of the Hebrides Overture — Mendelssohn’s great “train oil, sea gulls and salted cod” evocation of the voyage he made in 1829 with his friend Klingemann to Fingal’s Cave on the island of Staffa off the west coast of Scotland. At the conclusion of the piece — a final, tempestuous episode, followed by a single flute reminiscence punctuated by a few quiet string pizzicati — a storm of applause greeted the great violinist, “the entire audience rising and cheering vociferously” [xix] as he made his way to the stage, accompanied by Prime Minister Balfour and Sir Hubert Parry.  “When Balfour and Parry led me on to the platform I was terribly anxious,” Joachim said afterward. “I was thinking of the speech I had to make.” But Balfour made him laugh, and prevailed upon him, over his earnest objections, to sit. Sir Hubert then read from an illuminated address, which Balfour afterwards presented to him, written for the occasion by Sir Frederick Pollock: 
“At a time known only by hearsay to most of us, you first brought before an English audience the promise of that performance which has been eminent among two generations of men… It was under the auspices of Mendelssohn that you played Beethoven’s Violin Concerto at the Philharmonic Society’s concert of May 27th, 1844. No combination could have been more prophetic of your career, though neither its duration in time nor the singular quality of its achievement was then within any probable foresight.
At that day the fine arts, and music among them, languished in this country. It was not understood that the function of art is to be not merely the recreation of a privileged class, but an integral element of national life. We have now learnt to know and to do better. Opportunities of becoming acquainted with the music of the great masters have been multiplied tenfold, and the general competence of both execution and criticism has been raised beyond comparison. This great and salutary change which we have witnessed in the course of the last generation is largely due to your exertions. Learning from Mendelssohn and Schumann, and working with Brahms in the comradeship of life-long friends, you have devoted your whole energies, as executant and as composer, to continuing the tradition and maintaining the ideal of classic music.
We now hold it fitting that the sixtieth anniversary of your first appearance here should not pass without a special greeting. The welcome we offer you is alike for the artist who commands every power of the trained hand, and for the musician whose consummate knowledge and profound reverence for his art have uniformly guided his execution in the path of the sincerest interpretation. Your first thoughts as a performer have ever been for the composer and not for yourself. In no hour have you yielded to the temptation of mere personal display, and the weight of your precepts in one of the greatest musical schools of Europe  is augmented by the absolute fidelity with which your example illustrates them….” [xx]
The next to speak was Prime Minister Balfour, who was to present Sargent’s portrait. Balfour spoke touchingly of Joachim as a friend, both to himself and to the nation. “I think that the great and beneficent influence which you have had on British music is due not merely to those high artistic qualities of which the Address gives a worthy description, but also to that human affection which it is your peculiar and supreme gift to elicit, and which so many of us have enjoyed through longer years than I care now to enumerate. For it is as the friend as much as the musician, as the musician as much as the friend, that we now desire to pay all the honour which it is within our power to give you; and, as some simple memorial, some permanent monument of this memorable night, I now beg to present you on behalf of this assembly with a portrait which will, I hope, serve to remind you of the many friends whom… you have in England, and will keep in England…” [xxi] “Joachim, rising amidst tumultuous cheers which were long continued, acknowledged the compliment in a speech of faultless English,” recalled Speyer. “He said he was sure that the object of the audience was not only to show sympathy towards himself but to honour the great composers with whom it had been his happy lot to be connected. It was a great joy to him to think that Mendelssohn was not only an artistic father to him, but was the means of bringing him to this country, which for many years had been his second home. The gift of oratory was not in him, but he would try to give his hearers pleasure by playing the piece he had first performed with Mendelssohn in this country. If he did not do justice to the work he hoped that his hearers would be indulgent, for he could not help feeling emotion on such an occasion as this.” [xxii]
Joseph Joachim and Franz von Vecsey
Following the presentation of the portrait, the 11-year-old Hungarian violin prodigy Franz von Vecsey appeared onstage with a huge crown-shaped wreath of flowers. Vecsey had studied with Joachim’s former pupil Jenö Hubay, and then with Joachim himself. “I am seventy-two years of age, yet never in my life have I heard the like; never believed it possible,” Joachim had said of Vecsey’s playing. Only days earlier, Vecsey had given his own English début, in St. James’s Hall. In a few months, he would make his first Queen’s hall appearance, playing concerti by Mendelssohn and Paganini with the London Symphony Orchestra. [xxiii]
A Queen’s Hall Concert
In planning the Jubilee program, both Joachim and Speyer had been aware that, with speeches, presentations and performances, the evening promised to be long and emotionally taxing. Nevertheless, Speyer insisted, “in order to invest this Jubilee celebration with its truest significance it was really indispensable that he should play the Beethoven Violin Concerto, and thus recall the memorable event of sixty years ago.” Joachim protested, “declaring that he had persistently abstained from playing such large works in public of late years in consideration of his advanced age, and pleading that the emotional strain on him might prevent his acquitting himself of the task.” Speyer then proposed that the second number on the program be listed simply as: “Solo Violin … Dr. Joachim.” That way, if he felt unable to do justice to the concerto, he could perform one of Beethoven’s Romances instead. To this, Joachim agreed. [xxiv] In the event, Joachim played the concerto, the piece that, together with Bach’s magisterial Chaconne, stood at the heart of his repertoire and reputation. Henry Wood recalled: “…someone went into the artists’ room and brought Joachim’s fiddlecase which he opened amid tremendous applause and enthusiasm. I began the introduction to Beethoven’s violin concerto and Joachim gave a memorable performance of it with his own cadenza. This was followed by his arrangement of Schumann’s Abendlied for violin and orchestra. The musical part of the programme closed with Joachim conducting his own overture to Shakespeare’s King Henry IV (written in 1885) and also Brahms Academic Festival Overture.” [xxv]
Fêtes and funerals, recommendations and reviews, reveal a certain kind of truth, which is seldom fully objective. Rites and references tell as much about the deep wishes and normative values of the celebrators as about the virtues and accomplishments of the celebrated. For the Jubilee audience, Joachim was more than a great violinist. Now nearly 73 years of age, he had transcended his virtuoso youth to become an elder statesman of sorts, recognized in England not only as “the last of a classic school,” the iconic representative of “absolute” German instrumental music, but as classical music’s equivalent to the great Victorian literary sages — men  like Thomas Carlyle, Matthew Arnold, Ralph Waldo Emerson, John Ruskin and Alfred Lord Tennyson — the great intuitive thinkers who gave elegant voice to the moral concerns of the era in such traditional forms as essay, novel, epic, lyric and drama. Like them, Joachim was recognized for his dignity, intellect and high-mindedness. “Of all violinists, Joachim… was the noblest of all in his aims, aspirations and ideals,” wrote W. W. Cobbett. “The litteræ scriptæ which remain testify to this, his published letters addressed to leading musicians telling in almost every line of his determination to live for his art as for a religion, to place artistic before commercial considerations and to familiarise his audiences with the music of the greater masters. The great technical difficulty of his own works, which he played so magnificently, is a measure of his powers as an executant. Yet it was not as virtuoso that he elected to make his appeal to musicians, and he was only faintly interested in music which, in his estimation, did not belong to the loftiest regions of his art.… His influence extends far beyond the admiration that he aroused among his contemporaries as an executant and has left a permanent mark on the development of music and musical taste in this country.” [xxvi]
His art had great aspirations. Like the Victorian literary sages, he sought to “express notions about the world, man’s situation in it, and how he should live.” [xxvii] At the same time, the appeal of the sage’s art — Joachim’s art — lay not so much in the realm of the objective as in the imaginative: in its capacity to expand horizons — to discover the extraordinary in the common — to open minds to a quality of experience to which they had previously been deaf and blind. And as with those sages, Joachim had been — continues to be — accused of a certain maddeningly conservative dogmatism. This characteristic, however, is the distinctive stance and attitude of the Victorian sage — as Emerson expressed it: “to believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men, — that is genius.” [xxviii]
One does not read the Victorians for the rigor of their logic or for solutions to modern dilemmas, but for the breadth, depth and sincerity of their concerns. For modern minds, used to more rigorous rational grounding and a greater consistency, Victorian attitudes can throw up barriers to understanding and appreciation. If this is true in literature, it is even more so in an art as ephemeral and prone to fashion as music. As early as 1930, Carl Flesch alluded to this difficulty when he wrote: “It is not surprising that Joachim’s musical and technical advantages are no longer entirely comprehensible to the youth of our day on the basis of mere description, for the very essence of Joachim’s playing eludes description, in as much as it was not purely technical, but lay in an indefinable charm, an immediacy of feeling which caused a work played by him to be haloed with immortality in the listener’s recollection. What our time fails to understand is not so much Joachim’s violin playing as Joachim’s spirit.” 
The cardinal virtues of a Victorian Englishman might be said to be sincerity, modesty and a capacity for friendship. Strike those words from a Victorian’s vocabulary, and he would have found little to praise in his fellow man. Among the great, as their contemporaries recognized the great, those virtues were not mere social niceties, but capacities of character, essential to the pursuit of truth, and the living of an engaged life.
The era named for a great queen was an era that celebrated Great Men. “The History of the world is but the Biography of great men,”  claimed Thomas Carlyle in his influential disquisition On Heroes, Hero-Worship and the Heroic in History. In his series of six lectures, first published in 1841, Carlyle explores the hero as divinity, prophet, poet, priest, man of letters and king, articulating his vision of the Great Man — the “great soul, open to the Divine Significance of Life” — as the primary motive force in history. For Carlyle, the man who can bend the course of history is the man of sincerity — earnest, honest, great-hearted — who wrestles “with the truth of things.” “The great Fact of Existence is great to him,” he wrote. “Fly as he will, he cannot get out of the awful presence of this Reality.” “Such a man is what we call an original man; he comes to us at first-hand. A messenger he, sent from the Infinite Unknown with tidings to us. We may call him Poet, Prophet, God; — in one way or other, we all feel that the words he utters are as no other man’s words.” For Carlyle, steeped in German idealism, “a deep, great, genuine sincerity” was the true test of worth in a man. “Not the sincerity that calls itself sincere… a shallow braggart conscious sincerity; oftenest self-conceit mainly. The Great Man’s sincerity is of the kind he cannot speak of, is not conscious of,” he wrote. “Nay, I suppose he is conscious rather of insincerity; for what man can walk accurately by the law of truth for one day?”
Joachim was raised in the traditions of German idealism that Carlyle so cogently interpreted to the English people. It must have rankled him therefore, though he joked about it later, to find that the redoubtable father of the Great Man Theory, with all his admiration for prophets, poets and priests had little respect for men of his profession. Joachim and Carlyle were introduced one day by a friend of Thackeray, who, having another engagement, left them alone together. Carlyle, about to take his morning “constitutional,” asked Joachim to join 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.’ ‘This was not very complimentary to me,’ Dr. Joachim laughingly said. [xxix]
Had he known Joachim better, Carlyle might have recognized in him the very ideals that he attributes to his chosen Heroes of history. The great, sincere questions of Joachim’s life were the self-same quandaries that Carlyle ascribes to Mahomet: “What am I? What is this unfathomable Thing I live in, which men name Universe? What is Life; what is Death? What am I to believe? What am I to do?” — to which the hero as musician might have added two poignant, vexed questions of his own: “What is Friendship?” and “What is Love?”
Sir Henry Wood
Joachim’s dignified presence among the Great and the Good of his time had an immeasurable, positive influence on the level of respect with which the art of music came to be regarded in England. His natural air of authority, as a man and a performer, instantly and everywhere commanded admiration. Church of England clergyman Hugh Reginald Haweis wrote of the forty-year-old: “M. Joachim is the greatest living violinist; no man is so nearly to the execution of music what Beethoven was to its composition. There is something massive, complete and unerring about M. Joachim that lifts him out of the list of great players, and places him on a pedestal apart. Other men have their specialities; he has none. Others rise above or fall below themselves; he is always himself, neither less nor more. He wields the sceptre of his bow with the easy royalty of one born to reign; he plays Beethoven’s concerto with the rapt infallible power of a seer delivering his oracle, and he takes his seat at a quartet very much like Apollo entering his chariot to drive the horses of the sun.” [xxxi]
“Joachim was always conscious of his dignity,” wrote Henry Wood, and as a member of a younger generation he probably meant it as a criticism. [xxx] One might say better that Joachim was always conscious of representing the dignity of his art in his person. (One of his favorite sayings was a quote from Schiller: “The dignity of man is given into your hand. Preserve it! It sinks with you, and with you it shall arise.”) Those who are among the first generation to labor for the recognition of a people or a principle often see things in this way — their decorum is an instrument of their struggle. Joachim’s dignity was hard won. It was not who he was born, but who he became — the skills he acquired and the values he embraced — that led him into the highest circles of culture and politics, and that determined his importance as a man and moral leader — that led to his public recognition as a Great Man.
Sargent’s kit-cat is a dignified affair. It is the classic image of a man of judgment: arms folded, the right hand protruding, the head erect, sober, distinguished, self-assured, the imperious glance turned toward the viewer — and yet the gaze is covered, inward, retrospective. Too inward for a statesman, surely — this is not a man of action like Roosevelt, hand on hip, assertive. A scholar, perhaps, or a philosopher — in any case, there is also no hint here of the virtuoso: the windbaggy sort who craves and courts approval and applause by means of his astonishing technique, his gobsmacking prowess. Though his arms may often enough have cradled a violin, they rest now upon his chest. There is no instrument, no score to indicate the practical musician, or to suggest the showman. What Sargent shows us instead is a sage, a man of mind and spirit, a mature guardian of timeless wisdom, a man of “deep, great, genuine sincerity.”
Joachim’s British friends included Tennyson, Browning, Thackeray, Dickens, Eliot, Landseer, Leighton, Alma-Tadema, Millais, Watts, Darwin, Gladstone, Jowett, Parry, Stanford and Grove.[xxxiv] In personal memoirs, we read of the countless small ways that Joachim interacted with the significant minds of his time, introducing them to great music — speaking to them, from personal acquaintance, of the great composers — ministering to their joys and sorrows, and sowing the seeds of understanding and acceptance for the art that he loved. These vignettes, as much as the numberless reviews of his appearances at public occasions, show the man, and give insight into the way in which he conceived his life’s work.
Rising above periods of intense personal and artistic struggle, Joachim became one of the most recognized and admired men of his time. Cambridge University bestowed doctoral degrees on him and Brahms on the same day, March 8, 1877 (Brahms did not attend). The University of Glasgow awarded him an LLD in 1887, and Oxford University followed suit the following year. Never had a performing musician been so honored. In an age and a place that believed in the notion of edification through art, Joachim showed that the practicing musician, as well as the composer, the poet or the painter, could unite and embody the qualities of genius and character, and that Euterpe and Polyhymnia could take their rightful place among their sister muses “not merely as the recreation of a privileged class, but as an integral element of national life.”
Writing on the centennial of Joachim’s birth, A. H. Fox-Strangways, the founder and editor of Music and Letters, articulated what, among his English contemporaries, had come to be a widely held, sympathetic judgement of the man and the artist:
“This generation never really heard him, for his power over the bow began to fail at the end of the century. That power he took great pains to achieve, and violinists can tell us something about it and its effect upon the ears of those who heard it. But no man can explain the inexplicable — how it is that the human spirit can transmute itself into sound and speak direct to other human spirits. And it was this quality in his playing, this intimate voice whispering from mind to mind that made him different from all players we have ever heard, because that mind held so much.
It held reverence. Wherever the soul of goodness lay in man or work he loved to discover it to others. He gave all their due; the great men first, but others in their order. He filled himself with the passionate immensity of Beethoven and the lyrical steadfastness of Bach, and so became aware before anyone else of the security of purpose that lay deep in the nature of Brahms. Many talk of the three B.’s: he lived them, by making them vital. He showed us by his method of approach how far we often are from being fit company for the great.” [xxxv]
Etching by Ferdinand Schmutzer
 “The two frequently played Mozart’s Violin Sonatas together,” he recalls in his memoirs. “Carl Mozart on such occasions used his father’s clavier, under which a pair of Mozart’s neat little slippers had found a permanent home. He showed my father a number of interesting documents, amongst which was a series of letters written by Mozart in Mannheim in 1777 to his cousin in Augsburg, a young girl about his own age. These letters are full of an overflowing spirit of boyish freakishness and whimsicality, and Carl Mozart declared he was going to destroy them on account of frequent passages of a somewhat equivocal nature which in the eyes of the world might reflect unfavourably on Mozart. My father’s urgent pleading induced Carl to let him take copies of them before their destruction, but only on condition that he would never publish them. I remember showing the copies to Brahms one day and his going off into fits of laughter over them.” [Speyer/LIFE, pp. 2-3].
 For many years, Joachim had led a second, “English” Joachim quartet at the “Pops” concerts in London. Members of that quartet included Louis Ries, 2nd violin, Ludwig Strauss, viola, and Alfredo Piatti, ‘cello.
 Like Mendelssohn before him, Joachim made England a second home. In his youth, he visited his uncle, Bernhard Figdor in Tulse Hill, near London, and in later years stayed with his brother Heinrich in London. Heinrich, a successful wool merchant, lived with his wife and children. Following his début with the London Philharmonic in 1844, Joachim returned to London in 1847, 1849, 1852, 1858, 1859, and 1862. After that, his annual six-week journey to England was looked upon as a matter of course.
 “Sargent found the President’s strong will daunting from the start. The choice of a suitable place to paint, where the lighting was good, tried Roosevelt’s patience. No room on the first floor agreed with the artist. When they began climbing the staircase, Roosevelt told Sargent he did not think the artist knew what he wanted. Sargent replied that he did not think Roosevelt knew what was involved in posing for a portrait. Roosevelt, who had just reached the landing, swung around, placing his hand on the newel and said, ‘Don’t I!’” This is the pose that Sargent adopted for his painting. The painting is the official White House Portrait. [see: National Portrait Gallery, http://www.npg.si.edu/exh/roosevelt/whtr.htm, from which this quote is taken.]
 The name derives from the 18th-century Kit-Cat Club in London, whose members included writers William Congreve, Jonathan Swift, Joseph Addison, Richard Steele and a number of prominent Whig politicians. A kit-cat is a portrait of less than half-length, 36 x 28 inches, showing head and shoulders, and usually one hand, following the format of Sir Godfrey Kneller’s (Gottfried von Kniller, 1646-1723) series of 42 portraits of Kit-Cat members (National Portrait Gallery, London). Sargent’s portrait is 87.6 x 73.0 cm. (34 1/2 x 28 3/4 in.). It currently hangs in the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto.
 Miss Weisse (as she was known), was the founder of the Northlands School, a boarding school for “young ladies” in a large house surrounded by gardens at Englefield Green near Windsor. “The school had a wide reputation, and no wonder,” wrote Speyer, “for Miss Weisse was a woman of strong character and great intelligence. Despite her other numerous activities and responsibilities, her care of Donald was the absorbing aim and interest of her existence. When he returned after his four years at Balliol, she made Northlands a centre of intellectual and artistic life. She built a large concert-room in which frequent performances of music and lectures on other subjects were given. Here Donald could display his gifts as pianist and composer with other prominent artists. For a number of years Joachim and his Quartet were habitual visitors. On several occasions London orchestras were engaged so that Donald might gain experience as a conductor. As a result, Northlands in course of time became a centre of intellectual and artistic activity….” [Speyer/LIFE, pp.168-169.]
 Speyer/LIFE, p. 167. As examples of Tovey’s memory, Speyer recalled how Tovey played the eight movements of Mozart’s Serenade for Thirteen Wind Instruments straight through on the piano, without notes, having only seen the score “once or twice,” and on a series of evenings at Speyer’s Ridgehurst home, played, without preparation, “the whole of Beethoven’s Pianoforte Sonatas in chronological order, without a note of printed music before him.”
 Bridges was not the only British poet to catch Joachim in verse. In his 1884 occasional poem, The Founder of the Feast, later worked up into a sonnet, the music-loving Robert Browning writes:
Sense has received the utmost Nature grants,
My cup was filled with rapture to the brim,
When, night by night — ah, memory, how it haunts! —
Music was poured by perfect ministrants,
By Hallé, Schumann, Piatti, Joachim.
And George Eliot, in her poem Stradivarius, speaks of “Joachim
Who holds the strain afresh incorporate
By inward hearing and notation strict
Of nerve and muscle…”
Some have seen Joachim in the figure of Eliot’s Klesmer in Daniel Deronda: “a felicitous combination of the German, the Sclave, and the Semite, with grand features, brown hair floating in artistic fashion, and brown eyes in spectacles. His English had little foreignness except its fluency; and his alarming cleverness was made less formidable just then by a certain softening air of silliness which will sometimes befall even Genius in the desire of being agreeable to Beauty;” and elsewhere: “as versatile and fascinating as a young Ulysses on a sufficient acquaintance — one whom nature seemed to have first made generously and then to have added music as a dominant power using all the abundant rest, and, as in Mendelssohn, finding expression for itself not only in the highest finish of execution, but in that fervour of creative work and theoretic belief which pierces the whole future of a life with the fight of congruous, devoted purpose.”
 The old Queen’s Hall was destroyed by an incendiary bomb during the night of May 10-11, 1941. With it, as with so much and so many, passed an era.
 Joachim’s friend, Charles Hubert Hastings Parry (1848-1918) was a noted English composer and teacher. In 1904, he was director of the Royal College of Music and professor of music at Oxford University. He is well known today as the composer of the hymn Jerusalem (text by Blake).
 Noted English jurist Sir Frederick Pollock was a friend of Speyer’s and a member of the Joachim Concerts Committee, which organized and sponsored the performances of the Joachim Quartet in England.
 The Hochschule für ausübende Tonkunst in Berlin (currently the Universität der Künste), of which Joachim was the founding director.
 Mostly men: John Holloway, in his 1953 book The Victorian Sage: Studies in Argument, also lists George Eliot among his “sages,” and Thaïs E. Morgan, in her 1990 study Victorian Sages and Cultural Discourse: Renegotiating Gender and Power, tackles the question “Can a woman’s writing be sage writing?” with reference to a host of female “sages.”
 Carl Flesch, The Art of Violin Playing, New York: Carl Fischer, 1930, pp. 74-75.
 Perhaps the one place where the Great Man [Person] Theory retains a sense of validity is in the arts. The arts are a specifically created world, in which the artist plays the god-like role of creator. A musical style is not the creation of nature, or an anonymous collection of musicians, but of a handful of brilliant minds who understand how to draw the implications of their material in an original and cogent way. We are interested in Classical music because of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven, not because of the subterranean churnings of Schroeter, Hoffmeister and Dussek. We are interested in Joachim, not for how he typified his age, but for how he transformed it.
 The son of violinist Ferdinand David, Paul David (b. Aug. 4, 1840) was head of music at Uppingham School since 1865, the first person to hold such a post in England. Uppingham School’s “new” concert room was dedicated on May 23, 1905, with a performance by Joseph Joachim of Beethoven’s violin concerto. [The Musical Times, Vol. 47, No. 761 (July 1, 1906), pp. 449-457.]
 Alluded to in Mendelssohn’s letter to Klingemann, above.
 “Men of all shades of opinion met in perfect amity; the lion of Wagnerism sitting down with the lamb of orthodoxy, or vice versa… as though the one had never shown a disposition to make a meal of the other” — a full description of the event can be found in The Musical Times, Vol. 18, No. 410 (April 1, 1877), pp. 170-172.
[iv] Mary H. Krout, A Looker-On in London, New York: Dodd, Mead, & Company, p. 304.
[v] Elizabeth Hammerton and David Cannadine, Conflict and Concensus on a Ceremonial Occasion: The Diamond Jubilee in Cambridge in 1897, The Historical Journal, Vol. 24, No. 1 (March, 1981), pp. 111-112, passim.
Joseph found himself in constant demand for the remainder of his stay in London. On Monday June 3, “the marvelous little Joachim” played at Mr. Hausmann’s soirée at 55 Wimpole Street, where Louise Dulcken was among the other performers. Adult appearances required an adult wardrobe. Ignaz Moscheles’ son Felix,  who was two years younger than Joseph, recalled: “after singing at our house, Mendelssohn wanted to take [Joachim] to a musical party; a pair of gloves were deemed necessary to make him presentable, and we two boys were sent out to get them; we had a walk, and a talk besides, and I remember thinking what a nice sort of sensible boy he was; no nonsense about him and no affectation; not like the other clever ones I knew. The gloves we bought in a little shop in Albany Street, Regent’s Park, and as these were the first pair of English gloves that Joseph wore, I duly record the historical fact for the benefit of all those who have at one time or the other been under the spell of the fingers we fitted that evening.” [i]
“Evening concerts of Classical Instrumental Music at Radley’s Hotel, Bridge Street, Blackfriars, this evening,” ran an advert in the Times on June 5th. “Mr. Purdy has the pleasure to inform his friends and the public that Dr. Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy has kindly consented to play his Trio in D minor for pianoforte, violin, and violoncello; and that Master Joachim will lead two quartetts, and play a solo on the above named night, supported by Messrs. Case, Hill, and Hancock.” This was a formidable program. The “quartetts” were Mozart’s Quartet in d minor, K. 421, and a reprise of Beethoven’s treacherous “Rasumovsky” Quartet in C Major, op. 59, no. 3. The solo was again Ernst’s Othello Fantasy. That evening’s trio performance left a deep impression on Joseph, not only of Mendelssohn’s memory and sang-froid, but also of his character. “It so happened,” he later recalled, “that only the violin and violoncello parts had been brought to the concert-room, and Mendelssohn was rather displeased at this; but he said, ‘Never mind, put any book on the piano and someone can turn from time to time, so that I need not look as though I played by heart.’ Nowadays, when people put such importance on playing or conducting without a book, I think this might be considered a good moral lesson of a great musician’s modesty. He evidently did not like to be in too great a prominence before his partners in the Trio. He was always truly generous!” [ii]
Amidst this whirlwind of performance, Joseph somehow found time for study. Mendelssohn, who was directing his education, placed a great emphasis on his compositional work, and insisted as well that he not neglect his general studies and physical culture. “So thoroughly grounded seems to be this young professor in musical science, as well as in executive skill —,” wrote Henry Chorley, “so liberally gifted in the essentials of head, heart, and health — that we see no limit to his future career; and if the creative faculty develop itself, shall look for a great artist in him, in the most comprehensive acceptation of the term.” [iii]
No doubt on Mendelssohn’s recommendation, Joseph took lessons in composition and orchestration from the thirty-one-year-old George Macfarren, at Macfarren’s flat on the corner of Oxford and Berners Streets. Lady Macfarren later recalled their first meeting at Joseph’s uncle Bernhard Figdor’s home 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.” [iv]
Album leaf: “for Joseph Joachim in remembrance of his friend G. A. Macfarren, London 20 May 1844” [v]
Though not an enthusiastic advocate of Macfarren’s theories, Mendelssohn was nevertheless generous in his support of Macfarren, whose overture Chevy Chase he had performed at the Leipzig Gewandhaus on October 26 of the previous year.  Macfarren was an engaging and original teacher, with a “quaint, chatty” tutorial style. While still in his mid-twenties, he had been appointed professor of harmony and composition at the Royal Academy of Music. He founded the Society of British Musicians in 1834 and the Handel Society in 1844. In 1845, he would assume conducting duties at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.
A proponent of Alfred Day’s novel and controversial harmonic theory, Macfarren was discovered one day in 1847 by an official of the RAM teaching from an unauthorized text. “Holloa!” cried the visitor. “What is this book? We cannot have any new-fangled notions here.” [vi] A conference was called with Macfarren’s former teacher Cipriani Potter (then director of the school), William Sterndale-Bennett and three others. After a spirited discussion, Macfarren resigned his position, “rather than continue to teach contrary to his convictions.” Potter eventually recalled Macfarren to his old position, telling him: “come back and teach anything you please.” In the words of a friend, “better counsels prevailed; not the acceptance of Day’s theory, but the wise persuasion that it was better to have a musician of unquestioned competence and power to teach that which he believed from his own out-thinking, than that any old traditions should be so stereotyped in an educational system or curriculum as to bar all free thought, and to alienate from the Institution one whose worth was so fully recognised.” [vii]
Macfarren gave Joseph his first instruction in composing for orchestra. [viii] Whether he taught Joseph using Day’s theories is not known, but it seems likely that he did. Day’s Treatise on Harmony was begun at Macfarren’s instigation in 1840 — though it was not published until 1845.
On Friday, June 7th, Joseph was among the performers at a concert in the Princess’ Concert Room, co-sponsored by Macfarren and the critic for the Musical World, James William “Jimmy” Davison. For Joseph, this program, too, amounted to a recital. As originally conceived, it was to have included a performance by W. H. Holmes of Macfarren’s Second Solo Sonata in A Major, Ma Cousine. When Holmes fell ill, Macfarren asked Mendelssohn to step in. Mendelssohn demurred:
I need not tell you with how great a pleasure I would have played your Sonata to-morrow, if I possibly could—for I hope you know this. And you also know that it is with true and sincere regret that I must say I am not able to undertake the task which you propose me. During the bustle of the last weeks I have not yet been able to become acquainted with your Sonata; the whole of this day and of to-morrow morning is taken up with different musical and unmusical engagements, and accordingly I would hardly have an hour till to-morrow night to play your Sonata over. This I cannot think sufficient, and I would not be able to do it justice in my own eyes. Do not misunderstand me and take this for false modesty; I know very well that I should be able to-morrow to play it through without stopping, and perhaps without wrong notes; but I attach too much importance to any public performance to believe that sufficient, and unless I am myself thoroughly acquainted with a composition of such importance and compass, I would never venture to play it in public. Once more I need not tell you how much I regret it, for you must know it very well.
Mr. Davison told me the Concert was now to begin with my Trio: I shall therefore be punctually with you to-morrow evening at half-past eight. I beg you will arrange about having a good piano of Erard’s at the room; they know there already which I like best.
Always very sincerely yours,
Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy.
The room was filled — “the presence of the most eminent musicians and dilettanti giving a character and importance to the audience not often observable apart from the Philharmonic.” The concert opened with a performance of Mendelssohn’s D minor Trio,  performed by Mendelssohn, Joachim and Hausmann “with a spirit, freshness, and brilliancy perfectly inapproachable by any other set of artists. The andante and the scherzo were encored.” [x] Later, Joachim, substituting for the ailing Holmes, played J. S. Bach’s Prelude and Fugue in G minor for violin solo (BWV 1001), after which he led a performance of Mendelssohn’s quartet in D, op. 44.
“The adagio and fugue in G minor, which Joachim volunteered, were delivered to perfection, and met with a unanimous encore,” reported the Morning Herald. “The more frequently this gifted lad plays the more extraordinary does he appear. Boy as he is, it does not seem that he has more to learn. He has all the energy, feeling, and judgement of the matured musician, and certainly he does not lack those acquirements of hand, which have hitherto been supposed attainable only by years of persevering practice. The vigorous fugue of old Bach he gave with the most complete readiness and precision; never faltering for an instant, or clouding the development of the subject in its interlacements by confused or insufficient workmanship. As a mere manual performance it was remarkable; but there was a fine intelligence pervading every bar in the highest degree gratifying, the more so as it was quite unlooked for.” [xi] The reviewer for The Polytechnic Review and Magazine, who took a decidedly negative view of the entire concert, demonstrated the risk of programming Bach’s solo works in the age of opera fantasias: “Young Joachim, in obedience to the Genius of Dulness, who seemed to have made these concerts the objects of her most particular care, played a dull tiresome fugue from one of Bach’s Violin Studies. The playing was marvellously good, and the music miraculously flat.” [xii]
Better than any review was a letter from a Miss Robinson, daughter of the Venerable Archdeacon Robinson, addressed to a Mr. Wood, and later forwarded to Macfarren:
14, Euston Square
June 8 
My dear Mr. Wood,
How much have we to thank you for! The Concert last night was a rare treat, and the boy Joachim is beyond my poor powers of description. He is ‘a marvel and a mystery’ if ever one existed. How I wish you could have heard him! It is impossible otherwise to form a notion of his power. Papa and I were convinced that, however wonderful, it seemed impossible that such a child could equal or even approach a master of the art like Ernst; but we came away satisfied that the impossibility was accomplished. I should say Joachim is fully equal to Ernst both in power of expression and execution. The firmness and delicacy of his touch (is that a right epithet for the violin?) and the taste with which he applies both, is something quite mysterious when you remember what a mere child he is. There is no accounting for it by any method of ordinary reasoning. He has been endowed with the gift, ‘the faculty divine,’ and that has lifted him above all education.
In case you have not seen him I will just give you an idea of his appearance. He is rather short for his age, and has shaggy hair which completely covers his brow and shades his eyes, which are deep set with an earnest sort of gaze in them, the eyebrows being slightly contracted, which throws an expression of thought and intellectual grasp over his countenance. He has a most genius-like awkwardness about his figure and great simplicity and childishness of carriage. His bow of acknowledgment to the thunders of the room seemed rather to say ‘do be quiet and let me be at it again,’ than the usual ‘I am much obliged to you’ air of a bow. He just gave it as a necessary quietus, and no more. His enthusiasm in playing was intense; in the pieces, at which he played seated, he would every now and then get up and every nerve appeared to thrill as the music burst into form at his spell, while at some of the soft wailing tone which his little instrument sent forth, he bent his head close to it and shut his eyes till you might well fancy it was a spirit breathing out his plaint into his master’s ear. His face is very pale and perfectly free from vanity or consciousness of being anything extraordinary; altogether, he is a very interesting looking child. So much for his personal appearance, which I hope has not been a tedious detail. I always, myself, like to have a picture to look at, and so I tried to give you one.
What am I to say of that ‘Boy-God’s’ solo and the quartett? They were both perfectly wonderful. The Fugue, played without notes, was delicious, and the extreme grace with which he managed the reiterations surprising. I thought the house would have been down with the shouting ‘again, again, encore,’ and the clapping and thumping. In the quartett he seemed to be the master-spirit of the thing and, without the slightest effort, accomplished the most difficult passages. His shake is beautiful, clear and distinct; I thought Ernst was matchless there, but this boy is his equal. The Concert was crowded to excess, so much so that even the orchestra up to the top was thronged. [xiv]
I return you Miss Robinson’s sprightly and clever letter with thanks for its perusal.
Joachim is surely a prodigious fellow — I do not mean a ‘prodigy.” This is a term that has been so abused that we conventionally understand it as a mountebanking charlatan. I assure you that on his instrument, in his general capacity for music, and in his mental powers in matters unconnected with the art, he is at once one of the most minded and most interesting persons I have ever known. It has been my great pleasure to be very intimate with him during his stay in London, and I have had perhaps better opportunities than most people of estimating his transcendent talents, for he has played my music and I have given him lessons during his sojourn. I speak therefore most advisedly, and I am most delighted to find that I am not alone in my opinion, but that he is generally understood and appreciated.
G. A. Macfarren
G. H. Wood, Esq.
Special dispensation was no longer necessary for Joseph to appear with the Philharmonic. At the beginning of his final week in England, he was invited, at Prince Albert’s request, to appear in the Sixth Philharmonic Concert, playing Ludwig Maurer’s Sinfonia Concertante, op. 55, for four violins, together with three veteran performers: his hero, Heinrich Wilhelm Ernst, Henry Blagrove, and Paganini’s protégé, Camilo Sivori. The concert, which also included Beethoven’s 5th Symphony, arias by Mozart and Bellini, William Sterndale Bennett’s Overture The Naiades, and a reprise of Mendelssohn’s incidental music to A Midsummer Night’s Dream, was to be attended by Queen Victoria, Prince Albert and their guest, the King of Saxony. [xvi]
Ernst, who had been in precarious health, was disinclined to play, and at first refused. At Mendelssohn’s request, he reconsidered, but only on the condition that he should play the first violin part. Sivori then objected, proposing that they draw lots to determine parts. Hearing this, Ernst again refused to participate. The French virtuoso Prosper Sainton was persuaded to fill in for Ernst, and it seemed as if the “show-lion quatour” was again en train. “At the rehearsal, however,” reported the Musical World, “when the four violinists were called upon, little Joseph Joachim, a good artist and true, seeing that Ernst was not present, was not to be persuaded by any argument to ascend the orchestra. He declared, and properly so, that he had only acceded to make one of the quartet on the understanding that Ernst was to lead it — and that though he would play any where, or any thing under the auspices of that great violinist, he would by no means place himself under the same control with any one else. Nothing could be more straight-forward than this, and the little violinist was as firm as a rock — not to be shaken. At last the directors were compelled to ask Mr. Willy to play; and Mr. Willy, with his usual good nature, consented. So that on Monday we had the advantage of hearing two first-rate English violinists (Blagrove and Willy), one first-rate Italian and one first-rate Frenchman (Sivori and Sainton), perform, before an English audience, one of the most supreme pieces of rubbish that ever was penned to flatter popular prejudice or tickle uncultivated ears.” [xvii]
On that Monday afternoon, Joseph played instead at Madame Dulcken’s soirée in the Great Concert Room of the Italian Opera House. According to the Musical World, “Mad. Dulcken’s soirée, in honor of Dr. Mendelssohn, was brilliantly attended, by amateurs and artists of the highest distinction. The Doctor delighted the company by several performances on the piano, and little Joachim, Goffrie, Hill, Hausman, Brizzi, Miss Rainforth, (who sang the Reislied, [sic] ‘Journey song,’ to the accompaniment of the great composer) and Madame Dulcken herself, helped to make up a musical treat of the most intellectual kind.” [xviii] That same week “the extraordinary little Joachim” also appeared in Mr. John Parry’s Concert and was present at the final dinner of the Melodists club, at which Ernst and Jacques Offenbach (on ‘cello) played solos.
London Standard, June 17, 1844, p. 3
On June 14,  “Master Joachim” made his final London appearance in a morning gala of gargantuan proportions, promoted by Julius Benedict, in the Great Concert Room of Her Majesty’s Theatre. Here again, the boy was in the most illustrious company. An advance notice boasted: “The giant concert of this most amiable man and distinguished musician takes place to-morrow morning… Not a name of any ability is absent from the programme — and we cannot doubt that the attendance will be as brilliant as the high merit of the beneficiaire and the unrivalled pretensions of his programme so richly deserve.” [xix] The distinguished roster of performers included, among others, Mendelssohn, Thalberg, Dulcken, Sivori, Lablache,  Staudigl, Costa, Parish-Alvars and Jacques Offenbach. Thirty-nine pieces were presented. Joseph played the Othello Fantasy “(by desire) […] (His last appearance in England.)” [xx]
That evening,two weeks prior to his 13th birthday, Joseph left for Leipzig with the English public at his feet. In his baggage was a gift from Thomas Alsager: a score of the Beethoven quartets. [xxi] The Musical World reported his departure:
JOSEPH JOACHIM left London on Friday night, by the Hamburgh steamer, for Leipsic where he goes to study under Hauptman, the contrapuntist. Query:— does he better himself by leaving Macfarren? But there are other educational reasons. Little Joseph’s departure will cause many a heart-pang. He is as much loved for his amiability, as for his most wonderful talent. He has no reason, we hope, to feel discontented with his reception in England.[xxii]
Joseph Joachim acknowledges the audience, London, 1844
This album-leaf is the joint effort of Julius Benedict and Felix Mendelssohn.
The drawing is probably Mendelssohn’s, and shows the young violinist from the conductor’s perspective. Note the proper accentuation of Joachim’s name, which is pronounced in the Hungarian manner: JOachim. [xxiii]
Joachim, little Joachim
Fare well, Fare well
and come back to us very soon
come soon, come soon back to us.
Mendelssohn says he can’t write any more
nothing, nothing. What a Malheur. Joachim, little Joachim,
don’t take it badly of me.
Since he won’t help,
it’s all over with my song.
I search and search in vain. Ei. ei. ei.
Joseph was to return as he had come — alone. Mendelssohn’s old friend Karl Klingemann escorted the youth safely to the ship. There, Joseph was entrusted to the supervision of the Hanoverian courier. The journey quickly became a nighmare. The weather was violent. The storm-tossed ship lost its mainmast, and was badly damaged. With the courier nowhere to be seen, the ship’s captain intervened to care for the seasick child. At Cuxhaven, Joseph eventually took it upon himself to find his protector. When he opened the cabin door, he found the courier lying dead on the floor with his throat slit.
Joachim’s English Repertoire March 28 — June 14, 1844 included at least the following works:
Bach Adagio and Fugue in G Minor, BWV 1001
Beethoven Violin Concerto, Op. 61
Beethoven Quartet Op. 59, No. 3
Beethoven Quartet in Bb Op. 130
Beethoven Quintet in C
de Bériot Andantino and Rondo Russe (from the Concerto No. 2 in B Minor, op. 32)
Ernst Othello Fantasy Haydn Quartet Hob. III: 70
Maurer Sinfonia Concertante, Op. 55 for four violins (prepared but ultimately not performed)
Mendelssohn Quartet in D Major, Op. 44 No. 1
Mendelssohn Trio in D Minor
Mozart Quartet K 421
Mozart Quartet K. 516
Spohr Concerto No. 8 in A Minor, Op. 47, Gesangsscene
 Perhaps Lady Macfarren was very short. Joachim, in any case, was not tall.
 “Macfarren’s theoretical system […] may have led him to write unusual chords and progressions,” wrote Macfarren’s friend Henry Banister; “certainly it led him to use unusual notation. Mendelssohn did not argue these matters with him, it may well be believed; but, when playing from Macfarren’s manuscript, would, on coming to such cases, cry out, in that quick way which is not to be forgotten by those who once heard it: ‘Mac, Mac, do you mean this?’ On an affirmative answer being given, he would simply say, ‘Very well, all right, go on,’ to the rest of the performers.” [Banister/MACFARREN, p. 81]
 The first English performance of the trio had occurred the previous year, also in one of the Davison-Macfarren concerts. The performers were Sterndale Bennett, Henry G. Blagrove and Charles Lucas. [Banister/MACFARREN, p. 98]
 Not May 19th, as stated in Moser/JOACHIM 1901, p. 55.
 Luigi Lablache (1794-1858) was the great bass singer of the age, and a great fan of Joseph’s violin playing. Moser relates how, whenever Joseph played something particularly well, “Lablache’s resonant voice” was sure to be heard from a corner of the room, with a loud and encouraging “serr gutt.” [Moser/JOACHIM 1898, p. 51] During Joseph’s English sojourn, Lablache on one occasion backed out of a previous performance commitment, so that he could appear on the same program with Joseph. “Joachim plays, then I sing,” he said. [Unpublished MS, British Library: Joachim Correspondence, bequest of Agnes Keep, Add. MS 42718, p. 199.]
Mendelssohn had been an occasional guest conductor with London’s Philharmonic Society Orchestra since his first appearance there in 1829. In 1843, the Society had come into financial difficulties, and, by engaging Mendelssohn to conduct the following season, they hoped to help rebuild their audiences and recoup their losses. It may not have pleased them, therefore, when Mendelssohn suggested an unknown 12-year-old as a soloist. The Philharmonic had a long-standing ban on appearances by children. In arranging Joachim’s debut, Mendelssohn, who himself had a well-known aversion to the exploitation of prodigies, was required to give personal assurances to the committee that his young protégé was no mere Wunderkind, but already “an eminent artist and a fine person.”
Portrait by Charles Baugniet in 1851
Courtesy of Raymond E. O. Ella, author-historian
Impresario John Ella claimed some of the credit for easing the committee’s skepticism, by including Joseph in what amounted to a series of high-profile auditions:
By special invitation, I accompanied a literary friend, in April 1844, to the residence of the late Madame Dulcken, Pianist to the Queen, to hear a youth play the violin. M. Dulcken was in doubt whether a boy of the age of Master Joachim, then fourteen [sic], would be allowed to play at the Philharmonic Concerts, and both Sir Henry Bishop and Sir George Smart were sceptical on the matter. On the Tuesday following, the youthful violinist came to my second weekly quartet union, and led Beethoven’s Quintet in C. At two other of my private musical gatherings Master Joachim played solos, or led quartets, and ultimately I mustered a notable assembly of musical lions to hear him play Beethoven’s Posthumous Quartet in Bb. Royalty and nobility crowded my room, but the most illustrious of the company comprised Mendelssohn, Moscheles, Dragonetti, Ernst, Lablache, Döhler, Offenbach, Benedict, Thalberg, Sainton, Sivori, Sir George Smart, Sir Henry Bishop, and Costa.[iii]
The Morning Post, May 15, 1844, p. 3
It seems that the original plan had been for Joseph to play Spohr’s Concerto No. 8, the Gesangsscene, but here again Ernst played a pivotal role in Joachim’s career; since Ernst had only weeks earlier played the same work, the choice fell by default to the Beethoven Violin Concerto, for which Joseph had provided cadenzas his own devising.
Joseph Joachim: Cadenza to the Rondo of Beethoven’s Violin Concerto “London, 12 May 1844 To my dear friend Hill for remembrance”
“The MS. of the cadenza to the Rondo of the concerto is now in the possession of Messrs. W. E. Hill & Sons, the well-known violin makers of New Bond Street. The following ‘account’ is attached to it:— Joseph Joachim: born 1831. A cadenza written by the great violinist, in 1844, for the Beethoven Concerto, when he was but thirteen years of age, and presented by him to the late Henry Hill, who was present on the occasion of its being played for the first time at an evening musical party. Joachim played the cadenza from memory, and took the musicians by surprise when he told them that it was his own composition, and to convince them that this was so (some doubts being expressed) he wrote this and presented it to Henry Hill.'” [F. G. Edwards, Professor Joachim’s English Jubilee, The Musical Herald and Tonic Sol-fa Reporter 552 (1 March, 1894): 70.] Henry Hill was a prominent London violist, and a member of the famous English family of violin makers. This manuscript was passed to Hill’s son Arthur F. Hill, and eventually found its way into the collection of Serge Lifar. It was sold at Sotheby’s on December 6, 2002.
This, too, must have been a controversial decision. Beethoven’s concerto had had a checkered career since the evening, just before Christmas, 1806, when Franz Clement first conjured it to life in Vienna’s Theater and der Wien. Though it had been championed by such eminent violinists as Luigi Tomasini (Berlin, 1812), Pierre Baillot (Paris, 1828) and Henri Vieuxtemps (Vienna, 1834), [iv] it had never garnered more than a succès d’estime in public performance. Many great violinists, including Ludwig Spohr, had rejected the work outright (“…that was all very fine,” Spohr later said to Joachim by way of congratulations after a performance in Hanover, “but now I’d like to hear you play a real violin piece.”). [v] The concerto’s London premiere, given in April 1832 by a Frankfurt native named Edward Eliason, had not impressed the critics. “Beethoven has put forth no strength in his violin concerto,” wrote the reviewer for the Hamonicon. “It is a fiddling affair, and might have been written by any third or fourth rate composer. We cannot say that the performance of this concealed any of its weakness, or rendered it at all more palatable.” [vi]
This difficult, reputedly disagreeable work was a risky choice, then, as a debut vehicle for a boy one month shy of his 13th birthday. For Joseph, as for Mendelssohn, the stakes for this performance were unusually high. Joseph’s success in meeting this challenge would have historic consequences, both for the boy and for the concerto.
A copy of the original program, signed in 1899 by Joseph Joachim, “the little fellow.”
Joseph’s May 27 Philharmonic debut took place at the Hanover Square Rooms.  The long and diverse program began at eight. The highlight of the evening promised to be Mendelssohn’s incidental music to A Midsummer Night’s Dream, featuring the first English performance of the celebrated Wedding March. The concert opened with a performance of Beethoven’s fourth symphony, followed by a mawkish duet, excerpted from the young Liverpudlian John Liptrott Hatton’s opera Pascal Bruno:
Stung by horror, shame, and anguish, Driven from her once loved home; Mid yon mountains, wild, and lonely, There she sought an early tomb. Holy hand her grave ne’er hallowed; Tears, none but his, her only child, Who swore thereon an oath of vengeance — Vengeance! as terrible as wild.
After that came Joseph and Beethoven’s “fiddling affair.” Mendelssohn’s account of the performance evokes the boisterous concert-going customs of the time, and vividly captures the atmosphere of exhilaration in the hall:
… The excitement into which [Joseph] had transported everyone, beginning with the rehearsal, was so great that a frenetic applause began as soon as he stepped in front of the orchestra, and lasted right up until the piece could begin. He then played the beginning so masterfully, so surely and well in tune, and, playing from memory notwithstanding, with such irreproachable security that the audience interrupted him three times before the first big Tutti, and then applauded throughout half of the Tutti. They likewise interrupted in the middle of his Cadenza, and after the first movement the noise only stopped because it needed to stop sometime, and because people’s hands and throats hurt from clapping and shouting. It was a great joy to be a fellow witness—and to see as well the boy’s quiet and secure modesty, immune from all temptation. After the first movement, he said softly to me: ‘I really am very frightened.’ The cheers of the audience accompanied every single part of the concerto throughout. When it was over and I took him down the stairs, I had to remind him that he should once more acknowledge the audience, and even then the thundering noise continued until long after he had again descended the steps, and was out of the hall. A better success the most celebrated and famous artist could neither hope for nor achieve.[viii]
“I well remember Mendelssohn’s bright look of pleasure and appreciative interest in his little friend,” witness Elizabeth Mounsey  recalled later. “As conductor, he turned towards the very young soloist, attired in short jacket and turned-down collar, so as to follow him dutifully, Mendelssohn’s own subordinate position appearing to give him a degree of amusement. But it was very beautiful to see the pleasure it gave him to regard the boy at his side, not only with admiration, but with honour.  Joachim, whose playing was so masterly, and whose whole manner was so thoughtful, was still boy enough to indulge in an unbecomingly full pocket at his side; one wondered what its contents might be!” [ix]
The ‘cellist Alfredo Piatti, making a London debut of his own that season, was also in the audience. Fifty years later, at a joint jubilee celebration, Piatti recalled the “little fat boy in tight trousers” who had made such a sensation that night. “He had blooming cheeks and a short jacket, and he stepped up on the platform at the Philharmonic Concert and played Beethoven’s violin concerto in such style that everybody was astonished. It was my good fortune to be very much associated with the little boy in after years; and his name was that of my friend, the great artist, Joseph Joachim.” [x]
Joseph emerged the lion of the hour, and even the most feared of reviewers were effusive in their praise. In the Athenaeum, the occasionally cantankerous Henry Chorley wrote: “Then came Beethoven’s Violin Concerto, played by Herr Joachim and, what is more, played with… Very few performers have come before us so satisfactory, and for the future so brightly promising as this boy; who seems, too, to possess a strong frame and a disposition so modest, as well as cheerful, that the perils of praise are less formidable than usual.” [xi]
The reviewer for The Musical World, probably J. W. Davison, was equally impressed:
Joachim’s rendering of Beethoven’s concerto was astonishing. Not only was it astonishing as coming from a comparative child, but astonishing as a violin performance, no matter from whom proceeding. The greatest violinists hold this concerto in awe. It is, we must own, not adapted to display advantageously the powers of the instrument — though a composition of great distinction, the first movement being in Beethoven’s highest manner. Young Joachim, however, attacked it with the vigour and determination of the most accomplished artist, and made every point tell. So well did he play, that we forgot how entirely unadapted for display was the violin part. No master could have read it better, no finished artist could have better rendered it. Tone, execution, and reading, were alike admirable — and the two cadences introduced by the young player were not only tremendous executive feats, but ingeniously composed — consisting wholly of excellent and musician-like workings of phrases and passages from the concerto. The reception of Joachim was enthusiastic, and his success the most complete and triumphant that his warmest friends could have desired. What Charles Filtsch  is upon the piano, Joseph Joachim is upon the violin, and he is, in common with that prodigious little genius, remarkable for the most attractive manners, the most amiable disposition, and the most intelligent and charming modesty. We wonder not that he should be such a favourite with Mendelssohn, who is ever the first to acknowledge and to nurture rising genius.[xii]
… now we come to the dictu mirabile monstrum, in the shape of a little boy of thirteen, who perhaps is the first violin player, not only of his age, but of his siècle. Of late years we have heard some prodigies, in the form of grown persons, as performers on that splendid instrument; but without severally enumerating them, or their merits, we can safely say that little Joachim is equal to any, or all of them, put together. His tone is of the purest cantabile character — his execution is most marvellous, and at the same time unembarrassed — his style is chaste, but deeply impassioned at moments; and his deportment is that of a conscious, but modest genius! He performed Beethoven’s solitary concerto, which we have heard all the great performers of the last twenty years attempt, and invariably fail in. On Monday last its performance was an eloquent vindication of the master-spirit who imagined it, and we might fearlessly add, that in the cadences, composed by the youth himself, there was as much genius exhibited as in the subject which gave birth to them. Joachim plays from memory, which is more agreeable to the eye of the auditor than to see anything read from a music-stand; it seems more like extemporaneous performance, and admits a greater degree of enthusiasm on the part of the instrumentalist. We never heard or witnessed such unequivocal delight as was expressed by both band and auditory.[xiii]
The reviewer concluded: “We did not think so much of the [Wedding] March as the rest of the audience, but “trahit sua quemque voluptas.”  Altogether it was a delightful concert; but we should like to see the programme of the next a little more varied.” [!]
Joachim, the boy violinist, astounded every amateur. The concerto in D, op. 61… has been generally regarded by violin-players as not a proper and effective development of the powers of their instrument… But there arrives a boy of fourteen [sic] from Vienna, who, after astonishing everybody by his quartett-playing, is invited to perform at the Philharmonic, the standard law against the exhibition of precocities at these concerts being suspended on his account. […] As for his execution of this concerto, it is beyond all praise, and defies all description. This highly-gifted lad stands for half-an-hour without any music, and plays from memory without missing a note or making a single mistake in taking up the subject after the Tutti. He now and then bestows a furtive glance at the conductor, but the boy is steady, firm, and wonderfully true throughout.
In the slow movement in C — that elegant expanse of melody which glides so charmingly into the sportive rondo — the intensity of his expression and the breadth of his tone proved that it was not merely mechanical display, but that it was an emanation from the heart — that the mind and soul of the poet and musician were there, and it is just in these attributes that Joachim is distinguished from all former youthful prodigies… Joachim’s performance was altogether unprecedented, and elicited from amateurs and professors equal admiration.
Mendelssohn’s unequivocal expression of delight and Loder’s look of amazement, combined with the hearty cheering of the band as well as auditory, all testified to the effect young Joachim had produced.[xiv]
Reports of Joseph’s success continued to appear. As late as August, Schumann’s Neue Zeitschrift für Musik reported: “The very youthful Jos. Joachim played in the 5th Philharmonic Concert, and aroused the liveliest sensation, and not simply through his virtuosity, but more through the maturity and capacity of comprehension, and the taste with which he performed the Beethoven Violin Concerto. He also retained these virtues elsewhere, through his outstanding quartet playing, and the partiality that he seems to hold for Bach’s works. Though, indeed, still a boy, Joachim is not one of those pitiable hothouse plants that our era is so rich in, and the tact with which he deflected all speculation that would stamp him as a Wunderkind is commendable.” [xv]
On the day after the concert, the thrill of the event still vivid in his mind, Mendelssohn sat down and penned the glowing letter to the Wittgensteins in Leipzig (from which the foregoing description of the concert was drawn):
Felix Mendelssohn to Herman Wittgenstein
I cannot neglect to tell you, at least with a few words, what an unheard-of, unprecedented success our dear Joseph has had with his performance of the Beethoven Concerto yesterday evening in the Philharmonic concert. The cheers of the entire audience, the unanimous love and esteem of all musicians, the warm affection of all who are genuinely interested in music and who base the fairest hopes upon such a talent — all that was expressed yesterday evening. You are to be thanked that you and your wife were responsible for bringing this exceptional boy into our midst; you have my thanks for all the joy he has given me in particular; and if heaven keep him in good and sound health, everything else that we wish for him will not then fail to be forthcoming — or rather, it cannot fail, for he no longer needs to become an eminent artist and a fine person: he is both already, as certainly as a boy of his age can be or ever has been. […]
With this [successful concert], the chief object of a first English visit has been, in my opinion, fully attained: every one here who is interested in music is his friend and will remember him. Now I wish, as you know, that he should soon return to a perfectly tranquil life, retiring entirely from public playing in order that he may use the next two or three years to develop his inner resources in every regard, practicing his art in all those areas in which there is still room for improvement without neglecting that which he has already achieved, composing industriously, and even more industriously going for walks and caring for his physical development, so that in three years’ time the youth may be as healthy in mind and body as the boy. I consider this impossible without perfect peace and quiet; may this be granted in addition to all the good things that Heaven has given him.
This letter is intended for your wife as well as for yourself; now just a short farewell from your most devoted,
Arrival of Hermann Wittgenstein at the Port of London
On the 5th of June, Fanny Wittgenstein sent a transcript of this letter to Joseph’s parents in Pest, along with the following lines:
Fanny Wittgenstein to Julius and Fanny Joachim [xvii]
Leipzig, 5 June 44
Dear Aunt and Dear Uncle,
It is a sweet task for me to add my joyous news to the many gratifying reports that you have received from London and Vienna about our Jos, for I have been a witness to a part of his success! Although it was a 14-day [journey], I could not resist the temptation of traveling to London with my dear Papa and my Hermann, and (perhaps foolishly) left my 4 children in the care of my servants and my brother-in-law. It was a great joy to see how Jos. is universally acknowledged and appreciated, how even ladies of the first rank approach him with interest, how he delights everyone with his talent and his modesty, and is therefore dearly loved by everyone. Fortunate parents, what joys still await you! How often have we regretted that you, especially, are not present to witness his triumphs! You know how Mendelsohn [sic], this marvelous, independent artist, dotes on Jos. — in order to demonstrate this properly, I send you a transcript of the letter that we received from him yesterday. As you shall see, he wishes for Jos. to devote several perfectly tranquil years to his studies, with particular attention paid to his health. Leipzig, which is home to so much genuine edification, because it does not possess the distracting temptations of larger cities, is a suitable place for him to live; we love him like our own child, and again accept him gladly, to watch over him with parental love (if I may say so), although it is a difficult challenge. Jos. is what he should be — a child — but a marvelous child; only precocious in the development of his art. This weekend, I will go to the countryside near Dresden with the children; there he should fully recuperate and then he will return diligently to work. The children are well, thank God. I congratulate you and dear Hany. Dear Uncle and dear Aunt, may you enjoy your grandchildren as much as you enjoy your children. Affectionate greetings to all of you dear ones from Fany Wst.
Joseph conquers the world, from Joachim’s autograph book, 1844. Drawing attributed to John Callcott Horsley , Perhaps by Charles Edward Horsley
The Musical Post, May 17, 1844, p. 1
The “perfectly tranquil life” would have to wait until Joseph’s return to Leipzig. Following his brilliant debut, invitations to perform flooded in from all quarters. Joseph’s reputation reached as far as Windsor, where, on June 4th, he was called to give a command performance at a state concert before Queen Victoria and the Prince Consort, together with their guests Emperor Nicholas of Russia, Frederick Augustus II, King of Saxony, the Duke of Wellington and Sir Robert Peel. [xix] He traveled to Windsor with his Uncle Bernhard, returning the next day. [xx] Joseph performed Ernst’s Othello Fantasy, and Bériot’s Andantino and Rondo Russe, [xxi] accompanied by the Queen’s private band, and received a golden watch and chain from the Queen for his efforts. [xxii] For the young “Hungarian Boy,” not yet thirteen years of age, the story of these days, which hovers so close to the world of myth, had already become the founding narrative of his incomparable English career.
 “There will be nothing left for me to do than to choose to play the Beethoven concerto (since Ernst played the Gesangsscene in the 2nd concert).” [Joachim to David, Joachim/BRIEFE I, p. 5.] Joseph was paid 5 guineas for his performance (a guinea being equal to one pound, one shilling — there are 20 shillings in a pound). Five guineas was the same fee that Louise Dulcken got that season for the first English performance of Chopin’s Second Piano Concerto. Sivori was paid £11 for two consecutive concerto appearances, and Spohr £30 for a command concert and a concerto. [Ehrlich/PHILHARMONIC, p. 56.]
 “These same Hanover-square Rooms are the arcana of a mysterious temple, and many and beautiful and powerful have been the worshippers within its walls,” wrote TheIllustrated London News in 1843. “Here are held many of the gay subscription assemblies of the London season — and here the stately and aristocratic ball of the Royal Academy holds its fancy court… But Music is the true genius of these halls — the concert is their lawful revelry, and to an annual round of musical celebration — soirée and matinée — are they devoted as sacredly as was ever patriot to the altar of country. In these rooms enthusiastic assemblies have heard evoked the genius of some of the finest spirits of the age. From that orchestra Paganini, with almost unearthly presence, enthralled hearts and souls with the magician power of an instrument, oracular with strength and beauty, and poetry, and his touch alone! There Liszt flooded the raptured sense with wonder and delight as he opened up the stores of Genius — and in marvellous and gushing harmonies seemed, with an almost hallowed inspiration, to improvise the very music of the spheres. […] Now, turn from the orchestra to the company, and see what a graceful assembly you have. Peer curiously among them, and ten to one but you discover people of renown — great critics, or men of literary fame — artists, professionals, and musical amateurs. There is always something bright, cheerful, and exhilarating about the atmosphere of the Hanover-square Rooms, and often are they honoured with the presence of royalty.” [The Illustrated London News, Vol. 2, No. 60 (June 24, 1843), p. 439.]
 A musical acquaintance of Mendelssohn’s, Elizabeth Mounsey was from the age of fourteen the organist of St. Peter’s Church, Cornhill. A musical souvenir (Bach Passacaglia in C Minor) that Mendelssohn gave her when he played the church organ in 1840 is still preserved in the organ gallery of the church. “Miss Bessie” Mounsey became an associate of the Philharmonic Society in 1842. Her sister’s husband, William Bartholomew, was the translator of the libretto to Mendelssohn’s Elijah. The work received its first English reading by the sisters in Miss Mounsey’s home. Elizabeth Mounsey died October 3, 1905, just days before her 86th birthday. [“Elizabeth Mounsey,” The Musical Times, Vol. 46, No. 753 (Nov. 1, 1905), pp. 718-721.]
 Singer Elise Polko similarly described Mendelssohn’s supportiveness as a conductor: “No words can describe Mendelssohn’s exceeding kindness to me when I sang at the Gewandhaus. He moved his conductor’s desk forward, which was quite unusual, so that it was close beside me, and I could see him just before me in order to inspire me with courage, and how good-naturedly he nodded and glanced at me while conducting! … Mendelssohn had always a cheering word for the timid singer. ‘Mademoiselle, you always do your work so admirably; but I can see by your face this evening that you intend fairly to bewitch the public;’ or, ‘Now just for the next half-hour imagine that your are the first singer in Europe; and so will I;’ or, ‘Let us try to turn Ferdinand Böhme’s head altogether to-day with delight.’ Oh! who could ever forget all those kind words, and the kind face, too!” [Polko/MENDELSSOHN, pp. 103-104].
 Charles Filtsch (1830-1845) was Chopin’s most gifted pupil, about whom Franz Liszt is reported to have said “When that boy begins to travel, I will close shop.” He died, tragically young, in Venice.
 “When, at the end of the season, Joachim was leaving London, I accompanied him to Claudet’s Daguerreotype Studio, at the old Adelaide Gallery in the Strand, for the purpose of sitting for some portraits, a process which was very different from that we experience in these days of photography, for instead of seconds, the patient — or shall I say victim? — had to remain in one position for several minutes. Joseph Joachim gave me one of these pictures, which, notwithstanding the years that have elapsed, is still in perfect preservation, and my readers will rejoice at the opportunity of seeing what this great artist was like when he first visited London.” Walter Cecil Macfarren, F.R.A.M., Memories, London & New York: Walter Scott Publishing Co., 1905, pp. 37-39. In March, 1840, Antoine Claudet (1797-1867), a student of Louis Daguerre, purchased the first Daguerreotype license for England for £200. He operated his studio in the Adelaide Gallery, behind St. Martin in the Fields, from 1841-1851.
Concertmaster John David Loder (1788-1846), a member of a prominent English musical family.
 John Callcott Horsley (1817-1903) was a British painter, and is credited with designing the first commercially produced Christmas card. His brother, Charles Edward Horsley (1822-1876), was a composer and a pupil of Mendelssohn. C. E. Horsley lived in Leipzig from 1841-1843.
Thomas Massa Alsager. By and published by Richard Dighton, reissued by Thomas McLean, hand-coloured etching, published August 1823
Thomas Massa Alsager (‘The mirror of the Times’)Thomas Massa Alsager (‘The mirror of the Times’)
National Portrait Gallery, London
Music-making in early 19th Century London owed much of its character to the enthusiasm and enterprise of musical amateurs. Among them, none had a greater influence, or left a greater legacy, than the co-owner, financial writer and sometime music critic of the Times, Thomas Massa Alsager. At a time when Beethoven’s works were still struggling for recognition, Alsager was a devoted advocate for the most difficult of them: the later string quartets and sonatas that even today elude many sophisticated audiences. Many of Beethoven’s works received their first English performances — often by distinguished artists — at Alsager’s home at 26 Queen Square, Bloomsbury. Larger works were not excepted: the English premiere of Beethoven’s Missa solemnis took place there on December 24, 1832 conducted by Ignaz Moscheles. Alsager’s pioneering work on behalf of the Beethoven quartets culminated in a remarkable series of five concerts, held at two-week intervals between April 21st and June 16th 1845, in which the entire cycle of sixteen quartets (excluding the Grosse Fuge) was performed for the first time. Every concert featured at least one selection each from Beethoven’s early, middle and late quartets. Beautifully engraved programs and special pocket scores were printed for each occasion, to help the audience of 250 in their understanding of the works at hand. Listeners were requested to arrive at 8:00 o’clock for the 8:30 performances, to give them time to prepare their minds, and to assure that, once commenced, the music making would not be interrupted. [i]
“Honor to Beethoven”
Admission token for a concert of the Beethoven Quartett Society
Alsager committed suicide in 1846, on the anniversary of his wife’s funeral. Nevertheless, with the exception of 1849, the performance of the complete Beethoven cycle by the “Beethoven Quartett Society” continued as an annual spring feature of the London season until 1851. It would be forty-three years before it would be performed again in its entirety.  A contemporary reviewer commented upon the significance that these concerts had for the reception of Beethoven’s late works in England and beyond:
The Society’s concerts put an end to the controversy about the merit of Beethoven’s last quartets. Everything that used to be called eccentric, confused, linked to the excesses of a disorderly, unbalanced imagination resulting from the composer’s deafness, was actually only the product of the works’ originality which remained inaccessible to the uninitiated listener. In these brilliant recitals, the late Beethoven quartets were played with such exactness, such finesse of expression and nuances, with so much fire and impetus that they finally emerged in the purity of their architecture. They are listened to with most profound rapture. Unanimous opinion places them at the summit of this genre of composition.[ii]
One of the beautifully produced programs from the 1845 Beethoven Quartett Society Concerts. Poetry, musical incipits and program notes helped to do “Honor to Beethoven” and to spread the gospel of the Beethoven string quartets. The concerts were held at 76 Harley Street, the home of Louis Julienne (1812-1860), the colorful director of the Drury Lane Theater. Hector Berlioz stayed there on his 1847 visit to London.
Over the years, Mendelssohn had been a familiar participant at Alsager’s gatherings, performing both as a pianist and violist. On Thursday May 16th, 1844, having recently arrived from Berlin, he responded to Alsager’s invitation for the following Sunday: “Of course I shall be most happy to be allowed to assist to your musical Séance. . . I need not assure you that I will be at your house as early as I can, & you know very well how happy I shall be to shake you again by the hand & to perform on the Tenor [viola] or if that cannot be on the Piano as much of Beethoven’s music, and as little of mine as you possibly can give me.” [iv] Joseph was also invited to participate in the event, at which he delighted Mendelssohn with his performance of one of his “musical father’s” piano quartets. In the course of his stay in London, Joseph was a frequent guest at Thomas Alsager’s home, and a frequent partaker in the music-making there. [v] As a parting gift, Alsager presented Joseph with the Beethoven quartets in score.
On his second visit to London, in 1847, Joseph took part in the Beethoven Quartett Society’s ground-breaking performances, together with veteran performers Sainton, Hill, Thomas and Rousselot.  During that same 1847 visit, Joachim and the great Italian ‘cellist Alfredo Piatti  began a legendary chamber music partnership that lasted until Piatti’s retirement in 1898.
 By Eduard Rappoldi and colleagues in Dresden. The Joachim Quartet did not perform the entire cycle until 1903. See: Mahaim/CYCLES, pp. 541-547.
 Violinist Prosper Sainton, violist Henry Hill and ‘cellist Scipion Rousselot were original members of the Beethoven Quartett Society.
 Alfredo Piatti (1822-1901) had been discovered, destitute and ill and playing on a borrowed instrument, by Franz Liszt, who, with characteristic generosity, bought him an Amati cello and introduced him in Paris. Shortly thereafter, Piatti made his London debut — on May 31, 1844, four days after Joachim. Longtime friends, Joachim and Piatti celebrated the 50th anniversary of their debuts together.