Carreño at Carnegie Hall, 1897 – 1916

Posted on October 1, 2014 by

Five years after the opening night (May 5, 1891) of Carnegie’s new Music Hall, Teresa Carreño made her appearance on January 8, 1897. This appearance was one of thirty-two performances she gave at Carnegie Hall, the last one occurring on December 8, 1916—six months before her death on June 12, 1917.1 Of these thirty-two performances, Carreño appeared in twenty-three as a soloist with full orchestra, and in nine as featured solo pianist.

In Documenting Teresa Carreño, I have curated content about each of these performances by creating an individual record for each with the following: description – repertoire, conductor, orchestra, time of concert, and ticket prices; primary source citations – advertisements, announcements, reviews, and concert programs; coverage – temporal (dates) and geographic (location); tags – venue [i.e. Carnegie Hall], geographic location [i.e. New York – New York], year, composer and composition title of repertoire performed by Carreño. Whenever possible, I have added links to primary source materials that are available in the public domain or as digital objects, so they can be accessed online and to encourage greater interest in Carreño’s performance career. In addition to researching details about her appearances in Carnegie Hall documented in nineteenth and twentieth-century newspapers and music journals, I accessed the Carnegie Hall Performance History Search, which contains records of performances at Carnegie Hall from 1891 through 1950, to verify details related to each of Carreño’s performances.

Carreño’s thirty-two performances at Carnegie Hall span the course of nineteen years (1897-1916), all of which occurred following her move from the United States to Germany in 1889. Her return to the United States began with her concert at Carnegie Hall on January 8, 1897 and January 9, 1897 with the New York Philharmonic under the direction of Anton Seidl and featured her playing Rubinstein’s Piano Concerto No. 4, Op. 70. During 1897, she gave a total of six concerts, four with the New York Philharmonic (Anton Seidl, Walter Damrosch) and two as solo recitals. Announcements for her return to the United States were printed throughout the previous fall season (1896) and the public eagerly anticipated her entrance into their musical seasons once more. The New York Times announced:

Mme. Teresa Carreno, whose portrait appears in the magazine supplement of today’s Times, has not been heard in this country for over twelve years. She revisits it under the management of Mr. Rudolph Aronson, who has already arranged for her a series of forty concerts. She will arrive in New-York Jan. 5. Jan. 6 the Manuscript Society will give her a reception. Two days later, Jan. 8, she will appear at the Schubert festival with the Philharmonic Society Orchestra, Anton Seidl, leader. Then follow concerts in Boston with the Symphony Orchestra of that city, on her return from which she will appear here with Walter Damrosch and the Symphony Society. Most of her other concerts will be in the West, some with Franck van der Stucken and the Cincinnati Society, the others with the Chicago Orchestra and Theodore Thomas. 2

After her initial return to the United States in 1897, Carreño did not again perform in Carnegie Hall until 1899. During that year, she appeared in two performances with the Boston Symphony Orchestra (William Gericke) and two with the New York Philharmonic (Emil Paur). This was followed by two recitals with the New York Philharmonic (Emil Paur) in 1900 and one solo recital in 1901. She spent the next six years touring Europe, Australia, and New Zealand before returning once more to the United States. She appeared five times at Carnegie Hall, once with the New York Symphony Orchestra (Walter Damrosch) in 1907, followed by two performances with the New York Philharmonic (Vasily Il’ich Safonov), one with the Boston Symphony Orchestra (Karl Muck), and one solo recital in 1908. In a New York Times review following her December 22, 1907 concert at Carnegie Hall, the critic wrote:

Mme. Carreño was enthusiastically greeted, and the expectations that her greeting implied were wholly realized by her playing. It was a superbly spirited performance of Tschaikowsky’s works, passionate, fiery, and eloquent, highly individual in eliciting the meaning and full value of every phrase, yet never losing sight of the larger proportions of the work. Mme. Carreño’s playing in other years has sometimes seemed extravagant and extreme in its treatment of the sonorities of the piano; but there was nothing of this in her performance yesterday. 3

Carreño’s performance at Carnegie Hall on March 31, 1908 took place as part of the MacDowell Memorial Concert given in honor of Edward MacDowell who died on January 23, 1908. On this occasion, she performed his Piano Concerto No. 2, Op. 23, a composition dedicated to her by the composer. Carreño followed this piece with his Etude de Concert, Op. 36. The following year (1909), she returned to Carnegie Hall in two concerts with the New York Philharmonic Society (Gustav Mahler) and two solo recitals, one of which also featured the soprano, Lillian Nordica.4. Following the November 25, 1909 performance under the direction of Gustav Mahler, a critic wrote: “Mme. Teresa Carreno was the soloist, reappearing for the first time in New York after an absence of a couple of seasons. She made a mighty break in the hard and fast traditional line of concerted pieces that form the pianistic repertory, and played Weber’s “Concertstueck.” She played it brilliantly, with much of its somewhat flamboyant sweep of line, and without that excess of power that has marked some of her performances in the past. The work, it must be confessed, sounds a little old-fashioned to-day; some of its heroics are only mock heroics, and it flounders ostentatiously with the true Weber flourish. But it is more worth hearing that some of the other pieces that still remain in the pianistic repertory, and its performance was much enjoyed.” 5

During her cross-country tour of the United States, which continued through the spring of 1910, she made one appearance at Carnegie Hall with the New York Symphony Orchestra (Walter Damrosch) before heading out west and eventually making her way for a second tour of Australia and New Zealand, this time with several stops in South Africa. Carreño did not return to the United States until her tour of 19131914, during which she gave five concerts at Carnegie Hall, three with the New York Philharmonic Society (Josef Stransky) and two solo recitals. During the fall season of 1916, Carreño returned to the United States, settling permanently in New York City. She performed in two concerts with the New York Philharmonic (Josef Stransky) and gave her final solo recital at Carnegie Hall on October 27, 1916, which was reviewed in the New York Times, and garnered the following praise:

Mme. Teresa Carreño, for long years repeatedly a visitor to New York as an artist, reappeared here last evening in a pianoforte recital in Carnegie Hall for the first time in several seasons. She was warmly greeted by an audience not large in numbers, but highly appreciative of her playing. Time was when Mme. Carreño was considered a Valkyrie of the pianoforte; when tempestuous power was the distinguishing mark of her playing. It is no longer so; her art has mellowed and gained refinement in these later years. She played better last evening than she did at her previous visit to New York. Mme. Carreño cultivates now beauty of tone and some reserve in the proclamation of even the most elemental passions, and in passages of tenderer and softer emotion her tone and expression are reduced to a finespun thread…She has been for years one of the devoted exponents of the pianoforte music of her one-time pupil, Edward MacDowell, whose music she plays with authority and intimate understanding. Last evening she offered his “Keltic” Sonata, Op. 59. 6

One of the aspects about Carreño’s career that I am interested in analyzing is the repertoire she performed over the course of her fifty-five year long career. The sampling of Carnegie Hall concerts provides nineteen years of data, which gives us a glimpse into her range and repertoire knowledge. In order to easily view the repertoire and composers she performed at the Carnegie Hall concerts, I created a spreadsheet and identified the following column headers: year of each performance, ensemble name, composition title, composer, and conductor. I then used OpenRefine to clean the data and used facets to view frequencies across repertoire and composers. Once the data was cleaned, I uploaded sections into RAW a web-based tool that let’s you create vector-based visualizations on top of the D3.js library. Using RAW, I generated visualizations (alluvial diagrams), which can be more powerful than a table with numerical data based on the fields listed above. These visualizations exclude encores given at the concerts and are based only on the repertoire listed in the concert programs and cross-checked with reviews and advertisements printed in periodicals. I split my data into the following selections: most frequently performed composers (Figure 1), most frequently performed solo works (Figure 2), most frequently performed works for solo piano and orchestra (Figure 3), and full list of repertoire and composers (Figure 4).

Looking at the thirty-two Carnegie Hall concerts as a group, we can see that she performed compositions [excluding encores] by the following fifteen composers: Chopin, Liszt, MacDowell, Beethoven, Schumann, Tchaikovsky, Brahms, Rubinstein, Schubert-Tausig, Grieg, Schubert, Regina Watson, J. S. Bach, Smetana, and Weber. This can be visualized with an alluvial diagram (Figure 1), which displays the composers on the left, organized by frequency of most to least performed composer by Carreño at Carnegie Hall, with corresponding years on the right.

 

Figure 1. Most frequently performed composers

Figure 1. Most frequently performed composers

 

The following diagram (Figure 2) shows the most frequently performed compositions with corresponding composer and year, which Carreño performed in nine solo recitals in 1897, 1901, 1908, 1909, 1913, 1914, and 1916. The previous group of fifteen composers now decreases to twelve, including: Chopin, Liszt, MacDowell, Beethoven, Schumann, Brahms, Schubert-Tausig, Rubinstein, Regina Watson, Schubert, Smetana, and Bach. Her solo recitals regularly featured between five and twelve compositions and frequently included several encores.

 

Figure 2. Most frequently performed solo works

Figure 2. Most frequently performed solo works

 

Her repertoire during these twenty-three appearances consisted of an impressive number of compositions: fifty-one individual pieces by twelve composers. Over the course of these nine recitals, she performed the greatest number of works by Chopin (28), followed by Liszt (10), MacDowell (9), Beethoven (8), and Schumann (7). The majority of these solo works were repeated only once or twice over the course of her appearances at Carnegie Hall.

Turning to the twenty-three concerts for which Carreño performed with orchestra, we can see in Figure 3 that she performed eight works for piano and orchestra by the following seven composers: Tchaikovsky, Grieg, Liszt, MacDowell, Beethoven, Rubinstein, and Weber. The most frequently performed composition was Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat Minor, Op. 23, appearing on the program nine times between 1899 and 1913, while Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 16 received four performances between 1899 and 1914.

 

Figure 3. Most frequently performed works for piano and orchestra

Figure 3. Most frequently performed works for piano and orchestra

 

 

 

Her thirty-two concerts taken as a whole can be seen in the following visualization (Figure 4).

Figure 4. Full list of repertoire and composers

Figure 4. Full list of repertoire and composers

 

This repertoire sample of sixty compositions performed by Carreño during her thirty-two appearances at Carnegie Hall between 1897 and 1916 requires much greater study and comparison to the repertoire trends of other musicians during this time, as well as historical context pertaining to social tastes, performance reception, as well as politics, and musical developments. This sampling can provide some insight into her ability to master a wide range of compositional styles, ability to recall a large repertory (from memory), as well as her preferences for certain composers and compositions. A comparison of repertoire performed during these years at Carnegie Hall by other pianists would also be interesting to consider. In addition, this sample encourages us to ask more questions and make comparisons between the works selected for performance at Carnegie Hall concerts versus those she performed in smaller towns or cities across the United States. As I curate additional content about Carreño’s performances in other cities across the United States and internationally, I hope that patterns will begin to emerge, which will better inform my own understanding of her as a musician and that of others interested in her career and the musical developments of this period.

 

  1. The total performance count is based on programs held at Carnegie Hall Archives, as well as other available primary source materials.
  2.  New York Times, October 18, 1896: 11.
  3.  New York Times, December 23, 1907: 9.
  4. Biographical article about Lillian Nordica, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lillian_Nordica
  5.  New York Times, November 26, 1909: 9.
  6.  New York Times, October 28, 1916: 11.
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