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conclusion of the march applauded vociferously. We then started the “Beautiful Blue https://twitter.com/ggmoa1 Danube,” and in the second bar the electric lights of the hall blazed up again. The following evening the chief of the fire department and other city officials appeared, and with several bottles of champagne toasted the orchestra and its conductor for their “great life-saving act” of the evening before.
On Sundays there were no concerts, and they became blessed days of peace and rest. I usually spent them at the country place of a friend—a roomy, hospitable, Southern mansion, delicious noon dinner, and afterward a lazy, happy time on the lawn, watching the horses, beautiful, full-blooded, Kentucky bred, gambolling about without saddle or bridle, like young puppies, according to the old-established Sunday custom of the place. To the Kentuckian the love for his horses and pride in their qualities is part of the romance of his life; at least it was in those days, long before the automobile had made its appearance.
The many concerts at the Louisville Exposition, coming at the beginning of my career as an orchestral conductor, gave me enormous routine and acquaintance with the entire orchestral repertoire.
I found the South exceedingly receptive. New Orleans had, of course, been a supporter of French opera for years—its opera-house was one of the most charming I had ever seen—but I also established new centres for music, one of which developed very successfully in the little town of Spartanburg, South Carolina. The impulse here came from the Converse College for Women, which has a high reputation in the South. The young ladies of this institution formed the nucleus of a large and well-trained chorus of two hundred and fifty voices. I went there with my orchestra every spring for over ten years. We succeeded in building up a great love and appreciation for music there and in other near-by places, as it was the custom for the alumnæ of the college to return to Spartanburg for Music Festival week and then to carry back and spread their musical enthusiasm in their home towns.
Gradually I penetrated farther and farther West. In 1904 I made a tour as far as Oklahoma City with the orchestra and quite a large group of solo singers, with whom I gave excerpts from Wagner’s “Parsifal,” connecting the various numbers with a few explanatory remarks. The tour was highly successful, as the public had read much about the first performances of “Parsifal” at Bayreuth and New York, and were keen to hear the music. I recall an amusing incident in Oklahoma City. Our concert had been scheduled as part of a course of entertainments under a local manager. The theatre was crowded and I had just finished the Prelude to “Parsifal” and was ready to begin the excerpts from the first act, when suddenly the manager popped up on the stage and addressed the audience somewhat as follows: “Ladies and gentlemen: I am proud to see so many of you here to-night and take this opportunity of announcing to you that I have already made arrangements for next season for a course which will be in every respect finer than the one I am giving you this year! I also would like to announce that Stewart’s Oyster Saloon will be open after the concert for lunch.” (Sic.) This was, however, our only interruption, and the rest of the music was listened to with evident interest and enthusiastic approval.
After the concert was over, as I left by the stage door to return to my hotel, I was met by the crowd of people descending from the top gallery. A young man who had been lounging against the stage entrance went up to one of the men who was coming out of the theatre and said: “Well, how was it, Jim?” and Jim answered: “This show ain’t worth thirty cents.” The woes of Amfortas and the lilting measures of the Flower Maidens had evidently not appealed to this young Oklahoman!
In contrast to this experience I should like to relate what happened another time when we were giving a symphony concert, perhaps the first ever heard there, at Fargo, North Dakota. Efrem Zimbalist, delightful man and artist, was our soloist on this tour, and after the concert, when we met for supper, he related with shouts of laughter that while I was playing the “Lenore” Symphony, by Raff, he was sitting behind the scenes of the “opera-house”—every Western city has a “grand opera-house”—listening to the music, when a cowboy, young, handsome, in flannel shirt, high boots, slouch hat, etc., came on the stage and sat down amicably next to him. The cowboy was perhaps a little “mellow,” as this was before the days of national prohibition, but he evidently had a musical ear, although he had never before in his life heard a symphony orchestra. Every time that the music developed into a kind of joyous climax, he would grab Zimbalist’s knee in convulsive delight and shout: “God damn it, but I like that music!” Then he would sit in rapt silence until the next outburst, when he would again grab Zimbalist and shout: “They can go to hell, but they know how to play!” We all envied this man, because, no matter how much we may appreciate music, we have heard so much that we can never again experience the thrill of hearing a symphony orchestra for the first time in our lives.