Francisco de Noronha to the Public and to his Friends.
The Editor of The Tribune is entreated to publish in his respected journal the following lines, addressed to the public and my friends, as a satisfaction which I owe them and which is exacted by my honor both as a man and an artist.
I had publicly engaged to give a Concert in which was to be assisted by Madame Otto and the Messrs. Timm and Hill, the first on the piano, the second as director of the orchestra which was to accompany me.
Mr. Hill demanded of me for the orchestra fifty-five dollars,* and Madame Otto forty, paid in advance. Not being able to satisfy her as to this condition, I offered her a written obligation for the sum, to be signed by myself and Mr. Stailknecht, who had the goodness to aid me in this part of the affair and in all that followed.—When I went to sign this obligation, after the programme had been published, Mr. Otto demanded fifty dollars. I said Mr. Hill had told me it would be but forty. He replied that Mr. Hill had nothing to do with the engagement of his wife, and, as the programme had been published, I acquiesced in his demand and signed for fifty dollars.
I had had two rehearsals with the orchestra, and Mr. Hill had demanded no such contract for the payment of him or his musicians, and, as to Mr. Timm, we had not even agreed upon a price, for I treated all these gentlemen as one treats men of heart and honor. Unhappily for me, I was deceived in my anticipations, both as to the success of my Concert and the conduct to be expected from the persons who were engaged to assist me.
At the appointed hour I went to the Concert room. Soon the noise announced that the hour had passed, and I was about to ask why they did not begin, when it was announced to me that that the orchestra would not play unless they were paid beforehand, and that the receipts would not even suffice to pay for the use of the hall. When I said, let us proceed with the aid of Madame Otto, who will feel herself sufficiently secured by our signatures, and of Simm, who is a distinguished artist, and, when I rember as one of the Committee of the German benevolent Society at whose Concert I first had the honor to play before a New-York audience.
But Madame Otto and her husband insisted on being paid upon the spot, and Mr. Hill, to give a climax to the whole, addressed himself to the people of the Concert room to put out the lights, supposing me base enough to fall on all points of my engagemets to those who had done me the honor of being present on this unhappy occasion. But my friends explained to me what was going on. Mr. Stallprecht gave to the keeper of the room what had been received from the sale of the Tickets and I entered, hoping, by the aid of the good powers and the indulgence of the public, to fulfill some part of my engagement. My wife seated herself at the Piano to play for the first time in her life before the public and we performed what Merceaux we could, she not being able to accompany me in those which had been announced.
I understand it is reported that, seeing the audience so small at my concert, I dismissed my assistants to diminish my expenses. I swear by my honor that I would, if I had had the money, have lavished it in any measure to satisfy these gentlemen, for it is not for money that a man of honor can fail his word, more sacred to him than all the contracts and writings in the world.
These are the facts of the transaction. In relating them I am not impelled by hostility toward these gentlemen.—Each man thinks and acts as he can, or as he has been taught from his childhood.
I wish warmly to thank the refined company which has honored me with its presence. I thank my frends, and Mr. Boucher, who arriving at the end of six pieces which I had played without taking breath, wished, with the feelings of a true Artist, to come to my assistance.—I thank also the three or four musicians who wished to accompany me, if Mr. Hill would have consented.
I am compelled to attempt another Concert, which will be my last before leaving to continue my journey. I engage before hand that I will be assisted by none but true Artists, and for my wife that, not being a musician, she will recite some of her poems to fill up the evening.
FRANCISCO DE LA NORONHA.
New-York, 6th May, 1846.
Not being present at the concert, we only heard to-day that the circumstances stated above, or they would have received earlier notice. We heard them from persons present, who, without any previous interest in the Artist, were excited to the highest pitch of indignation at the treatment to which he was subjected and of sympathy with the manner in which he conducted himself under it.
As to those persons who, having engaged to assist him, and being on the spot in readiness, could thus insult and injure a foreigner unable to speak a word of English or defend himself in any way, and a refined gentleman as who can doubt from the tone of his letter, we can only wish that a just fate and the chances of their professional career may bring back that occasion to their memory in the way they deserve.
We look upon music as the great modern teacher of the world, the universal language which should bring nations and men together in the noblest and best way. We have therefore fervently desired to see the interpreters of these oracles take rank accordingly, and have on every occasion sought to combat the disposition prevalent in our society to regard musicians as holding the rank, not of professional men or of artists, but of hirelings to amuse a vacant hour. It is not a week since, hearing one of mind remarkably generous and liberal on most points, but, as we thought, prejudiced on this, qualify the class of musicians as “mercenary banditti,” “too selfish and vain to deserve that authors should be anxious to serve them,” we have declared that, though we could not deny (as who can?) that their conduct is often undignified, and they are, as a class, men addicted to petty squabbles, we did not believe them more generally selfish and mercenary than any other. We shall be grieved, indeed, if we are to meet such signal reason to change our opinion.
We hear, with sincere satisfaction, that the audience showed the most kind and delicate sympathy, remaining, almost without exception, through an evening that, under these circumstances, could not have been other than a disappointment and seeking by every mark of regard to sustain those placed in so painful and singular a position.*
* We are not sure that we read these numbers right.
“Francisco de Noronha to the Public and to his Friends.” New-York Daily Tribune, 9 May 1846, p. 1.