Mr. Fontana’s Concert.

Mr. Fontana’s Concert.

  We would call the attention of the musical and music-loving world to the concert of Mr. Fontana at the Apollo Saloon this (Saturday) evening. He brings with him credentials that speak in very high terms both of his fine taste and power in execution, and we hope those anxious to become acquainted with the modern musical school will not fail to be present. A juster mode of viewing music is beginning to prevail in this country. It is no longer viewed merely as an entertainment or means of stimulating one class of feelings, but truly as a Fine Art,—one of the highest mediums that the soul of man has ever found to express its entire scope and its noblest aspirations. From age to age its office has been better understood, and more and more genius been called to fill it. Now it has come to be the great and growing art, distancing all the others, and likely to supersede in a great measure the literature of books, by the better means it furnishes both for conception and expression.

  The last century presented a constellation of great minds devoted to this art, who have left nothing to wish for the present. Haydn, Handel, Mozart, Bach and Beethoven, each in a different way, actually fulfilled vast desires of the soul, and whosoever has even begun to appreciate their works must feel that centuries of life and thought are required to follow out the clues they furnish. Around them thronged a crowd of lesser lights,—lesser, yet so great they could only be eclipsed by the full sunny radiance of souls like these.

  Then came the meteoric blaze of Rossini and his school. All known departments of musical art were filled with votaries, and genius continually tending invent new. The path of the composers is studded almost as full as the Milky Way, and the development of talent in performers, such as are required to express what they originate, has been commensurate.

  The triumphs of orchestral composition it would require volumes to detail. The study and perfection of the powers of the various instruments has kept pace with them. Among these the piano, as the most complete representative, has naturally stood paramount. It afforded the widest and most varied, if not the most satisfactory means of expressing musical thought. Accordingly, to this instrument have been given a multitude of talents in makers of the instrument, composers and performers enough by their force alone, to silence for ever the croaking of those who find all barren on this beautiful earth, and cannot believe anything is done, because their poor little heads are not set on fire every hour in the day by celestial electricity. Seeing how much has descended into this small region of the piano-forte, they might well suspect that their own abodes are unfurnished with conductors, or they would not have to complain of a deficiency.

  Among the names of some that have illustrated this region, there are eight or ten preeminent, which are known by ear in this country, but very little by mind. That is to say, we know there are such persons as Liszt, Chopin, Thalberg, &c. but know little of their works, because we very seldom hear them adequately performed.

  We have got an idea now of the wonderful, almost miraculous, power attained by performers through improvements and discoveries in the methods of fingering. In this respect imagination can hardly go beyond what we have lately admired in De Meyer who combines such skill, with so powerful an individuality, physical and mental, as are found in few men in any one century.

  But, besides this, we need to study the works of the best composers for the piano among our contemporaries through the performance of some artist able to understand and reproduce them. This is what we expect from Mr. Fontana.

  He wishes to fix his residence among us, and should he do so, and the sympathies of our people be aroused by his performance, we hope he will give a series of what are called in Europe Chamber Concerts, to which those who attend will have season tickets. They may thus in a series hear the works of the modern Pianists often enough to appreciate them, which can never be done through the contemptible medleys now dignified by the names of concerts, where, if you hear something that is good, all sense of it is destroyed by its being immediately followed up by something execrable. It is as if the master of a feast should insist on your eating ice-creams alternately with onions and cabbages.

  The few good performers who have come among us have found themselves obliged to depend on giving lessons for an income. They thus blight and dwarf their talent by too much teaching, and never reach the public so as to form that taste which might give them a fair hearing. If they would combine to give these Chamber concerts and content themselves with small audiences at first, these would grow, and a better atmosphere by degrees be created in this city for musical life.

  Mr. Fontana is well sustained this evening, so those who go because they have some idea of what may be received from the fire and sweep of Liszt, the architectural majesty of Thalberg, and the tenderness and delicate fancy of Chopin, will not be compelled to turn from these peaches and grapes to the onions and cabbages.*

“Mr. Fontana’s Concert,” New-York Daily Tribune, 3 January 1846, p. 1.