Camilla, A Tale of a Violin by Charles Barnard
CHAPTER III. THE
CHAPTER IV. THE
CHAPTER V. A
CHAPTER VI. THE
CHAPTER I. INTO
EACH LIFE SOME
RAIN MUST FALL.
CHAPTER II. THE
CHAPTER III. THE
GOSPEL OF WORK.
A TALE OF A VIOLIN.
BEING THE ARTIST LIFE OF
By CHARLES BARNARD.
COR. WASHINGTON AND BROMFIELD STREETS,
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1874, by
A. K. LORING,
In the Office of the Librarian of Congress at Washington.
Rockwell &Churchill, Printers and Stereotypers,
122 Washington Street, Boston.
The intelligent reader, on opening a new book, asks why it was
written,what excuse has it for existence. In this particular case the
author has more reasons than it is worth while to repeat. If there is
any one thing that is attracting the general attention of the American
people, it is the art of music. It is a good sign. It shows we are
getting beyond the mere tree-felling and prairie-clearing stages of our
existence, and coming to something better. This true Tale of a Violin
has to do with music. It is the story of a real musical life; not
wholly American, and therefore instructive. It has much, also, to do
with our people and country and our own times, and is therefore
interesting and home-like. It has to do with methods of teaching music
in foreign countries; and for the student this artist-life is full of
valuable suggestions. All of this can be properly said, because it is
the artist-life of a person now living among us. These are the excuses
for its existence.
The facts and incidents were supplied by Madam Camilla Urso herself
at such stray moments of leisure as could be found during a busy
concert season at Boston, in the months of January and February, 1874;
and the work was done at such spare moments as the writer could find in
the midst of journalistic cares. Such events as could be noted in one
evening having been written out, they were read aloud before Madam Urso
and others, and when brought up to the exact truth in every detail, and
fully approved by such persons as were entitled to an opinion, were
given to the printer.
So the book came to be. If it leads one reader to see the value of a
life devoted to art,if it helps one lonely student struggling for a
musical education, by the splendid example of a life of toil and
poverty crowned by a great reward,the work will not be wholly vain,
nor will it want excuse for being.
The author would express his thanks for the kind assistance of the
Urso family of New York, and Mr. John S. Dwight and others, of Boston.
BOSTON, September, 1874.
CHAPTER I. BEFORE DAWN.
About thirty miles from the sea, on the River Loire, in France,
stands the quaint, sleepy old town of Nantes. The Erdre and the Sevre,
two smaller streams unite with the Loire just here and the town is
spread out in an irregular fashion over the islands, the little capes
between the rivers, and the hills that stand round about. The old part
of the town is on the hill-side and occupies the two islands called
Freydean and Gloriette, the more modern city has spread over the
surrounding country among the groves of chestnut, and the vineyards
that fill every available spot where the grapes can get a good look at
the sun all through the long sunny days.
The river runs swift and bright through the town and flashes under
the handsome bridges with their long rows of stone arches. In the river
are boats, ships, and steamers, for the good people there spend much of
their time in commerce and in catching and curing the silver-white
pilchards that swim in such great schools in the neighboring sea.
The broad quays that skirt the river are planted with trees, making
a most delightful walk, and near the eastern end of the town one of the
quays ends at what remains of an old chateau or palace. The houses are
mostly of stone, with slated roofs. There are some fine stores in the
Place Royal that are quite as grand as those in Paris. There are also
some old, old churches black with age, dim and vast inside, with
statuary on the outer walls, and splendid gothic towers that seem to
blossom all over with stone flowers as they climb so far up into the
sky above the quaint old town.
Round about the town are gardens and summer houses, pleasant walks
and drives, vineyards, groves and all the things that go to make a
charming rural scene.
In the Place Graslin is a fine theatre and a handsome Town Hall. Of
these buildings more presently when we come to see what happened within
In this old French town in June 1846 there lived a very little girl
just four years old. Her home was on the first floor of a small house
on a narrow street not far from the Place de la Monnaie, an open square
that led into one of the principal streets known as the Rue Voltaire.
The house was built in the usual French fashion with a large arch-way
under the house that led into a court-yard in the centre. The front
door opened into the shady arch-way, and the window balconies were
filled with flowering plants in pots.
Her name was Camilla. Her father Monsieur Salvatore Urso played the
flute in the orchestra at the theatre, or opera house, and on Sundays
played the organ at the Church of the Holy Cross that stood facing a
little square not far from the river.
Her mother Madame Emelie Urso was a young and very handsome woman,
and a fine singer. She also helped her husband in his music lessons.
She was born in Lisbon in Portugal, but as she had come to France when
quite young, she had forgotten her mother tongue and now spoke French
and Italian. This last may have been owing to the fact that her husband
was from Palermo, Sicily. With Camilla's parents lived her mother's
sister, Caroline, whom we shall know as aunt Caroline. This made the
Both of Camilla's parents were young and she was their oldest child
and only daughter. There was at this time a baby brother and later
there were three more brothers. The first four years of the little
one's life were passed in an uneventful manner, very much in the
fashion of other children everywhere. When she was four years old she
began to go to the theatre with her father. Every night she put her
small hand in his and trotted off to the Place Graslin to sit with him
in the orchestra among the violins and close beside her father's flute.
He was a noted player in those days and the little one shared his seat,
with the music book spread before her, and the stage in full view.
It was quite a fine theatre and many notable things took place
there. Operas, both new and old, were given, and often between the
acts, a piano was brought out and such famous players as traveled in
that part of France appeared and showed what they could do. Celebrated
violinists and great singers also appeared at times. So it happened
that the little Camilla almost lived in the midst of an orchestra and
before she was five years old had heard many of the best players and
singers of the times.
The orchestra became almost a second home to her. The lights, the
crowds of people, the music were every day matters and she grew up to
be quite indifferent to the public character of such a life. Most
children would have soon learned to go to sleep in the midst of it all.
Camilla never thought of such a thing. While the music went on she was
content. If she could only nestle down in a corner where she could hear
those violins and her father's flute she was perfectly happy in a
demure and sober fashion that was infinitely amusing in such a very
On Sundays and on fête days when the church was open she went with
her father to the church of the Holy Cross.
The church was an old one and to reach the organ loft high up over
the great portal they had to climb a steep and winding stair in the
great tower. The stairs were worn deep with footsteps so that it was
hard climbing for the little one. Still, she always went with her
father and mother. Did he not play the tall organ with its great white
pipes, and did her mother not sing? She had a good seat where she could
look up at the black arches springing so high overhead, or down on the
people who seemed so small in the church far below.
When there was no theatre or church she played about her mother's
room or under the trees in the public gardens, very much in the fashion
of other French girls.
Playing in an orchestra is not the road to wealth. The pay was very
small, and even with the organ salary and the music lessons things did
not prosper very happily and the little Camilla had to content herself
with such juvenile joys as could be procured without very much money.
This, happily, did not make much difference. There was enough to eat
and pretty good things to wear and no end of music. This last seemed to
quite satisfy her. The orchestra, the organ and the choir afforded her
perpetual amusement, and her life was as happy as that of the most
favored child in the town.
When not listening to music she was very active and merry and
displayed an abundant fund of good health and spirits. She early
learned to talk and walk and was considered an unusually bright and
precocious girl. Her earliest months gave a hint of her love for music.
If fretful or peevish with weariness or ill-health she could soon be
pacified by a gentle song from her father as he carried her about in
The first intimation of a desire to make music herself came when she
was three years old. Hearing a hand-organ play in the street while the
family were at dinner she softly left the table and went into the next
room. Presently the tune on the hand-organ was repeated on the piano in
the parlor. Her father opened the door quickly only to find the child
trying to hide, as if she had done something wrong.
Before she could talk she could hum over or sing a number of songs,
and at four years of age could repeat in a thin piping voice many of
the songs and airs sung by her mother and always insisting that the
accompaniment should be played while she sang.
She did not go to school. Hardly any children in the town had any
such advantage. There were a few small primary schools and that was
about all the chance that was open to the young people of Nantes for an
So far in Camilla's life it did not make any particular difference.
Things were going on quite to her satisfaction and she was perfectly
happy even if she could not read or write.
Thus in a quiet way with much music the months had slipped away till
she was five years old. Then suddenly came the awakening of a new life.
Something happened that cast the rosy glow of coming day over the
twilight of her life. The morning star that shone out clear and bright
before her young eyes took the shape of a violin solo in a mass called
St. Cecilia. She was in the church when its promise-speaking light
flashed upon her. There was an orchestra, and a full chorus, with the
organ. The little Camilla now almost six years old sat in the old organ
loft and heard it all. She listened and dreamed and wondered and wished
and wished she could only do something like that solo for the first
violin. An ordinary piece of music, indifferently played, but somehow
it enchained her whole attention. It threw wide open the pearly gates
of a new and fairer life.
Many a time she had heard famous players at the theatre. They had
never interested her as did this one. He was not a very fine player.
His music was not particularly wonderful, but there was something about
it that pleased her greatly. She had been already excited by the music.
The majestic and noble character of the mass, the chorus sounding so
loud and grand through the church, the orchestra, her father's organ
with its great thunder tones rolling under it all, had sent the blood
tingling through her veins. The great company kneeling on the floor so
far below. The lights and flowers on the altar. The blue clouds of
incense rising softly on the air and the dusky bars of colored light
slanting across the springing arches. The scene, the music, everything
affected her. Then that song on the violin. It was beautifulandif
she could. Noshe never, never couldand it was all a dream. She was
even reluctant to leave for home after the service was over and wanted
to linger in the vast, dim church and dream it all over again.
If she only could play like thatif she could have a real violin,
all her own and play on it, why, that would be just too wonderfully
grand and splendid for anything. There were not words in the French
language that could express the pleasure it would give her. She could
not speak of it. It was too good to talk about.
For several days she thought about it and dreamed of it and wondered
if it would do to tell her father and ask him to give her a violin. At
last the secret became unbearable and on creeping into her mother's bed
before daylight one morning for her regular petting she ventured to
lisp to her mother that she wanted a violina real one, to play upon
The morning star faded away quickly, and there was only the dull
grey dawn in the child's sky. Her mother treated her request with
laughter and put out the little Camilla's hope with a flat refusal.
CHAPTER II. SUNRISE.
It was the town talk. The women gathered round the fountain in the
Place Royal and filled their water jars and gossiped about Salvatore
Urso's silly whim with his child. Madame Dubois settled her cap and
gave it as her opinion that no good would come of such a foolish thing.
Madame Tilsit knew better, if the child wanted to play, why, let her
play. The priest would not forbid it. Madame Perche knew it was far
better than teaching children to read. That would lead them to dreadful
infidelity, and what not. Besides, what will you? M. Urso will do as he
pleases with the child.
At its best Nantes is a sleepy place, and in those days it was more
narrow, petty and gossipy than can be imagined. A small town in New
England where every mother's daughter can read is bad enough, but in a
compact French town where every one must live next door or next floor
to everybody else gossip runs wild. Totally ignorant of books or any
matter outside of their own town, the people must needs fall back on
themselves and quietly pick each other to pieces. Everybody had heard
that Salvatore Urso, the flute player intended to teach his little girl
the violin. Part of the town approved of this bold, audacious step and
part of the town thought it eminently improper, if not positively
wicked. There was the Urso party and the anti-Urso party. They talked
and quarrelled over it for a long time in a fashion that was quite as
narrow minded and petty as could be imagined and it was more than a
year before the excitement subsided.
In the meantime the little Camilla was perfectly happy over her new
violin. The first refusal had not discouraged her. She waited a few
days and then repeated her request to her father. No. It could not be.
This did not seem to disconcert her, for in a few days she again asked
if she might have a violin and a teacher. This time the refusal was not
so decided. Again and again did the little one ask for a violinonly a
violinthat was enough. The importunate pleading carried the day and
the father took the matter into consideration.
Boys might play the violin, but a girl. That was quite another
thing. One girl had been known to play the violin. Mlle. Theresa
Melanello had played the violin, why not Camilla? If she wished to play
so much it must be that she had genius. Should it prove true she might
become a famous artist and win a great fortune. Perhaps, even sooner,
much money might come from the child's playing.
Of course the child must at once go to Paris and enter the
Conservatory of music. Paris was a long way off. It would cost a deal
of money to get there and when there, it would cost a deal more to
live, and there was no way of earning anything in Paris. The theatre,
the church and the lessons enabled them to live tolerably well in
Nantes. To give up these things would be simple folly. It could not be
done. The prospect was brilliant, the way seemed inviting, but it was
not available. In his doubt and perplexity over the matter M. Urso went
to his friend and companion in the orchestra, Felix Simon. M. Simon
played the first violin at the theatre, and one night they talked it
over between the acts.
If Camilla was so exceedingly anxious to play she must have some
latent talent. Should she prove a genius or a prodigy it might be the
means of bringing the family a fortune. Paris offered the only field
for instruction and Paris meant a very great deal of money. With her
present limited resources the thing was not to be considered for a
M. Simon heard it all patiently, talked with the child about it and
before her very eyes turned himself into an angel by offering to teach
her himself. At first the family could not believe that such good
fortune was possible. Still, it was true. M. Simon would teach Camilla
one year without pay if he might be allowed to have entire control of
her studies. She was to follow his instructions in every thing, she was
to have no pieces and was to give her whole time to her lessons. If,
when the year's instruction was finished, the child really showed a
decided genius for the violin it might be well to talk about Paris. If
she then exhibited merely a talent for the art, the instruction could
be dropped and no harm or serious loss of time would come from it.
This liberal offer was, of course, accepted. M. Simon was a friend,
indeed. They could never repay him. It was of no consequence he said.
If Camilla proved her genius it would be reward enough to be known as
her first teacher.
So it was that the little girl not quite six years of age had her
darling wish and took her beloved violin under her arm and trotted off
to M. Simon's house at the other side of the city near the beautiful
park called the Cours St. Pierre, where she had spent so many pleasant
days playing under the trees.
It was a small affair. Her arms and fingers were too short for an
instrument of the ordinary size and a little violin costing ten francs
($2) must answer every purpose.
The gossips might talk and quarrel over it in the steep streets of
the quaint, sleepy old town. They could say what they pleased. Little
did she care. She was going to learn to play the violin. That was
happiness enough. Her father was to teach her the elements of music and
Felix Simon was to show her how to play.
First she must learn how to stand, how to rest on her left foot with
the right partly in front, then how to hold her violin, how it should
rest on her shoulder and how to grasp and support it. Hold it perfectly
still for ten minutes. Then lay it down for a few moments' rest. Take
it up again and hold it firm. With demure patience she bent her small
fingers over the strings as if to touch a chord. Head erect, left arm
bent and brought forward so that she could see her elbow under the
violin. Stand perfectly still with the right arm hanging down
naturally. Was she to have no bow? No, not yet. She must first learn to
sustain the weight of the violin, and accustom her arm to its shape. In
silence and motionless she held the instrument for perhaps ten minutes
and then laid it down again till she had become rested. This was the
first lesson. For two or three weeks she did this and nothing more, and
at the end of that time she had acquired sufficient strength to hold
the violin with firmness and steadiness.
Great was her delight when Felix Simon said she might take her bow.
Now rest it lightly on the strings and draw it down slowly and
steadily. Not a sound! What did that mean? Was she not to play? No.
There was no rosin on the bow and it slipped over the strings in
silence. How could she learn anything on a dumb violin? How make music
on such a discouraging thing?
Most children would have given up in despair. Not play at all?
Nothing, but positions and dumb motions? That was all. No music; not
even finger exercises. Simply, to learn to stand properly, to put the
fingers in the right place, and to make the right motions with the bow.
The two hour lesson slipped away quickly, and the little one went home
satisfied that she was now really making a good start.
Three times a week she took the long walk through the Rue Voltaire,
across the sunny Place Graslin, where the theatre stood, past the
handsome stores in the Place Royal, over the little bridge, where the
Erdre ran through the town, and then along the narrow Rue d'Orleans
till the grey towers of the old Chateau came in sight. Then to M.
Simon's, and the lesson on the dumb violin. Not a word of complaint; no
asking for little pieces, after the silly fashion of American
children; not even a request for an exercise. With a patience past
belief the little one watched, listened, and tried her girlish best to
do it right. The violin would become dreadfully heavy. Her poor arms
would ache, and her limbs become stiff with standing. M. Simon had a
temper, and at times he was particularly cross, and said all sorts of
unhappy things to her.
Tears at times, and childish grief over the dreadful weariness in
her arms, but with it all not one word of remonstrance or complaint.
Felix Simon knew everything. Her father knew what was best.
The violin would swing round to the left, and she would lose sight
of her elbow under it. There was nothing to do but to straighten up
till the instrument stood in a line with her fat little turned up nose,
and that elbow was in sight again. Then, that right wrist! How it did
ache with the long, slow motions with the bow. And her limbs grew stiff
with standing in one position till they fairly ached.
If the violin was heavy, she would not mind it, and if she was
tired, she would keep her eyes fixed on the strings and see that the
bow lay flat and square on them as it went up and down, up and down,
from the tip to the handle, over and over, again and again. Whatever
happened, she would keep on. She was going to play. This was the way to
learn. She would have patience.
At home the same thing was repeated. Three hours practice every day
with the dumb violin. And not only every day in the week, Sundays and
all, but every week. Three whole months passed away, and then they said
she had learned the positions, and the right motions. She could have
some rosin on her bow and begin to play. This was progress. She was
really getting on. Now she was to have some music. Nothing but the very
dullest kinds of exercises; still, it was music, or something like it.
Long sustained notes by the hour. The exercises were all written out
with a pen by her master. Nothing but long slow notes. Not very
interesting, certainly. She would not have agreed with you. To get a
good tone, to make one pure, smooth note was worth the trying for, and
she was content.
The bow hardly moved, so slowly did she draw it up and down. The
right arm stretched out to the full length, and then slowly back again,
while the wrist bent slowly and gracefully. If she obtained nothing
else, she would have a strong, clear tone, and learn to make a grand,
full sweep with her bow. Speed and brilliancy would come in good time.
Strength, power, and purity of tone were the things worth trying to
reach. She would have no feeble, short strokes, but the wide, bold
movements of a master hand.
As the weeks grew to months, her fingers and arms gained in power
and her child's violin was exchanged for a larger and finer one, to her
great joy and satisfaction.
Slowly and patiently she crept along. By day and by night the
beloved violin was ever near her. Sometimes in the morning, sometimes
late at night, when ever her teacher could find the time, she listened
to his instructions and played over the endless exercises. Seven hours
practice every day. Three lessons a week; nothing allowed to interfere.
Sleep, eat, a little exercise in the open air, practice and lessons,
lessons and practice. Such was her young artist life.
The lessons gradually increased in variety and difficulty. Scales in
every key, running passages of every imaginable character; and with it
all not a single piece, song, or pretty melody of any kind. Ten months
of finger exercises; nearly a year of dry scales.
As we have already mentioned, Nantes was very much given to talking
about the little Camilla's studies. The men in the orchestra laughed at
Felix Simon and Salvatore Urso for their silly experiment with the
child. The idea of a girl playing a violin! It was too absurd! And of
all children, that mite of a Camilla; thin, pale, and too small for her
age, she was the last one to think of such a thing.
One day a famous violinist, Apollinaire DeKonstki, now the director
of the Conservatory of Music, at Warsaw, visited Nantes, and gave a
concert at the theatre. Perhaps it would be well to ask him to hear the
child play. His opinion might be of great value, and perhaps it would
silence the miserable chatter in the town. Would DeKonstki kindly hear
the little one play? Yes. He would, with pleasure. He intended to give
a banquet to some of his friends that evening, and after the opera, and
when the supper was over, she might come to his rooms at the Hotel de
France. She sat in her usual corner in the orchestra all through the
evening, and then, near midnight, with her violin under her arm, she
crossed the Place Graslin and called at the Hotel de France. The great
artist was sitting in the dining room by the long table where the
banquet had been given. There were goblets and champagne glasses on the
table, and after talking about her music for a few moments he took a
fork, and gently tapping on a wine-glass, asked her what note that was.
It was E. And this one? A. And this one? D. The next? A flat. And the
next? G. Round the table he marched, fork in hand, striking the glasses
and asking their notes. Camilla followed after, and named every tone
correctly and without hesitation. He was greatly pleased with the
experiment, and said he would hear her play. Only, you must mind, I
don't like false notes. This was too much, and she replied indignantly
I never give 'em, sir.
He laughed; and then, with demure seriousness, she began to play
some of her more difficult exercises from memory. She was a bold and
sturdy player, and astonished the master with the graceful sweep of her
thin, childish arm. He complimented her in a cordial manner, and hoped
she would go on with her studies. Oh! she would, she would; she meant
to study all the time. Some day she would learn to play better still.
And then she went home, well pleased that the master had approved of
the method of instruction she had pursued. Let the gossips talk. She
was on the right road, and she didn't care for them.
This was the only time that Camilla played to any one outside her
own family during the first year of her musical life. Many musicians
and others asked to hear her, but M. Urso thought it best to refuse
them. No one was ever allowed to hear her practice, and her musical
progress was kept a profound secret. Naturally enough, this only
excited curiosity, and the gossip ran wilder than ever.
Her outward life was unchanged. She appeared regularly at the
theatre with her father, and sat by his side through the performance.
The other players often teased her, and asked her perplexing questions
about the music. What note was that? What key were they playing in now,
and now and now? Every time the music modulated from key to key, she
followed it, and named the notes and keys correctly, without
Then something happened that made them think it might be well to let
her have a piece to play. And such a splendid piece! Not a mere child's
song for the violin, or a little dance. Nothing like that. A grand
concert piece such as the Masters played. De Beriot's famous
Seventh air varié. A melody with variations, by the great composer
De Beriot. To be sure it was not equal to some of the grand works of
Haydn or Beethoven, but for those days it was considered a remarkable
composition. Since the little Camilla has grown up people have learned
more about violin playing, and what was then thought to be a great
piece of music would not now be considered as anything very remarkable.
As it was, Camilla thought the piece something quite wonderful, and
took it up with the greatest eagerness. Utterly absorbed in her work,
knowing little or nothing of what was going on outside her lessons, she
studied and practiced day after day without a thought of anything else.
The new piece and the exercises took her whole time for the next two
months. That one air varié was in hand every day. She played
it through hundreds of times. Every phrase was studied. Hours were
spent over one note. A week on a single page was good progress. One
little passage cost her many a sorrowful hour. Somehow she could not
get it right for a long time. Once she played it over forty-seven times
before her nervous and irritable master would let her off. Other pupils
were waiting. They could wait. She was to play that measure just right
if it took all day. It was useless to cry. If she was obstinate and
naughty about it she should be punished. She must play it right. How
her arms ached over that passage. The tears dropped on the violin. It
didn't do any good, and only made the master still more angry. At last
she did it right, played it over several times, went home and never
played it wrong again in her life.
Such was the child's artist life for the first twelve months.
Outside of it the gossips fairly raged and warred with their nimble
tongues. Salvatore Urso's experiment with his little girl was much
talked about. Some could not say too hard things of him. Felix Simon
was blamed, her mother was blamed. It was all wrong. It was wicked to
teach the child to play. Others said no, let her try, if she failed
they would be well punished for their work. If she succeeded it would
be a fine thing. It was rumored that the girl had great talent and
would in time do wonderful things.
In such a dull, sleepy town as Nantes, where there is nothing in
particular going on, and where the people have little or nothing to
talk about outside their own petty lives, such an experiment as this
was naturally the subject of much talk. It was such a bold step, and,
really, there was nothing else to talk about. Imagine the excitement
when it was announced that the little Camilla would give a public
performance at the Hotel de Ville.
It came about in this way. The Bassoon in the orchestra died. That
was the curious way they expressed it. The instrument had not died, but
the man who played it. He left a widow and one child, and no money.
Nobody had ever heard of an orchestral player who had left much. The
pay was too small for him to save anything, and so the poor widow was
left without a franc. Of course, they must give her a benefit concert.
M. Urso heard of it, and on talking it over with Felix Simon they
decided to prepare Camilla to take part in the charity concert for the
benefit of the widow of the Bassoon. So it happened that she took up
the air varié as her first piece.
It takes a long time to do anything in Europe. Here we would decide
to give a concert, advertise it, and hire the hall all in the same day,
and have it all over within a week. In Nantes it took six weeks to
arrange everything, see who would offer to play, and to properly
announce the event. This slow and deliberate way of doing things was an
advantage to Camilla as it gave her plenty of time to study the piece
and to commit it to memory past forgetting.
They collected a grand orchestra. Mdlle. Masson, who was quite a
fine artist volunteered to sing, and the little Camilla would play the
famous Seventh air varié from De Beriot.
The excitement was tremendous. Everybody wanted to go. The Italian
opera company, the French opera company, the dramatic company, all the
grand families, every musician in town, bought tickets. There was not a
seat or standing place in the Hotel de Ville to be had, and the
Bassoon's widow received a most remarkable benefit. All the friends of
the Urso family were there to encourage the child, and all her father's
enemies were on hand ready to laugh at her failure.
She was expected to fail. She might be able to struggle through the
piece without really breaking down, but of course she would stand
awkwardly, handle her bow like a stick, and do everything else that was
bad and inelegant. They might assert that she would play like an
artistshe could not do it. And so they waited to see Salvatore Urso's
silly experiment come to a wretched end.
How amiable in them! We can forgive them. There was nothing else to
talk about in Nantes, and it was certainly a very bold thing to bring
out the six year old girl in this public manner. She must be a truly
wonderful child, or her father and teacher had quite lost their heads.
The concert began and went on very much as concerts do everywhere.
The orchestra played and the artists sang, and then there was a little
rustle and hush of expectation as they brought in a box or platform for
the child to stand upon so that all could see her. The piano was rolled
out into a convenient place, and then the slight, blue eyed girl, gay
in a white dress, white satin shoes, and a pink sash, appeared. They
placed the dot of a child, violin in hand, upon the raised platform
before them all. Felix Simon, with trembling fingers, sat down to the
piano to play the accompaniment. Her father stood near to turn the
leaves of the music book, though he was so nervous and excited he
hardly knew what he was about. In the audience sat her aunt Caroline,
surrounded by a few of her friends, and all of them in no enviable
frame of mind. Her mother was too nervous and excited to appear, and
remained in the ante-room.
As for Camilla, she was absorbed in that remarkable pink sash and
those satin shoes. There was never anything quite so fine, and she did
hope all the people noticed how very becoming they were. That they were
really watching her, never entered her head. With perfect
self-possession she put the violin to her shoulder, and stood ready to
play. No awkwardness, no fear, no attempt at display; a simple girl,
with a girl's manners. The critics admitted to themselves that she knew
how to hold her instrument, and could handle her bow with a certain
amount of grace. But, then, that was to be expected. Could she play?
There was not much doubt of it. The tone came, strong, full, and
true. The notes came in exact time, and with precision and certainty.
The people were hushed to a painful silence, as the child went steadily
on with the work. M. Simon was breathless with excitement, and her
father hardly knew where he was. In his haste, he turned two leaves of
the music-book at once. What a dreadful disaster! It was all over now.
She would break down at once, if the accompaniment should falter.
Not much danger; for she quietly turned her head, and in a hurried,
lisping, whisper said: You've turned two pages, papa.
The whole house heard every word, and a smile spread over the
company. Little did she care. She went straight on; not a note lost,
not a break or a sign of hesitation. The page was turned back without a
pause, and the music went on.
This piece of music begins with an introduction in adagio.
The opening bars are smooth and graceful, and then the melody becomes
more difficult, and moves in sixths and thirds. It ends in a brilliant
cadenza, that leads to the theme in moderato time. This part
is not very difficult in rhythm, and is bright and pleasing in
character. The first variation is poco piu lento, and at once
demands great skill to execute its difficult running movements. The
second variation is still more difficult, and abounds in rapid scales
and open chords. The third variation is in G, and in adagio
time, and is full of trills and abrupt changes from high to low notes.
A long cadenza leads to the last movement in moderato
time and in the key of E. It finally ends in an allegro coda
that abounds in brilliant and difficult writing.
What a dreadful uproar they did make over the child. It seemed as if
they never would stop clapping and cheering. She could not go, but must
stay and bow in a demure fashion, that was perfectly captivating. They
did not expect her to play the piece again. That was not the custom in
Nantes. M. Sollie, the leader of the orchestra, in the name of all the
musicians, offered to crown her young head with a wreath of white
camelias. The attempt was amusing, and they all laughed and cheered
again. The wreath was too big, or she was too small, and it slipped
over her head and shoulders, and fell to the floor, and there she stood
in the middle of it.
Some enthusiastic ladies presented her with a tiny ring for her
finger, and a handsome bracelet; and more wonderful than all, they
brought out a magnificent Paris doll, in a big white box, and set her
quite wild with joy by presenting it to her. With the doll under one
arm, and her precious violin under the other, she bowed her thanks from
the middle of the wreath. Then they cheered again, and laughed, and
offered her flowers. She was taken down from the platform and led away,
but they had her back again three times, doll, violin, and all.
Altogether, it was a very remarkable experience for father, mother,
teacher, and wonderful little girl.
Perhaps you think this overdrawn. This is a true story. Here is an
extract from one of the newspapers of Nantes, that only says the same
Never had violinist a pose more exact, firmer, and,
the same time, perfectly easy; never was bow guided with
precision, than by this little Urso, whose delivery made all
mothers smile. Listen, now, to the Air Variee of the celebrated
Beriot; under these fingers, which are yet often busied with
dressing a doll, the instrument gives out a purity and
of tone, with an expression most remarkable. Every light and
shade is observed, and all the intentions of the composer
faithfully rendered. Here comes more energetic passages, the
feeble child will find strength necessary, and the voice of the
instrument assumes a fullness of tone which one could not look
for in the diminutive violin. Effects of double stopping,
staccato, rapid arpeggioseverything is executed with the same
precision, the same purity, the same grace. Repeatedly
interrupted by applause and acclamations, she was saluted at
end by salvos of bravos and a shower of bouquets.
As for the anti-Urso party, they were completely demoralized and had
not a word to say. Camilla was a success, and they gracefully retired
from the field.
CHAPTER III. THE DAY BEGINS.
The next morning Camilla trotted off to Felix Simon's just as if
nothing had happened. The Ursos were too sensible to be upset by
vanity. The triumph of their child only caused them to soberly consider
what was to be done next. Camilla must lose no time. The lessons must
go on precisely as before and until matters were properly arranged her
life would be unchanged. She must prepare for more difficult tasks.
Having proved her skill she must now improve it. Greater tests and
severer trials were in store for her. She must go to Paris. She must
enter the Conservatory of Music. But how, and when?
Long and earnestly they talked over the matter and laid their plans
as best they could. M. Urso was a fine flute player. Of course, he
could readily obtain a place in some theatre in Paris. Camilla's mother
was a charming singer and a good teacher. She could give lessons, and
perhaps sing in some church. Oh! and then there was the organ!
Certainly so fine an organist as M. Urso would soon get a good place
with a comfortable salary. Aunt Caroline must go too. She would keep
house and help the children. None of them had ever been to Paris, but
the prospect seemed brilliant and for Camilla's sake they ought to go
as soon as possible. Having decided to move they sold all their
furniture, collected whatever was due for music lessons and salaries
and prepared for the flitting.
Camilla, her father and aunt Caroline were to go first. The baby
brother was too young to bear the journey, and when they were
comfortably settled in Paris, mother could follow them. The journey was
a slow one. It was mid-summer, and on the road came the news that the
cholera was raging in Paris. It would not do to enter the city till
cooler weather came. So they tarried at Tours for six weeks till the
The Conservatory of Music stood at the corner of the Rue
FaubourgPoissonière and the Rue Bergère in the old part of the city
of Paris. They must take rooms as near it as possible so that Camilla
would not have too far to walk on stormy days. With all their hopeful
prospects and though they had quite a large sum of ready money in hand
they took simple quarters in a house on the Rue St. Nicholas d'Antin.
As soon as they were comfortably settled Salvatore Urso went to the
conservatory to ask if the little Camilla might be admitted as a pupil.
The Director, Auber, received him politely and asked what he wanted.
Could Camilla enter the Conservatory? The little shrivelled up
gentleman opened his small eyes as wide as he could and said, in a
squeaking voice, Camilla! That's a girl! Yes. Camilla was a girl. How
very shocking in her. Why was she not a boy? A girl. Oh! No it couldn't
be considered for a moment. A girl enter the great Conservatory of
Music! Such a thing had never been heard of in the whole history of the
world. The Conservatory was not for girls and they couldn't be
This was discouraging and M. Urso retired from the interview not
knowing what to do next. The idea that the great composer Auber would
utterly refuse to take the child had never entered his head. Of course,
with her undoubted genius the Conservatory would be proud to teach her.
What difference did it make if she did happen to be a girl?
It made a great deal of difference to the worthy officers of the
Conservatory. Not one of them would consider her case. The Secretary,
De Beauchesne was applied to with more success, but he was only one of
the officers and he could do nothing alone. He heard Camilla play and
did everything he could for her. He visited the family and was in every
way a friend. When Camilla's third brother, Salvatore, was born, he
stood Godfather to the child, so we may infer that he was quite
intimate at the Ursos'.
It would not do to give it up so. Day after day slipped past, the
time grew to weeks and still the doors of the Conservatory were fast
closed against the child. M. Urso called on Auber several times. Would
he not interest himself in the child? Would he only hear her play? No.
It was useless. She was a girl. She could not enter. Why had M. Urso
been so foolish as to come to Paris when he might have known that they
never took in girls. Besides, she was not old enough. Not even a boy
could enter under ten.
People of influence were consulted, and in vain. If the Directors of
the Conservatory would not take the child it was no affair of theirs.
They could do nothing about it. It did seem as if everything was
against her and she began to realize what a very unhappy thing it is to
be a girl. Still, she would not despair nor relax one effort to obtain
her darling wish. She would keep on studying just the same and all
through the weary weeks of waiting she practiced and studied as best
she could under her father's instruction.
The Winter passed away and the Spring came. It brought very little
hope with it. Camilla could not enter the Conservatory. There were only
nine places and there were seventy-six applicants and every one of them
boys. When they grew up they could play in the theatres. That was the
aim of their lives. The Conservatory was opened to teach them, to
prepare them for this very work. Camilla would not play in an orchestra
and, of course, she would be of no use to the country and it was idle
to admit her to the classes.
Persistence finally carried the day. M. Urso fairly worried the
learned officers of the Conservatory into a consent. The irritable
little Director, Auber, lost his temper and said Well, bring the girl.
She is sure to fail. We will hear her play, but she cannot enter.
The Ursos were greatly pleased with this concession. If they would
hear Camilla just once it would be enough. They could hardly refuse to
take a child of her great talents even if she did have the misfortune
to be a girl.
At last the eventful day arrived. The seventy-six boys and the one
girl were to be examined. Her case was quite hopeless, they said. She
might play like an angel and it would avail nothing. The boys would
have the places.
She never lost her courage, but with that quiet, serious manner that
only served to hide her sturdy character, she took her father's hand
and soberly trotted through the streets without a fear. She knew what
she could do, she had her piece by heart; she meant to break into that
Conservatory, it was her only hope and she would try hard to do her
very, very best.
M. Urso was excited and nervous. How would it all end? Would Camilla
be admitted. It was doubtful, still, her genius might win the day in
spite of the determined opposition that was raised against her. As for
Camilla she clung to her violin in stubborn silence, and patiently
waited for the great trial. All the candidates met in one room, the
seventy-six boys and their friends and the one girl with her father.
All the names were numbered and the numbers placed in a box and
shaken up. Then, some one drew them out, one at a time, and called off
the numbers. Camilla's number was nine, so her turn came quite early in
the day. This was fortunate, for she was fresh and eager to begin and
the jury had not become weary with their task. One at a time the boys
were admitted to the presence of the grand jury. Big fellows, fourteen
and fifteen years old, who had played before she was born. The case
really looked discouraging and desperate. Would she ever get in? She
was only seven, and looked hardly six. Her fingers were thin and her
face pale. She hardly seemed fitted to compete with grown up lads. It
did not deter her from trying, and when her number was called she felt
sure she would do her best.
They led her into a room where eight solemn looking men sat in big
green-backed chairs round a large table. Each had an inkstand and pen
and paper and every one had a look of severe dignity that was
positively appalling. There was the little Auber, the Director, Rossini
the great composer looking fat and grand in his impressive wig,
Carraffa the celebrated composer, Allard the violinist and four others
looking equally wise and solemn.
They placed her before the double quartette of players who were to
give the accompaniment and prepared to hear her work. She would try the
andante and finale from the Fourth Concerto, by Rode
with accompaniment for violin, second, viola, and violincello.
Here was her one grand chance. She must do her very best, stand just
right, and remember everything Felix Simon had said. Her father and
mother depended upon her.
The double quartette began to play and she forgot everything save
the music. The solemn judges never spoke, nor made a sign in any way
expressive of pleasure or disappointment. Some of them scratched their
pens over the paper through it all. Others looked straight at her in a
severe manner that was perfectly dreadful.
At last it was over. The eight gentlemen never smiled or uttered a
word or gave even a look that seemed like hope. She couldn't guess
whether she had failed or won. Somebody led her back to her father in
the room where the seventy and six boys were still waiting the result
of the trial.
Those men looked so black and really it was all so grim and solemn
that she was depressed and discouraged and for six long hours she sat
in the room by her father waiting for the verdict to be pronounced. It
was eleven o'clock in the morning when her turn came and it was not
till five in the afternoon when the last boy had been heard.
There was a tremendous excitement when the Janitor came out to read
the names of the nine successful ones. Every one sat perfectly still
while the names were pronounced. First a boy's name. She expected that
and was resigned. Then another boy's name was given. It began to be
discouraging. Then one more boy's name. Her chances were slipping away.
She would not be taken in. One more boy's name. There were murmurs of
disappointment from the crowd. Half the names gone. Poor Camilla was
ready to cry with disappointment.
Just here Allard, one of the jury passed through the room and
stopping a moment said to Camilla's father:
The little Urso is admitted.
Nobody could believe it! There was some mistake! That mite of a girl
taken in? The four remaining names given by the Janitor were hardly
heard in the uproar and confusion that broke out. The boys who had
failed and even their friends were for mobbing the child. It was
dreadful, an outrage, perfectly unheard of, a shame, and all that. What
right had a girl to come and take the place away from some good boy who
could undoubtedly play much better? M. Urso had used influence with the
jury and done many wicked things to bring about this unheard of result.
M. Urso threw up his hat in the air, behaved in a wild and happy
manner and gave no heed to the taunts of the people. He gave Camilla a
ten franc gold piece and conducted himself in a startling and peculiar
fashion generally that would have astonished his friends had they seen
him. As for Camilla her mind was absorbed in that gold piece. She had
never seen anything quite so magnificent. Here were riches, indeed, and
she didn't care a pin for the silly boys who stormed and roared about
her. What a noise they did make over it! Stupid boys, they couldn't
play, and that was the reason they were so mad about it. She must go
home and show her prize to her aunt. How glad her mother would be to
hear of her success. Hugging her violin close she paid no attention to
the rude people in the room and silently suffered her father to lead
It was a happy day for the Ursos. To think that the little one had
fairly broken down the bars of the Conservatory and compelled them to
take her in by the simple strength of her genius. Soon after her mother
joined them from Nantes and the reunited family was indeed a happy one.
Since that time several girls have been admitted to the Paris
Conservatory, but they have to thank Camilla, the youngest of them all,
for clearing the way.
Now she began to think that all the weary months with the dumb
violin, the long hours of practice, the days and nights spent with
dear, cross, old Felix Simon were happily rewarded. With all the
elation and pride of her parents she seemed only to be glad, in a quiet
way, that she could now go on and learn more and more.
Many weeks must pass before the long summer vacation would be over
and the Fall term of the school begin. In the meantime not a day was
lost. Three or four hours practice every morning with her father, a
walk after dinner, and then two hours more practice. No pieces. Nothing
but exercises in long, slow notes to keep up the strong, pure tone, and
scales in every key.
There is nothing so successful as success. Just as the vacation was
nearly over the little Camilla had another most flattering offer of
instruction. De Beriot, whose music she had played at the concert at
Nantes, visited Paris and gave several concerts. While he was in the
city M. Urso called upon him and asked permission to bring Camilla to
his room. Yes. He would gladly hear her play. This was certainly a
great favor and soon after she went to his hotel and played some of his
music to him. He was greatly pleased with the child and at once offered
to take her to Brussels where he lived, and give her a complete musical
education at his own expense. He was at that time the first teacher of
the violin at the Conservatory of music at Brussels, a place that is
now filled by Vieuxtemps, and he was certainly a master of the violin.
He would do this freely if he might have entire control of her
education. She was not to appear in public till he was quite ready. It
might not be for many years. To be sure, in three years, by the time
she was ten, she would be a wonderful player, but by waiting longer she
would become one of the few great violinists of the world.
This was indeed generous. They were thankful and would be delighted
to place her under his instruction if they could go too, and be near
her all the time. They had no means of supporting her in another city.
She could not leave father and mother. They already found it difficult
to get along. Paris seemed very different from their anticipations. It
was hard to decline such a splendid offer, but it was harder to part
with Camilla, and she could not go.
Then came the Conservatory. There were several teachers of the
violin. She might have the choice, and decided to go into Lambert
Massart's class. He was the most popular teacher. He was known to be
cross and irritable. His pupils had a sorry time of it but they
generally became good artists. She meant to be an artist and she would
go to him. It was fortunate, for as soon as he heard her play and
learned something of her history and circumstances, he generously
offered to give her private lessons at his own house without money and
Heaven helps those who help themselves. Salvatore Urso saw his
store of money melting away fast. It was not easy to find a place in
the orchestras in Paris. There was not a church in the city that did
not have several applicants waiting for the position of organist. Evil
days were beginning to come upon them. Nearly nine months had slipped
away and Camilla had only just succeeded in entering the Conservatory.
For all that, she had entered and her talents had won a good friend in
the great teacher Massart. They had no noble patron to aid them, there
was no wealthy friend to help them along. Everything depended upon
themselves and Camilla. She, brave little girl had done well and could
now go on and fulfill her splendid destiny.
Her first lesson at the Conservatory opened her eyes to the life
that was before her. There were eight boys in Massart's class besides
herself. At first the boys sneered at her and resented her presence.
Not content with this they tried to annoy her with rudeness and to
plague her with boyish pranks. She took it all patiently, replied to
nothing and clung to her violin in stubborn silence.
Massart was a large, rosy faced man with an uncertain temper. He
seemed much younger than he really was, and though at times he was
dreadfully cross and savage, he was at heart a kind and generous man.
His manner of teaching was peculiar. One pupil played at a time and the
rest looked on in silence while the master walked up and down the room
with a long slender stick in his hand. At first she thought it was a
baton to beat time with or to point to the music. Presently she found
it had quite another use. One stupid boy did not take the proper
position. Massart told him how to stand and the boy put his feet in the
right place. Presently he changed one foot and down come the stick with
a snap on the boy's legs. Oh! M. Massart that hurt cried the boy. I
meant it should, said he. Do it right next time.
If, thought Camilla, that is the way, I'll remember it. Somehow it
was not so easy. Massart gave a direction once and then came the stick.
They must do it right once and for all. Before she knew it there was a
slap on her own limbs. It didn't hurt much because her skirts warded
off the blow. As for the boys they had to take it sharp and heavy.
Then that little finger on her right hand. It would spring up as she
moved the bow. Massart said very pleasantly that she must keep it down.
She put it down but presently it flew up again and then came a stinging
blow from the slender stick that was not so pleasant.
That poor little finger had a sorry time of it before it would lay
down properly. Many a time it ached with the blows of the switch, and
once she thought it was certainly broken. She was obliged to nurse it
in a cot for two days. At last it came just right and has never gone
Some days Massart was in a terrible passion and stormed up and down
the room, and the stick danced about the boys legs till the little
Camilla felt sore all over, out of pure sympathy. It made her very
cautious and careful and as a natural result she escaped much of the
shower of blows that the master offered so freely. One day a stupid boy
persisted in holding his violin wrong and suddenly it flew up to the
ceiling in a hundred fragments. Poor Camilla fairly cried with fright
when the master kicked it out of the pupil's hands and really had to
take refuge in sudden tears. She clung to her instrument with might and
main after that. He would not be able to kick it away in that style
from her hands.
Up early in the morning, breakfast, then three hours practice at
home with her father, then to her lessons from two till four at the
Conservatory. Then home again to study till bed time. Such was her day.
Three times a week, at all sorts of hours, as happened to be
convenient, she went to Massart's house for the extra lessons he gave
her as a private pupil. He was a famous teacher and pupils gladly paid
him twenty francs an hour for instruction on the violin. Camilla had it
all for nothing. It was the only gift she ever did have. Nobody had
ever given her money. They gave her an education and that was worth
more than money. She must work hard and show that she appreciated the
Besides these lessons, she studied harmony and practiced solfeggio
at the Conservatory. Her every hour was taken up with something. When
her fingers were weary with playing she could write out her exercises
So the days and weeks slipped away. Busy over her studies she hardly
noticed that the winter had come again till she began to need warmer
clothing. She went to aunt Caroline. Mother was busy on some
embroidery. It was strange how much time mother gave to that work now.
She had not done so at Nantes. Aunt Caroline gave her an old dress that
had been mended several times. Camilla put it on without remark. She
thought it odd, that there was no new dress for the winter but said
nothing. Somehow things seemed to be changed. Her father was
discouraged and her mother never went out, and worked hard all day at
embroidery. What had happened? She could not tell.
CHAPTER IV. THE WOLF GROWLS.
It was a busy life for Camilla. As the winter advanced her hours of
study increased. More practice at home and more difficult lessons at
the school. Studies from Rode, Baillot, Fiorillo, Viotti, Kreutzer,
Sporha and the great masters of the violin, were taken up in turn. It
was designed that she should become acquainted with all the master
works of the day. In addition to regular studies in scales, finger
exercises and the like, she went through all the works of the masters
that she might become familiar with their style and learn to appreciate
the best art. There were no trifling songs, no silly pieces designed to
show how fast she could scrabble through a great many notes. Nothing of
this kind allowed. Solid work, grand concertos, sonatas and solos
passed under her hand in review and in an artistic atmosphere, she
began to grow to the stature of an artist while only a child.
The boys in the class soon laid aside their rude manners and forgot
their jealousy in admiration. Massart laughed at them and said: Fie!
Boys! The hen is beating the roosters. Much truth was hidden in the
master's pleasantry. Camilla was rapidly distancing them all. She was
the favorite scholar. She had the advantage of Massart's private
instruction three times a week and exhibited an aptitude for the work
that advanced her quickly to the head of the class. This was an honor,
for it must be remembered, that these boys had been selected as the
cream of all the candidates. Each had displayed marked talent for the
violin. Had it been otherwise they would not have been in the
All were like Camilla, quite poor. Some were even supported by
pensions from their native towns, and nearly all of them afterwards
became good players. There was Lacham, Leon Regniér, and Isidor Lotto
who afterwards became so famous, and several others.
Henri Wieniawski was in the class before Camilla, but at the time
was still about the school. They often met and there began a friendship
that has continued to this day. Of Massart's pupils, three, Camilla,
Lotto and Wieniawski have become famous the world over and are among
the great artists now living.
Besides her regular studies Massart advised Camilla to join a
quartette in order to perfect herself in reading music at sight. Once a
week she spent an hour or two in playing with three others at the
Conservatory and in this way heard much fine music and accustomed her
young eyes to read the notes quickly and taught her slender fingers to
interpret the music at command.
Not all of her days were happy. Massart was dreadfully cross at
times. He would detect the slightest flaw in the work. Once he marched
a stupid boy out of the room by the ear and told him never to come back
again. If she should be treated like that it would really break her
heart. She would try her best to attend to all that was said and to do
everything just right. Massart might storm and rage about the room, but
it should not be from any neglect on her part. Altogether it was not a
very lovely life. Try as hard as she could it did not always please,
and some days it was really pretty tough for such a very small girl.
Another trouble came. Mother would bend over that dreadful
embroidery all day long, and things did not seem so prosperous as in
Nantes. Father was busy looking about for new rooms and almost before
Camilla was aware of it they were ready for a change of residence.
They could not afford the rent of the rooms on the Rue St. Nicholas
d'Antin, and they found cheaper quarters in a flat just under the roof
in an old house on the Rue Lamartine, and up six flights of long, dark
It was a sad change from their comfortable home in sunny Nantes.
There was nothing to be seen out of the windows save steep, red roofs,
the sky, and sundry wild cats that roamed over the tiles. The streets
thereabouts were narrow and crooked, with mean little sidewalks hardly
wide enough for one.
It was not the Paris of to-day. The wide and handsome Rue de La
Fayette that now passes near the Rue Lamartine and the beautiful Square
Montholon with its trees and gardens was not in existence then. Camilla
first knew Paris as a city of short, crowded streets lined with tall
houses and cheap shops and crowded with work people and small
They had only been settled in the new home a few weeks when a
greater trouble came to them. The wolf began to growl in the echoing
entry way of the tall house. They began to think he would climb the
stairs or come in over the tiles and scare even the starved cats away.
The store of money they had brought from dear, old Nantes had melted
away long ago. There was little to earn and many to keep. M. Urso
tried and tried, but could get no permanent position at any of the
theatres. There were scores of flute players in the city. As for
organists, there were a dozen for every organ. Once in a while he had a
chance to play for a single Sunday, as a substitute. Occasionally there
was a party or other gathering where a few francs could be earned by
Even mother had to help. At Nantes she had spent many a happy hour
in fancy needle-work and embroidery. In Paris the work was followed for
twelve hours a day that she might earn two francs and so help keep that
terrible wolf from coming up the stairs. Aunt Caroline kept house and
made the children's clothing go as far as possible. All helped as well
as they could. They must stay in Paris. Camilla must keep on at the
Conservatory. There were two years more of study before her. She had
put her hand to the plow and could not turn back. They must all stay
and help her through.
The Winter passed away and the Spring came. Absorbed in her studies
Camilla hardly noticed it except to observe that her thin clothing was
more comfortable. It cost less to live in the Summer, and when in June
her ninth birth-day came and she was eight years old, they became more
hopeful. Perhaps they could pull through after all.
It was in vain. With the Summer came the dull times in business and
their case grew more and more desperate. There was no wealthy friend
near to help them. No grand Prince stood ready to pay the bills, after
the fashion of the good Prince who helped the young Haydn on in his
studies. They had not a single rich friend in the world.
Camilla might get on very well through the warm weather with her
present suit. But, to study or practice she must have good food and
plenty of it. She looked pale and pinched enough, poor child, and her
dress was too small for comfort. Something must be done or they would
all starve. They must take her away from the Conservatory or find more
In their distress they applied to Massart and the officers of the
Conservatory. The master was very angry. What! Go away for six months!
Give concerts! It was a shame to lose so much time just when she was
doing so well.
No. If Camilla left the Conservatory she could not come back. That
is what they said. And so it was all over and this was the wretched end
of all their trying. It was hard to give up. What could they do? The
Summer term was almost over. The summer vacation was at hand. Camilla
might give a few concerts during the vacation. The money might help
them along another winter and then they would be in want again. The
vacation would not give them time to accomplish all they wished. They
hoped by making an extended tour to earn enough money to support them a
year or more.
It was the only thing to be done and after making proper
representation to the authorities of the Conservatory permission was
given. Camilla might be absent six months and then resume her place in
the classes. This was a great concession. Only Camilla's undoubted
genius, her desire to study, and her poverty caused them to break over
their rules in this matter. Massart too, gave his consent and said he
would resume her instruction without charge when she returned.
Now she was to prove what she could do. It was a pity to interrupt
her studies. Her education was not half finished and she must appear in
public before she was really ready. If she succeeded now, how great
would be her triumph when the three years at the Conservatory were
It was impossible to break up the family, and the entire household
prepared for the expedition. As they had no money they must move slowly
and cautiously. Salvatore Urso would play the flute and accompany
Camilla on the piano. Her mother could sing. That would make three
performers, and with two pieces for each they could give quite a
programme. To make a variety they should have one more singer. So they
hired a gentleman to join their Company and sing buffo and other songs.
Aunt Caroline would stay in Paris with the boys. When all was ready
Camilla and her father and mother packed up and started off in search
of fame and money. They must do something, and this seemed the most
The first journey was a short one and they landed at the town of
Verdun. As soon as they were comfortably settled in lodgings Camilla
and her father started out to present their letters of introduction.
These letters were to wealthy amateurs who might be interested in the
child and her playing.
The good people received them politely and after they had made a
short call they were formally invited to call soon and spend the
evening with a few musical friends. This was all that was wanted. If
the ladies and gentlemen once heard Camilla play they would be pleased
and perhaps they would take tickets to her concert. Things move slowly
in France and several days, perhaps a week, would pass before the
musical party would come off. In the mean time Camilla lost not an
hour. From six to ten hours a day she went through her exercises and
studied such pieces as she intended to perform in public. Her father
was constantly with her, guiding her studies, overlooking her practice
and aiding her in every way possible.
When the important evening came her long, brown hair was braided in
two long braids and secured with bows of blue ribbon. With her new
frock and simple manners, large blue eyes and thin, pale face she
presented an interesting appearance. A little too quiet and sober for
such a young girl. She seldom spoke, and was reserved and thoughtful.
Her life had not been a very happy one. Had it not been for her intense
love for music, had her heart not been bound up in her violin it would
have been a sad, dull life, full of toil and wearisome labor. In after
years, when the showers that fell so steadily during her younger days,
cleared away, the bright, animated and merry side of her nature came
out and the demure little girl became a vivacious and sparkling woman.
It was small wonder that the two or three hundred people who met to
hear her play were delighted. She seemed so earnest, her large eyed
intensity of expression, the bold and striking method of playing, the
masterly sweep of her bow captivated and charmed them all. She gave
such pieces from memory as she thought most pleasing and then after
some little conversation about her music they asked if she would give a
concert in Verdun. Yes, in a few days. Would they not take some
tickets? Oh! with the greatest pleasure. They would all attend and
bring their friends. Were the tickets ready? Yes. Her father had them.
So they crowded round her father and bought some ten, some twenty, some
fifty, and some a hundred. So most of the tickets were taken at once
and success was secured in advance.
To American eyes this seems a strange fashion. The idea of playing
at a private house and then selling the tickets strikes us as peculiar
and perhaps unpleasant.
The Ursos did not think so. It was the custom of the country. It is
the custom now. All the great players and singers have taken just such
steps as this and it seems quite proper and so no one thinks ill of
Then she took her violin again. Felix Simon knew what he was about
in Nantes. Massart's instructions had not been thrown away. Camilla was
an artist in little. If she had not the expression and feeling that
comes with maturity, her playing was brilliant, strong and powerful.
The tones were pure and steady and technical difficulties seemed to be
of no consequence. She went through it all without effort and as easily
and gracefully as can be imagined.
The audience was charmed with her simple manners and her wonderful
playing. They fairly overwhelmed her with endearments and attentions.
Was there any thing they could do to gratify such a dear little girl?
One offered her one thing, another something else. She had a delightful
lunch with her new friends and at last went home laden with bon bons
Then she must give a concert. They would ask all their friends and
really it would be quite a grand affair. Of course all this took time.
There was the permission of the Mayor to be obtained, and the hall to
be engaged, the tickets to be prepared, and posters and advertisements
to be sent out and tickets to be sold among the rich families of the
Her father must attend to it all. There was no one to help and he
had to attend to everything.
In a few days the concert came off at one of the small halls in the
town. There was a good house, as they say. Camilla played the violin
while her father played the accompaniment on the piano. Her mother sang
and the buffo singer gave some of his songs. The great attraction was
the pale little one with the long braids. How she raced through the
rapid passages and drew her wonderful bow with a great sweep that made
the tones roll out full and grand. Then those strange, airy harmonies
made by pressing one finger firmly on a string to give one note and
then lightly touching the same string a fifth above so that the lower
note was partially obscured by the note above it. Double stopping they
call it. We know it as harmonics. With either name it is difficult
enough for even a man's hand. It was small wonder that the people
cheered and cried bravo! bravo! and threw flowers on the stage and
actually filled her arms with comfits and bon bons. Verdun was a great
place for sugared sweets and candied fruits and they thought they were
doing quite the proper thing by presenting some to her.
The next day they counted the money, paid all the few small bills
and found that they had four hundred francs left. Really! Things were
looking up. Their prospects were improving. Camilla was certainly a
great success. Collecting such letters of introduction as they could
obtain, they packed up and started for the next town on their
programme. Where was the wolf now? Nobody knew. Camilla had driven him
away with her violin.
CHAPTER V. A GOOD FIGHT.
Then a short journey to Bar le Duc. As soon as they were comfortably
settled in the new place the whole ceremony was repeated. The good
friends they had found at Verdun gave them letters of introduction to
the best people and in about three weeks they had made their calls,
played at some of the grand houses and given a concert with the same
interesting result in the way of good, sound francs. How they treasured
up the little Camilla's winnings. Every franc must be saved and they
lived as cheaply and simply as possible at all times. Every centime
would be needed to carry Camilla through the two more years at the
Then to Metz and Strasburg and to the Rhine. It was to be a grand
tour. The Germans must hear Camilla play. They were true lovers of
music. If they were pleased it would be a great triumph and the
concerts would be very successful. From Strasburg they went to Manheim,
then up the Rhine to Bale in Switzerland. Then back again to Baden
Baden, and to Heidelberg.
What a glorious time she had. There were rides and walks among the
beautiful hills just as the grapes were ripe. Her spirits became more
animated and childlike and her color returned. It was like some strange
dream. Mother, too was happier, and as for father he had never been so
gay and merry since they left Nantes. How that pile of francs had
grown. From hundreds it had become thousands.
At Heidelberg she had a ride on the donkeys and visited the ruined
castle high on the hill. It seemed a kind of continual picnic. It was
no longer a weariness to practice. The weeks flew away so happily that
they hardly noticed that the Fall was near. They must return to Paris
soon. The vacation was over long ago. Still, the handsome pile of
francs was not large enough yet, and they kept on to Calsrue and
Homburg. Every where it was the same. Presents of every imaginable
kind, flowers and jewelry were showered upon her. At one place they
gave her more preserves and sugared fruits than she could eat in a
month, and a German Countess at Manheim was so charmed with the child
that she took off a beautiful pearl cross and chain and put it round
Camilla's neck. It was the cross the lady had when she was confirmed at
Church and she valued it highly on that account. Camilla kept the
beautiful present for a long time till it was lost in New York, as we
shall see later in the story.
The tour was really not a very extensive one. A part of Eastern
France and a part of the Rhine country was all she saw, but it took
seven long months to get through with it. Were she to undertake the
tour now it could be done in two weeks. They had no active agent
traveling ahead to hire the halls and secure the rooms at the hotels.
There were no advertising facilities, and no telegraphs. M. Urso had to
do everything himself. The ceremonious calls upon the great families
took a great deal of time. The subscription list and the sale of
tickets could not be started till they were fairly settled in the town.
Three weeks in one city was hardly enough time to prepare for one
concert and during it all Camilla's practice could not be neglected for
a single day. Her father was always present watching and guiding her,
and, in fact keeping her steadily to her work.
To off-set all this, it cost them very little to live, and their
concert expenses were light. The rent of the halls was low, and they
had very few advertising bills to pay. This made it easy to make the
tour profitable, and when at last they returned to Paris they found
they had 5,000 francs on hand, more money than they had ever dreamed
about in sleepy old Nantes. This represented Camilla's first earnings.
Aunt Caroline had received part of the money to help along the little
home in the Rue Lamartine and when they came back she stood ready to
welcome them at the top of the six flights of stairs. The cats were all
there on the red roofs, but that wolf had run away in dismay. It is
thought he did not appreciate music. Camilla was sure he did not like
her style of bowing.
The very next day after the journey was over Camilla returned to the
little room in the corner of the Conservatory and took her place by the
window that looked out into the court-yard where the school bell hung
in its tower, where she could see fat and rosy Massart tramp up and
down the floor and scold the boys in his dear, cross old fashion. That
stick flourished about as lively as ever. Her own fingers and limbs
felt it once in a while when she became careless. It was not often now.
She would be nine next Spring. She was getting to be a big girl and
knew too much to be caught napping by Massart. The German Tour as she
proudly called it had sharpened her wits and made her even more
attentive and careful. She took up her studies in solfeggio and harmony
and settled down into the routine of hard, persistent study with
renewed vigor. Those boys were far ahead of her. Never mind. She would
catch them presently.
When we see Madam Urso play to-day we think her steadiness of
posture and grace of playing very easy. None can count the days, months
and years of trial and labor she spent to attain such skill and grace.
In playing it may be noticed that she stands very firm and erect on her
left foot, with the right slightly advanced in front. Even so simple a
matter as this cost weeks of painful effort and many a bitter tear.
They put her right foot into a china saucer in such a way that the
slightest weight upon it would crush it. She broke several before she
fully acquired the proper position. It cost tears and china ware, at
first. Now it is as nothing.
The playing appears to be easy enough to spectators. Her fingers fly
over the strings with unerring certainty. It seems as if it would be
impossible to go wrong. We look on the strings to see if there are
finger prints, or other marks to show where the strings should be
touched. There is nothing. On the piano each key is plainly marked out.
Knowing the notes and the keys we may in time touch them with absolute
certainty. On the violin, the fingers must find the right place without
assistance. The notes must be found, as it were, in the dark. Only by
learning just how far to stretch the fingers and by the employment of
years and years of practice can any degree of skill be obtained.
In spite of all this, here was our nine year old Camilla getting
ready to compete for the prizes at the end of her second year. It was
not to be a mere concert where each pupil was to come out and play such
pieces as they liked before a mixed audience. There was a long
difficult concerto, to be learned, and each was to play the same piece
before the severe and critical jury, and before such musicians and
others as chose to attend. It was held in the theatre attached to the
Conservatory. Besides that, there were three difficult questions to
answer in harmony, and a piece of music written in a most extraordinary
manner was to be sung at first sight.
In this country we now write vocal music in two clefs, known as the
bass and treble clefs. This makes it easy to read and any singer after
having mastered them both can get along without much difficulty. Some
of the more lazy ones think it hard to sing in even one and are quite
upset if they try to sing in any, save their own. What would the poor
alto who didn't know anything about the bass clefs think of singing
at first sight in seven different clefs. Camilla's trial piece at the
examination in solfeggio was a song that began in one clef, went a few
bars and then jumped into another, then into another and back again,
then another and so on in a manner perfectly bewildering and
distracting. She had never seen it before and went through it without
missing a note. The result was that she carried off the first diploma,
and the jury and audience were greatly pleased.
Then they placed a large basket before her in which were hundreds of
bits of folded paper. She was to take out three, open them, read them
aloud and give a verbal answer to each. The first question was
something about the relative minor of a certain major key and its
signature. That was easy enough and she answered at once without
hesitation. The next question nearly took her breath away. It was some
deep and perplexing thing about the construction of a chord. Many a
music teacher would be puzzled to answer it. She thought some wicked
person had put it in the basket just to annoy her. Nobody could answer
such a tremendously hard question. She paused perplexed. It would not
do to fail, and calling up her sturdy will she compelled herself to
think it out. In a moment a bright gleam passed over her face and she
began to answer the question slowly. Feeling more confident, she went
on explaining the matter, and suddenly went wrong. She caught herself
at once and in a flash corrected it and gave the right answer.
This was against the rules. No pupil was allowed to correct himself.
He must have it right the first time. She was greatly frightened, and
thought she had made a failure. She was so earnest and anxious over it,
and moreover she was a girl, the first girl on the violin ever admitted
to the Conservatory, and with a smile and a word of encouragement the
jury forgave her and accepted her answer. The third question was
quickly answered and the great trial was successfully finished. This
trial of skill, or examination as we should call it, lasted several
days. One day she was examined in harmony. The singing came another
day, the violin concerto another, and the playing at sight in a string
quartette on still another. The poor girl was quite worn out and
thankful that the summer vacation came soon after. At our
Conservatories and music schools the pupils take the vacation as a time
of rest and enjoyment. They say it is too hot to work. It is quite as
warm in Paris, and Camilla was as weary as ever they could be at such a
time. Still she rose with the sun, practiced all the forenoon with her
father, went to Massart's house three times a week, and with the
exception of the hours spent at the Conservatory, her time passed
exactly as if there was no vacation at all. Work, work, work, all the
time. Just enough exercise to keep her in good health. Only a little
play, now and then. Hours and hours of practice day after day. Such was
her life. A great and splendid reward was in view. By and by she would
win every thing. When her day of success came she could rest and enjoy
herself. Could she? Did she ever rest? We shall see.
CHAPTER VI. THE ROSE OF MONTHOLON.
The last year at the Conservatory was drawing to an end. It was
early summer and Camilla was just ten years old. The long and difficult
course of study that many a boy was proud to finish when he was
nineteen, was almost over before she had entered her teens. She was
paler and thinner than ever and felt glad the warm weather had come,
for really, her frock was not thick enough for comfort. That terrible
wolf had again howled in the dark echoing entry way of the house on the
Rue Lamartine. The goodly pile of francs she had won on the German tour
had melted wholly away. Mother had taken up that dreary embroidery
again. There were four boys to be clothed and fed now, and Salvatore
Urso found it hard work to get along.
Camilla absorbed in her music hardly knew how serious the case had
become. Many a time she came home from her lessons to find that the
family had been to dinner, and that something nice and warm had been
saved for her. They said they had dined, but in truth they had only
eaten a cheap lunch of fried potatoes or something a few sous would buy
that Camilla might have a better dinner. She must be maintained in good
health, and no sacrifice on their part was too great. When they had but
little they took the best for her and concealed from her their own
scanty meals. She was an exceedingly affectionate child and would have
shared her best with her mother had she known what they silently
suffered for her sake.
Her father was constantly with her when she practiced. Many an hour
he stood by her side and held her left arm to help sustain the weight
of her weary violin. At times he let her sit on a stool though the good
student always stands with the violin. She was a growing girl and
something of the rules must be relaxed. At the same time her father was
a strict master and never suffered her to slight or neglect her
practice. During the three years at the Conservatory he never was
absent while she practiced though it averaged ten hours a day during
the last year. During it all Camilla never once refused to go to her
lessons and in company with her aunt or father daily walked to the
Conservatory and to Massart's house.
Could they go on much longer? Their case was getting positively
desperate. They had nearly struggled through the three years. It was
almost over and Camilla was well nigh ready to try her fortune in the
world. She must play before some of the wealthy amateur musicians and
show her talents. No money would come of it but it might serve as an
introduction to public life and bring her into notice so that when she
did leave the Conservatory she would not be wholly unknown.
One day there came an invitation to spend the evening at some
private house and she prepared to go. She had passably good clothing
and was, as far as appearance was concerned, ready to go. Then came a
dreadful discovery. The wolf was at the door. He had come up the stairs
and was scratching and snarling at the threshold. What were they to do?
There was not a thing to eat in the house. The very last franc had been
spent. There was nothing left but that pearl cross the Countess had
given her at Manheim. They might sell it. No they could not and would
not. They would go supperless to bed first. But Camilla, poor child,
was going out. Perhaps she would have a supper at the friend's house
where she was to play. And perhaps not. Besides, she had eaten nothing
since morning. She might faint before the supper hour came. She could
not give it up and go to bed as her brothers had done. In their
perplexity and trouble Aunt Caroline came with the joyful news that she
had found a sou in an old coat pocket. Only a soua copper cent.
Camilla dressed hastily, and with her father set out for the private
concert where she was to play. As they walked through the streets they
stopped at one of the little cooking stands that are so common in
Paris. With the one cent they bought a paper bag holding perhaps a pint
of fried potatoes. M. Urso carried the violin and Camilla took the bag
and ate her supper as she passed along. Franklin's breakfast of rolls
in the streets of Philadelphia was a royal feast beside Camilla's
supper. Using her handkerchief for a napkin she finished the meal and
throwing the paper bag away entered the grand mansion as the honored
little guest and artist. As for her father he had no supper at all.
It is always darkest just before dawn. They struggled through a few
more days of bitter poverty and then came a sudden burst of wealth and
good fortune that fairly took their breath away. It seemed as if a
shower of gold actually rained down upon them and a new and most
remarkable experience came in the history of the Urso family.
The last term at the Conservatory was nearly finished. She must give
her whole energies to her studies. The Directors had given out the
piece of music that was to be played by the pupils at the examination
in July and she must go to work upon it. Eight weeks was little enough
time to give to such a piece of music. It was the 24th Concerto in B
Minor for violin by Viotti. Besides being a work of great difficulty it
began with one short note followed by a longer one. They must all get
that place right, if nothing else. The jury would not forgive them if
they slighted the first note in the piece. How they did try over that
one passage. The two notes echoed from every room in the Conservatory
all day long. The boys tried it over at every spare moment and it did
seem to Camilla as if those were the only notes in the piece. For
herself she practiced it carefully and very slowly, feeling sure it was
better to trust to her own coolness and steadiness at the trial than to
go over it so many times as to become too confident.
About a year before this a man, who said he came from America, had
appeared at the Conservatory to see Massart in relation to some music
lessons he wished given to his sons. For convenience we will call this
man the American. He is now dead and as his share in this story is not
the most happy this title may take the place of his real name. His two
sons played the violin and the father wished them placed under
Massart's instruction. Camilla came in during the interview and quietly
waited till it was over. The two boys played for the master and Camilla
sat near by in silence. Then Massart asked her to play. She did so and
the American was so much pleased that he asked her name and residence.
A day or two after that he called upon Camilla's father and proposed to
him that Camilla should visit the United States as soon as her lessons
were finished at the Conservatory. He thought she would attract great
attention there and offered to take her to America on a concert tour.
This was all very fine but Camilla could not go now and so the matter
was dropped. When the term was over there would be time enough to talk
about it. So the American went away and the Ursos thought no more about
Suddenly in the Summer of the last year and just before the term was
finished he reappeared and repeated his offer to take Camilla to
America. She was to go with him for three years and was to play at
concerts in all the principal cities of the country.
In consideration of which he would pay M. Urso the sum of thirty
thousand francs the first year, sixty thousand francs the second year
and one hundred thousand francs the third year. Traveling and hotel
expenses for three people were to be paid and altogether it was a
Thirty thousand francs in one year! It was too wonderful! They had
never dreamed of so much money! Sixty thousand francs! A hundred
thousand francs! Such sums were too vast to be taken in at one sitting.
They must consider the matter. After much discussion it was at last
arranged that when her lessons at the Conservatory were finished
Camilla and her father should start for America.
During the last Spring in Paris they changed their residence and
moved into more cheerful and comfortable rooms on the Rue Montholon, a
street that makes a continuation of the Rue Lamartine. Here they had
front rooms in the attic and in the sixth story. There was a broad
balcony at the foot of the steep mansard roof and here Camilla's mother
arranged a pretty row of plants in pots so that the iron railing in
front was half hid by flowers. Poor as they were they always managed to
have it as bright and pretty about them as possible. With all their
poverty they always contrived to look neat and pleasant. M. Urso
arranged a temporary shed on the balcony for a kitchen and here in the
bright sunshine high up in the air above the noisy street Camilla used
to watch the birds and the clouds and peep through the geranium leaves
down into the street so far below. This change of scene was a great
advantage to her. It brightened her spirits and gave her thin cheeks a
bit of color. As she went through the streets with her violin, and gay
in a new chip hat and blue ribbon the people turned to look at the
demure eyes and the half smiling mouth and said: She is the Rose of
The Rose could not be suffered to bloom alone in the alley-ways and
lanes of the old city and invitations to play at the houses of some the
grand families came in. One of these was to the residence of Madam
Armengo and another was the residence of Napoleon then known as the
Prince President. At Madam Armengo's Camilla attracted great attention
and won many friends. Her playing was a surprise to all and the company
could hardly find words to express their pleasure and admiration.
Then came an invitation from the Prince President to take part at a
grand concert at the Palace de Elysée before the Prince and the great
dignitaries of the court. There were Generals and Marshals, Princesses
and grand Court ladies, artists and gentlemen with decorations and many
other notables. A place on the programme was assigned to the little
Rose of Montholon and in her usual simple and natural manner she played
her best before the honorable company. They paid her the best of
attention and she quickly captured all their hearts by her childish
manners and wonderful playing. They had never heard any such playing
from one so young and they crowded around her to thank her and
congratulate her upon her skill.
The Prince Napoleon came and spoke to her, praised her music and
asked what she intended to do next. Go to America. Ah! No. That was not
right. Such talent as hers must not leave France. M. Urso replied that
the contract had already been signed with the American and they must go
Puisqu 'il en est ainsi, dépéchez vous à aller gagner de l'argent,
et revenez vite en France. A votre retour ne manquez pas de venir me
These were the very words of the Prince in reply. They thanked him
heartily and then the party broke up and they went back to their home
on the Rue Montholon.
Then came the final examination at the Conservatory. It did not
differ materially from the one described before except that it was much
more difficult. The questions in harmony were more searching. The piece
of music to be sung at first sight was more perplexing than ever before
and the new quartette for strings in which she was to take the first
violin far exceeded the others in technical difficulties. Each day of
the trial was a triumph for her. She received the first prize and never
were a family more pleased with the success of a child. It was a great
day for the Ursos and it seemed as if all their labor and sacrifice was
to be splendidly rewarded. Camilla had never faultered through it all,
and now that it was over the three years of study seemed as nothing. It
had been a hard struggle but she did not care. It was happily over and
soon she would go to America and gratify her father by winning a great
store of money. Then she would return to Paris and to dear old Massart.
In spite of his severe discipline he was a good man at heart and she
loved him dearly. She owed everything to him and she could never half
pay him for his generosity in helping her in her days of poverty. He
was very unwilling to part with his favorite pupil and wanted her to
stay in Paris and continue her lessons. It would cost her nothing. He
would be only too glad to teach her. It could not be. She must fulfill
her contract with the American.
America. Where was it? So far, so far away. Would she ever come back
from such a distant country? It seemed in those days a very serious
undertaking and their friends could hardly believe them when they said
they were going to New York.
The Director Auber was also very sorry to part with her and kindly
wrote a letter of introduction for her. The following is a copy:
PARIS, August 12th, 1852.
Mademoiselle Camilla Urso is a young pupil of the National
Conservatory of Music. Although still at a very tender age, she
has obtained brilliant success at several concerts in Paris,
above all at the Conservatory, where the jury have decreed to
her by election the first prize at the competition for the
prizes of the year.
Learning that she is soon to depart for the United States, I am
delighted to state the happy qualities which ought to ensure a
noble artistic career.
The Americans have already nobly proved that they are not only
just appreciators of the fine arts, especially of music, but
that they know as well how to recompense with generosity the
merits of the celebrated artists who are heard in the
towns of their rich and beautiful country.
Member of the Institute and Director of the Conservatory.
Finally everything was arranged. Aunt Caroline was to go with
Camilla while her mother was to remain in Paris with the boys. The
three years would soon be over and then they would all be reunited and
could live happily together once more.
The American was liberal in everything. He supplied them with money
for their outfit, and it really seemed as if their days of trial and
poverty were at an end. There was nothing to do, but to accept and
enjoy the great reward that had crowned their exertions.
The new dresses, the parting with dear old Massart and the
anticipation of the voyage absorbed Camilla's thoughts, and the sailing
day arrived almost too soon. The trunks were packed and the carriage
came to the door. It was a sad parting for fond mother and affectionate
little girl. She cried bitterly and would hardly consent to leave her
mother's arms. As the carriage drove away she looked back up at the
lofty balcony where the geraniums put their red eyes through the
railing and watched her mother's handkerchief fluttering so high in the
air till a turn in the crooked street shut her dear home from view. Two
weeks later, on the 15th of September, a little girl, her father and
aunt and a violin landed from the Steamship Humboldt in New York and a
new life began for Camilla.
It was like a dream. They couldn't believe it, nor understand it. It
seemed as if they lived in a palace. They had three parlors furnished
in the most costly and elegant style. There were yellow satin chairs in
one room and blue in the next. Obsequious servants waited upon their
every want. Camilla's room looked out on Broadway and the view from the
window afforded her unending amusement She hardly dared to sit in the
satin chairs. They were almost too fine for use. Such splendor and
luxury was really oppressive. And the people! What a strange language
they spoke. She was sure she could never understand it. She listened
and tried and only succeeded in pronouncing the name of the hotel which
she gave as the Ir-ving House.
The first few days they gave themselves up to sight seeing. The
American called frequently and said that the first concert would come
off very soon. He had advertised it extensively and the whole troupe
must prepare for the great event. In the meantime they must be prepared
to receive company, for the authorities would soon call upon them. This
they thought would be quite proper and they felt sure they would
receive the dignitaries of the city with becoming respect.
In order to give a proper variety to Camilla's concerts other talent
had been engaged. Oscar Comettant and his wife had been invited by the
American to join the troupe. He was to assist as accompanist and his
wife was to sing. There was also a M. Fetlinger a buffo singer. This
enabled them to present with Camilla's assistance the best of
While they were thus waiting at the Irving House for their first
concert, the whole party M. and Madam Comettant, M. Urso, Camilla, and
Aunt Caroline all went out to walk one bright sunny morning. As they
strolled through the streets they suddenly came to a dead wall where in
gorgeous letters six feet high was printed the startling
CAMILLA URSO HAS ARRIVED.
They all stopped and gazed with feelings of wonder and awe, upon
this remarkable sentence.
Oscar Comettant was the only one who could translate it and when he
had done so they all repeated it over to themselves. As for Camilla she
committed it to memory as the first sentence she had ever spoken in
English. They returned to the Irving House remarking to themselves that
America was truly a wonderful country. The intelligent natives
appreciated music. They welcomed artists in a truly royal manner, and
published their names in letters six feet high. While they were talking
over the matter the American suddenly came in. He seemed greatly
excited over something. Was the Mayor coming? Were the authorities
coming to visit them? Should they dress for company?
Ah! No! Something had happened. He was very sorrybuthis
partnerwho supplied the money, etc. hadfailed?
Failed! What did he mean! Failed?
No, not a dollar left!
They couldn't believe it. Were they to give no concert? Was not
Camilla going to play? Was the grand scheme a failure?
Yes. It was all over. Everything had failed.
The whole party was utterly stupified and hadn't a word to say. What
should they do? Where were they to go? The disaster was too great for
comprehension. They hardly knew what to say much less what to do. The
American could do nothing. He had not a dollar in the world.
CHAPTER VII. CAMILLA URSO HAS
What were they to do next? They could not speak a word of English
and had not a dollar. They would gladly return to France could they
manage the tickets. It was impossible. Something must be done. A
concert or two must be given. Camilla would surely succeed if she had a
hearing. The American must not desert them utterly. He might, at least,
act as their business agent and assist them in giving a few concerts.
They could repeat the plan that they had tried with such success in
Germany. Camilla might play before some of the wealthy families and
then give a concert. It did not meet their expectations. The customs of
the country were different, and though she visited Commodore Stevens,
then living at Hoboken, and played for him, nothing came of it. He was
greatly pleased with the child and on taking her to a jeweler's bid her
select such a ring as she fancied. A ring with a variety of stones, a
sentiment ring, took her girlish eyes and she chose it in preference to
a more costly one.
And that was all that came of it. Her visit did not lead to a
concert and their fortunes seemed as desperate as ever. M. Urso went
everywhere among his countrymen and told his story and endeavored to
find a chance for Camilla to play. He could not give a concert on his
own responsibility. Some artist must be found to bring Camilla out
before the American public.
Fortunately, Madam Alboni was in New York about this time and
through her kindness an opportunity was found for Camilla. Three
concerts were arranged in which Camilla might make her bow before the
American people. Child violinists were not unknown in New York. Paul
Julian had played in the city and had attracted much attention. The
announcement that a new child-artista girl and a violinist would
appear only roused curiosity and people were eager to see how she
compared with the boy Julian. They called her CamillaCamilla Urso.
Who was she? Where did she come from? No one seemed to know. Madam
Alboni was to bring her out. The child must have some talent to be
patronized by such an artist as Madam Alboni.
Only ten years of age. Certainly a marvelous child. And a girl. It
must be a sight worth seeing. They would all go to the concert. In this
shallow style did the people of New York talk. They looked upon her as
some kind of natural wonder, or curiosity. That she might have an
artist's soul, that her playing might be something more than mere
display did not seem to enter their comprehension.
In due time the concert came off and a slender, blue eyed girl
hardly four feet high appeared and played a fantasia or themes from
Somnambula. They had expected she would play fairly well, they looked
for tolerable skill. What they did see and hear so far exceeded their
expectations that they could not find words to express their
The steady position, the vigor and grace of her bowing, the strong,
firm tone, and more than all the wonderful delicacy and lightness of
her touch. The splendid technical ability, and her simple manners, the
demure and serious eyes and the slight, girlish figure, these captured
their hearts and won their respect.
The concert was a great success and Camilla in a single night
established her reputation in the United States. This was her first
real step in her artist life. She here laid the foundation of her
reputation, a reputation that was first American and afterwards
The next morning the New York Herald gave her the first newspaper
notice she ever received in this country.
Little Camilla Urso, the wonderful child violinist, divided
honors with the prima donna. Of the same age and country as
Julian, whose masterly performance on the violin attracted so
much attention here, this new candidate for public favor
promises to be a powerful competitor with him. Her execution of
the fantasia or Somnambula was most admirable and drew down
vociferous calls for an encore which were honored. Several
bouquets were thrown to her on the stage and the greatest
enthusiasm was manifested in respect to the marvelous little
Then some one suggested that they try Boston. That city was a
musical centre and Camilla would be sure to meet with a good reception
there. Accordingly under the guidance of the American the entire party
went to Boston. Mr. Jonas Chickering, the piano-forte manufacturer
kindly welcomed her and invited her to call at his residence on
Boylston street, two doors from the building now occupied by the Art
Club. So much pleased was he with her simple manners and her wonderful
playing that he opened his elegant warerooms and invited a select
company of musical people to hear her play. This private concert first
brought Camilla before us. She had, as it were, come before us.
Hitherto, it had been a strange story that had been told to us. We
could now see and hear for ourselves.
The Boston Transcript and Dwight's Journal of Music, then our best
authorities upon art matters thus spoke of this occasion:
Her violin playing is not that of a child,even a remarkable
childbut that of an artiste cultivated and
bowing is extremely graceful and free, her execution neat and
clear, her intonation perfect.
Dwight's Journal of Oct. 9th says:
Little Camilla Urso, the violinist, but eleven years old,
announced a concert at the Masonic Temple for last evening,
too late for notice in this paper. But we had the
a choice one it wasof hearing her the other evening in a
company of some forty invited guests, in Mr. Chickering's
saloon. Her playing is not only truly wonderful, but
true;true in style, expression, feeling, as it is true in
intonation and all mechanical respects. She played Artot's
Souvenirs de Bellini, and never have we listened to a
fantasia of several themes, worked up in all manner of
variations, with a purer pleasure. It was masterly; the firm
graceful bowing, the rich, pure, refined tone, the light and
shade, the easy control of arpeggio, staccato,
stops, etc., were all such as we could only have expected
the maturest masters we have heard. We could scarcely credit
own eyes and ears.
The little maiden is plain, with strong arms and hands enlarged
by practice of her instrument; yet her appearance is most
interesting; a face full of intellectual and sedate expression,
a large forehead wearing the 'pale cast of thought' etc. Pity
only that such fine life must be lived out so fast, and always
in the blaze of too much sun for plants so young and tender!
Then followed two concerts at the Masonic Temple. Concerning her
playing at these concerts we may quote from Dwight's Journal of October
CAMILLA URSO. Two concerts have confirmed all we have said of
this wonderful girl violinist. Two concerts, attended by an
intelligent, nay, an exacting, audience delighted almost to
tearsand yet not money enough in the house to pay expenses!
Indifference to flaming advertisements of precocity is well;
it is not well, not worthy of the taste of Boston thus
neglect one of the finest manifestations of genius that ever
seemed to come to us so straight from heaven. It was one of the
most beautiful, most touching experiences of our whole musical
life, to see and hear that charming little maiden, so natural
and childlike, so full of sentiment and thought, so
selfpossessed and graceful in her whole bearing and in her
motion, handle her instrument there like a master, drawing
tones of purest and most feeling quality; with an infallible
truth of intonation, unattained by many an orchestra leader;
reproducing perfectly, as if by the hearts own direct magnetic
agency, an entire Concerto of Viotti or De Beriot, wooing forth
the gentler melodies with a fine caressing delicacy and giving
out strong passages in chords with ever thrilling grandeur.
The first of these concerts was on the 8th and the second on the
12th of the month. Neither was successful and evil days again came upon
them. The concert company broke up and each looked out for himself as
best he could. As for Camilla she returned to New York with her father
and aunt and they settled down in poor and miserable quarters in a
house on Howard streetthe Rue Lamartine of New York.
Her reception in Boston had not been a pleasant one. There seemed to
be a prejudice against her. The good people could not quite forgive her
for being a girl. It was well for Paul Julianhe was a boy. Camilla's
appearance disturbed their nice sense of propriety. This is only the
more remarkable when we come to see that later in her life Boston
became her second home. It was here that she afterwards laid the
foundation for her reputation and here she won her greatest triumphs.
Since, she has played in our city over two hundred times and here her
greatest and latest artistic efforts have been made. Little did she
think as she left the city that she should afterwards enter it twice
under most peculiar circumstances and afterwards make it the home of
her girlhood and sometimes her residence in womanhood.
Heaven helps those who try to help themselves. It was useless to cry
or sit down in despair. Camilla at once resumed her practice under her
father's guidance. The violin was taken out again and the wretched
alley-ways about Howard street reechoed with the strains of the
marvelous instrument. By the hour the music floated out the dismal
chamber window where the wonder-child toiled over the seemingly
hopeless task. The thin, pale face bent over the music book all the day
long. Practice, practice, practice. Life seemed made for that.
What was the good of it all? It had only brought them poverty and
sorrow. Not for a moment did she pause. The art was reward enough
without the money. She would wait.
It happened just at this time that Paul Julian, not in the most
happy financial circumstances came to New York and for a week lived in
the same humble boarding house with the Ursos. Camilla's room was up
stairs and Paul's just under it. Both practiced incessantly, and
Camilla's father while attending to her lessons would often say:
Hear that boy! He loves to practice.
Paul's father in the room below would bid the boy stop and listen to
the girl artist overhead and say:
Hear that girl! See how she loves to practice.
When the lesson hour was over the two children met on the stairs or
on the sidewalk for their brief play hour and would exchange notes
concerning their two fathers.
Was your father cross to-day?
Yes. Cross as a bear!
So was mine.
Camilla did not remain in obscurity and poverty long. Archbishop
Hughes heard of her and arranged a charity concert in which she was
invited to appear. The concert was for the benefit of the Catholic
Orphan Asylum and as Camilla had contributed largely to its success a
share of the proceeds were given to her father. This fortunately saved
them from immediate want and in a few days after a still greater piece
of luck came to them. A letter came from Philadelphia inviting Camilla
to play at a concert given by the Philharmonic society of that city.
She at once went to Philadelphia in company with her father and aunt
and there received one hundred and fifty dollars for a single
performance on her violin. This was the largest sum she had ever
received at one time and it seemed as if their day of small things was
While they were in Philadelphia an agent of the Germania Musical
Society of Boston visited them and invited Camilla to join the Society
in a series of concerts that they proposed to give in the New England
cities. A handsome salary was offered and they all three started once
more for Boston.
They took rooms at the United States Hotel and prepared for a long
stay. Camilla's return and reappearance in our streets was not happy.
They arrived on Saturday and the next day having nothing in particular
to do Camilla took aunt Caroline's hand and they went out for a little
walk. The streets, so strangely quiet in their foreign eyes, seemed
dull and they walked on thinking they might come to some garden or
pleasure ground where the people would be listening to a band, drinking
coffee and making merry in a proper manner.
They could not find the place. The stores were all closed and it
seemed very stupid and gloomy. They would return to their hotel. It was
down this street No. It was that way. Which way was it? The streets
were so very crooked that really they were quite lost.
They stopped a gentleman and said as best they couldUnated Statis
Hotel? He did not seem to understand and passed on. Then they tried a
lady and repeated the words Unated Statis Hotel? The lady talked
about something but they could not understand a single word. Again and
again they stopped people on the walk and repeated the strange words.
Every one shook his head or talked rapidly about things they could not
understand and not one could show the way to the Unated Statis Hotel.
Poor Camilla began to cry with the cold and they were having a sorry
time of it. They met an Irish servant girl going home from church. They
repeated the words to her and the quick witted girl soon led them back
a few steps and showed them the great brick block with its gilded sign
United States Hotel.
Now it was that we became familiar with Camilla's face in our
streets. Her black felt hat and long dark green plume that was at once
so singular and so very becoming, her big blue eyes with the sly
twinkle in them, the smiling mouth and sweet tempered expression of her
face won unusual attention and admiration. Children in the streets said
there goes Camilla Urso, and ran after her to see the pretty French
girl who had come to live among us. Traditions of her girlhood days are
still treasured up in many Boston families and pleasant stories are
told of this part of her life. She here grew in mind and stature and
she was no longer little Camilla but Mademoiselle Camilla Urso.
The first concert with the Germanias was given on the evening of
December 11th, and from that time there was a brief space of financial
happiness for our young Mademoiselle. For several months she had more
leisure than she had ever known in her short life. Their headquarters
were in Boston and the tours were short and easy.
There seemed to be no immediate prospect of returning to France and
something must be done about Mademoiselle's English education. The
family made their home at the United States Hotel and during the
intervals between the short concert trips a private tutor came to their
rooms to instruct her young ladyship in the language of the country.
Nothing had been done even in French and she found herself woefully
ignorant for a ten year old girl. It made very little difference for
she took up the matter with enthusiasm and learned to read in an
incredibly short time. Within three months she could express herself
with tolerable ease in English and learned to read almost anything that
was put before her either in French or English. How it happened she
could hardly explain. It must have been the intuitive grasping of a
mind prematurely active and retentive. She could read music as easily
as a Boston girl of her age could read the daily papers, and it did not
seem to her in any sense difficult to understand the much more simple
alphabet of spoken language. She had only one objection to her tutor.
He helped her over the hard words and all that and was not cross but as
she confided to her aunt, he was very disagreeableshe didn't like
him for he chewedand it wasn't pleasant.
At the same time such a demure puss, with such proper notions about
manners was not above joining some of the other girls in grand romps in
the corridors of the hotel, nor afraid to join them in the glorious
mischief of changing all the boots put out at the doors of the rooms
and then listen at the top of the stairs at the fine uproar caused by
It was during this residence in Boston that Camilla was confirmed at
Church and she passed the allotted weeks of preparation at the Convent
of Notre Dame at Roxbury. Her father thought it a sad loss of time on
account of her violin practice, but for Camilla it was a period of
unalloyed happiness. She was the pet of the school, and her simple,
childlike nature bloomed out freely in the quiet atmosphere of the
place. Here for the first time she learned to use her needle. Pen,
needles, pen-knife and scissors had been carefully kept out of her
hands for fear of possible injury to her fingers and yet she learned to
sew quite well in a very few lessons. It was merely a mechanical
operation and it came to her in a flash. She astonished the good
sisters with her feats of embroidery and fine sewing and they could not
understand how such an one could learn so quickly. The manual skill of
playing and the quick eye in reading music had probably much to do with
it. The weeks at the convent were like a charming oasis in the dry and
dusty plain of her public life and she came out of the school blooming
with health and happiness.
On the 4th of April, 1853, the Germanias started out on an extended
tour through the Western States and with them went Mademoiselle
Camilla, her father and aunt. It was upon this trip that Camilla Urso's
face became familiar to the people of this country. She had visited
nearly every important city and town in New England and now she played
in every large city through the Northern and Western States. She went
as far west as St. Louis and as far south as the Ohio. It was a
stirring, eventful life. Traveling constantly, playing four or five
times a week, meeting new friends every day, practicing steadily and
growing in mind and stature she seemed to have found the desire of her
young heart. Finally the trip ended at Rochester, New York, on the 11th
of June, and the company separated. The Germanias went to Newport for
their summer campaign and the Ursos returned to New York.
Madam Henrietta Sontag was at this time traveling in this country.
She had given a series of very successful operatic performances in
Boston and New York during the Winter and Spring, and proposed to make
a concert tour through the West and South during the Fall and Winter.
M. Urso while in New York received a letter from her agent inviting
Camilla to join the troupe. Accordingly she set out with her father and
met Madam Sontag's party at Cincinnati. Aunt Caroline traveled with
them as far as Louisville, Ky. Madam Sontag, who was greatly pleased
with Camilla here offered to have a motherly eye over her and
accordingly her aunt returned to New York and only M. Urso remained to
be guide and helper to our young Mademoiselle.
For Camilla this trip was a season of great happiness. She was
earning money rapidly, her mother in far away Paris could share in the
golden store and her father was pleased and satisfied.
Madam Sontag became a second mother to Camilla and treated her with
the utmost kindness. Every day Camilla must come to her room to
practice and receive instructions in singing. Camilla's instrument was
the violin. She could sing with more than ordinary skill and in
perfecting her phrasing and in improving her style in vocal music Madam
Sontag insensibly improved her violin music. All of Camilla's music was
examined by the great singer and in those stray hours picked up between
the demand of concerts and travel much of art and happiness was
Camilla was the favorite of the entire company. There was Pozzolini,
the tenor, fat Badially, the bass, jolly Rocco the buffo singer and
Alfred Jael the rising young pianist, merriest of them all. With each
Camilla was a pet. Every one seemed ready to please the young girl and
in their society life passed happily. Freed from anxiety and the
excessive and wearisome practice her nature expanded and she began to
show that sweet and amiable character that so brightens her maturer
Giving concerts at every city the party took their triumphant way
down the Ohio and Mississippi to New Orleans. The brilliant concerts,
the strange people, the mighty river, the life on the palatial
steamboats, the perpetual change of scene awoke Camilla's fancy and
imagination and developed her character rapidly. The publicity, the
glare and the excitement only brought out her intellectual and artistic
power. Most young people would have been upset and spoiled by vanity.
Her young days in the orchestra at Nantes had accustomed her to public
life, and the poverty and trial she had gone through served as good
ballast to keep her steady when riding on the topmost wave of success.
The tour ended at New Orleans with even greater triumphs. Camilla
appeared eighteen times in company with Madam Sontag and each concert
was a perfect success in every sense.
Then in a moment the bright dream came to an end. Madam Sontag and
her opera company set out for Mexico, leaving Camilla and her father in
New Orleans. She would return soon and in the mean time Camilla could
wait and by study and practice prepare for a new tour through the
Northern States in the Spring.
In a few weeks came the dreadful news that the good and amiable
woman, and the great artist was dead. She had died after a brief
illness in the city of Mexico and all of Camilla's hopes were
destroyed. Again she was without employment and without money. Her
father was not distinguished for sound financial ability. He was too
generous and liberal, and in spite of the large sums of gold that had
been paid to him on Camilla's account he found himself in actual
distress at the breaking up of the Sontag combination. With reasonable
prudence they could have saved enough to enable them to retreat to the
more prosperous field in the Northern States. As it was Camilla was
obliged to begin again, and slowly, and painfully win her way back
alone to the North and to happier days. An agent was found to take her
through the Southern cities and thence by the way of the seaboard to
New York. It was not a happy trip. There was no longer a great singer
to attract attention, there was no obedient and skillful business man
traveling ahead to prepare the way and secure hotel comforts and
Camilla's violin was the only attraction, and to fill out the
programme they were obliged to call in the aid of such local talent as
they could find in the various cities they visited. Mobile, Savannah,
Charleston, and other places were visited and after a slow and
disagreeable journey they arrived in Baltimore in the Spring of 1855
almost without a cent.
Here came a singular episode in Camilla's life that will illustrate
the perfection of her schooling at the Conservatory of music at Paris.
A gentleman and a public singer heard of Camilla's difficulties and
arranged a concert for her benefit. At this concert Camilla for the
first and only time laid aside her violin and appeared as a singer. No
one had thought of her in this character and her duet from the opera of
L'elisir d'Amore, by Donizetti, was a great surprise. She exhibited a
fine, clear voice almost as well trained as her fingers. The
performance only showed how thorough had been her instruction in
solfeggio at the Conservatory. Every true artist is a singer. No matter
what his or her instrument may be, no matter how skillful their fingers
may be with bow or keys, singing must form a part of their education.
This is the theory of Camilla's study in music. The practice of
solfeggio gives clearness and accuracy to the ear, and teaches the eye
to read with certainty and speed. Much of her understanding of music
has come from such practice and it should form a part of every
Finally father and daughter reached New York after an absence of
nearly nine months, and almost as poor as when they started. The Summer
season was at hand and there was very little opportunity for concerts.
In company with her father she then went to Canada and there traveled
from place to place giving occasional concerts and everywhere winning
many friends. Invitations to visit the homes of private families came
to them freely and for Camilla the trip was a very happy one. So happy
indeed that she was unwilling to leave her new friends even when the
news of her mother's arrival in New York was received. M. Urso went on
to receive his wife, but Camilla persisted in staying where she was.
She was the admired and sought after young girl. Every one seemed ready
to offer her every pleasure and attention and she was far from willing
to return to the life of concert giving and practice.
Concerning the music that Mademoiselle Urso played at this time, we
may mention a few of the pieces usually given at her concerts. They
give us not only an idea of her musical ability, but serve to
illustrate the character of the concert pieces in vogue at that time.
No musical life would be complete, even if it is that of a
wonder-child without some information concerning the actual work
performed. Mademoiselle Urso was not in any sense limited in her range
of pieces. She did not have a mere stock set that she always played.
She could and did play everything that had been printed for the violin.
In her girlhood's concerts she chose those most popular without much
regard to their actual position in the art. She had not then reached
her true artist-life and was not, as now, in a position to lead the
public taste into the higher fields of classic music. She played then
such pieces as the Violin Concerto, by Viotti, Alard's
Souvenir the Daughter of the Regiment, Souvenir de Gretry, Souvenir de Mozart, by Leonard, and the Tremolo,
by De Beriot. She also gave at times the Witches' Dance,
by Paganini and La Melancholie, by Prune.
After some delay Camilla joined her father and mother at New York,
and the family were once more reunited. It was at this time that they
had the misfortune to have their rooms entered, and all the presents,
including the pearl cross that Camilla had received on that almost
forgotten German tour, were stolen.
The family were not united long. In the Fall Mrs. Macready, the
reader, invited Camilla to join her troupe on a tour through the West.
As mother and daughter had been separated for a long time Madam Urso
traveled with Camilla a portion of this journey. Unfortunately Madam
Urso was taken sick at Cincinnati and for a while Camilla traveled
alone with Mrs. Macready. This tour was quite a successful one for
Camilla and it finally ended in Nashville, Tenn., where the party
CHAPTER I. INTO EACH LIFE SOME RAIN
At the close of her tour with Mrs. Macready in 1855 Mademoiselle
Urso left the concert stage, gave up playing in public and retired to
private life in Nashville, Tenn., only appearing at occasional charity
concerts. Seven years later, in the Autumn of 1862, she returned to New
York prepared to resume her artist-life. The musical world remembered
with respect and admiration the Camilla Urso of her brilliant girlhood.
The wonderful child-life had ended. The new artist-life now begins.
Once more the swift fingers might fly over the mystic strings. Again
the bow arm wield its magic wand.
Could they? Would the art come back after seven years of almost
total neglect? Would the woman fulfill the promise of the child? She
could not tell. It seemed a life-time since she had played in public.
It was a doubtful experiment. She would not hesitate nor be afraid. She
would try again.
Father, I have come home.
Father, mother, daughter and dear aunt once more reunited. It was an
humble home in the midst of the great city. It was home and that was
What now, my daughter?
Music, father. My violin. Give it me once more.
Once more the violin is placed on the young shoulder and the bow is
laid with caressing touch upon the beloved strings. Ten and often
fifteen hours a day incessant practice. No rigid Massart to watch every
note. No father to sit by to guide and help. Alone with her violin. She
would have no master now. She would be her own master. Her genius
should be her guide.
Again the long, slow notes. Again the patient finger exercises. From
the almost forgotten years she recalled the lessons of the Conservatory
and the instructions of dear old Felix Simon, at sunny Nantes. He was
at hand and lived in New York. He might help her. No, she did not wish
it. She refused even her father's aid. She knew herself now. Times had
changed since those old days in Nantes. Music had changed. Violin
playing had changed. She could not tell exactly how or why, but she
felt sure it must be so. If she was to succeed she must come up with
the level of the age. The standard of musical taste had changed during
the seven years of blank in her artist life. The playing of the
wonder-child would no longer please the public, much less herself. If
her music was then remarkable for a child it must now be equally
remarkable for a woman. No half way halting, no inferior work. She had
no longer the excuse of being a child. She must win her own place alone
Thus thinking, hoping and toiling incessantly she spent the weeks,
and then the toil become a pleasure and the hope fruition. To her
surprise and joy it all came back. And with it came something else. A
new discovery in her art. Her violin had a new voice. A wonderful
something was in its every tone. What was it? The brilliant sparkle and
fire of her girlhood-music was all there. Everything had returned and
with it had come a lovely spirit born of love and sorrow. She love her
violin. She had known grief. Both lived in her music.
Three months of hard study and then she felt ready to once more try
her fortune. The fame of her return had quickly spread, and early in
1863 a letter arrived from Carl Zerrahn the conductor of the
Philharmonic Society in Boston, inviting her to play before the Society
in our city. She accepted the invitation and once more stood before us,
violin in hand, and surrounded by hosts of kind and true friends ready
to welcome her back again.
Here begins the new artist-life in our own city and at her
childhood's second home where she had won such honors as a girl. Her
first appearance was at the Music Hall on the 14th of February, and on
this occasion she played the Fantasie Caprice by Vieuxtemps
and the Andante et Rondo Russe by De Beriot.
On the 21st she played again and gave the Souvenir de Mozart
by Alard and the Cappicco on themes from Fille du
On the 2d of March she played a Fantasie sur Lucrezia Borgia
by Stanton, the Souvenir des Pyrenees by Alard, a
Duet from William Tell, for violin and piano and repeated
the Vieuxtemps Fantasie caprice.
Immediately after this she was called to New York to play at the
Philharmonic concerts in that city. At one of these concerts the
pianist Gottschalk, who happened to be present, became so excited over
her playing that he jumped upon the seat and proposed cheers for Madam
Urso, and at the close of the performance introduced himself to her in
the ante-room and fairly overwhelmed her with congratulations and
praise. It was a great surprise and pleasure to her, as the opinion of
such a musician was of real value. She now grew more confident. The
promise of her girlhood might yet be fulfilled. She would take new
courage and go on with the work. She would practice and study every
available moment. In time she would become indeed a great artist. She
would not now stop to dream of future success. She must work and work
Success and triumph were near at hand and almost before she was
ready to receive them, engagements to play flowed in upon her from
every direction. The days of poverty and trial were over. A steadily
increasing financial success followed her efforts and, taught by the
sorrowful experience of her childhood, she managed her affairs with
wisdom and laid the foundation of her present independence. In May she
gave a concert in Boston on her own behalf at Chickering hall and
played Grand duo brilliant for piano and violin, La Mucette
de Portici by Wolff and De Beriot, Reverie by
Vieuxtemps, Elegie by Ernst, and the William Tell
Duo by De Beriot.
These were the most popular pieces of the day. They all belong to
the transcription or fantasie style. Enormously difficult and well
calculated to please the fancy and amuse the ear, they give a hint of
Madam Urso's ability at that time and show just about how far American
culture had risen. It is interesting to notice them as we shall see how
rapid and how great have been the changes in violin music in the last
ten years that are included in this part of the story of a musical
In June she made a short tour through the Provinces and then
returned to New York and spent the Summer quietly among friends and in
practice upon her violin.
Nothing satisfied her in music. The true artist never is satisfied,
but is ever urged onward by a noble discontent. The concert pieces
demanded by the public, were not to her taste. She could do better
work. She knew and played finer works than these. The people would not
listen to them. She would wait. In time they would grow up to something
better. In all this she was ever urged on higher and higher, trying new
feats of technical skill, drawing forth even finer tones and
continually advancing towards the higher standard of excellence she had
set for herself. In all this she met with obstacles and difficulties.
She could not have instruction from others. There were none in the
country who could teach her anything and her concerts broke in upon her
time seriously. She was studying for public appearance and appearing in
public at the same time.
On the opening of the musical season in the fall of 1863 Madam Urso
was engaged by Mr. P. S. Gilmore to play at his concerts in Boston. The
summer of apparent idleness had been well spent. Her study and practice
bore splendid fruit and her genius bloomed out into new and wonderful
music that seemed to exhale a perfume as ethereal and delicate as it
was peculiar and original. The woman's hand and heart lived in the
music. To all the brilliancy and technical skill of a man she added a
feminine lightness of touch, that in airy lightness, and grace, melting
tenderness and sweetness is past description. Her violin now seemed to
breathe and sigh. The tears would come to the listener's eyes he knew
not why. The tears were in the tones. The sorrow of her life exhaled in
chastened sweetness from the strings. Her heart ran out on her finger
tips and lived in her music.
It is not surprising that at one of these concerts the musicians of
Boston should have united in presenting a testimonial of respect and
admiration and personal regard to her as an artist and a woman. The
letter was signed by the musical people of note resident in Boston and
was accompanied by a handsome gold watch.
However interesting the details of these events may seem it is
impossible to dwell upon them all. We must take the more salient points
in Madam Urso's artist life, choosing such events as best illustrate
her character and best explain the secret of her success that we may
learn the true artistic lesson of her life and works. After traveling
under Mr. Gilmore's direction through all the principal towns of New
England, Madam Urso left his company and spent the summer months in
traveling in her private carriage with a small party of her own, and
giving occasional concerts by the way.
She reached New York late in the fall and at once organized a new
company, and visited Canada. This trip was a remarkably successful one,
and extended till January, 1865. She then appeared at the Philharmonic
concerts at New York and Brooklyn, and on reorganizing her company
visited Northern and Central New York. She was at Syracuse at the time
of the assassination of Lincoln and moved by the event composed an
elegy for the violin that was afterwards performed with great success
The early summer of this year was spent among friends and in
retirement and was entirely devoted to incessant and long continued
practice. Practice upon her violin is the one thing that is never
neglected. If it is not reported on every page it is because it is
always present, never forgotten. This is the one price every great
artist must pay for his or her position. What a commentary on our
American haste to reach results does Madam Urso's life-work present?
She has genius. Genius without labor is worse than vain.
In June Madam Urso sailed in the China from Boston and passing
through London returned once more to France her native land. Returned
to live in dear old Paris but not in the Rue Lamartine. The city of her
childhood sorrows and trials now became the city of her triumph. Her
reputation both as a wonder-child and an artist had been almost wholly
American. Now she was to take a bolder flight and win a European
reputation. The opinions of our musical people were to be more than
confirmed at Paris.
Her first appearance in Paris was at the invitation of the Count of
Niewerkerke, then Minister of fine arts. The concert was a private one
given at the Louvre before a select audience of artists, authors,
musicians, officers and members of the government, diplomatic corps,
etc. Every one appeared in uniform or decorated with medals or other
insignia of rank, and the young woman from America whom nobody knew,
and nobody ever heard, whose name even, was hardly known quietly took a
seat in a corner as if she was only some stray person who had wandered
into the grand assembly by some mistake. No little surprise was
manifested when the Count sought her out and offered his arm to the
young stranger to escort her to the seat of honor. Her violin case. It
laid at her feet on the floor. If he would kindly ask a servant to
bring it? Servant, indeed! No, he would be proud to carry it himself.
And he did while the interest and curiosity was roused to unusual
excitement, and every one asked who the young American could be that
she should receive such attention. A prophet is always without honor in
his own country, and the poor flute player's daughter who had struggled
through their own famous Conservatory as a child was almost unknown as
a young woman. Rumors of an American reputation had invaded Paris, but
who were the Americans that they should venture to hold opinions
concerning Art. What did they know about music? Nothing, of course. How
could such a wild, barbarous country know anything at all?
The violin was taken out and with a few strokes of her bow the
almost unknown young woman was admitted to be a peer among them all.
Never was an artist received with greater honors and distinction. One
performance and her reputation was established. They suddenly found she
was, as it were, one of themselves. France was her native land, Paris
her home and so no honor they could bestow upon her would be too great.
Pasdeloup, the orchestral director, was present and then and there
invited her to play with his famous orchestra. So it was that the doors
of fashionable and artistic Europe were thrown open at one wave of the
magic bow. Our artist played the great Concerto in E by Mendelssohn
with Pasdeloup's magnificent orchestra at the hall of the Conservatory
and won a splendid triumph on the very spot where in the days of her
poverty-tinted childhood she first drew her bow before her severe old
masters who had tried so hard to bar the young feet out of the paths of
For a year Madam Urso remained in France studying, listening to the
best music to be heard, mingling with players of her own artistic
stature and, as it were, renewing her musical youth by drinking deep at
the fountains that flow from one of the great art centres of the world.
Dear, sleepy old Nantes was visited and once more she played in the
same old place where she first drew her bow in those almost forgotten
days of her childhood. Not a thing had changed. It seemed as if even
the same cats sat on the sunny walls and as if the same old women
filled their water jars at the fountains and toiled up and down the
steep streets. There were the geraniums in the windows just as she had
seen them in her childhood. Her father's organ stood in the dusty organ
loft at the church of the Holy Cross, and even the same grey cobwebs
festooned the arches above the seat where she used to sit and listen to
the music. All her father's old friends came to see her and brought
their grandchildren. The Town Hall would not contain the hundreds that
besieged the doors to see the Rose of Montholon, the woman who had made
their town famous.
Many places in France were visited, and many concerts were given in
Paris and other cities. It was a life of success, honors and happiness.
More than all, it was home. For all that, another home claimed her, she
must return to her adopted home, and in September 1866, Madam Urso
returned to this country with renewed musical strength, increased
ability and her talents brought to even higher culture than ever.
Every life has its dull spotsits period of uneventful living. Even
public life with its exciting experiences, perpetual change and scenes,
its endless procession of new faces may in time become monotonous. The
artist life of Camilla Urso has been active and varied to a remarkable
degree, but to repeat the details of such a succession of concert tours
would be simply wearisome. Events are of small consequence except as
illustrative of character and we must only select such as serve to show
the woman and the artist in her true character. On returning from
Europe Madam Urso at once resumed her concerts and appeared in New York
and others cities. In January, 1867, she was engaged to play the
Mendelssohn Concerto at one of the concerts of the Harvard Musical
Association in Boston, and in order to be present in good season for
rehearsal started two days before from New York by the way of
Springfield. On the road she encountered a severe snow storm and was
blockaded thirty-six hours between Worcester and Boston. Determined to
keep her engagement with the Harvards she pushed on as long as the
train would move. Again and again they were stopped, in gigantic drifts
that came up to the tops of the cars. The train people resolutely
shoveled their way through and pushed on again The day of the concert
came and still they were twenty miles or more from Boston. The fires
gave out and not a thing could be obtained to eat or drink. Still she
would not give it up. Perhaps the train would yet reach the city in
time for the concert. Finally the city came in sight. The wind had
blown the the snow away from the track on the marshes behind the city
and the last mile was made in good time and then the train plunged into
another drift just beyond the junction of the Providence Railroad and
where the Dartmouth street bridge now stands. It only lacked 60 minutes
of the concert hour. She would leave the cars and walk into the city.
Perhaps she might be in time yet. One of the gentlemen of the party
took her violin case and they set out to reach the houses on Boylston
street that were in plain sight not twenty rods away. It was a
desperate undertaking but she resolved to try it. She must get to the
Music Hall if possible. The snow might be overcome but she had not
reckoned on the temperature, and before she had gone twenty yards down
the track she found her hands were rapidly freezing and she seemed
ready to faint and fall in the terrible cold. The gentlemen at once
took her up and after a tremendous effort succeeded in carrying her as
far as the signal house. She must get into shelter or perish almost in
our streets. The burly signal man saw the party and opened the door of
his round house and took them in. Madam Urso's hands were stiff and
bloodless and in their fright her friends thought they were forever
lost. Even Madam Urso's strong, brave spirit was utterly broken down
over the appalling disaster. Of what use was her life if the cunning of
her fingers was to be thus rudely destroyed. It is small wonder that
the disaster almost crushed her and brought the bitterest tears to her
eyes. The grimy signal man took in the situation at once and resorted
to measures that were at once as effectual as they were grotesque and
amusing. Kneeling down on the floor and taking off his cap he bid the
gentlemen rub her hands in his tangled and matted hair. It was a most
ludicrous remedy but it worked to a charm. The gentle heat brought the
blood slowly back and after half an hour's rubbing on the man's big
head she entirely recovered.
Thet's the way we always does, mum. Many's the poor brakeman's
fingers I've saved by rubbin 'em in some one's thick head o' hair.
Whatever the philosophy of this wonderful method of treatment, Madam
Urso can give her testimony to its perfect success, and within an hour
she was so far recovered that she could laugh as heartily as any over
the adventure. The concert hour had come and gone while the party were
sheltered in the signal house on the Back Bay and there was no help for
it. She had done her best and even risked her life to fulfill her
engagement. There was nothing more to be done except to reach the city
in safety. The signal man helped the party over the tracks and up the
banks and they set out once more for Boylston Street. After a severe
struggle the party reached the first house but as the cold was intense
they decided to get under shelter as quickly as possible and at once
rang the bell. A woman put a frightened face out the door and gave one
look at the sorry looking party and slammed the door in their faces.
They at once rang the next bell but here the people wouldn't even open
the door though they slyly peeped out the window at the forlorn looking
party on the steps. Madam Urso's hands were again growing intensely
cold in spite of the fur gloves she had accepted from one of the
gentlemen; and his own hands were bare. They must get in somewhere or
perish in the storm. The next house opened to them at once, and in
spite of their rather battered looks they were welcomed and offered the
best the house contained. The bath-room, chambers and dining hall were
free to them and it seemed as if the daughters of the house could not
do enough to minister to the wants of the unhappy party. The discovery
of whom they entertained only added to the warmth of the reception and
finally a sleigh was found and just at night fall Madam Urso was once
more with friends. Singular as it may seem, she has not found out to
this day who so kindly opened their house to her in her distress. In
the storm and excitement of the occasion the number of the house was
forgotten and there was no name on the door. The family did not give
their name and if it should so happen that they read this, they may
know how pleasantly Madam Urso cherishes the memory of their kindness.
Carl Rosa who was then in Boston took Madam Urso's place at the
Harvard Concert, and on the next morning Mr. Dwight the Treasurer
called and paid her the usual honorarium, just as if she had been
present. Madam Urso remained in Boston and appeared at the next concert
as she makes it a rule always to fulfill every engagement to the
letter, whatever may be the expense and inconvenience it may cause her.
Immediately after the little adventure in Boston, just mentioned,
Madam Urso was engaged by Mr. P. S. Gilmore to travel through the New
England States. This tour was a very successful one and at its close
she spent the Summer quietly at Saratoga and Long Branch. The season of
1867 and 1868 was an exceedingly busy one and engagements were made in
all parts of the country with uniform success. In the Spring she found
the labor and travel were telling upon her health, and in June she
sailed once more for Europe where she spent three months in Bologne and
Paris, in retirement. Though not giving concerts she practiced as
steadily and earnestly as her health would permit. The quiet sea-shore
life at Bologne, the drives on the beach and the charming social life
rested her fully and in September she was once more ready to resume her
profession in this country. To report it all is quite beyond our
limits. Engagements to play crowded upon her from all parts of the
country, and every concert seemed to be more successful than the last.
One given as a complementary testimonial to Madam Urso by the musicians
of Boston, in January 1869, brought out all her friends and packed the
Music Hall with an audience such as it never saw before. About the same
time she was elected an honorary life member of the Philharmonic
Society of Philadelphia. This Summer, like the last, was passed in
Bologne and Paris and was wholly devoted to study and practice, with
CHAPTER II. THE SILVER BRICK.
On the 24th of September (1869) Madam Urso started from Paris for a
new and untried field. Stopping one week only in New York she pushed on
towards the Pacific and landed in San Francisco on the 22d of October.
Only four weeks from Paris to San Francisco including six days in New
York. This will illustrate her power of physical endurance, and the
experience that followed this rapid journey will serve to show her
business capacity, her executive talents, and her indomitable energy.
The seven months passed in California make one of the most remarkable
episodes of her life and it must be examined in some detail.
The party took rooms at the Occidental Hotel and the very first
evening Madam Urso was honored by a serenade, though no announcement of
her arrival had been made. Certainly, the musical people of the Pacific
Slope were eager to welcome her. It seemed so, for on announcing a
concert at Platt Hall, there was a greater demand for tickets than had
ever been known in that part of the country for any entertainment
whatever its character. Three more concerts were given with every
available seat and standing place occupied, and then three sacred
concerts on successive Sunday evenings at the California Theatre, were
announced. All of these concerts were of a classical character, the
first of the kind ever given in the State and to bring them out
properly the best talent to be found was engaged, including the
Brignoli Opera Troupe then traveling in California.
Never in her experience had concert giving been more successful and
profitable than here. It seemed as if she had captured all their hearts
and brought the golden State to her feet by one wave of her violin bow.
Deeply sensible of the feelings of respect and admiration entertained
for her by the people she resolved in some way to testify her
appreciation and to give material expression of her thanks. She looked
about for some worthy institution upon which she could bestow the
benefit of a series of concerts, or musical festival. After some
investigation and private correspondence Madam Urso wrote the following
letter that was dated at the Occidental Hotel, San Francisco, December
To the President and Board of Directors of the Mercantile
Library Association of San Francisco:
GENTLEMEN: The present embarrassment of your Society having come
to my knowledge, and wishing in some suitable manner to show my
gratitude to the people of this city for the kindness and
appreciation I have met with during my visit, I have thought of
no better method to do so than in offering you the benefit of a
grand musical entertainment such as I originally intended
here, with the sincere hope that it may prove a help towards
relieving the Mercantile Library of its present difficulties.
Should my offer be accepted, I will, gentlemen, consecrate all
my time during the two months necessary for its preparation, to
make it a grand success. I am gentlemen, Yours obediently
This generous offer was at once accepted and without delay the
officers of the Association, the city government, and in fact, the
whole community united with her to make the proposed festival one of
the great musical events of the Pacific Slope. Boston had given its
musical festival, why not San Francisco? There, it had been
comparatively easy. Here, it was an undertaking almost too vast and
difficult for comprehension. There was not a choral society in the
State. If there were a few choirs of male voices they had never sung
together and though there were many individual singers and performers
in different parts of the State they had never been brought together. A
hall must be prepared, the orchestra drilled, the music for the chorus
selected and printed, and the whole festival lasting three days be
planned, laid out, and carried into effect.
Never before has a single woman been so made a queen over an army of
men, women and children. The moment the event was announced the
Occidental Hotel was besieged by editors, musicians, officials,
contractors, carpenters, decorators, chorus masters and a hundred
others who thought they might be of use in some way. Madam Urso held
high state in her rooms and heard each one in turn, gave him her
commands, and bid him move on to his appointed work. The Mechanics'
Pavilion, a huge wooden structure erected for the Mechanics' Institute
Fair in 1868, was still standing. Orders to take it down had been
given, but at her request they were revoked and a host of carpenters
swarmed into the building and began to remodel it for the great
Festival. Railroads, Hotels, and Telegraph companies were ready to obey
her every wish in regard to the reception of the great company to be
assembled. The State arsenal opened at her command and a whole park of
artillery was ready to speak at the wave of her baton. An organ was
built to order, and a drum more portentous than the Gilmore affair was
manufactured. The firemen met to pound the anvils in the anvil chorus
and Camilla herself drilled them in the work. And at the head of it all
was the one woman, mistress of the whole kingdom, and with the
resources of a State at command. As if this was not enough she
personally assumed the entire expense and was responsible for the whole
vast sum of thousands and thousands of dollars that the festival
involved. Had it been a failure the Mercantile Association would not
have lost a dollar. Every bill was in her own name, be it for organ,
contractors, printing music books or agents' fares by rail or boat.
The event exceeded expectation and was one of the most marked
musical successes ever recorded. On Washington's birth-day, February
22d, 1870, ten thousand people filled the Mechanics' Pavilion to listen
to Camilla Urso's concert. A chorus of twelve hundred composed the
choir, and an orchestra of two hundred good musicians furnished the
accompaniment for the choral members.
The programme was popular in its character and each piece was given
with unexpected effect. The concert was opened at half past two by the
performance of Von Weber's Jubilee Overture by the orchestra under the
direction of Mr. Harold, the conductor of the festival. This was
followed by a chorus for men's voices by the united singing societies
of the State. Next the orchestra and military bands gave a selection of
national airs and at the end the chorus and the entire audience rose
and sang My country 'tis of Thee. The chorus, organ and orchestra
then united to give the chorus Night shades no longer, from Moses in
Egypt, which was given in a skillful and effective manner. A chorus of
men's voices from Eurianthe with horn obligato was next performed and
then came the Anvil Chorus, with chorus, bands, orchestra, organ,
battery and all the bells in the city united for accompaniment.
It was an event in its way and the irrepressible enthusiasm peculiar
to the Californians found vent in cheers and the waving of hats,
handkerchiefs and whatever was in hand. Certainly Madam Urso had never
in her whole experience seen such enthusiasm and she may have well
wondered if it was not all some strange, fantastic dream. The band gave
a selection from Tannhauser and then the concert closed with the
Star Spangled Banner given with cannon, big drum, church bells, organ
and great chorus.
The concert on the second day was honored with an audience of
fifteen thousand persons, the largest assembly that had ever met in
California. The programme began with the overture to Ali Baba which
was followed by the Gloria, from Mozart's Twelfth Mass. Then the
orchestra gave two movements from the symphony in C, by Gade. Sleepers
wake, from St. Paul, and the Prayer, from Moses in Egypt, were
next given in such a superior manner by the chorus, that the last
number won an encore.
At this point Madam Urso appeared and met with a reception that for
wild enthusiasm and fervor has probably never been exceeded by any
concert audience. The very proper coldness and passiveness of Eastern
audiences finds small favor beyond the mountains. The fifteen thousand
people met under that roof tendered her an ovation the like of which
has probably never been given to any artist in the world. Respect and
love for the woman who had done so much for them, admiration for her
genius, and gratitude for her splendid efforts in behalf of the
Mercantile Association roused the people to a pitch of excitement
almost past belief. For a few moments it seemed as if they would never
cease cheering, nor stop piling the mountains of flowers at her feet.
Then she took her violin and played for them, giving the Beethoven
Concerto. The building was too vast for all to hear her instrument but
they listened in eager silence and at the close there was another
tempest of applause and showers of flowers till the stage about her was
literally knee deep in fragrance. She was twice called out after the
performance, but the excitement and fatigue were too much for her and
she declined to play again.
The chorusThe Heavens are Telling, the overture to Der
Freyschutz, the Anvil Chorus, and the Hallelujah chorus, from the
Messiah concluded the entertainment and the vast audience quietly
The third day of the Festival was perhaps the most remarkable of
all. The chorus on this day consisted of two thousand public school
children, under the musical direction of Mr. Elliot, of San Francisco.
The programme consisted of orchestral selections and choruses from the
song books used in the public schools, sung by the children. The Hall
was packed to its utmost limits and the concert was a perfect success,
both in the high character of the music given, and the excellent manner
with which it was rendered. We have Madam Urso's testimony that the
singing of the children was fully equal to the singing heard in the
schools of Boston and other Eastern cities. Madam Urso played a
selection of popular airs, including Home, Sweet Home, and the
national melodies, to the great delight of the young chorus, and the
immense audience assembled to hear them. This children's concert was
very successful and to gratify the great number of people who wished to
attend it was repeated on the following Saturday.
On Thursday evening the seats were removed from the Pavilion and a
grand ball was given in compliment to Madam Urso. The next day, Friday,
the chorus and the orchestra volunteered and gave her a benefit
concert. Like the other concerts of the Festival it was a great
success, and gave fifteen thousand people an opportunity to listen to
her playing, and to testify to their admiration of her work in their
behalf. With the children's concert on Saturday afternoon the Festival
week was brought to a successful close. There was not an accident to
mar the pleasure of the occasion and the cause of music in California
received an impulse that may be felt to this day. The Mercantile
Library received a gift of $27,000 as the result after every bill had
been paid and everything promptly and thoroughly cleared up.
In looking at this singular episode in the life of Madam Urso we
hardly know which to admire the most, the business skill and energy
that carried it through to a financial success, the womanly qualities
that could win and hold the willing services of so many people in every
walk of life or the artistic culture and insight that arranged the
programme so as to at once please and instruct. The concerts were not
too classical to drive the people away nor were they wholly popular. In
all Madam Urso's art life it has always been her aim to lift up and
instruct her hearers. First allure the people with simple music that
they can understand and then give them something from the masters,
something a little above their comprehension; a taste of classical
music. They would receive a little of the pure and true art and in time
they would learn to ask for nothing else. If she gave them nothing but
high art they would be repelled and would not listen to any art at all.
The concerts in California and those of the festival were arranged on
this plan, and she remained on the Pacific coast long enough to see the
wisdom of her method and to find that the people came to hear her
gladly when she preached the gospel of true and high art. She has ever
pursued this high aim and has lived to see a remarkable change come
over the American people in their love of music. Of this more farther
Soon after the festival Madam Urso made an extensive concert tour
through the interior towns of California and everywhere met with a most
flattering reception. The musical societies that had sprung into
existence at her command to assist in the festival turned out to
welcome her in every town, the general interest in music that the event
had awakened throughout the State seemed to have spread to most remote
and out of the way corners among the mountains, and every town seemed
to try to out-do the rest in showing her attention and in crowding her
concerts. At Virginia City the choral Society gave her a reception and
elected her an honorary member of their association. Each member was
expected to wear a badge of a miniature silver brick. They presented
her with a real silver brick, (life size) and as it was too heavy to
wear or even lift from the floor, they presented two bricks of smaller
size, in the shape of ear rings. Certainly it was a most extraordinary
present, in admirable keeping with the place and the people.
After visiting all the principal places of interest among the
mountains and having a most delightful and interesting journey, Madam
Urso returned to San Francisco in May. Here she gave a few concerts and
on the 16th of the month started once more for Paris and taking with
her, the famous silver brick, a most beautiful diamond pendant, and
gold chain, a gift from San Francisco friends, the respect and good
wishes of thousands of people whom she had charmed with her music and
her warm heart, and $22,000 in gold as the net result of her visit.
On the 18th of the following month she was once more in the quiet of
her own home in Paris.
It is not a matter of surprise to find that after Madam Urso's seven
months' experience in California there came a severe physical reaction.
The labor and anxiety of the trip were tremendous, and even her iron
constitution gave way, and she broke down utterly the moment the
excitement of her journey to Paris was over. For three months she was
confined to her room with brain fever, and only left it when she was
driven out of the city by the events of the Franco-Prussian war. She
was hastily removed from her house on a stretcher, on the 15th of
September, and took one of the last trains that left the city before
the siege, and was carried on her bed to Boulogne. The change was a
fortunate one; the sea air brought a favorable change in her illness,
and her health was restored. In October she was sufficiently recovered
to bear the journey to England, and she took up her residence in
The winter of 1870 and '71 was passed in private life, but not by
any means in idleness. It seemed as if she had now won a position in
which she could command her time for study and practice. This great
artist, who had commanded the plaudits of two continents, quietly gave
herself up to renewed study, to more faithful practice, and to still
greater efforts towards perfection in her art. In London she could hear
the greatest players in the world. The finest and most scholarly
programmes were to be heard every week. She had nothing to do but to
hear the best music, study the styles of the masters, catch the
splendid inspiration of their works, and to transfer to her own heart
and hand whatever of the great and fine in music they had to offer to
her. It was a winter of hard work upon her violin, and a season of
peace and rest from the dreadful wear and tear of public artist life,
and its fruits may to-day be seen in the eminence she has attained in
the very highest walks of violin music. The classical concerts that she
gave in Boston three years later testify to the conscientious labor
that was bestowed upon her instrument during this quiet winter in
Here do we see the true artist-soul. We here catch the earnest
meaning of Camilla Urso's lifethe intense love of music, the devotion
to its highest aims, the eagerness to work, to study and to learn all
that is best and true. Genius, indeed, shines in her music, but without
these years of honest work the genius would only be a delusion and a
mockery. With work it becomes almost divine.
In June of 1871, Madam Urso returned to Paris and spent the summer
there in comparative retirement. She gave no public performances, but
held musical receptions at her own house once a week, that were
attended by all the most noted artists who lived in Paris or visited
the city during that summer.
In the early winter, in reply to a summons from London, Madam Urso
appeared at the Memorial Concert to Mendelssohn, and played his great
concerto at the Crystal Palace, Sydenham. This was her first appearance
in England, and, as we can well understand, it immediately placed her
in a foremost position among the artists of that country. After giving
a few concerts in Paris, she again took up her artist life, and
appeared at the St. James' Hall in February, 1872.
These two concerts in London and Sydenham at once opened wide the
door to a new field in which her talents found general recognition and
constant employment. If the California experience seemed like some
Eastern dream, this season in London was like stepping back into the
last century, when princes and dukes gave banquets to musicians and
entertained minstrels with royal liberality. Invitations to play before
both the Old and New Philharmonic Societies, and at many other notable
musical gatherings came to her faster than she could accept them. She
played for the Royal Society of Musicians, the Duke of Edinburgh
presiding on the occasion, and she was also asked by the Duke of
Edinburgh to play at Montague House at a reception given in his honor
by the Duchess of Buccleuch. Other persons of distinction in London
invited her, and everywhere she charmed them all by the grace and
beautiful finish of her playing, and by her unaffected and simple
manners. Invitations to play at private houses came so fast that a
carriage was kept in waiting to take her from house to house, that she
might appear and play at several different places the same night.
To republican readers, this appearing at private houses for pay may
seem peculiar and perhaps beneath the dignity of the true artist. It is
the custom of the country. Persons of wealth wishing to entertain their
friends give a musical evening, at which a programme of choice music is
given by artists hired for the occasion. Usually each performer gives
one piece and then retires. He is not expected to appear till just
before his turn comes, and then he briefly presents his respects to the
lady of the house, plays his little piece and gathers his wedding
garments about him and flies away in a Hansom cab to the next house,
where he does it all over again. Then he rattles through the deserted
streets at break-neck speed to be on time at another palatial mansion,
where his piece appears near the end of the programme. The audiences
hardly have time to learn who is playing or singing before the bird has
flown and a new one, just out of his carriage, is ready to sing and fly
again. The very much dressed audience comes and goes at each place, and
the music is often drowned in the clatter of half empty wine-glasses
and the rattle of more empty heads. It is very grand, exceedingly
tiresome, and wonderfully profitable. A player or singer of first-class
reputation who is willing to follow up a London season in this style,
can win more money than by a year of concert giving. Each house pays
for its one piece of music, and as many as five houses can be visited
in one evening.
It is a rather startling method of procedure, but it is the custom
of the country. Madam Urso could not decline to do as all the other
musicians did, however much she might stand on the simple dignity of
her American name. She everywhere called herself an American, and, as
it always happens, won the more respect and admiration for her
independence. It is always an advantage to be known as an American in
Europe, and Madam Urso is only too glad and proud to acknowledge all
that she owes to the country of her adoption.
The English press could here be largely quoted, to give some idea of
the high position Madam Urso won in the musical world at that great art
centre. It is needless to give it, as it is well known that her
American reputation, great as it is, is not equal to that in England.
The English are even more willing to give Camilla Urso her honors due
than are we, and having said this we have said enough.
In July, 1872, Madam Urso returned to Boulogne, and after a short
rest returned to New York, early in September. A concert tour through
the Canadas was at once taken, and after a brief and most successful
trip, she returned to New York. She afterwards made a journey to New
Orleans, where she assisted at the opening of the new Exposition Hall.
Unfortunately, Camilla Urso was here taken sick with the chills and
fever, and was obliged to come North at once. She came to Boston, but
lost much valuable time, both from concerts and practice, by a long
illness at the St. James Hotel.
We now come, as it were, in sight of the present time. The year
1873, though it was a disastrous one to art interests generally, by
reason of the panic, was one of uninterrupted success for Madam Urso.
She took a brief rest during the summer near New York, but during the
remainder of the time gave an uninterrupted succession of concerts in
all the Northern States, so that it seems as if the sound of her violin
still rang in our ears.
CHAPTER III. THE GOSPEL OF WORK.
It is now in order to review briefly the events of this remarkable
art life, and to see what lessons it may teach to the musician, the
student, and the art lover. Whether we look at the child, gazing in
large-eyed wonder at the festival in the Church of the Holy Cross, the
patient girl, trudging day by day through the quiet streets of Nantes
to take her lessons, the pale student in the conservatory, the
sober-faced maiden who so won all our hearts so long ago in Boston, the
brilliant young woman who flashed out so suddenly into the highest
walks of art, the great artist born of a wonder child, or the simple
American woman, Camilla Urso, in whatever station we view her, we see
the dignity and reward of honest work. Everywhere we see the same
passionate love of music, the same eagerness to study, to learn the all
there is of it, and to play with ever increasing skill. Genius is the
great gift that has been bestowed upon her. She did not hide it in a
napkin, but with heart and soul she did her best to make it a good and
acceptable gift to art and humanity. Whether giving concerts among our
prairie cities, resting by the sea-shore at Boulogne, traveling among
the mountains of California, studying the great masters of the violin
in London or Paris, or among friends in Boston, she is always
practicing upon her beloved instrument. It is never out of her hands a
day, unless ill or fatigued by traveling. Each month she means shall
show some improvement, and from year to year she has gone on till the
present standard of excellence has been reached. To what perfection her
skill has been carried, we shall leave others to say at the end of this
The musician, in looking back over this life of an artist, naturally
asks what changes she may have seen in the art life of the world during
the dozen years or more she has been before the American public. We
purposely select the American public, because it is of the most
interest to us, and because the art life of Europe is somewhat
different from ours, and less liable to changes. Madam Urso's own views
upon the subject are instructive and encouraging, and we present them
in very nearly her own words. Taken as a whole, the people of this
country are somewhat crude and uneducated in their ideas of music. They
certainly love music; they like music even better than the Europeans,
but they do not exactly know what they want. If, when an orchestra or
an artist is visiting a Western town, you ask a man if he is going to
the concert, he will often say, No, I have seen him once. Hearing the
music given by a splendid orchestra does not seem to be thought of any
consequence. Having seen the orchestra, there is no further interest
in it. On the other hand, with all their want of education, the people
of this country learn about music faster than any people she ever saw.
They are greatly interested in music, are willing to admit their
ignorance concerning it, are exceedingly eager to learn and anxious
that their children should, at least, study the rudiments, that they
may enjoy and understand it. They are ready and able to pay more for
music than any nation in Europe. If they think they are really to hear
something that pleases them, they will pack the hall whatever the
price. The music that pleases them is not always the best, for the
simple reason they do not know what is best. As fast as they learn
better, they drop whatever is before them and at once take up something
else. The sudden disappearance of negro minstrel music is an evidence
of this. The people outgrew it, and it passed away, as it were, in a
In instrumental music there has been a steady advance from the
merely showy and technical to the purely classical. Ten years since
they would crowd the hall to hear the Carnival. Had Madam Urso
presented the Beethoven Spohr, or the Mendelssohn Concertos, the people
would not have listened in patience through a single performance. If
they heard it at all, it would be under a sort of silent protest, and
the next time the piece was offered there would be nobody there. These
remarks apply to the country generally. In some of the older cities
classical music of a high order would have found a certain proportion
of listeners. From year to year, all this has changed. By introducing
into the lightest and most popular programmes some short selection from
the great masters of violin music, Madam Urso has gradually taught her
audiences what they should admire, and, by persistent and gentle
urging, she has led them to a knowledge of the best and highest in art.
In this Madam Urso is not alone. All true artists do thus teach the
people and try to lift them up to something higher and purer. It is
this that makes the divine in music. Happily, our people are willing
enough to be taught. The general education, and our freedom from
precedents enables all art to grow faster here than anywhere else. We
are still, as a people, crude and musically ignorant, but we are fast
learning. The changes in the character of concert music may be seen
almost from year to year; the standard continually advances and,
certainly, there is everything to encourage and satisfy the most ardent
lover of music in the country. While we have such artists as Madam Urso
among us we have much to be thankful for, and may press on till we
reach the high standard of excellence she ever keeps before herself.
We may here offer a short sketch of Madam Urso's personal appearance
and manners, when free from the restraint of public life. The ideas
generally held concerning her personally are somewhat incorrect, as
the following will show:
* * * * *
It was a cloudy, winter's afternoon, and the place seemed dull and
gloomy. The Boston Music Hall is, at best, bare and vast, and by
daylight is particularly unattractive. The great organ pipes appear
cold and lustreless, and the light tints on the walls are not very
comforting. The orchestra of the Harvard Musical Association were upon
the stage, under the leadership of Carl Zerrahn, and a few privileged
subscribers, numbering a hundred or two, were gathered together at one
side, as if to keep each other in countenance. Over such a wide floor
it takes a thousand or more to make a comfortable and social company.
The orchestra were at work upon the 6th Symphony of Beethoven,
placidly overcoming its difficulties, stopping now and then to polish
up some delicate point, and taking things in an easy and rather
indifferent manner. In the midst of it entered at the side door a young
woman in fur cape, skull cap of the jauntiest pattern, and some plain
dark dress. The hackman came behind, bearing the great brown leather
violin case. With a serene and placid manner she mounted the stage, and
bidding the man place the violin case on the steps before the organ,
she quietly took off her outer garments and sat down on the steps. A
friendly nod and a smile to Zerrahn and then a cordial hand shake to
the librarian of the Society. She had brought the orchestral parts of
the concerto she was to play, and began to talk in an animated manner
about their use. The audience had no longer any ears for the symphony,
and though it went steadily on, they were all eyes to see and admire
their favorite thus at home among them.
Having arranged everything to her satisfaction, she came down into
the house and was quickly surrounded by a group of artists and others.
For all she had a hearty hand shake, a smile, and words of genial and
animated welcome. No pretty miss in the company more admired, no merry
talker more sought for than this unaffected, simple-minded woman.
Beating time on the back of the seat with one finger, nodding to
acquaintances, speaking to all in turn, now in French, and now in the
best of English, she sat the most observed and admired of all the
goodly company, and the most serene and happy.
Presently the symphony rehearsal came to an end, and, without the
slightest hint of affectation, she rose from her seat, smiled her
adieus, and went to the stage. Selecting a violin from its blue satin
wrappings, she threw a white silk handkerchief over her left shoulder,
tuned her violin, and took her place at the front of the stage in the
centre of the orchestra. Tall Carl Zerrahn on his stand seems
particularly giantesque beside such a little lady, and he pushed the
platform on one side and stood upon the stage, to be nearer to her. She
gave nods of recognition to members of the orchestra, shook hands with
Zerrahn, smiled and talked merrily with the leading violin, and then
explained something concerning the music to Zerrahn. With her bow she
gave the time, and the opening prelude began. She adjusted her
handkerchief to her shoulder, and with a light touch played snatches of
the orchestral part, as if to give a hint as to its proper rendering.
Now comes the solo. The accompaniment is hushed, that not a note of the
golden Mozartian melody be lost. Of her performance we will not here
speak in detail, as it is described a page or two further on. Our
present concern is with Madam Urso as a woman at home in her art, and
among friends. Suddenly, in the midst of a brilliant passage, she
stops, and lifting one finger she says, so that all can hear: F
natural. The first violins are caught napping, and without a book, and
while playing her own part, she detects and corrects a mistake of a
semitone in the accompaniment. There is no self-assertion or parade,
but only an arch smile and a merry shake of the head, as if it was a
good joke to catch them thus. A hearty laugh from orchestra and
audience, and then the work is resumed. As the piece returns, she nods
and smiles her approval, and the music goes on again. At the end of the
movement comes a long cadenza of great difficulty. She treats it
in that masterly and effective manner that seems so natural to her.
Then follows a liberal round of applause from orchestra and spectators.
Next comes the andante movement, the most beautiful of the
three. During the brief interval between the two she talks merrily with
one and another, and when she is ready gives the time to the conductor.
Zerrahn wields the baton, but Madam Urso is the real director.
Her spirit guides the music and inspires the orchestra with unusual
animation. The rather listless manner in the symphony is exchanged for
painstaking care and attention. Camilla's earnestness and life seems to
inspire them to greater effort, and their playing gains in vigor and
precision. Not too much fire, gentlemen. This is the slow movement,
and she gently represses their enthusiasm. The feather like touch, the
airy delicacy of her own playing, spurs them on to unwonted care and
restraint. At the end comes another long cadenza, that for soft,
whispering tones, sweetness, grace, and vanishing lightness, is almost
unequaled. Her face becomes serious. Her eyes have a far away
expression, dreamy and tender, that soon affects the music. The magic
violin sighs and breathes in melting tenderness. The melody floats
upward, melting and fading away, exhaled into palpable silence. Not
quite, for just as it seems ready to languish into nothing, a soft,
sweet chord from the band completes the cadence and brings it to a
Shouts of bravo and loud applause greet this splendid effort, and
she nods and smiles with a pleased and natural expression. Still, she
is not satisfied. The band are not sufficiently delicate and light in
the treatment of the last chord or two, and she bids them try it again.
Three times they go over it, before her exacting and lofty standard of
perfection is reached.
Then comes the last movement. Vivacious, animated, and merry, it
seems to suit her happy hearted nature, and she fairly revels in its
brilliant melodies. Difficulties vanish like mist before the sun. It
becomes a delight to dash through the sparkling passages. Clear, clean
cut, vivid and sharp, like cut glass, the music stands out in bold
characters. Not a note slighted or blurred. No obscurity or doubt about
the most intricate passage. Curious little effects of staccato
mingled with the most linked together legato. Bold flashes
through chain lightning scales. Chords pouring forth in torrents, and
then airy scraps of melody, as if the theme had broken up into shining
bits, glistening drops, and sparkles of song.
An artist soul blooms before us. Her face is rapt, and almost
severe. In a moment it is over, and her features break into a pleasant,
natural smile. Amid the applause she returns to the floor and mingles
with the people. No affectation, no looking for praise; nothing but
sweetness and friendliness. No common-place woman, with brush or needle
in hand, could be more simple and winsome, no genius could be more
We may now properly close the chapter, and bring this story of an
artist life up to the present time by a brief sketch of a series of
classical concerts given by Madam Urso in the Spring of 1874, in
Boston. They were remarkable concerts; both in the character of the
music given, and in the crowded and appreciative audiences that
attended them. As an expression of Madam Urso's present ability as an
artist, we offer the opinion of the Boston Daily Advertiser, our
best local critical paper, and, for the present, bring this story to
its logical end. May it be many years before it becomes necessary to
add anything more to it, except to record her continued success as an
artist, and happiness as a good and true woman.
The Advertiser's criticism upon the first concert of the
series we present in full for the reason that it expresses the critic's
opinion of Madam Urso's general character as a musical artiste,
directress, and manager, as well as of her rank and position as a
The Horticultural Hall was entirely filled last evening, and
Madam Camilla Urso was welcomed back to Boston with an
enthusiasm evidently as unaffected as it was hearty. The
programme of the concert was singularly choice, but it was
noticeable especially for the contrast which it presented to
bills of most of our virtuosi: in three of its numbers
did Madam Urso take part, and those three were a trio for
violin, piano, and violoncello, a sonata for violin and piano,
and a string quartette. Disappointment at not hearing the
principal musician in a solo performance may have marred the
pleasure of some of the audience; and at the other concerts of
the series it is very likely that some provision may be made
the gratification of this natural desire. But the entire
arrangement of last night seemed to us
significant of that noble, generous, self-forgetting spirit
which has always distinguished this remarkable performer, and
which is not the least of her titles to the grand name of
artiste. Here seems to be as little as possible of vain
of self; nothing at all of that jealous littleness which
tolerates no companions either as composers or interpreters;
maximum of appreciation and reverence for the great
and of devotion to the best and worthiest in music. In the
concert of last evening Madam Urso carried the higher principle
so far that, as has been said, her own name appeared alone
neither as author nor performer.
The three chief numbers of this fine programme were a trio in
C-minor, op. 102, by Raff; a sonata in F-major, No. 9, by
Mozart; and Schubert's posthumous quartette in D-minor. The
trio was new to Boston. It is a long and elaborate work, the
absolute merit of which is not to be pronounced upon after a
single hearing. That it is startlingly brilliant and striking
at least two of its numbers is plain at once, however; and
can be no denying or doubting its great vigor and originality.
The scherzo has remarkable ingenuity in its harmonic
instrumental combinations; and the andante, amazing in
melodic variety and richness, and reflecting, apparently, many
moods of the composer's mind, yet produces a unity of
which proves the presence of a strong and self-poised genius.
The Mozart sonata for violin and piano is exceedingly
interesting in all its three movements, light and airy in its
general character,except in the andante, which is
with pensiveness,and not striking very far down in its
suggestions, but full of fresh beauty and consummate in its
symmetrical grace. In the happiest contrast with the sonata was
the wonderful D-minor quartette of Schubert. No better
illustration of the marked divergence between the modes of
expression natural to two master composers could have been
chosen than these. The invariable law of Mozart's geniusin
spite of, or perhaps, in aid of its broad inclusivenessis
condensation or conciseness; of Schubert's, it is expansion and
diffusiveness. But where the genius is so vital and inspiring
that which shines in every line of the D-minor quartette, the
amplitude never degenerates into tediousness. There may be
profusion in the host's providing, but no surfeit in the
In considering the quality of the performance one is tempted at
first to the natural remark that Madam Urso's power cannot be
plainly shown in concerted as in solo music. But in the very
utterance, we find ourselves hesitating and more than doubtful.
For purely mechanical effects and for all the immense variety
mere instrumental and personal display the solo, of course,
offers unequaled opportunities. But, after all, of how little
real value and beauty are these pyrotechnics of the profession;
how shallow is the stream of emotion which flows from them, and
how barren, dry and brief is the pleasure which accompanies
their recollection! If proofs were sought that Madam Camilla
Urso retained her skill in all its amazing perfection and her
genius in all its vitality and inspiration, they were abundant
indeed at the concert of last evening. There was the same grand
steadiness and strength; the same absolute faultlessness in
purity of tone; the same fine discrimination and delicacy; the
same minute clearness and cleanness, so that in the most rapid
and difficult delivery nothing was slurred or confused; the
docile yielding to the spirit of the composer and to the
of her fellow-musicians. And more than this, there was ample
room for the exhibition of the expressive and sympathetic
which was always the first title of Madam Ursoas of every
great violinistto the highest rank in her art. Her violin in
these fine concerted pieces spoke with the same golden mouth
as of old, commanding, inspiring, defying and pleading by
And in such music as that of the well-nigh incomparable
con variazioni of the Schubert quartette, the highest
eloquence of the king of instruments is not only permitted but
Another view of the professional and technical skill of Madam Urso
is given by the critic of the Advertiser in the following words:
We have said that Madam Urso's place as a violinist is in the
first rank; it is hardly necessary to add, that among
of her own sex she is unquestionably the very first in the
world. It is, indeed, only within a comparatively few years
the claims of women to superiority as violinists have been
treated with anything better than sneers. And the supercilious
and intolerant spirit which dictated such treatment had at
a much solider foundation than the narrow conservatism which
refused to admit women into the lists with poets, novelists,
sculptors, and painters: for power and force are the primal
conditions of the highest success as a performer upon the
violin, and most women would undoubtedly be weak players as
compared with most men. But the genius of artwho, after all,
is one and the same, whatever form the art may takeis no
respecter of persons; nay, more, he demands for his high tasks
those of every clime and rank, and of both sexes. And from each
and every one he asks a peculiar service which no other could
exactly render. And thus he has assigned to Madam Urso her own
functions as an artiste. There is no denying the
power and breadth of her style, which is far in advance of that
exhibited by the majority of the best male performers;her
touch is at once as firm as steel and as soft as velvet; her
mere manual dexterity is extraordinary; and her intonations are
as faultless as the steadiest of hands and the correctest of
ears can make them,witness, especially, her recent wonderful
playing of cadenzas at a Harvard Symphony Concert. In
this Madam Urso may be said to be a man, or the equal and
compeer of man. But in the great expressive power to which we
have often referred as her chief title to the highest place,
soul of the true and earnest woman finds its own exclusive
utterance; and we get a something of tenderness, of sweetness,
and of subtlety which is pre-eminently feminine. The world
not afford to lose this, though great performers were twenty
times more numerous than they are. The age which has produced a
Dickens and a George Eliot, a Holman Hunt and a Rosa Bonheur,
a Story and a Harriet Hosmer, must needs have added to the
scroll upon which the titles of Joachim, of Vieuxtemps, and of
Ole Bull are inscribed, the name of
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