historisches Portrait von Arthur Sullivan


historisches Portrait von Arthur Sullivan

Sullivan und Rossini


(zusammengestellt von Meinhard Saremba)


Siehe auch:

Saremba, M.: „Ein weites Feld – Über Gioachino Rossini und Arthur Sullivan“,
in Müller, Reto (Hrsg.): La Gazzetta (Zeitschrift der Deutschen Rossini Gesellschaft),
18. Jahrgang, Leipziger Universitätsverlag 2008, S. 25 – 39 (ISSN 1430-9971).


Saremba, M.: „Zwei Komiker ohne Sterbeszene? – Anmerkungen zu Arthur Sullivan und Gioacchino Rossini“, in Sullivan-Journal Nr. 2, Dezember 2009, S. 10 – 30.



Interview mit Sullivan im Strand Musical Magazine

M.A. von Zedlitz: „Interviews with Eminent Musicians“

Strand Musical Magazine, Vol 1, January – June 1895, S. 270 – 271


[ ...] The incidental music written to Shakespeare's „Tempest,“ which was produced in Leipzig in 1861, and afterwards made a sensation in London at the Crystal Palace Concerts, where it was repeatedly given, proved that the young musician's powers had not been overrated. Sir Arthur's early career was brightened and made pleasurably to him by reason of his association and friendship with many great musical men. Amongst those of whom he remembers with keen delight is Rossini. The Italian maestro took more than an ordinary interest in Sullivan's talents and was particularly attracted by „The Tempest“ music, which he used to play over repeatedly with the young musician, who had arranged several of the numbers as pianoforte duets. „I think,“ said Sir Arthur, speaking of Rossini, „that he first inspired me with a love for the stage and things operatic, and this feeling and departure led to my undertaking the duties as organist at the Royal Italian Opera, under the conductorship of my friend Sir (then Signor) Michael Costa, At his request I wrote a ballet, entitled „L'lle Enchantee,“ and my necessary intercourse with the stage employees, dancers and others gave me much insight in the blending of music and stage management, which became very valuable to me as time progressed.“


From '62 to '66 Sir Arthur was called on to produce a great variety of compositions, and his truly inspirational knowledge, accumulated by this time with astounding copiousness helped him to prove himself equal to any unexpected requirement or sudden emergency. An anecdote illustrative of this of this capacity is worthy of record here.


One night „Faust“ was being performed, with Michael Costa as conductor and Arthur Sullivan at the organ and in the midst of the church scene the wire connecting the pedal under Costa's foot with the metronome stick at the organ gave way. Such an untoward occurrence might have meant trouble for the organist had not his usual presence of mind and sauoir faire come to the rescue, for it is easy to understand that under the circumstances the organist would be unable to hear anything save his own instrument, and therefore it would be impossible for him to keep time with the conductor of the orchestra.


A brilliant thought struck him instantly. He summoned a stage-carpenter, and whispered to him, without further ado, „Run sharp, and tell Mr. Costa that the connecting wire lias broken, and that he must keep his ears open and follow me.“ This happy inspiration saved the situation, and all went without a hitch. No one was more delighted or grateful than the illustrious conductor himself, who loudly praised Mr, Sullivan for the apt manner in which he had saved the situation. [...]


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Sir Arthur Sullivan, Life story, Letters and Reminiscences

Arthur Lawrence: London 1899, S. 50 – 55


[...]The „Tempest“ music had been written when he was eighteen and its successful production in England took place before he was twenty. Whatever doubts and fears he may have entertained up to that time, he then definitely decided to avoid teaching and to rely upon composition. As he has said: „I was ready to undertake everything that came in my way. Symphonies, overtures, ballets, anthems, hymn-tunes, songs, part-songs, a concerto for the violoncello, and eventually comic and light operas, nothing came amiss to me, and I gladlv accepted what the publishers offered me, so long as I could get the things published. I composed six Shakespearian songs for Messrs. Metzler and Co., and got five guineas apiece for them. 'Orpheus with his Lute,' 'The Willow Song,' 'O Mistress Mine,' were amongst them,“ the first having been since then a steady income to the publisher. „Then I did 'If Doughty Deeds,' and a 'Weary Lot is Thine, Fair Maid,' for Messrs. Chappell.„


These were sold outright for ten guineas each! With the next song, however, entitled, „Will he Come,“ published by Messrs. Boosey, a royalty system was inaugurated, and the previously published songs having attained by this time a well deserved popularity, the result of the royalty system proved eminently gratifying to the composer. It was towards the close of this year that he made his first visit to Paris, in company with Charles Dickens, H. F. Chorley, the eccentric critic of the Athenceum, and Mr. and Mrs. Frederic Lehmann.


In one of his letters from Paris he writes: „I am to play the 'Tempest' (with Rossini) on Friday. ... We called for Dickens, and then all dined together (the Dickens, Lehmanns, and selves) at the Cafe Brebant, and then went on to the Opera Comique to see David's new opera, 'Lalla Rookh.' It is very pretty, but rather monotonous.“


„The particular purpose of our visit, „Sir Arthur tells me,“ was to hear Madame Viardot in Gluck's 'Orfeo.' She was intensely emotional, and her performance was certainly one of the greatest things I have ever seen on the stage. Chorley, Dickens, and I went together, and I remember that we were so much moved by the performance, and it was of so affecting a character, that the tears streamed down our faces. We vainly tried to restrain ourselves.


„I went about a good deal with Dickens. He rushed about tremendously all the. time, and I was often with him. His French was not particularly good. It was quite an Englishman's French, but he managed to make himself understood, and interviewed everybody. Of course he was much my senior, but I have, never met any one whom I have liked better. There was one negative quality which I always appreciated. There was not the. least suspicion of the poseur about him. His electric vitality was extreme, but it was inspiriting and not overpowering. He always gave one the impression of being immensely interested in everything, listening with the most charming attention and keenness to all one might say, however youthful and inexperienced one's opinion might be. He was a delightful companion, but never obtruded himself upon one. In fact he was the best of good company.


„It was on his return from Paris on this occasion that the train accident occurred alluded to in Forster's biography. Dickens told me that he did not feel anything until he got back to London, then he felt quite shattered and broken up, and Dickens added: 'I felt I should never be able to go in the railway train again and that I must take some strong measure to fight against my own nervous weakness.' The next day, or the day after, he went to Paris and back again over the same ground. If he had not faced the trouble in this way he thought that his travelling days on the railway were over. As it was he never got over it completely. The sensation would come upon him at intervals.


„It was in December that I called on Rossini: Madame Viardot introduced me. Rossini received me with the greatest kindness and took great interest in my composition. I had with me my music to the 'Tempest,' arranged as a pianoforte duet, and this we – Rossini and I – used to play, or a part of it, nearly every morning. This was because he had taken such a fancy to the music in question, and I must say that I felt greatly pleased, as one could never accuse Rossini of insincerity, nor did he ever fear to say what he thought, however unacceptable his verdict might be. When I left him he begged me to send him a copy of everything I wrote and to keep him an courant with all that I did.


„One morning when I called in to see him, he was trying over a small piece of music as I entered. 'Why, what is that ?' I exclaimed. He answered me very seriously, 'It's my dog's birthday, and 1 write a little piece for him every year.'


„I induced Chorley to let me take him to meet Rossini. Chorley hesitated a good deal because he had sometimes expressed his opinions very freely in the Atlieneum, and not always favourably, about Rossini's music.“ Sir Arthur adds smilingly : „I suppose that Chorley thought that Rossini had read every word that he, Chorley, had written. However, I overcame his scruples with regard to that, and took him with me one morning to meet the composer. Rossini, as you will see in the miniature which he gave me, was a stout man, with a prominent stomach. Chorley was as thin as a lath, and looked as if he had no internal organism worth mentioning. As soon as I came into the room I said 'Voila, Mattre, je vous presente M. Chorley.' To which Rossini replied with a courtly bow, 'Je vois, avec plaisir, que monsieur n'a pas de ventre.' Chorley was completely taken aback.“


„Up to the time of his death I continued to visit Rossini every time I went over to Paris, and nothing occurred to interfere with the cordiality of our friendship.“


There can be no doubt that this intimacy with Rossini influenced Sullivan greatly. This, added to the impression made by Madame Viardot Garcia's impersonation of „Orfeo,“ had the immediate effect of making him desirous of knowing more about the opera and things operatic. He determined to write something suitable for dramatic presentation, but not until he had mastered the technique of the stage. He spoke to his friend Michael Costa, who was the conductor of the opera at Covent Garden, asking that he might be allowed to attend the rehearsals. Costa refused on the ground that he could make no exception to his rigid rule in this matter. Nevertheless, Costa finally effected a handsome compromise, and offered Sullivan the duties of organist in the opera. This offer the young composer gladly accepted, little dreaming of what great importance this experience would ultimately prove. He had been there but a short time when, at the conductor's request, he wrote a ballet for the opera. It was entitled „L'lle Enchantee.“ [...]


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Sir Arthur Sullivan: His Life, Letters and Diaries

Herbert Sullivan/Newman Flower: London 1927, S. 42 – 43.


[...] <>The friendship with Charles Dickens ripened-, the novelist declared that young Sullivan was a genius, and some day London would discover the fact for itself. At the end of the year, Dickens and Sullivan, accompanied by the Lehmanns and Chorley (who was then writing a libretto for Sullivan to set), went off to Paris. The novelist was in his gayest mood, and the simplicity of the man left a lifelong impression upon Sullivan. „I was never so conscious of the greatness of that man as I was during that Paris visit,“ he said of Dickens in later years.


They hurried from point to point in Paris, with Dickens as a guide; visited all the operas, dined at small and very excellent restaurants which Dickens in some mysterious way had discovered or been told about, called on the principal musicians of the day — Madame Viardot, Rossini — Dickens arguing with the cabmen in bad French — and talking, talking all the time, as voluble and interesting as his books.


Rossini, the ageing, kindly man, with his white hair and little black skull-cap, fascinated Sullivan. They played duets from The Tempesi music together, and Rossini would afterwards sit crouched in a low arm-chair, his face as white as his hair in the half-light of the ill-lit chamber. There he expounded in his subdued melancholy voice all that was happening in the world of music, as if he were a returned ghost, who had the power to look down and forecast the changes that music was to know. He gave brilliant receptions; musicians, poets, painters crowded his Art-strewn room. The babel of conversation would suddenly hush — the maestro was going to play. He would creep to the piano rather painfully with his rheumaticky knee-joints, run his lingers over the keys, and drop into a minuet, or improvise something of quaint delicacy that was lost ere the instrument was dumb.


One short note Sullivan made on December 10th about Rossini is of particular interest:

„Went with Courtenay to see Rossini at 3 ½. He was out. Went back in half an hour and were admitted to his bedroom à la Francaise. The old gentleman was very kind and affable; asked me if I sang, as every composer for the voice might to be able to sing. Invited me to his reception the same evening. I found Carl Rosa1 there playing a new violin sonata by a young German. Rossini introduced us: 'M. Sullivan — M. Rosa.' We looked at each other and burst out laughing. The idea of being introduced to each other by Rossini was too droll. I went again in the evening with Courtenay, saw a lot of blue and red ribbons — Delle, Sedie, l.acource, and his wife, etc. — accompanied Courtenay in Fred Clay's 'Point du Jour,' and slipped away unseen. Thursday at 9 ½ a.m. I was at Rossini's house and found him alone, composing a little pianoforte piece for his dog! He played us a new minuet, very pretty and quaint.„


The year 1862 came to its close — the year that had made Sullivan the most discussed among the younger musicians. During the year Frederic had married Charlotte Lacy, and his brother was best man.


Sullivan was not earning a large income, but at least he was living by his Art, and not many musicians have subsisted by music when their years were but twenty. The battle was hardly begun; he must still struggle for his place, for his opinions. [...]


1 Carl Rosa had been at Leipzig with Sullivan.


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