youngster, you have been ill long enough, now brace up,” which I did and enjoyed the robe de mariée pas cher rest of the trip immensely. The captain was in a very romantic mood because he was to marry a young American girl on his arrival in New York. In the evenings my mother would sing Schubert and Schumann on deck and the captain several times gave us firework displays, rockets, etc., in honor of his approaching nuptials.
When we arrived in New York we found my father anxiously pacing the wharf where he had been waiting, since early morning, for eight hours, to take us in a carriage from Hoboken to a house in East 35th Street which he had rented and furnished completely from top to bottom as a surprise for my mother. The hot and cold water on every floor, the gas and the carpets were a revelation to us, as these modern conveniences were hardly known in Breslau at that time. My youngest sister, Elizabeth (now Mrs. Harry T. Seymour), was born in this house.
My brother and I were immediately put into the primary department of Public School No. 40 in East 23d Street, and as we did not know a word of English we were entered in the lowest class, although I had already been in the Sexta of the Gymnasium (High School) and my brother in the Quarta, and I had studied Latin and he both Latin and Greek. But we dutifully spelled out CAT, DOG, etc., until after a few weeks of this we were promoted, and so these promotions went on with lightning rapidity until we had acquired English and could enter a class more appropriate to our years, nine and twelve respectively.
I continued my studies of piano under an old teacher, Jean Vogt by name, and after his return to Germany I studied with Pruckner, von Inten, Max Pinner, and Boeckelman. The last, feeling that I could not raise my fingers high enough from the knuckles, gave me a machine of steel springs which, through rings attached to the fingers, were to lift them higher than nature would permit. Unfortunately this contrivance brought about a weakness in the third finger of my right hand from which I have never quite recovered and which unfortunately, or fortunately, has prevented me from becoming a professional piano virtuoso. But I had acquired a good technic and a singing quality of tone which served me well years after when I began to give recitals at the piano on the Wagnerian music-dramas, at which I played the orchestral part on the piano while I recited the text and explained the various musical motifs and their relation to the text.
My first appearance in an orchestra was, I am sorry to say, a rank failure. I was only a boy of fourteen years and my father had prepared a charming operetta of Schubert’s, “Der Häusliche Krieg,” for a “Summer Night’s Festival” of the Arion Society. In this occurs a delightful March of the Crusaders with one loud clash of the cymbals at the climax. It did not seem worth while to engage a musician at “full union rates” for this clash and I was, therefore, intrusted with it. At rehearsals I counted my bars rest and watched for my cue with such perfection that the cymbals resounded with great success at the proper time and in the proper manner, but at the performance, alas, a great nervousness fell upon me and as the march proceeded and came nearer and nearer the crucial moment, my hand seemed paralyzed, and when my father’s flashing eye indicated to me that the moment had come, I simply could not seem to lift the cymbals which suddenly weighed like a hundred tons. The march went on but I felt that the entire evening had been ruined by me and that every one in the audience must know that I had “funked it.” As soon as I could I slipped out of the orchestra pit underneath the stage and into the dark night, feeling that life had no joy left for me. I could not bear to hear the rest of the opera or to meet my father’s reproachful eye.22