Baltimore Evening Sun (25 March 1912): 6.
The standing of the clubs in the National Typhoid League for the week ended March 2:
Boston..................................149 St. Louis..........................000
New York.............................105 Cleveland........................000
Another slump! But do not despair! The Orioles are hot weather hitters. The chill winds of the late spring freeze and paralyze their arms. Wait for July!
In former times you could skeer a man by sickin’ the grand jury on him, but them times ain’t no more.
Kocht euer Trinkwasser! Roestet euere Milch! Helfet Heinle! Schlaget die Fliege!
From political quacks and charlatans, and their attendant sycophants, claqueurs and pediculidæ—good Lord, deliver us!
Just one week more of cheap burlesque at Annapolis! And then the spring plowing, the planting of corn and the welcoming bellow at the genial ox!
[Being self-estimates coutributed by H. M. the super-Mahon, to his weekly paper.]
Mayor Preston has made a record of which he and his friends may justly be proud. * * *
The School Board imbroglio he settled in Napoleonic fashion. * * *
Mayor Preston’s notable energy. * * *
Judging from the enthusiasm and pride demonstrated by the people at Annapolis, the Mayor is unquestionably the choice of the party for the Vice-Presidential nomination.* * *
The betting odds in the downtown kaifs, as my alarmed spies report them:
2 to 1 that Anderson puts the local option bill over. 3 to 1 that Harry nominates himself on the floor of the convention.
Baltimore’s chances of having another season of grand opera next winter appear, at this writing, to be pretty slim. The syndics of the Chicago Opera Company report that their loss upon the 10 performances given here this year has been $27,000, or $2,700 a performance, and they ask for a guarantee of $5,500 a performance next year. Whether or not this guarantee will be forthcoming remains to be seen. It is certain, however, that if it is actually obtained the committeemen who obtain it will have to perspire freely in the effort.
That their labors will meet with success, that they will overcome all obstacles and get us at least ten performances of opera—so much, of course, all of us earnestly hope. But meanwhile it may be well to remember that, even if they fail, Baltimore will still remain upon the map. The missionaries of opera, carried away by their laudable enthusiasm, too often maintain, or seem to maintain, the contrary. Their theory seems to be that a city which does not support first-class grand opera is a city entirely unworthy of respect—that a full house for “Tristan und Isolde,” at $5 a seat, is the one infallible sign of prosperity and progress.
As a matter of fact, though the great value of opera may be freely admitted, nothing could be more absurd than this doctrine. The truth is that very few cities of Baltimore’s size, wealth and character of population, even in Europe, support $5 opera. In such English cities as Liverpool and Birmingham grand opera on a large scale is practically unknown, and even in the big German towns such as Leipzig, Hamburg, and Dresden it flourishes only because it is aided by the State, and, in consequence, is considerably cheaper than in Baltimore. Five-dollar opera on the Continent is confined almost exclusively to the great capitals and to those show towns, such as Munich and Monte Carlo, in which innumerable tourists (chiefly American) submit cheerfully to extortion. And even in these places (with one or two exceptions) the cheapeat seats cost considerably less than $2, which is the minimum here.
It is true enough, of course, that the state of culture of a city may be very safely gauged by the musical appreciation of its people, but there is nothing in the failure of $5 opera to indicate that Baltimoreans lack such appreciation. All it proves is that they lack the wherewithal to buy seats—a state of indigence to be met with quite as often among enthusiastic music-lovers as among indifferent low-brows. A much truer test of the musical culture of Baltimore is that afforded by the prosperity of the opera company which plays at Ford’s every spring. Here is grand opera at prices within the reach of the average man—and despite the hot weather, the house is commonly crowded for six weeks on end.
Much breath is wasted over Baltimore’s alleged inhospitality to good music. That inhospitality, I am convinced, is largely imaginary. And in so far as it is not imaginary, it is characteristic, not of Baltimore exclusively, but of the whole of America. Our people have still to be educated in music. Not one American out of ten knows how many sharps are in the signature of C major. Every German knows. Nearly every Italian knows. And not one American in a thousand knows the difference between a violin and a viola.
But if musical education is thus backward among us, and with it musical understanding, the mere brute love for music is certainly strong. Americans like a tune. What is more, they like better turies year by year. Give them a chance to hear such tunes, at prices within their reach, and they will pay gladly. The Boston Symphony Orchestra now plays to packed houses in Baltimore; the Aborn Opera Company finds it profitable to give nearly 50 performances a year. And the smaller concerts and recitals, if they do not attract roaring mobs, at least bring forth crowds larg enough to pay expenses.
Public aid to good music would help, of course. If the money wasted in Baltimore each year upon the support of political blood-suckers were spent upon opera, Baltimore would quickly show musical enthusiasm and understanding. But meanwhile, it is well to remember that the existing state of affairs, however it may be open to improvement, is far from disgraceful. The professional musician may protest, with some color of plausibility, that he is starved here, but the average lay music-lover, with from five to ten first-class orchestral concerts every season and six weeks or more of grand opera and from 25 to 50 lesser concerts and recitals, gets about all that he can conveniently digest.