英日対訳:トーマス・ビーチャム自叙伝「A Mingled Chime」第18章(2/2)R.シュトラウスのリハ/クレーマー対策






With the production of Elektra in London, the reputation of its composer reached its zenith. Excepting the death of King Edward, which occurred in the following spring, it was the most discussed event of the year. Sometime had gone by since a new work of Strauss had been heard, the last being the “Symphonia Domestica” in 1905, which had been little more than a faint success. About ten years had passed since “Ein Heldenleben” and the earlier Symphonic Poems had been overplayed. None of the composer’s operas had yet been given in London, the town was in  

just the right mood for a new musical sensation, it expected it and most decidedly it got it. Weeks before the first performance one newspaper vied with another in presenting its readers with the most lurid accounts of the new work, musicians took sides, and a small warfare raged with refreshing animation before a note of the score had been heard. Scholars fell foul of the libretto on the ground that Hoffmannsthal had bedeviled the grand old Greek story, although for my part I never saw much to choose between the Greek and the German in the way of horrors. The story, even as told by the silver tongue of Sophocles, is one of the gruesomest in literature.  




Some of this journalistic fever, which my advertising manager assured me was of untold value, occasioned some embarrassment now and then to the theater staff. As all know who are acquainted with the work, there is a modest procession of sacrificial victims, a few sheep generally, to prelude the first entrance of Clytemnestra. But from the accounts of some papers one would have thought half the inhabitants of the Zoo were being rehearsed to take their part in the show. One day I received a letter from a farmer living about one hundred miles from London whose imagination had been fired by reading of these wonders, and under the impression that I was seeking voluntary contributions to my production in the way of livestock, he had arranged for the transportation to London of a fine large bull, which he claimed to be mild in disposition and seemly in behavior. As the animal had already started on his journey there was nothing to be done but wait for his arrival, have him photographed for the satisfaction of his former owner, and as we could not employ him in the service of art, put him to the next best purpose.  




Strauss’s share of the work, taken as a whole, is his most characteristic achievement. Here he has the fullest opportunity of working that vein of grotesque and weird fantasy of which he remains the greatest master in music. On the side of pathos and tenderness he rises to a fairly satisfactory height, and in spite of inequalities of style realizes a unity which is lacking in his other stage works. The almost entire absence of charm and romance makes it unique, and if it is reported truly that Gluck in his austerity thought more of the Muses than the Graces, then Strauss might here be fairly said to have shown a preference for the Furies. The public was undoubtedly impressed and startled, and to satisfy the demand for further performances, I was obliged to extend my season. For the last night, I invited Strauss to conduct and he agreed to come provided I gave him two rehearsals with the orchestra. But in the middle of the first of them— that is after about three quarters of an hour— he quitted the desk, expressing the highest satisfaction with the work of the players. So far as I could ascertain, musicians did not like the piece at all. One eminent British composer on leaving the theater was asked what he thought of it. “Words fail me,” he replied, “and Fm going home at once to play the chord of C major twenty times over to satisfy myself that it still exists.” The curious thing about this little piece of criticism is that Elektra actually finishes with the chord in question, thundered out several times in repetition on the full ensemble.  




There is in every large town of every country at least one individual who is the living terror of managers, conductors, pianists, and every other kind of artist. This is the single composer enthusiast. For this type of fanatic no other music except that of the object of his idolatry exists at all. If he thinks that it is being insufficiently played he writes long and frequent letters to the Press. He attends all concerts where any composition of the master is given, and if there is something in the performance that he does not like, he fires off a volley of oral or epistolary abuse at the misguided and incompetent interpreter. He is always “plus royaliste que le roi” and there is no escape from him; in other words, he is the world's greatest bore and its nuisance number one. As I had already suffered from the attentions of the leading Strauss devotee and watch dog in London, I was hardly surprised when he got in touch with me over Elektra in the following typical fashion.  





Do you intend to imitate the cheeseparing habits of the Grand Opera Syndicate? What is coming over you? Last night from my coign of vantage in the gallery I counted your orchestra and could discover no more than ninety-eight players. As you well know, Strauss has stipulated for no less than one hundred and eleven. What have you done with the rest? Please reply at once.  

Yours anxiously,  

Sylvester Sparrow.  







For the moment I felt like the unhappy Varus when the Emperor  

Augustus confronted him with the terrifying demand, “Where are 

my Legions?” I thought that I might quite easily have lost a few of my men without noticing it, and a favorite criticism of the malicious was that I could have dispensed with a great many without the ordinary ear being able to discern the difference. Surely it was impossible for a company of them to have trooped out while I was conducting, without my observing it. To satisfy myself, I ascended to the exalted spot which Mr. Sparrow termed his “coign of vantage” and discovered the explanation of the mystery. From there it was impossible to see the full orchestra, some having been concealed in and under certain boxes, and greatly relieved I was able to send a reply that all was well and the temple had not been profaned.  




Nothing matures or grows old more rapidly than music. The brilliant audacity of one generation declines into the placid commonplace of another, and an audience of today would not find it easy to realize how strange and bewildering the score of Elektra sounded to the public of 1910. About the middle of the work there is a short scene where two men— messengers— rush excitedly on the stage and after singing a few phrases rush off again. At one of our later performances this episode occurred in the usual way and the opera went on. About five minutes later, the same performers appeared again and without regard to what was happening at the moment in a scene of total different character, sang their passage exactly as before and disappeared. I pinched myself to make sure I was not dreaming and, bending down to Albert Sammons, who was leading, asked, “Have those two fellows been on before?”  




“Yes,” he replied.  

“Are you certain?”  

“There is no doubt about it.”  






I put the same question to the leader of the second violins, and he was equally convinced that we had been treated to an unsolicited and highly original form of encore. At the close of the performance I went on the stage to discover the cause of this novel addition to the normal attractions of an operatic evening, and found the culprits in the company of the chorus master, all three of them looking very embarrassed.  




“Am I right in assuming that you took upon yourselves to repeat your scene this evening?” I asked frigidly.  

“I am afraid you are,” replied one of them.  

“What is the explanation of this twice nightly experiment?”  






This question was answered by the chorus master, who explained that a part of his duty was to take the cue for the sending on of the two singers from a passage in the orchestra. On this occasion his attention had been distracted by the necessary task of forcibly expelling a rude and refractory chorister through the stage door into the street. This being successfully accomplished he returned to the stage aglow with victory, and presently there came along something that to his flushed ear resembled the familiar phrase which was his lighthouse in the polyphonic sea of whirling sound. 




“Now you go on,” he called out to the singers.  

“But we have been on,” they answered.  

“Then it was at the wrong place, you must go on again,” and as they seemed rather hesitant he literally pushed them on to the scene.  






I was relieved to find that a more agreeable manifestation of human weakness than artistic vanity was at the bottom of the mystery, and I discharged the offenders with a caution and the reminder that there was quite enough rough and tumble going on in the band without the actors joining in. As I never heard a comment or received a protest from any member of the audience, I concluded that this curious variation from the orderly course of performance had either passed unnoticed or had proved to their liking. But I do not think that even an audience of savages in Central Africa would fail to notice in works like Faust or Carmen a repetition of the songs of Siebel or the Toreador during scenes with which they obviously had not the slightest connection. I awaited anxiously the arrival of next day’s post which I felt sure  would bring me an explosive communication from my friend Sylvester Sparrow. To my relief nothing appeared, from which I  gathered that the “coign of vantage” had not harbored its usual tenant that night.  




Richard Strauss: Elektra 

Elektra: Erna Schlüter 

Chrysothemis: Ljuba Welitsch 

Klytämnestra: Elisabeth Höngen 

Orest: Paul Schöffler 

Aegisth: Walter Widdop 


Conductor: Sir Thomas Beecham 

BBC Chorus, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra 

Recorded 1947, London