The Old and New School of Music
Mr Santley, on arriving in Melbourne, was entertained at a breakfast, at which Sir W. J. Clarke presided, and which was attended by a number of influential residents.
Mr Santley, who was greeted with great cordiality on rising to reply to the toast of his health, said he could scarcely find words that would express his thanks for the kind welcome with which they had honored him. At the same time he warned them that if the people of Australia offered him many more such welcomes as the one he had just received, he was afraid they would be tired of him long before they would get rid of him, because he might make up his mind to stay longer than he had intended. Sir W. Clarke had expressed the opinion that the prices which could be charged for admission to concerts in Australia would not yield an adequate remuneration for the services he was expected to render. Well, he confessed he did not come to Australia on a philanthropic expedition, but expected to reap a certain amount of money from his work in the colonies. That, however, was not his principal object in coming. He had been so long before the English public that he thought a little change would be a very good thing for himself and those accustomed to listen to his singing. Another thing that attracted him was the voyage, as he had always bssa foad cf the ssa. At the commencement of his career he had opportunities such as no young singer could have in the present day, of being thrown into juxtaposition with the greatest singers of his time, and he was happy to say that most of them were his intimate friends—Madame Grisi, to whose marvellous voice many of them doubtless had listened when in England; Mario, who was not only a great singer, but a fine man, and a most delightful companion and friend. He had their intimate friendship, and especially the friendship of Mario; he had had the great benefit of being the intimate friend of Sims Reeves tb* o n !Hsicnc6i'rieno of his own professional career, and it was through the advice of Sims Reeves that he went to a cortain master Giorgio Ronconi—who had been the making of him. He knew Sims Reeves before he (Mr Santley) came forward as a public singer, and Sims Reeves, who was one of the last friends he saw when leaving old England, lamented that be could not come to Australia with him, so that they might travel the colonies together. He sinoerely wished they could have done so, but he feared that Sims Reeves had put off the trip to Australia to too late a period of his life to allow him to make up his mind to come. Bnt, although Sims Reeves was becoming an old man, he had heard him sing of late years, and even this year, as well as ever he sang in his life.—(Loud applause.) Sims Reeves was naturally, however, a nervous man—every great artist was a nervous man (hear, hear)—and that sometimes affected him to such a degree that he was unable to make full use of tho marvellous vocal power he still possessed. But even when a great artist's natural powers were on the wane there was still a great charm in the highly cultivated human voice. As for himself, he would ask the people of Australia to take him as they found him. As he had already said, the young people of the present day had not the opportunities which he had in his youth. It seemed to him that the race of great singers was dying out, for of late years no great star had appeared to surprise the world by his powers as a Binger. During the last fifteen years a total change appeared to have come over everything in music, and the rising generation did not appear to recollect that the old school of singers of whom he had spoken ever existed, or ever could sing. They would pat him (Mr Santley) on his baok and tell him he waß doing very well—(laughter)—a thing he would not have dared to do in his youth. But he could assure them they were mistaken in regard to the singers of the old school. Some never knew them, and others had evidently forgotten them. It seems as if a curtain had suddenly come down and shut out from the new world the traditions of good singing in the old. The traditions of good singing seemed to have died away entirely. He came between the two schools—the old and the new, having enjoyed the inestimable advantages of close friendship with most of the great artists of the good old times. The young singers of the present day had not the advantage of those great models. He should be glad if during his brief vißit he could be of any service to them.—(Hear, hear.) With the advantages he had had he thought, without egotism or vanity, he Bhould be able to be of some little assistance to the young singers in Australia. He had only been three days in Australia, but he had enjoyed himself very greatly, and was delighted with the little he had seen of the colonies. He certainly hoped to profit by his trip to Australia in pocket, in spirits, and in health. But he hoped also that he would fulfil the greater mission whioh he believed it waß given to him to perform, viz., that he might be of assistance to the younger members of his profession in the colonies.—(Applause.) In going Home his only regret would be thot he had to leave so many personal friends behind him, but that regret would be tempered with the hope that he would come back to see them once again,—(Loud applause.)
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The Old and New School of Music, Evening Star, Issue 7918, 28 May 1889
The Old and New School of Music Evening Star, Issue 7918, 28 May 1889
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