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MR JOSEPH MA. AS, THE LATE ENGLISH TENOR.

Seldom such deep and general grief throughout musical circles has been shown as when the sudden death of Mr Joseph Maas was announced, and the sympathy called forth was but natural, considering the prominence of the deceased in his profession and his many lovable personal qualities. Mr Maas received his early musical education as a choir boy at Rochester Cathedral, which he left only when his voice broke and changed into the soft and mellow tenor, which every English amateur lias heard and admired. He then went to Milan for two years, letuniing to England in 1871, in the oarly spring of which year lie appeared for the iirst time in public at ono of the Hmry Leslie choir concerts at St. Jumps' Hall. Few people had ever heard of his name when he stepped upon the platform and sang the charming ballad to Edgar Allan Foe's words, " Annabel Lee." Before lie had got through the iirst verse the whole room was enchanted, and when he closed there was quite a sensational burst of applause. However, his spurs as au operatic singer Mr Maas was to win in America, where he remained several years, acting chiefly as lirst tenor in various English opera companies. On his return to England he was engaged by Mr Carl Rosa, and under his auspices appeared in " The Golden Cross,'' by Ignaz Brull, produced at the Adelphi Theatre in 1878. More important was his assumption of the character of Hienzi in Wagner's opera of that name, an English version of which was produced by Mr Rosa at Her Majesty's Theatre in January 1879. Mr Maas was most successful in those parts which depend loss on acting, but chiefly upon vocal brilliancy and power. In the ballad operas of Bali'e and Wallace his popularity was unequalled, and in the lyrical scenes of Gounod's " Faust " the beauty oi' his voice atoned for tho absence of genuine dramatic fire. One of hi.s last and most successful parts was that of the hero in M. Masseuet's ' Manon Lescaut," which he " created " during the English season at Drury Lane last spring. This character he acted with remarkable spirit, and the music could not have found a more perfect interpreter, his bird-like warble suggesting at times Giuglini with more than CiugHni's vigour. Mr Maas also sang for a, short lime in Italian opera both at Her Maj<?»tj's Theatre and Oovent Garden. But the scene of his most brillian' triumphs was the concert platform, and as tho interpreter of Handel's oratorios, and still mnro of TDna-lish ballads, he had few

rivals. His reputation was not confined to England and America, and his beautiful voice was equally admired at Brussels and Paris, where he recently appeared. Those who knew the famous English tenor only in bis public capacity unanimously acknowledge that the musical world has sustained a loss which is almost irreparable. But Mr Maas will also be deeply deplored by a large circle of personal and professional friends. Even among the members of a profession which is proverbial for its good fellowship and charity, the deceased was known as exceptionally kind and helpful. His services were often given gratuitously for the benefit of hospitals and similar institutions, and young or unknown artists never appealed to him for professional assistance in vain.

At the time of his death Mr Maas was very prosperous in his profession, and, having lately had a considerable fortune left him, he leaves his family well off. In his last illness he was surrounded with every care and comfort by his wife, who within twelve months lost father, brother, and husband, and is left with one child, a little girl. Mr Maas, who was in his thirty-ninth year, had for some time past been suffering from rheumatic gout, which more than once impeded his professional career. To this complaint, aggravated by a severe cold, his premature death was due. He died at his residence, 21 Marlborough hill, St. John's Wood, and was buried at West Hampstead Cwnetery, Finchley road, in the presence of a very large cojw^ course of prominent musicians and persona' B friends from all parts of the country. /W committee has been formed to perpetuate ' his name in a manner worthy of the admiration that his gifts and personal character had inspired far and wide. It is intended to place a memorial over his grave, and to found a scholarship in his name for the encouragement of tenor vocalists, the necessary funds for which will be raised by public subscription.

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/OW18860430.2.76.3

Bibliographic details

Otago Witness, Otago Witness, Issue 1797, 30 April 1886

Word Count
762

MR JOSEPH MA.AS, THE LATE ENGLISH TENOR. Otago Witness, Issue 1797, 30 April 1886

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