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Friday, 22 November 2013


Monday, November 22nd., Victoria Grove, Chelsea.

At the Grieg concert, St. James's Hall. A crowded house mainly filled with with hordes of those idle, well-dressed, supercilious, unintelligent women who inhabit the West End and the more expensive suburbs; their hats, though it is Autumn, made a garden.

Grieg came on in a short jacket of black velvet which serves to decrease still further his short stature. He has a large head with white hair and a bald patch, and the shrewd wrinkled face of a thinker. A restless man, weary and yet the victim of an incurable vivacity. The concussion of his hands on the keys jerked back his head at every loud chord. Between the movements of a sonata he bowed almost imperceptibly and wiped his face every time with the same mechanical movement. He looked like one who has exhausted the joys of fame and of being adored.

In the orchestra, full of hero-worshippers, I noticed particularly two girls, friends, who must have stood hours at the door to gain their unique position in the front row. One smiled ecstatically and showed her teeth (I think she was American) throughout the concert. The other had a fixed and mournful face. She never stirred and seldom spoke; she did not join in the applause which was frantic in those seats. her thin lips were set and her dark eyes set. She was the Serious Student, never happy, never even passably content, always reaching for the unattainable; without doubt she had little talent, but an immense purpose and energy. I fancied I could see her in her daily existence, secretive, self-contained, and occasionally, only occasionally, opening the gates of her soul to some companion in a sudden abandonment.

Round about me a group of newspaper critics exchanged the childish babble of daily journalism.

As I went out, I thought that in another hour or so a thousand pianos in a thousand suburban homes would echo to the chords of that Grieg sonata and suite.

ST. JAMES'S HALL consists of a great hall and two smaller halls. The dimensions of the great hall are 139 feet by 60, and 60 feet in height; and it will seat about 2500 persons. It has a semicircular-headed ceiling, and a recessed orchestral gallery at one end, and an alcove at the other end, containing a large organ by Gray and Davidson. The windows have groups of figures in bold relief, holding scrolls, on which are inscribed the names of Mozart, Handel, Beethoven, Haydn, and other eminent composers. The Hall is not lighted at night by a central chandelier, but by gas stars of seven jets each, suspended from the ceiling. It was opened with a musical performance for the benefit of the Middlesex Hospital on the 25th of March, 1856. The Hall is not, however, appropriated exclusively to music.

Additionally for November 22nd., see 'A banquet in Paris' -

I was introduced to Auguste Rodin, a little man with a fine long grey beard and a big nose over it, and very vivacious. He was in evening dress (against the rule) with the rosette. He seemed a simple man; he talked to me for a few minutes quite naturally and without any sort of pose.

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