Looking for a cartoon
May 20, 2004 2:45 PM   Subscribe

Looking for a cartoon: in the introduction to Nicolas Slonimsky's "Lexicon of Musical Invective" he mentions an "anonymous cartoon printed by G. Schirmer in New York in 1869 under the title, 'The Music of the Future,' displays eight cats (labeled A, B, C, D, E, F, G, A), several donkeys, and a group of goats, as participants in a Wagnerian orchestra. The score on the conductor's stand reads: 'Liszt's Symphonic Poem.' Another score, at the conductor's feet, is marked: 'Wagner, not to be played much until 1995." I'd love to get a copy of this in any form or shape, or a lead to it in a printed book.
posted by neustile to Media & Arts (5 answers total)
It's not in this - though mine is probably out of date - and not in any of my other books about old comics. The Blackbeard book only goes back as far as "The Yellow Kid", which is considered the first "true" newspaper comic, i.e. one that is For Entertainment Purposes Only.

Probably you should look for books of old political comics, like Punch collections; I don't have any of those, so I can't give you any better directions. Collections of old single-panel political comics are probably the easiest kind to find in used bookstores, but they're usually don't cover ground that reaches back as far as what you're looking for.

You also might try to email Bill Blackbeard himself, if you can track him down (and if he's still alive). He's the leading authority on newspaper comics, hands down. This looks like it has his address on it, but who knows?

This is going to be really hard to find. Good luck, and sorry I can't help any more than that.
posted by interrobang at 12:22 AM on May 21, 2004

Response by poster: thanks for the pointers, ?!. I'll continue my search. I am almost ready to get someone artistic to reproduce it for me from that description, though.
posted by neustile at 8:06 AM on May 21, 2004

Best answer: The Library of Congress and the New York Public Library indicate that "G. Schirmer" was a publishing company, not an author (it's not clear in your quote). They published several books on Wagner, all by Gustav Kobbé. Perhaps one of these has a reprint of the cartoon.

1886. Richard Wagner's Tristan und Isolde : an analysis.

1890. Wagner's Life and Works. Two volumes. 1896 edition.

1904. Wagner's music-dramas analyzed, with the leading motives; Nibelung; Tristan; Mastersingers; Parsifal.

1905. Wagner and His Isolde.

1976 (7th ed.). How to understand Wagner's Ring of the Nibelung.

From the same publisher, concerning Wagner, but not by Kobbé:

ca1889. Guide through the musical motives of Richard Wagner's Tristan and Isolde.

189?. Thematic guide through the music of Parsifal. With a preface upon the legendary material of the Wagnerian drama.

Neither library lists books published on the subject of Wagner in 1869.

In searching the historical newspaper archives, there seems to been a habit of calling Wagner the creator of music of the future (maybe you knew this, but as a music non-specialist, it's news to me). I think it comes from the famous letter he wrote, which was widely translated and republished.

There's this bit, in a column of "Local Jottings" in the Dec. 30, 1869, Decatur, Ill., Herald: "The music of the future—Wagner. The music of the present—Shoo, fly."

From the Sept. 15, 1869, New York Herald: "[T]he orchestra performed the iiintroduction to 'Lohengrin,' by Richard Wagner, father of the music of the future."

The article "Art, Music, and the Drama" in Appletons' Journal, vol. 3, iss. 64, Jun 18, 1870, p. 695: "Le Menestrel says that Herr Wagner has been named Director-General of Music at Berlin. On the morning of the day when the second performance of his 'Meistersainger' took place in that city, thirty francs were asked for places which in the evening went begging for twelve sous. So much for the music of the future!"

Is any of the text you give above all you have? Besides "The Music of the Future," is there any other text which may have appeared in printed form, not as part of the cartoon? Is there any more bibliographic information for the cartoon in the back of the book?
posted by Mo Nickels at 9:03 AM on May 21, 2004

Here's a clue. Hadden's article in The Monthly Musical Record might provide the information you want. The MMR isn't indexed, but it is available on microfilm. I'd begin with 1912 and work backwards to the start of Hadden's career around 1885. Ask your local public or university library to borrow the reels through inter-library loan, if they don't have it.

There's also a similar cartoon from 1875 on pg. 97 of Charles Osborne's Wagner and his world. One musician is playing a harp with a rake, a violinist is sawing a cat with a bow, another is blowing in a dog's ear. The ___ and their world series is widely available in public libraries, so this one will be a lot easier to find.
posted by octobersurprise at 9:18 AM on May 21, 2004

Response by poster: wow-- thanks everyone. I will look into the Hadden stuff- that seems like the best bet so far. Mo, that's all the book has about it, and all the google references for it seem to just quote that passage from the book. No bibliography in the book. If I get it I'll try to post back here. Your help is incredibly appreciated!
posted by neustile at 9:25 AM on May 21, 2004

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