I have a book full of newspaper reports of my wife’s performances, containing notices of concerts at Malvern repeatedly, Kidderminster, Worcester, at Birmingham under the auspices of the Musical Section of the Midland Institute—a very great honour before a highly critical audience—Alcester, Pershore, Moreton-in-the-Marsh, Evesham, Broadway, Badsey, Wallingford, and a great many villages in the Evesham district. At Moreton she sang for the local Choral Society, taking the soprano solos in the first part of Haydn’s Spring, and the local paper reported that her “birdlike voice added much to the beauty of the cantata.” In the second part of the concert she gave The Bird that came in Spring, by Sterndale Bennett. I was always a little nervous during this song in anticipation of the upper C towards the finale, but it never failed to come true and brilliant. As we were leaving by train the following morning we met a dear old musician who had taken part in the chorus of the cantata. He begged to be introduced to her, and said in his hearty congratulations on her performance, that never before had such a note been heard in Moreton.
At one of the Broadway concerts my wife had the pleasure of meeting Miss Maude Valerie White, who was playing the accompaniments for performers of her own compositions, including The Devout Lover, which, she told Miss White, she considered one of the best songs in the English language, at the same time asking for her autograph. Miss White was kind enough to write her signature with the MS. music of the first phrase—notes and words—of the song in a book which my wife kept for the autographs of distinguished musicians and celebrated people.
While at Malvern my wife once heard Jenny Lind in public, and she describes it as a most memorable occasion.
Jenny Lind had for some years retired from public performance, but consented to reappear at the request of a deputation of railway employees anxious to arrange a concert in aid of the widows and orphans of officials killed in a recent railway accident. She stipulated that she should sing in two duets only, choosing the other voice herself, and she selected Miss Hilda Wilson, the well-known contralto of that time.
They sang two duets by Rubinstein, one being The Song of the Summer Birds, full of elaborate execution. Her voice was so true, sweet and flexible, trilling and warbling like a bird, and taking the A flat as a climax of delight at the conclusion with the greatest ease, that with closed eyes it might have been taken for the effort of a young girl.
Jenny Lind was over seventy at the time; she was erect, tall, and graceful; she wore a black dress with a good deal of white lace, and a white lace cap. She was then Madame Otto Goldschmidt, living at the Wynd’s Point on the Herefordshire Beacon of the Malvern Range, and had long been known as the “Swedish Nightingale.”