This is a translation of Lehmann’s typewritten article “Konzertbegleiter” found in Lehmann auf Deutsch.
Professor Ferdinand Foll [who had been a personal friend of Hugo Wolf] from the Vienna State Opera, was the first to accompany me in so-called song recitals, mixed with arias. It must have hurt his artistic mentality to accept my more colorful selection of program numbers, but he was a shy man and the only objection he ever showed was that, even after a concert that had been successful with the audience, he would say: “You could really be a good Lied singer if you put your mind to it and concentrate, but you always do everything too fast. You learn quickly, but you don’t take them [the Lieder] seriously enough.”
I was amazed!
I found myself very good as a Lied singer. Hadn’t the public applauded? I didn’t think about it; I was loved from the stage and that it was alone my voice, this God-given instrument that clenched an easy win….
Later, when I was even wanting to do concert tours, [Leo] Roseneck accompanied me. Now I know that he also must have suffered and I just can’t understand why he didn’t say anything when I mixed the Lieder and styles, which I carelessly put together. He was an extremely sensitive accompanist, used to working with the exemplary Lied singer Elisabeth Schumann. I have given him some headaches and I’m still sorry about it. When I say “sensitive,” this also applies in the highest degree to his private life. I had ample opportunity to observe this. Hardly a morning went by that he didn’t lament, with a troubled face, that he hadn’t closed his eyes because a faucet was dripping, or because people next door were talking, or because the street noise was unbearable. I was still comparatively young and fairly carefree and insensitive to my surroundings. So for me he was really a source of comfort rather than compassion. I often discussed experiences from these trips with Elisabeth Schumann and we laughed our heads off at the many tragedies that used to happen. Once, one morning, Elisabeth found a small mutilated mouse in her bathtub. Desperate, she called out to Roseneck of all people, who like her, like the mouse, were in bitter agony, helpless in this struggle. The chambermaid was called, but she was stricktly commanded not to kill the poor mouse; but to bestow coveted prize of freedom. I don’t know what happened to this mouse. The girl promised to take it easy; Elisabeth and Roseneck withdrew, in order that they didn’t have to observe the drama. I found this situation funny, but I was exactly like that because I share Elisabeth’s love of animals…
Lastly, during the era of World War II, I had on my program Schubert’s “Faith in Spring.” [Frühlingsglaube] It says in the second verse: “The world gets nicer every day, who knows what’s to come…” Roseneck interrupted me during the rehearsal and said, “You can’t possibly sing this. Everywhere is miserable, especially us. You can’t sing ‘the world will be nicer.’ It would be tragicomic…”
Of course I sang it. Optimism is one of the most important gifts I find to get through life.
After Roseneck, I had Ernoe Balogh in America for years as my accompanist. Ernoe is a soul full of goodness and faithfulness. He didn’t have a pleasant time with me at first. We had concerts in cities across America; they all seemed the same to me, for to me they had no architectural beauty, no story, no individuality. I didn’t love America yet, as I love it today in gratitude and devotion. Ernoe had already become quite an American (he was native Hungarian) and heard my loveless remarks surely with pain. I slowly began to understand the country. I saw California, I saw Florida, the beautiful southern states, I saw mountains and ocean– and forgot the ugliness of the cities that had so repelled me. We became very good friends and still are today. I owe him the connection to my former Publicity Manager, Constance Hope, whom I will discuss later. In 1937 I got a contract with the radio company society in Australia, the ABC. Balogh had just gotten married and would only part with his wife with a heavy heart. I was a bit perplexed. Of course, if I had insisted that Ernoe accompany me to Australia, he probably would have. But I didn’t think it very pleasant to have a lovesick Romeo around – I’d seen enough on our last America tour, on which I found him mostly writing; if I went to see him, disturbed looking, he’d remember that we had a concert to perform…. So I looked for another accompanist for Australia, with Ernoe’s warmest blessings and prayers… I found him in Paul Ulanowsky. I stole him; I behaved very ethically: he accompanied Enid Santho, the excellent mezzo soprano, in a recital that I attended. After five minutes, I whispered to my husband, “That’s him, I want that one.”
When I asked him if he wanted to come to Australia with us, he immediately agreed, just as unethically, leaving behind Santho, who was rightly outraged. I left for Australia with my loot, blissfully free of any appropriate pangs of conscience and I guess I must have a flexible conscience, because I never acknowledged my sin back then, and never regretted my sin. Paul, who soon and by me forever called “Paulchen,” was terribly shy on the trip to Australia. Slowly he thawed and his delicious humor was an important and most welcome addition during the long years we spent together in artistic unity and warm friendship. Paulchen was the ideal accompanist for me – – oh he was much more than that! We agreed together like a single tone. He understood me like no other, and when I found a different expression in a concert than the rehearsals, he felt almost in advance what I would do and what would follow and would be one with me. I didn’t belong to those singers who always use the same interpretation. I am too spontaneous, too emotional, I saw too much the eternal life of a creation. And Paulchen felt that, he let me, he was delighted when I surprised him with one turn, a new artistically dictated thought. I had become a true Lieder singer when he came into my life and he has often told me that he learned a lot from me. If that was the case, then I can say that I also learned from him. It was a nice give and take, and that’s the most beautiful thing in life and in art.
When I gave my course in song and opera interpretation at the International Cultural Center in Vienna in 1964, he was was my accompanist [and at other master classes in the States.] And I enjoyed seeing him back at the piano and reminiscing about the old days with a look of agreement, with a twist.
And in April 1964 he accompanied my class in New York. Oh it was a poignant “coming home,” again on the platform of Town Hall: this is my audience, they haven’t seen me yet… The students were all from the Manhattan School of Music, for which I gave this class on interpretation [for the scholarship fund]. They were well trained and many showed quite outstanding talent. They were a joy to teach. But the greatest joy was to have Ulanowsky next to me as in the old days.
God bless him, he was my path for so many years, he was there and wept for me when I parted from a concert audience [in 1951] that might have liked to hear me for a few more years. But I knew better. And I believe deep down in my heart that Paulchen understood me and that he, perhaps the only one of all my friends, approved of my farewell decision.
His unexpected death was a heavy blow for me. I saw him for the last time on my birthday. But in my heart he lives forever.
Gwendoline Koldofsky was an excellent accompanist. When her husband was too busy with his quartets, she was free. So Gwendoline was my regular accompanist in the western States. She is sensitive and amazingly powerful in all her playing. And in addition, a really delightful woman who became a friend of mine and accompanied my song classes at the Music Academy, after I said goodbye to my own career. She has a good sense of humor and is a “lady” in the best sense of the word, willing to lend a hand whenever possible. I love her very much and am very attached to her.
Another accompanist in my classes was Beaumont Glass, who is now a director at the university opera in Iowa. His empathy with my way of teaching was almost unprecedented.
He married a very talented student of mine, Evangeline Noel; the blossoming love between them developed while she was a student at the MAW during her lessons…They are happy with each other and have a talented daughter named “Melody.”
I look forward to seeing them on my next trip to Europe.