More Schroeder Anecdotes

Schubert Quintet

One of Alwin Schroeder's cello students was the prolific writer Robert Haven Schauffler, who worked with Schroeder while a student at Princeton University. Schubert's Cello Quintet in C Major, a work Schroeder played often with fellow cellists such as Klengel in Germany and (ironically, as will be seen below) BSO members Schulz, Rose, Keller, Barth, and Heberlein in the US, prompted this exchange between teacher and student: 

The reverent regard in which musicians hold this Quintet is shown by an incident of my callow youth at Princeton. My 'cello teacher, Alwin Schroeder, a member of the Kneisel Quartet and solo 'cellist of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, was at that time considered the world's foremost chamber musician. During one of our lessons he found on the stand the second ’cello part of the C Major Quintet.

         “Vat iss dis doing here?” he cried in astonishment.

         “Oh, a piece I’d like to play with the Quartet at one of your Princeton concerts.”

         “My poor young friend,” growled the master, “let me tell you something: dere iss not another ‘’cellist in the Boston Symphony worthy to blay with us dis subreme masterpiece!”

from Robert Haven Schauffler, Franz Schubert: The Ariel of Music 

New York: G. Putnam's Sons Houghton, 1949, p 253

Self-Deprecating Humor

While in London for concerts in 1896 and 1897, the members of the Kneisel Quartet were guests of Boston Symphony founding conductor George Henschel and his family. His daughter remembered Schroeder as

one of the finest 'cellists I have ever heard in a quartet. He was also a rather quiet person, but crammed with humour which manifested inself in a delightful sort a deprecating manner, and was quite irresistable.

from Helen Henschel, When Soft Voices Die: A Musical Biography.

London: Westhouse, 1944, p 53 

An Evening With Alwin

During the first decade of the 20th century, Early Music pioneer Arnold Dolmetsch designed harpsichords for Chickering in Boston before returning to England. His wife recalls a Boston musical evening with Schroeder, and why he chose to play the cello:

The eminent ’cellist Alwyn Schroeder, first ’cellist of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, a delightful person..., was always ready to encourage and appreciate other players. When the Flonzaley Quartet first made their appearance in America and positively carried all before them, extinguishing in the public eye all their predecessors, however eminent, certain among these very naturally looked upon them somewhat coldly. Not so Schroeder, whose simple, unbiased nature led him to attend their concerts with obvious enjoyment. ...

         Schroeder himself was a consummate musician, able at a moment’s notice take on any part in a string quartet. He and Arnold were indeed ‘birds of a feather’; for he was what Arnold esteemed as a witty player who could sense the humour animating each composition. I recall with pleasure an evening ... wherein Schroeder formed one of the party. Helen [Hopekirk] ... showed to Schroeder a book of ‘Ten Pieces for the Violoncello’, composed by Arnold in his teaching days, of which each piece was intended to portray a certain emotion, for example: Expectation, Anxiety, Mirth, Happiness, etc. Thereupon Schroeder played through through the whole series, accompanied by Helen on the piano, and gave to each piece its appropriate atmosphere, so as to make of it a living picture of the emotion represented. 

         He and his comely wife used to exercise lavish hospitality towards their fellow musicians, inviting them to a table loaded with good cheer. The story of their marriage was a true romance. Mrs. Schroeder (a beautiful woman) had, in her young days, been a piano pupil of her future husband. One day she confided to him that the instrument she really loved above all others was the ’cello. Out of his desire to please her, he immediately abandoned the piano and learned to play the ’cello, which he mastered so rapidly that, at the end of a year, he became first ’cellist in one of the leading orchestras of Germany. Soon after that she consented to marry him.

From Mabel Dolmetsch, Personal Recollections of Arnold Dolmetsch.

London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1957, p 76-7