Page 15 - Soundboard Vol. 38, No. 4

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Soundboard
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Vol. XXXVIII, No. 4
The Worst Drunkard in London”:
The Life and Career of the Guitar Virtuoso
Leonard Schulz
by Erik Stenstadvold
A
round 1850, the Russiannobleman and guitar enthusiast
Nikolai Petrovitch Makaroff made a journey through
Europe for the purpose of meeting other guitarists. According
to what he later wrote in his memoirs, he had been spurred to
make this trip by a letter from the renowned Viennese guitar
maker Johann Anton Stauffer, who had suggested to him to
go to London “to hear the greatest of all guitarists of that
time, Mr. Schulz.”
1
Thus, after travelling through Germany
and Belgium, seeing various guitarists on his way, Makaroff
came to London. His first encounter with Leonard Schulz is
vividly described in this often-cited snippet from the noble-
man’s memoirs:
His playing embodied all I could ever hope for—an ex-
traordinary rapidity, clearness, forcefulness, taste, suavity of
touch, brilliance, expression, as well as surprising effects that
were quite new. I noticed, moreover, a decided self-assurance
during the performance. It seemed, in fact, that playing the
instrument was but a light diversion for him, for he showed
himself heedless of the tremendous difficulties in which his
own compositions abounded.
2
This was indeed an extraordinary tribute fromamanwho
often made critical comments about the guitarists he met on
his journey. In fact, the encounter with the 36-year-old Schulz
made such an impact on the Russian nobleman that he left
London without pursuing his initial plan of also calling on
Giulio Regondi.
The lives and careers of Regondi and Schulz show several
points of resemblance. Both came to London at an early age,
and were acclaimed for their extraordinary talents. Both died
relatively young—Regondi at the age of fifty, Schulz at barely
forty-six. And, while both guitarists had brilliant careers, they
seem also to have suffered from a general decline of interest in
the guitar during the Victorian period. The long-term effect
was that their music remained mostly unknown during the
better part of the twentieth century. However, whereas the
music of Regondi has enjoyed a well-deserved revival lately,
Schulz has been less fortunate.
Over the years, Leonard Schulz has nevertheless been
the subject of some scholarly and some not-so-scholarly
studies. However, insofar as these have presented new in-
formation about the guitarist, it has mostly concerned par-
ticular episodes or periods of his life.
3
In this article, I shall
give a broad presentation of Schulz’s life and activity, with
special focus on details not covered in previous works. The
new finds are retrieved from a wide range of contemporary
sources, mainly newspapers and periodicals, accessed by
various internet resources.
4
Early Years in Vienna
Leonard Schulz was born into a musical family in Vienna in
1814.
5
There has been some confusion regarding the name
of his father, who was a musician of Hungarian background,
born around 1787.
6
Zuth mistakenly named him Leonhard
like his younger son, and later writers have frequently repeated
that error.
7
However, press reports of early concerts by Schulz
senior and his sons unanimously name himAndreas. Andreas
Schulz acquired some reputation as a guitarist in Vienna.
There are records of concerts in and around the capital where
he performed in duet with other guitarists.
8
Perhaps most
interesting is that he accompaniedMauroGiuliani on at least
one occasion, at the Untermeidling theatre in August, 1817.
Giuliani’s playing was, of course, highly praised, but Schulz
also received his share of the acclaim: “the accompaniment
by Mr Schulz likewise deserves praise.”
9
Among other musi-
cians participating in this charity concert was the pianist
Ignaz Moscheles.
Andreas Schulz was also active as composer; eight works
for the guitar appeared with various Viennese publishers in
the years 1811-13 and 1824.
10
Furthermore, it is clear that he
had good connections in musical Vienna. Later, in London
in 1825, he provided Sir George Smart, about to leave for Vi-
enna, with introductory letters to several important Viennese
musicians, some of whom belonged to Beethoven’s circle.
11
And, two years earlier, he had actually introduced his sons
Leonard and Eduard to Beethoven personally.
12