Based on this article one could only conclude that in 1910, live classical music in restaurants was as pervasive and annoying as Muzak is today.
You sit down at a table. And all is very peaceful. The waiter silently passes the carte de jour, while he and the others quietly wander to and fro. This looks good to you — it promises an hour of rest and comfort. Good food, a good glass of wine, maybe, and an agreeable during and after luncheon chat with a sympathetic companion. What more does any man desire?
For a few minutes the menu absorbs your attention. Then cocktail and the soup arrive. All is very restful. You glance around. The place is filling up. It is all first class, no bustle and no noise, no clatter of dishes, no loud talking. The gowns over there are chic, the hats the latest modes, the faces underneath them well worth a second glance. Really you are glad you found this place.
You raise your fork to attack the delicious brook trout in the dish before you, and the fork remains poised in the air. Your face grows pale. Your appetite is suddenly put to rout and fear grows strong upon you. What is that awful din? What catastrophe has happened? Oh! no need to be alarmed — it is only the orchestra playing “William Tell,” with an orchestrion arrangement to give the music greater volume. And that haughty deceiving minion has placed you directly underneath the balcony where the musicians sit, so that you cannot escape even the tiniest softest grace note in the score…
When you come to think of it, it is really surprising to what trouble and expense these restaurateurs go to supply this musical fare that you and I don’t want. Perhaps the explanation, not very flattering, is that we, as individuals, don’t amount to much. See how the crowds flock to the rooms where the music may be — MUST BE — heard.
Then admit that you and I are the exceptions to the rule. Of course it must be so, or the bands would go.
A pretty good rant. And I love the illustrations.
WHERE MUSIC SOOTHES WHILE LOBSTERS BROIL: No Restaurant Is Now Complete Without an Orchestra to Serve Wagner, Bach or Chopin to Tempt the Appetite — Noted Musicians Draw Big Crowd (PDF)
From April 24, 1910
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