A Dictionary of Music and Musicians/Maas, Joseph


MAAS, Joseph, born Jan. 30, 1847, at Dartford; began his career as a chorister at Rochester Cathedral, and was taught singing by J. L. Hopkins, the organist, and later by Mme. Bodola-Pyne. He was for some time a clerk in Chatham dockyard, but went to Milan in 1869, and studied under San Giovanni. He made his début at one of Leslie's concerts, Feb. 26, 1871, and sang 'Annabell Lee' in the place of Sinis Reeves, with great success, 'inasmuch as he was not only compelled by unanimous desire to repeat it, but there was a strong attempt to induce him to sing it a third time, which, however, he had the good sense to resist.' He played the hero in 'Babil and Bijou' at Covent Garden, Aug. 29, 1872; he then went to America, and played in Miss Kellogg's English Opera Company. He reappeared in England at the Adelphi under Carl Rosa, as Gontrau on the production of Briill's 'Golden Cross,' March 2, 1878, and was engaged by Rosa for three years as his principal tenor both at Her Majesty's and in the provinces. His principal parts were Rienzi on its production at Her Majesty's, Jan. 27, 1879; Raoul, Feb. 12, 1879; Wilhelm Meister on the production in English of 'Mignon,' Jan. 12, 1880; Radames on the production in English of 'Aïda,' Feb. 19, 1880; also Faust, Thaddeus, Don César, etc., He played at Her Majesty's in Italian in 1880, and at Covent Garden (as Lohengrin) in 1883. He played under Rosa at Drury Lane in 1883–85, his new parts being Edgar of Ravenswood, April 19, 1884, and the Chevalier des Grieux on production in London of 'Manon,' May 7, 1885. He was very popular on the stage, more on account of his very fine voice, which was said to resemble Giuglini's in character, rather than for his dramatic gift, since he was a very indifferent actor. He was equally popular in the concert-room, where he appeared first at the Sacred Harmonic, in the 'Messiah' April 4, 1879, and at the Philharmonic, May 21, 1879. He sang at all the principal concerts, and at the various Handel and provincial festivals. He sang also in Paris at Pasdeloup's concerts, April 6, 1884, and at Brussels at the Bach and Handel Festival of 1885. His last important engagement was at the Birmingham Festival of 1885, where he sang in Dvořák's 'Spectre's Bride,' Aug. 27, and Stanford's 'Three Holy Children,' Aug. 28, on the production of those works. At the Norwich Festival of the previous year he had introduced 'Apollo's Invocation,' a scena written for him by Massenet. He died Jan. 16, 1886, from a complication of disorders, rheumatic fever, bronchitis, congestion of the lungs, brought on from a cold taken while fishing. Maas's 'greatest triumphs were gained in the concert room rather than on the stage. For several years he has stood in the very first rank of tenor singers, not only by reason of his magnificent voice, but of his thoroughly finished and artistic style.… By his amiable personal character the deceased artist won the esteem and affection of all who had the privilege of his friendship.'[1]

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  1. Athenæum, Jan. 23, 1881.