The Don Quixote Of Opera


Yet he was not altogether forgotten, and on February 12, 1889, friends and admirers took over the Metropolitan Opera for a concert honoring the fiftieth anniversary of the old man’s debut as an opera conductor in the United States. Such important conductors as Theodore Thomas, Anton Seidl, Frank van der Stucken, Adolph Neuendorff, and Walter Damrosch contributed their services. Eminent musicians sang and played. Max must have been pleased. He made a speech. The presence of such a large audience, he said, repaid him for the trials, the troubles, and all of the vicissitudes of fifty years. He said he had been asked many times how he had managed to keep opera going for thirty years, while others who had more brains and money than he had, had given it up in three or four years. The answer, Max said, was simple; it was because they had more brains than he had.

That was Max’s last public appearance. Eight years later, on May 14. 1897, while living in obscurity in Pleasant Plains, Staten Island, he had a heart attack and died at the age of seventy-six.