Garcia, Manuel Patricio Rodriguez


Was born March 17, 1805, at Madrid, Spain, and began his musical studies under his father and various teachers in Naples, where they lived from 1811 to 1816. His father began to train his voice at fifteen years of age, and at the same time the younger Garcia was a pupil of Fetis in harmony at Paris. After his return from the American tour, made by his father's opera company, he went to Algeria as a soldier in the French army; this action, it is said, was because of his father's extreme strictness and severity. On the younger Garcia's return to Paris, he undertook work in the military hospitals, and became interested in the study of medicine, which led him into special investigations of the vocal organs. In 1829 he joined his father as a teacher of singing, in which vocation his ultimate success was scarcely surpassed by that of the elder Garcia. He used his father's method, but went farther; his medical researches enabled him to apply scientific principles to the training of the voice, and to base his system on a thorough knowledge of the physiological laws governing voice production, both natural and artificial. In 1840 he sent to the French Academy a valuable treatise, entitled Memoire sur la voix humaine, for which he received many congratulations, and which, it is said, may be called the foundation of all similar investigations since. The next year his first celebrated pupil, Jenny Lind, destined also to be the most distinguished of all his pupils, came to him. Afterwards, other famous singers studied under him, including Mathilde Marchesi, Charles Santley, and Julius Stockhausen. In 1847 he was appointed professor of singing at the Paris Conservatory, and published the same year a second work, Traite complet de 1'art du chant, which was subsequently translated into German, Italian and English. In 1848 the French Revolution impelled him to London as a refuge, and that same year, contrary to the usual statement of biographers, he was elected to the faculty of the Royal Academy of Music, and held this post till 1895, a tenure of forty-seven years. He then resigned, but continued' to teach privately, and on the centenary of his birth, he gave a lesson. James D. Brown thus speaks of Garcia's influence in his adopted land: " His labors at the Royal Academy of Music havt been of the most valuable character for English vocal art, and his presence in it during thirty years has placed it, in this special department, on a level with the great continental conservatories." He was elected a director of the institution in 1878.

Garcia's most original and valuable work was the invention of the laryngoscope, which occurred in 1854. The idea, according to his own account, came to him rather as a discovery than as an invention, since it was the result of what might be called a flash of inspiration, and not of patient research with a particular object in view. His friend, Felix Lemon, has said that its beneficial effects have been so widespread that " three per cent of all human beings have reason to bless the name of Manuel Garcia," referring, evidently, to the fact that the laryngoscope has proved even more important to the medical than to the musical profession; it won for Garcia the honorary degree of Doctor of Medicine from the University of Konigsberg. The centenary of Garcia's birth was honored with a celebration absolutely unique. March 17, 1905, witnessed a gathering in the rooms of the Royal Medical and Chirurgical Society, London, of delegates from musical and medical societies all over the world, including Australia and Japan, who delivered addresses or messages. The King of England conferred upon him the honorary commandership of the Royal Victoria order; the King of Spain sent a decoration, and the German Emperor conferred upon him the Great Gold Medal of Science, which only four other scientists had previously received. Garcia's old pupils also sent a delegate to deliver an address. A score of laryngological societies, together with a number of private individuals, had engaged the distinguished Sargent to paint the old musician's portrait, which was now presented to him before the great assembly. His response, and his speech at the banquet given that evening in his honor, would confirm the statement of writers at that time that his mental faculties were entirely unaffected by age. At this banquet the attendance of the personal representative of the English King and the telegram of congratulations from the prime minister, Balfour, prove in what high esteem Garcia was held by the British government. Garcia is said to have been, with the possible exception of Sarasate, the most important musical genius produced by Spain.