Portrait of Santo Caserta, oil on canvas, c. 1932, 36 x 24 in.
Caserta (1910-2013), a friend of the Schmitts in Silvermine, studied the violin at Julliard School in New York, but had to abandon the instrument on account of a skin condition. He then taught himself to play the cello, and at the age of 46, auditioned for a position in the Philadelphia Orchestra under the legendary conductor Eugene Ormandy. When asked by Ormandy who his cello teacher was, Caserta had to admit that he had taught himself the instrument. Ormandy was so impressed that he gave him the job. which he held for the next twenty years.
Schmitt also painted a portrait of his friend playing the cello.
“There is no hope for mankind.
But there is every hope for an individual man.” (1930)