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Title: How to Appreciate Music
Author: Kobbé, Gustav, 1857-1918
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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  Author of "Wagner's Music-Dramas Analyzed," etc.

  New York
  Moffat, Yard & Company

  Copyright, 1906, by
  Moffat, Yard & Company
  New York

  Published, October, 1906
  Reprinted, February, 1908
  Reprinted, September, 1908
  Reprinted, May, 1912

  The Premier Press
  New York

                  *       *       *       *       *

To the Memory of My Brother


                  *       *       *       *       *



  CHAPTER                                                         PAGE
        I The Pianoforte                                            29
       II Bach's Service to Music                                   48
      III From Fugue to Sonata                                      78
       IV Dawn of the Romantic Period                              100
        V Chopin, the Poet of the Pianoforte                       116
       VI Schumann, the "Intimate"                                 134
      VII Liszt, the Giant among Virtuosos                         142
     VIII With Paderewski--A Modern Pianist on Tour                155


       IX Development of the Orchestra                             167
        X Instruments of the Orchestra                             179
       XI Concerning Symphonies                                    197
      XII Richard Strauss and His Music                            207
     XIII A Note on Chamber Music                                  224


      XIV Songs and Song Composers                                 231
       XV Oratorio                                                 248
      XVI Opera and Music-Drama                                    260



CHAPTER                                                           PAGE


  Why the king of musical instruments--Music under one's
  fingers--Can render anything in music--Liszt played the whole
  orchestra on the pianoforte--Fingers of a great virtuoso the
  ambassadors of his soul--Melody and accompaniment on one
  instrument--No intermediaries to mar effect--Paderewski's
  playing of "Hark, Hark, the Lark"--Music's debt to the
  pianoforte--Developed sonata form and gave it to
  orchestra--Richard Strauss on Beethoven's pianistic
  orchestration--A boon to many famous composers, even to
  Wagner--Its lowly origin--Nine centuries to develop pianoforte
  from monochord--The monochord described--Joined to a
  keyboard--Poet's amusing advice to his musical
  daughter--Clavichord developed from monochord--Its lack of
  power--Bebung, or balancement--The harpsichord--Originated in
  the cembalo of the Hungarian gypsy orchestra--Spinet and
  virginal--Pianoforte invented by Cristofori, 1711--Exploited by
  Silbermann--Strings of twenty tons' tension--Dampers and
  pedals--Paderewski's use of both pedals--Mechanical
  pianofortes--Senseless decoration                                 29


  Pianoforte so universal in character can give, through it, a
  general survey of the art of music--Bach illustrates an
  epoch--A Bach fugue more elaborate than a music-drama or tone
  poem--Bach more modern than Haydn or Mozart--His influence on
  modern music--Wagner unites the harmony of Beethoven with the
  polyphony of Bach--Melody, harmony and counterpoint defined and
  differentiated--Illustrated from the "Moonlight Sonata"--What
  a fugue is--The fugue and the virtuoso--Not "grateful" music
  for public performance--Daniel Gregory Mason's tribute and
  reservation--What counterpoint lacks--Fails to give the player
  as much scope as modern music--Barrier to individuality of
  expression--The virtuoso's mission--Creative as well as
  interpretive--Mr. Hanchett's dictum--Music both a science and
  an art--Science versus feeling--Person may be very musical
  without being musical at all--The great composer bends science
  to art--That "ear for music"--Bach and the Weather
  Bureau--The Bacon, not the Shakespeare, of music--What Wagner
  learned from Bach--Illustration from "Die Walküre"--W. J.
  Henderson's anecdote--Wagner's counterpoint emotional--Bach's
  the language of an epoch; Wagner's the language of liberated
  music--Bach in the recital hall--Rubinstein and Bach's "Triple
  Concerto"--"The Well-Tempered Clavichord"--Meaning of
  "well-tempered"--A king's tribute to Bach--Two hundred and
  forty-one years of Bachs                                          48


  Break in Bach's influence--Mr. Parry on this hiatus in the
  evolution of music--Three periods of musical development--Rise
  of the harmonic, or "melodic," school--Began with Domenico
  Scarlatti--The founder of modern pianoforte
  technique--Beginnings of the sonata form--Philipp Emanuel Bach
  and the sonata--Rise of the amateur--"The Contented Ear and
  Quickened Soul," and other quaint titles--Changes in musical
  taste--Pianoforte has outgrown the music of Haydn and
  Mozart--Bach, Beethoven and Wagner the three great epoch-making
  figures in music--Beethoven and the epoch of the sonata--His
  slow development--Union of mind and heart in his work--His
  sonatas, however, no longer all-dominant in pianoforte
  music--Von Bülow and D'Albert as Beethoven players--Incident
  at a Von Bülow Beethoven recital--Changes of taste in thirty
  years--The Beethoven sonatas too orchestric--The passing of the
  sonata                                                            78


  What a sonata is--How Beethoven enlarged the form--Illustrated
  in his Opus 2, No. 3, and in the "Moonlight Sonata"--The
  three Beethoven periods--In his last sonatas seems chafing
  under restraint of form--The sonata form reached its climax
  with Beethoven--Hampers modern composers--Lawrence Gilman on
  MacDowell's "Keltic Sonata"--The first romantic
  composers--Weber--Schubert's inexhaustible genius--Mendelssohn
  smooth, polished and harmless                                    100


  An incomparable composer--Liszt's definition of tempo
  rubato--The Wagner of the pianoforte--Clear melody and weird,
  entrancing harmonies--Racial traits--Friends in Paris--Liszt
  the first to recognize him--The Études--Vigor, passion,
  impetus--Von Bülow on the great C minor Étude--The
  Préludes--Schumann's opinion of them--Rubinstein's playing of
  the Seventh Prélude--The Nocturnes--Chopin and Poe--The
  Waltzes--Liszt on the Mazurkas--The Polonaises--Chopin's battle
  hymns--Other works--"A noble from head to foot"--Huneker on
  Chopin                                                           115


  A composer with an academic education--Pupil in pianoforte of
  Frederick Wieck--Strains a finger and abandons career as a
  virtuoso--Marries Clara Wieck--Afflicted with
  insanity--Attempts suicide--Dies in asylum--His music
  introspective and brooding--Poet, bourgeois and
  philosopher--Contributions to program music--"Carnaval" and
  "Kreisleriana"--Latter title explained--Really
  Schumanniana--Thoughts of his Clara--"Fantasie Pieces"--His
  compositions at first neglected                                  134


  A youthful phenomenon--Refused at the Paris Conservatory--"Le
  petit Litz"--Inspired by Paganini--Episode with Countess
  D'Agoult--Court conductor at Weimar--Makes Weimar the musical
  Mecca of Germany--Produces "Lohengrin"--His "six
  Lives"--His pianoforte compositions--The "Don Juan
  Fantasie"--"Hexameron"--"Années de
  Pèlerinage"--Progressive edition of the Études--Giant strides
  in virtuosity--History of the famous "Rhapsodies
  Hongroises"--Characterisation of his pianoforte music--A great
  composer, not a charlatan--Liszt as a virtuoso--His tribute to
  the pianoforte--A long and influential career--Played for
  Beethoven and died at "Parsifal"                                 142


  The most successful virtuoso ever heard here--$171,981.89 for
  one season--His opinion of the pianoforte--Perfect save for
  greater sustaining power of tone--Has four pianofortes on his
  tours--Duties of the "piano doctor"--How the instruments are
  cared for--Thawing out a pianoforte--Paderewski's humor          155



  Modern music at first vocal, and without instrumental
  accompaniment--Awkward instrumentation of the
  contrapuntists--Primitive orchestration in Italy--The orchestra
  of Monteverde--Haydn the father of modern orchestral music--The
  Mozart symphonies--Beethoven establishes the modern
  orchestra--But few instruments added since--Greater richness
  due to subtler technique--Beethoven's development of the
  orchestra traced in his symphonies--Greater technical demands
  on the players--Beethoven and Wagner--"Meistersinger" score
  has only three more instruments than the Fifth
  Symphony--Berlioz an orchestral juggler--Architectural
  music--Wagner, greatest of orchestral composers--Employs large
  orchestra not for noise, but for variety of expression--Richard
  Strauss's tribute to Wagner--Wonderfully reserved in the use of
  his forces--Wagner's scores the only advance worth mentioning
  since Berlioz                                                    167


  The orchestra an aggregation of instruments that should play as
  one--Wagner's employment of orchestral groups illustrated by
  the Love motive in "Die Walküre" and the Walhalla
  motive--Division of the orchestra--The violin--Its varied
  capacity--The musical stage whisper of a hundred violins--The
  violins in the "Lohengrin" prelude--Modern orchestral
  virtuosity--The sordine and its use--A pizzicato movement by
  Tschaikowski--The viola, violoncello and double bass--Dividing
  the string band--Examples from the scores of Wagner--Anecdote
  regarding the harp in "Rheingold"--The woodwind--The
  flute--The oboe in Schubert's C major symphony--The English
  horn in "Tristan"--Beethoven's use of the bassoon in the
  Fifth and Ninth symphonies--The clarinets in "Tannhäuser,"
  "Lohengrin," and "Götterdämmerung"--Brass instruments and
  various illustrations of their employment--The trumpet in
  "Fidelio" and "Carmen"--The trombone group in "The Ring of
  the Nibelung"--The trombones in "The Magic Flute," in
  Schubert's C major symphony, and in the introduction to the
  third act of "Lohengrin"--The tubas in the Funeral March in
  "Götterdämmerung"--Richard Strauss's apotheosis of the horn,
  and its importance in the Wagner scores--Tympani and
  cymbals--Mozart's G minor symphony on twenty-two
  clarinets--Richard Strauss, on the future development of the
  orchestra                                                        179


  The classical period of music dominated by the symphony--Its
  esthetic purpose defined--A symphonic witticism--Some comment
  on form in music--Divisions of the symphony established by
  Haydn--Artless grace and beauty of Mozart's
  symphonies--Beethoven to the fore--Climaxes and rests--The
  Ninth Symphony--Schubert's genius--Mendelssohn and
  Schumann--Liszt's symphonies and symphonic poems--Other
  symphonists--Wagner not supposed to have been a purely
  orchestral composer, yet the greatest of all                     197


  One of the most original and individual of composers--A
  student, not a copyist, of Wagner--Independent intellectual
  basis for his art--Originator of the tone poem--Unhampered by
  even the word "symphonic"--Means much to the musically
  elect--Not a juggler with the orchestra--A modern of
  moderns--Technical difficulties, but not impossibilities in his
  works--"Thus Spake Zarathustra" and other scores--Life and
  truth, not mere beauty, the burden of modern music--Huneker's
  "Piper of Dreams"--"Zarathustra" and "A Hero's Life"
  described--An intellectual force in music--"A Hero's Life"
  Strauss's "Meistersinger"--Tribute to Wagner in
  "Feuersnot"--Performances of Richard Strauss's scores in
  America--His symphony in F minor (1883) had its first
  performance anywhere, under Theodore
  Thomas--Straussiana--Boyhood anecdotes--Scribbled scores on
  schoolbook covers--Still at school when first symphony was
  played in public--Studied with Von Bülow--Married his
  Freihild--Ideals of the highest                                  207

XIII.--A NOTE ON CHAMBER MUSIC                                     224



  Strophic and "composed through"--Schubert the first song
  composer to require consideration; also the greatest--Early
  struggles--Too poor to buy music paper--Becomes a
  school-teacher--Impatient under drudgery--Publishers hold
  aloof--Fortune for a song, but not for him--History of "The
  Erlking"--How it was composed--Written down as fast as pen
  could travel--Tried over the same evening--The famous
  dissonances--As sung by Lilli Lehmann--Schubert only eighteen
  years old when he composed "The Erlking"--His marvelous
  fecundity--Died at thirty-one, yet wrote six hundred songs and
  many other works--Schumann's individuality--Distinguished from
  Schubert--Not the same proportion of great songs--The best
  composed during his wooing of Clara--Phases of Franz's
  genius--Traces of his knowledge and admiration of Bach--Choice
  of keys--Objected to transpositions--Pitiable physical
  disabilities--Brahms a profound thinker in music--Jensen,
  Rubinstein, Grieg, Chopin, Wagner--Liszt one of the greatest of
  song composers--Richard Strauss, Hugo Wolf and others            231


  An incongruous art form--Originated in Italy with San Filippo
  Neri--Scenery, action and even ballet in the early
  oratorio--The influence of German composers--Bach's "Passion"
  music--Dramatic expression in Händel--Rockstro's
  characterisation of--First performance of "The
  Messiah"--Haydn's "Creation" and "Seasons"--Mendelssohn's
  "Elijah" next to "The Messiah" in popularity--Dramatic
  episodes in the work--Gounod, Elgar and others                   248


  Origin of opera--Peri and the Florentines--Monteverde--Cavalli
  introduces vocal melody to relieve the monotony of
  recitative--Aria developed by Alessandro
  Scarlatti--Characteristics of Italian opera from Scarlatti to
  Verdi--Gluck's reforms--German and French opera--"Les
  Huguenots," "Faust," and "Carmen"--Comparative popularity
  of certain operas here--Far-reaching effects of Wagner's
  theories--Their influence on the later Verdi and contemporary
  Italian composers--Wagner's music-dramas--A music-drama not an
  opera--Form wholly original with Wagner--Gave impetus to
  folk-lore movement--Krehbiel's "Studies in the Wagnerian
  Drama"--Wagner and anti-Wagner--Finck's "Wagner and His
  Works"--Wagner a melodist--Examples--Unity a distinguishing
  trait of the music-drama--Wagner's method illustrated by
  musical examples--The Curse Motive--The Siegfried, Nibelung,
  and Tarnhelm motives--Leading motives not mere labels--Their
  plasticity musically illustrated--The Siegfried horn call
  developed into the motive of Siegfried, the hero, and into the
  climax of the "Götterdämmerung" Funeral March--An
  illustration from "Tristan"--Wagner as a composer of absolute
  music--His scores the greatest achievement musical history, up
  to the present time, has to show                                 260


  Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata"                                52, 53
  "Two-Part Invention," by Bach                                     54
  Love Motive from "Die Walküre"                                   181
  Opening of the "Lohengrin" Prelude                               183
  Walhalla Motive                                                  192
  Curse Motive                                                     269
  Siegfried Motive                                                 270
  Nibelung Smithy Motive                                           270
  Tarnhelm Motive                                                  271
  Siegfried Horn Call                                              272
  Develops into Motive of Siegfried, the Hero                      272
  And into Climax of the "Götterdämmerung" Funeral March           272
  Examples from "Tristan und Isolde"                          273, 274


"Are you musical?"

"No; I neither play nor sing."

Your answer shows a complete misunderstanding of the case. Because you
neither play nor sing, it by no means follows that you are unmusical.
If you love music and appreciate it, you may be more musical than many
pianists or singers; and certainly you may become so.

This book is planned for the lover of music, for those who throng the
concert and recital halls and the opera--those who have not followed
music as a profession, and yet love it as an art; who may not play or
sing, and yet are musical. Among these is an ever-growing number that
"wants to know," that no longer is satisfied simply with allowing
music to play upon the senses and the emotions, but wants to
understand why it does so.

To satisfy this natural desire which, with many, amounts to a craving
or even a passion, and to do so in wholly untechnical language and in
a manner that shall be intelligible to the average reader, is the
purpose of this book. In carrying it out I have not neglected the
personal side of music, but have endeavored to keep clearly before the
eyes of the reader, and in their proper sequence, the great names in
musical history.

I am somewhat of a radical in my musical opinions, one of those
persons of advanced views who does not lift his eyes reverentially
heavenward every time the words "symphony" and "sonata" are mentioned.
In fact, I am most in sympathy with the liberating tendencies of
modern music, which lays more stress upon the expression of life and
truth than upon the exact form in which these are sought to be
expressed. Nevertheless, I am quite aware that only through the
gradual development and expansion of forms that now may be growing
obsolete has music achieved its emancipation from the tyranny of form.
Therefore, while I would rather listen to a Wagner music-drama than to
a Mozart opera, or might go to more trouble to hear a Richard Strauss
tone poem than a Beethoven symphony, I am not such an unconscionable
heretic as to be unaware of the great, the very great part played by
the Mozart opera and the Beethoven symphony in the evolution of music,
or their importance in the orderly and systematic study of the art.
Indeed, I was brought up on "Don Giovanni," the Fifth Symphony and the
Sonatas before I brought myself up on Chopin, Liszt (for whom I have
far greater admiration than most critics), and Wagner. Therefore, an
ample portion of this book will be found devoted to the classical
epoch and its great masters, especially its greatest master,
Beethoven, and to the forms in which they worked. Nor do I think that
these pages will be found written unsympathetically. But something is
due the great body of music-lovers who, being told that they _must_
admire this, that and the other classical composer, _because he is
classical_, find themselves at a loss and think themselves to blame
because modern music makes a more vivid and deeper impression upon
them. If they only knew it--they are in the right! But they have
needed some one to tell them so.

"Advanced," this book is. But plenty will be found in it regarding the
sonata and the symphony, and, through the latter, the development of
the orchestra; and orchestral instruments, their tone quality, scope
and purpose are described and explained.

More, perhaps, than in any work with the same purpose, the great part
played by the pianoforte in the evolution of music is here recognized,
and I have availed myself of the opportunity to tell much of the story
of that evolution in connection with this, the most popular of musical
instruments, and its great masters. Why the greater freedom of
technique and expression made possible by the modern instrument has
caused the classical sonata to be superseded by the more romantic
works of Chopin and others whose compositions are typically pianistic,
and how these works differ in form and substance from those of the
classicists, are among the many points made clear in these chapters.

The same care has been bestowed upon that portion of the book relating
to vocal music--to songs, opera, music-drama and oratorio. In fact,
the aim has been to equip the lover of music--that is, of good music
of all kinds--with the knowledge which will enable him to enjoy far
more than before either an orchestral concert, a piano or song
recital, an opera or a music-drama--anything, in fact, in music from
Bach to Richard Strauss; to place everything before him from the
standpoint of a writer who is himself a lover of music and who,
although thoroughly in sympathy with the more advanced schools of the
art, also appreciates the great masters of the past and is behind none
in acknowledging what they contributed to make music what it is.

"Are you musical?"

"No; I neither play nor sing."

But, if you can read and listen, there is no reason why you should not
be more musical--a more genuine lover of music--than many of those
whose musicianship lies merely in their fingers or vocal cords. Try!





There must be practically on the part of every one who attends a
pianoforte recital some degree of curiosity regarding the instrument
itself. Therefore, it seems to me pertinent to institute at the very
outset an inquiry into what the pianoforte is and how it became what
it is--the most practical, most expressive and most universal of
musical instruments, the instrument of the concert hall and of the
intimate home circle. Knowledge of such things surely will enhance the
enjoyment of a pianoforte recital--should be, in fact, a prerequisite
to it.

The pianoforte is the most used and, for that very reason, perhaps,
the most abused of musical instruments. Even its real name generally
is denied it. Most people call it a piano, although _piano_ is a
musical term denoting a degree of sound, soft, gentle, low--the
opposite of _forte_, which means strong and loud. The combination of
the two terms in one word, pianoforte, signifies that the instrument
is capable of being played both softly and loudly--both _piano_ and
_forte_. It was this capacity that distinguished it from its immediate
precursors, the old-time harpsichords and clavichords. One of the
first requirements in learning how to understand music is to learn to
call things musical by their right names. To speak of a pianoforte as
a piano is one of our unjustifiable modern shortcuts of speech, a
characteristic specimen of linguistic laziness and evidence of utter
ignorance concerning the origin and character of the instrument.

If I were asked to express in a single phrase the importance of this
instrument in the musical life of to-day I would say that the
pianoforte is the orchestra of the home. Indeed, the title of the
familiar song "What Is Home Without a Mother?" might, without any
undue stretch of imagination, be changed to "What Is Home Without a
Pianoforte?"--although, if you are working hard at your music and
practicing scales and finger exercises several hours a day, it might
be wiser not to ask your neighbor's opinion on this point.

The King of Instruments.

"In households where there is no pianoforte we seem to breathe a
foreign atmosphere," says Oscar Bie, in his history of the instrument
and its players; and he adds with perfect truth that it has become
an essential part of our life, giving its form to our whole
musical culture and stamping its characteristics upon our whole
conception of music. Surely out of every ten musical persons,
layman or professional, at least nine almost invariably have
received their first introduction to music through the pianoforte
and have derived the greater part of their musical knowledge from it.
Even composers like Wagner and Meyerbeer, whose work is wholly
associated with opera, had their first lessons in music on the
pianoforte, and Meyerbeer achieved brilliant triumphs as a concert
pianist before he turned his attention to the operatic stage.

Of all musical instruments the pianoforte is the most intimate and at
the same time the most public--"the favorite of the lonely mourner and
of the solitary soul whose joy seeks expression" and the tie that
unites the circle of family and friends. Yet it also thrills the great
audience of the concert hall and rouses it to the highest pitch of
enthusiasm. It is the king of instruments, and the reason for its
supremacy is not far to seek. Weitzmann, the author of the first
comprehensive account of the pianoforte and its literature, speaks of
its ability "to lend living expression to all phases of emotion for
which language lacks words"; its full, resonant tone; its volume vying
with that of the orchestra; its command of every shade of sound from
the gentlest _pianissimo_ to the most powerful _forte_; and its
mechanism, which permits of the most rapid runs and passages, and at
the same time of sustained singing notes and phrases.

Music Under One's Fingers.

But this is not all. There is an overture by Weber entitled "The Ruler
of the Spirits." Well, he who commands the row of white and black keys
is ruler of the spirits of music. He has music, all that music can
give, within the grasp of his two hands, under his ten fingers. The
pianoforte can render anything in music. Besides music of its own, it
can reproduce the orchestra or the voice with even greater fidelity
than the finest engraving renders a painting; for only to the eyes of
one familiar with the painting does the engraving suggest the color
scheme of the original, whereas, through certain nuances of technique
that are more easily felt than described, the pianoforte virtuoso who
is playing an arrangement of an orchestra composition can make his
audience hear certain instruments of the orchestra--even such
characteristic effects as the far-carrying pizzicato, or the rumbling
of the double basses or their low growl; the hollow, reverberating
percussions of the tympani; sustained notes on the horns; the majestic
accents of trombones; the sharp shrill of piccolos; while some of the
most effective pianoforte pieces are arrangements of songs.

Moreover, there are pianoforte compositions like the Hungarian
rhapsodies of Liszt which, while conceived and carried out in the true
spirit of the instrument ("pianistic," as they say), yet suggest the
tone colors of the orchestra without permitting these to obtrude
themselves too much. This is one of the many services of Liszt, the
giant of virtuosos and a giant among composers, to his art. It has
been said that Liszt played the whole orchestra on the pianoforte. He
did even more. He developed the technique of the instrument to such a
point that the suggestion of many of the clang tints of the orchestra
has become part of its heritage. This dual capacity of the pianoforte,
the fact that it has a tone quality wholly peculiar to itself, so that
when, for example, we are playing Chopin we never think of the
orchestra, while at the same time it can take up into itself and
reproduce, or at least suggest, the tone colors of other instruments,
is one of its most remarkable characteristics.

Quite as remarkable and as interesting and important is the
circumstance that these tone tints are wholly dependent upon the
player. There is nothing peculiar to the make of the strings, the
sounding-board, the hammers, that tends to produce these effects. They
are due wholly to the player's subtle manipulation of the keys, so
that we get the added thrill of the virtuoso's personal magnetism. The
pianoforte owes much of its popularity, much of its supremacy, to the
fact that a player's interpretation of a composition cannot be marred
by any one but himself. It rests in his hands alone, whereas the
conductor of an orchestra is dependent upon a hundred players, some of
whom may have no more soul than so many wooden Indians. Even supposing
a conductor to be gifted with a highly poetic and musically sensitive
nature, it is impossible that so many men of varying degrees of
temperament as go to make up an orchestra, and none of them probably a
virtuoso of the highest rank, will be as sympathetically responsive to
his baton as a pianoforte is to the fingers of a musical poet like
Paderewski; for the fingers of a great virtuoso are the ambassadors of
his soul.

Melody and Accompaniment on One Instrument.

This personal, one-man control of the instrument has been of
inestimable value to the pianoforte in establishing itself in its
present unassailable position. Moreover, in controlling it the pianist
commands all the resources of music. With his two thumbs alone he can
accomplish what no player upon any other instrument in common use is
capable of doing with all ten fingers. He can sound together the
lowest and the highest notes in music, for all the notes of music as
we know it simply await the pressure of the fingers upon the keys of
the pianoforte. It is the one instrument capable of power as well as
of sweetness and grace which places the whole range of harmony and
counterpoint at the disposal of one player. A vocalist can sing an
air, but can you imagine a vocalist singing through an entire
programme without accompaniment? After half a dozen unaccompanied
songs the singing even of the greatest prima donna would become
monotonous for lack of harmony. The violin and violoncello, next to
the pianoforte the most frequently heard instruments in the concert
hall, labor under the same disadvantage as the singer. They are
dependent upon the accompaniment of others.

The pianist, on the other hand, has the inestimable advantage of being
able to play melody and accompaniment on one instrument at the same
time--all in one. While singing with some of his fingers the tender
melodic phrase of a Chopin nocturne, he completes with the others the
exquisite weave of harmony, and reveals the musical fabric to us in
all its beauty. Moreover, it is the pianist himself who does this, not
some one else at his signal, which the intermediary possibly may not
wholly understand. When Paderewski is at the pianoforte we hear
Paderewski--not some one else of a less sensitive temperament whom he
is directing with a baton. A poet is at the instrument and we hear the
poet. A poet may be at the conductor's desk--but in the orchestra that
is required for the interpretation of his musical conceptions poets
usually are conspicuous by their absence. Even great singers suffer
because their accompaniments are apt not to be as sensitive of
temperament as they are; and it is a fact that the grace and beauty of
Schubert's "Hark, Hark, the Lark" never have been so fully revealed to
me by a singer as by Paderewski's playing of Liszt's arrangement of
the song, because the pianist is able to shade the accompaniment to
the most delicate nuances of the melody. How delightful, too, it is to
go through the pianoforte score of a Wagner music-drama and, as you
play the wonderful music--all placed within the grasp of your ten
fingers--watch the scenic pictures and the action pass in imagination
before your eyes in your own music room without the defects
inseparable from every public performance, because the success of a
performance depends upon the co-operation of so many who do not
co-operate. Yes, the pianoforte is the king of instruments because it
is the most independent of instruments and because it makes him who
plays upon it independent.

Music's Debt to the Pianoforte.

It would be difficult to overestimate the debt that music owes to the
pianoforte. Including for the present under this one name the various
keyboard instruments from which it was developed, the sonata form had
its first tentative beginnings upon it and was wrought out to
perfection through it by a process of gradual evolution extending from
Domenico Scarlatti through Bach's son, Philipp Emanuel Bach, to
Beethoven. As a symphony simply is a sonata for orchestra, it follows
that through the sonata and thus through the pianoforte the form in
which the classical composers cast their greatest works was
established. Richard Strauss, in his revision of Berlioz's book on
orchestration, even goes so far as to assert that Beethoven, and after
him Schumann and Brahms, treated the orchestra pianistically; but the
discussion of this point is better deferred until we take up the
orchestra and orchestral music.

Here, however, it may be observed that in addition to its constant use
as an instrument for the concert hall and the home, and for the
delight of great audiences and the joy of the amateur player and his
familiar circle, many of the great composers, even when writing
orchestral works, have used the pianoforte for their first sketches,
testing their harmonies on it, and often, no doubt, while groping over
the keys in search of the psychical note, hit upon accidental
improvements and new harmonies. Even Wagner, who understood the
orchestra as none other ever has, employed the pianoforte in sketching
out his ideas. "I went to my Erard and wrote out the passage as
rapidly as if I had it by heart," he writes from Venice to Mathilde
Wesendonck, in relating to her the genesis of the great love duet in
"Tristan und Isolde," and I could quote other passages from my "Wagner
and his Isolde," which is based on the romantic passages in the lives
of the composer and the woman who inspired his great music-drama, to
show the frequency with which he made similar use of the universal
musical instrument.

The pianoforte has in many other ways been a boon to some of the most
famous composers. Many of them were pianists, and by public
performances of their own works materially accelerated the appreciation
of their music. Mozart was a youthful prodigy, and later a virtuoso
of the highest rank. Beethoven, before he was overtaken by deafness,
introduced his own pianoforte compositions to the public and was the
musical lion of the Viennese drawing-rooms. Mendelssohn was a pianist
of the same smooth, affable, gentlemanly type as his music. Chopin
was not a miscellaneous concert player--his nature was too shrinking;
but at the Salon Pleyel in Paris he gave recitals to the musical élite,
who in turn conveyed his ideas to the greater public. Schumann began
his musical career as a virtuoso, but strained the fourth finger of his
right hand in using a mechanical apparatus which he had devised for
facilitating the practice of finger exercises. His wife, Clara Wieck,
however, who was the most famous woman pianist of her time,
substituted her fingers for his. Liszt literally hewed out the way
for his works on the keyboard. Brahms was a pianist of solid,
scholarly attainments. In fact, dig where you will in musical soil,
you strike the roots of the pianoforte.

Its Lowly Origin.

It must not be supposed, however, that the instrument as we know it
attained to its present supremacy except through a long process of
evolution. One of the immediate precursors of the modern pianoforte
was the harpsichord, a name suggesting that the instrument was a harp
with a keyboard attachment, and such, in a general way, the pianoforte
is. But the harp is a very fully developed affair compared with the
mean little apparatus in which lay and was discovered many centuries
ago the first germ of the king among instruments. This was the
monochord, and it has required about nine centuries for the evolution
of an instrument consisting of a single string set in vibration by
means of a keyboard attachment into the modern pianoforte. But do not
be alarmed. I am not about to give a nine hundred years' history of
the pianoforte. Such detailed consideration would belong to a
technical work on the manufacture of the instrument and would be out
of place here. Something of its history should, however, be known to
every one who wants to understand music, but I shall endeavor to be as
brief and at the same time as clear as possible.

The monochord originally was used much as we use a tuning fork, to
determine true musical pitch. If you take a short piece of string, tie
one end of it fast, draw it taut and pluck it, its vibrations will
sound a note. If you grasp the string and draw it taut from nearer to
the point where it is tied, you shorten what is called the "node,"
increase the number of vibrations and produce a higher note. The
monochord in its simplest form consisted of a string drawn taut over
an oblong box and tuned to a given pitch by means of a peg. Under the
string and in contact with it was a bridge or fret that could be moved
by hand along a graduated scale marked on the bottom of the box. By
moving the bridge the node of the string could be shortened and the
notes marked at corresponding points on the graduated scale produced.
After a while, and in order to facilitate the study of the harmonious
relationship between different notes, three strings were added, each
with its bridge and graduated scale.

It was more or less of a nuisance, however, to continually shift
four bridges to as many different points under the four strings. As
an improvement upon this awkward arrangement some clever person
conceived about the beginning of the tenth century, the idea of
borrowing the keyboard from the organ and attaching it to the
monochord. To the rear end of each key was attached an upright piece
called a tangent. When the finger pressed upon a key the tangent
struck one of the strings, set it in vibration, and at the same time,
by contact, created a node which lasted as long as the key was kept
down and the tangent remained pressed against the string. To
increase the utility of the instrument by adding more strings and
more keys was the next obvious step, and gradually the monochord
ceased to be a mere technical apparatus for the determining of pitch
and became an instrument on which professionals and amateurs could
play with pleasure to themselves and others.

A Poet's Advice to His Musical Daughter.

There has been preserved to us from about the year 1529 a reply made
by the poet Pietro Bembo to his daughter Elena, who had written to him
from the convent where she was being educated asking if she could have
lessons upon the monochord, which seems to have been as popular in its
day as its fully developed successor, the modern pianoforte, is now.

"Touching thy request for permission to play upon the monochord,"
begins Bembo's quaint answer, "I reply that because of thy tender
years thou canst not know that playing is an art for vain and
frivolous women, whereas I would that thou shouldst be the most chaste
and modest maiden alive. Besides, if thou wert to play badly it would
cause thee little pleasure and no little shame. Yet in order to play
well thou must needs give up from ten to twelve years to the exercise,
without so much as thinking of aught else. How far this would benefit
thee thou canst see for thyself without my telling thee. But thy
schoolmates, if they desire thee to learn to play for their pleasure,
tell them thou dost not care to have them laugh at thy mortification.
Therefore, content thyself with the pursuit of the sciences and the
practice of needlework." These words of the poet Bembo to his daughter
Elena--are they so wholly lacking in application to our own day? And I
wonder--did or did not Elena learn to play the monochord? If not, it
was because she lived a few centuries too soon. She would have had her
own way to-day!

The Clavichord.

Monochord means "one string," and the application of the term to the
instrument after other strings had been added was a misnomer. The
monochord on which Elena, to the evident distress of her distinguished
parent, desired to play, really was a clavichord, which was derived
directly from the primitive monochord.

If you will raise the lid of your pianoforte you will find that the
strings become shorter from the bass up, the lowest note being
sounded by the longest, the highest note by the shortest string; for
the longer the string the slower the vibrations and the deeper the
sounds produced, and _vice versa_. This principle is so obvious that
it seems as if it must have been applied to the clavichord almost
immediately and a separate string provided for each key. But for many
years the strings of the clavichord continued all of equal length, and
three or four neighboring keys struck the same string, so that the
contact of the upright tangent with the string not only set the latter
in vibration but also served to form the node which produced the
desired note. Not until after the clavichord had been in use several
centuries, were its strings made of varying length and a separate
string assigned to each key. These new clavichords were called
_bundfrei_ (fret-free or tangent-free) because the node of each string
was determined by that string's length and not by the contact of the

The clavichord retained the box shape of its prototype, the monochord.
Originally it was portable and was set upon a table; later, however,
was made, so to speak, to stand upon its own legs. In appearance it
resembled our square pianofortes. It gave forth a sweet, gentle and
decidedly pretty musical sound. It had a further admirable quality in
its capacity for sustaining a tone, since by keeping the tangent
pressed against the string the player was able to sustain the tone so
long as the string continued to vibrate. Moreover, by holding down the
key and at the same time making a gentle rocking motion with the
finger he was able to produce a tremolo effect which German musicians
called _Bebung_ (trembling), and the French _balancement_.

A defect of the clavichord was, however, its lack of power. This
defect led to experiments which resulted in the construction of a
keyboard instrument the strings of which, in response to the action of
the keys, were set in vibration by jacks tipped with crow-quills or
hard leather. The sound was much stronger than that of the clavichord.
But the jacks twanged the strings with uniform power, "permitting a
sharp outline, but no shading of the tones."

The Harpsichord.

If you chance to be listening to a Hungarian band at a restaurant you
may notice that one of the players has lying on a table before him an
instrument with many strings strung very much like those of the
pianoforte. It is played with two little mallets in the player's
hands, and produces the weird arpeggios and improvised runs
characteristic of Hungarian gypsy music. It is a very old instrument
called the cembalo. About the fifteenth century, it seems, some one
devised a keyboard attachment with quills for this instrument, tipped
the jacks with crow-quills, and called the result a clavicembalo (a
cembalo with keys). This was the origin of the harpsichord, the name
by which the clavicembalo soon became more generally known.
Harpsichords were shaped somewhat like our grand pianofortes, but were
much smaller. A spinet was a small harpsichord, and the virginal a
still smaller one. Sometimes, indeed, virginals were made no larger
than workboxes, the instrument being taken out of the box and placed
on a table before the player.

For the purposes of this book this very general survey of the
precursors of the pianoforte seems sufficient. The clavichord and the
instruments of the harpsichord (harpsichord, spinet, and virginal)
class flourished alongside of each other, but the best musicians gave
the preference to the clavichord because of its sweet tone and the
delicately tremulous effect that could be produced upon it by the
_balancement_. Experiments in pianoforte making were in progress
already in Bach's day, but he clung to the clavichord, as did his son,
Philipp Emanuel Bach. Mozart was the first of the great masters to
realize the value of the pianoforte and to aid materially in making it
popular by using it for his public performances. And yet even then the
clavichord, "that lonely, melancholy, unspeakably sweet instrument,"
was not abandoned without lingering regret by the older musicians, and
it still was to be found in occasional use as late as the beginning of
the last century. How thoroughly modern the pianoforte is will be
appreciated when it is said that a celebrated firm of English makers
founded in 1730 did not begin to manufacture pianofortes until 1780
and continued the production of clavichords until 1793.

Piano and Forte.

Neither on the clavichord nor on the harpsichord could the player vary
the strength of the tone which he produced, by the degree of force
with which he struck the keys. Swells and pedals worked by the knees
and the feet were devised to overcome this difficulty, but "touch"
as we understand it to-day was impossible with the instruments in
which the degree of sound to be produced was not under the control of
the player's fingers. The clavichord was _piano_, the harpsichord
was _forte_. Not until the invention of the hammer action, the
substitution of hammers for tangents and quill-jacks, was an
instrument possible in which whether the tone should be _piano_ or
_forte_ depended upon the degree of strength with which the player
struck the keys. This instrument was the first pianoforte. It was
invented and so named in 1711 by Bartolomeo Cristofori, of Florence,
and, although nearly two centuries have elapsed since then, the
action used by many pianoforte manufacturers of to-day is in its
essentials the same as that devised by this clever Italian. The
invention frequently is ascribed to Gottfried Silbermann, a German
(1683-1753). But the real situation is that Cristofori was the
inventor, while Silbermann was the first successful manufacturer of
the new instruments, from a business point of view. Time and
improvements were required before they made their way, and how slow
many professional musicians were in giving up the beloved clavichord
for the pianoforte already has been pointed out. But the latter was
bound to triumph in the end.

I shall not attempt to give a technical description of the mechanism
of the pianoforte. But I should like to answer a few questions which
may have suggested themselves to players who may not have cared to
take their instruments apart and examine them, or have not been
present when their tuners have taken off the lid and exposed the
strings and mechanism to view. The strings of the pianoforte are of
steel wire, and their tension varies from twelve tons to nearly
twenty. Those of the deepest bass are covered with copper wire. Eight
or ten tones of the bass are produced by the vibration of these
copper-wound strings. Above these, for about an octave and a half, the
strings are in pairs, so that, the hammer striking them, there are two
unison strings to a tone, simultaneously, and producing approximately
twice as powerful a tone as if only one string had been set in
vibration. The five remaining octaves have three strings to a tone.

All Depends on the Player.

When the fingers strike the keys the hammers strike the strings, the
force of the stroke depending upon the force exerted by the player,
this being the distinguishing merit of the pianoforte as compared with
its precursors. Under the strings are a row of dampers, and as soon as
a finger releases a key the corresponding damper springs into place
against the vibrating strings, stops the vibrations, and the tone
ceases. Thus the tone can be dampened immediately by raising the
finger or prolonged by keeping the finger pressed down on the key.
This is the device which enables the pianist to play _staccato_ or
_legato_. The damper pedal, or loud pedal, checks the action of all
the dampers and prolongs the tones even after the fingers have
released the keys. The soft pedal brings the hammers nearer the
strings, shortens the stroke and produces a softer tone. The
simultaneous use of both pedals is a modern virtuoso effect and a
very charming one, for the damper pedal prolongs the gentle tones
produced by the use of the soft pedal. I believe Paderewski was the
first of the great pianists who have visited this country, to employ
this effect systematically, and that he was among the first composers
to formally indicate the simultaneous employment of both pedals in
passages in his compositions. There is a third pedal called the
sustaining pedal, but I do not think it has proved as valuable an
invention as was anticipated.

Within recent years there have been introduced mechanical pianofortes,
which I may designate as pianolas, after the most popular instrument
of their class. In my opinion, these instruments are destined to play
an important part in the diffusion of musical knowledge, and it is
senseless to underestimate this. There are thousands of people who
have neither the time nor the dexterity to master the technique of the
pianoforte, who nevertheless are people of genuine musical feeling,
and who are enabled through the pianola to cultivate their taste for
music. The device renders the music accurately; whether expressively
or not depends, as with the pianoforte itself, upon the taste of the
person who manipulates it.

Decorations That Do Not Beautify.

The pianoforte often is spoken of as an instrument of ugly appearance.
This it emphatically is not. If the straight side of the grand is
placed against the wall the side toward the room presents a graceful,
sweeping curve, while the upright effectively breaks the straight
line of the wall against which it stands. If the pianoforte is ugly,
it is due to the so-called "ornaments" that are placed upon it--the
knicknacks, framed pictures and other senseless things. To my mind,
there is but one thing which it is permissible to place upon a
pianoforte, a slender vase with a single flower, preferably a
rose--the living symbol of the soul that waits to be awakened within
the instrument.

Sheet music or bound books of music on top of a pianoforte are an
abomination. If scattered about they look disorderly; if neatly
arranged in portfolios, even worse, for they create the precise,
orderly appearance of paths and mounds in a cemetery. Often, indeed,
the pianoforte is a graveyard of musical hopes. Because of that,
however, it need not be made to look like one.

Equally objectionable is the elaborately decorated or "period"
pianoforte designed for rooms decorated in the style of some
historical art period. A pianoforte has no business in a "period"
room. If the person is rich enough to afford "period" rooms, he also
can afford a music room, and the simpler this is, within the bounds of
good taste, and the less there is in it besides the instrument itself,
the better. The more proficient the pianist the less he cares for
decoration and the more satisfied he is with the pianoforte turned out
in the ordinary course of business by the high-class manufacturer.
No--decorated pianofortes are for those who are too rich to be



So important has been the rôle played by the pianoforte in the
evolution of music that it is possible in these chapters on a
pianoforte recital to give a general survey of the art, and thus
prepare the reader to enjoy not only what he will hear at such a
recital, but enable him to approach it with a more comprehensive
knowledge than that would imply. This is one reason why I elected to
lead with the chapters on the pianoforte instead of with those on the
orchestra, as usually is done, because the orchestra is something
"big." In point of fact, however, the pianoforte, so far as its
influence is concerned, is quite as "big," if not, indeed, bigger than
the orchestra; for often, in the evolution of music (as I pointed out
in the previous chapter), this instrument, which is so sufficient in
itself, has led the orchestra. In reviewing a pianoforte recital it
therefore is quite possible to review many phases of musical history.

Take as an example a composition by Bach, one of the preludes and
fugues from "The Well-Tempered Clavichord," with which a pianoforte
recital is quite apt to open. The selection illustrates a whole epoch
in music which Bach rounded off and brought alike to its climax and
its close. You will be apt to find this fugue rather complicated and,
I fear, somewhat unintelligible, and this makes it necessary for me to
point out at once that in some respects music has had a curious
development. A Wagner music-drama, a Richard Strauss tone poem, seem
elaborate and complicated affairs compared with a Beethoven sonata or
symphony. Yet even the most advanced work of a Wagner or Strauss is
neither as complicated nor as elaborate as a fugue by that past master
of his art, Johann Sebastian Bach, who, although he was born in 1685
and did not live beyond the middle of the following century, was so
far ahead of his age that not even to this day has he fully come into
his own. The result is that the early classicists, Haydn and Mozart,
who belong in point of time to a later epoch, may more readily be
reckoned as "old-fashioned" than Father Bach. When at a recital you
listen to a fugue by Bach and find it hard and labored--many people
regard it simply as a difficult species of finger exercises--you think
that is because it is so very ancient, something in the same class
with Greek or Sanscrit. In point of fact it is because in some
respects it is so very modern.

Were it not for the importance of preserving an orderly historical
sequence in a book of this kind, and that Bach usually is found at the
beginning of a recital program, it would be almost more practical, and
certainly far easier, for the author to leave Bach until later. When
you write of Mozart, or of Beethoven and the moderns, you can depend
upon more or less familiarity with their works on the part of your
readers, whereas, comparatively few laymen know much about Bach. They
associate the name with all that is formal and labored. Yet among my
acquaintances is a young woman who was brought up in a very musical
family, and who, having as a child heard her mother play the preludes
and fugues of the "Well-Tempered Clavichord," finds Bach as simple as
the alphabet. But hers is a most exceptional case. The appreciation of
Bach, as a rule, comes only with advanced age. My music teacher used
to say to me: "You rave over Schubert and Wagner now, but when you get
to be as old as I am you will go back to Father Bach." While I cannot
say that his prophecy has come true, while I still am ultra-modern in
my musical predilections, my musical gods being Schubert, Chopin,
Schumann, Liszt, Brahms, Richard Strauss and, above all, Wagner, I
should consider myself unfit to write this book if I failed to realize
the debt modern music owes to Bach, and that the more modern the music
the greater the debt.

Bach in Modern Music.

One of the most remarkable phenomena in the history of the art--and a
generalization like this is as much in place in discussing pianoforte
music as elsewhere, because the instrument has had so much to do with
the evolution of music--is the gap between Bach and modern music.
While the following must not be taken too literally, it is true in
general that Bach had little or no influence on the age that
immediately came after him, the classical age of music, that age which
we sum up in the names of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven, the age of the
sonata and the symphony. The three masters mentioned probably would
have developed and composed much as they did had Bach never lived.
But when a more modern composer, a romanticist like Wagner, wanted to
enrich the means of musical expression handed down to him from the
classical period, he reached back to Bach and combined Bach's teeming
counterpoint with the harmonic system which had been inherited from
Beethoven. To understand just what this means, to appreciate the
influence Bach has had upon modern music and why he had little or none
on the classical composers, it is necessary for the reader to have at
least a reasonably clear conception of what that counterpoint is and
wherein it differs from harmony; for with Bach counterpoint reached
its climax, and all the possibilities of the style having been
exhausted by him, music of necessity took a turn in another direction
under the classicists and developed harmonically instead of
contrapuntally; so that it can be said that modern music derives its
counterpoint from Bach, its harmony from Beethoven, and its
combination of the two systems from Wagner.

There is another reason why the meaning of counterpoint should be
explained and the difference between counterpoint and harmony be made
clear to the reader now. Nearly all the early music, the music that
preceded Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven, and that sometimes is to be
found on recital programs, is contrapuntal--written in counterpoint.
As I have said before, it would be much easier to start with the
sonata form, with harmony instead of counterpoint, for of the two
harmony is the simpler. But we must "face the music"--the music of the
old contrapuntal composers--and the best way to do this is to explain
what harmony and counterpoint are and wherein they differ.

Harmony and Counterpoint.

A melody or theme is a rational progression of single tones. Here is
the melody or theme with which Beethoven begins the familiar
"Moonlight Sonata":

[Music illustration]

It is a melody, but it does not constitute harmony, for harmony is the
rational combination of several tones, as distinguished from the
rational progression of single tones which constitute melody. But when
Beethoven adds an accompaniment to his theme and it becomes:

[Music illustration]

the passage also becomes harmony, since it is an example of the
rational combination of several tones. As has often been pointed out
in books on music, and probably often will have to be pointed out
again, because as a mistake it is to be classed with the hardy
perennials, melody is not harmony, but only a part of it. When,
however, a composer conceives a theme or melody he usually does so
with the purpose of combining it with an accompaniment that shall
support it and throw it into bold and striking relief. Composers of
the contrapuntal school, on the other hand, conceived a theme, not for
the purpose of supporting it with an accompaniment, but in order to
combine it with another or with several other equally important
themes. That, in a general way, is the difference between harmony and

In harmony, then, or, more strictly speaking, in music composed
according to the harmonic system, of which the "Moonlight Sonata"
is a good example, the theme, the melody, stands out from the
accompaniment, which is subordinate. Counterpoint, on the other hand,
rests on the combination of several themes, each of equal importance.
This is the reason why, when there is a fugue or other complicated
contrapuntal work on the program of a pianoforte recital, the
average listener is apt to find it dry and uninteresting. His ear
readily can distinguish the themes of a sonata, which usually are
heard one at a time and stand out clearly from the accompaniment,
but it has not been trained to unravel the themes of the fugue as
they travel along together. Counterpoint, the term being derived
from the Latin _contra punctum_, which means point against point
or note against note, when complicated, as in a fugue, is about the
most elaborate kind of music there is, and a person who is unable to
grasp a fugue may console himself with the thought that, excepting
for the elect, it is a pretty stiff dose to swallow at the very
beginning of a recital.

There are, however, simpler pieces of counterpoint than a fugue.
Sometimes, as in the charming little "Gavotte" by Padre Martini, which
now and then figures among the lighter numbers on the programs of
historical recitals, the contrapuntist combines a theme with itself,
or, rather, "imitates" it, which is a simple form of the canon.
Another form of canon is the round of which "Three Blind Mice" is a
familiar example. How many people, when singing this, have realized
that they were being initiated into that mysterious thing known as
counterpoint? A comparatively simple form of counterpoint is well
illustrated by a dapper little piece in Bach's "Two-Part Inventions,"
in which the spirited theme given out by the right hand answers itself
a bar later in the left, an "imitation" which crops out again and
again in the piece and gives it somewhat the character of a canon.

[Music illustration]

For any one who wishes to become acquainted with Bach there is
nothing better than these "Two-Part Inventions," especially the
fascinating little piece from which I have just quoted, compact,
buoyant and gay, even "pert," as I once heard a young girl characterize
it; a perfect example of old Father Bach in moments of relaxation when
he has laid aside his periwig and is amusing himself at his clavichord.

What a Fugue Is.

Bach's fugues, and especially his "Well-Tempered Clavichord,"
forty-eight preludes and fugues in all the keys, form the climax of
contrapuntal music. Goethe once said that "the history of the world is
a mighty fugue in which the voice of nation after nation becomes
audible." This is a freely poetic definition of that highly
complicated musical form, the fugue. Let me attempt to illustrate it
in a different way.

Imagine that a composer who is an adept in counterpoint places four
pianists at different pianofortes, and that he gives a different theme
to each of them, or a theme to one and modified versions of it to the
others. He starts the first pianist, after a few bars nods to the
second to join in with his theme, and so on successively with the
other two. It might be supposed that when the second player joins in,
the two themes sounding together would make discord, which would be
aggravated by the addition of the third and fourth. But, instead, they
have been so conceived by the contrapuntist that they sound well
together as they chase and answer each other, or run counter to and
parallel and enter into many different combinations, sometimes flowing
along smoothly, at other times surging and striving, yet always, in
the case of a truly great fugue, borne along by a momentum as
inexorable as the march of Fate. Of course, it must not be supposed,
because I have called four pianists into action in order to emphasize
how distinct are these themes, which yet, when united, are found to
blend together, that several players are required for the performance
of a complicated piece of counterpoint like a fugue. What is demanded
of the player is entire independence of the fingers, so that he can
clearly differentiate between the themes and enable the hearer to
distinguish them apart, even in their most complicated combinations.
An edition of Bach's "Well-Tempered Clavichord" by Bernardus Boekelman
prints the themes in different colors, so that they are easy to trace
through all their interweaving, and is interesting to study from.

The Fugue and the Virtuoso.

In his book, "Beethoven and His Forerunners," Daniel Gregory Mason
devotes a paragraph toward dispelling the mystery regarding the fugue
that prevails with the public, and points out that "the actual formal
rules, despite the awe they have immemorially aroused in the popular
mind, are few and simple. After the first announcement of the subject
by a single voice, it is answered by a second voice, at an interval of
a fifth above; then again stated by a third voice, and answered by a
fourth. This process goes on until each voice has had a chance to
enunciate the motif, after which the conversation goes on more freely;
the subject is announced in divers keys, by divers voices; episodes,
in a congruous style, vary the monotony; at last the subject is
emphatically asserted by the various voices in quick succession
(_stretto_), and with some little display or grandiloquence the piece
comes to an end."

Further along in the same book Mr. Mason has a page of apostrophe to
the Bach fugues. When he characterizes them as "the first great
independent monuments of pure music," and refers to their "consummate
beauty of structure," he pays them an eminently just tribute. But
when he speaks of the "profundity, poignancy and variety of feeling
they express," I am inclined to quote his own qualifying sentence
from the next page of his book: "It is true, nevertheless, not only
that the fugue form makes the severest demands on the attention and
intelligence of the listener, but also that, because of the
ecclesiastical origin and polyphonic style, it is incapable of the
kind of highly personal, secular expression that it was in the spirit
of the seventeenth century to demand." The same is even more true
of the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The progress
of music toward individual freedom of expression on the part of the
composer, and equally so on the part of the interpreter, has been
steady, and when, through the very perfection which Bach imparted
to counterpoint, it ceased to attract composers as a means of
expression because he had accomplished so much there was nothing
more left for them to do along the same lines, the progress I have
indicated received a great lift and stimulus.

What Counterpoint Lacks.

The lack of highly personal expression in contrapuntal compositions
explains why most concert-goers find them less attractive than modern
music. The "D Minor Toccata and Fugue" or the "Chromatic Fantasie and
Fugue" by Bach, even in the arrangements of Tausig and Liszt, on the
program of a pianoforte recital, are tolerated because of the modern
pieces that come later. Nine out of ten persons in the house would
rather omit them. Why deny so obvious a fact, especially when it is
easy enough to explain? To follow a contrapuntal composition
intelligently requires a highly trained ear. Moreover, in such a work
as a Bach fugue the individuality of the player is of less importance
than in modern music. Yet a virtuoso's individuality is the very thing
that distinguishes him from other virtuosos and attracts the public to
his concerts, while those of other players may be poorly attended. I
firmly believe in personality of the virtuoso or singer or orchestral
conductor, for in it lies the secret of individual interpretation, the
reason why the performance of one person is fascinating or thrilling
and that of another not. Modern music affords the player full scope to
interpret it according to his own mood and fancy, to color it with his
own personality, whereas contrapuntal music exists largely for itself
alone. It is music for music's sake, not for the sake of interpreting
some mood, some feeling, or of painting in tone colors something quite
outside of music. The player of counterpoint is restricted in his
power of expression by the very formulas of the science or art of the
contrapuntist. We may marvel that Bach was able to move so freely
within its restricted forms. But I think it true that it is far more
interesting for a person even of only moderate proficiency as a player
to work out, however awkwardly, a Bach fugue for himself on the
pianoforte than to hear it played by some one else, however great;
for, cheap and easy as it is to protest in high-sounding phrases about
the duty of the interpreter to subordinate himself to the composer,
and against what I am about to say, I nevertheless make bold to affirm
that it is the province of the virtuoso to express himself, his own
personality, his moods, his temperament, his subjective or even his
subconscious self, through music; and in music that is purely
contrapuntal there is a barrier to this individual power of

The Mission of the Player.

We often hear it said of the greatest contemporary pianist that he is
a great Chopin player, but not a great Bach player. He could not be,
and at the same time be the greatest living virtuoso. It is the
worshiper of tradition, the reserved, continent, scholarly player, the
player who converts a Chopin nocturne into an icicle and a Schubert
impromptu into a snowball, who revels in counterpoint--the player who
always is slavishly subordinating himself to what he is pleased to
call the "composer's intentions" and forgets that the truly great
virtuoso creates when he interprets. Some times the virtuoso may go
too far and depart too much from the character of the piece he is
playing, subjecting it more than is permissible to his temporary mood;
but it is better for art to err on the side of originality, provided
it is not bizarre or freakish, than on the side of subserviency to

While I have no desire, in writing as above, to exalt unduly the
virtuoso, the interpreter of music, at the expense of the composer, I
must insist that the great player also is creative, in the sense that
every time he plays a work he creates it over again from his own point
of view, and thus has at least a share in its parentage. Indeed, it
seems more difficult to attain exalted rank as a virtuoso than to gain
immortality as a composer. The world has produced two epoch-making
virtuosos--Paganini on the violin, Liszt on the piano. Within about
the same period covered by the careers of these two there have been
half a dozen or even more composers, each of whom marks an epoch in
some phase of the art. "The interpretive artist," says Henry G.
Hanchett in his "Art of the Musician," "deserves a place no whit
beneath that of the composer. No two composers have influenced musical
progress in America more strongly than have Anton Rubinstein by his
_playing_, and Theodore Thomas, who was not a composer."

Music as a Science.

But, to return to Bach and the other contrapuntists, music owes them
an immense debt on the technical side. And right here, so universal
are the deductions that can be drawn from the program of a pianoforte
recital, it should be pointed out that music differs from other arts
in having for its basis a profound and complicated science, a science
that concerns itself with the relations of the notes of the musical
scale to each other. Upon this science are based alike the "coon song"
and the Wagner music-drama. What is true of "Tristan" is true also of
"Bedelia." Each makes its draft upon the science of music; the
music-drama, of course, in a far greater degree than the song. This
science has its textbooks with their theorems and problems, like any
other science, and theoretical musicians have produced learned and
useful works on the subject which the great mass of laymen, many
virtuosos, and indeed the average professional musician, may never
have heard of, let alone have read. For a person not intuitively
predisposed toward the subject would find the science of music as
difficult to master as integral calculus; nor, in order to appreciate
music, or even to interpret it, is it necessary to be versed in this
science. A virtuoso can play a chord of the ninth, the listener can be
thrilled by the virtuoso's playing of the chord of the ninth, without
either of them knowing that there is such a thing as the chord of the

Science versus Feeling.

In fact, the person who is so well versed in the science of music that
he can mentally analyze a composition while listening to it is apt to
be so absorbed in the mere process of technical analysis that he
misses its esthetic, its emotional significance. Thus a person may be
very musical without being musical at all. He may have profound
knowledge of music as a science and remain untouched by music as an
art, just as a physicist may be an authority on the laws of light and
color, yet stand unmoved before a great painting. With some people
music is all science, with others all art, and I think the latter have
the better of it. A musical genius is equipped both ways. The great
composer employs the science of music as an aid in giving expression
to his creative impulse. He makes science of service to the cause of
art. Otherwise, while he might produce something that was absolutely
correct, it would make no artistic appeal whatsoever. Thousands of
symphonies have been composed, performed and forgotten. They were
"well made," constructed with scientific accuracy from beginning to
end, but had no value as art; and music is a profound science applied
to the production of a great art.

The composer, then, masters the science of music and bends it to his
genius. If he is a great genius, he soon will discover that certain
rules which his predecessors regarded as hard and fast, as inviolable,
can be violated with impunity. He will discover new tone combinations,
and thus enrich the science and make it serve the purposes of the art
with greater efficiency than before he came upon the scene. And always
the composers who have grown gray under the old system, the system
upon which the new genius is grafting his new ideas, and the theorists
and critics, who are slaves of tradition, will throw up their hands in
horror and cry out that he is despoiling the art and robbing it of all
that is sacred and beautiful, whereas he is adding to its scope and
potency. Did not even so broad-minded a composer as Schumann say, "The
trouble with Wagner is that he is not a musician"? So far was Wagner
ahead of his time! While the great composer nearly always begins where
his predecessors left off, he is sure to outstrip them later on. Even
so rugged a genius as Beethoven is somewhat under Mozart's influence
in his first works, and Wagner's "Rienzi" is distinctly Meyerbeerian.
But genius soon learns to soar with its own wings and to look down
with indifference upon the little men who are discharging their shafts
of envy, malice and ignorance.

That "Ear for Music."

And while I am on the subject of the scientific musician _versus_ the
music lover, the pedant _versus_ the innovator, I might as well refer
to those people who have in a remarkable degree what is popularly
known as "an ear for music," and who are able to remember and to play
"by ear" anything they hear played or sung, even if it is for the
first time. This ear for music, again, is something quite different
from scientific knowledge of music or from the emotional sensitiveness
which makes the music-lover. It is a purely physical endowment, and
may--in fact, usually does--exist without a corresponding degree of
real feeling for music. It is, of course, a highly valuable adjunct to
a genuine musical genius like a Mozart or a Schubert and to a genuine
virtuoso. It is related of Von Bülow that his ear for music and his
memory were so prodigious that once, while traveling in the cars, he
read over the printed pages of a new composition, and on arriving at
his destination, played it, from memory, at his concert. William
Mason, who studied with Liszt, witnessed his master perform a similar
feat. The average untrained person with a musical ear, however,
instead of being a genius, is apt to become a nuisance, playing all
kinds of cheap music in and out of season--a sort of peripatetic
pianola, without the advantage of being under control. Such persons,
moreover, usually are born without a soft pedal.

Bach and the Weather Bureau.

This digression, which I have made in order to discuss the difference
between music as a science and music as an art, a distinction which, I
have pointed out, often is so marked that a person may be thoroughly
equipped on the scientific side of music without being sensitive to
its beauty as an art, seemed to me necessary at this stage. I am
reminded by it of the distinction which Edmund Clarence Stedman, in
his "Nature and Elements of Poetry," so wittily draws between the
indications of a storm as described by a poet and by the official
prognostications of the Weather Bureau. Mr. Stedman quotes two

    "When descends on the Atlantic the gigantic
      Storm-wind of the Equinox,
    Landward in his wrath he scourges the toiling surges,
      Laden with seaweed from the rocks."

And this stanza by a later balladist:

    "The East Wind gathered, all unknown,
      A thick sea-cloud his course before;
    He left by night the frozen zone,
      And smote the cliffs of Labrador;
    He lashed the coasts on either hand,
    And betwixt the Cape and Newfoundland,
      Into the bay his armies pour."

All this impersonation and fancy is translated by the Weather Bureau
into something like the following:

  "An area of extreme low pressure is rapidly moving up the Atlantic
  Coast, with wind and rain. Storm-center now off Charleston, S. C.
  Wind N. E.; velocity, 54. Barometer, 29.6. The disturbance will
  reach New York on Wednesday, and proceed eastward to the Banks and
  Bay of St. Lawrence. Danger signals ordered for all North Atlantic

Far be it from me to imply that contrapuntal music in general or Bach
in particular represents the Weather Bureau. None the less is it true
that Bach appeals more strongly to the scientific musician than to the
music-lover who seeks in music a secondary meaning--love, passion,
grief; the mood awakened by the contemplation of a forest landscape
with its murmuring foliage, a boundless prairie, or the unquiet sea.

The technical indebtedness of modern music to Bach is so immense, and
the artistic probity of the man himself was so wonderful, for he worked
calmly on, in spite of what was worse than opposition--neglect--that
I think the tendency on the part of Bach enthusiasts, while not
overrating the importance of the influence he has had during the
past fifty years or more, is to underrate others as compared with
him. When critics declare that one virtuoso or another is not a great
Bach player, are they not ignoring what is a simple fact--that no
player can make the same appeal through Bach that it is possible for
him to make through modern music, and that, as a rule, when a virtuoso,
however good a musician he may be, places Bach on his program, he does
so not from predilection, but as a tribute to one of the greatest
names in musical history? It seems to me that the extreme Bach
enthusiasts can be divided into two classes--musicians who are able
to appreciate what he did for music on its technical side, and people
who want to create the impression that they know more than they really

The Bacon, Not the Shakespeare, of Music.

Bach's greatest importance to music lies in his having treated it in
the abstract and for itself alone, so that when he penned a work he
did this not to bring home to the listener the significance of a
certain mood or situation, but from pure delight in following out a
musical problem to its most extreme development. Algebra makes mighty
interesting study, but furnishes rather a poor subject for dramatic
reading. This simile must, of course, be taken with a grain of salt,
and merely as illustrating in a general way my contention that Bach's
great service to music was technical and intellectual. He was the
Bacon, not the Shakespeare, of music, and the contrapuntal structure
that he reared is to the art what the Baconian theorem is to logic. We
can imagine the roamer in the field of higher mathematics suddenly
becoming excited as he sees the end of the path leading to the
solution of some complicated problem in full view. Thus there may be
moments when even the cube root becomes emotional, the logarithmic
theory a dissipation, and differential calculus an orgy. So, too, Bach
put an enthusiasm into his work that often threatens to sweep the
student off his intellectuals and make him regard a fugue as a
scientifically constructed fairyland. Moreover, there are Bach pieces
in which the counterpoint supports the purest kind of melody, like the
air for the G string which Thomas arranged for his orchestra with all
the strings, save the double basses, in unison, and played with an
effect that never failed to secure a repeat and sometimes a double

What Wagner Learned from Bach.

If we bear in mind that counterpoint is the artistic combination of
several themes, each of equal or nearly equal importance, and that
Bach was the greatest master of the contrapuntal school and forms its
climax, we can, with a little thought, appreciate what his service has
been to modern music. When Wagner devised his system of leading
motives it was not for the purpose of employing them singly, like
labels tacked onto each character, thing or symbol in the drama, but
of combining them, welding them together, when occasion arose, in
order to give musical significance and expression to each and every
dramatic situation as the story unfolded itself. A shining example of
this is found in that wonderful last scene of "Die Walküre," the
so-called Magic Fire Scene. _Wotan_ has said farewell to _Brünnhilde_;
has thrown her into a profound slumber upon the rock; has surrounded
her with a circle of magic flame which none but a hero may penetrate
to awaken and win her. How is this scene treated in the score? In the
higher register of the orchestra crackles and sparkles the Magic Fire
Motive, the Slumber Motive gently rising and falling with the flames;
while the superb Siegfried Motive (signifying that the yet unborn
_Siegfried_ is the hero destined to break through the fiery circle)
resounds in the brass, and there also is a suggestion of the tender
strains with which _Wotan_ bade _Brünnhilde_ farewell. The welding
together of these four motives into one glorious whole of the highest
dramatic significance is Wagnerian counterpoint--science employed in
the service of art and with thrilling effect. Another passage from
Wagner, the closing episode in the "Meistersinger" Vorspiel, often is
quoted to show Wagner's skill in the use of counterpoint, although he
employs it so spontaneously that few people stop to consider how
scientific his musical structure is. W. J. Henderson, in his capital
book, "The Orchestra and Orchestral Music," relates that on one
occasion a professional musician was engaged in a discussion of Wagner
in the corridor of the Metropolitan Opera House, while inside the
orchestra was playing this "Meistersinger" Vorspiel.

"It is a pity," said this wise man, in a condescending manner, "but
Wagner knows absolutely nothing about counterpoint."

At that very instant the orchestra was singing five different melodies
at once; and, as Anton Seidl was the conductor, they were all

Wagner scores, in fact, teem with counterpoint, but counterpoint that
palpitates, that thrills with emotion. Note that Mr. Henderson speaks
of melodies. Wagner's leading motives are melodies, sometimes very
brief, but always expressive, and not, like the themes of the old
contrapuntists, conceived mainly for the sake of being combined
scientifically with other themes equally adaptable to that purpose.
Counterpoint may be, and usually is, something very dry and formal.
But from the crucible of the master magician, Richard Wagner, it flows
a glowing, throbbing, pulsating stream of most precious metal.

The Language of an Epoch.

In the difference between the counterpoint of Bach and the counterpoint
of Wagner lies the difference between two epochs separated by a long
period of time. With Bach counterpoint was everything; with Wagner
merely an incident. It will help us to a better understanding of
music if we bear in mind that the two great composers of each epoch
spoke in the music of that epoch. Thus Bach spoke in the language of
counterpoint. His themes, however greatly they may vary among
themselves, all bear the stamp of motives devised for the purpose of
entering into formal combinations and of being developed according to
the stringent rules of counterpoint. Beethoven's are more individual,
more expressive of moods and emotions. Yet about them, too, there is
something formal. They, too, are devised to be treated according to
certain rules--to be molded into sonatas. But with Wagner we feel that
music has thrown off the shackles of arbitrary form, of dry rule and
rote. His motives suggest absolute freedom of expression and
development, through previously undreamed-of wealth of harmony and
contrapuntal combinations which are mere incidents, not the chief
purpose of their being. Each represents some person, impulse or symbol
in a drama; represents them with such eloquence and power that, once
we know for what they stand, we need but hear them again or recall them
to memory to have the corresponding episode in the music-drama in which
they occur brought vividly before our eyes. Bach's language was the
language of the fugue; Beethoven's the language of the sonata. Fugue and
sonata are musical forms. Wagner spoke the language of no form. His
language is that of the free, plastic, unfettered leading motive--the
language of liberated music, of which he himself was the liberator!

Whether Wagner would have devised his system of leading motives
without the wonderful structure of counterpoint left by Bach; whether
Bach's counterpoint, his combination of themes, suggested the system
of leading motives to the greatest master of them all, we probably
never shall know. The system, in its completeness, doubtless is
Wagner's own; but when he came to put it into practical effect he
found the rich heritage left by Bach ready to hand. One of Wagner's
instructors in musical theory, and the one from whose teaching he
himself declares he learned most, was Theodor Weinlig, one of Bach's
successors as Cantor of the Thomasschule at Leipsic. Wagner quotes him
as having said: "You may never find it necessary to compose a fugue,
but the ability to do it often may stand you in good stead." And the
Cantor set him exercises in all varieties of counterpoint. There thus
is presented the phenomenon of a composer who for nearly a century
after his death had little or no influence on the course of music,
suddenly becoming a potent force in its most modern development.

Bach in the Recital Hall.

Bach is so supreme in his own line that contrapuntal music, so far as
the pianoforte is concerned, may be dismissed with him. Händel, too,
it is true, was a master of the contrapuntal school, but he belongs to
the chapter on oratorio. Bach's pianoforte works in smaller form are
the "Two-Part Inventions" already mentioned; the "Three-Part
Inventions," which go a step farther in contrapuntal treatment, and
the "Partitas," the six "French Suites" and the six "English Suites."

These partitas and suites are the most graceful and charming
efflorescence of the contrapuntal school, and much could be
accomplished toward making Bach a popular composer if they figured
more frequently on recital programs. They are made up of the dance
forms of the day--allemandes, courants, bourrées, sarabandes, minuets,
gavottes, gigues, with airs thrown in for good measure; the partitas
and English suites furnished with more elaborate introductions, while
the French suites begin with allemandes. Cheerful and even frisky as
some of the dance pieces in these compositions are, it must not be
supposed that they were intended to be danced to when contrapuntally
treated--no more than Chopin intended that people should glide through
a ballroom to the music of his waltzes.

Besides "sonatas" for pianoforte with one or more other instruments,
among them the six "Sonatas for Pianoforte and Violin" (the term
sonata as employed here must not be confused with the classical sonata
form as developed by Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven), Bach composed
concertos for from one to four pianofortes. Of these latter the one
best known in this country is the so-called "Triple Concerto," for
three pianofortes with accompaniment of string quartet, which can at
will be increased to a string orchestra. In 1873, during Rubinstein's
tour, I heard it played in New York, under Theodore Thomas's
direction, by Rubinstein, William Mason and Sebastian Bach Mills, and
three years later by Mme. Annette Essipoff, Mr. Mason and Mr.
Boscovitz. Mason, when he was studying under Liszt in Weimar in 1854,
had performed it with two fellow-pupils, and Liszt had been very
particular in regard to the manner in which they played the many
embellishments (_agréments_) which were used in Bach's time. Later,
Mason found that whenever three pianists came together for the purpose
of playing this concerto they were certain to disagree regarding "the
agreements," and usually wasted much time in discussing them,
especially the mordent.

Rubinstein and the "Triple Concerto."

Accordingly, when Mason played the "Triple Concerto" with Rubinstein
and Mills, he came to the rehearsal armed with a book by Friedrich
Wilhelm Marburg, published in Berlin in 1765, and giving written
examples of all the _agréments_. "I told Rubinstein about my ancient
authority," says Mr. Mason in his entertaining "Memories of a Musical
Life," "adding that we should be spared the tediousness of a
discussion as to the manner of playing.

"'Let me see the old book,' said Rubinstein. Running over the leaves
he came to the illustrations of the mordent. The moment his eyes fell
upon them he exclaimed: 'All wrong; here is the way I play it!'" And
that ended the usefulness of "the old book" for that particular
occasion, the other two pianists adopting, without comment,
Rubinstein's method, which Mr. Mason intimates was incorrect.

When, at the rehearsal with Essipoff, the mordent came up for
discussion she exclaimed: "'I cannot play these things; show me how
they are done.' After repeated trials, however," records Mr. Mason,
"she failed to get the knack of playing them, as indeed so many
pianists do; so at the rehearsal she omitted them and left their
performance to Boscovitz and me."

"The Well-Tempered Clavichord."

Bach's monumental work for pianoforte, however, is "The Well-Tempered
Clavichord," consisting of forty-eight preludes and fugues in all
keys. I find much prevalent ignorance among amateurs regarding the
meaning of "well-tempered" as used in this title. I have heard people
explain it by saying that when a pianist had mastered the book he was
"tempered" like steel and ready for any difficulties that other music
might present! I even have heard a rotund and affable person say that
"The Well-Tempered Clavichord" was so entitled because when you
listened to its preludes and fugues it smoothed out your temper and
made you feel good-natured! In point of fact, the word is difficult to
explain in untechnical language. It relates, however, to Bach's method
of tuning his clavichord--another boon which he conferred upon music.
In general, the system may be explained by the statement that certain
tone intervals, which theoretically are pure, practically result in
harmonic discrepancies, which Bach's "tempered" system corrected. In
other words, slight and practically imperceptible inaccuracies are
introduced in the tuning in order to counterbalance the greater faults
which result when tuning is absolutely correct from a theoretical
point of view; just as, in navigating the high northern waters, you
are obliged to make allowance for variations of the compass. The
system was not actually the invention of Bach, but he did so much to
promote its adoption that it is associated with his name. Before it
was adopted it was impossible to employ all the major and minor keys
on clavichords and harpsichords, and on the pianofortes, just
beginning to come into use. It became possible under the tempered
system of tuning, and was illustrated by Bach in "The Well-Tempered
Clavichord," each major and minor key being represented by a prelude
and fugue.

Besides the system of tuning in "equal temperament," Bach modernized
the technique of fingering by introducing the freer and more frequent
employment of the hitherto neglected thumb and little finger. The
services of this great man to music, therefore, were threefold. He
left us his teeming counterpoint, upon which modern music draws so
freely; he promoted the system of tuning in equal temperament; and he
laid the foundation of modern pianoforte technique, and so of modern

A King's Tribute to Bach.

Besides being a great composer, Bach's traits as a man were most
admirable. He was uncompromising in his convictions, sturdy, honest
and upright. His fixedness of purpose is shown by an anecdote of his
boyhood. In his tenth year he lost his parents and went to live with
an elder brother, who was so jealous of his superior talents that he
refused him the loan of a manuscript volume of music by composers of
the day. Obtaining possession of it without his brother's knowledge,
Bach secretly copied it at night by moonlight, the task covering
something like six months. His reward was to have it taken away by his
brother, who accidentally discovered him playing from it. Fortunately,
this brother died soon afterward, and Bach recovered his treasure.

While it is true that Bach remained unappreciated by the great mass of
his contemporaries, there were exceptions, a notable one being the
music-loving king, Frederick the Great of Prussia, whose service the
composer's second son, Philipp Emanuel Bach, entered in 1746. At the
king's earnest urging, Philipp Emanuel induced his father to visit
Potsdam the following year. The king, who had arranged a concert at
the palace, was about to begin playing on the flute, when an officer
entered and handed him a list of the strangers who had arrived at
Potsdam. Glancing over it, Frederick discovered Bach's name.
"Gentlemen," he exclaimed, "old Bach is here!" And nothing would do
save that the master must be brought immediately into the royal
presence, before he even had time to doff his traveling clothes.

The king had purchased several of the pianofortes recently constructed
by Gottfried Silbermann and had them distributed throughout the
palace. Bach and the assemblage went from room to room, the composer
playing and improvising on the different instruments. Finally he asked
the king to set him a fugue theme, and on this he extemporized in such
masterly fashion that all who heard him, the king included, broke out
into rounds of applause. On his return to Leipsic, Bach dedicated to
Frederick the Great a work which he entitled "The Musical Sacrifice"
(or offering), which he based upon the fugue theme the king had given

No other instance of musical heredity is comparable with that afforded
by the Bach family. Dr. Theodore Baker, in his "Biographical
Dictionary of Musicians," gives a list of no less than twenty Bachs,
all of the same line, whom he deems worthy of mention, and who covered
a period ranging from 1604 to 1845, when the great Bach's grandson
and last male descendant, Wilhelm Friedrich Ernst Bach, died in
Berlin. Thus for two hundred and forty-one years the Bach family was
professionally active in music.



If a pianoforte recital which begins with a Bach fugue continues with
a Beethoven sonata, it does not require a very discriminating ear to
note the difference between the two. The Beethoven sonata is in a
style so entirely distinct from that of the fugue, and sounds so
wholly unlike it, that it seems as if Bach had exerted no influence
whatsoever upon the greatest master of the period that followed his
death. Although Haydn and Mozart were nearer Bach in point of time
than Beethoven was, a sonata by either of them, if it chanced to be on
the program, would show the same difference in style, the same radical
departure from the works of the master of counterpoint, as the
Beethoven sonata.

The question naturally suggests itself, did Bach's influence cease
with his death? And the fact that this question calls for an answer
and that this answer leads to a general consideration of the interim
between Bach and Beethoven, again shows how broad in its scope as an
instrument is the pianoforte and how comprehensive in its application
to music as a whole is the music of that instrument. Two works on a
recital program furnish a legitimate basis for a discussion of two
important periods in the development of music! Who would have thought
there was so much to a pianoforte recital?

  "It would have been an eminently pardonable mistake for any
  intelligent musician to have fallen into, in the third quarter of
  the eighteenth century, if he had concluded that Johann Sebastian
  Bach's career was a failure, and that his influence upon the
  progress of his art amounted to the minimum conceivable. Indeed,
  the whole course of musical history in every branch went straight
  out of the sphere of his activity for a long while; his work
  ceased to have any significance to the generation which succeeded
  him, and his eloquence fell upon deaf ears. A few of his pupils
  went on writing music of the same type as his in a half-hearted
  way, and his own most distinguished son, Philipp Emanuel, adopted
  at least the artistic manner of working up his details and making
  the internal organization of his works alive with figure and
  rhythm. But even he, the sincerest composer of the following
  generation, was infected by the complacent, polite superficiality
  of his time; and he was forced, in accepting the harmonic
  principle of working in its Italian phase, to take with it some of
  the empty formulas and conventional tricks of speech which had
  become part of its being, and which sometimes seem to belie the
  genuineness of his utterances and put him somewhat out of touch
  with his whole-hearted father."

This passage from one of the most admirably thought-out books on music
I know, Sir Hubert Parry's "Evolution of the Art of Music," is no
exaggeration. For many years after Bach's death, for nearly a century
in fact, his influence was but little felt. And yet so aptly does the
development of art adjust itself to human needs and aspirations, the
very neglect into which Bach fell turned music into certain channels
from which it derived the greater freedom of expression essential to
its progress and gave it the tinge of romanticism which is the essence
of modern music.

The greatness of Johann Sebastian Bach, on the technical side at
least, now is so universally acknowledged, and professional musicians
understand so well what their art owes to him, we are apt to think of
him as the only musician of his day, whereas his significance was but
little appreciated by his contemporaries. There were, in fact, other
composers actively working on other lines and turning music in the
direction it was destined to follow immediately after Bach's
death--and for its own ultimate good, be it observed. The simple fact
is, that pure counterpoint culminated in Bach. What he accomplished
was so stupendous that his successors could not keep up with him. They
became exhausted before they even were prepared to begin where he left
off. And yet the reaction from Bach was, as I have indicated,
absolutely necessary to the further progress of music.

The scheme of musical development which the reader should bear in mind
if he desires to understand music, and to arrive at that understanding
with some kind of system in his progress, was briefly as follows:

Three Periods of Musical Development.

First we have counterpoint, the welding together of several themes
each of equal importance. This style of composition culminated in
Bach. Its most elaborate form of expression was the fugue; but it also
employed the canon and impressed into its service certain minor forms
like the allemande, courant, chaçonne, gavotte, saraband, gigue, and

Next, after Bach music began to develop according to the harmonic
system, or, if I may be permitted for the sake of clarity to use an
expression which technically is incorrect, according to the melodic
system. That is, instead of combining several themes, composers took
one theme or melody and supported it with an accompaniment so that the
melody stood out in clear relief. This first decided melodic
development covers the classical period, the period after Bach to
Beethoven, and its highest form of expression was the sonata, which in
the orchestra became the symphony.

The romantic period comes after Beethoven. This, to characterize it by
the readiest means, by something external, something the eye can see,
is the "single piece" period, the period in which the impromptu of
Schubert, the song without words of Mendelssohn, the nocturne of
Chopin, the novelette of Schumann, takes the place of the sonata,
which consists of a group of pieces or movements. Composers begin to
find a too exacting insistence upon correctness of form irritating.
Expression becomes of more importance than form, which is promptly
violated if it interferes with the composer's trend of thought or
feeling. Pieces are written in certain moods, and their melody is
developed so as to follow and give full expression to the mood in
which it is conceived. New harmonies are fearlessly invoked for the
same purpose. Everything centres in the idea that music exists not as
an accessory to form, but for the free expression of emotion. In his
useful and handy "Dictionary of Musical Terms," Theodore Baker defines
a nocturne as a title for a piano piece "of a dreamily romantic or
sentimental character, but lacking a distinctive form." When we see
the title "Sonata" over a composition we think of form. When we see
the title "Nocturne" we think of mood, not manner. The title arouses
within us, by anticipation, the very feeling, the very mood, the very
emotional condition which the composer is seeking to express. The form
in which he seeks to express it is wholly a secondary matter. A
composition is a sonata because it follows a certain formal
development. It is a nocturne because it is "dreamily romantic or
sentimental." In no better way, perhaps, could the difference between
the classical period of music and the romantic period which set in
after Beethoven be explained. The romanticist is no more hampered by
form than the writer of poetry or fiction is by facts. Form dominates
feeling in classical music, feeling dominates form in romantic music.

We still are and, happily, ever shall remain in the romantic period.
The greatest of all romanticists and, up to the present time, the
greatest of all composers is Richard Wagner, whose genius will be
appreciated more and more as years go by until, as may be the case, a
still greater one will arise; although as dramatic literature
culminated in Shakespeare, so music may have found its greatest master
for all time in Wagner. Wagner, of course, was not a composer for the
pianoforte, but when he reached back and to the fuller harmony
inherited from Beethoven added the counterpoint of Bach, thus
combining the two great systems of composition, he indicated the only
method of progress possible for music of all kinds.

Rise of the Melodic School.

It must not be supposed that the melodic school which came in after
Bach and which, so far as the classical form of the sonata is
concerned, culminated in Beethoven, was the mushroom growth of a
night. So much has been said of Bach that a person unfamiliar with the
history of music might draw the erroneous conclusion that Bach was the
only composer worth mentioning before the classical period and Germany
the only country in which music had flourished. On the contrary, Bach
was the climax of a school to which several countries had each
contributed its share, partly vocal, partly instrumental. Palestrina's
name naturally comes to mind as representative of the early period of
Italian church music; there also was the "Belgian Orpheus," Orlandus
Lassus (or Lasso), the greatest composer of the Flemish school; and
England had its Gibbons and other madrigal composers. Their music was
vocal and requires to be considered more thoroughly under the head of
vocal music, but it also was contrapuntal and played its part in the
general development of the art before Bach came upon the scene. Of
course, there also was instrumental music in counterpoint before
Bach's day. There is "Queen Elizabeth's Virginal Book," a manuscript
collection of music made either during her reign or shortly afterward
and containing pieces for the virginal by Tallis, Bird, Giles, Dr.
John Bull and others, including also the madrigalist, Gibbons. The
Englishman, Henry Purcell (1658-1695); the Frenchman, François
Couperin (1668-1733), who wrote a harpsichord method; the Germans,
Hans Leo von Hasler (1564-1612) and Froberger; and the Italian,
Frescobaldi--these were some among many composers of counterpoint more
or less noted in their day.

Bach, however, brought the art of counterpoint to perfection, so that,
so far as it is concerned, he neither required nor even so much as
left room for a successor. It may not be pertinent to the argument,
yet it may well be questioned whether, had the classical trio, Haydn,
Mozart, and Beethoven, endeavored to carry on the contrapuntal school,
they would not, in spite of their genius, have relegated music to a
more primitive state than it occupied when Bach died. It seems a
fortunate circumstance to me that Bach's son appears to have realized
his inferiority to his father and that, in consequence, he turned from
counterpoint to the development of harmony--the working out of a
clearly defined theme or melody supported by accompaniment.

Counterpoint is said to be polyphonic, a term composed of two Greek
words signifying many-voiced, the combination in music of several
parts or themes. Opposed to it is homophonic, or single-voiced, music,
in which one melody or part is supported by an accompaniment. Italy,
with its genius for the sensuous and emotional in music, already had
developed a school of melodic music, and to this Philipp Emanuel Bach
turned for a model. In Italy the pianoforte, through its employment
for the freer harmonic support of dramatic solo singing in opera, an
art form that is indigenous to Italy, gradually had emancipated itself
there from counterpoint and acquired a style of its own. Girolamo
Frescobaldi (1583-1644), a famous Italian pianoforte and organ
virtuoso, whose first organ recital in St. Peter's, Rome, is said to
have attracted an audience of thirty thousand, and whose mantle fell
upon his two most renowned pupils, the German, Johann Jacob Froberger,
and the Italian, Bernardo Pasquini, not only experimented with our
modern keys, seeking to replace with them the old ecclesiastical modes
in which Palestrina wrote, but also simplified the method of notation.
For even what seems to us so simple a matter as the five-line staff is
the result of slow evolution.

Scarlatti's Importance as Composer and Virtuoso.

The Italian genius who gave the greatest impulse to the progress of
pianoforte music and who, for his day, immensely improved the
technique of pianoforte playing, was Domenico Scarlatti (1683-1757),
the famous son of a famous father, Alessandro Scarlatti, the leading
dramatic composer of his time. Domenico Scarlatti interests us
especially because he is the only one of the early Italians whose work
retains an appreciable foothold on modern recital programs. Von Bülow
edited selections from his works, and I recall from personal
experience, because I was at the concert, the delight with which some
of these were received the first time Von Bülow played them on his
initial visit to this country during the season of 1875-76. Amateurs
on the outlook for something new (even though it was very old) took up
Scarlatti, and this early Italian's suddenly acquired popularity was
comparable with the "run" on the Rachmaninoff "Prelude" when it was
played here by Siloti many years later.

Scarlatti has been called the founder of modern pianoforte technique.
Although he composed for the harpsichord, he understood the instrument
so thoroughly and what he wrote for it accords so well with its
genius, that by unconscious anticipation it also was adapted to the
genius of the modern pianoforte. It still is pianistic; more pianistic
and more suitable to the modern repertoire than a good deal of music
by greater men who lived considerably later. I should say, for
example, that Scarlatti's name is found more frequently on pianoforte
recital programs than Mozart's, although Mozart was incomparably the
greater genius. But there is about Scarlatti's music such a quaint and
primitive charm that one always listens to it with the zest of a
discoverer, whereas Mozart's pianoforte music, although more modern,
just misses being modern enough. This clever Italian gives us the
early beginnings of the sonata form. He merely lisps in sonata
accents, it is true, but his lisp is as fascinating as the ingenuous
prattle of an attractive child. His best, known work, "The Cat's
Fugue," the subject of which is said to have been suggested to him by
a cat gliding over the keyboard, is indeed contrapuntal. But even
this is a movement in a sonata, and the characteristic of his works as
a whole is the fact that in most of them he developed and worked out a
melody or theme, and that he established the fundamental outlines of
the sonata form.

Comparatively few laymen have more than a vague idea of what is
meant by sonata form. To them a sonata simply is a composition
consisting of several movements, usually four, three of them of
considerable length, with a shorter one (a minuet or scherzo)
between the first and second or the second and fourth. A sonata,
however, must have one of its movements (and generally it will be
found to be the first) written in a certain form. Regarding the
Scarlatti sonatas, suffice it to say here that with him the form
still is in its primitive simplicity. For example, the true sonata
movement as we now understand it employs two themes, the second
contrasting with the first. As a rule, Scarlatti is content with
one theme. It is the peculiar merit of Philipp Emanuel Bach that he
introduced a second theme into his sonatas, or suggested it by
striking modulations when he employed only one theme, and thus
paved the way for its further elaboration by Joseph Haydn. Mozart
elaborated the form still further, and then came Beethoven, with
whom the classical period reached its climax and whose sonatas for
all practical purposes have completely superseded those of his

Rise of the Amateur.

Characteristic of the period of transition from Bach to Beethoven,
from the fugue to the sonata, was the development of popular interest
in music. Scarlatti begins a brief introduction to a collection of
thirty of his pianoforte pieces which were published in 1746, by
addressing the "amateur or professor, whoever you be." Significant
in this is the inclusion of, in fact the seeming preference given to
the amateur. Music of the counterpoint variety had been music for
the church, the court and the professional. Now, with the development
of the freer harmonic or melodic system, it was growing more in
touch with the people. During Philipp Emanuel Bach's life the increase
of popular interest in music was remarkable. The titles that began
to appear on compositions show that composers were reaching out for a
larger public. Bie quotes some of them: "Cecilia Playing on the
Pianoforte and Satisfying the Hearing"; "The Busy Muse Clio";
"Pianoforte Practice for the Delight of Mind and Ear, in Six Easy
_Galanterie Parties_ Adapted to Modern Taste, Composed Chiefly for
Young Ladies"; "The Contented Ear and the Quickened Soul"; while
Philipp Emanuel Bach inscribes some of his pieces as "easy" or "for
ladies." Evidently the "young person" figured as extensively in the
calculations of musical composers then as she does now in those of
the publishers of fiction. Musical periodicals sprang up like
mushrooms--"Musical Miscellany," "Floral Garnerings for Pianoforte
Amateurs," "New Music Journal for Encouragement and Entertainment
in Solitude at the Pianoforte for the Skilled and Unskilled," such
were some of the titles. These periodicals often went the way of most
periodical flesh and in the customary brief period, but they show a
quickened public interest in music--the "contented ear and the
quickened soul," so to speak.

Changes in Musical Taste.

If I dismiss Philipp Emanuel Bach rather curtly and, in this portion
of the book at least, do the same with Haydn and Mozart, this is not
because I fail to appreciate their importance in musical history, but
because they have failed to retain their hold on the modern pianoforte
repertoire. The simple fact is that the pianoforte as an instrument
has outgrown their music. We can get more out of it than they gave it.
If we bear in mind that the pianoforte, as well as music itself, has
developed, it will aid us in understanding why so much music, once
considered far in advance of its time and even revolutionary, has so
soon become antiquated. Why ignore facts? Some examples of primitive
music still survive because they charm us with their quaintness. But
the classical period is retiring more and more into the shadow of
history. Whatever importance Haydn and Mozart may possess for the
student, their pianoforte music, so far as practical program-making is
concerned, is to-day a negligible quantity. I remember the time when,
as a pupil, I pored with breathless interest over the pages of
Mozart's "Sonata in A Minor" and his "Fantasy and Sonata in C Minor."
But to-day, when I read in a book published about twenty-five years
ago that Mozart indulged in harmonies, chord progressions and
modulations, "sometimes considered of doubtful propriety even now" and
"quite as harshly censured as are to-day the similar licenses of
free-thinking composers"--I wonder where they are. For his own day,
nevertheless, Mozart was an innovator, as every genius is; for it is
through those daring deviations of genius from established rule and
tradition, which contemporaries regard as unjustifiable license, that
art progresses. This should be borne in mind by those who were
intolerant toward the opponents of Wagner, yet now are guilty of a
similar solecism in proclaiming Richard Strauss a charlatan.

Assuming that the modern pianoforte pupil is but indifferently
nourished on the Mozart pabulum, let me add that this composer also
was a virtuoso, and by his choice of the pianoforte over the
clavichord did much toward making the modern instrument more popular.
He also developed the sonata form so that Beethoven found it ready
moulded for his genius. In fact the sonata form as we know it is so
much a Mozart creation that Mr. Hanchett, in his "Art of the
Musician," suggests calling the sonata movement proper a mozarta--a
suggestion which I presume will never be adopted.

Beethoven and the Epoch of the Sonata.

In the history of music there are three figures that easily tower
above the rest. Each represents an era. They are Bach, who stands for
counterpoint, the epoch of the fugue; Beethoven, who represents the
epoch of the sonata; Wagner, who represents the epoch of the
music-drama. The first two summed up in themselves certain art forms
which others had originated. Bach's root goes back to Palestrina,
Beethoven's to Scarlatti. Wagner presents the phenomenon of being both
the germ and the full fruition of the art form for which he stands. It
is conceivable that the work of these men will at some time fall into
desuetude, for in art all things are possible, and the classical
period seems to be losing its grip on music more and more every day
and we ourselves may live to see the sonata movement become obsolete.
It certainly is having less and less vogue, and a composer who now
writes a sonata with undeviating allegiance to its classical outlines,
deliberately invites neglect, because the listener no longer cares to
have his faculties of appreciation restricted by too rigid insistence
upon form, preferring that genius should have the utmost latitude and
be absolutely untrammeled in giving expression to what it has to say.
Nevertheless, music always will bear the impress of these three master
minds, just as our language, although we do not speak in blank verse,
always will bear the impress of Shakespeare. "I don't think much of
that play," exclaimed the countryman, after hearing "Hamlet" for the
first time. "It's all made up of quotations!" Equally familiar, not to
say colloquial, are certain musical phrases, certain modulations,
which have come down to us from the masters.

Although Beethoven no longer is the all-dominant figure in the musical
world that he was fifty years ago, and it requires a performance of
the "Ninth Symphony" given under specially significant circumstances
(such as the conducting of a Felix Weingartner) to attract as many to
a concert hall as would be drawn by an ordinary Wagner program, I
trust I shall know how to appreciate his importance to the development
of musical art and approach him with the reverence that is his due.
Like all great men who sum up an epoch, he found certain things ready
to hand. The Frenchman, Jean Philippe Rameau (1683-1764), "the creator
of the modern system of harmony," had published his "Nouveau Système
de Musique Théorique"; the sonata movement from its tentative
beginnings under Scarlatti had been developed through Philipp Emanuel
Bach, Haydn and Mozart into a definite art form awaiting the final
test of a great genius--which Beethoven proved to be.

Beethoven's Slow Development.

I already have pointed out that while pianoforte and orchestra have
developed side by side, the general belief that the pianoforte merely
has been the handmaiden of the orchestra is a mistaken one. On the
contrary, until the end of the classical period, at least, the
pianoforte was the pioneer. It has blazed the way for the orchestra
and led it, instead of bringing up the rear. Thus the sonata form
was developed by the pianoforte and then was handed over by that
instrument to the orchestra under the name of symphony, which, the
reader should bear in mind, simply is a sonata written for orchestra
instead of for the pianoforte. Even Beethoven, before he composed
his first symphony, which is his Opus 21, tested his mastery of the
form and his ideas regarding certain further developments in it, by
first composing thirteen pianoforte sonatas, including the familiar
"Pathétique," which used to be to concert programs what Liszt's
"Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2" is now--the _cheval de battaille_, on
which pianists pranced up and down before the ranks of their
astonished audiences and unfortunate amateurs sought to retain
their equilibrium.

This experimentation, this comparatively slow development, was
characteristic of Beethoven; is, in fact, characteristic of every
genius who works from the soul outward. "Like most artists whose spur
is more in themselves than in natural artistic facilities, he was very
slow to come to any artistic achievement," writes Sir Hubert Parry.
"It is almost a law of things that men whose artistic personality is
very strong, and who touch the world by the greatness and the power of
their expression, come to maturity comparatively late, and sometimes
grow greater all through their lives--so it was with Bach, Gluck,
Beethoven and Wagner--while men whose aims are more purely artistic
and whose main spur is facility of diction, come to the point of
production early and do not grow much afterward. Such composers as
Mozart and Mendelssohn succeeded in expressing themselves brilliantly
at a very early age; but their technical facility was out of
proportion to their individuality and their force of human nature, and
therefore there is no such surprising difference between the work of
their later years and the work of their childhood as there is in the
case of Beethoven and Wagner."

In writing sonatas Haydn and Mozart had been satisfied with grace of
outward form and a smooth and pretty flow of melody within that form.
Beethoven was a man of intellectual force as well as of musical
genius. He applied his intellect to enlarging the sonata form, his
musical genius to supplying it with contents worthy of the greater
opportunities he himself had created for it. There is a wonderful
union of mind and heart in Beethoven's work. The sonata form, as
perfected by him, is a monument to his genius. It remains to this day
the flower of the classical period.

The Passing of the Sonata.

Nevertheless, the Beethoven sonatas no longer retain the place of
pre-eminence once accorded them on pianoforte recital programs. When
Von Bülow was in this country during the season of 1875-76 he
frequently gave concerts at which he played only Beethoven sonatas.
I doubt if any of the great pianists of to-day could now awaken as
much public interest by such programs as Von Bülow did. I remember
the concert at which, among others of the Beethoven sonatas, this
virtuoso played Opus 106 ("Grosse Sonata für das Hammerklavier").
After he had played through part of the first movement he became
restless, and from time to time peered over the keyboard and into
the instrument as if something were wrong with it. Finally he broke
off in the middle of the movement, rose from his seat and walked
off the stage. When he reappeared, he had with him an attendant from
the firm of manufacturers whose pianofortes he used, and together
they fussed over the instrument for a while, before the attendant
made his exit and the irate little pianist began the sonata all over
again. We considered the mishap that gave us opportunity to hear him
play so much of the work twice, a piece of great good luck for us.
Would we so consider it now?

Von Bülow has passed into musical history as a great Beethoven
player, and such he undoubtedly was. I doubt, however, if he was a
greater Beethoven player than several living pianists. Some seasons
ago Eugène d'Albert played a Beethoven program. His performance did
not evoke the enthusiasm he anticipated. In fact there were
intimations in the comments on his performance that he was not as
great a Beethoven player as he thought he was. Personally, and having
a very clear recollection of Von Bülow's Beethoven recitals,
because I attended every one he gave in New York, and in my mind's
eye can see him sitting at the pianoforte, bending away over, with
his ear almost to the keyboard, I think d'Albert played his
Beethoven program quite as well. What had happened, however, was
this: A little matter of thirty years had passed and with it the
classical period and its efflorescence, the sonata form, had faded
by just so much, and by just so much no longer was considered by the
public the crucial test of a pianist's musicianship. Incidentally it
is worth noting that the public usually is far ahead of the
profession and of the majority of critics in appreciating new
tendencies in music and in realizing what is passing away; and the
same thing probably prevails in other arts.

Orchestral Instead of Pianistic.

I am aware that Beethoven was a pianist of the first rank and that
within the limitations of the sonata form he developed the capacity
of the pianoforte. I also have read Richard Strauss's opinion, in his
edition of Berlioz's work on instrumentation, that Beethoven treated
the orchestra pianistically. Nevertheless, from the modern viewpoint
the essential fault of the sonata, Beethoven's sonatas included,
seems to me to be that it is too orchestral and not sufficiently
_claviermässig_ (pianistic) in character; not sufficiently adapted to
the genius of the pianoforte as we know it to-day. It is possible
that for the times in which they were composed, the sonatas of Haydn,
Mozart and Beethoven were most pianistic. But as music has become
more and more an intimate phase of life, and as our most intimate
instrument, the instrument of the household, is the pianoforte, we
understand its capacity for the intimate expression of moods and
fancies, the lights and shadows of life, as it never was understood
before. The modern lover of music, if I may judge his standpoint
from my own, feels that while the sonatas of the masters I have
named were written for the pianoforte, they were thought out for
orchestra, and that even a Beethoven sonata is an engraving for
pianoforte of a symphony for orchestra. He composed nine symphonies
and thirty-two sonatas. If he had written his nine symphonies for
pianoforte, we would have had nine more sonatas. If he had composed
his sonatas for orchestra, we would have had thirty-two more

This orchestral (as opposed to pianistic) character of the Beethoven
sonatas accounts for passages in them so awkwardly written for the
instrument that they are difficult to master, and yet, when mastered,
are not effective in proportion to their difficulty. Between enlarging
the capacity of an instrument through the problems you give the player
to solve and writing passages that are awkwardly conceived for it, and
hence ineffectual after they have been mastered, there is a great
difference. Chopin, Liszt and others pile Pelion on Ossa in their
technical requirements of the pianist; but when he has surmounted
them, he has climbed a mountain, and from its peak may watch the world
at his feet. I think the orchestral character of much that Beethoven
wrote for the pianoforte partly accounts for the fact that his sonatas
no longer attract the great virtuosos as they formerly did and that
the public no longer regards them as the final test of a pianist's

I speak so unreservedly because I have lived through the change of
taste myself. By way of personal explanation I may be permitted to
say, that while I am not a professional musician, music was so much a
part of my life that I studied the pianoforte almost as assiduously as
if I had intended becoming a public player, and that I was proficient
enough to meet once a week with the first violinist and the first
violoncellist of the New York Philharmonic Society for the practice of
chamber music. If there is any one who should worship at the shrine of
the sonata form, and especially at that of the Beethoven sonatas, it
should be myself, for I was brought up on the form and those sonatas
were my daily bread. When I went to the Von Bülow Beethoven recitals
it was with book in hand, to follow what he played note for note for
purposes of study and assimilation. Those were years when, in the
hours during which one seeks communion with one's other self, the
Beethoven sonatas were the medium of communication. But now--give me
the men who emancipated themselves from a form that fettered the
individuality of the pianoforte, Chopin, Liszt, Schumann, and the
pianoforte scores of the Wagner music-dramas, which actually sound
more pianistic than the sonatas of the classical period and in which
it is a delight to plunge oneself and be borne along on a flood of
free, exultant melody.

Nevertheless, the sonata has had a great part to play in the history
and development of music and has played it nobly, and we must no more
forget this than we should allow present-day hero worship to supplant
the memory of the heroes who went before. The sonata is the firm and
solid bridge over which music passed from the contrapuntal period to
the romantic, and doubtless there still are some who prefer to linger
on the bridge rather than cross it to the promised land to which it
leads. Always there are conservatives who stand still and look back;
and that these still should let their eyes rest longingly on the great
master of the classical epoch, Beethoven, is, to say the least,
comprehensible. One would have to be unresponsive indeed not to be
thrilled by the story of his life--his force of character, his rugged
personality, his determination in spite of one of the greatest
misfortunes that could befall a musician, deafness; and the
intellectual power which he displayed in bending a seemingly rigid art
form to his will and making it the receptacle of his inspiration.

Well may these considerations be borne in mind whenever a Beethoven
sonata is on a pianoforte recital program. If it does not move us as
profoundly as music more modern does, that is not because its composer
was less deeply concerned with the problems of life than those who
have come after him. For his time he was wonderfully "subjective,"
drawing his inspiration from the heart, yet always preserving a sane
mental poise. If to-day the sonatas of this great genius and splendid
man seem to us less dramatic and emotional than they once did to
audiences, it is because of the progress of music toward greater
plasticity of expression and our conviction that such should be its



All art begins with a groping after form, then attains form, and then
emancipates itself from too great insistence upon rigidity of form
without, however, reverting to its early formless condition. It was
absolutely necessary to the establishment of music as an art that at
some period or periods in its development it should "pull itself
together" and focus itself in certain forms, and adhere to them
somewhat rigidly and somewhat tenaciously until they had been

Without saying so in as many words, I have sought, in speaking of the
sonata, to let the modern lover of music know that if he does not like
sonatas he need not be ashamed of that fact. A few minutes ago and
before writing this sentence, I left my desk and going to the
pianoforte, played through Beethoven's "Sonata Pathétique." It used to
be a thrilling experience to play it or to hear it played. To-day the
Grave which introduces the first movement still seemed portentous, the
individual themes throughout the work had lost none of their beauty.
And yet the effect produced in earlier years by this sonata as a whole
was lacking. I shall not say that it sounded pedantic, for I dislike
to apply that word to anything that sprang from the heart and brain
of a genius like Beethoven's, but there was a feeling of restraint
about it--the restraint of set form, the restraint of pathos patterned
to measure, which is incompatible with our modern notions of absolute
freedom of expression in music. Moreover, there is ample evidence that
Beethoven himself chafed under the restraint of the sonata form and
constantly strove to make it more elastic and more yielding to his

What a Sonata Is.

The sonata form (that is to say, the movement from which the sonata
derives its name) consists of three main divisions and can easily be
studied by securing the Bülow and Lebert edition of the Beethoven
sonatas in Schirmer's library, in which the various divisions and
subdivisions are indicated as they occur in the music. The first
division (sometimes with a slow introduction like the Grave of the
"Sonata Pathétique") may be called the exposition. It consists of the
main theme in the key of the piece, a connecting episode, a second
theme in a related key and contrasting with the first, and a
concluding passage. As a rule the exposition is repeated--an extremely
artificial proceeding, since there is no esthetic or psychological
reason for it.

After the exposition comes the second division, the development or
"working out," a treatment of both themes with much figuration and
imitation, generally called the "free fantasia" and consisting
"chiefly of a free development of motives taken from the first part"
(Baker). This leads into the third division, which is a restatement
of the first, excepting that the second theme, instead of being in a
related key, is, like the main theme, in the tonic.

How Beethoven Enlarged the Form.

This is the form of the sonata movement which was handed down to
Beethoven by Haydn and Mozart. It very soon became apparent that the
greatest genius of the classical period found it too limited for his
inspiration. In his third sonata (Opus 2, No. 3) he makes several
innovations that, for their day, are most daring. Following the first
episode after the main theme, he introduces a second episode with
which he leads into the second theme. Then using a variant of the
first episode as a connection he leads over to a third, a closing
theme. In fact, the material of the second episode is so thematic that
I see no reason why he should not be said to use four themes in the
exposition instead of the customary two. In the free fantasia he
insistently reiterates the main theme, practically ignoring the
others, thus familiarizing the listener with it and making it as
welcome as an old friend when the third division ushers it in again.

Instead of closing the movement at the end of the usual third
division, as his predecessors, Haydn and Mozart, did, Beethoven
introduces what is one of the most important innovations grafted by
him upon the sonata form--a coda with a cadenza. I can imagine that
this movement made his contemporaries look dubious and shake their
heads. It must have seemed to them originality strained to the point
of eccentricity and more bizarre than effective. As we look back upon
it, after this long lapse of time, it must be reckoned a most
brilliant achievement in the direction of freer form, and from this
point of view--please bear in mind the reservation--its creator not
only never surpassed it, but frequently fell behind it.

One of the movements of this sonata is a scherzo. Beethoven is the
creator of this style of movement. It is much less formal than the
minuet which Haydn introduced into the sonata. This especial scherzo
has a trio which in the broad sweep of its arpeggios is as modern
sounding as anything Beethoven wrote for the pianoforte.

His "Moonlight Sonata."

There are other sonatas by Beethoven that indicate efforts on his part
to be less trammeled by considerations of form. Regard as an example
the "Sonata Quasi Una Fantasia," Opus 27, No. 2, generally, and by no
means inaptly, called the "Moonlight Sonata." This begins with the
broad and beautiful slow movement, with its sustained melody, a poem
of profound pathos in musical accents. It is followed by an
Allegretto, "_une fleur entre deux abîmes_" (a flower 'twixt two
abysses) Liszt called it; and then comes the concluding movement, a
Presto agitato, which is one of Beethoven's most impassioned
creations. There are only three movements, and the usual sequence is
inverted, for the last of the three is the Sonata movement. At the end
of the Adagio sostenuto and at the end of the Allegretto as well, is
the direction "_attacca subito il sequente_," indicating that the
following movement is to be attacked at once and denoting an inner
relationship, a psychological connection between the three movements.
Throughout the work the themes are of extraordinary beauty and
expressiveness even for a Beethoven and the whole is a genuine drama
of human life and experience. This impression is produced not only by
the very evident psychological connection between the movements, but
by the manner in which the composer holds on to his themes, developing
them through bar after bar as if he himself appreciated their beauty
and were reluctant to let go of them and introduce new material. The
entire first movement, practically a song without words of the most
exquisite poignancy, is built on a single motive with a brief episode
which is more like an improvisation than a set part of a movement;
while the last movement consists of four eloquent themes with only the
merest suggestion of connecting episodes. The working out in the last
movement is almost wholly a persistent iteration of the second theme.
This persistent dwelling upon theme and the psychological relation
between the different movements make this "Moonlight Sonata" to me the
most modern sounding of Beethoven's pianoforte works, although when
mere structural greatness is considered, most critics will incline to
rank it lower than the "Sonata Appassionata" and the four last
sonatas, Op. 106 and 109-11. Undoubtedly, however, it is the most
"temperamental" of his sonatas--and herein again the most modern. My
one quarrel with Von Bülow is that he made it so popular by his
frequent playing of it and his exceptionally poetic interpretation of
it, that the great virtuosos shun it, very much as they shun the sixth
Chopin waltz (Mme. Dudevant's dog chasing its own tail), because it is
played by every pianoforte pupil of every girls' boarding school

Striving for Freedom.

In addition to what I have said of this sonata, it was an immense gain
for greater freedom of form, and it is to be regretted that it is a
more or less isolated instance and that Beethoven did not adopt it as
a standard in shaping his remaining sonatas. Its most valuable
attribute from the modern point of view is a characteristic to which I
already have called attention several times--the fact that its several
movements stand in psychological relation to one another; that there
is such real soul or temperamental connection between them, that it
would be doing actual violence to the work as a whole if any one
movement were to be played without the others or if their sequence
were to be inverted.

But, you may ask, is there not in all sonatas this psychological
inter-relationship of the several movements? Have we not been told
again and again that there is?

Undoubtedly you, and others who have been misinformed by enthusiasts
who are unable to hear music in anything that has been composed since
Beethoven, have been told so. But the sonata, with a few exceptions
like the "Moonlight," simply is a group usually of four movements,
three long-ones with a shorter one between, and, save for their being
in related keys, there is no temperamental relationship between the
movements whatsoever, and to talk of there being such a thing is
nonsense. I believe the time will come when virtuosos will not
hesitate to lift single movements out of the Beethoven sonatas and
place them on their programs and that there will be a sigh of relief
from the public because it can hear a movement that still sounds fresh
and modern without being obliged to listen to two or three others that
do not. Heresy? Maybe. Galileo was accounted a heretic--yet the world
moves and the musical world with it.

The Beethoven Periods.

Beethoven was an intellectual as well as a musical giant. He thought
before he wrought. The division of his activity into three periods, in
each of which he is supposed to have progressed further along the road
of originality and greatness, is generally accepted. Nevertheless, it
is an arbitrary one, especially as regards the pianoforte sonatas,
since it has been seen that the first movement of one of his earliest
works, the third sonata (Opus 2, No. 3), is one of his most original
contributions to music, and one of the most strikingly developed
movements in sonata form that he has given us. The period division
which assigns this sonata as well as the "Sonata Pathétique" to the
first period is absurd. The fact is, that the works of the so-called
first and second periods overlap; but there is a decided change in his
style when we come to his third period which, in the pianoforte
sonatas, begins with Opus 109. (The beginning of this period usually
is assigned to the sonata Opus 101, which seems to me too early.)
Because here a restless spirit seems to be brooding over his work, it
is thought by some that his mind and heart were warped by his
misfortunes--his deafness, the ingratitude of a worthless nephew to
whom he had been as a father, and other family and material troubles.
To me, however, Beethoven seems in these sonatas to be chafing more
and more under the restraint of form and to be struggling to free
himself from it, bending all his intellect to the task. Frankly, I do
not think that in these last sonatas he achieved his purpose. He had
outgrown the form he himself had perfected, and the thoughts which
toward the last he endeavored to mould in it called for absolutely
free and untrammeled development. He had become too great for it and,
as a result, it cramped and hampered him in his latest utterances. It
is my firm belief that had Beethoven come upon the scene fifty years
later, he would not have composed a single sonata, but have revived
the suite in modern style, as Schumann practically did in his
"Carnaval," "Kreisleriana," and "Faschingschwank aus Wien," or have
created for the pianoforte something corresponding to the freely
developed tone poems of Richard Strauss.

Because, however, Beethoven wrote thirty-two pianoforte sonatas and
because he was for many years the all-dominating figure in the musical
world, every great composer who came after him and composed for the
pianoforte experimented with the sonata form, and always, be it noted,
with less success and less importance to the real progress of music
toward freedom of expression than when he followed his own inner
impulse and wrote the mood pieces, the "music of intention," the
subjective expressions of indicated thoughts and feelings, that were
more consonant with the tendencies of the romantic period which
followed Beethoven and for which he may be said to have paved the way.
For just as Bach brought the contrapuntal form to such perfection that
those who came after him could not even begin where he left off, let
alone surpass him, so Beethoven brought the sonata form to such
perfection that no further advance in it was possible. No wonder
therefore that the pianoforte sonatas of the romanticists are
comparatively few in number and the least satisfactory of their works.
These composers seem to have written sonatas simply to show that they
could write them and under a mistaken idea that length is a measure of
greatness and that shorter pieces are minor achievements, whereas as
much genius can be displayed in a nocturne as in a sonata.

Sonatas Now Old-fashioned.

Lawrence Gilman, one of our younger American critics, in his "Phases
of Modern Music," a collection of essays, brief but containing a
wealth of suggestion and breathing throughout the spirit of
modernity, sums up the matter in speaking of Edward MacDowell's
"Keltic Sonata": "I cannot help wishing that he might contrive some
expedient for doing away, so far as he himself is concerned, with the
sonata form which he occasionally uses, rather inconsistently, as a
vehicle for the expression of that vision and emotion that are in
him; for, generally speaking, and in spite of the triumphant success
of the 'Keltic,' Mr. MacDowell is less fortunate in his sonatas than
in those freer and more elastically wrought tone poems in which he
voices a mood or an experience with epigrammatic concision and
directness. The 'Keltic' succeeds in spite of its form, ... though
even here, and notwithstanding the freedom of manipulation, one
feels that he would have worked to still finer ends in a more
flexible and fluent form. He is never so compelling, so persuasively
eloquent, as in those impressionistically conceived pieces in which he
moulds his inspiration upon the events of an interior emotional
program, rather than upon a musical formula necessarily arbitrary
and anomalous." This applies to pianoforte music in general since
Beethoven. Such I believe to be the consensus of opinion among the
younger generation of critics, to whom, after all, the future
belongs, as well as the opinion of those older critics who refuse to
allow themselves to be pitchforked by their years into the ranks of
the old fogies and who still hold themselves ever receptive to
every new manifestation in music that is based on a union of mind and

Unless otherwise specifically mentioned I have, in speaking of the
sonata form, referred to it in connection with the pianoforte. But it
also is the form employed for the symphony (which simply is a sonata
for orchestra); for pianoforte trios, quartets and quintets; for
string quartets and other branches of chamber music (which are sonatas
written for the combination of instruments mentioned and such others
as are employed in chamber music), and for concertos (which are
sonatas for the combination of a solo instrument like the pianoforte,
violin or violoncello, with orchestra). In these branches the sonata
form has held its own more successfully than on the pianoforte, and
for several extraneous reasons. In the symphony it is due largely to
the greater variety that can be achieved through orchestral coloring;
in chamber music largely to the somewhat super-refined and timorous
taste of its devotees which would regard any startling innovation as
highly indecorous; and in the concerto to the fact that a soloist who
appears at an orchestral concert is supposed to play a concerto simply
because the orchestra is there to play it with him, although he, as
well as the audience, probably would find a group of solos far more
effective. In fact I think that much of the applause which usually
follows a great pianist's playing of a concerto is due not so much to
the audience's enthusiasm over it as to the hope that he may be
induced to come out and play something alone. So far as the symphony
is concerned, it is liberating itself more and more from the sonata
form and taking the direction indicated by Liszt in his symphonic
poems and by Richard Strauss in his tone poems, the freest form of
orchestral composition yet conceived.

The First Romantic Composers.

In music, as in other arts, periods overlap. We have seen that during
Bach's life Scarlatti in Italy was laying the foundations of the
harmonic system and shaping the outlines of the sonata form which was
to develop through Philipp Emanuel Bach, Haydn and Mozart and find its
greatest master in Beethoven. Likewise, even while Beethoven was
creating those works which are the glory of the classical period, two
of his contemporaries, Carl Maria von Weber, who died one year before
him, and Franz Schubert, who survived him by only a year, were writing
music which was destined to turn the art into new channels. Weber
(1786-1826) is indeed regarded as the founder of the romantic school
through his opera "Der Freischütz." It seems to me, however, that
Schubert (1797-1828) contributed quite as much to the new movement
through his songs, while the contributions of both to the pianoforte
are important. Weber was a finished pianist, had an enormous reach (he
could stretch a twelfth), and besides utilizing the facility thus
afforded him to add to the brilliancy of pianoforte technique (as in
his well-known "Concert Piece for Piano and Orchestra"), he
deliberately, in some of his compositions, ignored the sonata form and
wrote a "Momento Capriccioso," a "Polonaise," a "Rondo Brilliant," a
"Polacca Brilliant" and the fascinating "Invitation to the Dance." The
last, even in its original form and without the elaborations in
Tausig's version of it, and the "Concert Piece" still are brilliant
and effective numbers in the modern pianoforte repertoire. Considering
the age in which they were composed, their freedom from pedantry is
little short of marvelous.

Schubert's Pianoforte Music.

Schubert was not a virtuoso and passed his life almost in obscurity,
but we now recognize that, although he lived but thirty-one years, few
composers wrought more lastingly than he. Of course, the proper place
for an estimate of his genius is in the chapter on song, but as a
pianoforte composer he is, even to this day, making his influence more
and more felt. Living in Vienna, Beethoven's city, and a fervent
admirer of that genius, it was natural that he should have composed
sonatas, and there is a whole volume of them among his pianoforte
works. Nevertheless, so original was his genius and so fertile, that,
in addition to his numerous other works, he composed eight impromptus,
among them the highly poetic one in G flat major (Opus 42, No. 2),
usually called "The Elegy"; another in B flat major (Opus 142, No. 3),
which is a theme with variations, some of them brilliant, others
profoundly expressive; and the beautifully melodious one in A flat
major; six dainty "Moments Musicals"; the exquisite little waltz
melodies from which Liszt fashioned the "Soirées de Vienne"; the
"Fantasia in G," from which the popular minuet is taken; and the
broadly dramatic "Fantasia" on a theme from his song, "The Wanderer,"
for which Liszt wrote an orchestral obbligato, thus converting it into
a highly effective and thoroughly modern fantasy for pianoforte and
orchestra. These detached compositions are as eloquent in their appeal
to-day as if they had been written during the last ten years instead
of during the first quarter of the last century. They are melodious
with the sustained melody that delights the modern ear. There is not,
as in the sonata form or, for that matter, in all the classical music
that Schubert heard around him, the brief giving out of a theme, then
an episode, then another brief theme and so on, all couched in the
formulas in which the classicists delighted, but instead of these
postulates of formality, melody fully developed and wrought out by one
who reveled in it and was willing that his hearers should revel in it
as well. To distinguish between the classicists and this early
romantic composer, whose work survives in all its freshness and beauty
to this day, it may be said that their music was thematic--based on
the kind of themes that lent themselves to formal working out as
prescribed by the sonata formula; whereas these detached pieces of
Schubert are based on melodies--long-drawn-out melodies, if you wish,
and be grateful that they are--that conjure up mood pictures and
through their exquisite harmonization exhale the very fragrance of

Naturally, the sonatas from his pen are more set. Nevertheless, so
long as it seems that we must have sonatas on our recital programs,
the neglect of those by Schubert is shameful. I am willing to stake
his sonata No. 5, in A minor, against any sonata ever written, and
from several of the sonatas single movements can be detached which I
should think any pianist would be glad to add to his repertoire. Among
these is the lithesome scherzo from the sonata No. 10, in B flat
major, and the beautiful slow movement (Andante sostenuto) from the
same work.

Schubert also wrote many valuable pianoforte duets, among them several
sets of marches and polonaises and an elaborate and stirring
"Divertissement à l'Hongroise," which last seems to foreshadow the
"Hungarian Rhapsodies" of Liszt. In these and the detached pianoforte
solo pieces a special value lies in that they do not appear to have
been composed as a protest against the sonata form, but spontaneously
and without a thought on Schubert's part that he was doing anything in
any way remarkable. They are expressions of musical feeling in the
manner that appealed to him as most natural. The "Moments Musicals"
especially are little mood pieces and impressionistic sketches with
here and there a bit of realism. Who, for example, is apt to forget
Essipoff's playing of the third "Moment" in Hungarian style, with a
long crescendo and diminuendo (the same effect used by Rubinstein,
when he played his arrangement of the "Turkish March" from Beethoven's
"Ruins of Athens"), so that it seemed as if a band of gypsies
approached from afar, danced by, and vanished in the distance?
Thoroughly modern is Schubert, a most modern of the moderns, whether
we listen to his original pianoforte compositions, or to the
Schubert-Liszt waltzes, or "Hark, Hark, the Lark," "To Be Sung on the
Water" (barcarolle) and other songs of his which have been arranged
for the pianoforte by Liszt.

Mendelssohn's "Songs Without Words."

Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, the musical idol of his day and now
correspondingly neglected, contributed to the romantic movement his
"Songs Without Words," short pieces for the pianoforte and aptly named
because their sustained melody clearly defined against a purposely
subordinated accompaniment gives them the character of songs, in the
popular meaning of the word. Mendelssohn was a fluent, gentlemanly
composer, whose music was readily understood and therefore attained
immediate popularity. But the very qualities that made it popular--its
smoothness and polish and its rather commonplace harmlessness--have
caused it to lose caste. The "Songs Without Words," however, still
occupy a place in the music master's curriculum, forming a graceful
and easily crossed bridge from classical to romantic music. I can
remember still, when, as a lad, I received from my music teacher my
first Mendelssohn "Song Without Words," the G minor barcarolle, how it
seemed to open up a new world of music to me. Many of these
compositions, which are unique in their way, still will be found to
possess much merit. That they are polished little pieces and poetic in
feeling almost goes without saying. The "Spring Song" may be one of
the most hackneyed of pianoforte pieces and the same may be true of
the "Spinning Song," but it is equally true that the former is as
graceful and charming as the latter is brilliant and showy. A tender
and expressive little lyric is the one in F major (No. 22), which
Joseffy frequently used as an encore and played with exquisite effect.
A group of Mendelssohn's "Songs Without Words" is never out of place
on a pianist's program. At least half a dozen of them, I think, are
apt to survive the vicissitudes of many years to come. Mendelssohn
wrote three sonatas, a "Sonata Ecossaies" (Scotch), several capriccios
and other pieces for the pianoforte, besides two pianoforte concertos,
of which the one in G minor is the stock selection of conservatory
pupils at their graduation exercises and later at their début. With it
they shoot the musical chutes.



I must ask the reader still to imagine that he is at a pianoforte
recital, although I frankly admit that I have been guilty of many
digressions, so that it must appear to him as if he had been
whisked from Mendelssohn Hall up to Carnegie Hall, then down to
the Metropolitan Opera House and back to Mendelssohn Hall again.
This, however, as I have sought to make clear before, is due to
the universality of the pianoforte as an instrument and to the
comprehensiveness of pianoforte music, which in itself illustrates
in great part the development of the art.

At this point, then, of our imaginary pianoforte recital there is
likely to be a group of compositions by Chopin; and the larger the
group, or the more groups by this composer on the program, the better
satisfied the audience is apt to be. Baker calls Frédéric Chopin
(1810-1849) the "incomparable composer for the pianoforte." But he was
more. He was an incomparable composer from every point of view, great,
unique, a tone poet, as well as the first composer who searched the
very soul of the instrument for which he specialized. Extraordinary as
is his significance for that instrument, his influence extends through
it into other realms of music, and his art is making itself felt to
this day in orchestra, opera and music-drama as well as in pianoforte
music. For he was an innovator in form, an intrepid adventurer in
harmony and a sublime singer of melody.

Tempo Rubato.

Before the pianist whose recital we are supposed to be attending will
have played many bars of the first piece in the Chopin group, the
individuality of this composer will become apparent. Melody will
pervade the recital hall like the fragrance of flowers. At the same
time there will be an iridescence not noticeable in any of the music
that preceded Chopin, and produced as if by cascades of jewels--those
remarkable ornamental notes which yet are not ornamental, but, in
spite of all their light and shade, and their play of changeable
colors, part of the great undercurrent of melody itself. Here we have
then, nearly at the very outset of the first Chopin piece, the famous
_tempo rubato_, so-called, which has been explained in various ways,
but which with Chopin really means that while the rhythm goes calmly
on with one hand, the other weaves a veil of iridescent notes around
the melodic idea. Liszt expressed it exactly when he said: "You see
that tree? Its leaves move to and fro in the wind and follow the
gentle motion of the air; but its trunk stands there immovable in its
form." Or the _tempo rubato_ is like a shower of petals from a tree in
full bloom; the firm outline of the tree, its foliage are there, while
we see the delicately tinted blossoms falling from the branches and
filling the air with color and fragrance; or like the myriad shafts
from the facets of a jewel, piercing in all directions while the
jewel itself remains immovable, the centre of its own rays; or like
the crisp ripple on a river, while the stream itself flows on in
majesty; or, in one or two passages when Chopin becomes a cynic, like
the twaddle of critics while the person they criticise calmly goes
about his mission.

The Soul of the Pianoforte.

What you will notice about these compositions of Chopin--and I say
"these compositions" deliberately, although I have not named any (for
it makes no difference what pieces of his are on the program, the
effect will be the same)--is the fact that in none of them is there
the slightest suggestion of anything but pianoforte music. Chopin's
great achievement so far as the pianoforte is concerned is the fact
that he liberated it completely from orchestral and choral influences,
and made it an instrument sufficient unto itself, brought it into its
own in all its beauty of tone and expression and enlarged its
capacity; sought out its soul and reproduced it in tone, as no other
composer had done before him or has done since. The recognition of the
true piano tone seems to have been instinctive with him. It appears in
his earliest works. Nothing he ever wrote suggests orchestra or voice.
For the beautiful singing quality he brings out in much of his music
is a singing quality which belongs to the noble instrument to which he
devoted himself. Not once while listening to a Chopin composition do
you think to yourself, as you do so often with classical works, like
the Beethoven sonatas, "How well this would sound on the orchestra!"
Yet Chopin is as sonorous, as passionate, as pleading, as melancholy
and as rich in effect, although he is played only on the black and
white keys of the pianoforte, as if he were given forth by a hundred
instrumentalists, so thoroughly did he understand the instrument for
which he wrote. He was the Wagner of the pianoforte.

A Clear Melodic Line.

What you will notice, too, about his music is the general distinctness
of his melody. There may be times, as in some of his arabesque
compositions, like the "F Minor Étude," when the effect is slightly
blurred. But this is done purposely, and as a rule there will be found
a clear melodic line running through everything he wrote. Combined
with this melody are weird, exquisite, entrancing harmonies, and those
showers of _tempo rubato_ notes which glitter like a veil of mist in
the sunlight and yet, although a veil, allow you to see what is
beneath it, like a delicate fabric which seems rather to emphasize and
reveal the very things it is intended to conceal.

Chopin was a Pole. He had the melancholy of his race, but also its
_verve_. Profoundly affected by his country's sorrow, he also had its
haughty spirit. In Paris, where he spent the most significant years of
his life, he was surrounded by the aristocracy of his own country who
were in exile, and by the aristocracy of the arts. Liszt speaks of an
evening at his salon where he met, besides some of the Polish
aristocrats, people like Heinrich Heine, Meyerbeer, Delacroix,
Nourrit, the tenor, and Bellini. Chopin admired Bellini's music, its
clear and beautiful melodiousness, and I myself think that Chopin's
melody often has Italian characteristics, although it is combined with
harmony that is German in its seriousness, but wholly Chopinesque in
all its essentials. In those numerous groups of ornamental, or rather
semi-ornamental, notes, so many of them chromatic, and all of them
usually designated by the technical term "passing notes," signifying
that they are merely incidental to the melody and to the harmonic
structure, there are nevertheless many that have far greater
importance than if they were merely "passing." It is in bringing out
this significance by slight accelerations and retards, by allowing a
few of them to flash out here while the others remain slightly veiled,
that the inspired Chopin player shows his true conception of what the
composer meant by _tempo rubato_.

It was Liszt, afterward the first to recognize Wagner, who was the
first to recognize Chopin. It was Liszt also who introduced him to
George Sand (Mme. Dudevant), the great passion of his life. Chopin was
the friend of many women. They adored his poetic nature, and there is
much in his music that is effeminate, delicate and sensitive; but
altogether too much has been made of this side of his art, and of
certain morbid pieces like some of the Nocturnes. The affair with
George Sand was not only a passion, but was a tragedy, and like all
such tragedies it left on his music the imprint of something deeper
and greater than mere delicacy and morbidity. Then, too, we have to
count with his patriotism and his sympathy with his struggling
country, and there is much more of the virile and heroic in his music
than either the average virtuoso or the average listener allows for.

The Études.

These contrasts in his music can readily be recognized when a great
pianist makes up the Chopin group on his program from the Études,
which are among the greatest compositions of all times, whether we
consider them as pianoforte music or as music in general. They touch
the soul in many places, and in many and varied ways, and they reflect
the alternate delicacy and daintiness of his genius as well as its
vigor and nobility. Suppose, for the sake of a brilliant beginning,
the virtuoso chooses to start off with the fifth, the so-called "Étude
on Black Keys," and flashes it in our eyes, making the pianoforte play
the part of a mirror held in the sunlight. This gives us one side of
Chopin's music, its brilliancy; and it is noticeable that while the
tempo of the piece is given as _vivace_, the style in which it is to
be played is indicated by the direction _brillante_.

If the pianist continues with the third Étude, we shall hear one of
the most tender and beautiful melodies that Chopin ever composed. Let
him follow this with number thirteen, the one in A flat major, and we
are reminded of what Schumann said, in his review of this book of
Études, in which he speaks of the A flat major as "an æolian harp,
possessed of all the musical scales, the hand of the artist causing
them all to intermingle in many varieties of fantastic embellishment,
yet in such a way as to leave everywhere audible a deep fundamental
tone and a soft continuously singing upper voice."

Schumann heard Chopin himself play this Étude, and he says that
whoever will play it in the way described will get the correct idea of
Chopin's performance. "But it would be an error to think that Chopin
permitted every one of the small notes to be distinctly heard. It was
rather an undulation of the A flat major chord here and there thrown
aloft anew by the pedal. Throughout all the harmonies one always heard
in great tones a wondrous melody, while once only in the middle of the
piece, besides that chief song, a tenor voice became prominent in the
midst of the chords. After the Étude, a feeling came over one as of
having seen in a dream a beatific picture which, when half awake, one
would gladly recall."

Vigor, Passion, and Impetus.

If now the pianist wishes to show by contrast Chopin in his full
vigor, passionate and impetuous, let him take the great C Minor Étude,
the twelfth, _Allegro con fuoco_. "Great in outline, pride, force and
velocity, it never relaxes its grim grip from the first shrill
dissonance to the overwhelming chordal close," says Huneker, adding
that "this end rings out like the crack of creation." It is supposed
to be an expression of the alternating wrath and despair with which
Chopin received the tidings of the taking of Warsaw by the Russians in
September, 1831, for it was shortly after this that the Étude was
composed. No wonder, to quote again from Huneker, that "all sweeps
along in tornadic passion."

A pianist hardly can go amiss in making his selection from the
twenty-seven Études, for the contrasts which he can effect are
obvious, and there is among these compositions not one which has not
its special merits. There is the tenth, of which Von Bülow said
whoever could play it in a really finished manner might congratulate
himself on having climbed to the highest point of the pianist's
Parnassus, and that the whole repertory of music for the pianoforte
does not contain a study of perpetual motion so full of genius and
fancy as this especial one is universally acknowledged to be,
excepting, possibly, Liszt's "Feux Follets." Then there is number
nineteen in C sharp minor, like a nocturne with the melody in the left
hand, with the right hand answering as a flute would a 'cello. For
contrast take number twenty-one, the so-called "Butterfly Étude"--a
wretched misnomer, because a pianist gifted with true musical
clairvoyance can work up such a gust of passion in this Étude that any
butterfly would be swept away as if by a hurricane. Nor, in order to
accomplish this, is it necessary to make such a bravura piece of the
Étude as so many pianists ignorantly do. We have, too, the "Winter
Wind Étude," in A minor, Opus 25, number eleven--the twenty-third in
the collection as usually published--planned on a grand scale and
carried out in a manner equal to the plan.

Von Bülow calls attention to the fact that, with all its sonorousness,
"the greatest fullness of sound imaginable," it nowhere trespasses
upon the domain of the orchestra, but remains pianoforte music in the
strictest sense of the word. "To Chopin," says Von Bülow, in referring
to this Étude, "is due the honor and credit of having set fast the
boundary between piano and orchestral music which, through other
composers of the romantic school, especially Robert Schumann, has been
defaced and blotted out, to the prejudice and damage of both species."
While agreeing with Von Bülow that Chopin was the great liberator of
the pianoforte, I cannot agree with the exception he takes to the
music of Robert Schumann. If he had referred back to the unpianistic
classical sonata form, he would have been more accurate.

The Préludes.

I have gone into some detail regarding these Études because I regard
them, as a whole, among the greatest of Chopin's works. But I once
heard Rubinstein play the entire set of twenty-four Préludes, and I
sometimes wonder, as one often does with the compositions of a great
genius, whether these Préludes, in spite of their comparative brevity,
should not be ranked as high as anything Chopin ever wrote. According
to tradition, they were composed during the winter of 1838, which
Chopin spent with George Sand at Majorca in the Balearic Islands. But
there is authority for saying that they received only the finishing
touches there, and are in fact the gleanings of his portfolios.

It seems as if in these twenty-four pieces every phase of human
emotion were brought out. If my memory is correct, Rubinstein played
them as a solo group at a Philharmonic concert, or he may have given
them about the same time at one of his recitals. It was in 1872; and
while after this long lapse of time it is impossible to remember every
detail of his performance, I shall never forget the exquisite
tenderness with which he played the very brief Prélude in A major, the
seventh. He simply caressed the keyboard, touched it as if his fingers
were tipped with velvet; and though into the other compositions of the
series he put, according as their character varied, an immense amount
of passion, or more subdued emotion, I can still hear this seventh
Prélude sounding in my memory, note for note and bar for bar, as he
rendered it--a prolonged, tremulous whisper. Schumann regarded the
Préludes as most remarkable, saying that "in every piece we find in
his own hand 'Frédéric Chopin wrote it.' One recognizes him in his
pauses, in his quick-coming breath. He is the boldest, the proudest
poet-soul of his time."

Each number in the series is complete in itself, a mood picture; but
the series as a whole, in its collection of moods, its panorama of
emotions, represents the entire range of Chopin's art. The fourth in E
minor, covering only a page, is one of the most pathetic plaints ever
penned. The fifteenth in D flat major, with its continual reiteration
of the dominant, like the incessant drip of rain on a roof, is a
nocturne--Chopin in one of his morbid moments; while the eighteenth in
F minor is as bold a piece of dramatic recitative as though it had
been lifted bodily out of a music-drama. And so we might run the whole
range of the collection, finding each admirable in itself, yet
different from all the others. What a group for a recital these
twenty-four Préludes make!


If Chopin had not written the Nocturnes I doubt if those who play and
those who comment on him would err so often in attributing such an
excess of morbidness to him as they do, or lay the charge of
effeminacy against him. Morbid these Nocturnes undoubtedly are in many
parts, and yet they often rise to the dignity of elegy, and sometimes
even of tragedy. Exquisitely melodious they are, too, and full of the
haunting mystery of night. The one in C sharp minor, Opus 27, No. 1,
is perhaps the most dramatic of the series, and Henry T. Finck, in his
Chopin essay, is entirely within bounds when he says that it embodies
a greater variety of emotion and more genuine dramatic spirit on four
pages than many operas on four hundred. There are greater nocturnes
than the one in G, Opus 37, No. 2, but I must nevertheless regard it
as the most beautiful of all. It may bewitch and unman the player, as
Niecks has said, but, on the other hand, I think its second melody,
like a Venetian barcarolle breathed through the moonlight, is the most
exquisite thing Chopin ever composed; and note how, without any
undulating accompaniment, its rhythm nevertheless produces a gentle
wavy effect.

Probably the most familiar of all the Nocturnes is the one in E flat,
the second in the first set, Opus 9. It has been played so much that
unless it is interpreted in a perfect manner it comes perilously near
to being hackneyed; but under the hands of a great pianist, who
unites with absolute independence of all his ten fingers, the soul of
a poet, it becomes an iridescent play of color, with a sombre picture
of melancholy seen through the iridescence. Remenyi played a violin
arrangement of it with such delicacy and so much poetry of feeling
that he actually reconciled one to its transfer from the pianoforte to
the soprano instrument of four strings.

Chopin and Poe.

John Field, an Irish composer (1782-1837), was the first to compose
nocturnes, and it is not unlikely that Chopin got the pattern from
him. Occasionally at historical recitals one hears a nocturne by John
Field; but I think that if even those who love to question the
originality of great men were familiar with the nocturnes of Field,
they would realize how far Chopin went beyond him, making out of a
small type an art form of such poetic content that, in spite of Field
having been first in the lists, Chopin may be said to have originated
the form. Naturally, Field did not relish seeing himself supplanted by
this greater genius, and he said of Chopin that he composed music for
a sick-room, and had "a talent of the hospital." On recital programs
Chopin's nocturnes often appear, and, when played by a master like
Paderewski, who is sensitive to every shade of Chopin's genius, they
are heard with an exquisite feeling of sorrow. In these Nocturnes,
Chopin always seems to me like Edgar Allan Poe in "Ullalume" or in
"Annabel Lee"--and was not Poe one of the only two American poets of
real genius?

Waltzes and Mazurkas.

A Chopin waltz will admirably afford contrast in a group of Chopin
pieces on a recital program. Possibly the waltzes are the most
frequently played by amateurs of all Chopin's compositions. But, to
perpetrate an Irish bull, even those that have been played to death
still are very much alive. It was Schumann who said that if these
waltzes were to be played for dancing more than half the dancers
should be Countesses, the music is so aristocratic. Indeed, to listen
to these waltzes is like looking at a dance through a fairy lens. They
seem to be improvisations of the pianist during a dance, and to
reflect the thoughts that arise in the player's mind as he looks on,
giving out the rhythm with the left hand, while the melody and the
ornamental note-groups indicate his fancies--love, a jealous plaint,
joy, ecstasy, and the tender whispering of enamored couples as they
glide past. The slow A minor "Waltz," with its viola-like left-hand
melody, was Chopin's favorite, and he was so pleased when Stephen
Heller told him that it was his favorite one, too, that he invited him
to luncheon. (Strange that we always should regard food as the most
appropriate reward of artistic sympathy!) Each waltz, with the
exception of some of the posthumous ones, has its individual charm,
but to me the most beautiful is the one in C sharp minor, with its
infinite expression of longing in its leading theme and its remarkable
chromatic descent before the brilliant right-hand passage that follows
in the second episode. These chromatics should be emphasized, as they
are a feature of the passage and form gems of harmonization. But few
pianists seem to appreciate their significance and pay sole attention
to bringing out the upper voice.

Thoroughly characteristic of Chopin, thoroughly in keeping with his
Polish nationality and its traditions, are the Mazurkas--jewels of
music, full of the finest feeling, the most delicate harmonization,
and with a dash and spirit entirely their own. Weitzmann truly says
that they are the most faithful and animated pictures of his nation
which Chopin has left us, and that they are masterpieces of their
class: "Here he stands forth in his full originality as the head of
the romantic school of music; in them his novel and alluring melodic
and harmonic progressions are even more surprising than in his larger

Liszt on the Mazurkas.

Liszt, too, pauses to pay his tribute to them: "Some portray foolhardy
gaiety in the sultry and oppressive air of a ball, and on the eve of a
battle; one hears the low sighs of parting, whose sobs are stifled by
sharp rhythms of the dance. Others portray the grief of the sorely
anxious soul amid festivities, whose tumult is unable to drown the
profound woe of the heart. Others, again, show the tears, premonitions
and struggles of a broken heart, devoured by jealousy, sorrowing over
its loss, but repressing the curse. Now we are surrounded by a
swirling frenzy, pierced by an ever-recurring palpitating melody like
the anxious beating of a loving but rejected heart; and anon distant
trumpet calls resound like dim memories of bygone fame." All this is
very fine, although a trifle over-sentimental. The fact is that the
Chopin Mazurkas are archly coquettish, passionately pleading, full of
delicate banter, love, despair and conquest--and always thoroughly
original and thoroughly interesting. In fact Chopin never is
commonplace. A Mazurka or two will add zest to any group of his works
on a recital program.

The Polonaises are Chopin's battle-hymns. The roll of drums, the
booming of cannon, the rattle of musketry and the plaint for the
dead--all these things one may hear in some of these compositions. The
mourning notes, however, are missing from the "A Major Polonaise,"
Opus 40, and usually called "Le Militaire." It is not a large canvas,
but it is heroic and one of the most virile of all his works. It was
of this polonaise Chopin said that if he could play it as it should be
played, he would break all the strings of the pianoforte before he had

Other Works.

And then the Ballades and the Scherzos. These are perhaps Chopin's
greatest contributions to the music of the pianoforte. They are
wonderfully original, wonderfully emotional, yet never to the point of
morbidness, full of his original harmonies, fascinating rhythms and
glow. In the Scherzos he is not gaily abandoned, as the title would
suggest, but often grim and mocking--tragedy mocking itself.

Chopin also wrote Sonatas--felt himself obliged to, perhaps, because
he was writing for the pianoforte, because pianoforte music still was
in the grip of the thirty-two Beethoven pianoforte sonatas. By no
means did he adhere to the classical form; yet these three sonatas are
not to be counted among his most successful compositions. One of them,
the B flat minor, contains the familiar funeral march which has been
said to "give forth the pain and grief of an entire nation"--Chopin's
nation, sorrowing Poland; and, indeed, the middle episode, the trio of
the march, is pathetic to the verge of tears, while in the other
portions the march progresses to the grave amid the tolling of bells
and the heavy tramp of soldiery. It is played and played, possibly
played too much; and yet, when well played, never misses leaving a
deep impression. Because people will persist in "playing" certain
popular pieces, there is no reason these should not be enjoyed when
interpreted by a master. There is a vast difference between
interpretation and mere "playing."

This funeral march is followed in the sonata by a finale which aptly
enough has been described as night winds sweeping over graves. The
funeral march often is played at recitals as a detached piece. I
cannot see why pianists do not add this finale, which has real
psychological connection with it. The "Berceuse," a "Barcarolle," two
"Concertos for Piano and Orchestra," which often are slightingly
spoken of, and most unjustly, since they are full of beautiful melody
and most grateful to play--beyond these it does not seem necessary to
go here, unless, perhaps, to mention the Impromptus, which are full of
the most delightful _chiaroscuro_, and the great F minor "Fantaisie."

A Noble from Head to Foot.

Because Chopin wrote only for the pianoforte, because as a rule his
pieces are not long, his greatness was not at first recognized. The
conservatives seemed to think no man could be great unless he wrote
sonatas in four movements for the piano and symphonies for the
orchestra, unless he composed for fifty or sixty instruments instead
of for only one. But although Jumbo was large, he was not accounted
beautiful, and worship of the big is a mistaken kind of reverence.
Chopin's briefest mazurka is worth infinitely more than many sonatas
that cover many pages. This composer was a tone poet of the highest
order. While to-day we regard him mainly as the interpreter of beauty,
in his own day he was an innovator, a reformer and, like his own
Poles, a revolutionist. The pianoforte--the pianoforte as a solo
instrument--sufficed for his most beautiful dreams, for his most
passionate longings. Bie, in his "History of the Pianoforte and
Pianoforte Players," tells us that Chopin smiled when he heard that
Czerny had composed another overture for eight pianos and sixteen
persons, and was very happy over it. "Chopin," adds Bie, "opened to
the two hands a wider world than Czerny could give to thirty-two."

Rubinstein, as quoted by Huneker, apostrophizes him as "the piano
bard, the piano rhapsodist, the piano mind, the piano soul.... Tragic,
romantic, virile, heroic, dramatic, fantastic, soulful, sweet, dreamy,
brilliant, grand, simple--all possible expressions are found in his
compositions and all are sung by him upon his instrument." Huneker
himself says: "In Chopin's music there are many pianists, many
styles, and all are correct if they are poetically musical, logical
and individually sincere." Best of all, he enlarged the scope for
individual expression in music. Once for all, he got pianoforte music
away from the set form of the classical sonata. "He was sincere, and
his survival when nearly all of Mendelssohn, much of Schumann, and
half of Berlioz have suffered an eclipse, is proof positive of his
vitality."--Thus again Huneker. Bie says, in summing up his position,
that his greatness is his aristocracy; that "he stands among
musicians, in his faultless vesture, a noble from head to foot." But,
above all, he is a searcher of the human soul, and, because he
searched it out on the pianoforte, is he therefore less great than if
he had drawn it out on the strings, piped it on the reeds, blown it
through the tubes and battered it on the drumheads of the orchestra?



Having finished with his Chopin group, the pianist is apt to follow it
with his Schumann selections, and we meet with another original
musical genius. Robert Schumann was born at Zwickau in June, 1810. His
father was a book publisher and was in hopes that the son would show
literary aptitude. In fact, the elder Schumann discouraged Robert's
musical aspirations; and as a result, instead of receiving early in
life a systematic musical training, his education was along other
lines. He studied law at Leipzig in 1828 and in Heidelberg in 1829,
and was thus what is rare among musicians--a composer with an academic

His meeting with the celebrated pianoforte teacher, Frederick Wieck,
the Leschetitzki of his day, determined Schumann to enter upon a
musical career. Wieck took him into his home in Leipzig and he studied
the pianoforte with a view of becoming a virtuoso. In order to gain
greater freedom in fingering, he devised a mechanical apparatus by
which one finger was suspended in a sling while the others played upon
the keyboard. Unfortunately, through the use of this contrivance he
strained the tendons of one hand and his dream of a virtuoso's career
vanished. Meanwhile he had fallen in love with his teacher's
daughter, Clara Wieck, and finally, after determined opposition on the
part of her father, married her in 1840. Later in life a brain trouble
from which he had suffered intermittently became more severe, and in
February, 1854, he became possessed of the idea that Schubert's spirit
had appeared to him and given him a theme to work out. He abruptly
left the room in which he was sitting with some friends in his house
at Düsseldorf and threw himself into the Rhine. Some boatmen rescued
him from drowning, but he had to be taken to an asylum near Bonn,
where he died in July, 1856.

These circumstances in his life are mentioned here not only because of
their interest, but because they explain some aspects of his music.
Schumann was of a brooding disposition, intensely introspective.
Compared with Chopin, his music lacks iridescence and shows a want of
brilliancy. This will be immediately apparent if at a recital a
pianist places the Schumann pieces after a Chopin group, as he is apt
to do for the sake of the very contrast which they afford. But if
Schumann's compositions are wanting in superficially attractive
brightness, they more than make up for it in their profounder
characteristics. All through them one seems to hear a deep-sounding
tone. One might say that his works for the keyboard instrument are
pianoforte music for the viola, and for that reason they appear to me
so expressive and so appealing. The harmonies are wonderfully compact.
One feels after striking a Schumann chord like stiffening the fingers
in order to hold it down more firmly, keep a grip on it, and let it
sound to its last echo.

Poet, Bourgeois, and Philosopher.

In Schumann's music the sensitive listener will find a curious
blending of poet, bourgeois, and philosopher. He had the higher
fancy, the warmth of the poet, a bourgeois love of what was
intimate and homely, and the introspection of the philosopher.
Sometimes he is so introspective that he appears to me actually to be
burrowing in harmony like a mole. The melodies are interwoven;
sometimes the upper voice flutters lightly down upon "contrapuntal
collisions in the bass"; frequently his rhythms are syncopated;
melodies are superimposed upon each other; he uses "imitations,"
canonic figuration, and often by introducing a single note foreign
to the scale, suddenly lowers or lifts an entire passage. There
are interior voices in his music, half suppressed, yet making
themselves heard now and then above the principal melody. He loves
"anticipations"--advancing a single note or a few notes of the
harmony and then filling in the sustained tone or tones with what
was at first lacking. These characteristics are so marked that it is
as easy to recognize Schumann as it is to distinguish Chopin in the
first few bars of a work by either. Each is _sui generis_, each
has his own hallmark, and it is a great thing in music, as in other
arts, to have one's product so personal that there can be no
mistaking whose it is.

Schumann made valuable contributions to so-called program music. His
pieces, besides intrinsic musical worth, have a distinct meaning,
usually indicated by the titles he gives them. And these titles
themselves often are suggested by the works of authors whom he
admired, or hark back to certain fanciful figures like harlequins and
columbines. His second work for the pianoforte, "The Papillons,"
derived its inspiration from the poet, Jean Paul, who was at that time
an object of his intense worship. But whoever expects to find
butterflies fluttering through these Schumann pieces will be mistaken.
They are rather symbols of thoughts still in the chrysalis state and
waiting, like butterflies, to cast off the shell and gain air and
freedom. This symbolism must be borne in mind in listening to "The

Schumann himself said, in a general way, regarding his programmatic
intentions in this and other works, that the titles given to his music
should be taken very much like the titles of poems, and that, as in
the case of poems, the music in itself should be beautiful,
irrespective of title or printed explanation. This is true of all
program music that has survived. It will be found beautiful in itself;
but it also is easy to discover that the titles and explanations which
are calculated to place the hearer in certain receptive moods vastly
add to his enjoyment.

"Carnaval" and "Kreisleriana."

I am always glad when a pianist elects to place the Schumann
"Carnaval" on his program, because it is so characteristic of the
composer's method of work and of his writing short pieces _en suite_,
giving a separate name to each of his diversions yet uniting them into
one composition by means of a comprehensive title. The complete title
to this work is "Carnaval Scènes Mignonnes sur Quatre Notes pour
Piano, Op. 9." The four notes are A S C H, and in explanation it
should be said that in German S (es) is E flat, and H the B of our
musical scale. Asch was the birthplace of Ernestine von Fricken, one
of Schumann's early loves. Three of the divisions of the "Carnaval"
are entitled Florestan, Eusebius, and March of the Davidsbündler.
Schumann had founded the "Neue Zeitschrift für Musik," and he
contributed to it under the noms-de-plume of Florestan, Eusebius and
Raro; while his associates were denominated the Davidsbündler, it
being their mission to combat and put to flight the old fogies of
music, as David had the Philistines. Schumann himself is the looker-on
at this carnival, a thinker wandering through the gay whirl, drawing
his own conclusions, and noting down in music the varied figures as
they pass, and his reflections on them. We meet Chopin and Paganini,
each neatly characterized; Chiarina (the Italian diminutive of Clara)
and Estrella (none other than Ernestine herself); also Harlequin,
Pantalon, and Columbine. The Davidsbündler march in to the strains of
the German folk-song,

    "Grandfather wedded my grandmother dear,
    So grandfather then was a bridegroom, I fear,"

and the whole ends in a merry uproar. He wrote another carnival suite,
Opus 26, the "Faschingschwank aus Wien," in which he introduced a
suggestion of the "Marseillaise," which was at that time forbidden to
be played in Vienna.

The title of another work which ranks among his finest productions,
the "Kreisleriana," also requires explanation. This he derived from a
book by E. T. A. Hoffmann, who sometimes is spoken of as the German
Poe, although he lacks the exquisite art of the American author--in
fact, is a Poe bound up in much heavy German philosophy and turgid
introspection. The _Kreisler_ of Hoffmann's book is an exuberant
sentimentalist, and is said to have had his prototype in Kapellmeister
Ludwig Böhner, who, after a brilliant early career, had become
addicted to drink and was reduced to maudlin memories of his former
triumphs. In Hoffmann's book there is a contrast drawn between this
pathetic character, whose ideals have become shadows which he vainly
chases, and the prosaic views of life as set forth by another
character _Kater Murr_ (literally _Tomcat Purr_). But these
"Kreisleriana," of which Bie says "the joys and sorrows expressed in
these pieces were never put into form with more sovereign power,"
should be entitled "Schumanniana," for although the title is derived
from Hoffmann, the content is Schumann.

Thoughts of His Clara.

Concerning the work as a whole he wrote to Clara while in the throes
of composition: "This music now in me, and always such beautiful
melodies! Think of it, since my last letter to you I have another
entire book of new things ready. I intend to call them 'Kreisleriana,'
and in them you and a thought of you play the chief rôle, and I shall
dedicate them to you. Yes, they belong to you as to no one else, and
how sweetly you will smile when you find yourself in them! My music
seems to me so wonderfully interwoven, in spite of all its simplicity,
and speaking right from the heart. It has that effect upon all for
whom I play these things, as I now do gladly and often." If Clara and
a thought of Clara play the chief rôle, what becomes of _Kreisler_ and
_Kater Murr_? Surely "Kreisleriana" are Schumanniana.

Full of varied characteristics are the "Fantasie Pieces." Among these
is the familiar "Warum," which one has but to hear to recognize at
once that it is no ordinary Why, but a question upon the answer to
which depends the happiness of a lifetime; "At Evening" (_Abends_),
with its sense of perfect peace; the buoyant "Soaring" (_Aufschwung_);
"Whims" (_Grillen_); "Night Scene," an echo of the legend of Hero and
Leander; the fable, "Dream-Whirls" (_Traumeswirren_) and the "End of
the Song," with its mingling of humor and sadness. These "Fantasie
Pieces" and the aptly named "Novelettes" seem destined always to
retain their popularity. And then there are the "Scenes from
Childhood," to which belongs the "Träumerei"; the "Forest Scenes," the
"Sonatas;" the heroic technical studies, based on the Paganini
"Capriccios," and the "Études Symphoniques," and the "Fantasie," above
the first movement of which he placed these lines from Schlegel:

    "Through every tone there passes,
    To him who deigns to list,
    In varied earthly dreaming,
      A tone of gentleness."

Clara was the "tone," as he told her. It was largely through Madame
Schumann's public playing of her husband's works that they won
their way. Even so, owing to their lack of brilliancy and their
introspection, they were long in coming to their own. But the best
of them, including, of course, the admirable "A Minor Concerto," long
will retain their hold on the modern pianist's repertoire. William
Mason went to Leipzig in 1849. "Only a few years before I arrived at
Leipzig," he says in his "Memories," "Schumann's genius was so little
appreciated that when he entered the store of Breitkopf & Härtel
with a new manuscript under his arm, the clerks would nudge one
another and laugh. One of them told me that they regarded him as a
crank and a failure because his pieces remained on the shelf and
were in the way. * * * Shortly after my return from Germany (to New
York) I went to Breusing's, then one of the principal music stores
in the city,--the Schirmers are his successors,--and asking for
certain compositions by Schumann, I was informed that they had his
music in stock, but as there was no demand for it, it was packed away
in a bundle, and kept in the basement." What a contrast now!



It is possible, but not likely, that some pianist willing, for the
moment at least, to sacrifice outward success to inward satisfaction,
will, after he has played the Schumann selections on his program,
essay one of Brahms's shorter pianoforte compositions. These are even
more introspective than Schumann's works and combine a wealth of
learning with great depth of musical feeling. It is almost necessary,
however, that one should know them thoroughly in order to appreciate
them, and audiences have been so slow to welcome them that they appear
but infrequently on recital programs. Those of my readers, however,
who are pianists yet still unacquainted with these rare and beautiful
compositions, will soon find themselves under the spell of their
intimate personal expression if they will get them and start to learn
them. The Brahms Variations on a theme by Händel make a stupendous
work, and the rare occasions on which it is played by any one capable
of mastering it should be regarded as "events."

Grieg, with his clear, fascinating Norwegian clang-tints, which
also play through his fascinating "Concerta" in A minor; Dvorak,
the Bohemian; Tschaikowsky, whose first "Concerto" in B flat minor
is among the finest modern works of its kind; or some of the
neo-Russians, are composers who may figure on the program of a
modern pianoforte recital. But it is more likely that the virtuoso
will here elect to bring his recital to a close with some work by the
grandest figure in the history of pianoforte playing and one of the
greatest in the history of composition--Franz Liszt.

Kissed by Beethoven.

Liszt was born at Raiding, near Odenburg in Hungary, in October, 1811,
and he died in Bayreuth in July, 1886. From early boyhood, when he was
a pianoforte prodigy, almost until his death, he occupied a unique
position in the musical world. He was the Paganini of the pianoforte,
the greatest pianist that ever lived, and he was a great composer; and
although, as a virtuoso, he retired from public performances long
before he died, his fame as a player and his still greater fame as a
composer have not diminished and his influence still is potent.

His father was an amateur, and began giving him instruction when he
was six years old. The boy's talent was so pronounced that even
without professional instruction he was able, when he was nine years
old, to appear in public and play a difficult concerto by Ries. So
great was his success that his father arranged for other concerts at
Pressburg. After the second of these, several Hungarian noblemen
agreed to provide an annual stipend of 600 florins for six years for
Franz's further musical education. The family then removed to Vienna,
where, for about a year and a half, the boy took pianoforte lessons
from Czerny and theory with Salieri. Beethoven heard of him, and asked
to see him, and at their meeting, after Franz had played, without
notes and without the other instruments, Beethoven's pianoforte trio,
Op. 97 (the large one in B flat major), the great master embraced and
kissed him. In 1823 he was taken to Paris with a view to being placed
in the Conservatoire. But although he passed his examination without
difficulty, Cherubini, at that time the director of the institution
and prejudiced against infant phenomena, revived a rule excluding
foreigners and admission was denied him.

His success as a pianist, however, was enormous and there was the
greatest demand in salons and musical circles for "le petit Litz." (As
some writer, whose name I cannot recall, has said, "the nearest Paris
came to appreciating Liszt was to call him 'Litz.'") He was the friend
of Chopin, of other musicians, and of painters and literary men, and
the doors of the most exclusive drawing-rooms of the French capital
were open to him. Paganini played in Paris in 1831, and his wonderful
feats of technique inspired Liszt to efforts to develop the technique
of the pianoforte with as much daring as Paganini had shown in
developing the capacity of the violin. This was the beginning of those
wonderful feats of virtuosity as well as of the remarkable technical
demands made in his compositions, both of which combined have done so
much to make the pianoforte what it is, and to bring out its full
potentiality as regards execution and expression.

Episode with Countess D'Agoult.

For a time Liszt left Paris with the Countess d'Agoult, who wrote
under the nom-de-plume of Daniel Stern, and who was the mother of his
three children, of whom Cosima became the wife, first of Von Bülow and
then of Wagner. His four years with the Countess he passed in Geneva.
Twice, however, he came forth from this retirement to cross the sword
of virtuosity with and vanquish his only serious rival in pianoforte
playing, Sigismund Thalberg, a brilliant player and a man, like Liszt
himself, of fascinating personality, but lacking the Hungarian's
intellectual capacity. In 1829, he and Countess d'Agoult having
separated, he began his triumphal progress through Europe, and for the
following ten years the world rang with his fame. He then settled down
as Court Conductor at Weimar, which became the headquarters of the new
romantic movement in Germany. Hardly a person of distinction in music
or any of the other arts passed through the town without a visit to
the Altenburg, to pay his respects to Liszt. At Weimar, "Lohengrin"
had its first performance; here Berlioz's works found a hearing; here
everything new in music that also was meritorious was made welcome.
Liszt's activity at Weimar continued until 1859, when he left there on
account of the hostility displayed to the production of Cornelius's
opera, "The Barber of Bagdad," and its resultant failure. He remained
away from Weimar for eleven years, living for the most part in Rome,
until 1870, when he was invited to conduct the Beethoven festival and
re-established cordial relations with the Court. Thereafter he
divided his year between Rome, Buda-Pest, where he had been made
President of the new Hungarian Academy of Music, and Weimar.

"Liszt, the artist and the man," says Baker, in his "Biographical
Dictionary of Musicians," "is one of the grand figures in the history
of music. Generous, kindly and liberal-minded, whole-souled in his
devotion to art, superbly equipped as an interpreter of classic and
romantic works alike, a composer of original conceptions and daring
execution, a conductor of marvellous insight, worshipped as teacher
and friend by a host of disciples, reverenced and admired by his
fellow-musicians, honored by institutions of learning and by
potentates as no artist before or since, his influence, spread by
those whom he personally taught and swayed, will probably increase
rather than diminish as time goes on."

It has been said that Liszt passed through six lives in the course of
his existence--only three less than a cat. As "petit Litz" he was the
precocious child adored of Paris; as a youth, he plunged into the
early romanticism which united the devotees of various branches of art
in the French capital: next came the episode with the Countess
d'Agoult; then his triumphal tours through Europe; settling at Weimar,
he became the centre of the modern musical movement in Europe;
finally, he revolved in a cycle through Rome, Buda-Pest and Weimar,
followed from place to place by a band of devotees.

Liszt's compositions for the pianoforte may be classified as follows:
"Fantasies Dramatiques"; "Années de Pèlerinage"; "Harmonies Poetiques
et Religieuses"; the Sonata, Concertos, Études, and miscellaneous
works; "Rhapsodies Hongroises"; arrangements and transcriptions from
Berlioz, Beethoven, Weber, Paganini, Schubert and others.

The Don Juan Fantasie.

Among the "Fantasies Dramatiques," which are variations on themes from
operas, not mere potpourris or transcriptions, but genuine fantasies,
and usually based on one or two themes only, the best known is the
"Don Juan Fantasie." It is founded upon the duet, "La ci darem la
mano." Liszt utilizes a passage from the overture as an introduction,
then gives the entire duet, varying it, however, not in set form, but
with the effect of a brilliant fantasia, and then winds up the whole
with a presto on the "Champagne Song." It is true it no longer is
Mozart--but Mozart might be glad if it were. It is even possible that
the time will come when "Don Giovanni" will have vanished from the
operatic stage, yet be remembered by this brilliant fantasia of
Liszt's. It is one of the great _tours de force_ of pianoforte music,
and it is good music as well. Another of the better known "Fantasies
Dramatiques" is the one Liszt made from "Norma," in which occurs a
long sustained trill and a melody for the right hand, while the left
plays another melody and the accompaniment to the whole. In other
words, there is in this passage a trill sustained throughout, two
melodies and the accompaniment, all going on at the same time, yet
written with such perfect knowledge of pianoforte technique that any
virtuoso worthy of the name as used in a modern sense, can compass

A work called the "Hexameron" is included in catalogues of Liszt's
compositions, although he only contributed part of it. It is the march
from Bellini's "Puritani" with six variations, written by six pianists
and originally played by them on six pianofortes, five of them full
grands, while Chopin, whose variation was not of the bravura, kind,
sat at a two-stringed semi-grand. Liszt contributed the introduction,
the connecting links and the finale of the "Hexameron."

The "Années de Pèlerinage" were published in three divisions,
extending in point of time from 1835 to 1883. They are a series of
musical impressions, as the titles indicate--"Au lac de Wallenstadt,
Pastoral," "Au bord d'une source, Sposalizio" (after Raphael's
picture in the Brera), "Il Penseroso" (after Michael Angelo). Many of
these are adroit and elegant in the treatment of the pianoforte, and
at the same time beautiful as music. The "Harmonies" are partly
transcriptions of his own vocal pieces, partly musical illustrations
to poems. Among them is the familiar "Cantique d'Amour," and the
"Benediction de Dieu dans la solitude," of which he himself was very
fond. William Mason says that at the Altenburg a copy of it always was
lying on the pianoforte, "which Liszt had used so many times when
playing for his guests that it became associated with memories of
Berlioz, Rubinstein, Vieuxtemps, Wieniawski, Joachim." When Mr. Mason
left Weimar he took this copy with him as a souvenir, still has it,
and treasures it all the more for the marks of usage which it
bears. The "Consolations," which, as Edward Dannreuther says, may be
taken as corollaries to the "Harmonies," are tenderly expressive
pianoforte pieces.

Giant Strides in Virtuosity.

The Études bear the dates 1827, 1839 and 1852, and as they are in the
main progressive editions of the same pieces, they represent the
history of pianoforte technique as it developed under Liszt's own
fingers. In their earliest shape when issued in 1827, they were but
little different from the classical Études of Czerny and Cramer. In
their latest shape they form the extreme of virtuosity. Indeed, these
three editions are three giant strides in the development of
pianoforte technique. Von Bülow's coupling of the Étude called "Feux
Follets" with the A flat study (No. 10) of Chopin already has been
quoted under that composer. He considered it even more difficult.
Schumann called the collection "Sturm und Graus Etuden" (Studies of
Storm and Dread), and expressed the opinion that there were only ten
or twelve pianists living who could play them. In the Étude called
"Waldesrauschen" will be found some ingenious double counterpoint. The
theme is divided into two portions, a descending and ascending one,
which later on appear together, with first one and then the other
uppermost. Other titles among the Études are "Paysage," "Mazeppa" (a
tremendous test of endurance), "Vision," "Chasse-neige," "Harmonies de
Soir" and "Gnomentanz." Through Liszt's transcriptions of some of the
Paganini pieces in the form of Études, which include the famous "Bell
Rondo" from one of the Paganini concertos, this piece, for example,
now is far better known as a pianoforte composition than in its
original form for violin.

Sonata, Concertos and Rhapsodies.

The "Sonata in B Minor" dedicated to Schumann is one of the few
sonatas in which there is psychological unity throughout. This is
due to the fact that it is one movement; although by employing
various themes both in rapid and in slow time, Liszt has given it a
certain aspect of division into movements. It might well serve as a
model to younger composers who think they have to write sonatas.
Dannreuther, it is true, says of it that it is "a curious compound
of true genius and empty rhetoric," but admits that it contains
enough of genuine impulse and originality in the themes of the
opening section, and of suave calm in the melody of the section that
stands for the slow movement, to secure the hearer's attention. Mr.
Hanchett's characterization of it as one of the most masterly
compositions ever put into this form--a gigantic, wholly admirable and
original work--is more just.

The two pianoforte concertos (in E flat and A major) are superb works.
Not only are they written with all the skill which Liszt knew so well
how to apply when composing for the instrument, but with this
technical perfection they also unite thought and feeling. Like the
sonata, they show throughout their development the psychological unity
which is so essentially modern. What the pianoforte owes to Chopin and
Liszt can be summed up by saying that they were poets and thinkers
who took the trouble to thoroughly understand the instrument. Because
their music sounds so well on it, at least one of them, Liszt,
frequently is stigmatized as a trickster of virtuosity and a
charlatan, as if there were some wonderful mark of genius in writing
something for one instrument that sounds better on another or may not
sound as well as it ought to on any. If Liszt's pianoforte music is
grateful to the player and equally grateful to the listener, it is not
only because he knew how to write for the pianoforte, but because,
with deep thoughts and poetic feelings, he also understood how to
express them clearly and pianistically.

The "Rhapsodies Hongroises" are of such dazzling brilliancy and show
off a pianist's technique to such good purpose and so brilliantly,
that their real musical worth has been under-estimated. They are
full of splendid fire, vitality and passion, and their rhythmic throb
is simply irresistible. Like the Études, their history is curious.
At first they were merely short transcriptions of Hungarian tunes.
These were elaborated and republished and canceled, and then
rewritten and published again. In all there are fifteen pieces in
the set, ending with the "Rakoczy March." As "Ungarische Melodien"
they began to appear in 1838; as "Melodies Hongroises" in 1846; as
"Rhapsodies Hongroises" in 1854. Consider that they are over fifty
years old, yet remain the greatest pieces for the display of brilliant
technique and the most grateful works for which a pianist can ask,
and that at the same time they are full of admirable musical
content! Because they happen to be brilliant and effective they are
called trashy, whereas they owe their brilliancy and effectiveness
to Liszt's own transcendent virtuosity, to his knowledge of the
pianoforte. In order to be great must music be "classic," heavy and
dull, and badly written for the instrument on which it is to be

How Liszt Played.

In those charming reminiscences from which I already have had occasion
to quote several times, William Mason's "Memories of a Musical Life,"
Mr. Mason says that time and again at Weimar he heard Liszt play, and
that there is absolutely no doubt in his mind that Liszt was the
greatest pianist of the nineteenth century, what the Germans call an
_Erscheinung_, an epoch-making genius. Tausig said of him: "Liszt
dwells alone upon a solitary mountain-top and none of us can approach
him." Rubinstein said to Mr. William Steinway, in the year 1873 (I
quote from Mason): "Put all the rest of us together and we would not
make one Liszt." While Mr. Mason willingly acknowledges that there
have been other great pianists, some of them now living, he adds: "But
I must dissent from those writers who affirm that any of these can be
placed upon a level with Liszt. Those who make this assertion are too
young to have heard Liszt other than in his declining years, and it is
unjust to compare the playing of one who has long since passed his
prime with that of one who is still in it."

Edward Dannreuther, who heard Liszt play from 1863 onward, says that
there was about his playing an air of improvisation and the expression
of a grand and fine personality, perfect self-possession, grace,
dignity and never-failing fire; that his tone was large and
penetrating, but not hard, every effect being produced naturally and
easily. Dannreuther adds that he has heard performances, it may be of
the same pieces, by younger men, such as Rubinstein and Tausig, but
that they left an impression as of Liszt at second-hand or of Liszt
past his prime. "None of his contemporaries or pupils were so
spontaneous, individual and convincing in their playing; and none
except Tausig so infallible with their fingers and wrists."

Liszt himself paid this superb tribute to the pianoforte as an
instrument: "To me my pianoforte is what to the seaman is his boat, to
the Arab his horse; nay, more, it has been till now my eye, my speech,
my life. Its strings have vibrated under my passions and its yielding
keys have obeyed my every caprice. It may be that the secret tie which
binds me to it so closely is a delusion, but I hold the pianoforte
very high. In my view, it takes the first place in the hierarchy of
instruments. It is the oftenest used and the widest spread. In the
circumference of its seven octaves it embraces the whole range of an
orchestra, and a man's ten fingers are enough to render the harmonies
which in an orchestra are brought out only by the combination of
hundreds of musicians. The pianoforte has on the one side the capacity
of assimilation, the capacity of taking unto itself the life of all
instruments; on the other hand it has its own life, its own growth,
its own individual development. My highest ambition is to leave to the
piano players to come after me, some useful instructions, the
footprints of advanced attainment, something which may some day
provide a worthy witness of the labor and study of my youth."

Bear in mind that Liszt played for Beethoven, that he was a
contemporary of Chopin and Schumann, that he was one of the first to
throw himself heart and soul into the Wagner movement, and that death
came to him while he was attending the festival performances at
Bayreuth; bear in mind, I repeat, that he played for Beethoven and
died at "Parsifal"; strive to appreciate the extremes of musical
history and development implied by this; then remember that he remains
a potent force in music--and you may be able to form some idea of his



Liszt never was in this country, but we can gain some idea of the
success that would have been his from the triumphs of Ignace
Paderewski. Other famous pianists have come to this country--Thalberg
in 1856; Rubinstein in 1872; Von Bülow, Joseffy, who took up his
residence here; Rosenthal, Josef Hofmann. But Paderewski's success has
been greater than any of these. Americans are said to be fickle; but
although Paderewski no longer is a novelty, his name still is the one
with which to fill a concert hall from floor to roof.

Why this is so is no secret. Hear him and you will understand the
reason. To a technique which does not hesitate at anything and an
industry that flinches at nothing--no one practices more assiduously
than he--he adds the soul of a poet and the strength of an athlete. He
looks slender and poetical enough as he sits at the piano on the
concert stage; but if you watch him from near by you will be able to
note the great physical power which he can bring into play when
necessary--_and which he never brings into play unless it is
necessary_. Therefore he combines poetry with force; and back of both
is thought--intellectual capacity.

In a frame on the wall of a New York trust company is a check for
$171,981.89. It represents the net receipts of one virtuoso for one
concert tour, and is believed to be the largest actual amount ever
earned in this country by an artist, whether singer or player, in a
single season. This check is drawn to the order of Ignace J.

An opinion regarding the piano by a man who by playing it can earn so
large a sum, and earn it because he is the greatest living exponent of
pianoforte playing, would seem worth having. Paderewski believes that,
save in one respect, the pianoforte has reached perfection and is
incapable of further improvement. He does not think that anything more
should be done to add to its volume of tone. If anything, he considers
this too great and the instrument too loud already. Instead of more
power, rather less would be satisfactory. Wherein, however, he
considers the instrument still lacking, notwithstanding its wonderful
development during the last century, is in its capacity for sustained
tone--for holding a long-drawn-out tone with the facility of the
violin, for example. He is convinced, however, that the means of
imparting this capacity for sustaining tone to the pianoforte will be
discovered in due time and that the invention probably will be made in
this country. That increased tone-sustaining power for the instrument
is a great desideratum doubtless is the opinion of many experts; but
that the greatest master of the pianoforte considers it perfect in
other respects is highly interesting and significant. After all, it
remains the greatest of all solo instruments, because, within the
smallest compass and with the simplest means of control, it has the
range of an orchestra. For this reason it is the most popular of
instruments and, in its manufacture, extends from the polished
dry-goods box with internal organs of iron, wire and felt and with a
glistening row of celluloid teeth ready to bite as soon as ever the
lid is raised, to the highest-class concert grand.

The "Piano Doctor."

We who have our pianofortes in our own homes and are content with an
occasional visit from the tuner, little dream of the care bestowed
upon the instrument on which an artist like Paderewski plays.
Instrument? I should have said instruments; for, when he is on tour,
he has a whole suite of them, no less than four, and each is coddled
as if it were a prima donna fresh from the hands of Madame Marchesi,
instead of a thing of wood, metal and ivory. True, these pianos do not
have their throats sprayed on the slightest possible occasion, but
they are carefully protected against extremes of heat and cold, and,
while the prima donna consults her physician only at intervals, a
"piano doctor" is in constant attendance on these instruments.

Paderewski's "piano doctor" has traveled with him for several seasons,
occupying the same private car and practically living with him during
the entire tour. He was with him on the tour, in fact at his table at
breakfast with him, when his special train was run on to an open
siding near East Syracuse and left the track, Paderewski being thrown
forward on his hands against the table and straining the muscles of
one arm so severely that he was obliged to cancel his remaining
engagements. Up to that time, however, his net receipts from
seventy-four concerts had been $137,012.50, while before this American
tour began he gave thirty-six concerts in Australia with average
receipts of $5,000. His record concert was at Dallas, Texas, some
years ago, when the receipts were $9,000. It occurred during a
Confederate reunion. While he was at the pianoforte, the various posts
marched up to the hall with bands and fife-and-drum corps playing.
Paderewski, however, kept right on through the blasts and shrilling.
But when one of the posts let out the famous "rebel yell," the pianist
leaped from his seat as if he expected a tiger to spring at his
throat. Then he realized what had happened, smiled and continued amid
laughter and applause. He had heard of the famous "rebel yell," but
this was the first time he had heard it.

Pianofortes on Their Travels.

But to return to the pianofortes on tour. When Paderewski came to this
country from Australia, his piano doctor met him at San Francisco with
four instruments which had been selected with great care in New York
and been shipped West in charge of the "doctor." One of these the
virtuoso reserved for his private car, for he practices en route
whenever there is a stop long enough to make it worth while. He rarely
plays when the car is in motion. Of the other three instruments, the
two he liked best were sent to his hotel, where during four days
preceding his first concert, he practiced from seven to eight hours a
day, notifying the "doctor" twenty-four hours in advance which
pianoforte he would use. This instrument became, officially, No. 1;
the others No. 2 and No. 3.

The pianist's route took him from San Francisco to Oakland, San José,
and Portland, Oregon. To make certain that he always will have a fine
instrument to play on, a method of shipping ahead the instruments not
in use is adopted. Thus, while he was playing on No. 1 in San
Francisco and Oakland, No. 2 was sent on to San José and No. 3 to
Portland. Of course, none but an expert could detect the slightest
difference in these pianofortes, but a player like Paderewski is
sensitive to the most delicately balanced distinctions or nuances in
tone and action. One of his idiosyncrasies is that always before going
on he asks the "doctor" which of the three instruments is on the
stage, because, as he himself expresses it, "I don't want to meet a
stranger." After each concert, at supper, this conversation invariably
takes place:

Paderewski: "Well, 'Doctor,' it sounded all right to-night, didn't

"Doctor": "Yes, sir."

Paderewski: "Well, then, please pass me the bread."

There never has been occasion to record what would happen if the
"doctor" were to say, "No, sir." For he always has been able to answer
in the affirmative, with the most scrupulous regard for veracity.

Paderewski is as careful to play his best in the least important place
in which he gives a concert as he is in New York. This high sense of
duty toward his public accounts in part for his supremacy among
pianists Paderewski is not a mere virtuoso. He is a man of fine
intellectual gifts who plays the piano like a poet. Paul Potter, the
playwright, who lives in Geneva, Switzerland, and occasionally has
dined there with Paderewski, tells me that he has conversed with the
pianist on almost every conceivable subject _except music_ and always
found him remarkably well informed. His knowledge of the history of
his native land, Poland, and of its literature is said to be quite
wonderful. Chopin, also a Pole, he idolizes and regards as far and
away the greatest composer for the piano. To the fund for the Chopin
memorial at Warsaw he contributes by charging one dollar for his
autograph, and two dollars for his signature and a few bars of music.
From the money received as the proceeds of one season's autographs he
was able to remit about $1,300 to the fund.

When the amusing little dialogue at the supper table, which I have
recorded, takes place, the pianoforte which the virtuoso has used at
his concert already will be on the way to its next destination. For it
is part of the "doctor's" duty to see it safely out of the hall and
onto the train before rejoining the party on the private car. The
instrument is not boxed. The legs are removed and then a carefully
fitted canvas is drawn over the body and held in place by straps. The
body is slid out of the hall and slowly let down onto a specially
constructed eight-wheel skid, swung low, so as to be as nearly as
possible on a level with the platform. This skid is part of the outfit
of the tour. The record time for detaching the legs of the pianoforte,
covering the body, removing the instrument from the stage and having
it on the skid ready to start for the station, is seven minutes.

"Thawing Out" a Pianoforte.

The instruments never are set up except under the "doctor's" personal
supervision. Before each concert the pianoforte on which Paderewski is
to play is carefully gone over and put in perfect condition--tuned
and, if necessary, regulated, and this no matter how recently he may
have used it. Defects so trifling that neither an ordinary player nor
the public would notice them, would jar on the sensitive ear and
nerves of the virtuoso. Sometimes the instrument has been exposed to
such a low temperature that frost is found to have formed not only on
the lid, but even on the iron plate inside. In such cases the
pianoforte is set up and, after the film of frost has been scraped
off, is allowed to thaw out slowly and naturally before it is touched
for tuning or regulating.

There was an amusing incident in the handling of one of the Paderewski
instruments at Columbus, Mississippi, where Paderewski played for
seven hundred girls at the State College, although it was more
exciting than diverting at the time it happened. The "doctor" relies
on local help for getting the pianoforte from the skid to the stage
and back again. Usually efficient helpers are obtainable, but at
Columbus, where the college hall is upstairs and reached only by a
narrow flight of steps, there was no aid to be had save from among the
negroes lounging on the public square. The "doctor" went among them.

"What are you doing?" he asked.


"Want a job?"

"Naw, too busy," was the usual reply.

At last, however, a band of twenty "colored gentlemen" was secured in
the hope that muscle and quantity would make up for lack of quality.
But never before has a high-grade pianoforte been in such imminent
peril. It was got upstairs well enough, in spite of the fact that the
negroes walked all over each other. But the descent! The "doctor,"
Emil C. Fischer, stood at the top of the stairs directing; J. E.
Francke, the treasurer of the tour, below. Around the latter fell a
shower of fragments from the wall, the rail, the posts; and at one
time it seemed as if the whole banister would give way and the
pianoforte crash in splinters on the floor. There were other moments
of suspense, for the pianoforte as well as for the two watchers, who
drew a long breath when the instrument safely was on the skid.

Fortunately such untoward incidents are forgotten in the general
atmosphere of good-humor which the pianist diffuses about him. He
enjoys his little joke. During the last tour he handed a photograph of
himself to Mr. Francke inscribed: "To the future Governor of Hoboken."
At the Auditorium hotel, Chicago, Millward Adams' brother, about
leaving on a trip, asked for an autograph. Paderewski, quick as a
flash, wrote:

"For the brother of Mr. _Adams_ on the _Eve_ of his departure from

Paderewski travels on a special train. With him usually are his wife,
his manager, the treasurer of the tour, the piano "doctor," a
secretary, valet and maid. His home is a villa on Lake Geneva, where
he has a beautiful garden and vinery, his dogs, his room for
billiards, a game of which he is very fond, and unlimited opportunity
for swimming, his favorite exercise. Apparently slender and surely
most poet-looking at the piano, he is a man of iron strength as well
as of iron will.




The appreciation and consequent enjoyment of an orchestral concert
will be greatly enhanced if the listener is familiar with certain
details regarding the orchestra itself and some of the compositions he
is apt to hear. This I have borne in mind in the chapter divisions of
this portion of my book, and, as a result, I have divided the subject
into the general development of the orchestra, the specific
consideration of the principal orchestral instruments, a cursory
commentary on certain phases of orchestral music and a chapter on
Richard Strauss who represents its most advanced aspects.

The first music of which we moderns take account was unaccompanied (_à
capella_) singing for church service. It was composed in the old
ecclesiastical modes, which are quite different from our modern
scales, and the name which comes most prominently to mind in
connection with this beginning of our musical history is that of
Palestrina. With the influence of this old church choral music so
dominant, there is little wonder that the first efforts to write music
for instruments were awkward. It may be said right here that this
awkwardness, or rather this lack of knowledge and appreciation of the
individual capacity of various instruments, is shown throughout the
school of contrapuntal composition, even by Bach. When Bach wrote for
orchestral instruments he did not consider their peculiar tone
quality, or their capacity for individual expression, but simply their
pitch--which instrument could take up this, that or the other theme in
his contrapuntal score, when he had carried it as high or as low as he
could on some other instrument. This also is true of Händel, although
in less degree.

But just as we have seen that Domenico Scarlatti worked along original
lines for the pianoforte and created the germ of the sonata form,
while Bach was weaving and plaiting the counterpoint of his suites,
partitas and "Well-Tempered Clavichord," so in Italy, during a large
part of this contrapuntal period, a distinct kind of orchestral music
was springing up. Again, just as we have seen that in Italy the
pianoforte shook off the trammels of counterpoint when it began to be
used as an accompaniment for dramatic recitative in opera, so the
instruments in the orchestra, when composers began to use them for
operatic accompaniments, were employed more with reference to their
individual tone qualities and power of expression.

Primitive Orchestral Efforts.

Although, strictly speaking, not the first composer to use orchestral
instruments in opera, and to display skill in utilizing their
individual characteristics, the most important of these early men was
Claudio Monteverde (1568-1643). In his "Orpheo," which he produced in
1608, he utilized, besides two harpsichords (and it may be of interest
to note here that instruments of the pianoforte class were long used
in orchestras as connecting links between all the other instruments),
two bass viols, two tenor viols, one double harp, two little French
violins, two large guitars, two wood organs, two viola di gambas, one
regal, four trombones, two cornets, one octave flute, one clarion, and
three trumpets with mutes--a fairly formidable array of instruments
when the period is considered. Of especial interest are the "two
little French violins," which probably were the same as our modern
violins, now the prima donnas of the orchestra and far outnumbering
any other instrument employed.

It was Monteverde who in his "Tancredi e Clorinda" made use for the
first time of a tremolo for stringed instruments, and it is said so to
have astonished the performers that they at first refused to play it.
Before Monteverde there were operatic composers like Jacopo Peri, and
after him Cavalli and Alessandro Scarlatti, who did much for their day
to develop the orchestra. This is a very brief summary of the early
development of instrumental music, a story that easily could fill a
volume--which, probably, however, very few people would take the
trouble to read.

Beethoven and the Modern Orchestra.

The first really modern composer for the orchestra was Joseph Haydn
(1732-1809), who also may be considered the father of the symphony.
Born before Mozart, he also survived that composer. His music is gay
and naive; while Mozart, although he had decidedly greater genius for
the dramatic than Haydn, nevertheless is only a trifle more emotional
in his symphonies. The three greatest of these which he composed
during the summer of 1788, the E flat major, G minor and C major
(known as the "Jupiter"), show a decided advance in the knowledge of
orchestration, and the E flat major is notable because it is the first
symphonic work in which clarinets were used. Haydn's and Mozart's
symphonies--that is, the best of them--sound agreeable even to-day in
a concert hall of moderate size. But because modern music with its
sonorous orchestra requires large auditoriums, like Carnegie Hall in
New York, these charming symphonic works of the earlier classical
period are swallowed up in space and much of their naive and pretty
effect is lost.

Beethoven may be said to have established the modern orchestra. Very
few instruments have been added to it since his time, and if an
orchestra to-day sounds differently from what it did in his day, if
the works of modern composers sound richer and more effective from a
modern point of view than his orchestral compositions, it is not
because we have added a lot of new instruments, but because our
composers have acquired greater skill in bringing out their peculiar
tone qualities and because the technique of orchestral players has
greatly improved.

It is for precisely the same reasons that Beethoven's symphonies show
such a great advance upon those of his predecessors. The point is not
that Beethoven added a few more instruments to the orchestra, but
that, so far as his own purposes were concerned, he handled all the
instruments which he included in his band with much greater skill than
his predecessors had shown. Many writers affect to despise technique.
But in point of fact the development of technique and the development
of art go hand in hand. An artist, be he writer, painter or musician,
cannot adequately express his ideas unless he has the means of doing
so or the genius to create the means.

How He Developed Orchestral Resources.

In following Beethoven's symphonies from the First to the Ninth, we
can see the modern orchestra developing under his hands from that
handed over to him by Haydn and Mozart. In the First and Second
Symphonies, Beethoven employs the usual strings, two flutes, two
oboes, two clarinets, two bassoons, two horns, two trumpets and
tympani. In the Third Symphony, the "Eroica," he adds a third horn
part; in the Fifth a piccolo, trombones and contrabassoon. Although
employed in the finale only, these instruments here make their first
bow in the symphonic orchestra. In the Ninth Symphony Beethoven
introduced two additional horns, the first use of four horns in a
symphony. The scoring of these symphonies is given somewhat more in
detail in the chapter "How the Orchestra Grew," in Mr. W. J.
Henderson's "The Orchestra and Orchestral Music," a well conceived and
logically developed book, in which the full story of the orchestra and
its growth is clearly and interestingly told.

Beethoven not only understood to a greater degree than his
predecessors the peculiar characteristics of orchestral instruments,
he also compelled orchestral players to acquire a better technique by
giving them more difficult music to execute. In point of greater
difficulty in performance, a Beethoven symphony holds about the same
relation to the symphonies of Mozart and Haydn as the Beethoven
pianoforte sonatas do to the sonatas of those composers.

Beethoven and Wagner.

Just as Beethoven added only a few instruments to the orchestra of his
predecessors, but showed greater skill in handling those instruments,
so the modern musician--a Wagner or a Richard Strauss--achieves his
striking instrumental effects by a still greater knowledge of
instrumental resources. The Beethoven orchestra practically is the
orchestra of to-day. Few, very few, instruments have been added.
Modern composers steadily have asked for more and more instruments in
each group; but that is quite a different thing from adding new
instruments. They have required more instruments of the same kind, but
have asked for very few instruments of new kinds. Let me illustrate
this by two modern examples.

Firm, compact and eloquent as is Beethoven's orchestra in the Fifth
Symphony, it cannot for a moment be compared in richness, sonority,
tone color, searching power of expression and unflagging interest,
with Wagner's orchestra in "Die Meistersinger." Yet Wagner has added
only one trumpet, a harp and a tuba to the very orchestra which
Beethoven employed when he scored for the Fifth Symphony; while for
his "Symphonie Pathétique," one of the finest of modern orchestral
works, Tschaikowsky adds only a bass tuba to the orchestra used by
Beethoven. The simple fact is that modern composers have studied every
possible phase of tone color and expression of which each instrument
is capable. Furthermore, by skillfully dividing the orchestra into
groups and using these groups like separate orchestras, yet uniting
them into one great orchestra, they produce wonderfully rich
contrapuntal effects, and thus make the modern orchestra sound, not
seventy-five years, but five hundred years more advanced than that of
Beethoven, however great we gladly acknowledge Beethoven to have

Berlioz, an Orchestral Juggler.

Following Beethoven, the next great development in the handling of
orchestral resources is due to Hector Berlioz (1803-1869), and it is
curious here how nearly one musical epoch overlaps another. Scarlatti
was composing sonatas, and thus voicing the beginning of the classical
era, while Bach was bringing the contrapuntal period to a close. It
was only five years after the completion of the Ninth Symphony that
Berlioz's "Francs Juges" overture was played. A year later his
"Symphonie Fantastique, Episode de la Vie d'un Artiste," was brought
out. Yet the Berlioz orchestra sounds so utterly different from the
Beethoven orchestra that it almost might be a collection of different
instruments. Even more than Beethoven, Berlioz understood the
individuality, the potential characteristics of each instrument.

Berlioz composed on a colossal scale, so colossal that his music
has been called architectural. The "Dies Irae" in his "Requiem"
calls for four brass bands, in four different corners of the
hall, and for fourteen kettledrums tuned to different notes, in
addition to the regular orchestra, chorus and soloists. This has
been dubbed "three-story music"--the orchestra on the ground floor,
the chorus on the _belle étage_, while the four extra brass
bands are stationed _aux troisième_. Unfortunately for Berlioz, his
ambition, in so far as it related to the art of orchestration
and the skill he showed in accomplishing what he wanted to with
his body of instrumentalists, was far in excess of his inspiration.
His knowledge of the orchestra was sufficient to have afforded him
every facility for the expression of great thoughts if he had
them to express. But his power of thematic invention, his gift
for melody, was not equal to his genius for instrumentation.
Nevertheless, through this genius for instrumentation--for his
technique was so extraordinary that it amounted to genius--and
through his very striving after bizarre, unusual and gigantic
effects, he contributed largely toward the development of the
technical resources of instrumental music.

Wagner, Greatest of Orchestral Composers.

Berlioz wrote a book on instrumentation, which has lately been
re-edited by Richard Strauss. In it Strauss, modestly ignoring
himself, says that Wagner's scores mark the only advance in
orchestration worth mentioning since Berlioz. It is true, the
technical possibilities of the orchestra were greatly improved, so far
as the woodwind was concerned, by the introduction of keyed
instruments constructed on the system invented by Theobald Böhm; while
the French instrument maker, Adolphe Sax, also made important
improvements by perfecting the bass clarinet and the bass tuba. But
whatever aid Wagner derived from these improvements merely was
incidental to the principle which is illustrated by every one of his
scores--that technique merely is a means to an end. Wagner is the
greatest orchestral virtuoso who ever breathed. Never, however, does
he employ technique for technique's sake, but always only to enable
his orchestra to convey the exact meaning he has in his mind or
express the emotion he has in his heart, and he spares no pains to hit
upon the best method of conveying these ideas and expressing these
emotions. That is one reason why, although no one with any knowledge
of music could mistake a passage by Wagner for any one else's music,
each of his works has its own peculiar orchestral style. For each of
his works reproduces through the orchestra the "atmosphere" of its
subject. The scores of "Tannhäuser," "Lohengrin," "The Ring of the
Nibelung," "Tristan," "Meistersinger" and "Parsifal" never could be
mistaken for any one but Wagner's music. Yet how different they are
from each other! He makes each instrument speak its own language.
When, for example, the English horn speaks through Wagner, it speaks
English, not broken English, and so it is with all the other
instruments of the orchestra--he makes them speak without a foreign

If Wagner employs a large orchestra, it is not for the sake of making
a noise, but in order to gain variety in expression. "He is
wonderfully reserved in the use of his forces," says Richard Strauss.
"He employs them as a great general would his battalions, and does not
send in an army corps to pick off a skirmisher." Strauss regards
"Lohengrin" as a model score for a somewhat advanced student, before
proceeding to the polyphony of "Tristan" and "Meistersinger" or "the
fairy region of the 'Nibelungs.'" "The handling of the wind
instruments," writes Strauss, "reaches a hitherto unknown esthetic
height. The so-called third woodwinds, English horn and bass clarinet,
added for the first time to the woodwinds, are already employed in a
variety of tone color; the voices of the second, third and fourth
horn, trumpets and trombones established in an independent polyphony,
the doubling of melodic voices characteristic of Wagner, carried out
with such assurance and freedom and knowledge of their characteristic
timbres, and worked out with an understanding of tonal beauty, that to
this day evokes unstinted admiration. At the close of the second act
the organ tones that Wagner lures out of the orchestra triumph over
the queen of instruments itself."

How Wagner Produces His Effects.

The effects produced by Wagner are not due to a large orchestra, but
to his manner of using the instruments in it. Among some of his
special effects are the employment of full harmony with what formerly
would have been merely single passing notes, and above all, the
exploitation of every resource of counterpoint in combination with the
well developed system of harmony inherited from Beethoven, but largely
added to by himself. In fact, Wagner's greatness is due to the
combination of several great gifts--his melodic inventiveness, his
rich harmony and his wonderful technical skill in weaving together his
themes in a still richer counterpoint. This counterpoint is not,
however, dry and formal, because his themes--his leading motives--are
themselves full of emotional significance and not conceived, like
those of the old contrapuntists, merely: for formal treatment.

Richard Strauss is such a master of orchestration that I am inclined
to quote his summary of the development of the art of orchestration,
from his edition of the Berlioz book, which at this writing has not
yet been translated. I should like to recall to the reader's mind,
however, the fact that Strauss' father was a noted French-horn player;
that Strauss himself has a great love for the instrument; and that
when, in summing up the causes of Wagner's primacy among orchestral
writers, he finds one of them in the greater technical facility of the
valve horn, it is well to take this with a grain of salt and attribute
it somewhat to his own affection for the instrument. The symphonies of
Haydn and Mozart, according to Strauss, are enlarged string quartets
with obbligato woodwind, brass and tympani, and the occasional use of
other instruments of noise to strengthen the tuttis.

"Even with Beethoven, the symphony is still simply enlarged chamber
music, the orchestra being treated in a pianistic spirit which
unfortunately shows itself even in the orchestral work of Schumann and
Brahms. Wagner owes his polyphonic string quintet not to the Beethoven
orchestra, but to the last quartets of Beethoven, in which each
instrument is the peer of the others.

"Meanwhile, another kind of orchestral work was developing, for, from
the time of Gluck on, the opera orchestra was gaining in coloring and
in individual characteristics. Berlioz was not dramatic enough for
opera nor symphonic enough for the concert stage, yet his efforts to
write programmatic symphonies resulted in his discovering new effects,
new possibilities in tone tints and in orchestral technics. Berlioz
misses the polyphony that enriches Wagner's orchestra, and makes
instruments like the second violins, violas, etc., second horns, etc.,
weave their threads or strands of melody into the woof. Wagner's
primacy is due to his employment of the richest style of polyphony and
counterpoint, the increased possibility of this through the invention
of the valve horn, and his demand of solo virtuosity upon his
orchestral players. His scores mark the only advance worth mentioning
since Berlioz."



An orchestra is an aggregation of many instruments which, under the
baton of an able conductor, should play as one, so far as precision
and expression are concerned. Separately, the instruments are like the
paints on a palette, and the result of the composer's effort, like
that of the painter's, depends upon what he has to express and his
knowledge of how to use his materials in trying to express it.

The orchestra has developed into several distinct groups, which are
capable of playing independently, or in union with each other, and
within these groups themselves there are various subdivisions. It is
the purpose of every modern composer who amounts to anything, to get
as many different quartets as possible out of his orchestra. By this
is meant a grouping of instruments in such a way that as many groups
as possible can play in independent harmony.

It is through this system of orchestral groups that Wagner has been
able to enrich orchestral tone coloring, and to say everything he
wishes to say in exactly the way it should be said. We cannot, for
example, imagine that the Love Motive in "Die Walküre" could be made
to sound more beautiful on its first entrance in the score than it
does. Nor could it. In that scene it is exactly suited to a solo
violoncello, and to a solo violoncello Wagner gives it. In order,
however, to produce a perfectly homogenous effect, in order that the
violoncello quality of tone shall pervade not only the melody, but
also the supporting harmony, he supports the melody with eight
violoncellos, adding two double basses to give more sonorousness to
the deepest note in the harmony. In other words he has made for the
moment a complete orchestra out of nine violoncellos and two double
basses, and produced a wondrously rich and thrilling effect--because,
having a beautiful melody to score, he knew just the instruments for
which to score it. This is an admirable example of what technique
accomplishes in the hands of a genius. Another composer might have
used an orchestra of a hundred instruments and not have produced the
exquisite thrill that Wagner with his magical orchestral touch
conjures out of this group of violoncellos, a group within a group, an
orchestra of violoncellos within the string band.

[Music illustration]

The woodwind instruments are capable of several similar subdivisions.
Flutes, oboes and bassoons, for example, may form a group capable of
producing independent harmony, so can the clarinets, and the same is
the case with the brass instruments. One of Wagner's most beautiful
leading motives, the Walhalla Motive in the "Ring of the Nibelung," is
sounded on four trombones. In brief, then, the modern composer strives
to constitute his orchestra in such a way that he secures as many
independent groups, and as many little orchestras, as possible, not,
however, for the purpose of using them independently all the time, but
merely in order to do so occasionally for special effects or to
combine them whenever he sees fit in order to enrich his tone coloring
or weave his polyphony.

The grand divisions of the orchestra are the strings--violins, violas,
violoncellos and double basses; the woodwind, consisting, broadly
speaking, of flutes, oboes, clarinets and bassoons; the brass--horns,
trumpets and trombones; and the instruments of percussion, or the
"battery"--drums, triangles, cymbals and instruments of that kind.

The Prima Donna of the Orchestra.

The leading instrument of the string group, and in fact the leading
instrument of the orchestra, is the violin. The first violins are the
prima donnas of the orchestra, and one might say that it is almost
impossible to have too many of them. The first and second violins
should form about one-third of an orchestra, and better still it would
be for the number to exceed that proportion. The Boston Symphony
Orchestra, which has about eighty-one players, has thirty violins.
Theodore Thomas's New York Festival Orchestra in 1882, consisting of
three hundred and fourteen instruments, had one hundred violins.

Great is the capacity of the violin. Its notes may be crisp, sharp,
decisive, brilliant, or long-drawn-out and full of emotion. It has
greater precision of attack than any other instrument in the
orchestra. And right here it is interesting to note that while the
multiplication of instruments gives greater sonority, it also gives
much finer effects in soft passages. The pianissimo of one hundred
violins is a very much finer pianissimo and at the same time
infinitely richer and further carrying than the pianissimo of a solo
violin. It is the very acme of a musical stage whisper.

In this very first and most important group of the orchestra we can
find examples of utilizing subdivisions of groups. Although the violin
cannot be played lower than its G string, which sounds the G below the
treble clef, the violin group nevertheless has been employed entirely
by itself, and even subdivided within itself. The most exquisite
example of this, one cited in every work on the orchestra worth
reading, is the "Lohengrin" prelude. To this the violins are divided
into four groups and on the highest register, with an effect that is
most ethereal.

[Music illustration]

Modern orchestral virtuosity may be gauged by the statement that while
Beethoven but once dared to score for his violins above the high F,
Richard Strauss in the most casual manner carries them an octave

A little contrivance of wood or metal, with teeth, can be pressed down
over the strings of the violin so as to deaden its vibrations. This is
called the sordine, or mute. A famous example of the use of the
violins _con sordini_ is the Queen Mab Scherzo in Berlioz's "Romeo et
Juliette Symphonie." Another well-known use of the same effect is in
Asa's Death, in Grieg's "Peer Gynt" Suite. Nothing can be more
exquisite than the entrance of the muted violins after a long silence,
in the last act of "Tristan und Isolde," just before _Isolde_ intones
the Love Death.

An unusual effect is produced by using the back of the bow instead of
the horsehair. Liszt uses it in his symphonic poem, "Mazeppa," for
imitating the snorting of the horse; Wagner in "Siegfried," for
accompanying the mocking laugh of _Mime_; and Richard Strauss in
"Feuersnot," to produce the effect of crackling flames. But, as
Strauss remarks in his revision of Berlioz's work on instrumentation,
it is effective only with a large orchestra. The plucking of the strings
with the fingers--pizzicato--is a familiar device. Tschaikowski
employed it almost throughout an entire movement, the "Pizzicato
Ostinato" in his Fourth Symphony.

Viola, Violoncello and Double Bass.

The viola is a deeper violin, with a very beautiful and expressive
tone. Méhul, the French composer, scored his one-act opera, "Uthal,"
without violins, employing the viola as the highest string instrument
in his score. This, however, was not a success, the brilliant tone of
the violin being missed more and more as the performance of the work
progressed, until Grétry is said to have risen in his seat and
exclaimed: "A thousand francs for an E string!"

Meyerbeer, who was among the first to appreciate the beauty of the
viola as a solo instrument, used a single viola for the accompaniment
to _Raoul's_ romance, "Plus blanche que la blanche hermine," in the
first act of "Les Huguenots." Strictly speaking, he wrote it for the
viola d'amour, which is somewhat larger than the ordinary viola; but
it almost always is played on the latter. Berlioz made exquisite use
of it in his "Harold Symphony," practically making a _dramatis
persona_ of it, for in the score a solo viola represents the
melancholy wanderer; and in his "Don Quixote," Richard Strauss assigns
to the instrument an equally important rôle.

The violoncello is one of the most tenderly expressive of all the
instruments in the orchestra. Beethoven employs it for the theme of
the slow movement in his Fifth Symphony, and although the viola joins
with the violoncello in playing this melody, the passage owes its
beauty chiefly to the latter. One of the most exquisite melodies in
all symphonic music is the theme which Schubert has given to the
violoncellos in the first movement of his "Unfinished Symphony." They
also are used with wonderfully expressive effect in the "Tristan
Vorspiel." Rossini gives a melodious passage, in the introduction to
the overture to "William Tell," to five violoncellos. But the most
striking employment of the violoncellos as an independent group is in
the Love Motive in the first act of "Die Walküre."

Double basses first were used to simply double the violoncello part in
the harmony. But through Beethoven's employment of them in the Fifth
and Ninth Symphonies, in the former for a remarkably effective passage
in the Scherzo and in the latter for a highly dramatic recitative,
their importance as independent instruments in the orchestra was
established. Verdi has made very effective use of them in the scene in
"Otello" as the _Moor_ approaches _Desdemona's_ bed. In the
introduction to "Rheingold," Wagner has half his double basses tuned
down to E flat, which is half a note deeper than the usual range of
the instrument, and in the second act of "Tristan und Isolde" two
basses are obliged to tune their E string down to C sharp.

Dividing the String Band.

I have pointed out several examples in which the groups of instruments
in the string band are divided within themselves, as in the prelude to
"Lohengrin" and in the first act of "Die Walküre." The entire string
band can be divided and subdivided with telling effect, when done by a
master. When in the second act of "Tristan" _Brangäne_ warns the
lovers from her position on the watch-tower, the accompaniment stirs
the soul to its depth, because it gives the listener such a weird
thrill of impending danger that he almost longs to inform the lovers
of their peril. In this passage Wagner divides the string band into no
less than fifteen parts. In the thunder-storm in "Rheingold" the
strings are divided into twenty-one parts. Richard Strauss points out
how in the introduction to "Die Walküre" much of the stormy effect is
produced by strings only--sixteen second violins, twelve violas,
twelve violoncellos and four double basses--a storm for strings where
another composer would have unleashed a whole orchestra, including
cymbals and bass drum, and crashed and thrashed about without
producing a tithe of Wagner's effect! He also cites the tremolo at the
beginning of the second act of "Tristan" as a wonderful example of
tone painting which produces the effect of whispering foliage and
conveys to the audience a sense of mystery and danger.

Theodore Thomas always was insistent that the various divisions of a
string band should bow exactly alike. It is said that he once stopped
an orchestra because he had detected something wrong with the tonal
effect, and, after watching the players, had discovered that one
violoncellist among sixteen was bowing differently from the others.
Richard Strauss, on the other hand, never insists on the same bowing
throughout each division of strings. He thinks it robs the melody of
intensity and beauty if each individual is not allowed to play
according to his own peculiar temperament.

A Passage in "Die Walküre."

In the Magic Fire Scene in the finale of "Die Walküre," Wagner wrote
violin passages which not even the greatest soloist can play cleanly,
yet which, when played by all the violins, simulate in _sound_ the
_aspect_ of licking, circling flames. Indeed, the effects that Wagner
understood how to draw from the orchestral instruments are little
short of marvellous. In the "Lohengrin" prelude the tone quality of
the violins is absolutely angelic in purity; while in the third act of
"Siegfried," the upswinging violin passages as the young hero reaches
the height where _Brünnhilde_ slumbers, depict the action with a
thrilling realism.

Besides the regular string band, Wagner made frequent use of the harp.
It is related that at the Munich performance of "Rheingold," when the
harpist Trombo protested to him that some of the passages were
unplayable, the composer replied: "You don't expect me to play the
harp, too, do you? You perceive the general effect I am aiming at;
produce that and I shall be satisfied." Liszt, in his "Dante
Symphony," uses the _glissando_ of the harp as a symbol for the rising
shades of _Francesco da Rimini_ and her lover, and a very beautiful
use of harmonics on the harp with their faint tinkle is to be found in
the Waltz of the Sylphs in Berlioz's "Damnation de Faust."

The Woodwind.

Flutes, oboes and clarinets form the woodwind. One of the best known
passages for flute is in the third "Leonora Overture" of Beethoven,
where it is employed with conspicuous grace. Probably, however, more
fun has been made of the flute than of any other orchestral
instrument, and a standard musical joke runs as follows:

"Are you musical?"

"No, but I have a brother who plays the flute."

It has also been insinuated that in Donizetti's "Lucia" the heroine
goes mad, not because she has been separated from _Edgardo_, but
because a flute obbligato accompanies her principal aria. The piccolo
is a high flute used for shrill effects.

The instruments of both the oboe and clarinet families are reed
instruments, with this difference, however: the instruments of the
oboe family have two vibrating reeds in the mouthpieces; those of the
clarinet family, only one. The oboe family consists of the oboe
proper, the English horn which is an alt oboe, and the bassoon which
is the bass of this group of instruments. In Italian the bassoon is
called a _fagotto_, a name derived from its supposed resemblance to a
bundle of fagots. "Candor, artless grace, tender joy, or the grief of
a fragile soul, are found in the oboe's accents," says Berlioz of this
instrument, and those who remember the exquisite oboe melody, with
which the slow movement of Schubert's C major symphony opens, will
agree with the French composer. Richard Strauss, in his "Sinfonia
Domestica," employs the almost obsolete oboes d'amore to represent an
"innocent, dreamy, playful child."

The English Horn in "Tristan."

The most famous use of the English horn is found in the third act of
"Tristan," where it plays the "sad lay" while _Tristan_ awaits news of
the ship which is bearing _Isolde_ toward him, and changes to a joyous
strain when the ship is sighted. The bassoon and contrabassoon,
besides their value as the bass of the oboe family, have certain
humorous qualities, which are admirably brought out in Beethoven's
Fifth and Ninth Symphonies and in the march of the clownish artisans
in Mendelssohn's "Midsummer Night's Dream" music. In opera, Meyerbeer
made the bassoon famous by his scoring of the dance of the _Spectre
Nuns_ in "Robert le Diable" for it, and he also used it for the
accompaniment to the female chorus in the second act of "Les
Huguenots." The theme of the romanza, "Una fortiva lagrima," in
Donizetti's "L'Elisir d'Amore," which Caruso sings so beautifully, is
introduced by the bassoon, and with charming effect.

The clarinets have a large compass. Usually three kinds of clarinets (in
A, B flat and C because they are transposing instruments) are employed
in the orchestra, besides the bass clarinet. The possibilities of the
clarinet group have been enormously developed by Wagner. It is
necessary only to recall the scene of _Elsa's_ bridal procession to the
cathedral in the second act of "Lohengrin"; _Elisabeth's_ sad exit after
her prayer in the third act of "Tannhäuser," in which the melody is
played by the bass clarinet, while the accompaniment is given to
three flutes and eight other clarinets; the change of scene in the first
act of "Götterdämmerung," when clarinets give forth the Brünnhilde
Motive; and passages in the second act of "Die Meistersinger," in the
scene at nightfall; while for a generally skillful use of the woodwind
the introduction to the third act of "Lohengrin" is a shining example.

Brass Instruments.

People usually associate the brass instruments with noise. But as a
matter of fact, wonderfully rich and soft tone effects can be produced
on the brass by a composer who knows how to score for it. Just as the
pianissimo of many violins is a finer pianissimo than that of a solo
violin, so a much more exquisitely soft effect can be produced on a
large brass group than on a few brass instruments or a single one.
When modern composers increase the number of instruments in the brass
group, it is not for the sake of noise, but for richer effects.

The trumpet is the soprano of the brass family. The fanfare in
"Fidelio" when at the critical moment aid approaches; the Siegfried
Motive and the Sword Motive, in the "Ring of the Nibelung," need only
be cited to prove the effectiveness of the instrument in its proper
place; and Richard Strauss instances the demoniacal and fateful effect
of the deep trumpet tones in the introduction to the first act of
Bizet's "Carmen."

Although the notes of the trombone are produced by a slide, this
instrument belongs to the trumpet family. For this reason, in the
"Ring of the Nibelung," Wagner, in addition to the usual three tenor
trombones, reintroduced the almost obsolete bass trombone. He wanted a
trombone group complete in itself, and thus to be able to utilize the
peculiar tone color of the instrument; as witness in the Walhalla
Motive, where it is scored for the three tenor trombones and bass
trombone, resulting in a wonderfully rich and velvety quality of tone.
Excepting Wagner and Richard Strauss, there probably is not a
composer who would not have used the bass tuba here instead of taking
the trouble to revive the bass trombone. But Wagner wanted an
unusually rich tone which should be solemn without a trace of
sombreness, and his keen instrumental color sense informed him that he
could secure it with the bass trombone, which, as it belongs to the
trumpet family, has a touch of trumpet brilliancy, whereas the tone of
the bass tuba is darker.

[Music illustration]

Mozart employed the trombone with fine effect in _Sarastro's_ solo in
the "Magic Flute"; Schubert showed his genius for instrumentation by
the manner in which he used them in the introduction to his C major
symphony, as well as in the first movement of that symphony, in which
a theme is given out by three trombones in unison; and another
familiar example of good scoring for trombones is in the introduction
to the third act of "Lohengrin." In the Death Prophecy scene in the
second act of "Die Walküre," a trumpet melody is supported by the four
trombones, another instance of Wagner's sense of homogeneity in sound,
since trumpets and trombones belong to the same family. In fact,
throughout the "Ring," as Strauss points out, Wagner wrote for his
trombones in four parts, adding the bass trombone in order to
differentiate wholly between it and the tuba, which latter he used
with the horns, with which it is properly grouped.

Wagner has a tremendous tuba recitative in a "Faust Overture," and in
the Funeral March in the "Götterdämmerung" he introduces tenor tubas
in order, again, to differentiate between the tone color of tubas and
trombones and not to be obliged to employ trombones in this particular
scene, the general tone color of the tuba being far more sombre than
that of the trombone.

Richard Strauss's Tribute to the Horn.

To mention tubas and trombones before the horns is very much like
putting the cart before the horse, but I have reserved the horns for
the last of the brass on account of the great tribute which Richard
Strauss has paid them. In the early orchestras one rarely found more
than two horns. Beethoven used four in the Ninth Symphony, and now it
is not at all unusual to find eight.

"Of all instruments," says Richard Strauss, "the horn is perhaps the
one that best can be joined with other groups. To substantiate this in
all its numerous phases, I should be obliged to quote the entire
'Meistersinger' score. For I do not think I exaggerate when I maintain
that the greatly developed technique of the valve horn has made it
possible that a score which, with the addition of a third trumpet, a
harp and a tuba, employs the same instruments as Beethoven used in his
Fifth Symphony, has become with every bar something entirely
different, something wholly new and unheard of.

"Surely the two flutes, two oboes, two clarinets and two bassoons of
Mozart have been exhausted by Wagner in every direction of their
technical possibilities and plastically combined with an almost
weird perception of all their tone secrets; the string quintet,
through the most refined divisions into parts, and with added
brilliance through the employment of the harp, produces innumerable
new tone effects, and by superb polyphony is brought to a height
and warmth of emotional expression such as never before was dreamed
of; trumpet and trombones are made to express every phase of
solemn or humorous characterization--but the main thing is the
tireless participation of the horn, now for the melody, now for
filling out, now as bass. The 'Meistersinger' score is the horn's
hymn of praise. Through the introduction and perfection of the
valve horn the greatest improvement in the technique of scoring,
since Berlioz's day, has been made possible.

"To illustrate exhaustively this Protean character of the horn, I
should like (again!) to go through the scores of the great magician,
bar by bar, beginning with 'Rheingold.'

"Whether it rings through the primeval German forest with the sunny
exuberance of _Siegfried's_ youthful heart and joy of living; whether
in Liszt's 'Mazeppa' it dies out in the last hoarse gasp of the
Cossack prince nigh unto death in the vast desert of the steppes;
whether it conjures the childlike longing of _Siegfried_ for the
mother he never has known; whether it hovers over the gently
undulating sea which is to bring _Isolde's_ gladdening form to the
dying _Tristan_, or nods _Hans Sachs'_ thanks to the faithful
_'Prentice_; whether in _Erik's_ dream it causes in a few hollow
accents the North Sea to break on the lonely coast; bestows upon the
apples of Freia the gift of eternal youth; pokes fun at the
curtain-heroes ('Meistersinger,' Act III); plies the cudgels on
_Beckmesser_ with the jealous _David_ and his comrades, and is the
real instigator of the riot; or sings in veiled notes of the wounds of
_Tristan_--always the horn, in its place and to be relied on,
responds, unique in its manifold meanings and its brilliant

Famous horn passages in the works of other composers are in the trio
of the Scherzo in the "Eroica Symphony"; in the second movement of
Schubert's C major symphony, the passage of which Schumann said that
the notes of the horns just before the return of the principal
subject were like the voice of an angel; in the opening of Weber's
"Freischütz" overture; in the introduction to _Michaela's_ romance
in "Carmen"; and in the opening theme of the slow movement of
Tschaikowsky's Fifth Symphony, which is the perfection of a
melodic phrase for solo horn.

Instruments of Percussion.

In the "battery" the instruments of prime importance are the tympani.
Beethoven gave the cue to what could be accomplished with these in the
scherzo of the Fifth Symphony and also in the octave thumps in the
scherzo of the Ninth Symphony, while for a weirdly sombre effect there
is nothing equal to the faint roll of the tympani at the beginning and
end of the Funeral March in "Götterdämmerung." Cymbals are used in
several ways. Besides the ordinary clash, Wagner has produced a sound
somewhat like that of a gong, by the sharp stroke of a drum-stick on
one cymbal, and also a roll by using a pair of drum-sticks on one

Among composers since Beethoven, Weber, Liszt, Saint-Saëns, Dvorak,
Tschaikowsky, and, of course, Richard Strauss--it hardly is necessary
to mention either Berlioz or Wagner again--have shown brilliant
technique in orchestration. On the other hand, Schumann and Brahms do
not appear to have understood or to have taken the trouble to
understand the individual characteristics of orchestral instruments,
and, as a result, their works for orchestra are not as effective as
they should be. Their orchestration has been called "muddy."

It is Richard Strauss's opinion that the next advancement in
orchestration will be brought about by adding largely to certain
groups of instruments which now have only comparatively few
representatives in the orchestra. He instances that at the Brussels
Conservatory one of the professors had Mozart's G minor symphony
performed for him on twenty-two clarinets, of which four were basset
horns (alto clarinets), two brass clarinets, and one contra-bass
clarinet; and he suggests that it will be along such lines that the
orchestra of the future will be enlarged. With an orchestra with all
the family groups of instruments complete in the manner suggested by
Strauss, and used by a musical genius, a genius who combines with
melodic invention virtuosity of instrumentation, marvellous results
are yet to be achieved.



I have said that music, like all other arts, had a somewhat formless
beginning, then gradually acquired form, then became too rigidly
formal, and in modern times, while not discarding form, has become
freer in its expression of emotion.

Instrumental music, since the beginning of the classical period, has
been governed largely by the symphony, which the reader should bear in
mind is nothing more than a sonata for orchestra, the form having
first developed on the pianoforte and having been handed over by it to
the aggregation of instruments. Sir Hubert Parry, from whose book,
"The Evolution of the Art of Music," I have had previous occasion to
quote, has several apt paragraphs concerning the earlier development
of the sonata, which of course apply with equal force to the symphony.
After stating that the instinct of the composers who first sought the
liberation of music from the all-predominating counterpoint, impelled
them to develop movements of wider and freer range, which should admit
of warm melodic expression, without degenerating into incoherent,
rambling ecstasy, Sir Hubert continues: "They had the sense to see
from the first that mere formal continuous melody is not the most
suitable type for instrumental music. There is deep-rooted in the
matter of all instrumental music the need of some rhythmic vitality.
These composers then set themselves to devise a scheme in which, to
begin with, the contour of connected melodic phrases, supported and
defined by simple harmonic accompaniment, gave the impression of
definite tonality--that is, of being decisively in some particular key
and giving an unmistakable indication of it. They found out how to
proceed by giving the impression of using that key and passing to
another without departing from the characteristic spirit and mood of
the music, as shown in the 'subjects' and figures; and how to give the
impression of relative completeness, by closing in a key which is in
strong contrast to the first, and so round off one-half of the

"But this point being in apposition to the starting point, leaves the
mind dissatisfied and in expectation of fresh disclosures; so they
made the balance complete by resuming the subjects and melodic figures
of the first part in extraneous keys, and working back to the starting
point; and they made their final close with the same figures as were
used to conclude the first half, but in the principal key instead of
the key of contract." This is a somewhat more elaborate method of
describing the sonata form than I have adopted in the division of this
book relating to the pianoforte.

Esthetic Purpose of the Symphony.

Later on in his book, Sir Hubert, in discussing the type of sonata
movement which was fairly established by the time of Haydn and Mozart,
gives a simpler esthetic explanation, pointing out that the first
part of the movement aims at definiteness of subject, definiteness of
contrast of keys, definiteness of regular balancing groups of bars and
rhythms, definiteness of progressions. By the time this first division
is over the mind has had enough of such definiteness, and wants a
change. The second division, therefore, represents the breaking up of
the subjects into their constituent elements of figure and rhythm, the
obliteration of the sense of regularity by grouping the bars
irregularly; and aims, by moving constantly from key to key, to give
the sense of artistic confusion; which, however, is always regulated
by some inner but disguised principle of order. When the mind has gone
through enough of the pleasing sense of bewilderment--the sense that
has made riddles attractive to the human creature from time
immemorial--the scheme is completed by resuming the orderly methods of
the first division and firmly re-establishing the principal theme
which has been carefully avoided since the commencement.

The earlier symphonic writers usually wrote their symphonies in three
movements: the first or sonata movement; a second slow movement in a
simpler type of form, usually of the song, aria, or rondo type; and a
final movement in lively time, also usually adapted to the rondo form.
Concerning this three-movement symphony of the early writers, it was
said by an old-time wit that they wrote the first movement to show
what they could do, the second movement to show what they could feel,
and the third movement to show how glad they were it was over--and
this may be said to describe the view of the ultra-modern music-lover
toward rigidity of form in general.

Regarding form in music there is much prejudice one way or the other.
The sonnet in poetry certainly is a rigid form; and yet those poets
who have mastered it have produced extremely effective and highly
artistic poems, and poems abounding in profound emotional expression.
Walt Whitman, on the other hand, was quite formless, and yet he is
sure to be ranked in time as one of the greatest poets of his age.
Wagner's idea was that the symphonic form had reached its climax with
Beethoven's Ninth Symphony; yet it is by no means incredible that if
Wagner in his maturer years had undertaken to compose a symphony, the
result would have disproved his own theory.

Seems to Hamper Modern Composers.

The symphonic form, however, or, to be more exact, the sonata form,
seems to hamper every modern composer when he writes for the
pianoforte, and the fact that most of Beethoven's pianoforte music was
written in this form appears to be the reason for his works somewhat
falling into disuse. On the other hand, the form is undoubtedly
holding out better in the orchestral version of the sonata, the
symphony, because the tone color of orchestral instruments gives it
greater variety. Tschaikowsky, Dvorak and Brahms have worked
successfully, and the two former even brilliantly, in this form; and
if Brahms in his symphonies appears too continent, too classically
reserved, it would seem to be not so much the form itself which is to
blame, as his lack of skill in instrumentation.

My own personal preference is for the freer form developed by Liszt in
the symphonic poem, in which a leading motive, or possibly several
motives skillfully varied dominate the whole composition and give it
esthetic and psychological unity; and for the still freer development
of instrumental music in the tone poem of Richard Strauss. But neither
the symphonic poems of Liszt nor the tone poems of Strauss are
formless music. That should be well understood, although it should be
borne in mind with equal distinctness that these manifestations of the
genius of two great composers show a complete liberation from the
shackles of the classical symphony. In the end the test is found in
the music itself. If the music of a symphonic poem which sets out to
express a given title or a given motto, if the music of a tone poem
which starts out to interpret a programmatic story or device, is
worthy to be ranked with the great productions of the art, it not only
is profoundly interesting as music, but gains immensely in interest
through its incidental secondary meaning. It is the old story of art
for art's sake--art for the purpose of merely gratifying the eye or
the ear--or art for the purpose of conveying something besides itself
to the beholder or the listener; and it seems to me that, in the
history of the art, art for art's sake has always been the more
primitive expression and eventually has been obliged to give way.

The Naive Symphonists.

At the risk of repeating what already has been said of the sonata, the
symphony may be described as a work in four movements--the first
movement, usually an Allegro, sometimes with a slow introduction, but
more frequently without one; a second movement, ordinarily called the
slow movement, and usually in Adagio or Andante; a third movement,
either minuet or scherzo; and a final movement in fast time and
usually in rondo form. It was Haydn who pretty definitely established
these divisions of the symphony. He composed in all one hundred and
twenty-five symphonies, of which only a few appear on modern concert
programs, and even these but occasionally. Their music is marked by a
simplicity bordering on naïveté, and the orchestration is a string
quartet with a mere filling out by other instruments. Mozart was of a
deeper and more dramatic nature than Haydn, and the expression of his
thought was more intense. In the same way, there is a greater warmth
and color in his orchestration. Nevertheless, the three finest of his
forty-nine symphonies, the E flat, G minor and Jupiter, composed in
1788, seem almost childlike in their artless grace and beauty to us

Beethoven's first two symphonies were written under the influence of
Haydn and Mozart, but with the third he becomes distinctly epic in his
musical utterance; and this symphony, both in regard to variety and
depth of expression and skillful use of orchestral instruments, is as
great an advance upon the work of his predecessors as, let us say,
Tschaikowsky is upon Mendelssohn.

Beethoven to the Fore.

There are apparent in the sequences of Beethoven's symphonies
certain climaxes and certain rests. Thus the Third is the climax of
the first three. The Fourth is far less profound; the master
relaxes. But the Fifth, with its compact, vigorous theme, which
Beethoven himself is said to have described as Fate knocking at
the door, and his skillful introduction of this theme in varied form
in each of the movements, is by many regarded as his masterpiece--even
greater than the Ninth. After this he seems to have relaxed again
in the Sixth, Seventh and Eighth, in order to prepare himself for the
climax of his career in his final symphonic work, the Ninth. In the
slow movement of the Sixth (the "Pastoral"), in which he imitates
the call of birds, he gives the direction: "_mehr Empfindung als
Malerei_" (more feeling than painting), a direction which often is
quoted by opponents of modern program music; notwithstanding the fact
that Beethoven, in spite of his own qualifying words, straightway
indulged in "painting" of the most childish description. The Seventh
Symphony is an extremely brilliant work and the Eighth an exceedingly
joyous one, while with the Ninth, as though he himself felt that he
was going beyond the limits of orchestral music, he introduced in
the last movement solo singers and a chorus, but not with as much
effect as the employment of this unusual scheme might lead one to
anticipate, because, unfortunately, his writing for voices is
extremely awkward.

Schubert's Genius.

Like Beethoven, Schubert wrote nine symphonies, but the "Unfinished,"
which was his eighth, and the C major, his ninth, which was discovered
by Schumann in the possession of Schubert's brother and sent to
Mendelssohn for production at Leipzig, are the ones which seem
destined to survive. They are among the most beautiful examples of
orchestral music--the first movement of the "Unfinished Symphony" full
of dramatic moments as well as of exquisite melody, the slow movement
a veritable rose of orchestration; while as regards the C major
symphony, Schumann's reference to its "heavenly length" sufficiently
describes its inspiration.

Mendelssohn's Italian and Scotch symphonies are his best known
orchestral works. They are clear and serene, and for any one who
thinks a symphony is something very abstruse and wants to be gradually
familiarized with its mysteries, they form an easily taken and
innocuous dose--the symphony made palatable. Of Schumann's four
symphonies, the one in E flat, the "Rhenish," supposed to represent a
series of impressions of the Rhine country, the fourth movement
especially, to represent the exaltation which possessed his soul
during a religious ceremony in the cathedral at Cologne; and the D
minor, which latter really is a fantasia, deserve to rank highest. In
the D minor the movements follow each other without pause; there is a
certain thematic relationship between the first and the last
movements, and this connection gives the work a freer and more modern
effect. But Schumann was either indifferent to, or ignorant of, the
advance in orchestration which had taken place since Beethoven.
Practically the same thing applies to Brahms, who, however, deserves
the credit for introducing into the symphony a new style of movement,
the intermezzo, which takes the place of the scherzo or minuet.
Rubinstein deserves "honorable mention"; but the most modern heroes of
symphony are Dvorak, with his "New World," and Tschaikowsky, with his
"Pathétique." Such works are life-preservers that may help keep a
sinking art form afloat. But modern orchestral music is tending more
and more toward the symphonic poem and the tone poem.

Liszt has written two symphonies: the "Faust Symphony," consisting of
three movements, which represent the three principal characters of
Goethe's drama, _Faust_, _Gretchen_, and _Mephistopheles_; and a
symphony to Dante's "Divina Commedia." In both these symphonies a
chorus is introduced. Of his symphonic poems, the best known are
"Les Préludes," and "Tasso, Lamento e Trionfo." In these symphonic
poems Liszt has made use of the principle of the leitmotif in
orchestral music. They are dramatic episodes for orchestra,
superbly instrumentated, profoundly beautiful in thought and
intention--great program music in fact, because conceived in
accordance with the highest canons of the art, and infinitely more
interesting than "pure" music because they mean something. By some
people Liszt is regarded as a mere charlatan, by others as a great
composer. Not only was he a great composer, but one of the very

The Saint-Saëns symphonic poems, "Rouet d'Omphale," "Phaeton," "Danse
Macabre," should be mentioned as successful works of this class, but
considerably below Liszt's in genuine musical value. And then, there
are the orchestral impressions of Charles Martin Loeffler, among which
the symphonic poem, "La Mort de Tintagiles," is the most conspicuous.
A separate chapter is devoted to Richard Strauss.

Wagner is not supposed to have been a purely orchestral composer.
Theoretically, he wrote for the theatre, and his orchestra was (again
theoretically) only part of a triple scheme of voice, action and
instrumental accompaniment. But put the instrumental part of any of
his great music-drama episodes on a concert program, and with the
first wave of the conductor's baton and the first chord, you forget
everything else that has gone before!



Richard Strauss--a new name to conjure with in music! His banner is
borne by a band of enthusiasts like those who, many years ago, carried
the flag of Wagner to the front. "Did not Wagner put a full stop after
the word 'music'?" some will ask in surprise. "Did he not strike the
final note? Are the 'Ring,' 'Tristan' and 'Parsifal' not to be
succeeded by an eternal pause? Is there something still to be achieved
in music as in other arts and sciences?"

Something new certainly has been achieved by Richard Strauss. It forms
neither a continuation of Wagner nor an opposition to Wagner. It has
nothing to do with Wagner, beyond that Strauss appropriates whatever
in the progression of art the latest master has a right to take from
his predecessors. Strauss is, in fact, one of the most original and
individual of composers.

He has been a student, not a copyist, of Wagner. Thus, where others
who have sat at the feet of the Bayreuth master have written poor
imitations of Wagner, and have therefore failed even to continue the
school, giving only feeble echoes of its great master, Strauss has
struck out for himself. With a mastery of every technical resource,
acquired by deep and patient study, he has given wholly new value and
importance to a form of art entirely different from the music-drama.
The music of the average modern Wagner disciple sounds not like
Wagner, but like Wagner and water. Richard Strauss sounds like Richard

One reason for this is that his art work, like Wagner's, has an
independent intellectual reason for being. Let me not for one moment
be understood as belittling Wagner, in order to magnify Strauss.
Wagner is the one creator of an art-form who also seems destined to
remain its greatest exponent. Other creators of art-forms have been
mere pioneers, leaving to those who have come after them the
development and rounding out of what with them were experiments. The
story of the sonata form may be said to have begun with Philipp
Emanuel Bach and to have been "continued in our next" to Beethoven,
with "supplements" ever since. The music-drama had its tentative
beginnings in "The Flying Dutchman," its consummation in "Parsifal."
The years from 1843 to 1882 lay between, but the music-drama was
guided ever by the same hand, the master hand of Richard Wagner. No,
it would be self-defeating folly to make Wagner appear less in order
to have Strauss appear more.

Originator of the Tone Poem.

Nor does Richard Strauss require such tactics. He has made three
excursions into music-drama and he may make others. But his fame, at
present, rests mainly upon what he has accomplished as an instrumental
composer, and in the self-created realm of the Tone Poem. Tone poem
is a new term in music. It stands for something that outstrips the
symphonic poem of Liszt, something larger both in its boundaries and
in its intellectual and musical scope. Strauss does not limit himself
by the word symphonic. He leaves himself free to give full range to
his ideas. A composer of "program music," his works are so stupendous
in scope that the word symphonic would have hampered him. His "Also
Sprach Zarathustra" ("Thus Spake Zarathustra") and "Ein Heldenleben"
("A Hero's Life") are not symphonic poems, but tone poems of enormous
proportions. These, his last two instrumental productions, together
with the growing familiarity of the musical public with his beautiful
and eloquent songs, established his reputation in this country.
To-day, a Strauss work on a program means as much to the musically
elect as a Wagner work meant a quarter of a century ago. In fact, to
advanced musicians, to those who are not content to rest upon what has
been achieved, but are ready to welcome further serious effort,
Strauss's works form the latest great utterance in music. Let me
repeat verbatim a conversation that occurred on a recent rainy night,
the date of an important concert.

He: "Are you going to the concert to-night?"

She: (_Looking out and seeing that it still is raining hard_) "Do they
play anything by Richard Strauss?"

He: "Not to-night."

She: "Then I'm not going."

This woman could meet the most enthusiastic admirer of Beethoven or
Wagner on his own ground. But when she heard "Ein Heldenleben" under
Emil Paur's baton at a concert of the New York Philharmonic Society,
she heard what she had been waiting twenty years for--something new in
music that also was something great; something that was not merely an
imitation of what she had heard a hundred times before, but something
which pointed the way to untraveled paths. It always is woman who
throws the first rose at the feet of genius.

Not a Juggler with the Orchestra.

One first looks at Richard Strauss in mere amazement at the size of
what he has produced. "Thus Spake Zarathustra" lasts thirty-three
minutes, "A Hero's Life" forty-five--considerable lengths for
orchestral works. This initial sense of "bigness," as such, having
worn off, one becomes aware of marvellous tone combinations and
orchestral effects. Listening again, one discovers that these daring
instrumental combinations have not been entered into merely for the
sake of juggling with the orchestra, but because the composer, being a
modern of moderns, has the most modern message in music to deliver,
and, in order to deliver it, has developed the modern orchestra to a
state of efficiency and versatility of tonal expression beyond any of
his predecessors. Richard Strauss scores, in the most casual manner,
an octave higher than Beethoven dared go with the violins. Except in
the "Egmont" overture, Beethoven did not carry the violins higher than
F above the staff. What should have been higher he wrote an octave
lower. All the strings in the Richard Strauss orchestra are scored
correspondingly high. But this is not done as a mere fad. What
Richard Strauss accomplishes with the strings is not merely queer or
bizarre. What he seeks and obtains is genuine original musical
effects. Often the highest register is used by him in a few of the
strings only, because, for certain polyphonic effects--the weaving and
interweaving of various themes--he divides and subdivides all the
strings into numerous groups. For the same reason, he has regularly
added four or five hitherto rarely used instruments to the woodwind
and scores, regularly, for eight horns, besides employing from four to
five trumpets.

While he has increased the technical difficulties of every instrument,
what he requires of them is not impossible. He does, indeed, call for
first-rate artists in his orchestra; but so did Wagner as compared
with Beethoven. He knows every instrument thoroughly, for he has taken
lessons on all; and, therefore, when he is striving for new
instrumental effects he is not putting problems which cannot be
legitimately solved. His "Till Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks" makes,
possibly, the greatest demand of all his works on an orchestra. But,
if properly played, it is one of the most bizarre and amusing scherzos
in the repertoire. In his "Don Quixote," he has gone outside the list
of orchestral instruments; and in the scene where _Don Quixote_ has
his tilt with the windmill, he has introduced a regular theatrical
wind-machine. And why not? The effect to be produced justifies the
means. There is an _à capella_ chorus by Strauss for sixteen voices.
These are not divided into two double quartets, or into four quartets,
but the composition actually is scored in sixteen parts. He shrinks
from no musical problem.

Not Mere Bulk and Noise.

When "A Hero's Life" was produced in New York it was given at a public
rehearsal and concert of the Philharmonic. It made such a profound
impression--it was recognized as music, not as mere bulk and
noise--that it had to be repeated at a following public rehearsal and
concert, thus having the honor of four consecutive performances by the
same society in one season. Previous performances of Strauss's works,
mainly by the Chicago Orchestra, under Thomas, and the Boston Symphony
Orchestra, had begun to direct public attention to this composer. But
the "Heldenleben" performances by the Philharmonic created something
of a sensation. They made the "hit" to which the public unconsciously
had been working up for several seasons. Large as are the dimensions
of "A Hero's Life," Richard Strauss had chosen a subject that made a
very direct appeal. Despite its wealth of polyphony and theme
combination, the score told, without a word of synopsis, a clear
intelligible story of a hero's material victory, followed by a greater
moral one. It placed the public on a human, familiar footing with a
composer whom previously they had regarded with more awe than
interest. Here was music interesting as mere music, but all the more
interesting because it had an intellectual message to convey.

Life and Truth.

What is the difference between classical and modern music? Write a
chapter or a book on it, and the difference still remains just this:
Classical music is the expression of beauty; modern music the
expression of life and truth. Modern music seems entering upon a new
era with Strauss, which does not necessarily exclude beauty. It is
beginning to illustrate itself, so to speak, like the author-artist
who can both write and draw. To-day, music not only expresses truth,
but represents it pictorially. How long will the time be in coming
when a composer will wave his bâton, the orchestra strike a chord--and
we be not only listeners but also beholders, hearing the chord, and
seeing at the same time its image floating above the orchestra?

In his "Melomaniacs," the most remarkable collection of musical
stories I have read, Mr. Huneker has a tale called "A Piper of
Dreams," the most advanced piece of musical fiction I know of. This
piper of dreams produces music which is _seen_. "Do you know why you
like it?" Mr. Huneker asked me, when I told him how intensely I
admired the story. "Because," he continued, "the hero of the story is
a Richard Strauss."

Of course, this brilliantly written story was a daring incursion into
a seemingly impossible future. Yet it points a tendency. When shall we
have music that can be seen? Considering how closely related are the
laws of acoustics and optics, is a "Piper of Dreams" so visionary? Who
knows but that the music of the future may be visible sound--the work
of a piper of dreams? Sometimes, when listening to Strauss, I think
Mr. Huneker's _Piper_ is tuning up.

Richard Strauss's tone poems are large in plan. In fact they are
colossal. They show him to be a man of great intellectual activity, as
well as an inspired composer. The latter, of course, is the test by
which a musical work stands or falls. No matter how intellectually it
is planned, if it is inadequate musically it fails. But if it is
musically inspired, it gains vastly in effect when it rests on a brain

Literally Tone Dramas.

That Richard Strauss is the most significant figure in the musical
world to-day seems to me too patent to admit of discussion. The only
question to be considered is, how has he become so? The question is
best answered by showing what a Richard Strauss tone poem is. Take
"Thus Spake Zarathustra" and "A Hero's Life." Without going into an
elaborate discussion I must insist that, to consider Richard Strauss
as in any way a development from Berlioz or Liszt, shows a deplorable
unfamiliarity with his works. Berlioz wrote program music. Liszt wrote
program music. Richard Strauss writes program music. But this point of
resemblance is wholly superficial. Berlioz admittedly strove to adhere
to the orthodox symphonic form. Liszt aptly named his own productions
"symphonic poems." They are much freer in form than Berlioz's, and
possibly pointed the way to the Richard Strauss tone poem. But when we
examine the musical kernel, the difference at once is apparent.
Polyphony, that is, the simultaneous interweaving of many themes, was
foreign to Berlioz and Liszt. Their style is mainly homophonic.
Richard Strauss is a polyphonic composer second not even to Wagner,
whose system of leading motives in his music-dramas made his scores
such marvellous polyphonic structures. Such, too, are the scores of
Richard Strauss's tone poems. None but a master of polyphony could
have attempted to express in music what Richard Strauss has expressed.
For are not his tone poems literally tone dramas?

It was like a man of great intellectual activity, such as Richard
Strauss is, to select for musical illustration the Faust of modern
literature--Nietzsche's "Zarathustra." The composer became interested
in Nietzsche's works in 1892, when he was writing his music-drama,
"Guntram." The full fruition of his study of this philosopher's works
is "Thus Spake Zarathustra." But this is not an attempt to set
Nietzsche to music, not an effort to express a system of philosophy
through sound. It is rather the musical portrayal of a quest--a being
longing to solve the problems of life, finding at the end of his
varied pilgrimage that which he had left at the beginning, Nature deep
and inscrutable.

Musically, the great _fortissimo_ outburst in C major, which, at the
beginning of the work, greets the seeker on the mountain-top with the
glories of the sunrise, is the symbol of Nature. The seeker descends
the mountain. He pursues the quest amid many surroundings, among all
sorts and conditions of men. He experiences joy, passion, remorse. In
wisdom, perchance, lies the final solution of the problem of life. But
the emptiness of "wisdom" is depicted by the composer with the
keenest satire in a learned, yet dry, five-part fugue. The seeker's
varied experiences form as many divisions of the tone poem. There is
even a waltz theme. Unending joy! Therein he may reach the end of his

But hark! a sombre strophe, followed twelve times by the even fainter
stroke of a bell! Then a theme winging its flight on the highest
register of modern instrumentation, until it seems to rise over the
orchestra and vanish into thin air. It is the soul of the seeker, his
earthly quest ended; while the theme which greeted him at sunrise on
the mountain-top resounds in the orchestral depths, the symbol of
Nature, still mysterious, still inscrutable.

An Intellectual Force in Music.

Even this brief synopsis suggests that "Zarathustra" is planned on a
large scale. It presupposes an intellectual grasp of the subject on
the composer's part. In its choice, in the selection and rejection of
details and in outlining his scheme, Richard Strauss shows that he has
thoroughly assimilated Nietzsche. But, at a certain point, the
musician in Richard Strauss asserts himself above the litterateur.
"Thus Spake Zarathustra" was not intended for a preachment, save
indirectly. From what occurs during that vain quest, from the last
deep mysterious chord of the Nature theme, let the listener draw his
own conclusion. In the last analysis, "Thus Spake Zarathustra" is not
a philosophical treatise, but a tone poem. In the last analysis,
Richard Strauss is not a philosopher, but a musician.

"A Hero's Life" is another work of large plan. Like "Zarathustra," it
derives its importance as an art-work from its eloquence as a musical
composition. With a musical work, no matter how intellectual or
dramatic its foundation, its test ever will be its value as pure
music. Richard Wagner's theories would have fallen like a house of
cards, had not his music been eloquent and beautiful. But as his music
gained wonderfully in added eloquence and beauty by induction from its
intellectual content, so does Strauss's. The fact is, music is music,
while philosophies come and go. Yesterday it was Schopenhauer; to-day
it is Nietzsche; to-morrow it will be another. Doubtless, Wagner
thought his "Ring" was Schopenhauer's "Negation of the Will to Live"
set to music. Possibly, Richard Strauss thought Nietzsche looked out
between the bars of "Thus Spake Zarathustra." In point of fact,
neither Wagner nor Richard Strauss incorporated their favorite
philosophers in their music. Wagner may have derived his inspiration
from his reading of Schopenhauer, and Richard Strauss from Nietzsche,
for one mind inspires another. But the real result, both in Wagner and
Strauss, was great music.

This is made clear by Strauss's "A Hero's Life." Like "Zarathustra,"
it would be effective as music without a line of programmatic
explanation. The latter simply adds to its effectiveness by giving it
the further interest of "fiction" and ethical import. In "A Hero's
Life" we hear (and _see_, if you like) the hero himself, his jealous
adversaries, the woman whose love consoles him, the battle in which he
wins his greatest worldly triumph, his mission of peace, the world's
indifference and the final flight of his soul toward the empyrean. All
this is depicted musically with the greatest eloquence. The
battlefield scene is a stupendous massing of orchestral forces. On the
other hand, the amorous episode, entitled "The Hero's Helpmate," is
impassioned and charming.

In the world's indifference to the hero's mission of peace, there is
little doubt that Strauss was indulging in a retrospect of his own
struggles for recognition. For here are heard numerous reminiscences
of his earlier works--his tone poems, "Don Juan," "Death and
Transfiguration," "Macbeth," "Till Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks," "Thus
Spake Zarathustra," "Don Quixote"; his music-drama, "Guntram"; and his
song, "Dream During Twilight." These reminiscences give "A Hero's
Life" the same autobiographical interest as attaches to Wagner's

Tribute to Wagner.

Strauss pays a tribute to Wagner in the one-act opera, "Feuersnot" ("Fire
Famine"). According to the old legend on which this _Sing-gedicht_
(song-poem) is founded, a young maiden has offended her lover. But the
lover being a magician, casts a spell over the town, causing the
extinction of all fire, bringing cold and darkness upon the entire
place, until the maiden relents and smiles again upon him, when the
spell is lifted and the fires once more burn brightly. The young
lover, _Kunrad_, in rebuking the people of the city, says:

    "In this house which to-day I destroy,
    Once lodged Richard the Master.
    Disgracefully did ye expel him
    In envy and baseness," etc., etc.

Accompanying these lines, Strauss introduces themes from Wagner's
"Ring of the Nibelung." Undoubtedly "Richard the Master," in the above
lines, is Richard Wagner.

While Mr. Paur was not the first orchestral leader who has played
Strauss's music in this country, he may justly be regarded as
Strauss's prophet in New York at least. Not only do we owe to him the
performances of "A Hero's Life," which definitely "created" Strauss
here, but it was he who brought forward "Thus Spake Zarathustra," when
he was conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. As long ago as
1889, when Mr. Paur was conductor at Mannheim, he invited Strauss to
direct his symphony in F minor there. Strauss accepted and also
brought with him his just completed "Macbeth," asking to be allowed to
try it over with the orchestra, as he wanted to hear it--a request
which was readily granted. Afterward, at Mr. Paur's house, Strauss's
piano quartet was played, with the composer himself at the piano and
Mr. Paur at the violin. It is not surprising that when Mr. Paur came
over here as the conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, he
championed Richard Strauss's work, continued to do so after he became
conductor of the New York Philharmonic Society, and probably still
does as conductor of the Pittsburg Orchestra.

Strauss has become such an important figure in the world of music
that it is interesting to note what has been done to bring his work
before the American public. Theodore Thomas, with the artistic
liberality which he has always displayed toward every serious effort
in music, produced Strauss's symphony in F minor, which bears date
1883, as early as December 13, 1884, with the New York Philharmonic
Society. It was the first performance of this work anywhere.
Strauss was not, however, heard again at the concerts of this
organization until January, 1892, when Seidl brought out "Death
and Transfiguration."

After he became conductor of the Chicago Orchestra, Thomas gave many
performances of Richard Strauss's works--in 1895, the prelude to
"Guntram," "Death and Transfiguration" and "Till Eulenspiegel's Merry
Pranks"; in 1897, "Don Juan" and "Thus Spake Zarathustra"; in 1899,
"Don Quixote" and the symphonic fantasia, "Italy"; in 1900, "A Hero's
Life" (the first performance in this country) and the "Serenade" for
wind instruments; in 1902, "Macbeth" (first performance in this
country) and the "Feuersnot" fragment. Several of these works, besides
those noted, had their first performance in this country by the
Chicago Orchestra, and several have had repeated performances.

The Boston Symphony Orchestra also has a fine record as regards the
performance of Richard Strauss's works. Nikisch, Paur, and Gericke are
the conductors under whom these performances have been given. Several
of the works have been played repeatedly not only in Boston, but in
other cities where this famous orchestra gives concerts.

Richard Straussiana.

As data regarding Strauss's life, at the disposal of English readers,
are both scant and scattered, it may not be amiss to tell here
something of his career. He was born on June 11, 1864, in Munich,
where his father, Franz Strauss, played the French-horn in the Royal
Orchestra, and was noted for his remarkable proficiency on the
instrument. The elder Strauss lived long enough to watch with pride
his son's growing fame. Richard began to play the piano when he was
four years old. At the age of six he heard some children singing
around a Christmas tree. "I can compose something like that," he said,
and he produced unaided a three-part song. When he went to school, his
mother by chance put covers of music paper on his books. As a result,
he occupied much of his time composing on this paper, and during a
French lesson sketched out the scherzo of a string quartet which has
been published as his Opus 2. While he was still at school, he
composed a symphony in D minor. This was played by the Royal Orchestra
under Levi. When, in response to calls for the composer, Richard came
out, some one in the audience asked: "What has that boy to do with the
symphony?" "Oh, he's only the composer," was the reply. The year
before (1880), the Royal Opera prima donna, Meysenheim, had publicly
sung three of his songs.

During his advanced school years, his piano lessons continued, he
received lessons in the violin, and went through a severe course in
composition with the Royal Kapellmeister, Meyer. In 1882, he attended
the University of Munich. His "Serenade" for wind instruments,
composed at this time, attracted the attention of Hans von Bülow,
under whom he studied for a while at Raff's conservatory in Frankfort.
Bülow invited him to Meiningen as co-director of the orchestra, and
when in November, 1885, Bülow resigned as conductor, Strauss became
his successor, remaining there, however, only till April, 1886. His
symphonic fantasia, "Italy," had its origin through a trip to Rome and
Naples during this year. In August, 1886, he was appointed assistant
conductor to Levi and Fischer at the Munich Opera, where he remained
until July, 1889, when he became conductor at Weimar. In 1892, he
almost died from an attack of pneumonia, and on his recovery took a
long trip through Greece, Egypt and Sicily. It was on this tour that
he wrote and composed "Guntram," which was brought out at Weimar in
May, 1894. After the first performance, he announced his engagement to
the singer of _Freihild_ in "Guntram," Pauline de Ahna, the daughter
of a Bavarian general. The same year he returned to Munich as
conductor, remaining there until 1899, when he became one of the
conductors at the Berlin Opera, which position he still holds. He is
one of the "star" conductors of Europe, receiving invitations to
conduct concerts in many cities, including Brussels, Moscow,
Amsterdam, Barcelona, Madrid, London and Paris; and his American tour
was a memorable one. He is a man of untiring industry. It is said that
he worked no less than half a year on "Thus Spake Zarathustra," and
that the writing of his scores is a model of beauty.

Strauss occupies a commanding position in the world of music. He has
achieved it through a remarkable combination of musical technique and
inspiration coupled with rare industry. His ideals are of the highest.
His intellectual activity is great. He seems a man of calm and noble
poise, of broad horizon. It would be presumption to speak of
"expectations" as to one who has accomplished so much. For the great
achievements already to his credit, and among these "Salome" surely
must be included, are the best promise for the future.



Lovers of chamber music form an extremely refined and cultured
class, and, like all highly refined and cultured people, are very
conservative. They are the purists among music-lovers, the last
people who would care to see the classical forms abandoned, and who
would be disturbed, not to say shocked, by any great departure
from the sonata form. For the string quartet is to chamber music what
the symphony is to orchestra and the sonata to the pianoforte--is, in
fact, a sonata for two violins, viola and violoncello, just as the
symphony is a sonata for orchestra.

Oddly enough, a pianoforte solo is more effective in a large hall than
a string quartet, although the latter employs four times as many
instruments; and the same is true of those pieces of chamber music in
which the pianoforte is used, such as sonatas for pianoforte and
violin or violoncello, pianoforte trios, quartets, quintets, and so
on. A fine soloist on the pianoforte will be more at home in a large
auditorium like Carnegie Hall or even the Metropolitan Opera House
than would a string quartet or any other combination of chamber-music
players. Paderewski plays in Carnegie Hall, and, I am sure, would be
equally effective in the Opera House. But an organization of
chamber-music players would be lost in either place. The Kneisel
Quartet plays in New York in Mendelssohn Hall, a small auditorium
which is just about correctly proportioned for music of this kind.

Indeed, compared with the opera, the orchestra and even with the
pianoforte, chamber music requires a setting like a jewel. For just as
its devotees are the purists among music-lovers, so chamber music
itself is something very "precious." It certainly is a most charming
and intimate form of musical entertainment and the constituency of a
well-established string quartet inevitably consists of the musical

The same opinions that have been expressed regarding the sonatas and
the symphonies of the great composers apply in a general way to their
chamber music. Haydn's is naive; Mozart's more emotional in
expression; Beethoven's, among that of classical composers, the most
dramatic. In fact, Beethoven's last quartets, in which the instruments
are employed quite independently and in which rôles practically of
equal importance are assigned to each, are regarded by Richard Strauss
as having given the cue to Wagner for his polyphonic treatment of the
orchestra, and Wagner himself spoke of them as works through which
"Music first raised herself to an equal height with the poetry and
painting of the greatest periods of the past." Nevertheless, there are
many who hold that in his last quartets Beethoven sought to accomplish
more than can be expressed with four stringed instruments, and prefer
his earlier works of this class, like the three "Rasumovski" quartets,
Opus 59, dedicated by the composer to Count Rasumovski, who
maintained a private string quartet in which he played second violin,
the others being professionals.

Schubert's most famous quartet is the one in D minor with the lovely
slow movement, a theme with variations, the theme being his own song,
"Death and the Maiden." One of the greatest works in the whole range
of chamber music is his string quintet with two violoncellos. His
pianoforte trios also are noble contributions to this branch of
musical art. "One glance at this trio," writes Schumann of the
Schubert trio in B flat major, "and all the wretchedness of existence
is put to flight and the world seems young again.... Many and
beautiful as are the things Time brings forth, it will be long ere it
produces another Schubert."

Mendelssohn's chamber music is as polished, affable and gentlemanly as
most of his other productions, and rapidly falling into the same
state of unlamented desuetude. Schumann has given us his lovely
pianoforte quintet in E flat. Brahms has contributed much that is
noteworthy to chamber music, and, as a rule, it is less complex and
more intelligently scored than his orchestral music. Dvorak in his E
flat major quartet (Opus 51) introduces as the second movement a Dumka
or Bohemian elegy, one of the most exquisite of his compositions.
Fascinating in his national musical tints, he was genius enough for
his music to be universal in its expression; and he who used the
folksongs of his native Bohemia so skillfully was no less artistic
in the results he accomplished when, during his residence in New
York, he wrote his string quartet in F (Opus 96) on Negro themes.
Tschaikowsky and neo-Russians like Arensky, and the Frenchmen,
César Franck, Saint-Saëns, d'Indy and Debussy, are some of the modern
names that figure on chamber-music programs.




Songs either are strophic or "_durchcomponirt_" (composed through). In
the strophic song the melody and accompaniment are repeated unchanged
through each stanza or strophe of the poem; while, when a song is
composed through, the music, although the principal melody may be
repeated more than once, is subjected to changes in accordance with
the moods of the poem.

Schubert is the first song composer who requires serious consideration.
While not strictly the originator of the _Lied_, he is universally
acknowledged to be the first great song composer and to have lifted song
to its proper place of importance in music. Gluck set Klopfstock's odes to
music; Haydn as a song writer is remembered by "Liebes Mädchen hör' mir
Zu"; Mozart by "Das Veilchen"; and Beethoven by "Adelaide" and one or
two other songs. Before Schubert's day this form of composition was
regarded as something rather trivial and beneath the dignity of genius.
But Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven at least did one thing through which they
may possibly have contributed to the development of song-writing. By their
freer writing for the pianoforte they prepared the way for the Schubert

Where Schubert got his musical genius from is a mystery. His father
was a schoolmaster, whose first wife, Schubert's mother, was a cook.
The couple had fourteen children and an income of $175. If this income
is somewhat disproportionate to the size of the family, it yet is
fortunate that they had fourteen children instead of only thirteen.
Otherwise there would have been one great name less in musical
history, for Schubert was the fourteenth.

He was born in Vienna in January, 1797. His thirty-one years--for this
genius who so enriched music lived to be only thirty-one--were passed
in poverty. His father was wretchedly poor, and his own works, when
they could be disposed of at all to publishers, were sold at beggarly
prices. Now they are universally recognized as masterpieces and are
worth many times their weight in gold.

Too Poor to Buy Music Paper.

Shortly before he was twelve years old, Schubert, who had been singing
soprano solos and playing violin in the parish choir, was sent to the
so-called Convict, the Imperial school for training boys for the Court
chapel. During his five years there his progress was so rapid that
even before he was fourteen years old he was occasionally asked to
substitute for the conductor of the school orchestra. Life, however,
was hard. He had no money with which to buy even a few luxuries in the
way of food to eke out the wretched fare of the Convict, nor music
paper. Had it not been for the kindness of a fellow pupil and friend,
named Spaun, he would not have been able to write down and work out
his ideas.

When his voice changed, the straitened family circumstances obliged
him to become an assistant in his father's school. He was able to bear
poverty with patience, but not the drudgery of teaching, and he is
said often to have lost his temper with the boys. Altogether, he
taught for three years, 1815 to 1818; and while his work was most
distasteful to him, his genius was so spontaneous that during his
three years he composed many songs, among them his immortal "Erlking."
Finally a university student, Franz von Schober, who, having heard
some of Schubert's songs, had become an enthusiastic admirer of the
composer, offered him one of his rooms as a lodging, whereupon
Schubert, straightway accepting the offer, gave up teaching and from
that time to the end of his brief life led a Bohemian existence with a
clique of friends of varied accomplishments. In this circle he was
known as "Canevas," because whenever some new person joined it, his
first question regarding the newcomer was "_Kann er wass?_" (Can he do

Outside a small circle of acquaintances, Schubert remained practically
unknown until he made the acquaintance of Johann Michael Vogl, an
opera singer, to whom his devoted friend, Von Schober, introduced him.
Vogl was somewhat reserved in his opinion of the songs which he tried
over with Schubert at their first meeting, but they made an
impression. He followed up the acquaintance and became the first
professional interpreter of Schubert's lyrics. "The manner in which
Vogl sings and I accompany," wrote Schubert to his brother Ferdinand,
"so that we appear like _one_ on such occasions, is something new and
unheard of to our listeners." Publishers, however, held aloof. Five
years after the "Erlking" was composed, several of them refused to
print it, although Schubert offered to forego royalties on it.
Finally, some of Schubert's friends had the song published at their
own expense, and its success led to the issuing of eleven other songs,
Schubert unwisely accepting eight hundred florins in lieu of royalty
on these and the "Erlking." Yet from one of these songs alone, "The
Wanderer," the publishers received twenty-seven thousand florins
between the years 1822 and 1861.

How the "Erlking" was Composed.

Schubert being the greatest of song composers, and the "Erlking" his
greatest song, the circumstances under which it was written are of
especial interest. His friend Spaun, the same who provided him with
music paper at the Convict, relates that one afternoon toward the
close of the year 1815 he went with the poet Mayrhofer to visit
Schubert. They found the composer all aglow, reading the "Erlking"
aloud to himself. He walked up and down the room several times, book
in hand, then suddenly sat down and as fast as his pen could travel
put the music on paper. Having no piano, the three men hurried over to
the Convict, where the "Erlking" was sung the same evening and
received with enthusiasm. The old Court organist, Ruziczka, afterward
played it over himself without the voice, and when some of those
present objected to the dissonance which occurs three times in the
course of the composition and depicts the child's terror of the
_Erlking_, the old organist struck these chords and explained how
perfectly they reflected the spirit of the poem and how felicitously
they were worked out in their musical resolution.

Schubert's song is almost Wagnerian in its descriptive and dramatic
quality. The coaxing voice of the _Erlking_, the terror of the child,
the efforts of the father to allay his boy's fears, each has its
characteristic expression, which yet is different from the narrative
portions of the poem, while in the accompaniment the horse gallops
along. Schubert was but eighteen years old when he set this ballad of
Goethe's to music; yet there is no more thrilling climax to be found
in all song literature than those dissonances which I have mentioned
and which with each repeat rise to a higher interval and become each
time more shrill with terror. Whoever has heard Lilli Lehmann sing
this song should be able to appreciate its real greatness, as Goethe,
who had remained utterly indifferent to Schubert's music, did when the
"Erlking" was sung to him by Frau Schroeder-Devrient, to whom he
exclaimed: "Thank you a thousand times for this great artistic
achievement. When I heard this song before I did not like it at all,
but sung in your way it becomes a true picture."

Finck on Schubert.

More than six hundred songs by Schubert have been published, and when
we remember that he wrote symphonies, sonatas, shorter pianoforte
pieces, chamber music and operas, the fertility of his brief life is
astounding. The rapidity with which he composed, however, was not due
to carelessness, but to the spontaneity of his genius and the fact
that he loved to compose. "He composed as a bird sings in the spring,
or as a well gushes from a mountain-side, simply because he could not
help it," says Mr. Finck, in his "Songs and Song Writers." We have it
on the authority of Schubert's friend, Spaun, that when he went to bed
he kept his spectacles on, so that when he woke up he could go right
to the table and compose without wasting time looking for his glasses.
In the two years 1815-16 he wrote no less than two hundred and
fifty-four songs. Six of the songs in the "Winterreise" cycle were
composed in one morning, and he had eight songs to his credit in a
single day. The charming "Hark, Hark, the Lark" was written at a
tavern where he chanced to see the poem in a book the leaves of which
he was slowly turning over. "If I only had some music paper!" he
exclaimed, whereupon one of his friends promptly ruled lines on the
back of his _Speise Karte_, and Schubert, with the varied noises of
the tavern going on about him, jotted down the song then and there.

Of course, it is impossible to touch on all the aspects of such a
genius as his. In his songs clear and beautiful melody is, as a rule,
combined with a descriptive accompaniment. Sometimes the description
is given by means of only a few chords, like the preluding ones in "Am
Meer." At other times the description runs through the entire
accompaniment, like the waves that flash and dance around the melody
of "Auf dem Wasser zu Singen"; the galloping horse in the "Erlking";
the veiled mist that seems to hang over the scenes in the wonderfully
dramatic poem, "Die Stadt"; the flutter of the bird in "Hark, Hark,
the Lark"; the brook that flows like a leitmotif through the "Maid of
the Mill" cycle--these are a few of the examples that with Schubert
could be cited by the dozen.

And the range of his work--here again space forbids the multiplication
of examples. It extends from the naive "Haiden Röslein" to the tragic
"Doppelgänger"; from the whispering foliage of the "Linden Tree" to
the pathetic drone of the "Hurdy-Gurdy Man"; from the "Serenade" to
"Todt und das Mädchen." Schubert is the greatest genius among song
composers. Compare the growing reputation of him who of all musicians
was perhaps the most neglected during his life, with that of
Mendelssohn, the most fêted of composers, but now rapidly dropping to
the position of a minor tone poet, and who, although he wrote
eighty-three songs, is as a song writer remembered outside of Germany
by barely more than one _Lied_, the familiar "On the Wings of Song."

Schumann's Individuality.

In Schumann's songs the piano part is more closely knit and interwoven
with the vocal melody than with Schubert's, and, as a result, the
voice does not stand out so clearly. While his songs are not what they
have been called by a German critic, "pianoforte pieces with
accidental vocal accompaniments," at times, in his vocal compositions,
the pianoforte gains too great an ascendancy over the voice. If asked
to draw a distinction between Schubert and Schumann, I should say
that there is a twofold interest in most of Schubert's songs. He
reproduces the feeling of the poem in his vocal melody; then, if the
poem contains a descriptive suggestion, he produces that phase of it
in his accompaniment, without, however, allowing the pianoforte part
to encroach on the vocal melody. The melody gives the feeling, the
accompaniment the description or mood picture. Schumann, on the other
hand, rarely is descriptive. Nearly always he produces a mood picture
in tone, but requires both voice and pianoforte to effect his purpose.
As this, however, is Schumann's method of composition, and as it is
better that each composer should leave the seal of his individuality
on everything he does, and not be an imitator, it is not cause for
regret that while Schubert is Schubert, Schumann is Schumann.

The proportion of fine songs among the two hundred and forty-five
composed by Schumann is, however, much smaller than in the heritage
left us by Schubert; and while Schubert, from the time he wrote his
first great vocal compositions, added many equally great ones every
year, Schumann's songs, on the whole, show a decided falling off after
he had wooed and won Clara Wieck. It was during his courtship that he
produced his best songs. Separated from her by the command of her
stern father, he made love to her in music.

"I am now writing nothing but songs, great and small," we find him
saying in a letter to a friend in the summer of 1840. "Hardly can I
tell you how delicious it is to write for voice instead of for
instruments, and what a turmoil and tumult I feel within me when I
sit down to it." While he was composing his song cycle, "Die
Myrthen," he wrote to Clara: "Since yesterday morning I have
written twenty-seven pages of music, all new, concerning which the
best I can tell you is that I laughed and wept for joy while
composing them." A month later he writes her, in sending her his
first printed songs: "When I composed them my soul was within
yours; without such a love, indeed, no one could write such
music--and this I intend as a special compliment." ... "I could
sing myself to death, like a nightingale," he writes to her again,
on May 15th. Never was there such a musical wooing, and those who
wish to participate in it can do so by singing or listening to such
songs as "Dedication," "The Almond Tree," "The Lotos Flower," "In
the Forest" (Waldesgespräch), "Spring Night," "He, the Noblest of
the Noble," "Thou Ring upon My Finger," "'Twas in the Lovely Month of
May," "Where'er My Tears Are Falling," "I'll Not Complain," and
"Nightly in My Dreaming." Among his songs not inspired by love
should be mentioned the "Two Grenadiers," which Plançon sings so

Phases of Franz's Genius.

Robert Franz (1815-1892) had his life embittered by neglect and
physical ills. His family name originally was Knauth, his father
having been Christoph Knauth. But in order to distinguish him from his
brother, who was engaged in the same business, he was addressed as
Christoph Franz, a name which he subsequently had legalized. Yet
critics insisted that Robert Franz was a pseudonym which the composer
had adopted from vanity in order to indicate that he was as great as
_Robert_ Schumann and _Franz_ Schubert put together.

Franz was strongly influenced by Bach and Händel, many of whose scores
he supplied with what are known as "additional accompaniments,"
filling out gaps which these composers left in their scores according
to the custom of their day. His songs show this influence in their
polyphony, and the German critic, Ambros, said that Franz's song, "Der
Schwere Abend," looked as if Bach had sat down and composed a Franz
song out of thanks for all that Franz was to do for him through his
additional accompaniments. Besides their polyphony derived from Bach,
Franz's songs are interesting for their modulations, which are
employed not simply for the sake of showing cleverness or originality,
but for their appropriateness in expressing the mood of the poem. He
also was extremely careful in regard to the choice of key and
decidedly objected to transpositions of his songs, in order to make
them singable for higher or lower voices than could use the original
key. "When I am dead," he wrote to his publisher, "I cannot prevent
these transpositions, but so long as I am alive I shall fight them."

Franz did not endeavor to reproduce visible things in his pianoforte
parts, and the voice in his songs often is declamatory, merging into
melody only in the more deeply emotional passages. He is a reflective
rather than a dramatic composer, disliked opera, and himself said that
any one who had penetrated deeply into his songs well knew that the
dramatic element was not to be found in them, nor was it intended to
be. Composers, however, have many theories regarding their music
which, in practice, come to naught; and whether Franz thought his
songs dramatic or not, the fact remains that when Lilli Lehmann sang
his "Im Herbst" it was as thrillingly dramatic as anything could be.


Franz was extremely self-critical. He kept his productions in his desk
for years, working over them again and again, until in many cases the
song in its final shape bore slight resemblance to what it had been at
first. He declared his Opus 1 to be no worse than his latest work,
because it had been composed with equal care and had had the benefit
of his ripening judgment and experience. He admired Wagner and
dedicated one of his song volumes to him; but when some critics
fancied that they discovered Wagnerian traits in several songs in his
last collection, Op. 51-52, he was able to prove that these very songs
were among the first he had written, and were published so late in his
career simply because he had kept them back for revision.

His physical disabilities were pitiable. When he was about thirty-three
years old and shortly after his marriage, he was standing in the Halle
railway station when a locomotive close by sounded its shrill whistle.
The effect upon him was like the piercing of his ears. For several
days afterward he heard nothing but confused buzzing, and from that
time on his hearing became worse and worse, until finally his ears
pained him even when he composed. In 1876 he became totally deaf,
and a few years later his right arm was paralyzed from shoulder to
thumb. He was a poor man, and right at the worst time in his life,
when he was totally deaf, a small pension which he had received from
the Bach Society was taken away from him. But his admirers, many of
them Americans, came to his rescue and raised a fund for his support.

Among his finest songs are "Widmung," "Leise Zieht durch mein Gemuht,"
"Bitte," "Die Lotos Blume," "Es Ragt der Alte Eborus," "Meerfahrt,"
"Das is ein Brausen und Heulen," "Ich Hab' in Deinem Auge," "Ich Will
meine seele Taugen," and "Es Hat' Die Rose sich Beklagt."

Brahms a Thinker in Music.

Brahms was a profound thinker in music--not a philosopher, but a
reflective poet, whose musicianship, however, was so great that he
cared too little for the practical side of his art as compared with
the theoretical. If what he wrote looked all right on paper he was
indifferent as to whether it sounded right or not; consequently, if he
started out with a certain rhythmical figuration or a certain scheme
of harmonic progression, he carried it through rigidly to its logical
conclusion, utterly oblivious to, or at least utterly regardless of,
any tonal blemishes that might result, although by slightly altering
his scheme here and there he might have obviated these. This is the
reason why some people find passages in his music which to them sound
repellant. But those who have not allowed this aspect of Brahms's
work to prejudice them and have familiarized themselves with his
music, well know that he is one of the loftiest souls that ever put
pen to staff. He never is drastic, never sensational, never
superficial; and the climaxes of his songs, as in his other music, are
produced not by great outbursts of sound, but by sudden modulations or
change of rhythm, which give a wonderful "lift" to voice and

Among his best known songs (and each of these is a masterpiece) are:
"Wie Bist du meine Königin," "Ruhe, Süss Liebschen," "Von ewiger
Liebe," "Wiegenlied," "Minnelied," "Feldeinsamkeit," "Wie Melodien
zeiht es mir," "Immer leiser wird mein Schlummer," "Meine Lieder,"
"Wir wandelten, wir Swei, zusammen."

                  *       *       *       *       *

One of the most impassioned modern lyrical outbursts is Jensen's
setting of Heine's "Lehn deine Wang' an Meine Wang'," and his
"Frühlingsnacht" also is a very beautiful song, although the
popularity of Schumann's setting of the same poem has cast it unduly
into the shade. Rubinstein will be found considerably less prolix in
his songs than in his music in other branches, and those which he
wrote to the Persian poems of Von Bodenstedt ("Mirza Schaffy") are
fascinating in their Oriental coloring. The "Asra," and "Yellow
Rolls at my Feet," (Gold Rollt mir zu Füssen) are among the best
known of these; while "Es blink't der Thau," "Du Bist wie eine
Blume," and "Der Traum" are among Rubinstein's songs which are or
should be in the repertoire of every singer. Tschaikowsky and
Dvorak are not noteworthy as song writers, but the former's
setting of "Nur wer die Sehnsucht kennt" and the latter's "Gypsy
Songs" are highly successful.

Grieg's Originality.

One of the most fascinating among modern song writers is the
Norwegian, Grieg. He has been unusually fortunate in having a fine
singer as a wife. Mr. Finck relates that Ibsen, after hearing her sing
his poems as set to music by Grieg, whispered as he shook the hands of
this musical couple, the one word, "Understood."

Grieg's originality has not been thoroughly appreciated, because much
of the beauty of his music has been attributed to what is supposed to
be its Norwegian origin. Grieg is national, it is true, but not in a
cramped or narrow sense. His music is the product of his individual
genius, and his genius has made him so popular that what is his has
come to be wrongly considered Norwegian, whereas it is Norway
interpreted through the genius of Grieg. His music is not a dialect,
but music of universal significance, fortunately tinged with his
individuality. "I Love You," Ibsen's "The Swan," "By the Riverside,"
"Springtide," "Wounded Heart," "The Mother Sings" (a mother mourning
her dead child), "At the Bier of a Young Woman," and "From Monte
Pincio," are among his finest _Lieder_.

Chopin is much too little known as a song writer. His genius as a
composer for the pianoforte has overshadowed his songs, and the public
is familiar with little else save "The Maiden's Wish," which is one
of Madame Sembrich's favorite encores and to which she plays her own
accompaniment so delightfully. But there is plenty of national color
in the "Lithuanina" song, plenty of pathos in "Poland's Dirge," and
plenty of lyrical passion in "My Delights." Finck says that in all
music, lyric or dramatic, the thrill of a kiss has never been
expressed so ecstatically as in the twelve bars of this song marked
"_crescendo sempre piu accellerando_." Certainly _sempre_ (always) and
_accellerando_ (faster) are capital words when applied to a kiss!

Richard Wagner, when twenty-six years old, in Paris, tried to
relieve his poverty by composing a few songs, among which is a very
charming setting of Ronsard's "Dors mon enfant." He also set Heine's
"The Two Grenadiers" to music, utilizing the "Marsellaise" in the
accompaniment; but, as a whole, the Wagner version of this poem is
not as effective as Schumann's. In 1862 he composed music to five
poems written by Mathilde Wesendonck, among which is the famous
"Träume," which utilizes the theme of the love duet that later on
appeared in "Tristan."

Liszt's Genius for Song.

Liszt's songs are a complete musical exposition of the poems to which
they are composed. Thus while, by way of comparison, Rubinstein's
setting of "Du Bist wie eine Blume" gives through its simplicity a
rare impression of purity, Liszt in his setting of the same poem adds
to that purity the sense of sacredness with which the contemplation
of a pure woman fills a man's heart and causes him to worship her. His
"Lorelei" is a beautiful lyric scene. We view the flowing river, seem
to hear the seductive voice of the temptress, and watch the
treacherous and stormy current that hurries the ensnared boatman to
his doom. And what song has more of that valuable quality we call
"atmosphere" than Liszt's version of "Kennst du das Land?" As will be
the case with Liszt in other branches of music, he will be recognized
some day as one of the greatest of song composers.

Richard Strauss's songs, from having been regarded as so bristling
with difficulties as to be impossible, have become favorites in the
song repertoire. When it is a genius who creates difficulties these
are sure to be overcome by ambitious players and singers, and music
advances technically by just so much. Strauss's "Ständchen," with its
deliciously delicate accompaniment, so difficult to play with the
requisite grace, was the first of Strauss's songs to become popular
here, and it was the art of our great singer, Madame Nordica, that
made it so. Now we hear "Die Nacht," "Traum durch die Dämmerung,"
"Heimliche Aufforderung," "Allerseelem," "Breit über mein Haupt Dein
schwarzes Haar," and many of his other songs with growing frequency.
There are few song composers with whom the pianoforte accompaniment is
so entirely distinct from the melody (or so difficult to play), as
often is the case with Strauss. As with Schubert, every descriptive
suggestion contained in the poem is carried into the accompaniment,
but the vocal part is more declamatory and more varied. Even now it
seems certain that Strauss's songs are permanent acquisitions to the
repertoire. It still is too soon, however, to affirm the same thing of
the unfortunate Hugo Wolf's songs, although I find myself strongly
attracted by "Er ists," "Frühling übers Jahr," "Fussteise," "Der König
bei der Kröning," "Gesang Weyla's," "Elfenlied" and "Der Tambour."

Saint-Saëns, Delibes, Godard, Massenet, Chaminade and the late Augusta
Holmès are among French song writers whose work is clever, but who
seem to me more concerned with manner than with matter. Gounod's rank
as a song composer is much below his reputation as the composer of
"Faust" and "Romeo et Juliette." Oddly enough, however, the idea that
came to him of placing a melody above a prelude from Bach's "Well
Tempered Clavichord" did more than anything he had accomplished up to
that time to make him famous. Originally he scored it for violin with
a small female chorus off stage. Then he replaced the chorus with a
harmonium. Finally he seems to have been struck with the fact that the
melody fitted the words of the "Ave Maria," substituted a single voice
for the violin, which, however, still can supplement the vocal melody
with an obbligato, did away with the harmonium, and the result was the
Gounod-Bach "Ave Maria." The Bach prelude, of course, sinks to the
level of a mere accompaniment, for it has to be taken much slower than
Bach intended.

American composers who have produced noteworthy songs are Edward A.
MacDowell, G. W. Chadwick, Arthur Foote, Clayton Johns, Homer N.
Bartlett, Margaret Ruthven Lang, and the late Ethelbert Nevin.



Oratorio had its origin in an attempt by a sixteenth century Italian
monk to make divine service more interesting--to draw to church people
who might not be attracted by the opportunity to hear a sermon, but
could be persuaded to come if music a trifle more entertaining to the
common mind than the unaccompanied (_à capella_) ecclesiastical
compositions of Palestrina and other masters of the polyphonic school,
were thrown in with them. Music still is regarded as a prime drawing
card in churches, and when nowadays a fine basso rises after the
sermon and sings "It is enough," we can paraphrase it as meaning, "It
is enough so far as the sermon is concerned, and now to make up for it
you are going to have a chance to listen to some music." When the
announcement is made that such-and-such a well-known singer has been
engaged for a church it means that the Reverend ---- is doing just
what the monk, Neri, did, about four hundred years ago--fishing for a
congregation with music.

As it exists to-day, however, oratorio has little to do with religious
worship, and usually is practiced amid secular surroundings, with a
female chorus in variegated evening attire and a male chorus in
claw-hammers, the singers hanging more or less anxiously on the baton
of the conductor. This living picture which, so far as this country is
concerned, I have, I believe, drawn in correct perspective, is so much
out of keeping with the religious subjects which usually underlie the
texts of oratorios that it may account for the comparative lack of
interest shown by Americans for this form of musical entertainment.

It also is true, however, that in this country oratorio never has had
more than half a chance. This is due to the fact that the American man
is not as sensitive to music nor musically as well educated as the
American woman, the result being that the male contingent of the
average American oratorio chorus is less competent than the women
singers. Tenors are "rare birds" in any land, and rarer here
apparently than elsewhere, so that in this division of our mixed
choruses there is a lack of brilliancy in tone and of precision in
attack. These several circumstances combine to prevent that
well-balanced ensemble necessary to a satisfactory performance.

An Incongruous Art-Form.

Even at its best, however, oratorio is an incongruous art-form,
neither an opera nor a church service, but rather an attempt to design
something that shall not shock people who consider it "wicked" to go
to the opera, nor afflict with _ennui_ those who would consider an
invitation to listen to sacred music during the week an imposition. It
seems peculiarly adapted to the idea of entertainment which prevails
in England, where apparently any diversion in order to be considered
legal must be more or less of a bore. Fortunately, however, there be
many men of many minds; so that while, for example, one could not well
draw a gloomier picture of the hereafter for a critic like Mr. Henry
T. Finck than as a place where he would be obliged to hear, let me
suggest, semi-weekly performances of "The Messiah," the annual
Christmas auditions of that work have been the financial salvation of
oratorio in America.

San Filippo Neri, who was born in Florence in 1515, and was the
founder of the Congregation of the Fathers of the Oratory, was the
originator of oratorio. In order to attract people to church, he
instituted before and after the sermon dramatic and musical renderings
of scenes from Scripture. It is not unlikely that the suggestion for
the underlying dramatic text came from the old Mystery and Miracle
plays, which, to say the least, were naive. In one of these,
representing Noah and his family about to embark in the ark, _Mrs.
Noah_ declares that she prefers to stay behind with her worldly
friends, and when at last her son _Shem_ seizes and forces her into
the ark, she retaliates by giving the worthy _Noah_ a box on the ear.
In another play of this kind which represented the Creation, a horse,
pigs with rings in their noses, and a mastiff with a brass collar were
brought up to _Adam_ to name. But in one performance the mastiff spied
a cow's rib-bone which had been provided for the formation of _Eve_,
grabbed it and carried it off, in spite of the efforts of the _Angel_
to whistle him back, and _Eve_ had to be created without the aid of
the rib.

Primitive Efforts.

It is not likely that any such contretemps accompanied the performances
of San Filippo's primitive oratorios, and yet it is probable that they
were not only sung, but also acted with some kind of scenic setting
and costumes; for Emelio del Cavaliere, a Roman composer, whose
oratorio, "La Rappresentazione dell' Anima e del Corpo" (The Soul and
the Body), was performed in February, 1600, in the Church of Santa
Maria della Vallicella, but who died before the production, left
minute directions regarding the scenery and action. In this oratorio,
as in some of the other early ones, there was a ballet, which,
according to its composer's directions, was to enliven certain scenes
"with capers" and to execute others "sedately and reverentially."

It was the composer, Giovanni Carissimi, who first introduced the
narrator in oratorio, this function being to continue the action
with explanatory recitatives between the numbers. In his oratorio,
"Jephtha," there is a solo for Jephtha's daughter, "Plorate
colles, dolate montes" (Weep, ye hills; mourn, ye mountains), which
has an echo for two sopranos at the end of each phrase of the
melody. Alessandro Scarlatti, who developed the aria in opera, also
gave more definite form to the solos in oratorio and a more dramatic
accompaniment to the recitatives which related to action, leaving
the narrative recitals unaccompanied.

Up to this point, in fact, oratorio and opera may be said to have
developed hand in hand, but now, through the influence of German
composers and especially through their Passion Music, it assumed a
more distinct form. "Die Auferstehung Christi" (The Resurrection), by
Heinrich Schütz, produced in Dresden in 1623, and his "Sieben Worte
Christi" (The Seven Words of Christ), subjects which have been
reverentially set by many German composers, are regarded as pioneer
works of their kind. In the development of Passion Music much use was
made of church chorales, the grand sacred melodies of the German
people, which have had incalculable influence in forming the stability
of character that is a distinguishing mark of the race. They are
conspicuous in the "Tod Jesu," a famous work by Karl Heinrich Graun, a
contemporary of Bach, whose own "Passion According to St. Matthew" is
regarded by advanced lovers of music as the greatest of all works in
oratorio or quasi-oratorio style, although the English still cling to

"However close the imitation or complicated the involutions of the
several voices," says Rockstro, in writing of Händel, "we never meet
with an inharmonious collision. He (Händel) seems always to have aimed
at making his parts run on velvet; whereas Bach, writing on a totally
different principle, evidently delighted in bringing harmony out of
discord and made a point of introducing hard passing notes in order to
avail himself of the pleasant effect of their ultimate resolution."
The "inharmonious collisions," the "hard passing notes" are among the
very things which make Bach so modern; since modern ears do not set
much store by music that "runs on velvet."

Bach's "Passion Music."

It is interesting to note that this "Passion According to St. Matthew"
is in two parts, and that, as was the case with the oratorios of San
Filippo Neri, the sermon came between. The text was prepared by
Christian Friedrichs Henrici, writing under the pseudonym of Picander,
and is partly dramatic, partly epic in form, with an Evangelist to
relate the various events in the story, but with the Lord, St. Peter
and others using their own words according to the sacred text. A
double chorus is employed, sometimes representing the Disciples,
sometimes the infuriated populace; but always treated in dramatic

At the time the "Passion" was written, the arias and certain of the
choruses which contained meditations on the events narrated were
called "Soliloquiæ"; and in singing the beautiful chorales, the
congregation was expected to join. The recitatives assigned to the
Saviour are accompanied by string orchestra only, and are, as Rockstro
says, full of gentle dignity, while the choruses are marked by an
amount of dramatic power which is remarkable when one considers that
Bach never paid any attention to the most dramatic of all musical
forms, the opera. The "Passion According to St. Matthew," by Johann
Sebastian Bach, was his greatest work and one of the greatest works of
all times. It was produced for the first time at the afternoon service
in the Church of St. Thomas, Leipzig, where Bach was Cantor, on Good
Friday, 1729, and it was one hundred years before it was heard again,
when it was revived by Mendelssohn, in Berlin, on March 12th,
1829--an epoch-making performance.

Strictly speaking, Passion Music is not an oratorio, but a church
service, and Bach actually designed his to serve as a counter-attraction
to the Mass as performed in the Roman Church. What we understand under
oratorio derived its vitality from George Frederick Händel, who was
born at Halle in Lower Saxony, 1685, but whose most important work was
accomplished in London, where he died in 1759 and was buried in
Westminster Abbey. Before Händel wrote his two greatest oratorios, "Israel
in Egypt" and "The Messiah," he had, through the composition of
numerous operas, mastered the principles of dramatic writing, and in
his oratorios he aims, whenever the text makes it permissible, at
dramatic expression. It is only necessary to recall the "Plague Choruses"
in "Israel in Egypt," especially the "Hail-Stone Chorus" and the
chorus of rejoicing ("The horse and his rider hath He thrown into the
sea"); or by way of contrast, the tenderly expressive melody of "As for
His people, He led them forth like sheep," to realize what an adept Händel
was in dramatic expression.

Rockstro on Händel.

Händel may in fact be called the founder of variety and freedom in
writing for chorus. While I must confess that I do not share
Rockstro's intense enthusiasm for Händel and for "The Messiah,"
nevertheless he expresses so well the general feeling in England and
the feeling on the part of those in this country who crowd the annual
Christmas performances of "The Messiah," toward that work, that the
best means of conveying an idea of what oratorio signifies to those
who like it, is to quote him. Referring to Händel's free and varied
treatment of chorus writing, he says:

"He bids us 'Behold the Lamb of God' and we feel that he has helped us
to do so. He tells us that 'With His stripes we are healed,' and we
are sensible not of the healing only, but of the cruel price at which
it was purchased. And we yield him equal obedience when he calls upon
us to join in his hymns of praise. Who hearing the noble subject of 'I
will sing unto the Lord,' led off by the tenors and altos, does not
long to reinforce their voices with his own? Who does not feel a
choking in his throat before the first bar of the 'Hallelujah Chorus'
is completed, though he may be listening to it for the hundredth time?
Hard indeed must his heart be who can refuse to hear when Händel
preaches through the voice of his chorus." The "Messiah" also contains
two of Händel's most famous solos, "He shall feed His flock" and "I
know that my Redeemer liveth."

This work was performed for the first time on April 13, 1742, at the
Music Hall, Dublin, when Händel was on a visit to the Duke of
Devonshire, then Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. The rehearsals, at which
many people were present by invitation, had aroused so much
enthusiasm, that those who were interested in the charitable object
for which it was given, requested "as a favor that the ladies who
honor this performance with their presence would be pleased to come
without hoops, as it would greatly increase the charity by making
room for more company." Gentlemen also were requested to come without
swords, for the same reason. It is said that at the first London
performance, when the "Hallelujah Chorus" rang out, the King rose in
his place and, followed by the entire audience, stood during the
singing of the chorus, and that thus the custom, which still is
observed, originated.

Following Händel, Haydn in 1798, when nearly seventy years old, wrote
"The Creation," founded on passages from Milton's "Paradise Lost," and
after it "The Seasons," for which Thomson's familiar poem supplied the
text. In both of these there is much purely descriptive music,
especially in the earlier oratorio, when the creation of various
animals is related. In "The Creation," too, after the passages for
muted strings, is the famous outburst of orchestra and chorus, "And
there was light." Haydn was a far greater master of orchestration than
Händel. He also was one of the early composers of the homophonic
school, and there is a freer, more spontaneous flow of melody in his
oratorios. But they undoubtedly lack the grandeur of Händel's.

Mendelssohn's Oratorios.

Between Haydn and Mendelssohn, in the development of oratorio, nothing
need be mentioned, excepting Beethoven's "Mount of Olives" and Spohr's
"The Last Judgment" (Die Letzten Dinge). Mendelssohn, in his "St.
Paul," followed the example of the old passionists, and introduced
chorales, but in his greater oratorio, "Elijah," which is purely an
Hebraic subject, he discarded these. The dramatic quality of "Elijah"
is so apparent that it has been said more than once to be capable of
stage representation with scenery, costumes and action. This is
especially true of the prophet himself, whose personality is so
definitely developed that he stands before us almost like a character
behind the footlights. This dramatic value is felt at the very
beginning, when, after four solemn chords on the brass, the work,
instead of opening with an overture, is ushered in by _Elijah's_
prophecy of the drought. Then comes the overture, which is descriptive
of the effects of the prophecy.

Next to "The Messiah," "Elijah" probably is the most popular of
oratorios, and I think this is due to its dramatic value, and to the
fact that its descriptive music, instead of being somewhat naive, not
to say childish, as is the case with some passages in Haydn's
"Creation," is extremely effective. It is necessary only to remind the
reader of the descent of the fire and the destruction of the prophets
of Baal; of the description of the gradual approach of the rain-storm,
as _Elijah_, standing on Mount Carmel and watching for the coming of
the rain, is informed of the little cloud, "out of the sea, like a
man's hand"--a little cloud which we seem to see in the music, and
which grows in size and blackness until it bursts like a deluge over
the scene. Then there are the famous bass solo, "It is enough"; the
unaccompanied "Trio of Angels"; the _Angel's_ song, "Oh, rest in the
Lord"; and the tenderly expressive chorus, "He, watching over Israel."
I once heard a performance of "Elijah" during which the _Angel_
carried on such a lively flirtation with the _Prophet_ that she almost
missed the cue for her most important solo; in fact would have missed
it, had not the conductor sharply called her attention to the fact
that it was time for her to begin.

I think that oratorio reached its successive climaxes with "The
Messiah" and "Elijah." Gounod's "Redemption" and "Mors et Vita," in
spite of passages of undeniable beauty, seem to me, as a whole, rather
spineless. Edward Elgar's "Dream of Gerontius" and "The Apostles" have
created much excitement in England and considerable interest here, but
while it is too soon to hazard a definite opinion of this composer, he
appears to be lacking in individuality--to derive from Wagner whatever
is interesting in his scores, while what is original with him is

There are certain sacred, semi-sacred and even secular works that are
apt to figure on the programs of oratorio and allied societies. Mr.
Frank Damrosch's Society of Musical Art sings very beautifully some of
the unaccompanied choruses of the early Italian polyphonic school,
such as Palestrina's "Papae Marcelli Mass," "Stabat Mater" and
"Requiem"; the "Miserere" of Allegri (sought to be retained
exclusively by the choir of the Sistine Chapel, but which Mozart wrote
out from memory after hearing it twice); and the "Stabat Mater" of
Pergolesi. There are also the Bach cantatas, Mozart's "Requiem," with
its tragic associations; Beethoven's "Mass in D;" Schumann's "Paradise
and the Peri" and his music to Byron's "Manfred" (with recitation);
Liszt's "Graner Mass," "Legend of St. Elizabeth" and "Christus";
Rubinstein's "Tower of Babel" and "Paradise Lost"; Brahms's "German
Requiem," a noble but difficult work; Dvorak's "Stabat Mater";
Rossini's "Moses in Egypt" and "Stabat Mater"; Berlioz's "Requiem" and
"Damnation de Faust," the American production of which latter was one
of the late Dr. Leopold Damrosch's finest achievements; and Verdi's
"Manzoni Requiem."



Opera originated in Florence toward the close of the sixteenth
century. A band of enthusiastic, intellectual composers aimed at
reproducing the musical declamation which they believed to have been
characteristic of the representation of Greek tragedy. The first
attempt resulted in a cantata, "Il Conte Ugolino," for single voice
with the accompaniment of a single instrument, and composed by
Vincenzo Galileo, father of the famous astronomer. Another composer,
Giulio Caccini, wrote several shorter pieces in similar style.

These composers aimed at an exact oratorical rendering of the words.
Consequently, their scores were neither fugal nor in any other sense
polyphonic, but strictly monodic. They were not, however, melodious,
but declamatory; and if Richard Wagner had wished, in the nineteenth
century, to claim any historical foundation for the declamatory
recitative which he introduced in his music-dramas, he might have
fallen back upon these composers of the late sixteenth and early
seventeenth centuries, and through them back to Greek tragedy with its
bands of lyres and flutes.

These Italian composers, then, were the creators of recitative, so
different from the polyphonic church music of the school of
Palestrina. What usually is classed as the first opera, Jacopo Peri's
"Dafne," was privately performed at the Palazzo Corsi, Florence, in
1597. So great was its success that Peri was commissioned, in 1600, to
write a similar work for the festivities incidental to the marriage of
Henry IV of France with Maria de Medici, and produced "Euridice," the
first Italian opera ever performed in public.

The new art-form received great stimulus from Claudio Monteverde, the
Duke of Mantua's _maestro di capella_, who composed "Arianna" in honor
of the marriage of Francesco Gonzaga with Margherita, Infanta of
Savoy. The scene in which _Ariadne_ bewails her desertion by her lover
was so dramatically written (from the standpoint of the day, of
course) that it produced a sensation, and when Monteverde brought out
with even greater success his opera "Orfeo," which showed a great
advance in dramatic expression, as well as in the treatment of the
instrumental score, the permanency of opera was assured.

Monteverde's scores contained, besides recitative, suggestions of
melody, but these suggestions occurred only in the instrumental
ritornelles. The Venetian composer Cavalli, however, introduced melody
into the vocal score in order to relieve the monotonous effect of
continuous recitative, and in his airs for voice he foreshadowed the
aria form which was destined to be freely developed by Alessandro
Scarlatti, who is regarded as the founder of modern Italian opera in
the form in which it flourished from his day to and including the
earlier period of Verdi's activity.

Melody, free and beautiful melody, soaring above a comparatively
simple accompaniment, was the characteristic of Italian opera from
Scarlatti's first opera, "L'Onesta nell' Amore," produced in Rome in
1680, to Verdi's "Trovatore," produced in the same city in 1853. The
names, besides Verdi's, associated with its most brilliant successes,
are: Rossini ("Il Barbiere di Siviglia," "Guillaume Tell"), Bellini
("Norma," "La Sonnambula," "I Puritani"), and Donizetti ("Lucia,"
"L'Elisir d'Amore," "La Fille du Regiment"). These composers possessed
dramatic verve to a great degree, aimed straight for the mark, and
when at their best always hit the operatic target in the bull's-eye.

Reforms by Gluck.

The charge most frequently laid against Italian opera is that its
composers have been too subservient to the singers, and have
sacrificed dramatic truth and depth of expression, as well as the
musicianship which is required of a well-written and well-balanced
score, as between the vocal and instrumental portions, to the vanity
of those upon the stage--in brief, that Italian opera consists too
much of show-pieces for its interpreters. Among the first to protest
practically against this abuse was Gluck, a German, who, from copying
the Italian style of operatic composition early in his career, changed
his entire method as late as 1762, when he was nearly fifty years old.
"Orfeo et Euridice," the oldest opera that to-day still holds a place
in the operatic repertoire, and containing the favorite air, "Che faro
senza Euridice" (I have lost my Eurydice), was produced by Gluck, in
Vienna, in the year mentioned. There Gluck followed it up with
"Alceste," then went to Paris, and scored a triumph with "Iphigenie en
Aulite." But on the arrival, in Paris, of the Italian composer,
Piccini, the Italian party there seized upon him as a champion to pit
against Gluck, and there then ensued in the French capital a rivalry
so fierce that it became a veritable musical War of the Roses until
Gluck completely triumphed over Piccini with "Iphigenie en Tauride."

Gluck's reform of opera lay in his abandoning all effort at claptrap
effect--effect merely for its own sake--and in making his choruses as
well as his soloists participants, musically and actively, in the
unfolding of the dramatic story. But while he avoided senseless vocal
embellishments and ceased to make a display of singers' talents the
end and purpose of opera, he never hesitated to introduce beautiful
melody for the voice when the action justified it. In fact, what he
aimed at was dramatic truth in his music, and with this end in view he
also gave greater importance to the instrumental portion of his

Comparative Popularity of Certain Operas.

These characteristics remained for many years to come the distinguishing
marks of German opera. They will be discovered in Mozart's "Nozze di
Figaro," "Don Giovanni" and "Zauberflöte," which differ from Gluck's
operas in not being based on heroic or classical subjects, and in
exhibiting the general advance made in freer musical expression, as
well as Mozart's greater spontaneity of melodic invention, his keen
sense of the dramatic element and his superior skill in orchestration.
They also will be discovered in Beethoven's "Fidelio," which again
differs from Mozart's operas in the same degree in which the
individuality of one great composer differs from that of another. With
Weber's "Freischütz," "Euryanthe" and "Oberon," German opera enters
upon the romantic period, from which it is but a step to the "Flying
Dutchman," "Tannhäuser," "Lohengrin" and the music-dramas of Richard

Meanwhile, the French had developed a style of opera of their own,
which is represented by Meyerbeer's "Les Huguenots," Gounod's "Faust,"
apparently destined to live as long as any opera that now graces the
stage, and by Bizet's absolutely unique "Carmen." In French opera the
instrumental support of the voices is far richer and more delicately
discriminating than in Italian opera, and the whole form is more
serious. It is better thought out, shows greater intellectual effort
and not such a complete abandon to absolute musical inspiration. It is
true, there is much claptrap in Meyerbeer, but "Les Huguenots" still
lives--and vitality is, after all, the final test of an art-work.

Unquestionably, Italian operas like "Il Barbiere di Siviglia," "La
Sonnambula," "Lucia," and "Trovatore" are more popular in this
country than Mozart's or Weber's operatic works. In assigning
reasons for this it seems generally to be forgotten that these Italian
operas are far more modern. "Don Giovanni" was produced in 1787,
whereas "Il Barbiere" was brought out in 1816, "La Sonnambula" in
1831, "Lucia" in 1835, "Trovatore" in 1853 and Verdi's last work in
operatic style, "Aida," in 1871. "Don Giovanni" still employs the
dry recitative (recitatives accompanied by simple chords on the
violoncello), which is exceedingly tedious and makes the work drag
at many points. In "Il Barbiere," although the recitatives are
musically as uninteresting, they are humorous, and, with Italian
buffos, trip lightly and vivaciously from the tongue. As regards
"Fidelio" and "Der Freischütz," the amount of spoken dialogue in
them is enough to keep these works off the American stage, or at
least to prevent them from becoming popular here.

Wagner has had far-reaching effect upon music in general, and
even Italian opera, which, of all art-forms, was least like his
music-dramas, has felt his influence. Boito's "Mefistofele,"
Ponchielli's "La Gioconda," Verdi's "Otello" and "Falstaff," are
examples of the far-reaching results of Wagner's theories. Even
in "Aida," Verdi's more discriminating treatment of the orchestral
score and his successful effort to give genuine Oriental color to at
least some portions of it, show that even then he was beginning
to weary of the cheaper successes he had won with operas like
"Il Trovatore," "La Traviata" and "Rigoletto," and, while by no
means inclined to menace his own originality by copying Wagner
or by adopting his system, was willing to profit by the more serious
attitude of Wagner toward his art. Puccini, in "La Tosca," has
written a first-act finale which is palpably constructed on
Wagnerian lines. In his "La Bohême," in Leoncavallo's "I Pagliacci"
and in Mascagni's "Cavalleria Rusticana," the distinct efforts
made to have the score reflect the characteristics of the text
show Wagner's influence potent in the most modern phases of
Italian opera. Humperdinck's "Hänsel und Gretel" and Richard
Strauss's "Feuersnot" and "Salome" represent the further working out
of Wagner's art-form in Germany.

Wagner's Music-Dramas.

I doubt whether Wagner had either the Greek drama or the declamatory
recitative of the early Italian opera composers in mind when he
originated the music-drama. My opinion is that he thought it out free
from any extraneous suggestion, but afterward, anticipating the
attacks which in the then state of music in Germany would be made upon
his theories, sought for prototypes and found them in ancient Greece
and renascent Italy.

His theory of dramatic music is that it should express with
undeviating fidelity the words which underly it; not words in their
mere outward aspect, but their deeper significance in their relation
to the persons, controlling ideas, impulses and passions out of which
grow the scenes, situations, climaxes and crises of the written play,
the libretto, if so you choose to call it--so long as you don't say
"book of the opera." For even from this brief characterization, it
must be patent that a music-drama is not an opera, but what opera
should be or would be had it not, through the Italian love of clearly
defined melody and the Italian admiration for beautiful singing,
become a string of solos, duets and other "numbers" written in set
form to the detriment of the action.

Opera is the glorification of the voice and the deification of the
singer.--Do we not call the prima donna a _diva_? Music-drama, on the
other hand, is the glorification of music in its broadest sense,
instrumental and vocal combined, and the deification of dramatic truth
on the musical stage. Opera, as handled by the Italian and the French,
undoubtedly is a very attractive art-form, but music-drama is a higher
art-form, because more serious and more searching and more elevated in
its expression of emotion.

Wagner was German to the core--as national as Luther, says Mr.
Krehbiel most aptly, in his "Studies in the Wagnerian Drama," which,
like everything this critic writes, is the work of a thinker. For the
dramas which Wagner created as the bases for his scores, he went back
to legends which, if not always Teutonic in their origin, had become
steeped in Germanism. The profound impression made by Wagner's art
works may be indicated by saying that the whole folk-lore movement
dates from his activity, and that so far as Germany itself is
concerned, his argument for a national art work as well as his
practical illustration of what he meant through his own music-dramas,
gave immense impetus to the development of united Germany as
manifested in the German empire. He as well as the men of blood and
iron had a share in Sedan.

Wagner's first successful work, "Rienzi," was an out-and-out opera in
Meyerbeerian style. The "Flying Dutchman" already is legendary and
more serious, while "Tannhäuser" and "Lohengrin" show immense
technical progress, besides giving a clue to his system of leading
motives, which is fully developed in the scores of the "Ring of the
Nibelung," "Tristan und Isolde," "Die Meistersinger," and "Parsifal."
That his theories met with a storm of opposition and that for many
years the battle between Wagnerism and anti-Wagnerism raged with
unabated vigor in the musical world, are matters of history. Whoever
wishes to explore this phase of Wagner's career will find it set forth
in the most interesting Wagner biography in any language, Mr. Finck's
"Wagner and His Works."

Wagner a Melodist.

It sometimes is contended that Wagner adopted his system of leading
motives because he was not a melodist. This is refuted by the melodies
that abound in his earlier works; and, even as I write, I can hear the
pupils in a nearby public school singing the melody of the "Pilgrim's
Chorus" from "Tannhäuser." Moreover, his leading motives themselves
are descriptively or soulfully melodious as the requirement may be.
They are brief phrases, it is true, but none the less they are
melodies. And, in certain episodes in his music-dramas, when he deemed
it permissible, he introduced beautiful melodies that are complete in
themselves: _Siegmund's_ "Love Song" and _Wotan's_ "Farewell," in "Die
Walküre," the Love Duet at the end of "Siegfried," the love scene in
"Tristan und Isolde," the Prize Song in "Die Meistersinger." The
eloquence of the brief melodious phrases which we call leading
motives, considered by themselves alone and without any reference to
the dramatic situation, must be clear to any one who has heard the
Funeral March in "Götterdämmerung," which consists entirely of a
series of leading motives that have occurred earlier in the Cycle,
yet give this passage an overpowering pathos without equal in absolute
music and just as effective whether you know the story of the
music-drama and the significance of the motives, or not. If you do
know the story and the significance of these musical phrases, you will
find that in this Funeral March the whole "Ring of the Nibelung" is
being summed up for you, and coming as it does near the end of
"Götterdämmerung," but one scene intervening between it and the final
curtain, it gives a wonderful sense of unity to the whole work.

Unity is, in fact, a distinguishing trait of music-drama; and the very
term "unity" suggests that certain recurring salient points in the
drama, whether they be personages, ideas or situations, should be
treated musically with a certain similarity, and have certain
recognizable characteristics. In fact, the adaptation of music to a
drama would seem to suggest association of ideas through musical
unity, and to presuppose the employment of something like leading
motives. They had indeed been used tentatively by Berlioz in
orchestral music, and by Weber in opera ("Euryanthe"), but it remained
for Wagner to work up the suggestion into a complete and consistent

[Music illustration]

To illustrate his method, take the Curse Motive, in the "Ring of
the Nibelung," which is heard when _Alberich_ curses the Ring, and
all into whose possession it shall come. When, near the end of
"Rheingold," _Fafner_ kills his brother, _Fasolt_, in wresting
the Ring from him, the motive recurs with a significance which is
readily understood. _Fasolt_ is the first victim of the curse.
Again, in "Götterdämmerung," when _Siegfried_ lands at the entrance
to the castle of _Gibichungs_, and is greeted by _Hagen_, although the
greeting seems hearty enough, the motive is heard and conveys its
sinister lure.

[Music illustration]

When, in "Die Walküre," _Brünnhilde_ predicts the birth of a son to
_Sieglinde_, you hear the Siegfried Motive, signifying that the child
will be none other than the young hero of the next drama. The motive
is heard again when _Wotan_ promises _Brünnhilde_ to surround her with
a circle of flames which none but a hero can penetrate, _Siegfried_
being that hero; and also when _Siegfried_ himself, in the music-drama
"Siegfried," tells of seeing his image in the brook.

[Music illustration]

There are motives which are almost wholly rhythmical, like the
"Nibelung" Smithy Motive, which depicts the slavery of the _Nibelungs_,
eternally working in the mines of Nibelheim; and motives with strange,
weird harmonies, like the motive of the Tarnhelm, which conveys a
sense of mystery, the Tarnhelm giving its wearer the power to change his

[Music illustration]

Leading Motives not Mere Labels.

Leading motives are not mere labels. They concern themselves with more
than the superficial aspect of things and persons. With persons they
express character; with things they symbolize what these stand for.
The Curse Motive is weird, sinister. You feel when listening to it
that it bodes evil to all who come within its dark circle. The
Siegfried Motive, on the other hand, is buoyant with youth, vigor,
courage; vibrates with the love of achievement; and stirs the soul
with its suggestion of heroism. But when you hear it in the Funeral
March in "Götterdämmerung" and it recalls by association the
gay-hearted, tender yet courageous boy, who slew the dragon, awakened
_Brünnhilde_ with his kiss, only to be betrayed and murdered by
_Hagen_, and now is being borne over the mountain to the funeral pyre,
those heroic strains have a tragic significance that almost brings
tears to your eyes.

The Siegfried Motive is a good example of a musical phrase the contour
of which practically remains unchanged through the music-drama. The
varied emotions with which we listen to it are effected by association.
But many of Wagner's leading motives are extremely plastic and undergo
many changes in illustrating the development of character or the
special bearing of certain dramatic situations upon those concerned
in the action of the drama. As a gay-hearted youth, _Siegfried_
winds his horn:

[Music illustration]

This horn call becomes, when, as _Brünnhilde's_ husband, he bids
farewell to his bride and departs in quest of knightly adventure, the
stately Motive of _Siegfried_, the Hero:

[Music illustration]

And when the dead _Siegfried_, stretched upon a rude bier, is borne
from the scene, it voices the climax of the tragedy with overwhelming

[Music illustration]

Thus we have two derivatives from the "Siegfried" horn call, each with
its own special significance, yet harking back to the original germ.

Soon after the opening of "Tristan und Isolde" a sailor sings an
unaccompanied song of farewell to his _Irish Maid_. The words, "The
wind blows freshly toward our home," are sung to an undulating phrase
which seems to represent the gentle heaving of the sea.

[Music illustration: Frisch weht der Wind der Hei-mat zu: mein i-risch
Kind, wo wei-lest du?]

This same phrase gracefully undulates through _Brangäne's_ reply to
_Isolde's_ question as to the vessel's course, changes entirely in
character, and surges savagely around her wild outburst of anger when
she is told that the vessel is nearing Cornwall's shore, and breaks
itself in savage fury against her despairing wrath when she invokes
the elements to destroy the ship and all upon it. Examples like these
occur many times in the scores of Wagner's music-dramas.

[Music illustration]

[Music illustration]

Often, when several characters are participating in a scene, or when
the act or influence of one, or the principle for which he stands in
the drama, is potent, though he himself is not present, Wagner with
rare skill combines several motives, utilizing for this purpose all
the resources of counterpoint. Elsewhere I already have described how
he has done this in the Magic Fire Scene in "Die Walküre," and one
could add page after page of examples of this kind. I have also spoken
of his supreme mastership of instrumentation, through which he gives
an endless variety of tone color to his score.

Wagner was a great dramatist, but he was a far greater musician. There
are many splendid scenes and climaxes in the dramas which he wrote for
his music, and if he had not been a composer it is possible he would
have achieved immortality as a writer of tragedy. On the other hand,
however, there are in his dramas many long stretches in which the
action is unconsciously delayed by talk. He believed that music and
drama should go hand in hand and each be of equal interest; but his
supreme musicianship has disproved his own theories, for his dramas
derive the breath of life from his music. Theoretically, he is not
supposed to have written absolute music--music for its own sake--but
music that would be intelligible and interesting only in connection
with the drama to which it was set. But the scores of the great scenes
in his music-dramas, played simply as instrumental selections in
concert and without the slightest clue to their meaning in their
given place, constitute the greatest achievements in absolute music
that history up to the present time can show.


                  *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's Note:

  Author's archaic and variable spelling and hyphenation is mostly

  Author's punctuation style is preserved.

  Illustrations have been moved closer to their relevant paragraphs,
  but the original page numbers are preserved in the List of
  Illustrations. Illustrations may be viewed full-size by clicking on

  Passages in italics indicated by _underscores_.

  Passages in bold indicated by =equal signs=.

  Typographical problems have been changed, and are listed below.

Transcriber's Changes:

  Page 35: Was 'Wesendonk' (as if I had it by heart," he writes from
           Venice to Mathilde =Wesendonck=, in relating to her the
           genesis of the great love)

  Page 139: Was 'Traümerei' (And then there are the "Scenes from
            Childhood," to which belongs the ="Träumerei"=; the
            "Forest Scenes," the "Sonatas;")

  Page 172: Was 'Pathètique' (while for his "Symphonie =Pathétique=,"
            one of the finest of modern orchestral works, Tschaikowsky
            adds only a bass tuba)

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "How to Appreciate Music" ***

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