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Title: Studies in Modern Music, Second Series - Frederick Chopin, Antonin Dvořák, Johannes Brahms
Author: Hadow, W. H. (William Henry), 1859-1937
Language: English
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*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Studies in Modern Music, Second Series - Frederick Chopin, Antonin Dvořák, Johannes Brahms" ***

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[Illustration: Frederick Chopin.]



            JOHANNES BRAHMS_


    W. H. HADOW, M.A.

    _Fellow of Worcester College, Oxford_


    38 Great Russell Street


    Dedicated to
       C. F.



   CHAP.                                            PAGE
   I.--FACULTIES OF APPRECIATION,                      3
   II.--STYLE AND STRUCTURE,                          26
   III.--FUNCTION,                                    57


   I.--WARSAW,                                        79
   II.--PARIS--AND AN EPISODE,                       111
   III.--A LYRIC POET,                               147


   I.--DAYS OF PREPARATION,                          173
   II.--DURCH KAMPF ZU LICHT,                        190


   I.--GROWTH,                                       229
   II.--MATURITY,                                    250
   III.--THE DIRECTION OF THE NEW PATHS,             274



   FREDERICK CHOPIN, _from a drawing by_ WINTERHALTER,    _Frontispiece_

   FREDERICK CHOPIN, _from a drawing made after death, by_ GRAEFLE,  144

   ANTONIN DVOŘÁK, _from a photograph by_ DURAS,                     190

   JOHANNES BRAHMS, _from a photograph_,                             250


The following works have been consulted for the present volume:--

    Dr Parry--'The Art of Music.'

    Sir George Grove--'Dictionary of Music and Musicians,'
    particularly Mr Fuller-Maitland's article
    on Dvořák.

    'Life of Chopin,' by Liszt.

    'Life and Letters of Chopin,' by Moritz Karasowski.

    'Life of Chopin,' by Professor Niecks.

    'Chopin,' by Charles Willeby.

    'Chopin and other Essays,' by Henry T. Finck.

    'Les trois Romans de Chopin,' by Count Wodzinski.

    'Musical Studies,' by Dr Hueffer.

    George Sand--'Histoire de ma vie.'

    George Sand--'Correspondance.'

    George Sand--'Un Hiver à Majorque.'

    George Sand--'Lucrezia Floriani.'

    George Sand--'Elle et Lui.'

    P. de Musset--'Lui et Elle.'

    'George Sand,' by E. Caro.

    'George Sand,' by Bertha Thomas.

    'George Sand,' by Matthew Arnold.[1]

    Sainte Beuve--'Portraits Contemporains.'



    Henry James--'French Poets and Novelists.'

    E. Zola--'Documents Litteraires.'

    'Journal des Goncourt.'

    'Une Contemporaine,' by M. Brault.

    'Antonin Dvořák,' by Dr Zubaty.

    'Antonin Dvořák,' by H. E. Krehbiel. (Century, Sept. 1892.)

    'Antonin Dvořák,' by J. J. Kral. (Music; Chicago; Oct. 1893.)

    'Antonin Dvořák,' by Dr Stecker. (New Bohemian Encyclopædia.)

    E. Chvala--'Ein Vierteljahrhundert Böhmischer Musik.'

    'Johannes Brahms,' by Dr Deiters.

    'Johannes Brahms,' by Bernhard Vogel.

    'Johannes Brahms in seinen Werken,' by E. Krause.

    J. A. Fuller-Maitland--'Masters of German Music.'

    Dr Spitta--'Zur Musik.'

    Dr Ehrlich--'Dreissig Jahre Künstlerleben.'

The writer wishes to express his most cordial thanks to Mr E. W.
Hennell, for permission to use the two portraits of Chopin; to Herr E.
Mandyczewski, Librarian of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde at Vienna,
for assistance in the study of newspaper records and other documents; to
Messrs Mourek Naprstek, and Zubaty, for aid and advice in the Libraries
at Prague; and to M. Subert, Director of the Czech National Theatre, for
permission to consult, in its Library, the scores of Dvořák's


[1] Originally published in the _Fortnightly Review_ for June 1877,
Reprinted in 'Mixed Essays.'


Non leve quiddam interest inter humanæ mentis idola et divinæ mentis
ideas; hoc est, inter placita quædam inania et veras signaturas atque
impressiones factas in creaturis, prout inveniuntur.--BACON.



It is only natural that a systematic induction should present itself
somewhat late in the history of Science. At first, when the world is
new, the process of exploration must necessarily be hazardous and
tentative: the discoverer must walk with uncertain steps, and must find
his way by the sole aid of his own personal qualities. Hence his method
is a part of himself, and can no more be communicated than keenness of
sight, or delicacy of touch, or rapidity of instinct; he reaches his
conclusions with only a half-consciousness of the road by which they
have been attained, and imparts his results more as separate individual
dogmas than as interdependent parts of an ordered and coherent scheme.
His followers, dazzled by the brilliance of his intellect, and
unprovided with any test for distinguishing between facts and fancies,
accept everything that he has said, and carry on the work, not by any
presumptuous attempt to map out the ground that he has already covered,
but by deducing further application of his laws and further development
of his principles. It may be that the route which he suggested was
purely conjectural; they follow it loyally in the full confidence that
it will bring them to the goal. It may be that some assertion was a mere
hypothesis--a rough and ready explanation which its propounder never
lived to correct; none the less, they take it as axiomatic, and force
the facts into compliance by some subtle and ingenious interpretation of
its terms. The master's word is paramount, and if he and Nature
disagree, it is so much the worse for Nature.

For a time, no doubt, there is a real value in this attitude of
subservience--this unquestioning acknowledgment of the prescriptive
rights of genius. In science, as in political history, it is good that
the earlier steps should be autocratic, and that men should not claim a
share in the constitution until they have in some measure qualified
themselves for its exercise. When the state is small, a posture of
constant criticism is dangerous; when the populace is ignorant, it will
pass no very reasonable judgments upon the code. But as the area widens,
and the mental activity increases, it becomes more and more impossible
to accept as law the untested utterances of an absolute monarch:
subjects begin to feel their power and to arrogate their due position;
they wish to understand the system which they obey, and, it may be, to
revise such of its injunctions as have grown outworn or obsolete, until
at last they find their champion, and some _Novum Organum_ appears as
the constituted representative of the popular voice. And so the story
passes into its third and final stage; the judge himself is tried before
a jury of the people at large, his enactments are criticised point by
point, and his administration remodelled upon a charter of liberty to
which all succeeding kings are amenable.

It is hardly necessary to say that such criticism, if it is to be of any
avail, must be moderate in tone and reverent in spirit. The inductive
method does not 'equalise all intellects'; there will still be contrasts
of hill and valley in the levels of the human mind; there will still be
peaks of genius standing, remote and solitary, above the snow line. But
it is equally certain that criticism is idle unless it be entirely
honest and fearless. When it is uncertain, it should confess its
uncertainty without reserve; when it is opposed by some consensus of
great names, it should be prepared to acknowledge itself in the wrong,
and should keep an open mind for conviction; but in no case should it
insult with an unthinking assent any scientific law of which it
understands neither the principles nor the application. Of course, not
all men have time or inclination or capacity for all topics; some things
must necessarily be left on one side in the press and hurry of life; but
if we are interested in a subject, we are bound to take some measure of
the responsibility which that interest entails. It is a poor occupation
to look upon the conflicts of thought with an aimless _dilettante_
wonder, and bear no hand, even in our own field, to maintain the cause
with which we profess ourselves in sympathy.

There have been some attempts to bar this rule with an exception.
Science, we are told, is concrete, systematic, rational; a proper field
for the exercise of analytic judgment and critical examination; but in
art, as in Religion, there is a mystery into which it is impious to
penetrate. The great doctrines of the Church should be exempt from
criticism, because it is not given to man to comprehend them; the
principles of art should be accepted in silence by a public which knows
nothing of the inspiration from which they come. This dogma is probably
the most dangerous half-truth that has ever helped to retard the
progress of mankind. It is, of course, beyond all question that behind
art, as behind Religion, there lies the unfathomable mystery of life:
that, in estimating both, there is a point at which reason ends and
faith begins; but it is equally sure that, before that point is reached,
there is a wide and fruitful field for critical activity. Science itself
has its mystery--its limit of explanation; yet no one regards Darwin
as a traitor to biology, or Newton as a profane violator of the
mathematics. It was no unchristian authority who bade us 'give a reason
for the faith that is in us'; it is no inartistic teacher who tells us
that the springs of true appreciation must flow from ourselves. And
more: it is because Religion has been regarded as only a mystery that it
has so often withered into a dead superstition: it is because art has
been so regarded that generation after generation has stultified itself
by false judgment. Grant that the production of a work of art demands
certain qualities which are beyond the reach of analysis, it still
remains true that the work itself can be fairly criticised if only we
will find our standpoint. Prometheus may have stolen his fire from
Heaven, yet, before we accept it at his hands, we should know something
of its attributes, and form some measure of its value. Above all, we
should have some means of distinguishing the true spark kindled at a
divine flame, from the wandering marshlights that gleam and flicker with
the phosphorescence of corruption.

It is not from the great artists that one hears this plea for the
mystery of their calling. Homer, Dante, Shakespear wrote to be
understood, they did not wrap up their meaning in recondite phrase and
elaborate symbolism. Raphael sent his drawings to Dürer, not to exhibit
their intricacy of conception, but 'to shew their handiwork.' Beethoven,
on his deathbed, can trust the popular verdict, and know that his new
quartett 'will please some day.' And it is idle to say that these men
undervalued the religion in which they held the priesthood. Only they
knew that its Theology was on broad, simple lines, that its gospel
consisted of truths which could find a ready echo in the heart of the
world; that its temple was one in which the humblest worshipper could
find his appointed place. It is the sciolist, the _dilettante_, the
half-educated amateur, who professes this Gnosticism of art, and
replaces the teaching of the Church by some mystic subtleties of Æons
and Pleroma.

We of the general public are in a great measure responsible for the
existence of this heresy. The seed has no doubt been sown by the
arrogance of the minor artist, but it has found a fostering soil in our
own cowardice and our own indolence. We may set on one side those men
who are altogether outside the influence of any given art, men who have
no feeling at all for music or for painting or for literature: they, at
any rate, maintain the honest doubt in which lives more faith than in
half the creeds, and, whatever their position, they lie wholly outside
the limit of our present purpose. It is the rest of us that are really
to blame, we who profess to care for painting or music, and yet lack the
courage to express our own likes and dislikes, who wait timidly for some
authoritative opinion, that we may gain the credit of agreeing with it,
if it is right, and, if it is wrong, may divert from ourselves the
responsibility of the error. No doubt this attitude has found some
degree of excuse. Artists, like other enthusiasts, are apt to

                  Rush on a benighted man,
    And give him two black eyes for being blind;

nor does anyone like to be called blockhead, even by the representative
of an opposing party. But we may reflect that free judgment is our best
remedy against the intolerance of partisan spirit, and that, whatever be
the issue, we are bound in common fairness and honesty to think for
ourselves. Of all diseases to which the appreciation of art is liable,
hypocrisy is the most fatal and the most insidious.

More particularly is this true of music, the whole criterion of which
is, in a sense, subjective. That is to say, in music we have no external
standard of comparison, such as exists in the representative arts; we
must draw all our rules of guidance partly from the constitution of our
own mind, and partly from the established practice of the great masters.
If the two conflict, we must weigh the evidence before summing up on
the one side or on the other. It may be that a work is great, but not
great for us, that it makes its appeal to some psychological feature or
faculty in which we are deficient. In that case, we must rest content to
be out of sympathy with it, unless, indeed, we can train ourselves to a
wider and more catholic admiration. And this we are most likely to
attain if we analyse the cause and material of our enjoyment, if we find
out, first, what are the elements in our nature to which music attaches
itself, and, second, what are the factors in musical composition to
which our nature, as a whole, most readily responds. Here, then, are two
questions for the inductive method to consider: the first a matter of
pure psychology, the second a matter of pure æsthetics. Of course, the
two questions are complementary: indeed, they may almost be regarded as
two aspects of the same problem: but it will be convenient to take them
separately, and to illustrate each by the other. The reader may be
warned at the outset that there is not going to be any attempt at
exhaustive analysis. Æsthetics, even more than ethics, are 'too complex
to admit of accuracy'; and, in dealing with the conditions of beauty, we
must be content to leave much to individual judgment and individual

First, then, for the psychological side. We may well begin by accepting
the ordinary tripartite division of human nature which has passed
current ever since the time of Aristotle. Apart from the broad fact of
life which is common to the whole organic world, the faculties of man
may be classified under the three heads of sensation, which he
undoubtedly shares with the other animals, emotion, which he shares with
them in a higher and more developed degree, and reason, which, so far
as our present knowledge attests, he possesses as a sole and special
prerogative. There is no need to enter here into any vexed questions of
limit and demarcation. A philosophy of evolution may some day show that
all human faculties spring from a common source: it has not yet done so;
and whether it succeed or fail, the fact remains that in our present
condition the three classes are different both in property and in
function. Emotion may be partly dependent on the nervous system, but it
cannot be summed up in terms of nervous energy: still less can the work
of the mind be resolved into formulæ of chemical change and molecular
movement. The spiritual principle in man is no more to be confounded
with the brain which it employs as its instrument, than the sculptor
with his mallet and chisel, or the violinist with his Stradivarius.

Further, the rational principle may itself be regarded as twofold. On
the lower side there is a discursive intellect, which weighs evidence
and compares the reports of the senses, which is logical, inferential,
ratiocinative: on the higher side there is faculty of pure intuition,
whence come our axioms, our great Religious truths, our first principles
of art and science. Here again we must wait to determine whether this
distinction be one of aspect or faculty, until we are certain that we
know the meaning of the two terms: at present it is only necessary to
note that the distinction is recognised as real by psychologists, no
less diverse in aim than Aristotle and Hegel. Faith to the Theologian is
the exercise of the intuitive reason on divine things. Thought to the
metaphysician is the faculty behind inference with which Being itself
is correlative. But there is no need to call further testimony. It is
enough to say in plain words, that if we know conclusions which we can
prove, we must have some faculty of knowledge which deals with proof: if
we know axiomatic laws which we cannot prove, we must have some faculty
of knowledge which is independent of proof. We know that two straight
lines cannot enclose a space: we know that the angles at the base of an
isosceles triangle are equal to one another. In these two facts of
knowledge the two aspects of reason are exhibited in their simplest

Now, with this spiritual principle of intuition we have, for the
present, nothing further to do. As it is the highest faculty in us, so
it is the least capable of analysis; we cannot define it or describe it,
or say more than that we are conscious of its existence. 'Everyone,'
said Gautier, 'has his measure of inspiration,' and the words, apart
from the tone of mockery in which they were uttered, are literally true.
Everybody is, at some time or another, affected beyond the reach of
words by some great display of beauty or majesty or heroism; and at such
moments we feel a true inspiration which is none the less real for being
inarticulate. So in Music, the one function of this intuitive principle
is the immediate apprehension of vitality in the best work. To one it
may be the first hearing of a Beethoven symphony, to another it may be
the _Messiah_, to another some complete and perfect Volkslied; but
whatever the object, we cease to reason or criticise, and simply
acknowledge it as divine, in virtue of a divine principle in ourselves.
The work is a momentary scintillation from the great glowing fire of
genius, and we can love it, because the best faculty that we possess is
a spark kindled by the same light. Not that in admiring we claim
equality. We are dumb poets, 'wanting the accomplishment of verse,'
lacking the gift of articulation, which implies a clearer vision and a
closer communion with the ideal. But to admire at all, in this true
sense of enthusiasm and self-abandonment, is only possible when the
highest chord of our nature is struck. Man is never lifted nearer to
Heaven than when he bows himself to worship.

Such moments of inspired admiration are of rare occurrence. But it is
impossible to mistake them; impossible to confuse them with the
careless, unthinking enjoyment of the senses, in which so much of our
musical appreciation is supposed to consist. Between the spontaneous
reverence for a masterpiece, and the unintelligent pleasure in mere
sound, there is as wide a difference as between the two loves of Plato's
fable and Titian's picture: the one is a daughter of Urania, the other
of mortal parentage and of mortal passion. In our impulse towards
beauty, as in all other affections of our nature, the two extreme
points lie outside the limits of the discursive reason, and it is
with the intervening space that rational analysis can be most
profitably occupied. In other words, there is a whole realm of artistic
appreciation in which we can resolve our pleasure into its constituent
factors, and discover not only what it is that we enjoy, but how our
capacity for enjoyment is originated and developed. And as almost all
errors of musical judgment spring from carelessness of observation, such
analysis will not only possess a scientific interest, it will also
supply us with some criterion for estimating the value of separate
styles and distinguishing the false and ephemeral from the true and
abiding. In a previous essay some attempt was made to sketch roughly and
imperfectly the four great corner-stones on which this method should
rest: the law of vitality, the law of labour, the law of proportion, and
the law of fitness to the matter in hand. It now remains to build upon
this foundation, to trace out in some degree the application of these
laws, and to discover, if discovery is possible, the _axiomata media_
which these wider generalisations include.

The mode, then, in which we are ordinarily influenced by Music may be
roughly classified under three main types of affection. First, there is
the purely physical, the effect of bodily pleasure or pain, which is
produced on the nervous system by a concurrence or succession of air
vibrations, and is analogous to those impressions of the palate, which
are translated into taste, or those movements of the optic nerve, which
are translated into colour. Secondly, there is the semi-physical, in
which, for the mere corporeal excitation of the senses, we have that
subtler and more sublimated form of influence which it is usual to
comprise under the name of emotion. Here we may find analogy with the
vague, half-conscious feeling of melancholy which we experience in
reading Shelley's _Stanzas written in Dejection_, or the throb of
courage and hopefulness which, without any thought of the artistic value
of the poem, stirs in our heart as an answer to Browning's _Prospice_.
Not, of course, that our appreciation of these two works is merely
emotional; to say this would be to deny their position as products of
art; but it has its emotional side, of which we are all conscious in a
greater or less degree. It is a commonplace of criticism that verse
which is religious or patriotic is often estimated entirely out of
relation to its artistic worth; and that a poor poem may strike a
responsive chord in our nature which leads us to give it an altogether
factitious importance. And this error of judgment is due not to the
spiritual part of our nature, for that takes artistic form for granted,
and rises above it, but to an emotional sympathy with the tenour of the
poem which blinds us for the moment to its literary imperfection. So in
Music, it does not follow that because we feel ourselves stirred by a
certain combination of notes, we are therefore in the presence of a real
masterpiece. The passage in question may strike us because it is great,
but it may equally do so because we are unintelligent; and though in
either case our attitude has its noble aspect, for all genuine
admiration is good up to its limits, yet it is a matter of some moment
whether we are burning our incense before a true or a false shrine.
There is no small difference between being stimulated by some prophetic
utterance, and finding our consolation in the sound 'of that blessed
word Mesopotamia.'

Third, and most vital of the three, is the rational or logical side,
through which we appraise an artistic work, not by any test of sensuous
pleasure or emotional stimulus, but by some definite and intelligible
scheme of æsthetic laws. To this belongs our appreciation of style, our
appreciation of structure, all that we really imply in the word
'criticism.' By this we estimate everything in art, of which the
estimation can be reduced to laws, everything that is not confined to a
bare statement of personal likes and dislikes. In the two previous forms
of affection we are merely passive, the recipients of some mechanical
or semi-mechanical impact from outside; in this alone we aid the
composer by our own judgment, and respond to his call with a sane and
intelligent answer. Grant that the application of logic to art has
special and serious dangers, that to its misuse we owe all the pedantry
and all the intolerance by which the history of criticism has so often
been defaced; it still remains true that the method, if rightly
exercised, is the one condition of any sound and scientific analysis.
Grant that the highest art and the highest appreciation are both, in a
sense, spontaneous, it will be found that they have not disregarded
reason, but absorbed it. To touch the most purely spiritual part of
man's nature is, _ipso facto_, to have removed furthest from the purely
animal; and it is no very extreme paradox to hold that, if a limit be
transcended, it must first have been traversed. So the greatest
masterpieces in Music will be found to contain sensuous, emotional and
rational factors, and something beside, some divine element of life by
which they are animated and inspired. The fourth of these we shall never
be able to analyse, but we may, at least, devote a little attention to
the organic chemistry of the others.

The sensation of sound is, on its material side, an affection of the
auric nerve, under stimulus of regular and periodic air vibrations. The
physical pleasure which results from it is entirely dependent on
the degree of stimulation, and is therefore conditioned by two
variables--the manner of vibration in the air waves, and the particular
receptivity of the nerve. It will be convenient, for the sake of
clearness, to take these two separately.

The simplest air vibrations may differ from each other in three ways.
By their rapidity is determined the pitch of the sound, that is, its
distinction of high and low; by their size, the volume of the sound,
that is, its distinction of loud and soft; and by their shape, the
_timbre_ of the sound, that is, the peculiar quality which distinguishes
the 'voices' of the different musical instruments. It does not appear
that the pleasurableness of the result is seriously affected by the
first two of these, provided that they fall within the limits of clear
sensation. No doubt there are at the extreme ends of the gamut notes
which we cannot detect without some difficulty, but between them the
differences of pitch are recognised by everyone as plain facts, which
have little or nothing to do with the agreeableness of the tone. Again,
when we are standing near the organ, on which some follower of Master
Hugues is 'blaring out the Mode Palestrina,' our ear may be overcharged
with sound, but in that case we can no more be said to hear the music
than the eye can be said to see when it is dazzled with a sudden
splendour of light. Differences of _timbre_, on the contrary, do seem to
imply distinctions of pleasurableness or the reverse. Almost all people
of imperfect musical cultivation have their favourite instruments; one
enjoys the violin, but cares nothing for the piano; another remains in
frozen indifference until he is melted by the human voice; another finds
all music comprised in the invigorating skirl of the bagpipes. It must
be remembered that such influences are wholly physical. They have
nothing to do with artistic appreciation in the proper sense of the
term; they are as purely sensuous as our delight in the colour of a
flower or the taste of a dish.

Now, the immediate effect of music upon the nervous system is
incontestable. It has often been noticed in animals other than man; it
is a matter of common observation in children; it has been made the
basis of a proposal to use the art as a medicinal agency.[2] And as no
two sets of nerves are exactly alike, it follows that in no two
organisms will the same effect be produced. If the temperament be highly
strung, and if there be no intellectual enjoyment of the art to divert
attention, the nerve may be over-stimulated, and the result will be a
feeling of pain. As the nerve strengthens, it will grow more tolerant;
as education advances, the mind will be occupied with new interests.
Questions of form and style will assert their pre-eminence over
questions of tone. In a word, body will

          Get its sop and hold its noise,
    And leave soul free a little.

Théophile Gautier honestly defined music as 'le plus désagréable de tous
les sons.' Charles Lamb rushed from the opera-house to solace his
sufferings amid the rattle of the cab wheels. And equally the child
Chopin cried with pain at the first sound of the pianoforte, and the
child Mozart fainted under the intolerable blare of the trumpet. In all
these cases the explanation is the same--a nerve too delicate to endure
the stimulus, and an absence of any counteracting influence that could
inhibit the sensation.

It is thus wholly erroneous to suppose that there is a gulf fixed
between the man who 'has no ear' and the trained musician: on the
contrary, the two extremes shade into each other by a thousand
varieties of gradation. And this is particularly true of these complex
impressions which result from several notes combined in harmony. The
stimulus which we receive from a chord is, for obvious reasons, more
vehement and acute than that which we receive from any of its
constituent notes taken separately; and hence it is in our appreciation
of harmonies, more than in any other form of musical effect, that the
sensuous side of the art becomes apparent. Now, there is not a single
chord in common use at the present day which has not been at some time
condemned as a dissonance. The major third was once held to be a
discord; so, later, was the dominant seventh; so, within living memory,
was the so-called dominant thirteenth. Fifty years ago Chopin's harmony
was 'unendurable;' thirty years ago the world accepted Chopin, but
shrank in terror from Wagner and Brahms; now, we accept all three, but
shake our heads over Goldmark. And the inference to which all this
points is, that the terms 'concord' and 'discord' are wholly relative to
the ear of the listener. The distinction between them is not to be
explained on any mathematical basis, or by any _a priori_ law of
acoustics; it is altogether a question of psychology.

At the same time, it may be held, fairly enough, that a composer is
bound to write in a manner intelligible to his generation. Volapuk may
be the language of the future, but a poet who, at the present day,
should publish his epic in that tongue, has only himself to thank if he
find no readers. True, but the composer, like the poet, is himself a
part of his generation, and, if he write simply and naturally, may be
trusted not to pass out of touch with contemporary thought. He is a
leader, but it is no part of a leader's business to lose sight of his
army. And in Music, it is not the sensuous question which matters, but
the intellectual; not the fact of concord or discord, but the way in
which they are employed. We still find Monteverde harsh and the Prince
of Venosa crude, not because they use sharp dissonances and extreme
modulations, but because they fail to justify them on any artistic
grounds. They are in this matter children playing with edged tools. So,
at the present day, a composer who should end a piece on a minor second
would be deliberately violating the established language of the time;
and would be reprehensible, not because a minor second is ugly--for it
will be a concord some day--but because, in the existing state of Music,
it could not be naturally placed at the close of a cadence. Imagine
Handel's face on being shown a song which finished on a dominant seventh
out of the key. And, having imagined it, turn to Schumann's _Im
wunderschönen Monat Mai_.

Again, supposing that a generation has mainly agreed to find the climax
of sensuous pleasure in certain chords--the augmented sixth, the
diminished seventh and the like--it by no means follows that a
composition is delightful because it contains those particular effects.
Everything depends on their relation to their context, or the standpoint
from which they are introduced, on the general style of the passage in
which they appear. Any amateur purveyor of hymn tunes and waltzes can
learn to write them; the difficulty is to present them fitly and
properly, and to place them, as points of colour, where they will
harmonise with the complete scheme of the work. Even more recondite
effects, like the wonderful 'voca me cum benedictis' in Dvořák's
_Requiem_, are _quâ_ sensuous of secondary value. Their true importance
lies in their intellectual side, in their function of exhibiting new key
relationships or new methods of resolution. And if a chord does not
fulfil some such duty, if it does not justify itself by bearing some
definite organic part in the total plan, then it is not art but
confectionery. Hearers, whose only delight in music arises from the
perception of 'sweet' harmonies, are on a par with the schoolboy in
Leech's picture, who suggests that the claret would be improved by a
little sugar.

From this two conclusions would seem to follow. First, that Music can
never be adequately criticised on sensuous grounds, partly because the
receptivity of the nerve differs in different temperaments, partly
because even where there is an agreement the sensuous side is wholly
subordinate to the intellectual. Secondly, as a corollary from this, any
musician who deliberately aims at sensuous effects alone, _ipso facto_,
commits artistic suicide. He can be beaten on his own ground by the
great masters, and he leaves untouched the whole of that field to the
occupation of which they owe their greatness. Finally, it may be added,
that sense notoriously grows tired, while mental activity endures. We
very soon weary of the average drawing-room ballad, even if it gave us
some animal pleasure at the first hearing: but we return again and again
to the fugue of Bach or the sonata of Beethoven, because there we find
the permanent expression of mind and intelligence. And thus the musical
critic may virtually disregard the element of sensation, or at most may
allude to it only so far as to show that it is, in Aristotle's phrase,
'obedient to reason.'

Music affects our emotional nature in two ways: partly through the
nervous system, partly through the ordinary law of association. It is a
commonplace of psychology that our emotions are largely conditioned by
physical states in the body,[3] and to this rule music assuredly offers
no exception. Under certain circumstances, a current of energy, after
passing from the ear to the brain, is transmuted into the nervous
movements which constitute the material cause of the simple feelings,
and thus we are roused or exhilarated or depressed by means as
mechanical as those of any agency in external nature. Here, again, as in
sensation itself, much depends upon the receptivity of the nerve. One
hearer may be thrown into agitation by an impulse which leaves another
comparatively cold, a strong temperament may be vehemently excited by
conditions under which a weaker organism is stunned or paralysed. But
all who are in any degree susceptible of the influence of music, have
experienced some measure of this emotional stimulus, poured into the
brain through sensation, and then sublimated in a physical alembic.
Among the most conspicuous existing causes may be noted the rapid
tremolo of the strings, as in the death song at the end of _Tristan_,
the beat of a recurring figure, as in the 'Ride to the Abyss' of
Berlioz' _Faust_, the reiteration of high notes on the violin, as in
much of Dvořák's chamber music, and the restlessness of frequent
modulation or uncertain tonality. Any reader who is at the pains to
analyse the effect produced upon him by these means of musical
expression, will probably agree that they rouse first a particular kind
of stimulus in the sense, and then, without any conscious intervention
on his own part, a corresponding state of emotional feeling.

Far more important is the influence of association. There is no reason
_in rerum naturâ_ why the minor mode should be sad, but our first
ancestors noticed that a cry sank in tone as the power of its utterance
failed, and hence established a connection between depression of note
and waning strength. So began an association of ideas to which, by
transmission and inheritance, the pathos of our minor keys is mainly
due. Again, the bass naturally suggests gravity and earnestness, because
that is the case with the speaking voice. 'No man of real dignity,' says
Aristotle, 'could ever be shrill of speech;' and similarly, when we look
for serious or dignified music, we expect to find some prominence given
to its lower register. Much, too, of this association is due to the
motions of our ordinary life: the force that strikes like a blow in the
first phrase of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, the agitation so often
expressed by rapid and irregular movement; the broken voices at the end
of the Funeral March in the _Eroica_; and others of similar kind. Of
course music cannot define any specific emotional state: it is far too
vague and indeterminate to be regarded as an articulate language; but it
undoubtedly can suggest and adumbrate general types of emotion, either
by producing their sensuous conditions, or by presenting some form of
phrase which we can connect by association with our own experience.

But it is not in this emotional influence that the truest laws of
musical criticism are to be sought. Its criterion is nobler than that
of sense, partly because it deals with an aspect of our nature which is
less animal, partly because it implies a greater degree of skill in the
artist; but it is too personal and intimate to afford a satisfactory
basis for discussion, and taken by itself, it offers little or no
opportunity for the exercise of the higher faculties. In the _Journal
des Goncourt_, there is a well-known passage describing the effect of
music on a roomful of highly-strung and unintelligent listeners. The
picture is not a little degrading to our humanity: nervous emotion
trembling on the verge of hysteria, sentiment that has passed out of
rational control, an intoxication of feeling morbid in itself and
dangerous in its inevitable reaction. The case may be extreme, the
account may be rhetorically exaggerated, but it contains a salutary
truth. If we look on music merely as a stimulus to our emotional nature,
we are really disregarding all that makes it of permanent value as an
art. We are lowering it to the level of sentimental romance or
bloodthirsty melodrama. Grant that this form of indulgence is less gross
than the direct gratification of the senses, it is not a whit more
critical. While we are under its spell, we are as incapable of sane
judgment as Rinaldo in Armida's garden; we have abrogated our manhood,
we have drugged our reason, we are lying passive and inert at the mercy
of an external will.

It is hardly necessary to point out that this state of mere recipience
is altogether different from artistic appreciation. Art is not more a
riot of the passions than it is a debauch of the senses: it contains, no
doubt, sensuous and emotional elements, the importance of which there is
no need to undervalue, but it is only artistic if it subordinate them
to the paramount claims of reason. Even the purest and noblest emotions
do not constitute a sufficient response. We are only in a position to
criticise when we have passed through the emotional stage and emerged
into the intellectual region beyond. To judge a composition simply from
the manner in which it works upon our feelings, is no better than
judging a picture or a poem merely from our sympathy with its subject.

To this conclusion two possible objections may be urged: first, that it
takes an 'ascetic' view of art; second, that it places the criterion in
a mere subservience to abstract and mechanical laws. Both of these rest
on a misunderstanding of the position. True art is neither ascetic nor
intemperate: it implies a full command of the sensuous and emotional
factors in beauty, but it knows how to employ them. Its object is to
make the whole work beautiful, not to elaborate this or that aspect at
the expense of the rest; and such an object can only be achieved in
virtue of certain intellectual principles. Beethoven's harmony is not
less exquisite, or his passion less true and vital because he regards
the requirements of style and structure as paramount. On the contrary,
the sensuous and emotional beauties of his work are themselves enhanced
by the unerring skill with which he places his effects and contrasts his
colours. Again, whatever their intellectual laws may be they are not
mechanical. They afford no excuse for _kapellmeistermusik_, no
justification for cold accuracy and dull correctness: so far from
precluding genius, they presuppose it. They are not grammatical
conventions which can be learned from text-books, they are the direct
and spontaneous outcome of the human reason. Thus, in order to
ascertain them, we must begin by discovering what is the broadest
principle of formal beauty which can be deduced from the laws of mind,
and use it as a provisional hypothesis with which to approach our
problem. We shall then see how far this principle finds actual
embodiment in the works of the great composers, and if there are
exceptions or divergences, how far they can be explained. If our
original hypothesis is confirmed by experience, we may reasonably
conclude that it is true; if not, we must recognise that we are on the
wrong line, and we must retrace our steps. In musical criticism, as in
every other form of scientific investigation, it is not the function of
man to anticipate facts, but to interpret them.


[2] See an interesting essay in Dr Frank's _Satyræ Medicæ_. See also
Burton's _Anatomy of Melancholy_, II. ii. 6, 3.

[3] On this point, see Professor James' _Principles of Psychology_,
chap. xxv.



'It may be shown,' says Mr Herbert Spencer,[4] 'that Music is but an
idealisation of the natural language of emotion, and that, consequently,
Music must be good or bad according as it conforms to the laws of this
natural language. The various inflections of voice which accompany
feelings of different kinds and intensities, are the germs out of which
Music is developed. It is demonstrable that these inflections and
cadences are not accidental or arbitrary: but that they are determined
by certain general principles of vital action; and that their
expressiveness depends on this. Whence it follows that musical phrases,
and the melodies built on them, can be effective only when they are in
harmony with these general principles. It is difficult here properly to
illustrate this position. But perhaps it will suffice to instance the
swarms of worthless ballads that infest drawing-rooms, as compositions
which science would forbid. They sin against science by setting to music
ideas that are not emotional enough to prompt musical expression: and
they also sin against science by using musical phrases that have no
relation to the ideas expressed, even when these are emotional. They are
bad because they are untrue. And to say they are untrue is to say they
are unscientific.'

In these words we may find a starting-point for sound criticism. If a
musical composition is to make any bid for the rank of classic it must,
as a primary essential, be genuine in feeling: by which we mean, that it
must not only be original, though originality is implied and included,
but that, in Wordsworth's fine phrase, it must be inevitable. To
recognise a melody as perfect is to feel, when we come to know it, that
it could not possibly have been written in any other way: that its
phraseology, whether simple or complex, whether obvious or recondite, is
the necessary outgrowth of the thought which it embodies. Of course this
law does not preclude the element of surprise, which is one legitimate
factor of musical effect. The hearer, like the composer, may sometimes
be 'stung with the splendour of a sudden thought' and roused into a
moment of exquisite consciousness by an unexpected cadence or a new
modulation. But if the surprise be more than temporary, it is
inartistic. Before we reach the conclusion of the work, we must be
convinced that the effect in question bears some vital and organic part
in the total structure: that it is, in short, a prediction which is
justified by a future fulfilment. And, in that case, we end by
acknowledging that it was not an isolated and deliberate attempt to stir
our wonder, but part of an established plan which only astonished us at
the moment because we were unable to foresee its issue.

It is obvious that in the drama or the novel we are but little impressed
by devices which we can detect as artificial. A writer who lets us see
that he 'wants to make our flesh creep,' has forearmed us already
against all his terrors: a playwright who tells us at the outset that he
is going to persecute his heroine, simply fills us with an idle
curiosity as to the precise form which the persecution will take. There
can be no illusion where there is no appearance of spontaneity: no art
when there is no concealment of artifice. Victor Hugo can move us
intensely; Scribe cannot move us at all: for the former, with all his
vehemence and exaggeration, is speaking out of the abundance of the
heart, and the latter is merely using the stage as a chess-board for the
elaboration of ingenious problems. So it is in Music. Meyerbeer is one
of the 'cleverest' of musicians: brilliant, ready, resourceful,
courageous enough to rob the grave of its horror and the Church of its
majesty, if only he may rouse his audience to a higher strain of
attention. Yet we are no more stirred by Meyerbeer than we are by Monk
Lewis. The music is drowned by the soliloquies of the composer, who
looks on from his box and wonders whether this scene is sufficiently
terrible, whether that situation contains the requisite amount of
pathos; and whether the effects, which have been so carefully calculated
and so precisely measured, have after all proved to be a profitable

But there are lower depths than this. It is not long since an eminent
composer of sentimental ballads was obliging enough to communicate to
the magazines a complete recipe of his method. It is hardly worth while
to give the details, but attention may be called to the singularly naïve
confession with which the disclosure ended:--that for a song to be truly
successful 'its melody must always remind the audience of something that
they have heard before.' Surely there has never been so complete an
instance of artistic falsehood gibbeted by its own perpetrator. Poe, no
doubt may be quoted as a parallel, but not with justice. The famous
essay on the Raven is clearly an afterthought: a critical puzzle
designed to mystify a credulous public. One might as well believe that
Burger's _Lenore_ was written by rule and measure, or that Berlioz
planned his _Marche au Supplice_ with a diagram of the procession at his

Such examples of artistic failure are not always ignoble. It is quite
possible that a man may be preoccupied with some scientific aspect of
his art, that he may write not from the overmastering desire to express
some beautiful thought, but from a deliberate wish to solve some
difficult problem or transcend some technical limit. In such a case he
will produce work which, though not valuable as an artistic achievement,
is yet interesting as a study. He may show us some new method of
resolving a discord, some new cadence for the conclusion of a phrase,
some new shape which the melodic curve can legitimately assume: and
thus, though he devote himself to a side issue, though his work will be
purely formal and academic, he may yet claim an honourable place, not
indeed among the poets of Music, but among its verse-writers. Of this
type we have a conspicuous instance in Sir George Macfarren. He is
essentially a musical grammarian, engaged all his life long in settling
the doctrine of the enclitic de, wide of knowledge, sincere of purpose,
and almost entirely devoid of spontaneity. Consequently there is not, in
all his composition, a single page which is without interest to the
student of harmony, and there is hardly one which can put forward any
claim to rank as a living product of art. And this is not because he
has regarded the intellectual aspect of Music as paramount,--for to do
this is a necessary condition of good work,--but because he has
emphasised the wrong intellectual aspect, because he has confused
grammar with style. The great masters--Bach, Beethoven, Brahms--are
every whit as correct as Macfarren, and every whit as ingenious, but to
them correctness and ingenuity are subordinate, almost incidental: to
him they appear to be the main object and aim of composition.

Secondly, the feeling must not only be inevitable, it must be worth
expressing. 'The maiden,' says Ruskin, 'may sing her lost love, but the
miser may not sing his lost money-bags.' Now it is obvious that worth is
a relative term. We do not want gravity in a ballroom or solemnity in a
comic opera. There is plenty of space in Music for lightness, and
delicacy, and simplicity and humour, provided that they recognise their
proper limits and are devoted to their proper themes. But there is no
room for forms of expression which are silly or superficial or vulgar.
We are not really moved by the sorrows of a little tin soldier, or the
flirtations of a man and a maid under an umbrella. We do not really weep
over the chorister boy who becomes an angel, or the carol singer (with
organ obbligato) who dies in a snow-drift through half-a-dozen stanzas
of imperfect verse. It is with very alien jaws that we laugh at the
tedious horse-play and cheap catch-words of our 'humorous' songs. It is
with very little fascination that we watch the posturing of our
hoydenish polkas or our ill-bred slangy waltzes. And our aversion is not
due to any pedantic insistence on the dignity of the art. Music has a
perfect right, _desipere in loco_, but it ought to choose its place
with opportunity, and regulate its folly by some laws of good behaviour.

The limit for music, in short, is much the same as the limit for poetry.
There is probably no generic type of emotion which the poet would
dismiss as unworthy of treatment, but under each genus there are certain
specific forms which he would naturally leave untouched as perversions,
or degradations. Every normal and healthy instinct may have its artistic
expression, no matter how slight or transitory its nature; it is the
parodies, the simulations, the abnormal counterparts that afford no
material to poet or musician. Schumann's nursery tunes are as delightful
as the 'Child's Garden of Verses'; Mr Austin Dobson has not more skill
in porcelain than Rameau or Scarlatti or Couperin. If we want romance,
there is Chopin; if dance music, there is Strauss; if simple sentiment,
there are the best of Mendelssohn's _Lieder_. Above all, if we must sing
something which our audience can follow without thought and at a single
hearing, let us discard our second-rate librettists and second-hand
composers, and let us turn back to the national songs which have sprung
from the very heart of our people. We shall not thereby aid in
conferring royalties on writers who had far better be following some
other profession: but we shall at least help to purify the atmosphere of
contemporary art. There is no more melancholy spectacle of human
infirmity than a so-called 'Ballad Concert' of the present day: unless
it be the amateur reproductions, where all the faults of a bad system
are faithfully copied, and the unconscious burlesque of feeling is
itself unconsciously burlesqued.

All music, then, which is worthy of serious regard must be the
spontaneous outcome of a natural and healthy emotion. But this is
clearly not the last word in the matter: if it were, we should be
threatened with the _reductio ad absurdum_, that all genuine music is of
equal value. Nor can the distinction be entirely explained by the fact
that some emotional states are deeper and more serious than others: for,
in the first place, such a classification of our feelings is almost
impossible; and, in the second, even if it were effected, it would carry
us but a little way towards a solution. The emotional basis of
Beethoven's Eighth Symphony is lighter than that of Berlioz' _Symphonie
Fantastique_, but Beethoven's is undoubtedly the greater work. We have,
in short, the whole question of formal beauty to discuss, the whole
analysis of those intellectual laws on which it has been already
suggested that artistic perfection ultimately depends. It must be
remembered that music is not only the expression, but the idealisation
of feeling, and that its true worth will be largely conditioned by the
qualities of abstract beauty which such an idealisation implies.

These qualities may roughly be classified under the two heads of style
and structure. By structure in music is meant the general distribution
of ideas in a work or movement: the contrast and recurrence of themes,
the organisation of the key system, the whole architectural plan which
aims at the establishment of coherence and stability. By style is meant
the due arrangement of the phraseology; the right melodic curve, the
proper degree of richness and transparency in the harmonisation, the
feeling for the special capacities of the different voices or
instruments. No doubt the two cannot be sharply separated: they are in
a great measure interdependent, and are more or less determined by the
same ultimate principles. But as complementary aspects they may at any
rate be logically distinguished, and in some cases may even suggest
different lines of criticism. In some early sonata movements, for
instance, the structure is coherent, but the phraseology deficient in
force and contrast. In some works of our romantic period the phraseology
is admirable, but the importance of key-relationship almost entirely
disregarded. It is much the same with a play or a novel; the story
cannot be perfectly told unless the characters are perfectly drawn; we
may even add, unless the author has entire command of the right word and
the telling phrase. But short of this ideal proportion the balance may
swing to the side of plot or to the side of characterisation, to
boldness of invention or delicacy of treatment. It is only in the
greatest work that the form is, on both sides, entirely satisfying.

Now, the highest type of formal perfection which our minds are capable
of conceiving, is that of unity in diversity. The discovery of this
principle in Nature, as a whole, was the main problem of Greek
philosophy; its discovery in different departments of Nature is the
entire problem of modern science. Knowledge is the unification of
isolated facts under a single law: truth, which is the correlative
of knowledge, finds its climax in the existence of law and the
inter-relation of facts. More especially is this the case with that
particular form of unification which we call organic; that in which the
details are absolutely diverse in character, but all play interdependent
parts in one single economy. The organism is not only our supreme
example of physical structure, it is the type of all human society and
all natural order.

Again, our great evolutionist philosopher has told us that an organism
must possess three main attributes. First, it must be definite, clear in
outline, complete in substance, and filling with unbroken continuity the
fixed limits by which it is circumscribed. Secondly, it must be
heterogeneous: composed, that is, of a plurality of parts, each of which
has its own special function, and no two of which are interchangeable.
Thirdly, it must be coherent: holding this plurality in exact balance
and equipoise, so that each part, incapable by itself of maintaining the
whole body, is yet essential to the due health and efficiency of the
others. Illustrations of this principle are the primary facts of
biology. They may be traced in steady gradation from the earliest and
most rudimentary forms of animal life until they culminate in the
ordered complexity of the human frame. And a line of similar development
runs through all political history, from the primitive tribe to the
communities of our present civilisation.

_Mutatis mutandis_, this scientific ideal is also the ideal of art. When
we speak of a great picture, a great poem, a great novel, we mean one
that groups its diverse elements round a central principle, one in
which variety is never chaotic and unity never monotonous; one
in which every stroke tells and every touch is essential. No doubt,
in the representative arts, this principle is qualified by other
considerations,--poetry has to criticise life, painting has to represent
nature; but in both the element of formal perfection is of vital
importance, and in both formal perfection means perfection of organism.
A bad composition in pictorial art means one in which some detail can be
obliterated without loss to the whole. A bad composition in literature
means one which contains superfluous digressions and 'passages that lead
to nothing.' Virgil is the great epic artist, Sophocles the great artist
in drama, for precisely the same reasons that teach us to see
extravagance in Wiertz' scenes from the _Iliad_, or make us laugh, not
without pity, at Nat Lee's Bedlam Tragedy 'in Twenty-five Acts and some
Odd Scenes.' Again the flexibility of fine verse simply means the
organic inter-relation of different metrical devices. If we examine a
dozen lines of Shakespear, or Milton, or Keats, or Tennyson, we shall
recognise that their beauty of sound depends partly on the harmonious
juxtaposition of words, each of which finds its natural complement in
the rest, partly on the varieties of stress which balance and compensate
one another throughout the whole. Take away the variety, and we get
verse like that of Hoole's _Tasso_. Take away the compensation, and we
get the misshapen prose of Byron's _Deformed Transformed_.

Lastly, among all arts, it is to Music that the law of organic
proportion most intimately applies. In Painting and Literature, an
emotional state gives rise to a thought which gives rise to an
appropriate form of expression: in Music, the state of emotion gives
rise to a melody which is thought and form in one. While, therefore,
with the representative arts, we can sometimes criticise the idea and
the expression as two separate factors, with Music it is only in the
expression that the idea can be ascertained. Again, the musician has a
far more opulent command of formal resource than his brother artists.
Contrasts of _timbre_ and tone are at least as various as contrasts of
colour: the complexity of musical rhythm is far beyond anything that
language can achieve; while, in the devices of harmony, and still more
of polyphony and counterpoint, the composer occupies a position which is
virtually unique in human experience. Hence we may naturally expect
that, in their highest development, the style and structure of Music
should present the most complete examples of artistic organism: that
they should be, as Mr Pater has described them, the perfect type to
which it is the glory of other arts to conform.

Before we proceed to test this hypothesis by reference to the practice
of the great masters, there is one preliminary consideration on which it
is advisable to lay some emphasis. Music assumes so many forms, and is
devoted to so many purposes, that it would be idle to expect the same
kind of organic perfection in all. The melodies of the dance and the
ballad are, for obvious reasons, compelled to a certain uniformity of
rhythm and stanza; and it is impossible that they should exhibit the
same diversity as a work which is not bound by their restrictions.
Again, a continuously recurrent figure may be used with admirable effect
in a short pianoforte piece, or in the accompaniment of a song, though
it would grow monotonous and wearisome if maintained through the whole
length of a symphonic movement. In Music as in Poetry, the heterogeneity
of a work will be in great measure conditioned by its extent and scale;
only, as no composition is large enough to justify incoherence, so none
is small enough to dispense with diversity altogether. Look at Heine's
_Du bist wie eine Blume_ simply as a matter of phrase and versification.
The unity of the lyric is beyond all question, but we may note how the
extra syllables come pressing into the more impassioned stanza, and how
the style of the whole is perfected by the exquisite inversion in the
last line.

[Illustration: EXAMPLES]

It is precisely the same with a lyric tune like 'Barbara Allen.'[5] Here
the stanza is prescribed by the exigencies of the ballad-form, in which
the alternate strains answer each other perforce. But it is worth
remarking, that although there is little variety in the rhythmic figure,
there is almost perfect organisation in the notes that constitute the
melodic curve. It is not too much to say that after the first phrase
every detail in the tune is inevitable, made requisite either by some
preceding gap which the ear desires to fill, or by some swing of metre
which the mind desires to balance. Another and more highly organised
instance may be found in the great tune from the finale of the Ninth
Symphony.[6] Here the curve is as broad and simple as that of a
Volkslied, filling its limit with entire and satisfying completeness,
while the rhythm is perhaps the most marvellous example in Music of
organic effect produced from the plainest and most elementary materials.
In the first part only two rhythmic figures are employed, one of which
is a bare statement of the tempo, while the other differs from it only
by a dotted note, yet they are so presented that there is no sense of
monotony in the stanza. The first two strains of the second part present
a new set of figures, of which each is developed out of its predecessor,
while the last two complete the unity of the tune as a whole, by
recalling the first stanza and recapitulating its close. Still more, in
cases where there is no external requisition of metre, shall we find the
unity of the melodic organism qualified by the diversity of its parts.
In the first movement of Mozart's G Minor Quintett, there is an
admirable instance;[7] the first two bars balance in rhythm, but differ
in curve and harmony; the third intervenes with a new figure in strong
contrast; and the fourth closes the half-stanza by recalling the second.
Then comes the most beautiful point of style in the whole tune. The
figure of the third bar, which, hitherto, has only been used for
contrast (like the third line of the Omar Khayyam stanza in verse), is
answered and compensated by the fifth bar, which itself leads directly
into the cadence-phrase. And thus every part is made vital, and
differences themselves co-ordinated into uniformity of result. Finally,
as a climax, we may take two more examples from Beethoven: the melody on
which is founded the slow movement of the Pathétique,[8] and the opening
theme of the Violoncello Sonata in A.[9] The former contains six
different rhythmic figures in eight bars, the latter is composed of
disparate elements, no two of which bear any resemblance to each other;
and yet both alike are complete melodic stanzas, as definite and
coherent in their total effect as any dance-tune of Strauss, or any
ballad-tune of Schumann. It is impossible for the organisation of melody
to be carried to a higher pitch. Unity may be easily enough attained by
an exact balance of similar phrases, but only a master can produce it
from the interplay of factors so diverse and so incongruous.

The earliest known method of harmonising a melody was a continuous
series of consecutive intervals, produced when the same passage is sung
simultaneously by two voices of different pitch. Here we have the first
protoplasmic germ of this particular musical device, absolutely
homogeneous in style, and therefore inartistic. Art in harmony began
with organisation; that is, with the discovery that unity of effect
might be combined with individuality in the part writing: that each
voice might have a separate character, each chord be determined by some
intelligible law of sequence, and yet the whole be developed into a
coherent system. So rose the old counterpoint of Lassus and Palestrina,
bound by certain conventional restrictions, but, within their limits, as
highly organised as genius could make it: so in course of time grew the
freer polyphony of Bach and Brahms and Wagner, which stands to the
earlier method as the Romance languages to Latin. Thus there are two
main tests of good harmony,--first, whether each part taken by itself is
interesting; second, whether each chord can be explained and justified
by its context. For instance, the setting of the words 'Und seinem
Heil'gen Geist' from the chorale in the _Lobgesang_ is badly harmonised;
the last chord is simply out of balance, and it is only necessary to
open any page of Bach to see the contrast. Of course, in song and drama,
and, to a certain extent, even in sonata and symphony, it may be
necessary to break the law of organism in some particular detail in
order to obtain a special poetic effect. But in that case the passage in
question must be regarded as a factor in the total result: the principle
of criticism is not altered, but only applied to a wider area. And, at
any rate, on all occasions where drama is out of place, and purity of
tone the first requisite, the rule of organisation in harmony may be
taken as paramount. There is no need to multiply instances; two lie
ready to hand in our collection of _Hymns Ancient and Modern_. The
second tune assigned in that volume to the 'Litany of the Incarnate
Word' is a compendium of almost every fault of style which harmony can
commit: the setting of 'Nun danket alle Gott' is as near perfection as
it is possible for our system to attain.

So far we have considered musical style in relation to isolated strains
or melodies: and thus have led up to the more important question of its
nature in the range of a continuous composition. It is obviously easier
to write a good sentence than a good paragraph or chapter, even though
all three are amenable to the same laws: and we can find many an artist
who, like Horace's coppersmith, has skill enough in details, but remains

    Infelix operis summâ, quia ponere totum

Indeed, the preservation of balance and unity in a large work is an
achievement that requires high gifts cultivated by long and patient
training: every cadence gives a hostage to fortune, every phrase offers
a pledge that must ultimately be redeemed. It is not surprising that
composers have often been too fully preoccupied with the elaboration of
single points to notice the due inter-relation of parts by which style
in the whole is constituted.

For instance, there can be no question of Grieg's genius. His lyric
pieces for the pianoforte are almost uniformly charming: his songs are
among the greatest possessions of the art. But as soon as Grieg
attempts to fill a larger canvas, his imperfections of style begin to
appear, and the work becomes either incoherent, as in the String
Quartett, or monotonous, as in the first two numbers of the incidental
music to _Peer Gynt_. Gounod, again, has some admirable qualities, but
among them is not included any great gift for uniformity, beyond the
limits of a Berceuse or a Serenade. The 'Calf of Gold' song in _Faust_
opens with a magnificent phrase, and then degenerates into an
anti-climax of pure irrelevance. The choruses in the _Redemption_ and
the _Mors et Vita_ set out, for the most part, with a pompous fugue
exposition, and discard counterpoint at the moment when its difficulties
begin. Grant that the change of manner is due to deliberate choice and
not to deficiency in technical skill; no plea of purpose can palliate
the error. It would be just as reasonable for a dramatist to write the
first act of his tragedy in Elizabethan English and drop to the
nineteenth century for the other four.

We shall find a more interesting example if we compare the two versions
of Brahms' B major Trio. In the first, possibly misled by an apparent
analogy from Beethoven,[10] Brahms allowed himself to spoil the opening
movement with an incident of sheer incongruity: in the second he has
completely rewritten the passage and reduced it to entire harmony with
its surroundings. Not that the latter version is deficient in contrast,
but it makes contrast subservient to coherence. And it is certainly a
striking fact that the great master should have recalled his early work
in order to correct the one offence against organism of style, which it
may be held to contain.

But we need look no further than Beethoven if we wish to see this
principle in its most perfect embodiment. The opening movements of the
two Sonatas, which he has numbered as Op. 27, stand on the outside verge
of organic style: the former contains the maximum of diversity without
being indefinite; the latter the maximum of unity without being
monotonous: and between their bounds lie all those marvellous examples
of contrast and antithesis, of variation and development, of firm
outline and steadfast plan, which have placed his work as far beyond
rivalry as that of Angelo or Shakespear. See how the stormy opening of
the _Waldstein_ is soothed and quieted by the melody of the second
subject: how the bleak majesty of the first theme in the _Appassionata_
finds its complement in the warm, rich tune that enters upon the change
of key. Look at the balance of phrase in the first Rasoumoffsky
Quartett, in the fifth Symphony, in the _Emperor_ Concerto. But indeed
the fact is too patent to need illustration, even if the selection of
instances were possible. One might as well try to pick out examples of
Milton's dignity and Goethe's wisdom, or direct attention to evidences
of skill in Titian and Velasquez. Even the few imperfections may readily
be condoned. The finale of the first Sonata is a legacy from an alien
system: that of the _Eroica_ an obvious experiment, that of the Sonata
in A major an instance of the curious devotion to counterpoint which
Beethoven specially manifested at the end of his career. And it should
be noted that his comparative failures are always steps in a new
direction, and are almost always followed by some conspicuous victory on
the same lines. In any case, they may be counted on the fingers of a
single hand. There is certainly no musician, there is probably no
artist, whose work as a whole is so varied and yet so masterly.

       *       *       *       *       *

A complete discussion of musical structure would involve a history of
the art from the year 1600. It must therefore suffice for the present
purpose to note the main stages of development, and to analyse the chief
types, first as they appear in single movements, then as they are
combined into the complex organisms of sonata and symphony. Before the
Florentine revolution there was virtually no such thing as a system of
key-relationship, no recognition of the important effects of contrast
which may be produced in a work by the alternation of different tonics.
Music during the Ecclesiastical period was entirely homogeneous
in structure, bound within the limits of the mode, or, at most,
transcending them for a moment of tentative audacity wholly different
from the firm definite scheme of modern modulation. When the change
came, it was only natural that the first consequence should be a period
of chaos. The lay-brothers who had broken loose from the monastery went
roaming about the world with no settled plan or direction, turning along
any path which promised adventure, and ending their journey wherever
they happened to stop at nightfall. The Moresca in Monteverde's
_Orfeo_[11] is a good example of the reaction against uniformity. It can
hardly be described without anachronism in our modern terminology, but,
if the attempt must be made, we may analyse it as a single melodic
phrase, beginning on dominant harmony and ending on tonic, repeated four
times in four different keys. In other words, it is as deficient in
structural coherence as the preceding method in structural diversity.

But as our scale came into established use, and brought with it
an intelligible system of related tonic notes, the value of key
distribution began _pari passu_ to be recognised. Men refused any longer
to acquiesce in mere indefiniteness or mere monotony, and set themselves
to find some means of organising the form of composition by combining
different tonal centres into a coherent system. Scientific composers,
loyal to the traditions of counterpoint, endeavoured to solve their
problem by the elaboration of the fugue in which unity of style is
secured by the recurrent subject, and diversity of structure by the free
modulation. This form, which may be said to start with the Gabrielis,
and to culminate in Sebastian Bach, is of the highest interest to
musicians as an attempt to make style and structure play into each
other's hands: the former possessing too little diversity, the latter
too little coherence to stand as separate organisms. But as it is
factitious in its origin, so it is liable to become rigid and mechanical
in its results; an exercise of barren ingenuity, not a warm vital
expression of true emotion. Bach no doubt could breathe poetry into it,
as Corneille could fill with his splendid rhetoric the hard outlines of
the classical drama, but both results are great in spite of their form,
not in consequence of it. Considered merely as examples of fugue
structure, Bach's compositions are not greater than those of a hundred
kapellmeisters of his time: they owe their greatness to the purity of
their themes, and to the unapproachable perfection of their harmony. But
lay aside all questions of melody and harmony, everything, in short,
which can be classed under the head of style, and Beethoven's sonatas
will still remain supreme in virtue of their structure. Fugue form is an
artificial thing which a man can learn: sonata form is a living thing
which a man must feel.

Hence it is interesting to notice that all the forms most intimately
associated with the sonata may be directly traced to one primitive type
of Volkslied.[12] The simplest possible contrast of key which man can
adopt without falling into incoherence, is that of a melody in three
strains: the first asserting the tonic, the second leading to some
related key, the third repeating the tonic in order to complete the
outline. Now, if we imagine the first strain given in duplicate, so as
to suit the requirements of a four-line stanza of verse, we shall find
ourselves with a melodic form of which 'The Bluebells of Scotland' and
'The Vicar of Bray' may be taken as familiar examples. It is probable
that the immediate reiteration of the first phrase is a concession to
the poet rather than a point of musical structure: in any case, the
essential element of the form is to be found in the three clauses,
assertion, contrast, and reassertion. 'Of this simple type,' says Dr
Parry, 'there are literally thousands of examples.' It is, indeed, the
most natural form of melodic sentence which the popular songs of any
nation can assume: it is the living germ from which all our most complex
musical organisms are developed.

At the outset there are two possible lines of evolution. First, the
clause of contrast and the clause of reassertion may be repeated
alternately so as to extend the number of strains to five or seven, or
whatever is required by the exigencies of the words. Thus we get the
primitive type of rondo, which may be illustrated by Burns' 'John
Hielandman,' or by the Skye Boat Song, or by our well-known hymn for
Palm Sunday. A further stage of development is reached when the number
of clauses is fixed at five: and when the fourth, instead of being an
exact repetition of the second, affords a change of contrast by
presenting a new episode in a new key. This gives us the rondo form as
used by Rameau and Purcell, Haydn and Mozart, and occasionally Beethoven
himself. We need only compare the exquisite song, 'I attempt from Love's
sickness to fly,' with the Adagio of the Sonata Pathétique to see that
in point of structure they are identical. No doubt there were some
experiments on the way. Haydn tried the form as a vehicle of variations;
Mozart opened a new path in his Piano Sonata in A minor: but all these
were only variants of the established type which either left its
structure unaltered, or remained as exceptions. It was not until the
time of Beethoven that the rondo passed into its third stage of
development, and even with him the earlier form is of not infrequent

Secondly, the number of clauses may be restricted to the original three,
and each strain by itself organised into a higher degree of diversity.
In its simplest form, which may be exemplified by the minuets of many
early sonatas, the first strain ends with a full close in the tonic, and
thus, while it fulfils the function of asserting its key, does so at the
expense of complete detachment from the second. Hence it is a step
towards organisation if the first strain is made to end with a half
close, or even to modulate to the key from which the second is going to
start. If this is so, the cadence of the third clause will have to be
modified--since the tune must end with a full close in the key in which
it began--and thus a new element of diversity is introduced into the
work as a whole. Of this stage an instance may be found in the Minuet of
Haydn's Piano Sonata in D (No. 6), where the first strain is divided
into two sub-clauses, one in the tonic, the other in the dominant, and
the third strain transposes the latter back and presents both of them in
the same key. Here another point offers itself for consideration. If the
clause of assertion has been allowed to modulate, and still more, if it
has been allowed to dwell upon a key other than the tonic of the piece,
it is obvious that the clause of contrast must be allowed still freer
modulation--otherwise its purpose will remain unaccomplished. And by
this time our clauses have grown in size and extent until it is not
appropriate to call them clauses any longer. They have become sentences,
or even paragraphs, each with its own subdivisions, its own structural
character, and its own function in the general economy of the whole
movement. For instance, in the Minuet of Mozart's Piano Sonata in A
major, the first part consists of a 10-bar tune in A followed by an
8-bar tune in E: the second begins in B minor, drops to A minor, and
then passes through an augmented sixth to the dominant of A, while the
third brings the work to a logical conclusion by repeating the two
sections of the first in the tonic key.[14]

In its present stage of development the form is admirably suited to the
short lyric movements in which it usually appears. Taken by itself it
typifies the classical minuet, the air for variations, and the majority
of such pianoforte pieces as the Kinderscenen and the Poetische
Tonbilder. Extended by the addition of a second example, and completed
by a restatement of the first, it gives us the minuet and trio of our
sonatas and the common structure of the march and the polonaise. But, as
the form grows in bulk and importance, as it discovers new functions and
adapts itself to a new environment, so it will naturally submit to
certain changes of organism. The two sections of which the first part is
composed, appear at present in a direct juxtaposition which will seem
crude and disconnected if the movement be increased to a larger size:
and it will therefore be advisable to join them by a link of modulation
that shall carry the ear gradually over the change of key. Again, the
sections of contrast in the second part have hitherto fulfilled their
purpose by a complete digression, not only presenting new keys but using
them to exhibit new material; and it is obvious that, after the limit of
a few bars, such a digression will be fatal to the unity of the work as
a whole. Now the variety of key in this part is, as we have already
seen, a structural necessity: and thus the readiest means of unification
will be attained if we minimise the novelty of material, and use the
sections of contrast, either wholly or mainly, to express phrases and
themes that have been already stated in the first part of the
composition. Lastly, we may notice that the third part ends by repeating
in the tonic precisely the same melodic cadence which the first part
ended by asserting in the dominant; and it will sometimes happen, that
the clause which served admirably as the finish of a paragraph may
appear abrupt or inconclusive as the finish of a chapter. In such cases
the composer can extend his third part by the addition of an epilogue or
coda, completing and rounding off the outline, which would otherwise be
left imperfect. It must be remembered that, as a point of structure, the
existence of the coda is optional. The composer may wish, for certain
reasons of style, to make the first part of his work conclusive, or the
last inconclusive: and in either event the need of an epilogue
disappears. But, as a general rule, it may be said that the more highly
organised the movement the more it will require the employment of this
particular device. Continuity is best secured if all the parts of the
work be made interdependent, and in that case it is only by a coda that
any real climax of phraseology can be attained.

One more detail and the organism is complete. Among the many experiments
in structure which mark the course of musical evolution, one of the most
important is the so-called French Overture. The main feature of this
form, which may be readily illustrated by the Overture to the _Messiah_,
was its habit of prefacing the chief division with an introduction or
prologue in slower tempo; and this device has been adopted by the great
cyclic composers, and especially by Beethoven, in order to prepare the
hearer for movements of unusual importance or solemnity. Like the coda,
the introduction is optional in its use: depending not on the structure
of the work, but on the manner of its thought and the style of its
expression. In Beethoven we find three principal types: the first merely
calling attention to the key of the piece, either by directly asserting
it, as in the Piano Sonata in F sharp major, or by rousing expectation,
as in the third Rasoumoffsky Quartett, the second containing in addition
some melodic phrase which is to be employed in the succeeding movement,
as in the Sonata Pathétique or the Piano Trio in E flat; and the third,
as in the A major Symphony, foreshadowing the key-system, not only of
the opening allegro, but of the whole work. It is hardly fantastic to
compare the respective prologues of _Henry VIII._, of _Pericles_, and of
_Romeo and Juliet_.

This, then, is the highest type of structural development to which Music
has yet arrived. The three clauses of the primitive ballad-tune have
grown into three cantos, all different in character and function, all
working together in the maintenance of a single economy. The first,
technically known as the Exposition, presents two subjects or
paragraphs, diverse in key, and connected by a short episodical link of
modulation: the second, technically known as the Development Section,
consists of a fantasia on themes or phrases of the first, with such
freedom of key as the composer chooses to adopt: the third, technically
known as the Recapitulation, repeats the two subjects with any minimum
of change that may be implied in the transposition of the second to the
tonic key. Finally, if the style of the movement require it, the whole
may be introduced by a Prologue and summed up by an Epilogue.[15] It is
hardly necessary to point out that the principle of perfect symmetry
embodied in this form is precisely the same as that on which is
constructed a great drama or a great novel. At the outset our attention
is divided between two main centres of interest; as the work proceeds
the plan is complicated by the introduction of new centres; at its close
the complications are cleared away and the interests identified. For
instance, the _Alcestis_ of Euripides opens with the bare contrast of
life and death, continues with those of youth and age, of mourning and
hospitality, of vacillating weakness and genial strength, and finally
returns to its two first themes, and unifies them by restoring its
heroine from the grave. But the parallel is hardly a matter for further
illustration. The exact balance and proportion of the structure will
best be exhibited if we epitomise its three parts under their
appropriate abstract names:--duality for the first, plurality for the
second, unity for the third.

Omitting a few rare exceptions, such as the Finale of the Hammerclavier
Sonata, we may say that all movements in so-called Classical form
represent some definite stage in this line of evolution. No doubt
experiments were tried by Schumann and Chopin and other composers of the
Romantic School, but even these are not so much new discoveries as
variants of the established type, sometimes due to carelessness or
indifference, and sometimes to deliberate plan. It must be remembered
that the generation which succeeded Beethoven paid much less attention
to structure than to expression. The essays of Berlioz and Schumann,
admirable in most respects, are almost entirely silent on the subject of
musical form, and their work, considered from this standpoint, is not an
advance but a retreat. Schumann, of course, was far the greater of the
two; yet even with him we feel that deliberation has not always brought
counsel. The introduction to his A minor Quartett, and still more the
first movement of his C major Symphony, are really steps away from
organism, condoned in part by undeniable beauties of style, but at the
same time needing condonation as structural errors. Even in the shorter
narrative forms of ballade and impromptu, of fantasia and novellette,
the same rule holds good. Their structure will be found satisfactory in
proportion as it is organic, it will be found organic in proportion as
it conforms to this law of natural development.

There remains a word to be said about the combination of different
numbers or movements into a continuous work. The complete sonata-form,
like the Trilogies or Tetralogies of the classical drama, is a complex
organism of which each part is itself organic, a corporate body composed
of separate but interdependent members. Hence we should naturally expect
that in the earliest examples there would be a comparative homogeneity
of melodic style and key system, and that this homogeneity would be
gradually differentiated as the form advanced towards perfection. This
is precisely what has happened. In the first pianoforte sonata of Haydn
all the movements are in the same key, as they were in the suites and
partitas of a previous age; then, by steps which are readily traceable,
the form progressed and developed until it reached its structural climax
in Brahms. So also with the style of the work as a whole, by which is
meant the selection of different organic types in its constituent
members. Out of all possible alternatives--the minuet, the rondo, the
air with variations, the fully-developed 'ternary' form--it is clearly
the composer's business to choose specimens which will afford the most
complete contrast and yet combine into the most organic unity. The
gradual application of this rule is simply another name for the growth
of the sonata form. One has only to compare Haydn's first quartett with
one of the Rasoumoffskys to see the advance; one has only to compare the
_Eroica_ Symphony with Chopin's B-flat minor Sonata to see the
retrogression. In this, as in other respects, Brahms has restored the
balance and has adapted the traditions of Beethoven to the language of
the present day.

Enough has been said to show that this principle of organic growth not
only explains the style and structure of all great Music, but answers to
a fundamental need in human nature. Its laws are not mere grammatical
rules, framed in one generation to be broken in the next; it makes no
transitory appeal to faculties that change with every mood and every
condition: if there be anything permanent and abiding in the mind of
man, it is here that it will find its counterpart. Not, of course, that
the present stage of development is to be regarded as final: there is
probably no such thing as finality in any art. But progress is not
change, it is a kind of change, and one which, from its very nature,
points to a fixed ideal. We, with our limited capacities of knowledge,
and our limited appreciation of beauty, may still be far behind the
position that is to be occupied in future ages. But, unless the teaching
of History be wholly false, we may predict with some security the
direction in which that position will lie. It is as inconceivable in
art as it is in physical nature, that the process of organic evolution
should revert or turn aside. No doubt there will be further modification
of detail--some 'Shakspearian convention' abandoned, some scheme of
artistic composition revised; but every step that brings greater freedom
will bring greater responsibility, and will shift the issue from
artificial laws to the great code of human intelligence. We cannot
suppose that the generations which look back upon our own masters will
ever rest satisfied with incoherence or shapelessness or monotony. There
will be new methods in the days to come, but the principles of art will
remain unaltered.


[4] _On Education_, pp. 41-42.

[5] _See_ Example A.

[6] _See_ Example B.

[7] _See_ Example C.

[8] _See_ Example D.

[9] _See_ Example E.

[10] Finale of the A major Sonata, Op. 101.

[11] Quoted in Grove's _Dictionary_, Vol. ii. p. 501.

[12] The term sonata is here employed in the sense which it has borne
since the time of Haydn. If it is widened so as to include composers of
the 17th and early 18th century, we must start from two primitive types
in place of one.

[13] The development may be illustrated if we take alphabetical letters
to represent the clauses. The primitive ballad form is A B A: each verse
being a unit, and therefore the whole song inorganic. The primitive
rondo form is A B A B A B A, etc., the whole song being a unit, and
therefore slightly organised. The form of Purcell's song is A B A C A,
and therefore the most highly organised of the three.

[14] The analysis of the Mozart Minuet may be tabulated as follows:--

     FIRST PART.    |   SECOND PART.     |   THIRD PART.
                    |                    |
  (_a_) Melody in A | (_a_) New episode  | (_a_) Repetition of
      major.        |     in B minor.    |     first melody in
  (_b_) Melody in E | (_b_) The same     |     A major.
      major.        |     repeated in A  | (_b_) Repetition of
                    |     minor.         |     second melody
                    | (_c_) New cadence- |     in A major.
                    |     phrase to      |
                    |     dominant of A. |

[15] As a simple instance of the form, we may take the first movement of
Beethoven's Piano Sonata in G major, Op. 14, No. 3:--

  _Prologue_|_First Canto_   |_Second Canto_ |_Third Canto_   |_Epilogue_
  _or_      |   _or_         |_or_           |_or_            |_or Coda._
  _Intro-   |_Exposition._   |_Development_  |_Re-_           |
  _duction._|                |_Section._     |_capitulation._ |
            |                |               |                |
    None    |(_a_) First     |(_a_) Treatment|(_a_) First     |Final
            |  Subject in    | of First      | Subject in G   |reminiscence
            |  G major       | Subject, G    | major (bars    |of First
            |   (bars 1-8).  | minor to      | 124-131).      |Subject
            |(_b_) Transition| B flat major  |(_b_) Transition|(bars
            |  modulating    |(bars 64-73).  | extended so as | 187-199).
            |  to D major    |(_b_) Treatment| to lead back   |
            |  (bars 9-25).  | of Second     | to G major     |
            |(_c_) Second    | Subject in B  | (bars 132-151).|
            |  Subject,      | flat major    |(_c_) Second    |
            |  consisting of | (bars 74-80). | Subject in G   |
            |  four sections,|(_c_) Treatment| maj.           |
            |  in D major    | of First      | 152-186).      |
            |  (bars 26-63). | Subject in A  |                |
            |                | minor, F      |                |
            |                | flat, G minor |                |
            |                | and E flat    |                |
            |                |(bars 81-106). |                |
            |                |(_d_) New      |                |
            |                | Episode on    |                |
            |                | dominant pedal|                |
            |                | of G, and     |                |
            |                | anticipation  |                |
            |                | of First      |                |
            |                | Subject       |                |
            |                |(bars 107-123).|                |



A character in one of Mr Sturgis' delightful comedies propounds a recipe
for beauty, and is met by the criticism that he has omitted one
important element--the beauty itself. Some such objection may perhaps be
brought against the analysis of the preceding chapter. It may be said
that Music cannot be appraised in terms of law and method, that
scientific theories can tell us nothing about inspiration, and that
without inspiration art degenerates into a soulless and mechanical
exercise. No discussion of balance and design, of diversity and
coherence will ever explain why we are stirred to the depths of our
being by the love-duet in _Tristan_, or the slow movement in the _Fifth
Symphony_, or the _Missa Papæ Marcelli_. No account of proportion in
phraseology or system in key-relationship can answer the question why we
find Grieg piquant, or Schumann vigorous, or Chopin graceful. In short,
our _Ars Poetica_ is a mere _Gradus ad Parnassum_, containing, it may
be, some hints for versification, but leaving the essentials of artistic
conception entirely untouched.

This objection is only of force if it confines itself to the bare
truism, that inspiration is not a matter which we can define. It breaks
down if it goes on to infer that inspiration is not a matter which we
can detect. For the artistic organism, which has hitherto been under
consideration, necessarily requires life as its formative condition; and
any attempt to produce it artificially must result either in total
failure or in the mere copy of some existing scheme. Our academic
composers who publish music on the ground that they have studied
counterpoint, are, as a rule, only tolerable where they are imitative:
as soon as they try to devise a new melody or elaborate a new cadence
they are almost certain to become trivial or vulgar. Indeed, it would
seem to be shown by experience that Music has no chance of surviving
unless it arise spontaneously from a healthy state of emotion, and that,
if it does so arise, it will naturally manifest itself, to a greater or
less degree, in an organic shape. We may, therefore, fairly conclude
that perfection of musical form, in its widest and deepest sense, is a
mark or sign of genuineness in musical feeling, and that analysis,
though it can never tell us whence inspiration comes, may at least
direct us where we can look for it.

But as yet the analysis itself is incomplete. It has attempted to
describe what Music is, not what Music does: in other words, it has
investigated the problem of structure, but not that of function. There
remains, therefore, the further question of the object for which the art
exists, the place that it occupies in our æsthetic life, and the
particular means of action by which its purpose is fulfilled. Some hints
towards an answer have already been suggested: the sensuous pleasure
communicated to the nervous system by certain air-vibrations: the
emotional impulses which can be aroused by sense or association, or
both: and the intellectual satisfaction which naturally answers to the
spectacle of organic balance and symmetry. It follows, then, to arrange
these premises, and to carry them, as far as possible, to their logical

Now, the general function of music may be stated in a single word--to be
beautiful. It is the one art in which no human being can raise the false
issue of a direct ethical influence. It allows absolutely no scope for
the confusion of thought, which, on one side, brought _Madame Bovary_
into the law-courts, and, on the other, has taught the British public to
regard as a great religious teacher the ingenious gentleman who
illustrated the _Contes Drolatiques_. Of course, all contemplation of
pure beauty is ennobling, and in this sense music may have the same
indirect moral bearing as a flower or a sunset or a Greek statue. But of
immediate moral bearing it has none. It means nothing, it teaches
nothing, it enforces no rule of life, and prescribes no system of
conduct. All attempts to make it descriptive have ended in disaster: all
attempts to confine it to mere emotional excitement have ended in
degradation. Grant that nations and individuals of imperfect musical
experience have not advanced beyond the emotional aspect: that Plato had
to prohibit certain modes as intemperate, that governments have had to
prohibit certain melodies as dangerous. In almost all such cases it will
be found that the music in question is vocal, and that more than half
the stimulus is due to its words or its topic. Considered in and by
itself, the ultimate aim and purpose of the art is to present the
highest attainable degree of pure beauty in sound.

For the fulfilment of this purpose, the first and most obvious requisite
is an entire command over materials and method. Nothing is more ugly
than palpable failure: nothing more likely to destroy confidence than an
appearance of uncertainty or vacillation. In many of our so-called
popular song-tunes, we can lay our finger on some place where the
composer was in evident difficulty: where he inserts an awkward or
irrelevant phrase, because, like an unskilful chess-player, he can only
extricate himself by breaking his design. Again, in ill-written harmony,
we shall often find poor or hollow chords inserted, not because the
composer wanted them, but because he could find no other way of
resolving their predecessors. Of course, it will sometimes happen that a
great, though imperfect master will stray from his appointed domain, and
wander for a moment in unfamiliar territory. The fugue in Dvořák's
Requiem is conspicuously unsuccessful, but it need not affect our
estimate of the '_Dies Iræ_' or the '_Recordare Jesu pie_.' We only feel
it a pity that the artist who can do such magnificent work in his own
style, should be forced by convention into a manner for which he has no
aptitude. In structure the first movement of Chopin's Pianoforte Trio is
as badly drawn as some of the later Correggios: but the error, though
more fundamental than that of Dvořák, only circumscribes the master's
province, without overrunning it. We remember the circumstances under
which the Trio was written, and turn aside to the Études and the
Nocturnes. One genuine success in art is enough to outweigh a thousand
failures: but the difference between failure and success remains

At the same time, it is most important that we should recognise the
necessary limitations to which musical expression is subject. It is idle
for us to go about lamenting, like the fool in Rabelais, that 'there is
no better bread than that which can be made with wheat.' Our scale is
notoriously a rough approximation in which only certain types of melodic
curve are possible. Our harmony is often reduced to a choice between two
incompatible alternatives: the striking chord required by the context,
or the smooth progression required by the parts. In such cases the test
lies ready to hand. Is the material difficult? Let us see how the great
masters have treated it. Are the options mutually exclusive? Let us see
which of them makes for organism of structure and general effectiveness
of function. We have no right to pass final criticism on any detail of a
work until we have heard the whole: and even then our judgment must
depend on some knowledge of precedents and parallels. The chief danger
of 'a little learning' is its predisposition to intolerance.

If unskilfulness be the death of style, cleverness is among the
most insidious of its diseases. Nothing in all literature is more
exasperating than that 'cult of the unusual word' which arises now
and again as a periodic fashion. Whether it take the form of the
sham-antiquarianism which has been happily nicknamed from Wardour
Street, or of an ostentatious acquaintance with the by-ways of the
dictionary, or of the unsynonymous synonyms of the country journalist,
it is in equal measure the sign-manual of euphuism and affectation. No
doubt the unusual word may have a perfectly legitimate employment. It
may carry a metaphor, it may complete a rhythm, it may make a point of
colour: and in all such instances it is justified by the purpose that it
achieves. But if it is merely unusual, it had far better be left out
altogether. We do not think very highly of a verse-writer who invariably
says 'quaff' instead of 'drink,' because 'quaff' is poetical and 'drink'
is commonplace.

The same is true of musical euphuism. A recondite chord is of absolutely
no value in itself; its whole worth depends on its purpose and its
context. A fresh twist in the shape of a melody is only beautiful if the
preceding curve leads up to it. For instance, we appear to be passing,
at the present day, through a period of feverish activity in the
invention of new cadences. Now a new cadence in the hands of a master
like Brahms or Parry is a delight, for, with all its novelty, we feel
that it is the logical outcome of the passage from which it springs. It
is only necessary to quote the close of the first stanza in the
_Schicksalslied_ or of the 'Sacrificial Chorus' in _Judith_, or the
brilliant practical joke of the 'Æschylus Motif' in the _Frogs_. Again,
the new cadences of Grieg and Dvořák are always charming, because
they are in exact harmony with the chromatic style which is natural to
those two writers. But when inferior composers attempt the same thing,
they only produce results which are crude and incongruous, or, at worst,
make their exit on a mechanical epigram, in which the head of one
platitude is appended to the tail of another. Indeed, self-consciousness
is only a more subtle form of unskilfulness. The 'clever' artist is like
the enchanter's servant in the old story, possessing just enough magic
to raise the spirit, but not enough to keep it under control.

It now follows to consider more directly the manner in which the
influence of Music is exercised. And first, we may notice that the art,
as appealing primarily to the ear, necessarily involves a fixed
continuity in time, and so, in a sense, is always throwing our attention
forward to its issue. The conditions under which we apprehend a picture,
and those under which we apprehend a melody, are entirely different; the
former enables us to follow the constituent parts in any order we
choose, the latter binds us to a settled and irreversible sequence.
Indeed, so firmly is this law established, that we are notoriously
incapable of recalling the most familiar tune backwards, and are even in
some straits to recognise a fugue-subject when it appears 'cancrizans,'
as it does, for instance, in the Finale of the Hammerclavier Sonata.
Hence a great part of the effect of Music is prospective, and depends
upon the particular way in which it rouses and satisfies an attitude of

This method may roughly be classified under three heads. First, the
Music may give us precisely what we should naturally anticipate; in
other words, it may suggest some coming resolution or cadence, and
proceed to it at once without interruption. Everyone remembers the
æsthetic damsels, in Mr Du Maurier's picture, who 'never listen to
Mendelssohn, because there are no wrong notes.' They were unconsciously
enunciating an important piece of scientific criticism. For Mendelssohn
never disappoints, and never surprises; his style flows on as placidly
as a level stream in a pastoral country, and the hearer floats down it
with no effort of intelligence, with no expectation of adventure,
knowing that even beyond the distant bend there will be the same
overhanging willows, and the same intervals of sunny meadow, and the
same rippled reflections of an April sky. Hence, of all composers,
Mendelssohn appeals most intimately to audiences that are untrained or
inexperienced; and hence, also, critics, who are anxious to acquire a
cheap reputation, usually begin by expressing contempt for him. The best
of his lighter work is as charming as that of Miss Austen; and it is
only now and then that we feel inclined to say--as Charlotte Brontë said
after reading _Emma_--'I don't want my blood curdled, but I like it

Secondly, the Music may directly contradict our anticipation by
diverting an apparently straightforward passage into an unforeseen
channel. Under this head come all effects of surprise, all sudden
modulations, all unusual cadences and unexpected turns of phrase. An
amusing instance is the change from A minor to D flat major in the 'Pro
Peccatis' of Rossini's _Stabat Mater_, which is almost as irresistible
as a joke from Aristophanes: a far more august and magnificent example
is the great Neapolitan sixth, which, in the first movement of
Beethoven's A major Symphony, comes just before the cadence phrase in
the exposition. Indeed, the device may be used for purposes of humour,
as it is in Mr Aldrich's delightful story of Marjory Daw, or for
purposes of romance, as it is by Victor Hugo in 'Le Roi s'amuse.' The
finale of Beethoven's Eighth Symphony contains a distinct effect of
comedy in the unexpected C sharp, which persistently intrudes itself
among other people's keys, until at last it worries the orchestra into
accepting it. On the other hand, the slow movement of Dvořák's
F-minor Trio notably exemplifies the romantic use. No one who has ever
heard it can forget the last page: the innocent diatonic opening of the
melody, and the abrupt, bewildering change which follows in its second
bar. It is obvious that the sense of incongruity, which stimulates all
astonishment, may, under different conditions, arouse either laughter or
apprehension: and both these effects lie well within the range of
musical art. They form, in fact, two of the most important emotional
types which it has the power of adumbrating: not, of course, by
depicting any humorous scene or suggesting any particular terror, but by
administering the appropriate kind of nervous shock. Grant that if a man
knows nothing at all about music, he will form no expectations, and
consequently will never be either astonished or amused. It does not
follow that his limitations are representative of the human race. One
might as well argue that there is no fun in a French comedy, because
none was detected by Mr Anstey's British audience.

Thirdly, the music may baffle anticipation by suggesting alternatives
and throwing us in doubt as to the selection that it is going to make.
After a little experience, we come to learn that there are certain
typical shapes of melodic stanza, certain common devices of modulation,
certain forms of cadence which are in ordinary use. Hence, when
we listen to a new work, we frame a half-conscious forecast of
probabilities, and the composer, if he has the skill, may stimulate our
minds by offering two or three possible issues and defying us to
determine which he means ultimately to accept. This is the highest form
which the prospective effect in Music can assume, and is roughly
parallel to ingenuity of plot in narrative or dramatic literature. For
example, a common type of four-line stanza in music opens with a
clear-cut phrase, then repeats it a degree higher or a degree lower in
the scale, then goes on to the clause of contrast, and finally returns
to the original key. So when we hear the central tune in Chopin's F
minor Fantasia, and find that its first two strains exactly correspond
to this pattern, we feel that we know already how it is going to
proceed, and settle ourselves to watch our expectations fulfilled. But
Chopin knows better, and gives us a third strain which, instead of
embodying the clause of contrast, consists of another repetition of the
same phrase, a tone lower still. By this time we begin to wonder whether
the tune is going to be entirely homogeneous in style, and whether, in
the one strain that is left to complete the stanza it can possibly get
back without awkwardness to the key from which it has strayed. Both
these doubts are solved in the most masterly fashion by the concluding
line, which not only carries the modulation with consummate ease, but
completes the organic outline of the melody with the daintiest delicacy
and finish. Again, in Grieg's F major Violin Sonata, the principal theme
of the middle movement seems to get into inextricable difficulties of
phraseology, and we listen to it with the same apprehensive interest
with which we look on at the imbroglio in _Evan Harrington_. But at
precisely the right moment there appears a new cadence, which would
never have occurred to anyone but Grieg, and the difficulties are
cleared away as if by magic. It is hardly necessary to point out
that Bach and Beethoven are equally rich in this kind of musical
resourcefulness. The harmonic progressions of the one, the melodic form
of the other, constantly suggest a balance of alternative issues, and
as constantly make the selection which the hearer finally acknowledges
as the best.

The same rule holds good in the matter of key distribution. When the
sonata form was young, the key of its second subject was fixed by an
almost unalterable convention: if the movement was in a major mode, it
was the dominant, if in a minor mode, it was the relative major. Hence
the audiences of Haydn and Mozart always expected the same key system,
and were hardly ever disappointed. But Beethoven, from the outset of his
career, broke through this traditional arrangement, and so began by
surprising his hearers, and ended by making their intelligence
co-operate with his own. Take, for instance, the first movement of the
Hammerclavier Sonata. The first subject is in B flat, and the transition
after modulating to its dominant F, proceeds with a vehement and
emphatic assertion of the new key, as though Beethoven intended to
revert to the customary usage, which, it must be remembered, he often
follows. But the very emphasis makes the hearer suspicious. It is not in
Beethoven's manner to underline his keys with so much flourish and
ostentation: perhaps, after all, appearances are deceitful, and he is
only throwing us off the scent. Then our uncertainty is artfully
intensified by an interpolation of the opening theme, which, at this
stage of the movement, is the last thing in the world that we expect;
and immediately after it comes a modulation to G major, and a
presentation of the second subject in that key. The anticipation of this
event is an exercise of critical sagacity not dissimilar to that
afforded by a novel of Balzac or a play of Shakespear. In the famous
scene of Madame Marneffe's confession, we are half-cheated into
believing that the woman's repentance is real, though we know that its
reality is rendered impossible by all laws of characterisation. When
Lear decides between his three daughters, we feel that Cordelia's
coldness of manner has raised a false issue which the subsequent
development of the drama will correct. In short, the true function of
structure, whether it be in literature or in music, is to set before us
two competing impulses and bid us reflect upon them.

But it may be urged that a musical composition can only surprise or
baffle on the first occasion: after that we remember what is coming, and
can foretell the end as readily as the composer himself. This view pays
an undeserved compliment to the capacities of human nature. The average
listener does not really hear a work of any complexity the first time
that it is performed in his presence: he apprehends more or less of it
according to the degree of his ability or experience, but there will
certainly be effects that escape his notice, and, if the composition be
truly organic, those effects will be vital to the appreciation of the
whole. Indeed, we have here one of the most obvious tests of a great
work. We grow tired of a trivial melody or a shallow fantasia, for it
tells us its whole secret at a single hearing: but we may spend our
lives over Bach's Fugues or Beethoven's Symphonies without ever hoping
to exhaust their limitless reserve. Again, we are not such creatures of
pure logic that an effect once produced in us is incapable of
repetition. We may know our Shakespear by heart, and yet be moved by the
humour of Falstaff and the pathos of Imogen, by the subtle questionings
of Hamlet and the frenzied self-accusations of Othello. So in listening
to great Music we often allow ourselves to be carried away by the
impulse of the moment: we forget that we know what is going to happen,
or expect it in a new mood and from a new standpoint. There are many
avenues by which the sense of novelty can be approached, and among them
not the least important is that of our own imagination. No doubt this
influence would be seriously impaired if we were to hear the same
passage day after day and hour after hour, but this, of course, we are
never called upon to do. With the present range and variety of our
musical literature, an effect that is genuinely striking may be weakened
by familiarity, but can hardly be ever wholly obliterated.

It will thus be seen that the manner in which we are impressed by Music
is enormously complex. First, there is the sensuous appeal, the
different characteristics of _timbre_ and tone, of rich harmony and full
orchestration, of all those devices which are usually described in
metaphors of taste and colour. Second, and inclusive of the first, is
the emotional appeal, the exhilaration of rapid movement, the gravity of
stately chords and broad diatonic melody, the restlessness of broken
rhythm and frequent modulation, the shades of surprise which follow upon
a sudden change or an unexpected crisis. Third, and inclusive of the
other two, is the intellectual appeal, the exhibition of balance and
symmetry in the management of these several effects, the definiteness of
plan and design, the vitality and proportion of organic growth. If to
these be added the two supreme requirements of originality in the
composer and of fitness to the occasion of display, we shall have at
any rate a rough criterion for determining work that, in the truest
sense of the term, is classic. In thus summing-up results, it is almost
a presumption for any writer to suggest illustrations: but if it be
permissible to point to masterpieces, in which these principles are
embodied with absolute and unfaltering perfection, we may select, as
typical instances, the choral numbers from Bach's B minor Mass, the
Seventh Symphony of Beethoven, and Brahms' _Schicksalslied_.

Before leaving this subject, of which, indeed, only the outer courts
have been trodden, there are three objections which it may be advisable
to meet. The first would discard the whole analysis as a piece of _a
priori_ inference. As a matter of fact, it would say, the hearer does
not trouble himself about these elaborate questions, he does not follow
the subtleties of style or the coherence of key-system, he does not
anticipate the course which a passage is going to adopt, he simply
listens to the music, and enjoys it, because he finds it pleasant. It is
idle to suppose that a man cannot admire Beethoven without being
prepared to pass an examination in the technicalities of abstract
science. This objection is wholly beside the mark. Men reasoned
correctly long before Aristotle invented the syllogism, but none the
less his theory of the syllogism is an analysis of correct reasoning. In
like manner the unscientific hearer may be totally unconscious of the
causes which underlie his enjoyment, and yet the causes themselves be
both operative and capable of analysis. The laws of musical philosophy,
like those of physiological science, are not artificial subtleties: they
are an attempt to explain the ordinary conditions of health, and every
man who has the taste to prefer one tune to another must necessarily
have made reference, however unconscious, to some principles of
discrimination. Indeed this argument from ignorance has already been
anticipated in a parallel form. '_Voici quarante ans que je dis de la
prose_,' says M. Jourdain, '_sans que j'en susse rien_.'

The second objection is of more interest. Grant, it may be said, that
our analysis enables us in some measure to explain the supreme
masterpieces of Music, there will still remain a wide range of lower
achievements with which it would appear wholly inadequate to deal. If a
composition is weak in structure or careless in style, it has failed to
satisfy our test, but we have no right to infer that it is without
value. On the contrary, an imperfect work may often survive in spite of
its imperfections, and may counterbalance its worst errors by some
attractiveness of charm or some inherent vitality of thought. In _Jane
Eyre_ are faults which would have killed a novel of less genius, but the
reviewers who condemned it are now only remembered as carping and
illiberal pedants. Shelley may be 'ineffectual,' and Keats 'immature,'
but the most adverse critic can no longer deny the beauty that they have
added to English literature. And in like manner we shall find musical
compositions which fall short of the highest level, which fail to attain
the most satisfying completeness of organic form, and which yet deliver
a message that is well worth the hearing. There is a broad expanse
between the summit of Olympus, where the gods have their habitation, and
the low-lying meadows and valleys of our ordinary life.

In such a case we can only judge fairly by a careful balance of merits
and defects, and, above all, by a careful revision of our standpoint in
relation to both. It may be that the structure which we regard as
inorganic is really a new type of organism, a further development along
the line which we have already traced. It may be that the style which
appears careless, has really some subtle method which we are as yet too
clumsy to detect. And even if we are honestly unable to convince
ourselves of error, even if our certitude only grows and gathers as we
study the passage afresh, it by no means follows that the fault which we
have noted is a final ground for condemnation. There can be no
perfection without entire control of resource, but control is
notoriously difficult in proportion to the variety and novelty of the
emotional expression. Hence the more complex and striking the ideas
which a composer wishes to embody, the harder he will find it to present
them in a supreme artistic form. In Schumann, to take the highest
example at once, we sometimes seem to find a great thought struggling
with an intractable medium: we feel rather than hear what it is that he
wishes to express, we apprehend his meaning from broken phrases and
incomplete suggestions. Compare his symphonies with those of Beethoven,
and you see the baffled Titanic strength beside the serene unerring
mastery of the divine hand. Yet, if it be failure, it is noble failure,
better by far than the elaboration of smooth commonplaces and finished
platitudes. It is not carelessness but preoccupation, not unskilfulness
but audacity, not scantiness of resource but prodigality of expenditure.
Schumann's music is always manly, forcible, genuine, and it is no
serious dispraise to say that in the larger forms he is a less perfect
artist than he is in his lyrics.

Here, then, we may see the solution of the present problem. All music
which appeals to us as true has for us a certain measure of value. It is
only conceit and dishonesty, and self-conscious artifice, that merit
absolute and unqualified reprobation: for the rest we may appraise our
work partly in reference to its particular purpose, partly by an
estimate of the success with which its object is attained. If it present
any passage of real interest, we owe it a corresponding debt of
gratitude: if it counterbalance a fault of one kind by a beauty of
another, then criticism should determine which of the two has the more
important bearing on the case. But there can be no sound judgment
without a code, and no code in music without a recognition and
acknowledgment of its masterpieces. Thus the analysis of perfect art
does not preclude us from the consideration of art that is imperfect,
for it is only through the former that the latter is possible.

In the third place, there may be enthusiasts who are still inclined to
cry, with Gebir,--

    'Is this the mighty ocean, is this all?'

Are we to hold seriously that Music can be explained by any system of
laws and regulations, that its influence upon us can be classified under
heads and reduced to scientific maxims? Is it not rather degrading to
analyse the divine art into tricks of surprise and devices of rhetoric,
into this kind of figure and that kind of modulation, into a nice
adjustment of curve and harmony and cadence? Where is the 'fine
careless rapture' of the artist? Where is the inspiration of the poet?
Surely it is better that we should ignorantly worship than that we
should be turning Apollo into a sophist and setting the Muses to keep

Part of this objection has already been met. The true sphere of analysis
is not life but the living body, not inspiration but the form in which
it is manifested. And herein we may contend that there is a right as
well as a wrong use of law. Some rules of Music are purely transitory in
their nature, and can therefore only afford an imperfect basis for
judgment even in the generation that accepts them. The prohibitions of
the old counterpoint, for instance, were in many cases merely
conventional limits, determined by the particular characteristics of the
human voice; they are therefore no longer binding on our instrumental
composers. The restrictions of early harmony were merely retrospective
inferences from the actual practice of past compositions: they had no
logical validity, and therefore became obsolete. But the laws which here
present themselves as a part of the artistic code have a double claim on
our acceptance: first, that they are, as a matter of fact, embodied in
the greatest works of the greatest masters; and second, that they draw
their origin from the fundamental attributes of our human nature. For
the essential qualities which underlie the artistic character have
altered very little since the earliest authentic record of its history.
Revolutions have come and gone, fashions have arisen and have passed
away, yet the work that made Athens beautiful is still our type and
climax of perfect achievement. Literature has been shaken by the clash
of contending parties, it has submitted to new dynasties and new
leaders, yet the great principles of its constitution are the same now
as in the time of the _Odyssey_. And Music, though it has grown more
slowly and deliberately than the representative arts, may still be shown
to have sprung from the same source, and to have followed an even more
continuous line of evolution. If, then, we can analyse the conditions
that have made that evolution possible, we are not degrading Art into a
mere ingenious mechanism, but explaining the necessary laws of its life
and progress.

       *       *       *       *       *

Finally, it must be remembered that if excellence in musical art be
difficult to formulate, it is not, for that reason, difficult to
apprehend. The beauty of a great masterpiece rises from the supreme and
consummate expression of characteristics, which, in a greater or less
degree, are common to all normal humanity. No doubt, in different races,
there are differences of convention, as there are of scale and
instrument and musical language, but convention in itself is always
negative, and its sole force is the establishment of temporary
limitations. Within their widening scope the whole range of the art
gradually extends; within them lie its wonders of purity and sublimity,
its treasures of pathos and humour, its contrasts of wise reticence and
opulent display. And for the proper appreciation of these gifts, there
are no strange or recondite qualities demanded, only receptivity of ear,
only sanity of emotion, only patience that is willing to observe, and
courage that is ready to speak its mind. The rest is a matter of
training and experience: training by which we rouse our faculties to a
higher stage of development, experience by which we learn to equip our
criticism with new facts and new relations. In Music it is essentially
true that 'admiration grows as knowledge grows': it is equally true that
knowledge itself lies open to the attainment of all honest endeavour.


            Like a poet, hidden
              In the light of thought,
            Singing hymns unbidden,
              Till the world is wrought
    To sympathy with hopes and fears it heeded not.



We are more accustomed in literature than in music to find immortality
conferred on artists whose total quantity of production is slight or
incomplete. Sappho lives in a few lyrics, Villon in a few ballades,
Persius is a great satirist with some six hundred lines of verse,
Merimée a great novelist with a slender handful of short stories. In all
such cases we accept perfection of finish, individuality of note,
concentration of effort, as more than compensating for the narrow limits
within which the writer has thought fit to be confined: and we even
impute it as a virtue that he has not changed the gold of his thought
into the more diffuse silver of a meaner standard. But in music, as a
rule, our judgment is affected by other considerations. For some reason
the composer has generally been more lavish than his brother artists: he
has worked more rapidly, perhaps more continuously, and has gained, in
proportion, a larger abundance to bestow. Six weeks sufficed Mozart for
his three greatest symphonies: Handel wrote the _Messiah_ in less than
a month: Schubert created nine of his songs in a single day: and it is
therefore little wonder if we have learned to expect some opulence of
achievement in our musicians, or even to estimate them, as an innkeeper
discriminates his guests, by the amount of their baggage and the number
of their retinue.

We shall find an interesting commentary on this view if we turn to the
programme of a famous concert, given at Warsaw on February 24, 1818. The
principal work performed was a pianoforte concerto which served to bring
two names, those of its composer and its interpreter, into a forcible
and prominent contrast. The one was a master of established reputation
and acknowledged authority, the Hofkapellmeister at Vienna, the friend
of Beethoven, the musician whose operas were applauded in every capital,
whose symphonies were set in the balance against Haydn's, whose
quartetts were declared by dispassionate judges to be the equal of
Mozart's. The other was planting his first footsteps in a byway of the
art which he was to tread for thirty years with little deviation,
satisfied to pluck a posy of flowers from the hedgerow, and lay it down
as his offering at the journey's end. The one covered the whole field of
composition, and, at the end of his career, could number a list of works
which outmatches the industry of almost all his contemporaries. The
other, cut short by an early death, has left us a few thin volumes,
curiously uniform in style, and restricted, with scarcely an exception,
to the limits of a single instrument. Yet the one is as completely
forgotten as though he had never lived, while the other has passed into
the company of the immortals. To our ears the name of Adalbert Gyrowetz
is of the most forlorn unfamiliarity, it has become 'fantastic,
unsubstantial--like Henry Pimpernel and old John Naps of Greece'; but no
vicissitude of fortune, no changing fashion of art, can ever obliterate
from our memory the image of Frederick Chopin.

It must, however, be added, that Chopin's slenderness of accomplishment
in no way indicated any poverty of invention. His work was not, as is
sometimes said of Gray's, the laborious tillage of a light soil; rather
it was like that Japanese gardening, which intensifies the beauty of a
single blossom by cutting off all the rest. The true reason, indeed, is
to be found in a point of character, '_Il avait l'esprit écorché vif_,'
said the comrade who knew him best, and in these words may be found the
whole explanation, both of his life and of his artistic career.
Delicate, sensitive, fastidious, he would shrink from committing himself
to a decision, lest it should fall short of the highest that he knew.
Rapid and brilliant in improvisation, he would spend weeks in writing
and rewriting a single page. A pianist of rare and exquisite gifts, he
would often feel paralysed by the mere sight of a public audience.
Generous, affectionate, and enthusiastic, he was yet too earnest to be
forbearing, too susceptible to be tolerant, too exacting to show
indulgence, and the same acute criticism with which he visited the
actions of others, he applied in an equal measure to his own.

Hence there is a special danger in estimating him from a British
standpoint. Our bluff, sturdy manhood has little in common with the
keenness and mobility which mark one side of the artistic temperament,
and we have never been very successful at comprehending alien characters
or alien nationalities. True, we have advanced beyond the stage of
unreasoning hostility towards the stranger who presumes to be more
impressionable than ourselves, but for the most part we have only
substituted a half-contemptuous compassion which is equally galling, and
almost equally unintelligent. A past generation looked on Shelley and
wondered that the fires of Heaven delayed their falling; the present age
insults Heine with forgiveness, in consideration of the purgatory of his
later years; and in like manner, when we hear of Chopin, we think, 'Poor
fellow! he was consumptive,' and prepare ourselves to condone the
irregularities of his life by some rough and ready diagnosis of physical
disease. It seldom occurs to us to reflect that the problem may be too
complex for so easy a solution, and that, before it can be solved at
all, it must at least be stated correctly. As a matter of fact, Chopin's
life was singularly blameless, and, until its close, singularly free
from the material conditions of trouble. No doubt there is a deep pathos
in the record of a death which seems to us premature: no doubt the
pathos is intensified by the spectacle of failing strength and
encroaching sickness; but it is an entirely false application of
perspective to let our view of the end obliterate our view of the whole.
And there is otherwise little hardship in the case. The feeble health
was compensated, at least in part, by friendship, by affection, and by
fame such as few musicians have enjoyed in their lifetime. It is not
history to draw fancy pictures of a querulous invalid, a continuous
burden to himself and to all who cared for him; still less to fill page
after page with unsubstantiated rumours of ill-usage and neglect.
Chopin's relation to his friends was neither that of tyrant nor that of
victim, and his career, if, like every other, it was traversed by heavy
clouds, at least had its bursts of sunshine and its long days of genial

He was born on 1st March 1809,[16] at the little village of Zelazowa
Wola, near Warsaw. His father, Nicholas Chopin, was a French _émigré_,
possibly with Polish blood in his veins, who, after sundry vicissitudes,
had settled down as tutor in the family of Countess Skarbek, and had
there met and married a Polish lady called Justina Krzyzanowska.
Frederick, the only son, was the third of four children, and so was
privileged to pass his earliest years in the Oriental despotism of a
nursery peopled by admiring sisters.

In 1810 Nicholas Chopin carried off his household to the Capital, where
he had been appointed Professor of French at the new Lyceum. At first
there seems to have been some stress of poverty: salaries were low, life
was unsettled; no one knew what quarter of Europe would next be set
ablaze by the indomitable activity of Napoleon. However, in 1814, the
Congress of Vienna established a kingdom of Poland, shorn, no doubt, of
its border territories, and held in check by the suzerainty of Russia,
but still governed by a Pole as viceroy, and recognising Polish as its
official language. This was far from meeting the wishes of the
'patriotic party,' which looked to France as its ally and to the Emperor
as its protector, but at least it ensured some measure of independence,
and, after the next year, a certain prospect of peace and tranquillity.

As might be expected, the change of political condition produced an
immediate effect on the national temper. Warsaw, which, in 1812, was one
of the most miserable of cities, began in 1815 to recover the signs of
material prosperity. Trade was developed, schools were opened, the great
houses welcomed back their exiles, and the country at large shook off
its dream of disquietude and set its face hopefully to the future. Only
in secret rose an occasional murmur that Russia was an alien power, that
the days of Suvorov had not passed out of memory, that the Viceroy was a
mere puppet in the hands of the Emperor Alexander, and that the new
Commander-in-Chief was a truculent savage who needed all the eloquence
of his Polish wife to keep him from open oppression. Apart from these
scattered voices of discontent, there can be no doubt that the nation
rejoiced at its deliverance from German officialism, and, with
characteristic buoyancy, resumed the business of life, and not a little
of its brilliance.

Naturally, the Chopins bore their part in the general advance.
Even while the fate of Poland was still in the balance, two fresh
appointments had been added to the Professorship at the Lyceum, and the
gradual restoration of the great families opened the way for a private
school, over which no one was so capable of presiding as Count
Skarbek's old tutor. This enlargement of means was the only thing
wanted to make Chopin's childhood a period of almost ideal happiness.
His parents seem to have been altogether worthy of the affection which
he lavished on them: the father kindly, honourable, upright, firm in the
government of his family, and unwearied in the administration of its
resources; the mother bright, active and tender-hearted, full of
folklore and household recipes, sincere in religion, charitable in
conduct, gentle and courteous in speech. Then the house was visited by
all manner of interesting people--poets, professors, politicians,--who
would talk to Nicholas Chopin about his old home in half-Polish
Lorraine, where men still spoke of the good Duke Stanislaus, or would
exchange memories of the war and hopes for the new _régime_. And for the
more important aspects of life there could be no better companions than
the three sisters--Louisa, who knew everything in the lesson-books;
Isabella, who was practical, and could always find things when they were
lost; and Emily, the best of playfellows, who told the most delightful
stories, and had a special talent for making believe. Almost every
birthday there were theatricals, almost every evening there was music
for who would listen--all around was a world of flowers and sunshine, of
pleasant looks and pleasant voices, of 'short task and merry holiday.'
It is a poignant contrast to turn to the four children, less fortunate
but not less gifted, who during these same years were writing their
journals and acting their solitary plays in the bleak parsonage at

Very little can be ascertained about Chopin's musical education. We know
that his pianoforte teacher was a Bohemian called Adalbert Zywny, and
that he learned harmony and counterpoint from Elsner, but we have
scarcely any information as to the extent and value of the lessons. It
is certain that in after life his system of fingering was entirely
original and unorthodox, from which we may conjecture that Zywny never
really taught him to play a scale--and indeed there is some tradition
that the Professor was a violinist who only took to the piano as a
second string, and who allowed the boy to spend most of his time in
improvisation. Elsner was a good-tempered, easy-going old kapellmeister,
who did his pupil the greatest service by teaching him to love Bach, and
then allowed him to go his own way without further supervision. The
works which Chopin published during his student period have little or no
scope for counterpoint, but they show beyond controversy that he and his
master were equally indifferent to what is known as classical structure.
On the other hand, his sense of harmony was always admirable, and there
can be no doubt that he owed much of its development to the wise care,
and still wiser reticence, with which the laws and prohibitions were
explained to him. Again, Liszt is probably right in drawing special
attention to the moral value of Elsner's teaching. With a conscientious
pupil the method of encouragement is the easiest possible way to
inculcate a feeling of responsibility, and the most successful teacher
is he who knows how to train mediocrity and to leave genius a free hand.
It should be added that Chopin's relation to his two masters was always
cordial and affectionate. As late as 1835, we find him docketing a
letter from Zywny, a curious, formal, kindly note, full of good wishes
and fine language, while to Elsner he always looked with a boy's
hero-worship, as to a mentor whose advice was never to be neglected, and
whose praise was the highest of commendations.

We may well understand that, as a pupil, he was best left alone. His
precocity was something phenomenal, even in the decade which saw
Mendelssohn at Weimar and Liszt at Paris: before he was eight years old
he was a pianist of established reputation; before he was nine he played
one of Gyrowetz' pianoforte concertos at a charity concert; at ten he
ventured into the presence of the Grand Duke Constantine, and offered
that awful potentate a military march for use among the troops. Of
course, every one petted and caressed him, and called him the young
Mozart. Countesses and princesses danced to his mazurkas, or sat by the
piano while he improvised: Royalty itself sent down a great glittering
clattering chariot, and galloped him off to play at the Belvidere: from
end to end of the brilliant, light-hearted, pleasure-loving city he
moved at his ease, like the young Prince Charming in a fairy tale, sure
of a welcome, sure of applause, and accepting all that society offered
with a child's careless enjoyment.

An atmosphere so heavy with adulation might well have poisoned a nature
less lovable or less simple-hearted. But its only effect on Chopin was
to increase still further his natural refinement of manner and to
accentuate his intolerance of anything like rudeness or vulgarity. There
does not seem to have been a trace of vanity in his constitution. He
played 'as the linnets sing,' without effort, without premeditation, and
without any apparent idea that his performance was out of the common. At
his _début_, in the charity concert of 1818, the only feature which
struck him as exciting any admiration was his lace collar; the watch
given him two years later by Catalani only appealed to him as a new toy
of unusual splendour: in all the record of his childhood there is not a
single indication of petulance or conceit. We can easily reconstruct his
portrait:--a little, frail, delicate elf of a boy, with fair hair and a
prominent nose, the face redeemed from ugliness by the wonderful brown
eyes and the quick intelligence of expression; a temperament which was
keen, nervous and changeable, a character rapid and alert, bubbling over
with effervescent spirits, playful, affectionate, and sensitive. He was
already an accomplished actor and a born mimic, full of odd sayings
and harmless mischief, clever and imaginative, utterly devoid of
self-consciousness or affectation. His one defect was his want of a
boy's adventurousness, and his disinclination to out-door sports and
exercises. We can hardly imagine his tearing his clothes or getting his
feet wet. But we must remember that this disability is not always to be
regarded as an unpardonable sin, and that, ever since the days of
Euripides, there has been a feud between the poet and the athlete. Had
Chopin been more robust, he would doubtless have taken life with
the greater equanimity--and we should have lost one of the most
characteristic figures in the history of Music.

Unfortunately many of the anecdotes which are current about his boyhood
bear the clear impress of mythology. The utmost we can say of them is,
that they appear to contain some elements of truth which have
been overlaid by enthusiastic biographers until they are almost
unrecognisable. We can well believe for instance, that he once
made an April fool of an irascible landowner by sending him a sham
business-letter in Yiddish; but M. Karasowski, who tells the story,
ruins it by gravely adding that the child played his trick with the
deliberate moral purpose of curing his neighbour's temper; and, worse
still, that the sermon was successful. Again, it is quite possible that
on one insubordinate afternoon, when the pupils had proved too many
for the usher, Chopin appeared on the scene and kept them quiet
by improvising romances; but then we are further told that his
representation of night, on the pianoforte, was so realistic that it
sent all the boys to sleep. No doubt these embellishments are innocuous
enough, though they add nothing which it is of any moment to preserve,
but the uncritical fancy which accepts them as historical, offers but an
ominous prospect for the discussion of the later life. That the record
of Chopin's manhood is still a fruitful theme for controversy is mainly
owing to the fact that it has been treated by writers who, for the most
part, show a lamentable disregard of the value of evidence.

In 1824, Chopin was promoted from his father's preparatory school to the
fourth class of the Warsaw Lyceum. There he worked hard, rose rapidly,
won two or three prizes, and gained the esteem and respect of his
school-fellows by developing a remarkable talent for caricature. It must
have been an agonising moment when the director confiscated a sheet of
paper containing an unflattering portrait of himself, and it says
something for the young scapegrace, that the sketch was returned with no
heavier rebuke than a sardonic comment on the excellence of the
likeness. The first holidays were spent on a friend's estate in
Szafarnia, from which the boy issued to his parents a periodical
journal, after the model of the _Warsaw Courier_, and even got one of
the daughters of the house to give it an amateur imprimatur, in
imitation of the official censorship. The same year witnessed, at
some family festival, the production of a new comedy, written in
collaboration by Frederick Chopin, aged fifteen, and Emily Chopin, aged
eleven. And all this time the dramatist, artist, journalist, and student
of Polish history is writing his harmony exercises, playing his
Kalkbrenner concertos, composing songs, devising variations, and
generally progressing in music as though he had no other occupation to
distract him. Grant that the comedy has no great literary value, and
that the _Ranz des Vaches_ variations are slight and childish, it still
remains a marvel that one small head should have exhibited such restless
and versatile ability. To find a parallel, we must go back to the golden
age of Leonardo and the two Cellini, when all arts lay open and the
common lands of knowledge had not yet been enclosed.

Up to 1825 Nicholas Chopin does not seem to have had any idea of making
his son a professional musician. The first essays had been so many in
number, and so various in impulse, that they might well account for some
feeling of uncertainty, but by the end of 1824 the boy's activity had
begun to take a more settled direction, and the events of the next year
are mainly musical. First, there were two concerts, on March 27 and June
10, at the former of which Chopin was set to improvise on an instrument
with the amazing name of Æolopantaleon, then the Emperor Alexander, who
had come down to Warsaw to open the Parliamentary Session, sent for the
young genius, heard him play, and dismissed him with some august
compliments and a diamond ring; while, finally, this approbation of men
and gods was succeeded by the Horatian climax of publication. The Rondo
in C minor, which was printed this year as Op. 1, is a singular example
of Chopin's strength and weakness in composition. The themes are clear,
pleasant and melodious, contrasted with great skill, and admirably
suited to the pianoforte; but the form is redundant and ill-balanced,
the exposition unduly prolonged, and the subsequent treatment hurried
and inadequate. No doubt, a concert rondo should not be criticised with
the same severity as the rondo movement of a sonata; yet even with all
laxity of concession, we can find passages and even pages, through which
Elsner ought to have drawn his pencil. That Chopin should have written
them is no crime; youth is expected to be extravagant; but his master
might have remembered that an artist who, in the phrase of Cherubini,
'puts too much cloth into his coat,' spoils the result, in addition to
wasting the material.

The only other compositions which can be assigned to this year with any
certainty are the two Mazurkas in G and B flat, which appear among the
posthumous work in Breitkopf and Härtel's Edition. Indeed, it is pretty
certain that Chopin was still attempting to do too many things at once.
By the beginning of 1826 he had shown unmistakable signs of overwork,
and in the next holidays he was ordered off to try the whey cure at Bad
Reinerz in Prussian Silesia. His experiences of the place are recorded
in a letter to his school-fellow Wilhelm Kolberg, and consist mainly of
approval of the scenery, criticisms of the visitors, and caricatures of
the local band. The only incident, was a concert which he organised for
the benefit of two orphans, the death of whose mother had left them
without money enough to return home. For the rest he drank his whey,
took sedate walks with his mother and sisters, and even succeeded in
persuading himself that he was growing 'stout and lazy.'

The journey home was broken by two or three visits, of which the most
important was a short stay at Antonin, the country residence of Prince
Radziwill. The Prince was an enthusiastic patron of music, an able and
meritorious composer, a good singer and violoncellist, and a pleasant
cultivated man, who seemed to have been cast by Fate for the part of
Mæcenas. Apparently he had met Chopin in Warsaw, and shared the interest
which all Polish society felt in its new genius. Liszt asserts that he
paid for the boy's education, but the statement, which is intrinsically
improbable, is categorically denied by Fontana, while the still wilder
report that he defrayed the expenses of Chopin's Italian tour, is best
answered by the fact that Chopin never set foot inside Italy in his
life. However, the tie of hospitality is not likely to have been
weakened by the absence of a monetary basis, and the friendship between
host and guest was quite as cordial as though they had been debtor and

Once back in Warsaw, Chopin set himself to prepare for his final
examination at the Lyceum, which he passed with something less than his
usual distinction, in 1827. The cause of this comparative failure is not
hard to divine, for although the compositions of the winter are few and
unimportant, there can be no doubt that Chopin was devoting himself
more and more to music, and allowing other interests to sink into the
background. And there was another reason. On April 10, his sister Emily,
the closest and dearest of all his companions, died of pulmonary
disease. She had accompanied her brother to Reinerz, in the hope of
checking a malady which medical skill is almost powerless to cure, she
had returned with some alleviation of suffering and some hopes of
reprieve--and then came the end. We may readily imagine the effect which
her death must have produced on the sensitive, affectionate boy from
whom, through all her short life, she had been inseparable. It was his
first great sorrow, and he was never of a nature to take his sorrows

As soon as his work set him free, he tried to find solace in some short,
fitful periods of travel, and paid a visit to his godmother's house in
Posen, and a second to the brother of his old head-master, who was
occupying some official post at Danzic. All the winter was spent at
home, sketching, revising, polishing, and preparing his compositions for
the publisher. By the autumn of the next year he had completed two or
three Polonaises,[17] a Nocturne, a Piano Sonata, a brilliant Rondo for
two pianos, the first movement of the G minor Trio, and, more important
than all, the variations on _La ci darem_, which were published in 1830
as Op. 2. It was this last-named work which evoked Schumann's first
critical essay, and introduced the world at large to Florestan and
Eusebius. Sixty years have passed since the essay was printed, and we
are in no mind to question its decision. 'Hats off, gentlemen, a
genius,' is the only judgment which sums up that wonderful combination
of grace and audacity, of delicacy and vigour, of technical display and
poetic invention.

The course of the year's work was interrupted by a notable episode. One
day at the beginning of September, Dr Jarocki, the zoology professor,
came up to call; announced that he had been invited to attend a
scientific congress at Berlin, and offered to take Chopin with him as
travelling companion. The proposal was readily accepted. Nicholas
Chopin, who had by this time entirely acquiesced in his son's choice of
a career, was beginning to doubt whether a sufficiently wide field of
action and opportunity could be obtained at Warsaw: and, in any case, it
was advisable that the young man should see something of the world
before he settled down to the duties of his profession. Frederick, too,
was overjoyed at the prospect. He cared little for congresses and
nothing at all for science, he refused his ticket of admission to the
meetings, on the ground that he did not want to pose as 'Saul among the
prophets,' but the chances of increasing his musical experience were far
too precious to be lost. By the middle of the month he was established
at the Hotel Kronprinz, hearing _Fernando Cortez_ at the Opera,
revelling in Handel's _St Cæcilia_ at the Singakademie, spending his
days in the music library at Schlesinger's, and only idle when some
enthusiastic scientist carried him off to spend a reluctant hour in the
Zoological Museum.

Three of his letters, preserved by M. Karasowski, give us an amusing
picture of his impressions. We can see him, shrinking with suppressed
impatience, while the interminable dinner goes on, and Professor Lehmann
rests an academic hand on his plate in order to converse across him with
Professor Jarocki: we can see him at the Singakademie looking with
awe-stricken eyes at Mendelssohn and Spontini, or burning with shame to
discover that he has mistaken Alexander von Humboldt for a footman: we
can see him making stealthy caricatures and carefully adding the names
of the originals, 'in case they should prove to be celebrities.'
Everything is noted with a good-natured criticism, the humours of the
journey, the cleanliness and order of the streets, the bad taste of the
ladies' dresses, and the great final banquet, at which all the sciences
sat round the table singing convivial songs, while counterpoint, in the
person of Zelter, stood behind a golden goblet and beat time.

It is unlikely that Chopin completed any musical work at Berlin. The
first we hear of his Fantasia on Polish airs is that he played it at a
little post town on the way home, while the diligence was changing
horses, but it is more probable that he composed it earlier in the year
than that he found time for it amid all the rush of new interests and
new distractions. The real value of his visit was that it supplied the
need, which every composer feels, of an occasional period of pure
receptiveness. Not that the music heard presents itself in any way as a
model for imitation: a man may be stimulated to write a string quartett
by a course of opera, or be moved to song by a series of symphonies: but
the very fact of production involves a certain wear and tear which is
often most easily repaired from outside. And so it is not surprising
that, when Chopin returned home, after stopping a couple of days at
Posen, and paying his respects to Prince Radziwill, he at once finished
his Pianoforte Trio and wrote the Krakowiak, which is the most carefully
scored of all his orchestral compositions. His parents gave him a little
back room, furnished with a piano and an old writing-desk, and there he
sat and elaborated his phrases, complaining piteously when his solitude
was invaded by inopportune visitors or unwelcome invitations. Society is
the most delightful of patrons, until a man realises that he has his
work to do. After that it tends to become something of a tyrant.

In the early part of 1829 Warsaw was visited successively by Hummel and
Paganini. For the latter Chopin felt little more than the common
admiration, the former he had long regarded as a special tutelary
genius, whose exquisite precision of style was at once his ambition and
his despair. He was far too modest to recognise the limitations of his
hero, and the deeper and truer note which his own temperament was
capable of sounding: as yet, if we except the great variations of the
preceding year, he had attempted little more than the mastery of exact
expression, and in this he regarded Hummel as the best of types with the
same loyalty with which he had accepted Elsner as the best of teachers.
We have no record of the interview between the two artists. We only know
that they met, that they made a good impression on each other, and that
their subsequent intercourse bears witness to much cordiality on the
elder side, and to an unquestioning and unbroken hero-worship on the

It is possible that this glimpse of the ideal served to bring into
sharper relief the narrowness of the Warsaw horizon. In any case, as the
summer approached, Chopin grew restless and began to pine for a larger
atmosphere and more congenial surroundings. Naturally, his first thought
was of Vienna. He had already sent three or four of his manuscripts to
try their fortune with Haslinger: and as no answer had come, he found a
reasonable excuse for going to attack the publisher in person. He
therefore started from home about the middle of July, spent a few
days in Cracow, and a few more in Polish Switzerland and Galicia,
and finally arrived at his destination on the 31st. Haslinger
received him courteously enough, promised to print the _La ci darem_
Variations, and strongly urged him to give a concert in order to
familiarise the Viennese public with his manner of composition. It is
characteristic that this obvious suggestion appeared to Chopin to be
wholly impracticable. That he should venture to play in a city which
had heard Mozart and Beethoven; that he, a mere provincial, should
expect an audience in the metropolis of the musical world; the bare
idea seemed an act of presumption beside which the challenge of
Marsyas faded into insignificance: and it was only after continued
pressure and reiterated encouragement that he finally nerved himself
to the attempt. Acquiescence once extorted the arrangements went
on smoothly; Würfel got out the bills, Count Gallenberg lent the
Kärnthnerthor Theatre, and on August 11--a memorable date in musical
history--Chopin made his _début_ before a foreign public.

Of course there was the usual disaster at rehearsal. Like all young
composers, Chopin insisted on copying his own band parts, and the result
was that the Krakowiak had to be cut out of the programme, and the
concert marred by an apology. However, the evening made amends. The
audience was not numerous, but it was cordial and appreciative;
applauded the variations so lustily, that the _tuttis_ were inaudible,
and finally 'began a regular dance in the back benches,' when Chopin
replaced his rondo with an improvisation. The only adverse criticism,
from stalls to gallery, was an expression of disappointment, on the part
of some unknown lady, that 'the lad had so little presence.' No doubt,
like the wife of Charles Lamb's friend, she 'had expected to see a tall,
fine, officer-looking man,' who would look well in uniform.

Fortified by his success, Chopin gave a second concert on August 18, at
which the Krakowiak was produced, and the variations were repeated. This
time the audience was larger, and the reception still more encouraging.
Several of the musical notabilities of Vienna came to offer their
applause--Gyrowetz, with the queer, wrinkled face and the kindly eyes,
that belied the querulous mouth; Lachner, young, ardent and restless;
Schuppanzigh, still chuckling at Beethoven's jests on his corpulence;
Czerny, all high forehead, big spectacles and bland expression.
Everybody was warm and friendly, full of congratulations on the triumph
which, as the manager was careful to explain, 'could not be due to the
ballet, because that had been given before,' and Chopin soon found
himself arguing with a press of people who wanted him to fix the date
for his third appearance. But on this point he was obdurate. He had
only given his second concert lest the Warsaw public should think that
he was dissatisfied with the first. The Viennese had been very kind, but
he was quite sure that they had seen enough of him for one visit. He was
full of gratitude, he had enjoyed himself immensely, but the fact was
that he had made up his mind to start for Prague the next day, and he
could not alter his arrangements. And so, in spite of all entreaties, he
left Vienna on the evening of August 19, without even waiting for the
newspaper reports of his two recitals.

It is interesting to compare his letters with the various notices and
critiques that appeared after his departure. 'I was not hissed,'
he writes on August 12, 'so don't be anxious about my artistic
reputation.... My friends swear that they heard nothing but praise, and
that, until the spontaneous outburst of applause, not one of them
clapped or uttered a bravo.... I am curious to hear what Herr Elsner
will say to all this. Perhaps he disapproves of my playing at all. But I
was so besieged on all sides that I had no escape, and I don't seem to
have committed a blunder by my performance.' And again, on August 19,
'My reception yesterday was still more hearty. I know I have pleased the
ladies and the musicians. Only the thorough Germans seem to have been
dissatisfied.... When I told the manager that I hoped to come back to
Vienna for the purpose of improving myself, he answered that for such a
reason I should never need to come, since I had nothing more to learn.
Of course these are mere compliments; still, one does not listen to them
unwillingly. At any rate, for the future, I shall not be regarded as a
student. Blahetka tells me that he wonders at my learning it all in
Warsaw. I answered that from Zywny and Elsner even the greatest donkey
must gain something.' In all this there is a tone of simple, unconscious
modesty which is very pleasant to notice. There are not many men in
Chopin's position who would have taken their first triumph so easily,
and still fewer who would have been at the pains to disclaim the
assistance of a _claque_.

On the other hand, the newspapers speak with a much firmer tone. The
_Wiener Theaterzeitung_ noted a touch of genius in the compositions,
and gave special praise to the clearness and delicacy of their
interpretation. 'He plays very quietly,' it said, 'with little emphasis,
and with none of that rhetorical _aplomb_ which is considered by
virtuosos as indispensable.... He was recognised as an artist of whom
the best may be expected as soon as he has heard more.... He knows how
to please, although, in his case, the desire to make good music
predominates noticeably over the desire to give pleasure.' Such
commendation from the acknowledged leader of Viennese criticism at once
set the tone to the minor journals; and the whole city swelled its
voice into a full chorus of approval. Even the distant _Allgemeine
Musikalische Zeitung_ caught an echo of the enthusiasm, and hailed
Chopin as a 'brilliant meteor,' who had 'appeared on the horizon without
any previous blast of trumpets.'

From Vienna he went on to Prague, where he met Pixis, Klengel and some
other celebrities; and from Prague to Teplitz, where he spent an evening
at Prince Clary's, and electrified the company by his improvisations.
The westernmost point of his travel was Dresden. As a devoted admirer of
_Der Freischütz_, he naturally felt an interest in the city where Weber
had been kapellmeister, and he bore with him letters of introduction
which would ensure his admission into the centre of its artistic
society. It is probably in consequence of his admiration for Weber that
he writes rather cavalierly about his interview with Morlacchi. Musical
enmities have a way of lasting, and Chopin was always more vehement in
the quarrels of his heroes than he was in his own. For the rest, he paid
his tribute of homage to the Gallery, stayed to see a performance of
_Faust_ at the theatre, and then hurried homeward to supplement his
letter with the thousand details that are always lost between pen and
paper. Indeed, there was plenty to relate. He had left Warsaw with a
reputation little wider than the limits of his native province: now,
after two eventful months, he was returning to match the wreath of
welcome with the laurels of a victorious campaign.

A few short weeks and the conqueror is in the dust. Nothing in all
Chopin's life is more striking than the sudden and entire change which
followed as a reaction from the excitements of the summer. His letters
grew morbid, anxious, irritable; the clear-cut sentences wander off into
vagueness and incoherence; the rapid judgment becomes hesitating and
irresolute. Through all this dark time there runs the golden thread of
an ideal friendship; but it is knotted and entwined with a love-story
that can only seem to us singularly unreal and purposeless. Many of its
details are absolutely unknown, but there is little need that we should
know them. We are only concerned with its effect on Chopin's character;
with the presage through which it may lead us to a better and fuller
comprehension of his subsequent life. And herein the story, imperfect
though it be, may serve us as a true guide. The two tragic episodes of
Chopin's career, for all their unlikeness, have their explanation in a
single point of temperament: the weakness which, in later years, lost
the comradeship of George Sand, was but another form of that nervous
sensibility which now called up, for its torment, the shadowy and
fugitive vision of Constance Gladkowska.

Even at the outset there is no tone of hopefulness. 'I have, perhaps to
my misfortune, already found my ideal,' he writes to his friend
Woyciechowski; and a little later, 'It is bitter to have no one with
whom one can share joy or sorrow, to feel one's heart oppressed, and to
be unable to express one's complaints to any human soul.' All this
time--it is a grotesque touch which somehow adds to the pathos--he had
never spoken to her, and had only seen her occasionally as she was
taking her lessons at the Conservatorium. At least six months had
elapsed before he made her acquaintance, and even then we have no record
of intimacy, no interchange of letters, no word of lover's vows; nothing
but idle conjecture and a few wild confessions of doubt and despair.
Warsaw had become intolerable to him. Come what may, he will not spend
another winter at home. He will go to Berlin, to Vienna, to Paris, to
Italy; anywhere to escape. And then comes a revulsion, and he fancies
himself dying in a foreign land, with the unconcerned physician and the
paid servants waiting beside his deathbed. Plans are made only to be
reversed; projects are formed only to be abandoned; and every change is
made the occasion for some fresh complaint, or some new exhibition of a
self-inflicted wound.

This is not the manner of true passion. It is not love which degrades a
chivalrous nature, which torments generosity with suspicion, and turns
activity into a feverish impatience. Grant that the noblest character
has its ignoble aspect; its concealed depths which an unforeseen storm
may sometimes lash to the surface; yet we cannot look upon a current
which is wholly turbid, and characterise it by the highest name in all
man's vocabulary. Grant that every lover has his moments of unreason,
fits of groundless ill-temper, of disproportionate remorse, of jealousy
that is roused by a look and quieted by a word, yet we are here bidden
to mistake the accidents for the substance, and to describe as love a
shadow which is cast from no sun. The truth is that Chopin's passion was
not a cause, but a symptom; not a power which influenced his life, but a
direction of hectic energy that must itself be traced back to a remoter
source. He was standing at the verge of manhood: always nervous and
impressionable, he was come to the time when strength is weakest and
courage the most insecure: he had just passed through the bewilderment
of his first great enterprise, and had emerged to breathe an atmosphere
electric with change and heavy with disquietude. It is little wonder
that he lost his true self, and strayed from his appointed course. He
would have been more than human if he had not felt some stress of
uncertainty, or followed his restless impulses in the absence of a surer

Yet the affection which is lacking to his romance is poured, in full and
continuous profusion, upon his friend. 'You do not require my portrait,'
he writes to Woyciecowski in November; 'I am always with you, and shall
never forget you to the end of my life.' And later, 'You have no idea
how much I love you. What would I not give to embrace you once again.'
He suggests that they should travel abroad together, and then, by a
refinement of sensibility, adds that it would be more delightful if they
started separately, 'and met somewhere by chance.' All the compositions
are discussed with entire frankness, all the plans submitted for advice
and counsel; even omens and presentiments are called in and made to bear
their witness to community of purpose. The very complaints take a
brighter tone when we realise their absolute trust, and their certain
expectation of sympathy. It is as though Chopin shrank from the thought
of his passion as a child shrinks from the darkness, and turned to take
refuge in the strong arms that he knew were waiting to protect him. He
was never self-reliant, never strong enough to face the world alone.
Now, in the time of his trouble, he looked to his friend for comfort,
just as, ten years before, he would have taken some boyish sorrow to his

It must not be supposed that this period of mental depression is
entirely occupied with lamentations. Troilus may be 'weaker than a
woman's tear' when he thinks of Cressida, yet he still has hours in
which he can shake off his lethargy and take his place in the field or
the council chamber; and even we must add, hours when he can find solace
in the company of the white-armed Helen. Indeed, in spite of his
troubles, Chopin seems to have been fairly busy during the autumn
of 1829. By October 3, the 'Adagio' of his F minor Concerto was
completed;[18] by October 20, the Finale had been sketched, and at least
one of the Études written: then came a week's visit to Prince Radziwill,
from whose house we hear something of a new Polonaise for Violoncello,
and something, also, about the beauty and intelligence of Princess
Wanda. 'I should like her to practise my work,' writes this distracted
lover; 'it would be delightful to have the privilege of placing her
pretty fingers upon the keys.'

The winter was spent quietly at home. Chopin finished his Concerto,
showed it to Elsner for approval, and then set about looking for some
opportunity of performance. It was a long time since he had played in
public at Warsaw, and the newspaper notices from Vienna had aroused
fresh interest which he thought it advisable to satisfy. So in March
1830 he gave two concerts, both of which were conspicuously successful.
At the first, indeed, there was some complaint that he did not play loud
enough; but, on hearing it, he sent to Vienna for one of Graff's pianos,
and disarmed even this effort of criticism at the second. It is
noticeable, as an indication of musical taste in 1830, that at both
concerts the F minor Concerto was divided, the Allegro given by itself
as a separate piece, and the Adagio and Rondo following later in the
programme. We may remember that even in Paris it was the fashion of the
time to give Beethoven's symphonies piecemeal, and to intersperse the
movements with _bravura_ songs and _divertimenti_ for the French horn.
It seems unlikely that a stage manager would ever present one of
Shakespear's plays with portions of the _School for Scandal_ between the
acts; but music has always lagged behind the other arts in its
appreciation of structure, and if Berlioz could mishandle Beethoven, we
need not be surprised at Chopin's tearing his own work in pieces for
fear that the audience should suspect it of continuity. In any case, he
seems to have lost nothing by the sacrifice, for the house was crowded,
the applause vehement, and the receipts, after all expenses had been
paid, amounted to the respectable figure of 5000 florins.

Summer came, with its presage of revolution. The great wave rolling
eastward from Paris did not break on Warsaw until November; but as early
as May there were signs on the horizon, and a murmur of expectation in
the air. The Diet, which had not met for five years, was suddenly
convened; the irregularities of the Russian administration were more
freely criticised: and although the Czar had prohibited the publication
of debates, there still remained sufficient means to show the people at
large that its discontent was finding official utterance. Naturally this
assemblage of senators gathered after it all the pomp and circumstance
of Polish society. As the months wore on, the city filled with a crowd
of nobles, and, while the halls of audience were busy with political
intrigue, the ballrooms opened their doors to a music that seemed to
have caught some echo from the night before Waterloo. War was almost
certainly imminent; but until it came the hours uplifted their burden of
song and dance, lest the silence should crave too ominously for the
sound of cannon.

To Chopin, patriot as he was, the musical aspect of the season seems to
have been the most important. Possibly in his seclusion rumours of wars
found no space to enter: at any rate, there is no hint in his letters
that he foresaw the storm, or that he was seriously occupied with
anything more public than his _soirées_ and his concerts. There was,
indeed, plenty to hear and plenty to enjoy. Some of the greatest artists
in Europe presented themselves at Warsaw:--Mdlle. de Belleville,
immortalised by the praise of Schumann; Lipinski, the famous violinist;
Henrietta Sontag, the acknowledged rival of Catalani and Pasta. Of all
these Chopin writes with his usual generous appreciation, unaffectedly
delighted with their successes, and 'not at all surprised' that he is
not asked to play at a Court party when they are present. Then followed
Constance Gladkowska's _début_ as an operatic singer, and the lover is
divided between his pleasure in her triumph and his reawakened
consciousness of a hopeless passion. Once more the old irresolution
returns; he decides to go, but cannot tear himself away; he waits on
aimlessly, wondering from day to day whether the morrow will bring
counsel, despising himself for his chain, yet not strong enough to break
it. The suspense was beginning to tell upon his health. Heller, who
passed through Warsaw in 1830, speaks of him as pale and hollow-eyed,
little more than a shadow of his former, brighter self. And yet it is
uncertain whether he had spent an hour with 'his Constantia' since his
return from Antonin, nearly a year before; while it is quite clear, from
his own letters, that during all that time he had never visited her.[19]

Surely it is one of the most inexplicable of dramas. The whole period
which it occupies is of less than two years: eighteen months have
elapsed, and we have not yet seen the heroine. We only guess at her
darkly from the hero's soliloquies, or the rare secrets which he
commends to the bosom of his confidant. We are in the fourth act, and
have advanced to no further situation than was disclosed in the opening
scene. It is true that for a few weeks in the autumn of 1830 the two
actors are brought into a closer relationship: that she sang for him at
his concert in October, and that she gave him a ring on his departure
from Warsaw: but then, just as we are beginning to attain to some
comprehension of the plot, the curtain falls, and there has been neither
recognition nor catastrophe. Nor is the epilogue any less inconclusive.
The farewell gift, which should have been the beginning of a more
intimate romance, is virtually the end of the whole story. After Chopin
had left his home, he seems to have held no further communication, other
than indirect, with the woman whom he believed himself to love; in a few
months her name has dropped out of his letters: and when she married,
about a year later, he is said to have heard the news with a momentary
outburst of brief anger, and then to have dismissed it from his
recollection. And even during the days of his thraldom, he can forget
his troubles whenever he is interested in his work. It is only when he
is wearied or overwrought that the image of his love recurs, with its
invariable train of forebodings and regrets: forebodings that he will
find inaccessible a height which he never tries to climb: regrets for
lost opportunities which he has never attempted to seize. As to her own
attitude in the matter, we are even more at fault. We have no means of
determining to what extent she looked with favour upon his suit, or to
what extent she even trusted in its sincerity. We have no right to
impute blame to her: we have no standpoint for imputation. All we can
say is, that if Chopin's passion had been wholly visionary, this is the
way in which it would have expressed itself. Of the joy, the hope, the
impetus of true love there is not one recorded word: his highest point
of stimulation is the desire to 'tell his piano' of the sorrow that she
has brought him: his brightest hope of communion with her is that when
he dies his ashes may be spread out under her feet.

It is pleasanter to look upon the more active side of Chopin's last
summer in Warsaw. In spite of the social distractions which the season
inevitably brought in its retinue, he worked away steadily at his E
minor Concerto, finished it by the middle of August, and produced it,
with his usual good fortune, at his third and last concert, on October
11. In addition, he composed what he modestly calls 'a few insignificant
pieces,' and sketched or projected some works of larger scale--a
concerto for two pianos, a polonaise with orchestra, and the like.
Whether these ever came into complete existence is a matter of dispute:
here, as elsewhere, the record of Chopin's life is too broken and
imperfect to admit any tone of certainty: but, in either event, they
testify to some acceptance of the 'beatitude of labour.' The results of
a man's effort are a free gift to succeeding generations; it is in the
effort itself that he finds his own reward.

As the winter approached, plans for departure grew more definite and
more concrete. Chopin had cried 'Wolf' so often that his friends might
well be excused for doubting the reality of his intentions, but this
time it appeared that he was actually in earnest, and at the beginning
of November he started. Even now he had no very clear idea of his
destination. It was to be Vienna first, so much was certain, but after
Vienna it might be Berlin, where Prince Radziwill could ensure him
introductions, or it might be Italy, where he could bear his credentials
to royalty at Milan, or it might be Paris, which was then the goal of
almost every artist in Europe. 'I am going out into the wide world,' he
writes, with a touch of knight-errantry foreign to his usual nature.
Curiously enough, he seems to have had from the beginning a presentiment
that he would never return to Poland; and when, at the first stage from
Warsaw, Elsner met him with the pupils of the Conservatorium, and
presented him with a silver cup full of Polish earth, the strange little
ceremonial must have added force and ratification to his thought.
Moreover, the presentiment came true. The nineteen years of life which
remained to him only widened his separation from his native country; his
exile, though voluntary, proved to be none the less irrevocable; and as
the towers of Warsaw sank behind him on the horizon, there faded with
them all but the memory of a home which he was never to see again.


[16] So says Karasowski, who was intimately acquainted with the Chopins,
and was entrusted by them with the materials for an authoritative
biography. The monument in the Holy Cross Church at Warsaw gives March
2, 1809, as the date. Liszt and Fétis both give 1810. It is a salient
instance of the carelessness with which the records of Chopin's life
have been treated.

[17] The Polonaise in B flat minor, 'Adieu an Wilhelm Kolberg,' appears
to have been written on Chopin's departure for Reinerz in 1826. But
Fontana calls the three, which were published posthumously as Op. 71,
'les trois premières Polonaises.' Two of them were composed in 1827-8
and the third in 1829.

[18] Not the E minor Concerto, as M. Karasowski asserts. The fact is put
beyond dispute by a letter of May 15, 1830, in which Chopin says that
the Adagio of the latter work is still unfinished. Both movements, by
the way, are marked _Larghetto_ in the score.

[19] See the letter of Sept. 4, 1830, quoted by Professor Niecks.



After the good leisurely fashion of the time, Chopin took nearly four
weeks over his journey to Vienna. His first halting-place was Kalisz,
where he was joined by his friend Woyciecowski, and thence the two
travelled together through Breslau, Dresden and Prague, enjoying to the
full that highest of human pleasures which is constituted by a clear
road, brisk horses, and a single companion. The incidents, as recorded
in his letters, are not of any great importance--impressions of the
theatre at Breslau, renewal of old acquaintanceships at Dresden, and so
forth--but the letters themselves are interesting, as showing how
entirely he had recovered his spirits under the change of scene and
circumstance. Everything is delightful, everybody is cordial, all
prospects of the future career are painted in rose-colour, and the
darkest moments of uncertainty are caused by his terror at the sight of
the Saxon ladies, in their panoply of knitting-needles, or by the
temptation, which he is at some pains to resist, of 'kicking out the
bottom' from his first sedan chair. In a character so transparent, even
these evanescent bubbles of humour acquire a certain significance. For
the moment, Chopin's tone is equally free from regret or apprehension;
for the moment, this exile from his country has succeeded in escaping
from his recent self.

And yet, it was a bold challenge to fortune. On the one side, a world
which is usually too busy to occupy itself with new aspirants, which
grants no favour that cannot be claimed as a right, and is even less
ready to show mercy to the conquered than to offer its applause to the
conqueror: on the other, a boy of twenty-one, with delicate and
fastidious appetites, with no experience of privation, no conception of
the value of money, no settled habits of prudence or circumspection,
equipped, it is true, with a flashing weapon of genius, but singularly
ill provided with the ordinary armour of defence. It would have been no
wonder if he had thought the bastions impregnable and the towers
impossible to scale: if he had looked upon the camp life as coarse and
uncouth, if he had found its discipline intolerable, its hardships
degrading, and its pleasures typified by the rude laughter and
boisterous jests of the canteen. Small wonder, either, if his comrades
had set him down as a carpet-knight; an exquisite, better skilled to pay
compliments to the women than to bear his part among the men; a dandy,
whose chief care was the set of his clothes and the fragrance of his
violets; a precisian, who was altogether devoid of redeeming vices; an
idealist, who spent his days in pursuit of the unattainable, instead of
taking life as it came, and letting ready action compensate for
defective strategy. And in such an estimate there would have been a
certain measure of truth. If, in order to be a good man, it is first
necessary to be a good animal, we may admit at once that Chopin's
virility was imperfect. There is no doubt that, to the end of his life,
he was characterised by a super-sensitive refinement, which, fifty years
ago, would have been described as feminine. But now, at the outset of
his career, it is well to notice that he was by no means unprovided with
the means of success. He was already one of the best pianists in Europe.
He had discovered a secret of musical expression more readily understood
and appreciated than that of any contemporary composer, with the
exception of Mendelssohn. He was gifted with a great charm of manner,
and an unusual power of making friends. And when it is added that he was
only once in any great stress of poverty, it will be seen that his
equipment was less incomplete than is generally imagined. After all, the
dandies have played their part in history. Claverhouse was a dandy;
Lovelace was a dandy; Sir Philip Sydney himself was censured by Milton
for being 'vain and amatorious': and if a man can be something of a fop,
and yet bear himself gallantly in the battle of arms, how much more
shall he do so in the battle of life.

At the same time, we must confess that, in his first encounter with
destiny, the hero was visited with a signal defeat. Before he had been a
week in Vienna, news came that Warsaw had risen in revolt against the
Russians; there was word of riot in the streets, of danger to the house;
and Chopin, after a few hours of irresolution, started off to follow his
friend Woyciecowski, who had gone at once to join the insurgents. On the
way his determination broke down: his presence could avail nothing; it
would only add to the disquietude of his parents; he had better wait for
further tidings, for some message or injunction which would relieve him
from taking the initiative. Without further thought he changed his
plans, and returned to Vienna, waiting there in a transport of grief and
anxiety for the letters which a man of prompter courage would have
forestalled. As the days wore on, the bulletins grew more reassuring;
for a time, at any rate, the cloud of peril rolled away from the city:
the Poles had an army of 60,000 men in the field, and, in spite of the
enormous forces of the Emperor Nicholas, were confident of success.
Still Chopin lingered on, ready to start at the lightest summons, but
not strong enough to take the first step of his own motion, until the
noise of battle had passed to the Russian frontier, and he could write
once more about his life and his surroundings.

Apparently the outlook was less encouraging than it had been in 1828.
Vienna, since the death of Schubert, was passing through a period of
musical inactivity, and the prospects of concert-giving were not very
bright. Managers who had been ready enough to welcome Chopin when he
played gratuitously, began to hang back now that he demanded payment;
and the public, after its golden age of the classics, professed itself
satisfied with the _kapellmeistermusik_ of Seyfried, and the dance-tunes
of Strauss and Lanner. During the whole six months of Chopin's stay in
the Austrian capital, he only gave one concert, and that, as we learn
from M. Karasowski, was thinly attended and poorly paid. For the
rest, his letters contain little more than the diary of a casual
visitor:--operas at the Kärnthnerthor Theatre, dinners with his friend
Dr Malfatti, a few criticisms of Thalberg, a few words of enthusiasm
for Slavik; the whole lightened, every now and again, by some amusing
story or some half-dozen lines of quaint description. His tone changes
with every varying mood: at one moment he breaks into passionate regret
that he is still absent from his home: at another he speaks of himself
as enjoying his enforced idleness, as wonderfully restored in health,
and as finding many acquaintances and much pleasant companionship. But
it is clear that, whatever his temper, he was in no way to replenish his
resources or advance his existing reputation.

By the middle of 1831 he had made up his mind to proceed to Paris. To
return home would be merely to confess himself beaten: Italy was put out
of the question by its political troubles; Berlin, with all its
opportunities, was hardly the ideal residence for a Polish artist. All
reasons pointed to the land with which he was in the closest sympathy:
the land which had given birth to his father, which had been the ally of
his nation, which had always shown its warmest hospitality to his
countrymen. Accordingly he started on July 20, travelled slowly through
Munich and Stuttgart, and finally arrived at his destination about the
end of the autumn. His two halting-places are both of some moment in the
history of his life. At Munich he gave his last public concert to a
German-speaking audience, playing his E minor Concerto and his Fantasia
on Polish Airs: at Stuttgart he heard the news that Warsaw had been
captured by the Russians, and that the hopes of the revolution were
lying under the ruin of its walls. Fortunately his parents were safe.
There was no personal anxiety to embitter his grief at the national
disaster. But, none the less, the blow sank deep, and left a scar which
lasted indelibly. With all his weakness, Chopin had an intense love for
his country, and the dirge[20] in which he mourned her downfall remains
as one of the truest and saddest utterances of despairing patriotism.

So ends a year which, on its artistic side, is little more than a line
of cleavage between the two main divisions of the story. Before it,
Chopin is a boy, studying with his masters, secure under the protection
of his home, and looking with expectant eyes upon a great world of which
he hardly knows the outskirts: after it, he is a man, holding his fate
in his own hands, living in a foreign city, surrounded with new hopes,
new occupations, and new friendships. As Warsaw in the first period, so
Paris in the second is the centre on which every aspect of the life is
focussed. Poland has played her part--she has ceased to be counted among
the nations: for the future, it is French blood that claims its kindred,
and French loyalty that offers its allegiance.

And, indeed, Chopin could have chosen no city which would give him less
feeling of transference. He found Paris full of a cordial sympathy with
everything Polish: dramas, founded on the insurrection, drawing crowds
to the theatres; cries of '_Vive les Polonais_' echoing in the streets;
ovations to General Ramorino, who had taken arms against Russia, and had
not despaired of the Republic. A few letters of introduction served to
open the doors of artistic society: Paër, Baillot, even Cherubini
offered a kindly welcome to the newcomer: Hiller and Franchomme were
soon among his fast friends: and the early days were passed in a rush of
concert and opera, in admiration of the fine Conservatoire Orchestra, or
in open-eyed wonder at the roulades of Pasta and Malibran.

A short time after his arrival, he went to call upon Kalkbrenner, in
hopes that the great teacher would consent to give him lessons.
Kalkbrenner heard him play, approved, noted some deviations from the
established method, and offered to take him as a pupil if he would
promise to serve a full apprenticeship of three years. The condition was
somewhat prohibitive, for Chopin had his own way to make, and his own
living to earn; but with characteristic docility he undertook to
consider the proposal, and wrote off at once to Elsner for advice. The
old master's answer was, on the whole, dissuasive. It was unadvisable,
he said, that Chopin should restrict himself too closely to the piano:
there were other forms of the art--quartetts, symphonies, and, above
all, operas--which might establish his name on a more lasting
foundation. Besides, a too continuous adherence to one method, however
perfect, would tend to destroy individuality of touch and substitute a
mere mechanical proficiency for the freedom of original thought. A
genius 'should be allowed to follow his own path and make his own
discoveries.' So, fortunately for Music, Chopin decided to decline the
offer; though the cordiality of his relation with Kalkbrenner is
testified by many passages of intimacy, and by the dedication of the E
minor Concerto. There can be no doubt that the proposal was made in good
faith, and that it was rejected with some hesitation. The only matters
of comment are the modesty with which Chopin suggested a new period of
studentship, and the grounds on which Elsner recommended him to dismiss
the idea.

Early in 1832 Chopin made his first appearance before a Parisian public.
The concert, organised for the benefit of the Polish refugees, was no
great financial success, but it served to bring into notice the second
concerto and some of the early mazurkas and nocturnes. One of the most
interesting features in the programme was an enormous work of
Kalkbrenner's for six pianofortes, played by the composer and Chopin in
_concertino_, together with Hiller, Osborne, Stamaty and Sowinski as
accompanists: a disposition of forces which plainly indicates that the
newcomer was already recognised as a leader by some of the best
executants in Paris. We may add that, artistically speaking, the _début_
was a veritable triumph. The audience applauded heartily, Mendelssohn
offered his warmest congratulations, even Fétis grew genial and
appreciative; and when, at a charity concert in March, Chopin succeeded
in scoring a second victory, it is little wonder that he found his
position established beyond dispute. He might well write to his friends
at home,--'_Me voilà lancé._' The society of Paris lionised him with the
same fervour as the society of Warsaw: evening after evening was
occupied with visitors or filled with invitations: pupils began to
present themselves; concert managers solicited his services; and before
long he shared with Liszt the honour of being the most fashionable
musician of the day. 'I move in the highest circles,' he writes, 'and I
don't know how I got there. But you are credited with more talent if
you have been heard at a _soirée_ of the English or Austrian Ambassador.
Among the Paris artists I enjoy general esteem and friendship; men of
reputation dedicate their compositions to me even before I have paid
them the same compliment. Pupils from the Conservatoire--even private
pupils of Moscheles, Herz and Kalkbrenner--come to me to take lessons.
Really, if I were more silly than I am, I might imagine myself a
finished artist; but I feel daily how much I have still to learn. Don't
imagine that I am making a fortune: my carriage and my white gloves eat
up most of the earnings. However, I am a revolutionary, and so don't
care for money.'[21] Clearly, we are some way from the timid,
apprehensive stranger, doubtful of his direction, uncertain of his
future, who entered Paris a year before, with his country's sorrow still
heavy upon his heart.

This fresh impulse of activity bore ample fruit, also, in composition.
During the winter of 1832 were published the first two sets of Mazurkas;
next year followed the first three Nocturnes, the first set of
Études,[22] and the Variations on Herold's _Je vends des Scapulaires_,
graceful embroideries of an exceedingly poor texture: while in 1834 came
three more Nocturnes, another set of Mazurkas, a _Grande Valse
Brilliante_ (Op. 18), and a Bolero. Besides these, Chopin arranged with
Schlesinger for the publication of some of his existing manuscripts: the
Pianoforte Trio, the Concerto in E minor, the Fantasia on Polish Airs,
and the Krakowiak. Their success was almost instantaneous. No doubt
there were a few dissentient voices: Field, the great burly Englishman,
laid aside his pipe to growl out that his new rival had '_un talent de
chambre de malade_:' Rellstab, the editor of the Berlin _Iris_,
practised a few of the vitriolic epigrams which he was afterwards going
to launch at Schumann: but beyond these there was very little doubt
expressed by any musician who read the works, and none at all by any who
heard their composer play them.

In the spring of 1834, Chopin took a holiday and went off with Hiller to
attend the Niederrheinische Musikfest at Aix-la-Chapelle. We have a very
pleasant account of this expedition: the two friends met Mendelssohn,
shared a box with him, and returned, after the Festival, to his new home
in Dusseldorf, where they drank coffee and played skittles, and
banqueted on music to their hearts' content. There is a characteristic
picture, too, of an evening at Schadow's: the room full of eager,
talkative art students, Hiller and Mendelssohn occasionally quieting the
hubbub with a Fantasia or a Capriccio, Chopin sitting silent and unknown
in a remote corner until he was forced to 'drop his disguise' and take
his place at the piano. 'After that,' says Hiller, 'they looked at him
with altogether different eyes.'

Back in Paris, he resumed his teaching, and completed his second set of
Études, published later as Op. 25. During the winter season he appeared
four times in public, once for Berlioz at the Conservatoire, twice in
Pleyel's rooms, and once at a great charity concert in the Italian
Opera-house. But it is clear that he was growing disinclined to face
what he calls the 'intimidation' of the crowd. He rarely did himself
full justice on the platform: he was at his happiest in some friend's
room, where he could pour out his fancies to the dim twilight, and
forget the few motionless figures that were listening at his side. 'More
than three,' said Charles Lamb, 'and it degenerates into an audience.'
Chopin was more liberal in fixing his limit, but he understood the
degeneration. All the best accounts which we have received of his
playing come from those who heard him _en petit comité_--Heine, George
Sand, Delacroix--and it is significant that, after his appearance at the
Théâtre Italien, he allowed nearly four years to pass before emerging
again from his seclusion. It does not appear that this distaste for the
multitude in any way embittered him. It is an excess of eloquence to
describe his preference for the drawing-room as 'a malignant cancer,'
which 'cruelly tortured and slowly consumed his life.'[23] He was in no
lack of money, or of friends, or of reputation, and he was the last man
in the world to--

           Beg of Hob and Dick
    Their needless vouches,

or trouble himself because some upstart tribune could surpass him in

In the summer and autumn of 1835, Chopin left Paris for a more extended
tour. He began with Carlsbad, where his father was staying under
doctor's orders, and after a short stay there proceeded to Dresden,
where he met his old schoolfellows the Wodzinskis, and took the
opportunity to fall in love with their sister Marie. We have very little
certain knowledge about this new romance. There were a few pleasant
days together, a Valse,[24] improvised at the moment of parting, and
sent afterwards from Paris, 'pour Mademoiselle Marie,' and a later
interview at Marienbad in 1836, where, we are told, Chopin offered
marriage and was refused. But it seems clear that he only saw her upon
these two occasions, and that his rejection, if it ever occurred,
produced no very serious effect on his spirits. There were a great many
harmless flirtations during his Paris life: flowers that sprang up in a
light soil and withered under the next day's sun, and it is possible
that this was only a growth of the same garden, somewhat deeper in root,
and somewhat more ample in blossom. After all, Chopin was little more
than a boy,--Polish, artistic, impressionable, fond by preference of the
society of women: it is no matter for surprise if, in the intervals of
being the Shelley of music, he found some pleasure in posing as its Tom

From Dresden he went on to Leipsic, and there made the acquaintance of
Schumann and the Wiecks. It was nothing less than a meeting of the
Davidsbund: Florestan, Chiarina and Félix Meritis gathered round him at
the piano, while old Master Raro, who was in a bad temper that
afternoon, stood in the next room, with the door ajar, and listened to
the party which he would not compromise his dignity by joining.
Mendelssohn proved the most congenial of companions, Schumann the
kindest and most appreciative of critics, and Clara Wieck, then a girl
of sixteen, convinced her sceptical visitor that there was at least 'one
lady in Germany who could play his compositions.' The visit was all too
short, but pupils were clamouring at home, publishers had received
nothing all the year except the Scherzo in B minor, and the rent of
rooms in the Chaussée d'Antin was a good deal higher than that in the
Boulevard Poissonnière. So Chopin had to bring his holiday to a close,
and to return to Paris with a store of new memories and a consciousness
of new triumphs.

The chief incidents of 1836 were a couple of flying visits: one to
London in July, one to Marienbad and Leipsic in September. The import of
the latter has already been noted; at the former, Chopin was introduced
to the Broadwoods as M. Fritz, and, as usual, threw off his incognito at
the first touch of the pianoforte. During this year his health, which
had hitherto been good, gave way under an attack of influenza, which was
followed by a second early in 1837. But, in spite of illness, he
contrived to get through plenty of work, and his list of publications
for the year is unusually large: the F minor Concerto in April, the G
minor Ballade in June, the Andante Spianato and Polonaise in July,
followed in the same month by the two Polonaises, Op. 26, and the two
Nocturnes, Op. 37. No doubt many of these were of earlier composition,
but it must be remembered that to Chopin it was not the inception of a
work which was laborious. Melodies came to him as easily as to Mozart;
it was after they had been brought to birth that the toil began; anxious
elaboration of phrase, hesitating selection of alternatives: here a
cadence to be re-written, there a harmony to be rearranged; often a
whole round of changes rung, only that the passage might return, after
all, to its original form. In the whole process of production, the part
which seems to have given him most trouble was the clerk's work of
correcting the proof-sheets. No composer, except Schumann, has left us
so many conjectural readings; no composer, without exception, has
allowed so many misprints to pass unnoticed. It is a curious, though not
an inexplicable paradox that the conscientiousness with which he revised
his manuscripts should have brought a reaction of indifference to the
printed page. He took so long making up his mind that when he had once
arrived at a decision he accepted it as the end of his responsibilities.

It was in 1837 that he met the woman whose influence over his life has
been so fiercely attacked and so deplorably misunderstood. His
biographers, indeed, in their treatment of George Sand, cannot easily be
acquitted of some recklessness of statement and some unjustifiable
licence of language. It is no light matter to bring grave charges on
evidence avowedly imperfect, to give currency to idle rumour and
malicious innuendo, to aid in casting unjust aspersions on the memory of
a noble name. It is no light matter that these calumnies, many of which
are as far below the level of quotation as they are beyond the
possibility of belief, should be employed to barb some flippant epigram
or envenom some sneering comment. Words which had their origin in the
unscrupulous heat of political controversy[25] have been accepted as the
cool and deliberate utterances of reason and judgment. The distortions
of a false and cruel romance have been reproduced as if they contained
testimony, not, indeed, final, but worthy of serious regard. In the
imperfection of the record opportunity has been found for discreditable
conjectures, for baseless imputations of motive, and for an ultimate
decision which betrays itself by its eagerness to condemn.

It must be said at the outset that the record is manifestly imperfect.
All the letters which Chopin wrote from Paris to his parents have
disappeared, burned during a popular outburst at Warsaw in 1863. The
loss of these documents is, of course, beyond calculation. It is true
that M. Karasowski, the only one of Chopin's biographers who ever saw
them, declares that they threw little or no light upon the matter;[26]
it is also true that Chopin was a bad correspondent, with odd fits of
intermission and reticence; but, at the same time, it is impossible to
help feeling that we have to hear the cause after the principal plea has
been withdrawn. We are therefore dependent partly on the accounts which
have been left us by George Sand herself, partly on the testimony of
third persons; and it is needless to add that, before accepting any
statement, we must satisfy ourselves as to the credibility of the
witness. _Ex parte_ assertions, on whatever side they are adduced, can
only be regarded as valuable in so far as they conform to the ordinary
laws of evidence.

First, then, as to George Sand's character. Here we have, fortunately, a
complete consensus on the part of those writers to whose name and
authority the greatest weight can be attached. Matthew Arnold describes
her as 'that great soul, simple, affectionate, without vanity, without
pedantry, human, equitable, patient, kind,' and pours a full measure of
scorn on those 'who have degraded her cry for love into the cravings of
a sensual passion.'[27] Sainte-Beuve knew her intimately for thirty
years, and this is the way in which he writes about her:--'Elle est
femme, et très femme, mais elle n'a rien des petitesses du sexe, ni des
ruses, ni des arrière-pensées: elle aime les horizons larges et vastes,
et c'est là qu'elle va d'abord: elle s'inquiète du bien de tous, de
l'amélioration du monde, ce qui est au moins le plus noble mal des âmes
et la plus généreuse manie.'[28] Delacroix bears eloquent witness to her
devotion and unselfishness:[29] Heine almost forgets to mock as he bows
before the woman 'whose every thought is fragrant':[30] Mrs Browning,
the purest and most spiritual of idealists, bent to kiss her hand at the
first interview, and speaks of her throughout with sisterly affection
and sympathy.[31] And all this testimony is as nothing when compared
with that of her own writings. Grant that her earlier novels contain a
note of revolt, that her generous and enthusiastic temper led her for a
time into the error of Saint-Simonism: it is yet certain that she
believed herself to be writing in defence of Religion and humanity
against a decadent Church and a maladministered government. And it is
impossible to read her autobiography, and still more her letters,
without the conviction that she was a good as well as a great woman,
lacking, perhaps, in reticence and self-restraint, too frank of speech
in face of oppression and wrong, but wholly devoid of any taint of
luxury, wholly free from the meaner passions, wholly intent on helping
all who needed her counsel or assistance. The truthfulness of the
_Histoire de ma Vie_ is attested in plain words by no less an authority
than M. Edmond de Goncourt,[32] whose verdict in the matter will
probably be accepted as conclusive. The truthfulness of the letters will
be evident to anyone who takes the trouble to compare them with one
another, and with the independent record of the period which they
embrace. In one word, the intrinsic probability of George Sand's
account is at least sufficient to throw the _onus probandi_ upon her

And when we turn to the other side, we are at once struck with a want of
definite aim in the attack. Animated with the belief that Chopin was
ill-used, impelled by a not unnatural desire to protect him at all
hazards, his biographers have accredited George Sand with the
incongruous vices of antagonistic temperaments, and have given us a
picture, not of a bad woman, but of an impossible monster. Again, there
are some charges which, in themselves, it is of no moment to prefer. It
would be merely idle to accuse St Louis of atheism, or Bayard of
treachery. It would be a waste of effort to call Nelson a coward, or
Latimer an apostate. And equally, when one of our authors affirms that
George Sand 'was never at a loss to justify any act, be it ever so cruel
and abject,'[33] we can only condole with him on having selected, out of
all existing adjectives, the two most entirely inapplicable to the
character of which he treats. For the grosser accusations, the best
answer is silence. They are no more worth denying than the calumnies of
'Lui et Elle': indeed, like that 'abominable book,'[34] they stand
self-refuted. It is only a matter for regret that they have ever been
allowed to emerge from their obscurity, and to darken, even for a
moment, the intercourse of two noble lives.

From a misunderstanding of George Sand's character, there is but a short
step to a misjudgment of her connection with Chopin. It has been
represented as a _liaison_ in our vulgarised English sense of the term:
it was in reality a pure and cordial friendship, into which there
entered no element of shame and no taint of degradation. Its closest
parallel may be found in the relation between Teresa Malvezzi and
Leopardi, a relation only to be questioned by those who hold that a
sweet and gracious comradeship of man and woman is an impossibility. She
was the older in years, she was far the older in character: her feeling
for Chopin is well expressed in her own phrase as '_une sorte
d'affection maternelle_': for ten years she encouraged him in his work,
tended him in his sickness, offered him welcome in his holiday: and when
at last the rupture came, it was brought about against her will, and
maintained, by unforeseen accidents, against her expectation. In short,
to describe Chopin as her 'discarded lover' is to make two mistakes of
fact in two words.

At first, it is true, they saw but little of each other. For one reason,
the fastidious artist was somewhat repelled by the unconventionality of
George Sand's surroundings; for a second, they were both busy--he with
his pupils, she with her books and with the education of her daughter,
Solange. However, it is probable that, in 1837, he formed one of the
usual summer party at Nohant, and that he forgot his unreasoning dislike
in the kindliness and hospitality which filled that most delightful of
châteaux. During the winter he was occupied with fresh publications--the
second Scherzo, the Impromptu in A flat, and some smaller pieces--and
then came a third attack of influenza, which for a time rendered all
further work impracticable. In February 1838, he was well enough to
accept an invitation to Court; next month he had so far recovered as to
play in a concert at Rouen: but during the spring his illness returned
in the form of a serious bronchial affection, and the doctor, whom
he called in for consultation, peremptorily ordered him abroad.

It happened that George Sand was also contemplating a visit to the South
of Europe. Her son Maurice, was suffering from rheumatism: she thought
it advisable to save him from the risks of a Parisian December: after
some debate, she decided to try Majorca, of which her friend Count
Valdemosa had given her an enthusiastic description. Chopin, who was her
guest during part of the summer, heard the plan discussed, and, feeling
somewhat disheartened at the prospects of a lonely voyage, asked leave
to make one of the party. His proposal was accepted with frank
good-nature; and, after a few weeks of hesitation and uncertainty, he
followed the Sands to Perpignan, crossed with them to Barcelona, and
proceeded first to Palma, and then to a little up-country villa, where
they hoped to establish themselves for the winter.

Never, since the days of the Ten Thousand, was there a more disastrous
expedition. No doubt the scenery was magnificent enough to justify all
Count Valdemosa's patriotism, but it was compensated by every form of
_petite misère_ which a malicious destiny could devise. The house was
draughty and ill-constructed: the food was detestable; the peasants were
ignorant, superstitious savages, to whom, as to most barbarians,
stranger was synonymous with enemy. Chopin's failure to attend Mass on
the first Sunday exposed him to the gravest suspicion; and when it was
rumoured that his absence was due to ill-health, suspicion ripened into
the hostility of panic terror. It became difficult to procure the
necessaries of life; it became almost impossible to obtain any service
or neighbourly assistance; the whole countryside passed sentence of
outlawry upon the newcomers; and as climax of inhospitality, the
landlord heard that one of his tenants was consumptive, and immediately
turned the whole party out of doors.

All this was bad enough, but it would have been tolerable if only the
climate had remained propitious. Unfortunately, after a fortnight's
delusive sunshine, the winter broke into a passion of wind and rain. The
woods stood dripping and shivering; the mountain roads turned into
impassable torrents; and the exiles, driven for shelter to the cells of
a disused monastery, found their days heavy with imprisonment, and their
nights ghostly with the voices of the storm. It is not surprising that
Chopin's nerve began to give way. His material privations he could bear
with some fortitude, but he was powerless to banish the vague, nameless
apprehensions which spoke in every echo, and haunted every shadowy
corner. It required all George Sand's courage and devotion to render his
life endurable. It was in her strength that his weakness found support;
it was her sympathy and kindness that soothed him, as a mother soothes a
sick child. On her, indeed, devolved the whole administration of the
household. Overwhelmed as she was with literary work, she yet found time
to teach her children, to tend her patients, to clothe empty rooms and
bleak walls with some appearance of warmth and comfort. She was never
weary, never despondent, never out of humour, and whatever of brightness
came to lighten those wintry days of stress and hardship was but the
reflection of her unclouded serenity.

During these fluctuations of fear and solace, of convalescence and
relapse, Chopin can hardly have completed any work of importance. The
Preludes, which are sometimes referred to his sojourn in Majorca, seem
to have been composed before he left Paris; and as they are the only
publications of the year 1839, we may reasonably conclude that there was
nothing else ready. It is possible that one or two of them may have been
written at Valdemosa, whence also may have come the inception of the
Ballade in F major, the two Polonaises, Op. 40, and the Funeral March
Sonata. But none of these look like productions of the sick-room; and it
is clear that, as the winter advanced, Chopin grew less and less capable
of any sustained effort. Unmistakable symptoms of consumption made their
appearance; the local doctors proved wholly incompetent to deal with the
case; at last, it became only a question of waiting until the season
was warm enough for a journey home. At the end of February, Chopin
nerved himself to face the fatigue of travel, and returned to the shores
of France in desperate search of the health, for lack of which he had
left them.

At Marseilles he stayed for nearly three months,[35] under charge of Dr
Cauvière, who, without concealing the gravity of the disease, told his
patient that, with proper care, he might yet count on many years of life
and work. There can be no doubt that Chopin's death-warrant had been
signed, but it is equally sure that his sentence was one which could
allow a long respite, and encourage the continued hope of deferment.
Every man stands liable to an unread mandate of execution. Every man
goes through the world, like Hernani, waiting for the summons of the
fatal horn. Life, in all true reckoning, is counted not by years but by
actions; and it is better to lavish the few decades of Schubert or
Mozart than to hoard a long, inglorious cycle that has outworn its hopes
and outlived its memories. No career is unhappy, however brief it be,
that does not fail of its purpose.

And of failure in any form Chopin had unusually little experience. Even
at this dark time we hear of rapid recovery, of regained strength and
courage, of a summer filled with pleasant days and noble achievement.
The cloud of trouble, which had hung over the forests of Valdemosa, lay
far removed from the smooth lawns and sunny glades of Nohant; and there,
amid music and children's laughter, and a concourse of friendly faces,
the winter of discontent was very speedily forgotten. For the next few
years, with the exception of 1840, he made a practice of spending his
summer vacation at the château. Life looked more simple in the light of
George Sand's simplicity and goodness; beneath her example it was easy
to disregard all personal anxieties, and to turn with fresh resolution
to the service of Art. Besides, under that hospitable roof, there were
always other comrades to share the welcome. At one time Liszt would
come, radiant with the triumphs of his last European tour; at another,
Mickiewicz, ablaze with some fresh project of social regeneration; at
another, Delacroix, busy with his _St Anne_; or Louis Blanc, intent on a
new chapter of his History. Over the whole house was spread a clear,
wholesome atmosphere of work, braced with a high seriousness of aim, and
made genial with kindly aid and brilliant converse. We may well believe
the statement of George Sand that Chopin always wrote his best at

For some part of every winter, too, they were near neighbours in Paris.
At first they occupied two adjoining houses in the Rue Pigalle; later
they moved to the Cour d'Orléans, where Chopin took No. 3 on one side of
the court; George Sand No. 5 on the other; and their friend Madame
Marliani completed the phalanstery by installing herself between them.
Here was established that famous _salon_, the memory of which recalls
the better days of the Hôtel Rambouillet. Indeed, though some few names
of the classic age are unsurpassed, at no time could Catherine de
Vivonne have gathered so notable an assemblage of talent as that which
thronged the rooms of the new Arthenice. Chapelain, Godeau, Voiture, the
Scudérys, even Boileau himself are but dim and uncertain lights
beside Dumas and Balzac, Gautier and Heine, Lamennais and Arago and
Sainte-Beuve. Here was something better than madrigals and anagrams and
the _carte du tendre_; something which helped to mould the life of a
nation, and bore its effect on the whole course of European thought. It
was amid these surroundings--now at Paris, now at Nohant--that Chopin
lived and worked, stimulated by all that was best in contemporary art,
encouraged by the sympathy of his peers and the cordial admiration of
his listeners.

Unlike most musicians, Chopin was fond of teaching, and was almost
uniformly popular as a master. It is hard to understand how his
finely-strung temperament could have endured the strain and irritation
of pianoforte lessons, but we have abundant testimony as to the
gentleness and tact with which he corrected errors or pointed out
nuances of expression. Even on 'stormy days,' his anger was nothing more
than a cry of physical pain, and he always softened at once if the
culprit showed any symptoms of distress. When things went well, he was
the most admirable of teachers; kindly alert, suggestive, often
protracting the lesson for two or three hours, and sometimes closing it
with the best of all rewards, an improvisation. The qualities which he
regarded as paramount were delicacy of touch, intelligence of
conception, purity of feeling: in his eyes the only sin worse than
affectation was the correct mechanical dexterity that is too dull to be
affected. Not, of course, that he undervalued accuracy; every student,
however accomplished, had to begin with Clementi's _Gradus_, and to
tread the whole course of studies and exercises; but he was far too
great an artist to see any finality in a mere Academic precision.
'Mettez y donc toute votre âme' was his injunction; and in all education
there is no better rule.

Yet it is curious that not one of his pupils has succeeded in making
a name of European mark. Filtsch might have done so had not death
cut short his career in the early promise of boyhood, but to the
rest--Gutmann, Lysberg, Mikuli, Tellefsen--the record of public favour
has been singularly indifferent. No doubt many members of his school
were amateurs, who, with all their training, never entered the arena:
some, like George Mathias, were satisfied to embody in their own
teaching the traditions of their master's method; but when all
allowances have been granted, it still remains true that Chopin never
communicated his secret. Perhaps his secret was incommunicable; perhaps,
like his style in composition, it was not so much a method as a manner;
something too intimate and personal to be expressed in the concrete
language of principle and formula. We know that in later years he began
a systematic treatise on the pianoforte, but we may guess that it was
not ill-health alone which led him to destroy it unfinished.

The recovery of new vigour and new interests brought him back once more
to the uncongenial atmosphere of the concert-room. In the winter of
1839, he played for a second time at the Tuileries; in 1841 and 1842, he
appeared twice in Pleyel's rooms, where he presented some of his own
most recent compositions to an audience mainly consisting of friends and
pupils. And if his activity as a pianist was rare and intermittent, he
made up for the deficiency by the number and importance of his
published works. The Sonata in B flat minor was printed in May 1840, and
then followed a long series of Scherzos and Ballades, of Nocturnes and
Impromptus, of Waltzes, Polonaises, and Mazurkas, many of them
incontestable masterpieces, all of them valuable contributions to the
literature of Music. If we except the Studies and the Preludes, there is
nothing in the whole of Chopin's previous production that may hold
comparison with the harvest of these abundant years.

Meantime, his health was varying with an almost mercurial instability.
On his better days he would be buoyant, gay, even extravagant, playing
fantastic tricks at the pianoforte, or mimicking his rivals with
inimitable skill and good-natured satire: on his worse he would appear
peevish and fretful, not from ill-humour, but from sheer exaggeration of
sensibility. To his present mood there was no such thing as a trifle. He
broke into fierce anger at a stupid joke of Meyerbeer's, which a
moment's thought would have allowed him to disregard. He quarrelled
permanently and irrevocably with Liszt over some trivial slight which
would never have ruffled the composure of a healthier mind. Like many
men of impulsive and nervous temper, Chopin could only half forgive.
George Sand says of him, finely and truly, that 'he had no hatreds;' but
he equally lacked that broad humane sense of pardon which obliterates
the fault as the tide obliterates a footprint upon the shore. If he once
felt himself wounded, he could wish no ill to his adversary, but the
scar remained.

At the beginning of May 1844, he was prostrated by the sudden news of
his father's death. The shock, falling unexpectedly upon an enfeebled
frame, was too heavy for him to resist, and during a long anxious
fortnight he lay seriously, even dangerously ill. George Sand, with
ready sympathy, at once came to the rescue. She wrote his letters to his
mother. She summoned one of his sisters from Warsaw. She left her work
to watch by his sickbed, nursed him with maternal solicitude, and at the
first sign of recovery carried him off to Nohant for convalescence.
There he seems once more to have restored to equilibrium the delicate
balance of his life. His correspondence with Franchomme catches
something of its old lightness of tone; he discusses, with evident
interest, the fortunes of his manuscripts and the prospects of his
coming work: best of all, he returns to his piano, and at last charms
his sorrow asleep. The next two years passed so quietly and uneventfully
that they have left hardly any mark on the course of his career. In 1845
he published the Berceuse and the Sonata in B minor, in 1846 the
Barcarolle, the Polonaise-Fantasie, and a few Mazurkas and Nocturnes;
but even in his art the record is meagre, and in his life it is almost
non-existent. We have half-a-dozen unimportant letters, we have
half-a-dozen lines of anecdote or conjecture, and the rest is silence.
It was the dead, heavy, ominous stillness which precedes a storm.

In 1847 the storm broke, shattering in its fall the closest and most
intimate of Chopin's friendships. Its occasion was a quarrel with
Maurice Sand, the causes of which, though they are nowhere explicitly
related, are by no means difficult to divine. A short time before,
George Sand had adopted a distant cousin called Augustine Brault, a
quiet, colourless, inoffensive girl, whom she had rescued from the
influences of a bad home.[36] Maurice was fond of his cousin; indeed,
idle report accredited him with a deeper feeling: Chopin disliked her,
and rather resented her appearance as an intrusion. Again, in May 1847,
occurred the marriage of Solange Sand with M. Clesinger, a marriage of
which, at the time, Chopin alone disapproved. Given Maurice's impetuous
character and Chopin's nervous irritability, the matter needs no more
recondite explanation. We can well imagine the words of pointed
criticism and disdainful rejoinder, the interchange of sharp retorts,
the gradual development of a contention which, as we know, culminated in
Maurice's threat to leave his home. George Sand tried to make peace:
Chopin, barely recovered from a new attack of illness,[37] regarded her
interference as an act of hostility: and after a few words of bitter
reproach, 'the first,' she says, 'which he ever offered me,' he turned
and left her in open anger. It is easy to bring charges of ingratitude,
of fickleness, of help forgotten and services ill requited. We are more
concerned to note that a rage so sudden and implacable can be traced to
no other than a physical origin. Chopin's condition was still serious
enough to cause grave anxiety, and his outburst of petulance was not an
aggression of deliberate unkindness, but a half-conscious aberration of
disease. George Sand herself had no thought that the breach was
permanent. Early in 1848 she voluntarily sought a reconciliation, and
when the attempt failed--for busy tongues had been at work in the
meantime--she bore her trouble without a word of complaint or a thought
of rancour. Years afterwards she could write of Chopin, 'He was always
the same to me.'

Such is the simplest and most credible version of the story. It offends
against no inductions, it violates no probabilities, it is supported by
the plain statement of the only authority who had first-hand knowledge,
as well as by circumstantial evidence from outside. Of the two other
accounts, the more serious and important is that of M. Karasowski. M.
Franchomme, who begins by accusing George Sand of literal assault and
battery,[38] may, perhaps, be disregarded in spite of the uncertainty of
Professor Niecks. But the attack on _Lucrezia Floriani_ involves such
grave issues, and contains such perilous half-truths, that it merits
some detailed consideration. We must remember that there are two
separate points at stake: first, whether the novel had any share in
bringing about the rupture; second, whether it was or was not

To both these questions M. Karasowski returns answer in the affirmative.
George Sand, he tells us, finding it impossible to effect a separation
by cold looks and petty slights, 'resorted to the heroic expedient' of
caricaturing Chopin in a romance. The portrait of Prince Karol was drawn
by her with the deliberate intent to wound, with the desire of forcing a
quarrel upon the lover whose fidelity had outlasted her own. Let the
reader consider this charge for a moment. Here is a sick man, near to
death, weak, helpless, sensitive to the least injury, and we are asked
to believe that the woman who has held unbroken friendship with him for
ten years, the woman whose generosity and compassion are admitted even
by her enemies, has taken the opportunity to stab him with a poisoned
weapon. The crime is so base, so wanton, so far removed not only from
George Sand's character, but from the common level of sane humanity,
that we should require the strongest testimony before we could believe
it possible. Until it be proved, we have only one view upon the
case--_reclamitat istiusmodi suspicionibus ipsa natura_.

Fortunately, on the first point we have the clear evidence of fact.
_Lucrezia Floriani_ was written during the winter of 1846, and was read
by Chopin, chapter after chapter, as it proceeded. If, then, Chopin had
taken offence at the book, the rupture would have occurred, as M.
Karasowski positively declares that it did, 'in the beginning of 1847.'
This is certainly not the case. Chopin, who spent the spring at Paris,
was in friendly correspondence with George Sand in May,[39] and either
paid, or at least projected, his usual visit to Nohant in the
summer.[40] It is not credible that he, of all men, would have offered
himself as a guest to the woman whom he believed to have held him
up to ridicule. Add to this George Sand's poignant distress at the
estrangement; add her categorical denial of the charge of portraiture;
add the fact that there is a perfectly simple explanation outside of the
whole matter, and this side of the case may be regarded as closed.
Whatever may be said about the merits of _Lucrezia Floriani_, two things
are certain--one that it was not intended by George Sand as a cause of
quarrel, the other that it was not so accepted at the time by Chopin.
Grant that, at a later period, his friends persuaded him of a
resemblance, which, but for them, he would never have imagined. They
knew that he had broken with George Sand; they took his side with a
natural partisanship; the weapon lay ready to their grasp; without
further thought or consideration they put it in employment. There are
some minds which always look for the 'originals' in a work of fiction.
Any chance trick of manner or turn of phrase is sufficient for
recognition--Numa Roumestan is Gambetta, Harold Skimpole is Leigh Hunt,
Falstaff is Sir John Oldcastle, and the rest of it. The scandal is
easily set afloat, and no man ever listens to a contradiction.

This brings us to the second point. Is Prince Karol a portrait of
Chopin? and is his relation with Lucrezia a description of the
ten-years' friendship? To answer these questions in the negative, it is
only necessary to read the novel. Prince Karol is an idle, disconsolate
dreamer, and his story a tedious analysis of the more unamiable aspect
of passion. Their points of resemblance with their supposed prototypes
are exhausted in a few superficial accidents; in their essential
qualities they are far removed. Where is Chopin's humour, or his
buoyancy, or his generosity, or his genius? Where is the life of work
which it was the function of friendship to solace and encourage? The
whole book is one discordant love-duet, full of recriminations and
complaints, of selfish affection and suspicion and jealousy. Nothing
could be more unlike the phalanstery of the Cour d'Orléans, or the
frank, free comradeship of Nohant. And more, it is notorious that in all
George Sand's novels there is no real characterisation, much less its
attendant vice of portraiture. 'The artistic weakness of Madame Sand,'
says Mr Henry James, 'is that she never described the actual.' Here,
then, as elsewhere, Chopin's biographers are accusing her of the one
fault which is diametrically opposite to her nature. So far from her
characters being drawn from life, they were never even corrected by
life. They breathe a romantic atmosphere of their own, now fresh with
the purity of La Petite Fadette, now charged with the electric passion
of Valentine or Indiana, but at no time identical with the warm vital
air of true experience.

Here, then, the case may be summed up. The novel was not conceived with
the intention of describing Chopin; the character of the hero is not
Chopin's character; the story of the hero is not Chopin's story. At the
time when the book was written, George Sand had no expectation of a
quarrel with her friend; she had certainly no desire to provoke one. He,
for his part, read the work through 'without the least inclination to
deceive himself,' without umbrage, without suspicion. The estrangement,
to whatever cause it was due, did not take place until after the
interval of some months; and among all conflicting explanations, that of
a breach with Maurice Sand is the most complete and the most probable.
Surely, in the face of this evidence, it is not too much to ask that the
accusation of portraiture be withdrawn.

Another winter of illness and inaction filled the measure of Chopin's
trouble with the further anxiety of straitened means. In February 1848,
he was forced by sheer poverty to drag himself from his lodging, and
endure once more the labour and fatigue of a concert. It is worth noting
that he had at the time a score of manuscripts, the sale of which would
have relieved him: but they fell below his standard of self-criticism,
and he chose rather to sacrifice his inclination than to offer to the
world any work which he regarded as unworthy of his powers. Possibly he
looked upon his recent Violoncello Sonata as the beginning of the end:
in any case, he held his hand for the future, and allowed no other of
his compositions to be published. There is a real heroism in this
determination to give only of his best. We might well have forgiven him
if he had yielded to pressing need, and taken the readiest means of
evading an ordeal which, even in his days of health, he had always
feared and detested. But, from first to last, his artistic career was
singularly free from any taint of money-worship. The generosity, which
had so often aided poor dependents or exiled compatriots, found its
complement in a pride that would buy neither ease nor comfort at the
cost of reputation.

In the latter part of February came the outbreak of the revolution, and
Chopin's further stay in Paris was rendered impossible. At no time could
he have heard the presage of war with the enthusiasm of Wagner or the
carelessness of Haydn: in his present state of infirmity and depression
it would have been mere madness to remain. He therefore accepted a
cordial invitation to England, crossed the channel with his pupil
Tellefsen for companion, and, about the end of April, established
himself in London, where he was soon surrounded with all the help which
kindness and sympathy can bestow. His visit to this country, which was
of little less than a year's duration, seems at first to have been
beneficial to him. His rooms in Dover Street were crowded with visitors,
his days 'passed,' as he says, 'like lightning;' he was even persuaded
to leave his retirement and give two recitals at the house of his friend
Mrs Sartoris. From August to October he travelled northward, giving
concerts at Manchester, Glasgow and Edinburgh, and enjoying with evident
pleasure the hospitality that met him at every stage. Yet even here we
may notice a tone of weariness in his letters, a sense of effort, made
rather to satisfy some external claim than to answer to any inward
stimulus. Now and again he can shake it off, and write with something of
his old buoyancy of spirits; then the burden returns, heavy with a
weight of listless indifference, or with a galling load of pain. And at
the approach of November there came an ominous change for the worse. The
stress of the summer produced an inevitable reaction, the frail body
sank back into weakness and suffering, the ebbing life throbbed every
day with a fainter pulse. Through the winter months he lay tossing with
impatience till he could regain strength enough to escape. London had
become unbearable. 'Another day here,' he writes in January, 'and I
shall go mad or die.' The whole mind is overstrung, jarred into discord
at a touch, or relapsing, not into quietude, but into the silence of

His friends carried him back to Paris, where he lingered in slow wasting
disease until the autumn. A few days before his death, George Sand,
whose daughter was among the watchers at his bedside, came to his
lodging and asked to see him. We can well imagine the yearning anxiety
with which she stood for a moment on the threshold of reconciliation,
and the bitter disappointment when Gutmann closed the door and refused
her admittance. He was afraid, he tells us, that Chopin was too weak to
bear the agitation of such a meeting, that the memories of past
friendship and past estrangement were too heavily fraught with peril to
be recalled.[41] It may be that the decision was right, and yet Chopin
spoke of her and wondered at her absence. The fire of life is sacred in
its lowest embers, yet a breath of love might have fanned them into a
purer flame. In all Chopin's story, there is nothing more pathetic than
the narrow chasm which kept asunder two severed hearts at the very point
of union.

[Illustration: Frederick Chopin.]

On the morning of October 17, it was known that the end had come. The
tidings, though they could hardly have been unexpected, were heard
through the length and breadth of Paris with the greatest regret and
consternation. Everyone who had known Chopin felt his death as a
personal sorrow; one had been honoured by his friendship, another
enriched by his bounty, another gladdened by some kind word or some
pleasant greeting; there was no chance acquaintance but had felt his ray
of reflection from the master's life. For the rest, the whole world was
poorer for the loss of a genius, whose bare forty years of time had
sufficed to create a new musical language, and uphold a new idea of art.
All preparations were made to celebrate the funeral with befitting pomp.
At the Madeleine Mozart's _Requiem_ was sung over the bier, the
procession was joined by almost every man of note in Paris, and at Père
la Chaise, the coffin, covered with flowers and sprinkled with Polish
earth, was laid in a place of honour among the great French musicians.
The country of his adoption had cherished the exile in his life; in his
death, it was her privilege to show him honour.


[20] The so-called Étude in C minor, Op. 10, No. 12.

[21] Letter to Dziewanowski (abridged), Jan. 1833.

[22] Chopin had certainly composed some of these before his arrival in

[23] Professor Niecks' _Chopin_, Vol. i. p. 284.

[24] Valse in A flat, Op. 69, No. 1.

[25] See the pamphlet entitled _Une Contemporaine_, published during the
Revolution of 1848.

[26] Karasowski, Vol. ii. p. 327.

[27] George Sand, by Matthew Arnold. _Fortnightly Review_, June 1877.

[28] Sainte-Beuve. _Portraits Contemporains_, i. 523.

[29] Letter to Pierret, June 22, 1842.

[30] 'Alles was sie fühlt und denkt haucht Tiefsinn und Anmuth.' Heine,
_Lutetia_, 'George Sand.'

[31] See the letters of Feb. 15 and Ap. 7, 1852, quoted in Mrs
Sutherland Orr's _Life of Robert Browning_.

[32] _Journal_, Vol. iii. p. 242 (Dec. 1, 1868).

[33] Professor Niecks' _Chopin_, Vol. ii. p. 197.

[34] See the Essay on George Sand, in Mr Henry James' _French Poets and

[35] There was a short visit to Genoa in the early part of May.

[36] M. Brault's character can best be gauged from his pamphlet, _Une
Contemporaine_. See also the _Histoire de ma vie_, and George Sand's
letter of Aug. 9.

[37] See George Sand's letter to Gutmann, May 12.

[38] 'George Sand was a woman with a woman's ideal of gentleness, of the
"charm of good manners" as essential to civilisation.'--Matthew Arnold,
_Fortnightly Review_, June 1877. See Professor Niecks' _Chopin_, Vol.
ii. p. 200.

[39] See George Sand's letter to Gutmann, May 12, 1847.

[40] Liszt declares that the rupture took place at Nohant. If so, this
alternative is settled.

[41] See Professor Niecks' _Chopin_, Vol. ii. p. 318.



It is intelligible that any attempt to explain the charm of Chopin's
music should provoke some attitude of impatience and revolt. His spirit,
we may be told, is too volatile for our clumsy alembics, too intangible
for our concrete methods of investigation; it eludes our glance, it
vanishes at our touch, it mocks with a foregone failure all our efforts
at description or analysis. The lyric gift, indeed, has always been
allowed a special immunity from criticism. In the larger fields of epic
and drama, the poet turns more directly to ourselves: he bids us
approach, he confers with us, he interprets for our hearing some great
truth of humanity, or some wise and searching judgment of life. But the
lyric poet stands apart, careless of our presence, oblivious of our
attention, pouring out his heart in a transport of purely personal joy
or sorrow, singing because he must, and not because there are any to
listen. Of his voice we may say, in the truest sense of the phrase, that
it is 'not heard but overheard.' Of his thought we may say, with most
justification, that it is self-centred, individual, characteristic. And
hence, in estimating him, it would seem that we are confronted by a
natural dilemma. Either we sympathise with his mood, and therefore
approve, or we fail to sympathise, and therefore stand outside the
limits of fair judgment.

Upon this conclusion there are two words of comment to offer. In the
first place, the distinction itself is of far less importance in music
than in poetry; for music, as such, has no truth of life or nature to
interpret. When we speak of a symphony as epic, we are merely using a
convenient formula by which we may call attention to its breadth and
scale; we do not imply that it has any story to tell, or any record of
events to communicate. When we call an overture 'Tragic,' we mean that
it can evoke certain undefined impressions of gloom and grandeur; we do
not imply that it contains any outline of a plot or any suggestion of
_dramatis personæ_. No doubt there are in music differences of style,
consequent upon differences of dimension, just as in painting the manner
of a fresco will differ from that of a miniature. But in spirit the
whole art of music is equally subjective: equally intent on expressing,
through a medium of beautiful sound, the psychological conditions of the
composer. It stands in no direct relation to the external world; it
neither observes, nor depicts, nor criticises; its entire function is
the embodiment, so far as embodiment is possible, of an abstract idea.
If, therefore, when we apply the name 'lyric' to a musician, we mean to
lay stress on a certain quality of style, then we are using a term which
does not preclude, but invite, the application of the critical faculty.
If we mean by it a certain temper of mind, then the term ceases to be
distinctive as among musicians, for it belongs to all alike.

In the second place, it is obvious that musical criticism must attach
itself primarily to questions of form. Grant that the art has room for
certain spiritual distinctions, which bear some remote and shadowy
resemblance to those of the great poets or of the great painters;
grant that we can describe Schumann's prevailing tone as manly, or
Mendelssohn's as tender; that we can notice a want of sternness in
Spohr, and a want of reticence in Berlioz; yet such judgments as these
are always liable to misuse, and, at best, are speedily exhausted. We
cannot imagine ourselves asking of the musicians, as Matthew Arnold asks
of the poets, whether their art contains an adequate criticism of life,
whether it is marked by insight and benignity. We feel at once that such
phrases are inapplicable to music, that they make it too articulate, too
definite, too precise. Again, when we read such a line as--

    In la sua voluntade è nostra pace,

there are two separate and distinct sources of our pleasure: first, the
pure serenity of the thought; secondly, the liquid perfection of the
verse. But when we turn to a melody of Beethoven, we find that here the
two aspects are inseparable: that the verse is the thought, that the
embodiment is the inspiration, and that it is virtually impossible to
formulate any test of the one which is not at the same time a test of
the other. The contrast will become still clearer if we take a poem in
which the two qualities are not both present. The epilogue in Browning's
_Asolando_, for example, can hardly be regarded as verse at all: but the
uncouthness which deprives it of any claim to the title of a classic, is
to most readers compensated by the spirit of sturdy courage that
animates it throughout. To this compensation there is no parallel in
Music. We may sometimes condone a fault in a melody otherwise
admirable--the second strain, for instance, in our ballad of 'The
Bailiff's Daughter'--but in so doing we set one portion of the form
against another; we do not set the form as a whole against some external
counterpart. In short, whatever can be said as to the conditions of
vitality in other arts, in Music, at least, it is true that a work is
great in proportion as its form is perfect.

This perfection of form was Chopin's ostensible ideal. No composer in
the whole history of Music has laboured with a more earnest anxiety at
accuracy of outline and artistic symmetry of detail. We have here 'no
clattering of dishes at a royal banquet,' no casual indolence of
accompaniment; no gap filled with unmeaning brilliance or idle
commonplace: every effect is studied with deliberate purpose, and
wrought to the highest degree of finish that it can bear. Of course, the
thoughts were conceived spontaneously; no man could have written the
poorest of Chopin's works by rule and measure: but before they were
deemed ready for presentation they were tried by every test, and
confronted with every alternative which a scrupulous ingenuity could
propose. It is no small commendation that workmanship so elaborate
should be beyond the reach of any imitator. As a rule, it is the
dashing, daring, impetuous pioneer in Art who distances all followers,
and finds himself, he hardly knows how, on a height that they can never
hope to attain: in this case the climber has planted every footstep with
a careful circumspection, he has employed all his prudence, all his
foresight, all his certain command of resource, and yet, at the end of
the ascent he stands alone. The reason for this is twofold: first, that
Chopin's intuition of style was a natural gift which few other
composers have possessed in an equal degree: second, that he brought
to its cultivation not only an untiring diligence, but a delicacy of
taste which is hardly ever at fault. His limitations are plain
and unmistakable. For the larger types of the art, for the broad
architectonic laws of structure on which they are based, he exhibited
an almost total disregard. His works in 'Sonata form,' and in the
forms cognate to the Sonata, are, with no exception, the failures
of a genius that has altogether overstepped its bounds. Of Choral
compositions, of Symphony, of Opera, he has not left us a single
example. But when all this has been admitted, it still remains true
that he is a great master, great in his exquisite sense of beauty, in
his almost unerring skill, and in the deliberate and reasoned audacity
with which he has extended the range of musical expression.

Like all modern composers of acknowledged rank, Chopin was strongly
influenced by the popular music of his native country. As a child, he
had been fond of collecting and studying the folk-songs which he heard
at harvest field or market or village festival; they supplied him with
his first models, and in some cases with his first themes as well. In
later life, their impression deepened rather than faded. He always
thought of himself as a national poet: 'I should like,' he told Hiller,
'to be to my people what Uhland is to the Germans.' No doubt the
external qualities of his music are entirely his own: the richness of
harmony, the complexity of figure, the delicate elaboration of
ornament; but the texture which these colour and adorn is essentially of
native growth and native substance. In a word, he made precisely the
right use of national materials, taking them as a basis, and developing
them into fuller beauty by the force and brilliance of his own personal

There are three chief ways in which this national influence affected his
work. In the first place, the popular music of Poland, unlike that of
Italy or Germany, is almost invariably founded on dance forms and dance
rhythms. Its gifts to the art of Europe are the Polonaise, the
Krakowiak, and the Mazurka: types which, however widely they may differ
in grade of social acceptance, are all essentially Polish in history and
character. The very ballads of the country have the same lilt and
cadence; they are primitive dances not yet differentiated from the use
of words. They move with recurrent figure, with exact balance of melodic
phrase, with that precise symmetry which is required by a 'Muse of the
many-twinkling feet.' And it is hardly necessary to point out that in
this respect Chopin is a true Pole. More than a quarter of his entire
composition is devoted ostensibly to dance forms; and throughout the
rest of it their effect may be traced in a hundred phrases and episodes.
Grant that his treatment of the rhythmic figures is very different from
the simple _naïvité_ of his models: we are here discussing not treatment
but conception, and in conception his indebtedness to his country is
incontestable. His Mazurkas, in short, bear somewhat the same relation
to the tunes of the peasantry as the songs of Robert Burns to those of
the forerunners whom he superseded.

A second point of resemblance is Chopin's habit of founding a whole
paragraph either on a single phrase repeated in similar shapes, or on
two phrases in alternation. By itself this practice is primitive almost
to barbarism, and its employment in many of the Polish folk-songs is a
serious depreciation of their artistic value. But when it is confined to
an episodical passage, especially in a composition founded on a striking
or important melody, it may serve as a very justifiable point of rest, a
background of which the interest is purposely toned down to provide a
more striking contrast with the central figure. Of its illegitimate use
a noticeable example may be found in the 'Spring Song,' which, it must
be remembered, Chopin never intended to publish: its true and right
employment will be seen in many of the Mazurkas--such, for instance,
as the first (in F sharp minor), the fifth (in B flat), and the
thirty-seventh (in A flat), which is, perhaps, the most beautiful of
all. In the longer works, which are the more varied in proportion to
their greater scale, we should hardly expect to find examples of a
mannerism which, by its very nature, stands at the opposite pole from
variation: but its influence may be noticed in the short, clear-cut
phrases and exact balance of such compositions as the Scherzo in C sharp
minor. No doubt much of this exactitude is due to an intense desire for
clearness and precision: yet none the less the particular way in which
that desire is satisfied may be regarded as characteristic of the
national manner. Beethoven does not attain the lucidity of his style by
such close parallelism of phraseology.

Thirdly, Chopin was to some extent affected by the tonality of his
native music. A large number of the Polish folk-songs are written, not
in our modern scale, but in one or other of the ecclesiastical modes:
notably the Lydian, which has its fourth note a semitone sharper, and
the Dorian, which has its third and seventh notes a semitone flatter
than the major scale of Western Europe. Some, again, end on what we
should call dominant harmony; a clear survival of the ecclesiastical
distinction between plagal and authentic. Of this tonal system, some
positive traces may be found in the Mazurkas, the cadences of the
thirteenth, seventeenth and twenty-fifth, the frequent use of a
sharpened subdominant, and the like; while on the negative side it may
perhaps account for Chopin's indifference to the requirements of
key-relationship. Not only in his efforts at Sonata form does he show
himself usually unable to hold together a complex scheme of keys, but in
works of a more loose structure his choice seems to be regulated rather
by hazard than by any preconceived plan. Sometimes, as in the end
of the F major Ballade, he deliberately strays away from a logical
conclusion;[42] sometimes, as in the sixth Nocturne, he forces himself
back with a sudden and inartistic violence; more often he allows his
modulations to carry him where they will, and is so intent on perfecting
each phrase and each melody that he has no regard left to bestow on the
general principles of construction. No doubt some of this weakness was
due to defective training, some, also, to the prevailing spirit and
temper of the Romantic movement. But, in Chopin's case, there was a
special reason beyond. As a Pole, he approached our western key system
from the outside, and although he learned its language with wonderful
skill and facility, he never wholly assimilated himself to the method of
thought which it implies.

It is quite possible that, in any case, Chopin would have found himself
incapable of dealing with large masses. The want of virility, which has
already been noted in his character, appears beyond question in his
music; leaving untouched all the grace and tenderness, all the rare and
precious qualities of workmanship, but relaxing into an almost
inevitable weakness at any crisis which demands sustained force or
tenacity. When he is at his strongest, we miss that sense of reserve
power, that quiet irresistible force, 'too full for sound or foam,'
which characterises the dignity of the noblest art. He can be
passionate, vehement, impetuous, but he expends himself in the effort.
He can express agitation, challenge, defiance, but he lacks the royal
magnanimity that will never stoop to defy. Even his melody is never
sublime, never at the highest level. Its more serious mood stands to the
great tunes of Beethoven as Leopardi stands to Dante, rising for a
moment on a few perfect lines to follow the master's flight, and then
sinking back to earth under some load of weariness or impatience.

Take, for instance, the B flat minor Sonata, in which Chopin most nearly
approximates to the 'grand manner' of composition. The first movement,
regarded by itself, is a masterpiece; its exposition clear and concise,
its subjects well contrasted, one for thematic treatment and one for
melody, its free fantasia an admirable example of an established type,
and its recapitulation, though a little too short for perfect balance, a
firm and lucid statement which sums up its results without a bar of
vagueness or uncertainty. Not less complete is the Scherzo, which
develops the simple forms of Mozart and Beethoven without obscuring
their outline, and, despite all its rush and vigour, never allows its
themes to get out of hand or to pass beyond the legitimate bounds of
control. But from this point the value of the Sonata steadily declines.
Schumann undoubtedly hits the blot when he declares that the great
Funeral March ought never to have formed part of the work at all. As a
separate piece it is of incomparable beauty; as the adagio of this
particular Sonata it is wholly out of place. Its key is ill selected in
relation to the rest of the composition; its contrasts of theme bear too
much resemblance to those of the first movement; worst of all, its form
is precisely the same as that of the Scherzo; and these objections, not
one of which affects the movement in itself, are no less than fatal to
it in its present context. The Finale, again, has neither the breadth
nor the dignity requisite for its position. Its structure, though
perfectly clear, is too simple and primitive to justify it as the
fitting conclusion of an important work; and its persistent rhythmic
figure gives it somewhat the air of an impromptu. If we had found it in
the Volume of _Preludes_, we should have felt for it nothing but
admiration; here, its inadequacy is so obvious that the greater part of
critical attention has been distracted from its undeniable merits. In
short, the first half of the Sonata gives promise of a Classic such as,
with one exception, the world had not seen since the death of Beethoven;
the second half, though almost every bar contains something that is
beautiful, is a disappointment and a failure. Icarus has flown too near
the sun, and the borrowed wings have no longer the strength to support

This want of manliness, moral and intellectual, marks the one great
limitation of Chopin's province. It is, of course, wholly unreasonable
to make it a subject of complaint; we might as well complain of Keats
for not being Milton; or depreciate Carpaccio because the genius of
Titian has the wider expanse. The lines of _Endymion_ are not less
musical because the poem, as a whole, falls below the epic level, and if
they were, we have 'La Belle Dame sans Merci,' and the Sonnets and the
five Odes. The Saint Ursula pictures are not less sweet and gracious
because they lack the majesty of the 'Assumption;' and if they were, we
could solace ourselves with the 'St George' and the 'St Jerome.' And
similarly, if we accept from Chopin what he has to give, we shall be in
no mind to bear malice for what he is forced to withhold. His passion is
so keen and vital, his melody so winning, his love of beauty so
single-hearted, that to demand the sterner qualities is almost an act of
ingratitude. He knows the full secret of that mysterious power--so easy
to feel, so impossible to define--through which music fulfils its
function of suggesting and typifying emotion. He can appeal to our
sensuous nature with a mastery which is almost irresistible, and he
never degrades the appeal into vulgarity or sensationalism. Under his
spell even the display of technical difficulty acquires life and
significance. His Studies, avowedly classed as exercises of dexterity,
stand to those of other writers as pictures to freehand drawing. His
'virtuoso passages' differ from those of Herz, and Hunten, and even
Thalberg, as a pianoforte differs from a barrel-organ. In his lightest
moment he is a poet: graceful in fancy, felicitous in expression, and
instinct with the living spirit of romance.

There is hardly need to select examples of a gift which he exhibits on
almost every page, yet a few typical instances may serve to concentrate
our attention for a moment on the characteristic features of his melody,
and to show the particular way in which he fulfilled the first requisite
of a composer. Apart from works already considered, some special study
may be given to the two Nocturnes, Op. 37, to the Ballade in A flat, to
the second and third Impromptus, to the wonderful Étude in F minor,
written for Moscheles, and to the fourth, eighth, fifteenth, nineteenth
and twenty-third of the Preludes. These compositions are chosen, not
because they are more tuneful than the rest--that is a question upon
which every hearer must consult his own judgment--but because their
elements of tunefulness seem to be in an eminent degree central and
representative. No doubt many favourites will be found missing from the
catalogue, the Prelude in C minor, the Nocturne in D flat, the more
famous of the Waltzes and Polonaises; they have been purposely omitted,
because, with all their beauty, they only contain tendencies of thought
and manner which the list already exemplifies. As a rule, except for
an occasional _appoggiatura_, Chopin keeps his melody within the
strict limits of the diatonic scale, or of some equally diatonic
ecclesiastical mode, and uses his chromatic effects sometimes for the
accompaniment figure, sometimes for the subsequent thematic treatment.
His tunes, for the most part, are as simple in outline as folk-songs,
and the moods which they imply, whether melancholy, tender, playful or
passionate, are an outcome of the more direct personal emotions.
Sometimes his thought is as transparent as that of a child, and appeals
to our sympathy with all a child's unquestioning and irresistible
confidence. Sometimes he strikes a deeper note with a no less frank,
outspoken freedom of disclosure. And always, whether severe or vehement,
whether gay or dejected, he offers for our admiration the same
perfection of curve, the same delicate balance of rhythm, and the same
plasticity of melodic stanza.

There are two characteristics in Chopin's music which deserve some
detailed consideration,--first, his sense of harmony; second, his use of
accompaniment figures. No doubt, as standpoints for general criticism,
they are not of parallel importance; the one implies a habit of mind as
a whole, the other denotes a degree of technical skill and technical
efficiency. But in both respects Chopin occupies a position so far apart
from that of other composers--in both his manner is so original, so
unique, so far removed from common or customary ways--that in his work
they assume an almost equal value and interest. Again, in estimating
their worth, we are dealing with a more definite and concrete material
than when we endeavour to outline with words the impalpable spirit of
melody. The tunes of a musician, though they constitute the chief part
of his gift, constitute also that part which least admits of any
profitable discussion; and the very qualities, through which alone they
are susceptible of analysis, can be more easily noted and appraised in
the secondary functions of treatment and elaboration. We cannot gauge
the success of an effort unless we have already ascertained its
intention; and the intention, though not always obscure in melody, is
undoubtedly clearer to trace in the polyphonic scheme by which melody is
supported and sustained.

Now, when we examine Chopin's harmony, we are at once struck with an
apparent contradiction. We feel that, in its broader aspects, it is
wonderfully pure and lucid, flowing along an established course,
deviating but little from the simpler and more ordinary progressions.
Yet every now and again we come across passages, the sight of which is
enough to make orthodox professors of music 'stare and gasp;'--passages
which seem to break with resolute and unflinching defiance the
elementary rules that stand at the beginning of our text-books. Worst of
all, these apparent solecisms, the commission of which by any other hand
would be wholly intolerable, offer themselves to our notice as though
they were the most natural and regular forms of expression. They are not
obvious slips, like the 'misprint' in the Ninth Symphony; they are not
importations from some alien musical language, like the occasional
extravagances of Grieg or Dvořák; on the contrary, they take our
recognised system of harmonic laws, and literally honour it more in the
breach than the observance. Are consecutive fifths and octaves
forbidden? There is, in one of the Études, a delightful passage, which
consists exclusively of the prohibited intervals.[43] Are consecutive
major thirds justly regarded as harsh and dissonant? Chopin, at his
dreamiest and most contemplative, can employ them with unfailing
effect.[44] Is the dominant seventh a chord which, to all well-regulated
ears, demands instant resolution? The twenty-first Mazurka rejects the
claim, and sends one floating down four bars of chromatic scale with no
hope of rest until it reaches the bottom. And the manner of composition
which these instances exemplify can be traced in plenty of other
phrases, less extreme, perhaps, but not less audacious. In parts of the
fourth and sixth Nocturnes we can find harmonic schemes which it is
probable no other musician would have ever dared to devise, schemes
which set at naught our established distinctions of concord and discord,
which display in unbroken series artifices that are usually kept for
single isolated points of excitement, and which, nevertheless, are as
undoubtedly intentional as they are undeniably successful in their aim.

There is no shirking the difficulty. Here is a composer who is brought
up on Bach, and whose general sense of harmony is as pure and sincere as
that of his great master. Here are passages, written by him with obvious
care and deliberation, the acceptance of which would seem impossible
without throwing discredit on the harmonic code. And, as climax of
bewilderment, the code is right and the passages are beautiful. It may
certainly appear for the moment as though there were no solution in view
unless we take a despairing refuge in some Hegelian identification of

Now, the impression which harmony produces is that of a third dimension
in Music. It is the element of solidity and substance on which the
melody rests. In a Chorale, for instance, the tune describes a sort of
pattern on the superficies of the work, and the chords sustain and
support it from underneath. And just as certain tunes can give us the
effect of breadth, that is, of wide sweep over their superficial area,
so certain harmonisations give us the effect of massiveness, that is, of
strength and bulk in its substratum. It is not, of course, pretended
that the artistic value of a composition can be summed up in so crude a
metaphor: nothing more is attempted than to represent the one factor in
the case, which is germane to the present purpose. Further, all the
harmonic rules have been devised with a view to making the solid body of
the Music as firm and compact as possible. They deal with the
substratum, not with the superficies; with the perpendicular aspect, not
with the horizontal. The law of consecutives is not held to be broken if
in an orchestral piece a violin phrase is doubled by the violoncello or
the bassoon: such a device gives us the lines of the pattern in
duplicate, and lies altogether outside the material on which the pattern
is superimposed. So in these disputed passages of Chopin. They are not
really harmonic at all, they lie in the same plane as the melody, and,
for their support, imply a separate and distinct scheme of chords, which
the ear can always understand for itself.

A few examples may help to make this clearer. In the twelfth bar of the
well-known Nocturne in E flat (Op. 9, No. 2), there is a connecting
passage which, when we see it on paper, seems to consist of a rapid
series of remote and recondite modulations. When we hear it played in
the manner which Chopin intended, we feel that there is only one real
modulation, and that the rest of the passage is an iridescent play of
colour, an effect of superficies, not an effect of substance. Precisely
the same impression is produced in the middle section of the sixth
Nocturne, and in the return to the opening theme at the end of the
fifteenth. So it is with these apparent consecutives. They are not
ungrammatical, because, like the Emperor Sigismund, they are 'supra
grammaticam:' they do not defy harmonic laws because they belong to a
different jurisdiction: in a word, they are to be treated not as
harmonisations of their theme, but rather as new forms of melodic
extension. Their real harmony is implied, not expressed: a construction
to be understood from the general context and tenour of the passage: and
it is because the general tenour is unmistakable that these 'sense
constructions' are fully justified. Chopin's harmonic system, in short,
is like a river--its surface windswept into a thousand variable crests
and eddies, its current moving onward, full, steadfast and inevitable,
bearing the whole volume of its waters by sheer force of depth and

Hence it is that of all musicians he is most at the mercy of his
interpreters. Beethoven's _Adelaide_ is 'so beautiful' that not even Mr
du Maurier's tenor 'can make it ridiculous:' but there are few of us who
have not seen Chopin crushed out of recognition in the grasp of some
conscientious and heavy-handed pianist. These surface-effects lose all
their charm if they are played with stress and insistance, if they are
forced down into a third dimension, which they were never intended to
fill. There is much of Chopin's music in which solidity of execution is
as fatal as strictness of time; in which the phrases are essentially
light, wayward, aerial, demanding for their interpretation not only the
most flexible sympathy of feeling, but the daintiest delicacy of touch.
Even Moscheles, great musician as he was, found himself baffled by the
new style. 'Chopin has just been playing to me,' he writes, 'and now for
the first time I understand his music. The _rubato_, which, with his
other interpreters, degenerates into disregard of time, is with him only
a charming originality of manner: the harsh modulations which strike me
disagreeably when I am playing his compositions no longer shock me,
because he glides over them in a fairy-like way with his delicate
fingers. His _piano_ is so soft that he does not need any strong _forte_
to produce his contrasts: and for this reason one does not miss the
orchestral effects which the German school requires from a pianoforte
player, but allows oneself to be carried away as by a singer who, little
concerned about the accompaniment, entirely follows his emotion.' We of
the present day may express ourselves with more warmth of approbation;
but if we wish to understand Chopin, this is the standpoint from which
we must regard him.

The second point for consideration is the almost incomparable power
which Chopin displays in his use of accessory figures. By figure, in
this sense, is meant a certain group of notes, having a clearly defined
curve and rhythm, and maintained, with such changes as the harmony
necessitates, through a phrase, or a paragraph, or even a complete
work. In the use of this device there are two difficulties against
which a composer has to contend. On the one hand, the group, if it is to
command any part of the hearer's attention, must exhibit a distinct
character, almost a distinct melody of its own; on the other hand, it
will fail of its purpose unless it is sufficiently plastic to be adapted
to different context and different requirements. Now, it is obvious that
the more allegiance is claimed by the first of these conditions, the
more skill is needed in order to satisfy the second. A figure which
consists merely of simple _arpeggios_ or of plain repeated chords can
suffer any degree of harmonic alteration without loss of continuity; but
as its intrinsic interest is heightened, either by elaboration of curve
or by peculiarity of rhythm, so it becomes more individual, and
therefore, under a change of circumstance, more difficult to adjust.
Thus it not infrequently happens that a composer is forced to remodel
his scheme because the group of notes which he has devised to support
the first strain of his melody proves unsuitable to the next; or because
a curve, that can adequately fill a bar of uniform harmony, may lose all
fitness when applied to a bar in which the harmony changes. In
Schumann's _Widmung_, for instance, the beautiful accompaniment figure
wavers in the third bar, and breaks down altogether in the fourth; not
because the composer wishes to put forward a new pattern, for he retains
the rhythm of the old, but because nothing short of a total alteration
of curve will satisfy the harmonic conditions of the tune.

But, so far as concerns this particular exhibition of skill, we never
feel that Chopin is at the mercy of his materials. His simplest figures
are interesting, his most elaborate are moulded to his use with an
entire and unhesitating mastery. Under his hand the stubborn edges grow
smooth, the obdurate lines become pliant and tractable, the recurrent
shape preserves its unity without appearing wearisome or monotonous. The
Prelude in F sharp minor (No. 8) is perhaps the most astonishing
instance in music of this particular form of decorative effect; and
hardly less remarkable are the Étude in E flat minor (Op. 10, No. 6),
the Prelude in G major (No. 3), and the Prelude in F sharp major (No.
13). Indeed, Chopin's method of ornament is altogether his own; sensuous
it may be in origin, evoked, at any rate in part, by an imperious
craving for the pleasure of beautiful sound, but yet raised to the true
artistic level by its refinement of taste and its finished accuracy of
detail. It is no small matter that a type of art which appeals so
frequently to sense and emotion should never be either vulgar or trivial
or commonplace; that there should be nothing meretricious in its
sentiment, nothing indolent in its expression; that with every incentive
to a lax and careless Hedonism it should yet maintain an ideal of
unswerving labour.

So far Chopin's music has been treated from the creative side. It now
remains to add a few words on the peculiar tact and intelligence with
which he employs his medium. In pictorial art this quality is of
acknowledged importance: oil, water, pastel, have their own conditions
and their own limitations, to overstep which is to invite failure; and
it is recognised as an adverse criticism if we can say of an example in
any one process that its effects could have been equally well produced
by another.

The same law is valid in musical art. The orchestra, the string
quartett, the organ, the pianoforte, are so diverse in tone and so
disparate in character, that they admit no community of treatment, and
hardly even a close community of idea. An arrangement may sometimes be
condoned as a _tour de force_, it may sometimes be allowed as a
preparation or a means of study, but to regard it as possessing
any absolute value is to convict the original work of a serious
imperfection. It is, therefore, a high testimony to the exactitude of
Chopin's writing that it has almost entirely escaped the sacrilegious
hand of the transcriber. Some of the Mazurkas are occasionally adapted
for the voice, one or two of the Nocturnes misused to the service of the
violin or the violoncello: but by far the greater number of Chopin's
compositions are too obviously suited to the piano for any other medium
to be regarded as possible. His very narrowness gave him concentration:
his want of sympathy with all other instruments enabled him to devote
his whole attention to the one that he understood. And, as a result, he
gives us Pianoforte Music which, considered as a pure expression of
technical intelligence, is almost without rival in the history of the
art. No other composer has ever surpassed the unerring judgment to which
we owe these wide-spread _arpeggios_, these wonderful liquid ripples of
chromatic scale, these showers of sparkling notes which fall, as Liszt
said, 'like dew drops' on some bend of phrase or turn of cadence.
Beethoven, of course, understood the piano as fully as he understood
everything else: but since Beethoven's time musicians, and especially
romantic musicians, have a little tended to blur and obliterate these
necessary distinctions, and to merge a due recognition of piano
technique into their overmastering desire for emotional significance.
Hence the fatal error of trying to extract orchestral effects from the
keyboard, an error into which Schumann falls occasionally, and Liszt
habitually, but from which Chopin may be regarded as entirely free. In
a word, he appreciates both the capacities and the limitations of
his material, and, while he draws from it every tone that it can
legitimately produce, he never strains it beyond the due and fitting
bounds of its proper individuality. It may be noted that Mendelssohn had
something of the same gift, but in pianoforte music, Mendelssohn's
thought is shallower than that of Chopin, and, therefore, more easily
kept within its range. Indeed, since 1827, there has been no composer
who could unite such poignancy of feeling with so exact an estimate of
the means at his disposal.

To sum up, Chopin can claim no place among the few greatest masters of
the world. He lacks the dignity, the breadth, the high seriousness of
Palestrina and Bach and Beethoven: he no more ranks beside them than
Shelley beside Shakespear, or Andrea beside Michael Angelo. But to say
this is not to disparage the value of the work that he has done. If he
be not of the 'di majorum gentium,' he is none the less of the
Immortals, filled with a supreme sense of beauty, animated by an
emotional impulse as keen as it was varied, and upholding an ideal of
technical perfection at a time when it was in danger of being lost by
the poets or degraded by the _virtuosi_. In certain definite directions
he has enlarged the possibilities of the art, and though he has,
fortunately, founded no school--for the charm of his music is wholly
personal--yet in a thousand indirect ways he has influenced the work of
his successors. At the same time, it is not as a pioneer that he elicits
our fullest admiration. We hardly think of him as marking a stage in the
general course and progress of artistic History, but, rather, as
standing aside from it, unconscious of his relation to the world,
preoccupied with the fairyland of his own creations. The elements of
myth and legend that have already gathered round his name may almost be
said to find their counterparts in his music; it is etherial, unearthly,
enchanted, an echo from the melodies of Kubla Khan. It is for this
reason that he can only make his complete appeal to certain moods and
certain temperaments. The strength of the hero is as little his as the
vulgarity of the demagogue: he possesses an intermediate kingdom of
dreams, an isle of fantasy, where the air is drowsy with perfume, and
the woods are bright with butterflies, and the long gorges run down to
meet the sea. If his music is sometimes visionary, at least it is all
beautiful; offering, it may be, no response to the deeper questions of
our life, careless if we approach it with problems which it is in no
mind to resolve, but fascinating in its magic if we are content to
submit our imagination to the spell. And precisely the same distinction
may be made on the formal side of his work. In structure he is a child,
playing with a few simple types, and almost helpless as soon as he
advances beyond them; in phraseology he is a master whose felicitous
perfection of style is one of the abiding treasures of the art. There
have been higher ideals in Music, but not one that has been more clearly
seen or more consistently followed. There have been nobler messages, but
none delivered with a sweeter or more persuasive eloquence.


[42] The Ballade, which originally ended in F major, was altered to its
present conclusion by an afterthought. See the review of it in
Schumann's _Collected Works_.

[43] Étude in D flat, Op. 25, No. 8.

[44] Étude in A flat, without Opus number.


    Es bildet ein Talent sich in der Stille,
    Sich ein Character in dem Strom der Welt.




The village of Nelahozeves lies on the Moldau, about a mile to the north
of Kralup. The clean, well-kept cottages sun themselves upon a slope of
the low hills, or nestle among the trees by the river bank; a tiny
street comes trickling along the shallow dale like a tributary; at its
mouth a great square castle rises on a spur of jutting sandstone and
seems to dominate the very landscape by feudal right. Behind are uplands
of corn and pasture and orchard, where you may idle for half a summer's
afternoon, watching the play of light tremulous among the leaves, the
smoke curling lazily from the cluster of red roofs, and below them the
brown turbid river and the long timber-rafts floating down to the Elbe.

It is one of the quietest of places: hardly a sound, hardly an animal,
hardly a sign of life. There are a few geese meditating undisturbed in
the roadway, there is a knot of children busy with some inexplicable
game in a corner of waste ground; now and again a couple of gossips come
to fill their shapely wooden cans at the village well, or a slow,
patient ox-cart bears down its fragrant load from the hay-field. For the
rest, everything is fast asleep, secure in a bounteous land that asks
but little labour for the satisfaction of daily needs, and secure, too,
under the government of Prince Lobkowitz, who owns the castle and the
village and half the country-side, and who, though he never comes to
live among his own people, has always administered his territory with
justice and beneficence.

At the bottom of the street a lane turns across toward the church,
passing on its way a homestead which could take rank with an English
farm-house of moderate pretension. An arched gateway gives access to a
long, narrow court-yard, flanked on the one side by a solid, two-storey
building, white-walled and red-roofed like its neighbours; on the other
by a lower range of offices and storehouses; while at the back, behind
the stable, runs a rough wall, surmounted by a statue of St Florian;
and, carrying the eye upward, through a strip of coarse paddock, to the
hedgerows and cornfields of the higher slope. A sign over the entrance
announces that the place is still the village inn, as it was half a
century ago, when Pán František Dvořák held it in tenancy and served
his customers in the little taproom by the door.

Among the villagers Pán Dvořák was a person of some consequence. For
one thing, he belonged to a family old and respected--a peasant stock
that had grown and flourished from the earliest times that memory could
record; for another, he had married the daughter of one of the Prince's
bailiffs, and so caught a faint reflection from the remote and
inaccessible glories of the castle. Again, he was butcher as well as
innkeeper, and so represented the centre of village trade, as well as
the focus of village conviviality; and, to crown all, he was personally
popular--a handsome, active youngster of eight-and-twenty, vigorous,
alert, clean-limbed; and a good musician, too, who of an evening would
bring his zither under the great walnut tree and delight his guests with
'Hej Slované' or 'Sedlák Sedlák,' or the new national anthem that was
going to rouse Bohemia against Austrian oppression. It is only natural
that he should figure large in the public gaze, and that there should be
great rejoicings when, on September 8, 1841, the villagers assembled to
drink the health of his firstborn.

The child grew up into a sturdy, broad-shouldered boy, with brown eyes,
dark complexion, and a tangle of black hair--keen and adventurous in
character, ready to join in any sports that were afoot, and, as
tradition still attests, well able to hold his own in conflict. From the
first he was passionately fond of music--listening in eager enjoyment
when his father played to him, or when, on some lucky day, a band of
wandering musicians would come from Kralup or Prague or even Pressnitz,
and earn itself a welcome at the inn door. Better still were the times
of village holiday, when the street was gay with stalls, and the dancers
wore down the evening sun--Lenka in snowy hood and bright kirtle, Hanik
in jaunty hat, long coat and drab knee-breeches, threading the mazes of
Polka and Furiant until the fiddlers gave in for very weariness. It was
a childhood of simple pleasures and healthy out-door life, full of
colour, full of melody, the first preparation for a brilliant and
honourable artistic career.

Meantime the more serious part of Dvořák's education was entrusted to
an amiable pedagogue called Josef Spitz, who kept the village school at
the street corner, and who not only taught his new scholar the rudiments
of letters, but, what was more important, gave him his first lessons in
singing and the violin. When he was twelve years old, the boy was sent
to live with an uncle at Zlonic, in the coal country, where there was a
better school and a wider opportunity of study. He had already made some
advance in his two branches of music--enough, at any rate, for him to
have taken the solos in the church choir at home, and to have borne an
efficient part in the local orchestra: now, under the tuition of
Liehmann, the Zlonic organist, he ventured out into new fields, and
learned something not only of organ and piano but of the elements of
musical theory. No doubt the instruction was very imperfect and very
narrow of range, but within its limits it was gratefully accepted; and
the old kapellmeister deserves some honourable mention as having been
the first to discover evidences of unusual capacity in his shy,
simple-hearted pupil. In 1855 came another transference; this time to
Böhmisch-Kamnitz, where Dvořák learned German, and continued his
musical studies with the organist Hancke; and then appeared an obstacle
which seemed likely to block progress altogether. His father had
recently removed to Zlonic in order to open a new shop on a larger
scale; another hand was wanted to carry on the trade; and Antonin, at
the age of fifteen, was told to regard his education as finished, and to
return at once to the real business of his life.

It is easy enough to emphasise the incongruity of the situation: to
recall Burns the gauger and Keats the apothecary's drudge: to condole
with an artist who, like Fortuny, has to seek inspiration from the
shambles. It is still easier to be wise after the event, and condemn, as
tyrannous and unreasonable, a decision which time has signally refuted.
But there are here two considerations which may serve, in some degree,
to modify judgment. In the first place, the condition of music in
Bohemia was, at this time, entirely different from that in France
or Germany: its outlook far more desperate, its prizes far more
unattainable. Nearly all the posts were held by Germans, and native
talent, unless it could afford the price of expatriation, might readily
find itself reduced to gathering pence by the wayside, or at most, would
earn its reward in some village organistship--scanty, obscure and
ill-paid, with little opportunity in the present and with no hope of
further advance. No one could have foreseen that, within six years, a
national art would spring into sudden and unexpected existence--bringing
with it a means of expression which, in 1856, lay outside the reach of
the most sanguine hope. It may be true that the darkest hour is that
which precedes the dawn; but, for all this, it takes a robust faith to
infer the dawn from the darkness. And, in the second place, the boy had
as yet neither the education nor the material to offer his father any
convincing proofs of genius. So far as we know, he had never written a
note of music, and, though he could play skilfully on two or three
instruments, there was no very great likelihood of his making his name
as a virtuoso. His credentials were the reports of three village
schoolmasters: his attainment was but a promise which the subsequent
career might have failed to ratify. In a word, the capacity was
uncertain, the chances of a career were almost non-existent: surely it
was not unnatural that a plain man, who had no gift of prophecy, should
balance present alternatives and sum them up in favour of competence and

At any rate, whether justified or not, the order was irrevocable. Pleas
and entreaties proved equally unavailing, Hancke's protests fell upon
deaf ears, and at last Dvořák reluctantly prepared to leave Kamnitz
and to sacrifice all prospects of an artistic profession. But before
yielding, he determined to make one more bid for freedom. Hitherto his
father had known him only as an executant: perhaps the case would be
altered if he could present himself as a composer. There were plenty of
people in the country-side who could sing and play; it was little wonder
if, amid that undistinguished crowd, his abilities were unnoticed; but
to write music brings a man to the forefront, and shows a gift which it
may be profitable to stimulate and encourage. He therefore prepared his
last appeal in the shape of an original polka; copied the band parts,
distributed them secretly among the Zlonic musicians, and, after a few
days of breathless anticipation, launched his _coup de théâtre_ for the
conversion of an unexpectant household. It is better to draw a veil over
the performance. The composer did not know that the trumpet is a
transposing instrument: strings and wind contended strenuously in
different keys; there was an agonised moment of jagged and excruciating
discord; and it is not surprising that the family remained unconvinced.
There is some little irony in the disaster, if it be remembered that
among all Dvořák's gifts the instinct of orchestration is perhaps
the most conspicuous. He is the greatest living exponent of the art; and
he was once in danger of forfeiting his career through ignorance of its
most elementary principle.

After so inopportune a failure, there was nothing left but submission,
and for little short of a year Dvořák set himself with a good grace
to accept the inevitable. But by the spring of 1857 he began to feel
that the position was impossible, and once more assailed his father with
urgent entreaties. There were his brothers--František, Josef, Adolf,
Karel--growing up to take his place in the shop; there was no pressing
need that he should remain any longer at work which he found wholly
uncongenial; he was sure that he could succeed as a musician, and
whether he succeeded or not, his whole heart was set upon the attempt.
At last, after some months of anxious discussion, he carried his point,
and in October set out for Prague--full of hope, full of ambition, eager
to explore a realm of which hitherto he could hardly be said to have
passed the frontier.

At Prague he entered the Organ School (founded some thirty years before
by a society for the encouragement of ecclesiastical music), and, from
1857 to 1860, worked his way through a period of diligent and laborious
studentship. The difficulties that beset him were even greater than
those that traditionally obstruct the path of genius. At first, no
doubt, his father was able to make him a small monthly allowance; but
even this slender income had soon to be withdrawn, and the boy, at
sixteen years of age, was left to maintain himself by an art of which he
knew little more than the rudiments, in a city which was almost wholly
barren of opportunities. And it was not only the material problems of
food and lodging that pressed him for a solution. He had learned next to
nothing of composition, he was totally unacquainted with the great
classics, he had no books and no money to buy them; even the teaching of
his school seems to have been mainly concentrated upon organ technique,
and to have given little or no assistance in wider fields of study.
Berlioz was poor, but at least he had the library of the Paris
Conservatoire. Wagner spent two years of grinding poverty, but at least
he could compensate them with 'Rienzi' and the 'Flying Dutchman.' Here
is a case in which everything alike is denied--not only recognition but
power, not only the rewards of life but its very appliances. The most
certain confidence, the most indomitable courage, might well have lost
heart at a prospect so dreary and so disspiriting.

In order to obtain the bare means of livelihood he joined a small band
of some twenty performers, and went about with them, earning a meagre
pittance at the cafés and restaurants of the city. On Sundays he played
the viola at a private chapel, where there was some show of an
orchestral service, and, between his two engagements, contrived to amass
a revenue of rather more than thirty shillings a month. Of course all
systematic study, except at his organ classes, appeared to be out of the
question. He could no more have hired a piano than he could have
purchased the crown jewels; even music paper was a luxury of the rarest
indulgence; and concerts were only attainable, when, now and again, some
good-natured bandsman would see him standing wistfully at the door and
would let him in as a stowaway. But in spite of all discouragements, he
continued his work with unabating enthusiasm, and, in 1860, graduated
at the Organ School as second prizeman of his year.

By a notable coincidence it happened that the fresh-levied forces of
Bohemian music received their marching orders at almost exactly the same
time. As Dvořák emerged from the training-yard to take his place
among the ranks, there was already assembling a council of war which,
before it rose, should appoint a national leader and proclaim a national
advance. True, another decade was to pass before the new recruit bore
any prominent part in the movement. As yet he was only a trooper,
carrying his marshal's bâton in his knapsack, but bound, nevertheless,
to wait in patient subservience until the fortune of battle gave him his
opportunity. Yet, for all that, the difference made by the winter of
1860 was almost incalculable. It is one thing to idle in barracks with
no cause to defend and no victory to share: it is another to stand at
attention on the outskirts of the field when the front is busy with the
enemy and at any moment an aide-de-camp may ride up with orders to
engage. Hardly in the whole of artistic history shall we find a stranger
chance than that which, against all expectation, brought the two
centuries of bondage to so opportune a close.

It is beyond the scope of the present essay to describe the national
movement in any detail. There are so many lines of progress, there are
so many conflicting issues, that the task cannot adequately be attempted
from the standpoint of a single art. But, to estimate the music of
Dvořák, it is first requisite that we should understand his relation
to his country, and trace, in however brief an outline, the course of
revolution that culminated in his triumph. He plays so important a part
in the later acts of a patriotic drama, that we may well be excused for
prefacing his entry with some slight epitome of the plot.

Up to the Thirty Years' War, Bohemia maintained an honourable place in
the fore-front of European civilisation. She was printing books when
hardly any of her neighbours could read them: she inaugurated one of the
greatest religious movements of the Middle Ages: her university took
rank with Paris and Oxford: her teaching was accepted by scholars from
every corner of Christendom. But in 1620 the whole national life came to
a sudden and tragic end--shot down by Tilly's mercenaries at the battle
of the White Mountain. The loss of political independence was followed
by an almost entire cessation of intellectual activity: the language was
prohibited, the literature was destroyed, arts and sciences either
passed into servitude or fled with the 'Winter King' to a distant and
inglorious exile: the voice that was once eloquent in the congress of
the nations died away into silence and oblivion. 'Better a desert,' said
the Emperor Ferdinand, 'than a land full of heretics,' and his order was
followed with only too literal an obedience. For the next hundred and
fifty years the history of Bohemia is a blank page: her highest
achievement to bear the yoke of an alien power, her utmost hope to
forget that she was once a people.

It is true that, in the latter half of the eighteenth century, a few
Bohemian musicians began to make their appearance: it is equally
significant that, without exception, they left their native land and
tried their fortunes as free-lances in a foreign service. Myslivecek
won his title of 'Il Divino' from the careless enthusiasm of Italy;
Reicha settled in Paris, where his lectures on composition embittered
the early years of Berlioz: Dussek, the greatest of them all, became
frankly German in aim and method: from first to last they turned their
steps across the border in search of a career which their own country
was too fast in prison to afford. It is, of course, idle to reproach
them with a want of patriotism: there was no cause to which patriotism
could attach itself: but none the less we may find in their denial of
their country a conclusive reason for their ultimate failure. They were
men of undoubted gifts--rapid, facile and copious of production,
well-read in the musical learning of their time, fluent of phrase,
prompt of resource, skilful and dexterous in the treatment of their
material; and yet, at the distance of a century, there is only one of
the whole band who is anything more than a name to us. Even Dussek has
but a fading reputation: his work is lost under the shadow of its own
laurels: and for the rest, it is not once in a decade that some student
takes down their dusty volumes from the shelf and marvels at the
misapplied talent and the wasted ability.

A curious illustration, half pathetic and half humorous, may be found in
the career of Anthony Heinrich. He was born at Schönbüchel in 1781,
served his apprenticeship at Covent Garden, and finally established
himself in America, where, for some five-and-thirty years, he produced a
continuous series of ineffectual compositions. There is an oratorio,
written in ten real parts, and 'scored,' as its author proudly affirms,
'for all known orchestral instruments:' there are symphonies, such as
the Eroica and the Tower of Babel; there are overtures--one to
Washington, another to Niagara, another to the great Condor of the
Andes; there are 'Mythological concerti grossi;' there are scenes
from the Autobiography of a Troubadour; there are songs, studies,
virtuoso-pieces without limit. It should be added that the official
catalogue, which is appended to the excerpts in the National Museum at
Prague, mentions with particular emphasis a concert overture _per recte
et retro_, entitled 'The Advance and the Retreat.' If this incredible
composition was ever written, it says something for Heinrich's
counterpoint, and at the same time explains his total failure to win any
position as an artist. But, apart from this, the explanation lies open
on every page. Here is talent, here is technical skill, here is even
some approach to originality: and the whole is ruined by uncertainty of
aim and by want of earnestness. It all lies on the surface; it has no
character, no stability, no inherent power of growth, and because it has
no root it withers away.

We may conclude that the first efforts of the Bohemian renaissance were
wholly misdirected and unavailing. The national art was no more to be
created by 'La Consolation' than by mythological concerti grossi and
overtures to the great condor. But in the meantime a small body of
men was beginning at home to collect the scattered ruins of past
achievement, and to lay them in order as the foundation of a more
durable superstructure. Scholars like Dobrovsky set themselves to
regather the language from the valleys and uplands of a rustic dialect:
poets like Tyl and Hálek built up a fabric of literature from the
artless rhymes of the country village: music itself began to stir, to
awaken, to stand on the alert until its time should come. There could be
little organisation, for the citadel was still in the hands of an
adverse power; there could be little publicity, for the work might be at
any moment prohibited by official censorship: but, in spite of all
obstacles and difficulties, the movement gradually took shape and
direction--now hampered by popular indifference, now thrown back by some
political outbreak, never losing heart or turning aside from its
purpose. Yet, before its purpose could be attained, there were two
further conditions to satisfy. Hitherto the pioneers of Bohemian music,
like those of the French language, had conducted their research as
a matter of private interest and private enterprise: before they
could combine into an academy of any mark or moment, they needed a
parliamentary charter, and they needed a Malherbe. In other words, to
encourage the hope of any further progress, it was necessary--first,
that Austria should allow its dependent State a fuller measure of
intellectual freedom; and secondly, that there should appear some man
of sufficient authority and genius to undertake the leadership.

A sudden turn of the wheel, and the two conditions were fulfilled. In
October 1860 the gift of liberty was granted by Imperial diploma; a few
months later came news that Smetana had resigned his appointment at
Gothenburg, and that he was returning to assume the direction of the
national forces. His arrival was welcomed with an enthusiasm to which
Bohemia had long been a stranger; new hopes were formed, new plans were
discussed, the whole land shook off its lethargy and applied itself
eagerly to the work. For his own part, the leader announced his method
without hesitation. He had no sympathy with the more developed classical
forms: in any case, he found them unsuitable to a music of which the
very foundations were still to be laid: the first need, he said, was to
engage the popular ear, and to show the true value and import of the
national melodies. Bohemia should cut her corner-stone from her own
quarries, and build her art on the peasant tunes in which the whole of
her musical tradition was comprised. The next generation might look to
questions of treatment; the business of the present was to gather
material, and to utilise the abundant store which lay neglected in
every village and hamlet of the country-side.

It is interesting to see the new Malherbe making his appeal to the
people, and 'finding his masters in language among the porters at the
hay-gate.' But there can be no doubt that, under existing conditions,
his method was the only means of attaining success. The first requisite
for a national art is the establishment of a national speech; and until
this is done in its simplest and most unsophisticated shape, there is no
proper material for the artist to work upon. Of course, the great
structures of sonata and symphony are only developments of the form that
is already held in germ by the folk-song: still they are developments,
and to begin with them is to begin at the wrong end. The same life runs
through the whole course of artistic evolution, but, if there be life at
all, it will trace its origin from its most rudimentary embodiment.

Again, it was a stroke of good-fortune that Smetana's genius should turn
at once in the direction of opera. Among all means of artistic
expression, the theatre is the most direct and the most comprehensive:
it draws on the resources of literature, of painting, of music; it can
reach a public that has not yet learned to appreciate the separate
forms. The golden age of French poetry began with the Cid; the whole
history of modern music began with Eurydice: in like manner, Bohemia may
date her renaissance from her first school of operatic composers.
In 1862 the Interimstheater was opened; in 1863 came Smetana's
'Brandenburgs in Bohemia,' then followed a long and unbroken series of
dramatic works--tragedy that took its theme from patriotic legend,
comedy that turned to account the picturesque humours of the village
life--all of native growth and of native origin, racy of the soil,
simple, genuine, unaffected. To us, who look upon Prague from the
standpoints of Dresden or Vienna, the music of these men may seem unduly
artless and immature: with Wagner on the one side, with Brahms on the
other, we have little time to bestow on tentative efforts and incomplete
production. Some day we shall learn that we are in error. The 'Bartered
Bride' is an achievement that would do credit to any nation in Europe;
and, apart from its intrinsic value, it claims our interest as the
turning-point of an artistic revolution. There is little wonder that
Smetana has been almost canonised by his people. He was, in the truest
sense of the term, the first Bohemian composer; and, though his country
has one son to whose work she may look with a fuller admiration, she has
none to whom she owes the debt of a more profound and cordial gratitude.

Such was the cause in which Dvořák found himself enlisted when he
closed behind him the door of the Organ School, and set forth boldly in
quest of a career. At first, no doubt, his part in the movement was
humble enough: he had not yet tried his strength, he had not yet won his
spurs, he had not shown any qualification that could raise him above the
bare level of the rank-and-file. But, in the meantime, his opportunities
of education were gradually widening. A place was offered him in the
orchestra of the Interimstheater, which not only made him a member of
the patriotic party, but threw him into closer relation with its more
prominent representatives; and, from one of these--Karel Bendl, the
composer--he received assistance and encouragement at a time when both
were sorely needed. He was still too poor to buy scores; but now, thanks
to the kindness of Bendl, he was able to borrow them; and his own force
and energy soon recovered the ground that he had lost through the
tyranny of circumstance. Every spare kreutzer was expended on
music-paper; every free hour was devoted to study or composition; for
nearly twelve years there followed a course of training as complete as
the most rigorous self-discipline could make it. In all this period,
nothing is less important than the record of its external events. There
were some whispers of plot and counter-plot after Sadowa: there was some
little excitement when the 'Hussite' riots took place, and Prague was
declared to be in a state of siege; there was an outburst of rejoicing
on the arrival of the second Imperial diploma: but these were mere
matters of political change, which art had by this time grown strong
enough to disregard. Even the history of the Theatre passes for the
moment into a remoter background. The true biographical interest is
centred within the four walls of a meagre lodging, where, day after day,
an obscure student sat poring over Beethoven, in hopes to discover the
secret of that magic style which transmutes all fancies into gold, and
the elements of that unknown elixir which brings to music the gift of
immortal life.



The record of Dvořák's earlier compositions is involved in a good
deal of doubt and perplexity. Many of the works were meant simply as
exercises and were destroyed as soon as their purpose had been
fulfilled: some still remain in manuscript: one or two have passed
beyond the reach of conjecture. But at least it appears certain that a
string quintett was completed by 1862, that shortly afterwards followed
two volumes of songs, printed later as Op. 2 and Op. 3, and that in 1865
came a symphony in B flat (Op. 4),[45] and another in E minor. There is
some mention, too, of a grand opera on the subject of Alfred, the
libretto of which seems to have been taken from an old German almanack;
but the score has long ago vanished into space, and has left behind it
nothing more than the bare title. For the rest, we can only say that
they would serve to illustrate Bacon's allegory of the 'River of Time.'
A few pages of ballad and romance have floated down to us--a dozen
songs, a set of short pieces for the pianoforte, a violin tune with
orchestral accompaniment--and all the more serious production has sunk
on the way. Yet enough is left to give presage of future greatness.
No hand but Dvořák's could have written Blumendeutung or Die Sterne,
or Der Herr erschuf das Menschenherz. The work may be slight of
structure and narrow of range, but from the first it bears clear impress
of its author's own character.

[Illustration: _Antonin Dvořák_]

During all this time he seems to have made no attempt at publication or
performance. We can hardly suppose that his silence was altogether
enforced by lack of occasion: his friend Bendl was conductor of the
chief choral society in Prague; his friend Smetana was in supreme
command at the opera: patriotism was searching every corner for
evidences of native genius, and would scarcely have refused him the
hearing that it had granted to Sebor and Roskosny. But as yet he had
nothing ready to offer. His more ambitious efforts appeared, for the
most part, tentative and experimental; the songs, in which alone his
true personality had found expression, were to be kept in reserve until
he had made his mark with a broader line: on all grounds, it was better
to wait in retirement than to injure the cause by a premature display.
Once let him attain to some adequate mastery of his materials, and Fate
might well be trusted to supply him with opportunity.

At last, apparently in 1871, he was commissioned to write an opera for
the Bohemian Theatre,[46] and accepted the invitation with all the
responsibility that a first appearance naturally entails. He had,
indeed, no little reason to feel responsible. He was now nine-and-twenty
years of age, he had spent two-thirds of his life in study and
preparation, he was entering that field in which his country's art had
hitherto reaped the richer portion of its harvest. Besides, he had
recently become acquainted with some of Wagner's work, and was in a
state of intense proselytising enthusiasm on the subject of the Music
drama. The little folk-song operas were pretty enough, and possessed, no
doubt, a true educational value; but the level of public taste was now
sufficiently high to appreciate a more solid and serious form of
composition. In short, the first period of Bohemian music was drawing to
a close, and this commission from the theatre had come, just in the nick
of time, to inaugurate the second. He therefore took for his libretto a
peasant comedy entitled 'King and Collier,' set it on the most elaborate
Wagnerian lines, and, having thus marked in strong relief the difference
between his method and that of his predecessors, went confidently down
to the theatre and distributed the parts for rehearsal.

There is no great sagacity required to foretell the result. We can
imagine the consternation of Smetana, who looked for a new expression of
the national idiom, and found himself confronted with a fantastic
exaggeration of Meistersinger. We can imagine the dismay of the
soloists, accustomed to melody as simple as that of Mozart, and now lost
in a tangle of declamatory phrases. The music was at once declared to be
wholly impossible, the score was returned with a few disheartening
compliments, and Dvořák went back to his place in the ranks, there to
meditate at his leisure on the incompatibility of alien systems. It was
no doubt unfortunate that his chance should have come to him in a moment
of aberration. His Wagner-worship was but a sudden episode, of which no
trace can be found in the earlier compositions, of which little or no
effect remains in the record of the later work: and it was a sorry jest
of the fates, that offered him a native audience at the one period in
his life when he had forsaken the native tongue.

But on an apt pupil a lesson, even from Orbilius, is never wasted. Once
recovered from the disappointment, Dvořák realised that he was on the
wrong tack; that he was forcing his genius in a direction to which it
was unsuited; and that if he wished to convince his countrymen, he must
address them not in German but in Slavonic. After all, the recent
disaster was only a parenthesis; an otiose quotation that could be
readily erased: henceforward he would deliver his message in the
phraseology that was its natural embodiment. So, by way of palinode, he
set Hálek's fine patriotic hymn, 'The Heirs of the White Mountain,' a
poem which, in scope and feeling, may almost rank as the counterpart of
Leopardi's 'Italia'; and, in the season of 1873, made with it an appeal
to that national sympathy which his last work had done so little to
conciliate. No choice could have been more happily inspired. The
theme was one of which patriotism was never weary; the strong, manly
verses were already familiar as household words; the music held the
concert-room in breathless attention from the sombre opening to the
great, glorious cadence in the final stanza. There was no longer any
question of his place in Bohemian art. At one stroke the memory of old
failure was obliterated; at one step the patriot passed from obscurity
into the full light of honour and reputation.

As yet, however, there was little hope of material reward. It was still
the day of small things in Bohemia: posts were few; salaries were
meagre; fame spread but slowly across the mountain barriers by which the
frontier was encircled. But in any case, it was impossible that
Dvořák should remain any longer in his present penury, and at some
time in 1873 he was appointed organist to the city church of St
Adalbert. The change was somewhat incongruous after eleven years' viola
playing in a theatre orchestra, but at least it brought him a more
individual position, opened to him some career as a teacher, and assured
him a stipend upon which he found it possible to marry. A pleasant
indication of altered circumstances is to be found in an 'Ave Maris
Stella,' dedicated 'uxori carissimæ,' and printed 'sumptibus et
proprietate Emilii Stary.' When a man is raised to ecclesiastical
office, the least that he can do is to assume the state and dignity of a
learned language.

In the winter of 1873 appeared a notturno for strings, followed in the
next year by a symphony in E flat, and the scherzo of a symphony in D
minor. Meantime, the theatre, which had been keeping a watchful eye on
its truant ever since his return to the paths of patriotism, once more
summoned him into its presence, and made amends for past disfavour by
the offer of another commission. For answer, Dvořák took the old
libretto that had shared the misfortune of his _début_, reset it from
beginning to end, and in less than three months, presented to the
directors a new version of the unlucky drama, in which, it is said, not
one bar of the original score was preserved. The feat is one of the most
remarkable in the history of opera. There are plenty of cases in which a
composer has altered or revised his work--Wagner made additions to
_Tannhäuser_, Weber reluctantly excised an important scene from _Der
Freischütz_--but it is one thing to remodel a few details; it is another
to reorganise an entire structure. Some little versatility is required
to set even a song in two different ways; much more to find a new
musical expression for a complete cast of _dramatis personæ_.

But the most curious part of the story is still to come. The second
version of 'King and Collier' was produced on October 24th, and at once
revealed the fact that its libretto was totally inadequate. The _tour de
force_, in short, had altogether failed, and Dvořák found that he had
only escaped the charge of melody that could not be sung, to meet with
equally galling condolence on a play that could not be acted. No doubt
the music was welcomed with acclamation, especially the overture and the
scene in the collier's cottage, but its very transparency brought into
clearer view the manifest imperfection of the words. It was a thousand
pities, said the critics, that so great a composer should have spent his
genius on a rambling incoherent farce with a poor plot, a hero eminently
unheroic, and a third act merely irrelevant and absurd. He would have
done far better if he had followed the more common-place method of
providing himself with another subject.

Dvořák, however, was not to be beaten. He knew that his own part in
the work had been satisfactorily played; he could see no reason for
losing his labour; and so, after an interval which was occupied in
further compositions, he set himself to look for a new librettist. In
course of time he met with a poet called Novotny, who had just written
an opera-book for Smetana, called him into collaboration, and produced,
with his aid, a final version of the play in which the first two acts
are considerably altered, and the third replaced by a more adequate
substitute. There can be no doubt that the changes were of vital
improvement. In its present form the intrigue runs easily enough, the
characters are well drawn, the situations are mainly striking and
effective, and the mock trial brings down the curtain on a climax of
fitting irony. But we are here less concerned with a criticism of the
result than with a sketch of the remarkable series of conditions under
which it was effected. An opera of which the text is rewritten and the
music recomposed is a phenomenon sufficiently unusual to demand more
than a passing word of comment. The Irishman's knife, which had a new
blade and a new handle, does not offer a more bewildering problem of

It was natural that the fresh interest should bring Dvořák, for the
time, into a more intimate relation with the Bohemian Theatre. By the
end of 1875 he had completed two more operas; one a bright little
village comedy called 'The Stubborn Heads'; one a tragedy in five acts,
on the subject of Vanda, Queen of Poland. The latter is at present
beyond the reach of discussion; even the opera-house at Prague possesses
no copy of the score, and no part of the music has yet been printed,
except the fine gloomy overture. But the former, which, for some reason,
was kept in reserve until 1882, is now easily attainable, and may well
claim a better fate than our indifference has accorded to it. The theme
is simplicity itself. Farmer Vavra has a grown-up son; Widow Rihova, who
lives over the way, has a marriageable daughter; of course they lay
their heads together and decide that their children shall make a match
of it. Unfortunately the young people, who would have liked nothing
better if they had been left to themselves, declined altogether to have
their affections forced, and break out into open mutiny. Vavra
threatens, Tonik defies; Rihova pleads, Lenka snaps her fingers; and
matters have come to a hopeless deadlock when there steps in old father
Rericha the village diplomatist. He has been watching the failure of
authority with sardonic delight, he foretold it from the beginning, but
nobody paid any attention to him; now he takes the two mutineers,
provokes them first into jealousy, then into recrimination, then into a
lovers' quarrel, and finally induces them to plight their troth before
they are quite certain that they have been reconciled. For reasons of
stage policy, the parents are made unconscious accomplices in the plot;
and there is an amusing scene in which Rericha, having lured them into a
couple of unjustifiable flirtations, betrays them to the village, and
has them denounced by an excited chorus. Of the music there is no need
to speak in detail. It is neither great nor meant to be great, but it is
all pleasant and tuneful; a stream of wayside melody that appeals the
more to us for its lack of pretension. The whole work belongs to the
playtime of art: it is a holiday opera, gay, careless and spontaneous,
occupying its hour without a dull bar or a perfunctory phrase.

Meanwhile, other forms of composition were not neglected. At the
beginning of 1875 appeared a string quartett in A minor; later in the
year followed a serenade in E for stringed orchestra, a quintett in G,
and, greatest of all, a brilliant symphony in F major. It is probable,
too, that we may attribute to the same period the first pianoforte
trio, the first pianoforte quartett, and at least three volumes of small
vocal pieces; but in these, as in other of Dvořák's early works, the
record is too uncertain to admit of any strict chronological accuracy.
He was still a prophet honoured in his own country alone; and his
message, though heard with enthusiasm by his people, had not yet been
published abroad in the ears of Europe.

However, in 1875, there occurred an event, which not only brought relief
to the daily need, but opened as well a wider prospect of fame and
fortune. Encouraged by the success of his work at Prague, Dvořák
sent in an application to the Pension committee of the Austrian
Kultusministerium, submitted an opera and a symphony by way of
credentials, and received in answer a grant of some thirty pounds; the
first recognition that his genius had won from beyond the border. No
doubt to Imperial munificence the amount was an inconsidered trifle; to
the organist of St Adalbert's it meant first the equivalent of a year's
salary, and secondly the more valuable guerdon of a foothold in Vienna.
The judges who had awarded his prize were among the acknowledged leaders
of musical art; supported by their authority he could hardly fail to
obtain a wider hearing; and if that was once secured the future rested
with himself. The frontier had at last been traversed, and before him
lay the broad fertile plains that were waiting to be conquered.

To equip himself with a greater freedom, he resigned his post in the
year 1876, and began to devote his life almost entirely to the more
pressing requirements of composition. It was a bold step, for it left
him with a growing household, and an income chiefly dependent upon his
pen; but like all true artists he had the courage of inspiration, and
felt that victory was certain, if he were allowed to maintain his cause
with his own weapons. The immediate result was the creation of a
masterpiece, which, had he written nothing else, would suffice to rank
him among the greatest composers of our time. It may be possible that in
the Stabat Mater there are a few imperfections, that the sterner
qualities are wanting, that some of the phrases are a thought too
ingenious and recondite. But its opulence of melody, its warmth of
colour, its exquisite beauty of theme and treatment, are far more than
enough to condone any real or imaginary defects. With its completion the
music of Dvořák passed out of adolescence into the full vigour of
maturity and manhood. In its achievement the long years of unsparing
labour found at last a befitting reward.

The score was sent off to try its fortune in Vienna, and, by some
incredible error, was rejected.[47] Perhaps the judges were afraid of
creating a precedent, perhaps they thought that dewdrops of celestial
melody should be either invaluable or of no value, in any case they
withheld their guineas and added another item to the long catalogue of
academic injustice. To Dvořák the loss must have been a serious
matter, for he had now no official position, and his pupils had never
brought any great accession to his revenue, but with his usual sturdy
patience he refused to be disheartened by the mischance, and gathered
his forces into winter quarters, there to make preparation for another
campaign. After all the disaster was but a temporary check; it could
retard his progress, it could cut off his supplies, but it could neither
impair his capacity, nor turn the edge of his resolution. He had already
gained one success at Vienna: next year it should go hard, but he would
match it with a second.

Accordingly, in 1877, he again made appeal to the Kultusministerium,
offering in defence of his claim the Moravian duets, and a few of the
more recent chamber-works. They arrived at an opportune moment, for
Brahms had just been appointed a member of the awarding committee, and,
under his guidance, there could no longer be any doubt of its decision.
The grant was at once renewed and augmented, the composer was welcomed
with cordial and generous commendation; finally the duets were sent off
to Simrock, franked by a letter of introduction that was more than
enough to secure their acceptance. Back came an answer from the great
publishing house at Berlin--the duets should be printed without delay;
other manuscripts might be despatched for consideration, in the
meantime would Herr Dvořák accept the commission to write a set of
characteristic national dances? To such an offer there was only one
possible response. Before the close of the year the Slavische Tänze were
finished; at the beginning of 1878 they were in print, in a few months
they had roused the whole of Germany to the appreciation of a neglected
genius. Henceforward his reputation was established beyond dispute. Like
Byron, he awoke to find himself famous, and to look back upon the times
of darkness and disappointment as a man looks back upon his dreams.

Among the other compositions of 1877 may be noted a set of symphonic
variations, and a new comedy, the Cunning Peasant. In the latter Dvořák
was again hampered by his uncritical acceptance of a bad libretto. The
plot is clumsy and ill-contrived, a medley of cross-purposes entwined at
random, and severed in despair; the characters are drawn after a wholly
conventional pattern, the humour is for the most part shallow and
superficial. When Betuska defies parental tyranny, we all know that she
will be rewarded with the suitor that she has chosen for herself. When
old Martin lays a trap for the hero, we all know that the comic valet is
destined to fall into it. When the count appears as a _diabolus ex
machinâ_, anyone can foresee that he will end by blessing the lovers in a
fit of stage repentance. And the incident on which the intrigue is made
to depend, a twilight scene, with three indistinguishable heroines,
forestalls its effect by elaborate preparation, and then only strikes the
spectator as an extreme demand upon his credulity. But Dvořák, like
Schubert, could 'set a handbill to music.' Out of this unpromising
material he has made an opera, which, from overture to finale, sparkles
with the merriest tunes, an opera which altogether disregards the
impracticable requirements of the dramatist, and goes back openly and
frankly to the lyric standpoint. As a play it offers a hundred hostages
to criticism, but then it has already been betrayed by a treacherous
alliance. As a musical extravaganza it is almost irresistible; brightly
written, admirably scored, and charming enough to redeem the most
rigorous of pledges.

In spite of its text the opera was so favourably received that Dvořák
sent the score to Simrock, who at once printed the overture as a concert
piece, and supplemented it later with a German version of the entire
work. Indeed, during the next few years, the presses were busy with
compositions by the new master, some of them fresh written, some
gathered from the great pile of manuscript that had been accumulating
since 1861. Day after day was filled with correspondence, with proof
correction, with all the numberless details of the printing office: day
after day saw another stone added to the structure that had waited so
long for its foundation. And, beside this, the bare catalogue of more
recent production is in itself a sign of no inconsiderable activity. To
1878 belong the Slavonic Rhapsodies, the serenade for wind, 'cello and
contrabass, the bagatellen, the string sestett in A major, the 149th
psalm, and a host of smaller pieces; next year came the orchestral
suite, and the violin concerto; next year the Legenden, and the violin
sonata in F; next year the Stabat Mater and the great D major symphony.
Even these are but items in the sum, not indications of its total
amount. There is little wonder that Europe should feel itself the richer
for a gift so unexpected and so abundant.

But Dvořák could not wholly give up to mankind what was meant, in the
first instance, for a patriotic party. The opening of the New Bohemian
Theatre in 1881 recalled him from Legends and Rhapsodies into the full
stir and impetus of national life, and set him once more in the van of
that strange, half-artistic, half-political movement that had found its
type and representative in the 'Heirs of the White Mountain.' The two
works which he wrote this year for the stage have almost the tone of
manifestoes; curiously alike in scope and plan, curiously different in
the measure of their ultimate value. Both make direct appeal to popular
sympathy; both recall some notable period in the history of Bohemia;
both draw their inspiration from melodies that have gained acceptance
among the folk-songs of the people. But here parallel gives way to
contrast. The Husitska overture, founded on a famous battle-song of the
Hussite wars, is a masterpiece which turns to a noble use, one of the
finest themes in Bohemian art--the incidental music to Samberk's 'Tyl,'
takes perforce the poor melody of the national anthem, for which Tyl had
written the words, and so foredooms itself to failure by a fault that is
not its own. Of course in the latter case the choice was inevitable. A
drama which had the revolutionary poet for central figure, could only be
set by _motifs_ that made reference to the best known of his works, and
in Bohemia, as in many other countries, the national anthem has been
accepted by accident, and maintained by force of association. Still, the
comparison of the two results is a lesson of the highest significance.
In Husitska, Dvořák selected a genuine folk-song, and raised it into
a national monument that will stand the test of time. In Tyl he borrowed
the tune of a Prague Kapellmeister, and with all ingenuity of treatment,
could lift it to no higher level than that of a _pièce d'occasion_. It
was perfectly natural that both works alike should obtain an immediate
welcome. They appeared at a moment of crisis; they addressed a sentiment
of loyalty; they stood for the time outside the range of dispassionate
criticism. But to us, who may regard the matter from a purely artistic
standpoint, the difference between them is incalculable. Both are well
written; both have accessory themes of great beauty; both are scored
with all their composer's accustomed skill, but one is built upon the
bed-rock of the Bohemian mountains, the other upon an artificial
basement that only holds together by external support.

Having once more gained access to the Theatre, Dvořák proceeded to
occupy the position, and in 1882 strengthened it by the production of
Dimitrij, which, among all his operas, is the largest in scale, and the
most dramatic in treatment. He had, indeed, a subject made to his hand.
The romance of history contains no more striking episode than that of
the false Demetrius; a story of heroism and imposture, of honour in
conflict with ambition, of love that betrays a trust, and jealousy that
wrecks a life. Marina's character is one of singular interest and
complexity, torn between allegiance to her nation and loyalty to her
husband, aiding him to usurp the throne which he believes to be his by
right, denouncing him in anger when he uses his power against her
countrymen, watching his assassination on the spot where she had shared
his triumph. Here are no foregone conclusions; no idle displays of
theatrical ingenuity; no stage lay figures clad in traditional garb; the
whole event is a transcript from nature, vivid, real, convincing, and
the more tragic for the cross issue upon which it turns. It may be added
that Dvořák has accomplished his part in the work with unusual care
and anxiety. After the first performance some important changes were
made, notably in the overture, and in the closing scenes, and though
the music has since been printed in its revised form, the composer,
still dissatisfied, has recently submitted it to a new process of
recension. Yet in its earlier shape the score contained passages and
numbers which the world would be the poorer for losing. The most
relentless self-criticism could hardly have bettered the entry into
Moscow, or Xenia's flight, or the great duet in the second act.

Meantime the curtain was rising upon another scene, which had England
for its stage, and Dvořák himself for its hero. As early as 1879, the
attention of English musicians had been aroused by a performance of the
Slavische Tänze; the interest once excited had steadily grown and
gathered as new works made their appearance; and, in March 1883, the
composer was invited over to conduct his Stabat Mater at the Albert
Hall. His reception was one of the most cordial ever offered by our land
to a foreign artist. The house was crowded and appreciative; the press
for once raised a unanimous voice of approbation; the example set
by London was soon followed by other great centres throughout the
country. No doubt there was something of fashion and novelty in the
movement:--every great stream of tendency carries these attendant
bubbles upon its surface: but at least the current was set in a right
direction, and was destined to maintain its course without swerving. The
lapse of years may have brought us a cooler judgment; it has certainly
brought us a stronger and more reasoned admiration.

In 1884 the Stabat Mater was repeated at Worcester, where it met with so
brilliant a success, that Dvořák was at once commissioned to write a
cantata for next year's Birmingham Festival. As libretto he took a
Slavonic version of the Lenore legend, a vampyre story, even wilder and
more savage than the famous ballad which Burger wrote, and Scott
translated. It is not, perhaps, a very satisfactory subject for a long
work. There is too much monotony of suffering: there is too much
gloom and terror and pain: a tragedy so unrelieved comes near to
over-straining the sympathy of the spectator. But for all this it offers
certain points of vantage which Dvořák was abundantly qualified to
seize. In setting the words, he wisely treated the musical aspect as
paramount, brought to the task all his resources of rhythm and harmony
and melodic invention, and produced a poem in which horror itself is
made beautiful, and darkness lightened with flashes of electric genius.
Grant that the 'Spectre's Bride' is too long, that it needs compression;
that it loses effect by repetition and redundance; none the less it can
show some of the finest numbers that its composer has ever written, and
with such summits attained, may well look down upon any censure of

A remarkable contrast is afforded by the Oratorio of St Ludmila, which
was produced at the Leeds Festival of 1886. The theme is fertile in
opportunity, the book is written by the first of living Bohemian poets,
the music dates from the centre of Dvořák's richest period, and yet
the whole impression left on the hearer is one of failure and
disappointment. For this our own reputation is chiefly to blame. It is a
matter of common belief abroad, that the only works which can really
attract a British audience are the Elijah and the Messiah; that in them
we find all music comprised, that from them we construct a standard by
which we test the entire range of composition. Perhaps our past history
in some degree justifies the charge; perhaps we have unduly favoured the
two great masterpieces that were written for our country; in any case
the tradition obtains, and St Ludmila may stand as the most salient
example of its effect. The opening chorus is characteristic enough; the
rest is all dominated by the influence of Handel and Mendelssohn; a
labour that is lost by conformity with an alien method, a gift that is
marred by the very means taken to render it acceptable.

But during all these years, the best record of Dvořák's genius is to
be found in his instrumental compositions. Even the Spectre's Bride is
not of more account than the Symphony in D minor, the Symphony in G, and
the array of chamber-works that reach their climax with the famous
Pianoforte Quintett. To these may be added the trifles of a lighter
mood--waltzes, mazurkas, dainty little sketches for the pianoforte--all
too slight to establish a reputation, but all beautiful enough for its
adornment. At the same time he was gaining strength and experience as a
song-writer. The Zigeunerlieder had already marked a new stage in his
lyric method; they were now followed by three volumes of equal charm and
of a style even more fully developed. Indeed, as we look through the
pages of successful attainment, we are in no mind to cavil because one
effort has missed its mark. Assuredly, there was no lack of power in the
artist who could retrieve a single defeat with so many victories.

In 1889 he brought out his sixth opera, Jakobin--a sentimental comedy of
a type that held the stage some half-century ago. The play is somewhat
spoiled by a double intrigue, of which it may be said that the less
prominent strand is the better woven. We grow rather weary of Count
Bohus and his peasant-wife; driven from home by an unbending father,
supplanted by a wicked cousin, restored by a reminiscence of early
childhood; but we can all sympathise with the old Kapellmeister who
arranges the castle pageants, and who, on the eve of his cantata, has to
choose a son-in-law between the burgomaster of the town and its only

Later events are of too recent a memory to require any detailed
description. In 1889, Dvořák was decorated by the Austrian Court; in
1890 he was admitted to the Honorary Doctorate at Cambridge; in the same
year, Prague elected him Doctor of Philosophy, and appointed him
Professor of Composition at the Conservatorium. Next autumn he again
visited England, to conduct his Requiem at the Birmingham Festival, and
shortly afterwards accepted the post of Musical Director at New York,
where, with an occasional holiday in Bohemia, he remained until 1895.
During his residence in America he was much attracted by the sweetness
and _naïveté_ of the negro melodies, and, though he never actually
transferred any of them to his own pages, yet in more than one
composition he shows clear traces of their influence. This is
particularly the case with his symphony, 'From the New World' (Op. 95),
so named because it was the first work of his written in the United
States, and with the String Quartett in F major (Op. 96) and A flat
major (Op. 105). In all these the most conspicuous themes are intimately
affected by the 'Plantation Songs,' and it is interesting to note with
what skill Dvořák has absorbed their character into his own style and

Among other notable works published at this period should be mentioned
the set of 'Elegies' (Dumky) for Pianoforte trio, the three great
concert overtures, 'In der Natur,' 'Carnaval,' and 'Otello,' a quintett
in E flat minor, and a collection of 'Bible Songs,' the words of which
are mainly taken from the Psalms. His last Transatlantic composition was
a cantata, 'The American Flag,' written for the Chicago Exhibition of
1895. Shortly afterwards, influenced, it would seem, by sheer nostalgia,
he resigned his appointment and returned to Bohemia, where he has since
resided; partly in Prague and partly in his country house some thirty
miles away. His restoration to his own country was marked by another
outburst of composition, and in 1896 there appeared the Violoncello
Concerto, the String Quartetts in A flat and G, and the three symphonic
poems, 'Der Wassermann,' 'Die Mittagshexe,' and 'Das Goldene Spinnrad.'
In the same year was published the 'Te Deum,' which had been produced at
the Birmingham Festival of 1894, but the work, in spite of some
brilliant passages, is not one of his greatest and needs here no more
than the bare mention. After 1896 came an interval of silence; doubtless
to be explained by the cares of office at the Prague Conservatorium:
then in 1899 followed 'Die Waldtaube,' and 'Heldenlied,' and in 1901 the
new opera of 'Roussalka.'


[45] This opus number is appended to the autograph score. The Quintett
and both the symphonies are still unpublished.

[46] See a complete history of this work in the preface to the present
libretto; see also Dr Stecker's article on Dvořák in the new
'Bohemian Encyclopædia.' Both these authorities give 1871 as the date.

[47] See the biographical sketch of Dvořák, by H. E. Krehbiel,
_Century_, Sept. 1892.



The statical conditions which aid in the formation of character may
roughly be classified under three principal heads. First, there is the
broad general basis of humanity, the common foundation of thought and
feeling which enables us to sympathise, in some measure, with distant
lands and remote ages. Secondly, there is the individual element, the
particular blend of personal characteristics, the special idiosyncrasy
that marks the difference between one man and his fellow. Third, and
intermediate between the other two, is the debt that we owe to our
nation the long inheritance that our forefathers have accumulated, that
has been put to interest from the beginning of our race, and augmented
by every occurrence in our history. And since art is essentially the
outcome of character, it would seem to follow, that the artist should
display in his work some trace of these three conditions, that his
manner should be affected by causes which belong partly to mankind at
large, partly to his own temper and circumstances, partly to the
distinctive attributes of his people.

The first two of these have never been called in question. All
criticism admits that art is at once human and personal, that its aim is
to particularise, through the medium of the artist, some ideal or truth
which is universal in its ultimate essence. But the admission of the
national element has been so strenuously attacked, that a few words may
perhaps be offered in its defence; and there could be no more fitting
occasion than the study of a composer whose best work has been devoted
to the service of a national movement. Hence, before beginning any
detailed investigation of Dvořák's method, it will be advisable to
consider, first, what is precisely implied in the statement that he was
influenced by the character of his country, and secondly, whether this
influence was a source of strength or of weakness?

Now the differences by which national temperaments are distinguished
appear to be such palpable facts, that it is hardly worth while to
assert their existence. In conversation, in travel, in all intercourse
we are constantly being reminded that Europe is divided by frontier
lines, drawn, no doubt, over the surface of a common earth, but for all
that, setting up barriers which are not solely geographical. There is
some intermixture of races, but it only bars the rule with a rare
exception. There is a growing development of breadth and sympathy, but
it only teaches us that the foreign standpoint is as good as our own,
not that it is the same. The human mind, says Bacon, is a broken and
distorted mirror which can but reflect a part of the truth, and
assuredly the part reflected by any individual mind is in great measure
determined by national and social conditions.

Again the poet, though he be the spokesman of the whole world, is in a
more intimate degree the spokesman of his own country. He has a
particular set of traditions for background, he has a particular
language for vehicle, and both of these give shape and colour to the
abstract ideas which it is his function to express. Wordsworth, for
example, is as purely English as Victor Hugo is French or Goethe German;
each is the embodiment of a national spirit, each make a closer appeal
to his compatriots than to the wisest and most liberal criticism across
the border. And this does not depend upon the mere difficulty of
translation, it is not a question of grammar and dictionary, rather it
is the point of view which seems strange to a foreign reader, which
requires some readjustment before the true focus can be obtained. Nor is
the discrepancy less in the minuter points of rhythm and versification.
The assonances of Calderon are perfectly satisfying to a Spanish ear; to
us they have simply the effect of a false rhyme. Alfred de Musset threw
French literature into a ferment by ending an Alexandrine with the words
'tu es;' we pass over the line without noting anything unusual in its
cadence. In a word, apart from Heine, we shall hardly find an instance
of great poetry which is not saturated with a national atmosphere, and
even Heine is an exception easily explained, and more easily overstated.

The rule is equally applicable to painting. When Mr Whistler tells us
that 'there is no such thing as English art,' and that 'we might
as well talk of English mathematics,' we can only suppose that he is
experimenting in paradox, at least we may wait for conviction until we
have found the counterparts of Reynolds and Gainsborough, of Morland
and Constable. The last of these, indeed, may be taken as a crucial
case. There can be no doubt that the Barbizon School was influenced by
his method and example, that in some degree it shared his aim and
followed his style, yet Constable is as English as the 'Excursion,'
Millet as French as the 'Feuilles d'Automne.' The distinctions may be
more subtle than those of language, but they are not more unreal. The
lines of demarcation may be obscured by imitators and copyists, but they
still exist for those who make their art a reality. Even community of
school or subject will do very little to obliterate the inherent
differences of temper; a man may find his teacher in Paris and his model
in Rome, and learn after all that 'cælum non animum mutat.'

Here an objection occurs. Grant, it will be said, that the
representative arts are in some way affected by the _entourage_ of the
artist, we cannot therefore infer that the same will hold good of music.
They are comparatively material and concrete, they depict the actual,
they stand in direct relation to an external world, but in music we are
dealing with pure abstract form, and the laws of form are universal.
Hence the composer is not bound by national limitations; he stands above
them, 'he alone with the stars;' he is the citizen of an ideal kingdom
where there is one common language and one common scheme of life. To
this it is an obvious answer, that music idealises the natural language
of emotion, and that if the emotional temper differs in separate
countries, the music must differ also. The abstract element is the
paramount need of balance and symmetry, but there are a thousand ways in
which this requirement can be fulfilled, and the method selected by any
school or country will depend upon its own predilections and its own
character. And if the music be true and vital, it will always be found
to embody some phase of the national temperament, it will speak with a
tone and cadence that are unlike those of neighbouring lands, it will
express shades and nuances of feeling which are in some way special to
the country that has given it birth.

There is little likelihood that we shall ever be able to reduce these
distinctions to phrase and formula, but we may readily observe them by a
comparison of the Volkslieder that obtain among the different races of
Europe. Here we shall find the national idioms in their simplest and
most unsophisticated expression, the direct primary utterance of the
same ideas, which attain a fuller and more developed beauty at the hands
of the great composers. Of course, as the music of a country progresses,
it will advance farther and farther from the Volkslied, it will grow
richer and more complex, it will treat its material by methods which the
artist has inherited, not so much from his nation as from his
predecessors in the art. Yet it still remains true, that the line of
ancestry is continuous, that the course of genealogy may be traced, and
that the masterpiece, with all its finish and civilisation, is of the
same flesh and blood as its humbler compatriot. Again, there are cases
where a composer has naturalised himself in a new home, and has become,
in a sense, bilingual; in all these it will be found that the language
of his birth holds the predominance, and that his new acquirement is
only an added grace. Brahms, for instance, does not treat the Hungarian
idiom in the same way as Liszt, or even as Schubert, he employs it with
extraordinary ease and mastery, but he never lets us forget that he is a

We may conclude, then, that a composer of genius, if he write simply and
naturally, will express his own character, and in so doing will express
that of his country as well. More particularly will this be true if he
appear during the stir and stress of a patriotic movement, if he be
occupied in constructing a system for the guidance and direction of his
successors. For a time of political crisis not only brings out all that
is best in a man, it also draws him nearer to his people, and makes him
at once more desirous and more capable of serving as its true
representative. And so it has been with Dvořák. If we compare his
melody with that of Smetana, and with that of the Bohemian folk-songs,
we shall find a notable resemblance of thought and feeling, they are all
of one family, of one kindred, connected by a sympathy that the widest
distinctions of treatment cannot annul. No doubt Smetana is often
content to reproduce the methods of the folk-song, while in Dvořák
the curves are made richer, and the designs more complex and beautiful,
still the emotional basis of the one is that of the other, and the
distinctions between them depend partly on the personal element, partly
on the accident of historical position. Smetana came first into the
field; it was his work to gather the stones and to lay the foundation.
Dvořák followed him, and began, with the same materials, to raise a

Hence it is not a little significant that his few misadventures have
always marked some momentary defection from the national cause. The
first version of 'King and Collier' has long passed beyond the reach of
criticism, but at least we know that it was written in imitation of
Wagner, and that it was unsuccessful. The 149th Psalm is merely a
careful and conscientious expression of German method, and has hardly a
greater value than that which belongs to an Academic exercise. The
Oratorio of St Ludmila is a concession to the supposed requirements of
English taste, and in the record of its composer's works it has almost
dropped out of account. And if we turn for contrast to such achievements
as the Pianoforte Quintett, or the Spectre's Bride, or the D minor
Symphony, we are at once struck, not only with the difference of result,
but with the total difference of character. Here Dvořák is delivering
his own message in his own words, here he attains a native eloquence
that can readily compel our attention. It is surely no extreme inference
that we should here recognise some connection of cause and effect.

At the same time we must remember that the racial element is only one
among formative conditions, and that it is itself a factor in personal
idiosyncrasy. 'Just what constitutes special power and genius in a man,'
says Matthew Arnold, 'seems often to be his blending with the basis of a
national temperament some additional gift or grace not proper to that
temperament.' And of this we may find a ready illustration in
Dvořák's treatment of the scale, an illustration of double interest,
partly because it shows one of the most distinctive attributes in his
music, partly because even here he stands in direct relation to an
ethnological background. We have already seen that the scale now in use
among western nations was set in course by the Florentine revolution of
1600, and that it spread from Florence to Paris, and from Paris to
Leipsic, until it was finally established by Sebastian Bach. Hence the
music of Italy, France, and Germany grew with its growth, developed with
its development, and constructed by its means a common body of system
and tradition. With all their divergencies of emotional impulse, the
composers of these three countries have this formal point of union, that
they accepted the diatonic scale as their unit, and treated the
chromatic rather as an appenage and an extension. From this followed an
important consequence. For, in the first place, a settled scale is not
only a vehicle for melody, it is also a means of modulation, and this
latter function comes more into evidence as music becomes more complex
and the need of modulation increases. And, in the second place, it is an
essential characteristic of the diatonic scale, that some of its notes
should be more nearly related than others, and that composers who found
their work upon it should therefore acknowledge some modulations as
comparatively easy and natural, some as comparatively remote and
recondite. Of course, as time goes on, we become familiarised with
effects that once appeared violent and extreme, yet even now we
recognise certain relative limitations. Alfio's song in _Cavalleria_,
for example, gives us merely the impression of deliberate defiance, it
is not construction but demolition, not freedom but revolt.

For obvious historical reasons the growth of this scale system left
Bohemia altogether untouched. She did not enter the field until this
part of the work was completed, she bore no share in the traditions
which its gradual evolutions had established in neighbouring lands.
When therefore she came to the making of her own music, she could look
upon this scheme from outside, she could treat it dispassionately, she
could take it without any of the limitations that had hitherto marked
its course. And in doing so, she produced a result to which the whole
history of music affords no exact parallel. Dvořák is the one
solitary instance of a composer who adopts the chromatic scale as unit,
who regards all notes as equally related. His method is totally
different from that of chromatic writers like Grieg and Chopin, for
Grieg uses the effects as isolated points of colour, and Chopin
embroiders them, mainly as appoggiaturas, on a basis of diatonic
harmony. His 'equal temperament' is totally different from that of Bach,
for Bach only showed that all the keys could be employed, not that they
could be arranged in any chance order or sequence. But to Dvořák the
chromatic passages are part of the essential texture, and the most
extreme modulations follow as simply and easily as the most obvious. In
a word, his work, from this standpoint, is truly a _nuova musica_,
developed, like all new departures, from the consequences of past
achievement, but none the less turning the stream of tendency into a
fresh direction.

It may at once be admitted that from this cause the music of Dvořák
loses something of strength and massiveness: that it is Corinthian
rather than Doric. But, at the same time, it compensates, at any rate in
part, by a certain opulence, a certain splendour and luxury to which few
other musicians have attained: and, beside this, its very strangeness
constitutes an additional claim upon our interest. We rather lose our
bearings when, in the second of the Legenden, we find a phrase which
has its treble in G and its tenor in D flat; or when, as in the fifth
number of the Spectre's Bride, the music passes from one remote key to
another with a continuous and facile display of resource that is
apparently inexhaustible. Often, too, the devices outmatch the utmost
capacity of our recognised symbols. Mendelssohn's famous crux of 'Fes
moll' would be plain sailing to a composer who, in his third Pianoforte
Trio, writes passages in D flat minor, and B double-flat major, and
other keys of a signature equally undecipherable. And though these
matters may seem trivial enough when they are submitted to the indignity
of our musical nomenclature, we should yet remember that there is
nothing trivial in the habit of mind which they imply. It is to them and
to their like that we owe all the warmth of colour, all the richness
of tone, all the marvellous effects of surprise and crisis that
are so eminently characteristic of Dvořák in his best mood. To an
imagination so vivid as his, the possession of an extended scale was a
priceless opportunity; and he has used it to fill his work with incident
and adventure as varied and brilliant as were ever lavished by the hand
of Scott or Dumas.

His treatment of the classical forms is much influenced for good by his
long and patient study of Beethoven. In the more highly-organised types
he certainly falls short of his great master: he lacks the perfect
balance that marks the first movement of the Appassionata or the A major
Symphony; as we should naturally expect, he tends rather to restlessness
of tonality and to a page overcrowded with accessory keys. But, in spite
of this, his instinct for structure is real and genuine; it ranks higher
than that of Chopin--far higher than that of Liszt or Berlioz; and his
outline, though not always in complete symmetry, is firmly drawn and
filled with interesting detail. Some of his larger forms are pure
experiments in construction: such, for instance, as the opening movement
of the Violin Concerto, the Finale of the G major Symphony, and the
Scherzo Capriccioso for orchestra: sometimes he founds an entire number
on a single melodic phrase, as in the slow movement of the Second
Pianoforte Trio: more often, as in the F major Symphony and the String
Sestett, he takes the established type and modifies it in some important
particular. But whatever the result, his structure always gives us the
impression of thought and design. He has his own method, and even when
he fails of conviction, he can generally command respect.

The two forms in which he is most successful are the two most usually
associated with his name--the Dumka and the Furiant. Both of these are
real accessions to musical literature: not because they are new in
conception, for, like all other structures, they descend in direct
evolution from the folk-song, but because they have developed the
primitive type in a new way, and have enriched the existing stock
with a strain of collateral relationship. The Furiant is one of the
national dances of Bohemia, and is frequently employed by Dvořák as a
representative of the scherzo. In adopting it he has, to a great extent,
altered its character; he has enlarged its range, quickened its tempo,
and replaced, with a more vigorous gaiety and _abandon_, its original
tone of half-humorous assurance. If we compare the example in the A
major Quintett with the traditional melody--either as it appears among
the Volkslieder, or, as it is used by Smetana in the Bartered Bride--we
shall see at once that Dvořák has done more than borrow from the
existing resources of his countrymen; that, as a matter of fact, he has
taken nothing but the mould, and has used it for the casting of an
entirely different metal. Even more distinctive is his treatment of the
Dumka or 'Elegy,' a complex form which, like a sonnet-sequence, holds in
combination a series of separate poems. It is here, indeed, that he has
brought his constructive power to its highest attainment. The whole
scheme is of great interest and value: varied without digression,
uniform without monotony, flexible enough to answer all moods and engage
all sympathies. The stanzas admit a sharper contrast than is possible to
the subjects of a 'sonata movement': the key system, though it would be
impracticable on a larger scale, is admirably suited to these brief
moments of concentration: the recurrent themes maintain the organism in
proper balance and equipoise. There is little need to speculate on the
ancestry of the form, though it is worth noting, that a simple instance
occurs in the Serenade trio of Beethoven: whatever its origin, it
acquires in the hands of Dvořák a special significance which is
quite enough to place it among the most notable of his gifts. For
illustration, we may turn to the slow movement of the Pianoforte
Quintett, or to that of the Third Symphony, or to the six Elegies that
have recently been published for pianoforte trio. They are all
beautiful, they are all characteristic, and they fill their canvas with
a most ingenious diversity of design.

This feeling for colour and movement, which appears partly in his
rhythms, partly in his use of the scale, partly in his preference for
lyric and elegiac forms, may also account in some measure for his
unquestioned and supreme mastery of orchestration. Here at least there
is no counterchange of victory and defeat, no loss in one direction to
balance gain in another; here at least every achievement is a triumph
and every work a masterpiece. Nor has he alone the lesser gift of
writing brilliant dialogue for his instrument, of making each stand out
salient and expressive against a background of lower tone; he is even
more successful in those combinations of _timbre_ which harmonise the
separate voices and give to the full chord its peculiar richness and
euphony. When we think of his scoring, it is not to recall a horn
passage in one work or a flute solo in another--plenty of these could be
found, and in a master of less capacity they would be well worth
recording--but it is rather the marvellous interplay and texture of the
whole that remains in our memory and compels our admiration. Look, for
example, at the Husitska Overture, or the third Slavonic Rhapsody, or
the slow movement of the Symphony in D minor. Hardly in all musical
literature are the orchestral forces treated with such a warmth of
imagination or such unerring certainty of judgment.

Hence it is not surprising that a great part of his finest work should
be instrumental, and that even his masterpieces of Hymn and Cantata
should be written, more or less, upon instrumental lines. He is always
rather hampered than aided by the collaboration of the poet; his
chromatic style is better suited to strings and wind than to the
peculiar limitations of the human voice; his vigorous rhythms are in
some degree impeded by the slower articulation of the words; his sense
of form finds its most natural expression in symphonic and concerted
music. Again, so far as the distinction is applicable at the present
day, he belongs rather to the classical than to the romantic school; he
is more concerned with producing the highest beauty of sound than with
following, through all its phases, the emotional import of a poem. His
operas are for the most part essentially undramatic, and if they hold
the stage, will survive as displays of pure melody. His great choral
compositions--the Stabat Mater, the Spectre's Bride, the Requiem--stand
in a loose relation to the texts on which they are founded; embodying,
no doubt, the general tendency of thought, but always acknowledging the
melodic requirements as paramount. Even his songs offer no exception to
the rule. It is true that, after the Zigeunerlieder, they undergo a
remarkable change in treatment and elaboration, but although they lose
the shape of the ballad, they are never out of touch with its character.
Nothing, in short, is further from Dvořák's ideal than the imposition
of a programme. He is essentially what the Germans would call an
'absolute musician;' content to express the broad general types of
feeling, and, within their limits, wholly engaged with the special
service of his art.

This statement requires a word of qualification. The great masters of
pure classical style,--Haydn, for example, and Mozart, and Beethoven,
have, as their predominant gift, the sense of outline, and their sense
of colour, however keen and vivid, is always kept in subservience to the
requisitions of design. As a natural consequence, they are supreme
in the string quartett, which, among all types of composition,
demands purity of line as its first essential. But with Dvořák,
the relation of these attributes is reversed, in him the sense of
colour preponderates, and the demands of pure outline, though never
disregarded, are nevertheless relegated to the second place. Thus, in
his music for strings alone, the Sestett in A, the Quintett in G minor,
the four Quartetts, we feel that he is chafing at the restraints of
monochrome, that he wants the whole palette, that he is always held in
check by the absence of orchestral resources. The result is not that
he writes orchestral music for the strings; he is too true an artist
to fall into this error; but that he writes string music under
difficulties, that he foregoes all the better part of his equipment,
that he is accomplishing a task in which his special gifts have little
opportunity of display. No doubt these works contain passages and even
numbers of great beauty, but as a whole they do not bear comparison with
the Violin Concerto or the Symphonies, or the Carnaval Overture. Here
Dvořák obtains his contrast of tone, here he has the whole gamut of
colour at his command, here he can win the full measure of success from
which he is in part precluded by a severer method. Yet it would be wrong
to class him, for this reason, among the romantic composers. He shares
with them one of the most important of their qualities, but he uses it
for the furtherance of an end that is different from theirs. The
fundamental distinction is one of ideals, and in ideal Dvořák is on
the side of the classics.

Hence there is no inconsistency in estimating him by the classical
standard. For music is not to be summed up in terms of national language
or personal idiosyncrasy; these are but the necessary conditions
through which is embodied the abstract universal of form. Thus, although
a man can only take rank as an artist if he express his own character
and that of his people, he is only a great artist in so far as he
expresses them in the best possible way. The first spontaneous
conception of melody springs from the emotional temperament of the
composer, and so marks him at once as a member of his particular nation,
its treatment is derived from the intellectual laws of proportion and
balance, and so belongs to the general evolution of the art. This
distinction appears very clearly in Dvořák's work. His melody, taken
by itself, is often as simple and ingenuous as a folk-song, but in
polyphony, in thematic development, in all details of contrast and
elaboration, his ideal is to organise the rudimentary life, and to
advance it into a fuller and more adult maturity. Of course, it cannot
be said that he is uniformly successful. He has little sense of economy,
little of that fine reticence and control which underlies the most
lavish moments of Brahms or Beethoven; his use of wealth is so prodigal
that his generosity is sometimes left with inadequate resources. The
stream is so rapid that it has not always time for depth, the eloquence
so prompt and unfailing that it does not always stop to select the best
word. But, for all this, he is a great genius, true in thought, fertile
in imagination, warm and sympathetic in temper of mind. He has borne his
part in a national cause, and has thereby won for himself a triumph that
will endure. He has enriched his people, and, in so doing, has augmented
the treasury of the whole world.


     The greatest genius is the most indebted man. A poet is no
     rattlebrain, saying what comes uppermost, and, because he says
     everything, saying at last something good; but a heart in unison
     with his time and country. There is nothing whimsical and fantastic
     in his production, but sweet and sad earnest, freighted with the
     weightiest convictions, and pointed with the most determined aim
     which any man or class knows of in his time.--EMERSON.



Among the many types of character which are developed by the pursuit of
an artistic profession, two stand out salient and extreme:--the artist
militant and the artist contemplative. The former looks upon life as a
crusade; he proclaims his doctrines to the sound of the trumpet and
proves them at the point of the sword: he treats every critic as a
traitor, and every adversary as a Paynim and a miscreant: he invades all
lands, he challenges all strongholds: he shakes the round earth with the
noise of conflict and the shock of contending creeds. The latter is of a
far different temper. To him the service of his cause is occupation
enough: he is content to produce the best that he knows, and cares
little or nothing that others should accept his standpoint: if the work
be good he will let it take its chance of appreciation; if men choose to
fight about its merits, he will watch the struggle from his study
window as a matter in which he has no personal concern. Nothing is
farther from his thought than the establishment of a school or the
leadership of a party: like Plato's philosopher, he finds his reward in
the pleasures of wisdom, and can leave the pleasures of victory to his
self-constituted followers.

Yet the second is not less sure of immortality than the first. For a
time, no doubt, the din of battle may drown the quieter accents of the
recluse, and the pageantry of war distract attention from the shady
groves and alleys of Academe. The world attaches itself more readily to
persons than to ideas, and rather resents the imputation that it knows
nothing of its greatest men. But there is an inherent vitality in the
best work which can no more be starved by neglect than it can be crushed
by antagonism. Sooner or later the campaign is brought to a successful
issue, and the general returns in triumph through the city gates. Sooner
or later the silent truths find voice and audience, and disciples come
flocking to the feet of the secluded teacher. Wagner, in a word, has cut
his way to fame; Brahms has waited until it set out to seek him.

A life so placid and equable affords of necessity but little material to
the biographer. True, there is some record of the early years, some
reminiscence of studentship or of the first attempts to formulate and
deliver an artistic message, but, the power of utterance once admitted,
there is little further to narrate beyond the successive occasions of
its exercise. Here, then, is a case in which criticism may concentrate
itself from the outset upon the direct development of the artistic gift.
The career of a great man is only interesting in so far as it gives
fresh insight into his power, or throws fresh light on the influences
that have moulded his character: it is with his work that we are
primarily concerned, and, except in relation to this, all details of
personal joy and sorrow may be dismissed as irrelevant. Incidents of
struggle and mastery, alternations of success and defeat, are worth
noting when they occur, since they leave their mark for good or ill on
the environment, through which the art itself is affected. But where
they are absent we stand face to face with the object of our search, and
may contemplate it, not as embodied in circumstance, but as manifested
in its own pure nature. And further, the unbroken quietude in which
Brahms spent his last thirty-five years may itself suggest a standpoint
from which his work can be estimated. He was the deepest thinker in the
musical history of our generation, and he had no time to bestow on
questions of recognition or reward.

Like his two great forerunners, he was the son of a musician, and was
brought up from earliest years to the practice of his art. His father,
Johann Jacob Brahms, was a contrabassist in the Hamburg Theatre, who,
after having fulfilled the office of Meister der Stadtmusik in his
native town of Heide, had come to try his fortunes in the orchestra
where Handel had once played second violin. Of his mother nothing is
recorded, except that she was a native of Hamburg, and that her maiden
name was Johanna Nissen. Shortly after his marriage, Johann Brahms
settled down in the Anselar Platz, and there, on May 7th 1833, Johannes
was born.

It soon appeared that the boy was possessed of unusual capacity. He
learned everything that his father could teach him, he read everything
that he could lay his hands on; he practiced with an undeviating
enthusiasm, he covered reams of paper with counterpoint exercises and
variations. At an early age he was sent for further instruction to a
worthy kapellmeister named Kossel, and in 1845, having left his master
behind him, he was transferred to Eduard Marxsen of Altona, a composer
of considerable merit, whose name has been handed down to us by
Schumann's articles in the _Neue Zeitschrift_. There can be no doubt
that this was a well-directed choice. In addition to the thorough
knowledge of Bach, which had by this time become a staple of musical
education in Germany, Marxsen impressed on his pupil the paramount
importance of a critical study of Beethoven, and thus laid the
foundation of a broader eclecticism than had been attainable by the
composers of any previous age. And, as every artist is in some degree
influenced by the masterpieces from which he takes his point of
departure, it is obvious that the more comprehensive a system of
training, the more perfect will be the balance and unity of the ensuing
work. Something, of course, must be allowed for temperament and
predilection; no course of academic rule would have taught Chopin to
write a symphony or make a contrapuntist of Berlioz; but given a mind
that is wide enough to be in sympathy with divers methods, we can hardly
over-estimate the value of a wise and many-sided _régime_. It is, then,
a matter of no small moment that Brahms in his early studies should have
followed the historical development of the art: first, the volkslieder
and dances which represent its simplest and most unsophisticated
utterance; then the choral writing, in which polyphony is brought to its
highest perfection; lastly, the culminating majesty of structure which
Beethoven has raised as an imperishable monument. To us at the present
day it may seem the most trivial of commonplaces, that a student in
music should pay equal attention to all the supreme types of his art; it
was not a commonplace half a century ago. And the proof, if proof were
needed, is that all the composers of the Romantic period exhibit some
imperfection of method: all, no doubt, playing a definite and valuable
part in the advancement of their cause, but all leaving untouched some
one point of vital importance in the heritage of previous achievement.
In saying this, it is not, of course, necessary to set the genius of
Brahms in the balance against that of Schumann or Chopin. 'Non
facultatum inducitur comparatio sed viæ.' But the fact remains, that
there are in the earlier Masters certain traces of weakness from which
the later is wholly free; and of this fact one reason may be found in a
contrast between the system of Marxsen and the system of Kuntzsch and

It was in 1847 that Brahms, at the age of fourteen, made his début
before a Hamburg audience. His performance, which included a set of
original variations on a Volkslied, was received with a good deal of
applause, but Marxsen, who had no intention of spoiling a career by
premature publicity, withdrew his pupil after a second trial flight, and
sent him back to a course of training from which he did not emerge for
another five years. This last period of studentship was mainly devoted
to composition, and produced among other works the three Pianoforte
Sonatas, the Scherzo in E flat minor, and several songs, one of which
was the famous 'Liebestreu.' They may be said to stand to Brahms later
writings as 'Pauline' stands to 'Cleon' or 'Andrea del Sarto.' There is
some wilfulness of phraseology, some occasional lapse of expression, but
the beauties are real and genuine, and the whole manner astonishingly
mature and adult. Already these appear in germ some of Brahms' most
notable contributions to structural development, already there is
evidence that he understood, as one alone had done before him, the full
significance of the Sonata form, and the possibilities of its further
extension. Here at last was a composer who could fulfil Berlioz's boast,
that he had taken up music where Beethoven laid it down.

So passed away a quiet and uneventful boyhood, a time of novitiate and
preparation in which the rules were learned and the discipline endured
that should qualify a postulant for the full investiture of his order.
The conflicts of 1849 left Hamburg almost entirely untouched, and to the
cloistered retirement of the Anselar Platz the year of revolution was
chiefly memorable as that in which Herr Intendant Heinrich Krebs
resigned his office in order to succeed Herr Hofkapellmeister Richard
Wagner, at Dresden. Of the home-life, meanwhile, we can only say that it
was too happy to afford any history. Thanks to the reminiscences of a
few friends, we may recall for a moment a brief memory of the
household:--Johann Brahms, kindly, genial, humorous, full of droll
stories and quaint aphorisms, yet, in more serious mood, inspired with
that intense poetic love of nature which was so distinguishing a
characteristic in his son; Frau Brahms, gentle and affectionate, proud
of her children, yet half afraid of the dangers and temptations to which
an artistic career is liable; and with them the two boys, Johannes,
standing on the verge of a noble and laborious manhood, and Fritz,
whose brilliant promise was soon to be cut short by an early death. But
it is only a glimpse too slight and transitory to do more than intensify
the darkness through which it penetrates. All the rest is veiled with a
silence which, in the personal record of a great life, is the best of

About the beginning of 1853[48] Hamburg was visited by the Hungarian
violinist, Reményi, an eccentric genius with an insatiable passion for
travel, who, in the course of an itinerant life, has carried his
national music as far east as China and as far south as Natal. For the
time, however, he was contemplating a tour of more moderate dimensions,
and being struck with Brahms' playing, suggested that they should
undertake the enterprise together. It was, no doubt, a comradeship of
rather incongruous elements, and the boy, who had never left home
before, must have felt a little strange as he set out beside his eager,
restless, impetuous companion, who only lamented that his wanderings
were confined to a single planet. But the offer came at so opportune a
moment, that there could be no question as to the propriety of accepting
it; and in a few days the pair were travelling southward to see whether
the towns of Germany would open their gates to the new alliance.

At Göttingen occurred an accident which indirectly altered the whole
aspect of Brahms' position. The piano provided for rehearsal was, of a
kind, picturesquely described by Dr Schubring as 'ein erbärmlicher
Klapperkasten,' which had lost all the voice that it ever possessed by a
long course of university dissipation. Accordingly, the impresario was
summoned, offered the usual apologies, promised to procure a more
adequate substitute for the evening, and returned at the last minute
with a new instrument, which, on investigation, proved to be a semitone
below concert-pitch. It is easy to picture the consternation of Reményi
with an expectant audience, a flat piano, and the 'Kreutzer Sonata' in
immediate prospect. To tune his violin down would be little short of a
personal outrage, but there seemed no other solution, and he was
proceeding with a reluctant hand to slacken his strings when Brahms came
to the rescue and offered to transpose the pianoforte part, which he was
playing from memory, into the higher key. No doubt similar feats have
occasionally been performed by artists of very different calibre, by a
Woelffl as well as a Beethoven, but they have not often been hazarded by
a boy at the outset of his career, when success might pass unnoticed,
and failure would throw back all chances of reputation and livelihood.
It is little wonder that Reményi required a vast amount of persuasion
before he would allow the attempt to be made, and that he was
overwhelmed with astonishment when it ended in a veritable triumph.

As soon as the concert was over, the two artists were informed that a
member of the audience wished to speak with them, and, on coming
forward, found themselves face to face with Joachim. He had noted the
conditions under which the Kreutzer was given, had admired not only the
_tour de force_, but the general breadth and vigour of the rendering,
and now, after a few words of cordial commendation, he offered to
lighten the rest of their journey by a letter of introduction to Liszt
at Weimar and another to the Hofintendant at Hanover. It was a pity that
Düsseldorf lay outside their scheme; still if Brahms would come back to
Göttingen at the close of the tour, he should have a letter to Schumann
which might prove the most serviceable of the three. That Joachim was
deeply impressed, is evident from a few words which he wrote on this
occasion to his friend Ehrlich. 'Brahms has an altogether exceptional
talent for composition,' he says,--'a gift which is further enhanced by
the unaffected modesty of his character. His playing, too, gives every
presage of a great artistic career--full of fire and energy, yet, if I
may say so, inevitable in its precision and certainty of touch. In
brief, he is the most considerable musician of his age that I have ever
met.' Such an encomium, from such a source, may well have set
expectation on the alert. Since Beethoven, there had been no man
received into the brotherhood with so sincere and hearty a welcome.

Fortune, however, indignant that her blows had been parried at
Göttingen, determined that they should be felt at Hanover. For a time,
matters went well enough: the first concert was successful; Count Platen
gave every assistance to the friends of Joachim; the ladies of the Court
were roused to enthusiasm by the romantic Hungarian, and charitably
commended the shy, silent German whom they mistook for his accompanist.
Then the police intervened. It appears that Reményi's brother had taken
an active part in the revolt of 1848. It was even whispered that the
violinist himself had played the _rôle_ of Tyrtæus in the outbreak, and
had marched, instrument in hand, at the forefront of an insurgent army.
Clearly so dangerous a firebrand could no longer be permitted to imperil
the safety of the Hanoverian throne, and accordingly there came a
peremptory note from Herr Polizeipräsident Wermuth, followed by a
rigorous examination and a couple of passports for Bückeburg. In vain
Reményi protested that he had no intention of calling his audience to
the barricades, that Bückeburg was the last place in the world which he
wished to visit, and that he had several other engagements in Hanoverian
territory. The sentence of banishment was adamantine, and the utmost
concession that could be obtained was the alteration of the _visé_ to

This, of course, brought the tour to an abrupt conclusion. Arrangements
had to be cancelled, chances of profit and reputation foregone, and the
end of the journey anticipated before half its distance had been
traversed. However, the concert at Weimar was a fitting climax, and the
cordiality of Liszt made compensation for all disasters. By an odd
chance Brahms had included in the programme his Scherzo in E flat minor,
the most certain of all his compositions to attract the great pianist's
attention, and it is not surprising that he found himself forthwith
enrolled as a leader in the extreme left of the romantic party. We may
here add, that he felt himself from the first in a false position, and
that, a few years later, he formally withdrew his allegiance; but it was
hardly to be expected that he should begin by disowning qualities which
his early work undoubtedly possesses, and which he only outgrew after
further practice and experience. And it is equally intelligible that
Liszt, who looked upon all music from his own standpoint, should
consider Brahms an ally of Berlioz and Wagner, and should value him not
as a maintainer of the old dynasties, but as a fresh embodiment of the
revolutionary spirit. In any case, the misapprehension was of little
immediate importance. Royalist and republican joined hands with mutual
regard, and left to the future all reference to alien ideals, or
divergencies of method.

After the concert at Weimar, Brahms bade adieu to his mercurial
companion, and set out at once for Göttingen in order to claim the
promised letter of introduction to Robert Schumann. Unfortunately, the
curtailment of the tour had so seriously affected his slender resources
that, on obtaining his credentials, he found himself virtually
penniless, and was compelled to make the rest of his journey to
Düsseldorf on foot. It was a very dusty and travel-worn figure that
presented itself at Schumann's door on the famous October morning; but
however weary the pilgrimage, it was more than rewarded by the event.
Schumann listened to the new composer first with interest, then with
admiration, then with enthusiasm; he broke his rule of silence to praise
'music the like of which he had never heard before'; finally, he issued
in the Neue Zeitschrift a panegyric that rang through the length and
breadth of Germany, and set the whole artistic world upon a strain of
attention. In sure and unfaltering accents he proclaimed the advent of a
genius in whom the spirit of the age should find its consummation and
its fulfilment; a master by whose teaching the broken phrases should
grow articulate and the vague aspirations gather into form and
substance. The five-and-twenty years of wandering were over; at last a
leader had arisen who should direct the art into 'new paths,' and carry
it a stage nearer to its appointed place.

The first result of Schumann's encomium was a request from Leipsic that
Brahms would go over and play some of his compositions at the
Gewandhaus. Accordingly he made his appearance on December 17, gave the
Sonata in C and the Scherzo in E flat minor, and soon, to his great
disquietude, found himself in the centre of a raging controversy. There
ought, indeed, to have been no dispute in the matter at all. It is
notoriously difficult to estimate at a first hearing new work which is
possessed of any artistic importance: it becomes almost impossible when
the work is not only new but novel, when it stands out of all relation
to the accustomed phraseology of its time. The critics, therefore, would
have done wisely if they had been content to reserve judgment, or even
to acquiesce in the verdict of Schumann, until they had gained the
knowledge requisite for an independent opinion. But to declare that
'Brahms would never become a star of the first magnitude' was, under the
circumstances, an extreme presumption, and to wish him 'a speedy
deliverance from his over-enthusiastic patrons' was little short of an
impertinence. However, if the music was attacked it was also strenuously
defended, and, before the winter was out, the publication of no
less than eight important works had given opportunity for a more
comprehensive survey of their scope and purport.

At the beginning of 1854 occurred the terrible calamity which brought
Schumann's career to its sudden and tragic termination, and deprived
Brahms at once of his kindest friend and of his most capable adviser.
The intimacy had only lasted for some five months, but it had sprung
into full maturity on the day of its birth, and had run its brief course
in unbroken confidence and affection. It was no relation of master and
disciple, no unequal bond of patronage and subservience: from the outset
the two men had met on equal terms, united in a companionship which the
disparity of their years could not impair. Throughout Schumann's
correspondence of the preceding winter, there is scarcely a page that
does not bear some reference to the 'young eagle': now a word of
counsel, now a good-humoured jest, now a presage of coming reputation.
It was a hard chance that severed so close a tie at the very moment when
promise was yielding its fruition and prophecy passing into fulfilment.

The spring was mainly spent over the labour of proof-sheets; then came a
short holiday with Liszt at Weimar; then a few concerts of no special
interest or importance. But there could be no doubt that the circle was
slowly widening. In July the _Neue Berliner Musikzeitung_, printed a
careful and discriminating review of the 'sechs Lieder' (Op. 3), and,
about the same time, Brahms received the offer of two official
appointments, one from the Rhenish Conservatoire at Cologne, which he
refused, one from the Prince of Lippe Detmold, which he decided to
accept. His new position, though not of any great dignity or emolument,
contained two practical advantages: the first that it gave him
experience as choir-master and conductor; the second that, at the most
receptive period of his life, it brought him into touch with cultivated
men and women. Besides the work was congenial, the surroundings were as
quiet as he could wish, and the requirements of the court so little
exacting, as to leave him his own master for nearly three-quarters of
the year. There were a few pageants and ceremonials, a few state
concerts during the winter months, and then followed abundant leisure to
study, to compose, and to bring into further growth an organism which
was already marking a new stage in artistic evolution.

A brilliant success, won at the outset of a career is usually attended
by a natural and obvious danger. The artist has made his mark, he has
won for a moment the capricious attentions of his public, he has been
hailed as an equal by the acknowledged masters of his craft; it is only
human that he should strive to keep himself in evidence, and set all
sail to catch the fitful breeze of popular favour. Add to these
conditions the opportunity afforded by an accident of office; add a
vivid, prolific imagination, and a style which competent judges have
pronounced mature; add, in short, every incentive to production which
circumstance or capacity can supply, and the result is a temptation
which the traditional impatience of genius may well find some difficulty
in withstanding. It is therefore the more noticeable, that the four
years which followed Brahms' appointment at Lippe Detmold, were spent by
him in an almost unbroken privacy. He had, as we know, several other
manuscripts in readiness; two of the chief publishing houses in Germany
had placed themselves at his disposal; new competitors were arising
whose claims would have been felt as challenges by a lesser man. Yet
during the whole of this time he printed but one composition, and
appeared so rarely in public that he might seem to have forgotten his
purpose and foregone his ambitions. In May 1856 he played in a concert
at Cologne, where he was severely censured for including in the
programme so dull a work as Bach's chromatic Fantasia; in December 1857,
he accepted two engagements at the Leipsic Gewandhaus, and took part in
Mendelssohn's G minor Concerto, and the Triple Concerto of Beethoven;
but except on these three occasions, even the newspapers of the time are
silent in regard of him. They had, indeed, other things to occupy their
attention. The storm raised over _Das Judenthum in der Musik_ had hardly
subsided; the great Tetralogy was in process of completion at Zurich;
Rubinstein was filling all Germany with his brilliant masterful
presence; no space could be devoted to chronicling the uneventful annals
of a recluse who for the moment was making no ostensible contributions
to the cause of Art.

But it was not a case of 'tam bonus gladiator rudem tam cito.' Brahms
had no intention of deserting the arena in which he had won his first
victory and gained his first laurel. Only, like all men whose lives are
dominated by an ideal, he was profoundly dissatisfied with his present
achievement, and he set himself once more to a resolute course of
training in order to complete and perfect his adolescent power with
those gifts of certainty and facility which are only won by steadfast
endeavour. In his early work there is, as Herr Deiters remarks, 'a
certain lavish expenditure of strength,' a careless vigour which shows
itself, not in redundancy--for he is never redundant--but in a disregard
of some necessary limitations, in a disposition to cut Gordian knots of
style which it is better to untie. Had he been content to follow the
path of romance, there would have been no need for him to modify these
tendencies: for romance treats the emotional aspect as paramount, and
cares less for the purely technical problems of form and phrase. But
Brahms was born to restore the classical traditions in music, and for
the maintenance of those traditions something more is requisite than the
almost obstinate force which he had hitherto manifested. In January 1859
appeared the first fruits of this long and strenuous cultivation.
Hitherto Brahms had given to the world nothing beyond the scale and
compass of chamber music; now, in Schumann's phrase, he 'let the drums
and trumpets sound,' and presented himself at the Gewandhaus with his
Pianoforte Concerto in D minor. Its reception for the moment was most
unfavourable. The audience listened in pure bewilderment, waiting in
vain for the virtuoso passages that it felt a conventional right to
expect; the _Leipsiger Signalen_ dismissed the work as a 'Symphony with
Pianoforte Obbligato,' in which the solo part was as ungrateful as
possible, and the orchestral part a 'series of lacerating discords.' The
fact is that Brahms had turned a new page in the history of concerto
form, and that Leipsic was unable to read it at sight. His only
response, however, was to take the composition to Hamburg, which at once
rallied in defence of its hero, gave him a warm welcome in the
concert-room, and, in the newspapers, opened a battle-royal to which the
conflict of 1853 had been a mere skirmish. If the commercial prosperity
of the town had been threatened, it could hardly have been defended with
more vehement protests or a more determined patriotism.

No such controversy arose over Brahms' next work--the charming
and graceful Serenade in D which was first given at Hamburg on
March 28. In later days, no doubt, the Vienna press offered some
carefully-balanced criticisms of its style; for the time Germany
yielded to the enchantment, and allowed itself to enjoy, without
afterthought, the sweetness of the melodies and the pellucid clearness
of the form. Indeed, no more salient contrast could be found than
that between the two works with which the composer signalised his
reappearance.[49] Both alike show that he had completely assimilated
the past records of his art, but in the one he uses his knowledge as a
basis for new application, in the other he takes the old types as they
stand without extending their range or enlarging their content In the
Serenade he sums up: in the Concerto he advances. Hence it was not
unwise that he should at once prepare the lighter composition for the
press, and reserve the more serious until the world had grown in
experience, and had made itself more ready to receive him.

About this time he resigned his office at Lippe Detmold, feeling that
even so slight a chain was a hindrance to the freedom of an artistic
career, and returned for a short period of residence to his native
Hamburg. The prophet, indeed, had achieved some share of honour in his
own country, and the least that he could do was to pay it the
acknowledgment of a visit; beside which his parents were still living
in the old home, there was abundance of theatrical and musical gossip to
interchange, and there was the young Fritz, growing up into an excellent
pianist, who deserved some congratulations on his progress, and some
advice as to his future.[50] But, as the months wore on, they brought
with them the need of a more extended range. Home-keeping youths stand
in a proverbial danger of homely wit, and an atmosphere of comfort and
sympathy, however delightful, is apt to relax and weaken the sterner
qualities. So, in 1860, shortly after the publication of the Serenades,
Brahms again turned his back upon Hamburg, and set out to try his
fortunes afield.

His first halting-place was the little town of Winterthur, between
Zurich and Constance. German Switzerland had long shown a warm
hospitality to musicians, and a cordial interest in their art; moreover
one of the great Leipsic publishers had an outpost in Winterthur itself,
and the organist there was Theodor Kirchner, the most gifted of
Schumann's pupils, and the most ready to offer a hand of fellowship to
the genius whom Schumann had heralded. In a very short time the new
arrival found himself among friends, and forthwith settled down to work
after his usual undemonstrative fashion. It was not an opulent life, but
it was comfortable and adequate: there were pupils to teach, there were
audiences to delight, and above all, there was Rieter-Bidermann's
printing office as a stimulus to further composition. Yet in truth there
was little need of stimulus. The treasures, accumulated during four
years of self-imposed economy, were only waiting to be coined and
expended; now the mint was opened and the golden currency scattered with
a lavish hand. In 1861 appeared the beautiful Ave Maria for female
chorus and orchestra, the fine sombre Funeral Hymn, the D minor
Concerto, the first two sets of pianoforte variations, and a couple of
volumes of songs and duets; in 1862 followed four exquisite part-songs
for female voices with horn and harp accompaniment, a string sestett in
B flat, the most magnificent piece of chamber music that had appeared
since the death of Beethoven, two books of Marienlieder, another volume
of songs, and finally two new sets of variations for the piano, one on a
theme from Handel's Harpischord lessons, one[51] on the pathetic melody
that had haunted the last sane moments of Schumann's life. Even with
these the record is not exhausted. There still remain the Pianoforte
Quartetts in G minor and A major, which, though not published till 1863,
were certainly written before the end of the previous year. And when we
realise that in all this catalogue almost every work is a masterpiece,
almost every form a development of preceding types, it is hard to see
where, except in the greatest of all composers, we can find a parallel
to the achievement. Schubert, no doubt, could pour a more 'profuse
strain of unpremeditated art,' but art, at any rate in its larger forms,
is the gainer by premeditation. Mozart could fill the accustomed
channels with a more copious stream of melody, but he was content that
its waters should run their course in familiar regions. Here is a man
whose originality never betrays him into carelessness, whose certainty
of touch never degenerates into formalism, whose thought, even in its
deepest and most recondite utterance, is always firmly conceived and
clearly articulated. Such a mastery of phrase and structure is not only
slow of acquisition, but also, in some degree, slow of exercise. It is
impossible that the most eloquent genius, the most elaborate training
should have enabled Brahms to write one of his great chamber works with
the rapid facility that has so often been a mark of the chief composers.
An organism so coherent and so complex is not created by a single flash
of the artistic will.

By an odd coincidence, the first chapter of Brahms' life may be said to
end with this temporary climax of production. In the autumn of 1862 the
_coterie_ at Winterthur was broken up by Theodor Kirchner's acceptance
of an appointment at Zurich; and Brahms, beginning perhaps to feel that
the place where he dwelt was too strait for him, set himself to find a
wider habitation and a more enlarged sphere of energy. It was in many
ways unadvisable that he should follow his friend. For one thing, Zurich
was hardly central enough to satisfy his requirements, for another, it
was much dominated by the influence of Wagner and Liszt, and the school
which they were taken to represent had never forgiven Brahms his public
defection from its ranks.[52] Besides, he had recently been manifesting
some special interest in the bright rhythms and piquant phraseology of
Hungarian music: one of his first sets of pianoforte variations had been
on a Hungarian theme; the finale of his G minor Quartett was ostensibly
affected by a similar attraction; in other of his more recent works
there were details of style which showed that he had begun to think,
like Schubert, of holding the balance between two artistic languages.
Everything, in short, pointed towards Vienna. It was still the capital
of European music; it possessed traditions from which any composer might
be proud to draw inspiration and stimulus; it contained the most
critical public to which any artist of the time could appeal. There was
no question of alternative; without more ado Brahms 'set his face to the
east,' and, before November, had established himself in the city which
he was afterwards content to call his home.


[48] The account of this episode is taken partly from Ehrlich's
Künstlerleben, partly from an article by Dr Schubring in the Allgemeine
Musikalische Zeitung.

[49] It should be noted that the first version of the Serenade in A (Op.
16) was also produced in this year and published at Bonn in 1860.
Brahms, however, subsequently withdrew it for revision, and its present
form dates from 1875.

[50] The Neue Zeitschrift mentions the successful début of Fritz Brahms
at Hamburg in January 1864.

[51] The Thematic Catalogue gives the date of this work as 1866. But it
must have been published earlier, for it is reviewed in the _Allgemeine
Musikalische Zeitung_ for Sept. 9, 1863.

[52] See Ehrlich's _Künstlerleben_, p. 156 _n._



Vienna, in 1862, was entering upon its second period of musical
activity. After the death of Schubert it had suffered something of a
reaction; not, indeed, enough to dim its prestige, but enough to prevent
it from making any considerable addition to its record. Now, however,
the interval of repose was ended, and for the past few years the city
had been gradually rousing itself into fresh energy and fresh
achievement. Among its creative musicians could be numbered many names
of interest: Robert Volkmann, Saxon by birth, Austrian by residence, a
lesser Schumann, whose work had been unjustly eclipsed by his great
compatriot; Goldmark, the epigrammatist of the orchestra, brilliant,
witty and self-reliant; Bruckner, already completing the foundations on
which he has built his strange composite structure of romance and
counterpoint; Ignaz Brüll, fresh from the triumph of his first public
performance; Johann Strauss, who, like his father, had raised dance
music to the level of a fine art, and whose orchestra was still 'worth a
journey to Vienna on foot.' Even higher was the standard of executance.
There were at least three conductors of the first rank:--Esser at the
Opera House, Otto Dersoff at the Kärnthnerthor Theatre, and Herbeck,
recently appointed to an engagement at the Gesellschaft; the chamber
concerts of Laub and Hellmesberger had won European reputations: every
day one could hear a pianist like Epstein, or a violinist like Grün, or
a horn-player like Hans Richter of the Kärnthnerthor, for whose career
renown was prophesying a triumphant future. And for criticism, though
here, as everywhere, could be found journalists who made up in
vociferation what they lacked in knowledge; yet here, as in most places,
the mass was leavened by some genuine exponents of sound principle and
earnest judgment. Ambros lived close at hand, and could sometimes spare
a moment from his historical work to estimate a contemporary; while in
the city itself were Grillparzer, who thirty years before had discovered
Schumann, and Hanslick, who, though something of a specialist and
something of a partisan, has always maintained his standpoint with clear
logic and steady conviction.

[Illustration: Johannes Brahms.]

It was into this assembly that Brahms made his way. As yet his
compositions were little known, but there was no musician in Vienna who
had not heard his name or felt some expectation at his arrival. Before
long, introduction had ripened into acquaintance and acquaintance into a
many-sided friendship. Men were glad to welcome a new genius of
conspicuous power and encyclopædic knowledge, who never spoke of
himself, who never wrote a line in his own defence, who never attacked
an opponent or depreciated a rival. Add to this the quiet voice, the
undemonstrative manner, the kindly disposition that expended itself in a
thousand services, the upright honesty that would never stoop even to
conquer, and it is not hard to explain a personal popularity which has
lasted unimpaired to the present day. The artist is too often to be
described, in Mr Stevenson's phrase, as 'a man who sows hurry and reaps
indigestion,' who 'comes among people swiftly and bitterly to discharge
some temper before he returns to work.' It is not a little refreshing to
contemplate a genius who, with all the astonishing amount that he
accomplished, yet found time to enjoy his dinner, to bear his part in
the company of his friends, and to become the sworn ally of all the
children in the neighbourhood.

His first public appearance took place at a Hellmesberger concert on
November 16, when he played the pianoforte part in his G minor Quartett.
From the outset there was no question about his recognition as a
pianist; the critics were keen-sighted enough to see that the absence of
virtuosity was a merit, and to estimate with full justice the broad
masterly musicianship of the interpretation; but at the same time it
must be confessed, that the first judgment of his composition was
seriously adverse. 'We do not propose,'[53] said the _Blätter für
Theater Musik und Kunst_ 'to condemn Herr Brahms altogether until we
have heard more of his work, but the present specimen will not induce
the Viennese people to accept him as a composer. The first three
movements are gloomy, obscure and ill-developed: the last is simply an
offence against the laws of style. There is neither precedent nor excuse
for introducing into Chamber Music a movement entirely conceived in the
measure of a national dance, and it is much to be regretted that Herr
Brahms should have departed in this matter from the example set by
Beethoven and Schubert.' The criticism is worth quoting as an example of
that dogmatic error which is sometimes allowed to pass current for
certainty. It is of course wholly wrong upon the point of fact. Brahms'
movement follows in perfectly natural development from the Minuet
finales of Haydn, from the Turkish March finale of Mozart, from the
'Alla Tedescas' of Beethoven himself, and even if it did not, even if it
were a new departure in detail, a good deal of analysis would be
required to show that absence of precedent involved absence of

The composer, however, soon showed that if he had for the moment
declined in public estimation, it was only 'pour mieux sauter.' A week
later, the Serenade in D was successfully given by the Gesellschaft; on
November 29 followed the A major Quartett, far more favourably received
than its predecessor; fame, once established, gathered and grew with
steady persistence, and at last, in December 1863, opposition itself was
silenced by a magnificent performance, under Hellmesberger, of the
Sestett in B flat. For once the audience was unanimous; the critics
forgot to cavil; even Brahms' old enemy, the _Blätter_, admitted itself
convinced, and, in the first flush of enthusiasm, supplied this
most rigorous of classical compositions with a romantic programme.
'The opening movement,' it said, 'is a walk in spring when the
sky is cloudless and the flowers are blooming in the hedgerows.
The second' (_i. e._, the Air with variations) 'represents a gipsy
encampment--dark-eyed maidens whispering secrets, and afar-off the
subdued tinkle of the mandolin. The third is a rustic dance; and the
fourth--well, we suppose that fourth must mean the journey home.' This
is not remarkably conclusive as an exposition of the Sestett, but it
appears to have been kindly meant, and, at any rate, it succeeded in
calling public attention to the work, and preparing, in some measure,
for a more adequate discussion of its merits.

Meantime Vienna was shaken to its foundations by another inroad. At the
end of 1862 Wagner appeared, gave two or three concerts in the course of
the winter, and finally established himself at Penzing, where he worked
at Meistersinger, and received his friends with his accustomed Oriental
hospitality. His relation with Brahms appears to have been always of the
slightest. The two composers met occasionally on neutral ground, but
they were never intimate, and it was impossible that they should be
attracted to each other by any real artistic sympathy. Wagner, indeed,
seems to have looked on his great rival as Victor Hugo looked on
Corneille and Racine: Brahms, for his part, was content to avow that he
did not understand the theatre, and that for him the magic of Walküre
and Tristan had no enchantment. It may be that the sense of contrast
gave additional point to a famous and frequently-quoted epigram of the
younger artist. One day Hanslick was rallying him on his anchorite
habits and suggesting marriage as an antidote. 'No,' said Brahms, 'it is
as hard to marry as to write an opera. Perhaps--in both--a first success
might embolden one to try again; but it wants more courage than mine to
make a start.' The mind naturally reverts to an enthusiastic and rather
callow reformer, who had once endeavoured to inculcate a short-service
system of matrimony in an opera called Das Liebesverbot.

Apart from a fine organ fugue in E flat minor, the only compositions
published in 1863 were the two Pianoforte Quartetts. This sudden fit of
reticence may possibly be explained by Brahms' appointment in June, to
the conductorship of the Vienna Singakademie, a responsible post, which
necessitated a good deal of work, and not a little anxiety. It was for
this body that he wrote many of his smaller vocal quartetts and
choruses, _e.g._, the _Abendständchen_, the _Vineta_, the _Wechsellied
zum Tanze_, and the _Neckereien_, some of which were performed at a
'Brahms' Concert on April 17, 1864, and printed shortly afterwards. At
the beginning of May he was unanimously re-elected to his office; but
finding, as usual, that he had little taste for either the labour or the
rewards of a public position, he resigned in July, and betook himself
once more to his study and his proof-sheets. It is worth noting, as an
example of the influence of environment, that all the works published
during 1864 are vocal. In the spring appeared a setting of the 23d
Psalm, then followed four duets for Alto and Baritone, then three choral
works and three quartetts, and finally, at the close of the year, two
volumes of delightful songs, which end, as a fitting climax, with the
immortal melody of 'Wie bist du meine Königin.'

The compositions of 1865 include the great Pianoforte Quintett in F
minor and the first two books of Romances from Tieck's 'Magelone.' In
March the A major Quartett was given at Leipsic, with Madame Schumann at
the piano and David to lead the strings; and later in the year, after a
long visit to Theodor Kirchner at Zurich, Brahms undertook a concert
tour on his own account, and made a triumphant progress through
Mannheim, Cologne, where he conducted the D major Serenade, Carlsruhe,
where he played sonatas with Joachim, and Oldenburg, where, in January
1866, he brought out his new Trio for piano, violin and horn. All this
time he was writing with his usual tireless industry, and, in the course
of the next few months, saw safely through the press his Variations on a
Theme of Paganini, his Sestett in G major, hardly inferior to its more
famous predecessor, and his first Violoncello Sonata, a remarkable
example of mastery over a very difficult medium.

We may gain an indication of Brahms' growing importance in the artistic
world, from the amount of attention bestowed upon him during these years
by the _Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung_. This journal, ever since
Chrysander's occupation of the editorial chair, had gradually won its
way to the forefront of German criticism, and from 1863 onwards it
treated Brahms with a respect that no other contemporary musician either
merited or received. Each of his works in turn was welcomed as an event
in musical history, subjected to an exhaustive analysis, often extending
over two numbers, and discussed throughout with admirable sympathy and
intelligence. Amid our chaos of hasty and ill-considered judgments, it
is not a little reassuring to read such articles as that of Chrysander
on the F minor Quintett, or that of Deiters on the Sestett in G. There
is here no indiscriminate praise, no prejudiced or ill-natured censure,
no evasion of the point at issue under a nebulous mist of semi-poetical
fancies: from first to last, the critic shows a due reverence for genius
and a real attempt to understand the purport of its message. Work such
as this, while it justly reacts upon the credit and position of the
writer, involves also the recognition of a high value in the object to
which it is applied. No great critical essay could ever be written on a
poor or trivial theme. The judge may be as denunciatory as Macaulay, or
as humorous as Mr Andrew Lang; he may call to his aid all the Graces of
Parnassus, or condemn with all the authority of the Stygian tribunal;
but sooner or later the world comes to see that mere denunciation is
barren, and that mere banter is ephemeral. The highest criticism, in
short, means a judicial estimate of the highest merit, and though the
intrinsic worth and splendour of genius can in no way be enhanced by any
act of homage, yet it is well, both for genius and the world at large,
that the act of homage should sometimes be rightly and adequately

In October 1866, Brahms made a short concert-tour in German Switzerland,
with Joachim for companion. The pair visited Schaffhausen, Winterthur,
and Zurich, playing everywhere to enthusiastic audiences, but meeting
with no adventure worth recording. The days of flat pianos and officious
superintendents had long gone by, and in the path of two such artists
there were no longer any obstacles to retard progress, or arouse
reminiscence. At the end of November they separated; Joachim to fulfil
an engagement in Paris; Brahms to return for the usual winter season in
Vienna, where, in January 1867, Hellmesberger led the first performance
of the G major Sestett. It is no discredit either to composer or to
audience that the new work was received with more astonishment than
delight. The extremely elaborate polyphony, which is one of its
distinguishing attributes, is probably too intricate to be comprehended
by anyone at a single presentation, and we may infer that the public
actually did not hear the melodies for the simple reason of their
abundance. The complaint of tunelessness which has been brought against
every great composer in turn, usually emanates from a criticism that
cannot see the wood for the trees, and on this occasion it may be noted
that Vienna saved its repute by wisely reserving judgment; and that
Brahms' only repartee was to publish forthwith a delightful set of
four-hand waltzes, in which the top part had the tune and the other
parts had the accompaniment, and everybody was satisfied.

In March and April, he gave a couple of pianoforte recitals, at which,
as usual, his own works were very sparsely represented. It was at the
former of them, by the way, that he brought out his Paganini Variations,
and, on being enthusiastically recalled, played the Finale of
Beethoven's third Rasoumoffsky Quartett as an encore. Towards the end of
April came two concerts at Pesth, and in the early summer appeared a
fine set of part-songs for male voices, usually known by the title of
Soldatenlieder. But the great musical achievement of the year was the
German Requiem, of which the original six numbers, written, it is said,
as a monument for the Austrio-Prussian War, seem to have been completed
by November. A seventh movement, the exquisite soprano solo, with choral
interludes, was inserted next year in commemoration of a more intimate
and personal sorrow.

As a preliminary, the first half of the Requiem was given at a
Gesellschaft concert on December 1, and at once visited with a storm of
Theological criticism. It was not a Requiem, said the purists; it was
not even ecclesiastical in tone; it was a sacred cantata, far less
suited to the church than to the concert-room. Even its defenders looked
upon it with some misgiving, and could only plead that it was
'confessionslos aber nicht religionslos.' Now and then the controversy
diverged as on a side issue to consider the music and discuss its
relation to Bach and Beethoven, but, for the most part, critics seem to
have been occupied in pointing out the impropriety of the name, and
raising the equally important objection that there is nothing
distinctively 'German' in the sentiment of the words. However, the world
soon had an opportunity of judging the matter from a more appropriate
standpoint. On Good Friday, 1868, the entire six numbers were performed
in the Great Church at Bremen, to an audience of over two thousand
people, including Joachim, Dietrich, Max Bruch and Madame Schumann.
Representative musicians came from Austria, from Germany, from
Switzerland, from England itself, and the impression that they carried
away with them has steadily gathered and developed into a reverence that
is almost too deep for praise. Grant that there are some genuine lovers
of Music who find the Requiem an unequal composition, which only means
that to them it makes an unequal appeal; the fact remains that there is
nothing in the whole work, unless it be the difficulty of execution,
against which any objective criticism can be directed. 'You cannot touch
them,' said Heine of some disputed passages in Faust, 'it is the finger
of Goethe.' And as the faults are imaginary, so the beauties are
incontestable. If there be any man who can listen unmoved to the
majestic funeral march, to the serene and perfect melody of the fourth
chorus, to the two great fugues, which may almost be said to succeed
where Beethoven has failed, then he can only conclude that he stands as
yet outside the precincts of the art. It is no more a matter for
controversy than are the poetic merits of the Antigone or the Inferno.
We are not here dealing with a product of the second order, in which
blemishes are to be condoned and qualities set in antithesis, and the
whole appraised by a nice adjustment of the balance. To find a defect
here, is to criticise our own judgment, and to stigmatise as imperfect
not the voice that speaks but the ear that listens.

The summer of 1868 was spent at Bonn, partly in preparing the German
Requiem for the press, partly in strenuous composition. The only other
works published during this year, were five volumes of songs (Op. 43 and
Ops. 46 to 49),[54] but it seems pretty certain that Rinaldo and the
Rhapsodie from Goethe's Harzreise were written at the same time, and we
may probably add the first set of Liebeslieder Waltzes for pianoforte
duet, with vocal accompaniment, which appeared early in 1869. Of the
songs, it is only necessary to say, that they include Von ewiger Liebe,
Botschaft, Herbstgefühl, An ein Veilchen, and the Wiegenlied; the two
cantatas have long established their position as the finest male-voice
choruses in existence; and the Liebeslieder, though naturally conceived
in a lighter mood, are as dainty as Strauss and as melodious as
Schubert. Finally, there is some slight internal evidence for assigning
to 1868, at least one of the two string quartetts which were printed a
few years later as Op. 51. In any case, whether this assignment be
correct or not, the year's record is one which would do honour to any
artist in musical history.

After this period of vigorous activity there followed two years of
almost entire repose. In 1869, a couple of concert tours were
projected--one in Holland and one in Russia, but the plans were
abandoned almost as soon as conceived, and meanwhile the only fresh
publications were the first two books of Hungarian dances, which, by an
odd irony of fate, have come to be more intimately associated with
Brahms' name than almost any of his own compositions. It is no longer
requisite to point out that the melodies of all the dances are of
national origin; one alone (the graceful little Csárdás, in A major)
being traditional, and the rest, written by Rizner, Kéler Béla, and
other 'popular' Hungarian composers. But it is worth noting, as an
illustration of critical method, that more than one journal of the time
disregarded the specific announcement on the title-page, and accused
Brahms of plagiarising the tunes which he only claimed to have arranged
in duet form. Of course, the accusation broke down, but equally, of
course, it ought never to have been made.

It may be remembered that, in 1859, Brahms had emerged from his second
period of studentship with a Pianoforte Concerto in D minor, which at
the time was received with considerable disfavour by its Leipsic
audience. The work had been printed in 1861, and had slept ever since on
the shelves of Rieter-Biedermann, waiting in patience until the public
was ready to appreciate it. Now it seemed as though the hour had come.
The world was wiser by the experience of a dozen years; the composer
was no longer a _débutant_ to be sacrificed on the altar of critical
conservatism; Vienna had shown herself disposed to listen with sympathy
and intelligence. Accordingly the work was recalled from its obscurity,
presented at a Philharmonic concert on January 20, 1871, and, it is
pleasant to add, received with acclamation. No doubt the critics
repeated their old joke, that it was a 'symphony with pianoforte
obbligato,' but the attention with which it was heard, and the applause
with which it was welcomed, gave sufficient evidence that the interval
of education had not been fruitless. 'It is,' says Dr Helm, writing to
the _Academy_, 'the most original production of its composer, except the
Requiem, and the most genial composition of its kind since the days of
Beethoven.' Perhaps 'genial' is not precisely the epithet that we should
most naturally employ, but when a victory is announced it is ungracious
to carp at the terms of the bulletin.

In 1871 appeared two new works of considerable importance. First
came the Triumphlied, written to commemorate the victories of the
Franco-Prussian war, and produced, together with the Requiem, at
a solemn Good-Friday service in Bremen Cathedral; then, a few
months later, there followed at Carlsruhe, what is perhaps the most
widely-loved of all Brahms' compositions, the exquisite and flawless
setting of Holderlein's Schicksalslied. It was only natural that the
former should rouse some criticism in the French papers, which were
still chafing at the foolish humours of _Eine Kapitulation_. The shout
of victory however noble and dignified its expression, is always a
little discordant to the vanquished and we may almost sympathise with
the _Gazette Musicale_, which ended its review by remarking, in a tone
of grave irony, 'Et M. Brahms, l'auteur du Triumphlied, est né à Vienne,
près Sadowa.'

Of the Schicksalslied, it is hard to speak without incurring some charge
of extravagance. Perfection is a word of such serious meaning, and of
such loose and careless employment, that a writer may well hesitate to
apply it, even if there be no lighter one that is adequate to the case.
Yet, on the other hand, it is difficult to see how, in the present
instance, any hesitation is possible. The work deals with the most
tremendous of all contrasts:--the pure, untroubled serenity of Heaven,
the agonies and failures of a baffled humanity, the message of peace,
tender, pitying, consolatory, which returns at last to veil the wreck of
man's broken aspirations; and to say that the treatment is worthy of
such a theme, is to announce a masterpiece that has as little to fear
from our criticism as it has to gain from our praise. It is almost
superfluous that one should commend the more technical beauties: the
rounded symmetry of balance and design, the pellucid clearness of style,
the sweetness and charm of melody, the marvellous cadences where chord
melts into chord as colour melts into colour at the sunset. If it be the
function of the artist that he be 'faithful to loveliness,' then here at
least is a loyalty that has kept its faith unsullied.

After such a climax, it was almost inevitable that there should follow a
period of reaction, and in 1872 no new compositions made their
appearance. As a subsidiary cause we may note that, in the summer of
this year, Brahms accepted the important post of conductor to the
Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde. His tenure of office, which lasted until
1875, is marked by the very noticeable frequence of Handel's name in the
programmes of the Society. It has become so much the fashion to regard
our admiration for Handel as a peculiarly British error, that we may
well feel some relief at finding it shared by the greatest and most
essentially German of recent musicians. _Saul_, _Solomon_, _Alexander's
Feast_, the _Dettingen Te Deum_, and the Organ Concerto in D minor, were
all presented in the course of the next two seasons,--a remarkable
record, if we remember that a season consisted of six concerts, and that
the range of selection extended from Johann Rudolph Ahle to Rubinstein
and Goldmark.

Once established in his new position, Brahms found no further difficulty
in reconciling its duties with the needs of his own productive activity.
During the years 1873-5 he poured out a continuous stream of new works,
including not only many songs, duets, and choruses, but the _Neue
Liebeslieder_, the fine set of orchestral variations on a Theme of
Haydn, and the Pianoforte Quartett in C minor, which, although it
suffers from an almost inevitable comparison, may yet be said to contain
two of the most delightful melodies that its composer has ever written.
It was in this last work that some candid friend pointed out an obvious
structural resemblance to the Finale of Mendelssohn's C minor Trio, and
was met with the placid, if somewhat direct rejoinder, 'Das sieht jeder
Narr.' Brahms does not belong to the artistic type that can be readily
stirred by an accusation of plagiarism.

Such an accusation, however, was shortly to be repeated in more vehement
terms. At the beginning of November 1876, the Symphony in C minor was
played (from MSS.) at Carlsruhe, and at once attracted a great deal of
attention, not only because it was the composer's first work in this
form, but for the less satisfactory reason that its Finale is based on a
melody curiously similar to that of Beethoven's 'Freude.' To make
matters worse, an enthusiastic Hamburg admirer labelled the new
composition 'A Tenth Symphony,' and so emphasised the resemblance in a
manner which would have been hardly possible to an open antagonism. The
artistic importance of this question will be considered later: at
present it is enough to note, that the resemblance undoubtedly exists,
and that it holds a prominent place in almost all the contemporary
criticisms. Yet, on the whole, the Symphony was favourably received. The
first movement aroused some controversy:--'We cannot make head or tail
of it,' said a Munich correspondent, 'so we suppose that it is a
Symphonic Poem;'--but the Andante, the Allegretto, and even the
offending Finale, appear to have met with a due share of popular favour.
It must be remembered that the opening Allegro is essentially tragic in
character, and that, with the general public, tragedy takes longer than
comedy to win its way.

As the publication of the Requiem had been followed immediately by a
great outburst of choral works, so that of the first Symphony stimulated
Brahms to further attempts in the great epic forms of the orchestra. In
December 1877, the D major Symphony was produced by Richter at a
Philharmonic concert in Vienna, and in 1878, after a short holiday tour
in Italy, Brahms completed the triptych with his superb Violin
Concerto, second only, in the record of musical art, to that of
Beethoven. The _début_ of this last composition, which took place on
January 14, 1879, was characterised by a very unusual mark of respect
and interest. Not only was it received with a veritable ovation--when
Joachim is playing Brahms that is only to be expected--but at the close
of the concert a large part of the audience remained in the hall, and
constituted itself into an impromptu debating society to discuss its
impressions. This forms a remarkable contrast to the panic flight which
usually follows on the first moment of liberation, and must be taken as
the sign and witness of a more than superficial enthusiasm. Men may
applaud from good-nature, from impulse, from a desire to be in the
fashion; but something stronger than this is required to keep them in
their seats after the performance is over.

Meantime works of less long a breath were appearing in their usual
copious abundance. In 1876 came the bright genial Quartett in B flat,
then followed a series of songs, duets and pianoforte pieces, then a
couple of motets for mixed chorus and orchestra. In November 1879 the
Violin Sonata in G was given for the first time at a Hellmesberger
Concert, and succeeded almost immediately by the two well-known
Rhapsodies for piano solo, and the second set of Hungarian dances. Of
course, fertility is not in itself a mark of genius--otherwise Raff
would be the greatest composer of the century--but at least it gives
additional opportunity for the marks of genius to appear. And it may be
added that, even in the periods of most rapid production, Brahms hardly
ever shows any signs of haste. If he escapes the self-torture which
drove Chopin day after day to the revision of a single page, it is not
because his ideal is lower, but because his judgment is more robust.

In 1880 he accepted the degree of Doctor in Philosophy, offered him by
the University of Breslau, and at once set himself, during a summer stay
at Ischl, to write his thesis. A ceremonial of so solemn and academic a
character naturally demanded an unusual display of learning. Symphonies
were too trivial, oratorios were too slight, even an eight-part _à
capella_ chorus in octuple counterpoint was hardly adequate to the
dignity of the occasion. Something must be done to mark the doctorate
with all the awe and reverence due to the Philosophic Chair. So Brahms
selected a handful of the more convivial student songs--'Was kommt dort
von der Höh',' 'Gaudeamus igitur,' and the like--and worked them into a
concert overture, which remains one of the most amusing pieces of pure
comedy in the whole range of music. It was an audacious experiment, and
one which could only have succeeded in Germany. Not even Brahms could
offer, as a Doctor's exercise at Oxford or Cambridge, a work based on
the melodies with which our own studious youth beguiles its leisure

Two other compositions appear to have been written at Ischl during the
same summer--the Tragic Overture and the Pianoforte Trio in C major. Of
these the Trio remained for some time in abeyance; the Overture,
together with its 'Academic' companion, was produced at Breslau on
January 4, 1881, and repeated at Leipsic on January 13. It is equally
intelligible that the lighter mood should have won a more immediate
sympathy, and that a mature decision should have reversed the verdict.
In the Academic Overture men met old friends, cracked old jokes,
recalled old memories of the Kneipe, and so rather put themselves out of
court for dispassionate criticism: the Tragic brought them nothing but a
cheerless vision of crumbling steeps and mysterious shadows, of dark
recesses and haunted glades, of

    'Moonlit battlements and towers decayed by time,'

through all of which we can fancy Vetter Michel passing with his coat
tightly buttoned and his hat pressed over his brows, only anxious to
escape as soon as possible from the enchanted spot, and return to warmth
and light and good fellowship. At the same time, the Tragic Overture
strikes a deeper note, and though it is not more masterly in structure,
is certainly more poetic in conception. Besides, it owed no factitious
interest to the particular circumstances of its first appearance, and
so, having been treated from the beginning on its own merits, it is the
more likely to endure.

Other events of 1881 may be dismissed in a few words. At the end of
January the London Philharmonic endeavoured to secure Brahms as
conductor for its coming season; but the offer, like all subsequent
invitations from this country, was immediately declined. 'Je ne veux pas
faire le spectacle,' is the reason which was once given as the ground of
refusal; and, though we may feel a little mortified at the implication,
it is difficult to deny the uncomplimentary truth that it contains. We
have not yet learned to treat genius frankly, and either starve it with
censure or smother it with an irrational excess of enthusiasm. And
further, Brahms was much occupied during the summer, partly in preparing
his two overtures for the press, partly in completing the Nänie and the
new Pianoforte Concerto in B flat. During the autumn came a concert tour
of unusual extent, in which the last-named work was produced at
Buda-Pesth, and repeated at Meiningen, Stuttgart, Basle, Zurich, and
ultimately at Vienna. By this time it had become an article of faith,
that Brahms' concerti showed no claim to their specific title; and, as
the jest of 'Symphony with pianoforte obbligato' had fulfilled its
purpose, the critics struck out a fresh line, and described the new work
as 'chamber music on a larger canvas.' However, the Viennese public was
as indifferent to names as Juliet herself, and received the music
with a cordiality that took no thought of problems in scientific

The publications of 1882 consist of four volumes of songs, which range
in character from the humour of the Vergebliches Ständchen to the
poetry, as pure and contemplative as Wordsworth, of Feldeinsamkeit and
Sommerabend. After the Vienna season Brahms took his usual holiday at
Ischl, and there composed the String Quintett in F and the Gesang der
Parzen, both of which were printed in the succeeding year. But the next
real landmark was the third Symphony produced at Vienna in the winter of
1883, and repeated at once in almost every great musical centre in
Germany. It is perhaps the finest, certainly the clearest, of all
Brahms' instrumental compositions for orchestra--forcible and vigorous
in movement, delightful in melody, and, of course, faultless in
construction. 'Now at last,' said a member of the Viennese audience, 'I
can understand Brahms at a first hearing': and, indeed, it must be a
cloudy twilight in which so exact a hand cannot be readily deciphered.
In strong contrast is the fourth Symphony in E minor, which followed
after another period of song-writing. On grounds of true artistic value,
it is almost equal to its predecessor; but it deals with more recondite
themes, it traces more involved issues, and it has consequently been
treated with some of that irrational impatience which is the common fate
of prophets who speak in parables. When it was presented at Leipsic in
1886, the critics protested against it as wholly unintelligible; and
when Reinecke repeated it at the beginning of the next year, the
audience trooped out after the third movement and left the finale to be
played to empty benches. It may be remembered that the subscribers to
_Fraser's Magazine_ once threatened to withdraw their patronage unless
the editor discontinued a farrago of exasperating nonsense called by the
unmeaning name of _Sartor Resartus_.

In 1887 Brahms was created a Knight of the German order, 'pour le
mérite,' in company with Professor Treitschke, Gustav Freitag, and
Verdi. He had already received the order of 'Arts and Sciences' from the
King of Bavaria; and, two years later, he was admitted by the Emperor of
Austria to the order of St Leopold--the first civilian, it is said, on
whom that distinction has been conferred. Meantime, he brought his list
of works past its hundredth opus number--that goal which Schubert was so
pathetically anxious to reach--with the 'Cello Sonata in F, the Violin
Sonata in A, the double Concerto and the C minor Pianoforte Trio. The
first of these, which was produced by Hausmann in November 1886, at once
aroused a very curious outburst of structural criticism. It was said,
and the statement is still repeated, that Brahms had been guilty of a
dangerous and radical innovation in choosing for his slow movement a key
removed by only one semitone from that of the work as a whole. The
choice was too near in pitch, it was too remote in signature, it broke
the harmonic unity of the composition by a contrast of colour which was
in itself glaring and extreme. But of attacks on Brahms, as of attacks
on a very different master, we may generally say, 'ça porte malheur.'
The so-called 'innovation,' authoritatively condemned as without
parallel in musical literature, may be found in one of Haydn's
pianoforte sonatas, and can hardly, therefore, be criticised at the
present day as hazardous and revolutionary. Whether the contrast be here
successful or not is a matter on which opinions may conceivably differ,
though, after any serious study of the opening movement, they are likely
to concur; but it is surely unfair to accuse Brahms of violating the
classical tradition, unless, indeed, there be a sense in which any stage
of evolution may be said to violate its forerunner.

In the summer of 1889 Brahms was presented with the freedom of the city
of Hamburg, a gift which affected him more deeply than any splendour of
royal or academic distinction. With its acceptance his public life may
be said to close. He was now fifty-seven; he had spent nearly forty
years of strenuous and honourable work; his dislike of notoriety grew
naturally keener with advancing age; he had no longer any office or
appointment to call him from his beloved seclusion. The occurrences of
the next seven years may be summed up in a few rare concert-tours or
holiday visits. For the rest he lived among his books; reading, editing,
annotating until the creative moment came, and the world was made richer
by a new masterpiece. Within this period he produced about a score of
compositions: an exquisite violin sonata in D minor; a second string
quintett, even sweeter and more melodious than the first; two volumes of
motets, strong, stately and dignified; two concerted works for clarinet,
of which one at least may rank among the chief glories of musical art,
and a whole underwood of songs and pianoforte pieces, that grow and
blossom in the shadow of the larger forest. But even the records of
achievement become more sparse as the years decline. The evening was at
hand, and the day's work drawing to its close.

It was in the summer of 1896 that he printed his last composition, the
Vier ernste Gesänge. For some little time his health had been giving
cause for anxiety. In the autumn his doctors sent him to Carlsbad in
hope of a cure; then in the early winter appeared symptoms of some
cancerous growth, and the only hope left was for the alleviation of
pain. Yet a few more months he lingered, bearing his death sentence with
the same unselfish fortitude that had marked his life, until on April 3,
1897, the end came and the sufferings were over. With him passed away
one of the noblest figures in all musical history: a great man, generous
and upright, without envy, without arrogance, free from all taint of the
meaner emotions, wholly single-hearted in the service of his ideal. The
happiness which eludes all conscious human pursuit came to him unasked
and unsought; the rewards that he would never stretch a hand to seize
offered themselves for his acceptance. His life was secure from sordid
anxieties, unvexed by the contests and intrigues that have so often
marred an artistic reputation, rich in the love of friends and the
priceless gift of genius. It is not for him that we should mourn, now
that in the fulness of years and honours he has laid his books aside and
turned to sleep.


[53] Shortened from an article in the issue for November 21, 1862.

[54] To them should be added the last three books of Romances from
Tieck's Magelone, which were not printed until 1868, though they were
almost certainly written some considerable time earlier.



As Music is the most abstract of the arts, so it is also the most
continuous. In each successive generation the Poet and the Painter are
confronted by approximately the same facts of nature and life: the truth
of representation which forms an essential part of their work is
relative to an external model which is comparatively unchanging. Thus,
in a certain degree, every age of representative art stands on a level
with its predecessors, and however much it is influenced by traditions
of style, is even more affected by its direct relation to physical
realities. Music, on the other hand, is simply the gradual mastery of a
particular medium by the pure action of the human mind. Its actual
method contains no concrete element at all, and in it, therefore, every
generation must take its point of departure, not from the same universe
which appealed to previous artists, but from the actual achievement
which previous artists have handed down. The Greeks were as keenly alive
to the beauty of music as to that of poetry: to us their poetry is a
delight and their music a bewilderment. To the Italians of the great
artistic period, the charm of music was as vivid as that of painting;
to us their painting is almost a finality, and their music, even in
Palestrina, but the supreme expression of a transitory phase. And this
is not because music is in any sense the youngest of the arts: for such
a theory is refuted by the most casual survey of human history. The real
reason would seem to be, that in the representative arts we have a
series of comparatively independent periods, each manifesting afresh the
attitude of an artistic mind to a fixed world of nature: whereas, in
music, the periods are stages of a continuous evolution, and the whole
environment of the artist is summed up in the inheritance that he
derives from the past.

This distinction must, of course, be stated not as absolute, but as
relative. For, in the first place, every work of art is the outcome of
its creator's personality, and depends, therefore, on the particular
attributes of his character and temperament. Poetry, like the poet, is
born, not made: painting, even if it borrow its model from nature, must
find its power of vision in the soul of the artist: and music, in like
manner, is worth nothing unless it arises from a true and spontaneous
emotion. The gift of melody, the sense of ideal beauty, the capacity for
genuine and noble feeling, are qualities which cannot be learned or
communicated: they constitute the life of the art, and external forces
can only influence its training. Further, it is idle to speak of the
'representative' artists as unaffected by the general course of æsthetic
history. Only, it is here contended, that their debt to the past is
appreciably less than that of the musician, because their debt to the
present is appreciably greater.

It is impossible, then, to estimate a composer without special
reference to his historical conditions. For the whole of his work
consists in expressing thought, which he originates through a medium
which he inherits, and, to gauge his success, we must know how the art
stood before it passed into his hands, and to what extent he has
enriched or augmented its resources. There are, therefore, two
questions, and only two, to which musical criticism can address itself:
first, whether the feeling implied by the work is one that commands our
sympathy: second, whether in expressing it the artist has assimilated
all that is best in a previous tradition, and has himself advanced that
tradition towards a fuller and more perfect development. And, as
the former of these questions is the more difficult of the two, we
may perhaps defer it until the latter has received some share of

Now, the primary fact in music is the simple melodic phrase: the
spontaneous, almost unconscious, utterance of an emotional state that is
too vivid for ordinary speech. At first, this music is entirely artless,
for art only begins when the medium is recognised as possessing an
intrinsic interest; then there gradually arises an attempt to make the
phrases more coherent, and so more expressive, until the first landmark
is reached in the establishment of a definite scale-system like
that of Greece. Thus Greek music may be taken as the lowest stage
of organisation in the European history of the art. It was not
unscientific, for it had the modes, with their elaborate subtleties of
diatonic, chromatic and enharmonic, but we may search its records in
vain for any distinctive recognition of musical form. Its effect, to
judge from the allusions in Plato and Aristotle, seems to have been
wholly emotional, and its intellectual basis was not artistic but
mathematical in character.

The Greek modes were revised by Claudius Ptolemy, and on the basis of
his revisions was established the system of the mediæval church. In it
the claims of the medium began to receive further attention, and the
next step was the gradual elaboration of counterpoint, that is, the
combination of simultaneous voice parts, each independent, but all
conducing to a result of uniform and coherent texture. Starting from the
crude origins of descant and faux-bourdon, the new method steadily grew
and developed, through Dunstable, Dufay, Josquin, and a host of other
great writers, until it reached the second universal landmark in the
magnificent climax of Palestrina. If the ecclesiastical modes had been
final, music would never have advanced beyond the 'Missa Papæ Marcelli,'
and the 'Æterna Christi Munera.'

But the modes were not final. For certain scientific reasons, into which
it is here needless to enter, they were incapable either of a common
tonality or of a coherent system of modulation. Hence, while the
organisation of harmony could be carried by the ecclesiastical composers
to a high degree of perfection, the organisation of key lay outside
their horizon altogether. And while they were busy, like the schoolmen,
in 'applying a method received on authority to a matter received on
authority,' the unrecognised popular musicians, who had never heard of
Ptolemy, and cared nothing about counterpoint, were writing tunes in
which our modern scale-system begins to make a tentative and hesitating
appearance. It is not too much to say that the dances collected in
Arbeau's Orchesographie come nearer to our sense of tonality than all
the masses and madrigals that contemporary learning could produce. In a
word, the growth of harmony belongs to the Church, the growth of key to
the people.

Then came the most important dynamic change in all musical history: the
Florentine revolution of 1600. Its ostensible object was frankly
dramatic--the revival of Greek tragedy under such altered conditions as
were implied by the change of language and civilisation: its real
importance was that it destroyed the convention of the modes, and called
tonality from the country fair to the theatre and the concert-room. For
a while, no doubt, the dramatic ideal overpowered everything else, and
even the Church left off writing masses and took to oratorios instead;
but when pure music reasserted itself, it found an entirely new set of
problems waiting for solution. Harmony had to be organised, not on the
basis of the mode, but on the basis of the modern scale, and thus had to
take into account a question of key-relationship which had never fallen
within the scope of the ecclesiastical period. And hence followed a line
of development beginning about the time of the younger Gabrieli, and
passing through the great choral composers of the seventeenth and
eighteenth centuries until the third landmark of our musical history was
attained in the person of John Sebastian Bach. His polyphony, as applied
to the emotional expression of his time, is simply the best of which the
art of music is capable. Given the phrases which he employed as
subjects, the human mind cannot conceive their being treated with a more
complete harmonic perfection.

Meantime, ever since the floodgates had been opened by the audacious
hand of Florentine amateurs, another and more copious stream of tendency
had been flowing along a separate channel. The new tonality had not only
made a great difference in the harmonic aspect of music, it had
virtually opened a new field by suggesting the first possibilities of
form and structure. Composers began gradually to see that the
equalisation of the scales afforded the material for a more perfect and
coherent system of design: modulation became a reality, and with it the
recognition of different tonics in successive paragraphs or cantos of
the composition. They therefore took the simplest effects of contrast,
as presented by the dances and Volkslieder of the people, and proceeded
to develop them into a fuller diversity of organisation. At first, no
doubt, they went on something of a wrong tack: the structural problem
received a divided attention, for polyphony was still regarded as
paramount, but yet in the chamber music of Corelli and Vivaldi, and in
the harpsichord pieces of Scarlatti, Couperin and Rameau may be traced a
continuous effort not only to make the form distinct, but to make it in
some degree progressive. And on the death of Bach, when polyphony had
reached a point from which it seemed impossible to advance, music turned
almost entirely to questions of structure, and for the next two
generations set itself deliberately to perfect the outline of the
sonata, the quartett, and the symphony. This helps to explain the fact,
otherwise inexplicable, that Bach's influence on the latter half of the
eighteenth century was practically non-existent. Partly, of course, we
may account for it by remembering that musical art passed, for a
time, into another country, but it is a still stronger reason that
composition was occupied with another set of problems. The organisation
of harmony is that of simultaneous strains; the organisation of key is
that of successive passages; and it is obvious that the perfection of
the one will afford but little assistance to the development of the
other. And so the line of structural evolution passed through Haydn and
Mozart, until, in the work of Beethoven, it also attained a temporary
climax and culmination. With him, then, the treatment of the musical
medium may be held to have reached its fourth principal landmark.

After Beethoven came the Romantic School, the historical importance of
which can roughly be epitomised under two heads. First, it widened the
range of emotional expression, and so affected music from the standpoint
of the idea. Secondly, it returned to Bach, and adapted his polyphonic
system to the requirements of the new musical language. But as its
artistic strength was its reverence for Bach, so its artistic weakness
was its neglect of Beethoven. On the polyphonic side it maintained the
old traditions, and even, in some respects, advanced upon them, since
the more 'romantic' the idea to be expressed, the more difficult is pure
polyphony in its expression. But, on the structural side, it was
distinctly retrograde, and either confined itself to the smaller and
more rudimentary forms, or, when it attempted those of a larger scope,
treated them with something of negligence and preoccupation. Berlioz no
doubt took Beethoven for his master, but it was as a poet, not as a
musician. And the other great masters of the school, for all their
genius and their earnestness and their love of beauty, are yet, in
questions of form, but the minor Socratics of our nineteenth century
music, carrying on, each from his own standpoint, some one part of the
previous tradition, but neither interpreting nor advancing its full and
entire content.

A special word may be said on the relation of Wagner to this general
course of musical development. As a dramatist, he stands in some degree
aloof: his art is a different art, his methods are different methods,
his ancestry may be traced to Shakespear and Æschylus as readily as to
Bach and Palestrina. The explanation of his work is always the dramatic
explanation: his structure is determined not by principles of pure
music, but by the exigencies of the scene. Hence, apart from such a
secondary point as orchestration, it is only in his splendid, reckless,
audacious polyphony that he has really enlarged the treatment of musical
technique. His most enthusiastic followers claim for him that he has
'killed the symphony,' a statement which, though it is radically untrue,
is enough to dissociate him from an art that recognises the symphony as
its crowning achievement. The drama of the future will accept him as one
of its greatest potentates: the music of the future will see in him the
lord of a single province, whose government has in one respect assisted
the consolidation of the others.

What, then, is required to sum up the tendencies of the present age, and
to bring Music to the fifth landmark in its history. Surely a composer,
who, while he maintains and develops the harmonic traditions of the
Romantic School, shall even more devote himself to the restoration and
evolution of musical structure: who shall take up the classical form
where Beethoven left it; who shall aid to free it from the conventions
which that greatest of all masters did not wholly succeed in loosening;
who shall carry it to a further stage and raise it to a fuller
organisation. And such a composer has appeared. So far as concerns the
technical problem of composition--and it must be remembered that this is
at present the only topic under discussion--the work of Brahms is the
actual crown and climax of our present Musical art. He is in exact and
literal truth 'der der kommen musste:' the man for whom Music has been
waiting. In him converge all previous streams of tendency, not as into a
pool, stagnant, passive, and motionless, but as into a noble river that
receives its tributary waters and bears them onward in larger and
statelier volume.

Tintoret claimed 'the drawing of Michael Angelo and the colouring of
Titian': Brahms, in like manner, may claim the counterpoint of Bach and
the structure of Beethoven. And not only has he entered into the
inheritance of these two composers; he has put their legacies to
interest, and has enriched the world with an augmentation of their
wealth. He is no mere Alexandrine, no grammarian poet, content to
accumulate with a patient and laborious industry the gifts that have
been lavished by a previous age; the artistic heritage is not won by
right of labour, and its dynasty only falls to these who are born in the
purple. Erudition, in short, may copy the work of Genius; but Genius
alone can develop it.

Are we to say, then, that Brahms is a more consummate master of his
medium than Bach or Beethoven? By no means; but, in consequence of
their work, his medium is more plastic than theirs. For certain
historical reasons, with which the question of personal capacity has
nothing to do, the key-system of Bach is rudimentary beside that of
Beethoven, and the polyphony of Beethoven less perfect, perhaps, than
that of Bach. To Brahms we may apply Dryden's famous epigram, in which
the force of Nature 'to make a third has joined the other two.' By his
education he learned to assimilate their separate methods; by his
position, in the later days of Romance, he found a new emotional
language in established use; by his own genius he has made the forms
wider and more flexible, and has shown once more that they are not
artificial devices, but the organic embodiment of artistic life.

It follows, then, to maintain this statement with a few words of
commentary and illustration. And, first, we may take the polyphonic
problem, not only because it has some chronological priority, but
because the system which it implies is more limited and more readily
exhaustible. Now the essential value of Bach's work in this respect is
that, in addition to 'writing free and characteristic parts for the
several voices in combination,' he 'made the harmonies, which were the
sum of the combined counterpoints, move so as to illustrate the
principles of harmonic form, and thus give to the hearer the sense
of orderliness and design, as well as the sense of contrapuntal
complexity,'[55] and since there are no other aims to which polyphonic
writing can be directed, it would seem as though Bach's achievement were
final, as though it left nothing for future generations to add. But a
somewhat closer reflection will show that there are at least two points
in which a possibility of progress may be admitted.

One is the immense growth of Instrumental Music, which has virtually
brought with it a new material for treatment. Bach's part-writing is
generally vocal in basis, the work of an organist who feels the presence
of his choir and his congregation; even his concerti are not far removed
from the canzonas which were specified as 'buone da cantare e suonare.'
But after him came a generation of composers who recognised and brought
into fuller use the peculiar character and flexibility of the strings,
and thus opened out a new region, which it has been one of the
privileges of Brahms to explore. Thus while, in his organ compositions,
in his motetts, in the choruses of the Requiem, Brahms has closely
followed the methods of Bach (though even here he solves one or two
problems which were left untouched by the earlier master), in such
examples as the two string Sestetts and the Symphony in E minor, he
adapts those methods to a material which he had inherited from a later
ancestry. And here it may be noticed that his simplest accompaniments
are always characteristic. Even the arpeggio figure, which is usually
the easiest and most careless of all harmonic devices acquires in him a
special significance and import.

The other point is the change in emotional and melodic phraseology, due
partly to the influence of Beethoven and Schubert, partly to that of the
more distinctively Romantic composers. It is quite certain that the
characteristic melody of the eighteenth century is, on the whole, more
susceptible of polyphonic treatment than that of our own time. The
finale of the Jupiter Symphony is, in any case, a stupendous effort of
genius; but take five typical tunes of Liszt or Berlioz, and Mozart
himself could not have dealt with them as he dealt with his own phrases.
The curve of melody has altered in some degree, and thus, while it has
given new effects of beauty, it has become a little less adaptable to
certain of its requirements. No doubt Schumann developed a wonderful
polyphonic system of his own; but even in him we may recognise certain
limits: and, moreover, he stands, in this respect, almost alone as an
intermediary between Bach and Brahms. We are driven, then, to conclude
either that polyphony should grow obsolete, which the most unthinking
audacity can hardly affirm, or that the extreme of Romantic expression
has lost in art what it has gained in poetry. And herein Brahms appears
as a true reformer. His thought is in full accord with the general
poetic conception of our age, but he has selected from its entire range
those particular forms of phrase and melody which are most conspicuously
plastic and malleable. The opening of the A major Quartett is romantic
enough, but it admits of that marvellous piece of contrapuntal imitation
which surprises us in the coda. The Symphony in F major is one of the
least formal of compositions, but the most laborious academician in
music could not compile a more elaborate polyphony than Brahms has here
created. Indeed, there is little necessity to search for instances: they
may be found on almost every page of the concerted or choral works. And,
though it be true that Bach is often curiously modern in idea, though he
frequently stands nearer to us than Handel or Haydn or Mozart, the fact
still remains, that Brahms is in closer and more intimate sympathy with
him than even the romantic composers who made him their ostensible
pattern and prototype.

So far, then, as relates to the harmonic aspect, Brahms may be regarded
as a real stage in the evolution of Musical Art. There remains the more
important question of his contributions to the development of structure:
in other words, of his relation to Beethoven. The harmonic ideal had
been maintained, in varying degree, by all composers of the first rank,
and herein the traditions of Schumann and Chopin were of distinct and
momentous service to their successor; but the structural ideal had,
since 1830, been allowed to fall into comparative neglect, and in
restoring it Brahms had virtually to do his work single-handed. No
doubt, in short lyric forms, and even in their direct expansion to a
larger scale, the Romantic musicians had shown a considerable mastery of
outline; but in the more complex organism of symphony and concerto, they
had fallen somewhat out of the line of progress, and had diverged from
the methods of the 'Emperor' and the 'A major.' Hence the estimate of
Brahms' position in this matter is of double interest: partly because of
the intrinsic value of key-structure in musical organisation, partly
because the line of development was in some degree broken and

Now it has been already maintained that the sonata form, in its widest
and most comprehensive signification, represents the highest type of
structure to which the Art of Music has yet advanced. Other instrumental
forms--the romance, the fantasia, the nocturne--are modelled, with more
or less of exactitude, upon sonata movements; and the same is true even
of vocal forms, except in so far as they are influenced by the fugue or
affected by the extra-musical requirements of the words. It is therefore
to works ostensibly in sonata form that we must primarily address
ourselves. And here it may at once be stated that in a vast majority of
the details, Beethoven seems to have reached

    The outside verge that rounds our faculty.

In the construction of the separate movements, taken as individual
unities, there has been little or no progress since his time, for little
or no progress was possible. We can only say, then, that in this respect
the work of Brahms is as organic as that of his master; and, in saying
this, we are merely propounding a matter of comparative analysis which
can readily be settled by an appeal to facts. It is as true of Brahms as
of Beethoven, that there is in him no redundant phrase, no digression,
no parenthesis, nothing that does not bear some intimate relation either
to its immediate context, or, with more subtlety, to a remoter part of
the subsequent issue. Take, for instance, the rondo tune which opens the
Finale of the B flat Sestett. A careless observer may regard the
beginning of its second stanza as mere padding, devised to fill a gap
until the principal strain recurs. Turn a few pages, and we find that it
was the presage of a complete and important episode which itself is
vital to the structure as a whole. Again, in the first movement of the
same work, if any reader will compare the entry of the second subject
with the corresponding place in Beethoven's Hammerclavier Sonata, he
will see with what accuracy Brahms learned his lesson and with what
consummate skill he applied it. And in all other qualities of organic
structure--in choice of tonal centres, in the relative length
of constituent sections, in perfect balance of exposition and
development--the same line of legitimate succession may be traced. It is
not a question of imitation. Brahms is no copyist, reproducing with
careful fidelity the precise outline of a master's original. In this, as
in his polyphony, he has assimilated the principles of a past method and
has turned them to his own account.

But for the complete organisation of a symphony, or a sonata, it is not
sufficient that each movement should be structurally exact; they must be
so inter-related as to produce an effect of organism in the whole. And
there are three chief ways in which this inter-relation can be secured.
The first is by unity of emotional effect; by making the whole work tell
the same story, and represent the same general type of feeling. In
Beethoven's Appassionata, for instance, a scherzo would be an
impertinence, in his Eighth Symphony a slow movement would be an
intrusion; for the one is as wholly tragic in character as the other is
light and humorous. The second is by the proper choice of key for each
of the successive numbers; for the selection, that is, among all
possible alternatives, of the tonic note that will give the most
complete and satisfying result. And herein we may confess that we have
one of the few cases in which Beethoven's work was injuriously affected
by convention. Of course, the Seventh Symphony stands almost unique and
unapproachable, a culminating point of structural excellence, but, as a
rule, his scheme, though less homogeneous than that of Mozart, has too
little diversity to be accepted as final. Thirdly, the entire
composition may be held together by a transference of themes, that is,
by the reminiscence in one number of phrases or melodies that have
already been employed in another. Of this device there is hardly any
example in Beethoven until the end of his career, and even then the only
conspicuous instance is the finale of the Choral Symphony. It is,
indeed, the latest-born of all the forces that tend to organisation, and
along its lines the sonata form of the future will probably find the
readiest opportunity of progress.

If, then, Brahms is the inheritor of Beethoven's method, we may expect
to find a continuity of tradition in his treatment of these three points
respectively. And assuredly the analysis of his work will not disappoint
us. For, in the first place, the poetic unity of his compositions is
beyond dispute. In each of the great concerted pieces, whether for the
chamber or the orchestra, we find one general type of feeling worked
out, it may be, to successive issues, but developed in orderly sequence
from a single source. His cast of mind is usually grave and reflective,
therefore he has for the most part discarded the scherzo, and replaced
it by a movement of more earnest and serious character. His manner of
thought is logical and coherent, therefore his finales, like those of
Beethoven, are not mere light-hearted fantasias, intended to send away
the audience in a good temper, but true conclusions, carefully planned
and adequately presented. Even in such works as the Horn Trio, where the
contrast is probably at its strongest, there is no real obscurity in the
underlying relation; while in the four symphonies, to take the opposite
extreme, we need only hear the sequence of movements to pronounce it

And as we find an organic unity in the emotional aspect, so we find an
organic diversity in the choice of keys. Except for the obvious
principle, that first and last movements must acknowledge the same
tonic, Brahms admits none of the _a priori_ laws by which his
predecessor was occasionally bound. In other words, he takes as his unit
not the separate movement but the entire series, and selects his keys
for Adagio and Intermezzo with the same structural care as he uses for a
'second subject,' or a 'development section.' Allusion has already been
made to the Violoncello Sonata in F, one of the most marvellous pieces
of successful audacity in all musical form; but hardly less remarkable
is the Symphony in E minor, where the key of the slow movement is
equally unusual, and equally necessary. Indeed, any of the concerted
works will serve for illustration. The choice is sometimes simple,
sometimes recondite, but in all cases it is justified by the event.

Transference of themes is a device attended by one imminent danger. If
awkwardly employed, it may look like poverty of thought, or at best that
artless _naïvité_ of repetition which is only tolerable in a ballad
literature. But if this danger be avoided, and its avoidance is only a
question of skill, the reminiscence of a previous melody may round off
and complete an entire work in much the same way as the 'Recapitulation'
rounds off and completes a single movement. It has been already said
that Beethoven makes little use of this method. Schumann indicated some
of its possibilities, but Schumann died while the work was still
incomplete, and left its further elaboration to other hands. And though
Brahms is somewhat tentative and uncertain in the matter, though he
leaves room for future advance and future progress, yet at least we may
say that he has explored more of the new ground than any of his
predecessors. In the Finale of the G major Violin Sonata, and in that of
the Quartett in B flat, he is satisfied to carry out the suggestion of
Schumann;[56] but elsewhere, as in the second Symphony and the clarinet
Quintett, he develops them in a new direction, by founding two movements
on thematic variants of the same idea. It is difficult to overrate the
value of these hints for future guidance, though, as yet, they are only
hints, not complete solutions. For, grant that an entire sonata or
symphony can never be called organic in precisely the same sense as its
constituent parts; grant that their analogue is the man, and its
analogue the corporate community; still some further organisation of the
whole is undoubtedly possible, and we may well expect it to follow the
method which Brahms has here indicated.

In one word, he has completed, for present purposes, the emancipation of
musical form, not by the false freedom of anarchy, but by the true
freedom of a rational code. Artistic progress, like that of the
political commonwealth, has always tended towards the abolition of
purely conventional laws, and to the maintenance and development of
those that are founded upon broad principles of human nature. By Brahms,
so far as we can see, the last links of convention have been snapped,
and the form has now room to grow and expand in perfect liberty. Look,
for instance, at his treatment of the Concerto, which, up to his time,
was the most unsatisfactory, because the most conventional, of all
classical types. He has broken down the unnecessary rule of the three
movements, he has finally overthrown the tyranny of the solo instrument,
he has given the whole form a free constitution similar to that of the
Quartett and the Symphony. And though we be disinclined to regard our
present sonata-form as ultimate; though it may some day develop into a
new type, as it was itself developed from the Partita, yet the very
possibility of future advance depends upon conditions which it has been
the work of Brahms to secure. Hence, to call him a reactionary, as some
writers are fond of doing, is simply to misunderstand his whole relation
to musical art. In all history, there is no composer more essentially

But, it may be objected, is not all this insistence on minutiæ somewhat
pedantic and artificial? Does it really matter whether a concerto has
four movements or three? whether an adagio is in A flat or A natural?
Indeed, is not the whole sonata-form a piece of academic subtlety, and
_a fortiori_, must we not regard its details as points of grammar rather
than points of art? And the critic, whom we are only too probably
supposing, will go on to speak of 'melody beaten out into thematic
gold-leaf,' or will even tell us that there is more music in an
intermezzo, where the composer's thought 'runs freely without
restrictions of form,' than in all the studious ingenuity of codas and
development sections. In short we are asked to believe that beauty is
too spiritual for legislation, and that any attempt to render it
amenable to a code is as futile as the countryman's endeavour to break
Pegasus into harness.

Now, in the first place, to commend a musician for disregarding the laws
of form is even more unreasonable than to commend a poet for his halting
verses, or a painter for his bad drawing. If by laws are meant
conventions, then the criticism is just in itself, but it does not touch
the point at issue; if natural laws are meant, then the critic has done
no more than express his own personal preference for chaos. The little
pianoforte pieces of Brahms, for example, are charming, not because they
are formless, but because their form is perfect. The only difference
between them and the sonata movements, from which they are derived, is a
difference of development: the underlying principles are identical. In
the second place, it has already been maintained that the sonata is not
an artificial construction, but an organic growth evolved, in
steadily-increasing complexity, from a living origin: and, further, that
its constituent parts represent between them all the general types of
all existing instrumental compositions. Either, then, this conclusion
must be refuted, or the 'academic' view of the sonata must be abandoned
as untenable. And in the third place, if it be demurred that although
some general laws of form are advisable, yet the artist should treat
them with a free hand, and not expend himself on niggling details, then
it is an obvious answer, that this objection rests on a confusion of
thought. The little masters have sometimes to choose between a
superficial facility and an elaboration that smells of the lamp: the
great masters have so assimilated their principles, that exactitude
with them is a second nature. In Tintoret's Miracle of S. Mark, the
twisted rope strands could not have been drawn more perfectly if they
had cost weeks of calculation and measurement: yet each is finished with
a single sweep of the brush. And so again in Brahms this accuracy of
detail is not a matter of diligence, but a matter of insight,
cultivated, no doubt, by past training, but employed at the moment with
a direct and unerring certainty. It may legitimately be questioned
whether perfection of form is not sometimes too dearly bought by a
sacrifice of vigour or originality: if the two can be set in antithesis,
we may understand that a critical judgment should hesitate between them.
But, given vigour and originality, and, in Brahms, no serious writer has
ever denied these gifts, it hardly admits of discussion that the form of
a work is, in some degree, a measure of its artistic value.

We may conclude, then, that in what has been called the treatment of the
musical medium, Brahms occupies an incontestable position among the
greatest composers of the world. It now follows that we should consider
the character of his ideas, the nature of his melody, and, in a word,
the particular qualities implied in his power of invention and his
emotional standpoint. It is, perhaps, inevitable that we should do this
with something of a prepossession. For, as we have already seen, in
music, form and thought are obverse and reverse of the same set of
relations, and the organism of the one is our best guarantee for the
vitality of the other. Here, at any rate, academic methods are always
imitations, copies which in no way advance upon their pre-existing
model: and thus, if the artistic structure of a work be really living
and progressive, we need have little fear about its artistic function.
But, at the same time, music can adumbrate so many different types of
emotion, that it is worth inquiring whether a given artist has seized
them all, and whether, if he be limited to a part of the field, his
value is affected or impaired by the limitation.

Now it is sometimes maintained that the music of Brahms is deficient in
emotional sensibility: that it is too sober, too self-controlled, too
intellectual to be really artistic. The composer, like the poet, should
be animated by a 'divine madness and enthusiasm;' he should leave to
philosophy the more cautious attributes of deliberate thought; he has
the free wind of heaven in his sails, and should run before it on a full
tide, neither anxious for his safety nor careful of his direction. But
of two things, one: Either we are to hold that art gains by hysteria and
extravagance, and that its highest climax is a delirium of unrestrained
and riotous passion; or, if this be impossible, we must accept the only
alternative, and admit self-control as a necessary principle. The only
true question at issue, then, must be the measure in which the
restraining influence is to be exercised--the point at which it sets up
its barrier and says, 'Thus far and no farther.' And if we recall the
Titanic strength of Brahms' first Symphony, or the romance of the
_Tragic Overture_, and the vigour and variety of such 'Dramatic Lyrics'
as _Verrath_, or _Entführung_, or _Meine Liebe ist Grün_, we shall
hardly assert that their limit has here been suggested by any timidity
or any lack of emotional force. In short, when confronted with the
facts, the whole attack dwindles into a statement that Brahms' passion
is sane and manly--a conclusion which we are not in any way concerned to

But at least, it may be urged, the range of feeling is circumscribed:
there is little humour, little gaiety, little expression of the brighter
and more genial aspects of life. Granted, with a few notable exceptions,
but the same may be said of Æschylus and Dante, of Milton and
Wordsworth. It is merely a relic of primitive barbarism that makes us
look upon music as an adjunct to conviviality, as an appanage to the
'banquet of wine,' as a pleasant emotional stimulus designed for the
amusement of an idle hour. Music is an art of at least the same dignity
as poetry or painting, it admits of similar distinctions, it appeals to
similar faculties, and in it, also, the highest field is that occupied
with the most serious issues. Not that we have any need to undervalue
the charm of its more playful moments: we may enjoy Offenbach in
precisely the same way as we enjoy Labiche; but it is no very extreme
paradox to say that Tristan is a greater work than Orphée aux Enfers,
and that La Cagnotte is on a different literary plane from Lear and
Hamlet. And in like manner, if we are disposed to find fault with Brahms
because the greater part of his work is grave and earnest, let us at
least endeavour to realise how such a criticism would sound if it were
directed against the Divina Commedia, or the Agamemnon, or Paradise

Indeed, it is incredible that anyone should listen to Brahms' melody and
not be convinced. Do we want breadth? There is the Sestett in B flat,
the Second Symphony, the Piano Quartett in A. Do we want tenderness?
There is the Minnelied, there is 'Wie bist du meine Königin,' there is
the first Violin Sonata. Is it simplicity? We may turn to Erinnerung, to
Sonntag, to the later pianoforte pieces. Is it complexity? We have the
Symphony in E minor, the four Concertos, the great masterpieces of vocal
counterpoint. For pure, sensuous beauty, apart from all other
attributes, it is impossible to surpass the Schicksalslied, or the F
major Symphony, or the Clarinet Quintett. Indeed, the difficulty in
Brahms is to find a poor tune or a clumsy passage. No doubt, in work of
such wide scope and extent, there will always be parts that do not
appeal to a given hearer, that represent a mood with which he is out of
sympathy, or contain some form of expression that fails to interest him;
but, at the very lowest, we may say that the mood of Brahms is never
ignoble, and its expression very seldom inadequate. Even the unlucky and
much-abused theme in the third movement of the Clarinet Trio has certain
qualities of style which redeem it from triviality; and in any case it
remains almost a solitary exception--one cankered bud in a whole garden
of delight.

Here a word may be said on Brahms' indebtedness to the actual melody of
previous musicians. It is indisputable that in his work we sometimes
find phrases, and very rarely complete strains, which recall Beethoven,
or Schubert, or Schumann. But, in the first place, there is seldom or
never any case of direct quotation, the outline of an idea is borrowed
and filled with a new content; and in the second place, a charge of
plagiarism is only serious if it implies poverty of invention. That
one man may steal a horse while another may not look over the hedge,
is, if considered aright, the highest embodiment of abstract justice:
the thief may be your personal friend, in whose honesty of intention
you have every reason to confide, the face at the field-edge may wear
a hang-dog look which fills you with not unnatural apprehension.
And seriously, it is idle to suppose that Brahms adopted these
passages--half-a-score, perhaps, in a list of a hundred and twenty
elaborate compositions--because he felt that his own supply was
running short, and that it must needs be supplemented by a raid over
the border. Plagiarism means either the appropriation of an entire
work, or the embellishment of a poor texture with some patch of purple
that does not belong to the artist. It has nothing whatever to do with
these casual and unimportant reminiscences.

There are one or two matters of detail in Brahms' melody which it may be
worth while to notice. In the first place, it is conspicuously diatonic,
founded for the most part on the ordinary notes of the simplest scale,
and so indued with a robustness and a virility which is wanting to the
progression by semitones. Besides, he is thus enabled to keep his
chromatic effects in reserve, either for purposes of remote modulation,
as in the Æolsharfe, or for marking an emotional crisis, as in the slow
movement of the Horn Trio, or the close of the stanza in Feldeinsamkeit.
Against this, no doubt, may be set his use of the flattened sixth, which
is so frequent as to be almost a mannerism, but it will be observed that
this appears more often in the harmonisation of the melody than in its
actual statement. It is a point of colour, not a point of drawing.

Again, there are two general types of melodic curve; one which rises
and falls by a progression of consecutive notes, one which follows
the constituent parts of a chord in arpeggio. As a rule, the great
melodies of the world contain elements of both, with a characteristic
preponderance of the former; and attempts to construct tunes out of the
latter alone, as, for instance, the opening theme of Weber's Second
Pianoforte Sonata, have usually ended in disappointment. But to this
rule Brahms is an exception. In a large number of his themes the
arpeggio predominates, and always with a special interest and a special
personality. Thus, in Von ewiger Liebe, in the Sapphic Ode, in the
Violoncello tune, from the first movement of the B flat, Sestett we have
melodies designed after this pattern which are not only clear and
salient, but strikingly beautiful as well. It will be seen that in all
three cases the same device is employed, a passage from dominant to
mediant, which leaves the intervening tonic untouched, and in this small
matter is indicated the real secret of their effectiveness. Brahms does
not merely take the harmonic notes as they are presented by the simple
arpeggio, he makes selection among them, omitting one and emphasising
another, until he has given character to the whole progression. It is
hardly extravagant to say that there is as much difference between a
chord-tune of Brahms and a chord-tune of Weber as between a well-written
accompaniment figure and an Alberti bass.

A third feature is the remarkable variety and ingenuity of his metrical
system. The device of cross-rhythm acquires with him an entirely new
significance; it does not defy the restrictions of the bar, but totally
disregards them. In the first movement of the Violin Concerto, for
instance, the measure of three crotchets is traversed by a phrase of
five thrice repeated, the effect of which is a momentary obliteration of
the time signature, and the substitution not of a similar rhythm in
slower tempo, but of an interpolated phrase, which seems to stand wholly
out of relation to the beat: and yet the passage does not project from
the general plane of the movement, as do the famous syncopated chords in
the Eroica, it is woven into the texture, and forms a homogeneous part
of the substance. Again Brahms is fond of placing his melody so that the
stress falls outside the principal accent of the bar, thus baffling the
hearer who feels that rhythm and tempo are really the same, but is yet
conscious that for the moment they do not coincide. It would be an
interesting experiment for any musician, who has never seen the Quartett
in G minor, to write down from dictation the first Pianoforte phrase of
the intermezzo; and an instance even more striking may be found in the
first movement of the Clarinet Quintett, where the string melody seems
to be shifted forward a quaver in advance of the beat, until the solo
instrument sets the passage back in its place, and the discrepancy is
resolved. Here, then, is another reason why the music of Brahms is
difficult at a first hearing. 'Was ist das überhaupt für ein Takt?' said
the Viennese critics, after vainly endeavouring to count their way
through a complicated passage, and the inexperienced beginner will often
feel tempted to sympathise with their impatience. But, as we gradually
learn how to thread the intricacies of the phrase, and how to balance
the alternatives that proffer their incompatible claims, we gain a more
lasting pleasure from the intellectual stimulus than can ever be
afforded by glowing harmony or by opulence of tone. And if it be
objected that this is little better than a musical enigma, a mere piece
of child's play below the dignity of a serious art, then the answer is,
that dramatic irony must fall under the same condemnation, for it aims
at precisely the same effect. To confuse the noble with the trivial
employment of artistic illusion, is to see no difference between a play
of Sophocles and a puppet show.

Lastly, we may notice the rightness and finality which mark the most
characteristic of his phrases. In Shakespear it often happens that we
come across a line where there is nothing unusual in the thought,
nothing recondite in the language, nothing but the simplest idea
exhibited in the simplest words, and yet when we read it we feel at once
that it could have been said in no other way, and that it can never be
said again. And, in his own art, Brahms too has this gift of making
simplicity memorable. For instance, in the opening theme of the F minor
Quintett, there is nothing that can be called a device; the short loop,
by which the second melodic curve picks up the first, is common enough
in music; so is the use of the two alternative leading notes, so is the
repetition of the same emphatic sound on the chief accent of three
successive figures. But no one who has once heard the phrase can ever
forget it: and no one can imagine its being altered by a single note
without serious loss and detriment. In a word, it is inevitable, and
therefore final: a plain statement of a primary truth which remains with
us as a delight when the most elaborate epigrams have passed away into
weariness or oblivion. And in two of the Violin Sonatas, in the A minor
Quartett, in a hundred other works and movements, we shall find that the
first sentences give an equally striking illustration of this power.
Many composers become commonplace when they try to be simple: they can
only seize our attention with an effort, with some special trick of
colour or contrast. Brahms, who has at his command every shade in the
whole gamut of colour, can make an abiding masterpiece with a few
strokes in black and white.

       *       *       *       *       *

In the foregoing analysis, nothing has been attempted except a bare
description of the organism. The mystery of life, the breath of thought
and inspiration, the secret language by which mind speaks to mind,--all
these are beyond our reach, and in dealing with them we should only
confess our ignorance of our own inadequacy. But this at least we may
say, that wherever the divine principle is present, it makes itself
known by the witness of visible signs--by law, by progress, by
inter-relation of parts and unity of function. If, then, we can read the
signs, we may guess at the thing signified: if the words be clear and
consecutive, we may claim that there is a meaning in the sentence. In
music it is possible, as the old Psychologists fabled, that the soul is
the true realisation of the body, the power that moulds and shapes the
organs into their fulness of existence and energy. And thus, though we
can never put into words what we mean by the soul of music, we may yet
point to perfection of body as its evidence. No man will deny that the
art of Brahms is a living force--a genuine, spontaneous outcome of
personal feeling and personal vitality. And, if it be so, the analysis
of its external form may, to some extent, indicate its possession of the
more spiritual gifts.

That he stands beside Bach and Beethoven is hardly any more a matter for
controversy. All three are poets of the same order--noble, dignified,
majestic--followers of the statelier muses, and of Apollo, who teaches
to men the truths of prophecy. All three are consummate artists, in
whose supreme mastery of utterance the highest message has found fit and
adequate expression; and finally, in all three alike may be seen the
culmination and fulfilment of an epoch in musical history--a climax of
achievement which not only closes the chapter of its own age but renders
possible the further record of the ages, to come. True, the work of
Brahms is still too near us to receive its proper meed of appreciation.
We are not yet so familiar with his method as with that of his two
forerunners: in his speech there is still something new and strange
which now and again baffles our understanding. But all true art is
unfathomable: we see the play of colour upon its surface, and know from
the very richness and glory of the sight, that below are depths which no
plummet can measure. By our century of experience we have learned to
know a little of Beethoven: we shall no more master his secret than we
shall enter into the mind of Shakespear or Goethe. And in like manner,
if we call Brahms obscure, we are imputing our own weakness as the fault
of a man who is too great for us. It is not for nothing that we love
best those of his writings which we have most carefully studied. It is
not for nothing that every decade adds to the number of those who see
in him the highest expression of our present ideal. When music attains
to fuller knowledge and nobler practice, it will grant him a due place
among its foremost leaders, and to us who honour him as a monarch, will
succeed a generation which reverences him as a hero.


[55] Dr Parry, _Art of Music_, pp. 173-4.

[56] Compare the corresponding movements in Schumann's D minor Violin
Sonata and Pianoforte Quintett.



    A major Symphony (Beethoven), 51, 64, 70, 219, 286.

    A major Pianoforte Quartett (Brahms), 253, 255, 285, 296.

    A minor String Quartett (Schumann), 54;
      (Dvořák), 197;
      (Brahms), 302.

    Abendständchen, 255.

    Academic Overture, 268.

    Academy, The, 262.

    Æolopantaleon, 90.

    Æolsharfe, 298.

    Æschylus, 281, 296.

    Ahle, Johann Rudolph, 264.

    Aix-la-Chapelle, 120.

    Albert Hall, 205.

    Alcestis, the, 53.

    Aldrich, T. B., 64.

    Alexander's Feast, 264.

    Alfred (Dvořák's), 190.

    Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung, 100, 235, 247, 256.

    Ambros, 251.

    America, 183, 208.

    Andrea del Sarto, 168, 233.

    Anselar Platz, 231, 234.

    Anstey, F., 65.

    Antigone, the, 260.

    Antonin, 92, 108.

    Arago, 134.

    Arbeau's Orchesographie, 277.

    Aristotle, illustrations from, 9, 10, 21, 22, 70, 278.

    Art (limits of analysis), 75, 133, 150, 243.

    Art of Music (Dr Parry), 283.

    Arts and Sciences (Order of), 270.

    Asolando, 149.

    Austen, Miss, 64.

    Austin Dobson, Mr, 31.

    Austria, 185, 208, 259.

    Austrian Kultusministerium, 198-200.

    Austrio-Prussian War, 258.

    Ave Maria (Brahms), 247.

    Ave Maris Stella (Dvořák), 194.


    B major Trio (Brahms), 42.

    B flat Sestett (Brahms), 247, 253, 282, 287, 296, 299.

    B flat minor Sonata (Chopin), 136, 137, 155, 156.

    Bach, polyphony, 278;
      relation to Brahms, 283-286;
      illustrations from, 20, 30, 40, 45, 66, 68, 70, 86, 161, 168, 217,
            218, 232, 259, 278, 279, 280, 281, 282.

    Bacon, 190, 211.

    Bad Reinerz, 91, 93.

    Baillot, 116.

    Ballades (Chopin), 123, 131, 135, 154, 158.

    Balzac, 67, 134.

    Barbara Allen, 38.

    Barbizon School, 213.

    Barcarolle (Chopin), 137.

    Barcelona, 129.

    Bartered Bride, the, 187, 221.

    Basle, 269.

    Beethoven, relation to Chopin, 155;
      to Dvořák, 219;
      to Brahms, 286-290.

    Beethoven, illustrations from, 7, 11, 20, 22, 24, 30, 33, 39, 42,
            43, 46, 47, 51-53, 55, 64, 66-68, 70, 72, 80, 97, 98, 106,
            149, 153, 156, 157, 163, 167, 168, 189, 221, 223, 225, 232,
            234, 236, 237, 243, 247, 252, 253, 258, 259, 262, 265, 266,

    Belleville, Mdlle. de, 107.

    Bendl, Karel, 188, 191.

    Berlin, 94, 95, 102, 110, 115, 200.

    Berlin Iris, 120.

    Berlioz, illustrations from, 21, 29, 32, 33, 106, 120, 149, 180,
            183, 220, 232, 234, 239, 280, 285.

    Birmingham Festival, 206, 208.

    Blätter für Theater Musik und Kunst, 252, 253.

    Blahetka, 100.

    Blanc, Louis, 133.

    Bluebells of Scotland, 46.

    Blumendeutung, 191.

    Böhmisch-Kamnitz, 176.

    Bohemia, condition of music in, 177;
      loss of independence, 182;
      beginnings of renaissance, 183, 184;
      national movement, 184-187, 192, 194, 203, 208, 217, 220.

    Bohemian Folksongs, 215.

    Bohemian Theatre, 191, 195, 204.

    Bonn, 245, 260.

    Brahms, Johannes, birth, 231;
      early education, 232-3;
      first concert, 233;
      tour with Reményi, 235;
      Göttingen, 235;
      Hanover, 237;
      Weimar, 238;
      goes to Schumann at Dusseldorf, 239;
      _début_ at Leipsic, 240;
      appointment at Lippe Detmold, 241;
      concerts, 243;
      first pianoforte concerto, 244, 261;
      serenades, 245;
      stay in Switzerland, 246, 247;
      goes to Vienna, 249;
      _début_ in Vienna, 252;
      first performance of B flat sestett, 253;
      relation to Wagner, 254;
      appointment to Vienna Singakademie, 255;
      concert tour in Germany, 255;
      concert tour in Switzerland, 257;
      German Requiem, 258, 259;
      Hungarian dances, 261;
      Triumphlied and Schicksalslied, 262, 263;
      appointed conductor of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde, 263;
      first symphony, 265;
      doctor's degree at Breslau, 267;
      tragic and academic overtures, 267, 268;
      concert tour, 269;
      decorations from Germany, Bavaria and Austria, 270;
      made citizen of Hamburg, 271;
      later compositions, 271, 272.

    Brahms as composer. The 'fifth landmark,' 281, 282;
      relation to Bach, 283-286;
      relation to Beethoven, 287-290;
      further developments of structure, 291-294;
      emotional range, 295, 296;
      melody, 296-299;
      rhythm, 300, 301;
      conclusion, 302, 304.

    Brahms, illustrations from, 18, 30, 40, 42, 54, 55, 62, 70, 187,
            214, 225.

    Brahms, Johann Jakob, 231, 234;
      Frau, 231, 234;
      Fritz, 235, 246.

    Brandenburgs in Bohemia, the, 187.

    Brault, Augustine, 137.

    Breitkopf and Härtel, 91.

    Bremen, 259, 262.

    Breslau, 111, 267.

    Broadwoods, the, 123.

    Brontë, Charlotte, 64.

    Browning, illustrations from, 13, 149, 233.

    Bruch, Max, 259.

    Bruckner, 250.

    Brüll, Ignaz, 250.

    Bückeburg, 238.

    Buda-Pesth, 258, 269.

    Burger, 29, 206.

    Burns, 47, 152, 177.

    Burton, 17.

    Byron, 35, 200.


    Calderon, 212.

    Cambridge, 208, 267, 272.

    Carlsbad, 121.

    Carlsruhe, 255, 262, 265.

    Carnaval Overture, 224.

    Carpaccio, 157.

    Catalani, 88, 107.

    Cauvière, Dr, 132.

    Cavalleria Rusticana, 217.

    Cellini, 90.

    Chapelain, 133.

    Cherubini, 91, 116.

    Chiarina, 122.

    Chopin, Frederick, birth, 83;
      early education, 85-87;
      first compositions, 90;
      visit to Berlin, 94;
      first visit to Vienna, 97;
      return to Warsaw, 101;
      Constance Gladkowska, 102;
      concerts in Warsaw, 105, 109;
      leaves Poland, 110;
      second visit to Vienna, 111-115;
      arrival in Paris, 116;
      concerts in Paris, 118, 120, 129, 135, 143;
      tour in Germany, 121-123;
      visits to London and Marienbad, 123;
      meets George Sand, 124;
      at Nohaut, 129, 132, 133, 134, 137, 140;
      winter in Majorca, 129-132;
      pupils, 134, 135;
      death of his father, 136;
      breakdown in health, 137;
      rupture with George Sand, 137-142;
      second visit to England, 143, 144;
      return to Paris, 144;
      death, 145.

    Chopin as composer. Style, 150;
      relation to Polish folk-music, 151-154;
      structure, 155, 156;
      melody, 158;
      harmony, 160-163;
      accompaniment figures, 164-166;
      treatment of pianoforte, 166-168.

    Chopin, illustrations from, 17, 18, 31, 53, 55, 57, 60, 66, 218,
            220, 232, 233, 267, 286.

    Chopin, Nicholas, 83, 90, 94, 121, 126.

    Chopin, Louisa, 85;
      Isabella, 85;
      Emily, 85, 93.

    Choral Symphony, 38, 160, 289.

    Chrysander, Dr, 256.

    Clary, Prince, 100.

    Clementi, 134.

    Clesinger, 138.

    Coda, 52.

    Cologne, 243, 255.

    Concerto in F minor (Chopin), 105, 106, 123;
      in E minor (Chopin), 105, 109, 115, 117, 119;
      Violin Concerto (Dvořák), 220, 224;
      (Brahms), 266, 300;
      in D minor (Brahms), 244, 261;
      in B flat (Brahms), 269;
      double, 270;
      Brahms' treatment of, 292.

    Congress of Vienna, 83.

    Conservatoire, Warsaw, 102, 110;
      Paris, 117, 120, 180;
      Prague, 208.

    Constable, 213.

    Constance, 246.

    Corelli, 279.

    Corneille, 45, 254.

    Correggio, 60.

    Couperin, 31, 279.

    Cour d'Orléans, 133, 142.

    Covent Garden, 183.

    Cracow, 97.

    Crystal Palace, 272.

    Cunning Peasant, the, 201

    Czerny, 98.


    D minor Symphony (Dvořák), 194, 207, 216, 222.

    D minor Concerto (Brahms), 244, 247, 261.

    Dante, 7, 155, 296.

    Danzic, 93.

    Darwin, 6.

    David, 255.

    Davidsbund, 122.

    Deiters, Dr, 243, 256.

    Delacroix, 121, 133.

    Der Freischütz, 101, 195.

    Dessoff, 250.

    Dettingen Te Deum, 264.

    Development section, 52.

    Dietrich, 259.

    Dimitrij, 204.

    Dobrovsky, 189.

    Dorian mode, 154.

    Dresden, 101, 111, 121, 122, 187, 234.

    Dryden, 283.

    Du bist wie eine Blume, 38.

    Dufay, 277.

    Dürer, 7.

    Dumas, 134, 219.

    Du Maurier, 63, 163.

    Dumka, 220.

    Dunstable, 277.

    Dusseldorf, 120, 236, 239.

    Dussek, 183.

    Dvořák, Antonin, birth, 175;
      early training, 176;
      recalled from school, 176;
      first composition, 178;
      enters the organ school at Prague, 179;
      difficulties, 180;
      appointment in the orchestra of the Interimstheater, 188;
      compositions during his second period of study, 190, 191;
      first opera, 191-193, 194-196;
      Heirs of the White Mountain, 193;
      appointed organist of St Adalbert's, 194;
      marriage, 194;
      second and third operas, 196, 197;
      symphony in F, 197;
      applications to the Austrian Kultusministerium, 198, 199, 200;
      resigns his post at St Adalbert's, 198;
      Stabat Mater, 199;
      relations with Brahms, 200;
      Slavische Tänze, 200, 201;
      the Cunning Peasant, 201;
      publication of early works, 202;
      Husitska and Tyl, 203, 204;
      Dimitrij, 294;
      first visit to England, 205;
      Spectre's Bride, 206;
      St Ludmila, 206, 207;
      instrumental compositions and songs, 207;
      Jakobin, 207, 208;
      decoration from Austrian Court, 208;
      doctorate at Cambridge and Prague, 208;
      Requiem, 208;
      appointment at New York, 208, 209.

    Dvořák as composer. National element, 215;
      exceptions, 216;
      use of scale, 216-219;
      form, 219, 220;
      Dumka and Furiant, 220, 221;
      orchestration, 222;
      relation to classical style, 224, 225.

    Dvořák, illustrations from, 20, 21, 33, 60, 62, 64, 160.

    Dvořák, Frantisek, 174;
      Josef, 179;
      Adolf, 179;
      Karel, 179.

    Dziewanowski, 119.


    E minor Concerto (Chopin), 105, 109, 115, 117, 119.

    Edinburgh, 144.

    Ehrlich, Dr, 235, 237, 248.

    Eighth Symphony (Beethoven), 32, 64, 288.

    Eine Kapitulation, 262.

    Elegies (Dvořák), 298, 221.

    Elijah, the, 206.

    Elsner, 86, 87, 91, 96, 99, 100, 105, 110, 117, 118, 233.

    Emotional element in music, 21-23, 26-32.

    Emperor Concerto, 43, 286.

    Endymion, 157.

    England, Chopin in, 123, 143;
      Dvořák in, 205-208.

    Epstein, 251.

    Eroica Symphony, 22, 33, 43, 55, 184, 300.

    Esser, 250.

    Études (Chopin), 60, 105, 119, 120, 135, 136, 158, 160, 161, 166.

    Euripides, 53, 88.

    Eurydice, 187.

    Exposition, 52.


    F major Symphony (Dvořák), 197;
      (Brahms), 285, 297.

    F minor Concerto (Chopin), 105, 106, 123.

    F minor Quintett (Brahms), 255, 256, 301.

    Faculties of musical appreciation, 13-15.

    Faust (Berlioz), 21;
      (Gounod), 42;
      (Goethe), 101, 259.

    Feldeinsamkeit, 269, 298.

    Félix Meritis, 122.

    Ferdinand, Emperor, 182.

    Fernando Cortez, 94.

    Fes Moll, 219.

    Fétis, 83, 118.

    Feuilles d'Automne, 213.

    Field, 120.

    Fifth Symphony (Beethoven), 22, 43, 57.

    Filtsch, 135.

    Florentine Revolution, 44, 216, 278.

    Florence, 217.

    Florestan, 94, 122.

    Flying Dutchman, 180.

    Fontana, 92, 93.

    Fortuny, 177.

    Franchomme, 117, 137, 139.

    Franco-Prussian War, 262.

    Frank, Dr, 17.

    Fraser's Magazine, 270.

    Freitag, 270.

    Freude, 265.

    Frogs, the, 62.

    Function in music, 58, 63-69.

    Furiant, 175, 220.


    G major Sestett (Brahms), 256, 257.

    G minor Quartett (Brahms), 249, 252, 300.

    G minor Quintett (Mozart), 39.

    G minor Trio (Chopin), 60, 93, 96, 119.

    Gabrielis, the, 45, 278.

    Gainsborough, 212.

    Galicia, 97.

    Gallenberg, Count, 97.

    Gautier, 11, 17, 134.

    Gazette Musicale, 263.

    Gebir, 73.

    Germany, 122, 152, 157, 200, 217, 232, 235, 239, 242, 243, 245, 259,
            267, 269.

    German Requiem, 258, 259, 260, 262, 265, 272, 284.

    Gesang der Parzen, 269.

    Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde, 251, 253, 258, 263.

    Gewandhaus, 240, 243, 244.

    Gladkowska, Constance, 102, 107, 108.

    Glasgow, 144.

    Goethe, 43, 212, 259, 260, 303.

    Goldmark, 18, 250, 264.

    Göttingen, 235, 237.

    Gothenburg, 185.

    Gounod, 42.

    Graff, 105.

    Gray, 81.

    Greek music, 274, 276.

    Grieg, illustrations from, 41, 42, 47, 62, 66, 160, 218.

    Grillparzer, 251.

    Grün, 251.

    Gutmann, 135, 138, 140, 145.

    Gyrowetz, 81, 87, 98.


    Hálek, 184, 193.

    Hamburg, 231, 233, 234, 235, 244, 245, 246, 265, 271.

    Hammerclavier Sonata, 53, 63, 67, 287.

    Hancke, 176, 178.

    Handel, illustrations from, 19, 80, 94, 207, 208, 231, 264, 285.

    Hanover, 234, 237.

    Hanslick, Dr, 251, 254.

    Haslinger, 97.

    Hausmann, 273.

    Haworth, 85.

    Haydn, illustrations from, 46, 47, 48, 54, 55, 67, 80, 143, 223, 253,
            264, 271, 280, 285.

    Hegel, 10, 161.

    Heide, 231.

    Heine, 38, 82, 121, 126, 134, 212, 259.

    Heinrich, 183-184.

    Heirs of the White Mountain, 193, 202.

    Heller, 107.

    Helm, Dr, 262.

    Hellmesberger, 251, 252, 253, 257, 266.

    Herbeck, 250.

    Herbstgefühl, 260.

    Herold, 119.

    Herz, 119, 158.

    Hiller, 116, 118, 120, 151.

    Histoire de ma vie, 127, 138.

    Holderlin, 262.

    Holland, 261.

    Homer, 7.

    Hoole, 35.

    Horn Trio (Brahms), 256, 289, 298.

    Hôtel Rambouillet, 133.

    Hugo, Victor, 28, 64, 212, 254.

    Humboldt, A. von, 95.

    Hummel, 96.

    Hungarian dances, 261, 266.

    Hunten, 153.

    Husitska, 203, 222.

    Hymns Ancient and Modern, 41.


    I attempt from Love's sickness to fly, 47.

    Im wunderschönen Monat Mai, 19.

    Impromptus (Chopin), 129, 135, 158.

    Imogen, 68.

    Indiana, 142.

    Inductive method in science, 1-4;
      in art, 6-8;
      in music, 8-9.

    Instrumental music, influence on polyphony, 284.

    Interimstheater, 187, 188.

    Intermezzo, 290.

    Intuitive reason, 10-12.

    Ischl, 267, 269.

    Italia, 193.

    Italian opera-house (Paris), 120, 121.

    Italy, 92, 102, 110, 115, 152, 183, 217, 265.


    Jakobin, 207, 208.

    James, Henry, 128, 142.

    Jane Eyre, 71.

    Jarocki, Dr, 94, 95.

    Je vends des scapulaires, 119.

    Joachim, 236, 237, 255, 257, 259, 266.

    John Hielandman, 47.

    Josquin, 277.

    Jourdain, M., 71.

    Journal des Goncourt, 23, 127.

    Judith, 62.

    Judenthum in der Musik, das, 243.

    Jupiter Symphony, 285.


    Kalisz, 111.

    Kalkbrenner, 90, 117, 118, 119.

    Karasowski, 83, 89, 95, 105, 114, 125, 139, 140.

    Kärnthnerthor Theatre, 97, 114, 250, 251.

    Keats, 35, 71, 157, 177.

    Kéler Béla, 261.

    Kinderscenen, 49.

    King and Collier, 192, 195, 215.

    Kirchner, Theodor, 246, 248, 255.

    Klengel, 100.

    Kolberg, Wilhelm, 91, 93.

    Kossel, 232.

    Krakowiak, 96, 98, 119, 152.

    Kralup, 173, 175.

    Krebs, 234.

    Krehbiel, H. E., 199.

    Kreutzer Sonata, 236.

    Krzyzanowska, Justina, 83.

    Kuntzsch, 233.


    La ci darem, variations on, 93, 97.

    Labiche, 296.

    Lachner, 98.

    Lamb, Charles, 17, 98, 121.

    Lamennais, 134.

    Lanner, 114.

    Lassus, 40.

    Laub, 251.

    Le roi s'amuse, 64.

    Lear, 68, 296.

    Lee, Nat, 35.

    Leech, 20.

    Leeds Festival, 206.

    Legenden, 202, 218.

    Lehmann, 95.

    Leipsic, 122, 123, 217, 240, 243, 244, 246, 255, 261, 267, 270.

    Leipsiger Signalen, 244.

    Lenore, 29, 206.

    Leopardi, 128, 155, 193.

    Liebeslieder, 260.

    Liebestreu, 233.

    Liehmann, 176.

    Lipinski, 107.

    Lippe Detmold, 242, 245.

    Liszt, 83, 86, 87, 92, 118, 133, 136, 140, 167, 168, 214, 220,
            237, 238, 241, 248, 285.

    Lobgesang, 40.

    Lobkowitz, Prince, 174.

    London, 123, 143, 144, 205.

    Lorraine, 85.

    Lucrezia Floriani, 139, 140, 141.

    Lui et Elle, 128.

    Lulli, 209.

    Lydian Mode, 154.

    Lysberg, 135.


    Macfarren, Sir George, 29, 30, 272.

    Macaulay, 257.

    Madeleine, the, 145.

    Magelone, 255, 260.

    Majorca, 129-131.

    Malfatti, Dr, 114.

    Malherbe, 185, 186.

    Malibran, 117.

    Malvezzi Theresa, 128.

    Manchester, 144.

    Mannheim, 255.

    Marienbad, 122, 123.

    Marienlieder, 247.

    Marliani, Mdme., 133.

    Marseilles, 132.

    Marsyas, 97.

    Marxsen, 232, 233.

    Mathias George, 135.

    Matthew Arnold, 125, 126, 139, 149, 216

    Mazurkas (Chopin), 91, 119, 136, 137, 152, 153, 154, 161, 167.

    Meine Liebe ist Grün, 295.

    Meiningen, 269.

    Meistersinger, 192, 254.

    Mendelssohn, illustrations from, 31, 40, 63, 64, 87, 95, 113, 118,
            120, 122, 149, 168, 207, 219, 243.

    Merimée, 79.

    Messiah, the, 11, 51, 80, 206.

    Meyerbeer, 28, 136.

    Mickiewiez, 133.

    Michael Angelo, 43, 168, 282.

    Mikuli, 135.

    Milan, 110.

    Millet, 213.

    Milton, 35, 43, 113, 157, 296.

    Minuet (Haydn), 48; (Mozart), 49.

    Missa Papæ Marelli, 57, 277.

    Monteverde, 19, 44.

    Moravian duets, 200.

    Moresca, 44.

    Morlacchi, 101.

    Morland, 212.

    Mors et Vita, 42.

    Moscheles, 119, 158, 164.

    Mozart, illustrations from, 17, 39, 47, 49, 67, 79, 80, 87, 97, 123,
            132, 156, 192, 223, 247, 253, 280, 284, 288.

    Munich, 115, 265.

    Music, inductive method in, 8, 9;
      intuitive reason in, 11, 12;
      sensuous element in, 15-20;
      emotional element, 21-23;
      rational element, 23-25;
      emotional basis, 26-32;
      style, 35-43;
      structure, 44-56;
      function, 58, 63-69;
      national element, 210-216;
      the five landmarks, 276-282.

    Myslivecek, 183.


    Nänie, 269.

    Natal, 235.

    Neckereien, 255.

    Nelahozeves, 173.

    Neue Berliner Musikzeitung, 241.

    Neue Zeitschrift, 232, 239, 246.

    New Bohemian Theatre, 202.

    New York, 208.

    Niecks, Professor, 108, 121, 127, 139, 145.

    Niederrheinische Musikfest, 120.

    Nissen Johanna, 231.

    Nocturnes (Chopin), 60, 93, 119, 123, 136, 137, 154, 158, 161, 162,
            163, 167.

    Nohant, 129, 132, 133, 134, 137, 140, 142.

    Novotny, 195.

    Numa Roumestan, 141.

    Nun danket alle Gott, 41.


    Odyssey, 74.

    Offenbach, 296.

    Oldenburg, 255.

    Omar Khayyam, 39.

    Orfeo, 44.

    Organism in music, 33;
      in melody, 38;
      in harmony, 40;
      in style, 41;
      in structure, 44-55.

    Othello, 69.

    Oxford, 182, 267.


    Paër, 116.

    Paganini, 96, 255.

    Palestrina, illustrations from, 40, 168, 275, 278, 281.

    Paradise Lost, 296.

    Paris, 87, 102, 106, 110, 115, 116, 118-123, 125, 131, 133, 134,
            140, 143, 144, 145, 146, 182, 183, 213, 217, 257.

    Parry, illustrations from, 46, 62, 283.

    Pasta, 107, 117.

    Pater, 36.

    Pathétique, Sonata, 39, 47, 51.

    Pauline, 233.

    Peer Gynt, 42.

    Penzing, 254.

    Père la Chaise, 146.

    Pericles, prologue to, 51.

    Perpignan, 129.

    Persius, 79.

    Philharmonic (Vienna), 262, 265.

    Pierret, 126.

    Pixis, 100.

    Platen, Count, 237.

    Plato, 12, 59, 230, 276.

    Pleyel, 120, 135.

    Poe, 29.

    Poland, 83, 84, 110, 116, 152.

    Polonaises (Chopin), 93, 105, 123, 131, 136, 158.

    Polonaise-Fantasie, 137.

    Portraits Contemporains, 126.

    Posen, 93, 96.

    Prague, 99, 100, 111, 175, 179, 184, 187, 188, 191, 196, 198, 203,

    Preludes (Chopin), 131, 136, 156, 158, 166.

    Pressnitz, 175.

    Prince Karol, 139, 141.

    Prince of Venosa, 19.

    Purcell, 47.


    Quartetts (Dvořák), 197, 208, 224.

    Quartetts (Brahms), 247, 249, 252, 253, 255, 260, 264, 266, 285, 291,
            309, 302.

    Quintetts (Dvořák), 190, 207, 220, 221.

    Quintetts (Brahms), 255, 271, 291, 297, 300, 301.


    Racine, 254.

    Radziwill, Prince, 92, 96, 105, 110.

    Raff, 266.

    Rameau, 31, 47, 279.

    Ramorino, 116.

    Ranz des Vaches variations, 90.

    Raphael, 7.

    Rasoumoffsky Quartetts, 43, 51, 55, 258.

    Raven, Poe's essay on, 29.

    Redemption, the, 42.

    Reicha, 183.

    Reinecke, 270.

    Rellstab, 120.

    Reményi, 235, 236, 237, 238.

    Requiem (Dvořák), 20, 60, 208, 223;
      (Mozart), 145.

    Reynolds, 202.

    Rhapsodies (Dvořák), 202, 222;
      (Brahms), 260, 266.

    Richter, 251, 265, 272.

    Rieter-Biedermann, 246, 261.

    Rinaldo, 260.

    Rizner, 261.

    Romantic movement in music, 53, 155, 233, 280, 281, 283, 284-286.

    Rome, 213.

    Romeo and Juliet, prologue to, 51.

    Rondo, growth of, 46-47;
      Chopin's in C minor, 91, 93.

    Roskosny, 191.

    Rossini, 64.

    Rouen, 129.

    Rubinstein, 243, 264.

    Rue Pigalle, 133.

    Ruskin, 30.

    Russia, 83, 84, 106, 113-116, 260.


    Sadowa, 188, 263.

    St Adalbert, church of, 194, 198.

    St Cæcilia (Handel), 94.

    St Ludmila, 206, 207, 216.

    Sainte Beuve, 126, 134.

    Samberk, 203.

    Sand, George, 102, 121-127, 129, 131, 133, 136-142, 144.

    Sand, Maurice, 129, 137, 138, 142.

    Sand, Solange, 129, 138, 144.

    Sappho, 79.

    Sartoris, Mrs, 144.

    Saul, 94, 264.

    Scarlatti, 31, 279.

    Schadow, 120.

    Scherzos (Chopin), 123, 129, 136, 153.

    Scherzo Capriccioso, 220.

    Schicksalslied, 62, 70, 262, 263, 297.

    Schönbüchel, 183.

    Schubert, illustrations from, 33, 80, 114, 132, 201, 214, 247, 249,
            250, 252, 260, 270, 284, 297.

    Schubring, Dr, 235.

    Schumann, illustrations from, 19, 31, 39, 53, 54, 57, 72, 93, 107,
            120, 122, 123, 149, 152, 154, 156, 165, 168, 232, 233, 237,
            239, 240, 241, 244, 246, 250, 285, 286, 290, 291, 297.

    Schumann, Madame, 122, 255, 259.

    Schuppanzigh, 98.

    Scott, 206, 219.

    Scudérys, the, 133.

    Sebor, 191.

    Sensuous element in music, 15-20.

    Serenades (Brahms), 245, 246, 253, 255.

    Serenade Trio, 221.

    Sestetts (Dvořák), 202;
      (Brahms), 247, 253, 256, 257.

    Seyfried, 114.

    Shakespear, illustrations from, 7, 35, 43, 51, 67, 68, 106, 168,
            281, 301, 303.

    Shelley, 13, 71, 82, 122, 168.

    Simrock, 200, 202.

    Singakademie (Berlin), 94, 95;
      (Vienna), 255.

    Skarbeks, the, 83, 84.

    Slavik, 115.

    Slavische Tänze, 200, 205.

    Smetana, 185, 186, 187, 191, 192, 196, 215, 221.

    Soldatenlieder, 258.

    Sommerabend, 269.

    Sonatas (Chopin), 93, 136, 137, 138, 143;
      (Dvořák), 202;
      (Brahms), 233, 240, 256, 266, 270, 271.

    Sonata form, growth of, 44-56, 286-291.

    Sonntag Henrietta, 107.

    Sophocles, 35, 301.

    Spectre's Bride, the, 206, 207, 216, 219, 223.

    Spencer, Herbert, 26.

    Spitz, 176.

    Spohr, 149.

    Spontini, 95.

    Spring song, 152.

    Stabat Mater (Rossini), 64;
      (Dvořák), 199, 202, 205, 223.

    Stary, 194.

    Sleeker, Dr, 191.

    Stevenson, R. L., 252.

    Strauss, 31, 39, 114, 250, 260.

    Structure in music. 44-56, 286-291.

    Stubborn Heads, the, 196.

    Stuttgart, 115, 269.

    Style in music, 35-43, 298-302.

    Suvorov, 84.

    Symphonic Fantastique, 32.

    Symphonies (Dvořák), 190, 194, 197, 198, 202, 207;
      (Brahms), 265, 269, 270, 284, 290, 297.

    Szafarnia, 90.


    Tacitus, 272.

    Tannhäuser, 195.

    Tellefsen, 135, 143.

    Tennyson, 35.

    Teplitz, 100.

    Thalberg, 114, 158.

    Thirty Years' War, 182.

    Tieck, 255.

    Tilly, 182.

    Tintoret, 282, 294.

    Titian, 12, 43, 157, 282.

    Treitschke, 270.

    Trios (Chopin); 93, 96, 119;
      (Dvořák), 198, 200, 207, 208;
      (Brahms), 42, 255, 267, 272.

    Triple Concerto (Beethoven), 243.

    Tristan, 21, 57, 254, 296.

    Triumphlied, 262, 263.

    Tyl, 184, 203.


    Uhland, 151.

    Une contemporaine; 124, 138.


    Valdemosa, 129-132.

    Valentine, 142.

    Vanda, 196.

    Velasquez, 43.

    Verdi, 270.

    Vergebliches Ständchen, 269.

    Verrath, 295.

    Vicar of Bray, 46.

    Vienna, 80, 83, 97-100, 102, 105, 110, 111, 113, 114, 187, 198-200,
            245, 249, 250, 251, 254, 255, 257, 258, 262, 263, 265, 269.

    Villon, 79.

    Vineta, 255.

    Vivaldi, 279.

    Virgil, 35.

    Voiture, 133.

    Volkmann, 250.

    Volkslieder, 11, 38, 46, 214, 215, 221, 233, 279.

    Von ewiger Liebe, 260, 299.


    Wagner, 18, 40, 143, 187, 192, 216, 230, 234, 239, 248, 254, 281.

    Waldstein, the, 43.

    Waltzes (Chopin), 115, 122, 136, 158.

    Warsaw, 80, 83, 84, 89, 90, 92, 94, 96, 97, 99-102, 105-110, 113.

    Warsaw Courier, 90.

    Weber, 101, 195, 299.

    Wechsellied zum Tanze, 255.

    Weimar, 87, 237-239, 241.

    Wermuth, 238.

    White Mountain, battle of the, 182.

    Wie bist du meine Königin, 255, 297.

    Wiecks, the, 122.

    Wiegenlied, 260.

    Wiener Theaterzeitung, 100.

    Wiertz, 35.

    Winterthur, 246, 248, 257.

    Wodzinskis, the, 121, 122.

    Worcester, 205.

    Wordsworth, 27, 212, 269, 296.

    Woyciechowski, 102, 104, 111, 113.

    Würfel, 97.


    Zelazowa Wola, 83.

    Zelter, 95.

    Zigeunerlieder, 207, 223.

    Zlonic, 176.

    Zurich, 243, 246, 248, 255, 257, 269.

    Zywny, 85, 100.


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Transcriber's Notes

Both "Dvořàk" and "Dvoràk" were used in this text; both have been
changed to "Dvořák". Similarly, on page 174, "Pàn" was changed to
"Pán", and "Frantisek" to "František".

On page 119, a footnote marker was added to the text (don't care for

Many other variant and alternative spellings have been preserved, except
where obviously misspelled in the original or where one spelling was
more common in the main text. Obvious punctuation and formatting errors
have also been corrected.

The printed text contained duplicate headings for each division (before
and after each epigraph); in each case the latter instance has been

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