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Title: From Grieg to Brahms - Studies of Some Modern Composers and Their Art
Author: Mason, Daniel Gregory
Language: English
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                         FROM GRIEG TO BRAHMS


                         THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
                      NEW YORK · BOSTON · CHICAGO
                        DALLAS · SAN FRANCISCO

                       MACMILLAN & CO., LIMITED
                      LONDON · BOMBAY · CALCUTTA

                   THE MACMILLAN CO. OF CANADA, LTD.

                  [Illustration: BRAHMS AT THE PIANO]

                             FROM GRIEG TO

                        STUDIES OF SOME MODERN
                        COMPOSERS AND THEIR ART

                         DANIEL GREGORY MASON

                               New York
                         THE MACMILLAN COMPANY

                         _All rights reserved_

                          Copyright, 1902, by
                          THE OUTLOOK COMPANY

                       Published November, 1902.

      _To my uncle
      Dr. William Mason
      who has won the gratitude
      of lovers of music in America
      I dedicate these studies
      with affection and respect_


«Music may be hard to understand, but musicians are men;» so remarked
a friend of mine when I was first planning these essays. The sentence
sums up very happily a truth I have constantly had in mind in writing
them. As all music, no matter what its complexity on the technical
side, is in essence an expression of personal feeling, and as the
qualities of a man's personality show themselves not only in his works,
but in his acts, his words, his face, his handwriting and carriage
even, it has seemed natural and fruitful, in these studies, to seek
acquaintance with the musicians through acquaintance with the men.

But personal expression depends not alone on the personality of the
artist; it depends also on the resources of art, which in turn are the
product of a long, slow growth. Accordingly, if we would understand
the individual composers, we must have a sense of the scheme into
which they fall, the great universal evolution of which they are but
incidents. It is for this reason that I have tried, in the introductory
essay on The Appreciation of Music, to describe some of the fundamental
principles of the art, and to sketch in their light the general
movement of musical history, in order to give the reader a perspective
sense, a bird's-eye view of the great army of artists in which the
supreme masters are but leaders of battalions and regiments. Without
this sense it is impossible truly to place or justly to estimate any

At the end of the introduction I apply the principles worked out to
determining in a general way how the half dozen composers to be studied
are related to modern music as a whole. My result is that although
they are practically contemporary, they are by no means peers in the
scope and significance of their work. If we arrange them in the order
of their influence on art, which depends upon their power both to
assimilate previous resources and to add new ones, we must pass «from
Grieg to Brahms.»

The purpose of the last essay in the book, on The Meaning of Music,
will be obvious enough. Just as the introductory essay tries to sketch
the general musical environment, as determined by basic principles
and developed in history, in relation to which alone the individuals
discussed can be understood, so the epilogue seeks to suggest that
still larger environment of human feeling and activity on which music,
like everything else, depends for its vitality. The first essay
considers music as a medium for men, the last considers life as a
medium for music.

It would be impossible to acknowledge here all that these studies,
particularly the first, owe to the writings of others. Perhaps the
books which have most influenced my treatment of musical æsthetics are
Dr. George Santayana's «Sense of Beauty» and Dr. C. Hubert H. Parry's
«Evolution of the Art of Music,» though I have got much help also from
Dr. William James's «Principles of Psychology,» from Dr. Josiah Royce's
books, from Mr. Edward Carpenter, and of course from Helmholtz, Gurney,
Mr. W. H. Hadow, and the other standard writers on musical theory.
In gathering the biographical material I have had much cordial and
skillful help from Miss Barton, of the Boston Public Library, for which
I here record my thanks.

  Cambridge, Massachusetts,
  August 23, 1902.


     Sir Charles Villiers Stanford has pointed out an error in the story
     told of Brahms on page 178. It was not the Cambridge University
     authorities who invited Brahms to write a new work, but the
     managers of the Leeds Festivals, who, after long neglect of his
     already printed compositions, asked him, in 1887, to write them a
     new one; whereupon he returned the answer described.

      New York City,
      May 10th, 1904.




              II EDVARD GRIEG                                47

             III ANTONIN DVOŘÁK                              71

              IV CAMILLE SAINT-SAËNS                         97

               V CÉSAR FRANCK                               121

              VI PETER ILYITCH TSCHAÏKOWSKY                 149

             VII JOHANNES BRAHMS                            173

            VIII EPILOGUE: THE MEANING OF MUSIC             203

                         LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


            BRAHMS AT THE PIANO                            Title
              From a charcoal drawing by W. von Beckerath

            GRIEG                                           49

            DVOŘÁK                                          73

            SAINT-SAËNS                                     99

            FRANCK                                         123

            TSCHAÏKOWSKY                                   151

            BRAHMS                                         175

                           THE APPRECIATION
                               OF MUSIC


However interesting may be the study of an art through the
personalities of the artists who have produced it, and such study,
since art is a mode of human expression, is indeed essential, it
must be supplemented by at least some general knowledge of the long
continuous evolution in which the work of the most brilliant individual
is but a moment, a phase. The quality of a man's work in art, and
especially, as will be seen in a moment, in music, depends not alone
on the depth of his character and the force of his talent, but also
largely on the technical resources he owes to others, on the means
for expressing himself that he finds ready to his hand. Whatever
his personal powers or limitations, the value of his work will be
determined not more by these than by the helps and hindrances of his
artistic inheritance.

The great edifice of art, in fact, is like those Gothic cathedrals on
which generations of men successively labored; thousands of common
workmen hewed their foundation stones; finer minds, architects,
smiths, brass founders, glass makers and sculptors, wrought and
decorated the superstructures; and the work of each, whatever his
personal skill and devotion, was valuable only because it built upon
and added to that of all the rest. The soaring spires are firmly
based on blocks of stone ploddingly adjusted; the windows, often of
such a perfect beauty that they seem created rather than constructed,
had nevertheless to be built up bit by bit; and all the marvelous
organism of pillars, arches and buttresses is so delicately solid,
so precariously stable, that had one stress been miscalculated, one
joint inaccurately made, the whole would collapse. So it is with the
edifice of art, and particularly with that of music, which depends for
its very material on the labors of musicians. Pigments, clay, marble,
the materials of the plastic arts, exist already in the world; but the
whole ladder of fixed tones on which music is built is the product
of man's æsthetic sense, and had to be created slowly and laboriously
by many generations of men. The successions of chords which every
banjo player strums in his accompaniments were the subject of long
trial by the mediæval composers. The hymn tune that any boy can write
is modeled on a symmetrical scheme of phrases developed by countless
experimenters. It took men centuries to select and arrange the eight
tones of the ordinary scale, and centuries more to learn how to combine
them in chords. And the most eloquent modern works depend on this long
evolution of resources just as inevitably as the Gothic spire rests on
the hewn stones so carefully laid. In the art, as in the cathedral, the
seen rests upon the unseen, the beautiful upon the solid, the complex
upon the simple, the new upon the old. The product of a thousand
artists, music is as dependent on each as the coral reef on the tiny
indispensable body of each insect; and on the other hand the individual
musician, whatever his ability, is great only as he uses the equipment
his fellows have prepared--«the greatest is the most indebted man.»

If, then, we would justly value the half dozen composers who have
done most for music in our day, we must add to our understanding of
them as persons a knowledge of the general development in which they
play a part; we must gain some sense of that great process of musical
growth from which they inherit their resources, to which they make
their various contributions, and in relation to which alone they can be
fairly compared and appreciated. After examining the general course of
musical history, ascertaining some fundamental principles, and applying
these principles to our special judgments, we shall be able to perceive
the greatest musicians of our day in their relations, and to get a
perspective view of modern music in which they shall take their proper


If we wish to get an idea of primeval music, to see from what impulses
it took rise, we have only to study the musical activities of children
and savages, in whom we have primeval man made contemporary, the remote
past brought conveniently into the present to be observed. When we
make such a study we find that both children and savages express their
feelings by gestures and cries, that under the sway of emotion they
either dance or sing. To them quiet, silent feeling is impossible.
Are they joyful, they leap and laugh; are they angry, they strike and
shout; are they sad, they rock and moan. Moreover, we can discriminate
the kinds of feeling that are expressed by these cries and gestures.
Roughly speaking, bodily movement is the natural outlet of active
vitality, of the joy of life and the lust of living, while it is the
more contemplative emotions--love, grief, reverie, devotion--that find
vocal utterance. The war-dances and revels of savages, accompanied by
drum and tomtom, are gesticulatory; their love-songs and ululations
over the dead are vocal. In the same way children in their moments of
enthusiasm are wont to march about shouting and stamping in time, all
their limbs galvanized with nervous force; and it is when the wave of
energy has passed and they sit on the floor engrossed in blocks or
dolls that they sing to themselves their curious undulating chants.
Even in ourselves we can observe the same tendencies, checked though
they be by counter-impulses in our more complex temperaments: when
we are gay we walk briskly, clicking our heels in time and perhaps
whistling a catch; in our dreamier hours we are quiet, or merely hum a
tune under our breath. Thus through all human nature runs the tendency
to vent feeling, active and contemplative, in those bodily movements
and vocal utterances which underlie the two great generators of music,
dance and song.

Such activities, however, are by no means as yet dance and song. At
first they are no more than mere reflex actions, as spontaneous and
unthinking as the «Ow» of the man who stubs his toe. The emotion
is felt, and out comes the gesture or cry; that is all. It is the
organism's way of letting off steam. It is not expression, not being
prompted by a desire to communicate the feeling, but merely by the
impulse to be unburdened of it. Before there can be true expression
or communication, there must be two more links added to the chain of
which these automatic activities are only the first. The second link is
imitation. According to a theory widely exploited in recent years, we
tend to imitate whatever we see another do. With children the tendency
is so strong that a large part of their time and energy is devoted to
elaborate impersonation and make-believe, and the entire basis of
their education is acquired through this directly assimilative faculty.
In adults it is less active, but every sensitive person knows how
difficult it is not to imitate foreign accents, stammering, and other
petty mannerisms, and few are so callous that they can withstand the
infection of strong stimuli like the gestures and cries of emotion. The
wailing baby in the street car, who moves all the other babies within
hearing to wail also (if they be not already at it independently); the
dog baying the moon until all within earshot join in the serenade; the
negro at the camp-meeting clapping his hands until the whole company
is in a rhythmic ecstasy--these are examples of the contagion of
cries and gestures. Bearing them in mind, it is easy to see that the
vocal or bodily acts which in the first place are mere reflexes of
feeling, performed with no thought of expression, but only for personal
easement, will generally, nevertheless, prompt similar acts in others.
The performances of the individual will not end with himself; thanks to
the instinct of imitation, they will be very widely copied.

But now--and this is the third link of the chain--bodily acts set
up mental states, and a man cannot gesticulate or vocalize without
feeling the emotions of which his actions are, as we say, expressive.
«We feel sorry because we cry,» writes Professor William James in his
brilliant, paradoxical way, «angry because we strike, afraid because
we tremble;» and whether or not we agree with his extreme view that
the mental state is entirely a reverberation of bodily disturbances,
we cannot but realize that in all these cases executing the expression
tends to give us the feeling. He who persistently smiles will end by
being cheerful, and a moderate amount of sighing or groaning will make
any one melancholy. Above all, the imitation of vocal movements, such
as we all go through at least incipiently when we hear melody, and the
«keeping time» that strong dance-music so irresistibly prompts--these
actions very noticeably set up in us their appropriate states of
feeling. We not only imitate the lip motions and throat contractions of
a persuasive speaker or singer, but doing so fills us with the emotion
that prompts his utterance. Tired soldiers not only step out to a
potently rhythmical tune--that is, they not only imitate the beat--but
they actually feel less weary, more energetic, so long as the stimulus
lasts. Once a bodily activity is set up, no matter how, it arouses the
mental state proper to it; in a word, expression generates emotion.

Obviously, then, if in the first place the natural outlets of emotional
excitement are bodily motions and vocal sounds, if in the second
place the observation of such motions and sounds arouses the impulse
to imitate them, and if finally this imitation produces again in the
imitator the states of mind which first set the whole process going,
then these motions and sounds, these inchoate germs of dance and
song, possess an enormous latent power of expression, and need only
to be systematized to become a wonderfully eloquent language. Such a
language, in fact, is music.


At this point, however, it is important not to go too fast. These crude
gestures and cries by which primeval man expressed his feelings, though
they were the germs out of which music grew, were as yet no more music,
which is not only expressive sound, but formed, articulate sound, than
an infant's cooings are speech. So far they were mere ebullitions,
purposeless and formless; before they could become communicative they
must become definite, they must take on some organic structure. Now
gestures, bodily movements, are very easily grouped together by means
of accent. Every walker knows that it is difficult not to emphasize
alternate steps, grouping the unaccented with the accented into a
cluster of two. Every waltzer makes a similar grouping of three steps,
one accented, the other two subordinate. Some such system of grouping
is instinctively adopted whenever we have a series of impressions
regularly recurring in time. Let the reader, listening to the ticking
of a watch, note how impossible it is to attend to each tick by itself.
He will inevitably group them in twos; the accent may come on the first
or on the last of the group, but he cannot hear them as exactly equal,
any more than in walking he can put exactly equal stress on each step.
It was this tendency of the mind to group its impressions on a basis
of equal time measurements and unequal accents that led at the dawn of
musical history to meter or rhythm, which is as persistent in music
as it is in poetry. Metrical form was the natural means of giving
definition to bodily movements, and as soon as it was developed enough
to produce regular, easily imitated steps out of the chaotic gestures
of naïve feeling, Dance was born.

At first, of course, metrical form was stumbled upon blindly. Having
two arms and two legs, men naturally moved with a symmetry that
gradually impressed their minds; obliged by the facts of anatomy to
group their motions in twos, they soon took the hint, and beat their
drums or struck their cymbals accordingly. The primeval dance was
doubtless the march. But soon they began to carry out the principle
they had thus chanced upon, and despite anatomy devised the group of
three. The existence of triple meter is all the proof needed that
metrical form is essentially a process of intelligence, not a physical
fatality; men grouped their steps or leaps or drum-taps in twos or
in threes because such groups were easy to make, to imitate, and to
remember. And once perceived, no matter how, such groupings tended to
cling, to perpetuate themselves. For they were definite, memorable
forms, and they survived all haphazard gestures and vague motions by
virtue of the law that what is adapted to its environment will live
longer than what is not. In this case the environment was the human
mind; and the definite organisms, the metrical forms, survived and
developed because the mind could remember them, while all the vague
gestures out of which they grew shared the fate of what is indefinite,
accidental, inorganic. Thus Dance, which was gesticulation systematized
by metrical form, emerged and grew in the human mind, like an animal in
a congenial habitat.

For a long while the metrical forms that men could perceive and
remember were most rudimentary. Probably it took them centuries to
grasp the simple group of three, the basis of such accent-schemes
as the waltz and the mazurka. Even to-day, psychologists agree, we
are unable to grasp a group of seven, and we perceive larger groups
than three only as compounded of the elementary twos and threes.[A]
But gradually men learned to recombine their groups in still larger
forms, of which the first groups constituted the elements. Just as
in chemistry the basic elements like oxygen and hydrogen, nitrogen
and carbon, can combine only in a few simple ways, but the compound
molecules thus produced can recombine into the myriad substances of
organic chemistry, the sugars and starches and all the rest, so the
simple dual and triple measures of music can be built into an infinite
variety of figures and phrases. In early dance and folk-song a more
and more complex metrical plan thus slowly developed. Two or more
of the simple groups of beats, called measures, were combined into
a larger group, a recognizable figure or motif; then again motifs
were combined into still larger phrases; and finally, as the musical
medium became more definite, plastic and various, phrases were
combined in many different types of design, into complete «tunes.» In
all these regroupings, the wonderful variety of which is one of the
most precious resources of modern music, the fundamental procedure
was the same--elements alike in duration, but different in accent or
significance, were made to cohere in a group or form. Just as in verse
the feet, or elementary metrical forms whose elements are single
syllables of equal duration but unequal stress, are combined into
lines, and later these lines into stanzas, so in music measures are
combined in figures, and figures built up into phrases, and phrases
into tunes. And as the diversity of the possible forms becomes greater
and greater as we advance from foot to stanza, there being few forms
of feet but many of stanza, so metrical form in music becomes more and
more complex as it evolves, and though all music must be built out of
dual or triple measures, it may be built into tunes of an infinite
variety of pattern. Each new complexity, however, must be intelligible;
it cannot be introduced until men have mastered the simpler groups out
of which it is compounded. Beethoven's wondrously intricate texture,
Brahms's soaring phrases, would be meaningless to us had we not
inherited from thousands of ancestors a sense of the system of regular
accents and duration on which their complexities are superposed.
From the days, ages ago, when savages first beat a drum in simple
march rhythm, up to to-day, when Brahms builds up his extraordinarily
intricate fabrics, with their elaborate prosody, their «augmentation,»
and «diminution,» and «shifted rhythm,» the evolution of metrical form
has been single and continuous; each advance has been built on previous
achievements. There are no dropped stitches in this kind of knitting.

Metrical form, however, is not the only sort of form by which sounds
can be combined. It is the natural organizing agent of Dance, which,
as we have seen, develops out of the movements expressive of men's
active impulses; but human nature has also its contemplative side, and
this, expressing itself in vocal utterance, undergoes another sort of
development and results in Song. What, then, are the means by which
Song is defined, by which vocal sounds are organized into intelligible
and memorable forms? Before we answer this question it will be well to
consider for a moment a more general one. What, in general, is a form?

We shall be helped to define a form in general by looking back to the
metrical forms we have just been studying. These, we have seen, are
groups or clusters of impressions, held together by some similarity,
yet also differentiated by some contrast. The two or three beats of
the measure-group are similar in duration, yet different in accent.
And without both the similarity and the difference, the unity and the
variety, they would not be a group. Without similarity they would be a
haphazard collection, a chaos; without difference they would all fuse
together in one indistinguishable mass. In other words, they exemplify
a general fact about forms--namely, that the elements must be alike
enough to be associated, and yet different enough to be discriminated.
If we cannot associate them we cannot feel them as a group; they will
not cohere. If, on the other hand, we cannot discriminate them, then do
they equally fail to make up a form; they simply mingle together into a
homogeneous lump. The organs of an organism must be, then, related, yet
different; the elements of a form must be both similar and dissimilar.
Unless they are both we cannot perceive them as linked, yet distinct.
Bearing this general fact about forms in mind, we may investigate the
kinds of form that underlie Song.

Probably every one who has listened to the whistling of factories
in a large city at noon has had the curious experience of suddenly
hearing amid the meaningless din a pair of tones that mysteriously
mate and merge. The other tones seem entirely accidental; they have no
relation to each other, and give one merely a sense of vague annoyance.
But these two form an intelligible group; we are able to grasp them
together, and we take an indescribable pleasure in thus feeling them as
parts of one whole. Here is an instance of another sort of musical form
than the metrical, a sort that we may call harmonic. Here the grouping
takes place on a platform not of time, but of pitch; the two elements
of the group have no metrical relations, but in pitch they are somehow
related. Now this sort of pitch relationship has played a vital part in
music, a part hardly secondary to that of time relationship; so that an
understanding of it is important enough to delay us here a moment with
some rather dry technical facts on which it depends.

Ordinary musical tones, the notes of the voice, the violin, and the
piano, for example, simple as they sound, are, like ordinary white
light, rather complex compounds of many simple elements. There are in
them seven or eight constituent or «partial» tones, quite distinctly
audible to the trained ear or to the untrained ear armed with
suitable instruments; and these partial tones, produced by vibrations
in the sound-emitting body whose rates are regularly related, bear a
certain fixed relation to each other, like the spectrum-colors that
compose white light. Not only this, but each partial tone arouses
its own proper sensation in the ear by stimulating there one of the
minute filaments called the cords of Corti, each of which vibrates
sympathetically to a tone of given pitch and to no other. Now we are to
imagine that when an ordinary musical tone is sounded, seven or eight
of these little cords immediately start a-tremble, and send to the
brain their messages, which combine there into the composite impression
we name «a tone.» If now another tone is sounded, one which starts
into motion another set of filaments, and if furthermore there is one
filament now set in motion that was also excited by the first compound
tone--if, in other words, the two tones happen to have a partial tone
in common, which in both instances excites the same filament in the
ear, then we shall have a sense of close relationship between them;
they will make together a harmonic group or form. This, as a matter
of fact, is what happens with any two tones that form what is called
a consonant interval with each other, an «octave,» a «fifth,» or a
«fourth.» If tones X and Y, for instance, are an octave apart, the
second partial tone of X will be identical with the first of Y; if
they are a fifth apart, the third partial tone of X will be identical
with the second of Y; if they are a fourth apart, the fourth partial
tone of X will correspond with the third of Y. It is obvious, then,
that all these intervals will give us the sense of harmonic form; for
they provide all the necessary conditions of a form, having enough in
common to be associated by our minds, and enough not in common (their
dissimilar partial tones) to be distinguished. When the partial tone
in common is so high, and therefore so weak, that it impresses us but
slightly, we shall have little or no sense of their being related; such
is the case in the so-called imperfect consonances and the dissonances.
When, on the other hand, all the most prominent partial tones of one
exist in the other, they will fuse into one impression in our minds,
losing the characteristic of form entirely, as is the case to some
extent with the octave and entirely with the unison. But when, as in
the case of fifths and fourths, there are both a distinctly audible
partial tone in common and others not in common, then we shall have
true harmonic forms.

So much technical detail will be forgiven by the reader who can at all
realize how profoundly the entire history of music has been affected
by these acoustic and physiological facts. We have already seen how
folk-music slowly wrought out the complex metrical forms based upon
time grouping. In the same way, ecclesiastical music wrought out,
slowly and laboriously, the harmonic and melodic forms that were based
upon pitch-grouping. For a long time vocal utterance was defined only
by certain simple intervals like the fall of the fourth, which formed
the cadences of Greek dramatic recitation and of mediæval Christian
intoning. Gradually ornamental notes were introduced as approaches to
the final note; these were varied in pitch, and new ones added, until
finally there resulted the ancient modes, precursors of our scale.
Then, when two melodies began to be sung at once, the intervals of
the octave, fifth, and fourth were again called into requisition, and
made the bases of primitive harmony. In the old Organum of the Middle
Ages, two voices, a fifth apart, gave the same melody, just as with the
Greeks, in the process called «magadising,» two voices sang the same
tune, an octave apart. So, step by step, pitch relations were perceived
and utilized. In all stages of the long progress, whether the interval
chosen was the octave or the fifth or the fourth, and whether the tones
were sounded in succession as a melodic step or simultaneously as a
chord, the guiding principle was the same; tones were grouped together
which had pitch-form, which had partial tones in common and others not
in common. A harmonic form, like a metrical form, was always a cluster
of tones that could be both associated and distinguished.

It was a long time before these two means of organizing sound were
used in combination. Until the seventeenth century metrical form was
chiefly used, quite naturally, to define the gesticulatory part of
musical material, the product of active emotion, while harmonic form
gave coherence to the vocal part, the product of contemplative or
religious emotion. Primitive dance either neglected pitch relationship
entirely, as in that kind of savage music which uses only drums,
tomtoms, clappers and such percussive instruments, or used only the
simplest intervals like the fall of the fourth or the rise of the
fifth. And in ecclesiastical Song, all through the Middle Ages,
metrical regularity was not only not sought for--it was avoided. Even
in the highly artistic song of the great choral epoch which culminated
in Palestrina there was no rhythm. Phraseology depended entirely on the
words. Composers avoided anything like an appearance of even sections,
in sharp demarcation, balancing each other, such as we now demand.
They liked rather to have their melodies cross and interlace like the
strands in a basket, making a texture solid but inorganic. To them
coherence was a matter merely of the individual voices; music held
together like a rope rather than like a crystal. Indeed, any deeper
harmonic unity was not feasible until they had gained more experience
in tone relationship. But eventually the secular composers of the
last half of the seventeenth century, among whom Arcangelo Corelli is
a typical figure, learned to utilize both kinds of form, making them
supplement and reinforce each other in all sorts of interesting and
unexpected ways. With Corelli, pure music emerges as an independent
art, beautiful as sculpture and promising new powers of expression. By
his successors this new promise was realized with surprising rapidity.
Constantly growing more independent of extraneous aids, developing,
thanks to the fruitful interaction of metrical and harmonic grouping,
an unprecedented richness and variety, music became in the hands of
Bach and Beethoven a strong, flexible and efficient fabric, adapted
to all phases of expression and capable of forming the most complex
and self-sufficient structures. Evolved from the crude gestures and
cries of naïve feeling by a never-ceasing, ever-widening exertion of
man's intelligence, absolute music has become in some respects the most
eloquent and penetrative of the arts.


Form in music, however, notwithstanding its origin as a means of
defining those emotional expressions which without it would have
remained vague, unimitable, and immemorable, is much more than a means
of definition. At first practiced as a means to an end, it soon became
an end in itself. For the perception of relations, the mental activity
which groups impressions, is not merely useful; it is profoundly,
indescribably delightful. Calling the mind into activity just as
sensation calls the senses, it is a far deeper source of pleasure than
sensation can ever be, because the mind far exceeds the senses in the
subtlety, variety and independence of its action. When, therefore, the
primitive musicians first made their syntheses of gestures and cries
they discovered a novel pleasure, altogether more delicious than the
crude joys of sensation and expression. Before they made such syntheses
they had merely enjoyed the sweetness of tones, and taken satisfaction
in expressing their feelings; but when once they learned to group
their expressive tones together, to feel the subtle bonds which bound
them into clear and salient unity, then they felt a joy altogether new
and on a higher plane, they felt true æsthetic delight. Here was not
merely a passive, or at most an automatic process; here was a truly
creative activity, a conscious and free manipulation of materials. Mere
hearing, however delicious, mere expression, however grateful, could
not give this sense of mastery, of comprehension, of insight. Beauty
alone, beauty depending on consciously made comparisons and contrasts,
can give the highest æsthetic delight, the delight in form. And so,
like painters who, using form at first to define their material,
come quickly to a realization of its inherent value, and finally, if
they be true artists, value its pure beauties of line and balance
and composition more highly than any mere richness of color or of
expression, musicians, in the degree of their true musicianship, came
to prize the intrinsic beauty of music above all its other qualities.

Sometimes, doubtless, they carried their devotion too far. In certain
periods and individuals the love of formal beauty has entirely eclipsed
pleasure in expression. Unable to attend at once to expression and
to beauty, many composers, and in some periods all, have devoted
their entire energy to the quest for formal perfection. Thus in the
work of the Netherland masters of early counterpoint, in some of
Bach's ingenious weavings, and in much of the music of Haydn and his
contemporaries, the search for purely plastic qualities goes on with
little thought of the original emotional burden of the material that
is being formulated. To such men form was much more than a means of
defining expression; it was an end in itself, and an end worth a
lifetime of painstaking, devoted effort.

And yet, justifiable as their feeling was, indispensable as their
labors were to that development without which the expressive power of
music would itself have remained rudimentary, it is not to their view,
but to a more universal one, that we must look to find a rounded theory
of expression and form. If it be a mistake to neglect the latter for
the former, as they well saw, it is equally a mistake to prize form
with too exclusive an enthusiasm. For beauty is itself one of the most
potent means of expression. Our minds are not made up of hermetic
compartments, but are so permeable, so conductive, that an eloquent
thing is made more eloquent by being also beautiful. The impression of
beauty reverberates endlessly, intensifying all that is associated with
it. The general atmosphere transfigures every feature. If the whole
is fair, no detail will be entirely without its appeal to our kindled
imaginations, but if the whole is formless, no single phrase, however
impassioned, can affect us very deeply. The truth is, then, that form
and expression in music are as essential to each other as objects
and light in the world of vision. No radiance of illumination will
satisfy the eye if there is nothing to see, and, on the other hand, the
loveliest things will give little pleasure in the dark. To be beautiful
they must be suffused in light. Similarly the phrases of music, to be
truly moving, must be suffused in beauty. The greatest masters clearly
realized this. Bach in his masterpieces, Beethoven nearly always, and
Brahms in his inspired hours, acted on the principle that the two
elements must exist side by side, subtly and potently reacting upon
each other. Their practice, indeed, unanimously confirms the theory
of musical effect which has now been briefly sketched, and which may
be more briefly summarized before we pass on to deduce from it some
general canons of appreciation and criticism.

Music, we have seen, originates in the spontaneous gestures and cries
made by primitive man under the sway of emotion, imitated by observers,
and arousing in them the same feelings. As intelligence dawns, men
see that this triple process of spontaneous action, imitation and
reduplicated feeling affords a basis for a language of emotion, a
language that needs, however, to be somehow defined and articulated.
Articulation gradually follows by means of the grouping in time which
develops the gestures of active feeling into Dance, and the grouping in
pitch which develops the utterances of contemplative feeling into Song.
Eventually the two modes of grouping are combined, and music becomes an
independent art. Meanwhile, the forms at first adopted for the sake of
mere definition become the basis of a new and deeper delight, æsthetic
beauty, which is sought for both as ancillary to expression and for
itself alone. Finally, beauty of form reacts potently on eloquence
of expression, and the most universal composers, recognizing the
interdependence of the two elements, produce the highest type of pure
music, music in which beauty is based upon expression and expression
transfigured by beauty.


The principles we now have before us, interesting as they are in
themselves, must finally vindicate their worth by helping us to form
sound opinions of musical tendencies and of individual composers; they
must provide a corrective for the whims and freaks of prejudice, and a
basis for that intelligent and systematic criticism which takes account
both of a man's qualities and of his defects before assigning him his
place in the general artistic movement. With them in mind, we should
be able to avoid the current one-sided and partial views, and also to
attain that positive insight into the nature of music which alone can
give our opinions sanity, liberality and perspective.

In the first place, then, it will be well to turn their light on
certain dangerous half-truths, which, constantly cropping up in musical
opinions, are hardly less misleading than complete fallacies. The two
most persistent and mischievous of such half-truths are those which
neglect one aspect of the dual nature of music, which ignore expression
or repudiate form. Of the first, the half-truth so frequently
formulated in the phrase, «Music is a kind of audible mathematics,»
it is not necessary to say much. Those dryly ingenious persons who
rejoice in a fugue of Bach much as they enjoy an intricate problem in
calculus, failing to perceive the warm human heart that animates the
skeleton, form a minority which gets little attention from the mass of
music-lovers. The half-truth which neglects expression will not, in the
nature of things, ever gain a large following. Far more dangerous is
the opposite fallacy, which, repudiating form, asserts that expression
is all, that «music is the language of the emotions.» This phrase,
without any qualifications, is the creed of the sentimentalists.
Their ranks assemble all varieties of rhapsodical, ill-balanced
temperaments, from the young girl who «dotes on Wagner» to the old
lady with curls who thinks that «music leads us up to the higher
life.» The sentimentalists sin, perhaps, not so much by commission as
by omission. So far as they are able they appreciate music, for they
feel it emotionally, and, as we have seen, half its reason for being
is its appeal to the emotions. But they fail to realize that it must
be beautiful as well as moving, that all its lineaments of expression
must be held in orderly relation with a larger integral beauty of
form. They fancy that form, which in reality enhances expression, is
somehow at odds with it, that the mind and the feelings are natural
enemies. Satisfied with thrills and tremors, they do not ask, in their
music, for meaning and order. They fancy that to listen heedfully,
attentively, analytically, is somehow to pull out the petals of art
and strew them in the dust. Analysis is a desecrating process. You
should not focus your ears, make the image clear; you should swoon in a
delicious haze of sensation and suggestion. But one can analyze without
dissecting; one can recognize that a flower has petals without pulling
them out; and indeed it is hard to imagine any one appreciating the
true loveliness of a flower, its formed, articulated beauty, without
such recognition. So in music, the true lover of melody will be in no
danger of confusing Beethoven's Hymn of Joy with Schumann's _Warum_
because of the trance of nebulous feeling into which they throw him. He
will pay them the tribute of listening to them attentively, of noting
the various charms of their phraseology and expression as he would note
the difference of meter and effect between a sonnet of Shakespeare and
a song of Burns. Music is not poorer, but richer, for its marvelous
intricacies of structure, and the sentimentality which hates clear
definition is not high sentiment, but misconception or insensibility.

It is a suggestive fact, however, that the sentimental attitude is
found among us, not only in music, but everywhere. It is the tendency
of the day to confuse acquiring with assimilating, to fancy that
wealth of experience is better than self-mastery and intelligent
possession. Heedlessness is our besetting sin. We skim books, «do»
picture galleries, talk at the opera, interrupt in conversation, and
gobble our food. Metaphorically, as well as actually, we swallow more
than we can digest, imagining that if we only subject ourselves to
enough impressions we shall become connoisseurs. We value quantity
rather than quality, in everything from bric-à-brac to education; and
it is quite to be expected that we should reckon the value of music
by the number of shivers it can give us. But we are nevertheless
capable of a wiser attitude. We have it in us to learn that feelings
are of no use until they are related to the central personality,
that impressibility is not yet dignity, that to be informed is not
necessarily to be educated--that, in a word, possession of any sort
is not an external fact, but an inward control. We may take a facile
interest in the sentimentalists and the enthusiasts--the people with
«temperament»--but at heart we know that those passions are deepest
which are most firmly dominated by will, that he is freest who obeys
the highest law, and that «temperament» is after all less vital than
character. We really prefer organization to coruscation. And so in
music we are capable of learning, and knowledge of the principles of
musical effect can help us to learn, that the balance and proportion
and symmetry of the whole is far more essential than any poignancy,
however great, in the parts. He best appreciates music who brings to it
all of his human powers, who understands it intellectually as well as
feels it emotionally.

In these and other ways the principles of musical effect afford
touchstones for the detection of prevalent but erroneous views--views
which contain their element of truth, but are still fallacious
because partial. But the same principles are also capable of yielding
more positive and detailed insight into the nature of musical
appreciation. They illuminate, for example, that perplexing problem
of expression--why it is that from the same piece of music one person
gets so much more than another. The fact is familiar to every one.
Every one knows that of two persons equally sensitive to music on the
sensuous and formal side, of good «ear,» and familiar with the effects
of harmony, melody and rhythm, one will get far deeper meanings, will
be far more elated and inspired, than the other. How can this be? Our
theory of expression gives the clew. We have seen that bodily states
set up by imitation are the basis of musical emotions. Hearing is
always a sort of ideal performing. In listening to a melody we always
feebly contract our throat muscles as if to sing, and the perception
of rhythm is always accompanied by an incipient «keeping time.» These
bodily acts, however faintly realized, set up their appropriate
feelings, the feelings we associate with their actual performance. But
now it should be noted that the richness, quality, and significance of
these feelings will depend in the case of each man on his particular
associations--that is to say, on his entire personal character.
Evoked by similar bodily states, the mental emotions will be always
as dissimilar as the men who feel them. «We cannot conceive,» says
Thoreau, «of a greater difference than that between the life of one
man and that of another.» He might truly have added that we cannot
conceive of a greater difference than that between the feelings of one
man and those of another in hearing the same piece of music, which
excites in both the same tremors and thrills, but vistas of thought
how utterly unlike! Musical appreciation is thus subject to the same
variations which make the ordinary experiences of men so diverse. The
prophet on fire with righteous indignation and the common scold undergo
in anger the same suffusion of blood, the same boiling up of the
organs; yet how different in dignity and value are their sentiments!
And music, by setting up a certain sympathetic turmoil in the organs,
will plunge one man into a selfish opium-dream and will fill another
with the rarest, most magnanimous aspirations. It follows as a
practical corollary that he who would get from music the best it has to
offer must cultivate the best in himself. No fine sensibility in him,
no large heroism, no generosity or dignity or profundity of character
will be without its quiet, far-reaching effect on his appreciation of

If expression depends thus in part upon the moral and temperamental
qualities of the listener, form in equal measure depends upon his
mental alertness. «Form,» says Dr. Santayana, «does not appeal to the
inattentive; they get from objects only a vague sensation which may
in them awaken extrinsic associations; they do not stop to survey the
parts or to appreciate their relation, and consequently are insensible
to the various charms of various unifications; they can find in objects
only the value of material or of function, not that of form.» This is
unfortunately the case with many who consider themselves «musical»;
they enjoy sweetness of sound and the rather vague emotion music
arouses in them, but get no clear sense of its deeper architectural
beauty. Like Charles Lamb, they are «sentimentally disposed to harmony,
but organically incapable of a tune.» But a thoroughgoing love of
music, as will be clear enough by now, must include an appreciation of
all its aspects; and since beauty of form is not only delightful in
itself, but is a potent means of expression as well, insensibility to
it involves the loss of much of what is most precious in music. It is
necessary, then, to train the attention, to listen accurately as well
as sympathetically, to grasp the thematic phrases as they occur, to
remember them when they recur, and to follow them through all their
transformations. We should think that man but slightly appreciative of
poetry who, after hearing a play of Shakespeare, should say that the
words seemed to him mellifluous and that many passages moved him, but
that he had not the slightest idea what it was all about. Yet how many
of us, after hearing a Beethoven symphony, have the slightest definite
idea what it is about? If we would get more than transient, profitless
titillation from music, we must cultivate our attention, learning, to
borrow a phrase from optics, «to make the image sharp.» As we progress
in that faculty we shall constantly see new beauties, which in turn
will constantly react to deepen expression; and if we are so fortunate
as to have also a nature sensitive, tender, and earnest, fitted to feel
the best kind of emotion that can be aroused by sound, we may hope to
gain eventually an accurate, intelligent, and deep appreciation of


It remains, now that we have traced the bearing of our general
principles on musical taste, to point out briefly how they afford also
criteria for judging composers themselves, and how, thus judged, the
six composers we are to study fall into perspective. Our principles,
in a word, will now enable us to supplement our later studies of
these composers in isolation with a somewhat rough but still helpful
sense of their interrelationship. We must relate them to the general
evolution of which they are phases; see how they differ in the power to
assimilate the work of their predecessors, to avail themselves of all
the resources, expressive and formal, of their art, and to develop new
resources for those who succeed them. It is hardly necessary to insist
on the value of some such basis of comparison. Without it we should
be like a certain member of a college geology class who, more ardent
than methodical, was wont to investigate outcrops and moraines with
great enthusiasm, but in utter ignorance of the points of the compass.
To this scatter-brained young man the instructor used always to say,
«Orient yourself first of all, Mr. Jones, orient yourself.» And so,
before examining the individual outcroppings of modern music, we shall
do well to orient ourselves in the artistic landscape.

Of all the composers with whom we are to deal, Grieg and Dvořák are the
least inclusive and catholic. Grieg, as we shall see, writes always in
the personal vein, is among musicians what Leigh Hunt and Charles Lamb
are among writers. He is intimate, charming, graceful, but never epic
or universal. He touches the great stream of musical tradition at a few
points only, and adds little to its volume. He knows how to combine a
few elements of effect with finesse, but there are limitations both
in what he has to say and in his means of saying it. He is familiar
with only one dialect in the language of tones. And if Grieg is
personal, Dvořák is at most national. He is too deep-dyed a Bohemian
to be a complete citizen of the world. Not only is his style curiously
provincial, with its uneven rhythms of folk-song, its strong dance-like
metrical schemes, and its florid coloring, but his substance is too
ornate and too sweet to be profoundly significant. He is a «natural»
musician raised to the n^{th} power, but he is not enough a scholar to
relate himself very vitally with the general growth of his art. Both
of these men have contributed much that is novel and charming to the
lighter side of music, but they are not masters of deep feeling and
wide scope.

Camille Saint-Saëns and César Franck illustrate strikingly another
sort of partiality, a partiality often met with in a less noticeable
degree. Each exemplifies only one of those contrasting phases of
feeling which we saw to underlie Dance and Song, and which in the
greatest composers are combined. Saint-Saëns' work, primarily
expressive of active feeling, is strongly metrical, derives its chief
interest and value from rhythmic qualities; Franck's, the product
of a singularly contemplative and monastic nature, is monotonous in
rhythm, but endlessly various in melodic and harmonic treatment.
In the biographical essays the antithesis will be brought out more
in detail. Here it is only necessary to suggest that, if these two
French composers are somewhat wider in scope than Grieg or Dvořák,
their curious limitations in temperament prevent them from doing
all-inclusive and universal work.

With Tschaïkowsky and Brahms we come to men of a larger caliber. These
two, different as they are--the Russian finding in music primarily a
means of expression, the German valuing more its plastic beauty--are,
nevertheless, the only two moderns who can be said to carry on worthily
the torch of Bach and Beethoven. Both were men of sufficiently wide
sympathy and scholarship to approach music with the utmost liberality,
to get into contact with all its traditions and utilize all its
technical resources. They write in that «grand style» which draws its
elements from the widest sources, the style not of one man nor of one
nation, but of the world. Again, they were men of complex temperament,
capable of a great range of feeling both active and contemplative.
Consequently the dance impulse and the song impulse are equally
operative in their work, which has a richness and variety to be found
in Bach and Beethoven, but not in Saint-Saëns or Franck. And though
they were men of the deepest emotion, they had also the intellectual
control over their work that made it not only expressive but beautiful.
In a word, the range of their learning, the many-sidedness of their
temperaments, their emotional profundity and their intellectual power,
all conspired to make them the greatest musicians of their time.

Yet even between these two great men it is possible, with the aid of
our principles, to make a distinction. We have seen that form is not
only a means of defining utterance, but that it is furthermore the
source of æsthetic delight, and, through the reverberation of that,
of an immense reinforcement to expression; and we have accordingly
concluded that in no case must form be sacrificed to any other factor
of effect whatsoever. To sacrifice form, in music, whatever may seem
at first sight the justification, is in the long run to sacrifice the
greater for the less. Now Tschaïkowsky, led away by the impetuosity
of his feeling, is often guilty of such a sacrifice. He gains for the
moment; he gains a compelling eloquence, the most exciting effects,
the wildest and most thrilling crises. But in the long run he loses.
Eventually one tires of the crises, one is left cold, and then the
waywardness, the incoherence, the lack of clear order and symmetry,
are felt as weaknesses. Too many of Tschaïkowsky's pieces are better
at a first hearing than at a fifth. With Brahms it is otherwise. All
his emotion, deep, tender and noble as it is, is controlled by the
firm will and the shaping hand of the supreme artist. However moving
his music may be, it is even more beautiful. His faculties, whether by
good fortune or merit, are more perfectly adjusted than those of any
other modern composer. He is the most profound, the most simple, the
most comprehensive of moderns, as becomes obvious when we test his work
by the principles we have laid down. Others exemplify them partially,
he most entirely; others are great in some or several effects, he is
roundedly great. He allies himself with all that was done in music
before him, and contributes indispensable elements to what will be done
in it hereafter. And so, if we arrange our six composers in a series,
determining the importance of each by means of the universal and
impersonal principles of art, we must pass from Grieg to Brahms.

                             EDVARD GRIEG

                     [Illustration: EDVARD GRIEG]

                             EDVARD GRIEG

To the musical amateur no contemporary composer is better known than
Grieg. Every school-girl plays his piano pieces, young violinists study
his delightfully melodious sonatas, and few concert pieces are more
widely loved than the Peer Gynt Suite. Yet from professional musicians
Grieg does not meet with such favor. Many speak of him patronizingly,
some scornfully. «Grieg?» they say. «Oh, yes, very charming, but--»
and the sentence ends with a shrug. The reason for this discrepancy
of estimate seems to be that the layman, fascinated by Grieg's lovely
melodies, unusual and piquant harmonic treatment, and contagious
rhythm, looks for no further quality; but the musician, unconsciously
referring all music to a standard based on works of greater solidity,
greater breadth and force and passion as well as wider learning and
superior skill, is too conscious of the shortcomings of this Norwegian
minstrelsy to do justice to its qualities. It is, of a truth, music
in which merit and failing are curiously mingled; its delicate beauty
is unique, its limitation extreme. It is as fair as a flower, and as
fragile. It is, in short, the effluence of a personality graceful
without strength, romantic without the sense of tragedy, highly gifted
with all gentle qualities of nature, but lacking in the more virile
powers, in broad vision, epic magnanimity, and massive force.

Of this personality, as it appears in the flesh, we get an interesting
glimpse in Tschaïkowsky's Diary.[B] «During the rehearsal of Brahms's
new trio,» writes Tschaïkowsky, «as I was taking the liberty of
making some remarks as to the skill and execution of the relative
_tempo_ 2-3--remarks which were very good-naturedly received by
the composer--there entered the room a very short, middle-aged
man, exceedingly fragile in appearance, with shoulders of unequal
height, fair hair brushed back from his forehead, and a very slight,
almost boyish beard and mustache. There was nothing very striking
about the features of this man, whose exterior at once attracted
my sympathy, for it would be impossible to call them handsome or
regular; but he had an uncommon charm, and blue eyes, not very large,
but irresistibly fascinating, recalling the glance of a charming
and candid child. I rejoiced in the depths of my heart when we were
introduced to each other, and it turned out that this personality
which was so inexplicably sympathetic to me belonged to a musician
whose warmly emotional music had long ago won my heart. He proved
to be the Norwegian composer, Edvard Grieg.» This was in 1888, when
Grieg was forty-five. We may compare with it another description,
made a year later by a Frenchman, M. Ernest Closson, when Grieg was
playing and conducting his works in Paris. «Grieg is small, thin, and
narrow-shouldered,» writes M. Closson.[C] «His body, which is like a
child's, is always in motion--the movements short, lively, singularly
jerky and angular, each step shaking the whole body and hitching the
shoulder as if he limped; a 'bundle of nerves' [«_paquet des nerfs_»],
to use a doctor's phrase of picturesque energy. The head, which looks
massive on so small a body, is intelligent and very handsome, with
long grayish hair thrown back, thin face, smooth-shaven chin, short,
thick mustache, small but full nose, and eyes!--eyes superb, green,
gray, in which one can fancy one catches a glimpse of Norway, with
its melancholy fjords and its luminous mists. His gaze is serious,
wonderfully soft, with a peculiar expression, at once worn, tentative,
and childishly naïve. The entire effect is of kindness, gentleness,
candor, a sincere modesty.»

It is thus obvious that Grieg is of the nervous, sensitive temperament,
the temperament of Keats and Stevenson, quick and ardent in feeling,
and in art notable for subjective, intimate work rather than for the
wide objective point of view. Grieg's music is of value, indeed, just
because it is the artistic expression of delicate personal feeling.
We shall find that his whole development tended toward a singularly
individual, or at most national, utterance; that his efforts toward a
complexer or more universal style, such as in poetry we call epic, were
unsuccessful; and that his real and inimitable achievement is all in
the domain of the pure lyric.

Edvard Grieg was born in Bergen, Norway, in 1843. At an early age
he showed musical talent, starting in to learn the piano and theory
at six, under his mother's direction. Gesine Grieg, born Hagerup,
descendent from a forceful Norwegian family which had produced some
famous men, was a woman of musical and poetic instinct and of strong
character. She had studied music in Hamburg and in London, and given
some concerts and many soirées in Bergen. In a word, her son could not
have found a better guide in his first studies. At nine Grieg surprised
his school-teacher by submitting in place of a literary composition a
set of original variations on a German melody, a substitution which
was not kindly received. He was told to stop such nonsense. The
artistic temperament revealed itself also in great sensitiveness to the
beauty of the somber Northern landscape, and at fifteen Grieg wished
to become a painter. Fortunately, however, his musical ability was
recognized by the famous violinist Ole Bull, at whose suggestion his
parents decided to send him to the Leipsic Conservatory, whither he
traveled in 1858. Here again the romanticism of the boy showed itself
in his fretfulness under the strict régime of his masters, Hauptmann,
Richter, Rietz, Reinecke, and Moscheles, and in his passionate devotion
to the works of Schumann and Chopin, who were then looked upon in
academic circles as somewhat dangerous revolutionaries. Except for a
vacation of some months at home, necessitated by the pulmonary trouble
which has ever since weakened Grieg's health, he spent four years in
the Conservatory, being graduated in 1862.

In his earliest compositions, produced at this period, the traits
that afterwards distinguished him are rather hampered by academic
influences and uncertainty of intention. The four Pieces, opus 1, by
no means devoid of his peculiar flavor, are yet tentative in style and
reminiscent of older masters, particularly Chopin and Mendelssohn.
Of the Poetic Tone-pictures, opus 3, the second and fourth are the
well-established type of graceful _salon_ piece. Number four, indeed,
might almost be a strayed leaf from that gentle but hackneyed work
which some modern cynic has called the «Songs without Music.» Yet the
very next piece is full-fledged Grieg. Here is the short four-measure
phrase, transposed a third and repeated, here the descending chromatic
harmonizations, here the raucous fifths as of peasant players, that
we shall presently learn to look for among the hall-marks of his
writings. But more important than any such technical details is the
general animation, producing trenchant rhythm, graceful melody, and
warm harmony, that always sparkles in Grieg's best work. In the Poetic
Tone-pictures he is already himself, though not his mature self.

Being at graduation somewhat bewildered and uncertain as to his
future course, Grieg turned his steps in 1863 to the Danish capital,
the home of a great man whom he idolized. «One day,» he writes
in an autobiographical fragment, «I had gone out with my friend
Matthison-Hansen to Klampenborg. Suddenly he nudged my arm.

«'What is it?' I said.

«'Do you see that little man with the large gray hat?'

«'I see him.'

«'Do you know who it is?' said he.

«'I haven't the least idea.'

«'That's Gade,' he said. 'Shall I introduce you?'

«And without waiting for my reply he took me up to the Professor, with
the curt announcement:

«'Professor, a Norwegian friend of mine--a good musician.'

«'Is it Nordraak?' asked Gade.

«'No, it is Grieg,' answered Matthison-Hansen.

«'Oh, that's who it is,' said Gade, scanning my insignificant and
humble self from head to foot with a searching glance, while I stood,
not without awe, face to face with the man whose works I treasured so
highly. 'Have you something to show me?'

«'No,' I answered. For the things I had finished didn't seem good

«'Then go home and write a symphony,' recommended Gade.»

It is indicative of the groping stage at which Grieg's genius still
paused that he actually tried to write a symphony, two movements of
which are preserved in the Symphonic Pieces, opus 14--Grieg, whose
talent was symphonic in about the degree that Brahms's was operatic.
Contact with the friendly little man in the large gray hat, who has
been dubbed the «Danish Mendelssohn,» was doubtless a stimulus to
the young Grieg; but other and more radical influences were needed
to awaken his personality and bring him to his own. Such influences,
however, he actually found in Copenhagen. The «Nordraak» for whom
Gade had at first taken him, a fervently patriotic Norwegian of
magnetic personality, acquainted him with Norwegian folk-songs and
fired him with an ambition to found on them a finished art. Meeting
in solemn conclave, with all the self-importance of youth, these two
enthusiasts took the oath of musical allegiance to their fatherland.
«It was as though scales fell from my eyes,» writes Grieg; «for the
first time I learned ... to understand my own nature. We abjured
the Gade-Mendelssohn insipid and diluted Scandinavianism, and bound
ourselves with enthusiasm to the new path which the northern school
is now following.» Nor did their zeal confine itself to composition.
In 1864 they founded, with their Danish friends Horneman and
Matthison-Hansen, the Euterpe Musical Society, for the performance
of Scandinavian works. This institution, which must have reacted
stimulatingly on their composition, they supported energetically up to
Grieg's departure in 1866 for Christiania. Finally, it was in these
years of his freshest vigor, in which he was conscious both of inner
power and of outer opportunities, that Grieg met the lady, Miss Nina
Hagerup, his cousin, who became in time his wife. It is not to be
wondered at that no period in his life was so fruitful as this.

His most characteristic works, accordingly, were composed between his
graduation from the conservatory and the early seventies--between his
twentieth and his thirtieth years. There are the two inimitable Sonatas
for Violin and Piano, opus 8 and 13; the Piano Sonata, opus 7; the
incidental music to Ibsen's Peer Gynt; some of the most charming of the
Lyric Pieces for piano and of the Songs, and the Piano Concerto, opus
16; the best part, certainly, of his entire musical product. It were a
hopeless as well as useless task to describe in words the qualities
of these compositions. What shall one say in words of the flavor of
an orange? It is sweet? Yes. And acid? Yes, a little. And it has a
delicate aroma, and is juicy and cool. But how much idea of an orange
has one conveyed then? And similarly with this indescribably delicate
music of Grieg; there is little that can be pertinently or serviceably
said of it. One may point out, however, its persistently lyrical
character. It is like the poetry of Mr. Henley in its exclusive concern
with moods, with personal emotions of the subtlest, most elusive sort.
It is intimate, suggestive, intangible. It voices the gentlest feelings
of the heart, or summons up the airiest visions of the imagination.
It is whimsical, too, changes its hues like the chameleon, and
often surprises us with a sudden flight to some unexpected shade of
expression. Again, its finesse is striking. The phrases are polished
like gems, the melodies charm us with their perfect proportions, the
cadences are as consummate as they are novel. Then, again, the rhythm
is most delightfully frank and straightforward; there is no maundering
or uncertainty, but always a vigorous dancing progress, as candid as
childhood. It is hard to keep one's feet still through some of the
Norwegian Dances. And though in the Lyric Pieces rhythm is idealized,
it is always definite and clear, so that they are at the opposite
pole from all that formless sentimentality which abandons accent in
order to wail. Again, we must notice the curious exotic flavor of this
music, a flavor not Oriental but northern, a half-wild, half-tender
pathos, outlandish a little, but not turgid--on the contrary, perfectly
pellucid. An example is a little waltz that figures as number two of
the Lyric Pieces, opus 12. Grieg's music, then, is lyrical, intimate,
shapely, and exotic, if such words mean anything--yes, just as the
orange is sweet, acid, and aromatic. One who would feel the quality of
these works must hear them.

On the other hand, Grieg is never large or heroic; he never wears
the buskin. He has neither the depth of passion nor the intellectual
grasp needed to make music in the grand style. Probably of all his
peculiarities the most significant is the shortness of his phrases
and his manner of repeating them almost literally, displaced a little
in pitch, but not otherwise altered. Almost all his music can be cut
up into segments two or four measures long, each segment complete
in itself, an entire musical thought. If the reader will examine the
little Waltz just mentioned, for example, he will see that it is
constructed as follows: after two introductory measures a phrase of
melody is announced, four measures in length; this is immediately
repeated, at the same pitch but slightly varied in rhythm; then enters
another phrase, two measures long, which is repeated literally a third
lower; its latter half is twice echoed, and there is a two-measure
cadence. All is then repeated. The middle part of the piece, in A
major, is built in much the same way; after it the first part is
given once more, and there is a short coda. The construction of this
charming piece, in a word, is very like that of the passages from
primers that are familiar to us all: «Is this a boy? This is a boy.
Has the boy a dog? The boy has a dog. This is the dog of the boy.»
And Grieg's coda adds meditatively, «Of the boy ... the boy ... boy.»
His thoughts complete themselves quickly; they have little span, and
they are combined, not by interfusion, but by juxtaposition. He never
weaves a tapestry; he assembles a mosaic. We have only to compare his
music with that of some great master, of wide scope and large synthetic
power, like Brahms or Beethoven, to feel precisely in what sense he is
lyrical rather than heroic, charming rather than elevated, suggestive
rather than informative. Compare, for instance, with his waltz, the
waltz of Brahms, number eight in opus 39. Here there is a sustained
flight of twelve measures, the tune poising and soaring as it were on
a rising or falling breeze, or like a kite that now dips and now is up
again, but never touches the earth. It is interesting to play the two
waltzes one after the other, noting the difference in effect between
the precise, dainty, clipped phrases of the one and the broad-spanned
arch of melody of the other. Such contrasts are at the basis of all
significant discriminations of musical form.

How much the «short breath» of Grieg is due to the nature of his
thematic material is a difficult question to answer. Folk-tunes, it is
certain, are simple in structure, composed of short phrases expressing
the naïve emotions of childlike minds. On the other hand, had they not
fulfilled Grieg's personal needs, supplying the sort of atmosphere he
was meant to breathe in, he could never have assimilated them as he
has done. Perhaps a true account of the matter is that his nature is of
such unusual simplicity and ingenuousness as to find in folk-melodies
its natural utterance, and to feel in their primitive phrase-structure
no limitation. Intellectually, the man is not more mature than the
people. From whatever sources he might draw his germinal ideas, he
would never combine them in complexer forms or larger patterns than
he has found ready-made to his hand in the national song. There are,
however, in Norwegian music peculiarities of a different sort that we
can hardly conceive as proving other than hindrances in the formation
of a wholesomely eclectic style--peculiarities which are all present
full-fledged in so early a work of Grieg as the Piano Concerto,
opus 16, written in 1868. At the very outset, in the descending
octave passage, there are two melodic tricks that recur everywhere
in Grieg--the fall from the seventh of the scale to the fifth, and
from the third to the tonic. Both progressions, anomalous in classic
music, are prominent features of the Northern folk-tunes. Then, in
the first theme, assigned to the orchestra, there are to be noticed,
besides these melodic steps, the bodily displacement of the phrase
already described, carrying it from A minor into C major. In the second
theme, as well as in the _cantabile_ piano passage that prepares the
way for it, there is a rhythmic device characteristic of Grieg--the
mixing in one measure of three notes to the beat with two notes to
the beat, of which the prototype is to be found in the «Springtanz»
of Norwegian peasants. Here also is the weak cadence, that is to say,
the cadence with tonic chord coming on an unaccented beat. So much for
melodic and rhythmic peculiarities; as a harmonist Grieg has methods
equally persistent. His love of bare fifths, reiterated in the bass
with boorish vigor, and his manner of harmonizing with descending
chromatic sixths or thirds, both of which we remarked in opus 3, are
illustrated in this Concerto; the first in the conclusion-theme of the
first movement, and the second in measures fourteen to sixteen of the
beautiful Adagio. Finally, he is devoted to the secondary sevenths,
especially in harsh and daring sequence such as make up most of the
Norwegian March, opus 54, No. 2. Mannerisms like these Grieg has, on
the whole, in far larger measure than most composers. On almost any of
his pages the student will have no difficulty in finding for himself
instances of one or more of these mannerisms.

Now, so many little tricks and idiosyncrasies, however piquant in the
work of a beginner, could hardly escape becoming, as time went on,
an incubus to even the most vigorous imagination. Nothing menaces
thought more than affectations and whimsicalities of style. And even
in the meridian of Grieg's activity, when he was charming a staid
world with the fresh beauties of the Piano Sonata and the two early
Violin Sonatas, there were not wanting critics who discerned his danger
and foresaw that he must either broaden his methods or deteriorate.
Over twenty years ago the following words were written in an English
magazine by Frederick Niecks: «My fear in the case of Grieg always was
that his love of Norwegian idioms would tend to narrow, materialize,
and make shallow his conceptions, and prevent him from forming a style
by imposing on him a manner.» Subsequent events have proved that
this fear was but too well founded. Although, during the years at
Copenhagen, and the eight years, from 1866 to 1874, that Grieg lived
in Christiania teaching and conducting, he continued to do excellent
work, he seems to have even then reached the acme of his powers, and
thenceforward to have imperceptibly declined. It is rather a melancholy
fact that when, in 1874, receiving a pension of sixteen hundred crowns
from the Government, which enabled him to resign the conductorship of
the Musical Union of Christiania, he began to devote himself almost
entirely to composition, his mental vivacity was waning and his lovely
lyrical utterance was beginning to be smothered under mannerisms.
From this time on he advanced more by familiarizing the world with
his earlier compositions than by adding to them anything particularly
novel or precious. He traveled in Germany, Holland and Denmark, gave
concerts in England in 1888, and visited France a year later, playing
and conducting his works at Paris. For the rest, he retired to his
picturesque villa, Troldhangen, ten miles from Bergen, where he lives a
peaceful and secluded country life.

It is not difficult to see why Grieg's later works should decline
rather than advance. In the first place, his interest had been from
the first concentrated on personal expression. His impulse was
individual, not universal. He never sought to widen or deepen the forms
of musical beauty, to extend the range of resources at the command
of musicians; he merely used what he found ready-made to voice his
own poetic feeling. In this he succeeded admirably. In the second
place, charmed by the exotic quality of Norwegian music, a quality
that he found also in his own nature, he adopted the native idiom with
eagerness, and spent the years most composers devote to learning the
musical language in acquiring--a dialect. Thirdly, his mind was of the
type which cares much for beauty of ornament--even more, perhaps, than
for a highly wrought harmony of line and form. It was the inevitable
result of these three circumstances that, first, he should reach his
highest activity in early youth, when romantic feeling is at its acme
and thought habitually subjective, and thereafter decline; second,
that the dialect which at first was so charming, with its unfamiliar
words and its bewitching accent, should eventually reveal its paucity
and its provincialism; and finally, that a mind naturally fond of rich
detail, neglectful of large shapeliness, should have recourse, in the
ebb of inner impulse, to transcription, paraphrase, and all the other
devices for securing superficial ornament and luxury of effect. With
opus 41 Grieg began transcribing his own songs for the piano, dressing
up the simple melodies in all sorts of arpeggios, curious harmonies,
and other musical decorations; and between his fiftieth and seventieth
opus-numbers there is little but representation of Norwegian tunes,
now in one guise and now in another, but seldom indeed with any of the
old novel charm. (A trace of it there is, perhaps, in opus 62, No. 2,
and again in opus 80, No. 4.) The extraordinary pyrotechnical display
that the transcription, opus 41, No. 5, makes out of so simple a song
as «The Princess» is branded by M. Closson as «un crime de lèse-art.»
And to one who has felt the magic of the Kuhreigen, opus 17, No. 22,
it is saddening to turn to the same melody as it appears in opus 63,
No. 2, with all its maiden grace brushed and laced and furbelowed into
an _à la mode_ elegance and vacuity. Thus Grieg has not, like the more
cosmopolitan, objective, and universal composers, advanced in his work
up to the very end. As years have progressed, the accidental in it,
the inessential, has become more prominent, has tended to obscure what
is vital and beautiful. As the spirit waned, the letter has become more
rigidly insistent. Idiosyncrasy has supplanted originality. To find the
true Grieg, supple, spontaneous, and unaffected, we must go back to the
early works.

When all is said, however, Grieg has in these early works made a
contribution to music which our sense of his later shortcomings must
not make us forget. His Piano Sonata and his Violin Sonatas supply
chamber-music with a note of pure lyric enthusiasm, of fresh unthinking
animation, not elsewhere to be found. His Peer Gynt Suite fills a
similar place among orchestral works. His best piano pieces, and,
above all, his lovely and too little known songs, are unique in their
delicate voicing of the tenderest, most elusive personal feeling, as
well as in their consummate finesse of workmanship. It is a Lilliputian
world, if you will, but a fair one. That art of the future which Grieg
predicts in his essay on Mozart, which «will unite lines and colors in
marriage, and show that it has its roots in all the past, that it draws
sustenance from old as well as from new masters,» will acknowledge in
Grieg himself the source of one indispensable element--the element of
naïve and spontaneous romance.

  BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTE.--Grieg has had the good sense to publish almost
  all of his works in the inexpensive and excellent Peters Edition.
  The amateur will wish to acquaint himself first of all with some
  such representative pieces as the following: Piano-pieces--Poetic
  tone-pictures, op. 3, Humoreskes, op. 6, Sonata, op. 7, Northern
  Dances, op. 17, Albumblatter, op. 28, and the Lyric Pieces, op. 12,
  38, 43, and 47 (op. 54, 57, 62, 65, and 68 are inferior). Four hand
  arrangements--Elegiac Melodies, op. 34, Norwegian Dances, op. 35, and
  the first Peer Gynt Suite, op. 40. Chamber-music--the three Sonatas
  for Violin and Piano and the 'Cello Sonata, op. 36. Of the songs,
  sixty are printed in the five «Albums» of the Peters Edition. The
  second contains half a dozen of Grieg's most perfect songs, among them
  «I Love Thee,» «Morning Dew,» «Parting» and «Wood Wanderings.» «To
  Springtime» in Album I, «A Swan» and «Solvejg's Song» in Album III,
  and «By the Riverside,» «The Old Mother,» and «On the Way Home» in
  Album IV, are also characteristic and beautiful. The reader who feels
  Grieg's charm at all will end by buying all five Albums, though there
  is little of value in the last.


[A] Thus «4/4 time» is a compound of twos, «6/8 time» is a compound of
threes, and the interesting 5/4 measure, so effective in the second
movement of Tschaïkowsky's Pathetic Symphony, is a compound of twos and
threes regularly alternating.

[B] «Diary of My Tour in 1888,» translated in «Tschaïkowsky, His Life
and Works,» by Rosa Newmarch. (John Lane, New York, 1900.)

[C] «Edvard Grieg et la Musique Scandinave,» Ernest Closson. Paris,
Librairie Fischbacher, 1892.

                            ANTONIN DVOŘÁK

                    [Illustration: ANTONIN DVOŘÁK]

                            ANTONIN DVOŘÁK

On an October evening in 1892 there was given in New York City a «Grand
Concert» in exploitation of the «Eminent Composer and Director of
the National Conservatory of Music of America,» Dr. Antonin Dvořák.
There was an orchestra of eighty, a chorus of three hundred, and an
audience of several thousand; the ceremonies, partly hospitable and
partly patriotic, included an oration, the presentation of a silver
wreath, and the singing of «America» by the assembled multitude.
Outwardly picturesque as the occasion doubtless was, it must have
been even more striking in its suggestion of the extreme contrasts in
life which accompany the turning of fortune's wheel. Here was a man,
originally a Bohemian peasant, a village butcher's son, who for years
had endured the most grinding poverty, the most monotonous obscurity,
the most interminable labor for power and recognition, coming at
last, a famous musician, to hear his works performed and his genius
extolled in a great, enthusiastic country that wanted, and was «willing
to pay for,» a school of music. Even statistics are eloquent when
character is behind them; at a salary of fifteen thousand dollars a
year the National Conservatory of America had engaged as principal the
composer who, less than twenty years before, had been pensioned by the
Austrian Ministry of Education just one hundredth of that sum. Dvořák's
reception in New York was an appropriate outward sign of a victory
achieved over peculiarly indifferent destiny by peculiarly indomitable

As one looks back from this imposing event over the course of Dvořák's
laborious, persistent youth, one's attention, no matter how much it
is at first engaged with the changes of his outer life, with his
progress from obscure poverty to comfort and fame, soon dwells even
more on the underlying identity of the man through all changes, on
his unswerving simplicity of nature and steadfastness of aim. More
remarkable than the diversity of his career is the unity of his
character. From first to last, whether in Mühlhausen, Prague, London,
or New York, he is essentially a peasant. His deepest moral trait is
the dumb persistence, the unthinking doggedness, of the peasant. His
mental atmosphere is the peasant's innocence of self-consciousness,
his unintrospective candor. Not like the sophisticated man, who weighs
motives and foresees obstacles, does he pursue his troublous way. He
is, on the contrary, like an engine placed on the track and started;
through darkness and day, through failure and success, through weakness
and strength, he steams ahead, ever propelled by irresistible inner
force, insensible and unamenable to circumstance. And his musical
impulse is of the same sort. His aims in music have always been simple,
definite, unsophisticated by intellectualism. Taking keen delight in
the sensuous beauty of sound, gifted with the musical sense in its
most fundamental form of physical susceptibility, from his earliest
days he set about learning to produce pleasant effects of rhythm and
consonance, with utter sincerity, with no reference to derivative
and secondary musical values. When, as a boy, he heard the villagers
playing their native dances, his blood stirred in sympathy, and as
soon as he was able he took a hand. When he was older he invented
similar pieces, gradually refining them, but always cherishing the
brightness of tone, the vigor of rhythmic life, that had first won his
devotion. And when, in New York, an experienced and honored musician,
he was expected to advise our composers, it was highly characteristic
of him that he recommended them to pour their ideas into the negro
molds. Here was a music simple, sensuous, highly rhythmic; he looked
no further, he was disconcerted by no ethnological problems, nor even
by the incongruity that any man of the world would have seen between
negro song and our subtly mingled, highly complex American character.
Bohemian folk-melodies had expressed him; why should not plantation
tunes express us? But perhaps his curious simplicity reveals itself
most of all in his perfectly uncritical fecundity as a composer. He
writes with extreme rapidity, and indefatigably. The great Stabat Mater
is said to have been completed in six weeks, and his opus numbers
extend beyond a hundred. He writes as if nothing existed in the world
but himself and an orchestra waiting to play his scores. He is never
embarrassed by a sense of limitation, by the perception in others of
powers he lacks. Though he has studied the masters, he is not abashed
by them. The standards of scholarship, those academic bugbears, have
for him no terrors. Indeed, of all great composers he is perhaps least
the scholar, most the sublimated troubadour, enriching the world with
an apotheosized tavern-music. In reading his life we must never forget
these things: his simple nature, his sensuous rather than emotional or
intellectual devotion to music, and his immunity from the checks and
palsies of wide learning and fastidious taste.

There is in a rural district of Bohemia, on the Moldau River, a quiet
little village called Nelahozeves, or, in German, Mühlhausen,[D]
where, in 1841, was born Antonin, eldest son of Frantisek Dvořák, the
village innkeeper and butcher. The Dvořáks were people not without
consideration among their fellow-townsmen; not only was mine host
of the tavern a widely acquainted man, but his wife's father was
bailiff to a prince. One may imagine the potency, in a small hamlet,
of such a conjunction of prominence and prestige. Nevertheless, as
social distinction has no direct effect on a man's income, and as the
butcher's family grew in the course of years inconveniently numerous,
it happened that Antonin, the eldest of eight children, was looked
to in early youth to learn his father's trade and contribute toward
the family support. Unfortunately, he wished to be a musician. Such a
desire, indeed, chimerical as it may have appeared at the time, was
natural enough in a boy of musical sensibility who had been surrounded
from his earliest years by a people passionately devoted to music.
Not only is music a part of the instruction in the Bohemian public
schools, but it is the adjunct of all the occasions of life. As many
as forty dances are said to be practiced by the peasants, and we have
it on Dvořák's own authority that laborers in Bohemia sing at their
work, and after church on Sunday begin dancing, which they «often keep
up without cessation till early on the following morning.» Taking
advantage of his opportunities, the boy had learned at fourteen to play
the violin, the organ, and the piano, and to sing. It was a year later
that, summoned by his father to surrender his dreams of musicianship,
he performed an exploit well worth mentioning, as an early example of
his indefatigable persistence and his blundering methods. Hoping to
enlist his father's sympathy, he wrote, scored, and had played by the
village band, an original polka. Mr. Hadow tells the story at length;
its point is that Dvořák, whose ambition was more robust than his
learning, failed to write the trumpets as transposing instruments,
and, of course, made a distressing fiasco. «There is some little irony
in the disaster,» comments Mr. Hadow, «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.» He did, indeed, give up music for a year, but in
October, 1857, was allowed by his father to enter the Organ School at

Had Dvořák been of an introspective turn of mind, he might now have
wondered rather dismally, as the months went by in Prague, the paternal
allowance ceased, and the tuition at the Organ School proved narrow
and technical, whether he had really benefited himself. Fortunately,
he was not given to metaphysical speculation; he got what training he
could from the school and joined a band. In Mühlhausen he had often
taken a viola part in the village band that played for weddings and
on holidays; now he turned his skill to account in the restaurants
of Prague. In this way, and by playing also in a church orchestra
on Sundays, he managed to amass about nine dollars a month, and to
acquire an instinct for the way instrumental parts should be written.
The only obvious advantage of this trying period was the intimate
knowledge of instruments it gave him. He lived, so to speak, cheek by
jowl with them, watching them, handling them, seeing what was written
for them, and hearing how it sounded. His is no book-knowledge of
orchestration. On the other hand, his extreme poverty, the limitations
of the school, and his lack of friends to lend him scores or the use
of a piano, cut him off cruelly from that equally essential part of
education, familiarity with classic masterpieces and the traditions of
academic learning. His band played only popular overtures and the usual
pot-pourris. Sometimes he coaxed a kettle-drummer to let him crouch
behind the drums and hear a concert. He once had an opportunity to hear
«Der Freischütz» for the modest sum of four cents, but the four cents
was not forthcoming, and «Der Freischütz» went unheard. He could afford
to buy no scores, and there was no library where he could read them.
Such were the meager advantages of which he made good use; such the
heavy obstacles he gradually surmounted.

After his graduation from the Organ School in 1860 his situation, both
practical and musical, slowly ameliorated. From Smetana, who gave him a
position in the orchestra of the Interimstheater, a home for Bohemian
opera founded in 1862, he received what was of even more importance
to him, the loan of scores and encouragement in composition. Already
twenty-one, he acquainted himself for the first time with Beethoven's
and Mendelssohn's symphonies and chamber-works, of which he became a
passionate student, and with Schumann's songs. For almost ten years he
labored steadily and silently. It was the period of apprenticeship, the
period of arduous, slow mastery of technique and thought through which
every creative artist must pass. The mere mass of his exercises is
bewildering; he composed and destroyed an opera and two symphonies, to
say nothing of many other sacrifices on the altar of skill of which not
even the names survive. Peculiar to himself, to be sure, and scarcely a
model for other students, was his method in this long self-evocation.
Not like Beethoven did he meditate and revise his themes, spending
infinite labor on sixteen bars of melody, and not quailing before
a dozen revisions so they were needed to pare away the marble and
reveal the perfect form. Not like Brahms did he install a systematic
training, day by day winning strength and plasticity of thought on the
chest-weights and dumb-bells of contrapuntal exercise. On the contrary,
he forged ahead, and somehow, without knowing where he was going or
what he was doing, made himself a master. He took Parnassus by storm,
as it were, overran rather than scaled it, and was victor more by
quantity than by quality of performance. Yet in all this blundering
progress he was protected by a genuine elevation of aim. Lacking the
sense of tradition and the safeguards of scrupulous taste, he was not
without his own rugged idealism. And so, although he doubtless had
every external inducement to join the ranks of the national movement in
music, then just acquiring momentum, he maintained his conscientious
silence for nearly a decade. His compositions saw the light neither
of the concert hall nor of the printing-press; written with ardor,
they were burned without regret. Dvořák showed in his _lehrjähre_ the
self-respect of all really great artists.

It was early in the seventies that he finally emerged from his studious
reserve and appeared before the world with an opera, «The King and the
Collier,» which he was commissioned to write for the National Theater.
So clear was the patriotic intent of this commission, so entirely
was the popular interest enlisted in Smetana's effort to build up
a Bohemian school of music, that it is hard to conceive how Dvořák
could have fallen into the error he now made. He prepared for his
fellow-countrymen a Wagnerian music-drama. The situation is comic.
The good Bohemians, come to hear folk-tunes, were given leit-motifs
and «infinite melody.» If they failed to sympathize with his adoration
for the Bayreuth master (and it seems indeed to have been but a
calf-sickness, afterwards bravely outlived), if «The King and the
Collier» was a flat failure, Dvořák had no one but himself to blame. At
this point, however, as at so many others in his career, his unfailing
energy saved the day so nearly lost by what one critic has called his
«brainlessness.» He set to and rewrote his work entire, leaving not
a single number of the unhappy music-drama. But now the libretto,
which had at first been spared a disapproval all concentrated upon the
music, proved worthless and flat, and the opera was damned afresh.
Still Dvořák persisted. Getting a poet to set an entirely new «book»
to his entirely new music, he made at last a success with an opera of
which Mr. Hadow well says that «the Irishman's knife, which had a new
blade and a new handle, does not offer a more bewildering problem of
identity.» No one but Dvořák would have so bungled his undertaking; no
one but he would so have forced it to a successful issue.

By 1873 Dvořák was well started on the career of increasing power and
fame that he had worked so hard to establish on firm foundations.
That year was marked not only by his installment as organist at St.
Adalbert's Church, with a comfortable salary, and by his marriage, but
also by the appearance of a composition which made his name at once
widely known in Bohemia--the patriotic hymn entitled «The Heirs of
the White Mountain.» Four years later his reputation began to spread
beyond the border. It was in 1877 that the approbation of Brahms,
then a commissioner of the Austrian Ministry of Education, to which
Dvořák had submitted some duets, induced Joachim to introduce the young
Bohemian's works into England and Germany, and the house of Simrock
to publish them. In 1878 the Slavonic Dances made their composer's
name immediately known throughout the musical world. His great Stabat
Mater, produced in England with acclaim in 1883, was the first of
several choral works given there in the next few years, all very
successfully. In 1889 he was decorated by the Austrian court. In 1890
he received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Cambridge, was
made Doctor of Philosophy at Prague, and was appointed Professor of
Composition at the Conservatory there. The welcome accorded to him in
America has already been briefly chronicled. His sixtieth birthday was
celebrated by a musical festival in 1901, at Prague, where he now makes
his home. In Dvořák's varied life a youth of unusual hardship, of an
almost unparalleled severity of struggle both for livelihood and for
education, has been crowned with years full of a prosperity and honor
rarely allotted to composers.

That time-honored tool of artistic criticism, the distinction between
thought and expression--or, as the critics say, between _ethos_ and
technique--is one that constantly tempts the critic of music, and
always betrays him. Very seductive it is, because analogy with other
arts is so plausible a device for exploiting music; but push it to its
logical outcome and it inevitably vanishes--the form proves to be not
the investiture, nor even the incarnation, of the thought, but the
thought itself. Change the expression and you annihilate the thought;
develop a technique and you create a system of ideas; mind and body
are ultimately one. Now the case of Dvořák is strongly corroborative
of such a theory of the identity in music of _ethos_ and technique.
What is seen from one angle of vision as his love of exotic color, his
devotion to curious intervals of melody, sudden excursions in tonality,
and odd molds of rhythm, appears from the other, the technical side,
as mastery of orchestral sonority and inheritance of a peculiar
musical dialect. It is therefore difficult to account exactly for
the genesis of any given quality in his work. Is it the result of an
outer influence acting upon a peculiarly plastic nature, or does it
spring rather from deeply-rooted individual traits that have dominated
the course of his development and shaped his style? Did his early
experiences in a village band, for example, awaken and evolve his
sense of tone color, or would his music have been primarily sensuous
even if he had had the training of Brahms, Tschaïkowsky, or César
Franck? It seems probable that here, as elsewhere, inner endowment
and outer influence have reacted with a subtlety and complexity that
defy analysis, and thought and style are but aspects of one essence.
Consequently, the difference between _ethos_ and technique, however
serviceable as a means of getting over the ground, as a tool of
investigation, will mislead us unless we constantly remember how
partial is its validity. We may indeed, for the sake of clearness and
thoroughness, speak first of one aspect, then of another, but the man
we are studying, like the shield in the allegory, remains all the time

To approach the technical side first, there can be no doubt that the
rich quality of Dvořák's tone, a quality so striking that Mr. Hadow
places him with Beethoven, Berlioz, and Wagner in the class of supreme
masters of orchestration, would never have been attainable to one who
had not had his peculiar experience. He has the practical player's
exhaustive knowledge of instruments, which enables him, by disposing
the parts always in effective registers, to get a rich and mellow
sonority in his _ensemble_ writing. Examine any chord in his scores,
and you see that each player gives a tone that he can sound fully and
advantageously, and that each choir of instruments--the strings, the
wood, the brass--gives in isolation an effective chord. The resultant
harmony is a well-balanced, thoroughly fused mass of tone. But far
more important than the power to write effectively disposed single
chords is the power to weave a fabric of close texture and firm
consistency, to make the orchestra sustain, ramify, and reinforce
itself, so to speak. By far the best way to secure this solidity of
texture is to write coherent and well-individualized melodies in the
different parts, which serve as strands to bind the whole. Such is the
method of Beethoven among classic and of Tschaïkowsky among romantic
composers, and so efficient is good polyphonic or «many-voiced» writing
as a means of sonority that it has been truly said, «Pure voice-leading
is half an orchestra.» Yet great skill is required for such
polyphonic writing, since all the independent melodies must cooperate
harmoniously; and Dvořák, who got little academic training as a boy,
is not a great contrapuntist. Just here, however, his band experience
coming to his aid, he was saved from writing lumpish, doughy stuff--in
which one poor tune in the soprano vainly attempts to hold up a heavy
weight of amorphous «accompaniment»--by his extraordinary knack of
vitalizing his entire mass of tone through rhythmic individualization
of the parts. Taking a skeleton of simple harmony, he manages to write
for the different voices such salient and individual rhythms that they
stand out with almost the grace of melodious contrapuntal parts. It is
a sort of metrical yeast to keep his bread from being soggy. Numerous
examples will at once occur to students of his scores, particularly
from the Slavonic Dances and Rhapsodies. A third form of his orchestral
mastery might be pointed out in the well-calculated special effects
for single instruments, such as the oboe duet that concludes the first
movement of the Suite, opus 39, which occur everywhere in his scores.
But that is, after all, a commoner form of skill, whereas rich sonority
and life in the fabric as the result of rhythmic individualization of
the parts, can be found in few scores so highly developed as in those
of Dvořák.

As regards structure, Dvořák is felicitous but eccentric. He does not
lay out his plans with the careful prevision of one to whom balance
and symmetry are vital. His scheme is not foreordered, it is sketched
currently. Thus, for example, his modulation is singularly radical,
impulsive and haphazard. He loves to descend unexpectedly upon the most
remote keys, never knows where he will turn next, and when he gets
too far from home returns over fences and through no-thoroughfares.
Often, with him, a change of key seems dictated merely by a desire
for a particular patch of color; he wishes to brighten the tonal
background with sharps or mollify it with flats, and plump he comes to
his key, little caring how he gets there or where he is going next.
His use of contrasts of tonality is thus characteristic of his love
of color-effects for themselves and his willingness to subordinate to
them purity of line. Again, it is probably not forcing the point to
see in his use of uneven rhythms, such as five and seven bar periods,
another instance of the same tendency to license. Undoubtedly in part a
legacy from Bohemian folk-song, which is particularly rich in them, his
uneven rhythms seem to be also in part due to a certain fortuitousness
of mind. It is as if he closed his phrase, without regard to strict
symmetry, wherever a good chance offered. The theme of the Symphonic
Variations, opus 78, is an example. It is interesting to contrast this
rhythmic trait of Dvořák's with Grieg's accurate and sometimes almost
wearisome precision of outline. Both men derive from folk-music a love
of incisive meter--their music has a strong pulse; but Grieg, who is
precise, lyrical, sensitive to perfection of detail, is really finical
in his unfaltering devotion to square-cut sections, while Dvořák, more
wayward, less perfect and exquisite, strays into all sorts of odd
periods. His somewhat arbitrary treatment of tonality relations and
of rhythm is thus illustrative of a general laxity of method highly
characteristic of the man. In contrast with a jealously accurate artist
like Grieg, he is felicitous more by force of genius than by wisdom of

Dvořák's childlike spontaneity is in no way better exemplified than
by his attitude toward folk-music, and here again he may profitably
be contrasted with Grieg. Both devotees of local color have enriched
art with unfamiliar lineaments and unused resources, yet their modes
of procedure have been quite different. Grieg, traversing the usual
mill of German musical education, turned consciously to Norwegian
folk-song to find a note of individuality. Struck with the freshness
of the native dances, he transplanted them bodily into his academic
flower-pots. His courtship of the national Muse was conscious,
sophisticated, and his style is in a sense the result of excogitation.
Dvořák, on the contrary, growing up in his small Bohemian village,
unable to get classic scores, assiduously fiddling throughout his youth
at village fêtes where the peasants must have a scrap of tune to dance
by, became thoroughly saturated with the rude music. It moved in his
veins like blood; it was his other language. Thus the two men were at
quite polar standpoints in relation to nationalism. With Dvořák it was
a point of departure, with Grieg it was a goal of pilgrimage. And so,
while the Norwegian has tended to immure himself in idiosyncrasy, the
Bohemian has rubbed off provincialisms without losing his inheritance.
His music, while retaining the sensuous plenitude, the individual
flavor, the florid coloring, with which his youth endowed it, has
acquired, with years and experience, a scope of expression, a maturity
of style, and a universality of appeal that make it as justly admired
as it is instinctively enjoyed.

Imperceptibly we have passed from technical analysis into personal
inventory. And indeed, all Dvořák's peculiarities of style may be
viewed as the inevitable manifestations of a nature at once rich
and naïve. His music makes a delightfully frank appeal. It is never
somber, never crabbed, never even profound. It breathes not passion,
but sentiment. It is too happily sensuous to be tragic, too busy with
an immediate charm to trouble about a remote meaning. Even when he is
moving, as in the Largo of the New World Symphony, is it not with a
gentle, half-sensuous pathos, a wistfulness more than half assuaged by
the wooing sweetness of the sounds that fill our ears? To him music is
primarily sweet sound, and we shall misconceive his aim and service
if in looking for something deep in him we miss what is, after all,
very accessible and delightful for itself--the simple charm of his
combinations of tone.

  BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTE.--Dvořák's fecundity is surprising. He has
  written cantatas, oratorios, a mass, a requiem, and hymns for chorus
  and orchestra; five symphonies, five overtures, four symphonic
  poems, the well-known Slavonic Dances and Rhapsodies, concertos for
  piano, violin, and violoncello, the inimitable Suite, op. 39, the
  Symphonic Variations, op. 78, and other orchestral works of smaller
  proportions; seven string quartets, a sextet, three trios, a terzetto
  for two violins and a viola, two string quintets, a piano quintet, a
  piano quartet, a sonata for violin and piano, and a serenade for wind
  instruments; and, finally, many piano works and songs. He is at his
  best in his orchestral and chamber works, of which the following are
  typical: the Slavonic Dances, op. 46 and 72, the Slavonic Rhapsodies,
  op. 45, the Suite, op. 59, the Symphony, «From the New World,» op. 95,
  and the Scherzo Capriccioso, op. 66; the Sextet, op. 48, the Quartet
  and Quintet on negro themes, op. 96 and 97, the Piano Quintet, op.
  81, and the Piano Quintet, op. 87. Though these compositions lose
  much in transcription, they are all obtainable in four-hand piano
  arrangements. The piano music is somewhat unidiomatic except the later
  things, but the Mazurkas, op. 56, the Poetische Stimmungsbilder, op.
  85, and the Humoreskes, op. 101, are worth knowing. Of the songs, nine
  of the best are published separately by the house of Simrock, and the
  two most popular ones, «Gute Nacht» and «Als die Alte Mutter,» are to
  be had in Schirmer's series entitled «Gems of German Songs.» A study
  of these will probably arouse a desire for more, and the student may
  buy the Gipsy Songs, op. 55, and the Love Songs, op. 83. The duets,
  «Klänge aus Mähren,» not very well known, are characteristic.


[D] A graphic picture of the sleepy little place is given in the essay
on Dvořák in «Studies in Modern Music,» W. H. Hadow, Second Series.
Macmillan, New York, 1894.

                          CAMILLE SAINT-SAËNS

                  [Illustration: CAMILLE SAINT-SAËNS]

                          CAMILLE SAINT-SAËNS

It is a principle of musical expression that of the two great types
of temperament, the active and the contemplative, the first tends to
express itself in strongly rhythmic figures, the second in phrases of
vaguer outline, full of sentiment not easily to be confined in molds.
The man of action is incisive, vigorous, compact in utterance; the
mystic is by contrast indefinite and discursive. It has been well
established, indeed, that primeval music was the product of two modes
of instinctive emotional expression, the gesticulatory and the vocal,
dance and song; and throughout its growth these two strands, however
closely they may intertwine, can still be traced. Thus it happens that
even to-day we find the complex work of modern musicians getting a
special impress of personality and style according as the rhythmic or
the melodic-harmonic faculty predominates in the individual. One man's
music will be notable for its strong impulse, its variety and vivacity
of rhythm; another's will appeal to the more dreamy and sentimental
part of our natures, will speak to our hearts so movingly that we shall
recognize its descent from the song rather than from the dance. And in
all such cases the first man will be of the active temperament, a man
of the world, of many interests and great nervous force; the second
will be contemplative, inclined to the monastic life, and of great
heart rather than keen intelligence.

Such an antithesis of artistic product and of personal character exists
in a peculiar degree between Camille Saint-Saëns and César Franck, the
two greatest composers France has produced since Bizet. Each of these
men is great by virtue of qualities somewhat wanting in the other.
The one is clever, worldly, learned--and a little superficial; the
other, profound, religious, of singularly pure and exalted spirit, is
yet emotional to the verge of abnormality. And so with their music;
that of Saint-Saëns is energetic, lucid, consummately wrought, while
Franck's, more moving and more subtle, is so surcharged with feeling as
to become vague and inarticulate. A review of their lives and a brief
analysis of their work will bring out more clearly this divergence of
nature, which, in spite of the many traits they have in common, has
determined them to very different careers and exacted of them very
dissimilar artistic services.

At a concert given in Paris in 1846 appeared a new prodigy, a boy
pianist, «le petit Saint-Saëns,» as the «Gazette Musicale» announced
him, who, only ten and a half years old, played Händel, Bach,
Beethoven, and Mozart, «without notes, with no effort, giving his
phrases with clearness, elegance, and even expression in the midst of
the powerful effects of a numerous orchestra using all its resources.»
This, the first public appearance of Saint-Saëns, was by no means his
first musical exploit. We read that he began the study of the piano
with his great-aunt at the age of three, when already his sense of tone
was so keen that he would press down with his left hand the slender
fingers of the right until they became strong enough to satisfy his
exacting requirements; that at five he composed little waltzes; that
at ten he played fugues by Bach, a concerto of Hummel, and Beethoven's
C-minor Concerto; and that he could tell the notes of all the
clock-chimes in the house, and once remarked that a person in the next
room was «walking in trochees.» By the time he was seventeen he had
earned wide reputation as a pianist, had taken prizes for organ-playing
at the conservatory, and had written an ode for chorus, solo, and
orchestra, and a symphony. Thus early did he lay the foundations
of that skill which in the early seventies, when at Wagner's house
he played on the piano the «Siegfried» score, won from von Bülow
the remark that, with the exception of Wagner and Liszt, he was the
greatest musician living.

The surprising energy and versatility shown at the opening of
Saint-Saëns's career have proved, in the course of time, to be the
salient traits of his typically Gallic nature. He is, to a remarkable
degree, the complete Frenchman. He has all the intellectual vivacity,
all the nervous force, the quick wit and worldly polish, even the
physical swarthiness and the dry keenness of visage, that we associate
with his countrymen. M. Georges Servières, in his «La Musique Française
Moderne,» gives the following excellent description: «Saint-Saëns
is of short stature. His head is extremely original, the features
characteristic; a great brow, wide and open, where, between the
eyebrows, the energy and the tenacity of the man reveal themselves;
hair habitually cut short, and brownish beard turning gray; a nose like
an eagle's beak, underlined by two deeply marked wrinkles starting from
the nostrils, eyes a little prominent, very mobile, very expressive.
The familiars of his Mondays, those who knew the artist before injured
health and family sorrows had darkened his character, remember that
there was about him then a keen animation, a diabolic mischievousness,
a railing irony, and an agility in leaping in talk from one subject
to another with a sprightliness of fancy that equaled the mobility
of his features, which were animated at one and the same moment by
the most contrary expressions; and I could cite as instances of his
gay humor many funny anecdotes that he loved to tell, adjusting on
his nose the while, with both hands, in a way peculiar to him, his
eye-glasses, behind which his eyes sparkled with malice.» Some examples
of this railing irony of Saint-Saëns are preserved. There is, for
instance, a story of an ambitious woman at one of his «Mondays,» who
fairly browbeat him into accompanying her two daughters in a duet.
After enduring as long as he could the torture of their timeless and
tuneless performance, he turned to the mother with, «_Which_ of your
daughters, madam, do you wish me to accompany?» A man of his wit
naturally found himself at home in Paris society, and counted among his
friends for years such people as the Princess Pauline Metternich, Mme.
Viardot-Garcia, and Meissonier, Tourgenieff, and Dumas. A story told in
the «Figaro,» of how at Madame Garcia's, where he often played both the
organ and the piano, he would pass from improvising «masterly pages»
in the contrapuntal style to waltzes for the young people to dance by,
illustrates in little that peculiar combination of distinction and
gayety, characteristic of Paris, which is the native air of Saint-Saëns.

But this adept metropolitan is also an inveterate nomad. Not content
with traveling all over Europe in his virtuoso tours, he has long had
the habit of wintering in outlandish places like the Canary Islands.
Often he leaves home without announcing to any one his departure, or
even giving friends his addresses; sometimes without knowing himself
where he will go. The spectacle of distant lands and alien races has
for him an inexhaustible fascination. In writing of his experiences
in England, where he went in 1893 to receive the doctor's degree from
Cambridge, he dwells with gusto on the procession of dignitaries,
at the head of which, he says, «marched the King of Bahonagar, in
a gold turban sparkling with fabulous gems, a necklace of diamonds
at his throat.» «Dare I avow,» he adds, «that, as an enemy of the
banalities and the dull tones of our modern garments, I was enchanted
with the adventure?» And in his charming little essay, «Une Traversée
de Bretagne,» the same enthusiasm throws about his oboe-playing
ship-captain the glamour of romance. On his first trip to the Canaries,
made incognito, he is said to have offered himself as a substitute to
sing a tenor part in «Le Trouvère,» and to have come near appearing in
this incongruous rôle. When his grand opera, «Ascanio,» was produced
at Paris, he scandalized his friends and the public by being absent
from the first performance. Diligent inquiry, and even the efforts
of the diplomatic agents of the Government, failed to discover his
whereabouts, and it was actually rumored that he had died in Ceylon, on
his way to Japan. But all the while he was happily basking in the sun
at Palma, scribbling verses. Finally his fondness for astronomy is well
known, and he is said to have a private observatory in some «ultimate
island.» There is much about this picturesque Frenchman that reminds
one of the heroes of Jules Verne's romances.

When he is at home, Saint-Saëns carries on a many-sided activity of
which composition is hardly more than half. For one thing, he is
indefatigable in his efforts to improve public taste. In 1864 he gave
in a series of concerts all the concertos of Mozart; in 1878, such is
the catholicity of his taste, he organized concerts to produce Liszt's
Symphonic Poems. He has done much for musical bibliography by his
careful editions of Gluck, Rameau, and others. In 1871 he took active
measures to better the opportunities of young native composers. At
that time, as he puts it, «the name of a composer at once French and
living, upon a programme, had the property to put everybody to flight.»
The great improvement that has taken place since then is due largely to
him and his brother-workers of the National Society of Music.

His two volumes of critical essays, «Harmonie et Mélodie» and
«Portraits et Souvenirs,» are marked by soundness of principle, broad
eclecticism of taste, and a pungent, epigrammatic style. In general
temper he is classical without being pedantic; that is to say, he has
no superstitious awe for rules, but a profound reverence for law.
The licenses of modern technique and the mental vagueness of which
they are the reflection find in him a formidable foe. The thrust he
gives, in the preface of «Portraits et Souvenirs,» to those amateurs
who are «annoyed or disdainful if the instruments of the orchestra
do not run in all directions, like poisoned rats,» is typical of his
attitude and method. He is a master of innuendo and delicate sarcasm,
which he always employs, however, to protect art against affectation
and ignorance. In dealing with the theory that music depends for
its effect on physical pleasure, he speaks derisively of the solo
voice which one can «savor at one's leisure, like a sherbet.» He says
of those orchestral conductors and choirmasters who always complain
of difficulties that they «love above all their little habits and
the calm of their existence.» Among these sparkling sentences one
comes frequently also upon pieces of wisdom, sometimes expressed
with rare dignity, as when he writes, «There is in music something
which traverses the ear as a door, the reason as a vestibule, and
which goes yet further.» A writer so highly gifted with both raillery
and eloquence might do mischief were he narrow or intolerant. That
Saint-Saëns is neither can be seen from a mere enumeration of some
of his subjects, chosen almost at random: there are essays on The
Oratorios of Bach and Händel, Jacques Offenbach, Liszt, Poetry and
Music, The Nibelungen Ring and the Performances at Bayreuth, Don
Giovanni, A Defense of Opéra-Comique, The Multiple Resonance of Bells,
and The Wagnerian Illusion.

These titles indicate a wide enough range of interest, but Saint-Saëns
is furthermore a writer on subjects entirely unconnected with music.
His devotion to philosophy has prompted him to publish a volume called
«Problèmes et Mystères;» an antiquarian interest has found expression
in his «Note sur les décors de Théâtre dans l'antiquité romaine;» and
he has printed a volume of poems under the title «Rimes familières.»
Finally, a comedy in one act called «La Crampe des écrivains» (a
disease from which he appears never to have suffered) has been
successfully produced at Paris.

As a composer, Saint-Saëns impresses the student first of all by
his excessive, his almost inordinate, cleverness. It is not seemly
for a human being to be so clever; there is something necromantic
about it. Look at the opening of the G-minor Piano Concerto and see
a modern Frenchman writing like the great Bach. See, in the «Danse
Macabre,» Berlioz and Johann Strauss amalgamated. Listen to the rich
effects of tone in the 'Cello Sonata in C minor. Study the thematic
transformations and the contrapuntal style of the Symphony in the
same key. Admire the lightness, the cobweb iridescence, of the «Rouet
d'Omphale.» The author of these works is obviously a man of great
intellectual skill and versatility.

Looking more closely, one observes a duality of style, for the moment
puzzling, which properly understood only emphasizes the peculiarity
of his artistic impulse. His compositions are of two well-marked
varieties which at first seem to have little in common. To begin
with, all those cast in the conventional symphonic mold--the three
symphonies, the eight concertos, three for violin and five for piano,
and most of the chamber-music--are severely, at times almost aridly,
classical in conception and execution. They are «absolute music» of
the most unequivocal sort. They depend for their effect on clear form,
well-calculated symmetry, traditional though interesting melodic and
harmonic treatment; their themes are of the family of Haydn and Mozart;
their structure is that perfected by Beethoven; their orchestration
is skillful but unobtrusive, a transparent medium rather than a rich
material garment. In a word, they are very pure examples in music of
a type of art--the French classic or pseudo-classic type--which gains
little from richness of material or variety of suggestion, which
depends for its appeal on clarity and symmetry of form and on clean
workmanship in style. But, in addition to these conventional works,
Saint-Saëns has produced a whole museum of exotics, in which his aim
is to delineate passions, peoples, and places. There are the four
Symphonic Poems, for example, the «Rouet d'Omphale,» «Phaéton,» the
«Danse Macabre,» and «La Jeunesse d'Hercule,» in which he assumes the
rôle of story-teller. In the «Nuit à Lisbonne,» the «Jota Aragonese,»
and the «Rapsodie d'Auvergne,» he makes a tour in southern Europe;
in the «Suite Algerienne» he portrays the deserts about Algiers, and
in his opus 89 he gives us a fantasy of odd rhythms and outlandish
tonalities supposed to introduce us to Africa. Nothing could seem, at
the first blush, more diametrically opposite to the pseudo-classic
works than these exotics, which among their academic brothers recall
the King of Bahonagar at Cambridge. Yet both kinds, after all, when one
looks more closely, are products of the widely questing intelligence,
whose interests are dramatic rather than personal. They have this in
common, that neither is of primarily emotional origin, that both are
expressions of a mind objective and alertly observant. The difference
between them is that in the one case this observation takes for object
the purely musical world of tones, and in the other nature's world
of persons, nations, races, and climates. But whether he is seeking
a piquant rhythm or a curious turn of harmony, or sketching his
impression of Spain or Egypt, Saint-Saëns is always the onlooker, the
man of the world, never the mystic who contemplates in his own heart
the forces that underlie the universe.

Strong testimony from the man himself to the truth of this view
is indirectly afforded by his essay on Liszt, an essay which is
furthermore noteworthy as containing in half a dozen sentences the
essential truths of that vexed question of programme-music. He is,
to begin with, as assertive as we should expect of the necessity, in
all music, of absolute beauty. «Is the music itself,» he says, «good
or bad? All is there. Whether or no it has a programme, it will not
be, for that, better or worse.» Thus far speaks the author of the
symphonies, the concertos, and the chamber-works. The composer of the
symphonic poems and the geographical pieces continues: «But how much
greater is the charm when to the purely musical pleasure is added
that of the imagination coursing without hesitation over a determined
path.... All the faculties of the soul are put in play at once, and
toward the same end. I can see well what art gains from this, I cannot
see what it loses.» Here speaks, recognizably enough, the Frenchman.
In that phrase about «the imagination coursing without hesitation over
a determined path» stands clearly revealed the dramatic point of view
characteristic of French art, which is always devoted to the spectacle
of life rather than to the elemental passions which underlie it. The
satisfactions Saint-Saëns finds in music are those of the formal
musical sense and of «the imagination coursing a determined path;»
of the emotional satisfaction which music gives so generously he has
nothing to say. To take another instance, how admirably logical and how
adequate to the composition, which for all its picturesque grace leaves
one cold, is the «programme» he appends to the «Rouet d'Omphale.» «The
subject of this symphonic poem,» he writes, «is feminine seduction,
the triumph of weakness over strength. The spinning-wheel is but a
pretext, chosen solely with a view to the rhythm and the general effect
of the piece. Those interested in the study of details will see at page
19, Hercules groaning under the bonds he cannot break, and at page
32 Omphale laughing at the vain efforts of the hero.» Both programme
and piece are the creations of a keen intelligence which records its
observations with accuracy and skill, but makes no personal revelation,
cares not to contemplate itself, and is moved by no deep and perhaps
vague, but nevertheless creative, emotion.

Lack of emotion, then, is the serious defect of this master. And in
a musician it is in truth serious. Emotion is the life blood of the
musical organism; without it all the members may be shapely, well
ordered, highly finished, but all will be cold and lifeless. So it is
with much of this clever craftsman's work. Too often there is graceful
melody, arresting harmony, ingenious rhythm, but none of the passion
needed to fuse and transfigure them. Impassioned vocal utterance,
the song element in music, is seldom heard from Saint-Saëns. In the
classic works he manipulates, in the exotic pieces he depicts; nowhere
does he speak. But to speak, to voice deep feeling directly, though
with the restraint necessary to plastic beauty, is the aim and the
justification of music. Complex as the art has become in our day, the
essence of it is still, as it ever must be, emotional expression; and
though modern composers sing broader songs than the first musicians,
and sing them on instruments rather than with the voice, they must
equally sing, and their song must proceed from their hearts if it is
to touch the hearts of others. Hence Saint-Saëns, when compared with
a man of passionate earnestness like César Franck, or Schumann, or
Wagner, inevitably seems superficial. Pieces like his B-minor Violin
Concerto, with its elaborate classical machinery, its well-planned
contrasts and brilliant effects, and the vast Symphony in C-minor, in
which the theme undergoes such wonderfully skillful manipulation, seem
so little the expression of a personal impulse that we catch ourselves
wondering why he wrote them. Elsewhere, to be sure, as in the Andante
of the 'Cello Sonata, his very virtuosity achieves such noble effects
that we forget the hand-made quality of the work. But it is seldom
indeed that, subordinating workmanship entirely, he gives us a genuine
song of feeling, such as the second theme of the Finale in this Sonata.
The lift and impetus of this beautiful theme emphasizes by contrast the
emotional emptiness of the ingenious web that surrounds it.

While, however, we may with propriety recognize the lack of personal
ardor in Saint-Saëns that reduces the song element in his music to a
minimum, it would be a sad mistake to exaggerate the limitation or to
forget that from another and perhaps an equally valid point of view he
is a great musician. However he may fall short as a melodist, he is a
past-master of rhythm and harmony, spheres in which feeling counts for
less, logic for more. His harmonic style is eminently lucid. To him a
chord is part of an organism, not a bit of color or a phase of feeling.
A series of chords has for him all the tendency, the direction, and
the self-fulfillment of a sentence of words; to omit or to change one
would be like striking out a predicate or an object--the sentence
would not parse. He uses most those chords which point in a definite
direction, which carry in themselves, so to speak, the indication for
their fulfillment--the dominant and secondary sevenths, and suspensions
of triads. He avoids the vague and the ambiguous. And although he is a
lover of novel harmonic effects, and an ingenious inventor of them, the
novelty is always a new form, not a new formlessness. His modulation,
too, is of an extreme clarity: he never falls into a new key, so to
speak, as Dvořák does; he proceeds thither.

But even more striking than the clearness of his harmony is the
trenchant perspicuity of his rhythm. The sense of rhythm is perhaps
the prime criterion of intellectuality in a composer. For just as
determinations of accent and measure, such as occur in the dances of
the most primeval savages, were undoubtedly the earliest means of
formulating the cries and wails of emotion which underlie all musical
expression, so throughout musical history rhythm has been the chief
formative or rationalizing agent, and a vivid sense of it has always
characterized the more intellectual musicians. The dreamers and the
sentimentalists are never fastidious of accent; it is the clear,
active minds who delight in precise meter. Quite inevitable to a man
of Saint-Saëns's temperament, then, is the instinct for strong,
various and subtle rhythms that his compositions reveal at every page.
One discerns it in his fondness for pizzicato effects and for the
percussion instruments, both of which emphasize the accent. And his
devotion to the piano, which he uses more in combination with other
instruments than almost any other composer, is doubtless due to the
fact that it compensates for its lack of sustained tone by a special
incisiveness of attack. Another significant peculiarity is the short
groups of repeated notes that occur so often in his writings as to be a
mannerism. They are found, for example, in the fourth of his Variations
on a Theme of Beethoven, opus 35, in the «scherzando» section of
«Africa,» at the opening of the Trio, opus 92, in the accompaniment
of the well-known air from «Samson et Dalila,» «Mon cœur s'ouvre à ta
voix,» and in the third of the Six Études, opus 52. The effect of this
device, which throws a strong emphasis on the first of the reiterated
notes, is a peculiar rhythmic salience. Again, on the principle that
minor irregularities in a regular plan bring out all the more clearly
the larger orderliness, Saint-Saëns loves to alternate groups of four
notes with groups of three, or three with two, and to displace his
accent entirely by syncopation, which, when properly handled, deepens
the ideal stress by setting the actual in competition with it.

In all these and countless other ways are revealed the accuracy and
virtuosity of intellect that distinguish this brilliant Frenchman.
Clearness of form is, on the whole, so much rarer in modern music than
wealth of meaning, that the art in our day has peculiar need of such
workers. Their office is to make us remember, in our welter of emotion,
the perennial delightfulness of order and control. They are the
apologists of reason, without which feeling, however noble, must become
futile, inarticulate. In their precise, well-constructed works we find
a relief from the dissipating effects of mere passion. We breathe there
a serene, if a somewhat rarefied, atmosphere. Of this classic lucidity
Saint-Saëns is a great master. However dry he may sometimes be, he is
never turgid; however superficial his thought, it is never vague; he
offers us his artistic sweets never in the form of syrup--he refines
and crystallizes them. If, then, we of a race emotionally profounder
and mentally more diffuse find his music sometimes empty for all its
skill, we must not for that reason underrate the service he does for
music by insisting on articulateness in feeling, logic in development,
and punctilious finesse in workmanship.

  BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTE.--Saint-Saëns's best orchestral works are
  arranged not only for four hands, but for two players at two pianos, a
  combination of which he is extremely fond. It is interesting to play
  in this way the four symphonic poems, «La Rouet d'Omphale,» «Phaéton,»
  the «Danse Macabre,» and «La Jeunesse d'Hercule.» The five Piano
  Concertos are also excellent. The symphonies are rather dry. Of the
  chamber-music, the 'Cello Sonata, op. 32, and the Violin Sonatas, op.
  75 and 102, are particularly good. The piano music is less original,
  being for the most part pseudo-classic in conception and style. Thus
  the Suite, op. 90, is like a suite of Bach's with the sincerity taken
  out. On the whole the Six Études, op. 52, and the Album of six pieces,
  op. 72, are better worth study. The former contains two able fugues,
  the latter an odd «Carillon» in 7-4 time and an attractive «Valse.»
  There is charm in «Les Cloches du Soir,» op. 85, and also in a
  well-known melody, without opus-number, called «Le Cygne.» Saint-Saëns
  has little power as a song-writer; those who wish to realize this for
  themselves, may purchase the Schirmer Album of fifteen of his songs.
  To his numerous operas no reference is made in the present essay, the
  subject of which is his contribution to pure music.

                             CÉSAR FRANCK

                     [Illustration: CÉSAR FRANCK]

                             CÉSAR FRANCK

When we turn from the brilliant Parisian we have been studying to that
obscure and saintly man, César Franck, the only French contemporary of
Saint-Saëns who is worthy to be ranked with him as a great composer,
we can hardly believe ourselves in the same country or epoch. It is as
if we were suddenly transported from modern Paris into some mediæval
monastery, to which the noise of the world never penetrates, where
nothing breaks the silence save the songs of worship and the deep
note of the organ. In the presence of this devout mystic the sounds
of cities and peoples fade away, and we are alone with the soul and
God. We have passed from the noonday glare of the intellect, in which
objects stand forth sharp and hard, into the soft cathedral twilight
of religious emotion; and putting aside our ordinary thoughts we
commune for a time with deeper intuitions. Or, again, it is like
closing a volume of Taine and taking up Maeterlinck. From the streets
and the drawing-room we pass into the cloister, where dwell no longer
men and things, but all the intangible presences of thought and
feeling. We close our eyes on the pageant of experience, to reopen
them in the dim inner light of introspection, where, if we may believe
the mystics, they will behold a truer reality. The temperament of
Franck is thus at the opposite pole from that prehensile Gallic
temperament so well exemplified in Saint-Saëns, and we should find the
juxtaposition of the two men as the greatest French composers of their
time highly perplexing did we not remember that, in spite of his almost
lifelong residence in Paris, César Franck was by birth and blood, like
Maeterlinck, with whom he has so much in common, a Belgian. Exactly how
much the peculiar characters of these men were inherited from their
race it is of course impossible to say; but any one who has seen the
placid faces of the Belgian peasants, with their calm, almost bovine
look of contentment, must recognize there a trait that needs only the
power of articulation to produce a natural religion of feeling, or
mysticism, like that of César Franck and Maeterlinck. It was the same
sort of self-sufficient serenity, the antithesis of Saint-Saëns's busy
worldliness, that determined the course of Franck's life, so obscure,
so uneventful, so dominated by high spiritual purpose.

César-Auguste Franck (it was an inapt name for so pacific a being)
was born in 1822, at Liége, Belgium. There he made his first musical
studies, but went to Paris at fifteen to study in the Conservatory.
Though without the precocity of «le petit Saint-Saëns,» he must have
been a solid musician at sixteen, for in a test that took place in
July, 1838, he transposed a piece at sight down a third, playing it
«avec un brio remarquable,» and was awarded the first grand prize of
honor at his graduation in 1842. Foregoing the career of a concert
pianist, which his father wished him to pursue, «repudiating with
horror and disgust,» as one of his biographers has it, «the brilliant
noise-making that people long mistook for music,» he turned for a
livelihood to that laborious work of teaching which he pursued all the
rest of his life with patient fidelity.

He seems to have been an almost ideal teacher, long-suffering with the
dull pupils, painstaking and generous with the able ones, provoking
enthusiasm in all by his contagious love for art and his receptivity
to ideas. In a degree that is rare even among the best teachers, he
combined endurance and vivacity. Giving, all his life, from eight to
ten lessons a day, many of them, even after he had made his reputation,
in girls' boarding-schools and _pensions_ of the usual wearisome sort,
he yet retained vitality to impart to the best minds of the present
generation of French composers. Though after teaching all day, often
not returning home until supper-time, he would in the evening give
correspondence lessons to pupils in the provinces, and though even the
Sundays were filled with his duties as organist and choirmaster, still
he often found time to assemble his favorite pupils, and to discuss
with them, as if with perfect equals, their exercises and his own
works. One of these pupils, M. Vincent d'Indy, has described how «père
Franck,» as they called him, would play them his choral compositions,
singing all the vocal parts in «a terrible voice;» and how he would sit
at the piano, fixing with troubled gaze some offending passage in an
exercise, murmuring anxiously, «Je n'aime pas ... Je n'aime pas,» until
perhaps it grew to seem permissible, and with his bright smile he could
cry a «J'aime!» Thanks to his earnest desire to appreciate whatever was
good, controlled as it was by a severely classical taste, he could make
his students good workmen and stern critics without paralyzing their
individual genius. He was thorough without being rigid, and respected
learners as much as he revered the masters. Naturally, the learners,
in their turn, felt for their «Pater seraphicus,» as they named him,
an almost filial affection. Emmanuel Chabrier, speaking over Franck's
grave, in Montrouge Cemetery, voiced the feelings of them all when
he said that this was not merely an admirable artist, but «the dear
regretted master, the most gentle, modest, and wise. He was the model,
he was the example.»

For thirty-two years, that is to say, from 1858 until his death, Franck
was organist of the Église Ste. Clotilde, where his playing must have
been an endless inspiration to all who heard him, though his modesty
kept him personally inconspicuous. One likes to think of this quiet,
devout musician, animated by the purest religious enthusiasm, advancing
year by year in mastery of his art, producing without ostentation
works of a novel and radical beauty. Few of his listeners could have
conceived that one so benignant and courteous, but so easily forgotten,
was making himself a force that modern music could not forget. They,
who saw only the husk of the man, could not guess what treasures of
humanity and genius it concealed. M. d'Indy well describes the two
aspects. «Any one,» he says, «who had encountered this being in the
street, with his coat too large, his trousers too short, his grimacing
and preoccupied face framed in his somewhat gray whiskers, would not
have believed in the transformation that took place when, at the piano,
he explained and commented on some beautiful work of art, or when, at
the organ, he put forth his inspired improvisations. Then the music
enveloped him like an aureole; then one could not fail to be struck
by the conscious will expressed in the mouth and chin, by the almost
superhuman knowledge in his glance; then only would one observe the
nearly perfect likeness of his large forehead to that of Beethoven.»
And M. Derepas has the following paragraph in the same tenor: «It
was there, before the keyboards, his agile and powerful feet upon
the pedals, that it was necessary to see César Franck. His beautiful
head with its finely developed brow crowned with naturally curling
hair, his profound and contemplative expression, his features marked
without exaggeration, his full, well-cut mouth breathing health, ...
all wearing the aureole of genius and of faith--it was like a vision
of another age in strong contrast with the turbulences of the day.» If
one is sometimes sorry that Franck had to spend so much time teaching,
one cannot, in the face of such descriptions as these, regret the hours
he passed in the Église Ste. Clotilde. Its atmosphere was native to
his genius, which was not only religious, but even ecclesiastical. In
hearing his «musique cathédralesque,» as Saint-Saëns well called it,
one can almost see the pillars and arches, the pure candle-flames and
the bowed peasants at prayer.

It was in the spare moments of this full life that Franck found time
to write his extraordinary music. Every morning, winter and summer,
rising at six, he set aside two hours for what he expressively called
«his own work.» Then, after breakfast, came the day's teaching, in
the course of which he would jot down ideas that occurred to him,
recording perhaps eight measures, and turning again to the pupil. In
the evenings, when there were not correspondence-lessons to write,
or rehearsals, he often got out his manuscripts once more; and his
short summer vacations were given entirely to composition. All the
more remarkable is this indomitability when we remember that he lacked
not only the stimulus of public success, but for a long while even
the impetus of having definitely succeeded in his own eyes, so new
were his ideas and so difficult the technique they required. Very few
composers have matured so late. Though he wrote in his youth some
trios, and later a Mass, his first really individual work, «Ruth,»
was written when he was nearly fifty; «Les Éolides,» his earliest
orchestral composition, was produced in 1877, when he was fifty-five;
«Les Beatitudes,» in some respects his masterpiece, was not finished
until 1880, though begun more than ten years before; and all his
most characteristic work in pure music, as, for example, the Prelude,
Choral, and Fugue and the Prelude, Aria, and Finale for piano, the
three wonderful Chorals for organ, the Violin Sonata, the Quartet, the
Quintet, and the Symphony, date from the last decade of his life. In a
day when every harmony-student itches to give the world a symphony, it
is hard to admire too much the artistic self-respect that kept Franck a
nonentity for years, to make him at last a master.

Meanwhile, of course, he had to endure neglect. Probably most of his
acquaintances shared the impression put into words by a Paris publisher
to whom M. Servières offered an essay about him. «Oh, monsieur,» cried
this gentleman, «I remember César Franck perfectly. A man who was
always in a hurry, always soberly dressed in black, and who wore his
trousers too short!... Organist at Sainte Clotilde. It seems that he
was a great musician, little known to the public.» Rather harder to
explain is the lack of appreciation which in 1880 led those in power at
the Conservatory, where Franck was already organ professor, to give the
chair of composition then left vacant, not to him, but to Léo Delibes,
the writer of ballet-music. But perhaps the most pathetic result of the
general indifference to Franck was that his masterpiece could never
be given a complete performance during his lifetime. «Les Beatitudes»
was first given entire in 1893, three years after his death. When he
received the Legion of Honor in 1886, he said sorrowfully to a friend,
«Yes, my friend, they honor me--as a Professor.» That is the one
repining word of his that is recorded.

It would, however, be a mistake to suppose that Franck's fellow-men
noticed nothing but his short trousers, or that in his high artistic
effort he was entirely without sympathy. Few men have been more
fortunate in their friends. The love and veneration of his many pupils,
and of such men as Chabrier, Pierné, and Fauré, made an atmosphere
in which his heart expanded and his ambition grew. One of this group
of admirers tells how they would surround him on his return to Paris
in the autumn, to ask what he had done, what he had to show. «Vous
verrez, repondait-il»--the French alone can render the endearing vanity
and _naïveté_ of his reply--«vous verrez, repondait-il en prenant
un air mysterieux, vous verrez; je crois que vous serez content....
J'ai beaucoup travaillé et bien travaillé.» It was a similarly frank
and guileless self-satisfaction that made him apparently unaware of
the coldness of his audiences, who were generally puzzled or bored.
Happy, as M. d'Indy records, in having given his friends the pleasure
of hearing him play his own compositions, in spite of the scanty
applause he never failed to bow profoundly. Thus untroubled by the
indifference of the crowd, surrounded by a few men who gave him their
warm and discriminating admiration, and inspired by a genius peculiarly
exalted and disinterested, bent on beauty alone, and superior to petty
jealousies, César Franck lived his quiet, fruitful, and happy life. He
died at Paris in 1890. The last anecdote we have of him tells of his
finding strength, four days before his death, to praise the «Samson et
Dalila» of Saint-Saëns, then running at the Théâtre Lyrique. «I see him
yet,» says M. Arthur Coquard, «turning towards me his poor suffering
face to say vivaciously and even joyfully, in the vibrant tones that
his friends know, 'très beau, très beau.'» The words, expressing that
pure love of art which animated his whole career, lodge in the mind
of one who studies it, together with those other words of his, which
none ever had a better right to use, «J'ai beaucoup travaillé et bien

It has been necessary to dwell at some length on Franck's life and
character because they throw so much light on his music. To an
unusual degree it is the expression of himself, full of his peculiar
contemplative emotion. The harmonic background is rich, somber,
and vague, like the prevailing mood of a religious devotee; from
it constantly emerge phrases of song, phrases of the most poignant
aspiration, like passions in a dream, voicing those intense yet elusive
feelings which irradiate none but introspective minds. They are like
the cries of human lovers in a world of silence and mystery, or,
better, they are the cries of a finite soul that yearns for God and
finds him not. One feels always in Franck's music the tragedy of the
finite and the infinite. Those groping, shifting harmonies, above which
the pathetic fragments of melody constantly sound for a moment, somehow
irresistibly suggest the great unknown universe in which men's little
lives are acted. All is vague save the momentary feature, and that
presses on towards a fulfillment that perpetually eludes it. All shifts
and passes, save only that never-ceasing mood of aspiration, that
restless striving of the fragment for completion. Spiritual unrest is
the characteristic quality of this music--the unrest of a spirit pure
and ardent but forever unsatisfied.

Now, it is perhaps not too fantastic to find in the mingled vagueness
and poignancy of this music the proper artistic expression of
mysticism. So _must_ a mystic express himself. For it is characteristic
of the mystical temperament to yearn for ideal satisfactions, but to
find none in finite forms. Mysticism, in fact, is one of the ways of
solving, or perhaps we should say of ignoring, that primal and protean
mystery of human life, the conflict between ideal needs and actual
facts. Realism meets it by denying the needs and exalting the facts;
idealism attempts to mold the real into conformity with the ideal, of
course with very partial success. The mystic, too earnest to follow
the realistic method, too impatient to endure the plodding progress of
idealism, cuts the Gordian knot by discarding the actual altogether.
He pronounces it too inelastic, too constricting, and dispenses with
it. He hugs the ideal to his heart, but can see no virtue in the real.
Actualities, objects, events, and forms which to the idealist are
precious if only partial expressions of spiritual values, are to him
wholly recalcitrant, wholly external and illusory. The really precious
thing, he says, is something transcendent, something remote, something
that cannot transpire in events or body itself in forms, because it is
infinite and complete, while these are finite, broken, and limited.
Henri-Frédéric Amiel, a man peculiarly dominated by this way of viewing
things, wrote in his Journal, «Nothing finite is true, is interesting,
is worthy to fix my attention. All that is particular is exclusive, and
all that is exclusive repels me. There is nothing non-exclusive but
the All; my end is communion with Being through the whole of Being.»
Now, whatever may be the merits of this point of view, it obviously
involves a certain degree of artistic failure. The mystic cannot
be entirely successful in art. For art depends on organization in
definite forms, and the mystic rejects all particular forms as finite.
«Reality, the present, the irreparable, the necessary,» writes Amiel,
«repel and even terrify me.... The life of thought alone seems to me
to have enough elasticity and immensity, to be free enough from the
irreparable; practical life makes me afraid.» Accordingly, men of this
temperament are defeated in their search for beauty by an unconquerable
shyness of all its incarnations. They fear that in defining their fancy
they will vulgarize it. It is their fate to long for an all-inclusive
form in a world where forms are mutually exclusive, to strive to utter
truth in one great word, when even the shortest sentence must occupy
time. Amiel himself is a pathetic example of the mystic's destiny
in art. Haunted all his life by the vision of infinite beauty, the
conception of absolute truth, he could never bring himself to accept
the limitations of all human performance, and his talent was almost as
unproductive as it was exalted. He never could embody his aspirations.
Tantalizing him with the suggestion of supernal beauties, they resisted
all his efforts to come up with and embrace them, because he denied
himself the use of those definite forms in which alone, however
inadequately, ideals can be realized.

In many respects César Franck is the analogue in music of Amiel in
literature. That vague richness of his emotional tone, which like a
dark background of night is constantly lighted up by meteoric outbursts
of passion, is strangely like the somber moralizings and speculations,
in the «Journal Intime,» among which Amiel's cries of spiritual pain,
doubt, and longing stand out with such sudden, poignant pathos. Franck
has in common with Amiel the mystic's longing for ideal satisfactions,
and the mystic's distrust of all finite means of attaining them. He,
too, is «afraid» of the forms of practical life, of the conventional
devices of musical structure and the types evolved by tradition. He
avoids always the obvious, the natural even, and gropes toward some
unattainable ideal of expression. So great is his distrust of the
understood, the accepted, the usual and intelligible, that he is always
leaving the beaten track and roaming afield after some novel and
untamed beauty. It will be worth while to get to closer quarters with
this tendency, and to see exactly how it operates.

It is hard to make those unacquainted with musical technique understand
how much of fixity there is in the musical idiom, how definite are the
types of musical form, how potent the requisitions of musical syntax.
Yet, without a sense of this fixity in the material, it is impossible
to estimate justly those impulses and motives which may lead a composer
to violate usages and to disappoint expectations. In the matter of
harmony, for instance, there are certain types of procedure, certain
progressions and sequences of chords, that are as stable and uniform
as the types of animal or vegetable form. A horse, a dog, or a man
is not a more definite organism than the two chords in the «Amen» of
a hymn tune. This group or cluster of two chords, linked together by
a common tone held over from one to the other, yet made distinct by
progression of the other voices, is typical of a kind of harmonic form
that long usage has established as part of our mental furniture. We are
used to thinking of chords thus welded by a common tone, and we demand
this sort of coherence in our harmonic progressions, just as we demand
that a horse's body shall be furnished with a horse's legs, or that
a transitive verb shall have an object. To be sure, this particular
sort of cluster, in which both chords are, as we say, consonant, is
somewhat less determinate than another sort which we shall describe
presently, because, since all the tones of the first chord are equally
important, any one may be selected as the link, and there will be
consequently some latitude in the choice of the second chord, which
completes the group. But within these limits this sort of harmonic type
is definite and fixed, and that it is deeply ingrained in our mode of
thought is proved by our horror of «consecutive octaves» and «fifths,»
those bugbears of harmony students, which are bad chiefly because they
are not compatible with the retention of a common linking tone between
the two members of the group.

Here we have, then, one of those fundamental harmonic forms which are
in music what idioms or phrases are in language. It is striking how
sedulously César Franck, distrustful of the definite, the conventional,
avoids them. Compared with the work of a keen rationalist like
Saint-Saëns, his music is curiously incoherent, curiously loose-knit,
groping, and indeterminate. His pages are studded with departures and
evasions; he delights in going some other way than we expect, or in
writing chords that do not give us even any basis of expectation.
Consecutive octaves and fifths, so terrible to lovers of cogency and
sequence, are an especial feature of his harmony, giving it that
curious lapsing effect so characteristic and indescribable. His entire
tone-mass has a trick of sliding bodily up or down, which disconcerts,
even while it fascinates, one who is accustomed to harmonic stability.
The student need only play over the opening of the Symphony or the
first page of the String Quartet to feel that here is a man who treats
traditions debonairly, and who thus suggests novel beauties without
defining them.

Equally irresponsible is he in his treatment of another sort of
harmonic form which is intrinsically even more definite than the
clusters of consonant chords like the «Amen.» When there is a dissonant
tone in the first chord, a tone which, having slight justification for
being, presses urgently toward a neighboring tone in the next chord,
into which it is said to «resolve,» then the cluster, as a whole, is
even more determinate. The dissonance introduces a tension that must be
relieved in one definite way. It involves its own resolution just as
unstable equilibrium in a body involves its falling in the direction
of the greatest pull. The alien tone in the chord is got rid of by
the path of least resistance; it is a foreign element that must be
discharged. So potent is this tendency of dissonant tones to resolve
that it is one of the chief means of vitalizing the entire musical
fabric. Unless music constantly got out of harmony with itself it would
no more progress than a man would walk unless before each step he lost
his balance. It would stagnate. Consider, for example, the last phrase
of that highly vitalized tune, «The Man that Broke the Bank at Monte
Carlo.» No one could attribute stagnation to this phrase, whatever
other faults he might find in it; and its impetus is largely due to
the vigor with which it lands on the dissonant chord next before the
last, and the consequent pull of this chord into the last. Try to
conceive of ending without that last chord, that resolution in which
the foreign element is discharged and all comes to rest. It is told of
Mendelssohn that he rushed down-stairs in his night clothes early one
morning to resolve a dominant seventh chord (such as we have on the
syllable «Car») which some waggish friend struck and left uncompleted.
Mendelssohn was of course unusually sensitive to harmonic law, but it
is not too much to draw from this incident the conclusion that a chord
which can get a man out of bed in the morning to resolve it must pretty
potently suggest resolution. Dissonant chords, in fact, are anything
but inert elements in the chemistry of harmonic composition. They have
strong affinities and combine powerfully.

Yet César Franck is inclined either to ignore these tendencies or to
shift them into unexpected and circuitous channels. The dissonant
chords, though they occur often in his work, seldom take their normal
course. They are led into new dissonances, diverted to alien keys,
subjected to ingenious modifications, and in all ways wrested from
the realm of the obvious. Towards the end of the Introduction to the
first movement of the String Quartet, for instance, the student will
find dominant sevenths most interestingly unfaithful to their family
tradition, and effecting modulation through distant keys. Similar
treatment will be found on almost any page in this Quartet, in the
Quintet, the Symphony, and the piano works. Thus, Franck not only goes
counter to the less determinate harmonic types in which both chords
are consonant, but he loves to disappoint our expectations when they
are strongly established by dissonances. Nothing is more characteristic
of him than the formal indefiniteness of his harmony. Full as it is
of delicious and unwonted beauties, it lacks accurate organization,
clarity and solidity of chord sequence. It is a web of shifting tones,
without obvious interrelationship and inevitable progression.

When we turn to Franck's treatment of meter and rhythm, we get some
new side-lights on the way his mysticism affects his music. He is,
in the first place, noticeably lacking in that vigor of pulse, that
strong accentuation, which is the delight of active temperaments. He
sings constantly, almost never dances. After a while the intensity of
the song-like phrases, so packed with emotion, becomes cloying, and
we long for a little of the headlong, thoughtless progress of Grieg
and Dvořák. We need the relaxation of muscular activity. It would be
a relief to stop feeling for a moment and be borne along on a wave
of perfectly unemotional «passage-work.» But Franck never relieves
himself and his hearer by passages of brisk motion in which the
interest is entirely active; he is, so to speak, a very sedentary
composer. And so the rare beauties that stud the page lose something
by being set so thickly. The richness of Franck's emotional impulse
is a disadvantage to his metrical structure. The same thing, again,
is true of his rhythm or phraseology. We saw in the Introduction how
elementary metrical groups--measures--were built up into phrases and
tunes, and how the strongest synthetic minds got the greatest variety
and breadth of phrase. Now Franck's phrasing, like Grieg's, is of the
primitive kind that reveals lack of mental concentration, inability to
build up wide and complex forms. Draw a line across his staff at every
breathing-point, and your lines will fall pretty regularly after the
measures whose numbers are multiples of four. Try the same thing with
Beethoven, and there will be no telling where the lines will come, so
varied is the phraseology. In comparison, Franck's themes seem hardly
more than bundles of motifs, loosely tied together. And of course this
effect is unfortunately reinforced by the peculiarities of his harmony.
How could a theme hold itself together in such a kaleidoscope? How
could it sustain itself on such a tonal quicksand? Thus his tunes, rich
as they are in single phrases of poignant beauty, seldom develop much
breadth. They start out well, but soon lose themselves in the web or
fall into poorly welded segments. In the larger structural arrangement
of his material as well as in his primary metrical order he falls short
of the perfect organization of more powerful minds.

Franck illustrates, then, in many ways, in his erratic treatment of
harmony, in his metrical monotony, and in his «shortness of breath,»
the mystic's failure to master form. And yet, so beautiful are his
effects, so arresting is his personality, one feels instinctively
that there is in him something which destructive criticism cannot
assail. The very inarticulateness of the mystic is, in fact, a sort
of eloquence, perhaps all the more persuasive because it hints at
beauties rather than defines them. However beyond his reach his
aspirations may be, so long as they are genuine and ardent he will
have his unique artistic message. His work will gain a pathetic appeal
from the very fact that it suggests feelings it cannot embody, and his
inarticulateness may even open up ways to new modes of utterance by
reminding men that there are truths other than those their formulas so
smugly stereotype. Thus a writer like Amiel, ineffective as he seems
from one point of view, is not without his liberalizing influence in
literature. In the same way, César Franck, the mystic among musicians,
thanks to his profound insight and emotion, combined though they be
with the characteristic shortcomings of the seer, will widen the scope
of future musical technique and expression.

  BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTE.--The Prelude, Choral, and Fugue for Piano are
  to be had in the Collection Litolff. The Prelude, Aria, and Finale
  are published by J. Hamelle, Paris. These are the only piano pieces
  of Franck that are easily obtainable. The house of Hamelle also
  issues a four-hand arrangement of the Symphony, and Durand, of Paris,
  publishes a four-hand arrangement of the three masterly Chorals for
  organ, as well as the original edition of these, and of two sets of
  organ pieces, one of six and the other of three. The «Beatitudes»
  has been reprinted, with English words, by G. Schirmer. A few of
  Franck's songs, particularly «La Procession,» «Panis Angelicus,» and
  «Le Mariage des Roses,» will be found in the portfolios of most large
  music dealers.

                      PETER ILYITCH TSCHAÏKOWSKY

              [Illustration: PETER ILYITCH TSCHAÏKOWSKY]

                      PETER ILYITCH TSCHAÏKOWSKY

One of the constant temptations of the biographer is that of seizing
on some salient trait in his subject, magnifying it beyond all
relation to others which supplement or modify it, and portraying an
eccentric rather than a rounded personality, a monster rather than a
man. Human nature is complex, many-sided, even self-contradictory to
any but the most penetrative view; and so slender are the resources
of literature for dealing with such a paradox as a man, that writers,
resorting to simplification, sacrifice fullness to intelligibility. In
books Napoleon is apt to be denied all scruples, Keats all virility,
Marcus Aurelius all engaging folly; the real men were probably not so
simple. It is certain, at any rate, that Tschaïkowsky, the greatest
of Russian musicians, one of the two greatest of all composers since
Wagner, cannot have been the mere incarnation of concentrated gloom
that his critics have drawn. Some worthier powers than that of eloquent
lamenting must have contributed to mold him. He was not simply a sort
of neurasthenic Jeremiah with a faculty for orchestration.

It is only too easy and plausible, to be sure, to label him with one
of those insidiously blighting epithets, «neurasthenic,» «decadent,»
or «morbid.» He was, in fact, of an unfortunate heredity; his
grandfather was epileptic, and his own symptoms pointed to an inherited
nervous irritability. He was troubled more or less, all his life, by
sleeplessness, fatigue, depression; and in his thirty-seventh year
had a complete nervous collapse. But to discredit a man's insight by
pointing out his physical misfortunes is as misleading as it is unkind.
The fact that Schopenhauer, with whose temperament Tschaïkowsky's had
much in common, had some insane and idiotic ancestors, and suffered
much from his own unusual sensitiveness, does not in the least abate
the truth of his philosophic teaching, though it may call attention
to its one-sidedness. And so with the musician; knowledge of his
personal twist ought not to make us deaf to whatever is universal
in his utterance. We may remember that he reports but one aspect of
the truth; but if he reports that truly, we may supply the other,
and need not carp at the way he got his information. And indeed is
it not, after all, an artificial circumscription of life to ignore
its sadder verities, however moral Pharisees may stigmatize the
perception of them as «morbid»? Has not disease, as well as health,
its relation to our fortunes? Is not man's weakness an organic part of
his strength, his fear of his courage, his doubt of his faith? That
mere facile optimism which smiles blandly at all experience, with
unseeing eyes, is as partial and false as the unrelieved pessimism
into which the contemplation of it sometimes drives the sensitive.
The world is no more all light than it is all shadow. All human life,
with its suffering as well as its happiness, is one, and every sincere
human experience has its own weight. And so Tschaïkowsky, in spite of
grandfathers and symptoms, has a right to be respectfully heard.

The tendency to depreciate men like Tschaïkowsky and Schopenhauer
generally rests on a confusion between what may be called sentimental
and rational pessimism. The sentimental pessimist, the weak malcontent,
who sees everything through the blue spectacles of egotism, or, like
the cuttlefish, muddies his world with a black humor of his own,
deserves indeed nothing better than a shrug. Like all other forms
of sentimentality, his pessimism is based on selfishness. It is an
emanation, not an insight. It is that form of colic, to use the figure
of Thoreau, which makes him discover that the world has been eating
green apples. Quite different from such a sentimentalist, however,
is the sensitive man who feels impersonally the real evils of life.
Such a man's experience is viewed by him, not as the end, but as the
means, of insight. His own pains, however keen, appear to him but as
symbols of the universal suffering of humanity, and however much his
view may be subjectively jaundiced, it does not terminate in, but only
begins with, the petty self. He is not a devotee of the luxury of woe.
«A very noble character,» says Schopenhauer, «we always conceive with
a certain tinge of melancholy in it--a melancholy that is anything
but a continual peevishness in view of the daily vexations of life
(for such peevishness is an ignoble trait, and arouses suspicions of
maliciousness), but rather a melancholy that comes from an insight
into the vanity of all joys, and the sorrowfulness of all living,
not alone of one's own fortune.» And Tschaïkowsky, in describing
Beethoven's Choral Symphony, writes, one can see, from precisely the
same standpoint: «Such joy is not of this earth. It is something ideal
and unrealizable; it has nothing in common with this life, but is only
a momentary aspiration of humanity towards the holiness which exists
only in the world of art and beauty; afterwards, this vale of earth,
with its endless sorrow, its agony of doubt and unsatisfied hopes,
seems still more gloomy and without issue. In the Ninth Symphony we
hear the despairing cry of a great genius who, having irrevocably lost
faith in happiness, escapes for a time into the world of unrealizable
hopes, into the realm of broken-winged ideals.» Now undoubtedly
these passages, especially the latter, are guilty of false emphasis;
undoubtedly one can truly reply to Tschaïkowsky that the ideal is
necessarily fairer than reality, as the flower is fairer than the
soil from which it springs, that «this vale of earth» is not «without
issue,» however gloomy, since it does in fact produce the ideal world
of art and beauty, and that it is precisely the glory of hopes that
they are unrealizable, and of happiness that it exists only on a level
higher than that of finite life. But, however one-sided may be the
opinions expressed, the attitude of mind is free from the taint of
petty selfishness; it is frank, open-eyed, and manly. Such utterances
proceed only from natures nobly human, however burdened with a greater
sensibility than is common among men.

Of the extraordinary sensibility of Tschaïkowsky, his emotional
intensity and impetuosity, which, discerning truly, critics have so
often falsely interpreted, there can be no doubt. He was the subject
and in some ways the victim, of hereditary instability, a tendency, so
to speak, to go off at half-cock. In his life no trait comes out more
conspicuously, and its association with his powerful intellect, with
which it was always at odds, goes far to explain the anomalies and
paradoxes of his music. We see it constantly in his acts, where, if we
always remember that we are studying a great nature, which must be
analyzed respectfully and without vulgar curiosity, we may learn much
from observing it.

Peter Ilyitch Tschaïkowsky was born in a small Russian town in 1840.
As a very small boy he showed his ardent patriotism by kissing the
map of Russia, in his Atlas, and spitting at the rest of Europe.
When his French nurse remonstrated, he explained that he had
been careful to cover France with his hand. There already is his
temperament--passionate and tender. The Tschaïkowsky family early
moved to St. Petersburg, where Peter at first entered the School of
Jurisprudence, and later obtained a post in the Ministry of Justice.
All through his youth he was indolent, popular, fond of society, a
graceful amateur who played _salon_ pieces at evening parties. That his
serious interest in music was first aroused by his cousin's showing him
how to «modulate» is rather amusing when we remember the virtuosity and
daring of his mature harmonic style. «My cousin said it was possible to
modulate from one key to another,» he says, «without using more than
three chords. This excited my curiosity, and to my astonishment I found
that he improvised whatever modulations I suggested, even from quite
extraneous keys.» In 1861 he wrote to his sister that he was meditating
a musical career, but was still in doubt whether he could pursue it
successfully. «Perhaps idleness may take possession of me, and I may
not persevere.» But a little later all doubts had vanished, he had
given up his official work, withdrawn from society, and thrown himself
with characteristic ardor into his studies. He now sometimes sat up
all night working, and Rubinstein, his composition teacher at the
Conservatory, tells how on one occasion he submitted no less than two
hundred variations on a single theme. He made such good progress that
in 1866, a few years after his graduation, he was appointed professor
of harmony in the Moscow Conservatory.

From about this time date his first important compositions. «When first
he came to live in Moscow,» writes his friend M. Kashkin, «although he
was then six-and-twenty, he was still inexperienced and young in many
things, especially in the material questions of life; but in all that
concerned his work he was already mature, with a particularly elaborate
method of work, in which all was foreseen with admirable judgment,
and manipulated with the exactitude of the surgeon in operating.»
M. Kashkin's testimony is a valuable corrective to the widespread
impression that Tschaïkowsky composed in a mad frenzy of passion. No
good work, in art any more than in science, is done without that calm
deliberation which his strong mental grasp made possible to him. His
early compositions were for the most part operas, and, it must be
added, unsuccessful operas. «The Voievoda,» written in 1866, did not
satisfy him, and he burned the score. «Undine,» composed in 1870, was
not accepted by the theatrical authorities, who moreover mislaid the
manuscript; Tschaïkowsky, years later, recovered and destroyed it. In
1873 «Snegourotchka,» a ballet, in spite of some musical beauty, failed
for lack of dramatic interest. The success of «Kouznetz Vakoula,»
produced a year later, was ephemeral. Thus it was not until «The
Oprichnik,» which still holds the stage in Russia, was brought out,
when Tschaïkowsky was thirty-four, that he made a pronounced success.
The persistence with which he continued to labor during these years
seems to be overlooked by those who consider him a mere prophet of
lassitude and discouragement. Nor would such a man have undertaken and
discharged the drudgery of journalistic criticism as did Tschaïkowsky
in the four years from 1872 to 1876, when he was writing critiques for
the Moscow papers. Whatever fluctuations of mood he may have undergone
in these early years, and we may be sure they were many, his outward
life was an example of equability, diligence and patience.

In 1877, however, there was some sort of tragic happening. That it
was somehow connected with an unhappy marriage, that it resulted in a
complete nervous breakdown, these things we know.[E] It is unnecessary
to probe for more specific details; it is enough to note that for a
long time he was broken and despairing, that through all the rest
of his life his mental temper, never bright, was shadowed with a
pathological gloom. He left the Conservatory suddenly, and was abroad a
year. He wrote one of his friends, «On the whole, I am robust; but as
regards my soul, there is a wound there that will never heal. I think
I am _homme fini_.... Something is broken in me; my wings are cut and
I shall never fly very high again.» He says that had he remained a day
longer in Moscow he should have drowned himself, and it is said that he
did go so far, in his terrible depression, as to stand up to his chest
in the river one frosty September night, «in the hope of literally
catching his death of cold, and getting rid of his troubles without

But he took the better way; indeed, the best years, the quietest and
most fruitful years, of his life were yet before him. As robust in
character as he was sensitive and impetuous in temperament, he pulled
himself together, and wrote in the next year his masterly Fourth
Symphony, his best opera, «Eugene Oniegin,» said to be the second most
popular opera in Russia, and many other strong works. He returned
also, in the fall of 1878, to his post at the Conservatory, but, by
the generosity of an anonymous lady,[F] was soon enabled to give up
teaching and devote himself entirely to composition. From this time
on, except for a conducting tour through western Europe in 1888, and
one to America a few years later, he stayed chiefly in the country,
in studious solitude. His mode of life at Maidanova, a little village
where in 1885 he took a house, has been described by M. Kashkin, who
often visited him. After working all the morning, and taking a simple
but well-cooked dinner, Tschaïkowsky always went for a long walk,
no matter what the weather. «Many of his works were planned and his
themes invented,» we are told, «in these long rambles across country.»
After tea he worked again until supper-time, and after supper the
two friends, ordering a bottle of wine and dismissing the servant,
would devote themselves to playing four-hand music. M. Kashkin tells
one or two interesting stories of Tschaïkowsky at this period. His
impulsiveness, it seems, took the form in money matters of a fairly
reckless generosity. So lavishly did he shower coppers on all the
peasant children in the neighborhood, that he could not go for his
walk without being surrounded by them. In one afternoon he is said to
have dispensed fourteen shillings of his own and all of M. Kashkin's
small change. A friend once asked him where he «invested his capital.»
Convulsed with laughter, he answered that his last investment of
capital had been in a Moscow hotel, and that where his next would be he
did not know.

The events of his tour in 1888 he has himself narrated with
characteristic modesty and charm, in a fragment of diary. One can
read between the lines that he was everywhere the center of admiring
interest, but with fine literary instinct he constantly subordinates
himself to the people and events through which he moved. How lovable
are his vainly continued efforts to enjoy the music of Brahms, his
eagerness to record the little kindnesses of his friends, his dignified
reticence about his enemies, his hearty appreciation of work far
inferior to his own! «I trust,» he says, «that it will not appear like
self-glorification that my dithyramb in praise of Grieg precedes the
statement that our natures are closely allied. Speaking of Grieg's
high qualities, I do not at all wish to impress my readers with the
notion that I am endowed with an equal share of them. I leave it to
others to decide how far I am lacking in all that Grieg possesses in
such abundance.» This warm appreciation of others, combined with so
pathetic a lack of self-confidence that on more than one occasion he
burned the score of a work which was coldly received, was so extreme
in Tschaïkowsky that one of his friends pronounced him the least
conceited of composers. Like all sensitive people, indeed, he was
painfully conscious of social bonds; what was due him from others,
and what in turn was due them from him--these intangibles, so easily
forgotten by most men, were to him heavy realities. It is touching
to see how dependent he was on the friendliness of the orchestra he
was leading, and he was so impressible by criticism that long after
his fame was established he could repeat word for word Hanslick's and
Cui's early attacks upon him. On the other hand, M. Kashkin says that
when he was conducting the works of others he was so sensible of his
responsibility that his face wore a look of physical pain. When he was
dying of cholera, in terrible agony, he thanked all about his bedside
for the consideration they showed him, and his last remark reminds one
of Charles the Second's «I am afraid, gentlemen, I am an unconscionable
time a-dying.» He turned to his nephews after an unusually severe
attack of nausea with the exclamation, «What a state I am in! You will
have but little respect for your uncle when you think of him in such a
state as this!» He died at St. Petersburg, in October, 1893.

By this time it will be clear enough that this was no puling
complainer, but a delicate, high nature of great emotional intensity,
subjected to a cruel interaction of temperament and circumstances,
and yet capable of nobly constructive artistic work. His life,
candidly examined, reveals modesty, dignity, elevation of ideal and
of character. Yet it does illustrate, too, in many ways, that lack of
emotional balance which underlies the peculiar quality of his music.

His mere method of approaching his art, in the first place, is
significant. All his early efforts, as we have seen, were operas;
he wrote altogether ten operas, and the Pathetic Symphony is the
last fruit of a genius dramatic rather than symphonic. At thirty
Tschaïkowsky was unable to read orchestral scores with ease, and
preferred to study the classics through four-hand arrangements,
while his distaste for the purest form of music was so great that
he protested he could hardly keep awake through the performance of
the masterly A-minor Quartet of Beethoven. This attitude toward the
string quartet, which is in music what engraving or etching is in
representative art, is very anomalous in a young composer, and shows
so disproportionate an interest in the merely expressive side of music
that it is hard to understand how Tschaïkowsky ever became so great a
plastic master as his last two symphonies, for all their freight of
passion, show him to be.

He never, in fact, wholly outgrew certain peculiarities which are
direct results of his emotional instability, his slavery to mood. His
persistent use of minor keys, for example, is, as the doctors say,
symptomatic. The minor is naturally the medium of vague, subjective
moods and fantasies, of aspiration, longing, and doubt; it is
the vehicle of morbidly self-bounded thoughts, whose depressing
gloom is equalled only by their seductive and malign beauty. Such
thoughts we find too often in Chopin, Grieg, and, it must be added,
in Tschaïkowsky. Of the first thirty songs he wrote, seventeen are
in the minor mode. Of course too much should not be argued from a
detail of this sort, but the major system is so naturally the medium
of vigorously objective thought that we instinctively suspect the
health of a mind which harps continually upon the minor. By a somewhat
similar tendency towards self-involution, the natural result of intense
emotionality, Tschaïkowsky inclines to monotony of rhythm; he gets
hypnotized, as it were, by the regular pulsation of some recurring
meter, and he continues it to the verge of trance. An example is
the long pedal-point on D, in the curious 5-4 measure of the second
movement of the Pathetic Symphony. This is like the wailing and rocking
of the women of a savage tribe over the death of a warrior; it is at
once wild and sinister. But perhaps the most striking evidence of
this servitude to passion we are trying to trace in Tschaïkowsky is
his constant use of climax. It seems to be quite impossible for him
to preserve a mean-tone; he is always lashing himself into a fury,
boiling up into a frenetic fortissimo, after which he lapses into
coma until some phrase of melody or impulse of rhythm jostles his
imagination again, and he presses on toward a new crisis. The effect of
these cumulative whirlwinds of passion is often tremendous, is unique,
indeed, in music; yet one longs sometimes in the midst of them for a
less turbulent attitude, for the equable beauty of Bach or Mozart. The
atmosphere is surcharged. One feels that this noble but willful spirit
has sat too long in the close chamber of personal feeling, that one
must throw wide the windows and let in the fresh winds of general human

Yet, after all, the imperfections of Tschaïkowsky's music are due
rather to the overwhelming richness of his emotions than to any
shortcomings of mind; his case is an artistic embarrassment of riches,
and his critic must avoid the fallacy of supposing, because his
constructive power is sometimes inadequate, that it is ever meager.
On the contrary, he is a man of great intellectual force. It is too
bad to be so busy with Tschaïkowsky the pessimist that one forgets
Tschaïkowsky the artist. His melodic fertility alone is enough to rank
him with the great constructive musicians. His devotion to Mozart, and
to the Italian opera-writers, was no accident; by the spontaneity and
beauty of his melodies he has «approved himself their worthy brother.»
Few more inspiring tunes can be found anywhere than the opening theme
of his B-flat minor Piano Concerto, with its splendid and tireless
vigor, or the broad, constantly unfolding cantilena of the second theme
in the Fifth Symphony. His pages are plentifully scattered with phrases
of rare grace, of a fresh and original charm. His harmony, too, for
all its radicalism, is generally firm and well controlled, and his
rhythm, however monotonous at times, is never vague. In polyphony (the
simultaneous progress of different melodies) he is a powerful master,
as any one may see by examining, for example, the masterly variations
in his Orchestral Suite, opus 55. He is probably, on the whole, a
greater master of general construction than any of his contemporaries
except Brahms.

It is evident, then, that this curiously paradoxical personality was
gifted with an intellectual strength that went far toward dominating
the turbulent passions which, on the whole, it could not quite
dominate. But one needs, after all, no careful statistical proof of the
rationality of Tschaïkowsky's music. The fact that it survives, that it
is widely listened to and loved, proves _a priori_ that, however tinged
it may be with personal melancholy, it is not ultimately pessimistical
or destructive in effect. For it is the happy fortune of art that it
cannot fully voice the destructive forces of anarchy and despair.
Its nature precludes the possibility, for anarchy is chaos, despair
is confusion, and neither can be the subject of that clearly organic
order which is art. The artist may, of course, express sadness; his
work, if it is to be comprehensively human, must be reflective of the
ebb as well as the flow of vital power. But it cannot mirror complete
dejection, the absolute lapse of power; for without power there is no
organization, and without organization there is no art. The melodic
invention, the harmonic grasp, the rhythmic vigor, in a word the
powerful musical articulation, everywhere present in Tschaïkowsky's
best work, remove it far from the inarticulate moanings of despair.
Such faculties as his are anything but disintegrating or decadent;
however much individual sadness may attend their exercise, they are
upbuilding and creative. Tschaïkowsky commands our admiration more than
our pity because, in spite of the burdens of his temperament and the
misfortunes of his experience, he contributed to beauty, and beauty is
the standing confutation of evil.

  BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTE.--Much of Tschaïkowsky's early work was for
  piano, but most of his piano pieces are light if not trivial in
  character. They are amusing to play over, but do not fairly represent
  his genius. Seventeen of them are to be had in an album in the
  Collection Litolff. The Sonata, op. 37, on the other hand, in spite
  of its marked resemblance to Schumann's F-sharp minor Sonata, is
  one of the finest of modern sonatas for piano. The Concertos are
  masterly, but very difficult. Most of the important orchestral works
  are arranged for four hands. The most interesting are the Pathetic
  Symphony, the Fifth Symphony, which should be equally well known, the
  Orchestral Suites, particularly the third, op. 55, with its charming
  _Tema con Variazioni_, and the Overture, Romeo and Juliet. Of the
  chamber-works, the third String Quartet, op. 30, and the Trio, are
  especially good. Twenty-four of Tschaïkowsky's songs are published in
  an album by Novello, Ewer & Co., and many separately by G. Schirmer
  and others.


[E] Since the present paper was written, the biography of Tschaïkowsky
by his brother has shown that in this unhappy marriage the only fault
we can attribute to the composer was a quixotic chivalry in marrying
a young woman who had declared her love for him. He married her from
sympathy without loving her. Of course such a step could lead to
nothing but misery; but however unwise, it was at least generous and

[F] This lady, according to the new biography, was Frau von Meck, the
widow of a wealthy railway engineer. Her interest in Tschaïkowsky's
work, and her generous gifts of money, were of great value to him all
his life.

                            JOHANNES BRAHMS

                    [Illustration: JOHANNES BRAHMS]

                            JOHANNES BRAHMS

Of all the figures of modern music, brilliant and varied as they are,
impressing one with the many-sidedness and wide scope of the art,
there is perhaps only one, that of Johannes Brahms, which conveys the
sense of satisfying poise, self-control and sanity. Others excel him
in particular qualities. Grieg is more delicate and intimate, Dvořák
warmer and clearer in color; Saint-Saëns is more meteoric, Franck more
recondite and subtle, and Tschaïkowsky more impassioned; but Brahms
alone has Homeric simplicity, the primeval health of the well-balanced
man. He excels all his contemporaries in soundness and universality.
In an age when many people are uncertain of themselves and the world,
victims of a pervasive unrest and disappointment, it is solacing
to find so heroic and simple a soul, who finds life acceptable,
meets it genially, and utters his joy and his sorrow with the old
classic sincerity. He is not blighted by any of the myriad forms of
egotism,--by sentimentality, by the itch to be effective at all costs,
or to be «original,» or to be Byronic or romantic or unfathomable. He
has no «message» for an errant world; no anathema, either profoundly
gloomy or insolently clever, to hurl at God. He has rather a deep and
broad impersonal love of life; universal joy is the sum and substance
of his expression.

It is hard to say whether the unique greatness of Brahms depends more
on this emotional wholesomeness and simplicity or on the intellectual
breadth and synthetic power with which it is combined. Probably the
truth is that true greatness requires the interaction of the two. At
any rate, Brahms is equally remarkable, whether considered as a man or
as a musician, for both. In his personal character frankness, modesty,
simple and homely virtue were combined with the widest sympathy, the
most far-ranging intelligence, extreme catholicity and tolerance. In
music he prized equally the simplest elements, like the old German
folk-songs and the Hungarian dances, and the most complex artistic
forms that are evolved from them by creative genius. Like Bach and
Beethoven, he spanned the whole range of human interests; deep feeling
fills his music with primitive expressiveness, and at the same time
great intellectual power gives it the utmost scope and complexity.
Lacking either trait he would not have been himself, he could not have
performed his service to music.

There are many anecdotes illustrating the simple, large traits of
the man. His pleasures were homely, his ambitions inward and vital.
He cared little for fame, and was annoyed by the foolish adulation
of the crowd. To a long and flowery speech addressed to him on the
presentation of some sort of tribute he answered, with admirable
brevity and utter prose, «Thank you very much.» Once when a party
of his friends were gathered together to sample a rare old wine,
somebody pompously announced, «What Brahms is among the composers, this
Rauenthaler is among the wines.» «Ah,» snapped out Brahms, «then let's
have a bottle of Bach now.» He often remarked that one could never
hope to get upon the level of such giants as Bach and Beethoven; one
could only work conscientiously in one's own field. He had the disgust
of shams that one expects in so sincere a lover of the genuine, and the
armor of roughness and sarcasm with which he protected himself against
the pretentious was formidable. When the University of Cambridge
offered him a degree, suggesting that he write a new work for the
occasion, he replied that if any of his old works seemed good enough to
them he should be happy to receive the honor, but that he was too busy
to write a new one. There was about him something shaggy, bear-like,
and one can imagine the foxes and weasels scattering at his growl.

But for everything fresh and genuine Brahms had the heartiest love. He
is one of the innumerable army of great men of whom biography loves
to relate that they always carried candy in their pockets for the
children, and a lady described in a letter how she had seen him on the
hotel piazza, on all-fours, clambered over by young playmates. He was
on cordial terms with waiters and servants, and told Mr. Henschel with
emotion the story of a serving-maid who lost her position in order
to shield a careless postman, who, being married, could not afford to
lose his. Another pretty story, showing at once his modesty and his
catholicity of taste, recounts how all the musical friends of the wife
of Johann Strauss, the great waltz composer, were writing their names,
with phrases from their works, on her fan. When it was his turn, the
composer of the German Requiem wrote the opening phrase of the «Blue
Danube» waltz, and underneath it the words, «Not, I regret to say, by
your devoted friend, Johannes Brahms.» Thus wholesome and unaffected
was the character of this great man.

Outwardly, Brahms's life was uneventful. His father was a
contrabass-player in the theatre orchestra of Hamburg. In him his son's
positiveness of character seems to have been foreshadowed, for we
learn that when the conductor once directed him not to play so loud,
he replied with dignity: «Herr Capellmeister, this is my contrabass, I
want you to understand, and I shall play on it as loud as I please.»
Brahms was born at Hamburg in 1833, and from his earliest years was
trained for music as a matter of course. His early acquaintance with
the best works was of incalculable value to him. Mr. Hadow points out
that the eclecticism and solidity of his style was doubtless largely
due to the study of Bach and Beethoven that he made in youth under
Marxsen. He had the advantage, too, of early practical experience. When
he was only twenty he made a concert tour with Reményi, the Hungarian
violinist, during which he gained much training and confidence. A feat
he performed during this trip showed even more virtuosity than that of
«le petit Saint-Saëns» already recorded. Having to play the Kreutzer
Sonata on a piano too low in pitch to suit Reményi, who disliked to
tune down his violin, he transposed it up a semi-tone, and though
playing without notes, performed it accurately and with spirit. To
this feat, which aroused the admiration of Joachim, Brahms owed his
acquaintance with the great violinist, and through him with Liszt and
Schumann. His experience with the former, then in the height of his
fame, was unfortunate, but characteristic. Brahms, who was worn out
with travel, fell asleep during one of the most moving parts of Liszt's
Sonata, which the great virtuoso was so condescending as to play.
Though Brahms was only a boy at the time, he was evidently, even then,
undazzled by worldly glory.

His meeting with Schumann was much more happy; indeed, it was one of
the important events of his life. Probably no young composer ever
received such a hearty welcome into the musical world as Schumann
extended to Brahms in his famous article, «New Paths.» «In sure and
unfaltering accents,» writes Mr. Hadow, «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.» It is not surprising
that Schumann, whose generous enthusiasm often led him to praise
worthless work, should have received the early compositions of Brahms
so cordially. Their qualities were such as to affect profoundly the
great romanticist. Although the essential character of his mature works
is their classical balance and restraint, these first compositions
show an exuberance, a wayward fertility of invention, thoroughly
romantic. His first ten opuses, or at any rate the three sonatas and
the four ballades for piano, are frequently turgid in emotion, and
ill-considered in form. The massive vigor of his later work here
appears in the guise of a cyclopean violence. It is small wonder that
Schumann, dazzled, delighted, overwhelmed, gave his ardent support
to the young man. Brahms now found himself suddenly famous. He was
discussed everywhere, his pieces were readily accepted by publishers,
and his new compositions were awaited with interest.

But fortunate as all this was for Brahms, it might easily, but for his
own good sense and self-control, have turned out the most unfortunate
thing that could happen to him. For consider his position. He was a
brilliant young composer who had been publicly proclaimed by one of the
highest musical authorities. He was expected to go on producing works;
he was almost under obligation to justify his impressive introduction.
Not to do so would be much worse than to remain a nonentity; it would
be to become one. And he had meanwhile every internal reason for
meeting people's demands. He was full of ideas, conscious of power,
under inward as well as outward compulsion to express himself. Yet
for all that, he was in reality immature, unformed, and callow. His
work, for all its brilliancy, was whimsical and subjective. If he
had followed out the path he was on, as any contemporary observer
would have expected, he would have become one of the most radical of
romanticists. At thirty he would have been a bright star in the musical
firmament, at forty he would have been one of several bright stars,
at fifty he would have been clever and disappointed. It required rare
insight in so young a man, suddenly successful, to realize the danger,
rare courage to avert it. When we consider the temptation it must have
been to him to continue these easy triumphs, when we imagine the inward
enthusiasm of creation with which he must have been on fire, we are
ready to appreciate the next event of the drama.

That event was withdrawal from the musical world and the initiation
of a long course of the severest study. When he was a little over
twenty-one, Brahms imposed upon himself this arduous training,
and commanded himself to forego for a while the eloquent but
ill-controlled expression hitherto his, in order to acquire a
broader, firmer, purer, and stronger style. For four or five years,
to borrow Stevenson's expression, he «played the sedulous ape» to
Bach and Beethoven, and in a minor degree to Haydn and Mozart. The
complex harmonies of his first period gave place to simple, strong
successions of triads; for an emotional and often vague type of melody
he substituted clearly crystallized, fluent, and gracious phrases,
frequently devoid of any particular expression; the whimsical rhythms
of the piano sonatas were followed by the square-cut sections of
the Serenade, opus 11. Of course the immediate effect of all this
was a great sacrifice of what is called originality; had Brahms
not had complete faith in the vitality of his genius he could not
have surrendered so much of immediate attainment for the sake of an
ultimately greater mastery. It is a profound lesson in the ethics of
art that a man who could write the fourth of the Ballades, opus 10,
should have been willing to follow it up with this Serenade, opus 11.
Yet Brahms knew what he was about, and his first large work, the Piano
Concerto, opus 15, shows his individuality of expression entirely
regained, and now with immensely increased power and resource.

Nothing could exhibit better than this dissatisfaction with his early
work and withdrawal from the world for study, that intellectual breadth
which we have noted as characteristic of Brahms. He was not a man who
could be content with a narrow personal expression. No subjective
heaven could satisfy him. His wide human sympathy and his passion
for artistic perfection alike, compelled him to study unremittingly,
to widen his ideals as his powers increased. No fate could seem to
him so horrible as that «setting» of the mind which is the æsthetic
analogue of selfishness. Originality, which so often degenerates into
idiosyncrasy, was much less an object to him than universality, which
is after all the best means of being serviceably original. Dr. Deiters,
in his reminiscences, after describing this period of study, continues:
«Henceforth we find him striving after moderation, endeavoring to
place himself more in touch with the public, and to conquer all
subjectiveness. To arrive at perspicuity and precision of invention,
clear design and form, careful elaboration and accurate balancing of
effect, now became with him essential and established principles.»

From this time until the end of his life, in fact, a period of only a
little less than forty years--he died in 1897--Brahms never departed
from the modes of work and the ideals of attainment he had now set
himself. He labored indefatigably, but with no haste or impatience. He
was too painstaking and conscientious a workman to botch his products
by hurrying them. He thus described to his friend, Mr. Henschel, his
method of composing: «There is no real _creating_ without hard work.
That which you would call invention, that is to say, a thought, is
simply an inspiration from above, for which I am not responsible,
which is no merit of mine. Yes, it is a present, a gift, which I ought
even to despise until I have made it my own by right of hard work.
And there need be no hurry about that either. It is as with the seed
corn: it germinates unconsciously and in spite of ourselves. When I,
for instance, have found the first phrase of a song, I might shut the
book there and then, go for a walk, do some other work, and perhaps not
think of it again for months. Nothing, however, is lost. If afterward
I approach the subject again, it is sure to have taken shape; I can
now really begin to work at it.» Another inkling of the severity of
his standard we have in a remark he made after pointing out certain
imperfections in a song of Mr. Henschel's. «Whether it is beautiful
also,» he said, «is an entirely different matter; but perfect it must
be.» With such a standard, we need not be surprised that he imposed so
severe a training upon himself at twenty-one, or that he continued all
his life the practice of writing each day a contrapuntal exercise, or
that he wrought for ten years over his first symphony, that Titanic
work. Thus laboring always with the same calm persistence, returning
upon his ideas until he could present them with perfect clarity, caring
little for the indifference or the applause of the public, but much
for the approval of his own fastidious taste, he produced year by year
an astonishing series of masterpieces. No one has better described the
kind of work that made Brahms great than Matthew Arnold in those lines
about labor

                      «which in lasting fruit outgrows
      Far noisier schemes; accomplished in repose;
      Too great for haste, too high for rivalry.»

A just conception of this broad scheme of Brahms's ideal and of his
thoroughness in working it out is necessary, we must insist, not only
to appreciation of the man himself, but to any true understanding of
his relation and service to music. Brahms was enabled, by the tireless
training to which he subjected his fertile and many-sided genius, to
couch romantic feeling in classic form. In order to grasp the full
significance of such a work, it is necessary to bear in mind those
fundamental principles of musical effect and facts of musical history
which have been presented in the Introduction. Music has resulted from
the gradual formal definition, by time and pitch relations, of those
vague gestures and utterances by which men expressed their primitive
feelings. It has been, in a word, the product of two human instincts,
neither of which alone would have sufficed to produce it--the instinct
for expression and the instinct for beauty. But these instincts have
not worked with precisely equal efficacy at all times. In fact, so
limited is human attention, so few things can men attend to at once,
every great development of expression has generally disturbed the
equilibrium requisite to beauty, and every great advance in beauty has
generally, for the time being, restrained the eloquence of expression.
Musical history is a series of reactions between man's primal emotional
impulse and his desire for intelligibility. First, urgency of feeling
drives him to a formless cry; then the wish to be understood and the
love of beauty induce him to formulate this cry; finally, as soon as
the formula is felt to be inadequate to further expression, it is
discarded in favor of one more elastic and complex. The conventions
that are helpful at one stage prove hindrances in the next. The same
forms that subserve growth up to a certain point, beyond that point
hamper it. Accordingly, in the history of music, formulation has always
been followed by relaxation of the formulæ to admit of new expression;
and when new expression has been thus evolved, a new and more complex
form has had to be worked out to regulate and fix it.

Such a period of relaxation was that which intervened between Beethoven
and Brahms. The romanticists, headed by Schumann, seized upon the
possibilities of poignant expression that they were quick to recognize
in their heritage from Beethoven, and developed an extraordinarily
mobile and eloquent instrument for voicing personal emotion. At the
same time they inevitably lost the perfect control of form, the
transparent lucidity of structure, that had characterized Beethoven. In
some respects more moving, they were on the whole less intelligible.
They were enriching their art, and must leave the perfect subordination
of the new material to their successors. It is most interesting to
trace the analogy between this development of musical expression and
the growth of emotional life in the individual, and to observe how in
both the period of experience, in which emotion is felt in all its
immediate stress, inhibiting all else and being therefore conceived in
no relations, but merely as a single and ultimate fact, is followed by
the period of meditation and self-inspection, when the whole emotional
life is grouped into order, and the man learns to see the significance
and the spiritual value of his feelings. With the romanticists music
necessarily became more and more the medium of personal passion, less
and less the revealer of universal order.

Browning, himself a romanticist through and through, has summed up
the spirit of romanticism in a single stanza of his «Old Pictures in

      «On which I conclude, that the early painters,
        To cries of 'Greek art and what more wish you?'
      Replied, 'To become now self-acquainters,
        And paint man, man, whatever the issue!
      Make new hopes shine through the flesh they fray,
        New fears aggrandize the rags and tatters:
      To bring the invisible full into play!
        Let the visible go to the dogs--what matters?'»

The individualism, the subjectivity, the mystical distrust of definite
forms, so stirringly championed in these lines, are vital principles
in the work of all the composers of the generation after Beethoven.
Thus in Schumann's music, for example, the generality of the emotional
burden of classical music is changed to something far more individual
and introspective. Expression is more tinged by temperament; the work
of art exhales a personal fragrance. Schumann tells us not merely of
love, longing, and passion, but of Robert Schumann's love, longing,
and passion. His work, for all its beauty, is much less inclusive and
complete than the classical masterpieces. In the same way Chopin filled
his nocturnes and preludes with the lovely but often unhealthy poetry
of the isolated dreamer, and Wagner, separating the passion of love
from the other interests of the heart, and thus throwing out of balance
the spiritual economy, sacrificed as much in health as he gained in
potency. And of the men we have been studying, Grieg, Franck, and
Tschaïkowsky also illustrate in various ways the tendency to «paint
man, man, whatever the issue,» to let the «flesh be frayed» and the
«visible go to the dogs.» It is hardly necessary to say that all these
men have their legitimate place. Their message of passion and unrest,
already audible in Beethoven, was the inevitable and indispensable
expression of one of those self-conscious phases in man's growth when
he freshly realizes his finitude. Their utterances make a deeply
pathetic appeal to us, because they reveal all the terrible sadness of
personal life which as yet finds no resting-place in the universal.
Aspiration and disappointment, bitter grief and blind pain, speak in
their fragmentary loveliness. The romanticists will never want for our
love, since they interpret to us a part of our own experience.

But, as we have said, after man suffers emotion he reflects upon it;
after he feels the parts he learns the whole; after musicians have
developed new capabilities of expression they proceed to subordinate
them to plastic beauty. Adjustment follows discovery, and the romantic
takes on classical perfection. The chaos of one age is thus the order
of the next; and after Schumann and his fellows had enriched the world
with their beautiful but fragmentary and wayward feelings, it remained
for Brahms to essay a further conquest; to commence at least (and
perhaps he has not done more) the task of making these new feelings
more intelligible, of clarifying their turgidity, of subordinating
their conflicts in a more complex harmony. Or, to state his function in
more specifically musical terms, he had to discover how rugged melodic
outlines, bold harmonic progressions, and the large-spanned phrases of
modern musical thought could be organized and brought into that unity
in variety which is beauty.

We are now in a position to grasp the full significance of that severe
training to which Brahms subjected himself in his youth. Without it he
would have gone on doing brilliant work of the romantic order, like his
first compositions, but he would never have attained the grasp and
self-control that raised him above all his contemporaries and that made
possible his peculiar service to music. That period of training was
the artistic counterpart of what many men undergo when they discover
how many sacrifices and how long a labor are necessary to him who
would find a spiritual dwelling-place on earth. Many pleasures must be
renounced before happiness will abide; evil and suffering are opaque
save to the steadfast eye. So, in music, effects and eloquences and
crises must be the handmaids of orderly beauty, and tones are stubborn
material until one has learned by hard work to make them transmit
thoughts. Technic is in the musician what character is in the man. It
is the power to stamp matter with spirit. Brahms's long apprenticeship
was therefore needed in the first place to make him master of his
materials; in the second place to teach him the deeper lesson that
the part must be subordinated to the whole, or, in musical language,
expression to beauty.

He achieved this subordination, however, not by the negative process of
suppression, but by conquest and co-ordination. In his music emotion
is not excluded, it is regulated; his work is not a reversion to an
earlier and simpler type, it is the gathering and fusing together of
fragmentary new elements, resulting in a more complex organism. Thus
it is a very superficial view to say that he «went back» to Beethoven.
He drew guidance from the same natural laws that had guided Beethoven,
but he applied these laws to a material of novel thought and emotion
that had come into being after Beethoven. Had he repudiated the new
material, even for the reason that he considered it incapable of
organization, he would have been a pedant, which is to say a musical
Pharisee. One masters by recognizing and using, not by repudiating.
And just as a wise man will not become ascetical merely because his
passions give him trouble, but will study to find out their true
relation to _him_ and then keep them in it, so Brahms recognized the
wayward beauties of romanticism, and studied how to make them ancillary
to that order and fair proportion which is the soul of music.

To this great artistic service he was fitted by both the qualities
which have been pointed out above as co-operating to form his
unique nature. His deep and simple human feeling, which put him in
sympathy with the aims of the romanticists and enabled him to grasp
their meaning, would not have sufficed alone; but fortunately it was
associated with an almost unprecedented scope of intellect and power
of synthesis. Brahms's assimilative faculty was enormous. Like a fine
tree that draws the materials of its beauty through a thousand roots
that reach into distant pockets of earth, he gathered the materials
of his perfectly unified and transparent style from all sorts of
forgotten nooks and crannies of mediæval music. Spitta remarks his
use of the old Dorian and Phrygian modes; of complex rhythms that had
long fallen into disuse; of those means of thematic development, such
as augmentation and diminution, which flourished in the fifteenth
and sixteenth centuries; of «the _basso ostinato_ with the styles
pertaining to it--the Passacaglia and the Ciaconna;» and of the old
style of variations, in which the bass rather than the melody is the
feature retained. «No musician,» Spitta concludes, «was more well read
in his art or more constantly disposed to appropriate all that was new,
especially all newly discovered treasures of the past. His passion
for learning wandered, indeed, into every field, and resulted in a
rich and most original culture of mind, for his knowledge was not mere
acquirement, but became a living and fruitful thing.»

The vitality of his relation with the past is nowhere more strikingly
shown than in his indebtedness to the two greatest masters of pure
music, Bach and Beethoven. He has gathered up the threads of their
dissimilar styles, and knitted them into one solid fabric. The great
glory of Bach, as is well-known, was his wonderful polyphony. In his
work every voice is a melody, everything sings, there is no dead wood,
no flaccid filling. Beethoven, on the other hand, turning to new
problems, to problems of structure which demanded a new sort of control
of key-relationship and the thematic development of single «subjects»
or tunes, necessarily paid less attention to the subordinate voices.
His style is homophonic or one-voiced rather than polyphonic. The
interest centres in one melody and its evolutions, while the others
fall into the subordinate position of accompaniment. But Brahms,
retaining and extending the complexity of structure, the architectural
variety and solidity, that was Beethoven's great achievement, has
succeeded in giving new melodic life also to the inner parts, so that
the significance and interest of the whole web remind one of Bach. His
skill as a contrapuntist is as notable as his command of structure.
Thanks to his wonderful power of assimilating methods, of adapting
them to the needs of his own expression, so that he remains personal
and genuine while becoming universal in scope, he is the true heir and
comrade of Bach and Beethoven.

It was, perhaps, inevitable that in his great work of synthesis and
formulation he should sometimes be led into dry formalism. One who
concerns himself so indefatigably with the technic of construction
naturally comes to take a keen joy in the exercise of his skill;
and this may easily result, when thought halts, in the fabrication
of ingenuities and Chinese puzzles. Some pages of Brahms consist of
infinitely dexterous manipulations of meaningless phrases. And though
one must guard against assuming that he is dry whenever one does not
readily follow him, it certainly must be confessed that sometimes
he seems to write merely for the sake of writing. This occasional
over-intellectualism, moreover, is unfortunately aggravated by a lack
of feeling for the purely sensuous side of music, for clear, rich
tone-combination, to which Brahms must plead guilty. His orchestra is
often muddy and hoarse, his piano style often shows neglect of the
necessities of sonority and clearness. Dr. William Mason testifies that
his touch was hard and unsympathetic, and it is rather significant of
insensibility or indifference to tone color that his Piano Quintet was
at first written for strings alone, and that the Variations on a Theme
of Haydn exist in two forms, one for orchestra and the other for two
pianos, neither of which is announced as the original version. There is
danger of exaggerating the importance of such facts, however. Austere
and somber as Brahms's scoring generally is, it may be held that so
it should be to be in keeping with the musical conception. And if his
piano style is novel it is not really unidiomatic or without its own
peculiar effects.

However extreme we may consider the weakness of sensuous perception,
which on the whole cannot be denied in Brahms, it is the only serious
flaw in a man equally great on the emotional and the intellectual
sides. Very remarkable is the richness and at the same time the
balance of Brahms's nature. He recognized early in life that feelings
were valuable, not for their mere poignancy, but by their effect on
the central spirit; and he labored incessantly to express them with
eloquence and yet with control. It is only little men who estimate
an emotion by its intensity, and who try to express everything, the
hysterical as well as the deliberate, the trivial and mischievous as
well as the weighty and the inspiring. They imagine that success in art
depends on the number of things they say, that to voice a temperament
is to build a character. But great men, though they reject no sincere
human feeling, care more to give the right impression than to be
exhaustive; and the greatest feel instinctively that the last word of
their art must be constructive, positive, upbuilding. Thoreau remarks
that the singer can easily move us to tears or laughter, but asks,
«Where is he who can communicate a pure morning joy?» It is Brahms's
unique greatness among modern composers that he was able to infuse his
music, in which all personal passion is made accessory to beauty, with
this «pure morning joy.» His aim in writing is something more than to
chronicle subjective feelings, however various or intense. And that is
why we have to consider him the greatest composer of his time, even
though in particular departments he must take a place second to others.
Steadily avoiding all fragmentary, wayward, and distortive expression,
using always his consummate mastery of his medium and his synthetic
power of thought to subserve a large and universal utterance, he points
the way for a healthy and fruitful development of music in the future.

  BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTE.--Of particular works of Brahms that the reader
  might wish to study, here are some of the most characteristic and
  well known. Piano pieces: The Waltzes, op. 39; the Clavierstücke,
  op. 76, particularly No. 2; the two Rhapsodies, op. 79; and, in his
  later, more complex style, the piano pieces, op. 116, 117, 118 and
  119. Songs: Liebestreu, op. 3, No. 1; Wiegenlied, op. 49, No. 4; the
  Sapphic Ode, op. 94, No. 4; Ständchen, op. 106, No. 1; Meine Liebe
  ist grün, op. 63, No. 5; O Kühler Wald, op. 72, No. 3. Chamber works:
  the two Violin Sonatas, op. 78 and 100, are among his most genial
  works; the Quartets, op. 25 and 26; the Trio, op. 8; the Sextet, op.
  18. Of his orchestral works none are finer than the Second and Third
  Symphonies, the Violin Concerto, op. 77, and the Variations on a Theme
  of Haydn, op. 56a. The choral works, of which the Song of Destiny is
  the greatest, are unhappily seldom given.

                    EPILOGUE: THE MEANING OF MUSIC

                    EPILOGUE: THE MEANING OF MUSIC

In the foregoing studies we have been considering, first, certain
fundamental principles of musical effect in the light of which
alone all special contributions to music, however various, can be
understood, and second, the particular contributions of half a dozen
of our contemporary composers, in which we have seen those principles
exemplified. We have assumed, all along, that music is of undeniable
interest to us, that it has something to say, that it is of sufficient
human value to be worth studying. But now, before closing, it will be
well to examine for a moment the grounds of that tacit assumption, to
ask ourselves what, after all, is the reason of our interest in music.
Why do we care for it? What does it mean? To such questions there are
doubtless many answers. Doubtless different hearers take different
kinds of delight in it, and its modes of appeal are as various as
their temperaments. Yet music has one sort of appeal which is deeper
than all others, which indeed acts universally, and which depends on
its extraordinary power to tranquilize the heart, to instil a peace
quite magical and beyond explanation. It soothes while it excites;
and more wonderful than its ability to stimulate our emotions is its
power to reconcile and harmonize them. And this it does without the aid
of any intellectual process; it offers us no argument, it formulates
no solacing philosophy; rather it abolishes thought, to set up in
its stead a novel activity that is felt as immediately, inexplicably
grateful. To suggest how the combination of sounds can have upon us so
profound an effect will be the object of this final paper.

Mortal life, as we become acquainted with it in experience, unshaped
by any philosophic or artistic activity, is complex, confused, and
irrational. From our babyhood, when we put our fingers in the pretty
fire and draw them forth cruelly burned, until the moment when a
draught of air or the bursting of a blood-vessel suddenly arrests our
important enterprises in mid-course, we constantly find our faculties,
both animal and divine, encountering a world not kindly adjusted.
On the material plane we find drought, frost, and famine, storm,
accident, disease. On the plane of feeling and sentiment there are the
separation of friends, the death of dear ones, loneliness, doubt, and
disappointment; in the world of the spirit are sin and sorrow, the
weakness and folly of ourselves and of others, meaningless mischance,
and the caprice of destiny. In such a world, good fortune must often
seem as insulting as bad, and happiness no better than misery. Where
all is accidental, how can aught be significant? When our highest
interests are defenceless against the onslaught, not of grave evil but
of mere absurdity, how is it possible to live with dignity or hope?

Nevertheless, men have, by various means, fought sturdily against the
capriciousness of life and the despair it engenders. All practical
morality, to begin with, is one form of defence--comparatively a low
form, but still of use. The moral man, facing the universe undaunted,
asserts his own power to develop in it at least his personal particle
of righteousness. As much strength as he has shall be spent on the
side of order. If the world be unjust, he at least will love justice.
If every one else be ruled by chance, he at least will be ruled by
reason. If wicked men pursue evil, he will pursue good. From the
earliest to the latest times literature has recorded such resolve.
The letters of Stevenson no less than the journal of Marcus Aurelius
relate the purpose of the brave individual to graft, to impress--yes,
to inflict--human meaning upon an untamed universe. The stoic faith
has always built on the practical power of the single man; a phrase of
Thoreau's might serve for its motto: «In the midst of this labyrinth
let us live a _thread_ of life.»

The intellect is more ambitious than the moral sense. Not content
with the degree of unity a man can develop in the seething world by
his single action, philosophy seeks to prove that the world itself,
as a whole, deriving its nature as it must from mind, is orderly.
Constructive idealism, beginning with the argument that a subject
cannot truly know an object unless both are included in a higher
mental organism, deduces from the common facts of consciousness the
real existence of an all-inclusive Spirit. Furthermore, one of its
ablest modern exponents, Professor Josiah Royce, has worked out the
ethical implications of the doctrine in a way that concerns us here. He
shows that the apparent irrationality of our world proceeds from the
fragmentariness of our finite view, and that God, who sees his universe
as a whole, must find it rational; so that «our chaos is his order,
our farce his tragedy, our horror his spirituality.» Were our span of
consciousness widened until we could perceive the whole of existence
in one thought, we should find the deep organic beauty that now we
yearn for in vain. Philosophy, then, assures us both of the fundamental
perfection of the world as a whole and of the inaccessibility of this
perfection to us. Deeply satisfying because so sure and so ultimate, it
tells us nothing of details, it has no direct word for the sorrows and
the perplexities of our daily lives. It leaves us often longing for a
warmer, nearer assurance of the rightness of things.

And so, to many, human love first reveals the divine unity all are
seeking. The lover reasons little about consciousness; he knows,
directly and overpoweringly, that his one need is to serve the beloved.
This commanding aim employs all his impulses and appetites, and he
finds in pure disinterested service a peace that his own warring
desires cannot invade. He comprehends for the first time his own true
identity, he becomes integral and serene. Furthermore, as his love
grows deeper, as it spends its inexhaustible wealth more widely,
learning to take for object not only the human beloved, but all virtue
and beauty, his spiritual life becomes daily larger and surer, it
unifies an ever complexer body of thought and deed in its perfect
organism. It acquires an alchemy with which it can dissolve even the
stubborn externalities of fate; for fate itself cannot take away the
power to serve, and in service love finds its joy. Renunciation,
even, it never enters upon except to gain a higher good, and that
essence in the soul which makes a sacrifice is one with that which
in happier circumstances would enjoy. Love thus shares already the
nature of religion, and confers the same benefits. In exacting entire
self-surrender it bequeaths superiority to accident, an unassailable
serenity. Indeed, religion is but love expanded and made universal.

Religion, then, man's final means of reading rationality in the
countenance of an irrational world, is the culmination toward which the
other three naturally tend. It is the natural goal of love, because he
who loves the divine in one person must soon love it in all. It is the
goal of science and philosophy, because these place the heart open-eyed
upon the threshold of the radiant reality, where it cannot but worship.
It is the natural outcome of morality, too; for the moral man, seeing
others eager for goodness, learns that the divine virtue is everywhere.
And religion retains in itself the character of all these tributary
insights. Like morality it prompts devotion of personal strength to the
good cause; like philosophy, it affords clarity and breadth of vision;
it is animated by the same pure, deep passion that is at the soul of
love. It offers man a code of conduct, a cosmology, and an object of
devotion. Surely, one would think he could ask for nothing more.

But, alas! we are not perfect creatures, capable of living always on
these heights. Hours of weariness and confusion overtake us, our
glimpses of the shining cosmos fade away, and we are left groping in a
formless world. The universe does not change, but our faculties become
jaded, we cannot keep them at the necessary pitch. The moralist knows
moods of discouragement, when his power is at ebb, and the forces of
evil press him sorely, entering even his own heart in the forms of
temptation, sloth, and despair. The scientist encounters facts which
his schemes cannot embrace, and for the moment interprets his own
limitation as a disorder in nature. The philosopher often finds the
universe more than a match for his synthetic powers of thought. Love
has its tragedies, and faith its hours of eclipse. Even Christ must
cry out, «My God! my God! why hast thou forsaken me?» The world, in a
word, is too big for us. Facing its vast whirl and glitter with our
modest kit of senses, intellect, and spirit, we are blinded, deafened,
dizzied, completely bewildered. And then, recalling with wistful regret
our partial insights, we fancy them gone forever and ourselves wholly

It is just at these moments, when the mind momentarily fails in its
unequal struggle with reality, that we discover the deep meaning
and the supreme service of Art. For Art is the tender human servant
that man has made himself for his solace. He has adjusted it to his
faculties and restrained it within his scope; fashioning it from the
infinite substance, he has impressed upon it finite form. It is a voice
less thunderous than nature's, a lamp that does not dazzle like the
great sun. It simplifies the wealth that is too luxuriant, and makes
tangible a fragment of the great ethereal beauty no mortal can grasp.
Thus art is visible and audible rightness; it is the love of God made
manifest to the senses, a particular symbol of a universal harmony.
When we are too weary to be comforted by the remote, abstract good that
religion promises, art comes with its immediate, substantial, caressing
beauty. Seeking to prove nothing, making no appeal to our logical
intellects, requiring of us no activity, saying nothing of aught beyond
itself, it is supremely restful. Finding us defeated in our search for
rationality, it says, «Search no longer, puzzle no more; merely listen
and look; see, here it is!» Its beauty answers our problems never
directly, but by gently making them irrelevant.

Art, then, differs from morality, philosophy, love and religion,
in that it presents directly to sense the variety in unity which
they manifest only to the mind and spirit. Like them, it deals with
life, but the unity that it attains by selection and exclusion is
unlike their unity in being tangible. Made by man, it has this one
supreme advantage, that it is adapted from the outset to his needs.
What it cannot unify it can exclude. Though nature care nothing for
the peculiarities of the eye, a landscape painter can omit a tree
that upsets the balance of his composition. Actual men and women
present all sorts of incongruities of figure, but the sculptor can
suppress the stooping shoulders, the knobby hips, and the bandy legs.
Language bristles with trivial and vulgar words, but no poet except
Walt Whitman thinks it necessary to write about hatters, who cannot,
according to Stevenson, «be tolerated in emotional verse.» Out of the
infinite number of sounds that besiege our natural ears, musicians
have selected about ninety definite tones, preordained to congruity,
with which to weave their marvelous fabric. That is ever the method
of art; it excludes the irrelevant or the discordant, in order to
secure a salient and pure integrity. By sacrificing something of the
richness of experience, it gains a rationality unknown in experience.
Browning's Pippa is a gentle, noble soul, bringing goodness everywhere;
in real life she would be a poor mill-girl insulted by a thousand
sordid and accidental details. Shelley portrays Beatrice Cenci in the
transfiguring light of poetic truth; actual experience would show her
tortured by a sinister and ignoble fate. No Greek youth could have
matched the perfect plastic beauty of the Disk-thrower, and no Italian
woman ever symbolized cruel, sphinx-like loveliness as does the Mona
Lisa. Corot's nature is grayer and softer and more harmonious than ever
existed on earth. And such songs as Schumann's «Ich Grolle Nicht» and
Tschaïkowsky's «Nur Wer die Sehnsucht Kennt» pulsate with a passion as
intense but far less torn and fragmentary than that by which they were
inspired. This serene perfection, which wraps like a mantle all works
of genuine art, results from harmonious organization, and is attained
only by excluding the irrelevancies always present in nature. Whistler
is wise as well as witty when he exclaims that «to ask the painter
to copy nature as he sees it is to invite the pianist to sit on the
keyboard.» Were there, to be sure, a perfect adjustment between nature
and our faculties, were we able to discern the unity that must exist
even in the infinitely complex Whole of the world, then such a dictum
would be outgrown, and selection would cease to be the procedure of
art. But until we have grown to possess universal synthetic power art
will have its solacing mission and its selective method as now.

Meanwhile it will have also, of course, its inevitable limitations.
If it be more orderly than nature, it will be far less rich and
various; effects that nature presents in a bewildering drench of
experience, a work of art will have to isolate and develop alone. A
pictured landscape, however perfect, is but one phase of the reality;
in nature there is ceaseless play and change, mood succeeds mood, and
the charm is more than half in the wayward flux and transformation.
A portrait shows but one character; a human face is a whole gallery
of personalities. The wealth of experience excites even while it
bewilders us, and when we turn to the work of art we unconsciously
adopt a narrower standard. Primitive art especially impresses us as
bare and denuded, because the primitive artist has neither technical
skill nor synthetic power of thought to combine more than a few
elements. Thus early painting and sculpture, in dealing with the human
figure, carry delineation little further than to show man with head
and body, two legs and two arms. Refinements of contour and proportion
are left to be observed by later artists. Similarly the folk ballads
in which poetry takes its origin confine themselves to elementary
incidents and emotions. In general, rudimentary art is always so far
behind nature as to seem to have hardly any connection with it at all.

As time goes on, however, art passes through an evolution, becoming
gradually more potent in its treatment of reality. Its progress
takes the form of a curious zigzag, the resultant of two alternating
tendencies; what happens is something like this. For a while it
develops its power of synthesis (a power dependent both upon technical
skill in handling material and on organizing force of thought)
until it is able to present a few simple factors of effect in clear,
salient unity. This is what is called a period of classicism. Then,
dissatisfied with its attainment, desiring a richer reflection of the
great whirl of experience, it reaches out after novel effects; its
vision is for a while more extended than clear, and, presenting many
effects which it cannot yet unify, it becomes brilliant, suggestive,
fragmentary, turgid, inchoate. There has been a sacrifice of the old
simple clarity for a richer chaos, or, in the trite terminology, a
romantic movement. Now, however, technical skill and synthetic power
of thought again advance, and a new and complexer order supervenes on
the temporary confusion. Unity of effect is regained, art is classic
once more (but with increased wealth of meaning), and the time is ripe
for another burst of romanticism. By this alternation of impulses art
grows, and when either tendency is defective we have a diseased art.
If there be no romantic movement, if art remains contented with its
acquired scope, there is stagnation, pedantry, academicism; if there be
no classical period of assimilation, we have vagueness and turgidity,
qualities even more fatal, since, as we have seen, the justification
of art is its power to clarify. The general formula for wholesome
artistic advance might, then, run thus: «Increase in the variety of the
selected elements, without loss of the ideal unity imposed upon them.»
And the ideal goal of art is a representation of the whole of life,
stamped with complete unity.

Turning now to music, we must point out that, although it has in a
general way undergone a development like that of the other arts, made
up of alternating classic and romantic movements, it has had from
the first certain advantages over them in the struggle for richness
and clarity, advantages proceeding from its fundamental nature. For
tones are unique in our mental experience as being at once more
directly expressive of the emotional essence of life than any other
art-material, and more susceptible of orderly structure.

That music is beyond all the other arts directly expressive of man's
deeper passional life scarcely needs theoretic proof; the fact is
in the experience of every one who has listened to a military band,
to a homely song lovingly rendered, or to a ragged Hungarian with a
violin. These things take a physical grip upon our emotions, they
stir our diaphragms, galvanize our spines, and compel us to shiver,
laugh or weep. Combined with such physical affections, moreover, are
ideas of indescribable vividness and poignancy. Joy and grief, hope
and despair, serenity, aspiration, and horror, fill our hearts as we
listen to music. They come in their pure essence--not as qualities of
something else. And this is what is meant by the familiar statement
that the other arts are representative while music is presentative.
Poetry, painting, and sculpture show us things outside ourselves,
joyful or grievous things perhaps, hopeful or desperate or beautiful
or ugly things, but still _things_. But music shows us nothing but
the qualities, the disembodied feelings, the passional essences. Let
the reader recall for a moment the effects of painting or of poetry,
the way in which they present emotion. Is it not always by symbolism,
by indirection? Does not the feeling merely exhale from the object
instead of constituting the object as it does in music? In looking
at a pastoral landscape, for instance, do we not first think of the
peaceful scene represented, and only secondarily feel serenity itself?
In reading «La Belle Dame sans Merci» is it not only by a process of
associative thought that we come to shudder with a sense of unearthly
and destructive passion? Yes, in the representative arts emotion
is merely adjective; in music alone is it substantive. We see in a
portrait a lovely woman; we behold in marble a noble youth; we read
in poetry a desperate story; in music, on the contrary, we hear love,
nobility, despair. And since this emotional life is the deepest reality
we know, since our intuitions constitute in fact the very essence of
that world-spirit which is but projected and symbolized in sky, sun,
ocean, stars, and earth, music cannot but be a richer record of our
ultimate life than those arts which deal with objects and symbols
alone. It is the penetration, the ultimacy, of music that gives it
such extraordinary power. The other arts excel it in definiteness, in
concreteness, in the ability to delineate a scene or tell a story; but
music surpasses them all in power to present the naked and basic facts
of existence, the essential, informing passions.

A secondary and subordinate advantage of music proceeds from the nature
of its material. Tones, produced and controlled by man, are far more
easily stamped with the unity he desires than the objects of external
nature. These are stubborn outer facts, created without regard to the
æsthetic sense, and in a thousand ways unamenable to it. The great
dazzle of sunlight is too keen for human eyes, which perceive better
on dim, gray days; many of nature's contours are larger than we can
grasp. Every painter will tell you that there are inharmonious colors
in the sunset, and one daring critic has gone so far as to impugn the
«vulgarity of outline» of the American hills. It matters not whether
the maladjustment indicate a fault in nature or a limitation in man;
the point to note is that the representative arts deal with a material
less pliable than tones. Words, the material of poetry, occupy in
this respect a curious intermediate position. Like tones, they are
man-made, but, like outer objects, they are «given,» fixed and indocile
to man's æsthetic needs. (We remember the example of the «hatter.»)
Though made by man, in fact, they are made not by his æsthetic but by
his practical energy. They were devised, not for beautiful adjustment,
but to convey thoughts, and when the poet comes and uses them to make
an art he finds them almost as perverse as the painter's trees and
hills. Tones, however, have no practical utility whatever; not only do
they not exist outside of music, but they would be of no use if they
did. Hence they may be chosen and grouped by the free æsthetic sense
alone, acting without let or hindrance, except what is imposed by the
thing to be expressed. For hundreds of years man has been testing and
comparing, accepting and rejecting, the elements of the tonal series,
with the result that we have to-day the ladder or scale of ninety-odd
definitely fixed tones, out of which all music is composed. And though
the series has been developed wholly by instinct, and it is only within
the last half-century that the natural laws underlying it have been
discovered, yet it has been built up so slowly and tentatively, and
with so sure and delicate a sense of its internal structure, that it
is an unsurpassable basis for complex and yet perfectly harmonious
tone-combinations. In a word, the material of music is by origin
self-congruous, fitted to clear structure, preordained to an order at
once rich and transparent.

Preordained to beauty, then, is the musician's material: and yet the
musician is not exempted from the difficulties of his brother artists.
If they work in a less plastic material, he has to govern subtler
and more wayward forces. He can attain a wonderful perfection, but
only through unremitting labor. His task is to embody the turbulent,
irrational human feelings in serene and beautiful forms. He is to
master the dominating, to reconcile the warring, to impose unity on
the diverse and the repellant. Mozart and Haydn might handle their art
with ready ease, because their emotions were naïve; but Beethoven,
who essayed to look into the stormy and tortured heart of man, found
himself involved in a travail Titanic and interminable. Nevertheless he
did succeed in harnessing the vast forces with which he deals, and his
success is as conclusive a vindication as we could desire of music's
power to deal with its profound verities. When we think of Beethoven's
immortal works, immortal both by their strength and by their beauty,
can we doubt that music expresses our deepest emotional nature with
unrivalled fullness, and yet so reconciles it with itself as to
symbolize our highest spiritual peace?

From the swelter and jungle of experience in which it is our lot
to pass our mortal days, days which philosophy cannot make wholly
rational, nor love wholly capable of service, nor religion wholly
serene, we are thus privileged to emerge, from time to time, into
fairer realms. Tantalized with an unattainable vision of order, we turn
to art, and especially to music, for assurance that our hope is not
wholly chimerical. Then

      «Music pours on mortals
      Its beautiful disdain.»

Disdainful it is, truly, because it reminds us of the discord and the
rhythmless onmarch of our days. It voices the passions that have torn
and mutilated and stung and blinded us; we meditate the foolishness,
the fatality, of our chaotic lives. But beautiful it is also; and it
has been wisely said that beauty offers us «a pledge of the possible
conformity of the soul with nature.» Music, at once disdainful and
beautiful, shows us our deepest feelings, so wayward and tragic in
experience, merged into ineffable perfection.

               Printed in the United States of America.

       *       *       *       *       *

                         TRANSCRIBER'S NOTES:

Italic text is denoted by _underscores_. The expression n^{th} represents
"nth", i. e., "n" followed by the superscript "th".

A number of words in this book have both hyphenated and non-hyphenated
variants. For the words with both variants present the one more used
has been kept.

Obvious punctuation and other printing errors have been corrected.

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