NICOLAS SLONIMSKY Writings on Music VOLUME ONE
Nicolas Slonimsky, Boston, 1927
NICOLAS SLONIMSKY Writings on Music VOLUME ONE Early Articles for the Boston Evening Transcript
Edited by Electra Slonimsky Yourke
ROUTLEDGE New York and London
Published in 2004 by Routledge 29 West 35th Street New York, NY 10001 http://www.routledge-ny.com/ Published in Great Britain by Routledge 11 New Fetter Lane London EC4P 4EE http://www.routledge.co.uk/ Copyright © 2004 by Electra Slonimsky Yourke Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group. This edition published in the Taylor & Francis e-Library, 2005. “To purchase your own copy of this or any of Taylor & Francis or Routledge’s collection of thousands of eBooks please go to http://www.ebookstore.tandf.co.uk/.” All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or uti lized in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any informa tion storage or retrieval system without permission in writing from the author. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Slonimsky, Nicolas, 1894–1995 [Selections. 2003] Nicolas Slonimsky: writings on music. p. cm. Edited by Electra Slonimsky Yourke. Includes bibligraphical references (p.) and index. ISBN 0415-96865-8 (v. 1: alk. paper) 1. Music—History and criticism. I. Yourke, Electra. II. Title. ML60.S646 2003 780–dc21 2003011569 ISBN 0-203-97028-4 Master e-book ISBN
ISBN 0-415-96865-8 (Print Edition)
published in The Boston Herald, May 5, 1926
CONTENTS Preface A Note from the Editor
Tansman’s Traits: Prodigious Youth, Prolific Composer, New Guest at the Symphony Concerts 12/28/27 Stravinskiana 2/25/28
The Avierinos’ Concert 3/22/28
By Way of Introduction [Honegger] 3/30/28
A Welcoming Hail [Casella] 4/28/28
Young Modernists Hoe Their Own Row [Copland & Sessions] 5/11/28
By His Faith, By His Work, To The End [Gilbert] 5/26/28
The Hand That Evokes Music From the Ether [Theremin] 10/2/28
From the Ether A “New” Music In New Manner [Theremin] 10/8/28
New Stirrings in Ether-Wave Music [Theremin] 10/19/28
In Arthur Honegger the Symphony Concerts Receive a Notable Guest 1/10/29
The Patient, The Doctors, The Verdicts [American music] 1/29/29
Composer, Conductor, Cosmopolite [Goossens] 2/23/29
By Innovation Shall Hearers Recognize Him [Cowell] 3/9/29
Bouncing Into Fortune’s Lap And Out Again [Dukelsky] 3/14/29
Our Jazzing, Their Jazzing, Reasons Why 4/20/29
Modernist Sprung From the Ancients [Casella] 5/28/29
The Pit They Have Hollowed for Toscanini 11/2/29
Unalloyed, Undecorated, Undiminished [Musorgsky] 11/30/29
This America Deep in His Fervent Soul [Bloch] 12/27/29
A Single Line Is Glazunovâ€™s Musical Life 1/15/30
Side-Glances at Prokofiev Now Returned 1/30/30
In Epitome The Career Of Roussel 10/23/30
Who Is Mossolov? And What Is He? 12/1/30
The Psalms and Pieties of Igor Stravinsky 12/13/30
The Strange Case of Arthur Vincent LouriĂŠ 1/3/31
Fortunate Years for Unfortunate Composer [Musorgsky] 4/11/31
With the New Concerto for Mirror [Stravinsky] 12/26/31
Florent Schmitt 11/26/32
Enter Lastly The Youngest Of the Angels [Markevitch] 4/20/33
Scientific Mind Turned on Music [Saminsky] 5/20/33
Welcome for The Incoming Modern Master [Schoenberg] 10/28/33
From the West Composer New To Bostonians [Harris] 1/24/34
Composer Who Has Clung To His Own Way [Ives] 2/3/34
Ranging Round the World of Music 11/3/34
Ranging Round the Music-World 11/17/34
Ranging Round the World of Music 1/5/35
Ranging Round the World of Music 2/9/35
Marginal Notes on The Russian Film 2/23/35
Memorandum About Unfamiliar Music 3/20/35
Ranging Round the World of Music 4/6/35
Music of Ives on New England Scene 5/4/35
Ranging Round the World of Music 6/8/35
Shostakovich, The Sovietsâ€™ Wonder Boy 11/2/35
Ranging Round the Music-World 12/35
Visitor from Mexico to Symphony Concerts [Chavez] 4/9/36
Vladimir Dukelsky, Alias Vernon Duke [date unknown]
New Placing of Rakhmaninov [date unknown]
PREFACE Fleeing revolution-torn St. Petersburg in 1918, my father, Nicolas Slonimsky, first went to Kiev, then to Yalta in the Crimea in 1920, thence to Constantinople; finally, via Bulgaria, he arrived at his intended destination, Paris, late in 1921. He was twenty-seven and, despite the revolutionary turmoil of his life to date, had made his way as a working musician. He had taught piano, accompanied singers, coached, worked as a rehearsal pianist; he wrote on musical subjects for newspapers and journals along his itinerary of flight, and he had pounded the piano in silent movie houses. In Paris, he became musical secretary to the conductor Serge Koussevitzky, joining the many émigré Russians who sparked the lively musical life of Paris. In 1923, the Russian tenor and opera director Vladimir Rosing, having received funding from George Eastman to start an opera company in Rochester, New York, invited my father to join the staff as accompanist and coach. My father accepted eagerly and boarded a transatlantic liner with his few possessions and a British book of basic language instruction. He did not speak a word of English. Undeterred, he applied his analytical skills, his knowledge of other languages, including Greek and Latin, and his musical ear to the task of mastering American English. His approach was to avoid using a dictionary and to treat the language as an “extinct dialect.” His boisterous fellow artists at the Eastman School, including the novelist Paul Horgan and the director Rouben Mamoulian, were no help—they enthusiastically adopted his mislocutions as much more fun than the correct ones. At the movies he studied the subtitles, and he treated print advertisements, which he had never seen before, as tutorials in the lingua franca. Hence, by the time Koussevitzky, now conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, invited him to leave Rochester and become the BSO’s rehearsal coach; he could also act as official bilingual secretary. His credentials, his job, and his additional independent activities as accompanist, teacher, and lecturer quickly earned him a place in the Boston “intelligentsia.” His English was fluent by then, though still accented. The Boston Evening Transcript, a daily newspaper, conceived of itself as modest, conservative, partisan, and in good taste, specializing in literature and theater. It had come into being in 1830, founded by Lynde M. Walter, a well-born graduate of Harvard University. From 1842, the Transcript was edited by the founders sister, Miss Cornelia W. Walter, called “the brilliant lady editor” by some but not by Edgar Allan Poe, who, after she criticized him, described her as “the pretty little witch.” In the 1880s, its editor was Edward Clement, known as “the Beau Brummel of Boston journalism.” With a circulation of about 17,000, it continued to emphasize the arts, especially music and drama. There is no record of how my father came to write for the Transcript, starting in 1927. His position as Koussevitzky’s secretary and musical assistant had just come to a calamitous end upon the publication of an article in the Boston Herald headlined “My Secretary Knows More Than I Do—The Boss,” for which he, among many others, had
been interviewed. But his photo was featured. He tried to explain to the maestro that the quote referred to the secretary to the President of the United Fruit Company, but to no avail. As he tells it in his autobiography, Perfect Pitch, he was summoned to the Koussevitzky home: Koussevitzky motioned me to repair to the living room, with Mrs. Koussevitzky leading the way. He proceeded to speak in measured tones as if addressing a defendant in a court of law: “I have nothing against your making extra money by playing the piano in clubs and at social functions,” he began. “But we have a right to demand that you leave my name out of your publicity.” … Then Mrs. Koussevitzky broke her silence. “Like a dirty Odessa Jew,” she remarked icily, “you are trying to pull your sordid little tricks behind Mr. Koussevitzky’s back.” Considering that Koussevitzky was himself a Jew, born nearer to Odessa than I, her remark was fantastic in its rudeness. He never saw Koussevitzky again. That was in January 1927. Thereafter he pursued musical activities of his own and, within a few short years, conducted historic concerts introducing American music to European audiences. His championing of modern American composers, Ives in particular, brought attention to them and to him. In 1933, he conducted a series of landmark concerts of modern music at the Hollywood Bowl. Although the audiences did not welcome them, he succeeded in establishing himself professionally as an important spokesman, analyst, and interpreter. The only available source in collecting the articles in this volume is his own files, now in his collection at the Library of Congress. There may have been more articles that he did not retain or that were lost over the years. Unfortunately, the Transcript microfilms are not indexed, so a search would require scrolling through hundreds of reels containing every page of the daily paper for many years. Even the undated articles included here cannot, as a practical matter, be located and properly sequenced. Most of these forty-eight Transcript articles, appearing at uneven intervals over nine years, were evidently timed for the visit of a composer to Boston or the performance of a work by the Boston Symphony. Hence they are especially interesting as contemporary analyses of composers of emerging significance. Many of the subjects proved not to be of pantheon status, making these analyses all the more rare and valuable. As firsthand records of the world of new music in Boston in the twenties and early thirties, their depth of content is surprising for what were, after all, columns for a daily newspaper. There is no record of why my father’s Transcript articles stopped in 1936. On April 23, 1941, an editorial headlined “Hail and Farewell” appeared on the front page of the Transcript. “For 111 years the Transcript has been closely interwoven with the history and traditions of Boston and America,” it read, but its circulation “has always been curtailed by the necessity of selling at a price [5 cents] higher than its immediate competitors,” rendering it less successful in attracting advertising. Accordingly, it would cease publication in seven days. In the same issue, news headlines announced that German columns had smashed through the pass at Thermopylae and surrounded the Greek army; the king and government had fled to Crete. The arts pages reported that Lillian Hellman had won the Drama Critics’ Circle award for Watch on the Rhine.
The following days’ editions were filled with mournful cries and calls for establishment of a fund to keep the Transcript in business. On April 28, the Transcript gratefully reported the enviable experience of seeing “the flowers for our own funeral,” an avalanche of suggestions for keeping the paper alive. Although contributions were received and the employees agreed to donate a portion of their wages, there was no hope of success in a reasonable time. Readers were urged to offer jobs to 225 “loyal workers.” The paper lives in the lines of T.S.Eliot:
When the evening quickens faintly in the street Wakening the appetites of life in some And to others bringing the Boston Evening Transcript… Electra Slonimsky Yourke October 2002
A NOTE FROM THE EDITOR Every article in these volumes is presented in full without any editing whatever. I have also preserved the orthography and other stylistic elements as they appeared in the original publications or manuscripts. Changes were made only in the rare instances of errors or misprints obvious to me. Accordingly, readers will encounter a wide variety of spellings, especially of Russian names, and the disparate punctuation policies of dozens of different publications. I believe that fidelity to the originals helps highlight the historic nature of these documents, and preservation of the record, warts and all, was of great importance to my father, a lover of language in all its flowerings. â€”E.S.Y.
TANSMAN’S TRAITS PRODIGIOUS YOUTH, PROLIFIC COMPOSER NEW GUEST AT THE SYMPHONY CONCERTS December 28, 1927 The Times and the Musician—From Poland to Paris— Abundance and Individuality—Years of Preparation and Years of Maturity—Ease and the Man
Composers have their fates, as do books. Music, the most abstract of all the arts, a substance taken from nowhere, or—as the recent experiments of a Russian professor purport to show—from anywhere, by means of a radio antenna and a human hand, that elusive substance seems to live a tense life of its own on the music sheet and in the concert-hall. What a riot of conflicting tendencies! What ingenuities of the creative hand! What intricacies of development, rivaling the trickiest problems in mathematics! As in science, new things are discovered, discussed, rejected, or finally accepted and put into practice. From simplicity, if not simpleness, it has evolved logically to sky-scraping edifices of sound. With the “ceiling” thus attained (to use an aviator term) the composers turned back. Simplicity, by all means, and tumbling went the stacks of musical scores. C major, if you please, and more of it. Skriabin made use of it, naively, as things now seem, in the fifty-three final measures of his “Poem of Ecstasy.” Prokofiev, too, is fond of this simplest key; and, even, the recent Martinu cannot resist the temptation and drenches his “Tumult” in its waters. The huge assemblages of sonorous instruments (and percussion!) have given way to smaller bodies (Frank Martin’s “Chamber Fox-Trot” dispensing with percussion altogether) until there are such things as Schönberg’s “Quintet,” that lymphatic piece of music which would supply an excellent musical accompaniment for H.G.Wells’s sombre vision of the earth’s declining days, with the sun half burnt and a few crustacea scattered on a forlorn beach…. Will the composers meet the inglorious end of Cratylus for whom there was but one unquestionable truth, the motion of his forefinger to and fro before his nose? Bold deeds and recantations succeed one another: only few discerning musicians can hurry slowly. Among them, one Alexander Tansman deserves attention. He is unafraid. He is old-fashioned. He writes music in consecrated forms. He puts to use his native Polish folk tunes. What is more, he expresses himself, and not merely a current idea…. Tansman was born in Lodz, a prosperous town of the erstwhile Russian Poland. He disclosed a sensitive ear for music at an age when babes make their first attempt to imitate the spoken word. Able teachers (Russia never lacked them) gave him first
instruction in the piano and initiated him into the elementary notions of musical science. At nine he was already engaged in serious composition. He rapidly traversed the paths of his early gods. Grieg gave him purity of design and bequeathed to him heed for folktunes as the most genuine material for musical work. Chopin taught him how to use the form of sublimated dance and demonstrated that embellishments, turns and figurations are not merely a musical accessory. Strauss and Skriabin brought him up to date (that is up to that date, before the cataclysm). A full-fledged musician, he produced a “Symphonic Serenade” for strings, the first of his compositions to be played in public. He was fifteen then and was working joyously, passing, one after another, through all the necessary stages of musical development. Tansman’s first notable success was the winning of all the three prizes at the Polish National Contest in 1919. The news reached him through the daily papers; in the spirit of joyous celebration he tossed his hat on his walkingstick and dashed madly through the streets of Warsaw. Before long he was on his way to Paris, at the time the capital of the musical world, by virtue of some uncodified treaty of Versailles. Ravel and Stravinsky were working there; he submitted himself to their influences, but later emerged from their crucibles invigorated and not effaced. Not unlike Chopin a century before him, he brought to Paris a wealth of his native melodies and soon became a musical plenipotentiary of Poland in the Western World. It was almost without effort that Tansman acquired full mastery over musical forms and orchestration. Then he found his voice and proceeded to speak with an accent quite his own. Accumulating organ-points, descending sevenths, ostensible fifths, and all-butsyncopated rhythms (often on a single note) are unmistakable shibboleths of Tansman. His three-sectioned forms, his songful flutes and sharply detached trumpets (he delights in referring to them in diminutive terms) make up the well-defined cast of his musical countenance. He once wrote to entertain some friends; it was a series of pieces “a la manière de—.” But “la manière” turned out to be Tansman himself, invariably. The joke was on the composer. Tansman does not shun polytonality, plain and outspoken; he is particularly fond of the combination of two opposing keys, say C major and F-sharp major. His “Etude Scherzo” is written frankly in this two-keyed tonality. By the way, why is it that the opposite keys (in the circle of scales) blend so well? Liszt all but united them; Stravinsky mated them in the magnificent pageantry of “Petrushka.” No composer has since been able to resist the enchantment of this firstling of polytonality. Tansman writes with amazing ease and speed. It is no extraordinary feat for him to toss together five Preludes in two hours and a half for an “occasion.” His manuscripts are the delight of the printers; hardly any considerable change marks the transition from the first draft to the second and final copy. If the results do not come up to his expectation he does not hesitate to throw the whole thing overboard or put the jetsam to other use. Thus an ill-born first movement of his Symphony in A minor becomes an Overture Symphonique and is played with this title at a Concert Straram in Paris, while the revision speeds on its way to catch up with the three ulterior movements that repose in the composers portfolio. Tansman has to his credit a symphony, an opera, a ballet, two piano-concertos, three quartets, three violin-sonatas, numerous orchestral and piano-pieces, and also songs. He plays the piano, lectures, writes. His fluent knowledge of five languages and a smattering
of a few others give him a requisite background for a man of culture. He had his thirtieth birthday last Juneâ€Ś. Somehow or other it is characteristic of our time to produce men that work and live with ease and elegance. Knowledge is no longer a product of hard labor. The romantic heaviness and tragedy of a composerâ€™s life has gone into fiction along with the bright-hued coats and unkempt locks.
STRAVINSKIANA February 25, 1928 A Note Here, a Note There About the Composer of “Oedipus”
An ancient theory teaches us that human life moves in spirals; each constituent circle comprises a period of seven years during which man undergoes a metamorphosis so complete that not even the tiniest tissue of the body remains unchanged. Infancy, adolescence, maturity mark transitions, until the apogee is reached. Then, the decline begins in narrowing curves. An equally ancient theory perceives a thread of continuity through these changing aspects. The conflict of an ever-present essence and everchanging attributes has led to many a philosophical dispute and disclosed many a valuable truth. It is particularly revealing to study the evolution of a great mind; the general tendency, magnified a hundredfold in its concave mirror, affords a better scrutiny of the concomitant processes filled with brusque turns, sudden retreats, and striking apostasies. It is not paradoxical to proclaim an ultimate self-denial as the logical outcome of a great career. The law of change holds its own. With these preliminaries, we approach a work that causes us to wonder, an operaoratorio by the illustrious Stravinsky, freshly submitted to critical opinion. This is Stravinsky of 1927, sharply divergent from the Stravinsky of 1920, which latter is diametrically opposed to the Stravinsky of 1913. We shall not seek for dates previous, lest we grope and fumble in vain, finding but a name. “Œdipus Rex” is written to the text by Jean Cocteau—Jean Cocteau of 1927, Catholic and mythologist. He has run the gamut of human infatuations, embracing a faith which, to the over-cynical may appear as his latest perversity. Jean Cocteau is anxious to narrate to the world a story well known; of things dead, he would speak in a dead language. Latin is the Esperanto of the true Catholic—but Cocteau’s proselytism is of recent date and his schooldays remote. Therefore Monsieur Danielou is intrusted with the task of translation, mindful of the audiences that may be shy of classical learning. Cocteau retranslates Danielou’s ecclesiastical Latin into telegraphic French and assigns the part of the Interpreter to a “speaker.” The Latin diction is carefully supervised; the performers are advised against minor mouse-traps and admonished to harden the consonants, replace the dental “c” by the gutteral “k,” sound a broad “u.” Precursory notes and half-authenticated comments point out Stravinsky’s return to the classicism of Handel. But the score reveals landscapes much more distant in time. We are suddenly carried as if with Andersen’s magical snowshoes, into the midst of churchly musicians that struggle in the confinement of their cells for the fresh air of plain harmony. This coarse, warpy matter, these crude clumsy “tone-clusters,” these rapidly converging motets and stiff-sewn canons, these immovable turgid basses and repetitious discords, this incredible rigidity of style, harks back to the polymelodic era when music
was in a nascent state, when Palestrina was being born. An innocence of all accumulated wisdom is so ingeniously recreated in “Œdipus” that we are inclined to wonder whether the composer, on seeing the blind alley into which contemporary music has apparently strayed, had not determined to start all over again. … We can readily visualize the score, beautifully copied, in gothically shaped neumes, on that indestructible parchment which by some freak of fashion has lately found its way into music-loving American homes wherein it provides an atmospheric screening for lamp-shades. A masterpiece may yet be discovered in these translucent antiques…. Stravinsky is an individual force that by virtue of many circumstances and coincidences has become a great power in art. His seditious ardor has won an easy victory over the decadent patricians at Debussyan sea. The war came close on top of “Le Sacre du Printemps”—some say because of the Sacre. Peace followed directly after “Ragtime.” Stravinsky “divined” the war as well as the subsequent ragtime, according to the illuminati. A Belgian soldier-musician actually had a vision of the earth dancing to Stravinsky’s music during the last German offensive. It was symbolical of the times after the war that Stravinsky should abandon larger forms of composition. In 1922, he disclosed his “Mavra,” a curious bouillabaisse of oldfashioned arias, slovenly harmonized with superimposed tonic and dominant chords in profusion. One of the critics, an intelligent and independent brain, expressed the belief that “Mavra” was Stravinsky’s first failure. Promptly, he received a rebuke from the composer, for Stravinsky was never diplomatic enough to “rise above” adverse, or unjust, criticisms. Then, two years later, the Octet appeared. At first, the front row of musical busybodies was perplexed but it quickly deciphered the handwriting on the wall. “Le Maître dit,” declared a bellwether, “and we have naught but to listen.” The ill-starred Cassandra of Stravinsky’s “first failure” dipped his quill into the ink of penitence and swore allegiance. Dictatorship was thus established. A few extant contrapuntal pundits protested, but their dissenting voices were drowned in the general clamor. The noisiest of them all was that turbulent tribe of impressionable young men that go hitchhiking on the chariot of each current deity. They supplied the necessary crowd-effect. Stravinsky’s laboratory, whether it happens to be Biarritz, Monte Carlo or some other sunny spot, is well guarded against intruders. Few, if any, know what goes on there; what will next issue from his test-tubes. Rumors are plentiful, however. A cunning spy would report seeing Stravinsky with the score of Bizet’s “Carmen” under his arm, which may mean the lifting of the ban from the conventional operatic forms. Five years ago the intelligence forces were poorly organized and Stravinsky stirred up considerable commotion when he suddenly took up the defense of the well-buried Chaikovsky. The latter’s mediocre ballet, “The Sleeping Beauty,” was produced by Diaghilev, and properly condemned by the umpires of artistic elegances, reflecting, incidentally, upon Stravinsky. There was a great excitement when he publicly approved the revival, adding that he himself derives heritage from that bard of the melancholy rather than from the constructive Russian Nationalists. Stravinsky once dubbed Ravel a Swiss watchmaker, for the excessive nicety of his musical machinery. If the gentle Frenchman were as sharp-tongued, he would retaliate by likening Stravinsky to a Levantine alchemist, canny searcher for the Philosopher’s Stone that would enable him to turn base metals into gold; for that purpose one might have
Latinized him, Stravinius. Strange vapors rise from the experimenter’s muffle-furnace, assuming wondrous forms. Homunculuses emerge from the doors and mingle with unsuspecting humanity. Unseemly, as some of the resulting composts may be, yet time and again crystals of piercing beauty are shaped therefrom. The prime matter may be inert, but it is quickened by the wizard’s touch. In the words of the thinker: “Genius is the activity which repairs the decays of things.” And behold, through lifeless forms, there shines the fluorescent light of resurrection.
THE AVIERINOS’ CONCERT March 22, 1928 Debut in Boston, Where He Now Lives and Works, of a Russian with a Past as Well as a Present—Memories and Experiences—A Chamber-Program, Well Made and Well Played
There is a strange discrepancy between the living picture of history in the making and the smooth record in the classified accounts. We see a big parade of “heroes,” but their companions who have inadvertently missed the opportunity to deliver a historic phrase or fire the first shot are refused admittance. There’s nothing to be said about them. Yet even the stern British lawmakers speak of the “incorporeal hereditaments” and place them alongside the marketable heirlooms. Modern biographers—our recent visitors Emil Ludwig for one, André Maurois for another—boldly inquired into the living soul of the past in order to restore the balance. On their pages the Valhalla of the great was enriched by a picturesque legion of “the unknown.” The obsolescent magic lantern gave way to the cinematographic camera, the still picture began to move. The nineteenth century—how remote it seems to us now!—still yields first-hand information. Among us—right here in Boston—there lives a man who is a personified Thesaurus of facts and events of the last forty years of music. He is Nicolas Avierino, a name well known among the Russian musical intelligentsia, less known outside his country. A “companion of the great,” his claim to note lies in the qualities that cannot always be turned to gold. He has composed no voluminous scores: proffered no novel theories; startled foreign capitals with no daring interpretations (that confounded word!). Yet he is by no means a “might have been.” His life is as abundant in accomplishments as it is rich in color. Born in Taganrog, the home-town of Anton Chekhov, in southern Russia, he disclosed inherent musical abilities at a very early age. The violin was the instrument that he, or rather his parents, chose for him. He was sixteen when Chaikovsky came to town to conduct a concert of his own music. Chaikovsky’s brother, who was engaged there as the managing director of a prosaic steamship company, had long been friendly with Avierino’s family. He arranged what now would be called an “audition” (the times were simpler then); Chaikovsky was impressed with the young Avierino’s talent and offered him a scholarship at the Moscow Conservatory. There, under Chaikovsky’s wing, Avierino completed his musical education. Later he married Chaikovsky’s god-daughter, whose father was the eminent writer and critic, Laroche. The musical strain in Avierino’s family is continued in his own daughter, Olga Avierino, rare example of a singermusician. Avierino recalls an instance of the innate kind-heartedness of Chaikovsky. The janitor’s boy, aged seven, was in the habit of making Chaikovsky’s working table his
playground. One day when Avierino called on him. Chaikovsky announced his decision to go to Klin—his summer house—where he could work undisturbed. (He was then completing the orchestration of the Sixth Symphony.) “But who dares to disturb you here?” questioned Avierino in righteous indignation. “Why, Egorka,” (which was the name of the obstructive boy) replied the composer of “The Pathetic.” He was visibly perplexed at Avierino’s suggestion that a good kick would suffice to solve the problem. At the Conservatory Avierino met a bashful lad in the uniform of a marine-cadet. The boy was studying composition, also the piano. One day, Avierino’s teacher, the famous and redoubtable Grzimali, could not find anyone to accompany at the lesson. Avierino called in his friend, but the lad pitiably failed to read the simple chords at sight. “What? Is he sick or crazy? The poor wretch has no notion about music!” The boys name was Alexander Skriabin. In the gallery of Nicolas Avierino’s memory are arrayed in a splendid line Chaikovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, Arensky, Cui, Glazunov, Medtner, Skriabin, Taneiev, Rakhmaninov. Avierino heard Anton Rubinstein improvise and play for the gratification of his friends. He epitomizes Rubinstein’s power in these few words: “When he played well, it was sublime; when he played badly, it was abominable.” He also asserts that he heard Rubinstein make a crescendo on a single note! Avierino holds the distinction of being the first professional viola-player in Russia. Yes, viola-players used to be recruited from the ranks of retired violinists. In 1905, Avierino, who was then teaching at the Moscow Philharmonic, wished to form a quartet. Two violinists and a ’cello-player of first magnitude joined him; Avierino took up the viola, which later brought him well-deserved laurels. As a viola-player he made an extensive tour through Russia with Shalyapin. Two years before the war Avierino was appointed Director of the Conservatory at Rostov. He disclosed uncommon executive ability, and the Conservatory was well on the road to prosperity when the war and revolution put an end to peaceful activities. Avierino followed the itinerary of Russian exiles and ultimately established two homes with an ocean between them: Paris and Boston. At Symphony Hall, those who would see, if not hear Mr. Avierino, may descry him in the viola-section of the orchestra’s farthest point east. Last night, at Steinert Hall, Mr. Avierino made his first public appearance hereabouts. The program was arranged in two contrasting halves: Bach and the Russians. The sixth Brandenburg Concerto for two violas, two violas da gamba, ’cello and bass, was probably a “first time in Boston.” Mr. Avierino’s colleagues from the Symphony, Messrs. Bernard Zighera, Droeghmans, Marjollet and Lemaire, assisted him. How powerfully did Bach write for instruments of deeper voices! How miraculously did he dispose of the difficulties of writing within a close range! The Concerto was given a faithful performance—each composing voice was brought out with dignity and discretion; each player was alive to the meaning of the music as a whole. There was more of Bach: Mr. Avierino played the famous caiconna, transposed a fifth lower to suit the instrument. Mr. Avierino knows the secret of the true viola sound; he never “goes fiddle”; accordingly, his playing was full-bodied, rich in undertones, wellpoised. A man of impeccable taste, he gave style as well as tone. For Bach “con cembalo” the brothers Zighera played a sonata questionably named for “piano” and viola da gamba. The seven strings of that hot-house instrument are as familiar to Alfred Zighera as is the fingerboard of his ’cello. Bernard Zighera is as expert
The avierinos' concert 3/22/28
in striking the piano-keys as he is in plucking the harp-strings. Alfred on the viola da gamba evokes all the excellence of ’cello tones; Bernard’s piano-playing has something of the style glorified by Wanda Landowska: it is both delicate and rhythmically impelling. The precision in team-work of the two brothers brought obvious delight. An intermission came, and then Madame Olga Avierino sang. Her appearance was nothing short of a revelation. What a glorious voice! In the songs of her own land, sung in her native language, she unfolded a magnificent panorama of warm, bright, rich colors. Wistfulness and joy, fear and abandon, song and recital—all found expression in her singing, while her voice flowed forth in an evermoving stream…. With the excep-tion of Nina Koshetz, there are few Russian voices equaling that of Olga Avierino. Mr. Avierino finished the concert with a group of viola-pieces, some of them borrowed from the violin-repertoire, one arranged by Mr. Avierino himself; others original. A piece like Arends’ concertino may appear obsolescent if not entirely out of date. Yet, the metallic sound of Mr. Avierino’s viola made it endurable for the ear. Mr. Avierino was recalled, as was Madame Olga Avierino before him. There was as much enthusiasm as a half-filled hall of small dimensions could muster. The concert served a noble purpose—the profits are to go to Home and School Visitors Association. Those who missed the concert can see, if not hear, Mr. Avierino at the Symphony: viola section, farthest point east.
BY WAY OF INTRODUCTION March 30, 1928 Parisian Anecdotes and Other Amiable Personalia About Arthur Honegger, Composer of “King David,” at Symphony Hall Next Sunday—From “Bad Boy” of “The Six” to Present Place as Highly Reputed Musician
Many an engaging biography has been spoiled by a premature regeneration of the hero. Nearly all famous persons start on their careers as “enfants terribles.” With the tumultuous twenties behind them, a tangible menace of respectability begins to loom. And it was well said that, contrasted to that horrid state, even the dastardly profession of the Pirates of Penzance would appear “comparatively honest.” Only when senility comes along, flaunting a beard à la G.B.S. or Trader Horn, does the whilom bad boy resume his earlier practices—this time as a “viellard terrible.” Thus, Arthur Honegger was once severely chastised for disobedience to the musical legislators, to be later brought into the limelight of admiration. In January, 1920, Comœdia, a Parisian daily paper that combines the news of the arts with naively undisguised commercialism, printed a story about six young people in search of new ways in music. This article gave vogue to Milhaud, Honegger, Poulenc, Auric, Durey and Germaine Tailleferre. It was a chance combination. If at the gathering in Milhaud’s rooms, to which Cocteau brought the critics of Comœdia, there had been one more young musician, history would have known “The Seven.” As it was those present became “The Six” and had to hang together thereafter for fear to be hanged separately. For, a fullbasement feuilleton in a Parisian art-paper was not a matter to be scoffed at. Anyhow, the six had been—and have remained till this day—excellent friends. They did not have to proclaim their flagrant differences, and at least one of them, Durey, was saved from obscurity by his presence at the party. Arthur Honegger soon unsheathed his claws. The bad boy of 1920 became “the popular idol” in 1924. “King David,” produced in Paris under the leadership of Robert Siohan, obviously appealed to the clean and the unclean musically; while en masse both applauded. The consuls gave Honegger a suspectful “once over.” The legend of “The Six” had already been “debunked;” but Honegger stood firmly on his feet, with his “Pacific” starting on a world-tour, his oratorios shouting joy in brazen fanfares. Honegger is no Stravinsky. In his choral music any collation with Stravinsky’s “Œdipus Rex” must be rejected without reservations. Stravinsky has formed his present idiom through a series of highly interesting and, at times, mysterious transformations; whereas Honegger has carried on the traditions. He does not cross the Pyrenees with Debussy and Ravel in quest of exotic flavors. His Muse is healthy, red-cheeked, fullbodied. He outpours joy as naturally as a whale spouts a geyser of salty water. Honegger
By way of introduction [Honegger] 3/30/28
is a poet of victory—and the list of his works gives little food to the anatomists of melancholy. The horoscope of a composer may be easily cast by this simple query: “How do you like your trumpets?” Ravel prefers them muted, unobtrusive and velvetcovered. Stravinsky (before “Œdipus”) scorns them—a phrase crying for valves and pistons he would give—in “The Nightingale”—to the piano obbligato! But Honegger prefers trumpets in their delicious impudence and lets them loose. A “Horace Victorieux” cannot be victorious without fanfares, a “Chant de Joie” is not joyful without the towering upper register of half a dozen cornets! In Hebrew times instrumental speech was confined to trumpets and harps, and the power of the brass was crushing. Did not the walls of Jericho fall in sunder when a full brass-band was blown against them? Honegger’s “return” to the classical themes has never been an act of devotion or premeditation. His “King David,” as well as the subsequent “Judith,” was written to order. Mezières, a little village in Switzerland, contained a theater, or rather a stage, built of pine planks, sheltered from the elements by a sort of canopy. There was a pit for the musicians. The performances passed in rustic informality, spectators spreading all about the natural scenery, the directors announcing the beginning of the next act by loud buglecalls. Hence, by necessity, the fanfares of “Judith.” Food was also served, and Honegger who came occasionally to conduct was once seen directing with a sandwich clutched in the palm of his left hand. He also took delight in catapulting prune-pits at The Narrator. For Honegger is given to hilarity tempered by a sense of humor. After the success of “Pacific” he has never missed an opportunity to shake hands with the engineer of the trains on the Paris-Lyons-Mediterannée line. One of the brothers Morax, who owned the Mezières Theater, was—back in 1920—in need of orchestral accompaniment to a “dramatic psalm” in five parts. He consulted Ansermet, the musician and conductor. Ansermet suggested Honegger, and Stravinsky endorsed the idea. But Honegger’s whereabouts were unknown. A letter containing the offer was sent in care of Darius Milhaud and, after several postal peregrinations, reached the addressee. Honegger was then in financial straits and willingly agreed to undertake the job for a sum of five hundred Swiss francs (less than a hundred American dollars). There was not much of an orchestra to write for; a sole double-bass represented the string section. But wind instruments were sufficient in number. Honegger did wonders of adaptability; the choruses went down on paper first; the scant orchestration followed between Feb. 25 and April 28 of the year 1921 (without benefit of the leap-year day!) the score was written, the commission fulfilled. In 1923, Honegger reorchestrated the whole thing for the Paris performance. But the trail of the woodland orchestra of Mezières was not entirely effaced from the new score, and the soloing double-bass still stood in evidence recalling the times of its splendid isolation. Honegger has now become a recognized master of music. His progress is that of natural evolution. He is, perhaps, the only composer (elders aside) that withstands the pressure of Stravinsky. The time may be not distant when Honegger will become the torch-bearer of the modernist tradition and with it receive all the blessings—and all the curses that such high light and leading inevitably entail.
An article as clipped and preserved by Slonimsky. His collected papers are now housed at the Library of Congress, Washington, DC.
A WELCOMING HAIL April 28, 1928 Alfredo Casella Comes a Second Time to Lead The Pops
The spirit of the age is not easily caught and embottled. Contemporary observers have not developed that sixth sense which enables us to subscribe a common denominator to the confusing variety of events. The right to judge is therefore handed to posterity and in its name the warring factions assert their respective truths. The conflicting tendencies of today will be properly pigeonholed by scholarly lexicographers of 2000 and the “Twentieth Century Style” will rise in the splendor of learned definitions. The dead ballast—the poor unsuspecting living corpses!—will be pitched ingloriously out of the window. Only few lucky ones will inherit the earth of future cinephonographic encyclopedias. Who will dare to question the inscrutability of the generations to come? In our own right, being posterior to the romanticists of the past century, we take the bench. Berlioz, assembling the opinion of his time, had once uttered—in a single breath—the names of Chopin, Schumann and Kalkbrenner. We all know by now that Kalkbrenner got into the company by an optical error. It would take courage to resuscitate Kalkbrenner’s music. It takes as much courage to denounce the unfathomable boredom of Berlioz’s own major works. The greatest virtue of the twentieth century style in music appears—to the coeval eye—to reside in its changeful spirit. All styles, from bare primitivity, through grotesque inflation, down to affected simplicity are present. The very idea of the necessity of being consistent begins to lose ground. Younger elements feel the ozonizing breeze of the times and drift gently along its course—the pilot’s stick well in hand, the engine pulsating in strong beats. Boston now greets a man in whom the searching spirit of our times seems to have found its expression. Alfredo Casella comes to us as conductor of the Popular Concerts of the Symphony Orchestra. These concerts under his direction, have assumed a dignity undiminished by “refreshments served between the numbers.” Nay they have almost become educational. All ages, all styles, all tastes are presented, the personality of the conductor permeating the whole. Casella began to study music at the age of four. At eight he knew all of Bach’s Suites, Preludes and Fugues. This early acquaintance left an ineffaceable trace in his mind. When the cry “Back to Bach” became the fashion of the moment, Casella had nothing to remodel in his musical make-up. Music was not the only lore that tempted Casella. From “childhood’s happy days” he was interested in chemistry and electrical engineering. His scientific bent was later disclosed in his book, “Evolution of Music”—a unique and absorbing work unfolding the progress of musical thought from the famous “Messe des
fous” of the thirteenth century up to the last compositions of the modern school, Casella himself included. Casella’s evolutionary course has traversed—within the twenty-odd years of his activities—at least four different methods of music-making. His own country justly claims him as national composer. His “Italia,” his songs to the texts in dialect, his early symphonies, reverberate native tunes and rhythms. But not in vain has Casella received Parisian education. As citizen of the musical world at large, he left not a corner unexplored. He knew the lure of blatant polytonality; in his “Pages of War” (with the subtitle “Five Films”) he piled Pelion upon Olympus and Ossia upon Pelion to describe the march of German armies through Belgium. Atonality, as free play of tones, was also the object of Casella’s researches—to be abandoned after it proved barren. Long before Stravinsky Casella turned back to the companions of his youth—the great Johann-Sebastian and his Italian contemporaries. The “Partita” was the product of this renewed interest in the good old wine of the past. Sprinkled with a scoopful of modernity, it presents a classic example of synthetic style. The unflagging logic of the development deserves a special study. The combinational of each musical atom is strictly observed; the symmetry of composing elements is crystal-like, Boston is as yet waiting to hear “Scarlattiana,” in which the composer has enlarged and glorified the essentials of the Italian master. Casella’s manifold activities have brought him fame as pianist of the very first rank, as conductor, as composer. Fewer know him as eloquent writer. Yet, his little book on Stravinsky (written in a delightful Florentine style), his truly remarkable notes in the “Evolution of Music,” his frequent contributions to the publications of both continents make him a person of high standing in the literary world. In his versatile mastery of various arts and sciences, Casella appears real forerunner of a second Renaissance. Specialization in our times has reached the peak of absurdity. We are hav-ing experts in finishing touches with no knowledge of fundamentals; wine-testers ignorant of laws of chemistry. Soon we will have great masters of “pianissimo” or builders of stupendous climaxes or geniuses of slow movements to whom any other form of expression is a closed book. Leonardo da Vinci was versatile, because versatility then was the companionate trait of genius. An artist then was not only a producer but also a maker. To play a ready-made fiddle is commendable and pleasurable. To invent a fiddle belongs to the truly great. Alfredo Casella is a maker of music as well as a producer. As such he stirs and differentiates the musical progress of our times. All those who seek broader outlook will join in the welcoming chorus “Ave, Casella, Bostoniensi Te Salutant!”
YOUNG MODERNISTS HOE THEIR OWN ROW May 11, 1928 Mr. Copland and Mr. Sessions Arrange Novel Series of Concerts in New York
Modern music has availed itself of a “Salon des Independents.” An obscure theater— Edyth Totten’s in New York—is its site, “The Copland-Sessions Concerts of Contemporary Music,” its official title. It is fitting that these two energetic and gifted makers of new music should head such an enterprise. Holding apart from somewhat spectacular exhibitions of the League of Composers and similar organizations, yet complementing and enhancing these occasions, the Copland-Sessions concerts have been set afoot “in the interests of the younger generation of American composers.” But—the editorial note of the program cautiously warns—“Youth will be interpreted in the most elastic sense.” Likewise, one ought not be too particular about American exclusivity, for, as the same note avers, “an occasional European work of corresponding interest may be included.” Finally, dismissing the bothersome notions of “young” and “American,” the two authors of the series—both unmistakably young and American—declare that “the only criteria in the choice of material will be excellence of promise”—the most latitudinarian statement ever made in any chart of liberties. They were seven—the composers arrayed at the Second Concert of Contemporary Music on May 6. Unlike the demons of Prokofiev’s weird incantation they were genial, well meaning, and, in the case of one or two, naive in their earnestness. To be sure, Mr. Copland and Mr. Sessions towered so conspicuously over the heads of the rest of the group that it must have brought painful discomfort to their modest selves. Mr. Copland contributed “Two Pieces for String Quartet,” a confusing heading for two movements of which one, Rondino, is dated 1923 and the other, Lento Molto, was finished just in time for the first rehearsal of this concert. The Rondino was delightful to hear—sneer as the composer may at the distant date. Free interplay of rhythms, yet in conformity with the austere requirements of the form, melodic invention of poesy and humor, imparted that balance of musical pulsations that is too rarely achieved by creative musicians. On the other hand, the last-minute Lento harked back to the composers “Music for the Theater,” with hardly a touch of well-calculated innovation. Here Mr. Copland was again a poet. He takes a simple figure of four notes—a descending second, a skip, an ascending second—and works wonders passing it from the ’cello to the viola, from the viola to the violins in turn, while the triad of a purity that seems to be fresh-found accompanies each entrance of the theme. Mr. Sessions handed in a Sonata for Piano in four cemented movements played without pause by Mr. John Duke, two slow Andantes enfolding an Allegro a Vivo as
Coda. The Vivo was not heard—because the composer had not finished it in time for the concert. Instead an ending was affixed to the second Andante to fit the piece for public hearing. Once more Mr. Sessions shows himself a persistent and scholarly searcher for a new style that is to supplant the combustion and ruin of the shattered system of polytonality. The chastest melody imaginable opens the Andante, the laciest accompanying figure gives it flesh; only an acid inflection now and then reveals the hand that pulls the string. Equally transparent is the Allegro; the second Andante is a recapitulation. Thus a new synthetic style is being built. Roger Sessions is more than qualified to be one of the chief masons. Robert Delaney a young Californian and a pupil of Nadia Boulanger, proffered a Sonata for Violin and Piano in which Mr. Copland played the piano-part. In the witty words of a discerning musician who had seen the manuscript in advance the worth of the music lies in its negative qualities: that is, the composer does not do things that are not good; does not fall into banality; guards himself from obvious imitations. But there the music remains a sketchy, bristling succession of notes leading nowhere. As a display of skill it is interesting. Richard Buhlig, who first memorizes any pianistic nonsense and then gives it off powerfully, played a group of piano pieces by Ruth Crawford, Adolph Weiss and D. Rudhyar. Miss Crawford, a composer from Chicago, was anything but feminine in the rough-and-tumble of the “Lento, tempo rubato” and “Leggiero.” Did she know the East, she would have realized that her musical manners are slightly out of date. Otherwise, she seems to be not without perspicacity and there may be a chance for her in the future. Mr. Weiss is a well-equipped and thoroughly educated musician. He knows what he is talking about. There is also a scheme to his rather bewildering inventions. Perhaps, that is why his Four Preludes would appear more interesting to the eye than to the ear. Beyond any doubt, the music has constructive elements that will eventually serve some lofty purpose. As yet it is still preparatory. One is at a loss when confronted with the Three Paeans by Mr. Rudhyar, the one elder composer in the list. The titles: “With Joyous Exaltation,” “Epic and Resonant,” “With Rhythmic Fullness” are aggressive, and the high artillery of theosophy (on the printed copy of the music) blinds a surprised spectator and puts him to flight. At a safe distance, one cannot help being rude. This kind of music is a Naught raised to the Nth power. It does not even burst like the fabled frog; brings no relief to the strain. Last on the program stood a Quintet for Piano and Strings (in one movement) by Master W.Quincy Porter, a pupil of Ernest Bloch. To many it bore promise and disclosed more excellence than any other piece of the evening, Mr. Copland’s and Mr. Sessions’s excepted. The slow introduction had distinction, valor, dignity of the leading line. The faster middle-part went in lively, sharp-edged rhythms: the return to the slower movement (a fast section wedged between two quiet parts, according to modern habit in vogue since Honegger’s first Violin Sonata) was worked out without slackening or lowering the pitch. The handling of the instruments was excellent. To be sure, over the entire stretch of the music Ernest Bloch’s spiritual ectoplasm was clearly observable. At first he infuses his pupils with his own personality; then gently releases them as soon as they show the signs of growth encouraging them in their independent steps. Thus Roger Sessions had written “Masques” as Bloch’s pupil, and a few years later asserted himself in the Symphony. Similarly, by all logic supported by precedents, W.Quincy Porter must
Young modernists hoe their own row [Copland & Sessions] 5/11/28
find his own Parnassus, George Antheil was the only pupil that cheated his teacher, and went astray into the noisy realm of front-page publicity. Bloch publicly disowned him. The Copland-Sessions Concerts have a significance far beyond the value of the music played last Sunday. The house was nearly sold out, which means that there are several hundred persons actively interested in modern music. They also mark the beginning of a consistent propaganda led by composers themselves. With the public beginning to take notice in new music the day is not distantâ€”know all men by these presents!â€”when modern music will reach the longed-for stage of self-support.
BY HIS FAITH, BY HIS WORK, TO THE END May 26, 1928 From the Pen of a Friend, The Mind, Habits, Life, of Henry Gilbert
When death comes there also comes a new realization. Small events, random remarks, chance meetings assume a new and illuminating significance. The character of the man appears clear and complete: Ecce Homo! Henry Gilbert died on May 19 in his native Cambridge where he was born sixty years ago. The Germans called him Uramerikaner, the primeval American composer. Many, on this side, call him the Walt Whitman of American music, a courageous and uncompromising pioneer. His life was a series of picturesque adventures, ennobled by constant striving towards the aim which he had set out to attain: to compose some American music. He was a national composer from conviction, not out of false patriotism. For this he fought valiantly, armed with an unflinching sense of self-assertion and equally strong capacity of reflective criticism. An exquisite sense of humor saved him from both the immoderate elation at a success and mortifying despondency at a failure. He was whittling his tunes out of the products of this American earth; he set up his structure with the hand of a man stubbornly devoted to his cause. He lived to see the victory; American music, steadily growing, gaining universal recognition. His perception was never dimmed by partiality. He was of old stock; modern deviltries were out of his ken. Yet he welcomed Copland, who came from an entirely different America; he thought that Cowell was “mathematics,” but willingly admitted certain virtues even in this bewildering innovator. In his judgments he was naturally discerning, unprejudiced and openminded. He publicly declared that he was out of sympathy with the moderns. But he would refer to his own compositions as to “A. B. C. music”—and there was a derisive admission that the “devilishly clever” moderns had something on him. There were many among those assembled at the funeral who knew Henry Gilbert intimately and jostled with him cheek by jowl from boyhood on. At the request of Mrs. Gilbert they spoke and also read his favorite poet, Walt Whitman. Henry Gilbert’s life unfolded itself in these reminiscences. He grew up in Massachusetts, his family escutcheon dates as far back as 1640, where a Humprey Gilbert was registered at Ipswich. He was also descended from Lieutenant Ezekiel Belknap of Revolutionary fame. Both of his parents were musicians; his father—Benjamin F.Gilbert—was a composer and organist; his mother—Therese A.Gilson-Gilbert—a singer. She still lives in the same house where Gilbert, his wife and their two daughters have lived. Hoary with
By his faith, by his work, to the end [Gilbert] 5/26/28
age, she was spared the ordeal of knowledge of her son’s death; nor does she possess sufficient mental strength to hear, to see and to understand. As a boy, Gilbert was keenly interested in natural history. He would by hours chase butterflies or pry into the mysteries of plant life. The infinite variety of life fascinated him. He was an early thinker—at the age of ten he attended one of the performances by the celebrated Ole Bull, that same Ole Bull who long before Prokofiev’s “Quintet,” for thirteen instruments successfully executed quartets and trios with but one assistant “presiding at the Piano Forte.” The young Gilbert determined then to play the violin; his grandfather obligingly contrived for him a home-made Stradivarius, with an old cigarbox for the body and a piece of light wood for fingerboard. Gilbert taught himself to play and when the heavy hand of necessity forced him into the open, he became a professional violinist. He played at hotels and in small theaters—on one occasion even at an insane asylum. In one of these places he met a Wagnerian soprano who overheard him play something from Lohengrin. She suggested that he should study with Edward MacDowell, the American composer, who was then in Europe receiving inspiration from Grieg and Liszt. Going to Europe was entirely out of question; but by a fortunate freak of chance, MacDowell felt oppressed by nostalgia, and decided to return to America, where he joined the staff of the New England Conservatory at Boston. Promptly Gilbert applied for instruction and constituted himself MacDowell’s first American pupil. A composer’s life in the gay nineties was not the frivolous dalliance of Parisian smart boys of 1928. Under the pressure of circumstances, Gilbert was compelled to seek employment. For ten subsequent years he had worked in the printing establishment of his uncle and in the office of the C.C.Birchard Company. During these years he never grew sullen or lost courage, but, perforce, relegated music into the realm of luxury. In 1901 he was stirred by the reports of a novel opera where mob-scenes were enacted: it was “Louise” by Charpentier. Gilbert would not have been Gilbert if he had not acted as he did. Obeying a desire long suppressed, he embarked on a cattleboat that took him over, went to Paris, heard the opera, and at the top gallery of the Opera Comique gave a solemn vow to become a composer. He came back and set up his lodgings in a barn at Quincy, Mass. The barn was occupied, beside himself, by a horse and a cow. But after a while the cow departed (she probably was sold) and the horse went crazy and had to be shot. “No wonder,” Gilbert would add facetiously, “the sounds emitted by the piano I had installed there were anything but soothing.” It is indeed a rare occurrence that a mere determination to become a composer should be realized. Gilbert could not help falling short of his ultimate aims: too many obstacles were blocking his way; continuous, nagging penury was not the least of them. He had to plow a virgin field, was ushered into his profession by no solicitous teachers. Yet seen from a different angle, his achievement seems to have reached far beyond the mark set by himself. He has succeeded in saying his vigorous say; he has blazed a new path, disclosed the virtues of a music that is American. Against MacDowell’s Grieg-like gentleness he “sounded his barbaric yawp.” The genuineness of his powerful shout was unmistakable; his sincerity and originality made up for what he might have lacked in technique. He never tired of reiterating his ideals—by word of mouth, by letter of print. He spoke of buoyancy, exuberance and nervous vitality of America, of its jolly up-and-coming
spirit—energetic, optimistic, impatient of restraint—with plenty of jingoism, vulgarity and “hurrah boys.” Like most pioneers he had a great gift of expressing his thoughts in a direct and vivid manner. He wrote well; he spoke as engagingly. In a talk given in 1920 before the Men’s Club of Redding Ridge, Conn., he told his life with frankness and expressiveness, commanding admiration. Under the cover of splendid irony and mockery he recounted amazing stories. “The Dance in Place Congo” is now a well-known composition. Last year it received its European sanction at the Frankfurt Festival. The power of the music reflecting the “shout” of the New Orleans negroes is uncommonly impressive. Yet, some twelve years ago, the then conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra to whom the score was submitted did not deign to examine it; nor could Gilbert obtain any reply to the notes of inquiry which he wrote concerning it. Seeing no chances for a performance in his home city, he went to seek fortune in New York. The director of the Metropolitan Opera House accepted the “Dance” for a ballet production. A story was written, and the rehearsals began. The ballet-master was a Bohemian and knew nothing about negroes. Yet he was possessed by realistic ideas. To impart a “couleur locale” he contrived large wooden flamingoes, “which flew in quite a natural manner” about the treetops. Surprised, Gilbert asked him what his invention was: “Why they don’t have flamingoes in Louisiana.” The ballet-master was a kind soul and seeing the composer in obvious distress promptly ordered: “Cut out the birds.” As the rehearsals progressed, Gilbert saw his ideas fading away; but at least there was good will and the five performances went through without serious injury to the music. The composer pocketed his $250—a sum hardly sufficient to cover the expenses of the trip— and returned home. Gilbert’s manners were by no means conducive to worldly success. He did not know the gentle art of handling conductors. He never wrote adulatory notes to any of the Zeuses of orchestral firmament. He would submit the score, patiently wait for results, make all allowances for the conductors busy timetable, but he would not give up a lot of his music for the sake of a performance. On one occasion, when a conductor exhibited, in Gilbert’s own words, “conceit and ignorance” to the extent intolerable even in the highest-stationed representatives of this sacred profession, Gilbert calmly withdrew his score at the last rehearsal. It is only truth to tell that the papers reported the performance just the same. It was the unforgettable good fortune of this writer to have been associated with Henry Gilbert in a professional way, when Gilbert’s last composition “Suite for Chamber Orchestra,” was played by the Chamber Orchestra of Boston on April 28. The suite was destined for the spring festival at Washington, under the auspices of the Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge Foundation, at whose commission the work was written. It developed, however, that the program could not include the entire list of compositions on hand. The composer thereupon secured a permission to have it performed in Boston first. The piece contained three movements: a Prelude, “somewhat in the nature of an exercise for the violins,” the Spiritual and the Fantasy. Gilbert wrote in his characteristic style: “The Spiritual is an attempt to create a native American piece—something that shall sound, unmistakably, as if it had its origins in America, and nowhere else”; and of the Fantasy: “It has no program—just music—with plenty of melody which I believe in. The main theme is somewhat ‘ragged’ in character, and there are one or two episodes in ‘sure enough’ rag-time rhythm, but then it wouldn’t be me if they weren’t there.”
By his faith, by his work, to the end [Gilbert] 5/26/28
Henry Gilbert was present at all the rehearsals; as well as at the performance. When he appeared on the stage to acknowledge the applause nothing in his nobly cut features, offset by a stream of silver hair, would evoke the foreboding of an imminent end. His copper-brown complexion—which incidentally led many to belief that he was of Indian blood—alone betokened a faulty circulation and weak heart-action which was to cause the final stroke. It is not the intention of this article to give an evaluation of Gilbert’s musical heritage. Nor would a mere enumeration of his works add to his character as composer and man. His music is of America and for America; written by an American who loved his country and contributed greatly to its perpetuation in art. He was a gentle, understanding soul. He feared not death as he feared not life. In the words of his fellow-poet he might have said:
Give me your tone, O death that I may accord with it.
THE HAND THAT EVOKES MUSIC FROM THE ETHER October 2, 1928 To Introduce Prof. Theremin, Russian Savant of Sound, Prophet of New Tones
Science invades music! This most unruly of all Pierian pastimes becomes an object for experiments. Professors of acoustics and investigators of aerial vibrations tell amazing tales of exploration and discovery, and urge professional musicians to co-operate. The latter being hard of hearing, cer-tain scientists see fit to use the cave-man method and hit the unwilling ones with the club over the head. Professor John Redfield writes an astonishing book on Music “as a science and an art,” bristling with invectives and full of righteous indignation. At times, the author is magnificently unjust or delightfully autocratic. He would forcibly remove pianos, uprights or grands, from the conductors or the composers room; he would “shoot at sunrise” all individuals who call themselves teachers of harmony; he would relegate into Morondom all vocal instructors and would leave no instrument untuned in the orchestra. No soothing book, but what will you? Musical Babbitts cannot be sufficiently thrashed, and revolutions are not made in white gloves. Mr. Redfield’s book is a revolutionary book in this—that it relentlessly preaches the necessity of rejuvenation of an art that shows all symptoms of decrepitude. The Philistines already feel the surging tide; here and there proffer an impotent defense. Musicians, so they say, do not need knowledge, music being guided solely by instinct. Science can manufacture no Stradivarius, can find no recipes for Beethoven’s Symphonies. Moreover, brains are actually at odds with musical brawn. A perfect blonde somehow loses her perfection the moment she—by misadventure—begins to think. A perfect tenor must of necessity be innocent of gray matter, and we read a list of artists who lost their box-office attraction through giving intelligent performances. To explode all this balderdash would require little effort. But of much more consequence it is to welcome—not sparing the words—those who are bringing about the peaceful revolution. Here is Professor Theremin whose name should be pronounced in French fashion: Termin. He is a Russian of remote French parentage. Unlike Professor Redfield, he is a gentle spirit. He comes to us—at Symphony Hall next Sunday afternoon—with the fruits of his labor, and does not urge or imprecate. No one can fail to be impressed by the new and wonderful music invoked from the magic box “by the movement of the hand.” We imagine—and our imagination is helped by the appropriate posters—a human hand playing on the waves of ether, and little we care whether this ether exists at all, and what actual change the moving hand effects. It is a pity that lack of curiosity, so typical of the musical crowd, prevents us from inquiring into the source and origin of these audible wonders.
The hand that evokes music from the ether [Theremin] 10/2/28
Professor Theremin began his exploration of sound at the University of Petrograd (renamed Leningrad in 1924) some nine years ago. He was chiefly interested in instrumental timbres and the overtones on which the former depend. To be master of overtones is to become a demiurge of sound-colors, inasmuch as the relative strength of these secondary vibrations determines the timbre. Electric current, duly transformed and brought within the range of audibility, affords an excellent and controllable medium for accurate measurement. Hertz’s ether waves, the radio waves of our everyday life, make the technical part still less dependent on material conductors. For the first time, an instrument sounds, unfinished with valves, pistons or strings, freed from the incidental noise of scratching, clapping and plucking—a sound generated by the varying tension of the electro-magnetic field. A metal rod, similar to the radio-antenna, and an intensifier form the two chief parts of the apparatus. The human hand, or any moving material body “plays” on the instrument. Professor Theremin warily warns his pupils (for he has a “class”) against playing with their unbuttoned coats or, for that matter, with their noses. The “technic” is altogether different from any known musical instrument, and there are fifty-seven varieties of howls and screams in store for every apprentice who would evoke the spirit of electrical music, untrained by The Sorcerer. Professor Theremin—who is not a professional musician—has learned to “play” a few representative pieces by Rakhmaninov, Skriabin and Saint-Saens. He has no keyboard or any scale to follow, and has to rely exclusively on ear. Someone, inconsiderately passing through the laboratory, may add an extra sharp or flat by projecting his body on the electromagnetic field. Absolutely correct pitch in the tone-production of the Thereminovox is still to be desired. But the sonority startles anyone who has ears to hear. Forty thousand ’cellos playing in an incredible unison are pouring out a stream of vibrating air. Suddenly, the timbre changes; and something resembling the Vox Humana of the organ is heard, emanating, it seems from all sides. The present Theremino-vox is at its best in the tenor register. It does not have to take a breath and that continuity of sustained tone, of which Wagner dreamed all his life, is at last achieved in a manner glorious beyond description. Less ambitious contrivances stand alongside the Ether-Wave-Player in the Theremin Laboratory, housed in the annex of the Plaza Hotel in New York. One of them is of incalculable importance to musical science. It looks like a toy upright piano or a celesta without the “insides.” Instead, there are a number of radio-dials each labeled do, re, me, etc., including the chromatic tones. By a turn of these dials, each one of which is divided into 180 degrees, the corresponding sound is altered. Each note can thus be given any value of pitch within certain limits. Intervals, beyond the dreams of musicians in purity, can be produced with any degree of accuracy, for any duration of time. The audible test of this accuracy is given by the Tartini tones, the tones that represent the difference between the frequencies of the two components. When this difference is only a few vibrations per second (our “symphonic” unison) we hear periodically pulsating beats that remind one of H.G.Wells’s fantastic story in which an inventor, having tasted of his “accelerator,” found himself in a sort of slow-motion world—with sounds disintegrated into mere succession of heavy, monotonous raps. As the two constituents of the former unison diverge, the beats grow more and more frequent; the eardrum fails to register them separately; the resulting depression exteriorizes itself in an incredibly low sound, climbing up as the operation continues. We traverse the entire scale of all possible Tartini
tones; then again we are confronted with the incredible when Theremin produces the seventh overtone which lies outside of the tempered scale, but forms a perfect consonance with the tonic—a consonance which we have never heard in our lives. This instrument allows production of a perfect pitch for any note of the scale, tempered or other. By its nature, it cannot be affected by temperature, humidity or any other nuisance of the concert-hall. It can revolutionize our so-called “symphony” orchestras and constitute an unalterable standard of pitch. An orchestral conductor who, upon being informed, does not immediately avail himself of it, will be deliberately standing in the way of better performances. Theremin is fascinated by the possibility of plural musical systems. Ours is based upon the partial tones 2, 3, 5. What new music could be built if we chose the tones 7, 11, 13, as foundation? Or any other combination of pure sounds? Skriabin made an attempt at creating a new musical system. But in his “Prometheus” he tempered his imaginary high overtones. He could not catch the unreal seventh tone. Theremin can. A new Skriabin will work on a responsive medium, will have his orchestra tuned up or dispense with it altogether. An ensemble of Theremino-Voxes will well suit the task. Theremin, the inventor, and Redfield, the prophet, with many others seeking to cure music, as art and science, of the threatening anemia, are performing the valuable office of a cultured missionary. Musical obscu-rantists clinging to their reactionary creed, will resent any radical change, and will sneer at knowledge, as opposed to instinct. The poor souls know their history none too well. The “machine methods” of Gutenberg did not kill poetry. The scientific spirit of sound explorers will not kill music.
FROM THE ETHER A “NEW” MUSIC IN NEW MANNER October 8, 1928 As Virtuoso and Lecturer, Demonstrates His Invention
Seldom did an occasion so outgrow itself as the appearance of Professor Theremin at Symphony Hall yesterday afternoon. The inventor presented a few aspects of his discovery, made for all ages and all times, to a limited audience recruited from widely different ranks: Musicians (in a striking minority), professors of various sciences, men and women of literature and art, technicians, radio-specialists, dealers in electrical appliances and a considerable crop of ladies and gentlemen engaged in earnest exploration of the Great Beyond and other unknown mysteries. All these were not sufficient numerically to fill up the spaces of the long-enduring Symphony Hall. Each one had brought, however, his specific ardor. General interest to the proceedings was unremitted; curiosity flung high; and the mental processes peculiar to believers in cosmic vibrations imparted a beatific look to some of the listeners. Boston is a seat of scientific religions; before he knows it, Professor Theremin may be proclaimed Krishnamurti and sanctified as a new Deity. Indiscriminate idolatry (on wrong assumptions) is just as serious a menace to Professor Theremin’s research work as blunt indifference which— again, numerically speaking—confronted him in this city. Berlin delegated enough Germans for four capacity houses at Theremin’s appearances. Pleasure-loving Paris has seen a crowd turned away from Theremin’s exhibition at the Grand Opera. America, and its Hub, strangely demur, in spite of the front-page publicity and alluring aspects of the thing, as conceived in the popular mind. The stage of Symphony Hall proffered to the heterogeneous attendance an uncommon spectacle. Three radio sets, all of different makes, with no attempt at beauty or elegance, stood there. Each one was furnished with a vertical metal rod—the antenna. Three loud speakers of futuristic size and shape ranged behind—a huge triangle for Professor Theremin, a rectangular prism for one of his assistants and a near-cube for the other. Music desks as part of the radio sets. Wires and batteries. And a grand Steinway in the middle of all that irrelevancy…. The bell rings, scaring off the curious amateurs that gather near the parapet. A moment of psychological anticipation, and Mr. Theremin appears, swiftly pacing across the stage, his bearing erect, carriage dignified. He is just about thirty. He affects a small moustache. He wears a blue business suit which possibly tends to dispel a magician complex. No bag of tricks to be emptied upon the breathholding mob. Merely a scientific business to be related, with all allowances for public ignorance and public imagination. Mr. Theremin has little English, which fact he communicated to those assembled in a few words. Mr. Gerard thereupon read the
translation of Professor Theremin’s explanatory paper, using the correct pronunciation of Theremin’s name: Termen, with the accent on the second syllable. The paper, in diction and substance, was aimed at the general public and carried the message clearly, without undue tax on untrained minds, but with sufficient elementary background of everyday science. Professor Theremin, according to his declaration, is not to eliminate the personal element in art; his aim is to lessen, or abolish altogether, the mechanical difficulties of a “technique” and natural deficiencies of home made instruments. The resistance of the material is the chief enemy of good tone-production. Consequently, the material must be made elastic to the greatest extent. There is no subtler medium in existence than the electro-magnetic field in which we theoretically and unwittingly live. The scientist summons an electric current to his aid and does all preliminary work with it before putting it “on the air.” The logical chain of conclusions in Theremin’s popular paper captures the laziest brain. Politely assuming that the public knows something about overtones, he points out, that his apparatus enables him to create timbres at will. He then proceeds to demonstrate. Medium pitch, impressive, smoothly flowing. Bass tone, huge-massed and monstrously voluminous. High tone, an excursion into the birds’ domain. Whistles, tiniest squeaks, insect-like humming; shrill, piercing, almost head-splitting high frequencies, swiftly disappearing into the inaudible in the fortieth-thousands of vibrations. The audience reacts variously. Amusement, pleasure and the under-lying spirit of “How on earth…,” particularly among the youngsters that came with the youthful determination to “find out.” And when the echo effect was shown and a sound reflected to the other end of the hall, several upturned faces bore unmistakable testimony to the fact that nothing was to be taken for granted. The squeaks and the low grumbling of the futuristic triangle aroused applause. Professor Theremin, gentle and condoning, acknowledged it with a civil bow. He let Mr. Gerard read on; we learned that the human hand is nothing but a prosaic electric conductor that alters the electric capacity of the condenser, or the antenna in Mr. Theremin’s case, and thus affects the musical pitch. But, as Mr. Theremin puts it poetically, “From time immemorial the commanding wave of the hand has been the sign of supreme power.” And supreme artistry. Professor Theremin showed us how lifeless a tone is, unquickened by Vibrato. Science, in its highest achievements, does reverence to human art. Has art fully repaid its debt to science? The program, in its “pops” consistency, stirred one’s mind to philosophizing. First cinematograph pictures recorded a sneeze of Edison’s assistant. First phonograph plates reproduced a trivial tune; first television demonstrations transferred the image of a lady smoking a cigarette. Professor Theremin’s electrical instrument plays for us “selections” that greet us from every radio-speaker and every Victrola. Schubert’s Ave Maria was the opening “number.” In it Mr. Theremin disclosed his new technique. A decided advance of the hand is requisite to change the pitch beyond the interval of a third. A quick jerk of a finger is all that is necessary to raise the pitch chromatically. A quirk of the little finger will add a flat or deduce a sharp. The right hand takes care of the pitch. The left hand puts on expression marks. It lowers upon the intensifier and dampens it into nothingness. It shoos away the tone to secure a glissandoless transition spaced out by the right hand. It affords a staccato or pizzicato effect by discontinuing the sonorous tremor. Ring-shaped
From the ether a "new" music in new manner [Theremin] 10/8/28
in Mr. Theremin’s apparatus, a rectangle of wires in that of his assistant, the intensifier is a foot-controlled device in the third machine. Professor Theremin can send his electric menials in any direction, multiply them by any number, kill them in a fraction of a second, scatter them in any given order; can produce any timbre, plaintive and meditative, grotesque and abusive. It is difficult not to fall into prophesying when this new power is first disclosed to us. Let us hope that it will become commonplace before long, much to the benefit of a musical humanity. As yet, raving, and the more immoderate the better, is the legitimate expression. Skriabine’s early Etude and particularly, the never dying Swan of Saint-Saens made one realize suddenly that Theremin is a musically endowed person. He had been cultivating ’cello playing quite seriously, taking courses at a musical institution in Petrograd and appearing at the usual semi-professional concerts. He conceived his first general ideas—which have come to realization in such a glorious way—while struggling with doublestops in one of the ungodly Goltermann Concertos. Technical difficulties—all of which are, strictly speaking, unnecessary and removable—are as little part and parcel of art, as slow locomotion is property of human kind. Riddance from physical impediments in musical instruments has been the lofty aim of all great manufacturers. Theremin cuts at the root of the problem, and solves it. In a duet from Glinka, Mr. J.Goldberg joined Theremin “at the Theremino-Vox.” It was a foretaste of the future large ensemble of electrical instruments. Mr. Goldberg himself performed, very musically and with excellent feeling for nuances, the eternal “Night” of Rubinstein. Then, a female adept of the new craft, made a graceful appearance on the stage, in the person of Miss Stepanova. The audience, delighted and warmed, greeted her cheerfully. For a moment, one thought of Theremin, as a Thurston about to saw the young woman in two cohesible parts or effect her exit through the loud-speaking triangle…. Gently, and pupil-like she played her part in the Quartet from Rigoletto transformed for the nonce into a Duet with dubious aid from the piano. The characters of the Opera were swapped round, Miss Stepanova often taking up the Duke’s songful measures, and Mr. Theremin turning coloratura. Handel’s Largo was then presented in the form of a trio with the piano again somewhat in the way. Miss Stepanova, the eyes of the audience upon her, stationed herself, quite unexpectedly, at the bass-apparatus. Professor Theremin cautiously tested the thing, on the stage, occasionally arousing some hundred—or so it seemed—sleepy and grouchy double-basses and eliciting selfcontented squeaks, not from the ether, this time, but from the audience itself. The Volga Boatmen song for three instruments—the excellent arrangement is said to be made by Alexander Siloti—brought an end to the program. The marvelous, hitherto unattainable qualities of Professor Theremin’s invention—the continuous tone, astonishing volume, new and beautiful timbre, combined with the flexibility of soundcontrol affording the faintest pianissimo as well as crushing forte—these powers stood out in this last song as a convincingly written last paragraph of an epoch-making book. The public—an excited, picturesque crowd, drew nearer to the stage and was tasting the last drops of now unmitigated pleasure. Professor Theremin and his assistants urbanely went through the ritual of acknowledgment; then made for the artists’ room where autograph seekers, conjecturers and swarthy gentlemen-believers in cosmic vibrations
waited for a chance to talk to the man whose hand makes ether-waves change their course. The event may have been majestic in its way. Still, the impression prevailed that its relation to the greatness of the cause was anything but adequate. Probably, first exhibitions of every great invention were incongruous. The attention of the people is often misdirected; the showy or the entertaining part of the business unproportionately emphasized. The core of a great discovery is seldom touched. Exhibitions have their agelong traditions; the financial side has also to be considered. Professor Theremin was born under a lucky star. He is news. He has frequently held attention of large masses. Musicians of note endorse his invention. Big industry does not try to starve him out of business, but—according to modern methods—directs his spreading influence into safe channels. But those of his discoveries that are not so spectacular as the Theremino-Vox still lie in abeyance. Professor Theremin has a method whereby a piano may be automatically tuned with a margin of accuracy of one hundredth of a tone. It is amazing in its simplicity and conclusive in its self-evidence. Where is that piano-manufacturer who will dare to overturn the present order of things and purchase the patent? Theremin himself would be reluctant to throw an army of hardworking tuners out of business. Theremin has an instrument that provides an unalterable pitch. Who is the first musician to use it? Theremin is offering, for the asking, a magazine of timbres, colors, and mathematically correct frequencies. Where is the composer to make proper use of this wealth of musical material? It remains with the ever-growing group of propagandists to preach the new doctrine— that of the rejuvenation of music by science. Splendid victories have been won already. But the mental attitude that generates a passive resistance on the part of the old-school musicians has still to be combated. This resistance will disappear when Professor Theremin’s generic ideas will be accepted as the only corollary of the long evolution of music—as a science and an art.
NEW STIRRINGS IN ETHER-WAVE MUSIC October 19, 1928 Henry Prunières, editor of “La Revue Musicale” and Parisian arbiter of good taste in music, has contributed to the New York Times an article about various achievements of French champions of “electrical music,” commonly called “ether-wave” music and universally associated with the name of Professor Leon Theremin. It is most gratifying to learn that the idea of using the electro-magnetic field as a medium for production of sounds is spreading; that the natural resistance on the part of the musically conservative is weakening; that musical physicists in all countries begin to take vital interest in the movement that is to remedy most of our musical ills. It is less agreeable to watch the growth of a subtle controversy which tends to detract somewhat from the priority of the originator of a great idea. Monsieur Prunières pictures Professor Theremin as a dreamer unmindful of practical ends, infatuated with the beautiful vision of a hand causing “sounds to burst from an antenna,” caring little for correctness of pitch or virtuosity of technic. This attitude, Monsieur Prunières philosophically remarks, is “perfectly in accord with the Slavic type of genius.” These compliments paid, Monsieur Prunières proceeds to his business, which is to prove that the Frenchman Hugonion antedated Theremin in his invention. “The principle utilized by him is in substance that of Professor Theremin, though it was patented in 1922 before the Russian savant began his labors,” Monsieur Prunières baldly asserts. But it was fully three years before that Theremin began laboratory experiments in the ice-ridden, famine-stricken Petrograd of 1919. Long before the war, as a youth dividing his time between science and music, Theremin brooded on the problem of eliminating the resistance of the wood, brass or catgut of our instruments and finding a new medium for sound-production. It was this generic idea that brought about his discovery. The “movement of the hand in the air” is an incidental and quite unimportant detail. Monsieur Prunières must have been taking too literally the posters representing Theremin as modern magician who evokes music—crotchets and all—from the indisputably “empty space.” But the learned editor of “La Revue Musicale” is apparently not at home with acoustics. He tells us that M.René Bertrand, the inventor of the “dynaphone,” discovered “by chance” a principle different from that of his predecessors, but does not give a hint as to the content of this new principle. On the other hand he says that M.Bertrand succeeded in eliminating all interference, which sounds strange, inasmuch as interference has never been much of a problem and can be easily subdued on any electrical device, including that of Professor Theremin, by generating a negative frequency. He immediately makes a bad slip in referring to “audible” waves with a frequency “varying from one vibration a minute to 10,000 vibrations a second.” Monsieur Prunières should have “heard” the
“low” tone of two vibrations per second which Professor Theremin produces at the peril of his own person, his guests and even the furniture, floor and window panes. Such a “sound” causes various sinking sensations about one’s diaphragm and alters blood pressure. It displaces air particles by three centimeters. In handling these mammoth sounds (and Professor Theremin is busy on the problem of introducing them into the orchestra for better sustenance of the bass tones) the experimenter must think of the safety of musicians in the orchestra and patrons of the front-row. Needless to say that one vibration a minute is as audible as the sound produced by the revolution of the moon. Monsieur Prunières’s faux pas is, however, a satisfying event. It testifies to the importance of Professor Theremin’s invention. No great discovery ever remained uncontested by honest searchers in a similar direction. The telephone, the phonograph, the incandescent lamp, were twice and thrice invented, apparently at synchronized moments. Even the two satellites of the planet Mars were caught by two pairs of eyes in the same night, not to mention the Laputans’ prophetic findings. But gratitude and recognition go to the genius who first formulated his object with unobscured clarity, set to work with unflinching determination and achieved the aim in full consciousness of the problems involved and efforts to be made.
IN ARTHUR HONEGGER THE SYMPHONY CONCERTS RECEIVE A NOTABLE GUEST January 10, 1929 The Composer and The Man in Brief Survey, with “Pacific” for His Image—The World Into Which He Entered and Prevailed De la musique avant toute chose.
Stirred by a gust of wind, an Æolian harp sounds a tone—a syllable of musical language. The air is full of music; and now and then happily winged Ariels unchain it for us on their magic trumpets. Then the tempest roars in chromatics; then earth and fire, water and air, shape themselves into four-part harmony. Music and nature run in parallels, never to cross, ever to counterpart. Respighi’s caged nightingale is less winged than Beethoven’s pastoral birds; Strauss’s alpine wind-machine less chilling than Rossini’s breezy scales. Portraiture in music defeats its purpose by exposing the inaptitude of an art to measure up to life, greater as the former may be than the latter, if kept within its own uncurved course. Few musicians are as true to these chaste ideals as Arthur Honegger, not long ago a formidable modernist, now an unopposed messenger of the new musical truth which is as inevitable to come upon us as the year 1930. At the Dantesque age, on the summit of his powers, he already gathers the rewards of his mettle. Last year Russia greeted him, and he found orchestras there that had his music well in their routine. Now America welcomes him with an uncompromising salute. Soyez le bienvenu! Curiosity whips the sentiment, and the figure of the French-Swiss composer wearing a healthy smile under a basque cap becomes the picture of the hour. He is as much excited over things American, as the curious are excited over him, and, true to his first infatuation, he never fails to inspect the locomotives that drive him hither and thither. His type is Pacific 2–3–1, according to the number of the wheels, in front, on the side, and behind. Indiscriminate newspapermen, using indiscriminate cuts to illustrate his most famous musical score, err frequently and annoyingly in these details. Arthur Honegger took the Pacific for his inspiration as Schubert had taken the postillion. Nor is he the first to marvel in tones at the puffing monster. In his modest way, Glinka wrote a song of the railroad train; and Berlioz was tempted by the early engine. In Honegger’s Symphonic Movement there are actual musical sounds in the rails vibrating under the speeding wheels, there is an obvious acceleration of beats and puffs. There is even the familiar effect of the Doppler principle—the change of pitch of the whistle of a
locomotive travelling at a high rate of speed. But Honegger does not set a pair of rails, or blow the steam whistle, as a musical photographer would. All this serves him as material as the minor third of the cuckoo served our musical ancestors. The harmonics used by Honegger in the introductory bars of “Pacific” are uncannily near the actual scratchings and scrapings when an engine is first set in motion. A gramophone record made under the wheels of a 2–3–1 would have been more correct, but its application to a musical piece would have killed it outright; for all that follows is designed on a musical scale, demanding musical setting. “Pacific” evolves in a quasi-sonata form, which, in ideal purity, is motion progressing from a slow and short introduction to a rapid rhythmic movement, either ending in a crash or symmetrically receding into the original stillness. “Pacific” comes to a stop— and the double and triple rhythms serving as speed-regulators produce an irresistible impression on the senses. Here is almost an illusion. No wonder Jaques-Dalcroze considers “Pacific” an embodiment of a true rhythm, a masterpiece of music as sound in motion. The melody flows abundant in “Pacific” as soon as the brakes are released; its course is smooth; scarce drum-beats mark the junctions. In “Rugby”—Honegger’s glorification of football—he goes a step further, eliminating percussion altogether. A game without a crash! Plenty of commotion, but commotion by a breathless melody marked, and by riding rhythms sharpened. Music flowing full tide, full of sudden alarms and trepidations, music that excites without stunning. To some, such elimination of the most logical accessory to any music of motion and vigor, would seem an unnecessary stunt. But Frank Martin, Honegger’s less illustrious countryman, wrote a fox-trot for chamber orchestra without drums and lost not a whit of pulsating power. The classically inclined Hindemith does not luxuriate in percussion. Even taken as a stunt, this general trend toward economy of means has not a little significance. Stunt and mastery are next-door neighbors. Palestrina and Bach were great stunt-performers. There is not a vestige of human sense in writing a perfect canon, at the expense of tremendous effort and possibly crippled inspiration. We possess no multiple power of sensation to follow several independent lines of complicated counterpoint. Yet Bach’s achievement in Fugue changed the face of musical history and paved the way for the great symphonists of the following centuries. A successful stunt presupposes a superior technic. Physical culture teaches us to stand on our heads that we may stand firmly on our feet. Musical culture must pursue a similar course. Modern youth achieve things that would baffle ancient wise men. There is no need to worry about scarcity of geniuses; the musical world is still in the making, and out of the present turmoil remarkable men are arising more numerous than ever. Arthur Honegger appeared on the musical horizon during the war. Music was in a crisis, as was the entire world. Musicians, great or small, were languishing under the strain of mortifying decadence. Mallarmé was ever worrying that his sonnets were not “sufficiently obscure.” They were; and to his texts sensitive musicians were setting an equally obscure, languorous, though strangely attractive music. They reveled in visions of ancient Greece, vanished gods and voluptuous nymphs. Satie had a cult of his own, perfecting the art of miniature. Exquisite raptures in nebulous tones, half-suggestions of an impossible felicity, the entire wealth of the impressionistic palette, seemed to reign
In arthur honegger the symphony Concerts receive a notable guest 1/10/29
over the souls and minds of both musicians and poets. Away from this coarse life with its internecine wars and annihilating machinery! More flowers, perfumes and pretty things! Into this world of wan decadence came Arthur Honegger. The difference between Zurich, whence he came, and Paris, where he established himself, was great. Of different make and spirit, he was not tempted by the impressionistic vapors. He was all for healthy, boisterous rhythms. His first Sonata for Violin and Piano, written between 1916 and 1918, does not betray the signs of French sensualism. He writes a “Homage to Ravel,” but thereafter pays but little musical homage to the acknowledged master of French music. In Paris during the war, he meets Mademoiselle Andrée Vaurabourg, now Madame Honegger. She plays his early Toccata at a meeting of the improvised Cercle Musical et dramatique Indépendant. Ever since, her style of playing, full of feminine charm, finds reflection in Honegger’s piano-writing, up to the subtle and brilliant Concertino. For sentimental reasons, Honegger may recall in this January of 1929 that exactly nine years ago, at a gathering at Darius Milhaud’s, a music-reviewer, eager to help along a group of struggling young musicians, listened favorably to their efforts. On Jan, 23, 1920, an article appeared in Comœdia, that caused confusion for a number of years: “Les Six Francais; Darius Milhaud, Louis Durey, Georges Auric, Arthur Honegger, Francis Poulenc et Germaine Tailleferre.” The Six had just as little in common, in their musical make-up, as any six Frenchmen picked on the street would have in their physical appearance. But it was a “boost”; “The Six” were friendly; they did not consider the arbitrary grouping as being in any way harmful. The story of “The Six” proved, however, more vital than any one imagined. Some explanations on the part of Honegger and Milhaud were quickly forgotten, and the easier way of following the erroneous conception was universally adopted. At least, one of the group was thus saved from oblivion. Honegger’s first popular success came with “Pacific” in 1923. In the same year he reorchestrated “King David,” the oratorio that had originally been written for a rustic theater at Mezieres, scored for a wood-wind ensemble plus a solitary double-bass. Rimsky-Korsakov once said that all orchestral music could be divided into three categories: music that sounds well even with an inexperienced orchestra; music that only a good conductor and an expert body of players can bring out to advantage; music that no conductor and no orchestra can salvage. Honegger’s music sounds always well and yields itself admirably to instruments. His instrumentation is as simple as it is logical. He has a strange aversion to “fancy” instruments. True, he has written a Hymn for ten string instruments, all different, ranging from ultra-violin to infra-bass, at the instigation of Monsieur Léo Sir, the inventor. But never once has he used such a common nuisance as the E-flat clarinet. Stravinsky sends it cackling in the most inappropriate passage of “Œdipus!” Honegger is also universal in his tastes and abilities. Oratorio has never been held in favor among young composers, and Florent Schmitt suffered much loss of popularity on account of his addiction to large and solemn forms. Honegger, the modern, tackles huge choral masses with the sure hand of a Berlioz. Without much ado, without pomp and proclamation, he writes the masterpiece of oratorio that is “King David.” With equal mastery, he indicated the modern style for opera in “Judith.” Biblical subjects, used and abused to the limit, do not disconcert him. Subject matter does not count. Modern art can
handle old articles in a modern fashion. “Horace Victorieux” with the most conventional story out of the most respectable part of Roman history is made to proclaim modern ideas. His Concertino admittedly an antiquated form, sparkles with the most unashamed jazz. “Pastorale d’Ete” proffers an undisguised melody under the simplest dress of a chamber orchestra. Complete freedom from any premeditation, no adherence to schools, no fear of taboos, a fine disdain of the repressions that hamper the development of young talent! This simplicity of purpose and mastery of performance place Arthur Honegger above even the most talented of his contemporaries. In this period of ultimate formation of a modern idiom, he is likely to become a central figure. When others hesitate or experiment he moves forward. In the musical Rugby he is an easy winner.
THE PATIENT, THE DOCTORS, THE VERDICTS January 29, 1929 The Case of American Music Back and Forth Between Two Consultants
American music is not jazz. Jazz is not music…. With these words opens a provoking book by a provoking writer: “An Hour with American Music” by Paul Rosenfeld. Since it is virtually impossible to spend a full hour with American music without jazz obtruding on the auditory nerve, Mr. Rosenfeld’s statement assumes at once a paradoxical guise. His book is a torrent of words and unverbal vocables, which, by its very force of impetus, washes away all prejudice of established beliefs, and floods over the head in its irresistible onrush. After the promised hour is over, the reader finds himself in the condition of the Niagara tourist traversing the Hurricane Bridge and getting out at the Rock of Ages: utterly benumbed, soaked to the bone, lashed by the winds, yet singularly refreshed by an experience, very jungle-like, but safely within immediate reach of modern civilization. Mr. Rosenfeld’s paradoxes are deadly poison for smug generalities. Jazz has changed nothing in the human environment, he asserts, and reveals to us new and unsuspected agencies at work. “How many revelatory experiences do we not owe to the work of Varese, of Chavez, and Copland?” he asks rhetorically. How much of the intensity of American life does not come from the burgeoning of the talents of Harris and Sessions and Ruggles?” The hilarity of a statistical mind must not be aroused at this. Mr. Rosenfeld’s book is a wishful revelation of a world-that-ought-to-be, and we cannot help joining him in a jazz-less chorus; yes, we want our musical tastes to be governed by the young sophisticates rather than by Mrs. Carrie Jacobs Bond. And if the “End of a ‘Perfect’ Day” still outsells Aaron Copland’s “Vocalise,” it is merely an error of perspective. Only once in the history of mankind have things been adjusted properly. It was in Russia in 1917, when the then Bolshevik commissary of musical affairs, Comrade Arthur Lourié (now a Parisian refugee) tried to advance musical development of the masses by publishing, in his capacity of a dictator, his fanciful and modernistic compositions, to the exclusion of all others. From such methods our splendid modernists would undoubtedly demur, even if the House of Ricordi would resign its power in their favor. But it is none the less gratifying to dream of a better world where people would flock to hear and see burgeoning talents—very polytonal—and where a solid line of ushers would have to be established to hold back the crowds at the League of Composers’ concerts…. Mr. Rosenfeld’s book of fiction is such a dream, published, distributed, and—enjoyed.
Mr. Rosenfeld makes short work of the Spirituals and Mountain songs, as American folk-lore. He questions the very genuineness of the negro chants. He hardly mentions Indian music at all. According to Mr. Rosenfeld, MacDowell is the first American composer deserving the name; and to him he is none too lenient. “His music amounts more to an assimilation of European motives, figures and idea than to an original expression.” He finds MacDowell’s real personality in the “quaint little melodic idea” of the Woodland Sketches, and gives a fine, sensitized appreciation of MacDowell at his best in the following lines: There is a MacDowellesque accent, facileness and sentimentality notwithstanding; some glamour or tone added by him to the world’s horizon. Perhaps it is merely a faint note of sweetness, a helpless sweetness, childlike and impotent in the world, and unbalanced by robust qualities other than voluptuousness. But in all Wagner and Grieg and Chopin there is nothing quite like it, with its queer romance. It is not by the territory of actual birth that a composers national allegiance should be established, but, above all, by the spirit of his creative imagination. Mr. Rosenfeld places Charles Martin Loeffler next to MacDowell as composer of America, and discourses upon merits and demerits of this unquestionably remarkable man. But Charles Martin Loeffler is the Anatole France of music not only by the outward traits of countenance. His music is not so easily accountable as Mr. Rosenfeld may make us believe. Its elusiveness, an eclectic style with a strong observant mind in constant attendance, its half-said words and half-sung melodies, all this is tantalizing and deceptive of simplicity. Loeffler remains aloof, and detached from the body of American music, because America is not yet made ready for his beatifical poise. Mr. Rosenfeld has little interest for the workers of the soil. Yet, it is among those pioneers that the source of American music will be found. To him the late Henry F.Gilbert is a musical folklorist, and not the creator of an American idiom, savored with Indian and Negro rhythms, but as intensely national, as Whitman’s verses. Mr. Rosenfeld mentions Kelley’s “New England Symphony,” but has very little to say about Arthur Foote, Chadwick, or Frederick Converse. Such an enlightened composer as Edward Burlingame Hill should have had a more prominent place in Mr. Rosenfeld’s window display. The entire New England group, possibly the nucleus of American national music is strangely overlooked by the author. Yet Horatio Parker gets a few pages, but what is there of America in Horatio Parker? Surely, Mr. Rosenfeld is not pragmatic in his survey of American music, yet his judgment never fails him when he comes across a falsified product. The success of Deems Taylor’s opera “The Kings Henchman” did not blind him against the obvious insignificance of the whole affair. Certainly, this is not an “American” opera, and Mr. Rosenfeld is a thousand times right in accusing the composer of “a thorough uninventiveness.” But one expects a mention of Cadman’s “Shanewis,” Converses “Sacrifice,” and, above all, the only American grand opera, “The Last of the Mohicans” by Paul Allen, one of the few American composers thoroughly equipped with a European technique. In Paul Allen’s “Pilgrim Symphony,” awarded the Paderewski prize in 1910, the student of American music will find the fundamental traits of that synthetic American
The patient, the doctors, the verdicts [American music] 1/29/29
style—neither Indian, nor Negro—which is forming itself at the hands of Americans whose strong feeling of national kinship is accompanied by perfect craftsmanship. But Mr. Rosenfeld’s pet is modern music, and to the moderns of this nation he lustfully turns, skipping over decades of less spectacular development. Whether Edgar Varese should be rightly considered an American composer is a moot question. Or, rather, it is not a question at all; a few years of interrupted residence do not constitute a claim to nativity. On the other hand, it would be unfair to annex a ready product, such as Varese’s brilliant works, to the body of American music. Ernest Bloch has written an American epic; it is of special interest as the reaction of a genius to his novel surroundings. But America cannot claim Ernest Bloch any more than it can claim Lafayette. Edgar Varese’s “Ameriques,” whatever worth it may possess musically, is an onlooker’s impression, or, rather the musical expression of the state of bewilderment generated by the immensity of America. George Gershwin, or Aaron Copland, wouldn’t bother to do the like; they were born in the midst of the alleged noise of America and to them it is no news. True, John Alden Carpenter has succumbed to the architectural charm of skyscrapers; but his ballet is not a photograph of noises, but a series of rhythmical dances, characteristic of modern America. George Antheil is obstreperous and arrogant; but his noise is not of this country either—rather it goes back to the pre-war experiments of Marinetti and his group of short-sighted futurists. (How cruelly has the Future deceived them!) The only deserving investigator of noises and sounds in America (if Varese is to be disqualified as non-American) is Henry Cowell of “tone-clusters” fame. Someone has remarked that Cowell’s compositions ought to be patented rather than copyrighted. But innovation in music is as honorable as research in other branches of arts and sciences, and Cowell in his “laboratory” in Menlo Park, as Varese in Paris, is doing useful work. Mr. Rosenfeld has no use for Gershwin; he pushes him away to “where he belongs”; that is in the lighter class of music. “The Rhapsody in Blue,” the “American in Paris,” the Concerto in F all seem to him utterances of an unaccomplished musician. It is getting more and more difficult to deny Gershwin’s significance, jazz or not. Mr. Rosenfeld will soon find himself a lone objector. Aaron Copland is one of the most interesting figures in American music. He has all the sophistication that Nadia Boulanger and the Conservatory of Fontainebleau may impart. At the same time he is of the soil, or of the street if you will. At any rate, he is that American composer with European technique who, according to the Prophets, must bring solution to the problem of American music. The reason why Mr. Rosenfeld finds Aaron Copland immature in his style is extremely difficult to compass. Of all things, immaturity is certainly not to be detected in Copland’s compositions, even of the earliest date. On the contrary he seems to have been born with a mature mind. Not even the usual influences—Scriabin, Ernest Bloch—are easily traced in his beginnings. If Stravinsky has come at all across his path, then it has happened after the Music for the Theater and the Jazz Concerto revealed to us his unmistakable self. But Rosenfeld writes entertainingly and brilliantly on Copland, and, with the exception of his dissenting opinion as to Copland’s immaturity, he makes an interesting study of the man. In contrast with Copland, Roger Sessions, his closest associate, has gone through all the preliminary stages: Ernest Bloch, whose pupil he was, and Stravinsky, under whose sway he fell in due time. Mr. Rosenfeld gives an excellent description of Sessions’s
Symphony. “It is rounder, more inevitable and texturally more continuous than any other symphony written by an American. In giving Sessions his place in the advance of American music, it suggests the course a development of his powers might take. Sufficiently fortunate it could scarcely fail of producing an American Brahms.” The other names listed in Mr. Rosenfeld’s survey are Leo Ornstein, the Russian-born musician of grandiose flights of fancy; Dane Rudhyar, the peripatetic mystic with more philosophy than music at his disposal; Adolph Weiss, the faithful disciple of Schoenberg; Carl Ruggles, the sturdy builder; Ruth Crawford, a Chicago lass; Charles Ives, a musicengineer; Virgil Thomson, an impressive phenomenon; Roy Harris, an Oklahoma find; and Carlos Chavez, the Mexican of strangely logical design, whose import Mr. Rosenfeld sees through a magnifying glass, devoting to him an entire chapter. This list of names curiously coincides with that of composers whose works have been published in the eight issues of Henry Cowell’s modernistic quarterly New Music. Even the order of their appearance is nearly identical in Mr. Rosenfeld’s book and in Mr. Cowell’s publications. Otherwise, how shall we account for Mr. Rosenfeld’s giving so much consideration to Dane Rudhyar, who certainly cannot be very well bracketed with Charles Martin Loeffler, as Mr. Rosenfeld does. True, both of them are of Mid-European extraction, but a sense of proportion (which is obviously not Mr. Rosenfeld’s greatest virtue) should preclude such a juxtaposition. But after all, Mr. Rosenfeld does not aim at historical impartiality. He is a militant individual mind, a very interesting mind, and certainly possesses more discernment and more imagination than dozens of people entertaining traditional views. Any art is good but dull. Rosenfeld’s is stirring.
COMPOSER, CONDUCTOR, COSMOPOLITE February 23, 1929 Eugène Goossens, His Accomplishments, Ideals and Musical Background
The British Isles, until very recently, lay musically barren. The once brilliant epoch of Purcell and the madrigalists left no successors. In the eighteenth century Great Britain was importing illustrious Germans to make music at their befogged home. In Queen Victoria’s glorious days Sir Arthur Sullivan went to Germany in quest of musical inspiration. He failed conspicuously; the by-product of his labors—the comic opera— only survived. And then, not urged and unexpected, sprung the youngest generation of English composers—and without much ado, often in the spirit of jollification, registered their names in the history of musical art. Among the Englishmen who make the music of the present day, Eugène Goossens is an inspiring figure. He is an interpreter as well as creator; as orchestral conductor he breaks the exclusiveness that surrounds a composer. He finds himself a member of the living musical world; he faces audiences, and audiences respond to him. He carries music to them—music of all times, with his contribution as a self-portrait. When, in Hollywood, he conducts a performance in the open air and makes the ten thousand of the arena listen with understanding to Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, he enjoys the privilege that few, if any, composers ever have had; and, when to the public that admires him as an inspiring dispenser of symphonic delights he offers his own music, he lastingly establishes himself in the musical brains as well as in the musical hearts—for if success on the concert platform may be disputed, creative achievement, palpably demonstrated, seals tight the doubting lips. By a curious coincidence, Eugène Goossens is not of English blood. His family is of Flemish-Belgian extraction. Goossens spells his first name with an “accent grave” and speaks French with the fluency of a bilingual person. His father, Eugène Goossens, Sr., was named after the grandfather; all three Eugènes of three generations devoted their lives to music, but only Eugène, Jr., disclosed creative gifts. Eugène, the grandfather, was responsible for the first English performance of “Tannhauser.” He also was one of the first conductors of the Carl Rosa Company. His grandson, in due time, came to conduct several performances in the same opera house! The musical streak in the Goossens family was strong enough to bestow a unique blessing on a brother of Eugène, the astounding oboeplayer, Léon Goossens. Eugène Goossens was not a typical child-prodigy. There was little in him that unconsciously moved him towards music as an intangible toy. Rather, understanding came with the early realization of his strange powers. He played violin proficiently and
piano as a matter of course, thereby strengthening George Bernard Shaw’s belief that the day will come when children will congenitally acquire the ability of playing on a musical instrument. He reduced his apprentice years in compositions to faint reflections of Debussy and still fainter—of Skriabin. Then, not yet twenty, he began to write in a style which cannot be described but as peculiarly his own. Simultaneously, he turned conductor, having had previous orchestral experiences in Sir Henry Wood’s orchestra. At first his conductorial appearances were casual and depended exclusively on the magnificent defections of Sir Thomas Beecham with whom he then was associated. Thus he did some of the strangest barnstorming in the life of any musician. In 1921, he founded his own orchestra, which received an instantaneous recognition. Opera for all sorts of instrumental combinations, piano pieces, songs, orchestral short works and even folk-song arrangements were meanwhile dashed off with a facility that was viewed with alarm by many a sympathetic observer, oblivious perhaps of the similar facility of Mendelssohn’s and Mozart’s youthful days. At twenty-six he had already established himself as a versatile musician, conductor and composer. Edwin Evans, his friendly critic and author of the texts (in blank verse) that served for some of Goossens’s finest inspirations (characteristically, for both Evans and Goossens, French verse among them), in his series of monographs in the Musical Times had already—in 1919—a complicated subject before him in the person of the twenty-six-year-old composer. His review, in many points, is not obsolete in 1929. For the path of imaginative evolution chosen by Goossens does not bring startling reversions and apostasies, typical for such turbulent geniuses as Stravinsky. Goossens’s style can be traced by an analyst determined to connect him with the musical past of his country—to the early English composers of madrigals and voluntaries. There is in Goossens the static energy and harmonic tension characteristic of the dispassionate “cold fire” of his remote predecessors. Again, his apparent leaning towards the quaint verse of three centuries ago, the playful and sad ritornelles of which he is making delightful use in his songs, may establish a heredity. But more interesting it is to uncover the elements of his musical structure, to spot, perhaps, some of his favorite devices. The task is not easy. We may safely declare Goossens a “chromatic” composer: his voices ascend and descend languidly in semitones, or skyrocket violently in a bouquet of kaleidoscopic symmetries. But he will delude us with the plainest C major chords of his Quintet. We may point out the ingenious use of contrary motion in full chords running into each other but we will be immediately thwarted by the sight of the military rows of parallel intervals—fifths, fourths, sevenths—or clusters of chords, similarly arrayed; it is true that in the latter case an organ point usually establishes some fundamental unity. A liking for the diminished octave with its flavor of an unresolved suspension can be noted. But rhythmic formulas, so patent in some modern Parisians, defy codification in Goossens’s works. Moreover, slow movements are almost fifty-fifty in relation to the swift—a strange way for a modern composer. Negatively, it can be asserted that Goosens employs no polytonality as the thing is used by Milhaud, for instance. That is there is no stentorian obviousness of it, and all the passages that are suspected of polytonality can be, if tackled without malice aforethought, explained away as the result of the same elusive contrary-parallel motion of intervals or chords. Sometimes, a melody is shadowed by a fifth or by a string of parallel chords
Composer, conductor, cosmopolite [goossens] 2/23/29
(particularly six-four chords), but their very parallelism unites them beyond possible disintegration. Atonality is not a good guess either—the parentage with Schoenberg must be obviously fictitious. Edwin Evans experimented with the twelve-tone notation—when he transcribed into that musical mode some of Goossens’s pages, the intricacy of the music, due largely to the abundance of accidentals, disappeared—the thing became astonishingly clear. But then what of the tonal Goossens? In the works of a composer, like the Russian Obouhov, the twelve-degree notation (which he invented for his own and his fellowatonalists’ use) is eminently fitting. It seems quite idiotic to waste time and ink in marking accidentals in a score of a determined atonalist (and Obouhov is one of the most consistent, for he never allows himself a doubling, thus outlawing the very octave and unison), but when the tonal tissue, no matter how opalescent, appears now and then with a decided clearness, then legitimate doubts arise as to the fairness of the relegation of a composer to an otherwise perfectly respectable company but with which he professes no cordial entente. However, something positive can be said in regard to Goossens’s harmonies. They are advisedly the result of the meeting of several voices—in parallel or contrary motion. This is achieved by counterpoint—that is, each composing part conserves its individual meaning, receding and advancing according to the general plan and for better layout. But—and this is important—the individual voices always get somewhere, proceed in some direction, or await a turn to sustain balance. This rules out unrestrained impressionism—the tinkling variety, pursuing purely acoustic effects. It also draws Goossens nearer to the classical camp. His form is always clear, and exposition free of formalistic ballast. He often does away with the entire business of elaborate working out, and after having stated—but not restated—his subject with sufficient cogency, puts an end to it. His Sinfonietta in one movement is such a statement, emphasized by the resplendent orchestral coloring with the brass let loose in clashing chords. It is interesting to note, for contrast, that Milhaud’s “the worlds shortest” symphonies for small orchestra, contain each two or three movements. Goossens’s Rhythmic Dance written for the mechanic piano and later scored for orchestra is an example of an equally concise statement in rhythms. Goossens believes that music cannot be servant of another art, and shuns vast programmatic designs, but is highly sensible of humor in music. Occasionally, he would admit portraiture or imitation. In his “Teatime” there are five repeated octaves indicating the time of the afternoon. In the same song the street-organ intruding upon the amorous couple inside is suggestive and humorous. His Hurdy-Gurdy Man enjoys fame far beyond the boundaries of the modern musical world. The dissonances are blamed on the familiar defects of the organs pipes and are greatly relished as such. But for the “dissonances de la vie” of Edwin Evans’s verses Goossens underscribes a titillating discord not without the diminished octave. When, however, there is a menace of drowning the musical idea in a sea of local color, Goossens is adamant. He was commissioned to write some incidental music for a theater. In his score, “East of Suez,” he chooses to remain a musician rather than decorator, and adds a note: “No Chinese instruments are used in the orchestra, and the harmonic idiom of the incidental music is Western throughout.” Is Goossens as revolutionary as some would have him, or a neo-classicist as others would prefer to say? A variety of moods is reflected in his music. Like the modern that he is he would jollify in swelling rhythms and melodies, or convert an epigram into tones.
But then, in the Phantasy Quartet he would write a poignant and lyric interlude, or sing “the dolefull’st ditty” with his bereaved Philomel. The romantic strain in Goossens is one of the happiest, musically speaking. His song of Melancholy, “the sweetest melancholy,” is one of the most penetrating ever written to express the mood of contemplative sadness. But has not every composer, worthy of the name, expressed in some degree, all human emotions that stir the soul? Humor, serenity and gayety have always been chief motives for musical inspiration. The moderns who do not exchange sincerity for artifice, will always draw upon this only source. But—and this certain people would not forgive—they will express these emotions in the idiom of their own times—and not in the beautiful but dead speech of the past.
BY INNOVATION SHALL HEARERS RECOGNIZE HIM March 9, 1929 Henry Cowell, Explorer Among Pianistic Possibilities Alights in Boston
When you go to a concert you anticipate a certain amount of pleasure to be administered in the usual fashion, through familiar mediums. You will register surprise and possibly discontent if the performer applies himself to a strange instrument or uses a queer method of attack. You are quite likely to retain such an artist in your visual memory when all aural recollections have faded into a blur. The same short circuit in association of ideas that suggests the nickname “Darwin” for a pet monkey is responsible for many an aberration in judgment of musical or literary personages. That is why notorious persons spend most of their leisure in repudiating all sorts of sticky legends or reiterating forgotten reasons for remembered actions. Among others Henry Cowell is a notorious victim. He is known, if at all, as the fellow who plays on the piano with his elbows and fists. This oddity is enough to strike one’s imagination and is too self-evident to need any further elucidation. The somewhat mannered expression “tone-clusters,” designating several keys sounded together, has remained, however. Charles Ives, who combines successful managing of an insurance company with composition of modern music, recommends a ruler for production of “tone-clusters”; Henry Cowell who has developed remarkable precision in placing the cluster within set limits prefers “natural” methods, but does not object to any other. Surprisingly enough, he lays stress not on the startling appearance but on the effect. As innovator, Henry Cowell directs his attention chiefly to the piano. Not only does he introduce novel technical devices on the keyboard, but he gets inside the instrument, under the open lid, on the sound board. There lie potential tones worth seeking. The naked strings can be swept in glissando, plucked with a plectrum, divided in halves with resulting overtones, tapped and struck variously. Also the lid itself can be used for percussion effects. Of course, such a piano ceases to be the instrument of immortals, and becomes something else, which Cowell chooses to call String and Percussion Piano. It is essentially a new instrument capable of producing new and peculiar timbres. It can be reverberant or subdued; the use of sympathetic vibrations lends tenuous sustained pianissimo. Mr. Salzedo has done something similar to the harp—he uses it both as a percussion and string instrument; he mutes it with a piece of paper and commits many other atrocities upon it. According to some, he violates the very spirit of that celestial instrument, and if anybody deserves Hell and Damnation for that, Salzedo does. But unfortunately for the deprecators, a musical instrument is not the one-sided appliance it seems. The violin in Debussy’s sonata travesties as mandolin, piccolo flute, trumpet and
drum—and a player of genius must be able to find all these timbres within its case. The first musician who plucked the string of a violin or tapped it “collegno” must be held responsible for the appearance of Salzedo and Cowell. Henry Cowell was born in Menlo Park, California, and there he continues to make his home, between times visiting eastern States and Europe. He was “exceptional” and “precocious”, and as such was observed by Dr. Terman of Stanford University, who wrote an interesting account on Cowell’s early investigation into the causes and origins of things that children are supposed to take for granted. Thus, as a child, he had his doubts about the sacredness of consonant music, and began to write dissonances, unaware of a similar reaction among adults in Europe. In 1917, barely twenty, he outlined his book on “New Musical Resources”, which reveals an uncommon scientific spirit and stubborn logic. The desire for novelty has never been Cowell’s stimulus. He has been producing his unmarketable goods disinterestedly, for vindication of his ideas. Twenty of his piano pieces, a quartet with thundersticks and a few songs are available in print; some five hundred songs and piano-pieces remain in manuscript, with a symphony, piano concerto, choruses and other compositions of varying bulk. They usually bear impressionistic names, often borrowed from Irish mythology. Banshee, Leprechaun, wailing ghosts and groaning apparitions appeal to Henry Cowell. The String and Percussion Piano can emit a howl to make one’s flesh creep; moans and groans have never been reproduced more realistically. Again, the fairy cobbler’s shoes are beautifully mended on the lid of an open baby grand (with a darning egg as the requisite implement). Fairy Bells are all a-tinkling, played pizzicato, with the accompaniment of a chamber orchestra. Cowell’s Amiable Conversation looks appalling on paper, while “Antinomy” appears philosophical. Toneclusters are rampant, and produce a most powerful impression on a blindfolded person. A listener who is in the habit of watching the performers doings will be distracted by the sight of flying fists and applied forearms. Henry Cowell can also compose for the ten fingers. His six “ings” (which is the gerundive ending of floating, frisking, fleeting, scooting, wafting and seething) are quite playable and even effective in the most ordinary sense. In his “scherzo” he is almost Mendelssohn-like. By nature an eclectic, he rejects nothing and accepts anything provided that there can be found consistent exposition of an idea. The strength of Henry Cowell lies in his codification of musical means and aims. He is concerned with obvious deficiencies of the pres-ent system of notation, particularly insofar as rhythm and meter are concerned. For instance, why do we have half-notes and quarter-notes, but no third-notes, for which defection we must pay the penalty of an awkward tripleting. With the age of polyrhythm dawning upon us, we are getting into trouble with contrapuntally woven rhythmical designs. Henry Cowell has a stately system that would solve nearly all these difficulties; he creates divisions of all simple numbers, up to eleven, in diamond-shaped, triangular, or rectangular notes, according to the value of each. This system will be accepted when the polyrhythmists gain control of the musical world, for which eventuality it is too early to hope, or to fear. Of far more consequence is Cowell’s attempt to connect fundamental rhythms with ratios of vibration between two notes of an interval, consonant or dissonant. Here Cowell bases his theory on a physical fact and the implication of existence of dissonant rhythms is fascinating.
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Henry Cowell has been exuberantly praised and senselessly rejected by various factions. We quote, “a titre documentaire,” an impression of a professor of a western university: His creations bring one at the strike of a tone-cluster into the very texture of our contemporary world whence one directly experiences the swift and immense dynamism of primal world-destroying and world-creating forces. From the softest murmurings of the piano we ascend with Henry Cowell, by virtue of his original means of tone-production, to planes of being where we recognize a strongly rhythmic cosmos sublimely shaping itself out of weltering chaos by a clash of energies that augments in tonal volume, pyramids its effects into overarching claps of thunder, till in this titanic struggle we behold a world-structure in motion, and quake within to live through the cosmic ordeal. A world structure in motion. Dynamic architectonics! The architecture of the universe breathed upon, stirred by creative impulse into life! What an achievement! The speculation of Democritus, Kant, Einstein, has fused with imagination of Lucretius, Goethe, Robinson Jeffers. Resting on purely musical grounds and leaving philosophy alone, we see in Henry Cowell an independent and intelligent force that is working for the purpose of enlarging and generalizing the chief postulates of musical science. And it is not our concern, with the aid of what unusual devices he produces his effects, as long as these effects are plausible. The oldest and anti-moderns may remember a remarkable gravure, now an unobtainable rarity, entitled “Music of the Future.” In addition to an orchestra of bedraggled and dazed musicians, with the calves of their legs all aquiver and eyes askew, there is seen in the background a set of cats with their tails pressed between two boards screwed together. The conductor is detached from the platform, as both his feet participate in time-beating. Dangling from his desk there are two scores bearing largelettered names of—not Henry Cowell, but—alas!—Richard Wagner and Franz Liszt.
BOUNCING INTO FORTUNE’S LAP AND OUT AGAIN March 14, 1929 The Years and The Courses Of Vladimir Dukelsky, Composer at Hand
Composers of modern music are a wandering race. Often they live and work outside their own country. Ernest Bloch embraced American faith; Varese found congenial surroundings in New York City; while George Antheil went to France “pour epater les bourgeois.” Stravinsky has not seen Russia since the days of “Petrushka.” Prokoffiev revisited the U.S.S.R. after his fame was firmly established in foreign lands. The youngest side of Russia is Vladimir Dukelsky, Russian who writes Russian music outrightful heir to Stravinsky and Prokoffiev in spirit and manner but as independent of either as any college boy blossoming forth into a grand career along the lines in which his parents, now growing respectable, had been prominent and successful. This week his Symphony in F will be heard at the Symphony Concerts. Dukelsky—writes Nicolas Slonimsky to The Transcript—belongs entirely to the twentieth century. He was born in 1903 with the movies and aviation, and grew at a quick pace. At eight he was already engaged in composition of a ballet in fourteen acts, having picked up elementary information about music anywhere he could. He also felt the disturbing flow of poetic feelings within him and indulged in poetry until the realization of his musical powers displaced the weaker gift. Both symbolism and classicism attracted him; he chose Maeterlinck for an “opera in three acts” and an arcadian story about Milovsor for an opera-pastorale. At the Conservatory in Kiev he received regular instruction; his examination-piece—a string sextet—was a surprising revelation of maturity at sixteen; with Dukelsky, in the class of Gliere, was Skriabin’s son, Julian, a boy of genius, who was drowned at the age of eleven. A few piano pieces and an unfinished orchestral score was his legacy and for years after the quality of the music stirred speculation. The civil war in Russia divided the country into separated fragments, with no definite boundaries. The overflow of population moved in general direction southwards, converging on Constantinople, where the various streams met. Dukelsky was caught in the tide, and emerged as Boy-Scout and member of the Y.M.C.A. in the Turkish capital, which at that time was in an occupation by the Allied forces. Dukelsky’s family spoke English, and he himself was a polyglot. American affiliations saved him from the bitterest ordeals of Russian émigrés. He did some piano-playing here and there; composed songs which passed unappreciated at the Y.M.C.A.’s Musicales; wrote a ballet for a Russian group of dancers appearing at one of the theaters. Constantinople in 1920 was a melting pot of all nationalities, fit only for temporary refuge. Steamers and
Bouncing into fortune's lap and out again [Dukelsky] 3/14/29
railroads were busy carrying Russians to France and Germany. Dukelsky waited for a bigger chance and one fine day, an American ship took him and his family to New York. He struggled valiantly for a place in the unorganized musical colony. An Overture from his pen was played at Carnegie Hall and dismissed as a piece of risible pretence. In 1923 Dukelsky completed his Piano Concerto in C Major. It marks his beginnings as composer of power and imagination. There could be no mistake: it sufficed to hear the first two measures—a simple excursion from C major to G-sharp minor and back—to invest in the composers future. As it stands now, it is one of the best modern Concertos— for the piano, not for a dissembling harpsichord or illusory percussion instrument. The quality of the music is such as may be expected from a composer of genius unaware of his abilities and his inspiration, free of influences, repressions or inhibitions. Not a false stroke or affected emphasis from one end to the other, and a display of brilliance in the coda that would dazzle even those brought up on Lisztian sonorities. The secret lies in the simplicity of design and resulting concentration and condensation of effect. The Concerto, willingly proffered by the composer at private parties in arrangement for two pianos, aroused a few inchoate societies of modern music but the tempo of events was obviously slow, with no prospect of a vigorous accelerando. After many discussions, doubts and fears, Dukelsky sailed for Paris, there to start it all over again as others had started. He was well furnished with introductory letters to Parisian magnificoes of the baton and the press. But, almost Lindbergh-like, he did not have to use these testimonials to his worth. He met Diaghilev, played the Concerto for him, was instantly “discovered,” and commissioned to write a ballet. The theme was Zephyr and other winds improbably falling in love with Flora, with intermezzi, interludes and various episodes. Dukelsky wrote it in Monte Carlo, in the basement of the Casino, and Diaghilev’s troupe gave it to the world. From the beginning, the reception was favorable. Dukelsky was “bruited about”; Diaghilev hailed him as his third find—after Stravinsky and Prokoffiev; the papers buzzed; Poulenc and Auric wrote articles about Dukelsky’s opinions on jazz, and his picture was reproduced in musical journals. At the first night in Paris the orchestra played atrociously, but the composer was cordially greeted and, clad in immaculate black and white, bowed from the stage. Then came London and, with changing fortunes, other cities with a few depressing lulls between. Dukelsky was flying back and forth, from Paris to Venice, from Monte Carlo to London, overcoming the barriers that are set for Russian citizens traveling in Europe. He was a picturesque and engaging figure in those days, almost mid-Victorian in the magnificence of his deportment and the resplendence of his attire. Fortunately, his versatility spared him pecuniary embarrassments. He contributed, as Mr. Duke, a few jazz-numbers to a London review, and the royalties therefrom kept him going comfortably for a length of time. He wrote, in 1925, three songs to eighteenth-century Russian texts, charming and simple musical treatment of the subject. Stravinsky was fond of the songs; and seekers for sensation may discover in “Apollo,” which was written two years later, a passage well-nigh identical with the introductory measures of one of Dukelsky’s melodies…. But—has not Stravinsky written a ballet entirely based upon Chaikovsky’s tunes? The Concerto was meanwhile forgotten. It had been published in version for two pianos; the composer had spoken to several pianists of eminence about a possible performance; all were interested, but the necessary orchestration was not forthcoming.
True to the care-free spirit of one who feels the gods at his call, Dukelsky on several occasions missed appointments for which struggling musicians would strive for months. Next, the realization that music inferior to his is performed and enjoyed would throw him into fits of activity, interrupted by a sudden and urgent departure for another point of destination with futile telegrams following in the wake…. Does Dukelsky imitate Stravinsky? This question is the first in the modern catechism. According to Dukelsky himself, he follows Glinka and Dargomijsky, his musical grandfathers, so to say. Inasmuch as Stravinsky harked back in “Maura” to Glinka’s methods (with displacement of harmonies by one-half wave-length, which often pitches the tonic against the dominant) Dukelsky would be imitating Stravinsky imitating Glinka. But there is no trace of Stravinsky’s syllogistic frigidity in Dukelsky’s bright and pastoral style. If Stravinsky is Torquemada, then Dukelsky is a dealer in indulgences, of which he makes ample use himself. His Concerto is a delectable sin, with unashamed cantilena alternating with darts of rhythmic virulence. Question number two: Does Dukelsky revert to Bach or to Handel in some other non-Stravinskian way? Still easier is it to answer in the negative. The next question would touch a composers attitude towards folk-tunes or quasi-folk-tunes. Yes, Dukelsky cultivates them in his songs, and, less obviously, in his ballet. Sophisticated songfulness—the Concerto always excepted—tempts him, and he resorts to it in moderation. It is as difficult for a composer nowadays not to roll down into a numbered hole, as it is to walk on a narrow plank without leaning on the rails. But those unaware of the narrowness of the path are said to walk unperturbed, like Charlie Chaplin, in the “The Circus,” rope-walking and gamboling in the air, not realizing that his support has gone. Dukelsky started gorgeously, and betrays so far no sign of weakness. Why not grant him that high order of distinction—originality? So much, biographically, from Mr. Slonimsky.
OUR JAZZING, THEIR JAZZING, REASONS WHY April 20, 1929 Merits of the European Kind At Last Acknowledged And Recited
When a European composer adopts the idiom of jazz, he deserves pity. Eumenides, as well as less mythological hounds in the form of music critics are sure to be on his trail. He is also an easy prey, for in his admiration for the exotic delight he is bound to lose his sense of balance and overdo things. Americans who hold the secret of jazz-making are even less tolerant of their European followers than the Europeans themselves in judging American art and American tastes. Few fair-minded Americans would consciously recall that jazz-rhythms were first born among negroes, and that the jazz band, fascinating because of its incongruity, was scattered all over the terrestrial globe before having been assembled at some preVolstead bar on the Pacific Coast…. The banjo came from Central Africa (origin disputed), the ukulele came from the Sandwich Islands, or, according to Joan Lowell, was introduced there by a Harvard student. The saxophone was invented in 1842 in Europe; the sliding trombone is by no means a new device; in the realm of percussion only the drum, electrically illuminated from inside constitutes an unquestioned innovation, with the derby hats for mutes imparting an air of informal joviality, essential to the new art. However, the fact remains that jazz has become thoroughly and almost exclusively an American product; all attempts to grasp its spirit by outsiders have heretofore failed notoriously and irretrievably. The curse of the creative jazz-worshipers lies precisely in their religious attitude toward it. Just as a St. John Ervine is “no good” at the American slang or even colloquial American, in spite, or because, of his close adherence to the best rules of the vernacular, in the same way a European composer is laughable because he takes the thing so seriously. American jazz has inundated European music-halls; it is curious to note that a colored player is paid twice or thrice the amount of a white American who may be as good or even better: so strong is the desire to present a guaranteed genuine article. But European masses—the famous man in the street—remain utterly unaffected by the universal syncopation. The song of the year 1924 in Paris was “Titine,” with the melody as contemptible as any of the tunes current fifty years ago, and with the “lyrics” that meant precisely nothing. However, it was such a rage that even General Nobile on the way to Polar regions did not escape it, and, caught by the ear, bestowed the name on his pet terrier, subsequently saved by Captain Lundborg at latitudes inaccessible to popular hits…. About at the same time, with the jazz invasion at its peak, Paris produced a melancholy ditty about “mon village” which was a quieter place years ago than the
present day “Paname,” as Paris has come to be surnamed. The song deplored modern traffic and modern bustle. Jazz was not as much as mentioned in the complaint. Musical comedies of Paris and Berlin are as impervious to American influences. To look over the files of annual successes in Paris: “Ta Bouche,” “Sur la Bouche”—the entire gamut of osculatory exercises, one should think nothing has intervened in European light music since the days of Offenbach. Jean Cocteau, upon hearing the first jazz band play, delivered a winged aphorism: “It is a catastrophe subdued and put to work.” Here we come to the very root of the European jazz problem. Jazz in Europe remains an imported fad, delightful, teasing and irresistible, but hopelessly foreign, a wild orange cultivated con amore in a hot-house. In the process of domestication, Jazz adapts itself to European tastes—and instantly ceases to be jazz. In a new incarnation it may prosper, however. Historically, the Spanish language is a corruption of the Latin; but as surely it is beautiful in its corruption. European jazz is a miss by miles; but—given time—why should it not evolve into an art? The objection is soon to arise that it is hardly credible for a stark imitation article to ever become a genuine product. But the question is not one of genuineness but that of survival under different skies. At any rate, Americans holding the first mortgage on jazz from negro slaves should be more indulgent to second borrowers. Chop Suey is an American dish, not to be found in China (so the Chinese assert), and Charlotte Russe has nothing Russian in it; by virtue of the same paradox, European jazz is, or will be, a concoction recognizably but not identically equal to the American brand. But where are to be found those samples of European jazz that justify the belief that it will ever emancipate itself? As it has been said above, the populace in Europe is unconcerned. It is serious composers, great and small, that are intensely interested in jazz. To understand it psychologically, one must look back at the Europe of the war and armistice days. The old artistic world was crumbling before the onrush of elemental forces armed with modern means of destruction. Somehow it became impossible or even blasphemous to indulge any longer in ethereal longings after an unutterable ideal, to clothe these ideals in intangible veils, to unfold these veils with languid fingers. Opiates cease to function when a hard blow is dealt on the nervous centers. An impulse to activity, if even wasteful activity, led to mass production of dancing music. Past were the days when Maeterlinck and Debussy yearned to tell “something to somebody.” The postwar generation began using plain language enjoying the shock they thus administered to their elders. But then the elders themselves set to thinking and to revising, and one after another, embraced the new spirit of the faster rotating world. Of the dancing, the strongest “kick” was supplied by negro jazz-players who descended upon Paris in the very first days after the armistice. They belonged to the Music-Hall and never claimed a higher station. In the emasculated City of Light they found more. The success of the exotic and animal race among white women in Paris is a historical fact, recorded as such in Krenek’s “Jonny spielt auf.” The Metropolitan production of that opera shied at something that is not even considered secret or reprehensible. In our time of relative enlightenment, the administration of the Metropolitan would have run no risk in presenting Jonny in full splendor of his racial color without recurring to the black-face travesty. Twenty years ago Debussy wrote Golliwog’s cake-walk in the rag-time form. Eric Satie had included a “rag-time” in his “Parade.” Stravinsky, listening to the last cannon-
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shots of the war in his retreat in a Swiss border village, was moved to compose a “rag.” This was not jazz—not yet. The “blue” note of the third that was to destroy the partition between major and minor had not yet sounded to European ears. Nor had the seventh been flatted. According to the science and theory of jazz, as variously promulgated by Paul Whiteman, Aaron Copland and Dr. Isaac Goldberg, jazz is harmony, rhythm, counterpoint and color. Paul Whiteman gives a psychological explanation of the “sad gayety” of jazz, Copland is interested in its “polyrhythms,” Dr. Goldberg proceeds (in his excellent “blue” book) analytically. These men are all Americans, regardless of race and color, and judge the product of their country, from their domestic point of view, with competence and sagacity. A more generalized theory might be offered, regarding jazz as a product of a certain “displacement” of all musical elements as enumerated in Dr. Goldberg’s essay. If the word “lyrics” is taken into consideration, the picture of total “displacement” becomes all the more clear. Along these lines, jazz must be observed in the making, not as rigidly recorded on the music sheet. Most composers of jazz-music know little about written music anyway, and it is essential to an outsider to understand that. Gramophone records are in this respect an invaluable asset. Listen to Helen Kane in her song hits, “I Want to Be Bad,” for example. Jazz is in her blood, closely connected with the American language and accent, and the printed sheet serves her only for an outline. Dance or dancing motion, “shaking shoulders and twisting hips” is as inseparable from the whole. In other words we find ourselves confronted with a primitive coalescence of all arts. “Breaks” have lately been written out in Whiteman’s orchestra, but improvisation still remains an essential element of good jazz. The situation is very similar to the time of figured bass and improvised cadenzas, which were meant to be filled in. The nineteenth century respect for details has obliterated this practice. It is worthy of consideration that the twentieth century has come to revive it. In its chase after the elusive Blue Bird of jazz—European composers have underestimated this part of the game—improvisation. The blue bird has lost her gorgeous hues in the daylight of their examination, and no vivisection could reveal the secret of examination, secret of her vicious vitality. A “displacement” of harmonic contours may easily produce an effect of polytonality or atonality. The abundance of grace notes, in jazzed accompaniments is the first inning of this harmonic instability. Any jazz tune can actually be accompanied in an off key without causing the least difficulty to a native singer. Here a European ear trained to polytonal and atonal effects finds something familiar. The tendency to transfer the beat to an unaccented note produces the effect, known to a European as syncopation. It is quite understandable, but as unattainable to an outsider as the quality of the vowel “a” in the word “bad”, uttered by Helen Kane…. European jazz, the jazz of the printed sheet, is perforce stationary. At the best, a foreigner can learn argot, but he will never be able to enrich it with new words, having no living source to draw upon. But the new material thus absorbed may influence the further development of European music, eventually emerging in a shape conditioned by the peculiar European environment. We can note certain peculiarities of European jazz upon a brief survey. European jazz is humorous, it is often an intended caricature, it is always mischievous. As it should be, we may add, for, having no roots in the soil, it must be mannered. European jazz is lavishly incrustated with counterpoint, usually atonal, rarely polytonal. And so it should
be, for atonality is European for “blues.” European jazz is mildly insinuating, but always polite. Small wonder, for insinuation rather than plain talk is the European way. European jazz is expertly orchestrated. It was to be expected, for Europeans excel in musical salads and macedoines. The blend is always perfect whatever the ingredients may be. European jazz conceals a unifying rhythmical figure behind it, deviations are expressly pointed out, to be complemented by a counter design. Well it may be, for the sense of balance in European music governs the intangible itself. Every European composer in adapting Afro-American rhythms is following a course conditioned by his former practice. Debussy had a genius of sophisticated simplicity; no one, not even Musorgsky himself could talk to children more understandingly. In “Golliwog’s Cakewalk” he opens the door ajar to the music hall. Cakewalk in those days was just as naughty as “twisting hips” is today, and rag rhythms were just as destructive for the spirit of Doctor Gradus ad Parnassum as “I’m Always Chasing Rainbows” is destructive for Chopin’s Fantaisie-Impromptu therein mutilated. Debussy serves this cake-walk with a twinkle in his eye, as a half-forbidden fruit, but sugars it with familiar and exquisite harmonies. Children are flattered or supposed to be flattered at the glimpse of adult life, and then forward the piece to the humorously inclined grown-ups. Not so Satie who wrote designedly for Dorian Grays with baby faces and a log of sins (musically speaking) in a secret chamber. For Satie simplicity is an affectation and an escape. In Cocteau’s “Parade” everything is listless dalliance; taking the cue, Satie indulges in a delicious “rag-time of a packet boat,” with a sustained diatonic line of melody laid against a simple rhythmical design in the manner of early fox-trots. Stravinsky had nothing to learn about syncopation. As early as 1912, in Petrouchka, he used syncopated chords, dangling in the air so to speak, without the slightest support on the accented beat. In a ballet such procedure was uncommon; more of it came in the “Sacre du Printemps”; in “Les Noces” there are characteristic passages with some rough syncopated pile-driving; the one, for instance, where a guest at the wedding speculates in a bass voice about the potential market value of the bride. But this is all pure Stravinsky, and there is not a vestige of jazz. Only in the “rag-time” Stravinsky pretended to embrace the new idiom—and failed gloriously. One finds in this piece a clearly stated rag theme, but the subsequent development takes away all that there was of the “rag,” leaving unmistakably Stravinskian leads and heavy basses, visible to the naked eye and audible to the ear, unadorned with the familiar trumpet. It is all the more puzzling that condemnatory criticism should find clever imitation in this piece which precisely failed in this respect, if imitation was at all intended by the composer. Stravinsky has remained insensible to jazz, and with him that group of young musicians who in spite of their gifts are unable to struggle out of his influence. Prokofiev is even less concerned with jazz; and the youngest of the expatriated Russian composers, Vladimir Dukelsky indulges in it only when he has to eke out his budget by writing for music-halls. Jean Wiéner approached the jazz problem from yet another angle. He took it business like, and at his concerts introduced the black stepchildren of music. He himself wrote several compositions giving a European version of jazz. His “Concerto FrancoAmericain” is particularly interesting. Its important feature consists in the introduction of typically European compound measures of five or seven beats. These rhythms too often appear to be a cerebral product rather than that of inventive imagination. Stravinsky
Our jazzing, their jazzing, reasons why 4/20/29
inaugurated the fashion, but even he amended the rhythmical intricacies of the “Sacre” with a simplified version for practical performances. Wiéner’s Concerto is obviously an exercise in a novel manner. Yet, naive as it may be, the use of compound measures may yet prove to be a distinctive feature of European jazz. Why not a fox-trot in five-four time? With all its rhythmic versatility American jazz holds on firmly to simple meters. As Aaron Copland has indicated, jazz is rich in polyrhythms; in fact, the very syncopation is the result of counterrhythms, three against four. Jazz is, then, so far as rhythm is concerned, an interplay of simple measures of different length. No compound rhythm is present in either of the two parallel lines, and here is something for European jazz to excel in, for these rhythms have long been incorporated into European music. Ravel became interested in that element of jazz which is characteristic of “blues”—the instability of major and minor, the sliding effects. To this he dedicated the second movement of his Violin Sonata, and adduced the name “blues” to it. Ravel’s reaction to jazz is highly instructive to study. He is sparing of effects, but almost never misses fire when he concentrates his efforts on a certain point. In the Violin Sonata he maintains a pedal on the tonic, dominant and the third, and lets the violin perform rhythmical fragments and slides in an unrelated key. The piano gives short rhythmical cadenzas that serve also as a transition from one period to another. Ravel never writes obeying an impulse or following a popular fad. His entry in the field of jazz is significant. Darius Milhaud heard real jazz in America during his first visit here in 1924 and was greatly impressed. In his articles on jazz he particularly notes the band of the Hotel Brunswick, Boston. These bands, playing at hotels not for expectant snobs, but for enjoyment of guests absorb Milhaud’s interest. He proceeds forthwith to transplant this nonchalant jazz into Europe, and puts it even into “Creation du Monde,” challenging Fundamentalists and Darwinists alike. Arthur Honegger is concerned more with American locomotives than American jazz, but as early as 1924, five years before his visit hereabouts, he wrote a few splendid pages of jazz in his Concertino. Alexandre Tansman paid a charming compliment to this country when he regaled American audiences with a portion of jazz in his latest piano Concerto. Again, his pretence was not to beat Americans in their own game (which certain short-sighted persons may have resented) but to say “hello” in the language of the people. It would be interesting to catch his or other composers’ accent, for since “hello” has become a coin of universal currency, it also has undergone changes characteristic of the persons using it, and may eventually transform itself into a new entity, as related to the original edition, as Roman languages are related to the classical Latin. Another interesting example of European jazz is furnished by the fox trot composed in 1924 by a Swiss, Frank Martin, for Julia Sazonova’s Marionette Theater in Paris. Here is a piece written in the idiom without quotation marks. But it is not any more American for that, and fortunately so. Frank Martin uses the devices of an American jazz band— syncopation, free counterpoint, chromatic meandering around harmonic mainstays, and creates a piece which is original and musically interesting. Scored, it contains no saxophone and no percussion thus silencing all charges of imitation. It is almost austere in its minimization and at the same time valuable as an example of early jazz in Europe. Hindemith included a rag-time in his “Suite 1922” for piano. He admonishes the player to forget all about conservatory methods and get as much sound and fury out of the piece as it is conveniently possible. His piece is a perpetuum mobile with stumbling
blocks placed at the end of each run. No jazz to speak of. Rather more interesting rhythmically is the famous duet of the piccolo and the double bass in his Concerto for Orchestra. It is a genuine piece of unintentional jazz. Shostakovich, the new composer from Russia, has thought up a novel scheme. He utilizes jazz-themes (in the case of his recent Symphony it is Youmans’s “Tea for Two”) as folk-lore and submits it to symphonic treatment. Why not? Has not Stravinsky in Petrouchka used Italian airs and other itinerant melodies that swept Russia in the beginning of the century for a purely Russian epic? Curious are the ways of musical traffic. The jazz-makers aspiring for a better world, pick up classical repertory (from the lowest shelf) and smear Dvorak’s Humoresque or Rimsky-Korsakov’s song with their unctuous m-ta, m-ta rhythms, whereas Europeans look at the meanest examples of Irving Berlin’s composite tunes with an air of studious curiosity. Alfredo Casella has orchestrated Berlin’s “Russian Lullaby” and almost made music out of it. But is the original worth Casella’s while? The lilt of this “Russian Lullaby” is that of an American waltz, “Autumn’s Dream” by Joyce. It was ground on all street organs in Russia from 1900 until 1915. As a boy, Irving Berlin must have heard it in his native village, and remembered it in the new country. American jazz has completed a full circle. European jazz held its first victory—disputed as it may be—when Ernst Krenek brought out his jazz opera. “Jonny spielt auf” was written in the summer 1926, and produced in sixty different cities of Europe during the following year. New York had to humiliate itself and go to a Bohemian composer in quest of a real modern opera. An opera with engines, railroad stations, taxi-cabs, radio and telephones! American jazz via Europe! You might as well import spaghetti to Italy. It came back considerably whisked up, but clearly recognizable. Even the polyrhythms were present, giving an excellent rapid waltz time within regular four-four measures. Little consolation, for in Krenek’s score jazz has become “yachtset,” as Germans pronounce it. Poor Jonny was condemned on the ground of gross exaggeration and false pretence. No plea of ignorance or foreign influence was taken into consideration. It will take a considerable cooling down until the moment arrives when the American public will take “Jonny” as he is—an expatriate speaking with an accent, but still of the good old stock of American syncopators. He is also naive, as the manager of the heroine is when he raves about the great fortune that awaits him in America and the imminent success of his artist. Europeans will always think that an “American contract” is the golden road to glory. Only a trans-Atlantic journey with the subsequent revelation that America is not an easy nut to crack, will cure Europeans of this mirage of idle and yielding American wealth. And what hundred-percenter, what jingo can pay a more touching tribute to God’s country than the concluding hymn of Krenek’s opera? Here it is in extenso: The hour has struck for Old Time to go. The new Time is dawning. Do not miss the moment! The journey to the unknown land of liberty has begun! Thus, Jonny strikes up the band for our dancing! The New World comes across the sea in radiance and inherits ancient Europe by means of the dance!
Our jazzing, their jazzing, reasons why 4/20/29
(From a lecture, with music, on European jazz and Krenek’s “Jonny” delivered at the Boston Public Library on Sunday, April 14.)
MODERNIST SPRUNG FROM THE ANCIENTS May 28, 1929 Casella as The Concert of His Chamber Pieces Will Reveal Him E pur si muove!
Modern music it is asserted by some, is the music of modern noise. If it lapses into serenity or—horribile dictu!—romanticism, it ceases to be modern. Shortsighted friends and vaticinating enemies of modern music, both make the tacit admission that the path of music leads towards an inextricable thicket, which by some miracle is bound to appear simple to modern minds accustomed to the rebuses of modern life. Not long ago one of the solicitous sympathizers complained about the situation in a magazine devoted to modern music. In his view, the very raison d’être of modern music seemed to be lost at the pitiful sight of the modern Samson getting a hair cut. Even the redoubtable Varèse, who used to get his inspiration from the din of buildings in construction, is now preparing a “simplified edition” of his “Amériques,” to the extent of sacrificing the “crow-call” and the steamship-whistle, so tantalizingly featured in the first edition of the score. If this “retreat” is a resignation, then the superannuated gentlemen of the enemy camp are right to sound a recessional. If modern music is the music of noise, then it will pass away unregretted. Fortunately for true modernists, the assumption is wrong. Confusion exists only in the minds of detractors, while modern builders remain quite unperturbed— even Stravinsky, the mystery man of modern music. Alfredo Casella is one of the few moderns not in the least distracted by the seeming dissolution of the materia musica. His musical pedigree is so sound that his art appears a resultant of the entire evolution of music. Indeed, in his remarkable treatise on musical cadences, he traces a direct line from the crude chorales of the thirteenth century to the elaborate conclusions of his own period. Only Schönberg and his disciples remain outside—perhaps for the sin of destroying the musical mode. Casella himself has never been attracted by atonality; in all his numerous works he remains true to the ideal of definite modality. Within these limits he may be aggressively polytonal, as in “Pages of War,” or descriptive and national as in the well-known “Italia.” But the fundamental plan is always clear, and the intellect behind is at all times present in his scores. That is why they make excellent “augen musik” (by no means a disparaging term) for study. At the same time, Casella’s mastery in handling instruments achieves the maximum of effect with the minimum of means. Goethe’s saying that law is liberty and limitation is enrichment is fully applicable to Casella compositions.
Modernist sprung from the ancients [Casella] 5/28/29]
In this respect the new Serenato for Clarinet, Bassoon, Trumpet, Violin and Violoncello—to be played at his concert in Brown Hall tomorrow—is particularly interesting. The number of instruments was not to exceed six, according to the terms of the competition for which it was written and in which Casella shared the first prize with Bartók. Casella takes five, in unusual combination; in the Gavotte renounces the two string instruments and gives a demonstration of technical skill in writing an exquisite trio for wind-instruments. In the Cavatina he employs only the violin and the ’cello, in fourpart writing, in double-stops. The concluding chord of the Cavatina is ingeniously written for the ’cello soaring high in double harmonics, with the low C string plucked pizzicato by the only unoccupied finger; while the violin furnishes the middle harmony in the lowest register of the instrument. This inversion of registers is used by Casella in various works, and is the secret of their uncanny vitality. The Concerto Romano, heard last Sunday at Symphony Hall under the composer’s direction, exploits the possibilities offered by unusual blendings of the great organ and brass against the background of strings. Here we find the same renunciation of tinsel and shine in favor of frugal and sober sonorities. The Sonata for Piano and Violoncello, also to be heard on Wednesday, is written along the same lines, with the inversion of registers again at play with felicitous results. Three thirteenthcentury Songs for Soprano are varied in mood, the first in “strict style,” the second a “recitative,” the third a miniature opera buff a, in the typical march-like movement. In this latter type of composition Casella delights: he returns to it in the “March” from the Serenata as well as in the Concerto Romano. Be it said also that Casella is a composer of definite and symmetric designs; that he abhors suggestion instead of statement and diffusion instead of compactness. He is never formless; rather he is uniform, and the ternary construction—a songful part separating the two sections of a rondo—lies at the foundation of nearly all of his works. Hence, the rule of contrasts and variations in the largest sense, the familiar in the new according to William James’s phraseology. Thus one may discover the upper tetrachord fulfilling an important office in Casella’s musical diction. Certain rhythms and figures, virile and direct, may be traced here and there as a sort of individual stamp. While four styles have been discerned in Casella’s works by commentators, the last, or the latest, style seems to be his true idiom, connecting the composer with his predecessors in Italy and establishing him as a member of a natural evolutionary line. In this latest period, it is true, he adheres perceptibly to the style known as Gregorian, or modal. Chromaticism has little or no charm for Casella; while his scores certainly do not look modern, if the word is to be misinterpreted as connoting something involved and eccentric. H.L.Mencken once concocted a delicious parody on a program-book discoursing learnedly and endlessly upon a tone-poem written by a German with an unpronounceable name. The composer, it seems, was engaged in platitudes coated in a thick layer of double-sharps and triple-flats which would make a Chinese riddle out of simple C major. If Mencken’s German was a modernist, then Casella is none of that, for his pages look astonishingly blank, with hardly an accidental. As in some of Prokofiev’s straightforward music, C major is often featured. The British gentleman who, according to a newspaper anecdote, wearily sank into his sofa pillows and requested somebody to play a C major chord as the necessary antidote to a whole evening of modern music which he had had to endure, would not have needed this musical balm after a concert
from Casella or Prokofiev. Some statistician ought to make a comparative study of moderns and ancients in this respect. He would find the classics the more chromatic. Moderns of Casella’s type have thus restored the simplicity lost by late romanticists. But Casella’s simplicity is the simplicity of strict counterpoint which is not so simple after all. Whoever cares to investigate will find feats of contrapuntal skill in such scores as the “Partita” or the “Scarlattiana.” The direct appeal of these works has been tested; the scholarship in this case is applied to enhance the value (even the box office value) of the composition. For the restless spirits that are not contented with “ear-sports,” as music used to be termed by pre-Elizabethans, remains the pleasure of “eye-sports”—a study of a modern composer who is modern not because he emulates the elevated trains, but because he expresses the eternal musical truth in the pliant sentences of contemporary speech.
THE PIT THEY HAVE HOLLOWED FOR TOSCANINI November 2, 1929 The Illustrious Conductor in Peril from Excess of Admiration
When an interpreter of arts has reached a universally acknowledged eminence, a need grows to incorporate his deeds and fancies in book form. Floral tributes fade, and applause dies away, but a book of reverent biography will endure. Arturo Toscanini is incontestably a world figure. The wide interest aroused by his appearances in this country has caused one of our most discriminating publishers, Alfred Knopf of New York, to publish a volume of 222 pages dedicated to the life and works of the famous conductor. The book is written by one Tobla Nicotra, and translated from the Italian by Irma Brandeis and H.D.Kahn. It appeared last spring when Toscanini sailed for Italy; now that he is again “with us,” it is fitting to return to the only publication available in the English language which deals with Toscanini not only as a conductor of genius but also as a mortal among mortals. That the book is “authoritative” and based on first-hand information, no reasonable doubt can persist. A single example will suffice. The biographer gives an instance of Toscanini’s generosity in financial matters, when he contributed one hundred thousand Italian lire to the “Pro Scala” fund, at the Scala Theater of Milan. The Association of Trustees of that organization had presented Toscanini with a check for that sum to mark their appreciation of Toscanini’s services. Toscanini refused to accept the gift, protesting that he had only done his duty. His rejection startled the trustees. They wrote him begging to accept their spontaneous offering. They “marked time in trepidation” awaiting his reply. This time Toscanini accepted, only to turn the check to the fund of the Pro Scala, with an admonition that the donor should remain anonymous. Hence, the item on the memorial tablet at La Scala: “Signor N.N.—100,000 lire.” Munificence like evil deeds “will out.” Undoubtedly, it was difficult to keep the secret, but it is equally obvious that the disclosure could have been made only with the express permission of the association, and under the condoning eyes of the donor himself. Which bears no reflection on the honor of either; the story of this gift, twice offered, once rejected, once accepted and finally turned over to charitable purposes, was bound to become public, or a beautiful occasion would have been missed to show that noble souls still exist in our materialistic age. This and similar information leads us to believe that we are dealing with an official biography, issued, most probably, with Toscanini’s knowledge of the text, or, at least, representing the point of view of Toscanini’s closest friends and admirers.
If it were not for this “human interest” the book should have been wearily passed over by the board, for as a literary product it is utterly inconsequential, dabbling in laughable theorizing, and infused with that peculiar logic that is best illustrated in the famous lines of the hardy captain of the Pinafore:
Though I’m anything but clever, I can talk like that for ever; Once a cat was killed by care; Only brave deserve the fair. As irrelevantly, Signor Nicotra quotes in profusion from Schiller, Schopenhauer, Tolstoy, Nietzsche, Victor Hugo, Berlioz, Taine, and others, and then “jumps to conclusions” utterly unwarranted by the quotations. His language is turgid and, at times, unbelievably clumsy. For this the translators must accept their share of the blame. It seems that even cursory editing would cleanse the text of such redundancies as “mounting crescendo,” such misuses as “hectic” for “exciting,” such inexcusable journalisms as “snags” (in a score!) and of numberless “metaphors gone insane”—as Mark Twain used to term mixed figures of speech. Chapter One tells us of Toscanini’s first steps in music. It is scant in actual information, but rich in instances of topsy-turvy logic. Thus we learn that “the large majority of young persons with any degree of exceptional (?) musical talent make up their minds at the first opportunity that they must become composers.” “Not so Toscanini…. His diploma had not infected him with the common itch to produce a steady flow of musical compositions.” But on the very next page we find that Toscanini “did, none the less, make a few early attempts at compositions.” Moreover: he “entered into negotiations with the editors Giudici and Strada” and had published some songs the titles of which (Desolazione, Nevrosi, Autunno and such like) the biographer officiously offers to the reader. He does not venture to discuss the merit of the compositions themselves, but gracefully turns about to proffer a theory which is worth mentioning in view of its recent revival in the columns of the New York press: It must be noted that in their matchless comprehension Toscanini’s readings of music themselves border on creation and provide him an aesthetic satisfaction almost identical with the composers. And further on: when one is really stirred by the beauties of a composition, he is almost sure to be pricked by the desire to write one of the kind himself—less for the sake of rising to the composer’s rank than in order to experience emotions which, since more personal, will presumably also be deeper. This inarticulate muttering echoes what more literate writers try to establish as dogma: the interpreters supremacy over the composer. The idea springs from the most natural
The pit they have hollowed for toscanini 11/2/29
sources: the desire of the mediator to become master. When actual “creation” is beyond the powers of an artist, the “common itch,” of which Toscanini’s biographer speaks, will lead him to an act of folly: the usurpation of the “creators” rights. There are patrons of arts who put their signature over a work of some poor fellow of a composer, and learn to convert their vicarious indulgence into actual belief in their authorship. They are not unlike the interpreters who declare themselves above the composers. It is a pity: for, admirable in their proper place, they become ridiculous when headstrong admirers drag them into a wrong category. Toscanini’s first appearance as conductor was with an Italian opera traveling in South America. Signor Nicotra’s account of the incident is so confusing that it is impossible to understand why the public, incensed by the orchestras treatment of a native conductor who had resigned in protest, hissed off the two Italians who in turn took up the baton, but accepted Toscanini, then a mere boy of nineteen, summoned from his ’cellist’s desk to conduct. But to quote Signor Nicotra’s own inimitable lines: There stands young Toscanini on the conductor’s dais wearing somebody else’s dress coat—which they have got him inside of without his being aware of it—holding a baton someone has managed to thrust between his fingers. He closes the score (for he is never during his whole career to conduct except by memory), lifts his baton, sends the familiar (sic!) electric glance to left and right, and gives the signal for attack. The feat of getting into somebody’s coat without being aware of it can only be matched by the ingenuity of the language in which it is expressed. Signore Nicotra fails to explain how Toscanini’s electric glance could have been familiar if it was his first appearance at the desk. But this is the delightful feature of all Nicotras, Italian, American, universal— that the limitations of space and time, common sense and elementary grammar disappear when confronted with a genius. Toscanini is a happy possessor of an excellent musical memory. He conducts all his performances without notes. It is a most valuable gift, which enables the conductor to eliminate the often annoying physical barrier between him and his players. Toscanini may be a “memory phenomenon,” but he is not the only one. Sir Thomas Beecham conducts not only at the performance, but at all rehearsals without a score. Albert Coates does as well. And then there are Stokowski, Mengelberg, Gabrilowitch—all “score-less” conductors. With that, the range of their repertory is considerably wider than Toscanini’s. Signor Nicotra’s anecdotes which he relates to substantiate the legend of Toscanini’s uniqueness in this respect are suspiciously unconvincing. Here is number one: When his teacher Giusto Dacci heard the current rumors about his pupil’s memory, he was frankly skeptical and asked Toscanini whether the report was true. In reply Toscanini at once sat down and wrote out the entire overture to the first act of Lohengrin! Does Signor Nicotra realize that to “at once sit down and write out” an overture requires hours of time? Did the challenger wait for him to finish? And who selected the item to be
“at once written out”? It is not at all clear even in Signor Nicotra’s own sympathetic description. Anecdote number two: The first violinist of Toscanini’s quartet wrote an Adagio in tribute to a count. It was performed once, but when the friends assembled at the count’s home a year later, the composer was not there. The count bemoaned his absence all the more bitterly because there was no copy at hand to revive the Adagio, of which the count grew fond. Toscanini took the other two aside. “Shall we surprise the count?” he asked. “Give me a pencil—here’s a piece of paper.” And he proceeded to rewrite the Adagio from memory. It has not been recorded whether the counts delight matched his surprise when he heard the first notes (sic!) of his quartet come back to life. Sly Signor Nicotra! Were only the first notes rewritten by Toscanini, or the entire quartet? Only in the latter case would Nicotra’s claims be justified. Relating the story when Toscanini “stepped in” to conduct “Cristoforo Colombo,” Signor Nicotra is again non-committal, almost cleverly so. Did Toscanini conduct this opera from memory? His biographer does not say “yes” or “no,” and proceeds to tell some mild nonsense about Toscanini’s school days when “he had only to hear a motif to be able to write it down.” This method of procedure is apt to produce an effect opposite to the biographers intentions, even arouse some suspicion. Once upon a time Toscanini indulged in some talks on music. Signor Nicotra quotes Toscanini’s digests of Mozart’s and Beethoven’s lives, and comments on them: Toscanini’s “Conversazione” are full of absorbing data as well as illuminating sidelights on his own viewpoint. It becomes clearer than ever, reading them, that this man never forgets anything: dates, names, sto-ries, as well as the literature of his special province, remain in his mind like some super-child’s learning in an unerased copy book. Why this strange conclusion? Was Toscanini barred from the use of the Encyclopedia while he compiled these Conversazione? In his haste to claim the earth for Toscanini, Signor Nicotra gets into most embarrassing situations, contradicting himself on every page, in every paragraph. Toscanini is a great conductor; his symphonic concerts ought to be studied for their technical excellence, the root of which may be found in his operatic routine. But Toscanini is notoriously limited in his repertory. His “first performances” are gathered chiefly from Italian works of a “mild” variety, from such genial composers as Respighi and Sabata. Alfredo Casella, the more individualized Italian, is significantly absent from Toscanini’s programs. Toscanini takes in Strauss and some Debussy, and ventures an abridged version of Stravinsky’s Petrouchka. He plays strictly honorable music, and indulges in no experiments. A noble attitude, respectable in every way. But his official biographer would not keep at rest; he has to prove that even in the realm of orchestral music Toscanini is “uber alles.” The results are lamentable. The sample programs of Toscanini’s concerts in Italy, with Mendelssohn’s Overture to Midsummer Night’s Dream on nearly every one of them, look childish when compared with those of modern conductors. And when Signor Nicotra tells us that Toscanini’s second program in Milan
The pit they have hollowed for toscanini 11/2/29
was distinguished by “a richly varied program—the Manfredini Concerto Grosso, Respighi’s ‘Ballata delle Gnomidi’ and the Beethoven and Wagner selections of the previous concerts” he plainly tries his readers’ patience. Signor Nicotra carefully avoids all that is obscure in Toscanini’s biography, for instance the trouble that precipitated his departure from America after his break with the Metropolitan. But he does recount—in a chapter euphemistically entitled The Dionysiac—the untoward happening when Toscanini broke a bow on a violinist’s head, with the subsequent court proceedings. He offsets the story by a few touching fairy tales where Toscanini figures as a forgiving teacher and his musicians as reverent pupils. In one instance, Toscanini shouted at a musician and called him an ass. The offender—that is the musician—was heart-broken, not because of the insult, but because Toscanini addressed him formally, in the Italian equivalent of Mr.! Signor Nicotra does not like to recall the condemnatory attitude that the entire country and the press took against Toscanini after he had struck the musician. But Toscanini was the pride of the nation and a senator. He was acquitted, after a most ingenious defense offered by the celebrated psychologist Annibale Pastore: The musical “sacro furore,” he said is frequently capable of causing such intense excitation as fully to eliminate the normal personality. In this case it would be a grave mistake to call the normal Toscanini to account for what happened. Everyone, psychologist or not, can see what exaggerated proportions the musical pathos takes in him. The Dionysiac mood— essential to musical life—might be described as orgiastic transfiguration, during which every inhibitive force is suppressed and impulsive power exaggerated to the point of paroxysm…. The faculty of distinguishing good and bad and acting in accordance with the distinction is replaced by the faculty (acting and reacting with extreme violence) of response to beauty and ugliness…. In his almost indescribably emotional state at that rehearsal Toscanini’s act was typical of the unconsciousness of genius, breaking with all the surface conventions of normal life. To condemn him for it would be as bad as condemnation of musical genius. This raises a tremendous issue. If for a superb performance of a symphony it would be necessary to injure one of several musicians, what should be sacrificed—art or skull? Optimists still think that both the integrity of art and that of the human body can be preserved without undue strain on the temperamental director. After his interlude in court Toscanini never broke a violinist’s bow, and his performances have not suffered therefrom. Even from his own point of view, self-constraint must be beneficial, for violent actions are necessarily distracting to the artist and, therefore, detrimental to the work of art at hand. Peace will come when artists—great and small—will civilize themselves, and when their admirers will acquire enough sense to keep their heads cool, even in the very process of self-immolation at the shrine of a current deity.
UNALLOYED, UNDECORATED, UNDIMINISHED November 30, 1929 Musorgsky’s “Boris Godunov” In Original Version for American Hearing
The restoration of the authentic version of Musorgsky’s opera “Boris Godunov” is not only a great artistic event but also a sign of the times. The “people” that according to Pushkin’s stage directions, remain “silent,” when told of the election of the usurper Boris, and later, of the impostor Grishka, that people have suddenly revolted against their artistic guardians, and have demanded to be shown into the laboratory of the genius without benefit of editors. Musorgsky’s original version is by no means a recent discovery; during the composers lifetime, and under his supervision, a vocal score was published by Bessel. But in this edition, the composer robbed himself of some ten pages of exquisite music from the final scene between the Overseer and the people. In the words of Victor Belaiev, the scholarly author of an illuminating pamphlet on the genuine “Boris,” “the exclusion of this exquisite close of the whole tableaux, exquisite in both a musical and a scenic respect, is difficult to understand.” As incomprehensible is the elimination of the eighty-four bars of “magnificent music which must be ranked amongst Musorgsky’s greatest achievements,” as Belaiev appraises it—the music of Pimen’s account of the Tsarevitch’s murder, essential to the dramatic completeness of the opera. These two scenes and some other significant additions have been for the first time brought out, thanks to the labor of love performed by Paul Lamm in his edition of Musorgsky’s “Boris,” Oxford University Press. This edition also gives some most interesting variants, among them the original version of the scene in the Tsar’s apartment in the Moscow Kremlin. Needless to say, Rimsky-Korsakov is entirely blameless for Musorgsky’s voluntary self-abridgement as evidenced in the composer’s vocal score. Rimsky-Korsakov’s “guilt” may be established only by comparison between his revised text and the composer’s. Musorgsky’s vocal score has been recently reprinted by several publishing houses and thus has rekindled the controversy. But the controversy itself is old. Only the point of view has changed. The harmonies that appeared coarse and uncouth fifty years ago, are now stimulating and revealing. The orchestration that seemed drab and ineffective to professional orchestrators, appeals to the modern ear by its very restraint. The epoch of show and display has terminated with the war, was killed by it. Composers themselves set to revise their early works and tear off the tinsel that once was spark. Thus Stravinsky has plucked orchestral feathers a-plenty from his immodestly luxuriant “Fire-bird.” RimskyKorsakov, who lived in a different century, has done the reverse; and, as we compare the noble economy of Musorgsky’s orchestra with the gaudy brilliance of Rimsky’s we
Unalloyed, undecorated, undiminished [Musorgsky] 11/30/29
wonder how he, a sincere admirer of Musorgsky’s genius could err so egregiously. In the apt phrase of Lawrence Gilman, Rimsky might as well have introduced harps and celesta into Brahms’s C minor Symphony. From the point of view of harmony, Rimsky’s alterations have been under suspicion long before the restoration of the genuine “Boris.” In some instances the correcting hand of a professor is too obviously present. Consistently, Rimsky has eliminated all “mixing” of the harmonic and melodic minor scales (in Xenia’s lament); has resolved superimposed suspensions (in Marina’s phrases in the scene at the fountain); has sewed up disparate keys by appropriate modulations; has done much more distorting work. He was sincerely convinced that Musorgsky aimed high, but fell short; he sincerely wanted to help a friend and a genius who unfortunately was lacking in technique. He lodged with Musorgsky in the autumn of 1871, and knew him intimately. Yet a note of anger sounds in these lines from his memoirs: It looked as though Musorgsky suspected me of being the conservative professor who might convict him of parallel fifths, and this was unbearable to him. And then, more explicitly: His style lacked finish and gracefulness of form. This he lacked because he had no knowledge of harmony and counterpoint. At first, Balakireff’s circle ridiculed these needless sciences, and then declared them beyond Musorgsky. And so he went through life without them and consoled himself by regarding his ignorance as a virtue and the technique of others as routine and conservatism. The first version of “Boris Godunov” was rejected by the committee of the Imperial Theater of St. Petersburg, on account, among other rea-sons, of the discontent of Giovanni Ferrero, a double-bass player and a member of the committee. He was shocked by the composers employment of the double-basses divisi playing chromatic thirds in the accompaniment to Varlaam’s song. Rimsky-Korsakov finds this ridiculous. He tells us of the fury and indignation of the composer at the unofficial suggestion that he should introduce “love- interest” into his opera (the first version did not contain the Polish scene, nor the scene of Revolt). Upon second thought, Musorgsky submitted, and set to the composition of these scenes. (It was while he was lodging with Rimsky.) The part of Marina was created, in accordance with Pushkin’s text, and, at the energetic insistence of the prima donna, Madame Platonova, who wanted the opera for her benefit performance, “Boris” was presented in its entirety, in January, 1874. Shortly before, the composers vocal score was published. The performance was a great event according to the account of V. V.Stasov, Musorgsky’s thunderous champion. Other accounts do not record an outstanding success, however. Cesar Cui published an article nothing short of slanderous. He termed the work immature and hasty. Musorgsky’s correspondence shows how deeply this unexpected attack wounded him. Can the surmise be substantiated that the more conventional form and development of the Polish scene was partly due to the fact that the two composers lodged together at the
time, and that Musorgsky had undergone a certain disciplining influence, albeit, the two friends worked separately? Rimsky-Korsakov tells us in his memoirs, that their time was strictly divided; Musorgsky was regularly employed in the Department of Woods and Forests, and was on duty part of the day. Rimsky-Korsakov had his professorship at the Conservatory, which left some time—and the right to use the piano—to Musorgsky. But they “constantly exchanged plans and ideas.” But even if Musorgsky himself would have succumbed to Rimsky-Korsakov’s better learning, there would have been room left for the selective mind of new musical generations to choose. It often happens that the composer, on second thought, tones down some of his effects. Chopin’s works are most interesting for study in this respect. Liszt took the liberty of retaining the “discordant” E flat in the final chord of the introduction of the first Ballade, even if Chopin changed it in the proofs. For a final version, a choice has to be administered, when there are several authentic variants. The discriminating hand of Leopold Stokowski has undoubt-edly fixed some details in the score for the first presentation of the genuine “Boris” in this country. The eminent Russian critic, Igor Glebov, advances an interesting theory that the hero of Musorgsky’s national opera was not Boris, but the people itself. He substantiates his theory by showing how, in the original version, Musorgsky, preferred less poignant tones in Boris’s declamation. Also, the placing of the scene of revolt after that of the Tsar’s death seems to have a significance of its own. There was more importance given in the original version to the roles of courtiers and other minor characters. The deleted parts were mostly those related to the people, or the people’s contact with the officials. Musorgsky’s original plan might have been checked by such considerations as the impossibility of staging an opera without a hero, or with a collective hero; perhaps, the thought of possible censoring diverted him from his idea. Whatever it was, Musorgsky’s figure appears before us on a far higher plane than that of his immediate friends and coworkers. The very elusiveness of his main line, the variety of interpretations that his scores afford, testify to his greatness, seen from all angles of space and time. A purely national product, his musical genius knows no frontiers. A musician of his time, he nevertheless moves parallel with the new generations—like a star too distant to be affected by the relative changes within our limited circle.
THIS AMERICA DEEP IN HIS FERVENT SOUL December 27, 1929 Ernest Bloch, Rhapsodist, Prize-Man, Composer None the Less
A composer is about to be glorified in an unprecedented way. Ernest Bloch’s epic composition “America” is to be performed—almost simultaneously, day for day, hour for hour—by major orchestras of the United States. The composer himself will hear the San Francisco Symphony—for in the Far West he is making his home now. An anthem concludes “America”; the composer hopes that it will become an inspiring call to the people, that the audience will rise to it and join the voices of the score. Then, a miracle will have been performed, and this country’s national hymn—which at present is also that of the imperial Austria and England—will be spontaneously born. Ernest Bloch, the creator of a new American musical epic! Ernest Bloch, the prophet of racial music, the Parisian modernist of yore! What a complex of personalities, what a storm of passions! And what devastating sincerity in this violent, changing soul, ever blazing with the fire of imperishable faith. Faith, in spite of sufferings that pervaded his stormy life, in spite of grinning despair, in spite of his own disbelief. Ernest Bloch is, beyond doubt, the most individual composer of our age. His works are inseparable from his own destinies and the tides and ebbs of his moods are the flow of his music. Nor does music exhaust his energies, to the elimination of all that cannot be expressed in sounds. Ernest Bloch is ever tortured by problems involving mankind as a whole, inter-relation among people, truthfulness of life. A tempestuous mind that would not have the peace offered him on the golden dish of self-contentment. He seeks storms as men seek repose, and in the conquest of them he finds his supreme happiness—to be compared in depth of emotion only with his utter wretchedness when the stream of baser life intrudes upon his inner self. The fairy that bestowed the musical genius upon Bloch, also cursed him with the spirit of piercing understanding and a craving for reform. Wit—destructive and without mercy—making strange bedfellows with faith, adds to the mental unrest of Ernest Bloch, who finds no place on earth to rest his weary head. The refuge of creed is constantly bombarded by doubt; skepticism is made impossible by the desire to live on—and to make life truer to the ideal. Sincerity shuts off self-complacence and soothing hypocrisy. Ernest Bloch will live. He was born in Geneva—the home of the League of Nations—on the border of the serenest of lakes, in a country of peaceful and beautiful living. A Swiss Jew—what can be nearer to the ideal of true internationalism? Yet, he loves every nation as a bearer of an ideal. His Americanization is a true one—for it is conversion to an ideal, insomuch as
America embodies it. “I have charged myself, needed or unheeded, to compose a march for these States.” Thus Walt Whitman. “It is the hope of the composer that this anthem will become known and beloved, that the audience will rise to sing it, becoming thus an active and enthusiastic part of the work and its message of faith and hope.” Thus Ernest Bloch. In his search for an everlasting ideal, Ernest Bloch keeps close to life, rejoicing at every spark of goodness and worthiness, that can be found in a human soul. His utterances seldom know the middle way; he fluctuates, like Dostoievsky, between the abysses of whole-hearted acceptance and scornful rejection. He writes as if driven by an inner force of unquenchable intensity. He reads, he corresponds. He opens wide his arms to anybody who is willing to understand him. But he speaks as openly to the face of dull complacency. He is a man of enemies and friends divided by the sharp line of two irreconcilable psychologies: shall life be made more beautiful and more truthful? Shall life be made more comfortable and more durable? Many an element of beauty or truthfulness must be sacrificed to secure comfort and care-free existence. When Bloch “failed to be re-engaged” at Cleveland, was not this the core of the trouble, rather than his intransigence and the committee-ladies’ tender feelings? A parallel was often drawn between Bloch and Beethoven. Analogies are odious, but it cannot be said that Beethoven was always inspired in his actions by the purest of designs. It must be conceded, even by Bloch’s enemies, that he, however erratically from their smug point of view, was actuated by the spirit of human truth. Ernest Bloch started early on his way. He was barely twenty-one when his Symphony was performed at Geneva. Romain-Rolland wrote him an enthusiastic letter. He admonished the youth not to listen to praises or condemnations. Indeed, Bloch never cared for outward signs of recognition. The peculiar process in his mind consisted in projecting an ideal upon the world; the recognition was necessary for him as a sign, as a wave of hand from a friend. But there it ends—no vainglory, no ticklish sensation of fame. Above all, no pose, but an outspoken attitude, which, by virtue of its very incredibility, in the eyes of some people amounts to a pose. The Opera “Macbeth” which was produced at the Opera Comique in Paris some twenty-five years ago was met by usual derision and some harshness—its music, so natural and easy to modern ears, was declared barbarian. The composer was dismissed with a shrug and a warning. “The Jewish Poems” were first rejected by Dr. Muck during his term of office at the Boston Symphony, because of the title, but were accepted later, when the composer exhibited a rather uncommon tenacity to the notes as well as to the words above them written. Dr. Muck is said to have been pleased with Bloch’s uncompromising attitude. The composer con-ducted—it was his first visit to America— the performance was a success. “The Jewish Poems” impressed by their impetus and racial self-assertion. His Shelomo for ’Cello and Orchestra and the “Israel” Symphony definitely established his reputation as a Jewish composer, given to revealing the chosen race in music. He revolted against this confinement in an open letter. “Why should I be bottled, labelled, compelled to eat Kosher all my life? I have more personalities than one, I have not said my last word.” More personalities than one! Rarely does a man see himself in a truer light! His Jewish personality is but one of many aspects of his soul.
This america deep in his fervent soul [Bloch] 12/27/29
It is the Jewish soul that interests me, the complex, glowing agitated soul, that I feel vibrating throughout the Bible; the freshness and naivete of the Patriarchs; the violence that is evident in the prophetic books; the Jew’s savage love of justice, the despair of the Preacher Jerusalem; the sorrow and the immensity of the Book of Job; the sensuality of the Song of Songs. All this is in us; all this is in me, and it is the better part of me. It is all this that I endeavor to hear in myself and to transcribe in my music the venerable emotion of the race that slumbers way down in our soul. In his Jewish pieces Bloch is best known and understood. There is very little in orchestral literature that surpasses the Jewish Poems in sheer power. Bloch’s secret consists in relentless accumulation of sound; his music climbs in diatonic degrees, receding only to gather strength. It is something like the ascension of an interminable stairway leading into the clouds. The piercing shrieks of his trumpets produce almost a physiological effect, stupefying, dulling the perceptive powers, releasing them only when all is said and done. But then, Bloch writes a Concerto Grosso, a care-free work written as a “relaxation.” Can Bloch blame the critics for hunting “motifs of the Synagogue” in it? In a remarkable letter written to the editor of a daily paper he tells the “simple truth” (always the truth!): Once upon a time (Cleveland, 1923, I think) coming home in my Ford car, rush hours, bad traffic, unbearable Irish policemen, I had an obstinate rhythm in my head. I stopped, noted it, the Prelude was born. It had a clear-cut, classic form. I got the idea to use it for a little work for strings that our Students’ orchestra could play, and to add three or four numbers in good, clear, classic form, to serve as antidote for my “advanced” pupils, who were writing Jewish music, cosmic phantasmagorias in ultra-modern idiom, though very tame, repressed, New England natures, with old regular, repressed families, many of them ministers. In the same letter he describes his sojourn in New Mexico: When I came back people asked me whether I had written an Indian Symphony or an Indian Opera (as Americans do, to perpetuate the “tradition of the race”). No, I did not. I wrote a Fugue, a classic Fugue. 1—The music of the Indians is too beautiful as it is, to retouch it. 2—I have enough of my own ideas and need not steal them. 3—I have not yet been impregnated enough by the soul of this extraordinary country (New Mexico) for my chemistry, my musical chemistry to be ready. It may come some time. But it must come in spite of myself. One does not create life that way. Music cannot be made. It makes itself, in ourselves.
This letter was written early in January, 1926. The prize competition for which Bloch wrote “America” was not yet announced. “It may come some time.” It did. In spite of Bloch himself, and in spite of the competition. For not always do competitions evoke only the most elementary inspirations. Bloch has been an easy winner of prizes; his suite for Viola and Orchestra in 1919, his Suite for Chamber Orchestra in 1927, his Epic Rhapsody “America” in 1928 were prize-winning compositions. Prizes, competitions may be the actuating spur, but once at work, Ernest Bloch is unable to contain himself. He puts into every work all the passion and violence of his rousing spirit…. His pupils, he feels are also children of his brain. But in his teaching he is most liberal. He never tired of extolling Roger Sessions who went far from Bloch’s musical path. His newest hope—Quincy Porter—never flatters has master by unmitigated imitation. But George Antheil—who, strangely enough, is also Bloch-bred—committed the only unforgivable crime. He deliberately went into sensationalism. He was never interested in accomplishment for its own sake. His music became as twisted as he himself. Bloch openly disowned him. Manifold are Ernest Bloch’s interests and activities. “To rest, work” as Orlando di Lasso said, is his favorite motto. In this world of business-like musicians he presents a strange sight. His very appearance is arresting—large features, deep-seated eyes, penetrating look, under a Beethovenian brow. His conversation is illuminating. The freshness of his perception amazes all who do not know how to be wise as a child. The world is constantly being born to him. It changes constantly, and he changes in it, standing, hatless, admiring the panorama that unveils before his eyes. He tries to understand—and he penetrates deeper than the aborigines themselves. He is making discoveries in what is considered commonplace; he purifies everyday experience and extracts its vital elements. He looks to the world—and, admiringly, creates.
A SINGLE LINE IS GLAZUNOV’S MUSICAL LIFE January 15, 1930 The Man and The Composer, From Past to Present His Firm-Set Self
Half a century ago a shy youth of sixteen brought an orchestral score to his famous teacher, and, diffidently moving unyielding fingers across the keyboard, presented a pianistic equivalent of the Symphony of his imagination. This episode was lovingly noted by Rimsky-Korsakov—the teacher—in his “Musical Life.” Alexander Constantinovich Glazunov—the pupil—was instantly accepted as the legitimate heir to the rare treasure of the Russian National School created by five non-professionals: a naval officer, RimskyKorsakov; an ensign of the guards; Musorgsky, a professor of chemistry, Borodin; an expert in fortification, Cui; and a broad-minded amphitryon, Balakirev. The New World—in the geographical as well as in the chronological sense—is now welcoming Alexander Constantinovich Glazunov with a measure of sincere admiration and awesome respect that no other composer of universal fame has heretofore received. Popular emotions are often symbols; and Glazunov is a personification of ideals long dormant but none the less active beneath the surface. Tradition and faith may be these ideals. An irreproachable past may be the endearing feature. Glazunov, in all his years, has never looked over his shoulder to see the possible ruins of his civilization. Even Liadov, his closest associate, in his late years was moved by Skriabin’s elusive harmonies, and sounded a foreign note in his final works. It is a futile occupation to look for similar contemporary influences in Glazunov’s music. Since the day when his first Symphony in E aroused Rimsky-Korsakov, his progress was sound and undisturbed. He has known no “periods.” Even the youthful storm and stress, when a daring mind sets out to conquer the world, eluded him. Ravel and Strauss are now classical composers; but both of them have had their incendiary moments, and are still at work devising new and startling schemes, sometimes in defiance of the former faiths. There is no need to mention Stravinsky, the prodigy of avatars. If these reformed bad boys are accepted—or pardoned—the respect that they are enjoying in the popular mind or among musicians of the old school, will never match the white purity of Glazunov’s record. Those who come in contact with Glazunov, the man, never fail to be impressed by the same high qualities that distinguish his music. Glazunov, the director of the Conservatory of St. Petersburg, the thoughtful and self-denying father of an institution that literally supplied the world with the major part of its virtuosi and composers of all descriptions— conservative, modern, modernistic—this Glazunov presiding over the directorial table and liberally dealing out aid, advice and financial help, still awaits his historian. The
medieval law which functioned up to the Revolution of 1917, and which barred the members of Jewish faith from residence in the capitals, was the greatest burden on Glazunov’s mind. A Russian of pure stock, he somehow managed to raise the “normal” percentage to the 53 per cent of the actual registration of Hebrew students in 1915, without breaking the law. Glazunov’s solicitous regard for impecunious students led him to considerable expenditures from his private purse. How he could reconcile the mildness of his personal rule with the highest standards of discipline and learning at his Conservatory is a subject of wonderment. Thus Glazunov outgrows the mere maker of music. He embodies principles that outlive the passion for the new. The world may grow independent and youngsters may sneer at eminence, but the halo of recognition will remain with the glorious past. Not too seldom revolutionaries themselves turn about and discover fantastic lights in abandoned valleys. Has not Chaikovsky been recently installed by Stravinsky in this fashion? In his steady progress, Glazunov has never been over-confident. His correspondence with Chaikovsky shows that at one time, after the con-spicuous failure of one of his secondary works he was seriously doubting his powers. Moreover, Chaikovsky, in a reply, while declaring himself an admirer, admitted that there was a lack of something in Glazunov’s music. What was that something? Chaikovsky promised to tell at the next personal meeting. But did the meeting take place, or did Chaikovsky speak his mind? Glazunov’s music is an open book. It does not present riddles, and conceals no key behind its pages or between its lines. Its methods may be traced to Liszt, its subjectmatter to the Russians, its mood and form to Chopin. But the combination of these elements forms an unmistakably individual style. This music may seem unearthly, or impress us with stationary aloofness, but its peculiar beauty, the ice-cold flame burning at the edges, kindles the imagination in spite of the absence of obvious ardors. Glazunov’s themes make absorbing material for study. He likes to state the subject in the deep register of the alto, the G-string of the violin, the middle octave of the piano, the viola of the string-quartet. The melody ascends, accompanied by the bass in stately procession at a diverging angle. The design is noble, clear, yet inherently capable of manifold transformations yielding itself to intricate embellishments. It is often built on a succession of thirds, ascending or descending, receding then by a second, to resolve the suspension. These thirds in further development may proceed without recession and compass two full octaves, passing through all seven notes of the scale. Taken together they form a chord, dissonant yet easily solvent, which is the “Glazunov chord.” Thematic material seems inexhaustible at Glazunov’s hands; the thousand and one ways to fertilize a melody and to marshal its multiple variations through the spaces of musical structure have no secrets for him. He is deliberate in his methods; there is sobering poise in the exposition; exquisite balance in the tightening augmentations. Glazunov is past master of counterpoint and orchestration; so was the great Taneiev. But Taneiev’s works have been relegated to the archives; not even his astonishing Symphony is ever heard. Glazunov, on the contrary, is in the repertory everywhere. There must be a hidden force in Glazunov’s monumental creations that compels the public to listen to his music. Ability, not necessarily desire, may father the thought. The genius for devising flexible melodies may have led Glazunov to the form of variation as the best medium. His greatest musical triumphs—the Intermezzo of the Sixth Symphony, the Variations for
A single line is glazunov's musical life 1/15/30
Pianoforte, to mention but a few— are embodied in such compositions. To touch a melody, without distorting its recognizable features is an art in itself and it is Glazunov’s art par excellence. This accounts for the logic of his development where musical leaves seem to grow out of the stem before our very ears. The leaves furl into buds, buds blossom into flowers…. To some they are a product of the hothouse; but incubated, or by nature born, they are as fragrant…. In style, Glazunov is less overtly national than his illustrious predecessors. He abandons some formulas, among them pseudo-orientalism, with its famous lowered sixth. But he retains the “grand” manner, the richness of Russian modes. When he makes use of a folk-tune, such as the Song of Volga Boatmen in his early symphonic poem, “Stenka Razin,” he leaves nothing undone; by change of rhythm or pace, he adapts it to a variety of moods; or by a crafty feat of instrumentation breaks it asunder, and then opposes the halved parts to each other. “Stenka Razin” was written in 1889, not for contrapuntal artifice, but for the crowds at the Paris Exposition to enjoy. Glazunov’s counterpoint, as Bach’s counterpoint, is his natural idiom. The scholarly Glazunov stands in delightful contrast with the Glazunov of ballet music. Here his sense of measure finds its most legitimate application. But it is not the sensuous ballet of the French: the music is light and nimble; there is little dramatization, and the intrinsic logic of the music never ceases to control the form or movement. Glazunov may also be programmatic, as in the suite “Moyen Age,” where there is a Death dancing and enticing, playing the open fifths on the fiddle: the traditional formula for Devils and such. Glazunov is majestic in depicting forests, seas, or widespread wastes of land. There he employs huge orchestral masses suggesting the immensity of the subject. But he is never elephantine as Strauss in the “Alpine Symphony”; and certainly he resorts to no onomatopœia of thunder machines. But Glazunov is primarily a composer of absolute music. Quartets, Symphonies, Concertos. Since 1915, when he wrote incidental music to the play, “The King of Judœa,” by Constantin Romanov, the Tsar’s cousin, his production has ceased. H.G.Wells, in his fantastic account of a journey to the post-revolutionary Petrograd, tells the story of Glazunov being unable to compose because of the shortage of music-paper. This may or may not have been the true cause of Glazunov’s abstinence from creative work. Those who remember Glazunov and Russia in the dark days following “The End of St. Petersburg,” recall with amazement the incredibly lean figure of the director of the Conservatory. They say he could wrap his coat around him twice over, which represented the loss of some sixty pounds of weight. Composing may not have been in order in those days…. Through wars and revolutions, Glazunov has never been untrue to his artistic self. The fact that there are people who compose music based on unresolved dissonances concerns him as little as the existence of interesting but incomprehensible guttural sounds in African dialects. Political changes, changes of surroundings, want, physical privations, are contingencies to be met and to be endured. But integrity of character cannot and must not be influenced by such changes. Glazunov has given us an inspiring example. His has been a noble life in art. That is why his welcome has grown to the significance of a stirring event.
SIDE-GLANCES AT PROKOFIEV NOW RETURNED January 30, 1930 A Trait Here, A Page There, Of The Manifold and Puissant Composer
Some years ago an intelligent far-seeing Russian critic made a startling prediction: that the time would come when Serge Prokofiev, in the halo of European fame, would be welcomed as master in his native country. He was mistaken only in that he allowed fifteen years for the event to happen. In the year 1927, not a decade after Prokofiev went a-wandering around the globe, he visited Russia as a recognized and even loved mastermusician. Who could think of such good fortune for the poor, ugly duckling, Prokofiev might have said, recalling his music and text to Andersen’s fairy-tale. Prokofiev is now an accepted composer. Amateur pianists everywhere struggle with the Gavotte from his Classical Symphony with the same fervor that they formerly applied to Rakhmaninov’s C-sharp minor Prelude. According to Mr. Casella, boys in the streets of Moscow whistle the tune of Prokofiev’s March from “Love for Three Oranges.” Prokofiev is on the operatic stage from Leningrad to Chicago; Diaghilev’s ballet has been miming and dancing to his music for half a generation. His scores are on the library shelves of every respectable orchestra—conductorless or leader-bound. Out of the air, the radio-audience hears him. He is a celebrated figure, on his way to eminence. At first Prokofiev’s career was centered on his pianistic powers. In his student years— at the Leningrad Conservatory, under Glazunov ‘s directorship—he was known chiefly as a pianist of stupendous ability. He did not even graduate in composition. Thus, his First Concerto which he played at the final exercises, and which must have annoyed some of his professors, was only an auxiliary for a display of his technical brilliance on the chosen instrument. He received the first prize as pianist. His compositions were merely tolerated, or ranked with such pastimes as playing chess, in which game Prokofiev was more than proficient. He won against every competitor in the all-Russian chess tournament for amateurs. Alekhine, the chess world-champion, thinks highly of Prokofiev’s talents in this direction. But not the chessboard, nor even the keyboard of the piano has elevated Prokofiev to his present position. His fame is the composers fame—to the virtual exclusion of all his achievements in other fields. Prokofiev’s evolution was singularly sane. He showed signs of musical genius at a very early age. At eight or nine he contrived an “opera” with all the paraphernalia of dramatic happenings essential to the form. His libretto abounded in conspiracies, duels, narrow escapes from death. The first and the last performance took place at his uncles mansion. The metaphorical curtain dropped prematurely when the composer was ordered to bed. Children’s compositions ought to be studied with at least as much interest as
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infantile drawings. There may be more spontaneity in the mind of a musical child than in compositions of a worldly gentleman making music his means to success. Prokofiev’s Opus One is a Piano-Sonata, discoverable not only in such treasuries of published and manuscript music as the Library of Congress. It is a pleasing perambulation over the keyboard, strangely Brahmsian in design, but musically unpromising. Prokofiev’s genius is disclosed for the first time in his Piano-Concerto—the graduation piece. There is magnificent daring in that music. The opening passages for the solo-instrument recall the finger-exercises of the celebrated Hanon, but Prokofiev struck fire. It was a new departure in the toccata style—a continuous flow of percussive tones dispensed with magnificent dash and effectiveness. There is suggestion of phenomenally long-winded breath; the usual abrupt cutting-off only enhances the impression. Prokofiev’s music is angular, or, more specifically, quadrangular. He sees no need of capricious digressions which only diminish the effect. He is not searching for new rhythms. He prefers not to break the old. One, two; left, right; up, down—Prokofiev’s music marches along, leaps upwards and snaps like an exhilarating muscular exercise. The secret of increasing tension by the hammering-out of a persistent rhythm was discovered by Prokofiev long before Ravel invented his “Bolero.” Prokofiev faces the charges of crudeness and even monotony with a stone-face. He is champion of direct action in music. And direct action demands fearless determination and perseverance—at all costs. Primitive music and primitive rhythms hold fascination for every one who abhors decadent moods. Fairy tales are product of a primitive mind. Prokofiev is attracted to such sources. His first opera, “The Gambler,” is based on a story of fantastic realism. Such texts are peculiarly suitable to Prokofiev’s genius. He may introduce a few measures of photographic verity like the swiveling figure for the roulette-ball. One nearly feels it as it winds up in the fatal zero. “The Flaming Angel” and “Love for Three Oranges” are other texts that fed Prokofiev’s inspiration. There is no need to recall the magnificent nonsense of the ballet, “Chout.” But how strikingly sensible the music! Prokofiev wrote “The Scythian Suite” when he was twenty. The score reflects the men and the gods of the half-legendary tribe of Scythians which roved over the plains of Russia before the Slavs came to inhabit the land. They were nomads and were last heard from some two thousand years ago. Their mysterious disappearance enhanced the fascination of their name. As the languid mid-Victorians yearned to be “early English ’ere it is too late,” so the Russians, suffering from a fashionable ennui, recalled their possible ancestors. Prokofiev’s music was revolutionary. When the first performance of the work was announced in Moscow, a not uncommon incident occurred; the orchestral parts were not ready in time, and another piece was substituted at the last moment. This did not prevent the headlong critic, Sabaneiev, from showering on Prokofiev all sorts of invective for his music. Prokofiev gave out the facts of cancellation in an open letter; the critic was forthwith asked to resign. At that time such dishonesty could not be tolerated. We all know that nowadays critics get away with worse things. From the Scythian Suite a straight line leads to “They Are Seven” on a cryptic text of age-old antiquity, for tenor solo, chorus and full orchestra. It is a sort of lingering explosion, releasing all the energies that matter may contain. Prokofiev breaks up the musical tone as scientists would split the atom. The score is a stunning revelation of power.
The lyrical Prokofiev is in striking contrast to the Prokofiev of savage force. His lyricism is often reflective. It may take on a sardonic aspect when the composer looks soberly at his subjective indulgence. But the stirring quality of his lyrical pages is undeniable. Again, his uncanny efficiency works miracles: With a few notes stripped of all elaboration he produces an irresistible effect. His songs to the gentle words of Russia’s poignant poetess, Akhmatova, are such revelations of a moving emotion translated into the simplest musical signs. There is often sadness or self-pity; but a cheerful tone somehow breaks through. Prokofiev is pre-eminently an optimistic composer. Like all fairy tales, his music promises a happy ending. Even when he touches stark realism, the measures still flow free. His grotesque stage-figures, like The-Sailorwith-A-Bracelet or The Bread-Smugglers in the ballet, “Pas d’Acier,” do not repel. Beside Stravinsky, Prokofiev stands out as healthy and virile composer. There is a heartening tendency nowadays towards sanity in music, and in this movement Prokofiev is one of the chief figures. Not in vain does he mention Vladimir Dukelsky as his favorite composer among the young; for Dukelsky’s music is straight as an arrow, and it hits as unfailingly. The more meandering Auric and Poulenc lack the stamina that Dukelsky possesses, as a birth-right. After all, the business of music is to produce a tonic effect. Prokofiev’s rhythms and energies are eminently musical.
IN EPITOME THE CAREER OF ROUSSEL October 23, 1930 From the Sea and the School Into Clear-Minded and Individual Composer Roussel, marin favorisé, Entrelacant l’ancre à la lyre, Les moussons et les alizes Servent le gré de ton navire. —René Chalupt
In truth, monsoons and trade-winds serve the pleasure of Albert Roussel’s ship. A retired mariner, now a famous composer, he steers his own course; many younger and bolder adventurers of music get their bearings by his steady progress. But in his music Roussel has not glorified the sea of his youthful travels. While Debussy, a notorious landlubber, created an epic of the sea, Roussel’s “wettest” work is “Le Jardin Mouillé.” Let the psychologists decide why it is so. However, Rimsky-Korsakov, also a marine officer, wrote many a page of ocean-music. Albert Roussel is not given to programmatic designs; the titles of his works are unostentatiously descriptive, usually reflecting a mood or a myth. The first work that he would submit to the general ear, was a series of such moods in tones. “Des heures passent graves, légères, joyeuses, tragiques, champêtres” was composed in 1898, in his twentyeighth year. Roussel was not a musician of precocious development; like Rameau and Franck, he created his best masterpieces at a mature age. He entered the Schola Cantorum as a pupil of Vincent d’Indy, only to re-enter that institution in the rank of professor. Among his pupils were Edgar Varèse and Eric Satie. No more unnatural alliance can be imagined than that between this master and his spectacular disciples. Yet, possibly both Varèse, the experimenter, and Satie, the musical humorist, felt a need of this quiet but stupendous mind that was given neither to experimenting nor to vicarious humor…. Austere—the word can hardly embrace the sensuous and poignant art of an Albert Roussel—yet his is a severe simplicity that suggests a detachment in greatness…. Exotic lands have appealed to Roussel; India, Cochin-China and more recently America, gave him inspiration. Inspiration, but not subject-matter, for although Roussel has used native chants in his Hindoo opera, “Padmavati,” he clothed them in harmonies and rhythms unmistakably his own. He is possibly the only European composer who did
not imitate jazz, but used it as one of new resources for an artistic purpose. This “Jazz dans la Nuit,” a song with piano accompaniment, composed in 1929, gives but a hint of American jazz. The accompanying figure remains characteristic of Roussel’s angular prosody, of his all-but-syncopating rhythms. His “Chinese Ode,” a song well-known to concert audiences, is imbued with the same “jazzy” spirit. Only it is not jazz; it is not China or Cochin-China; all this music bears the trademark of a distinguished traveler…. Yes, trade-winds are still at Roussel’s beck and call. For, during all these years of musical cataclysms, when many great names have gone down with their ships, he has remained at his post. Nothing but reverence and admiration greets him in all quarters, from the most rabid modernists to the best conservative minds. True, some of his dearest enemies—of the Tories—have bemoaned his “malady of the side-note,” an apt description for his use of “agglutinative” tonal units. Such moderate censure was to be expected; for Roussel is, technically speaking, a modern, in spite of his double term at the scholastic Schola. Some controversy has arisen as to whether Roussel’s music is truly polytonal, (more accurately, bi-tonal) or merely ultra-harmonic (the latter term implying the use of higher harmonics). While the battle proceeds, Roussel himself stands conspicuously aside. Most likely, he never thought of any of the scholastic definitions while building his magnificent edifices of sound. Yet, the prying analyst is not content with the mere impressions of a composer, just as a newspaper man is not content with news alone. There must be a “story,” and Roussel’s pages offer a consistent one. The theory of bitonality must receive considerable help from the technical study of Roussel’s “Psalm LXXX.” When the chorus enters against a foreign key sounded by the orchestra, the proof must be considered complete. For better or worse, Roussel is bi-tonal in his harmony. But what of melody, of the “horizontal line?” The French commentators speak persuasively, but not quite convincingly, of the Greek modes in Roussel’s works. It is only natural that Roussel should use Greek modes in an opera like “The Birth of the Lyre.” But, since Roussel is not a musical ethnologist, he resorts to progressions suggesting Greek modes only in isolated passages of pure chant, as he used Brahmin chants in “Padmavati” only in singing solos. In Greece, as in India, Roussel remains primarily himself; he does not strive for musical realism. We would describe him as a “sensationalist,” a man who translates his sensations into art, were it not for the fact that the depreciating power of the language has reduced this term to mean a contemptible notoriety-seeker. The analyst’s best delight is to find a technical peculiarity corresponding to an aesthetic entity. Roussel’s modes, whether Greek or not, are strikingly plagal—in the etymological sense of the word, sidewise, slanting. They are technically plagal as well: the tonic and the dominant seem to change places in Rousselian scales. The inevitable result is the characteristic dropping of the leading tone. Sometimes, it is the subdominant that is made the keynote, causing the emergence of the augmented fourth, which, as a matter of statistics, is Roussel’s favorite interval. It imparts that slanting character to his music, for which the word plagal stands. As a last concession to the insatiable tribe of rationalizers, let us state that Roussel’s chief modes are hypophrygian and hypolydian. The question of Roussel’s rhythms is less esoteric. A characteristic figure of two vacillating eighth notes accompanies Roussel wherever he travels. It suggests a mocking bassoon, an unstable, yet periodic, see-saw. The counterrhythm is often that of a dotted
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half-note followed by five quarter-notes in two bars of 4–4 time. A historic rhythmical figure, for it is found in Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring.” The affinity between Roussel and Stravinsky is that of two great formative minds. There is no trace of Stravinsky’s influence in Roussel’s works. Rather, Roussel is moved by the same rhythmical pulse that animated Stravinsky at the time he created “Le Sacre.” Similarly, Roussel’s impressionism is not that of Debussy and Ravel. We have already described Roussel as a poet of sensations. Impressionism conveys an image more direct. Who can mistake Debussyan waves in “La Mer,” or Ravelesque aqueous shimmer and display in “Jeux d’eaux”? Roussel’s sensations have no such objective value; they are transmuted into less recognizable substance. “Evocations”: Roussel has found the word himself. The “Gods in the Shadows of Caves,” the “City of the Rose,” the “Banks of the Sacred Stream” are evoked to none but to the initiated in the Rousselian art. They impress less, but penetrate more deeply. Not in vain do the French consider this suite one of the triumphs of national art. The lack of direct prettiness in Roussel’s music may be the result of this deviation from pure impressionism. His orchestration is not rich or luscious; very often it appears lean and stripped. The augmented fourth is not a pretty interval; yet the sensitive Roussel poses it at the foundation of his harmonic structure. Plucked strings do not create harmony; yet pizzicato passages, often supported by harps, are among Roussel’s choicest devices. Clearly Roussel finds a new beauty in austere economy of means. Moreover, he makes it tell. When necessary, he knows how to use full orchestra to the saturation point, as in the first movement of “Evocations.” But, compared to the orchestra of a Florent Schmitt, Roussel’s palette fades. It is the magical secret of a master that makes it fluoresce with a redoubled brilliance. The archaistic tendency in music deflected but slightly Roussel’s straight progress. The Suite in F, composed in 1926, is his more obvious tribute to the spirit of the times. The Concerto for Piano and Orchestra (1927), somber and arid in color, may be ascribed to a similar mode of expression. But is not Roussel as restrained in all of his greater works? In form, perhaps, rather than substance, he is more than previously inclined to stately and uninterrupted development of sonata or rondo. Exotic subjects seem to interest him less, but then he is no longer a traveling youth in a mariner’s uniform. Form is universal, and Roussel, in his maturity, is naturally coming to serve the great god, Number, as revealed in musical symmetry. Roussel does not pose as a romantic figure, yet there must have been absorbing romance in his travels. This is the story that Roussel told Jean-Aubry, poet and friend. Who knows how many other romantic adventures are buried in the memory of the great modest man? In 1909 I traveled with my wife to India from where I brought back impressions which I utilized symphonically in “Evocations” and operatically in “Padmavati.” During my voyage I read in Murray’s guide of the famous ruins at Chitor. When I arrived at that place, I learned that the ruins were situated some miles away. It was very hot, and the sun was shining on the rather bare plain. No traveling facilities were available. I stood hesitating, when an Englishman approached me and kindly asked me to accept a seat on his elephant for my wife and one for me on his
horses. The courtesy with which this offer was made rendered it impossible for me to decline. We therefore went to visit these ruins. I read what referred to them, and found the scene of Padmavati history. I would not have visited them if this land Englishman had not placed elephant and horse at our disposal. Consequently I would not have written the opera. Before parting we exchanged cards; on his there was simply written: â€œRamsay MacDonald, M.P.â€? I recalled the episode some years later when he became prime minister of Great Britain.
WHO IS MOSSOLOV? AND WHAT IS HE? December 1, 1930 Since Mossolov’s “Music of Machines” will be played in New York tomorrow evening by the Cleveland Orchestra, this department prints timely an informing note, from Mr. Nicolas Slonimsky, about this young Russian, presumed to be unknown in these parts: “Some time ago The Transcript reproduced a note from the program-book of the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra concerning the new Russian composer Mossolov, of whom no information was available to the Cleveland editor. Yet, Mossolov (variously misspelled Moslov or Mosolow—the latter spelling is all right in German, but misleading in English) is not so new, nor is he very young. His quartet was accepted and performed at the Frankfurt Festival in 1926, and information about him was available then in languages other than the forbidding Russian. His picture—that of a genial youth with large features, thick lips and a bright intelligent look—was reproduced in Contemporary Music, a Russian periodical with part of the text in German. “Mossolov was born in 1898, which is a remote date, as compared to that of Shostacovich’s birth, which is 1907. Mossolov belongs to the Moscow group of composers, brought up by Gliere and Miaskovsky. Shostacovich is from Leningrad, a pupil of Maximilian Steinberg. Mossolov is the Prokofiev of Soviet Russia, Shostacovich is the Hindemith of his country. Both are loyal to their time and place, writing ‘constructive’ or stylized music. Mossolov is quite prolific, and, being a good pianist himself, in addition to being married to a very good pianist, he had early opportunity to show his mettle not merely on music paper. Seven Sonatas and numerous small pieces comprise his contribution to the piano. He has written songs, among them ‘Four Advertisements’ with such inspiring texts as ‘Rats, roaches and other vermin exterminated at a reasonable price; address, etc.,’ or ‘Dog, female, lost, near Red Square, etc.’ “The score ‘Factory: The Music of Machines’ (not ‘Machine-Music’) which was performed at Liège last summer, and subsequently made its way to this country, is taken from Mossolov’s ballet, ‘Steel,’ depicting life at a factory. This score (which is available at the Boston Public Library) looks very much like Honegger’s ‘Pacific,’ but is much less complicated, and presents no difficulties to comprehension. In spite of Mossolov’s glorification of the machine, a Communist critic found in him ‘no organized will to victory, in fact very little besides the petty-bourgeois anarchy.’ He concedes, however ‘a striving to find an individual idiom.’ “Poor Mossolov! He fares better at the hands of Victor Belaiev, who, writing in Russian, has much to say about Mossolov’s Piano Concerto (1928). Archaistic in form (three movements, of which the second is a Theme and Variations), it appears to him original in treatment, with the solo instrument in competition with several concertizing
instruments of the ensemble. There is more of Casella than of Prokofiev in Mossolov’s later music, although the rhythmic beating on the same note is characteristic for both influences. He often writes in blocks of sound, treating them as unisons…. There is little doubt that Mossolov’s ‘Music of Machines’ will find its place among other pieces glorifying our mechanic tools, mechanic games or mechanic fights. It would be gratifying to hear some of his less obvious music.”
THE PSALMS AND PIETIES OF IGOR STRAVINSKY December 13, 1930 Memories and Reflections for Prelude to His New Symphony
The new piety of Igor Stravinsky, whose name has for so many years been associated with paganism and barbarity, is not surprising. Stravinsky is above all a man of intellect, a dialectician for whom the realities of abstract thought are more apparent than the realities of man-made art. A shrewd observer of artists and men has remarked once that there is not a page of sensuous music in the whole of Stravinsky’s output; the “Fire-Bird” is but a fairy tale, and its sensuousness is fictional. Watching Stravinsky’s transformations, we suddenly become aware that we know nothing about the man behind the art. Chaikovsky, Wagner, Strauss leave us with the impression of an intimate acquaintance after we have listened to their music; not so Stravinsky—he is shielded from us by a mask—be it the mask of Russian ballet-music, that of scholastic renaissance or scholastic religion. A discussion as to where the true Stravinsky is would be futile; he is as truly present in “Le Sacre” as in the three unaccompanied pieces for the clarinet. In the first instance he is solving the problem of rhythmic power; in the second he is delineating his conception of pure melody. Now that Stravinsky “got a religion in his head,” he merely follows the logical line of thought leading him to the very source of music—the chants of the Church. It is significant that being by birth and upbringing a member of the Greek Orthodox Church, he leans towards the Latin psalmody of the Roman. The reason is not far to seek—the Greek Church is much more national in character than the Papal Church, and Stravinsky has utilized the Russian church modes in “Les Noces” (the second tableau) and elsewhere to the full. In quest of abstraction, Stravinsky naturally turned to the most impersonal, the most emasculated art of Gregorian monody. Incidentally, the baffling dedication to the Glory of God, penned on the title-page of the Symphony of Psalms, may be the traditional Jesuit formula, “ad majorem Dei Gloriam.” Stravinsky is thorough. In his new medievalism he adheres to the theories as well as to the practices of his spiritual fathers. In the light of the previous experience, it is difficult to predict what Stravinsky’s next step will be. He does not renounce his past as Tolstoy did in his religious years. On the contrary Stravinsky is unaccountably eclectic in his methods. There is no “line of development” from “Apollo” to the “Baiser de la Fée,” the first a serene work for string ensemble, deliberately drab and undistinguished, the second a potpourri of Chaikovsky’s tunes arranged for a ballet. Yet, the two follow each other in close succession. But then has not Stravinsky declared that music must be composed in the spirit of a notary’s
contract? Certainly there is nothing unnatural about a notary drawing two contracts in one day—one for the exploitation of the pre-historic meteorite of Arizona, the other, say, for the disposal of a stock of second-hand goods. Yet, when a creative artist works on widely divergent problems, we feel duty-bound to find a common denominator to his unrelated results. Aesthetic theories are exceedingly resilient—and the imagination may be stretched so as to embrace the unembraceable. Is it not a simpler way to suppose that a musician may be as versatile in his pursuits as a business man? When Stravinsky’s old teacher, Basil Kalafati, still at his desk at the St. Petersburg Conservatory, was shown the score of “Pulcinella,” he shrugged his shoulders and said: “The same old story. Stravinsky could never learn to harmonize. His chorals were always unsatisfactory.” There is some ultimate truth in this provoking judgment. Like Beethoven’s, Stravinsky’s harmonization is “unsatisfactory.” Disquisitions on the beauty of ugliness are begging the question. We must admit that some pages of Stravinsky are unspeakably hideous. Like his glorified notary, Stravinsky occasionally finds himself compelled to draw a contract dealing with unsavory stuff. Stravinsky is systematic, and he would not abandon a possible line of investigation unless he is fully convinced that it has been thoroughly exploited. When he discards barbarity, power and rhythm, his admirers are displeased, but Stravinsky is a great man, whatever his vagaries are, and he is not writing for admirers. Stravinsky’s independence from the established code of morals is striking. It is remarkable with what nonchalance he may lift a vapid tune and use it for a high purpose. The story of the famous bassoon solo of the “Sacre” is well-known. Stravinsky picked it up from a popular waltz by one Bochet, having heard it at a restaurant in Lausanne where he was a daily customer. What hath God wrought! You would not know that humble tune in its new surroundings! On several occasions Stravinsky has helped himself to such stray tunes; still oftener he has made use of identical material for different purposes. Only in his “impersonal” period, inaugurated by the Piano-Concerto of 1924, has he abandoned certain devices which have faithfully served his needs all the way from the “Fire Bird” to “Les Noces.” Stravinsky at rehearsals, relentless in his demands for rhythm and rhythm alone, trying to reduce everything to an inhumanly accurate succession of beats, and struggling all the way through with his own unwelcome humanity, the sounds escaping his throat, the muscular tension, the perspiration, the unevenness of the rhythmical strokes, this Stravinsky is a symbol. He believes in the power of the written sign, and on one occasion he refused to correct an obvious misprint in the score of “Les Noces,” insisting that all that is printed is correct. However, he often agrees to rearrange the metrical distribution, thus he re-distributes the meters of the “Dance Sacrale” of the “Rite of Spring” in a special addendum for the use of conductors. However, in this practical phase he is eminently unsuccessful. They say, Beethoven could not dance in time. Certainly, Stravinsky’s external rhythm is far behind the rhythm of his brain. Stravinsky is not so difficult to approach as he is reputed to be provided there is some definite business on hand. But he would not bear platonic friendships even with the most ardent of his admirers. It is highly doubtful if Stravinsky is at all open to flattery however subtle. He is rather cynical in refusing to humor a man’s vanity. One of the Stravinsky stories—told by Stravinsky himself—concerns a highly influential man who would address Stravinsky in his letters as “Cher ami,” and would get a reply invariably
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addressed, “Cher Monsieur,” until, after several rebukes, he compromised on “Cher Monsieur et Ami,” ultimately dropping “Ami” altogether. Stravinsky’s humor is dry, and he gets along best with simple folks. With them he is a convivial friend, remarkably alert and lucid even after several rounds of strong spirits have been served and consumed. One can not imagine such a mind a prey to any material or spiritual forces, independent of his free will.
THE STRANGE CASE OF ARTHUR VINCENT LOURIÉ January 3, 1931 His Record and Music from A Revolutionary Past To a Religious Present
An Italian mathematician, one Codazzi, thought that music can be composed with the aid of calculus: he is classed by Lombroso as an insane genius, along with those musicians who thought they were divinely inspired. Among the champions of the new musicomathematical theology, only one—Stravinsky—has genius, and none is insane. The case of Arthur Vincent Lourié (the insertion of the middle name is significant, for it emphasizes the Roman Catholic religion of the bearer—Russian Jews have but one given name) is interesting from the sociological rather than musical point of view, for, be it said at once, he does not possess a degree of creative power which would entitle him to the dignity of an individual composer. He is an extraordinarily gifted man, eclectic in his tastes, and just as vague in his musical expressions as in his general ideas. But, lacking in creative power, he has developed an acute sense for persuasive argument. He possesses the necessary literary technique to present his cause with seeming coherence. But the amazing hollowness of his fundamental concepts stands out all the more clearly. He battles in an empty air—and for a dialectician of his order it may be all he cares for. Some time ago, Modern Music published Lourié’s disquisition upon Melody as a theological virtue. It is a depressing document of mental sterility, a mesh of unsupported statements interwoven with Biblical quotations and theological references. “It is probable,” he argues, “that in our time we do not compose good melodies because we have become evil-minded. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. Our melodic gift is in direct ratio to our capacity for good, not in the sentimental but in the religious sense…. Melody in itself is a primary good, a sort of purification through repentance…. Melody is a virtue, organically connected with the three theological virtues, and therefore, its highest achievement lies incontestably in religious music, i.e., prayer.” … This, printed in a publication devoted to Modern Music, may be a sign of the times. It must be said in full fairness, however, that a great deal of the sanctimonious stuff of the Russian original was cut out by the editor. Who is this man who deplores our evil minds? Whence his moralistic attitude? A preacher is often a repentant sinner, but we need not pry into this preachers conscience; for his mind moves on such dialectical heights that they are not in contact with the worldliness of our own space and time. Arthur Lourié was well known to the habitués of a Bohemian club, graphically called “Stray Dog,” in St. Petersburg during the days of the war. It was a refuge for all unrecognized geniuses, and was always packed with people. Some of its frequenters,
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such as Vladimir Mayakovsky, the poet-suicide, and Arthur Lourié himself were to receive their official recognition at the hands of the Soviet Government. Arthur Lourié was then a champion of the last word in music. As is his nature, he was an eclectic, open to conflicting influences—Skriabin, Schönberg, early Stravinsky. Debussy paid a visit to the Russian capital (and to the “Stray Dog”) at the beginning of the war; and a year or two later Lourié composed a Suite for Children (“Grand Piano in the Nursery”) which is directly derived from Debussy’s favorite devices (the rain-patter etc.). There were other compositions in a small form: “Rosary,” a series of songs to Madame Akhmatova’s poems; a String Quartet (written with sufficient clumsiness to attract attention); Three Sonatinas for Piano; a work with a long title in French: “Pleurs de la Vierge Marie. Fragment d’une chanson pieuse du XIII siècle. Pour Chant, Violon, Alto et Violoncelle, compose par Arthur Vincent Lourié, Petrograde MCMXV,” and “Forms in the Air,” subnamed “sound-script” and dedicated to Pablo Picasso. It is an exercise in fanciful typography, rather than in musical composition—a series of arabesques languidly dropping from one staffline to another, until the range of the piano is spanned. What there is of music suggests a caricature of Skriabin. All these masterpieces would have never seen light had it not been for the October Revolution that threw the futurists into temporary power. And the dawn of the year 1918 saw Arthur Vincent Lourié, in a velvet jacket and a bow tie, establish his headquarters as Musical Commissar of the Department of Education. The Bolsheviks were then shunned by all “decent” people, and the intelligentsia boycotted the Government by means of a general strike. Lourié’s “treason” was condemned, but it proved a blessing to his fellowmusicians. If, by duty of office, he had to sign unpleasant warrants for confiscation of pianos owned by the bourgeoisie, with the same pen he could restore the property to their owners as “tools of production.” He was a great help to many, not excluding himself. As musical commissar, he had the State Publishing House print his futuristic pastiches, and at one time, when the paper shortage was great, he was the only publishing composer in all the Russias. He left for France as a representative of the State, but Paris caused in him a change of heart, and he settled there for good. The Soviet papers never mention his name in any connection. To them, he is just as good as a dead man, shot down according to the law. It is very difficult to estimate the artistic deserts of Lourié’s musical works. Being an indefatigable dialectician, he can temporarily create an impression of reality. He lacks talent, but he possesses a constructive mind capable of producing excellent imitations. Furthermore, being Stravinsky’s intimate, he bears a certain weight with the musical world. In some respects he may exert an influence on the master himself; certainly he can supply argument in defence of Stravinsky’s courses. And at times he gets ahead of Stravinsky in works such as the “Concerto Spirituale,” produced by the Schola Cantorum of New York on March 26, 1930. In fact it is his only work (discounting the early Cantata to Alexander Block’s words, and a “Japanese Suite” for Orchestra) that deserves serious consideration. It is scored for a double-chorus, piano, brass and six double-basses. The Prologue for Solo Baritone accompanied by three trumpets, two trombones and tuba, is impressive, and the pianocadenza is “just as good as Stravinsky.” The idiom is necessarily diatonic (as opposed to the chromatic and ultra-chromatic infatuations of his youth); the writing is done according to the rules of mediaeval counterpoint, with all its futile clumsiness. The key of
C major and its modal ramifications prevail. Of melodic invention there is, however, not a question. The general impression from one hearing is that of an austere, deliberately colorless work, to be performed at solemn occasions. A religious fanatic such as the strange Nicolas Obouhov, hurling sounds and shouts out of the abundance of his heart, may be justified in the eyes of the world, for his is a natural aberration. Arthur LouriĂŠ knows no such ecstasies. His heart is empty.
FORTUNATE YEARS FOR UNFORTUNATE COMPOSER April 11, 1931 The Greater Glory of Musorgsky After Half a Century of Name And Fame
Fifty years ago—to be exact, on March 28, 1881, at five o’clock in the morning—ended the life of Modest Petrovich Musorgsky. He died on his forty-second birthday, a rare distinction, cause for conjecture for numerically minded mystics. If, however, as the latest Russian investigators indicate, Musorgsky saw light on March 9, 1839 (all according to the Gregorian calendar), his horoscope will lose much of its grim symmetry, while preserving the aspect of fatefulness. Of the effects found in the hospital room where Musorgsky died, there were several books, among them Berlioz’s Treatise on Instrumentation. What a sad commentary this posthumous textbook furnished to Musorgsky’s dearest detractors, whose pet theory was to represent the man as a misdirected genius sorrowfully lacking in discipline, flaunting his technical inefficiency as unconventionality of design, scorning study because of inability to concentrate and retain! Even Glinka’s sister, Shestakova, Musorgsky’s true friend and confidante, could find no other words, upon learning of his death, than the resigned observation that Musorgsky had no future to live for. And Rimsky-Korsakov fixed the undetermined cause of Musorgsky’s last illness as delirium tremens, with the inevitable inference of long years of alcoholic over-indulgence—and this in the face of medical facts that refuted any such arbitrary diagnosis. But Musorgsky’s horoscope was drawn unalterably, by friends and foes alike. He was an “unfortunate,” the possessor of a genius he couldn’t govern. This notion was so universal that Musorgsky himself subscribed to it. What a beautiful case for a modern biographer, slightly touched with Freud, Musorgsky’s life is! In his early years, the adoration for his mother whom he called “the saint” (“mother fixation”), the first and obscure love for one of his cousins who died young. Then, a change, misogyny, feeling of horror at the very thought of marriage (in one of his letters to Glinka’s sister he writes that if ever she learns that he blew out his brains it would mean that he had married on the day before). When the poet Golenischev-Kutusov, with whom Musorgsky lodged for some time and who wrote the poems of the “Death Songs,” announced his intention to marry, Musorgsky was beside himself with rage and pity. He wrote to Stasov about “another victim of matrimony,” in terms defying normal psychology. Yet, Musorgsky had women friends and they were his best comforters. Within the circle of the “Mighty Five,” Musorgsky felt repressed. Even Stasov, the champion and “barker” of the national school, and an intransigent defender of Musorgsky was, in Musorgsky’s eyes a superior
being who embraced Musorgsky’s cause as a matter of musical politics. Only with women, kind without malice, he felt at ease. To one of them he even dedicated an “Intermezzo passioné” but passion apparently remained in the title without projection onto the real thing. Not even the freedom of present day investigation can shed any light on this peculiarity of Musorgsky’s character. Riesemann, in his volume on Musorgsky, makes a “psycho-analytic” allusion to Musorgsky’s unfinished (sic) opera “Marriage,” according to Gogol’s play. In that play, the bridegroom, nearly persuaded to marry, at the last moment jumps out of the window to escape the imminent domesticity. But Musorgsky in his relations with women did not even approach the crucial point of choice. In the circle of his friends and musical companions, he, as it has been noted, was obviously at a disadvantage. The “Mighty Four” with Musorgsky as the fifth wheel, were all well placed in the world of common necessary mortals. Borodin was a professor of chemistry in addition to being a composer. Cui was an expert in ballistics, later instructor to the Czarevitch Nicholas II. Rimsky-Korsakov was a professor of harmony. Balakirev was the genial Amphitrion, the head of them all, and the reputed master of that confounded trinity: harmony, counterpoint, orchestration. And Stasov—Stasov was the press agent, the manager. Musorgsky invariably addresses him in his letters as “generalissimo.” And he signs: “Mussorianin,” one of the jocular distortions of his ancient family name, which he accepted with typical humility. It is worthy of observation that other members of the mighty clan, while addicted to humor, and accepting goodnaturedly such humorous nicknames as “Corsican Admiral” for Korsakov, were not persistent in making universal use of them for signature, while Musorgsky was “Modinka,” “Moussia,” etc. for everybody including himself. The others progressed, married, promoted themselves, but Musorgsky was ever the fantastic pet, lovable, but obviously unadaptable to the serious purposes of life. When “Boris Godunov” was finally accepted by the Imperial Theaters of St. Petersburg, Musorgsky was the last person to be glorified. He himself acknowledged his little importance in an abject letter of thanks to the conductor, the administration, etc. Yet, while there was a perfect agreement among the Five that “Boris Godunov” was a collective triumph of an idea and not an individual victory, some unmanageable and anonymous ladies wanted to present a wreath of laurels to Musorgsky himself over the footlights. The administration formally refused to accept the laurels for public presentation, but the incident leaked through with the incredible result that Musorgsky was assailed in print (his friend Cui aiding and abetting) for lack of modesty. The poor Modest, quailing between the repressed joy at the feminine kindness and fear of public condemnation, wrote a letter to the editor protesting his innocence and testifying that the ill-fated laurels were brought to him into his carriage after the performance. But in a letter to Stasov he gives way to bitter anger against Cui who showed such lack of chivalry towards ladies however ill-advised. But even to Stasov he would not admit that he was in all fairness entitled to his share of encouraging adulation. This last sincerity he must have reserved for his confidence to Glinka’s sister and others—of the feminine understanding heart. Musorgsky’s legacy consisted of a bundle of manuscripts abounding in incoherent harmonies, poor part-writing, threadbare modulations, ineffective scoring, wild inconsequences of form. All this according to Rimsky-Korsakov. He writes: “If
Fortunate years for unfortunate composer [Musorgsky] 4/11/31
Musorgsky’s works are destined to live and flourish fifty years after his death—after which period they will be come common property—an archaeologically correct edition can still be undertaken for all his manuscripts passed from my hands to the Public Library.” The fifty years have elapsed, and the tide has turned. The reaction to RimskyKorsakov’s professional spirit in editing Musorgsky’s manuscript is so great that the very faults of Musorgsky’s writing are now hailed as flashes of premonitive genius. Again, as in Musorgsky’s time, the public sentiment sways judgment. Then it was order that reigned all supreme, now it is freedom from order. Rimsky-Korsakov had a “mania for perfection,” even according to the standards of half-a-century ago. Therefore, down with Rimsky-Korsakov! It also happens that the musical idiom of today, disinterestedness in color, reversion to primitive percussion, virtual abandonment of violins, with the concomitant addiction to less colorful violas and bassoons, this style is much nearer to Musorgsky’s “faulty” orchestration than to Rimsky’s brilliant display. But who can blame Rimsky-Korsakov for inability to predict the future? Musorgsky himself, were his spirit questioned would probably adhere to Rimsky-Korsakov’s ideas, which, after all, were nearer to his musical world than the “mad confusion of modern music” (see Musorgsky’s “Classic”). When Rimsky-Korsakov lovingly shifts Musorgsky’s incorrect suspensions one degree down the scale (in Marina’s Aria in Boris) we throw up our hands in righteous indignation. Unresolved suspensions! We’ve seen worse that that. Quite so, but Rimsky-Korsakov taught Stravinsky different things from what his pupil upturned in the “Sacre.” True, some of Musorgsky’s flashes come unquestionably from a deeper and greater sense of musical beauty—and RimskyKorsakov may not have appreciated that. But to see in Musorgsky’s slips (according to the standards of his time) any premonitions of the happy future is as inconsistent as to seek polytonality in Mozart’s Musical Joke, which does end in several unrelated keys. In the light of posterity, Musorgsky emerges as the most powerful musician of the Mighty Five. He composed in a national idiom, which by some magic has overstepped geographic borders and limits, influencing Debussy in France, De Falla in Spain. The movement toward complete rehabilitation of Musorgsky’s music, with all its mistaken zeal, has at least put the question of Musorgsky’s technical ability clearly before us. Was Musorgsky at all capable of solving technical problems of music? What was the ratio of efficiency between his gigantic designs and actual achievements? Would he have been greater had he possessed all the contrapuntal skill that was required of him by Balakirev? In this technical study we must not forget the difference between a conscious innovation and unintentional crudity. In the case of Musorgsky’s “drab” orchestration, it appears almost certain that a great deal of it was intentional, calculated to convey an impression of restraint and distance. Musorgsky’s harmony, on the other hand, is magnificently lucid, developing in splendid diatonic progression, always full-sounding and proclamatory. It is difficult to understand where Musorgsky’s harmonic faults lie, but even more astounding is Musorgsky’s skill in counterpoint, not the counterpoint of a German master whom Ernest Newman once called “Pater Umbilicus,” but the counterpoint of melodies and moods. The accompaniments of his songs are always such animated counterpoints, serving a purely musical as well as illustrative purpose. That such supreme melodies as the “Summer Motiv” in the “Trepak,” or “Dream motive” in the “Doll” could be written as simple obbligatos, that is, accompanying figures of contrapuntal nature, proves that counterpoint has been assimilated by Musorgsky albeit
without the usual drudgery. Beethoven, before him, and Glinka as his elder contemporary were also “lacking” in contrapuntal knowledge, inasmuch as they did not adhere to one of the several schools, namely the German school of counterpoint. Musorgsky did not write fugues professionally because they were outside of his life’s work—which was to create a Russian national speech in music. Musorgsky’s technical abilities were entirely adequate to his creative imagination.
WITH THE NEW CONCERTO FOR MIRROR December 26, 1931 Reflections of Stravinsky, Present and Past, from The Impending Piece
The score of Stravinsky’s Concerto in D for Violin and Orchestra has at last reached America. The work had its first performance in Berlin last October, and was broadcast through the most modernistic of all radio-stations—the Rundfunke (literally, a round spark) of Germany. Listeners-in and professional critics recorded their impressions. As usual, these impressions ranged from ultra-superlatives to infra-invectives, through the entire spectrum of critical adjectives. And there were some who, despite many precedents to the contrary, still believe that Stravinsky is perpetrating a gigantic hoax, deliberately and with malice aforethought misleading the public, the critics and his disciples alike. Nothing can be further from the truth. Stravinsky is no Eric Satie, with his facile jokes in the margin of facile music. He is in deadly earnest in his statements; and in order to understand Stravinsky, we must once and for all relinquish the theory of a “hoax” and take him by his word and by his music. His utterances are as baffling as some of his musical procedures, and this agreement between words and works is really the surest clue to the mystery of his artistic behavior. So far only three persons in all the musical world really understand him (so the composer stated in an interview printed in a Swiss publication); even Einstein had more luck—Hegel alone was less fortunate; he had but one faithful disciple, and even that one did not wholly understand him. When an ardent Stravinskyist rushed towards the master after a European presentation of the Symphony of Psalms with confused words about the work, which he estimated was Stravinsky’s best, he was greeted with baffling retort: “There can be no best and mediocre; either all works are bad, or all are good.” This story is freely circulated in Paris outside of the enchanted circle of the understanding Three. There are countless other stories, some of them seemingly well authenticated. During his first visit to the United States, in 1924, upon being asked what he thought of modern music, Stravinsky replied that he is not a modern composer. On another occasion he stated that a piece of music should be composed in the spirit in which a notary’s contract is drawn. He enlarged on this exasperating notion when he related to the world how the Violin Concerto was written; the form being compressed as it is in this work, Stravinsky says it took him sometimes a full day to compose a single measure to achieve maximum results with minimum of musical denotation. In this, so the report goes on, he opposed himself to composers of a happier and lighter day, such as Mozart, who did not have to economize musical matter in this drastic fashion.
However wild such notions may appear to a musical stranger, to one who examines Stravinsky’s scores without ire and studiously, the composer’s words are of substantial aid. Strange as it may seem, Stravinsky speaks his mind with excellent adequacy to his ideas as embodied in his works. The spirit of economy, the “maximum-throughminimum,” method dates back to the composition of the “History of a Soldier,” that astonishing instrumental septet, where every resource is utilized to capacity. But even of more interest is the process through which Stravinsky arrived at the revision of his early score, “The Fire-Bird,” which he made in 1919. In the later edition all the gorgeous padding is taken out. To be sure, the deplumated fowl is not popular with orchestras and conductors, and the original edition is still the one that is widely performed. But the episode is characteristic of Stravinsky’s own development. Every one of the four movements of the Violin Concerto opens with the identical chord of the violin, the D of the open string, the E, a ninth above it, and the high A, at two and a half octaves above the fundamental tone. Thus does Stravinsky establish the classical unity with an emphasis. In “Les Noces,” composed in 1917, the mysterious effect of a bell’s clank at the end of the work is obtained by a similarly positioned chord, with the interval of a ninth at the root. This collation of harmonic textures alone will show how consistent Stravinsky’s present idiom is with his past. In the first movement (the Toccata) we find a violin passage in double stops with the characteristic see-saw movement, in iambic prosody, which instantly recalls the parallel movements in “Petrouchka.” Besides, in this passage Stravinsky’s melody is characteristically confined within the interval of a fifth. In another place and under other auspices it would not be difficult to prove a thesis (such theses may be in vogue in learned seminars) that Stravinsky’s melodies are always built within the walls of a tonic and its dominant, sometimes atonally (in Petrouchka’s “out-cry” in the second scene of the ballet, in mother’s complaint in scene two of Les Noces, etc.), sometimes tonally (as in the passage referred to above). In the Capriccio (fourth movement) there is a glimpse of the former Stravinsky in the ominous rests on the stronger parts of the measure. Finally, the crowning Presto bristles, as of old, with contrary rhythms set against the measured steps of the base-tones. What are these advancing and retreating chromatic tones of the ’cellos if not the familiar “bubbles” in the Earth’s Dance of the Sacre? The relationship is much more than a mere coincidence, or identity of procedure. In it is the spirit of the Sacre that is with us again. The second and the third movement of the Concerto bear the titles of Aria I and Aria II, respectively. Here we have Stravinsky the Serene, revealed to us in “Apollo.” It is futile to speak of “dissonances” in the loose fashion in which this word is all too frequently employed. Again, if it were a point for a thesis, it might have been demonstrated that Stravinsky is no more dissonant than Bach, that he employs “suspensions of the second and third remove,” that the relentless drive of the concurring voices forms harsh dissonances only in the “vertical plane,” and that in reality, there has never been any “polytonality” in Stravinsky music, in the sense that there is polytonality in Milhaud’s “Bull on the Roof.” But we cannot pass by one technical device largely employed by Stravinsky, which for want of appropriate terminology, may be described as “unfinished resolution,” a sort of a driving into a blind alley, making a dead stop when confluence is expected. Thus, in Aria I, the violin stops one degree short of the expected conclusion, in its scale-like passages, while the orchestral accompaniment, in a web of
With the new concerto for mirror [Stravinsky] 12/26/31
pure tonality, furnishes the implied resolution. This method is not new: in the Octet, Stravinsky showed several examples of similar “dead stops,” and always against a background of perfect tonality. These stops are probably most displeasing to an audience, but from the point of view of “musical tragedy,” as purification of the senses through fear and pity. Stravinsky’s procedure is unimpeachable. Perhaps, the most noble use of the “suspensions” of higher orders is made in the middle section of the Second Aria. The musical tension is ideally calculated to bring a perfect catharsis in the final resolution. It is in a movement like this that one begins to understand why it took Stravinsky a day to complete a measure. Every note seems to possess a directional force that likens it to a mathematical vector. It also becomes clear why Stravinsky dismissed “inspiration” in favor of speculation. Incidentally, this Second Aria is the most “beautiful” of all four movements to listen to. The Leit-Accord
The Three-Tone Chord of the Violin with Which Every One of the Four Movements of Stravinsky’s Concerto Begins. The mixture of styles that is immediately evident in the Concerto in D is really of no consequence. Some influences (we would call it deliberate admixtures) are quite unexpected, that of Caesar Franck for instance (the latter was a pioneer of remotely related suspensions and resolutions, and the approximation of Stravinsky and Franck, inescapable as it is in the study of Aria I, may yet prove illusory). Others are the familiar ghosts—Handel, Bach. Chaikovsky is conspicuously absent, unless we attribute the episodic subject of the orchestra in the Toccata to his psychic voice. The very opening of the Toccata is in the general style of the early eighteenth century, with corrections of the neo-classical movement. Again, the obvious dissonances, the wrong notes in the right place, are not the result of any newfangled systems of polytonal writing, but proceed from a higher sense of tonality. Rhythmic Flash
Recalling Stravinsky’s Barbaric Past Section of the Finale of the ViolinConcerto, A.D., 1931 Every time that Stravinsky embarks on a new stylistic venture, he carefully avoids all distracting unconventionalities. In this he is the least sensational of all modern composers. In serving one definite purpose, he does not try to gain a point in another direction. Thus, when he was intent on the problem of musical economy, he worked miracles in instrumentation. He eliminated the violins and violas from the score of the Symphony of Psalms presumably to promote the more impersonal wood-winds, which he augmented in number. The elimination of the ’cello in the Rag-Time also may have been due to the desire to avoid the sensuous quality, rightly or wrongly associated with that instrument. In the Violin Concerto the orchestration is “normal.” The small clarinet is the only supernumerary instrument in the score of the Concerto; there is an English horn which would stand in opposition to the practice of the nineteenth century symphony, but not necessarily of the early eighteenth. The key of the Concerto is that of D, major or minor. The key of D, it will be remembered, is the most common (because the easiest for the strings) for all symphonies, concertos and overtures up to about 1800. In this instance Stravinsky is once more a conservative. As far as the writing for the solo instrument is concerned, there is nothing particularly excruciating for a seasoned performer. The violin part of the “History of a Soldier” is without question the more complicated. Rhythmically, the Violin Concerto only in the final Presto presents any serious difficulty. Otherwise, the music proceeds smoothly, without constant changes of time-signature at one time associated with anything that is modern. Rhythm was not the problem to solve in the composition of this Concerto; it was not the item in the “notary’s contract” between the composer and the commissioner, and the dazzling Presto, one is inclined to think, was either a spontaneous explosion, or a gift to the public. It took all the uncanny ingenuity of Stravinsky to graft it on to the Capriccio, to prepare it, as he did, with the dark gaps and falls of the immediately preceding music. What then was the ultimate purpose underlying the composition of this Concerto? The answer may be simple: it was to write a Violin Concerto for Samuel Dushkin, the virtuoso. The work was commissioned and done according to the requirements of the commissioner. This honorable practice was responsible for many a masterpiece from Mozart and Beethoven; why should not Stravinsky do the like? In this he is only
With the new concerto for mirror [Stravinsky] 12/26/31
following a great tradition. A “notary’s contract” here assumes a non-allegorical significance. What was the result of this contract? A masterpiece, which, in addition to its inherent qualities, is rich in demonstration of how a transient problem of style may be subordinated to a higher synthesis. In the Violin Concerto, as in no other composition, Stravinsky fused his various styles, and also the styles of various other composers, so solidly that the mixture appears monolithic. This, may be a tribute to the composer’s technical mastery, but it also may be a revelation of unity in seemingly disparate elements; a revelation of Stravinsky in the true Platonic sense, as one face of many facets.
FLORENT SCHMITT November 26, 1932 Side-Glances At The Guest Of The Hour—Traits of Florent Schmitt, From His Prix de Rome To This Boston Day
Florent Schmitt belongs to the golden age of French music, which culminated in the first performance of Debussy’s “Pelléas.” It was Aldous Huxley who, in one of his “brief candles,” set down this date as marking the maturity of a generation. Within a brief two years the première of Florent Schmitt’s Forty-Seventh Psalm took place in Paris and marked another date—the advent of studied barbarity. The composer was a recipient of a Prix de Rome, which should have been a sufficient guarantee for good behavior. To think that this reward should go to encourage polytonal hymnology. “Is it for this sort of thing that the Prix de Rome is established?” apostrophized a dismayed Academician on the critical pages of a musical weekly a quarter of a century ago. True, the text of the Psalm called for exuberance; but had not Saint-Saëns done this sort of thing without offence to harmony? Could not the clapping of the hands of the Psalmist be done more harmoniously? Schmitt offended the public more than Stravinsky did seven years afterward; for Stravinsky was a Russian, a Scythian, a Sarmatian, and anything could be expected of a nomad like him. But Schmitt was a Frenchman of Meurthe-et-Moselle, born during the Franco-Prussian war, native of a border State saved for France after the debacle. He was brought up in the pure Latin tradition, cultivating grace and measure, not vehemence and abandon. Upon examination of the score of the Psalm, one must admit, even in 1932, that the objectors had sufficient cause. There is obvious polytonality at the very outset; C major defiantly projected against the pedal of F-sharp. There are parallel progressions of alternating major and minor tri-ads with and without the benefit of an organ point. There are cymbals (“beaucoup de cymbales!” exclaims the critic in righteous terror); there are bars in five-four time. Yet there are points in the composers favor—from the academic point of view. Florent Schmitt studiously avoids super-fluous harshness of harmony (as when he takes the fifth out of an E-major chord to avoid friction with the C of the forthcoming C major). The flow and ebb of tonal power are strictly proportioned. The choral writing is eminently vocal. There is a sense of repose when, as Emile Vuillermoz beautifully describes it, the sharps are extinguished, and five flats gently illumine the staff. Florent Schmitt has not betrayed the Latin Muse, and there is nothing in his Psalm that suggests the gigantic smears of tone-color that submerge the notes and tonalities on Stravinsky’s pages. In the orrery of the heavens at the turn of the century, Florent Schmitt’s star stands somewhat apart from the constellation of Debussy and Ravel. Such harmonic devices as parallel six-four chords, occasionally strengthened by a discordant tone, an augmented
Florent schmitt 11/26/32
fourth below the base; major seconds treated as independent unresolvable units; orchestration now ethereal, with harps and celestas for foil, then barbaric, with trumpets and drums in dots and dashes—these features are common to the entire pleiad of that epoch. But the vital tissue—the horizontal warp—is Schmitt’s own. He has a keen sentiment for modality, and, in studying his writing, one cannot get away from the thought that he thinks in hexachords rather than in full-octave scales. He seems to abhor the inexorable landings at standardized tonics, preferring to build in free alternations of tones and semitones akin to Greek and ecclesiastical modes. Thus, in a long, descending line in “Salome’s Dance,” from violins to basses, he uses six-note units with a fresh tonic in each subsequent link. These six tones, in different guises in different works, are sometimes divided in two symmetric parts; sometimes, by cleaving the mediant in two, a seventh note is introduced; or else the scheme is extended to the full octave modally regarded. At times, this horizontal design includes skips of a third, thus giving the impression of a broken chord, that may subsequently be assembled into a vertical column by the process of simple integration. In this treatment of scales, modes and chords lies the secret of Schmitt’s intempestive rejection of the whole-tone scale which was the scale of all modernists of 1900. This scale offers no variety; its harmonic integral, the augmented triad, is ambiguous in its universal applicability. Such soft-fibred meat was not for Schmitt’s masculine temper. “The Tragedy of Salome” was composed between 1907 and 1910 and dedicated to Igor Stravinsky. If the dedication was not an afterthought, then Schmitt must have dedicated it to the Stravinsky who was neither revolutionary nor barbaric, the Stravinsky before “Petrushka” and “Le Sacre.” Yet this dedication seems hardly fortuitous; for the score bears a premonition of the power that Stravinsky was to loosen on the world several years later. The score also contains some wild time-signatures, such as three-and-a-half quarters, which looks startling to some even now, although it is easy to see, with the aid of first-grade arithmetic, that this measure equals seven eighths—no insurmountably difficult unit. The popular impression concerning Florent Schmitt’s method of composition is that he seldom lets his instruments stay idle; that even the preverbial rests in the drum-parts are filled in so that the drummer may not enjoy a mental vacation. He has been charged with malice; while an authorized biography even includes a confirming anecdote. Schmitt, it appears, during rehearsals of the Psalm, discovered that certain blowers of brass had too much leisure to rest their embouchures. Forthwith he marked parenthetical possibilities on his cuffs. As the story goes, the effect on various Parisian chemisiers was inspirational—the creation of a specialty, musical cuffs, with staff and clef traced in an indigo that no laundering could wash away. Perusing Schmitt’s scores, one does not find evidence of such a sweating system. To the contrary, group-scoring is a conspicuous feature in Schmitt’s orchestration. Consider, for instance, the extraordinary episode in “Pompey’s Camp” from the Suite of incidental music to Shakespeare’s “Antony and Cleopatra,” written for brass orchestra and humanely scored. On the other hand, the pianist who undertakes to play the “Sonata libre en deux parties enchainées” for violin and pianoforte must be quite ubiquitous to meet the demands of the score. This Sonata contains in title and subtitle several abstruse puns: a reference to Clemenceau and his daily newspaper which was suppressed by the censor and appeared again with the titular adjective changed from “free” to “chained”; a pun
also in the Latin subtitle, “ad modum clementis aquæ,” apparently alluding to Clementi’s pioneer work in piano music. It is impossible to understand why Schmitt has acquired a reputation of unworldliness. “A ferociously solitary person,” he was reported to be at the time when his works reached foreign lands. An unidentifiable source branded him as “the wild boar of the Ardennes,” or, more accurately as to the geography, of the Vosges. Puns were many in English and American newspapers as to the potentialities of the animals spelling, with scant chance for the punsters, since barbaric music is seldom boring, and Schmitt was heralded as a composer of barbaric music. Schmitt’s tragic Salome was adjudged lascivious beyond musical decency, and the innocuous “Rêves” were said to disclose Freudian connotations that might be unfit to print. On the other hand, Schmitt’s remarkable Quintet of 1908 was found to be deficient in sensuousness, with “nothing that suggests the thought of woman in the whole work.” Thus, Schmitt seems to be master of the entire gamut of human musical emotions— from barbarity to austerity. Yet, he is one of the most wholesome personalities in music, traveling along a straight path from the days of his Prix de Rome to the present time. Like Ravel and Debussy, he never wrote a “straight” symphony or any music that may be called absolute in our parlance. Schmitt’s works suggest rich imagination; while the literary program attached to them detracts nothing from their musical value. Unlike many another master of yesterday, Florent Schmitt follows the developments of contemporary music with keen interest, and in most deserving cases, with admiration. But as a creator he keeps his own countenance. For all his admiration for Stravinsky, he never let one particle of Stravinskian brimstone fall into his brews. He confines his cultural curiosity to the literary pages of many important French publications. There he appears as large-minded, discriminating observer. What is Schönberg to him? Yet Florent Schmitt fought for him when the Five Orchestral Pieces were hissed in Paris. If we are to believe an authorized biographer, Schmitt risked a physical encounter on that occasion, and, probably defeated, suffered the loss of a lorgnon and a pupils score. Florent Schmitt is as vibrant with the life around him as he was in his formative years. He breathes the air of all peoples, because he knows that air cannot be artificially manufactured for selected groups. Admittedly it contains bacilli and dust—atonal tropes and uncomfortable earfuls of tones—but it is our only air. Florent Schmitt likes our imperfect planet; the planet reciprocates.
ENTER LASTLY THE YOUNGEST OF THE ANGELS April 20, 1933 Backgrounds for Markevitch, From Russia via Paris To Symphony Hall
Said Vanity Fair in the issue for October of last year: “We nominate for the Hall of Fame Igor Markevitch—because, at nineteen, he is a composer of enormous talent; because, at fifteen, in his native Russia, he composed a symphony which won him the patronage of Diaghilev, famed ballet-master; because his music, reversing the phrase, ‘Architecture is frozen music’ is instead, liquid architecture, formal in development, structural in tone; because he is a brilliant concert-pianist; because American premières of his music will be given soon.” These trumpetings, loud as they sound, are not free from false notes. Three are in the second clause: not at fifteen, but at sixteen, not in his native Russia, but in his adopted France, Markevitch composed not a symphony, but a sinfonietta. The patronage of Diaghilev was partly won at the first meeting of that magnificent arbiter with the youthful musician at Montreux, in Switzerland. In October, 1932, when Vanity Fair gave Markevitch a place in its hall, he was twenty, inasmuch as he was born (in Kiev, Russia) on July 27, 1912. Finally, Markevitch as a concert-pianist would not qualify even for a woman’s club. “I was born at the same time as ‘Le Sacre du Printemps,’” was Markevitch’s alleged statement to a French interviewer. It is doubtful whether he made any such grandiloquent declaration. The French have an annoying way of reporting everything in the future tense, which puts the time so badly out of joint that the reader never really knows what was said. Fortunately, information is available from German, Russian, even Spanish accounts. For Igor Markevitch is a happy composer. He has succeeded in kindling interest not only in waggish Paris, but in foreign parts as well. His popularity is all the more remarkable in that there is not a scintilla of sensation in his arid music. Markevitch was born into a world that had already outgrown the yearning and the glorified grotesque of the years before the war. In 1910, musical “socialites” would go into raptures listening to a neurotic composer shaking a lion’s mane over the keyboard in a semi-darkened room, while whole-tone scales and unresolved suspensions induced spinal shivers. In 1920 the same élite, none the worse for the passage of the devastating decade, applauded Stravinskian grotesques and scoffed at the rich timbres and augmented triads of yesteryear. In 1930, the gray-haired advance-guard decided that counterpoint was the only dignified pastime for the composer and the listener. Igor Markevitch found himself in the center of the movement; for he is undoubtedly the most naturally gifted young man of contrapuntal mind. Not even Hindemith surpasses him in the naturalness of
the idiom. The connoisseurs first, the public next, the critics last, decided that he is the mirror of the times. Igor Markevitch found himself famous. His modest apartment in Montmartre, where he lives with his family, became a guest-room for transatlantic visitors, and the “ius primae noctis” for his works sold at a price. In Paris, in Brussels, or in Amsterdam the composer would conduct in person; for he likes to direct as much as he dislikes to play the piano in his own works. As a true contrapuntist, he does not write music for soloinstruments, but prefers the many-voiced orchestra. True, at the age of five, at Vevey, in Switzerland, whither his family had hastened at the first signs of the approaching war, he wrote a song for his father’s birthday. There was also an enigmatic Opus 1, a suite in three movements called “Les Noces,” written at the age of fourteen. Markevitch squirms painfully when asked about this “œuvre de jeunesse.” The suite, however, determined his destiny. He went to Paris for study with Nadia Boulanger, foster-mother of so many youthful prodigies. After two weeks, she excused him from classes in harmony, with words of praise for his natural science with chords and figurations. He worked at counterpoint and orchestration and was out of his indentures, when Diaghilev came, discovered Markevitch, commissioned him to write a piano-concerto and a ballet. The source of the ballet was to be Andersen’s tale of the king so finely dressed that to all intents and purposes he appeared an unintentional nudist. But Diaghilev dies in the summer of 1929, and the project dies with him. Markevitch turns to Jean Cocteau, and writes a Cantata in a highly contrapuntal style. The music is written first; Cocteau sets in a text for soprano and chorus. The soprano sings, accompanied by a procession of consecutive minor seconds in the orchestra. She sings esoterically of a cantatrice who is naught but a broken pillar; a pillar broken in two at the middle, and bleeding from top to bottom. She sings of the moon’s knives, the knives of the moon which are hurled into her breasts by assassins whom the entire world takes for saints. The music continues dissonantly contrapuntal. At the end there is a chorale with semicadences in perfect triads…. All this creates an impression of grotesque. Cocteau’s whimsicalities are hopelessly dated. The music seems to move independently of the dull enigmas in the text. Markevitch shows himself to best advantage when he is not bound to an illustrative idea. The Serenade for Solo-Violin, Clarinet and Bassoon is music of the second half of the century par excellence. Sterilized of all emotion, it almost dismisses the idea of pleasure to the ear. It is sharp, scholastic, linear. There is the stubbornness of repetition that defies criticism. What shall we say about this haunting figure for the bassoon, swinging between two tonalities like a pendulum? It would be wrong to attach familiar labels to this method of writing. Of polytonality there is not a suggestion. The chords are never complete, and a sense of tonality (which is very strong) is cumulative, gathered through linear figures, scales with oscillating tonics…. This is absolute music, which relies exclusively on design, not suggestion. The Piano-Concerto, the Concerto Grosso, the Partita and, finally, “Rebus” are works of an uncannily mature mind that discards the temptations of artificial grimace for a new unrewarding logic of construction. In a periodical published in Havana, a Franco-Spanish journalist, dwelling in Paris, wrote a vivid account of the first performance of Markevitch’s Concerto Grosso. There was an atmosphere of tension. The select audience came to be convinced, and was gratified. Darius Milhaud exclaimed in a manner yielding to quotation: “I have not been so carried away since the first performance of the ‘Sacre’!” The reports in the Paris
Enter lastly the youngest of the angels [Markevitch] 4/20/33
newspapers bristled with exclamation points, although for such a sober work as this Concerto Grosso one would prefer a clear analysis. The Piano-Concerto, dedicated to Diaghilev still living, had been a similar success in Convent Garden at London in the summer of 1929, but London does not make a composer. It lacks the necessary cosmopolitanism of Paris. The “Partita”—a fine work, perhaps Markevitch’s best—for Piano and Chamber Orchestra, somehow missed the annual outburst of admiration for his growing talent. But the production of “Rebus,” in December of 1931, turned loose the tongues and pens. Markevitch himself conducted; in a letter to this writer he expresses himself without pose, mock humility or pretence. The original French best characterizes him: De mon côté je viens d’avoir eu le premier triomphe de ma vie en dirigeant “Rébus,” Suite de Ballet, mardi passé [Dec. 15, 1931] à l’O.S. P. [Orchestre Symphonique de Paris]. On m’a rappelé sans fin; on criait bis, et Prunières, Directeur de la Revue Musicale, disait que c’était une des dates importantes de l’histoire de la musique. Je suis sur que “Rébus” sera très joué, car c’est une œuvre brillante et facile a monter et que son succès est très certain d’avance. Markevitch writes and speaks in French. He understands Russian, but cannot converse in it. Diaghilev himself wrote about Markevitch: “I like his music, because I hear in it the quickening of a new generation which militates against the misconceptions of later years.” The shrewd umpire of musical taste proved once more his keen judgment and understanding of the changing esthetics. From Stravinsky to Markevitch he rounded up all that was vital in the quarter of a century that he dominated. From one Igor to another, the first born in 1882, the second in 1912…. It is a curious thing that Markevitch’s first name should be Igor, for that name is extremely rare among Russians, and suggests the early Russia of regional princes and the wars against the Mongolian nomads. It would be informing to know whether Stravinsky’s first name was not suggested to his father, a noted bass of the Imperial Opera, by the famous epic, “Chronicle of Igor’s Hosts,” recovered early in the nineteenth century and since considered a classic of early Russian literature…. Borodin’s well-known opera is based on this chronicle. However that may be, the coincidence of the first names naturally leads to taunts at Igor the Second. Even one of Stravinsky’s sons could not refrain from challenging Markevitch good-naturedly: “I say, it must be hard on you to be an also Igor.” “Just as hard as it is to be an also Stravinsky,” parried Markevitch. Despite Markevitch’s successes, his metaphorical bed is not of roses. Before undertaking the issue of “Rebus,” the publishing House of Schott sent out subscription circulars to all potential admirers of Markevitch’s talents, saying candidly that unless a certain number of full scores were purchased, and the purchase pledged in advance, the work could not be printed. Fortunately, the needed number of subscribers was secured,
and the score was engraved and published with a magnificence of type, paper and binding, of which few musical scores may boast. The solution of the riddle of “Rebus” is a Russian (and a French) proverb: “Poverty is no vice.” Incidentally, it is the title of a play by Ostrovsky, the Russian dramatist of the nineteenth century. Common usage in old Russia amended the proverb by a qualifying clause: “Poverty may not be a vice, but it is a pain in the neck.”
SCIENTIFIC MIND TURNED ON MUSIC May 20, 1933 Saminsky’s Provocative Book About Composers Of This Day
Logic, knowledge and general culture are not musicians’ virtues, Even composers, who have to use their brains to a considerable extent, often lack elementary education—or else they substitute theosophy for exact science and childish speculation for philosophy. True, “cerebral” musicians are different, but is not the very word suggestive of lucubration, study by the lamp, effort without talent? Illogical, ignorant, uncivilized musicians, by the evident process of self-defence, proclaim supremacy of the “heart” over the brain, and, assisted by managers, music-patrons and newspaper critics, declare science to be opposed to music whose very essence is, and should be, imponderable. If thinking musicians are rare specimens of nature, articulate musicians, capable of expressing their thoughts in a legible form, are still rarer. Let us rejoice, therefore, whenever a Musicus Sapiens makes an appear-ance before an unsympathetic audience. Who knows? Music may yet make progress towards the enlightened medieval times when musicians were mathematicians, and music was a part of the university quadrivium on a par with geometry. Then, Musicus Sapiens will no longer be a target for musical savages, symphonic dowagers and other ladies male and female. A Musicus Sapiens of a dangerous aggressiveness is Lazare Saminsky whose new book, “Music of Our Day,” published by Crowell, created a stir. It is an unusual book in form and in contents. It gives an impression of an impassioned speech by a man long prevented from public expression of his views. Every name, every quotation is qualified in it by the authors impulsive feelings. Even casual references are colored in the same red or purple of opinion. The author understands that the book is no impartial account of the trends of our day, and while referring to another treatise on modern music, adds significantly: “Surely indignation is a far stronger incitement to thought than the platitude of ‘constructive criticism’”. This statement is the key to Saminsky’s book. He is no self-conscious narrator. Rather, he is a polemist of a high order who possesses profound knowledge of such unconnected sciences as mathematics, music, literature, art. Add his polyglot temperament, intimate acquaintance with six modern and two ancient languages, add his refusal to address any specific audience, his reluctance to teach, or even to consider an American readers limitations in tongues and cultures, and you will realize that “Music of Our Day” is a book written for himself rather than for musicians at large. Science is here dispensed with categorical assertiveness, and objections are overruled before they are raised. Yet, just because the expression is highly personal, the book captivates even the uninitiated. The reader may stumble over Latin vocables, mediaeval philosophies, mathematical terms, Greek modes, Armenian scales, obsolete English words, quotations in German, French
and Italian, but he will sense the atmosphere of contemporary music and will be unwillingly plunged into the multitudinous sea of controversy, from which he will emerge as that lady did after her first hearing of Le Sacre du Printemps—“I’ll never be the same,” she retorted when asked how she went through the experience. That the book is stimulating, polemical and ardent is no reflection on Saminsky as Musicus Sapiens. Men of knowledge may outstrip men of heart in fire and impetus. Polemics among mathematicians are as bitter as among politicians. So, when Saminsky refers to a well-known character in modern music as “Stravinsky’s Leporello,” or when he speaks of the notorious system of twelve tones as no system at all, he only states vigorously what others stated politely. Even to himself he is without mercy, when he tells how Ernest Newman poked fun at him in the public press after a performance of Saminsky’s opera-ballet, “The Plagues Gagliarda.” “For special scenic effects and action I needed a battery of unusual percussion,” candidly recounts our author. “I used a sort of xylophone formed of large dried oyster shells loosely hung on a wire and attached to a wooden frame, a tambourine in the form of a metallic shaker filled with buckshot, etc. These Inventions’ required indeed neither labor nor genius. After the première Ernest Newman said humorously: ‘Mr. Saminsky uses chains in his orchestra: for this instrument he orchestrates admirably.’” The authors candor is all the more striking that elsewhere in the book he hurls his finely-sharpened arrows at some transparently anonymous individuals who score for the revolutionary orchestra of fire-department accessories. The book is not homogeneous in its contents. The first two divisions, “The Tonal Language of Our Time” and “Race and Revolution,” are closely related to music of our day. The third and fourth divisions, on the other hand, are of the nature of independent essays, if we exclude the finely written, although obviously incomplete, chapter on “latest Russians.” These divisions are entitled respectively: “New Russians and Their Alma Mater”—containing vivid and artistic pen-pictures of Rimsky-Korsakov, who was Saminsky’s teacher, and Liadov—and “The New Art of Conducting.” The treatise on the Music of the Russian Orient gives us an idea of what real music of the Near East is, as opposed to the pseudo-orientalism of the Russian School, but it can hardly come under the heading of contemporary music. Saminsky is not shy of the fact that he is a composer and he does not think that selfconsciousness and polite avoidance of any mention of his own creative output is the right way to reconcile his artistic and his critical capacity. But he refers to his compositions only when he needs to make a point, and, as we have seen in one instance, does not hesitate to quote a review with a damaging implication to himself. The fact that Saminsky is a composer of five symphonies as well as an author of essays on abstruse mathematical subjects can be discovered on the publishers page, which gives a list of his major achievements. The personality of Saminsky, musician and thinker, finds its counterpart in his music. Inversely, this music with its strange outbursts of aggressive spirit amid flowing harmonies in a neo-romantic idiom, gives a key to his book, which reveals a Musicus Sapiens as an irrepressible prophet of salvation to the righteous and of utmost destruction to the false saints.
WELCOME FOR THE INCOMING MODERN MASTER October 28, 1933 Roundabout with Schoenberg Who Should Arrive in Boston Next Week What others count as beauty matters nothing to the artist. He is concerned only with what he needs —Arnold Schoenberg in “Harmonielehre”
When on September 13, 1924, Arnold Schoenberg reached his fiftieth birthday he was greeted by the mayor of his native city of Vienna in an official reception at the steps of the City Hall. Schoenbergian choruses, hitherto considered unperformable, joyously rent the air. There was an admiring populace, consisting not only of his atonal disciples. When Schoenberg was forty, the critical contumely was at its peak. He had just completed a European tour with Pierrot Lunaire, “the last word in cacophony and musical anarchy,” as the Berlin correspondent of the Musical Courier characterized it at the time of its first performance. And, in bidding him a sincere farewell to Berlin, a Vienna musician summarized his impressions of the three piano pieces, opus 11, as follows: “First, a child bangs aimlessly on the piano, then a drunk pounds like a madman on the keys, and, finally somebody sits full weight on the keyboard.” In London, after the performance of the Five Orchestral Pieces, the merriment in the press was general. In a letter to the editor of the Daily Telegraph, that early champion of freedom of musical expression, Dr. Leigh Henry objected to the vulgarity of a writer’s remark that “the long hair which used to be indispensable has now been superseded by the bald head”—an obvious and disgraceful attack on the appearance of Herr Schoenberg, who conducted the performance, Dr. Henry adds indignantly. At twenty-seven Schoenberg had to eke out his meager wages by conducting at a cabaret in Berlin, and also scoring operettas for successful composers. It is said that he had thus orchestrated six thousand pages of other people’s music—and what music! At that time, at the turn of our century, Schoenberg already had the “Gurre-Lieder” and the “Verklarte Nacht” to his credit—works of magnificence and poesy, well within the respectable code of esthetics. In fact, Richard Strauss, having looked over the first pages of the “Gurre-Lieder,” suggested Schoenberg’s name for a conservatory position and a Liszt Prize. Biographers still shudder at the thought that Schoenberg had to interrupt the
composition of the “Gurre-Lieder” because of pecuniary stringency. There are many budding Schonbergs in our own time, seeking musical amanuensis work in order to squeeze as many devaluated pennies, marks, shillings or zlotys as possible to keep the body and soul together. Where are their future biographers, and whence can come urgent aid? MANY SIDED There is something biblical in Schoenberg’s spectacular martyrdom. Shuttling between Vienna and Berlin, revered by disciples, derided by scurrilous critics, he is the very picture of a prophet of the faith. Not content with music alone, he pursues literature and poetry in the most esoteric form of expression. Not an open adherent to theosophical doctrines, he is none the less attracted by the metaphysical lore, which relieves him of stressing reality. His poetry such as the book to “Jacob’s Ladder,” an oratorio begun during the war days, is abstruse and to the uninitiated irritatingly tangential. His choice of words to his monodramas, operas, songs and song-cycles is of the same tantalizing sort, when you seem to grasp the meaning at one moment, only to see it fade into distressing nonsense at another. Often, coarse matter succeeds evanescent symbolism—thus, an early song of Schoenberg as yet not out of Wagnerian indentures, ends with the words, “I think of my dog.” In one song, Schoenberg “feels the air of other planets,” yet in his monodramas he is earthly, too earthly. A metaphysical woman with child, a strangely unjealous Lover-To-Be, these visions of his operas are as difficult to grasp as a strangers dream. They are certainly excellent material for easy burlesque, as newspaper critics of both hemispheres have discovered to their advantage. Schoenberg is also an autodidactic painter. His paintings, cognate with Blake and Goya, but perhaps more directly influenced by impressionists of the pre-war era, are subjective visions. If the observation is correct, that one’s weaknesses in art is often revealed more patently in the artist’s avocation, then subjectivism and adumbration should be Schoenberg’s great failings. Much has been said and written about Schoenberg’s presentiment of a personal and general catastrophe, as evidenced by his paintings, his writings and his music. The subsequent events must have strengthened this morbid faith, for no sooner had Schoenberg settled down in Berlin as a professor of the Prussian Academy of Arts than the Hitlerian cataclysm burst over his non-Aryan and modernistic head. Under the stress of a double stigma, he had to leave Germany for France. The shock of a new discrimination led him, probably in the spirit of an emphatic demonstration, to return to the religion of his youth, which he had relinquished some years before. Momentarily in Paris, he responded to a call from America, the last country that still offers a refuge to European undesirables regardless of creed or race. THE ATONALIST What is the essence of Schoenberg’s music that makes him an object of veneration to some, an odious figure to many? Obviously, we must draw a line of demarcation between the early, acceptable Schoenberg and the later, true Schoenberg. Although the evolution
Welcome for the incoming modern master [Schoenberg] 10/28/33
from the “Verklarte Nacht” of 1899 to the “Accompaniment to a Cinema Scene” of 1932 can be traced as one continuous line, the difference between these two works compasses the whole of transition from tonality to atonality. The latter term is usually connected with Schoenberg’s name. Atonalists themselves reject the label as inadequate. Atonality, i.e., tonality prefixed with a privative particle, is as unjust a definition as that of the sansculotte of the French revolution. After all, the sans-culottes had not entirely renounced the necessary integument for the nether limbs, and the nickname tended to convey a wrong picture. However, both the sans-culottes and the atonalists reconciled themselves to their respective appellations. The works of Josef Matthias Hauer are even advertised as atonal, and the pub-lisher, realizing that Hauer’s “Twelve-tone Music” is hard to sell, adds in pleading tones: Let us send you these works for perusal that you may delve into their singular art; it is not at all difficult to penetrate into these problems. Roughly, atonality is the system in which all twelve tones of the chromatic scale are used on equal terms, it is a democracy of sharps and flats; there are no “dominants,” for no tone dominates another tone; there is no keynote; to prevent a semblance of one, it is strongly recommended not to repeat a note before the eleven other notes have been made use of; it is indeed a raffle of chromatics; a system of integral chromaticism. It makes new demands on the ear; small wonder, then, that atonality enjoys such a hearty unpopularity among middle-class musicians. As to critics, their ears close up like the sensitive leaves of mimosa at the first contact with atonality. The best of them seek refuge in a melancholy resignation: “If this be the music of the future, may I never live to see the future.” Serge Taneiev, the eminent Russian composer and academic savant of music, wrote twenty years ago to a friend: “The scale is no longer confined to its seven tones, but compasses all twelve, and this not only in the melody, but in harmony as well. There is no tonality.” In our own day a member of the Russian Association of Proletarian Musicians, writing in the Sovietskaya Musika, repeats unknowingly almost word for word what the pre-revolutionary Taneiev said in the spirit of justifiable distress: “Atonality destroys all conception of tonality, concord or discord, destroys the functional connection among the twelve tones of our scale, defacing and equalizing them. Small wonder that a special society such as the Schoenberg Verein had to be organized to listen to such music.” The special society referred to us the Society for Private Performances which Schoenberg founded in Vienna in order to secure serious listening to new music, sans the newspaper critics. The attitude of the Communist party toward atonality as a product of disintegration of Western music resulted in a bolt from atonality of one of Schoenberg’s disciples, Hanns Eisler, who changed his style abruptly in the direction of the simplest diatonic writing in four-four time, mostly for the use of mass singing. In a collection of valedictory essays on the occasion of Schoenberg’s fiftieth birthday, he wrote an article entitled “Schoenberg, the Reactionary.” To be sure, the meaning was inoffensive— merely that Schoenberg, having established a school and striving to preserve its tenets, has ipso facto become a conservative.
THEORY AND PRACTICE Schoenberg is celebrated as the founder of a new school of musical expression, but performers prefer compositions of his youthful consonant days. The titanic “GurreLieder,” scored for a very expensive orchestra with eight flutes, four harps and everything else in proportion, has enjoyed several performances during the third of a century of its existence. The “Verklarte Nacht,” scored for a string sextet, is much better known. But these two works belong, chronologically as well as substantially, to another century. They have risen as a magnificent aftermath of Wagnerian splendor. The symphonic poem to Maeterlinck’s play, Pelleas and Melisande, written at the same time with Debussy, revelled in post-Wagnerian harmonies. Of course, the Wagner in either of these scores was greatly modified, and some Schoenbergians would not admit it was Wagner at all. Some Wagnerians, among them Ernest Newman, agree with this analysis—from different motives, perhaps. Schoenberg’s Chamber Symphony, originally scored for fifteen instruments, has some elements of the new style, notably in the melody and chord-building through a progression of fourths. With the Quartet in F sharp minor, Schoenberg says good-bye to tonality, not without a practical joke, in the form of a quotation from “Oh, mein lieber Augustin, alles ist hin!” introduced in the second violin against a fully matured atonal quip in the first. But it remained for the “Thrice Seven Poems,” commonly known under the title of one of them, the Lunar Pierrot, to catapult Schoenberg into fame and make him a target of facile witticisms and dire threats ever since. The craziest paradox of the situation consists in the fact that while critics dubbed Schoenberg a wild anarchist who discards all law and order and substitutes noise for sounds, the atonal savants explain for your benefit the extreme rationality of these seemingly impressionistic tableaux. In one of the thrice seven, a threenote figure is threaded into every musical phrase, figuration and ornament so that the whole thing is made a mathematical function of these three variants. Through the devices of crab and inversion, or both combined, with transposition not hampered by the late regretted major-minor complex, the thing is created like a homunculus out of an alchemist’s retort. But this is not all. Schoenberg, the author of the astonishing book on harmony, brings all music within the bounds of pure reason. Every old scale and progression finds its place in this sunlit expanse of integral harmony. The timbres go into the pot along with the scales. Thus, in the “Altered Chord,” from the Five Orchestral Pieces, the conductor is instructed to let nature take its course, and not to bring out any seeming themes, for the dynamics indicated in each instrumental part make the very tone-color thematic. A marvelous subject for newspaper jokesters. One of them (unidentified) fell a victim to the linotype when, about to burst in a shower of vituperation, an intrusive letter made him say fine instead of five orchestral pieces. Was the linotypist a secret Schoenbergian? UNTO THESE LAST The variations for orchestra, coming after a long period of silence (Schoenberg composed little after the war) were in turn accused of excessive cerebration. At least, this reproach has the advantage of plausibility. We deal with a composer, founder of a new school
Welcome for the incoming modern master [Schoenberg] 10/28/33
based on theoretical deductions from a rational scheme. We are told that melody and harmony are the same inasmuch as harmony may be dismembered into melody, through placing its components in spatial succession, after which the resultant melodic ripple can be again gathered into a harmonic column, much in the manner of a retrogressive film reel, which makes a splash in the water integrate back into homogeneous surface. Von Webern, in his Sinfonietta (famous in the atonal circles), decomposes a timbre-chord into a succession of timbre-notes. Each instrument plays only one note of the motiv, the next overtaking the line the moment the first ceases to vibrate. Atonal lore is richer in surprises than we imagine and one cannot summarize it briefly without doing a great injustice to it. Schoenberg’s latest composition to date, an “Accompaniment to a Cinematic Scene,” with its subdivisions, “Danger, Fear, Catastrophe,” is not likely to be taken up by Hollywood. But what a marvelous background it would supply to a surrealistic film of images and geometric designs. The score, for a small orchestra, is the acme of mastery. Here is the twelve-tone system brought into full life. It is simple as atonality goes, and it is immediately impressive. The visionary of Pierrot Lunaire and the rationalist of the Harmonielehre have here arrived at a synthesis. Schoenberg’s “influence” on contemporary composition? It is undeniable. Ravel attests the power of Schoenberg’s logical scheme animated by impressionistic imagination. Honegger’s Symphony is obviously atonal in its use of the chromatic scale spaced in contiguous octaves. (This “registering” is one of the traits of the Three Piano Pieces, which sounded to the ear of a Vienna musician like a child’s aimless roving or a drunkard’s vicious banging.) There are atonal daubs in Stravinsky’s Rossignol. There are several composers in America who independently use the system of twelve tones. And, of course, there is Alban Berg. There are talented composers writing atonally, and there are unhappy drudges that have no power of selective genius. As in old music of the seven tones, genius, ability, and—horribile dictu—inspiration, play a great part in the domain of twelve equal, inter-dependent, liberated tones.
FROM THE WEST COMPOSER NEW TO BOSTONIANS January 24, 1934 Background for Roy Harris, About to Be Heard at Symphony Hall
There is no harder lot than that of an American composer. Before he starts on his vocational career, he has to prove his qualifications as an American of unimpeachably indigenous stock and as a composer of sufficient craftsmanship. Too many Americans are alarmingly European when they venture into creative work in music: all but too often the necessary schooling clips the wings of their imagination. For, as long as there is no national school of American pedagogy there can be no national school of American music. Like the sandy earth-shine on the new moonâ€™s crescent, outlining darkly the true circle, American music throws back the shadowy lights of European schooling. It is a reflection of a reflection. Fortunately for American music there are individuals who, strong in their national characteristics, do not forget their native idiom while they are studying European syntax. To turn a homely phrase in a universally understandable manner, to preserve the accent while speaking a civilized tongue, is no simple problem. An American composer must reckon with the realities of music, unless he is content to write for himself alone. His music must be performable; while, with the expansive predilection for orchestral writing, the American composer joins a contest with too many entries, too few prizes. Exotic, unintelligible works of genius have no chance; the musical thought must show the recognizable shape of a well-planned structure. Not necessarily a reflection of a reflection, an American work must be Europeanly made. The time has not arrived when a musical Walt Whitman can loose all traditions by proclamation. An American work, to remain in the treasury of American music, can not be written in free verse. PLACE AND PAST Americans are moderns by second nature. In the world of cautious progress, they must show enough originality to excite interest, without being too prophetically futuristic. Thus, between the enclosures for European echo-reflectors, and recondite prophets, there is a small acre where an American composer, civilized and free, can meet the unwilling world. Roy Harris of Oklahoma, thirty-five, white, and healthy, is well-equipped to be an American emissary. He composes in a fluent manner; his craftsmanship is secure; his musical ideas are plastic; his inspiration is derived from the nature about him. There is nothing tortured either in the form or idiom or his works; nothing pent-up, nothing
From the west composer new to bostonians [Harris] 1/24/34
abstruse. His music is born, not invented. It reflects not the European ready-made manufacture, but a free and somewhat mysterious firmament of America. Harmony, counterpoint, dynamics, rhythm are used to reflect this America, without a relay from another continent. His language, very personal, is yet sufficiently universal to be recognized as that of our time, as if all subjective ideas were objectivized in his music simultaneously with the reverse process of the subjectivizing of objective ideas. Harrisâ€™s life presents a picture of individualistic endeavor culminating in success in high places; a combination of a rustic existence with Marxistic lucubrations; professional farming with exercising on the clarinet, truck-driving for a butter-and-egg firm with dreams of becoming a great musician; transcontinental vagabondage with high-grade studies of music, philosophy and economics. When his parents (Scotch-Irish) arrived in 1898 in Lincoln County, Oklahoma, they had an oxcart, some provisions, an ax and a gun. They staked their claims, cut down trees, built the house. Roy Harris was born in a log cabin. Soon they proceeded to California; as a small boy Roy was taken to meetings of the farmers and heard the oft-recounted tales of how the settlers had to camp with their guns loaded to protect their water rights against encroaching neighbors. The settlement grew with him; he observed how irrigation changed the barren land into a fertile field; how the winding roads were paved into boulevards; how an old schoolhouse was superseded by a modern steel-and-glass institution with lawns and gardens. Home-made bread gave way to modern panification; soon the country store disappeared, in favor of a city shop. The pioneer days were no longer. But the pioneer days were only beginning for Roy Harris. He had to earn his living. Public school at Covina in California; piano-lessons from a country pianist, study of the clarinet to play in the high-school bandâ€”all that was very good, but hardly insured upkeep in his adolescent days. Everyone must work profitably, even potential modern composers. Harris drove the truck, distributed some thousand pounds of butter and 300 dozen eggs a day for three months. At the same time he began to be impressed with social injustice. It was the time after the war when society needed reform. Harris read miscellaneous literature, from Nietzsche to Marx. Then he decided that both were too human to offer ultimate solace. Besides, werenâ€™t all masses composed of individuals? Nietzsche extolled the strong individual, which seemed a preliminary condition for creation of a strong mass of individuals. But what is absolute in an individual? Nothing except Tone. Suddenly Harris discovered for himself that a musical tone did not depend on the human equation, and therefore could be made a standard of an absolute system. Having thus rationalized his natural leaning towards music, Harris abandoned for the while the cause of social reform, although he remained in touch with several highly-charged radical societies in California, even taught Marxism to fellow-students at the university. THE MUSIC-MAKER By this time he was twenty-five, and his musical knowledge was scant. He started to compose for his own pleasure. Alfred Hertz encouraged him to study composition in earnest. He studied where he could, and soon was able to do some teaching himself at the Hollywood Conservatory. He also became music-critic of the Los Angeles Illustrated
Daily News. One more year elapsed. Harris wrote a suite for string quartet. Followed an Andante for Orchestra, which was played at Rochester, and later the summer concerts at the Lewisohn Stadium in New York and at the Hollywood Bowl. Harris became a promising composer. A benevolent patron enabled him to go to Paris to study with the one woman who did more for American music and American composers than all the college professors put together, Nadia Boulanger. Harris peered into medieval music, Bach and the last string quartets of Beethoven. He learned all about counterpoint, and could do stunts of legerdemain with fugal subjects, inverted, augmented, diminished and crab. He could tell off-hand what transformations and adjustments are necessary to unravel an involved contrapuntal mesh. But Harris kept to himself his American melody-feeling, his irrepressible harmonic feeling, which he never concealed behind the linear counterpoint of Bach and Nadia Boulanger. He rationalized his harmonies as being a result of the encounter of three triads, each built around a central tone, taken respectively as the top note, middle note or lower note of each major triad. Hence polyharmonies, at times strangely harsh. But whether in polyharmony or in strict and extraordinarily rich counterpoint, Harris retains the broad diatonic line of American folklore. Constricted chromaticism, enharmonism and the entire arsenal of nineteenth-century fireworks of sensuousness and blatancy, find in Harris a natural antithesis. The seven tones of the modal scale are quite sufficient for his purposes. He can write a long line of melody, often spanning nearly two octaves, without falling into monotony. His rhythmical line is a function of his melody. The time-signature, with numerators in prime numbers as high as 13 and 17, often represents but a part of a still larger unit. Thus, both in melodic range and rhythmical design, there is expansion, which is only natural seeing that Harris works on a diatonic scale, spanning two octaves where a chromaticallyminded Wagnerite will use only one. Rhythmically, the expansion is fore-ordained by the larger symmetry of form so that individual melodies stand in the same relation to the whole, as germ-ideas, or motives, stand to the melodic unit. By knitting close Harris obtains a comprehensive ensemble out of the bits of contrapuntal mosaic. In the essentially diatonic, i.e., heptatonic, system, Harris manages to contrive alarming disharmonies, particularly when the combined diatonic systems belong to different tonalities, or in plain language, when he uses polytonality. Even when writing contrapuntally, as he almost invariably does, Harris projects his music on a clear harmonic background. In the lean texture of his frequent unisons there is always a tonic, always a dominant. One may speculate as to whether this or that passage is in hypoIonian or mixolydian mode, and even connect Harris with medieval musicians; but such excursions into antiquity are not necessary. Ascetic intervals that suggest monastic origin, are reflective in an American composer, of the spacious Western deserts. Harris is not a poet of the city and does not take interest in â€œdepicting the age of machinery.â€? In his music he is always a Westerner; his rhythmical verve reflects the dry energy of the mountain air; his melodic line is heliotropic.
From the west composer new to bostonians [Harris] 1/24/34
INCIDENTALLY Roy Harris was for two consecutive years a fellow of the Guggenheim Foundation, as a result of his first worldly success, a performance of his Concerto for Clarinet, Piano and string Quartet, in Paris, in the spring of 1927. This Concerto is an exceptionally mature work; its nostalgic beginning for the slow clarinet in the chalumeau register possesses true beauty; the scherzo is brilliant and gay. The work has been recorded by the Columbia Phonograph Company—rare distinction for an American composer. Auspicious beginning not only for Harris personally, but for American music in general. Harris’s other significant work in chamber music is the Sextet for strings. The third movement is a most remarkably wrought piece of counterpoint, beautiful to look at. Here his rhythm is entirely free; while and as a monument to this freedom he uses a large sign in place of the time-signature, marking the metrical subdivisions by dotted lines. The first Symphony, written in 1929, shows the familiar traits of Harris’s clear texture. It suffered a curious contretemps, when unsuspecting burglars broke into his parked car and carried away the briefcase with the manuscript. The non-negotiable Symphony was later abandoned by the disappointed thieves in a subway station, and was subsequently restored to the anxious composer. The newspapers had their day at the story. Harris’s only piece for a single instrument is the Piano Sonata. Plainly, his mind is set in stir by orchestral visions, or similarly multi-voiced ensembles of chamber music. The Overture “From the Sadness and Gayety of the American Scene” approaches programmusic. In it the composer quotes “Johnny Comes Marching Home,” and builds this meditative melody into a climactic flourish in one glowing unison, after a poly-harmony that nearly overflows the borders of audibility. The Toccata of an earlier date, also written for a large orchestra, bristles with similar excitements. In contrast, the string quartet of 1933 is an economical piece of pure diatonic writing. Harris has been a composer for only a decade. He moves onward without retrogression, knowing what he wants to do and using his acquired learning for his well-determined purpose. He believes in himself as all strong talents do; from a symphony to a string quartet, from a quartet to a modern concerto he confidently builds his future.
COMPOSER WHO HAS CLUNG TO HIS OWN WAY February 3, 1934 The Life and Works of the Newfound Charles Ives in Friendly Record These prefatory essays were written by the composer for those who can’t stand his music—and the music for those who can’t stand his essays; to those who can’t stand either, the whole is respectfully dedicated. —Charles Ives in “Essays before a Sonata”
Some twelve years ago, a number of people interested in music noted the appearance of the name of Charles E.Ives as the author of curious volumes of music, unconventional to the eye, possibly bewildering to the ear. One was entitled simply, “114 Songs”; the other: “Sonata: Concord, Mass, 1840–1860,” with the movements, instead of conventional allegros and andantes, marked: I. Emerson. II. Hawthorne. III. The Alcotts. IV. Thoreau. To this Sonata a companion volume of essays was printed, entitled: “Essays before a Sonata.” A casual glance at the musical staves of the Sonata revealed columns of black notes “played by using a strip of board 14 3/4 inches long and heavy enough to press the keys down without striking.” And in the songs one came across a chord pointed by an arrow with the legend: “use Sat. night.” Decidedly, here was an unusual composer, and an unusual annotator. The name of Charles E.Ives appeared in still another connection as signature to a circular letter sent to all newspapers, which contained a projected amendment to the Constitution, abolishing the party system. Under this amendment the people would vote not for parties, emblems or names, but for the issues. Not one newspaper printed the letter. Ives was then constrained to print the proposal as a form-letter addressed to President Wilson (or a congressman), to be signed by sympathizers. At the same time, business men knew Charles E.Ives as the partner of the Ives & Myrick Insurance Company, the author of such essays as “The Amount to Carry—Measuring the Prospect,” published in the Eastern Underwriter. FAITH AND PRACTICE Business man, maker of Constitutional amendments, writer, musician—which of these functions reflects the true image of Charles E.Ives? It is probable that his music would have been different had he not the making of a dreamer-warrior in him. It is probable that
Composer who has clung to his own way [Ives] 2/3/34
his business activity created a sense of potential reality in him that made him try unusual methods in musical composition; for if new prospects are found in business, why not new ears in music? As a boy, Ives heard village bands playing with spirit if not with accuracy. Sometimes, a second violin would lag, or a drum would beat straight time while the trumpets stumbled over an awkward note. Or else, a second band would come and play for a new crowd of corner loungers. Years later, Ives registered these impressions in an orchestral suite, “Three Places in New England.” But Ives also heard and played the church-organ and absorbed the four-part harmony as intimately as the four Gospels. In Ives’s music church harmony alternates with most thundering dissonance. How come? one may ask. Isn’t Ives an out-and-out modernist? Unquestionably so; but Ives is not a modernist with a rigid dogma. He uses whatever means he needs to express what he feels. Sometimes he invites the player to contribute his own talent in the matter or rhythmic arrangement of given notes, or, as in the song, “In the Alley,” interpolates a “churchy” chord to be “used on Saturday nights.” In the “Concord Sonata,” Emerson is a dissonant brooding spirit, while the Alcotts are all triads and melody palaces. There is no more inconsistency of style between these two modes of expression than there is between an Allegro and Andante in a symphony. The density of texture reflects the depth of thought in New England’s serenest philosopher. The lightness of harmonious triadstructures conveys the spirit of the Alcott household. Hawthorne’s fantastic side appealed to Ives; and the “strip of board” takes the player and the listener on a “celestial railroad” of fourteen inches of piano keys. Thoreau is nearest to Ives; and from Thoreau’s journal he likes to quote these lines so fully expressive of his own feelings: Natural objects and phenomena are the original symbols or types which express our thoughts and feelings. Yet American scholars, having little or no root in the soil, commonly strive with all their might to confine themselves to the imported symbols alone. All the true growth and experience, the living speech, they would fain reject as “Americanisms.” It is the old error which the church, the State, the school, ever commit, choosing darkness rather than light, holding fast to the old and to tradition. When I really know that our river pursues a serpentine course to the Merrimack, shall I continue to describe it by referring to some other river, no older than itself, which is like it, and call it a meander? It is no more meandering than the Meander is musketaquiding.
PRINT AND COVERS The problem of American music, a personal problem with Ives, hinges on parallel considerations. The philosopher of Lake Walden built a hut by his own hands and lived in the woods long enough to prove that man is not dependent on society. Ives has held aloof from musical society long enough to prove that a composer can build his own musical world without following the dictation of the dernier cri of Paris. The case of Ives is all the more interesting because his musical abstention has not prevented his recognition, as yet by enthusiasts and seekers for the individual and the new, but, ultimately, by performers as well.
The volume of 114 songs is now out of print, but thirty-four songs have been recently republished by Henry Cowell’s New Music; seven songs by the Cos Cob Press. The Fourth Symphony, “Lincoln, the Great Commoner” (for chorus and orchestra), a “Theater Set” and “The Fourth of July” (both for orchestra) are available in the New Music edition; the C.C.Birchard Company is about to issue “Three Places in New England”; while the “Concord Sonata,” though out of print, is available in the libraries for study. Thus, a considerable number of Ives’s works has found its way to the printing presses. It will not be long before the progress of musical culture will bring this strange music into the conventional concert-halls. ISOLATION Ives was born in 1874, in Danbury, Conn., and has made his permanent home close by, at West Redding. Henry Bellamann tells in The Musical Quarterly how difficult it is to get Ives’s picture. “For days Ives went about pointing a derisive finger at me, muttering, ‘That man collects photographs.’” This reticence is characteristic. It also may be a means of self-defence. Once in the newspapers, Ives must feel deprived of his independence. He can, and he does, exclude all daily newspapers from his house, keeping for his source of news only the London Spectator. When he was abroad, in a small village in Sicily last year, he even cut that out, and learned about the election of Roosevelt only through an Italian innkeeper, some time after the event. But musical magazines, or clippings therefrom, are often sent to him by friends. What would Thoreau have said if he had known the present tabloids and they had “featured” him as a dressed nudist or a freak? And what can Ives say when one of his scores, “The Fourth of July,” is condescendingly dismissed by a reviewer who believes he is looking at another score, “Washington’s Birthday,” which is heard at a New York performance? Or when another metropolitan paper reviews an “unimportant” (read: modernistic) concert, three days in advance, through a mix-up at the city-editor’s desk? The only way to keep from un-Christian thoughts is not to touch the horrid sheets. FREEDOMS Ives studied at Yale, under Horatio Parker, of whom he speaks with gratitude. A conventional First Symphony which Ives composed during the last years of the past century, contained, however, some willful modulations that the teacher could not approve. We can follow Ives’s musical development by going through the 114 songs, or the thirty-four in the New Music Edition. These songs are a result of a house-cleaning— “All that is left out on the clothes-line,” as Ives graphically puts it. Songs dated 1889, and so through the decades to 1921. It is characteristic that the Thirty-Four should be printed in the reverse chronological order—beginning with 1921 and ending in 1889 (“At Parting,” again the gentle touch of a man of style). Ives has not written anything since 1921. His more surprising innovations and bold excursions into new musical thought belong to the time when all was quiet in the world of conventional harmony. The song, “Thoreau” (adapted from the “Concord Sonata”) or,
Composer who has clung to his own way [Ives] 2/3/34
“December,” with its amazing progression of triads in contrary motion—are taken from small chamber music works composed between 1910 and 1915 (Ives is fond of using the same material for songs, sonatas, symphonies). “Soliloquy, or a Study in 7th and Other Things” is an attempt (made in 1907!) to translate the inflection of Yankee drawl into musical notation. Time-signatures are: 4–16, 1–16, 5–16, 1–16, 6–16, 1–16, 7–16, etc. (Note the progression of numerators in alternate bars). The intervals to be sung are hardly singable; but they shouldn’t be sung at all! Here comes what Marc Blitzstein brilliantly called the “spirit of minstrelsy” in Ives’s works. Ives wants music to be grasped, and poured out, rather than read from one barline to another. He carries “ad libitum” to the point of the players freedom within a certain period, within a certain mood. PERSISTENCE It would be a mistake to believe that Ives has never wavered in his determination to explore the very ends of sonorous possibilities. He likes to believe that his music bears a relation to life and to people. He writes, not for orchestral virtuosi, but for good players, capable of catching the spirit. When there is an explosion in the score of “Fourth of July,” he puts in a footnote for the bassoon player saying in all candor that his sharps and flats are there because some notes had to be written in that particular place, so why not these? He is not demanding anything except the right spirit of a joyous occasion. Anecdotemongers seize upon such episodes merrily. They forget that Wagner himself wrote an impossible bassoon passage which is successfully covered by the lower strings so that no one except an over-conscientious bassoonist knows just what is going on in that fast Bacchanale. Ives wavered when a visitor from abroad, a musician, told him without sparing his feelings that the music that he was writing was not music at all. Or if it was music, then it must be the music of the Inferno. Ives gasped. He knew he was composing in the style that “old ladies, male and female” (Ives’s favorite invective) hate. But he thought that a man of cosmopolitan culture would know better than condemn a sincere creator. It set him to thinking and he became self-conscious. He couched his next work, the Fourth Sonata for Violin, in the conventional forms of harmony, with hardly a throb of the old militant Ives. After the Fourth Sonata, he understood that he could not write “nice, pretty” music, and returned to his true self. Meantime, the evolutionary process in music reached a fairly advanced stage outside of Ives’s world. His music began to be understandable. It may even become performable. After that sanctification the wrinklebrowed men of critical wisdom will begin to discover profundities in a music that was created primarily to express the composer’s America.
RANGING ROUND THE WORLD OF MUSIC November 3, 1934 Kaleidoscope of Composers In Exhibition Offered by Nicolas Slonimsky
The venerable German periodical, “Die Musik,” has been “leveled.” The recent issues are strewn with thick, black, swastaki-shaped clawprints, and at the end of a learned article, the reader finds a piece of wisdom from Adolf Hitler: “Jeder Deutsche Kunstler kommt zu uns.” (“Every German artist comes to Us”.) There follows a fine, unsigned, antisemitic article directed against Alfred Einstein the former critic of the Berliner Tageblatt, now safe in London…. The Nazi fuglemen, in weeding uncongenial information out of the news now also decided to rename the city of Leningrad back to St. Petersburg but forgot to order the editor to kill the original correspondence from Leningrad, so that two identical reports of the Leningrad Summer Festival got in, one dated Leningrad, and the other, St. Petersburg. SCHONBERG IN AUSTRIA The Austrian Government may not like musical geniuses of Jewish blood, but places no restrictions of the twelve-tone system and similarly subversive theories. Musical Vienna, always the vanguard, has remained faithful to the famous man who came to America via the Malkin Conservatory of Boston, and is now living in sunny Pasadena. Arnold Schonberg was sixty years old on Sept. 13, 1934, and the Anbruch a “monthly publication of modern music,” house organ of the Universal Edition, devotes an article (by Paul Stefan, Schonberg’s old friend and supporter) to the Schonberg birthday celebration. Anton von Webern selects a few sayings of Schonberg from his books and lectures, which are better German than the opinions on Art by Adolf Hitler quoted in Die Musik. The Universal Edition has issued a dedicatory volume “Arnold Schonberg. On his Sixtieth Birthday,” with tributes from eminent admirers, and a recent portrait. Ten years ago, a collection of articles about Schonberg was published to celebrate his fiftieth anniversary. The constancy with which Schonberg is honored by his friends is demonstrated further in the articles about Schonberg in “Auftakt,” a Prague publication.
Ranging round the world of music 11/3/34
U.S.S.R. LOOKS AT U.S.A. The general trend of Soviet music is against the lucubrations of the formalist school, in favor of mass music, enjoyable by all and sundry, not only by those that gloat over contrapuntal cross-word puzzles. Schönberg’s music is not exactly music for the masses, but Soviet musicians bow to mastery whether in engineering or in music. The Leningrad Philharmonic announces performances of Schönberg’s Variations for Orchestra (unperformed in America for some five years), Pierrot Lunaire and The Chamber Symphony…. American music is beginning to penetrate into the U.S.S.R., chiefly through the missionary work of the indomitable Henry Cowell, who went to Russia in 1929, and since then has supplied the Russian musicologists with American music published in his quarterly, New Music. The July issue of Sovietskaya Moozyka, which is one of the most advanced and inspiring musical publications anywhere, opens with Henry Cowell’s article on American music, with profuse musical illustrations from the works of Ives, Becker, Gershwin, Grüberg, McPhee, Sessions, Copland, Harris. The editor has added an example from Cowell’s own works. Speaking of the necessity of musical contact between U.S.A and U.S.S.R., Sovietskaya Moozyka concludes: A mutual understanding is most useful: it will save American musicians from mistaken courses, to which our own musicians have not been alien in the recent past (simplification, formalism); conversely, to our young composers, foreign music, in its original achievements, must serve as a constant model for comparison, self-criticism and desirable emulation. The aim of our publication is to consolidate the commerce existing between U.S.S.R. and U.S.A. in musical composition, musical science and musical criticism.
CUBA CULTIVATES MODERNS It is a truism that contempt for modern music is strongest among middle-class musicians and amateurs, whose development was arrested when they graduated from some music school early in the century. This shapeless alluvium of intractable, Dvorak-minded unfortunates has weighed heavily on music in world capitals, but their ignorant prejudices have not influenced the countries musically young. Thus we find that young musicians in Cuba are much more alert to the possibilities of new music than their sterilized colleagues elsewhere. The Philharmonic Orchestra of Havana under Amadeo Roldan has performed more modern music, including modern Americans, than the Philharmonic of New York ever will. A young Cuban composer, Alejandro Caturla, conducts a Caribbean chamber orchestra in small communities around Havana, and a Spanish composer José Ardevol, now settled in Cuba, has founded a society of chamber orchestra music, whose programs list Mozart and Stravinsky, Gluck and Malipiero…. Havana has its own musical periodical, splendidly put out, under the editorship of Antonio and Maria de Quevedo.
MUSIC IN JUGOSLAVIA The August–September issue of Zvuk (which is Serbian for sound) contains forty-seven pages of reading matter. There is an interesting article on Bulgarian folk music, with examples of Bulgarian native rhythms, also an article—less specific in its material— taking stock of the development of Jugoslavian music during the last hundred years. The name of at least one Jugoslavian composer is fairly well known to the western world through published and performed works: that of Josef Slavenski. Here are other names: Josef Marinkovic, Stevan Mokranjc, Miloj Miloyevic, Jovan Bandura. ROY HARRIS WORKS OVERTIME Roy Harris continues to work overtime, producing a second Symphony (with a remarkable slow movement), a song for chorus a capella, to Walt Whitman’s words (recently sung all over Russia by Westminster Choir), a Trio (played by Casella’s team), all within one year. He is busy arranging Die Kunst der Fuge of Bach for string quartet, to be issued by the Columbia Phonograph Company. Between the acts, he writes intelligent articles for Scribner’s (October) and Musical America (on a twentieth century Ars Nova; this article was quoted in the Sovietskaya Moozyka, as being indicative of Roy Harris’s profound musical culture). How far that little candle throws his beams! GEORGE ANTHEIL REPATRIATE George Antheil has left Montparnasse and Kurfürstendamm for good. The man of the Ballet Mecanique, whose electric fans admittedly breezed out all power of judgment from the wisecracking New York critics’ occipita, the hero of Ezra Pound’s esoteric bouquin, a sensational figure in modern music, has settled in New York, composing music for the films, and teaching. Among his works, an excellent Capriccio (which is not really a Capriccio, but a Weber-like overture) ought to be heard in America. There are definite chances that it will be heard in Russia next year. VARESE, PALESTRINA, D’INDY Edgar Varese lives in Greenwich Village. A visitor, thinking that Varese likes only noises, may be surprised to find the twenty-second volume of Palestrina’s collected works on the composer’s desk. When will the public realize that modern composers nurture profound affection and reveal astounding knowledge of the music of the past? Vincent d’Indy, Varese’s teacher at the Paris Schola Cantorum, publicly ridiculed Varese some years ago for his alleged attempt to compose a polyphonic composition in thirty-six parts. Varese shot back at his former master—the shot went astray, since the newspapers refused to print Varese’s reply—“I am glad that Mr. d’Indy has at last demonstrated the power of his imagination, which was heretofore absent in his published works.”
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KARL MARX The German catalogues list the musical compositions and Die Musik publishes a photograph, of Karl Marx, German composer. DIOGENES ON MUSICIANS Why is it that musicians spend so much time to tune their instruments, and so little time to cultivate their brains?
RANGING ROUND THE MUSICWORLD November 17, 1934 With Nicolas Slonimsky to Offer a Second Set of Notes and Comments
Futurism is an Italian product, but its beginnings took place in France. Marinetti published the original Futurist manifesto in the Paris Figaro in 1909. The original movement included poetry (poets were called Paroliberi, a good porte-manteau word), politics, reclame, synthetic theatre measurements, architecture, painting, sculpture, music and the new Arte de Rumori, the Art of Noises. Luigi Russolo was the creator of the Inronarumori, instruments of Noise, among them buzzers, exploders, screechers, crashers, snorters and gurglers. Russolo’s book, “L’Arte dei Rumori,” published in 1916 by the Edizioni Futuriste in Milan, is a curiosity of great interest. It tells the story of the movement, glories in the physical encounters that the early futurists had to suffer at their concerts. “For the first time,” writes Marinetti in the Paris “Intransigeant,” “the artists were suddenly divided into two groups, one continuing to perform impassively on the stage, the other descending into the parterre to attack and crush the hostile hissing public. Our knowledge of boxing and our training in pugilism let us emerge safe and sound with but a scratch or two. The ‘passeistes’ had eleven wounded, who had to be conducted to the nearest firstaid station.” GREGORIAN CONTROVERSY It would be a mistake to judge the Gregorian Chant a venerable relic. It is very much alive; numerous churches of various denominations have reclaimed the old notation, in four lines and square notes, for practical singing. The renaissance of the Gregorian Chant dates from the Congress of Arezzo, the birthplace of the famous Guido. The Congress was held in 1883; a few years later the monumental edition of the Benedictine Monks of Solesmes, “La Paleographie Musicale” was founded. It was commonly acknowledged that the founder was Dom Pothier whose “Melodies Gregoriennes” had solved the mystery of the Neumes (or Pneumes, if, as is possible, the word is derived from the Greek for “breath,” not for “sign”). Recently, indications have been made in the special press, (there are several publications devoted to the Gregorian Chant and allied subjects—“La Revue Gregorienne,” “Musica Sacra,” etc.) that Dom Pothier, far from being the founder of “La Paléographie Musicale,” did everything in his power to hinder its publication, and that it was due to the heroic efforts of the ardent disciple and enthusiast, Dom Mocquerau, that the edition was made at all possible. Since Dom
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Mocquerau planned his work in strict accordance with the ideas of Dom Pothier, the only explanation of the latter’s opposition may lie in his lack of assurance that his research was conclusive enough to be incorporated into an edition he knew would he regarded as the highest authority. “La Revue Musicale” now publishes a letter, dated 1909, in which Dom Pothier expresses his relationship with Dom Mocquerau in the following words: Ego plantavi, Andreas rigayit—I planted, he irrigated. He admits he could not go all the way with Dom Mocquerau in the matter of rhythmic interpretation of the neumes, and this is the only authentic hint at the dissension that existed between the makers of the Solesmes Edition. NON-ARYAN SPOOKS Three centuries ago a peaceful Dutchman, whose Latinized name was Adrianus Valerius, published a collection of pious songs, “Gedenek-clanek”—some of his own inspiration, some borrowed from English and German sources. For many years, a Thanksgiving song from this collection, put to German words, was sentimentally sung at domestic and public rituals in Germany. It was only in 1934, in the second year of the new Renaissance of Nordic arts and sciences, that a zealous Nordician discovered a spook, a Jewish skeleton of one Josef Weyl, or Weil, the writer of the German version. “Die Musik” published an article, giving the Dutch original and the German corruption of the text, and urging a new translation of the familiar song. But no sooner had the article been sent to press than the head of the Reichsmusikkammer, which is the highest court for all matters racially musical, issued the following statement: Contrary to the allegations repeatedly made that the writer of the text to the old Dutch Thanksgiving prayer, Josef Weil, was a Jew, I hereby let it be known, that, according to statements presented to me by the publishing firm of F.E.C.Leuckart, Leipsic, Josef Weil of Vienna was an Aryan.
POOALUA, POOAWALU In Hawaiian, these two words mean respectively 2 halfnotes and 4 quarternotes. A thirtysecond is Poomanakolu, but 82 thirty-seconds will be Pookanakolukumamalua. Musical education in Hawaii is celebrating a centenary; it was in 1834, in Oahu, that the Na Na Missionary printed a textbook of music in the native idiom. The little volume provides fascinating reading material even to those unfamiliar with the niceties of the Hawaiian language.
TWO POEMS, ONE MIND Rumaging in old clippings, rewards us with the following find, dated circa 1887: Directions for Composing a Wagner Overture
A sharp, where you’d expect a natural. A natural, where you’d expect a sharp. No rule observe but the exceptional. And then (first happy thought) bring in a Harp! No bar a sequence to the bar behind, No bar a prelude to the next that comes, Which follows which, you really needn’t mind; But (second happy thought!) bring in your Drums! For harmonies, let wild descords pass: Let key be blent with key in hideous hash: Then (for last happy thought!) bring in your Brass! And clang, clash, clatter-clatter, clang and clash. A Sufferer Forty years passed, and “Le Sacre du Printemps” crashed on delicate ears with homicidal fury. Wagner—that is music, but Stravinsky—horrors! An editor receives and prints the following effusion:
Who wrote this fiendish “Rite of Spring”? What right had he to write the thing. Against our helpless ears to fling Its crash, clash, cling clang, bing. bang. bing? And then to call it “Rite of Spring” The season when on joyous wing The birds melodious carols sing And harmony’s in everything! He who could write the “Rite of Spring” If I be right, by right should swing! Note the similarity between the last line of the first and the fourth line of the second poem.
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PRETERISTS Marinetti’s word, “passeiste,” may go in French; but there is a perfectly good antonym for “modernist” in English, which is “preterist.” According to the dictionary, a preterist is one whose “chief interest and pleasure is in the past.” Haters of modern music may assume this name without loss of pride: there is nothing derogatory in love for the past. CATCHY QUESTIONS Where musicians gather, there is usually much shouting, little sense. Perfect silence may be obtained on such occasions by discomfiting the company with specific questions. Here are a few feelers: 1.—In what key is the 24th Fugue of Bach’s Well-tempered Clavichord? 2.—Why is the G clef called treble clef? 3.—How many sharps has B-sharp major? 4.—How recent is the use of quarter tones? 5.—Who was born earlier: Bach or Handel? Theorists, bookworms, dictionary-eaters aside, the answers to all five questions are invariably wrong, or not forthcoming.
RANGING ROUND THE WORLD OF MUSIC January 5, 1935 Problems of Notation and Harmony; Biography and Assorted Footnotes
Jazz raises a problem of new notation, in which a group of notes is expressed by one sign. The entire evolution of musical notation from the indefinite agglutinative neumes to individual notes of definite duration, that took eight centuries from Guido d’Arrezo to Beethoven, is jeopardized by this plebeian nouveau-riche. The “breaks,” improvised on a solo instrument, the conversion of long notes into short, the smoothing of angular syncopation into some kind of triplets—all this is rapidly becoming an esoteric lore, known only to the ministers of the cult, but unknown and impossible of transmission to the world; “quia scribi non possunt,” to repeat Isidore of Seville, of the seventh century, who denied the possibility of preserving the melodies of the Gregorian Chant except by tradition. And just as in those dark times, monks, expert in teaching the chant, made tours of monasteries to spread the light of learning, so now a gramophone record of a famous trumpetist goes the rounds of jazz players eager to learn the new “breaks.” If history is to repeat itself, then we are at the dawn of a new musical civilization. Jazz is the Ambrosian chant, and jazz kings are Gregorian monks, bringing primitive order into chaos. That other music exists and is evolved simultaneously, only demonstrates how unsuspecting we are of the turning of history’s leaves. In fact, the supremacy of notation has never been felt more strongly than in modern music today. The composers are writing music of ultimate rigidity, incorporating even the signs of ritardando and accelerando into the written page, by changing, say, one measure of 4–4 to three measures of 2–4 plus 1–16, 1–4 plus 1–8, 1–4 plus 3–16. The growing increment in each successive bar is the scientific and precise expression of the oldfashioned “rit.” sign. While this is being done (Josef Schillinger, the Soviet composer, now residing in New York, is the most consistent among the expounders of physicomathematical concepts in musical composition), jazz is undermining the very foundation of all notation, supplanting it by “tradition.” Mene, mene, takel, upharsin!… TCHAIKOVSKY’S PRIVATE LIFE Biographers’ lot is a very unhappy one. Even a reverent biographer is nonplussed when confronted with newly-discovered evidence of a great man’s dubious character. Not that there is any question of morality—all great men and all great women, for that matter, are
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granted a dispensation for major vices in advance. We pass by without much interest or indignation such details of Brahms’s intimate life as Robert Schauffler has gathered in his recent biography, after painstaking research work among the aged filles de joie of Vienna. But we do recoil from pettiness in money transactions, unnecessary insincerities, self-complacent hypocrisies and such qualities that have no greatness of vice or virtue. Beethoven was fortunate in having Schindler write his first uncomplimentary portrait, leaving to future biographers only one line of research—the inquiry into the organic cause of his deafness. But the documents that would shed light on this question are known to have been destroyed by Beethoven’s doctor, who thus deprived his descendants of a handsome sum of money, which they would have undoubtedly realized from the sale of these documents to some American Beethovenist. Now is the time for one more legend to be destroyed—that of Tchaikovsky and his “best friend,” Madame von Meck. It was a great epistolary romance, and the letters, now in the process of being published in Russia, are fascinating to read. But unfortunately Tchaikovsky, an ardent correspondent, was in the habit of writing a whole batch of letters on the same day, one after another, and what he wrote to his brothers differed grievously from the sentiments expressed in his letters to Madame von Meck. When Madame von Meck, in the winter of 1878–1879, arranged for Tchaikovsky to live in Florence, where she herself lived with her fam-ily, Tchaikovsky was seriously disturbed, for fear that she might seek a personal meeting, which would entail social obligations and utterly destroy the sense of freedom in their relationship. Madame von Meck passed under the balcony of his villa every morning. He could see her plainly, and he wrote her to describe his sensations. “I experienced a not inconsiderable excitement, when you and your household passed by my villa this morning. It is so novel, so unusual for me. I am so accustomed to see you with my inner sight only. It is so difficult to persuade myself that my invisible good fairy may for a moment become visible! It is like magic.” He wrote to his brother on the same day: “I live here very comfortably in luxury and peace. But I cannot conceal that the proximity of Madame von Meck embarrasses me. She passes by very frequently. What if I should run into her? Apparently, she is not afraid of it, for she sent me a ticket to the theater where she is going too. She wants me to see her villa, and assures me that I will not find a soul during my visit, and it all makes me feel uneasy. To tell the truth, I wish she would leave as soon as possible.” But, for all of his faults, Tchaikovsky was entirely devoid of the spirit of selfadoration which is so characteristic of composers, great and small. For instance, he wrote to Madame von Meck his impressions of Delibes’s ballet “Sylvia”: “This music fascinates me. My ‘Swan Lake’ is mere trash in comparison.” His constant selfflagellation in his letters, his proneness to accuse himself, his ultimate humility—all these characteristics invest his tragic figure with great humanity, despite all the unsavory revelations, including the publication of his own incredibly naked-minded diary. In the Tchaikovsky Museum at Klin, near Moscow, a curious document has been preserved, which illustrates Tchaikovsky’s state of mind. It is a book: Euripidis Poëtæ Tragici Tres Tragœdiæ, etc., 1581, with an inscription in Tchaikovsky’s handwriting: “Stolen from the Library of the Palace of Doges in Venice, Dec. 3–15, 1877, by Peter Tchaikovsky, court councillor and conservatory professor.” Heautontimorumenos….
TURKISH MODERNIST The process of adaptation of national melodies and rhythms to the international spirit of new harmony and new orchestral art is particularly interesting to watch in countries musically unsophisticated. Pancho Vladigerov of Bulgaria has passed his apprenticeship years in Germany; Josef Slavinski of Jugoslavia and Marcel Mihalovici of Roumania, in France. Vladigerov followed the broad lines of Wagner-Strauss tradition; Slavenski, the Stravinskian tradition of Paris; Mihalovici, that of the hedonistic “six.” But all three happily retained the original musical spirit of their own lands. Thus, folk-music of nations is presented to the world, spiced and adorned with the flummery of modern musical civilization. Those that crave folk-music in the raw, can study the increasing stock of phonograph records made by various ethnological expeditions in all parts of the world. In young Turkey, Neil Kâzim, born in 1907, is the most interesting composer. His school years were passed in Vienna and in Prague. He was a pupil of Joseph Marx and then of Alois Haba. He was fathered and encouraged by the late Emil Herzka, who caused Kâzim’s Allegro Feroce for Saxophone and Piano and Five Turkish Pieces for Piano to be published in the Universal Edition. Kâzim has several unpublished orchestral compositions, all based on the Turkish folk tunes, and clothed in impeccable modernist harmonic dress. But, of course, these harmonies are not and cannot be entirely of the western make without interfering with the melodies and rhythms so authentically Turkish. Fortunately, harmony and melody have been made to be, like space and time in Einstein’s equations, interconnected quantities, as is manifested by Schönberg’s common practice, in which melody can be converted into harmony by mere integration of its linear progression into a simultaneous column of sounds. Kâzim’s scale: A, B, C, D flat, E, F, G, A flat, carries with it its own harmony, in which a summarizing analyst may find all sorts of polytonal implications. MEANING OF MUSIC There is no question here of the “meaning of music” as propounded by specious poetizers, radio explainers and musical pediatricians. No, the interesting problem is that of conditioned meaning, read into the musical phrase by a century-long association of ideas, just as words are invested with a meaning through repeated association between the sound and the object. Take the fanfare, originated in the acoustical properties of a natural horn. The sixth, eighth, ninth and tenth overtones (Sol, Do, Re, Mi) in different orders, give rise to the melody of the chimes of the Westminster Abbey, a post-horn, a military bugle call, a number of popular tunes and a greater number of subjects for symphonies, chamber music, instrumental pieces, etc. There can be only twenty-four combinations of these four tones, and by dint of constant association, any such fanfare-like progression has come to suggest a limited number of images. The post-horn is obsolete, the bugle little used in our period of transition, but the associations still prevail through the medium of old music, where the bugle was used for military and pastoral portrayals alike, by changing the tempo and tone color (the oboe for pastoral, the trumpet for military uses). Other progressions have an
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acquired meaning: the augmented second supplies Oriental flavor; a succession of augmented triads, loudly played, was used in the silent movies for earthquakes, conflagrations and airplane disasters. There is a certain melodic quip in the high register that is used by musicians all over the world for derisive comment, sort of an argot phrase, that even sounds insulting (an acquired meaning, of course). The introduction of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony is universally used as a street-call from one musician to another…. These motivs, universally used, should be properly made an object of study of a new science, Musical Semasiology. HUNTING-HORN SYMPHONY Book lovers will find especial delight in the naive collection of “Concert Room and Orchestra Anecdotes, or Music and Musicians, Ancient and Modern, by Thomas Busby, Mus. D.” in three volumes, published in London in 1825. We reproduce an amusing item dealing with the Russian “Hunting-Horn” Symphony. When Balliot was at Petersburgh, Prince Potemkin took him into a dark gallery of the palace, when suddenly a mass of musical sounds burst upon his ear, that struck him with astonishment. The prince asked him whether he knew what it was he heard. He replied: “All I know is that I hear music of the most sublime and magnificent kind; but from what instrument it proceeds I cannot guess.” Instantly the gallery became illuminated and exhibited to his astonished sight not less than 100 performers, each having in his hand a horn or bugle, with which he sounded only a single note; and these horns were of all sizes, from that of a large organ-pipe to the smallness of a common extinguisher. This singular band afterwards performed, in unison and octaves, the treble part of one of Haydn’s Sinfonias and with an identity of effect that cannot be described.
RANGING ROUND THE WORLD OF MUSIC February 9, 1935 Nicholas Slonimsky Proffers Another Set of Notes On the Tonal Art
Diabolus in Musica, the Devil in Music—this was what the Medieval scholars used to call the Tritone, the augmented fourth, so difficult to understand in Guido d’Arezzo’s hexachords: Si Est Diabolus in Musica.
The students responsible for this jingle should have composed another in praise of the perfect fifth, something like this (with due apologies for this writers medieval Latin). Si Est Angelus in Musica.
The perfect fifth has been for centuries the angel-guardian of all composers. The “dominant,” a fifth above the tonic, determined the answer to the subject in the orthodox fugue, the key of the second subject in the exposition of the classical sonata; in the classical suite, modulation into the dominant was mandatory, as it was in all dance forms. Briefly, the perfect fifth, as the interval between the two mainstays of tonality, the tonic and the dominant, pervaded the whole industry of classical and romantic music. It is only fitting that modern music should attack the dominant and try to substitute for it the ancient devil, the Tritone. In a “modern chord,” the tritone lies at the foundation, and the medieval scholars would have a good case proving the provenance of modern music from the devil. In the Debussyan whole tone scale, in Scriabin’s promethean chord, in Stravinsky’s polytonal complex of C major–F sharp major, the tritone plays its diabolical part. To the atonalists the Devil in music is essential in shunning tonality. And just as Rameau obtained the diatonic scales by building a major triad on both ends of a tonic fifth, so a “modern chord” is inexpensively built by attaching a triad, or any inversion thereof, to each end of the tritone. In other words, provided the fundamental tritone is there, one proceeds “tonally,” piling up fourths, fifths, thirds, sixths, either singly or as components of a tonal chord. A suggestion: take a tritone, build a perfect fourth up on its top note, and a major triad in the root position in open harmony, down from its bottom note, and you will obtain one of the most frequently used chords of Parisian modernity.
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It must be added, however, that since Stravinsky, turned the wheel towards classicism, the Devil in Music was driven away, and the perfect fifth reinstated with a vengeance. An up-to-the-minute composer now writes in stripped fifths in unison. God has taken pity on musicians and the medieval jingle sounds more forbidding than ever: Si Est Diabolus in Musica
TRANSLITERATION Russians abroad signed their names with a double “f” at least a century ago. Tourgueneff, who lived in Paris most of his life, spelled his name with a double “f” and he was a purist in language. So did Rimsky-Korsakoff during his travels outside of Russia. Which is right, “off,” or “ov”? The answer is: neither. The “f” sound is correct phonetically, for the Russians never pronounce voiced consonants at the end of a word, invariably substituting “f” for “v,” “t” “d.” But why double “f”? One “f” should suffice. “V” in English corresponds to the written sign in Russian, and so would be etymologically correct, although phonetically wrong. The Germans have no “ch” sound so they write “tsch” to express it. But this is no reason why the English, possessing the “ch” sound, should use this spelling. Chaikovsky is correct English counterpart for the German Tschaikowsky, but Tchaikovsky is also thinkable, as a safe way of indicating that the ch here is not the guttural implied in the spelling of such names as Rachmaninov. The transcription of the German guttural sound as kh is clumsy and inexact, and it seems better to retain the spelling ch, with the understanding that it should have the value of the Scotch sound in “loch.” As to the w for v that causes Tchaikovsky to be pronounced Chy-CowSki and Paderewski as Paderooski, by the illiterate, it has no justification whatsoever. The English v is the exact counterpart of the Russian and the Polish w, and it should be uniformly so used. PROLETARIAN MUSIC Few musicians realize that proletarian music in America is a powerful influence. A Workers’ Music League, with headquarters in New York City, is active in championing the cause of proletarian music in America. Younger American composers have felt the fascination of the new movement to bring music to the masses, from the social heights of respectable music-making, and from the bohemian sophistication. It is wrong, however, to suspect that proletarian music consists of a succession of uncouth noises imitating the jarring and jangling of the machine. Radicalism in politics has never meant radicalism in the arts. Besides, most poets, composers and artists are far too individualistic and egocentric to serve a collectivist purpose. It took a revolution to transform Mayakovsky, poet and bohemian, into a fighter for a common cause. A composer, writing in an esoteric idiom, is not a good proletarian composer, as many modern composers, feeling extremely Soviet, have found to their sorrow.
In fact, modern music, in that odious sense which it has acquired in the opposite camps of the society leaders and the champions of mass music, has to perform some very serious hara-kiri before it can face the collective. It must not be inferred, however, that proletarian music practices simplification at all costs. Far from it. On the contrary, it absorbs all that is novel, unusual, exotic, provided that the idiom affected by the composer has root in some soil, even remote soil. Thus, in the U.S.S.R. the music of national minorities is in greater vogue than it ever was during the lifetime of the Russian National School of Borodin, Moussorgsky, Rimsky-Korsakov and Balakirev, who were so eager to draw upon the resources of folk-music. In America, the proletarian composers, among whom Lahn Adohmyan and Elie Siegmeister are the most significant, strive towards a common goal—to create music distinctly of our own time, and yet not to fall into any illusive modernity that is not related to the musical consciousness of any existing natural group, whether national or interna-tional. There is wild music being created in the recesses of Latin America, but as long as this music corresponds to the natural speech of these nations, the proletariat will accept it, because of this naturalness. On the other hand, music elucubrated in the cafés of the Montparnasse will not find resonance among the sensitive masses. Atonality, because of its largely speculative nature, has been the worst sufferer from proletarian justice, and at least one atonalist, Hanss Eisler, found that it was impossible for him to continue in the former idiom of a Schönberg disciple, when he decided to settle in the U.S.S.R. The choruses that he writes now are all straightforward, though not traditional, music, and they are sung in workers’ glee clubs with emotion and interest. Adohmyan and Siegmeister did not have to change their idiom, for they were never seduced by introspective music. Their music is modern only insofar as it is not traditional. It is not modern in the odious sense. In an article, “The Workers’ Music League—Its Task,” Carl Sands writes: The revolutionary thread in academic music may be slender—but it is red and strong, and heralds a great future. And jazz, while Broadway has done everything it could to ruin it, still has in it enough boisterous strength to upset more than a few apple-carts. The task of the Workers’ Music League is to integrate these tendencies: to point out to the proletariat that mere listening to music of another class, while a necessary step in awakening the musical activity of the workers, is not the end or completion of the musical instincts of the normal human being. He must go ahead and perform that music, especially that which is strong, vital and optimistic in character. He must advance to where he sings and makes his own music and the music of his own triumphantly advancing class. He must realize that this music will far surpass any that has yet been made on earth.
PERSIAN COMPOSER Probably the most enigmatic composer now living is Kaikhosru Sorabji, unheralded and unperformed by any of the societies of modern music. His works, among them “Opus
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Clavicembalisticum,” a “Concerto for Piano and Orchestra,” and a Quintet for piano and four stringed instruments, are published by Curwen in England. The Opus Clavicembalisticum is a tremendous work, 252 pages of printed music, containing four fugues, with one, two, three and four subjects respectively; two interludes, which include two sets of variations, one having forty-four variations, the other, a passacaglia, eightyone variations; a Fantasy; two Cadenzas and Coda. The Nota Bene on the title page: “public performance prohibited unless by express consent of the composer,” is probably a gesture of supreme irony on the part of the composer, for the work demands super-natural pianistic technique and equally supernatural devotion to the cause. The first performance of this work was given by the composer himself in Glasgow, on December 1, 1930. Philip Heseltine (Peter Warlock) tells that Sorabji’s compositions are written straight down in fair copy—in the case of the orchestral works, in full score. “No sketches are made, nor is even the figuration of the piano music determined at the keyboard.” Scoffers, who think that this is a sign of dangerous facility, will be egregiously in error. Facility in writing so complex a score, of so complex and yet consistent design, is proof of tremendous inner power, not mere technique. It is about time to destroy the legend that composers writing complex music with ease are unimportant composers, simply because Beethoven is said to have labored over his works. Looking over the pages of Sorabji’s music gives a sensation of driving force that almost justifies Sorabji’s proud words in a letter: “The Opus Clavicembalisticum has been described as the greatest and most important work for piano since the Art of Fugue, the Forty-Eight, or the Diabelli Variations, as indeed it is…. I have no false modesty, nor mock humility in my make-up, so do not be surprised at the calm in which I recognize the importance of my own work!” In the same letter he gives a solicited biographical note: I was born in 1895, of a Parsi father and a mother of Spanish-Sicilian descent, in England, where I have lived most of my life. Please, do not dare to call me an Indian composer…we Parsis repudiate that description indignantly. We are not Indians, we are Persians. I was educated privately, as too delicate for school life, practically self-taught as regards composition…. Have written eight piano concertos and other works, all of which have been destroyed. Nothing preserved earlier than 1918. Most of my mature works are still in MSS, and I see no prospect of getting them into print at the present time. They include a concerto for piano and Chamber Orchestra, with a good deal of percussion instruments, used, however, very differently from Stravinsky for whose work I have nothing but the most unutterable contempt, as indeed for the greater part of the work being produced in Europe today, or, for that matter, elsewhere.
MARGINAL NOTES ON THE RUSSIAN FILM February 23, 1935 Background, Directors and the Place of “Chapayev” in The Soviet Cinema
What many believe to be the greatest talking picture from Soviet Russia, “Chapayev,” was released a few months before a jubilee: the fifteenth anniversary of Soviet cinematography. The highest tribute in the U.S.S.R. is a word of praise from Stalin. Pravda, the official organ of the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist party, prints this tribute in its issue of Jan. 11, 1935: Salute and best wishes to the workers of Soviet cinematography on the day of its glorious fifteenth anniversary. The cinema is a great, invaluable power in the hands of the Soviet Government. Possessing exceptional possibilities, the cinema lends aid to the working class and its party in educating the working masses in the spirit of socialism, organizing these masses for a struggle for socialism, raising their cultural standard and political preparedness. The Soviet Government awaits from you new achievements, new films, glorifying, as Chapayev did, the greatness of the historical fight for the power of workers and peasants of the Soviet Union, thus urging for new accomplishments and recalling achievements and difficulties of Soviet building. The Soviet Government expects from you a bold penetration of your masters into the new domain of the “most important” (as Lenin said) and the most universal of all the arts, the cinema. A Soviet columnist, Michel Koltzov recalls the first days of the nationalized industry: Into this building we entered, accompanied by a red guard squad, slowly passed one room after another, the winter garden with palm trees, a salon with plush curtains, the marble staircase with a stuffed bear…. In this building, the Soviet cinema had its birth. Strange looking people gathered here. A square-shouldered youth in a students uniform tried to make himself understood to a lean and unsubstantial Austrian war prisoner, clad in a torn coat. A dignified looking man in a fancy jacket was having a bitter argument with a pale little fellow in a leather coat. A rotund youth, menacingly stroking his bushy hair, threatened to turn Moscow and the
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whole world inside out. They were almost suspicious to look at, these multifarious, unkempt and disheveled, and unquestionably underfed people. What could be expected of them, how could one have faith in this crowd? Those who had faith were not disappointed. Years have passed; the student in uniform grew to become one of our greatest producers; his name is Vertov, he is the author of the amazing “Three Songs About Lenin.” The Austrian war prisoner became celebrated the world over as the wonderful photographer whose name is Tisse. The dignified looking man in a jacket stirred millions as the impersonator of the old workman in the ‘Stranger’: his name is Gardin. As to the self-assured youth with vertical bushy hair, he surpassed all hopes, even his own hopes. His name, Sergei Eisenstein, has, for a long period, become synonymous with the vanguard of revolutionary cinematography…. “Potemkin” in the silent cinema, “Chapayev” in the talking pictures, mark the highlights of Soviet achievements. And just as “Potemkin” was the beginning of Eisenstein’s glory, so “Chapayev” has presented to the world a new brilliant double star, two producers, bearing identical surnames, though not brothers: Sergei Vasiliev and Georgi Vasiliev. Their life stories in brief: Vasiliev, Sergei Dmitrievitch. Born in 1900 in the family of a military clerk. In 1917 joins the Red Guards, then goes over to the Red Army. Graduated from the Institute of the Screen Art in Leningrad. Editor, montage-maker in 1925. Simultaneously does research work in the State Academy of the Science of the Arts, teaches the art of montage in the Cinematechnological Institute, and serves as a secretary of the Association of the Workers of Revolutionary Cinematography. Together with Georgi Vasiliev, mounts the film, “Heroism in the Ice Packs.” In 1927, he prints a book, “Montage of a Cinema Picture.” In 1929–1930, in collaboration with Georgi Vasiliev, he creates the picture, “Sleeping Beauty,” in 1931, he mounts “A Personal Affair.” In 1934, with Georgi Vasiliev, he releases “Chapayev.” Vasiliev, Georgi Nicolaievitch. Born in 1899, Like Sergei Vasiliev, he works at the Leningrad cinema factory. His best films are made in collaboration with Sergei Vasiliev. Independently, he released one picture under the title “Incredible, But a Fact.” Like “Potemkin,” “Chapayev” is based on historical facts. Chapayev, a civil war partisan, was a legendary figure during the bitter fight between the Red Army and the Cossacks of the White Army in the lower Volga during the early period of the civil war, 1918–1920. Of the same make as the great Russian brigand revolutionaries, Stenka Rasin and Pugatchov, he was weak politically, strong in practical sense. To him the central government of Moscow sent a commissar, Furmanov, to instruct him in coordinated warfare. Furmanov managed to overcome the savage in Chapayev, and formed a great friendship with him. After the end of civil war, Furmanov published a book entitled “Chapayev,” in which he related the episodes of the civil war in which he was the gentle instructor and regulator of the elemental force that Chapayev represented. From this book, the Vasilievs made their film. On the pages of Pravda, they tell the story of the film:
When we started work on Chapayev, we did not confine ourselves within the covers of the book. We used the book only as a brilliant document giving a stirring presentation of the men and their epoch. Mrs. Furmanov has kindly handed to us the unpublished diaries of her husband. We also searched all archives and museums for relevant material. We read all the books on the Civil War, we talked with the veterans—with Chapayev’s comrades-in-arms, red partisans, political workers. The majority of the actors were themselves participants of the civil war, which greatly contributed to our work. We wrote our scenario according to the materials thus collected. In the cinema, one must understand the value of a detail, an allusion. We used these details very liberally, For instance, Furmanov mentions in passing that Chapayev, scolding the wounded lieutenant for needlessly exposing himself during the battle, says: “You idiot, you don’t know the commanders place in the battle.” This was sufficient to create a scene, where Chapayev, operating with a potato, a pipe and several cigarettes, gives lessons in tactics to his comrade-in-arms. Another detail is the cigarette in the officers mouth during the “psychic” attack. [The English subtitles spoiled this priceless expression by translating it “correctly” as “psychological attack.”—N. S.] To a foreign observer of the development of Soviet cinematography, the striking innovation of “Chapayev” is the absence of a superinduced black-and-white paint. The characters of “Chapayev” are neither white devils, nor red saints. Chapayev is presented (as he was in Furmanov’s book) as an extraordinary fellow, but not without common human failings. The commissar, whose name in the film has been restored to the true autobiographical character of Furmanov (it is, naturally, different in Furmanov’s own book, where he is named Klychkov), is constantly called upon to check the hero’s unbridled insticts. There is no happy ending and no conventional finale showing the triumph of the victory of labor such as was presented in Upton Sinclair’s version of “Qué Viva Mexico.” Soviet cinematography has definitely outgrown its Hollywoodism: the success of “Chapayev” arouses in the Soviet press the cries for a better type of Soviet movies. “We do not demand a new ‘Chapayev’ every day. But we want the average picture to rise to a higher level. We demand that the percentage of careless, illiterate, boring films should be reduced to zero.”
MEMORANDUM ABOUT UNFAMILIAR MUSIC March 20, 1935 Notes About Five Pieces to Be Heard Soon in First Boston Performance
From Mr. Nicolas Slonimsky, no stranger to readers of these columns, have been received notes and comment on the remarkable program of music for violin and piano which will be presented on Thursday evening of next week at the Women’s Republican Club by Rebecca Dulfer, violinist, and Mr. Slonimsky at the piano. Here are the descriptions in full: Paul Kadosa (pronounced Kadosha with the accent on the first syllable) was born in 1903 in Hungary. Like Bartok and Kodalyi, he is a Hungarian first, enamored with native folk music, modernist second. But all modernists nowadays disclose a yearning to be understood: and the outlet for this is composition of Gebrauchsmusik—everyday music and teaching pieces. Kadosa is a brilliant pianist and conservatory professor at Budapest, and his teaching pieces are most useful. In the larger forms, Kadosa has a Symphony and a stimulating Piano Concerto: for piano solo he wrote three Sonatas, three easy Sonatinas, a number of short pieces. He also wrote duets for two violins. Perhaps the most representative of his non-orchestral works is the Partita for Violin and Piano. The title indicates a tendency to return to Bach, and the Entrada (first movement) justifies the implication. The second movement, “in modo rustico,” is a rhythmic dance, much interrupted by all sorts of delightful tomfoolery and tonal mockery. A Cadenza follows— or, rather, two cadenzas, one for the piano solo, and one for violin, also solo. The fourth and final movement is a Capriccio, gypsy-like, constantly off-pitch, rhythmed up to a frenzy. The versatility of Henry Cowell’s talents admits a dose of neo-classicism. The Suite for Violin and Piano is neo-classical in that it uses the well-known formulas of traditional music of the eighteenth century. There is a Largo, a movement suggesting a minuet, another suggesting a Sarabande; to these type forms Cowell adds the spice of his invention, including the famous “tone-clusters,” splashes of sonority, played with the fist or the forearm, depending on the range. The harmony is “pan-diatonic,” that is, the seven tones of the scale are used freely for either tonic, dominant, subdominant or mediant harmony. The bass, however, is used with all propriety. Carlos Chavez is the best known among Mexican composers. His style may affect one as lapidary, but underneath the uncouth surface there is lyric sentiment, instantly recognizable in the short melodic interlude of the present Sonatina. His chief resource is Mexican folk music; in recent years he has become interested in the sociological
implications of music; his “Proletarian Symphony” was performed in Mexico City under the composers direction. Thanks to his association with Samuel Dushkin, Stravinsky has seriously interested himself in writing violin music. The Duo Concertant, as the title implies, is another throwback at the time just before Bach. It is “musique galante” throughout its five movements, the Cantilene, the two Eclogues, the Gigue, the Dythiramb. Toccata style prevails, in the faster movements. In the slow Second Eclogue there is an atmosphere of an antique shop, with the baroque element consciously emphasized. The Dythiramb is a baroque aria written in minute metrical subdivisions. The time signature is 4–16, and each sixteenth note equals sixty by the metronome, in other words, it lasts a full second. This unusual method of writing adagios was affected in the eighteenth century even by great composers: Stravinsky in recreating an age, which was itself a recreation of a more remote antiquity, follows the realistic rule even to the externals. But the contents are typically Stravinskian; his voice is instantly identified, in spite of deliberate disguise. Eugène Goossens composed the Second Sonata for Violin and Piano between May 1929 and July, 1930. It reflects the happiest style of the composer—a general European idiom of the years after the war, more complicated than Ravel’s, less acrid than Stravinsky’s. There is always enough room in Goossens’ chords to let in fresh air—or, technically speaking, his chords are distributed in thirds and sixths, rather than constrictive seconds and sevenths. In the use of the instruments, too, Goossens dilates over the entire range of the piano and the violin, unafraid of resulting color and brilliance—the two virtues much deprecated by the extremists. The first movement is in the sonata form, the second is almost a Siciliana; the lilt is contagiously imitated through all the complexities of the idiom. The last movement opens with a foreboding statement of the principal theme of the sonata, winds up in a rollicking dance.
RANGING ROUND THE WORLD OF MUSIC April 6, 1935 Nicolas Slonimsky’s Notes And Comments on Tonal Theory and Practice
Pitch is going up. Already 440 vibrations per second for the standard A seems not high enough, and there is talk of pegging the frequency index higher. America is in the lead, and Europeans arriving at these shores hear all orchestral performances nearly half a tone higher than that to which they are accustomed—particularly towards the end of the concert, when the tendency to sharp is more pronounced among the stringed instruments. There are some people who associate colors (that is, definite frequencies) with definite tonalties and keynotes, or imagine that they do; it would be interesting to learn from them what “right” frequency should be attached to the fluctuating A. The history of pitch is related in all of its fascinating details in A.J. Ellis’s addenda to his translation of Helmholz’s “Sensations of Tone”; and, monstrosities apart, it will be seen that the tendency of going up has been felt for over a century. The classical composers are the real victims of this phenomenon; for they conceived their works within a certain tonal range—an absolute tonal range, not to be altered by transposition. The present symphony orchestras should, in deference to the great ghosts, perform the classical repertoire a semitone lower than the present pitch, or else program them truthfully, thus: Bach—Brandenburg Concerto, No. 4, in G sharp major. Mozart—Symphony in D flat. Beethoven—Eroica, in F flat.
COMPOSITION BY GEOMETRY The most unpopular notion nowadays is that of composition without inspiration. In the first quarter of the present century, the desire to reduce music to a set of formulas was as strong as the similar materialism in science. Now that science has definitely come to terms with God, music has done likewise. The number of divinely inspired compositions shows an alarming growth. It is all the more refreshing to find that the old-fashioned materialism, the desire to grasp the multitudinous but finite something that underlies the structure of all music, is still alive.
Joseph Schillinger, at the American Institute in New York, has recently given an illustration of what can be done with geometrical graphs to multiply Bach by 24. He made a graph of a Bach fugue (unwittingly following the system of notation proposed a thousand years ago by Hucbald), submitted this graph to various geometrical extensions and compressions, and thus obtained 24 new fugues, derived from the original, but, to the ear, as different from it as a Schönberg variation from a Schönberg theme. Moreover, he managed, by geometrical analysis, to detect certain weaknesses in some of Bach’s constructions, and “correct” Bach in such a manner that the improvement seemed evident. A sacrilegious thought, in these anniversary days…. But suppose Schillinger’s geometry should enable us to find a perfect way of “fixing” all the stretti in the Fifth Fugue of the second book of the Well-Tempered Clavichord? Who can sincerely maintain that Bach did not intend to write a stretto maestrale in the middle section as well as in the coda? And if there were a remedy, would not the fugue be even more perfect than it is, if the last flaws were mended, and no incomplete entry of the subject were left? And would not Bach have welcomed such a solution, even though obtained by cold mathematics? A tricky question for a musician devoted to Bach, and Shillinger must have felt the atmosphere of embarrassment, for he quickly swerved to original fugal writing. He played something which was not Bach, but certainly something very good and pleasing. Was it his own composition a la Bach? No, instead of a manuscript, he produced the morning New York Herald Tribune. He had just performed an item from the financial section; “the curve of cost of life in New York for the last twenty years.” NADIA BOULANGER An entire generation of American composers have studied with Nadia Boulanger, but very little is known about her methods and the secret of her pedagogical genius. On the pages of “Sovietskaya Musika” a young American composer, Elie Siegmeister, gives a graphic description of how he, a full-fledged composer (or so he thought), graduate of Columbia University cum laude, arrived in France and was put to work: It is difficult to imagine anybody more surprised than I was when Nadia Boulanger, very politely, let me understand that I was a musical ignoramus, and should start from, A B C. I was indignant under the yoke of severe school discipline of that exacting pedagogue. I had a violent detestation of dry academic science into which I was immersed by Nadia Boulanger. In my compositions I had to account for every note. I worked under an eagle eye. But the solidity and relentless firmness of this method finally conquered me. I felt that I was learning something. After a short return trip to American in 1931, Siegmeister went back to Paris to continue his studies with Nadia Boulanger. He submitted a “Theme and Variations for Piano” to his teacher.
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This composition was so dissonant, so full of rough force and tension, that Boulanger could not digest it. She was plainly disappointed by my betrayal of her beloved neo-classicism, but after I played it for her several times, she remarked that it is head and shoulders above all my former works.
AEROMUSIC Stile Futurista, a monthly published in Turin, prints a “Manifesto Futurista Della Aeromusica,” which latter (aeromusic) is characterized as “Sintetica, geometrica e curactiva.” The manifesto condemns: (a) music for music’s sake which leads inevitably to fetishism of form, to “virtuosism,” and “technicism”; (b) musicalization of literary works; (c) imitation of classical music; (d) the use of popular songs in original works, as creating an atmosphere of artificial primitivism; (e) imitation of jazz, as conducive to monotony. Futurist music, shunning all these paths, shall be a “synthetic expression of great economic, erotic, heroic, aviatorial and mechanical dynamism; it shall be a curative music.” Several approved works are listed: an opera. “L’Aviatore Dro,” by Pratella, “11 Cok-tail” (sic) by Silvio Mix, and “Pacific” by Honegger. Pratella’s opera was the first “aeromusic of aviation” (prima aeromusica dell aviazione). Marinetti and “Maestro Giuntini,” the signatories of the manifesto, invite their fellow-futurists to compose short, not-over-a-minute, rejuvenating pieces of aeromusic, fulminatingly to arouse optimistic pride of living in this great Mussolinian Italy which leads the century of the machine. An “aeromusic” by Maestro Giuntini himself is reproduced in facsimile in the same issue. It consists of accelerated repetitions of superimposed augmented triads and wholetone passages in contrary motion. PARALLELS FROM SHOSTAKOVITCH Shostakovich is an “articulate composer,” i.e., he can speak and write as well as compose music. He also entertains definite political views. At a recent gathering in Leningrad, he made the following declaration. Composition is a difficult occupation in the conditions of the capitalist West. To make a career there, one has to go through great hardships. How much humiliation to struggle for a piece of bread. Few can survive this struggle. We do not know how many talents were buried in the Tsarist Russia, and how many are buried in the West. Only in our coun-try does every composer find interest and support. A composer here can write a sonata or a quartet without fear of want. When and where was such security possible?
BROWNING ON MODULATION Medieval scholars often wrote their treatises in verse. In our prosaic age textbooks are unrhymed, but poets have at times used highly technical language in poetization of musical progressions. Thus Robert Browning gave a fine description of enharmonic modulation from D sharp minor into D major:
And music; what? that burst of pillared cloud by day And pillared fire by night, was product, must we say Of modulating just, by enharmonic change— The augmented sixth resolved,— From out the straighter range. Of D sharp minor—leap, of disimprisoned thrall— Into thy life and light, D major natural?
MUSIC OF IVES ON NEW ENGLAND SCENE May 4, 1935 Problem of a Composer Who Has a Reputation but Hardly an Audience
An important work of Charles E.Ives, “Three Places in New England,” for orchestra, has been published by C.C.Birchard and Company. The position of Charles E.Ives in the world of music, specifically American music, is paradoxical. His name is well known; he has many admirers among musicians; he has been proclaimed “the grand old man of American music”—yet his works exist but in their visual aspect, on paper; performances of these works are rare and far between. Established organizations, famous symphony orchestras, cannot afford to put Ives’s works on their programs: this “grand old man” does not compose like an old man. The perplexing vitality of his music does not compensate, in the eyes of a professional musician, for the violent overthrow of all rules and reg-ulations of harmony and theory, as taught in conservatories. Even Stravinsky can be “explained,” in as much as his most revolutionary works had a “program” and were to be accompanied by terpsichorean action. But Ives does not write bullet music even of the most complicated kind, and despite the programmatic, geographic and even national titles, his music remains comprehensible to few. Only a few works of Ives have been published. The 114 Songs and the “Concord” Piano Sonata, published privately for no commercial sales are bibliographical rarities. An album of thirty-four songs was published by the New Music Edition of California, seven songs by the Cos Cob Press. The second movement of the Fourth Symphony and three movements from a set for Chamber Orchestra, as well as the choral work, “Lincoln, the Great Commoner,” are made available by the New Music Edition. Now comes the Birchard publication. The “Three Places” are the St. Gaudens monument in Boston Common (Col. Shaw and his colored regiment), Putnam Camp, near Redding, Conn. (in the vicinity of Ives’s birthplace, in Danbury), and the Housantonic at Stockbridge. The Boston Common music—the first part of the set—is recollection of the great internecine struggle—slow, reminiscing, poignant. It is not “Negroid,” and the syncopated figures are but distant echoes of plantation songs. Then comes the second movement, with its memories of the Revolution—a noisy, brassy, unrefined celebration of a national holiday. The popular songs of the day are here put to use as raw material; no attempt is made to harmonise fragments and shreds of these tunes with the rest of the orchestra; and it is in this sort of music that the traditional professionalism finds its negation. All the more interesting is the fact that this music contains some elements of innovation that relate it with “high mathematics,” as many a priori critics are too eager to explain.
On the other hand, the same music is often condemned with the charge of lack of coherence. It would repay the efforts of a student to go over the score and see how logical this mathematical anarchy is in its development. Technically, the most interesting part of the second movement is the “polyrhythmic” co-ordination of two marches, one going at a pace one-third faster than the other. It means that three bars in square time of the slower march equal four bars in square time of the faster march. To a conductor it means that he will have to become ambidextrous; one hand should lead the slow march in 4–4 time, while the other will mark time, alla-breve, so that the down beat for the faster march coincides successively with the first, fourth, third, second, and again first beat of the slower March. It is not as difficult to achieve as it may appear at the first suggestion, and is decidedly easier than to pat the head clockwise and rub the belly counter-clockwise. In the same movement there is a march or a quick-step, pitched against a waltz. The third movement is prefaced with a poem by Robert Underwood Johnson:
… Contented river! In thy dreamy realm— The cloudy willow and the plumy elm…. The music is pellucid, with the simple song offered by the horn, against a background of shimmering muted strings, in unusual rhythmical grouping, so “mathematical” and so performable without any mathematics (for the composers directions are plain: “the figures need not be kept to the exact time relation indicated…the phrases are of uneven duration, as a kind of ebb and flow.” Nonetheless, every hemidemisemiquaver of the atmospheric figuration is accounted for in each measure). Towards the end of the movement things bristle up, until a crashing climax is attained. Then, the fortissimo is cut off abruptly, revealing the muted strings in five-part harmony, finishing on an unresolved ninth-chord. The date of composition is marked after that ninth-chord in the score: 1914. Twenty years after, this score is still too difficult for the musical majority to grasp. How many more years to wait?
RANGING ROUND THE WORLD OF MUSIC June 8, 1935 With Nicolas Slonimsky for Cicerone on Assorted Matters of Interest
Can there be a quantity less than the least? Without unwelcome excursions into philosophy of differential calculus, one should say, no. When the minim was invented some 600 years ago, it was so named because it was to be the smallest unit in music, an indivisible quantum of musical duration. But very soon, the minim was split into semiminims; when semi-minims split, the lower denominations had to be called lesser semiminims. Thus we have reached the smaller half of the least duration! The pullulation progressed, and towards the end of the eighteenth century printed music looked pitch black from hemidemisemiquavers. Great composers became addicted to smaller than the smallest divisions and subdivisions, but frequently marked the tempo so slow that the black notes were performed no faster than the semibreves of yore! Confusion, indeed. What sense was there in splitting musical quanta and then marking the tempo twice as slow? Smaller units should represent the idea of smaller duration; a thirty-second note lasting a full half-a-second is a notational monstrosity. Yet this is the tempo that Stravinsky indicates in the dythiramb of the Duo Concertant. Thus he recreates not only the spirit, but also the letter of classical music. WORDS AND INTERVALS In writing a song, we are taught to express the words in music. Minor chords will convey sadness, consecutive diminished seventh chords will give us a feeling of anxiety, major triads will bring gladness. But we have lost the symbolical use of intervals themselves. A fifth down or a fourth up may be expressive of either joy or sorrow, according to the harmony. In centuries past, the intervals played a much more important part in the building of a musical phrase. Bach used certain intervals to express certain ideas with such consistency that a table of intervals and their meanings could be constructed according to Bach’s usage. It is understandable that Bach should use ascending figures when the words speak of resurrection; descending, for such texts, as, “ceciderunt in profundum.” But there are less obvious uses which point toward a definite code of symbolical meanings. For words of distance (“weit,” “fern” in German), Bach uses the interval of a ninth; for the concept of wholeness (“ganz”), an octave; for expression of joy, the sixth; for conviction of faith, a prime, i.e., repetition of a note. For doubt, there is usually the diminished fourth; for
folly, the tritone, which also serves for the prince of this world himself. (Si contra Fa est Diabolus in Musica, as the medieval jingle goes.) Besides the tritone, the Satan resorts to false relations (a sharp in one voice, a natural on the same note in another). A very interesting use of turns for the idea of embrace, or for crowns, garlands, etc., shows how literal was Bach’s musical transcription. Also, there are astounding examples of musical antonyms in the form of melodic inversion (“denn wie ihr messt wird man euch wieder messen,” where the reciprocal “meting out” is represented by inverted figuration). The feeling for the interval as an independent entity has waned with the growth of harmonic feeling. In nineteenth-century song-writing, it is entirely possible to use any chord note in the vocal part, without regard to the linear intervals. This practice, eventuating in the complete subordination of melody to harmony, has completely obscured the interval-line. It must be said that the twelve-tone system, as taught by Schönberg, has revived interest in the potentialities of the interval. In this sense, Schönberg continues the tradition of Bach and of the obscure men from whom Bach learned the use of the intervals. WHITE PAPER VS. CIRCULATION Keen interest for musical knowledge and paper shortage result in strange phenomena. In the February issue of “Sovietskaya Musika,” Russia’s most important musical monthly, we read the following advertisement: Attention to Subscribers In view of the fact that the allotted circulation has been over-subscribed for the first half of the year, further subscriptions will be accepted for the second semester only. The price of the subscription is nine rubles for the six issues from July to December.
SCRIABIN’S APHORISMS The Soviet press commemorates the twentieth anniversary of Scriabin’s death. Eugene Braudo, critic and musicologist, reports the following sayings of Scriabin, which are quite consistent with Scriabin’s ideas, although too aphoristic to be credited as accurate quotations: “I am nearer to Bach than to Wagner, and only those that feel this affinity, can understand the nature of my music.” “Many say that I am a weak pianist. But precisely because I am a weak pianist, I play so well. Great pianists are all bad players.” “If I am destined to enjoy true posthumous fame, it will not come until half a century after my death. There will be a period of oblivion twenty-five years after I die….”
Ranging round the world of music 6/8/35
STRAVINSKY REMEMBERS The first part of Stravinsky’s “Chronique de ma Vie.” has been published in France. Relating his own impressions of the first performance of “Le Sacre du Printemps,” Stravinsky writes: The very first measures of the Introduction aroused laughter and mockery, which disgusted me, and I left the hall. These demonstrations, at first isolated, soon became general, and, provoking counter demonstrations, were transformed into a terrific disturbance. During the entire performance I stood near Nijinsky behind the stage. He was standing on the chair, desperately shouting at the dancers: “16, 17, 18….” (the dancers have their own way of beating time). Naturally, the poor dancers could not hear anything on account of the noise in the audience. I had to hold Nijinsky by the coat, for in his fury he was ready to leap on the stage and start a riot. Diaghilev, trying to stop the demonstration, ordered the lights to be turned off and on, but it did little good. Stravinsky also tells of an amusing episode in Vienna, when the orchestra men objected to the “schmutzige Musik,” as they described the newly composed “Petroushka.” An old stage hand approached Stravinsky and said to him consolingly: “I have been here for fifty-five years, and it isn’t the first time that this has happened. With ‘Tristan’ it was the same thing.”
SHOSTAKOVITCH, THE SOVIETS’ WONDER BOY November 2, 1935 Nicolas Slonimsky Takes the Composer Apart and Puts Him Together Again
Dmitri Shostakovich, a young man from Leningrad, is one of the most engaging figures of Soviet music. Born on Sept. 25, 1906, he grew up in the Soviet Republic, and his creative output, for better or for worse, represents the very essence of Soviet music. He possesses the gift of versatility; he writes operas, symphonies, ballets or instrumental music with equal facility, which may justify the extravagant comparison, made by a Russian critic, between Shostakovich and Mozart. During his short but rich career, Shostakovich has experienced many influences. I.I.Sollertinsky, well-known Leningrad writer on music, finds three periods in Shostakovich’s development. The “first period” is influenced by the academic school, as represented by the tradition of the Leningrad Conservatory. Shostakovich studied under L.Nicolaev (piano), Maximilian Steinberg (instrumentation and fugue), and N.A. Sokolov (counterpoint and form). From them he received the tradition of Rimsky-Korsakov and Glazounov. It is only natural that his first compositions should reflect the spirit of the academy. Yet his First Symphony, written when he was barely twenty, shows some definite departures from traditionalism. Thus the recapitulation in the first movement reverses the order of the subjects (he uses the same method in his Cello Sonata written in 1934, which shows that it is no youthful whim). The harmony of the symphony is far more acrid than any academic training would justify and the linear writing is hardly counterpointconscious. There are such strange interludes as a kettle-drum solo. The melody structure is angular, chromatic at times, and then again broad, suggesting a folk-song rather than a subject for a symphony. Yet there is enough symphonic academism in this first important work of Shostakovich to connect it with his academic training. The first performance of it in Leningrad, on May 12, 1926, under the direction of Nicolas Malko, was Shostakovich’s starting point. The symphony was subsequently played abroad, and its immediate appeal made it a symphonic favorite. It has been recorded by Stokowski for the Victor Company. Shostakovich’s “second period” is determined by the art of the grotesque, in which he shows himself a disciple of Stravinsky and Prokofiev. But Stravinsky and Prokofiev themselves reflected the spirit of the war-ridden world which craved the flight from reality in art. We have witnessed the end of this period when Stravinsky turned towards classical music with religious connotations, and Prokofiev towards neo-romanticism and unprogramed chamber music.
Shostakovich, the soviets' wonder boy 11/2/35
Specifically, in the Soviet conditions, grotesque was an easy way out of artistic confusion during the domination of the RAPM (self-styled association of proletarian musicians, dissolved on April 23, 1932). The art of grotesque occupies an important place in Shostakovich’s cultural development. The music of his ballets, “The Golden Age,” which ridicules the bourgeois life of the West, and “The Bolt,” which derides similar failings in Soviet Russia, should, by the very nature of the subject matter, be grotesque and vulgar. When Shostakovich writes music for a farce by Mayakovsky, entitled “Bedbug,” the music is expected to be cheap. In the Soviet cinema, caricature is an oftused device; and Shostakovich, writing for the tone-film, follows the suggestion. In his opera, “Lady Macbeth of the District of Mzensk,” the celebrated trombone glissandi, turned into an indecent joke by some critics, may be held the acme of vulgarity; yet they are an integral part of the music, no less than the similar glissandi used by Schönberg, for the first time in all music, in his early Pelleas und Melisande. Shostakovich works rapidly, with an emphasis on a purely professional approach to the problem of creative art. He does not separate orchestration from composition, and writes his operas in full score right off, without using the time-honored expedient of a preliminary draft in the form of a vocal score. At every moment he knows what he is doing; and he expresses his political views with the same degree of sharpness that characterizes his musical works. Those who find fault with the “political” implications of Shostakovich’s descriptions of his own music forget that romantic descriptions of music are objectionable to no less degree; yet this type of description is constantly used in criticisms, program notes, etc. Political tendencies, at least, have the virtue of intense actuality. The undeniable fact that the large masses cannot and will not understand composers of absolute music, particularly those of the atonal school, has, of late, caused abrupt change of style in composition. “Gebrauchsmusik” in pre-Hitler Germany was essentially a phenomenon of the same nature as proletarian music. Shostakovich happens to possess the kind of musical temperament that satisfies the demands of the times. In combination with a great musical talent, his music was bound to succeed. Shostakovich’s “third period” is determined by the influence of the great German symphonic art, from Beethoven through Mahler and Alban Berg. First of all, this influence is marked by a greater expansion of musical thought. To write mock-gallops, pseudo-waltzes and raucous marches requires but facile craftsmanship. To write a work permeated with one musical and philosophical idea is a task for a mature mind. Shostakovich attempts such a synthesis in his second and third symphonies, dedicated, respectively, to the October Day (that of the Russian revolution) and the May Day (that of the expected revolution everywhere). Both are concluded with a rousing chorus, more singable to modern singers than Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” was to his vocalists. The First Symphony, the ballets and the innumerable pieces of incidental music lacked the greater conception of Shostakovich’s later symphonies. But, as often happens, this very “synthesis” (dialectically speaking, of course) enfeebles the works as musical compositions. The message out-weighs the carrier. There is, however, no reason to believe that the failure is inevitable when a larger design is drawn, and that Shostakovich is good for nothing better than nugae canorae. The question is that of balance, and even Beethoven could not at all times achieve that supreme virtue. Instrumental music must perforce be “absolute.” Shostakovitch is an excellent concert pianist, and he performs some mighty interesting stunts, writing for his instrument. It
cannot be said in all fairness that his early Piano Sonata is a contribution to piano literature. Here the seeking after effects (use of the extreme low registers, crude polytonality, etc.) weakens the music. Even pianistically it does not sound well. On the other hand, the Twenty-Four Preludes have the vice of sounding too well, the tunes too facile, the passage work too obvious. The Piano Concerto, for piano, string quartet and a solo trumpet, is a much more important affair. There is brilliant instrumental writing, and the slow movement is on a par with Shostakovich’s best (the concluding choruses of “Lady Macbeth” in pianissimo come to mind), despite the fact that the music soon degenerates into a nondescript, quasi-Chopinesque, nocturne-like something or other with a triplet-figure accompaniment. In the mixture of styles that prevails in the Concerto, it is difficult to render an unqualified opinion, and the last gallop, with the finale of a blaring trumpet in C major arpeggio, is disarming in its crude force. It is hardly possible to give a final judgment about a composer so young in years. This “third” period of Shostakovitch’s development is but a beginning. His talent, at one time threatened with dispersal in trifles, is growing firmer. The circumstance that his growth is parallel to political and social developments of momentous proportions, makes it doubly interesting to watch. (Previously printed in the Musical Mercury)
RANGING ROUND THE MUSICWORLD December, 1935 With Nicolas Slonimsky to Offer a Third Set of Notes and Comments
Composers’ wives are martyrs by definition. They are constantly called to judgment. A domestic difficulty in the household of a composer may deprive the world of a masterpiece; and what musicologist would not cast a stone at the unfortunate mate for not sacrificing her musically unproductive life for a dormant chef-d’oeuvre? Even the purely negative fact of not having inspired a creator to more revelations is sufficient to condemn the wife. We, posterity, are not equalitarians; we always take sides with the creator as against a human being, and the morality we so severely preach to the living, does not apply to dead geniuses. Even when wrong a thousand times, the composer has a perfect alibi in one work of genius, and we pillory the wife who was not sufficiently selfdenying, or lacked the proper catalytic force of domestic inspiration. The recent, and involuntary, revelations concerning Debussy’s two marriages are cases in point. Two years ago, Léon Vallas, French musicologist, published a volume on Debussy. In this book, the biographer adopts the irritating method of making dark allusions to some unsavory truth concerning the composer or his intimates, without telling that truth. In the opening chapter of the book he makes such befuddling remarks concerning the “illegitimate links” between those who stood over Debussy’s baptismal font, that Henri Prunières, in reviewing the book, was led to defend Debussy’s legitimacy against Vallas’s intimations, while all that Vallas apparently meant, was that the infant’s godmother, who was also his aunt, had been intimate with the godfather. Vallas is similarly obscure when he tells his readers that Debussy’s first wife, Lilly, had suffered a shock of “quasi fatal” consequences, when the public truth of it was that Lilly shot herself “quasi fatally,” when Debussy abandoned her for another woman. Thus, the reader is expected to solve riddles, or go to the files of French newspapers to learn the plain, though painful, facts of Debussy’s career. DARKENED DEBUSSY From this specious treatment Debussy emerges blacker than he would from an honest, outspoken narrative. It is this aspect of sanctimonious sousentendu that caused Henri Prunières to forgo a historian’s serenity for a virulent attack on Vallas.
In his article in La Revue Musicale, Prunières includes the notes, made by Robert Godet, an old friend and associate of Debussy. To judge the truly Pickwickian pitch of vituperation, one of Godet’s notes, with reference to Vallas’s analysis of Debussy’s scoring, reads literally as follows: “to find in the orchestration of Pellèas a Berlioz influence, resupposes ears of extraordinary length, if not extraordinary acuity.” The tragic attempt of Lilly Debussy to kill herself was supplemented by a sordid accusation against Debussy and his father, who, she said, took advantage of the commotion while she was being transferred to the hospital and appropriated a sum of 200 francs which she had left in an envelope for a friend, in payment of a loan. The incredible fact is that the 200 francs did disappear, but it is doubtful whether Lilly herself ever believed that Debussy was capable of such unthinkable baseness. Another story, widely circulated by Lilly’s friends, was that when the question of her future came up after the failure of her suicide attempt, Debussy remarked that she was young enough and pretty enough (she was a typical Parisian midinette) not to worry. This was interpreted as an invitation to immorality. In his impatience at Vallas’s wearisome innuendoes, Prunières publishes these stories, in order better to refute them. Now it is Vallas’s turn to be horrified, and he sends in a voluminous reply, which, in compliance with the French laws, Prunières publishes in La Revue Musicale. Vallas accuses Prunières of reading between the lines, and, incidentally, of giving new life to the old gossip, that otherwise would have never found its way into print. A sentimental biographer might describe Debussy’s divorce and second marriage as the act of a selfish, ungrateful creature. The second Madame Debussy was well-to-do, a brilliant woman, a figure in the world. But, as Prunières points out—and Godet corroborates by publishing Debussy’s own unflattering estimate of his Lilly at the time of his young marriage—Lilly could never have been anything more than a loving and devoted wife. For a genius this is not enough. Lilly Debussy lived a long time after she fired the suicidal shot. She attended a course of lectures on Debussy, that Léon Vallas gave in Paris in 1929. She died in 1932. DEFINITION Modern music seems to be the product of a revolt, undertaken by a certain group of musicians, against any rule whatsoever, and reflects the trend of thought of the present generation. It is supposed to be based on what is called the “whole tone scale,” and which explains the frequency of the discords, which, at times, follow each other in the most distressing manner. (From “Key to Musicianship” by Christine Trotin, New York, 1927) MUSICIANS FOR SALE The following items are gleaned from the Russian newspapers circa 1780–1790:
Ranging round the music-world 12/35
Musician for sale, age 26. 6 feet 2 inches tall plays double-bass and clarinet, sings bass; he is a leech, can let blood with lancer, knows barbering, applies clysters. A very good clarinetist, 15 years’ practice, plays the violin, of exemplary behaviour, does not drink spirits. Positively, last price, 1500 rubles. Two musicians, can read and write, little arithmetic, play all kinds of music on the horn, one of them dresses hair and knows cashiering. Also for sale, 2 clarinets, 2 fagots, 2 flutes, 2 Waldhorns. Clever player on transverse flute, plays in choirs, knows music, can manage chorus singing, 23 years old, 1000 rubles. Two musicians, very gratifying ability, one of them can be kapellmeister, plays first violin, clavichord and other instruments; the other plays on the double-bass, violin, horn and other wind instruments. All these musicians were, of course, serfs (serfdom existed in Russia until 1861). Many talented musicians and some composers were originally members of orchestras of serfs. An extraordinary advertisement appeared in 1794, in a Moscow newspaper: For Sale—A domestic servant, plays the violin, can do secretarial work; also young English pigs and a Danish colt.
SHORTEST COMPOSITION A story about two philosophers competing in brevity (one wrote: “eo rus,” the other replied: “I”) has its parallel in music. Who wrote the shortest musical composition, that can be reasonably regarded as making sense? Josef Matthias Hauer, one of the most esoteric atonalists of Vienna, has written some very short (as well as very long) compositions, but none as short as the fourth orchestral piece of Anton von Webern, also a Vienna atonalist. (Note: Schönberg considers the term, atonality, erroneous and misleading. He speaks only of the twelve-tone system, but Hauer uses the word, atonality, freely). This piece contains but 6 1–3 measures. It follows the prescriptions of the twelve-tone system strictly and ingeniously. Not one note is repeated until all twelve are culled. Then the same twelve notes are used again in a different order. There is no danger that all combinations of twelve tones of our chromatic scale will be soon exhausted. Hauer calculates that there are 479,001,600 different combinations, and his system is limited by the use of predetermined tropes. Seeing that in the twelve-tone system, the vertical, as well as horizontal line, adheres to the system, which thus defines both harmony and melody, the number of all possible combinations would run into astronomical figures. And there is also the interplay of different timbres to be had from different instruments. Melody, harmony, tone-color—three dimensions for atonal writing. So the number of combinations is automatically cubed.
WALTER PISTON Walter Piston’s music has reached Russia. His three wood-wind trios were performed in Moscow last July, and broadcast over the Soviet radio. “Sovetskaya Moosyka,” calls Piston “an American Hindemith.” In his exhaustive essay on American music, published in Russian, Henry Cowell writes (in retranslation from the Russian): Walter Piston may be called the leader of serious composers that have mastered the large forms of semi-modern design. His style is technically polished, sufficiently original, yet he possesses enough formal science to be regarded as a conservative among contemporary composers. His last work, a quartet performed at the festival of American music at Yaddo had the greatest success of all works there represented. This quartet shows greater originality and freedom than any of his former works, yet it keeps the ingenious and smooth flow of counterpoint, on a tonal base, with a sprinkling of dissonances.
VISITOR FROM MEXICO TO SYMPHONY CONCERTS April 9, 1936 Introducing Carlos Chavez, Composer-Conductor at Week-End Concerts
To the mind of a musical tourist Mexico is a sort of sub-musical country, just as it is subtropical. It is reputed to possess a wealth of folk-music sung in sunbaked villages by bronze-skinned men to the accompaniment of curious drums with unpronounceable Indian names. Of music in the Western sense of the word, Mexico is supposed to possess none. Recently, however, at least one name penetrated into this world of music and light, the name of Carlos Chavez. In a sense, Chavez is the first Mexican composer of musical significance. Inasmuch as he was born at the threshold of the twentieth century, he opened the musical history of his country with a modern fanfare. Mexico had had its traditional system of musical education, modeled after German methods. Conservatories of music are rarely headquarters of untraditional ideals, and educational methods are perforce half a century behind the musical times, but in Mexico there was a political revolution, and the breeze of social change reached the conservatories. Thus it came to pass that Carlos Chavez, avowed revolutionist in music and definitely a modernist in educational ideas, was appointed in 1928 to the National Conservatory of Music, became at the same time conductor of the Orquesta Sinfonica of Mexico City, and started on an ambitious program of modernization of musical Mexico. Chavez as composer continued to write in all forms of musical composition. The tides of his music express, appropriately the spirit of the age. “H.P.,” a symphonic ballet, is expressive of pro-ductive energy. Still more definite is the title of his composition for nine instruments, “Energia.” “Three Hexagons,” for voice and six instruments, makes a geometric allusion, as does his “Pyramid” for orchestra. A less intellectual title Chavez uses for a large work for orchestra and women’s chorus, “Los Custro Soles.” In chamber music he does not affect descriptive titles. He gives preference to sonata form, having written sonatas and sonatinas for piano, piano and violin, piano and ’cello, and a sonata for horns. The social changes in Mexico and in the world at large engaged Chavez’s responsive intellect. In the “Republican Overture” he used three famous Mexican motives, putting them together in the form of an overture. In his program note to the first performance of the overture, he explained the origin of the title in a humorous manner typical of uninhibited talents: “Do not think that in naming this piece an ‘overture’ I intended a formal meaning of the term. No, I chose the name simply because the sound of it is pleasant.” But in the “Proletarian Symphony,” written in 1934, he was quite serious. The
work for orchestra and chorus employs a text with a very definite class meaning, and the printed copy of the vocal score contains militant cartoons by Diego Rivera. What of the texture of Chavez’s music? As a true modernist, his music is devoid of supererogatory emotion. Chavez knows what he has to say, and he says it with the least amount of flourish. The result is music that to some may appear dry and bare, but to others satisfyingly compact and full of musical nourishment. The use of national Mexican melodies imparts to his music a nostalgic or festive character, according to the occasion. As conductor of the Orquesta Sinfonica, Chavez began to educate the public both in the classical and modern repertoire. Young musical communities are uncommonly hospitable to modern music, for the excellent reason that the public in such communities is not told by the critics and educators what it is supposed to enjoy as good music and what it is supposed to reject as bad (read “modern”) music. As a result, it enjoys a jolly piece of music even when it is leaded with dissonance. The list of modern composers presented by Chavez with the Orquesta Sinfonica is quite astounding; not only Debussy and Ravel, but polytonal Milhaud, jazzy Copland and horrified Varese. And, of course, Mexican composers, for, encouraged by Chavez, many Mexican modernists began to develop their talents, free of frowning fogeys. It is doubtful whether Chavez could have built up Mexican music as he did without the help of his enthusiastic comrades-in-arms, first among them Silvestro Revueltas, assistant conductor of the orchestra and himself a composer of great talent. His “Colorines,” infused with folk spirit, is a charming orchestral work worth performing anywhere, and his “8 X Radio y Janitzio” is a fine piece of instrumental persiflage. (In his program notes he says that the title represents an insoluble algebraic equation; that Janitzio is an island in a lake Patzcuaro, that the lake is ugly, but it has been beautified by illustrated postal cards; that he, Revueltas, writes music as an aid for tourism.) Here are the names of budding Mexican composers, several of them members of the Orquesta Sinfonica: Daniel Ayala, born July 21, 1908,  of Mayan (Indian) extraction. His most ambitious work is “Uchben X’coholte” (Ancient Cemetery). His “Children’s Pieces” for String Quartet are fine specimens of light music with enough spice to make it worth while. Pupil of Chavez and violinist in the orchestra. Pablo Moncayo, born June 29, 1912. His “Amatzinae” for flute and string quartet shows excellent craftsmanship. Pupil of Chavez and percussion player in the orchestra. Salvador Contreras, born Nov. 10, 1912. He writes in the polyphonic style, mostly chamber music. Particularly interesting is his sonata for violin and ’cello. Pupil of Chavez and violinist in the orchestra. Luis Sandi, born in 1905. He was at one time in charge of the music department of the Ministry of Education, where he did valuable work in collecting folk songs. He has written orchestral and chamber music. He is writing a ballet on the subject of the exploitation of agricultural workers. Add the names of Angel Salas, Eduardo Moncada, Vincente Medoza, Manuel Mariscal, Julio Bachmeister, Roberto Oropeza, Jose Rios, composers and educators under the
Visitor from mexico to symphony concerts [Chavez] 4/9/36
inclusive plan of the Department of Education of Mexico and Manuel Ponce, composer of â€œChapultepec,â€? produced by the Orquesta Sinfonica under Chavez. NOTE: The following two articles were clipped and retained by Nicolas Slonimsky but without the original publication dates.
VLADIMIR DUKELSKY, ALIAS VERNON DUKE The Young Russian Composer Through the Eyes of a Watchful Friend Young men and women of today are a proverbially unromantic bunch. The creative kind among them emphasize their worldliness and their business-like attitude toward art. The glare of romance no longer enshrouds the smooth-shaven countenances of twentiethcentury composers and writers. Distracted eyes, tortured introspection, disheveled hairâ€” all this is gone into fictional biography and technicolor movies. Bohemians and villagers live in modern apartments with bathrooms. Geniuses grow sensible as they see that the air of detachedness and spiritual superiority does not pay. They enter the world of competition and gradually abandon the age-old practice of economic parasitism. The class of wealthy patrons of art dwindles; royalty retains the title but not the power; and nobody would pay a substantial sum for a dedication. The sum total of great and novel ideas has hardly diminished in the world; possibly it has been distributed among a larger number of individuals. This strange power, technical skill fertilized by intuition, still remains an intensified, sensitized and purified medium of self-expression, but no longer claims divinity. A woman in Washington who knew Paul Claudel socially was astonished to learn that this worldly diplomat was also a great poet. Modern composers of music are even more matter-of-fact, everyday young men. Stravinsky said that music must be composed in the spirit in which a notary draws a formal contract (not such a dreadfully cynical utterance, if we stop to think how much ingenuity, and often true poetry, is to be found in legal documents). Yet even a modern composer may become a romantic figure. Not in his own consciousness, of course, but as seen from afar, or described to others. Such a character must possess this minimum of attributes: Youth, tolerably good looks, versatility, cosmopolitan propensities, light and gay talent, colorful biography, an element of inconstancy for surprise effects, an ever so slight suggestion of a double personality together with an easily pronounceable pseudonym. I know of no one who would suit these requirements better than Vladimir Dukelsky, alias Vernon Duke, born in Russia; now temporarily settled in these United States. His age is twenty-six in the present census year. He is photogenic, which is to say that he is fit for the photography plate. He is both versatile and prolific. Not only does he compose symphonies, operas, ballets and instrumental music, but he also writes for musical comedy and screen, and is now officially employed by the Paramount company as a staffcomposer. Messrs. E.Y.Harburg and Ira Gershwin have written â€œlyricsâ€? for him, but Vernon Duke, stripped of his Slavic flexion, is proficient in the American verse as well. Listen to this (words and music by Vernon Duke):
Vladimir dukelsky, alias vernon duke [date unknown]
I’m mad about a man about town. He may be a fad, Or even a cad, But he does at night time Wrong things at the right time. …. I’m mad about a man about town. Dukelsky (in full name) is as direct in English prose. An excellent feeling for verbal cadence and a keen sense of humor contribute to the attractiveness of his literary sketches. In these columns, on two occasions, the reader could have seen his signature under articles written in a brilliant and picturesque manner. Dukelsky is a much traveled man. Caught in the stream of Russian emigration he landed in Constantinople in 1920. (May I not, parenthetically, quote the best printer’s error of the year, which had the family of a certain composer “escape from Russia on account of the ‘programs’ that occasionally occurred.” Being of Russian stock, Dukelsky did not have to fear the pogroms, and was not intolerant enough to flee from occasional programs. He fled from a certain program, though, some nights ago at the urge of an usher who objected to Dukelsky’s audible signs of disapproval. The program was a modern one.) Since his childhood Dukelsky could “speak with tongues”—Russian, French, English. The English—which is also American—helped him to break through the wall separating him, an expatriate, from the apprehen-sive world. A lad of seventeen, he was accepted in the Y.M.C.A in the Turkish capital and thus singled out from the dumb mass of his exiled compatriots. With his mother he took ship to America. It was in New York that he wrote his first significant piece—a piano Concerto in the key of C major. A European trip followed—the meeting with Diaghilev who instantly admitted him to his large and keen heart (it has stopped beating since); recognition from Stravinsky and Prokofiev, general critical buzz and ado attending the first performance of his ballet “Zephir and Flore,” association with French musicians of light and gleeful spirit, Auric and Poulenc; admission to the parlors of musical magnates; travel modified by visas—those foreign visas on a Russian passport given out by a representative of an extinct government; reversals of fortune, struggle for currency…. Then England, “The Yellow Mask,” an operetta with occasional music by the newly incarnated Vernon Duke; pounds sterling, temporary independence… A career launched in full splendor a romantic, yea, romantic dalliance in the Latin capitals and semi-capitals of Europe. Germany was left out of Dukelsky’s program; his aversion to the deep-dyed diffusion of German thinkerscomposers may have played a part. His music is all for diatonic brightness—it must never be dull. So he breaks with modernism of thought in favor of modernity of life. A fine distinction which he likes to point out, Dukelsky’s tradition is that of the Russians before Glinka’s Russian, and after Stravinsky’s Mavra. In his heart Dukelsky may be closer to Prokofiev or would be so, but is not. Prokofiev’s primitive savagery has no place in Dukelsky’s ingenuous music. It is doubtful whether Dukelsky will ever attains that power of expression which is necessarily
associated with more somber qualities… It is certain that Dukelsky does not want philosophy in art. Brevity is his law, and brevity is always gloriously shallow. Dukelsky’s opera, “La Demoiselle-Paysanne” to Pushkin’s words as arranged by the composer, is an exhilarating, purifying suite of airs and interludes, as wholesome and as infused by light as the countryside of old Russia itself. Melody flows free in this delectable revival of an old form; Dukelsky’s invention never fails; he always has a second self—Vernon Duke— at his elbow and it is Duke’s business to be ready to put up a tune at a moment’s notice. In his practice at the Paramount studio on Long Island, he may be asked any minute to toss off a song or two. “Hold songs,” whatever their form and content—are his latest specialty. Melody, and more melody—it is astonishing that our long-enduring diatonic scale does not break up under this continual drain. Fortunately, a simple computation will prove that its resources are sufficient for the span of life of both Vladimir Dukelsky and Vernon Duke…. And Dukelsky’s tunes (not Duke’s) but rarely touch the dangerous bottom of magnificent bad taste…. A musical detective will find with surprise a turn or two in Stravinsky’s Apollo that closely suggest Dukelsky’s Three Songs of 1925. The chronology is in favor of Dukelsky. But then, borrowing never dulls the edge of husbandry; and the unsuspecting lender, if he is less likely to surpass the borrower, must always be glad to crash into history through the revelations of an established genius. Recall the well-known story of Liszt’s tunes in Wagner’s scores. If retro-television were possible I would recall a foggy night on the Grand Boulevards of Paris, a trio sitting around a table covered with empty cups and wine-glasses. An astute American composer appraisingly looking through a pince-nez at the top-hat and immaculate tailoring of a young man dressed to kill and to amuse. A poor female, a victim of the social temperament, sitting at the next table, displays a curiosity uncommon in her dull trade. The young man in top-hat politely inquires what she would like to order. She would not have intoxicating liquor. She will have cafe nature as poets and musicians do. She thanks the civil gentleman in the French of Anatole France, and does not think of a possible query. Small hours in the morning… The trio depart conscious of the psychological richness of the occurrence. Turning the retrospective lens on another episode, much more significant in its virtual development, an episode that just fell short of being thrown on the front pages of the newspapers, one sees the young composer rebuking the violent words of condemnation from an artistic Pico de Mirandola, leveled at the admired Prokofiev. There are no witnesses to the unfortunate sequel: “Les Francais vous donnent de la….” Well, the elided word, spoken in a loud tone, is richer in its connotation than its dictionary meaning. The word is accompanied by a slap in the face. The young musician is too distracted to act at once. The precious moment is lost, but he recovers instantly and hands his visiting card to the assailant, unmindful of his lack of familiarity with the lethal weapons. The tumult of rumors reaches Diaghilev who is plunged into selfish despair of possible consequences, he implores, he issues orders. Meanwhile, the adversary assembles an ugly mob outside the theater, where the incident has taken place, led by his friend, a sailor. He plays on their xenophobia—a familiar word in the French press at that time. The events press on…. Two seconds are chosen for a duel, but the French adversary, in a masochistic fit of perverseness wants retaliation in kind. The Russian visits him the next morning and slaps him in the face as he appears pale and trembling, on
Vladimir dukelsky, alias vernon duke [date unknown]
the threshold. The Frenchman is effusive in the reconciliation that follows. The two mend their friendship, which, however, was never deep. This episode was played in the best tradition of the romantic school. It may yet appear on the stage, for the Frenchman in this case is an able playwright in addition to his other professions. And in this frank age of true biography and revealed identities, he may entitle the play: Vladimir Dukelsky.
NEW PLACING OF RAKHMANINOV His Singular Position Among Composers and Pianists Of the Present If there exists a fundamental distinction between the era of modern music and the preceding period of emotive music, it lies in the gradual dispersion of individual creative power and a more equal distribution of that creative power among a greater number of musicians—a phenomenon not unlike mass production in economic life. While in time past a great composer was a musical dynast, head of an individual cult, nowadays personality is but an attribute to a current theory of composition. What more grotesque than the sight of a Stravinsky establishing a personal cult! Yet what more appropriate than this same Stravinsky establishing a school of thought, a church, a musical conclave whose decisions are binding for the faithful. This is certainly an idealistic age with the idea (neo-classicism, new musico-mathematical theology, scholasticism or any other) reigning all supreme; personalities are engulfed by it as the personalities of the medieval inquisitors were engulfed by the idea of Inquisition. The antagonism now existing among the various schools and branches of modern music is by far more acute than the purely personal animosities of the romantic ages. The cold idea is a much more murderous incentive than personal ambition. But how much nobler it is to stab a fellow-mathematician in a feud concerning the formula for extraction of cubic roots, as it happened in the Italian Renaissance, than to exchange paper-knife thrusts in a Liszt-Wagner controversy! It is characteristic that modern composers are in the majority of cases, poor interpreters and still poorer spokesmen for themselves. Hardly one or two have the power of articulate speech, in musical performance or in literary proclamations. The all-around musicians such as Wagner, Liszt or Schumann and many lesser lights who could compose, speak and perform for themselves were examples of individual greatness. A modern composer is much more specialized, and devotes little thought to artistic ambition. With the decay of emotive music and the rise of the new musical language, interpretative powers have atrophied, and the very word interpretation has become synonymous with licence. It is all the more interesting to make a study of a character that stands in opposition to modern music the while subtly influencing its development, at least in-so-far as the technique of composition for the pianoforte is concerned Sergei Rakhmaninov is a supremely adequate spokesman for himself—as pianist and conductor. He follows an individual path as composer, thus placing himself at odds with every modern school. But modern schools traverse the entire territory of music, from the exploitation of pure noises to the affectation of musical asceticism, not shunning neo-sentimentalism, first with an apologetic grimace, then without it—and there is bound to be an unsuspected crossing of ways with Rakhmaninov’s art.
New placing of rakhmaninov [date unknown]
Russia, ideologically opposed to emotive music, is strangely lingering under the spell of Rakhmaninov’s moods. The Soviet authorities reacted vigorously to this dangerous contagion, rebuking the practice of recitals of Rakhmaninov’s music in the conservatories. The rebuked Soviet musicians could easily refer to the Governments decision concerning the “bourgeois” experts in the scientific field—where it was ruled proper to study science with ideologically antagonistic masters. Rakhmaninov in at least one field of pianoforte composition possesses science as no other composer since Liszt and Rubinstein (this aside from the musical value of these compositions). It is probably demonstrable that Prokofiev, the only rival of Rakhmaninov in the field of modern piano composition, was not uninfluenced by Rakhmaninov’s peculiar techniques. On the other hand, it may be argued that Rakhmaninov himself experienced a reciprocal influence from Prokofiev’s percussive technique. If Prokofiev’s influence is more noticeable in modern piano compositions than Rakhmaninov’s, it is due to a certain sense of modernistic propriety. Besides it is easier to imitate Prokofiev than Rakhmaninov; inversely, an imitation-Prokofiev product may still have some musical value (as a number of compositions by Poulenc, Cherepnin and Gortchakov would show), while second-hand Rakhmaninov, as the regrettable example of Abraham [sic] Chasins conclusively proves, is futility personified. Here we are approaching the very core of the Rakhmaninov problem. That there is imperishable grandeur in Rakhmaninov’s music cannot be denied; even in this unique specimen of musical overstatement—the thrice-famed Prelude in C sharp—there is some rhetorical power that impresses the musical consciousness of a worthier group of people than the usual type of musical moron. It is interesting to note that this prelude is a very difficult piece of music, and that it requires a fairly good technique to play it through. Very often the amateur does not reach beyond the first three notes, in which the fascination of the piece resides. That this prelude should have been selected as a theme for a cinematic interpretation, and that this interpretation should be manufactured in presentday Russia, is an interesting commentary to the confusion of our musical senses. Rakhmaninov is partial to philosophical conceptions in music, usually of the conventional type; his songs are written to texts of highly morbid and mostly second-rate poems in Russian, and the music is correspondingly dark and drooping. Exceptions are such masterpieces in miniature as “Lilacs.” Very often the mood is determined by the persistent use of the minor keys. But Rakhmaninov’s most favorite mode is the harmonic major, the major key with the minor subdominant, yielding the interval of the augmented second, eminently suitable for Oriental folk lore. It is amazing with what meager and unchanging vocabulary Rakhmaninov conjures up his impressive creations. Occasionally it is a continued cadence, a mounting, then drooping sequence of chords, inevitably leading into a minor tonic. In the Second Piano Concerto this system of incessant ebb and flow is glorified and asserted with nothing short of genius. This Concerto will probably remain Rakhmaninov’s masterpiece. But how are we to explain the appearance of the Third Concerto, with an identical theme, featuring the same minor tonic and supertonic in the same three-to-one rhythmic alternation? How could Rakhmaninov so repeat himself? It is by sheer power of a virtuoso-composer that Rakhmaninov succeeds in creating a different piece of music in this Concerto. In his ability to handle the available material he remains unsurpassed by his modernist contemporaries. It is easier to compress a musical thought into a terse piece
than it is to expand apparently beyond the limits warranted by the musical materialâ€”and yet remain on this side of sensory freshness. That Rakhmaninov succeeds in maintaining the musical interest throughout his Concertos and his symphonic compositions is in itself an achievement, all the more so that he never resorts to orchestral pyrotechnics. There are fashions in music as there are fashions in hats. It is fashionable, or at least pardonable, to admire Verdi, as an antidote to Wagner. It is quite permissible to grow ecstatic about Puccini (one of the very, very young musicians, Julien Krein of Moscow and Paris, now in his nineteenth year, proclaims his love for Puccini). Chaikovsky has long been accepted in the smart set. Modern Russians, Dukelsky and Nabokov, are delightfully affecting the Russian musical romance of 1830. But it is still reprehensible to reveal an interest in Rakhmaninovâ€™s individualistic art. Yet Rakhmaninovâ€™s efficiency of delivery should make the moderns sit up and ask themselves why their works so often fail to strike fire.
INDEX Adohmyan, Lahn, 151–52 aeromusic, 162 Akhmatova, Anna, 88, 98 Allen, Paul: “Pilgrim Symphony,” 40–41; “The Last of the Mohicans,” 40 Antheil, George, 18–19, 41, 51, 80, 139 Ardevol, José, 138 atonality, 58, 125, 152, 175; definition of, 123; school of, 170 augen musik, 64 Auric, Georges, 37, 88 Avierino, Nicolas, 7–10; Conservatory at Rostov and, 9; Moscow Conservatory and, 8; Tchaikovsky and, 7–8 Avierino, Olga, 8, 9–10 Ayala, Daniel: “Children’s Pieces,” 178; “Uchben X’coholte,” 178 Bach: intervals and, 166; musical transcription of, 166–67; Well-Tempered Clavichord, 160–61 Bachmeister, Julio, 178 Balakirev, Mily, 81, 101, 103, 151 Bandura, Jovan, 138 Bartok, Bela, 157 Beecham, Sir Thomas, 4 Beethoven, Ludwig van, 104, 145, 148, 170 Belaiev, Victor, 73, 93 Belknap, Ezekiel, 20 Bellamann, Henry, 134 Benedictine Monks of Solesmes: “La Paléographie Musicale,” 141 Berg, Alban, 126, 170 Berlin, Irving: “Russian Lullaby,” 62 Berlioz, Hector, 14, 37 Bertrand, M.René, 33
bitonality: theory of, 90 Blitzstein, Marc, 135 Bloch, Ernest, 18, 19, 41, 42, 51, 76–81; “America,” 76, 80; Concerto Grosso, 79; Jewish identity of, 78–80; “Macbeth,” 78; Shelomo for Cello and Orchestra, 79; Suite for Chamber Orchestra, 80; Suite for Viola and Orchestra, 80; “The Jewish Poems,” 78–79 blue note, 57 Bolsheviks, 98 Bond, Carrie Jacobs, 39 Borodin, Alexander, 81, 151 Boston Evening Transcript, xii, xiii; Slonimsky and, xii Boston Herald, xii Boulanger, Nadia, 17, 42, 114, 129, 161–62 Brandeis, Irma, 66 Braudo, Eugene, 167 Browning, Robert, 163 Buhlig, Richard, 18 Busby, Thomas, 148 Carl Rosa Company, 44 Carpenter, John Alden, 41 Casella, Alfredo, 14–16, 62, 63–66, 71, 85, 93; atonality and, 64; chromaticism and, 65; Concerto Romano, 64, 65; “Evolution of Music,” 15; “Italia,” 64; musical diction of, 65; “Pages of War,” 15, 64; “Partita,” 15, 66; polytonality and, 15; Popular Concerts of the Symphony Orchestra and, 14; “Scarlattiana,” 15, 66; Serenato for Clarinet, Bassoon, Trumpet, Violin and Violoncello, 64; Sonata for Piano and Violoncello, 64–65; “Twentieth Century Style,” 14 Caturla, Alejandro, 138 Chadwick, George W, 40 Chaikovsky. See Tchaikovsky Chalupt, René, 88 Chapayev, 154–57 Charpentier, Gustave: “Louise,” 21 Chasins, Abraham, 185
Chavez, Carlos, 42, 176–79; “Energia,” 177; “H. P.”, 176; “Los Custro Soles,” 177; Proletarian Symphony, 158, 177; “Pyramid,” 177; “Republican Overture,” 177; Sonatina, 158; “Three Hexagons,” 177 Chopin, Frédéric, 2 chords: augmented fourth, 149; dominant, 149; major triads, 166; minor, 166; modern, 149; perfect fifth, 149; polytonal, 149–50; tonic fifth, 150; tritone, 149–50, 166 chromaticism: atonality and, 123 Claudel, Paul, 179 Coates, Albert, 69 Cocteau, Jean, 11, 56; Markevitch and, 115; “Œdipus Rex,” 4; “Parade,” 59 composers: American, 16–23, 38–43, 47–51, 126–36, 150–51, 163–65, 175–76; Austrian, 117–26, 136–37, 175; Bulgarian, 147; classical, 160; English, 43–47; European, 59; French, 172–74; jazz, 57–58; Jewish, 76–81; Mexican, 42, 158, 176–79; modern, 117–20, 151, 179, 184; Persian, 152–54; proletarian, 151; Romanian, 147; Russian, 23–27, 51–54, 81–85, 92–99, 100–109, 113–17, 162–63, 167–71, 179–86; Swiss, 76–81; Turkish, 147; Yugoslavian, 138, 147 composition: by geometry, 160–61 Conservatory of Fontainebleau, 42 Conservatory of St. Petersburg, 82 Contreras, Salvador, 178
Converse, Frederick, 40 Copland, Aaron, 16–19, 39, 42, 57, 177; jazz and, 60; Sessions and, 16–19; “Two Pieces for String Quartet,” 17; “Vocalise,” 39 counterpoint, 103–104 Cowell, Henry, 47–51, 137, 175–76; Amiable Conversation, 49; “Antinomy,” 49; “Music of the Future,” 51; New Music, 42, 49; String and Percussion Piano, 48; Suite for Violin and Piano, 158; tone-clusters and, 41, 48, 49–50, 158 Crawford, Ruth, 18, 42 Cui, Cesar Antonovich, 81, 101–102 Danielou, Alain, 4 d’Arezzo, Guido: hexachords and, 149 Dargomijsky (Dargomyzhsky), Alexander, 54 De Falla, Manuel, 103 Debussy, Claude, 48, 59, 89, 91, 98, 103, 124, 177; biography of, 172–74; “Pelléas,” 109, 173 Debussy, Lilly, 173 Delaney, Robert, 17 di Lasso, Orlando, 81 Diaghilev, Serge, 168, 181, 182; Markevitch and, 113, 115, 116; “The Sleeping Beauty” and, 6 Die Musik, 136, 137, 142 d’Indy, Vincent, 89, 139 Dom Mocquerau, 141 Dom Pothier: “La Paléographie Musicale,” 141; “La Revue Musicale,” 141; “Melodies Gregoriennes,” 141 Droeghmans, Maurice, 9 Duke, John, 17 Dukelsky, Vladimir, 51–54, 179–83; aka Vernon Duke, 182; Concerto in the key of C major, 181; Diaghilev and, 53; folk tunes and, 54; “Hold Songs,” 181; “La Demoiselle-Paysanne,” 181; Piano Concerto in C Major, 52–54; Stravinsky and, 54; Symphony in F, 51;
“The Yellow Mask,” 181; “Zephir and Flore,” 181 Dulfer, Rebecca, 157 Durey, Louis, 11, 37 Dushkin, Samuel, 109; The Duo Concertant, 158 Dvořák, Antonín, Humoresque, 62 dynaphone, the, 33 Eastman, George, xi Eastman School, xi Eisenstein, 155 Eisler, Hanns, 123, 152 Eliot, T.S., xiv Ellis, A.J., 160 Evans, Edwin, 44, 47; twelve-tone notation and, 45–46 Ferrero, Giovanni, 75 Five, The. See Mighty Five, The folk music, 147, 151, 157; Bulgarian, 138; Mexican, 158, 176; Turkish, 147 Foote, Arthur, 40 Franck, Caesar (César), 107 Futurism, 140 Futurists, the, 41, 98, 162 Gebrauchmusik, 158, 170 Gershwin, Ira, 41, 180 Gilbert, Benjamin F., 20 Gilbert, Henry, 19–23, 40; “Suite for Chamber Orchestra,” 22–23; “The Dance in Place Congo,” 22 Gilman, Lawrence, 74 Gilson-Gilbert, Therese A., 20 Glazunov, Alexander, 81–85, 86; ballet music and, 84; chord, 83; counterpoint of, 84; folk tunes and, 84; influences on, 83; “Moyen Age,” 84; Shostakovich and, 169; Sixth Symphony, 83; Song of Volga Boatmen, 84; “Stenka Razin,” 84; Symphony in E, 82; Variations for Pianoforte, 83 Glebov, Igor, 76
Gliere, Reinhold, 93 Glinka, Mikhail Ivanovich, 54, 100, 104, 181 Glinka, Shestakova, 100, 102 Godet, Robert, 173 Gogol, Nikolai, 101 Goldberg, Isaac, 57 Golenischev-Kutusov, Arseny A., 101 Goltermann Concertos, 30 Goossens, Eugène, 43–47; chromatic composing of, 45–46; “East of Suez,” 47; Hurdy-Gurdy Man, 46–47; Phantasy Quartet, 47; Rhythmic Dance, 46; Second Sonata for Violin and Piano, 159 Goossens, Eugène, Sr., 44 Goossens, Léon, 44 grace notes, 58 Gregorian chant, 141, 144 Grzimali, Ivan V., 8 Haba, Alois, 147 Harburg, E.Y., 180 harmony, 167; pan-diatonic, 158 Harris, Roy, 42, 126–31, 139; Concerto for Clarinet, Piano and String Quartet, 130; “From the Sadness and Gayety of the American Scene,” 130–31; Piano Sonata, 130; polytonality and, 130; seven tones of the modal scale and, 129 Hauer, Josef Matthias, 175; “Twelve-Tone Music,” 122–23 Hawaii: musical education in, 142 Helmholz (Helmholtz), Hermann von: “Sensations of Tone,” 160 Henry, Leigh, 120–21 Hertz, Alfred, 128 Herzka (Hertzka), Emil, 147 Heseltine, Philip, 153 Hill, Edward Burlingame, 40 Hindemith, Paul: Concerto for Orchestra, 61; “Suite 1922,” 61 Hitler, Adolf, 136, 137 Honegger, Arthur, 34–38, 126; Ansermet and, 12; Concertino, 61; “Homage to Ravel,” 36; “Horace Victorieux,” 38;
“Judith,” 37; “King David,” 10–11, 37; “Pacific,” 11, 34–35, 37, 93, 162; “Pastorale d’Ete,” 38; “Rugby,” 35; Sonata for Violin and Piano, 36; Stravinsky and, 12 Horgan, Paul, xi “Hunting Horn” Symphony, 148–49 intervals: linear, 167; symbolic use of, 166–67 Ives, Charles, xiii, 42, 48, 131–36; “114 Songs,” 131; church harmony and music of, 132; “Concord Sonata,” 132, 133, 164; “December,” 135; “Essays before a Sonata,” 131; First Symphony, 134; Fourth Sonata for Violin, 136; Fourth Symphony, 133, 164; “In the Alley,” 132; Ives & Myrick Insurance Company and, 132; “Lincoln, the Great Commoner,” 164; “Soliloquy,” 135; “Sonata: Concord, Mass, 1840–1860,” 131; “The Fourth of July,” 134, 135; “Thoreau,” 135; Thoreau and, 133; “Three Places in New England,” 132, 133, 163, 164; “Washington’s Birthday,” 134; writing of, 132 Jaques-Dalcroze, Emile, 35 jazz, 38–43, 152; American, 55, 61–62; blues and, 60; Europe and, 54–63; European, 56, 58, 60–62; improvisation, 58; notation and, 144; polyrhythms of, 60, 62; rhythms, 55; theory of, 57 Jean-Aubry, Georges, 92 Johnson, Robert Underwood, 165 Kadosa, Paul, 157; Partita for Violin and Piano, 158; Piano Concerto, 158
Kahn, H.D., 66 Kalafati, Basil, 95 Kalkbrenner, Frédéric, 14 Kane, Helen, 57 Kâzim, Neil: Allegro Feroce for Saxophone and Piano, 147; Five Turkish Pieces for Piano, 147 Kelley, Edgar Stillman, “New England Symphony,” 40 Kernek, Ernst: “Jonny spielt auf,” 62 Kodalyi (Kodály), Zoltán, 157 Koltzov, Michel, 154 Koshetz, Nina, 10 Koussevitzky, Serge, xi; Slonimsky and, xii Krein, Julien, 186 La Revue Musicale, 173 Lamm, Paul, 73 Landowska, Wanda, 9 League of Composers, 16, 39 Leningrad Conservatory, 169 Liadov, Anatol, 81, 119 Liszt, Franz, 3 Loeffler, Charles Martin, 40, 43 Lourié, Arthur, 39, 97–99; “Concerto Spirituale,” 99; “Forms in the Air” (“soundscript”), 98; melody and, 97; Prologue for Solo Baritone, 99; “Rosary,” 98; Stravinsky and, 99; Suite for Children, 98; Three Sonatas for Piano, 98 Lowell, Joan, 55 MacDowell, Edward, 20–21, 39–40; Woodland Sketches, 39 Maeterlinck, Maurice, 124 Mahler, Gustav, 170 Malko, Nicolas, 169 Mallarmé, Stephane, 36 Mamoulian, Rouben, xi Manifesto Futurista Della Aeromusica, 162 Marinetti, F.T., 41, 143; “Maestro Giuntini,” 162 Marinkovic, Josef, 138 Mariscal, Manuel, 178 Marjollet, Serge, 9 Markevitch, Igor, 113–17; Cocteau and, 115;
Concerto Grosso, 115–16; Diaghilev and, 113, 115, 116; “Les Noces,” 114; “Partita,” 116; Piano Concerto, 116; polytonality and, 115; “Rebus,” 116–17; The Serenade for Solo-Violin, Clarinet and Bassoon, 115 Martin, Frank, 35, 61 Martinu, Bohuslav, 1 Marx, Joseph, 147 Marx, Karl, 140 Mayakovsky, Vladimir, 98, 151, 170 Medoza, Vincente, 178 Mencken, H.L., 65 Mexico: musical modernization of, 176; National Conservatory of Music, 176; social changes in, 177 Mezières Theater, 12 Miaskovsky, Nikolai Yakovlevich, 93 Mighty Five, The, 101–103 Mihalovici, Marcel, 147 Milhaud, Darius, 11, 12, 37, 45, 46, 115–16, 177; “Bull on the Roof,” 106; jazz and, 60–61 Miloyevic, Miloj, 138 Mokranjc, Stevan, 138 Moncada, Eduardo, 178 Moncayo, Pablo: “Amatzinae,” 178 Mossolov, Alexander, 92–94; “Factory: The Music of Machines,” 93; “Four Advertisements,” 93; influences on, 93; “Music of Machines,” 92, 93; “Steel,” 93 music: absolute, 170 musical comedies: European, 56 musical notation: jazz and, 144–45; modern music and, 144–45 Musical Times, 45 musique galante, 158 Musorgsky, Modest Petrovich, 81, 100–104, 151; “Boris Gudunov,” 73–76, 102; counterpoint and, 103–104; “Doll,” 104; “Golliwog’s Cakewalk,” 59; harmony of, 103;
“Intermezzo passioné,” 101; “Marriage,” 101; The Mighty Five and, 103; Rimsky-Korsakov and, 73–75, 100, 102–103; “Summer Motiv,” 104; “Trepak,” 104 Nabokov, Vladimir, 186 Newman, Ernest, 103, 119 Nicolaev, L., 169 Nicotra, Tobla, 66–72 Nijinsky, Vaslav, 168 Obouhov, Nicolas, 99 Offenbach, Jacques, 56 Ornstein, Leo, 442 Oropeza, Roberto, 178 Orquesta Sinfonica of Mexico City, 176, 177, 178 Paris Schola Cantorum, 139 Parker, Horatio, 40, 134 Pastore, Annibale, 72 Philharmonic Orchestra of Havana, 138 Picasso, Pablo, 98 Piston, Walter, 175–76 pitch, 159–60 polyrhythms, 60, 62 polytonality, 3, 45, 103, 109–10, 115, 130; jazz and, 58, 106 Ponce, Manuel: “Chapultepec,” 178 Porter, W.Quincy, 80; Quintet for Piano and Strings, 18 Potemkin, 155, 156 Poulenc, Francis, 37, 88 Pratella, Francesco Balilla: “L���Aviatore Dro,” 162 Pravda, 154, 156 Prokofiev, Serge, 1, 51, 65, 85–88, 93; “Chout,” 87; Classical Symphony, 85; Diaghilev and, 85; First Concerto, 86; influence of, 181, 182, 184, 185; jazz and, 59–60; “Love for Three Oranges,” 85; lyricism of, 88; Opus One, 86; “Pas d’Acier,” 88; “Quintet,” 20; sources for music of, 87;
“The Flaming Angel,” 87; “The Gambler,” 87; “The Scythian Suite,” 87; “They are Seven,” 87 Prunières, Henri, 172, 173; “La Revue Musicale,” 32–33 Pugatchov, Yemelian, 156 Purcell, Henry, 43 Pushkin, Alexander, 181 Quevedo, Antonio and Maria de, 138 rag rhythms, 59, 61 Rakhmaninov, Sergei, 183–86; “Lilacs,” 185; Prelude in C sharp minor, 185; Second Piano Concerto, 185; Third Piano Concerto, 185–86 Rameau, Jean Philippe, 150 Rasin, Stenka, 156 Ravel, Maurice, 2, 11, 91, 110, 126, 177; jazz and, 60; Violin Sonata, 60 Redfield, John, 24, 26 Revolution of 1917, 82, 98 Revueltas, Silvestro: “Colorines,” 178; “8X Radio y Janitzio,” 178 Riesemann, Oskar von, 101 Rimsky-Korsakov, Nikolai, 37, 62, 75, 89, 150, 151; Musical Life, 81; Musorgsky and, 73–75, 100, 102–103; Saminsky and, 119; Shostakovich and, 169; Stravinsky and, 103 Rios, Jose, 178 Rivera, Diego, 177 Roldan, Amadeo, 138 Rolland, Remain, 78 Romanov, Constantin: “The King of Judea,” 84 Rosenfeld, Paul, 38–43 Rosing, Vladimir, xi Roussel, Albert, 88–92; “Banks of the Sacred Stream,” 91; “Birth of the Lyre,” 90; bitonality and, 90; “Chinese Ode,” 89; “City of the Rose,” 91; Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, 91; “Evocations,” 91, 92;
“Gods in the Shadows of Caves,” 91; Greek modes in work of, 90; impressionism of, 91; “Le Jardin Mouillé,” 89; “Padmavati,” 89, 90, 92; “Psalm LXXX,” 90; rhythms of, 91; Stravinsky and, 91; Suite in F, 91 Rubinstein, Anton, 8, 184; “Night,” 30 Rudhyar, Dane, 42, 43; Three Paeans, 18 Ruggles, Carl, 42 Russian National School, 81, 119, 151 Russolo, Luigi: the Inronarumori, 140; “L’Artre dei Rumori,” 140 Sabaniev, Leonard, 87 Saint-Saëns, Camille, 30 Salas, Angel, 178 Salzedo, Leonard, 48–49 Saminsky, Lazare: Music of Our Day, 117–20; Rimsky-Korsakov and, 119; “The Plagues Gagliarda,” 119 Sandi, Luis, 178 Sands, Carl, 152 Satie, Eric, 36, 57, 59, 89; “Parade,” 57 Sazonova, Julia: Marionette Theater and, 61 Schauffler, Robert, 145 Schillinger, Joseph, 160 Schindler, Anton Felix, 145 Schmitt, Florent, 37, 91, 109–13; Forty-Seventh Psalm, 109–10, 111; “Rêves,” 112; “Salome’s Dance,” 111; Stravinsky and, 111–12; “The Tragedy of Salome,” 111–12 Schönberg, 42, 45, 65, 98, 113, 120–26, 147; “Accompaniment to a Cinema Scene,” 122, 125; in Austria, 136–37; Chamber Symphony, 124; composing and, 160; Five Orchestral Pieces, 120, 125; “Gurre-Lieder,” 121, 124; influence of, 126, 167; Jacob’s Ladder, 121;
as painter and writer, 121–22, 125; Quartet in F sharp minor, 124; “Pierrot Lunaire” 120, 137; “Quintet,” 2; Society for Private Performances, 123; theory and practice of, 124–25; “Thrice Seven Poems,” 124; tonality and atonality of, 122, 124; Variations for Orchestra, 137; “Verklarte Nacht,” 121, 122, 124 Scriabin, Alexander, 1, 2, 8, 42, 82, 98, 149, 167; Etude, 30; “Prometheus,” 26 Scriabin, Julian, 52 Sessions, Roger, 16–19, 39, 42, 80; “Masques,” 18; Sonata for Piano, 17 Seven, The, 11 Shalyapin, Boris, 8 Shostakovich, 93; the art of the grotesque and, 169–70; “Bedbug,” 170; Cello Sonata, 169; composing of, 162, 170; First Symphony, 169, 171; Glazounov and, 169; influences on, 170; jazz and, 61; “Lady Macbeth of the District of Mzensk,” 170; musical development of, 169; Piano Concerto for piano, string quartet and a solo trumpet, 171; Piano Sonata, 171; political views of, 162–63, 170; Prokofiev and, 169; Rimsky-Korsakov and, 169; second period of, 169; Second Symphony, 170; Stravinsky and, 169; “The Bolt,” 169; “The Golden Age,” 169; third period of, 170–71; Third Symphony, 170; Twenty-Four Preludes, 171 Siegmeister, Elie, 151–52; “Theme and Variations for Piano,” 161–62 Siloti, Alexander: Volga Boatman song, 30–31 Sinclair, Upton: “Qué Viva Mexico,” 157 Siohan, Robert, 11 Sir, Léo, 37 Six, The, 11, 37, 147
Skriabin. See Scriabin Slavenski, Josef, 138, 147 Slonimsky, Nicolas: “America,” v; Boston Evening Transcript and, xii; Boston Symphony Orchestra and, xii; emigration from Russia, xi; Koussevitzky and, xii; Perfect Pitch, xii Sokolov, N.A., 169 Sollertinsky, Ivan, 169 Sorabji, Kaikhosru: “Concerto for Piano and Orchestra,” 152; “Opus Clavicembalisticum,” 152–54 Soviet film, 154–57, 170 Sovietskaya Musika, 167 St. John Ervine, 55 Stasov, Vladimir, 75, 101–102 Steinberg, Maximilian, 93, 169 Stokowski, Leopold, 75–76, 169 Strauss, Richard, 2, 121; “Alpine Symphony,” 84 Stravinsky, Igor, 2, 42, 82, 94–96, 98, 104–109, 143, 150, 158, 179, 181, 183; “Apollo,” 53, 95, 106; “Chronique de ma Vie,” 168; Concerto in D for Violin and Orchestra, 104–105, 107–109; Duo Concertant, 166; “Firebird,” 74, 94, 96, 105; harmonization of, 95; “History of a Soldier,” 105, 108; Honegger and, 12; jazz and, 59; “Le Sacre du Printemps,” 5, 43, 59–60, 91, 94, 96, 111, 168; “Les Noces,” 59, 94, 96, 106; “Mavra,” 5; melodies of, 106; music of, 5–6; “Œdipus Rex,” 4–5, 11, 37; “Pétrouchka,” 3, 51, 59, 61, 106, 111, 168; polytonality of, 149; “Pulcinella,” 95; “Rag-Time,” 5, 59, 108; rhythm of, 96, 166; Rimsky-Korsakov and, 103; “Rossignol,” 126; scores of, 105; Symphony of Psalms, 105, 108; syncopation and, 59 Sullivan, Arthur, 43 Tailleferre, Germaine, 37
Taneiev, Serge, 83, 123 Tansman, Aleksander, 2, 3; Overture Symphonique (Symphony in A minor), 3; polytonality and, 3; Preludes, 3 Taylor, Deems: “The King’s Henchmen,” 40 Tchaikovsky, 82, 83, 94, 95, 145–46, 150–51, 186; “The Sleeping Beauty,” 6 Theremin, Leon, 23–32, 33; appearances by, 27–28; musical inventions of, 25–26, 29, 33; plural musical systems and, 26 Theremino-Vox, 25–26, 30–31 Thomson, Virgil, 42 tonal theory and practice, 159–63 tone-clusters, 41, 48 Toscanini, Arturo: biography of, 66–72; “Pro Scala,” 67 Totten, Edyth, 16 tritone, 149–50, 166 twelve-degree notation, 45–46 twelve tone system, 119, 123, 125, 136, 175 Valerius, Adriannus: “Gedenek-clanek” [Gedenck-Clanck], 141–42 Vallas, Léon, 172, 174 Varèse, Edgar, 41, 51, 89, 139, 177; “Amériques,” 41, 63 Vasiliev, Georgi, 155–56 Vasiliev, Sergei, 155; Montage of a Cinema Picture, 155 Vaurabourg, Andrée, 36 Vladigerov, Pancho, 146–47 von Meck, Nadezha Filaretouna, 145–46 Von Webern, Anton, 175; Sinfonietta, 125, 137 Vuillermoz, Emile, 110 Wagner, Richard, 94, 124, 142–43 Weiss, Adolph, 42 Weiss, Rudolph: Four Preludes, 18 Wells, H.G., 2, 26, 84 Weyl, Josef, 142 Whiteman, Paul, 57, 58 Whitman, Walt, 20, 40 Wiéner, Jean: “Concerto Franco-Americain,” 60 Wood, Sir Henry, 44
Workers Music League, 151â€“52 Zighera, Alfred, 9 Zighera, Benard, 9