The German Classics of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Volume 08 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 633 pages of information about The German Classics of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Volume 08.

The eye for natural scenery is never an absolute one, and if out of ten generations each one finds the primitive canon of natural beauty in something different, then none is entirely right and none entirely wrong.  This uncertainty of the eye for natural scenery might drive a painter crazy if he should insist upon knowing definitely, once for all, whether the succeeding century would not perhaps have just as good a right to laugh at his ideal of the beautiful in nature as we have to laugh at the preferences for natural scenery of the two preceding generations.  He might then, in consideration of the tremendous fluctuations in the conception of the beautiful in nature, lose confidence in his own eyes to such an extent that at last he would no longer have any guarantee to assure him that the mountain which he is drawing as a rounded knoll is not perhaps, in reality, pointed and jagged, while the roundish outline merely holds his eyes captive, as it did those of the painters of the pigtail.

If, however, the eye for natural scenery only sees bona fide, as the jurists say, then it follows that it saw correctly for its age.

Whether our grandchildren will laugh at us because we saw thus and not otherwise need not disturb our peace of mind, for no present has any kind of guarantee that it will not be laughed at by the immediate future.

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THE MUSICAL EAR[15] (1852)



The North German pitch differs in general from the South German—­I mean the orchestral pitch.

The Viennese pitch is the highest in Germany.  They go still higher, however, in St. Petersburg; the pitch in which they play on the Neva is the highest in the whole of Europe.  The climax of the European concert-pitch of the present day may be represented in its three principal degrees by the orchestral tone of the three capitals—­Paris, Vienna, St. Petersburg—­ascending from the lowest pitch to the highest.  There is no German concert-pitch, but there are dozens of different German concert-pitches—­a Viennese, a Berlin, a Dresden, a Frankfurt pitch, etc., so that in the light of such distinctions even the above-mentioned division into northern and southern tone appears like a very general hypothesis.  The Parisian pitch and the French pitch, on the contrary, are accepted without caviling as synonymous.[16] Italy, on the other hand, is also without a uniform pitch; as early as a hundred years ago a distinction was made there between the Roman, the Venetian, the Lombard pitch, ascending from the lower to the higher.  It may therefore be said that in Rome they play approximately in the Parisian pitch, in upper Italy in the Viennese and St. Petersburg pitch.  I am not indulging in any political metaphors, but in sober musical truth.

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The German Classics of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Volume 08 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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