Old Scores and New Readings eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 194 pages of information about Old Scores and New Readings.
into natural phenomena, as Wagner does in “The Valkyrie” and “Siegfried.”  The rapidly repeated note, now rising to a roar and now falling to a subdued murmur, in “The Erl-king” was an entirely new thing in music; and in “The Wanderer” piano fantasia, the working-out of the Unfinished symphony, and even in some of the chamber music, he invented things as fresh and as astounding.  And when he is simply expressing himself, as at the beginning of the Unfinished, and in the first and last movements of the big C symphony, he often does it on the same large scale.  The second subject of the C symphony finale, with its four thumps, seems to me to become in its development, and especially in the coda, all but as stupendous an expression of terror as the music in the last scene of “Don Giovanni,” where Leporello describes the statue knocking at the door.  In short, when I remember Schubert’s grandest passages, and the unspeakable tenderness of so many of his melodies, it is hard to resist the temptation to cancel all the criticism I have written and to follow Sir George Grove in placing Schubert close to Beethoven.


There are critics, I suppose, prepared to insist that Weber, like Mozart, is a little passe now.  And it is true that no composer, save Mozart, is at once so widely accepted and so seldom heard; for even Bach is more frequently played and less generally praised.  At rare intervals Richter, Levi, or Mottl play his overtures; the pieces for piano and orchestra are occasionally dragged out to display the prowess of a Paderewski or a Sauer; and one or another of the piano sonatas sometimes finds its way into a Popular Concert programme.  But the pieces thus made familiar to the public may be counted on one’s ten fingers; and the operas are scarcely sung at all, though they contain the finest music that Weber wrote.  The composers who have lived since Weber, even if they differed on every other subject and did not agree as to the value of his instrumental music, united to sing a common song in praise of the operas.  Indeed, so enthusiastic were they, that after listening to them anyone who does not know his Weber well may easily experience a certain disappointment on looking carefully for the first time at the scores of “Der Freischuetz,” “Oberon,” and “Euryanthe”; and it is perhaps because they have experienced that disappointment, that some critics whose opinions are worth considering have come to think that a faith in Weber is nothing more than a part of the creed learned by every honest Wagnerite at the Master’s knee.  But it need be nothing so foolish, so baseless If you look, and look rightly, for the right thing in Weber’s music, disappointment is impossible; though I admit that the man who professes to find there the great qualities he finds in Mozart, Beethoven, or any of the giants, must be in a very sad case.  Grandeur, pure beauty, and high expressiveness are alike wanting. 

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Old Scores and New Readings from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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