WEBER AND WAGNER
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.