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.
it, he wanted something to save him from despair.  That something he found in pessimism.  In his younger days—­indeed until near the last—­he forgot all about it in his hours of inspiration, and worked for no end, but for the sheer joy of working.  But towards the end of his life, when his inspiration came seldomer and with less power, he worked more and more for the victory, and became wholly pessimistic, throwing away his weapons, and hiding behind self-renunciation as behind a shield.  He won a victory more brilliant than ever Napoleon or Wellington or Moltke won; and in the eyes of all men he seemed a great general.  But life had terrified him; he had trembled before Wotan’s—­or Christ’s—­spear; in his heart of hearts he knew himself a beaten man; and he wrote “Parsifal.”


To Bayreuth again, through dirty, dusty, nasty-smelling, unromantic Germany, along the banks of that shabby—­genteel river known as the Rhine, watching at every railway station the wondrously bulky haus-fraus who stir such deep emotions in the sentimental German heart; noting how the disease of militarism has eaten so deeply into German life that each railway official is a mere steam-engine, supplied by the State with fuel in case he should some day be needed; eating the badly and dirtily cooked German food,—­how familiar it all seems when one does it a second time!  One week in Bayreuth was the length of my stay in 1896; yet I seem to have spent a great part of my younger days here.  The theatre is my familiar friend in whom I never trust; the ditch called the river has many associations, pleasant and other; I go up past the theatre into the wood as to a favourite haunt of old time; I lunch under the trees and watch the caterpillars drop into my soup as though that were the commonest thing in the world; I wander into the theatre and feel more at home than ever I do at Covent Garden; I listen to the bad—­but it is not yet time for detailed criticism.  All I mean is, that the novelty of Bayreuth, like the novelty of any other small lifeless German town, disappears on a second visit; that though the charm of the wood, of the trumpet calls at the theatre, of the greasy German food, and the primitive German sanitary arrangements, remains, it is a charm that has already worn very thin, and needs the carefullest of handling to preserve.  Whether, without some especial inducement, the average mortal can survive Bayreuth a third time, is, to me, hardly a question.  As for my poor self, it suits me admirably—­certainly I could stand Bayreuth half a dozen times.  I like the life—­the way in which the hours of the day revolve round the evening performance, the real idleness, passivity, combined with an appearance of energy and activity; I like to get warm by climbing the hill and then to sit down and cool myself by drinking lager from a huge pot with a pewter lid, dreamily speculating the while on the possibility of my ever growing as

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