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.
they return without hesitation or sense of inconsistency to their favourite modes of gambling; having revelled in the most lovely music in the world, they proceed to listen nightly to the ugliest and silliest music in the world.  Their appreciation of Bayreuth is a sham; they would cheerfully go elsewhere—­say to Homburg—­if Bayreuth were shut up; and before long they will go to Homburg or elsewhere, whether Bayreuth is shut up or not.


It is not an exaggeration to say that probably there are not a dozen musicians in Europe who have formed any precise and final opinion as to where Brahms should be placed.  One gets to know him very slowly.  His appearance and manner (so to speak), so extremely dignified, are very much in his favour; but when one tries to get to terms of intimacy with him he has a fatal trick of repelling one by that “austerity” or chilliness of which we have heard so much.  And the worst of it is that too frequently a sharp suspicion strikes one that there is little behind that austere manner—­that his reticence does not so much imply matter held in reserve as an absence of matter.  I do not mean by this that Brahms was a paradoxical fool who was clever enough to hold his tongue lest he was found out, nor even that he purposely veiled his lack of meaning.  On the contrary, a composer who wished more devoutly to be sincere never put pen to paper.  But he had not the intellect of an antelope; and he took up in all honesty a role for which he had only the slightest qualification.  The true Brahms, the Brahms who does not deceive himself, is the Brahms you find in many of the songs, in some of the piano and chamber music, in the smaller movements of his symphonies, and in certain passages of his overtures; and I have no hesitation whatever in asserting (though the opinion is subject to revision) that his songs are much the most satisfactory things he did.  Here, unweighted by a heavy sense of a mission, he either revels in making beautiful—­though never supremely beautiful—­tunes for their own sake, or he actually expresses with beauty and considerable fidelity certain definite emotions.  Had he written nothing but such small things—­songs, piano pieces, Allegrettos like that in the D symphony—­his position might be a degree lower in the estimation of dull Academics who don’t count, but he would be accepted at something like his true value by the whole world, and the whole world would be the better for oftener hearing many lovely things.  But merely to be a singer of wonderful songs was not sufficient for Brahms:  he wanted to be a great poet, a new Beethoven.  It was a legitimate ambition.  The kind of music Brahms really loved was the kind of which Beethoven’s is the most splendid example; and he wanted to create more of the same kind.  He doubtless thought he could; in his early days Robert Schumann predicted that he would; and in his later days his intimate friend Hanslick and a small herd

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