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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 159 pages of information about Old Scores and New Readings.

ANTON DVORAK

I remember the Philharmonic in its glory one evening, when it had a couple of distinguished foreigners to a kind of musical high tea, very bourgeois, very long and very indigestible.  One of the pair of distinguished foreigners was Mr. Sauer; the other, Dvorak, was the hero of the evening.  Now, whatever one may think of Dvorak the musician, it is impossible to feel anything but sympathy and admiration for Dvorak the man.  His early struggles to overcome the attendant disadvantages of his peasant birth; his unheard-of labours to acquire a mastery of the technique of his art when body and brain were exhausted by the work of earning his daily bread in a very humble capacity; his sickening years of waiting, not for popular recognition merely, but for an opportunity of showing that he had any gifts worthy of being recognised,—­these command the sympathy of all but those happy few who have found life a most delicate feather-bed.  Dvorak has honestly worked for all that has come to him, and the only people who will carp or sneer at him are those who have gained or wish to gain their positions without honest work.  There could be no conjecture wider of the mark than that of his success being due to any charlatan tricks in his music or in his conduct of life.  No composer’s music—­not Bach’s, nor Haydn’s, nor even Mozart’s—­could be a more veracious expression of his inner nature; and if Dvorak’s music is at times odd and whimsical, and persistently wrong-headed and outre through long passages, it does not mean that Dvorak is trying to impress or startle his hearers by doing unusual things, but merely that he himself is odd and whimsical and has his periods of persistent wrong-headedness.  He is Slav in every fibre—­not a pseudo-Slav whose ancestors were or deserved to be whipped out of the temple in Jerusalem.  He has all the Slav’s impetuosity and hot blood, his love of glaring and noisy colour, his love of sheer beauty of a certain limited kind, and—­alas!—­his unfailing brainlessness.  His impetuosity and hot blood are manifested in his frequent furious rhythms and the abrupt changes in those rhythms; his love of colour in the quality of his instrumentation, with its incessant contrasts and use of the drums, cymbals, and triangle; his sense of beauty in the terribly weird splendour of his pictures, and its limitations in his rare achievement of anything fine when once he passes out of the region of the weird and terrible; his brainlessness in his inability to appreciate the value of a strong sinewy theme, in the lack of proportion between the different movements of his works and between the sections of the movements, and, perhaps more than in any other way, in his unhappy choice of subjects for vocal works.  One stands amazed before the spectacle of the man who made that prodigious success with the awful legend of “The Spectre’s Bride” coming forward, smiling in childlike confidence, with “Saint

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