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.
Ludmila,” which was so awful in another fashion.  And then, as if not content with nearly ruining his reputation by that deadly blow, he must needs follow up “Saint Ludmila” with the dreariest, dullest, most poverty-stricken Requiem ever written by a musician with any gift of genuine invention.  These mistakes might indicate mere want of tact did not the qualities of Dvorak’s music show them to be the result of sheer want of intellect; and if the defects of his music are held by some to be intentional beauties, no such claim can be set up for the opinions on music which he has on various occasions confided to the ubiquitous interviewer.  The Slav is an interesting creature, and his music is interesting, not because he is higher than the Western man, but because he is different, and, if anything, lower, with a considerable touch of the savage.  When Dvorak is himself, and does not pass outside the boundaries within which he can breathe freely, he produces results so genuine and powerful that one might easily mistake him for a great musician; but when he competes with Beethoven or Handel or Haydn, we at once realise that he is not expressing what he really feels, but what he thinks he should feel, that he is not at his ease, and that our native men can beat him clean out of the field.  To be sure, they can at times be as dull as he, but that is when they forget the lesson they should before now have learnt from him, when they leave the field in which they work with real enjoyment and produce results which may be enjoyed.


A very little while since, Tschaikowsky was little more than a name in England.  He had visited us some two or three times, and it was generally believed that he composed; but he had not written any piece without which no orchestral programme could be considered complete, and the mere suggestion that his place might possibly be far above Gounod would certainly have been received with open derision.  However, when his fame became great and spread wide on the Continent, he became so important a man in the eyes of English musicians that Cambridge University thought fit to honour itself by offering him an honorary musical degree.  Tschaikowsky, simple soul, good-humouredly accepted it, apparently in entire ignorance of the estimation in which such cheap decorations are held in this country; and it is to be hoped that before his death he obtained a hearing in Russia for the Cambridge professor’s music.  The incident, comical as it appeared to those of us who knew the value of musical degrees, the means by which they are obtained, and the reasons for which they are conferred, yet served a useful purpose by calling public attention to the fact that there was living a man who had written music that was fresh, a trifle strange perhaps, but full of vitality, and containing a new throb, a new thrill.  Since 1893 his reputation has steadily grown, but in

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