“It is accepted by many as a substitute for genuine warmth and it is used as a camouflage to ‘put over’ some very bad art in the shape of poor tone-quality, intonation and general sloppiness of technic. Why, then, has it come into general use during the last twenty-five years? Simply because it is based on the correctly produced human voice. The old players, especially those of the German school, said, and some still say, the vibrato should only be used at the climax of a melody. If we listen to a Sembrich or a Bonci, however, we hear a vibration on every tone. Let us not forget that the violin is a singing instrument and that even Joachim said: ‘We must imitate the human voice,’ This, I think, disposes of the case finally and we must admit that every little boy or girl with a natural vibrato is more correct in that part of his tone-production than many of the great masters of the past. As the Negro pastor said: ‘The world do move!’
“Are ‘mastery of the violin’ and ‘Violin Mastery’ synonymous in my mind? Yes and no: ‘Violin Mastery’ may be taken to mean that technical mastery wherewith one is enabled to perform any work in the entire literature of the instrument with precision, but not necessarily with feeling for its beauty or its emotional content. In this sense, in these days of improved violin pedagogy, such mastery is not uncommon. But ’Violin Mastery’ may also be understood to mean, not merely a cold though flawless technic, but its living, glowing product when used to express the emotions suggested by the music of the masters. This latter kind of violin mastery is rare indeed.
“One who makes technic an end travels light, and should reach his destination more quickly. But he whose goal is music with its thousand-hued beauties, with its call for the exertion of human and spiritual emotion, sets forth on a journey without end. It is plain, however, that this is the only journey worth taking with the violin as a traveling companion. ‘Violin Mastery’, then, means to me technical proficiency used to the highest extent possible, for artistic ends!”
THE MOST IMPORTANT
FACTOR IN THE
DEVELOPMENT OF AN ARTIST
For the duration of the war Albert Spalding the violinist became Albert Spalding the soldier. As First Lieutenant in the Aviation Service, U.S.A., he maintained the ideals of civilization on the Italian front with the same devotion he gave to those of Art in the piping times of peace. As he himself said not so very long ago: “You cannot do two things, and do them properly, at the same time. At the present moment there is more music for me in the factories gloriously grinding out planes and motors than in a symphony of Beethoven. And to-day I would rather run on an office-boy’s errand for my country and do it as well as I can, if it’s to serve my country, than to play successfully a Bach Chaconne; and I would rather hear a well directed battery of American guns blasting the Road of Peace and Victorious Liberty than the combined applause of ten thousand audiences. For it is my conviction that Art has as much at stake in this War as Democracy.”