[Illustration: Copyright by Matzene, Chicago. ALBERT SPALDING]
Yet Lieutenant Spalding, despite the arduous demands of his patriotic duties, found time to answer some questions of the writer in the interests of “Violin Mastery” which, representing the views and opinions of so eminent and distinctively American a violinist, cannot fail to interest every lover of the Art. Writing from Rome (Sept. 9, 1918), Lieutenant Spalding modestly said that his answers to the questions asked “will have to be simple and short, because my time is very limited, and then, too, having been out of music for more than a year, I feel it difficult to deal in more than a general way with some of the questions asked.”
“As to ‘Violin Mastery’? To me it means effortless mastery of details; the correlating of them into a perfect whole; the subjecting of them to the expression of an architecture which is music. ‘Violin Mastery’ means technical mastery in every sense of the word. It means a facility which will enable the interpreter to forget difficulties, and to express at once in a language that will seem clear, simple and eloquent, that which in the hands of others appears difficult, obtuse and dull.
MOST IMPORTANT FACTOR IN THE
DEVELOPMENT OF AN ARTIST
“As to the processes, mental and technical, which make an artist? These different processes, mental and technical, are too many, too varied and involved to invite an answer in a short space of time. Suffice it to say that the most important mental process, to my mind, is the development of a perception of beauty. All the perseverance in the study of music, all the application devoted to it, is not worth a tinker’s dam, unless accompanied by this awakening to the perception of beauty. And with regard to the influence of teachers? Since all teachers vary greatly, the student should not limit himself to his own personal masters. The true student of Art should be able to derive benefit and instruction from every beautiful work of Art that he hears or sees; otherwise he will be limited by the technical and mental limitations of his own prejudices and jealousies. One’s greatest difficulties may turn out to be one’s greatest aids in striving toward artistic results. By this I mean that nothing is more fatally pernicious for the true artist than the precocious facility which invites cheap success. Therefore I make the statement that one’s greatest difficulties are one’s greatest facilities.
A LESS DEVELOPED PHASE OF VIOLIN TECHNIC
“In the technical field, the phase of violin technic which is less developed, it seems to me is, in most cases, bowing. One often notes a highly developed left hand technic coupled with a monotonous and oftentimes faulty bowing. The color and variety of a violinist’s art must come largely from his intimate acquaintance with all that can be accomplished by the bow arm. The break or change from a down-bow to an up-bow, or vice versa, should be under such control as to make it perceptible only when it may be desirable to use it for color or accentuation.