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The Legacy of the Century

The Evolution of Music from the Italian Standpoint

by Pietro Mascagni, Century Library of Music 16, 1901

This article was originally published as Il testamento del secolo: Evoluzione della Musica., Cronaca Musicale, Milan, 15 March, 1900, as an address given at the Teatro Goldoni in Venice.

The English edition presented here was published in The Century Library of Music 16: 517-540. New York, 1901, and later in the International Library of Music for Home and Studio, vol. 2. New York: The University Society, 1925. Pages 441-463.

The Dance of the Muses. By E. Froment.

At the mere thought of my broad and varied field a spontaneous enthusiasm incites me to the expression of ideas that have long tenaciously beset me — ideas by which I guide myself in that infinite realm of art wherein the soul vainly seeks peace and rest. I shall be sincere, but it is not my aim to diffuse dissatisfaction.

Let us consider the matter. " The Legacy of the Century" is the gift of the dying age to a new era, with no indication whatever as to whether we stand face to face with the dead or with the heir. I firmly believe that the new century will accept the inheritance of its predecessor in bulk and without reserve, because, as a whole, it is by no means a bad one. But if we of the new school (so called) desire to draw up an inventory of the bequest, how should we proceed? May we not be taxed with having sought to squander the patrimony of our grandparents, of our ancestors — treasures of rarest worth, resplendent with gems of " purest ray serene "? Happily, our guide into the new century is our great-grandfather Giuseppe Verdi; he holds us by the hand: our inheritance is safe.

Rossini And Verdi The Unbroken Line Of Genius Through The Century

I look back, and to my searching gaze appears a vision of clearest light; one single line, unbroken, scarcely knotted, midway, by the impact of genius, encircles the nineteenth century. Rossini, Verdi: behold the symbolic vision of the century of melody, and beneath it, beneath that luminous heaven, see how numerous the other names of genius, how marked a continuity in the evolution of music.

I purpose to deal with our Italian art, especially the art melo-dramatic, neglecting nothing cognate to the general evolution of music, but giving prominence to the Italian melo-drama which in the nineteenth century has been the lever of all musical activity. I cannot imagine an Italian musician that is not a writer of melo-dramatic music; the blood of the symphonists courses not in his veins, but the need of producing melo-drama impresses me as natural, as imperative, to any composer born under our fair skies. There can be but two kinds of music, melo-dramatic and symphonic. Chamber-music always belongs to one sort or to the other; the romance, the duet, the quartet, slender though the tie may be, can never be isolated from the parent root; and as in the trio and in the quartet one encounters the forms and developments of the classic symphony, so one always finds in the romance and in the duet the germ of melo-drama. The construction of the symphony involves few ideas connected and developed by science; the melo-drama, on the other hand, requires many ideas and little science. One readily comprehends why the Italian, by his geniality and volubility, should naturally incline to melo-drama. No one will deny that Italians have always had an abundance of ideas.

From the painting by George Frederick Watts.

These two radical characteristics of musical composition appear in accordance with the character of each several nation. The Latin races, in general, neglect and despise science in art; the Northern and Teutonic races make science the basis of art.

The nineteenth century has beheld the efflorescence of a new musical culture in Northern lands; it has christened and confirmed Russian, Swedish, and Norwegian composers, but the appearance of these new and valiant champions in the field of music has been greeted by the homage exclusively due to the will and power of science. England, on the other hand, has felt the influence of the French and Italian schools, and has sent forth operas and operettas impressed by the elegance and volubility of the former and the geniality of the latter.

English Music Exotic

A strange country is England, considered from the musical standpoint. She has produced excellent composers, but without ever expressing a distinctly national character in her style of music. The invasion of German, French, and Italian musicians into the wealthy British Isles, undertaken unquestionably rather at the call of the lira sterlina than of the lira musicale, may account for the fact.

I witnessed in London the astounding success of a sort of operetta written by an English composer, who, in a twinkling, had scaled the heights of fame. The composer in reference, encouraged by his triumph, composed a serious melo-drama, a genuine one. Queen Victoria, desiring to have the new work performed in Berlin, wrote a brief note to her grandson, the Emperor William, warmly commending the effort of her favorite composer. One can easily imagine the care and pains with which the new opera was made ready and the importance given the first performance. I had the good fortune to be a spectator. This work met with complete failure.

It seemed to me, as I thought over the case of English musical evolution, that the English musician seeks to force himself beyond the limit of his powers, and that under the influence of foreign maestri to whom he has given hospitality, and encouraged by the success of artists from other lands, who are always admirably received in London, he does not measure his steps. Thus it comes that the music of the English people faces the new century void of any special character and with no definite goal assigned to its unsteady and sinuous course.

The Other Northern Nations Exhibit Well-Defined Schools

On the other hand, the other Northern nations present themselves with strength and compactness and with a definite purpose; they already tread a well-marked path. And why? Because their music takes its origin in their national folk-songs. In Russia, Denmark, Norway, the basis of musical culture is popular melody. I am thoroughly awake to the great influence of folk-song upon the musical development of nations. Music is a universal language; its purpose is to be understood by the people. It must, therefore, be born of the people's feelings, must be people's music.

A distinguished authority, writing in 1765, in the journal " II Caffè," then published in Milan, observed that almost no nation of the world found pleasure in music foreign to it. How much of nationality, how much of popularity, lies in these words! I do not refer to such symphonic or melo-dramatic music as requires for its comprehension a certain intelligence common to all nations. I mean music imbued with popular sentiment, with national spirit; music that, freed from all discipline and formula, aims exclusively at uplifting the hearts of the people; music that must be the foundation, the principle, the affirmation of any school.

I have not time to consider the influence that popular music has had upon the artistic and intellectual evolution of such countries as Scotland, Russia, Denmark, Poland, and Bohemia. The development and progress of that musical culture, always based upon their folk-song, may some day be a potent factor in their artistic development. The theme is admirably suited to bear out the assertion that all principles of music must originate in the spontaneous expression of the people. Pietro Lichtenthal, in his golden dictionary of music, says that if in war-time soldiers were led to battle singing their folk-songs in chorus, victory would be secure. In the soul of every warrior the enthusiasm aroused by the familiar melody would have no limits; national melody would make each man a hero. We recall the ancient Spartans following limping Tyrtæus, the Athenian. In Italy, at least, the monotonous and anti-melodious drums have, in the nineteenth century, been done away with, and a broad and vigorous impulse has been given in our regiments to the bands, which are among the most beautiful and efficient expressions of patriotic, national, and popular feeling.

Italy, Spain, And Hungary, The Three Countries Where Popular Music Best Flourishes

There are, in Europe, three countries in which popular music flourishes with particular luxuriance: Italy, Spain, and Hungary. The three differ from each other in respect to manners and customs, and one is unlike the other two in point of race, and yet in their people's music there is something that imparts the same attractiveness and awakens the same enthusiasm. Does it lie in the expression, in the rhythm? I know not; but I do know that the music of each is born of the same feeling.

Drawn by Robert Blum.

Italian Music

I was in Venice a few years ago. The weather was lovely, the skies were glorious, the laguna was fraught with ineffable charm. I was to depart by the evening train; a gondola awaited me on the Canal Grande, in front of the Grand Hotel. I hastily bade farewell to a few friends, for I wished to be alone. I felt, I know not why, strangely impressed. Perhaps I was grieved at leaving all this enchantment of art and nature. The gondola glided noiselessly over the middle waters of the Canal Grande, whose exquisite airy walls gradually passed from my ecstatic vision. The moon diffused its white and misty light, bestowing new colors and new shapes upon the dark waves and their marvelous surroundings. The cadence of the oar marked every instant of delight that swept past the heart as the indescribable picture unfolded. A soft harmony, gentle and suave as a caress, fell upon my ear from afar. I listened attentively; yonder, in the Canal Grande, they were singing a popular song, one of those sentimental Venetian melodies that draw their inspiration from the beautiful and amorous eyes of the women of the people. My heart overflowed; I sought about me for some object that should divert my attention, that might quickly arouse me from the ecstasy of body and soul. In vain, in vain! Everything was beautiful and sublime, everything added to my emotion. The sweet song continued; my eyes were full of tears. Oh, fascinating might of popular melody! How thou dost stir the soul to its depths and arouse a sentiment of pain almost physical! I have never escaped it while listening to a canzone of Piedigrotta's, a bolero, or a Tzigane " elegy."

The Potency Of Popular Melody Among Its Own People

Let no one reproach me with my cosmopolitan enthusiasm by quoting an adverse axiom. The feeling that a people displays in its character, its habits, its nature, and thus creates an ever-privileged type of music, may be apprehended by a foreign spirit which has become accustomed to the usages and expressions common to that particular people. But popular music, void of any scientific basis, will always remain incomprehensible to the foreigner who seeks to study it technically. The enjoyment of a people in the music of its own land is, according to my own observation, far superior to that which can be given it by any foreign music. The Venetian canzone and barcarole instantly render the most ferocious Venetian gentle, soft, and kindly, though they would not even attract the attention of a slave-dealer. A Neapolitan melodia may be potent to arrange the marriage of a native pair, though it might pass unnoticed by the watchers of a seraglio. A dulcet Spanish dance has power to dissolve a throng of Spaniards into the abandon of a Southern siesta, but to the 'ears of the Chinese opium-smoker it would remain but a noise.

Drawn by Joseph Pennell.

Hungarian Music

The effect of Hungarian national and popular music is strange and intense. It may be defined as the gentlest of spasms, as agonizing suavity, as voluptuous pain. To comprehend this clearly one must have been in one of those night taverns of Budapest, when the Tzigane band madly strikes up a patriotic song, or tearfully sighs out a popular elegy. The first violin sings in strange and penetrating accents; the seconds, the violas, the cellos, and the double bass accompany capriciously and fancifully; the clarionet trills; the cymbalon compasses the whole gamut of sound and whirls it madly up and down, welding and completing the characteristic polyphony into a natural and lovely harmony.

From a lithograph published in England in 1828.

Thus the band sadly intones the " Hallgato nota." The few listeners drink no more; they seem to drowse; really, they think, with half-closed eyes, of their ideal; they behold a vision of the loved object, feel the delight of the coveted kiss, the shudder of the fancied embrace. The leader of the band, the first violin, sees, feels, imagines which of the auditors is the most stirred, the most ecstatic; he turns to him when he reaches the cadenza of the elegy and kisses his brow. The listener closes his eyes; perhaps he faints away. The players strike up the csardas with in credible slancio. The listeners are roused; their eyes open wide; their hands clutch the locks of hair about their ears; their bodies are irresistibly convulsed. The music has changed, the scene has shifted, the feeling is transformed for the dance. Oh, the magnificent power of these expressions!

While I was in Budapest with an Italian friend, a Southerner from Bari, we dined at a hotel celebrated for its band. The drawing-room was nearly filled by a distinguished and richly attired throng: the band was tuning its instruments. I observed to my companion: " You will soon be able to determine which are the Hungarians and which the foreigners." My friend, like a true Southerner, silently expressed more by a motion of the head than words could say. The band was sighing forth a mournful chant. We beheld, with surprise, a part of the hearers, who were slowly laying knives and forks upon the table-cloth, almost imperceptibly raising their heads and closing their eyes in ecstatic sensuous indolence, while the remainder of the guests tranquilly and indifferently continued their repast. My friend understood at once; touching my elbow and smiling, he asked: "What, you? Are you, too, perchance a Hungarian?" He was right; the sweetness of the strains had overcome me also. When, according to usage, the youngest of the band walked around the dining-room to take up the collection, which constitutes the only salary of Tzigane musicians, in gratitude for the heavenly delight given me I offered something more than the usual fee. To my surprise, the Tzigane withdrew the plate and would take nothing. A waiter, acting as interpreter, explained the motive of his refusal. " We cannot accept anything from a colleague." How happy I felt over the title conferred on me with so much sincerity by the generous Tzigane! My bosom swelled with pride. Would to heaven I could find the rare song, could create the phenix-like melody that could, like popular Hungarian music, conjure such triumphs of enthusiasm! But I awoke to a sad disillusion. The Tzigane had used the word " colleague" in its closest, narrowest sense. A few nights previous he had beheld me, in a tavern, blindly whirled along in the vortex of a maddening csardas, snatch the violin from a musician and join furiously, despairingly, in the performance of music that has, in truth, been familiar to me since early childhood.

Must not popular and national melody of such strength and potency have tremendous influence upon the development and evolution of music?

I confess, however, that this germ which could produce other and far more savory fruit has been too little cultivated. Hungary, compared with Spain and Italy, has received most from its popular melodies, inasmuch as the national Hungarian opera, first created in the nineteenth century, — to be precise, by Ruzsieska, in 1826, — may be said to be the genuine outcome of folk-music. Erkel, the most celebrated Hungarian composer of the age, and regarded in his native land as the true creator of the national opera, has even employed in his works popular instruments such as the cymbalon and the tilinko, the latter a sort of piffero. I do not think I am wrong in asserting Erkel to be the most celebrated Hungarian composer of the century. Hungary has given other illustrious musicians, such as Hummel, Heller, Liszt, and Goldmark, but none of these is a national composer. It is impossible to find any influence of race or land in Heller's music, or, if we except the adagio of the " Sonata in A Flat," anything of genuine Hungarian character in Hummel's compositions. Goldmark discloses only the characteristics of the German school, and Liszt himself, in spite of the famous Hungarian rhapsodies, cannot, in my opinion, be included in the array of national Hungarian composers. Nor will his less celebrated and familiar efforts, such as " Le Carnaval de Pesth," " The Legend of St. Elizabeth of Hungary," or the symphonic poem, " Hungary," admit Liszt into the national Hungarian school. Without attempting a critical study of the genre of his music, and speaking of the evolution of art and its necessary influences only, I must ask how it comes that Liszt has had no influence upon the musical evolution of his country, or, I might add, upon that of any other nation? What trace has his music left in the history of art? What mile-stones has his art erected on the long road the musician traversed? I see nothing. There remains of Liszt the fascinating echo of the exceptional, well-nigh incredible executant. It may be said of Liszt, in the words of Albert Soubiès, that " he belonged to no school and held in art a unique position." By a courteous concession to the author of the " History of Music," he may be proclaimed a génie à part — a separate and isolated genius; but this does not make me discover in Liszt — it rather implies the reverse — any element of influence upon the musical evolution of the century. His Hungarian rhapsodies are nothing but artful acrobatism gyrating around original Hungarian themes which completely lose their character in the composer's skilful paraphrases. When one has once heard this music performed in its original form one can never adapt it to the oleographic paraphrases of Liszt.

Per contra, how admirably has Brahms known how to preserve the genuine national character of his Hungarian dances, and what a monument of perfect reproduction is offered by Berlioz in the superb Rakoczy march in " The Damnation of Faust," that imperishable national march which Hungarian patriotic spirit and the imagination of the people made a woman sing as she traversed Hungary to awake the populace and summon it to the rescue, to the redemption, of their land! But Brahms and Berlioz were not two separate geniuses; they were men of real and authentic genius who brought an incalculable contribution to the musical evolution of the century. Isolated and barren genius is inadmissible; genius, if it be genius, naturally and unconsciously finds the light not only in the shape of works that spontaneously germinate from its seed, but through the influence which these works themselves diffuse in an art epoch which, as the result of the evolution of genius, becomes historical.

Scientific Music Not Fruitful

A distinction might, perhaps, be made: admit that artistic evolution implies a technical progress for which no genius is required, but merely a studious musician skilled in writing canons. I mention this distinction because nowadays one beholds a great many learned men, exalted in high positions and greatly honored, who would persuade people that art can be manufactured by scientific dogma. Poor visionaries! These very dogmas, these canons that are your sole means of creation, have been dug out of and scraped off from true works of art. No theory has ever been invented that can create art; but art in its development, in its evolutions, its new creations, produces the new theories that you, step by step, exhume and scratch off. You contribute to history your studies of art works, analyses, coördinations, lists of recovered formulas, but to art itself you tender nothing. Genius has been the sole donor to art and to history.

From an amateur photograph lent by Mr. Adolph Goldmark of New York.

Hungary Possesses A National Opera, But Is Threatened By German Influence

The nineteenth century has witnessed the dawn of Hungarian opera, which has undergone a notable evolution through the efforts of the composers Ruzsieska, Erkel, the brothers Doppler, Albert, François, and others, down to Mosounyi, who may justly be cited as the most faithful interpreter of popular Hungarian sentiment. I recall the fact that many foreign composers have found inspiration in popular and national Hungarian music. The magical influence exercised upon the souls of artists by this characteristic music may, when it is more generally studied and cultivated, bear unexpected fruit. The balance-sheet of the century in Hungary, however, does not arouse much hope. German influence begins to exert itself even in that broad and typical land, and Conductor Mikalovich, the present director of the Budapest Opera House, represents, perhaps, the great danger menacing national Hungarian music. May the evil omen be averted! May strong and noble Hungary decisively cut itself away from all foreign schools and affirm itself anew in its glorious national music!

Foreign Art Cannot Be Grafted Upon A Country

I have written at length of Hungary, while I have been brief in dealing with Spain and Italy. It is not sufficient for the national character of a country to raise a bolero or a siciliana to the dignity of a recognized poem in order to establish the influence of popular music in the evolution of art — I refer to periods preceding the nineteenth century; otherwise, what could be said of the polacca, which in its season of popularity invaded even Germany, France, and Italy? The history of art awaits far different fruits from the influence of national music. Nothing is more useless to the artistic evolution of a country than foreign influence. In so far as genius imposes itself upon the whole world, it is true that art has no country; but the production congenial to one country, informed with its personal and natural character and bearing the stamp of its origin and race, will always exercise a negative influence upon a land foreign to it. Such lands will submit to its potency with effort and reluctance. I do not admit that grafting can be practised in art. Each nation must progress and develop itself through its own forces and germinate from its own seed.

Music In Spain

I deplore the ill-prepared and disjointed conditions which England presents to the new century, and, similarly, I observe that Spain has submitted to the absolute dominion of Italian music during the entire nineteenth century, giving no sign of a desire to shake off the yoke or to gather strength for freedom in the memories of her glorious musical past. In the words of Albert Soubiès, " her once vigorous national art which formerly produced masterpieces has been replaced by a superficial and conventional Italianism." I see no reason to be proud of this Italian invasion. I have already proclaimed Rossini to be the most celebrated man in Europe, from Naples to St. Petersburg. In Spain his influence was so great that he found imitators even among the composers of church music. While his incursion never took very deep root, we find few indications during the nineteenth century of the return of Spanish music to its national color, and these consist exclusively of works of buffo character. The apathy of Spain is quite incomprehensible in view of the glorious past of her national music. Even as we must inscribe a few names on the credit side of England's balance-sheet (I include among them that of Mackenzie, a Scotchman), names that do honor to the art of their native land and will have no slight influence upon the development of its national music, so I am glad to place upon the credit side of Spain's account the name of Pedrell. Pedrell has been almost alone in point of influence upon the evolution of music in Spain, but he stands well prepared, well schooled, and self-reliant. His spirit is wholly national, and he does battle for the complete artistic redemption of his country. I can only express my sincere and reverent feelings of admiration for his noble work, without foreshadowing what fruits his sacred campaign may bear. I can, however, speak of his preparation and of the music he purposes to employ to attain the ideal he has set himself.

On The Northern School

But here a digression, and not too brief a one, is apposite. At the beginning of this paper, referring to Northern musicians, I observed that their achievements had been greeted with the exalted honors due to science. I have been perhaps too absolute and too sweeping in my statement, for throngs of listeners have had opportunities to admire the genial and melodious compositions of Tschaikowsky, Grieg, and Rubinstein. The uncompromising character of my opinion is, however, strengthened as to the opinion itself. I did not speak with reference to a special case. I intended to embrace a whole art system that, from my point of view, is appreciable only for its theoretico-scientific qualities. Here again I make use of an odious term, " art system," as though artistic production could be subordinated to a system — to a series of formulas; yet, speaking of Northern music, the term impresses me as fitting. Be it as it may, it came to me spontaneously.

Celebrated bass-baritone (1800-1876). Sang with Grisi, Rubini, and Lablache at the Theatre Italien, Paris, during 1831-42.

I except Norway, with Svendsen, a pure and masterly symphonist; and Grieg, the suave, amorous poet, the eternal singer of the soft language of his fatherland. I except Denmark, with Hartmann and Gade. I come to Russia, which, abandoning whatever influence might be exerted by the Polish music of Eisner, Kurpinsky, and Glinka, during the nineteenth century founded the "new school" with the composers Cui and Balakirew.

The New Russian School

I revere Russian music when it is the expression of national sentiment — when its vibrant and expansive accents penetrate my heart and seek its most responsive fiber. Then I feel that this music has something to express. But what place can Russian music (and there is much of it) hope to occupy when desperately void of all ideal or inspiration?

A famous Italian tenor (1795-1854), Director of Singing In Russia. From a French lithograph.

It may be argued that it is well written, but this convinces me the more that it is utterly useless and, therefore, harmful to the artistic development of its native land. I am certain that the young Russian school has had from its origin that defect the reverse of which would have been its greatest merit — complete preparation. The new school entered the lists armed cap-a-pie with formulated dogmas, canons, systems, and perhaps even weights and measures.

I recently attended the concert of Russian music given in Rome, under the conductorship of the director of the Conservatory of Music of Moscow. I except from the program a symphony of Tschaikowsky and a movement of a quartet of Rubinstein. Despite my uncompromising views, I admit the existence of exceptions, and how eloquent were the exceptions in this instance! But during the remainder of the program the most recondite and extravagant harmonic and polyphonic combinations succeeded one another without rest, without a ray of light. Every instrument was used in the strangest positions, to bring forth tones least familiar, the intervals least frequent, the modulations least in use. It was a very pandemonium of sounds, now fearfully acute and again bellowing in the depths of madly plunging dissonances and wildly distorted rhythms. All this was fashioned with art, with great art, but with that studied astuteness that gives to art, in Italian, the name of artifice. Let us admire and praise this artifice. But where is the ideal, where the inspiration, where the strength of influence upon the artistic awakening? It has been said that the young Russian school was founded on an independent basis, without puerile regulations, and with full freedom for its composers to choose and follow their own paths, while always keeping in view a goal where all were to meet to establish a new objective point, and then continue their individual advance. The idea is a graceful and seductive one; but we wonder whether in their progress somebody has not lost his reckoning. The new Russian school, in my opinion, is imbued with all the evils of technic and science — evils which, in its abundant productiveness, it keeps on developing to exaggeration and excess.

It is easy to talk of choosing the path of one's preference; but following such a path implies advance, unless we are to find the last stage of the journey, the final ideal to be attained, at the limits of the technical and mechanical methods that the Russian school apparently wishes to master. If so, let her give over this forced march; whether she reaches the goal set, or not, her progress will mark no point of importance in the intellectual evolution of the nations. Far different is the ideal which Russian music, possessed of much natural strength in itself, in its people, in the glory of its past, must finally attain. And if the limit assigned it by its own desire appears too close, let the gaze extend beyond the slender boundary line and behold the deep oases that attract the far-reaching and luminous vision. Let the mind recur to its true goal, its final stage; at the sight of the splendid vision of life and serenity which awaits it, let not the soul sink in despair; let it break forth in a spontaneous, irresistible aspiration toward the sublime ideal. A pale and gentle presence stands silent and sorrowful in the midst of the iridescent oasis. It is Chopin — Chopin, the great poet of music, the most lyrical of the lyrists of the century, as Sanzacchi has said. Hush! He sings — sings the woes of his oppressed Poland, though he seems to sing the sorrows of all suffering lands and all bleeding hearts. Chopin! Chopin! What a guide for the new school! what a future! what an aspiration! In Chopin's name I embody the evolution, the redemption, of Russian music. I trust that the first period of the existence of the new school will have for its sole object the extirpation of all foreign influence upon the nation. Russia can, and must, aspire to a great musical future.

Spanish Music, Like Russian, Too Labored

Here I bring to a close this long digression, with the preconceived idea of wondering whether Pedrell did not appear in the arena armed with weapons identical with those of the new Russian school. In all his admirable esthetic studies Pedrell distinctly reveals a strong sympathy for the theories of the young Russians. Like them, he aims with great energy at emancipating his country from foreign influence. But one must remark that if foreign, and especially Italian, influences only retarded in Russia (perhaps by exacting it) the birth of a national art, which was still groping in the obscure conscience of the nation and had not yet issued from the prehistoric limbo, the same influence in Spain reduced to submission — literally put to sleep — the national art once so proud and great. Hence the double merit of Pedrell if he succeeds in the task he has set himself.

Soubiès, who has written intelligently and industriously of the music of the different countries, offers a characteristic comparison between Pedrell and the new Russian school. He thinks that Pedrell follows César Cui, one of the founders of the new Russian school, in his reservation in respect to Wagner. Pedrell would have what is sung by the characters on the stage well in the foreground, not covered by the orchestra and eclipsed by the complicated polyphony of the instrumentation. As to the leit-motif, he accepts it, but not without resorting to all kinds of precautions and restrictions. Wagner has composed the German lyric drama; Russia, declining to Germanize itself, seeks, above all, to be Russian. Even so, Pedrell, in the presence of the German masterpieces, sustains the rights of the Southern races. Face to face with the works of the artists of the North, he invokes the names of Calderon and Lope de Vega.

These are fine words, unquestionably, but to me they appear as so many systems that can add no power to the influence that should agitate an artistic evolution impelled solely by the breath of a creative and innovating spirit. May the genius of art assist Pedrell! Musical Spain to-day awaits everything from him. Happy am I to send him a greeting from that fair Venice that was first to listen to " The Pyrenees," with which Pedrell has endeavored to realize the ideal of his esthetic study, of his protracted aspiration.

Italian Sacred Music

I have not yet reached the kernel of my subject. A special episode in the evolution of music claims consideration. I cannot neglect nor hint incidentally at the evolution of sacred music. I shall not ask why Italy has had but few and barren examples of great performances of the classic oratorios of celebrated composers when during the entire century Germany and England have admired them. In reaching the logical conclusion I purpose to establish, I shall deal exclusively with Italy itself, which offers a remarkable and characteristic example of evolution.

Sacred music has been treated in Italy, during almost the entire century, with general and unpardonable neglect. Despite the influence of Cherubini, even his contemporaries began to write church music that savored too much of the theater. Perhaps the faithful may have derived enjoyment and religion may have profited; but the error grew to such proportions that the temples of God often sank below the plane of the lowest and most trivial playhouses.

Pacini himself, Mercadante even, could not stem the tide. A few glimpses of clearing skies followed those lightning-flashes of genius — Rossini's " Stabat Mater " and his Mass. But the foundation of the religious music of the period was theatrical. Rossini, perhaps, felt this with the intuition of his great mind, when, on the last page of his Mass, he asks of the Buon Dio whether his music was sacred or damned, words that in French constitute a witty bisticcio, one of those "final conceits" to which Rossini cheerfully sacrificed even his " Petite Messe."

What, I may be asked, do I understand by the term " sacred music." Music, I reply, which satisfies the requirements of Lichtenthal:

" First: The Cantilena or Melody should be simple and dignified in a high degree, free from all frivolous motion (rhythm). Its character, be it gay or sad, should always be noble; hence the forms peculiar to dance music should be avoided.

" Second: The Harmony should be so chosen as to produce the effect of solemnity, grandeur, and simplicity. Rapid and startling transitions, marked digressions, should occur only where the text expresses strong contrast. The legato style is preferable, because, while possessing most importance and variety, it serves at the same time to express the sublime, which must have the first place in sacred music. Choruses and numbers for several voices acquire much greater impressiveness when the counterpoint, of which the fugue is the capital portion, is adequately handled.

" Third: The Song, besides being simple, should contain no difficult or far-fetched passages, nor vain and useless ornaments.

" Fourth: The Instrumentation should bear a due proportion to the character of church music; for the gay, brilliant orchestration; for the serious and sad, less lively measures."

The quotation is somewhat long, but it is the foundation for my whole argument. Observe, for the sort of music intended for the admiration and praise of the omnipotence and goodness of God, as Lichtenthal defines sacred music, are needed all the things which on the surface appear to be formulas and systems, but which are really esthetic indications of an ideal sentiment. When he speaks of melody and of the style suited to the expression of the sublime, which in sacred music must have first place, there is no system in question; we are clearly in the domain of genial creativeness. Since in the class of sacred music to which I first referred there is nothing of sublimity, either in the style or melody, and as we find ourselves in its form at the very antipodes of the esthetic ideas of Lichtenthal, in which I concur, I must pitilessly condemn the whole production, as hurtful as it is enormous, that has marked the finest part of the nineteenth century. And let it not be thought that the morbid influence of this sort of music has completely exhausted itself in Italy. If in some provinces it has weakened, in others it still proudly wields power, and it is painful to concede that in some ecclesiastical institutions connected with the government the sacred cabaletta1 still reigns.

1 "A song in rondo form, with variations, often having an accompaniment in triplets, intended to imitate the galloping of a horse."

In 1888, when I was maestro at Cerignola, I was summoned to try a new church organ. I went to the place at night; the church was closed to the public and dimly lighted with a few wax tapers set in old discarded candelabra, placed on sundry impedimenta to prevent my breaking a limb in my progress. Equipped with the contract and the detailed description of the instrument I was to test, I climbed into the organ-loft, accompanied by the blower and the builder of the organ. The builder was somewhat excited. He never wearied of telling me that he had added a stop to the number agreed upon, and that there were four reeds more than the contract called for; and he explained the matter with a wealth of gesture and such an expenditure of melted wax from the taper in his hand that I bore home the most unpleasant of impressions, represented by numerous spots on my poor garments. The tone of his voice, too, astonished me; he shouted like a maniac when he assured me that he had made sacrifices innumerable out of deference to his most reverend patrons. All of a sudden he said to me, in a whisper, that he would not forget me if my report were to his complete satisfaction.

From a painting by Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

I was beginning to understand, but meanwhile my mind was turning from material and mechanical considerations. Perhaps it was the surroundings, new to me, in the soft, religious light; perhaps the darkness that weirdly enlarged the arches and made prominent in the gloom many golden, glittering objects; perhaps the ever-lighted lamps that burned more than dimly before the high altar; perhaps the scene as a whole as beheld from the organ-loft: the fact remains that a feeling of soft, devout contemplation had stolen into my heart. Almost unconscious of what I was doing, I seated myself at the organ, drew out the principal stops, and began to prelude, with my thoughts still beset by celestial visions. I know not, and knew not then, what I played. Perhaps I followed, without overtaking it, an idea that then appeared, for the first time, on the horizon of my mind; perhaps my fingers pursued it in its meandering, unending course. I improvised — I dreamed. I was aroused by a sonorous barytone voice; it was that of a handsome, stout, and jovial chaplain, who had ascended to tell me that what I was playing was tedious and put people to sleep, and that something lively was expected of me, something from an opera or operetta. Confound it! The worthy reverend had issued invitations; there was a throng of intelligent people below; no need of boring them! The dream, the vision, vanished as by enchantment. Reality in its limpid clearness entered my mind. The jovial chaplain had been too kind; he might have added that, while I was paid to try the organ, I was especially engaged to entertain the guests I turned mechanically toward the builder, who stood transfixed at my right, taper in hand, anxiously awaiting the moment when, at a sign from me, he should loose all the forces of his instrument. His expression was that of a man under sentence of death; his face was pallid, his eyes and lips were tremulously suppliant; his hand was dripping with wax, and his brow damp with perspiration. I took pity on the poor devil, who, as soon as the chaplain disappeared down the little stairway, said to me with tears in his voice, " You are ruining me!"

He was right. Away with the dreams, away with the visions; out with the stops, the clarionet, the octave flute, the cornet, the bombarda, the bells; let loose the delights of the joyous, shrill, and sonorous voices, and all the powers of the mighty fabric! " There are still the cymbals and the big drum," suggested the builder. Capital! Excellent! Hurrah for the tempest of sound!

The trial was a magnificent success for the organ, and also for myself. How ashamed I felt when I descended the stairs, followed by the enthusiastic builder, and when the good priests marveled at my skill and, deeply moved, thanked me! On the plea of being overheated, I turned up the collar of my coat as high as possible, and blessed the gloom that concealed my crimson blushes. One more disconsolate look at the high arches, at the lamp always lighted in front of the Madonna, and I departed, contrite and crushed. I pause at this incident, which amply illustrates to what a depth a class of music that should aspire to sublimity has fallen.

A New School Of Reform In Church Music Not Successful

But the evolution commenced. A few studious youths stood forth with a firm determination to check the sacrilegious invasion, and restore to Italy the splendor of her past glory in sacred music. How grand the cohort which, in serried ranks, gathers under the holy banner! Observe the weapons of combat. Lo, the error — the same error! Drawing their inspiration from the German school of Regensburg, they enter the lists with formulas, canons, and systems; they seek to attain their ideal by means of a revival of liturgic music, of the Gregorian chant and the ecclesiastical modes. What profit shall they derive? Is the evolution, the awakening, the progress of art, brought about by making it retrace its steps, glorious though they may be? No; art always needs new vitality, new force to accomplish its ascent. Art requires the lightning-flash, the flame of creative genius. Let us respect the patrimony of long study and great culture, but hope not for victory without the aid of the spirit of genius. Out from this band of daring spirits no genius wings its upward way, and if some timid trial of wings is essayed, the oppressing weight of theory at once bears them down. Thence it comes that no effort of these young men has achieved aught save the partial destruction of pernicious prejudices which permitted the diffusion of sacred music that ministered too much to profane delight without inspiring the devotion which informs those mysteries of religion that dwell in the temples of God.

From one excess we have fallen into another; from sacred expression fashioned out of motivetti we have passed to the manufacture of counterpoint. I ask not, where is the sublime, for no one would understand me; I inquire only, where is sincerity. Diligent study and extended culture may be proved by ingenious combinations of notes, but these will never convey to us that contemplative and spiritual enjoyment which the interpretation of the sacred mystery should always instil into the souls of the faithful.

Musical expression in its spontaneous interpretation should correspond with the sentiment of the hearer, whether a word or an idea, the human verb or the divine Word, is concerned. Only then does art, the pure and exclusive emanation of genius, exist. Otherwise we have another example of science which has nothing to do with art, and no place whatever in any period of its evolution. The new students have simply offered us an attempt at a fair reproduction of set forms — this, and nothing more. Verdi himself sought to demonstrate the error of the new school of music by freely interpreting the words of the " Stabat Mater " and the " Te Deum " as though to give rise to a musical polemic between barren doctrine and creative genius.

Perosi, The True Genius

The close of the century, however, has brought us a moment really important in the evolution of sacred music. A slight, timid figure has appeared alone, unarmed, to combat for the ideal. He has conquered the soul of the throng by wondering admiration, has thrown down all obstacles, and gathered the palms of victory. What secret weapons aided him? What concealed shield protected him? Who were the invisible heroes that watched over him? He fought unaided with the unbidden might of genius.

From a photograph by Guigoni & Bossi, Milan.

The Respective Influence Of France And Germany And Italy Upon Music

I enter upon the final division of my paper with an examination into the artistic influence on the musical evolution of the century exerted by the three great countries, France, Germany, Italy. The theme would furnish material for ten lectures. But melo-dramatic music will mainly occupy my attention, for melo-drama constitutes the real musical charm of the century. When I said, at the outset of this paper, that I could never imagine an Italian musician who was not a composer of melo-drama, I might have added that all musicians of all nations are subject to the attraction, to the suggestion, of melody. Melo-drama arrived betimes to the waiting army of musicians, vainly panting for an ideal.

Farewell, Symphony! Farewell, Sonata! Farewell, Quartet! All are wiped out in the great dedication to that temple of melo-drama, the theater. From the Rossinian period to the present the influence of theatrical music on symphonic music during the nineteenth century has been enormous. Were there not at hand eloquent exceptions, foremost among which, great and admirable, is Brahms's music, it might be affirmed that no composer who could aspire to melo-drama has composed symphonic works.

A famous bass opera-singer. His most noted part was Leporello in " Don Giovanni." 1794-1858. Drawn from life by F. Sambert. Reproduced from a French lithograph.

Brahms, The Greatest Figure Of The Century In German Music

Brahms, standing alone, represents a whole and glorious epoch of symphonic music. Brahms, in my judgment, is the greatest of the German musicians of the age, and the influence of his work will be imperishable on the future of musical history. Persisting in my impenitent affection for the melo-drama, how can I refrain from deploring that Brahms was never willing to compose anything for the stage? For what hidden reason did he decline to attempt melo-drama, though living in a period that most flourished through music of this genre? Brahms, when handling voices with the orchestra, has furnished us genial, powerful, and perfect creations, of which his celebrated " German Requiem " is the most luminous example. Of vocal compositions of precious quality, he has also brought forth an infinite number. Why, then, his obstinate ostracism of melo-drama? He felt, perhaps, the full individual strength of his genius to be able victoriously to resist the impetuous current which hurried along so many strong men and swept away so many weaklings. Or did he, unconsciously, follow the dictate of some higher power in a secret resolution to behold the classical and purest of eras, inaugurated by Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven, continued and made eternal?

A Review Of Melo-Dramatists

To reach the kernel of my discourse, let us return to the symbolic vision of the school of melody — to that bright and uninterrupted line that, beginning with Rossini, awaited from Verdi the supreme moment of its connection, under garlands of roses, with the new century.

It has been affirmed that the Rossinian melo-drama, the natural root of the great evolution of the century, decisively marked the end of classicism. Be it so. I note the date, and now address myself exclusively to the task of considering the romantic melo-drama, as it has been called in opposition to classic music. This constrains me to neglect the great maestri who, while living in the century of romanticism, have kept intact their faith in the classicism of their fathers. But observe that, because the influence of the romantic drama has been preponderant upon all schools and nations, Germany included, the number of pure symphonists is relatively small. Tschaikowsky, Rubinstein, Raff, Goldmark, Dvorak, D'Indy, and other symphonists, in the fullest sense of the term, have paid their tribute to melo-drama. Not even Richard Strauss has withstood the temptation. Strauss, respected for the style of his instrumental music, appears bent upon reviving the glories of his forebears. The sublime duel between Gluck and Piccini shall not detain me in Paris for an instant, not even to note the first steps of the centennial evolution of dramatic music that received its earliest impulse from these two worthies; that gathered from illustrious legions the continuous and mighty motion which conducted it, ever quickening, to the present period — a motion which now forces it onward, enwrapped in the gloom of the future, in its irresistible and fatal course.

Nor shall I be delayed by the important melo-drama of Mozart, nor be turned from my path by the Neapolitan school, originated by Scarlatti, and developed and exalted by Cimarosa and Paisiello; nor shall my progress be retarded by Cherubini, Spontini, Mayer, Paër, Flotow, Paresi, or Generale; nor by Goldmark, powerful and original; nor by the Czech Smetana; nor shall the musical drama of Weber, the last classical resistance in the domain of the stage, turn me from my purpose; nor even my passion for Schubert and Mendelssohn, gentle and melodious, nor for Schumann, the ever divine.

The heart cannot withstand the memories of all these soft, undying sensations; the mind sways and loses its track. All mental strength weakens and ebbs away in this painful abandonment. I need assistance. Oh, for the supreme vision that shall arouse me from a contemplation that fills me with longing desire — the supreme vision, the ideal, the purpose!

Germany And Italy Contest The Field

The faculty and the potency revive; the supreme vision is disclosed, the struggle between the two great schools, Italy and Germany. France almost disappears in comparison with the two Titanic forces which, in a superbly heroic contest, give to history the most beautiful period of the artistic evolution of the nineteenth century. The struggle today is confined to the two strong races, the German and the Latin, the latter represented by the array of soldiers first led by Rossini and since marshaled by Verdi; the former represented by one combatant — by one man, Wagner. Every other nation, every other school in the present struggle, bows to one or the other of these forces. And it is most regrettable that France should be absent from this Homeric battle of art.

Review Of French Music

France — how many geniuses did the nineteenth century behold rising from her fruitful soil! The glorious light they brought forth is indeed light — sunlight; but in her splendid and glowing course there has been no fecundity, no imparting of fire or warmth, where her planets, in their own splendor, remain motionless and isolated.

France reveals to us an admirable array of the elect, a splendid continuity of purely genial art, but no well-defined movement of evolution. Where are the followers of Berlioz, founder of a school that could be and should be the opulent and coveted inheritance of national art? Berlioz opened to the world the new paths of instrumental music which before his days had never been explored. He is the son of a land that had no symphonists in the eighteenth century. Berlioz is the creator of a new style of composition that is even now much discussed, and still appears too modern. Berlioz is the true genius, misunderstood in his day, and perhaps not understood even in ours. But Berlioz is a genius, and will his work remain barren? I behold already a youthful cohort proudly advancing to do battle in his name. In the valiant group I recognize Messager, D'Indy, Laborne. Courage, brave youths! It is late, but Berlioz's art has lost none of its power.

And Gounod? From the clearness of his sentiment, whence the national spirit is ever soaring, it would seem as though he desired to bring forth a shadow of the art of Weber and Wagner. But where are the fruits of his school? Bizet, too, stands isolated in his country — the great, the mighty Bizet, who has given so much development to the modern Italian musical drama, the victorious course of which has even tempted the Germanic race. And Meyerbeer himself, who, though born in Berlin, must be regarded as a French composer, what effect has he produced upon the musical century beyond exciting admiration for his own power, shown in the progress of instrumentation, and the genial and mighty creativeness that has furnished one of the best exemplars of generative romanticism in the new dramatic music? France, in the nineteenth century, has given a garden to each of her flowers. From Méhul and Auber, from Hérold and Halévy, through Reyer, and Saint-Saëns the worshiper of classicism, one reaches sentimental Massenet and the throng of new youths, a constellation of brilliant and generous minds, but each separated, distinct, and isolated. How great a future might be in store for France if all the richness of her art could have that complete development which has been till now too limited! Its very opulence and exuberance of power constrains it. How great the future of the quickening action of the germs of genius if these had not been scattered, but strewed broadcast, in the nineteenth century!

At the opening of the new century, however, the world takes a passionate interest in the struggle between Italy and Germany only, and France herself offers, in lordly and disinterested fashion, the most favorable battle-field while seeking to renew the epic and memorable war between Gluck and Piccini, who, on the same field, breathed the first breath of life into the great era of dramatic music.

I shall forget Flotow, who, like Meyerbeer, might well be credited to the French school; and Nicolai and Marshner, and the Alsatian Adam, and the Austrian Kienzl, and Reinecke and Max Bruch and Martin Roeder and Humperdinck. I shall forget them all, to dwell upon great and resplendent Wagner.

In the Italian school I shall attempt no elimination; our opera-writers are all equally Italian (I do not include the so-called young school), and form that admirable melo-dramatic world, the luminous poles of which are Rossini and Verdi. A single exception among these Italian musicians should be noted.

Boïto, An Isolated Genius In Modern Italian Music

At the moment of the great efflorescence, the complete ripeness, of Italian melo-drama, conceived and developed by Rossini and enlarged by Bellini, Donizetti, Verdi, and Ponchielli, a young maestro presents himself to public opinion, and it seems as though he would defy, with new forms and new acts of boldness, the tastes and habits of the multitude. Was his opera the spontaneous outcome of his creative genius? was it the fruit of his vast and admirable culture? was it the product of the musical and dramatic reforms of Wagner? The opera failed, the public hurling the wildest imprecations at the rash composer, but the maestro remained calm; faith strengthened his spirit; the vision of the future sustained him. His work, burning with powerful originality, was beheld anew, and resumed its course so suddenly and brutally interrupted. It continued in its path, now freely opened to it, until it won the laurels with which a glorious span of thirty years is crowned. What fair, fallacious hopes were centered in that bold and genial maestro! And art awaited anxiously and long; it still awaits the new opera of Arrigo Boïto.

The Italian School

I have reached the last stage. Before us are the two schools in combat: here Wagner, there Rossini and Verdi, with the legion that has come into existence and grown in their great shadow. I need not give the biography of all our great composers; it would be irreverent to speak of Donizetti, of Bellini, incidentally and laconically. Each of our great masters merits for himself not merely an essay, but whole volumes. The individual genius of those great men that first followed Rossini glowed with the splendor of its own light, but did not depart from a renewed style; rather strengthened this, by a great creative power; amplified, developed, modified it, little by little, naturally, involuntarily, through its own genial creativeness. Thus was born the magnificent and perfect opera; the final outcome of that Italian school of melo-drama which is the fairest artistic page of the nineteenth century.

Hence no more names; the two only nations, the two only schools, that contend with each other, that struggle frantically for — for — for what?

In Italy all is excitement; they write and repeat that Germany is winning from us supremacy in respect to melo-drama; that we have indeed lost it; and some rejoice, and others weep. On one side men deplore the complete exhaustion of Italian genius; on the other the triumph of the German opera is acclaimed. They prate of preponderating influence, of depraved taste, of discarded forms, of progress and decadence, of the past and of the future, of glory and of obscurity. Passions are kindled, the fancy is stimulated; men rack their brains, and the national literature is enriched with strange books, with stranger ideas, and with the strangest of opinions. To what end all this tumult? Wherefore this pandemonium, this obsession? I see nothing beyond the natural movement of an ascending period of the evolution of music. New Italy, the new school, — one must perforce speak of it, — now that it is in the mood, lovingly studies the Wagnerian music-drama. It studies it from the standpoint of form, of the technical progress that it yields, and also, if you will, from the point of view of the whole and perfect musical conception; but in Wagner's music-drama the feeling itself cannot be studied, for the feeling is in the blood of the artist, and in Wagner one cannot study the idea, because in art the idea is the spontaneous and unconscious expression of genius in the act of creation.

From a photograph by Fr. Müller, Munich. Published by Jos. Aibl.

Let us consider Wagner. Born of the germination of Gluck and of that of the first romantic period, he stood forth with all the most manifest signs of the originative influence, and in his first efforts revealed himself a follower of that romanticism which in France had Meyerbeer for its high priest. Wagner was great, but not sincere. Then his disposition and nature led him into other paths, and Wagner gave to his country the melo-dramatic theater. I shall not stop to discuss whether his genius — for Wagner is a real genius — was, in the continuance of his work, sacrificed to systems and programs, nor do I wish to investigate whether in his last work he sought, as it were, to change his belief. I aver that Wagner in making the German lyric drama was sincere.

Shall Italian Music Be Germanized?

Why are we not willing to permit the Italian school to study the new models of melo-drama calmly, and why do we grow weary of proving that the Italian lyric drama must make way for the German opera? Do we seek to convince ourselves that the Italian lyric drama of Rossini, Bellini, and Donizetti has aged in comparison with the new German melo-drama? But does genius grow old? Do the melodies that moved our fathers and grandparents no longer stir us as deeply, even through the medium of that sad and untruthful interpretation that appears to delight in slighting our masterpieces? Do we wish to prove that the great Italian lyric drama has grown old as to form? Then let us put our treasures in safe places; let us remove them from modern profanation; let them be kept intact for future generations, when spirits tired and exhausted by vain Byzantine strife shall seek consolation, rest, and light in true and pure art. If, however, it is form which we would renew, let us allow our youths to study; let us permit them to traverse freely the new period of evolution they themselves have begun. Now they grope, they stumble in the dark, they clutch at things hither and thither. Let us leave them in peace; it is the acute period of the evolution. Who knows but they may give to Italy the melo-drama renewed in form, but in substance and idea ever and sincerely Italian. Verdi lived through the epoch of the evolution, and upon each period left the indelible impress of his genius, but, through all influences, he remained marvelously Italian. In his famous book entitled " Opera and Drama," Wagner wrote that the ancient melo-drama was founded upon an equivocation, because the drama serves for writing the music. I do not quote the phrase with the thought of bringing it into discussion, but only to show that all the movement carried on about Wagner rests on this aphorism. We note more ostentation than sincerity in Italian appreciation of Wagner's music ; and persons that have never comprehended the easiest and most melodious canzonetta have felt the need of understanding at sight all the vast achievements of Wagner, in whose formula they have fancied that they discovered the real cause of their intellectual inferiority. To this day they know nothing of music, but they can grasp, with tolerable facility, the reasons for this or that fragment or prelude, aided in their wearying diligence by a guide, a sort of railway time-table, which has for some time seemed indispensable to the enjoyment of Wagner's operas.

The Mischievous Modern Critic

Poor unfortunates! That which you apprehend and appreciate is but the program of Wagner. Would that it were even the esthetic purpose of his work? The best of Wagner, represented by the whole genial creation, admits of no system; you, perhaps, regret and despise it, being unable to understand it and not finding it mentioned among the stations in your time-table. And this ostentation, this simulation of intelligence and competence, has made possible the unwholesome efflorescence of those musical critics that, with ferocious facility, seek to destroy in an hour's work what has cost the assiduous mind years and years of effort.

Contemporary criticism — what a task it would be to enumerate its blunders! Criticism, in my opinion, can exist after the historic period only, when its duty is much simplified, because the goal has been reached by works only that are sound, vital, and bearing the seal of genius. Weak and false achievements cannot outlive their age. But contemporary criticism in every artistic evolution is always a venomous reptile. The deviation of the artist, the ruin of the mind, the persistence of error, are sometimes due to its influence.

And if the Italian school now advances with uncertain and faltering steps, it is largely attributable to certain pseudo-artists that vainly endeavor to direct its course. Our young musicians would have felt the influence of Wagner's art far differently if they had not been deafened and misled by so many false theories. Let us leave our young writers to think and write in peace. We know not yet whether their performances may not survive and bear to the history of art their share of the worthy part of its evolution. Your work, ye critics, in any case, will always remain unfruitful, for it will never represent aught but your pretentious and not dispassionate personal opinion. Descend from the pulpit and sit ye down on the stool of the reporter. There, at least, you will be sincere and true and of some service to the future.

The appearance which the great struggle between the two great schools presents to me, in the opinion that long ago shaped itself spontaneously in my thoughts, will not coincide with every one's views. No absolute conquest is reserved for one party or for the other, no influence will change the nature of a people, no human power sterilize the root of a national art. The German lyric drama, in its highest ascension, is now victorious. But I do not see how, in the future, it can have development and continuation. Wagner began it, and Wagner completed it. It seems to me impossible to carry it on a different basis and to make it progress by other paths. Its track is too clearly defined. It is alike impossible to follow it or to imitate it. This would be the profanation of opera, the degradation of the type. Wagner accomplished his work and made it perfect. The grandiose period of Wagner's achievement will endure, an everlasting and glorious token of the highest point of the parabola in German dramatic music, which must fatally follow its descending course.

Italian Music Will Progress

Why, on the other hand, does the Italian school now appear overcome, prostrated? Because the great Italian public, blinded by the reforming art of Wagner, no more sees its past glories, and has faith in the pygmies that, scattered and uncertain, are engaged in combat. But Italian art will be born anew; it will live again, strengthened by the influence of the evolutionary period that now witnesses its slavery. Italy awaits her coming genius; and that genius will come. The soul of Giuseppe Verdi awaits him, to tender to him the chain of laurels and flowers that Rossini intrusted to him, and that will stretch through all future ages, to perpetuate the supreme glory of music. This will be the luminous continuation of the work made perfect by our great men. But the perfection of Italian art lies not in form. It lies wholly in ideal creativeness, and every new work that derives its inspiration from this liquid font increases the flow of its invading tide.

Wagnerism The Danger Of Italian Music

I would fain close with this expression of a sincere and roseate wish, but reality summons me. A great peril threatens. The youth of the period have gone astray, and, persisting in the error into which they have been led by evil counsel, will end by completely destroying Italian melo-drama. Disconcerted by criticism and by the fickle taste of the public, assailed in every direction, they have sought salvation by clutching desperately at the Wagnerian formula. But they have grasped it at its weakest point. They have thought: " Wagner reproaches the old opera with having used the drama to make music; this means that we shall use music to make the drama." And, because of their Italian nature and because of the nature of the germ that created them, they can never conceive of composing music such as Wagner has poured forth in his Northern legends. They will exaggerate the formula and use little music to make much drama. I do not discuss the genus, but I say that, keeping up the pace, we may reach the stage when the violin will calmly accompany a sentimental song recited by Eleanora Duse. This will not be wanting in emotion, nor will tears be lacking; but the melo-drama will be missed, and the music and the word, the two sister arts that have been locked in one embrace since the days of ancient Greece, will be parted, and one will be the humble slave of the other. In the presence of such an intensely dramatic and touching scene as that in which William Tell is bidden to shoot the apple from the head of his son, our young composer will find the situation so interesting in itself as to need no added music. A simple roll of the kettle-drums will suffice, instead of which Rossini (how ingenuously!), stirred by the incident, dictated that sublime page, "Jemmy, pense à ta mère!'' that makes one weep even when one hears it sung by a barytone in a black dress-coat and a white tie.

Back to the faith of our fathers, back to the purity of our origin! Let us be Italians once more. Let the new genius, the genius we await, stand forth to marshal us again in the path that leads to all conquests. In the enthusiasm of invocation and of joyful hope the mind pursues an immense vision, that seems an ideal synthesis of our dreams — the vision of a great evolution accomplished in the splendid triumph of our dramatic and our popular music.

Popular Melody The Solution Of Our Enigma

Inspiration and strength! The latter is bestowed with largesse by the production of our great masters; the former flows freely from the songs of our people, the songs that are the pride of our honest and cheerful national instinct, and that we allow to languish and disappear through neglectful desertion. Let us keep intact this art patrimony of the nation; keep it for future generations; keep it to transmit to new ages in the purest and most expressive language the glories of the epoch, the modern story of our redemption, and the glorious narrative of the Italian revival. Oh, how marvelously shall our popular music relate to the youth of the future the enterprises of their grandparents, and how the national and patriotic songs shall carry the pride of the race into the hearts of future nations! How our songs shall express the glad and scornful feelings of so many historical episodes! How our melodramatic stage shall represent the whole heroic drama of the epoch of fable!

Comments, additions, corrections are welcome.