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compatriots. It has throttled his invention, and compelled his colossal technique to serve its own purposes. A glance at the volumes of marching songs, which he arranged (by Imperial order) for the soldiers, affords the most vivid proof of this slavery to Junkerdom. Where simplicity, cleanness, and clearness of treatment are imperative, there is a seeking after crudity and a crookedness of expression, which in a less-known man would be set down to inexperienced and ignorant technique. To get even the obedient Teutonic rank and file to sing them at all would certainly require the menace of the officers' revolvers.
It is somewhat curious, and it is also a sign of the times, not only that a strain of the old musical sanity still lingers in Germany, but that its isolated exponent is almost snowed under. His works may be few, but their value is a more than equivalent counterpoise to their paucity. Two diamonds are a greater possession than a cartload of stones. Humperdinck provides the only oasis in a desert of cacophony. The 42 cm. shells of his brethren create such a din and stupefy so many with their fumes, that he is, for the moment only, a solitary and almost unnoticed figure. But he loves children, and the purity which appeals to them; and he stands alone, a living protest against the cruelty and barbarity of his country. He may sign as many professorial protests against other nations as he likes; his work belies the tenets to which his signature is set, suggests the pressure applied to secure the support of those of his kidney, and is far less indicative of self-advertisement than the abstention of his noisier colleague. He is a disciple of Wagner, it is true, but of the best in Wagner; the Wagner that knew and appreciated Palestrina, that laid his foundation upon folk-song, the Wagner of the Siegfried Idyll,' of the Meistersinger' and of Parsifal,' not the Wagner of unbridled excitement and sensuality. He writes music and does not confound it with chemistry. It is clean; and that quality, unfortunately, is not the fashion in his country now, any more than it was in the France of 1870. In that, as in many other particulars, the rôle of the two nations has been entirely reversed in the short space of forty years. It is the old story of the demoralisation of the nouveau riche. It explains
how it came about that the possession of a great literature of noble folk-song, which in the Napoleonic troubles and the heroism they compelled found fruit of indigenous and characteristic growth and savour in Körner and in Weber, and in 1870 in Karl Wilhelm and the Wacht am Rhein,' has to turn to England for the melody of Heil dir im Siegeskranz' and to Croatia for that of Deutschland über Alles.'
The war of 1914 has brought about a convulsion in the world of music. The results which will ensue are almost as hard to forecast as those of the Conference which will delimitate the frontiers of Europe. The music-centre of the European nations will, as a dominant factor, cease to count. Financial considerations alone must so cripple Germany that it will for decades to come be unable to preserve its Opera-houses and its Concert Institutions at a sufficient height of efficiency to attract the hosts of students and of music lovers which congregated there. The loss is prodigious, and it must be supplied. The love of the art and the creative incentive of the composer will not cease with the explosion of the last shell. Public taste and public spirit will demand the revival and continuance of the arts of peace. A substitute must be found for the country which has for so long, though of recent years to a smaller extent, been the Mecca of musicians, old and young. It will be a distinct gain in many ways if the land which has been overmanured should be allowed to lie fallow for a time.
crops may be raised on more virgin soil. We have our own to our hand. England at last has the chance of her life; but, if she is to take it, she must break away for good and all from the influences which have for so long strangled her efforts.
Those influences are, first, the inveterate preference shown by the higher ranks of Society for the foreigner, and, next, the equally inveterate and unfounded disbelief in , and consequent discouragement of, its compatriots. Such encouragement as these have got in the past has been, by the irony of fate, not a little owing to the active assistance of the immigrant foreigner. The first champion of recent British music was August Manns, a Prussian bandmaster. The second was Carl Rosa, a
Hamburg violinist. The former did yeoman service for the orchestral composer, the latter for the operatic. Neither got much encouragement from any above the ranks of the middle classes, but they did not take their hands from the plough. Manns made his large public listen to new native works by combining them with attractive and well-known masterpieces, following the policy by which Jullien popularised Beethoven in earlier days. Rosa risked more, for an English opera had to stand by itself; but he believed in the power of this country to produce and to perform, and was rewarded by the success of his ventures as long as he lived to control their destinies. His enthusiasm infected Augustus Harris, who at the time of his early death at the age of forty-four was working hard in the direction of National Opera.
Meanwhile all the pro-foreign influences were hard at work as they had been in the days of Handel, that gigantic trampler upon national aspirations. As George III supported the great Saxon who had overwhelming genius to back him, so successive generations of the leaders of Society carried on the tradition, extending their patronage even down to the preference for foreign musicians for dances and entertainments. The last connexion of the English executant with the State, the King's Band, which was a permanent institution dating back to the reign of Edward IV, was abolished only within the last few years. Its place was taken by Germans, Austrians, and Hungarians; not on account of their superior ability, for the English players were in every respect their masters. When this example was set, smaller fry profited by it, and most London functions followed suit. Even the theatres and music-halls copied the policy of their patrons; and only a few good men and true, such as Irving, stuck by their country. The musical strength of Germany is well known and proved to have been fostered and solidified by the unfailing encouragement and support given without stint by the numerous heads of small states, such as Weimar, Schwerin, Meiningen, as well as by the larger Courts of Prussia, Saxony and Bavaria. In time their example stimulated great, and even small, municipalities to follow on the same lines.
Dresden at one time favoured the Italian
to the exclusion of its own compatriots; national feeling was too strong for it, and Weber slew the invader. From that day, though Italian and French work was performed, it had to be performed in the German language. France, Italy, Russia adopted a similar policy, and became formidable competitors, the last an overwhelming one.
In England we had no such influences as the lesser courts of Germany provided, to direct taste into patriotic channels. We continued to feed British ears with every sound and language save our own. Not, be it clearly understood, from lack of talent. While the North can breed the finest choral singers in the world, there can be no lack of voices. When every foreign conductor knows and even allows himself to admit, that British orchestras are unsurpassable for tone, temperament and executive skill, there is no excuse for underrating them. When
. the Nibelungen' can be sung (not shouted) on the stage by British singers in a way to compel the unstinted praises of its first Baireuth conductor, there can be no famine of artists for far less exacting operas. No one who has had personal or intimate knowledge of German opera-houses and German singers and orchestras can deny that, apart from the long experience born of unbroken routine, Great Britain is their superior in freshness, in beauty of tone and in elasticity of interpretation. Wagner, when he visited London in 1877, openly expressed his preference for the use of the English language in the English presentation of his operas. He knew, as we should know, if we were not such inveterate depreciators of our own possessions, that the language which was good enough for the Bible, Shakespeare and Milton, is good enough for the operatic stage, provided that it is written in a style worthy of the literature of the country. Wagner's wishes were carried out by Mr Frederick Jameson, in translations of the 'Ring' and of the Meistersinger' which will stand comparison with any German translations of foreign works. What Mr Jameson began we have plenty of literary men to complete, as soon as their services are required.
Even in the difficult and subtle task of translating German lyrics, we have abundant proof of the ability of English poets to grapple with it, in the masterly translation of Tieck's “ Magelone-Lieder' by Andrew Lang,
a rendering no whit inferior to the original, even though hampered by the necessities of fitting the syllables to Brahms' voice-part. Ignorance of the English language has too often induced foreign publishers to print ridiculous and childish translations to their vocal productions, and has led unthinking and prejudiced persons in this country to enlarge upon the so-called unsuitability of our language for music. They forget the beauty with which it clothes the Messiah'—its sonorousness when well chosen, its extraordinary wealth in subdivisions of vowel sound and they class all poetry for music in the same category as that of the Poet Bunn. There have been as yet only spasmodic efforts to produce works which require carefully thought-out English to illuminate them. The earliest attempt of recent days, that of Carl Rosa, was directed by himself; and, being a German, he could not be expected to apply severe literary criticism to what he saw. Nowadays we can do not only better, but superlatively well. In scenery and scenic effects we not only hold our own with other countries but even surpass them; and there is no reason why, in a country fresh to the business, we should not strike out as individual a note of our own as the Russian artists do.
All this has been accomplished not only without help from the influential and monied classes in this country, but in spite of their apathy. It has been work all along against the collar. That it has been persisted in without faltering is the greatest proof of the healthy vitality of the artistic heart of the country. The time has now come when England can show whether she is going to be true to herself, or to be content to let others reap the harvest which is ready to her hand. The magnet is removed from central Europe; is England, whence'as Brahms said in 1896) you will see great things come,' going any longer to prefer the foreign voice to her own? Will she only accept a compatriot if he changes his name by the addition of a 'vitch' or a 'ski,' whitens his hands, and lets his back-hair grow well over his collar? Or is she going to see where the real stuff is, and to give her own sons and daughters at least an equal chance in the race for success? If the lead is given, she will go ahead. If it is not, no amount of musical taste in the masses (and there is no lack of it) will be able to rescue her.