【英日対訳】ミュージシャン達の言葉what's in their mind


【抜粋:音楽家8人について】コープランド「Copland on Music」(1960年)より

COPLAND ON MUSIC   by Aaron Copland (1900-1990) 




コープランド・オン・ミュージック  アーロン・コープランド著(🈩1900-1990) 

ダブルデイ&カンパニー 1960年 


The Conductor: Serge Koussevitzky 


This article, written in 1944, during Serge Koussevitzky's lifetime, was published in the Musical Quarterly. In order to retain the sense of contemporaneity, nothing has been changed. 



SERGE KOUSSEVITZKY has now completed his first twenty years as leader of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Year after year during those two decades he has consistently carried through a policy of performing orchestral works, old and new, by American composers. In so doing he has not been alone. Other conductors and other orchestras have introduced numerous works by Americans during the same period. But just because he was not alone in nurturing the growth of an American music, it is all the more remarkable that we think of his sponsorship of the native composer as something unique - something unprecedented and irreplaceable. 



It is easy to foresee that the story of Serge Koussevitzky and American composer will someday take on the character of a legend. Here at least is one legend that will have been well founded. Since circumstances placed me among the earliest of the conductor's American “proteges,” I should like to put down an eye witness account, so to speak, of how the legend grew - what it is based on, how it functions, and what it means in our present-day musical culture. 



I first met the future conductor of the Boston Symphony at his apartment in Paris in the spring of 1923, shortly after the announcement of his appointment had been made. My teacher, Nadia Boulanger, brought me to see him. It was the period of the Concerts Koussevitzky, given at the Paris Opera each spring and fall. It was typical that at the Concerts Koussevitzky all the new and exciting European novelties were introduced. Mademoiselle Boulanger, knowing the Russian conductor's interest in new creative talents of all countries, took it for granted that he would want to meet a young composer from the country he was about to visit for the first time. That she was entirely correct in her assumption was immediately evident from the interest he showed in the orchestral score under my arm. It was a Cortege Macabre, an excerpt from a ballet I had been working on under the guidance of Mademoiselle Boulanger. With all the assurance of youth - I was twenty-two years old at the time - I played it for him. Without hesitation he promised to perform the piece during his first season in Boston. 



That visit must have been one of the first of many meetings that Dr. Koussevitzky has had with American composers. The submitting of a new work to Dr. Koussevitzky is always something of an ordeal for a composer. He is well known for being outspoken in his reaction to new music. If he likes a composition he generally likes it wholeheartedly, and the composer leaves his presence walking on thin air. (After all, it means a performance by the Boston Symphony Orchestra!) If he doesn't like it, it means that other conductors may perform it, but the special atmosphere that surrounds a Koussevitzky premiere will be lacking. That sense of “specialness” is part of the legend - it has seeped through even to composers who have never had occasion to show their works to the Russian director. But they all dream of that occasion; just as every ten-year-old American boy dreams of being President someday, so every twenty-year-old American composer dreams of being played by Koussevitzky. 



It is not simply a matter of the quality of the performance, fine as that is likely to be, that accounts for the prestige attached to a performance by the Boston Symphony under its present leader. It is rather the “philosophy” behind the playing of the work that, in the final analysis, makes the difference. It is the nature of that “phylosophy” that gives to the relationship of Dr. Koussevitzky and the American composer its more than local interest and significance. 



Consider, for a moment, what was normal procedure for the introduction of native works into the symphonic repertoire during the first years of the twenties. Most characteristic of the period, as I remember it, was an unholy concentration on first performances. A new work seemed automatically to lose whatever attraction it may have had after a first hearing. Even when a composition was well received locally, its repetition by other orchestras was by no means guaranteed. But worse than this seasonal dabbling in novelties was the patent lack of conviction on the part of conductors (with ceatain exceptions, of course) as to the value of the new pieces they were presenting. That lack of conviction was reflected, more often than not, in the attitude of the men in the orchestra. In an atmosphere of distrust and indifference works were likely to be underrehearsed and played without conviction. After all, if the music really wasn't worth much, why waste time rehearing it? And in the end the audience, sensing the lack of any sustained policy on the part of the conductor or symphonic organization, concluded quite justly that the playing of any new American work might be regarded as a bore, to be quietly suffered for the sake of some misguided chauvinism on the part of the management. 



In Boston, under the Koussevitzky regime, all these things were ordered differently. Taking its keynote from the attitude of the conductor himself, a musical New Deal was instituted for the American composer. Fundamentally this New Deal was founded upon the solid rock of Dr. Koussevitzky's unwavering belief in the musical creative force of our time. He had always had that faith - in Russia it had been Scriabine, Stravinsky, and Prokofieff who aroused his enthusiasm; in Paris it was Ravel and Honegger (among others). He had simply transplanted to our own country his basic confidence in the creative powers of our world. 



That confidence is unshakable - it is an essential part of the man. Someplace deep down Dr. Koussevitzky is himself a composer - not because of the few works he has actually written, but because he has a profound understanding for what it means to be a composer. I have never met a man who loved music more passionately than Serge Koussevitzky. But when he thinks of music he doesn't conjure up a pristine and abstract art - he thinks rather of a living, organic matter brought into being by men who are thoroughly alive. He loves music, yes - but never for an instant does he forget the men who create music. That is why it is no mere conventional phrase when he says: “We in America must have confidence in our own composers.” Essentially that confidence is born out of a love for the historic role played by composers of all ages in building up the art of music as we know it. I can personally attest to the fact that he meant every word of it literally when he recently wrote: “ I feel a rage and my whole body begins to tremble in a protest against conservatism and lack of understanding that it is the composer who gives us the greatest joy we have in the art of music.” 




It should be clear by now that every instinct in the man cries out against the current notion that present-day creative activity is empty and sterile. All history has convinced him that the creative force in music is a continuous one, and that each generation adds its mite to the sum total of musical culture. Dr. Koussevitzky would be the first to allow that certain ages have been more fortunate in their composers than others. But if there has ever been a completely impotent age, as far as musical creativity goes, he has never heard of it. 



He has explained his point of view at some length in a recent interview: 

“Every great, or less great, or even little, composer brings something to the art of music which makes the art great in its entirety. Each one brings his portion. In examination of his music we can see how real a composer is. We can see whether his technique is perfect; whether he knows how the orchestra and the individual instruments sound and whether or not he has something to say, no matter what the degree of importance. Sometimes a single man has one single word to say in all his life and that one word may be as important as the lifework of a great genius. We need that word .... and so does the genius himself need that word.” 



What vitality and energy he has expended on the uncovering of “that word”! For no one must imagine that his over-all sympathy for the practicing composer produces a hit-or-miss method of choosing compositions for his programs. On the contrary, few conductors have been as finicky in their choice of works. If it were merely a matter of statistics, other conductors have outdistanced him in the percentage of new works played. Absolutely nothing but Dr. Koussevitzky's private conviction as to the value of a work will result its performance. But once his mind is made up, it doesn't matter whether the chosen work is long, abstruse, dissonant, difficult to perform, difficult to comprehend - that work will be heard. 



No composer who has lived through a week of rehearsals at Symphony Hall in preparation for an important premiere can possibly forget the experience. The program for the week is carefully planned so that the major portion of the rehearsal period may be devoted to the new work. To Dr. Koussevitzky each untried composition is a fresh adventure - the outcome is as unpredictable as the delivery of an unborn babe. The composer is present, of course, for morning rehearsals; these are generally followed by evening discussions with the conductor in preparation for the next day's work. Throughout the week conductor and composer may run the gamut of emotions from liveliest elation to darkest misgivings. But come what may, by Friday afternoon the work is ready for its public test. The conductor walks to the podium with a full sense of his responsibility to the composer and to the work. No wonder other premieres seem perfunctory by comparison! 



Out of his sense of responsibility to the creative talent of our time comes his belief in his role as educator. He has often told me that the director of an orchestra should be the musical leader of his community. It is not enough that he himself have faith in the work he plays; the orchestra and the public he serves must also be convinced of its value. Thomas Mann might have had Serge Koussevitzky in mind when he wrote: “Great conductors of music are educators, for that is their metier. And if they are more than just professional experts - which they have to be to be great - their will to educate, their belief in education reach into ethics and enter the political-human sphere.” 



From an educational standpoint winning over the orchestra has been a comparatively easy task. No other group of professional men that I know has so open-minded and wide-awake an attitude toward new music. Thinking back twenty years, I would say that that has not always been the case. But apparently Dr. Koussevitzky has forgotten the early days, for he recently stated: “I've never had the slightest difficulty with the orchestra men concerning our programs. The musicians were and are always co-operative and interested, no matter how difficult a work may be to play. In fact, the harder a work is, the more willingly they devote themselves to it.” 



The public and the critics have naturally proved a more recalcitrant factor. There may still be some subscribers who turn their tickets to the box office at the threat of a new work on the program. But by and large Dr. Koussevitzky has long since established the principle with the majority of his listeners that a well-balanced symphonic diet must include Vitamin C: contemporary music. For years they have swallowed it bravely; by now they are one of the healthiest audience we have. 



As for the critics, it seems to me that Dr. Koussevitzky has adopted an entirely realistic view. He does not attempt to underestimate their power to influence, temporarily, the reading public's reaction for or against a young composer whose reputation is still in the making. On the other hand, when they write encomiums it simply makes his own pioneering easier. But courage in the face of opposition is second nature to him. Many a time he has chosen to repeat a work on the heels of adverse newspaper comment. More than once, as consistent champion of some contemporary composer, he has had the keen satisfaction of watching the public and the critics gradually accept his view. 



Unlike certain of his colleagues, Dr. Koussevitzky does not lose all interest in the American composer once he has stepped out of the concert hall. Composers are his daily preoccupation. In recent years he has devoted more and more time to a consideration of their economic setup. He has been profoundly disturbed at the realization that the great majority of our composers devote the major part of their time, not to writing music, but to the gaining of a livelihood. He can never accustom himself to the thought that in this rich country of ours no plan exists that would provide composers with a modicum of financial security for the production of serious works of music. His active mind has been busily at work. Who but Dr. Koussevitzky could have written; “A far reaching and wise plan must be worked out to establish a permanent composer's fund which will cover the essential and immediate needs of the living American composer” 



It is typical that he has not been content passively to await the setting up of a Composer's Fund. As an immediate gesture, he established the Koussevitzky Music Foundation in memory of his wife, Natalie Koussevitzky, who, during her lifetime, had loyally seconded his every move in behalf of the living composer. Although the Foundation has been in existence for only a few years, it has already commissioned more than a dozen composers to write new orchestral and chamber-music works. This carries on Dr. Koussevitzky's self-imposed task ,instituted many years ago in Russia and continued in France - namely, the stimulation of the creative energies of composers of every nationality through publication, performance, and the special ordering of compositions. It is moving, to say the least, to contemplate this world-famous conductor, on the threshold of seventy, expending his time and energy so that more and more music may be brought into the world. 



Can it be pure chance that the twenty years of Dr. Koussevitzky's leadership - 1924 to 1944 - have coincided with the period during which American symphonic literature has come of age? During that time he has given a first hearing to sixty-six American compositions. Despite that record I once heard him make the statement that American composition would only really come into its own when it was given under the baton of American-born conductors. What a remark to come from a conductor famous for his eloquent performances of American works! And how fortunate we shall be if our native-born conductors, inspired by the example of their great Russian-American confrere, will know how to comprehend and carry forward the invaluable contribution he has made to the flowering of a true American musical culture. 



The Teacher: Nadia Boulanger 



IT IS ALMOST FORTY YEARS since first I rang the bell at Nadia Boulanger's Paris apartment and asked her to accept me as her composition pupil. Any young musician may do the same thing today, for Mademoiselle Boulanger lives at the same address in the same partment and teaches with the same address in the same apartment and teaches with the same formidable energy. The only difference is that she was then comparatively little known outside the Paris music world and today there are few musicians anywhere who would not concede her to be the most famous of living composition teachers. 



Our initial meeting had taken place in the Palace of Fontainbleau several months before that first Paris visit. Through the initiative of Walter Damrosch a summer music school for American students was established in a wing of the palace in 1921 and Nadia Boulanger was on the staff as teacher of harmony. I arrived, fresh out of Brooklyn, aged twenty, and all agog at the prospect of studying composition in the country that had produced Debussy and Ravel. A fellow-student told me about Mademoiselle Boulanger and convinced me that a look-in on her harmony class would be worth my while. I needed convincing - after all, I had already completed my harmonic studies in New York and couldn't see how a harmony teacher could be of any help to me. What I had not foreseen was the power of Mademoiselle Boulanger's personality and the special glow that informs her every discussion of music whether on the simplest or the most exalted plane. 



The teaching of harmony is one thing; the teaching of advanced composition is something else again. The reason they differ so much is that harmonic procedures are deduced from known common practice while free composition implies a subtle mixing of knowledge and instinct for the purpose of guiding the young composer toward a goal that can only be dimly percieived by both student and teacher. Bela Bartok used to claim that teaching composition was impossible to do well; he himself would have no truck with it. Mademoiselle Boulanger would undoubtedly agree that it is difficult to do well - and then go right on trying. 



Actually Nadia Boulanger was quite aware that as a composition teacher she labored under two further disadvantages: she was not herself a regularly practicing composer and in so far as she composed at all she must of necessity be listed in that unenviable category of the woman  composer. Everyone knows that the high achievement of women musicians as vocalists and instrumentalists has no counterpart in the field of musical composition. This historically poor showing has puzzled more than one observer. It is even more inexplicable when one considers the reputation of women novelists and poets, of painters and designers. Is it possible that there is a mysterious element in the nature of musical creativity that runs counter to the nature of the feminine mind? And yet there are more women composers than ever writing today, writing, moreover, music worth playing. The future may very well have a different tale to tell; for the present, however, no woman's name will be found on the list of world-famous composers. 



To what extent Mademoiselle Boulanger had serious ambitions as composer has never been entirely established. She has published a few short pieces, and once told me that she had aided the pianist and composer Raoul Pugno in the orchestration of an opera of his. Mainly she was credited with the training of her gifted younger sister Lili, whose composing talent gained her the first Prix de Rome ever accorded a woman composer in more than a century of prize giving. It was an agonizing blow when Lili fell seriously ill and died in 1918 at the age of twenty-four. It was then that Nadia established the pattern of life that I found her living with her Russian-born mother in the Paris of the twenties. 



Curiously enough I have no memory of discussing the role of women in music with Mademoiselle. Whatever her attitude may have been, she herself was clearly a phenomenon for which there was no precedent. In my own mind she was a continuing link in that long tradition of the French intellectual woman in whose salon philosophy was expounded and political history made. In similar fashion Nadia Boulanger had her own salon where musical aesthetics was argued and the musical future engendered. It was there that I saw, and sometimes even met, the musical great of Paris: Maurice Ravel, Igor Stravinsky, Albert Roussel, Darius Milhaud, Arthur Honegger, Francis Poulenc, Georges Auric. She was the friend of Paul Valery and Paul Claudel, and liked to discuss the latest works of Thomas Mann, of Proust, and Andre Gide. Her intellectual interests and wide acquaintanceship among artists in all fields were an important stimulus to her American students: through these interests she whetted and broadened their cultural appetites. 



It would be easy to sketch a portrait of Mademoiselle Boulanger as a personality in her own right. Those who meet her or hear her talk are unlikely to forget her physical presence. Of medium height and pleasant features, she gave off, even as a young woman, a kind of objective warmth. She had none of the ascetic intensity of a Martha Graham or the toughness of a Gertrude Stein. On the contrary, in those early days she possessed an almost old-fashioned womanliness - a womanliness that seemed quite unaware of it own charm. Her low-heeled shoes and long black skirts and pince-nez glasses contrasted strangely with her bright intelligence and lively temperament. In more recent years she has become smaller and thinner, quasi nun-like in appearance. But her low-pitched voice is as resonant as ever and her manner has lost none of its decisiveness. 



My purpose here, however, is to concentrate on her principal attribute, her gift as teacher. As her reputation spread, students came to her not only from America but also from Turkey, Poland, Chile, Japan, England, Norway, and many other countries. How, I wonder, would each one of them describe what Mademoiselle gave him as teacher? How indeed does anyone describe adequately what is learned from a powerful teacher? I myself have never read a convincing account of the progress from student stage to that of creative maturity through a teacher's ministrations. And yet it happens: some kind of magic does indubitably rub off on the pupil. It begins, perhaps, with the conviction that one is in the presence of an exceptional musical mentality. By a process of osmosis one soaks up attitudes, principles, reelections, knowledge. That last is a key word: it is literally exhilarating to be with a teacher for whom the art one loves has no secrets. 




Nadia Boulanger knew everything there was to know about music; she knew the oldest and the latest music, pre-Bach and post-Stravinsky, and knew it cold. All technical know-how was at her fingertips: harmonic transposition, the figured bass, score reading, organ registration, instrumental techniques, structural analyses, the school fugue and the free fugue, the Greek modes and Gregorian chant. Needless to say this list is far from exhaustive. She was particularly intrigued by new musical developments. I can still remember the eagerness of her curiosity concerning my jazz-derived rhythms of the early twenties, a corner of music that had somehow escaped her. Before long we were exploring polyrhythmic devices together ー their cross-pulsations, their notation, and especially their difficulty of execution intrigued her. This was typical, nothing under the heading of music could possibly be thought of as foreign. I am not saying that she liked or even approved of all kinds of musical expression ー far from it. But she had the teacher's consuming need to know how all music functions, and it was that kind of inquiring attitude that registered on the minds of her students. 



More important to the budding composer than Mademoiselle Boulanger's technical knowledge was her way of surrounding him with an air of confidence. (The reverse ー her disapproval, I am told, was annihilating in its effect.) In my won case she was able to extract from a composer of two-page songs and three-page piano pieces a full-sized ballet lasting thirty-five minutes. True, no one has ever offered to perform the completed ballet, but the composing of it proved her point ー I was capable of more than I myself thought possible. This mark of confidence was again demonstrated when, at the end of my three years of study, Mademoiselle Boulanger asked me to write an organ concerto for her first American tour, knowing full well that I had only a nodding acquaintance with the king of instruments and that I had never heard a note of my own orchestration. “Do you really think I can do?” I asked hopefully. “Mais oui” was the firm reply ー and so I did. 



Mademoiselle gave the world premiere of the work ー a Symphony for organ and orchestra ー on January 11, 1925, under the baton of Walter Damrosch. My parents, beaming, sat with me in a box. Imagine our surprise when the conductor, just before beginning the next work on the program, turned to his audience and said: “If a young man, at the age of twenty-three, can write a symphony like that, in five years he will be ready to commit murder!” The asperities of my harmonics had been too much for the conductor, who felt that his faithful subscribers needed reassurance that he was on their side. Mademoiselle Boulanger, however, was not to be swayed; despite her affection for Mr. Damrosch she wavered not in the slightest degree in her favorable estimate of my symphony. 



All musicians, like the lay music-lover, must in the end fall back upon their own sensibilities for value judgements. I am convinced that it is Mademoiselle Boulanger's perceptivity as musician that is at the core of her teaching. She is able to grasp the still-uncertain contours of an incomplete sketch, examine it, and foretell the probable and possible ways in which it may be developed. She is expert in picking flaws in any work in progress, and knowing why they are flaws. At the period when I was her pupil she had but one all-embracing principle, namely, the desirability of aiming first and foremost at the creation of what she called “la grande ligne” ー the long line in music. Much was included in that phrase: the sense of forward motion, of flow and continuity in the musical discourse; the feeling for inevitability, for the creating of an entire piece that could be thought of as a functioning entity. These generalizations were given practical application: her eye, for instance, was controlling agent for the skeletal frame of the harmony's progressive action. Her sense of contrast was acute; she was quick to detect longueurs and any lack of balance. Her teaching, I suppose, was French in that she always stressed clarity of conception and elegance in proportion. It was her broadness of sympathy that made it possible for her to apply these general principles to the music of young men and women of so many different nationalities. 



Many of these observations are based, of course, on experiences of a good many years ago. Much has happened to music since that time. The last decade, in particular, cannot have been an easy time for the teacher of composition, and especially for any teacher of older generation. The youngest composers have taken to worshipping at strange shrines. Their attempt to find new constructive principles through the serialization of the chromatic scale has taken music in a direction for which Mademoiselle showed little sympathy in former years. The abandonment of tonality and the adoption of Webernian twelve-tone methods by many of the younger Frenchmen and even by Igor Stravinsky in his later years cannot have been a cause for rejoicing on the Rue Ballu. And yet, I have heard Mademoiselle Boulanger speak warmly of the music of the leader of the new movement, Pierre Boulez. Knowing the musician she is, I feel certain that she will find it possible to absorb the best of the newer ideas into her present-day thinking. 



In the meantime it must be a cause for profound satisfaction to Mademoiselle Boulanger that she has guided the musical destiny of so many gifted musicians: Igor Markevitch, Jean Francaix, and Marcelle de Manziarly in France; Americans like Walter Piston, Virgil Thomson, Roy Harris, Marc Blitzstein, among the older men, Elliot Carter, David Diamond, Irving Fine, Harold Shapero, Arthur Berger among the middle generation, and youngsters like Easley Blackwood during the fifties. 



In 1959, when Harvard University conferred an honorary degree on Nadia Boulanger, a modest gesture was made toward recognition of her standing as teacher and musician. America, unfortunately, has no reward commensurate with what Nadia Boulanger has contributed to our musical development. But, in the end, the only reward she would want is the one she already has: the deep affection of her many pupils everywhere. 



The Composer:Igor Stravinsky 






For a long time I have wondered about the exact nature of the personality of Stravinsky. Everyone agrees that Stravinsky possesses one of the most individual natures of our time. But to get at the essence of it is another matter. 



Certain great composers are literally drenched in their own personal atmosphere. One thinks immediately of Chopin, or the later Beethoven, or the mature Wagner. On the other hand, if you don't listen closely, there are times when you might mistake Mozart for Haydn, or Bach for Handel, or even Ravel for Debussy. I cannot ever rememer being fooled by the music of Stravinsky. It invariably sounds like music that only he could have written. 



Why? I'm sure I don't know... but I keep wondering about it. Musicians will tell you that you must take the music apart, see how it is made, then put it together again, and you will have the answer. I've tried it, but it doesn't really work. Knowing Stravinsky the man helps a little, but not enough. At home he is a charming host, a man with clearly defined ideas and a sharp tongue ... but the music seems to exist on a supra-personal plane, in an aural world of its own. 



It is his work of the last few years that holds the mystery tightest. One thinks of the Mass, the Canticum Sacrum, or of Threni... these works, in some curious way, seem strangely removed from everyday “events,” and yet they remain for the most part profoundly human. Sobriety is the keynote ー it seems hardly possible to create a music of less sensuous appeal. Nevertheless there are moments of an enriched textureー all the more rare and precious because they seem measured out so carefully. In these works thought and instinct are inextricably wedded, as they should be. 



Perhaps it is just because the secret cannot be extracted that fascination of Stravinsky's personality continues to hold us. 






A close examination of the Russian master's textural fabric, especially his harmonic textures, makes it clear that we are dealing with a mind that doesn't hear “straight,” in the usual sense. It is the rightness of his “wrong” solutions that fascinates one. Marcel Proust must have had something of the same notion in mind when, in considering Flaubert's prose style, he talked about “great writers who do not know how to write.” One might say that Stravinsky doesn't know how to compose in the sense of Hindemith or Milhaud. He lacks their facility or virtuosity, a kind of facility and virtuosity that allows the notes to run to their predetermined places ー almost, one might say, without more than an assist from their composers. With Stravinsky one senses that the place of each note in each melody and chord has been found for it only after a process of meticulous elimination, and the place found is usually so unexpected and original that one can imagine the notes themselves being surprised at finding themselves situated where they are ー “out of place,” so to speak. Facility, in Stravinsky's case, would have been ruinous. And yet, by virtue of living long enough, and adding a work year after year to his output, he has in the end amassed a considerable oeuvre. 






If we can gauge the vitality of a composer's work by the extent of his influence, then Stravinsky's record is an enviable one. For almost half a century his music has exercised a continuing hold that is without parallel since Wagner's day. In the twentieth century only Debussy cast a comparable spell, and that was of a limited nature and of a single style. It is one of the curiosities of contemporary musical history that Stravinsky has been able to influence two succeeding generations in ways diametrically opposed. 



Because of Stravinsky the period 1917-27 was the decade of the displaced accent and the polytonal chord. Few escaped the impact of his personality. The frenetic dynamism and harmonic daring of Le Sacre were reflected in other ballets, Prokofieff's Age of Steel, Chavez's H.P.(Horse Power), Carpenter's Skyscrapers. Antheil's Ballet Mecanique was a reducitio ad absurdum of Stravinsky's emphasis on furious rhythms and pitiless dissonances. 



Then suddenly, with almost no warning, Stravinsky executed an about-face that startled an confused everyone. Everyone but the composers, that is. For despite repeated critical accusations of sterility and an apathetic public response, many composers rallied to the new cause of neoclassicism. Once more Stravinsky had called the tune. 



In America one can trace a straight line from Roger Session's Symphony NO.1 (1927) to Harold Shaper's “Symphony for Classical Orchestra (1947). Among the generation of the mid-forties it was easy to identify a Stravinsky school: Shaper, Halide, Berger, Lesser, Smit, Foss, Fine. 



Looking ahead, one can foresee still a third type of Stravinsky influence, based upon his recent commerce with Central European serialism. Nothing in Stravinsky's past had suggested the possibility of his becoming immersed in the seminal scores of Anton Webern. Here we have the most surprising twist of all. How long this interest will last no one can say. But one result is predictable: there are certain to be younger composers who will plot their own lines in accordance with Stravinsky's latest absorptions. 



Isn't it surprising that, in his eighth decade, Stravinsky is still writing problem music? All the other composers over fifty ー the famous ones, I mean ー are turning out more or less what is expected of them. It seems a long time since we got a jolt from Hindemith, Schonberg's last works were problematical certainly, but in the same way they had been for the preceding thirty years. Milhaud, Britten, Piston are all sticking close to form. Only Stravinsky manages to mix his elements, including even the familiar ones, in such a way that no one can predict just where he will be taking us next. 



But perhaps the most impressive point of all is that over and beyond the question of influence there remains in Stravinsky's music an irreducible core that defies imitaion. The essence of the man ー his special “tone,” his very personal brand of seriousness, the non-academic texture of his music ー in short, the sum total of his extraordinary individuality, has never to my knowledge been adequately described, let alone imitated. Despite the wide-spread influence of his music Stravinsky as a composer remains a singularly remote and removed figure, a composer whose passport to the future needs no signature other than his own. 




Berlioz Today 



BERLIOZ IS THE ARCHETYPE of artist who needs periodic reappraisal by each epoch. His own period couldn't possibly have seen him as we do. To his own time Berlioz was an intransigent radical; to us he seems, at times, almost quaint. Wystan Auden once wrote: “Whoever wants to know the nineteeth century must know Berlioz.” True enough, he was an embodiment of his time, and because of that I can't think of another composer of the past century I should have more wanted to meet. And yet, enmeshed in his personality are stylistic throwbacks to an earlier time; these tend to temper and equivocate the impression he makes of the typical nineteenth-century artist. 



His biographer, Jaque Barzon, claims that one rarely finds a discussion of Berlioz “which does not very quickly lose itself in biographical detail.” Berlioz is himself partly responsible for this because he wrote so engagingly about his life. Moreover, there is the fabulous life itself: the tireless activity as composer, critic, and conductor; the success story of the country doctor's son who arrives unknown in the big city (Paris) to study music and ends up, after several tries, with the Prix de Rome; the distracted and distracting love affairs; the indebtedness due to the hiring of large orchestras to introduce his works; the fights, the friends (Chopin, Liszt, De Vigny, Hugo), the triumphal trips abroad, the articles in the Journal du Debat, the Memoires, and the bitter experiences of his last years. No wonder that in the midst of all this the music itself is sometimes lost sight of. 

彼の伝記を手掛けたジャック・バーザンによると、ベルリオーズの生涯について細かく語りだすと、大概あっという間に白熱した議論になるという。これはベルリオーズ自身が、自分の人生について、とにかく細かく書き残していたことも、その原因のひとつなのだ。なにしろ彼の人生は波乱万丈だ。作曲家、批評家、そして指揮者としての精力的な活動、田舎の医師の子が無名で乗り込んだ花の都(パリ)での音楽修業の後、幾多の挑戦の末勝ち取ったローマ大賞というサクセスストーリー、自他ともに苦しみ苦しませんた恋愛沙汰、作品上演に際し大編成のオーケストラに委託したことによる負債、争い、友人達(ショパン、リスト、アルフレッド・ド・ヴィニー、ヴィクトル・ユーゴー)、大成功を収めた海外公演、全国紙への寄稿(Journal du Debat, the Memoires) そして不遇の晩年。そんな状況の中では、彼の音楽自体が霞んでしまうのも、無理のない話だ。 


Admirers and detractors alike recognize that we are living in a period of Berlioz revival. Formerly his reputation rested upon a few works that remained in the orchestral repertoire: principally the Symphonie Fantastique and some of the overtures. Then came repeated hearings of Harold in Italy, Romeo and Juliet, and the Damnation of Faust. Recordings have made L'Enfance du Christ and The Trojans familiar; even the Nuits d'Ete are now sung. Perhaps before long we may hope to hear unknown works like the Song of the Railroads (1846) or Sara the Bather (1834). 



What explains this recent concern with the Berlioz oeuvre?  My own theory is that something about his music strikes us as curiously right for our own time. There is something about the quality of emotion in his music ー the feeling of romanticism classically controlled ー that reflects one aspect of present-day sensibility. This is allied with another startling quality: his ability to appear at one and the same time both remote in time and then suddenly amazingly contemporary. Berlioz possessed a Stendhalian capacity for projecting himself into the future, as if he had premonitions of the path music was to take. By comparison, Wagner, in spite of all the hoopla surrounding his “music of the future,”, was really occupied with the task of creating the music of his own period. And yet, by the irony of musical history, Berlioz must have seemed old-fashioned to Wagner by the 1860's. 



By the end of the century, however, it was clear that the French composer had left a strong imprint on the composers who followed after him. A study of Harold in Italy will uncover reminders of the work of at least a dozen late-nineteenth-century composers ー Strauss, Mahler, Moussorgsky, Rimsky-Korsakoff, Grieg, Smetana, Verdi, Tchaikovsky, Saint-Saens, Franck, Faure. (Nor should we forget the impact he had on his own contemporaries, Liszt and Wagner.) How original it was in 1834 to give the role of protagonist to a solo instrument ー in this case a viola ー and create, not a concerto for the instrument, but a kind of obbligato role for which I can think of no precedent. The line from Harold to Don Quixote as Strauss drew him is unmistakable. The second movement of Harold in Italy has striking similarities to the monastic cell music in Boris Godounoff, with all Moussorgsky's power of suggestibility. Indeed, the history of nineteenth-century Russian music is unthinkable without Berlioz. Stravinsky says that he was brought up on his music, that it was played in the St. Petersburg of his student years as much as it has ever been played anywhere. Even the Berlioz songs, now comparatively neglected, were models for Massenet and Faure to emulate. Nor is it fanciful to imagine a suggestion of the later Schonberg in the eight-note chromatic theme that introduces the “Evocation” scene from the Damnation of Faust. 



When I was a student, Berlioz was spoken of as if he were a kind of Beethoven manque. This attempted analogy missed the point: Beethoven's nature was profoundly dramatic, of course, but the essence of Berlioz is that of the theatrical personality. I once tried to define this difference in relation to Mahler ー who, by the way, bears a distinct resemblance to Berlioz in more than one respect ー by saying that “the difference between Beethoven and Mahler is the difference between watching a great man walk down the street and watching a great actor act the part of a great man walking down the street.” Berlioz himself touched on this difference in a letter to Wagner when he wrote: “I can only paint the moon when I see her image reflected at the bottom of a well.” Robert Schumann must have had a similar idea when he said: “Berlioz, although he often ... conducts himself as madly as an Indian fakir, is quite as sincere as Haydn, when, with his modest air, he offers us a cherry blossom.” This inborn theatricality is a matter of temperament, not a matter of insincerity. It is allied with a love for the grand gesture, the naive-heroic, the theatric-religious. (In recent times Honegger and Messiaen have continued this tradition in French music.) With Berlioz we seem to be watching the artist watching himself create rather than the creator in the act, pure and simple. This is different in kind from the picturesqueness of Beethoven's Storm in the Pastoral Symphony. Berlioz was undoubtedly influenced by Beethoven's evocation of nature, but his special genius led to the introduction of what amounted to a new genre ー the theatric-symphonic, and there was nothing tentative about the introduction. 



The fact that Berlioz was French rather than German makes much of difference. Debussy said that Berlioz had no luck, that he was beyond the musical intelligence of his contemporaries and beyond the technical capacities of the performing musicians of his time. But think of the colossal bad luck to have been born in a century when music itself belonged to, so to speak, to the Germans. There was something inherently tragic in his situation ー the solitariness and the uniqueness of his appearance in France. Even the French themselves, as Robert Collet makes clear, had considerable trouble in fitting Berlioz into their ideas of what a French composer should be. In a sense he belonged everywhere and nowhere, which may or may not explain the universality of his appeal. In spite of Berlioz's passionate regard for the music of Beethoven and Weber and Gluck, it is the non-German concept of his music that gives it much of its originality. 



This can perhaps be most clearly observed in is writing for orchestra. Even his earliest critics admitted his brilliance as orchestrator. But they could hardly have guessed that a century later we would continue to be impressed by Berlioz's virtuoso handling of an orchestra. It is no exaggeration to say that Berlioz invented the modern orchestra. Up to his time most composers wrote for the orchestra as if it were an enlarged string quintetー none before him had envisaged the blending of orchestral instruments in such a way as to produce new combination of sonorities. In Bach and Mozart a flute or a bassoon always sounds like a flute or a bassoon; with Berlioz they are given, along with their own special quality, a certain ambiguity of timbre that introduces an element of orchestral magic as a contemporary composer would understand it. The brilliance of his orchestration comes partly by way of his instinctual writing for the instruments in their most grateful registers and partly by way of his blending of instruments rather than merely keeping them out of each other's way. Add to this an incredible daring in forcing instrumentalists to play better than they knew they could play. He paid the price of his daring, no doubt, in hearing his music inadequately performed. But imagine the excitement of hearing in one's inner ear sonorities that had never before been set down on paper. It is the sheen and sparkle, the subtle calculation of these masterly scores that convince me that Berlioz was more, much more, than the starry-eyed romantic of the history books. 



It is easy to point to specific examples of Berlioz's orchestral boldness. The use of the double-basses in four part chordal pizzicatti at the beginning of the March to the Scaffold; the writing for four tympany, also in chordal style, at the conclusion of the movement that precedes the March,; the use of English horn and piccolo clarinet to typify pastoral and devilish sentiments respectively; the gossamer texture of Queen Mab with its impressionist harp and high antique cymbals; the subtle mixtures of low flutes with string tone at the beginning of the “Love Scene” from Romeo ー all these and numerous other examples demonstrate Berlioz's uncanny instinct for the sound stuff of muisc. 



Apart from his orchestral know-how there is hardly a phase of his music that has not been subjected to criticism. His harmonic sense is said to be faulty ー that's the reproach most frequently heard ー his structure too dependent on extramusical connotations, his melodic line disappointingly old-fashioned. These oft-repeated strictures are now due for revision. Any clumsiness in the handling of harmonic progressions should be viewed in the light of our extended notions of right and wrong in harmonic procedures. The Berlioz harmony admittedly is sometimes stiff and plain, but is it so awkward as to disturb one's over-all enjoyment? That always has seemed an exaggerated claim to me. His formal sense is unconventional ー refreshingly so, I would say, for even when he lacks the inevitability of a Beethoven, one senses that he is finding his own solutions arrived at from his own premises. More often than not these are unexpected and surprising. The reproach concerning his melodic writing has some basis in fact, especially for the present-day listener. Berlioz depends upon the long-breathed line and the unconventional phrase length, to sustain interest, rather than the striking interval or pregnant motive. His loveliest melodies give off a certain daguerreotype charm, redolent of another day. This must have been true even at the time he penned them. Looked at from this angle, they lend his music a quite special ambiance, as if they came from a country not to be found on any map. 



Let us concede, for the sake of argument, that the weaknesses are there. The fact remains that, whenever a composer is adjudged worthy to stand with the masters, a remarkable willingness to overlook what was formerly considered to be serious weaknesses is apparent. The weaknesses remain, but public opinion tacitly agrees to accept them for the sake of the good qualities ー and I consider that public opinion does right. My prognostication is that we shall, in future, be hearing less and less of Berlioz's weaknesses and more and more of his strengths. 




For I repeat that there is something strangely right about Berlioz for our time. The French historian Paul Landormy put my meaning well when he wrote: “His art has an objective character by comparison with the subjectivity (interiorite) of a Beethoven or a Wagner. All the creatures that he created in his imagination detach themselves from him, take on independent life, even if they are only an image of himself. The Germans, on the contrary, have a tendency to fuse the entire universe with their interior life. Berlioz is essentially a Latin artist.” It is the objective handling of romantic elements that makes Berlioz an especially sympathetic figure in our own time. That and our clear perception of his musical audacity. For he is clearly one of the boldest creators that ever practiced the art of musical composition. 



An aura of something larger than life-size hangs about his name. After hearing a Berlioz concert Heinrich Heine wrote: “Here is a wing-beat that reveals no ordinary songbird, it is a colossal nightingale, a lark as big as an eagle, such as must have existed in the primeval world.” 




Liszt as Pioneer 



EVERYBODY THINKS he has the right to an opinion about Franz Liszt and his music. I can only recommend my own opinion tentatively because I admit to being dazzled by the man. As a composer, he has for me something of the same glamour he had for his contemporaries as pianist. His wizardry at the piano so overwhelmed audiences in his own day that they were clearly incapable of judging him soundly as a creator. 



The question is whether anyone can do that even now. To examine his list of compositions, if only superficially, is enough to give one a dizzy feeling. It would be a feat merely to listen consecutively to the prime examples of his production: the symphonies, symphonic poems, concertos, oratorios, the masses, the chamber music, the songs, the piano compositions large and small, not to mention the plethora of fantasies, arrangements, and transcriptions of the works of numerous other major and minor composers. How can anyone be expected to arrive at a balanced, critical estimate of such a man? 



Nevertheless I freely confess to being won over, so to speak, in advance. There is something endlessly diverting about a musician who, like Berlioz, was to such a degree the embodiment of his period. After all, the nineteenth century, especially the Lisztian part of it, was the “juiciest” period in music. One needn't be a composer of the greatest ability in order to mirror the times most truthfully. Quite the contrary. Chopin, for example, was perhaps too elegant, Mendelssohn too polite, and Schumann too sweetly honest to reflect the seamier side of their epoch. It's from Liszt that one gets a sense of the fabulous aspect of that era. 



His composer friends, Chopin and Schumann, despite their appreciation of the Hungarian's genius, thought Liszt a rather shocking figure; they accused him of cheapening their art ー and I suppose the accusation is not without justification. (One must remember, however, that he outlived both of them by more than a quarter of a century, and neither of them could have known the compositions that interest us most.) But the point is that what shocked them in Liszt is the very thing that fascinates us. It fascinates us because the qualities that Liszt had in abundance ー the spectacular style, the sensuosity, the showmanship, the warmth and passion of his many-sided nature ー are exactly those qualities that are least evident in contemporary music. No wonder he intrigues us, and in a way that only one or two other musical figures of the nineteenth century can match. 



There is another aspect of Liszt's personality that endears him to us. I am thinking, of course, of the enthusiasm expended upon the compositions of other composers, many of them young and obscure when first he came to know their work. Genius, as a rule, is too self-concentrated to waste much time on lesser men. But in Liszt we have the rule's exception. With rare perceptivity he was able to sense the mature composer in the embryonic stage. And this interest in the output of his colleagues, which undoubtedly had its origin in a character trait, in the end took on larger significance than Liszt himself may have realized. The French critic G. Jean-Aubry offers a good case for having us believe that it was Liszt who engendered one of the most important of recent historical developments: the rise of nationalism as a musical ideal. “If modern Germany had a profound sense of justice,” writes Jean-Aubry, “she would nourish a vigorous hatred for Liszt, for the destruction of German musical monopoly is in part his work.”  In a period when Brahms and Wagner were at the apogee of their careers, and in spite of Liszt's well-known championship of Wagner, Liszt was clear-headed enough to understand that new music could advance only if the hegemony of German music were weakened. To remember that fact makes one keenly aware of the forward-looking character of Liszt's own music.  



The most advanced aspect of his own music is its harmonic daring. But, leaving this aside for the moment, I would say that the element that strikes one most forcibly, separating his music from that of all other nineteenth-century composers, is its sonorous appeal. A keen ear will detect wide divergencies in “sound-pleasure” in the works of different composers. Laymen tend to take these divergencies for granted. But actually the type of sonorous appeal we take so much for granted ー the sonority chosen instinctively for its sheer beauty of sound ー is partly the invention of Liszt. No other composer before him understood better how to manipulate tones so as to produce the most satisfying sound texture ranging from the comparative simplicity of a beautifully spaced accompanimental figure to the massive fall of a tumbling cascade of shimmering chords. One might legitimately hold that this emphasis upon the sound-appeal of music weakens its spiritual and ethical qualities. Perhaps; but even so one cannot deny Liszt the role of pioneer in this regard, for without his seriously contrived pieces we would not have had the loveliness of Debussy or Ravel's textures or the langorous poems of Alexander Scriabine. 




These essentially new sonorities were first heard at Liszt's piano recitals: The profusion on his works and their variaty of attack are without paralled in piano literature. He quite literally transforms the piano, bringing out, not only its own inherent qualities, but its evocative nature as well: the piano as orchestra, the piano as harp (Un Sospiro),  the piano as cimbalom (Hungarian Rhapsody No.11), the piano as organ, as brass choir, even the percussive piano as we know it (Danse Macabre) may be traced to Liszt's incomparable handling of the instrument. These pieces were born in the piano; they could never have been written at a table. (It is indicative that an intellectual leader of his generation, Ferruccio Busoni, famous composer and pianist in his own right, should have spent many years in preparing the definitive edition of Liszt's piano compositions.) The display, the bravura, the panache of Liszt's piano writing ー all this has been pointed out many times before, even a hundred years ago; the remarkable thing is that it has remained as true now as it was then. 





On an equivalent plane of freshness and originality was Liszt's harmonic thinking. Even professional musicians tend to forget what we owe to Liszt's harmonic daring. His influence on Wagner's harmonic procedures has been sufficiently stressed, but not his uncanny foreshadowing of the French impressionists. One set of twelve piano pieces, rarely if ever performed, L'Arbre de Noel, and especially Cloches du soir from that set, might be mistaken for early Debussy. It is typical that although L'Arbre de Noel was written near the end of a long life it shows no lessening of harmonic invention. The scope of that invention can be grasped if we turn from the lush to Liszt's oratorio Christus. Here we enter an utterly opposed harmonic world, related to the bare intervallic feeling of the Middle Ages and the non-harmonic implications of Gregorian chant ー startling premonitions of the interests of our own time. Throughout the length and breadth of Liszt's work we are likely to come upon harmonic inspirations: unsuspected modulations and chordal progressions touched upon for the first time. Moreover, his sense of “spacing” a chord is thoroughly contemporary: bell-like open sonorities contrasting sharply with the crowded massing of thunderous bass chords. It is not too much to say that Liszt, through his impact upon Wagner and Franck and Grieg and Debussy and Scriabine and the early Bartok, and especially the nationalist Russians headed by Moussorgsky, is one of the main sources of much of our present-day harmonic freedom. 




I have left to the last Liszt's boldest accomplishment: the development of the symphonic poem as a new form in musical literature. The symphonic poem, as such, has had but a puny progeny in recent years. Composers look upon it as old-fashioned, demode. But we mustn't forget that in Liszt's day it was a burning issue. To the defenders of classical symphonic form it appeared that a kind of theatrical conspiracy, spearheaded by Berlioz and seized upon by Liszt and Wagner, was about to seduce pure music from its heritage of abstract beauty. The new hot-heads, taking their keynote from Beethoven's Egmont Overture, and Pastoral Symphony, insisted that music became more meaningful only if it were literary in inspiration and descriptive in method. The programmatic approach took hold: from the literal treatment of romantic subject matter in the Liszt-Berlioz manner the idea was both broadened and narrowed to include the poetic transcription of natural scenes as in Debussy's La Mer, or the down-to-earth bickerings of marital life as in Strauss's Domestica. By the early 1900's it looked as if the classical symphony were to be discarded as an old form that had outlived its usefulness. 



As it turned out, it is the traditional form of the symphony that is still very much alive, and the symphonic poem that is in the discard. But strange to say, this does not invalidate the importance of Liszt's twelve essays in that form, for their principal claim to historical significance is not in the fact of their being symphonic poems but in their structural novelty. 



Here once again we see the Hungarian's freedom from conventional thinking, for he was the first to understand that descriptive music should properly invent its own form, independent of classical models. The problem, as Liszt envisioned it, was whether the poetic idea was able to engender a new formー a free form; free, that is, from dependence upon formulas and patterns that were simply not apposite its programmatic function. Form in music is a continuing preoccupation for composers because they deal in an auditory material that is by its very nature abstract and dangerously close to the amorphous. The development of type forms such as the sonata-allegro or fugue is a slow process at best; because of that, composers are naturally reluctant to abandon them. Liszt was a pioneer in this respect, for he not only relied on the power of his own instinctual formal feeling to give shape to his music, but he also experimented with the use of a single theme and its metamorphoses to give unity to the whole fabric. Both parts of Liszt's idea have deeply influenced contemporary music. The numberless sonatas that are not really sonatas but approaches to a freer form take their origin in Liszt's famous B-minor piano sonata; and the twelve-tone school itself, with its derivation of entire operas from the manipulation of a single “row,” owes its debt to the pioneering of Franz Liszt. 



Am I being too generous to old Abbe Liszt? If so, it is a generosity that is long overdue. Liszt has been the victim of a special stupidity of our own musical time: the notion that only the best, the highest, the greatest among musical masteworks is worthy of our attention. I have little patience with those who cannot see the vitality of an original mind at work, even when  the work contains serious blemishes. For it would be foolish to deny that Liszt's work has more than its share of blemishes. How could he have imagined that we would not notice the tiresome repetitions of phrases and entire sections, long and short; the reckless overuse, at times, of the thematic material; the tasteless rehashing of sentimental indulgences? He was not beyond the striking of an attitude, and then filling out the monumental pose with empty gestures. He seems entirely at his ease only in a comparatively restricted emotional area: the heroic, the idyllic, the erotic, the demonic, the religious. These are the moods he evokes time after time. Moreover, he seemed capable of coping with no more than one mood at a time, juxtaposing them rather than combining and bringing them to fruition. 




No, Liszt was not the perfect master. I will go so far as to admit that there are days when he seems quite intolerable. And then? And then one comes upon something like the two movements based on Lenau's Faust and is bowled over once again by the originality, the dramatic force, the orchestral color, the imaginative richness that carries all before it. The world has had greater composers than this man, no doubt, but the fact remains that we do him and ourselves a grave injustice in ignoring the scope of his work and the profound influence it has exerted on the contemporary musical scene. 




Faure Centennial in America: 1945 

1945年 フォーレ生誕100周年を祝うアメリ 


DURING THE LAST four days of November 1945, Cambridge, Massachusetts, is to be turned into a shrine for Faure devotees. The Harvard Music Department is sponsoring a festival of five concerts, free to the public, in honor of the hundredth anniversary of the great French composer's birth. The music will range from the comparatively familiar Requiem through less familiar chamber music and songs to the rarely performed opera Penelope, to be given in concert form under the direction of Nadia Boulanger. 



It is a little difficult for those of us who have long admired Faure's work to foresee how the present dwellers in Harvard Yard will take to him. Personally I'm just a trifle nervous. It isn't that one's faith in the value of the work itself has wavered, but the moment doesn't seem to be quite right for doing full justice to a Faure celebration. In a world that seems less and less able to order its affairs rationally Faure's restraint and classic sense of order may appear slightly incongruous. Consequently it is only reasonable to speculate as to how he will “go over,” especially with younger listeners.  




As a matter of fact, it has never been easy to convince the musical public outside France of the special charm that attaches itself to Faure's art. In France itself Faure's name has for many years been coupled wih that of Debussy, as is proper. But outside France the public has been slow to appreciate his delicacy, his reserve, his imperturbable calm ー qualities that are not easily exportable. 



It is perfectly true that you must listen closely if you would savor the exquisite distinction of Faure's harmonies or appreciate the long line of a widely spaced melodic arch. His work has little surface originality. Faure belongs with that small company of musical masters who knew how to extract an original essence from the most ordinary musical materials, To the superficial listener he profoundly sounds superficial. But those aware of musical refinements cannot help admire the transparent texture, the clarity of thought, the well-shaped proportions. Together they constitute a kind of Faure magic that is difficult to analyze but lovely to hear. 



The public at large, when it knows his work at all, knows it, as Theodore Chandler has pointed out, “through a mere handful of works, all written before his forty-fifth year.” But Faure lived to the ripe age of seventy-nine and composed his most mature works during the last thirty-five years of his life. It is the bulk of this later work that is so little known, and undeservedly so. A song cycle like La Chanson dEve belongs with the Dichterliebe of Schumann; the second piano quintet belongs with Franck's essay in that form; the piano trio should be heard along with Ravel's trio. 



At the age of sixty-seven Faure wrote his first and only opera, Penelope. From a musical standpoint this opera will stand comparison with Debussy's Pelleas et Melisande. Dramatically it suffers from an obviously weak libretto, but despite that fact it continues to be performed regularly in Paris. It is these works of his maturity ー and other similar ones ー that arouse my enthusiasm. 



I don't suppose that it is primarily the enthusiast like myself at whom the centenary concerts are aimed. And, of course, the sponsors of the festival must know that there are people of good will who will continue to think of Faure as a petit maitre francaise no matter what one demonstrates to the contrary. Assuming that they really know Faure's music ー not just the early violin sonata and some of the songs, but the ripe works of his maturity ー they have a right to their opinions. But what about the many music lovers who have never had an opportunity of forming their own opinions? Certainly the festival must have been devised with them in mind ー for the true believer in the genius of Faure is convinced that to hear him is to love him. 




Darius Milhaud (1947) 



I HAVE OFTEN WONDERED what the “big” public thinks about the music of Darius Milhaud. If they like it, what is it they warm up to, and if they dislike it, what puts them off? In spite of the large quantities of it available on radio and in concert there seems to be a curious lack of vocal enthusiasm in regard to Milhaud's music. More recondite composers like Schonberg or Bartok have their devoted followers, while Mahler and Sibelius are listened to rapturously by fervent adherents. Milhaud, apparently, is headed for a different fate. He once wrote: “I have no esthetic rules, or philosophy, or theories. I love to write music. I always do it with pleasure, otherwise I just do not write it.” You can't hope to arouse a following on the basis of any plain statement like that. 



Nevertheless it seems to me fairly obvious that since Ravel's death France has given us no composer more important than Darius Milhaud. 

それにも関わらず、私にはハッキリと分かる。ラベル亡き後、ダリウス・ミヨーをこえる作曲家など、 未だ出てきていない。 


I became a Milhaud fan back in the early twenties, when the composer was considered the enfant terrible of French music. In those days we were struck by the abundance and many-sidedness of his talent, his forthrightness and fearlessness, his humor, his humanity, the contrasts of tenderness and violence, and his markedly personal style. Most striking of all in an age when the new music was being accused of having no melody was the singing quality of Milhaud's music. After nearly thirty years I continue to marvel at Milhaud's apparently inexhaustible productive capacity, at his stylistic consistency, at the sheer creative strength that the body of his work represents. Those who persist in describing modern music as decadent and desiccated will get little comfort from this man's music. 



Milhaud's finest work will probably be found in the operatic field. But it is good to have these two recently recorded examples of his orchestral literature. The Symphony No.1 is particularly welcome because it is a comparatively new opus (1939) that has had few hearings. It was composed on commission from the Chicago Symphony as part of the celebration of the orchestra's fiftieth anniversary, and was first heard in Chicago under the composer's baton. In category it belongs with the less accessible of his works. By which I mean you will have to hear this score more than once before you can hope to uncover its own special secret. 



Like Brahms, Milhaud waited until he was in his middle forties before embarking on the writing of a symphony. But that is about the only similarity one will find. In order to properly evaluate this Symphony No. 1 it will be necessary to have no preconceived notions of what a proper symphony is like. The symphony as a form is confused in our minds with what the nineteenth century thought it ought to be. True, Milhaud's symphony has the usual four movements (of a duration somewhat briefer than usual) but the familar hortatory manner is lacking. It is a songful symphony, though not cheerfully songful like the “Italian” of Mendelssohn. The first movement, for example, has long-lined melodies, but they are accompanied by darkly tinted and unhappy-sounding harmonies. Milhaud has a particular aptitude for suggesting the complexities of modern life, even at times embroiling himself in analogous musical complexities. The second movement of this symphony is a case in point. It presents the listener with a changeful panorama and an intricate fabric, a little frightening in its noisiness. It would be easy to lose one's bearing here, but if we listen carefully for the principal melodic strand, it will lead us through the movement like a thread through a labyrinth. 



Perhaps the most impressive movement of the entire symphony is the third ― the slow movement. The opening chords in quiet brass are steeped in Milhaud's personal idiom ― producing a drugged and nostalgic effect. Seriousness of tone and warmth of expression are the keynote. A curious mixture of Gallic exoticisms and “blues” atmosphere combine to create the typical Milhaud ambiance. He snaps us out of it, so to speak, in a finale that is scherzo-like by nature, with square-cut themes in 6/8 rhythm. There is a surprisingly close affinity with Scottish folk melody and nasal bagpipe sonorities. As in the second movement there are strong contrasts of light and shade, raucous brass, and a rather complicated structural frame. Considered as a whole, this is not an easy work to assimilate. But I strongly suspect that it will repay repeated hearings. The performance by the Colombia Symphony Orchestra under the composer's direction appears to be well balanced and is certainly authoritative. 



On the final side of the fourth record is the recording of a short orchestral elegy entitled “In Memoriam,” representative of the composer's most sober style. 



For those who may have missed it when it was released some months ago, there is an excellent account of a Symphonic Suite ― vintage of 1919 ― culled from the music Milhaud composed for Paul Claudel's satirical drama Protee. The first performance of the suite in Paris in 1920 resulted in a near-riot. The public was quite convinced that the composer was mad. It's amusing to listen to this same music in 1948, played by Pierre Monteux and the San Francisco Symphony. Obviously, it is the music of a brash young man, not at all perturbed at the idea of shocking his audience. My guess would be that it was the clashing polytonal harmonies that were largely responsible for the upsetting effect the music had on its first listeners. The newness of effect has worn off, but not the essential freshness of the music. My favorite among the five movements is the “Nocturne,” a poetic fancy that never fails to move me. Delightful is the word for Proteus. 




Benjamin Britten (1947) 



THE INTERESTING THING about Benjamin Britten's new opera, The Rape of Lucretia, is the impression one gets that it is better than his opera Peter Grimes. This is significant in view of the fact that Britten is still in his early thirties, that he is now engaged on another opera, and that he is likely to compose several more. Grimes was an opera in the usual sense; Lucretia is a chamber opera, designed for eight singers and twelve instrumentalists. It is part of a trilogy of chamber operas planned by the composer for the repertory needs of a specific company of singers and players. 



Britten has been, since the start of his career, a boy wonder. Something of the aura of the boy wonder still hangs about him. I know of no other composer alive today who writes music with such phenomenal flair. Other composers write with facility, but Britten's facility is breath-taking. He combines an absolutely solid technical equipment with a reckless freedom in handling the more complex compositional textures. The whole things is carried off with an abandon and verve that are irresistible. The resultant music may not always be of the best quality, but it is certainly of a unique quality ― for there is no one in contemporary music who is remotely like him. 



The operatic form provides plenty of elbowroom for Britten's special “flair.” Grimes and Lucretia, despite their differences, are shaped out of a similar mold. Britten's operas show every sign of being carefully planned from first word to final note. Nothing is improvised, nothing left to chance. His planning starts with the libretto, in this case the work of Ronald Duncan, based on an original French play by Andre Obey. Operatic treatment, as Britten understands it, breaks up into three different types: the usual recitative to move the plot ahead; a more florid, accompanied recitative for dramatic pointing up; the fully developed aria, duo, septet. etc., for carrying the emotional burden. This comparatively simple formula is rigorously applied, and makes for coherent plotting of the entire work. The danger for the future lies in the possibility of an overdose of planning. 



Probably the most striking single factor in his operatic writing is the richness, variety, breadth, and sweep of his melodic lines. The elements that make up the line are not always original. But even when they are eclectic to a disturbing degree it is the power behind the musical impulse that puts them over. This same richness of melodic invention, when applied to choral writing, produces brilliant results. Unlike the American operas of Blitzstein and Virgil Thomson, Britten's world does not rely upon the speech rhythms and inflections to give his melodic line naturalness. Quite the contrary. Britten is not primarily interested in naturalness, and is even not averse to deliberate distortions of prosodic treatment if he can achieve greater expressivity and expansiveness thereby. 



A word must be added about the amazing variety of effects he is able to extract from his twelve instrumentalists. When one considers that two hours of opera are accompanied by a dozen players one marvels at the subtlety and imagination and ingenuity of the orchestration. 



A fully rounded judgement of The Rape of Lucretia should await stage presentation in our country (first presented in Chicago, June 1947). I have serious reservations as to the validity of certain scenes in the libretto. The piano-vocal score (in an excellent version by Henry Boys) taken by itself, however, would seem to me to repay closest study on the part of anyone interested in contemporary opera.