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Listeners.

[For The Etude.]

E. A. SMITH. 

Constantly reading of musicians and their varied styles of interpretation. Constantly reading of technics and technicons—critics and criticisms. Why, amidst all this variety in musical literature, should there not appear something relating to the Listener? Does he who listens well play no important part in a program? Does he lend no inspiration to the performer? Does his applause fail to spur one on to Best Endeavor? Does his disapproval and inattention not reach the heart like weight of lead? Surely his presence or absence is necessary to financial success or failure; just so is it in promoting and stimulating artistic success, or the reverse. First. Experience will be a good witness to call upon the stand. Every one has been annoyed at public places of entertainment by the chattering or whispering of those near by. How many times has the most emotional and pathetic scene been completely divested of its charm and effect by just such trivial annoyance as a whisper or ill- timed frivolity. One may present the plea—that in paying to see an entertainment they can enjoy it as they like. Selfishly speaking, that rule might be not inappropriate if they only were the persons to be amused, but there are neighbors and there are artists who do object to this sort of amusement. But what shall one think, and say, when at Parlor Musicales where only invitations have been issued these same experiences are met with? How often has it been found necessary at musical entertainments to speak of whispering? There are those thoughtless enough to do it, and who will thereby attract the attention of a whole room filled with people, disturbing those who would listen and, not least, those who are taking part. And how easy to say all there is to be said between the numbers upon the program, if people only will.

Nobody—unless they have experienced its effect—can know the peculiar annoyance to which a mere whisper will subject one, and from the farthest point in the room can it be heard.

The query may be raised that one should do his part so well that all would wish to listen—intent to catch the next melodious note. Ah! but not every one is an Orpheus. I have seen Remenyi stop in the midst of a number because of such interruptions, and when there is cause for a Rubinstein to leave the piano for similar disturbance, and that too during the playing of one of those beautiful Chopin Nocturnes, is it not high time to put in a plea for more good listeners?

So I have been wondering why it is so many attend a good concert—a poor concert and entertainments in general. Is it to be amused—to be seen, or to learn something? Whatever may be the real reason, it should not result in disturbance to others.

There are some, however, who seem so lacking in the emotional and finer qualities, they cannot be frowned down to anything like silence; they have to be hissed down, literally sat upon. But one might half think that good breeding would have come to their rescue and suggest to their nerveless brain such a litany as Good Manners.

When the system is quivering with emotion, so that every disturbing sound is magnified, the artist for the moment forgets interpretation, and memory, that capricious elf, plays him false. The notes may move on, but the soul, the inspiration, the climax is gone. Attention on his part has been interrupted, he cannot step into the same sphere as before. Emotion is so changing that, like the rainbow, it is never twice the same. It modulates through the ever-varied tint of a lifetime in a passing moment; paint it you cannot, touch it and it is gone. How subtle, how necessary to the full enjoyment and to an ideal interpretation and that an artist possess it. One must feel to a more intense degree than the listener, else does he fail to sway his audience, hence the very reason why a whisper will so much the more annoy him. Upon the artist’s playing rests his reputation, on his reputation rests perhaps his living, and upon his success may depend the livelihood of a family; blame him not for refusing to continue his selection when thus subjected to what may seem a trivial annoyance. But let your kindly sympathy remain with him if he continue. People may blame and call them cranks for being so easily disturbed, but for one, I say the cranks and disturbers are more often found in the ranks of poor listeners who foster them.

 

 

In order to admire enough one must admire too much, and a little illusion is necessary to happiness.

 

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