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The Great Masters As They Reveal Themselves

BY RUTLAND BOUGHTON.

Bach.—” Come pray with me. Thank God for your birth, your life, aye, and your death. Come within the Cathedral and pray with me. Praise God for all His mercies. Go with me into the fields, the woodlands, by the stream, and praise Him there. Come unto me. I beckon you. I can not come to you if I would. See I can be merry, too. I praise God in the joyfulness of my heart. God is good. It is good to praise Him.”

Haydn.—“I am Joseph Haydn, Capellmeister to Prince Esterhazy. I am very happy. ‘Tis true I have my little moments of trouble sometimes, but still on the whole it’s a very good world. Do you take snuff?”

Mozart.—“Are you troubled? Come to me and let me soothe you. Are you weary? Come to me, and I will try to refresh you. I like not to see men unhappy. I am seldom sad myself. Everybody is kind to me, and I try to be kind to everybody. Can you not come to me? Then I will come to you. See, I bring melody, pure and limpid as the cool rivulet. I caress you. I waft you sweet odors of Nature. Can you not be happy now? I fear you can not be very good.”

Beethoven.—“I soar to Heaven. Wilt thou come? I will take thy hand. Up, up through the boundless space of æther, far beyond the eagle’s flight. See that pale cold mass of clay: ‘tis the moon: let us leave it. See the innumerable worlds we pass, all peopled by unknown and mysterious beings. But we must go higher still. I seek for the Great Eternal. What is this new world we are entering upon? ‘Tis very lovely. Far more so than the earth we have left behind, though that is very lovely, too. See, there a lamb sports with a tiger, and there a lioness lies suckling a kid: mark how the herds of wild beasts gambol with the flocks of sheep and goats. But nowhere see I any men or any reptiles. Is this Heaven? But where is the Great Eternal? O, my God! when shall I find Thee? Let us return and descend even into Hell. Wilt come? ‘Tis dark and fearsome. I have journeyed thither many times. Quick as the lightning’s flash, deeper and deeper, into the cavernous abyss of another unknown world. Strange shapes dance before my vision; demons glare their ghastly grin upon me; horrid noises reecho in my bewildered brain; a fearful trembling casts its net upon me; a clammy sweat from out my skin pours forth—I faint—I die… . Where am I? I hear the chant of birds, the low of oxen, the whispering wind. In truth, ‘tis God’s own Nature—‘tis sweet—‘tis pure —‘tis happy—‘tis holy. But still I yearn for the Great Unknown. Who is this that hastens thither? She with the raven tresses and eyes of the night? ‘Tis my beloved. O my loved one! Thou art mine, yet can never be until—until—O, God, reveal Thyself!”

Schubert.—“My heart is full. I must sing. I must pour forth my lays of sorrow and delight, of joy and sadness. Except for a great lack of appreciation, I am happy. I have some good friends. Why is not everyone happy?”

Mendelssohn.—“Fetch me my lace frill and ruffles. Does my hair look artistic? All this is a great bore, you know, but one must look nice if only to please those young ladies who buy my “Lieder ohne Worte.”’

Schumann.—” Music is a very wonderful thing—a very beautiful thing; but it is only after long and arduous study that one can realize the intensity of that wonder and beauty. Study my compositions sometimes. I think perhaps they may assist you.”

Chopin.—“I love you. Treat me tenderly and gently, for I am not strong. I can be angry though; oh, yes, I can be very passionate; but ‘tis always exhausting. I am very sad. Love me.”

Wagner.—“I have an idea. That idea is good. Don’t you think my idea is good? You must think so. I have not bad ideas.”

Brahms.—“I dwell on the mountain tops. My delight is in the pine forests and the rushing torrents. I care not for the valleys with their trickling streams and waving cornfields. Come ye to me, therefore, if ye would hearken; for I descend not.”—”Musical Standard.”

 

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You are reading The Great Masters As They Reveal Themselves from the July, 1898 issue of The Etude Magazine.

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