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The Musician's Marriage

A Study of Matrimony and Music.
By Louis Arthur Russell.
 
II.
 
To appreciate fully the possibility of a devoted lover, husband, or wife being also a true artist, one must know that constancy of love for one's own blood, for one's husband or wife, for one's friends and companions, need not imply constant propinquity or constant protestation. Far apart as a man's public life may be from his home life, he may yet be an ideal lover and husband.
 
The professional life is not conducive to domesticity; the man or woman whose vocation is of a public nature will certainly neglect details of home life; and the baking of pies" such as grandma made," or the "minding the baby, as grandpa did," are not likely to occupy much of the time, nor to prove interesting to the deeply absorbed professional man or woman of to-day, even though the great master, Bach, probably did look after things a bit at home during his active career. Of this we are sure, that he kept many of his host of little ones out of mischief with music lessons.
 
Not all of the possible joys of married life are of the sort which go to make up the happy home of prosaic farmers or of non-intellectual, though substantial and worthy, artisans and merchants.
 
That the homes of professional people differ from other homes does not imply that the sources of happiness are all in default. Many professional women—artists, poets, public singers, actresses, etc.—have been loving and successful mothers. Many men and women lapse from great public activity or absorbing devotion to their vocation into hours of the most quiet domestic habit, showing every grace of parental solicitation, every charm of loving husband and provident householder, in unique artistic homes. Many single-sided souls fail to comprehend this dual spirit; they can not see deep enough into the spirit of things to know how devoted a true artist may be in his vocation, and yet how entirely he lives and works for those whom he loves.
 
That an artist or other professional worker may have no taste or knack for odd jobs at home, that he may not be "handy" about the house or with the children, is no reason that he be condemned as unfit for matrimony; these are but incidents; happy homes depend upon other things.
 
The one feature of public life which is quite sure to unfit one for happy matrimonial existence is the "roving habit." The traveling man, be he a "commercial" or a "professional" traveler, is unlikely to make an ideal husband; the business does not do it; the art does not do it; but the loss of home restraint and the promiscuous associations destroy the "home sense," and that once gone leaves a man or woman undone for the duties of married life.
 
We may easily determine a class of men and women who, perhaps, should not marry; this class should not be named by their profession, for in fact that has but little to do with it; but they may be known by their temperaments and their habits, the class of pleasures they seek or require.
 
All conditions of life which take men or women away from home and keep them away are likely to lead the heart into other pleasures than those the home affords; yet there are many men and women who find their homes the more dear because of long or frequent absence. This constancy of temperament is not altogether usual; the strongest attachments to home are due to its being the chief source of happiness open to man or desired by him. Weaning counter-attractions are many. The broker or lawyer prefers his club to his home; the wife, in the whirl of social life, prefers the ball or reception to her own library or drawing-room; on all such as these family cares hang heavily; the cares of matrimony are declined, cast off, or at best carried perfunctorily. And this temperament belongs to no class. It is found among the rich and the poor, the intellectual and refined, as well as the uncultured; professional men and women, tradesmen, mechanics, laborers; every class of men holds its constant and its inconstant spirits, responsible and irresponsible, ambitious and indolent, good and bad.
 
Artists often affect Bohemianism, and the artist life, perhaps, offers special Bohemian opportunities or inducements; but shiftlessness, which goes in the world for Bohemianism, is everywhere about us, and means simply a wilful disregard of proprieties, better called "license"; no settled or permanent habitat; a reckless "instability," and, at last, complete irresponsibility in all matters of morals, which is, of course, "dishonor." This is not merely Bohemianism at its worst; it is out of the pale of real civilization, a disgraceful condition.
 
But there is a reputable Bohemianism which entices men and women, husbands with their wives, and many bachelors, maids, and men. This life is broad and interesting, and rightly ordered, perhaps, may some day— even in America—be known as the true solution of the home problem for certain temperaments unfitted for "housekeeping." To live in restaurants, sleep in apartments, and work in studios, will gratify but a few of the world's men and women, for the repose of home is instinctively desired by human nature, particularly by cultured men and women. Yet to many restless creatures excitement, changes of all kinds, seem a necessity to happiness, and many musicians doubtless are of this nervous temperament; consequently, many of our profession prefer a more or less mild sort of Bohemian life, with all possible brilliancy of surroundings. This condition of life is especially alluring to the traveling artist, and often finds in such its least commendable extremes.
 
The engrossing nature of the music life is apt to make the musician narrow, and while many notable exceptions are in the public eye, men and women of the broadest culture, yet accomplished in music especially, the greater part of the rank and file of the profession, apply themselves too closely to music alone and neglect other important lines of culture; this inclines the musician to avoidance of society, and he or she is easily named a recluse, a misanthrope, etc., and fond parents urge their sons and daughters to beware of such in the search for wife or husband.
 
But this advice is by no means especially wise, for the musician is usually tractable, and, though so absorbed in his practice of music, is of flesh and blood, with an abundance of spirit, good and true. When compatibly wedded, the professional musician is as likely to prove constant in affection and as faithful to duty as the average human being of more prosy vocation.
 
Compatibility of temperament is a prime consideration in the choice of a companion in wedlock, and it is in this item that most marriages find their success or failure. Young students of music, or half-fledged professionals, should be restrained from marriage, for infatuation, which is so often mistaken for lasting affection, is no proper basis for marriage. Young musicians whose minds are closely addressed to the constant practice of their art are in no frame of mind to decide upon a wife or husband, even though their emotional natures, fired by all manner of romantic ideas, feel assured of having met an affinity. The sober judgment of after-years proves the folly of "love's philosophy."
 
The artist life demands for its proper nourishment a great deal of sympathy; not necessarily a constant praising or patting upon the back, with encouraging phrases of platitude, but a real comprehension, a sympathy of spirit, an appreciative realization of what the life of devotion to art signifies.
 
This requirement on the part of a high-minded artist with lofty purpose, correct ideals, and faith in the mission of one's vocation, makes the selection of a companion for life a particularly delicate one, in which more than a passing fancy for a pretty face or a manly form or an attractive personality is required. For marriage is a serious matter, not to be hastily concluded, and the love of youth often fades quite away, in the face of stern realities of incompatibility or unfitness for the material requirements of the marriage obligation.
 
As the musician is trained to a great delicacy of perception, especially of the inner life and meaning of things, so a happy married life will depend upon harmonious surroundings, harmonious blending of temperaments, mutual understanding of the delicate elements of human nature, mutual love of the beautiful in art and nature; as the artistic nature is fastidious, there should be no great difference in the mental quality of husband and wife; though, perhaps, it is an open question whether or not musicians should intermarry as a safest chance of compatibility. This theory of requirements for a musician's choice in marriage is, perhaps, finely drawn, and may appear to make a musician's selection of a wife or husband especially delicate and perhaps difficult, but it is by no means a prohibitive thing, and is very easily made practicable in a world so full of finely developed artistic spirits.
 
No less imperative is the demand for compatibility in marriage in all the walks of life, but so delicate is the sensibility of the artist that a finer discrimination may be said to be necessary in the selection.
 
Marriage is the closing of a bargain. Courtship is the showing of samples of the wares offered in trade. Since all is fair in love as in war, it is too much to expect that young men and women will never display bogus samples. The matrimonial market is, unfortunately, less scrupulous than any other legitimate line of trade; hence the goods delivered on the wedding day are frequently not up to the grade of the samples shown.
 
No ideal marriage can follow a courtship of false pretenses, and the greatest folly of a life-time is such an alliance. Love there must be in ideal or even passably happy marriages, but honesty and much of common sense must be in the making of the contract, else the worst of life's miseries is sure to follow.
 
Haydn married to please his benefactor; no one else was satisfied. Berlioz married to please himself alone; hence even he was not made happy. Marriage is a contract in which both parties must share everything alike; everything given up, and everything received by both; this is summed up in the one thought of unselfishness.
 
Beauty is no compensation for spirit; money makes no amends for lack of affectionate consideration; a solicitous heart will sooner or later lose its ardor if met without appreciation; there must be somewhere near an honest trade; both man and wife must give all.
 
Good piano-playing, fine singing, the composing of delightful music, will never serve in place of manly conduct toward a wife or loving care for a husband. The musical husband or wife has nothing to offer in marriage which can take the place of heart and good common sense, with forbearance and consideration.
 
These laws of happy marriage apply to all alike, and who can say that the musician shall fail in the requirements, before all other men and women? The musician- poet, Tom Moore, knew the possibilities of musicians' love when he penned those charming verses, "My Heart and Lute," the first stanza of which runs—
 
"I give thee all,—I can no more, Tho' poor the offering be;
 My heart and lute are all the store That I can bring to thee."
 
To those who would consign the musician to celibacy Shakspere gives answer in a beautiful sonnet:
 
"Let me not to the marriage Of true minds Admit impediments!"
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
REGENERATION OF AMERICAN MUSIC.
There can be no regeneration of music in America so long as the nomadic foreign musician is considered greater than the resident American musician, simply because he is or she is a foreigner. Of the great mass of foreign musicians coming over here every year for a few months a few only are subsequently discovered as artists, but they bear the foreign stamp, and that is sufficient to give to them a commercial value and advantage (be they competent or not) to overawe the people here and thereby drive into obscurity the home artist. Such is the curse of the foreign fad. So long as it continues, no American composer beyond those of the coon-song type can ever hope to gain eminence, for these nomadic foreigners will not even deign to play or sing an American composition. It means paralysis and death to our whole musical life. The system must be abolished before our musical life can be regenerated.—" Musical Courier."
 
 
 

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