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"Just a Little" and Art.

Liszt’s manner of teaching at Weimar somewhat resembled the method em­ployed by painters in their classes for students. The master oversees the work of the pupils, sometimes paints in their presence, cor­rects their work, and by both precept and example inculcates the principles of artistic work.

In a school of this kind a great painter one day corrected a study by a pupil. He touched it in sev­eral places, and the picture that the moment before seemed dull and lifeless took on a new character. It came to life, as it were; breathed out that subtle something which is the vital quality of the art that holds. It now showed the master’s hand.

“There, you have touched it just a little,” said an­other pupil, “and the whole thing is transformed.”

“Ah!” said the master, “art begins where just a little begins.”

While Mozart was living in Vienna a young Eng­lishman, Thomas Attwood, afterward organist of St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, came to him for lessons in composition. He had previously spent some time in Italy under the instruction of masters there. One of the exercises to which Mozart set him was the com­position of minuets arranged for string quartet. It was the good fortune of the present writer to see one of these exercises which had been corrected by Mo­zart. Attwood’s melody was fairly good, but stiff. Mozart’s artist touch was revealed in a change of note in several places, and the theme was transformed, taking on the grace and fluency which characterizes the music of the master. Attwood had harmonized it rather clumsily. Mozart put in a few rests, changed a few notes, and immediately the fascinating polyph­ony of his quartets reveals its presence. “Just a little!” but it marked the difference between medioc­rity and Art.

The present-day student must not forget that the artist’s work, whatever else it may contain, includes perfection of detail; and that it comes to him, not of itself, but for attention and seeking. The student has no right to be easily satisfied with his present attainments, with the way he plays any piece in his repertoire. If he aspire, he must work on every point, no matter how trivial it may seem. Every­thing must be studied and deserves to be studied, for everything may contribute to the perfection desired. Get your work to the point whereat you can add “just a little.” That is your goal.—W. J. Baltzell.

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