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The Etude. A Monthly Journal for the Musician, the Music Student, and all Music Lovers.

The Etude. A Monthly Journal for the Musician, the Music Student, and all Music Lovers.
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Entered at Philadelphia P. O. as Second-class Matter.
Copyrighted 1903, Theodore Presser
Our system of specialization (in education) is measured upon the abilities of small and uninspired men. Fortunately a world=genius will break through all limitations; but if our educational system is to serve the highest life we must seek to awaken the creative spirit from within, instead of fashioning a narrow talent or multiplying an unrelated erudition. — Edward Howard Griggs.
* * *
It is a good thing for a pupil to enter into his work as earnestly and thoroughly as if he expects, at some future time, to earn his livelihood by musical work. It is very necessary, also, that the teacher shall not cease to be a student, no matter how long behind him he has left his early student days. The true spirit is: Once a student, always a student. This spirit it is that keeps the teacher from becoming an old fogy, from growing fossilized, since it leads him to be on the lookout for new things, for new ideas, which he is ready to examine and to study closely if need be. There is always something that one should learn, and the most successful teacher is not the one who rests on his laurels, but he who is so much the student that he is always looking for new subjects to study.
* * *
Life is full of changes, of surprises. To-day is not as yesterday; to-morrow will be different from today. Human art reflects the conditions of human life; it must represent action, movement, a moment taken from life, from nature, but still a fragment of the great world life. Art in its best manifestations makes constant and extensive use of changing conditions or, as put in Mr. Perry's splendid article, which will be found on another page of this issue of The Etude, of contrast. Art abhors sameness, monotony, much repetition as nature abhors a vacuum. There is no progress in exact repetition. Hence artistic compositions are based on contrasting effects, and the artistic player seeks to reproduce these same shifting, kaleidoscopic emotional pictures or combinations for the hearer. We suggest a careful perusal and assimilation of Mr. Perry's teachings.
* * *
A paper devoted to the musical instrument trade makes the statement that there are about 2,000,000 pianos in use in the country. Of course each piano represents several persons who are interested in music, some professionally, others as pupils, and still others as mere lovers. Every piano that comes into a community means an extension of the musical interests of that community, means more persons brought into close connection with music, an increase in the number of persons who will support musical enterprises, a wider field for teaching. Teachers can well afford to work amicably with the local dealer, not, as too often is the case, for a possible commission, but because the interests of the profession are extended. The better the business of the members of the music trade, the greater the field for teaching, and as the effects are reciprocal the benefits are certainly mutual. Keen observers say that 1904 will maintain a fair average of business. Music teaching should be as profitable as previous years. We may hope for better. One thing is sure, it does no harm to the teacher's interests if he try to make business by business methods.
* * *
At a concert given in Dresden recently somewhat of an innovation was made in the construction of the program. A new work, a string quintet by Felix Draeseke, was presented. In order to offer a better chance than usual to form a judgment upon the merits of the composition it was played twice, at the beginning and at the end of the concert. The result, it is said, justified the plan adopted. This is not the first time that a composer has made use of this method to present a work to his audience under conditions favorable to judgment. We believe that von Bülow adopted the same plan on several occasions. Nevertheless it is unusual enough to be considered an innovation. Apparently it offers the hearer an opportunity to hear the work and to secure a general impression of it; the second playing of it an hour later brings the work up while it is still fresh in the mind, thus giving a chance for the work to confirm a first favorable impression or to fail to reach a required standard. A work which can successfully pass two critical hearings should make its way later.
We see no reason why some such method as this should not be used to advantage by composers. Artists place their pictures on exhibition in a gallery and those who are interested have opportunity for more than a fleeting look. When an exhibition has closed every picture has been put through a fair test. Not so with a new composition of a serious nature. Unless it have, in strong measure, those qualities of rhythm, melody, color, etc., that attract and impress powerfully at first hearing, the musical composition has but little chance for future hearing. If it have some new ideas in construction and development, if it depart much from established methods, a first hearing is not sufficient. The plan of Mr. Felix Draeseke has in it something to commend.
* * *
Those interested in the remarkable series of Bach festivals which have been given in Bethlehem, Pa., under the direction of J. Fred Wolle, will be glad to know that plans have been formulated looking toward their continuance on a permanent basis. These are, to be sure, somewhat inchoate at present, but they include the building of a temple to be devoted to music of the highest and most profound type.
To quote from a private letter written by the originator of this noble scheme: "Not a concert hall, nor merely a music hall. Not exactly a church, for that conveys to the mind of some the idea of theological or denominational difference. A place where all can worship through the music. Like a church without theology. A service without a sermon."
This may remain an ideal—but is it not an ideal worth striving for? Even Bayreuth, with its Germanic legends and myths, its strange mingling of Christian traditions and Buddhistic lore, falls below the plane of such a lofty conception. If all to whom music is more than a diversion for the passing moment, or an adjunct to a series of cunningly devised dramatic situations, were to unite in a determination to make this ideal a reality, the thing were done. In the meantime it is gratifying to learn that the Bach festivals will continue as before, biennially, upon even a broader and more comprehensive foundation. Next season it is proposed to have no less than three to illustrate the most significant periods of the church year—Christmas, Good Friday, and Easter—with appropriate music from the works of the great father of modern music.
Truly, as Beethoven said, Bach was no "brook," but an ocean—one, too, of inexhaustible inspiration to the musician. In his works—old in form, youthful in essence—may be found all of music, the past, the present, and, it may be asserted, even the future. Nothing can bring a richer reward than the revelation of their power, beauty, and majesty to an unheeding generation.
The musically sensitive can hardly help being frequently annoyed by the indiscriminate applause which prevails on all musical occasions. It certainly seems incongruous to punctuate the numbers of an oratorio, to interrupt the action of a music-drama, or to follow a tender, soul-felt adagio with the same noisy hand-clapping that greets a whistling solo, or a rag-time melody. Then, too, the so-called encore, which is often the result of this ill-timed applause, is generally an offense to one's sense of artistic propriety, whether it consist in a repetition or, in the case of solo artists, the addition of something entirely different. In either case the scheme of a well- ordered program is broken up, and a personal element emphasized which is antagonistic to the highest manifestations of art.
In Paris these evils have long been recognized and a league of artists and amateurs has been formed, the design of which is to do away with all applause during the course of any musical performance; only at the close is enthusiasm to have full sway. Encores, it is needless to say, play no part in such a plan, which is that followed at Bayreuth for many years. There the silence which prevails as the curtain slowly closes is far more impressive than the ordinary outbreak of hands and feet. Even Bayreuth audiences, composed as they are of the elect, had to be trained to such a point of abnegation. At the first performance of "Parsifal" twenty-two years ago, the end of the first act was greeted with a storm of applause. Wagner immediately swept out before the curtain and upbraided his hearers for thus disturbing the reverential atmosphere of his music- drama. The reproof bore fruit. But as they were silently departing after the third and last act he again emerged, and to their confusion reproved them as sharply for not applauding the artists who had wrought so nobly. Hence the traditional custom at Bayreuth is to reserve all demonstration until the end of the entire work; then it is given heartily and with good will.
* * *
It is a reflection upon the judgment of the average person musically inclined that he is in reality unable to form an opinion as to the ability of a player or of the musical value of a composition unaided. In this respect music labors under a disadvantage as compared with some of the other arts—painting, for example. The person who has had experience with pictures will usually form an opinion for himself. In music, however, it is different. Given two players of the same ability as manifested in their playing of the same pieces, and the average hearer will be cautious of expressing an opinion upon the playing until the question has been asked and answered: "With whom is she studying?" "Who was his teacher?" According to the reply is the judgment formed of the player. If the teacher be one who is the fad of the hour, or if he be one of the famous "makers of pianists," the pupil is voted an artistic, a finished player. Another who may play equally well, who comes from the studio of a less-known teacher is passed by as not up to the standard of the other.
The fact is we do not attempt to value things for themselves, but look outside to adventitious factors. One thing that has assisted in this is the tendency to rush after some great teacher if only to get "a few lessons," as if there were some magic in the work of this man or that woman, which is to take the place of the careful, thorough work which some less renowned instructor is known to exact. Too often famous teachers will accept pupils for a short time, charging a high fee, yet knowing well that that selfsame person will go away later to trade on the prestige of his name by advertising herself as "pupil of Herr , or Signor So and So."
Schools of music connected with institutions of learning often exact certificates, diplomas, or other recommendations before engaging teachers. Naturally this puts a sort of premium upon letters of indorsement from celebrated teachers. It sounds better to be able to say in an advertising circular or a catalogue: "Miss Charlotte Fairbanks, teacher of piano, pupil of——, Berlin, or of ——, Vienna,"
It would seem that the average hearer would be more anxious to be entertained, to be moved by playing and singing, than to know whether or not it is safe to gush over the work of the artist. Good form reigns far too supreme in the social circles when art is in question. One dare not make mistakes of judgment. Hence a great teacher argues a good pupil. The experienced know somewhat different. Let us have more sincerity in musical circles.

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