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THE famous picture of Beethoven, which has been selected for the cover of this issue, reveals a side of his character which stands preeminent—his almost abnormal love for nature. In Vienna there is a little brandy shop which now occupies the house in which Beethoven wrote many of his immortal works. The jovial keeper in piloting tourists through the house says, when coming to one room, “Some people call this Beethoven’s study, but if you want to see his real study look out of the window.” Out of the window one sees a beautiful pathway leading to a wooded hill and thence to the inspiring country beyond. Probably no other composer made such continual efforts to get close to nature. His daily walks into the country were regularly pursued during his entire lifetime.

Mr. H. E. Krehbiel, in his excellent collection of quotations from Beethoven’s writings, devotes a whole chapter to the subject of Beethoven’s “Love of Nature.” Among these are the following fine lines: “How happy I am to be able to wander among bushes and herbs, under trees and over rocks; no man can love the country as I love it. Woods, trees and rocks send back the echo that man desires.” “My miserable hearing does not trouble me here. In the country it seems as if every tree said to me: ‘Holy! Holy!’ Who can give complete expression to the ecstasy of the woods. O! the sweet stillness of the woods!” “When you reach the old ruins, think that Beethoven often paused there; if you wander through the mysterious fir forests, think that Beethoven often poetized or, as is said, composed there.” “Nature is a glorious school for the heart! ‘Tis well, I shall be a scholar in this school and bring an eager heart to her instruction. Here I shall learn wisdom, the only wisdom that is free from disgust: here I shall learn to know God and find a foretaste of Heaven in His knowledge. Among these occupations my earthly days shall flow peacefully along until I am accepted into that world where I shall no longer be a student but a knower of wisdom.”

Think of these elevating thoughts. Do they not bring you nearer to a proper conception of Beethoven? If you would learn to interpret the words of the great master, you must listen to “the echoes of the woods, the trees and the rocks.”

TEACHERS of music, especially teachers of voice, frequently have parents come to them for advice about the stage as a career. Just why musicians are supposed to know anything of the inner workings of the theatre is not given forth. The chasm indicated by the footlights, between the orchestra and the stage itself, is as deep and as wide as the Grand Cañon. Nevertheless, the music-teacher, who in many cases has never been behind the proscenium arch more than a half dozen times, takes it upon himself to advise the young aspirant for histrionic fame.

There are men and women upon our American stage to-day who are as noble, refined and intelligent as the best of our citizens. But, leaving out all question of the possible immorality accompanying the lives of some actors, the stage can hardly be considered a desirable road to competence or fame. This is especially true of comic opera. The actor places himself in the hands of a stage director, who at once makes the player acquainted with the fact that he is under discipline more rigorous than that of the military academy. The actor is not supposed to have any intelligence other than that sufficient to obey the rule of the stage director.

After weeks of long and tedious rehearsals, often lasting way into the night, and during which he is only paid by advances upon his future salary, for which he is obliged to “touch” the manager, the actor goes en tour. During the first two weeks he is often informed that he will he paid only half salary. He arrives at the theatre, and often finds that he will be obliged to dress in a horrible, little, ill-ventilated, dirty hole. Sometimes he may find a really comfortable dressing room, but more frequently it will be like a kalsomined bath-house, located in the cellar of the theatre. Here he smears his face with dirty grease paints, and then has the privilege of cavorting before an audience during the next three or four hours. One may as well try to become a surgeon by apprenticing himself to a butcher as try to become a famous operatic singer by entering a comic opera chorus.

It is well for teachers of music to realize that in advising their pupils to take the stage as a career they are urging them to enter a life that any unbiased observer will describe as an extremely undesirable existence. Even when stellar honors come to reward the actor who climbed up the rickety ladder of theatrical fame, he is confronted with a homeless, nomadic life of eternal appeal for that most fickle of all things—Public Approval.

PERSONALITY plays a most important part in the success of every man and woman. We frequently hear people say, “I like him. I don’t know why, but I like him. He convinces me and I trust him.” A pleasing personality is a great asset for the teacher, the student or the virtuoso. It is quite easy to count many visiting performers who have failed to win American dollars solely because they were unable to please personally. A great poet has written, “The face is the mirror of one’s personality.” Who you are and what you do are written clearly in your countenance. This is one of the reasons why portraits are of such interest to students. For this reason we are inserting a page of portraits in another part of the journal. These are so arranged that a teacher can cut them out and use them in her educational work in clubs, or in making scrap-books for children, or by putting a composer’s portrait on the fly sheet of one of his compositions. Accompanied by a concise biography, they have an educational and journalistic value entirely apart from the above method of using them. We should like to know the pleasure of our readers in the matter of continuing this feature. If enough readers take the trouble to write approving of the plan we shall be glad to continue it, otherwise it will be discontinued. You can help us immensely by taking an interest in matters of this kind. If you feel that this feature is of advantage to you in your work just drop us a postal and tell us so.

THOSE who take an interest in remarkable coincidences will note that in the year 1809 some of the most famous men of the last century were born. Birth is probably the least significant part of man’s existence. The years of hard battle to accomplish great things are cast aside to celebrate the day of a man’s birth. Nevertheless, it is somewhat astonishing to find that all of the following statesmen, scientists and art workers were born in that prolific year, 1809: Gladstone, Lincoln, Darwin, Tennyson, Poe, Mendelssohn and Chopin. (Some authorities insist that Chopin was born in 1810.)

How different this merry old world would be if these great men had never been born! What would music be without the master works of both Chopin and Mendelssohn? Handel and Bach, the two greatest composers of their day, were both born in 1685. Wagner and Verdi, the masters of modern opera, were born in 1813. Another unusual coincidence is that many of the most widely circulated magazines and newspapers of the present day were founded in the year 1883. The Etude may be included in this list.

HOW do you like being placed in a class with freaks—near that of the idiot? Not a very comfortable position, is it? Read what Professor W. I. Thomas, of the University of Chicago, says, in the December number of The American Magazine:

“Particularly endowed brains also unquestionably do unusual forms of work, as in the case of musicians and mathematical prodigies, but this particular endowment is not necessarily associated either with great brain weight or with great all-around intelligence. Musicians are among the most unintelligent of the professional classes, and mathematical prodigies (that is, ‘lightning calculators’) are in other respects usually near the class of idiots—their whole output is mathematics.”

Shall we, musicians, rage and fume and declare that college professors are as a class educated fools, or that experimenters in psychology are biased observers of real life? Rather let us look into Professor Thomas’s statement more critically and conservatively. Unfortunately it is partially true. It is likewise unfortunate that it is at the same time very incomplete. It may also give thousands of people an entirely erroneous impression, which in some cases might prove disadvantageous to the musician. The American Magazine, as a champion of fairness, owes to the musicians of this country an explanation of Professor Thomas’s shot-gun statement.

Professor Thomas might easily point to the case of “Blind Tom,” whose total idiocy no one could question. We have also known personally a musician in a German city who was undeniably of a very low grade of intelligence. So proficient as an orchestral performer was he that the leader of the court orchestra assured us that he was an invaluable aid. He could play from memory long passages from the Wagner music dramas, and had accompanied the performances for years. He was nevertheless unable to recall anything of Wagner’s “Dramatic Legends,” and seemed to have been oblivious to everything that had ever happened upon the stage. It is to cases such as these that Professor Thomas undoubtedly refers. He might as well have said, “The piano-playing machine is unintelligent because its gray matter consists solely of rubber pneumatic tubes.”

We would like to acquaint Professor Thomas with the fact that the successful musician of to-day must of necessity be a person of wide experience, liberal education, broad purpose, high ideals and keen intelligence.

Anyone who has had the pleasure of knowing men of the type of Stephen Emery, Dr. Geo. A. Root, Prof. Hermann Ritter, Macdowell, Paine, Foote, Clarence Eddy, Paderewski, Joachim, Sir Hubert Parry, Richard Strauss and William Mason, representing various branches of musical endeavor, will realize how extremely absurd and unjust Professor Thomas’s general statement is. The work of these men indicates keen mental powers, wide information and broad grasp. If Professor Thomas and those who agree with him will take the trouble to read the articles by Mrs. Bloomfield-Zeisler and Emil Sauer, in the Christmas issue of The Etude, they will, we believe, discover, evidences of an intelligence that any professional man or woman might be glad to possess.

IN past years musicians were not expected to have any training other than the special work leading to fine technical performance. Two centuries ago they held menial positions as did surgeons and poets. Notwithstanding their genius and labors for civilization and humanity they were supposed to be inferior to men who, although idle, incompetent and not infrequently diseased, were absurdly supposed to have a divine right to rule their fellow-men.

Gradually came the great awakening. Musicians found out that a broad, general education made a broader man and ofttimes a better musician. The Etude has continually urged the necessity for a solid, “all around” educational training for musicians. It is necessary to specialize in music, but specializing at the sacrifice of a broad, general education may easily result in turning out the kind of a musician that Prof. Thomas places in a class near that of the idiot.

This class is becoming smaller and smaller each year. Let us not transgress by prosecuting our educational zeal to the point of the academic dryness and dullness that some of our university enthusiasts mistake for artistic finish, but let us all join in the fight for bigger, broader, grander men and women in the field of musical art.

 

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