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From the Hill-Tops

The literature of all countries is marked with the adoption of one particular time-worn figure of speech which authors have employed to enjoin us to extend our vision. Whether this figure comes in Hawthorne, Tolstoi, Bjornsen, Hugo or Dante matters not, its significance remains the same. We are told that in order to extend our vision we must climb to the hill-tops. Those who live in valleys—and who does not live in a valley?—must leave the valley or remain in the shadows of ignorance.

Music is, after all, but one of the narrow and beautiful vales of life. Beyond is the great world of Art, Literature, Science, Nature. If you have been living in the valley for a year or more, if you have been attending to your duties faithfully and have had little time for other amusements or interests, your vision has been restricted. You will be prone to measure everything from your own tiny standards, your own infinitesimal viewpoint.

Now is the time to climb to the hill-tops; now is the time to expand your mental grasp, to extend your vision. Plan a regular journey and spend your fall and winter ascending the hillsides. Next year your viewpoint may be entirely different; what you have regarded with intolerance you may look upon with charity; what you may have observed in a narrow spirit may be seen with the humane breadth which is your birthright.

How shall I climb? Ah, that you must determine for yourself. Above all things, do not stop climbing. Perhaps your path may be along new work in musical theory, technic, musical history, interpretation, study of the plastic arts, literature or biography. Whatever it may be, you will find the real pleasure in the climbing. When you reach the “Excelsior” heights which Longfellow immortalised you will then discover a new peak in the mountain chain of success. The great masters of music of the past are the men and women who have kept on discovering new peaks—not those who have slumbered away their lives in the dark valleys. The road to deathless fame is the road that leads upward.

“Ah, who can tell how hard it is to climb
The steep where Fame’s proud temple shines afar?”

 

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