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Impromptu Opinions of Prominent Musicians.

1.  What instrument, in your judgment, produces the most musical music?

2.  What new fields has the future in store for musical composition?

3.  What is your opinion of the influence exerted upon the community by the German brass band, hand-organ, and other forms of street music?

4.  What are your views respecting the qualifications of woman as a composer?



1.  The organ; because it approaches most nearly the harmonies of combined voices; it compasses most nearly the harmonies of nature and of other musical instruments.

2.  Noble music for children.

3.  Beneficent: To the Italian peasant, who sees his native land in the strain from the hurdy-gurdy; to the German emigrant, who idealizes the harsh music into a breath from the Fatherland; to the tired man and woman not too coldly cultivated to recall an incident of some bright morning, long ago, when the hand-organ played the same strain through the streets of the old country home ; to the tired mother and the fretful baby in the hot alley of the city slums, and to the cultivated musician, who, distracted by the discordant sounds, is the more impelled to evolve harmonies for all the world, in sweet accord with those of which he dreams.

4.  One has only to attempt to separate Fanny Mendelssohn’s compositions from those of her brother, Felix Bartholdy, under whose name both have been published, to feel that the qualifications of woman, as a composer, may, under similar conditions, equal that of man.

Gertrude Capen.

1.  The piano; because of its capacity for expression through percussion.

2.  The German and Italian schools represent extremes; between them lies a field which Mendelssohn would have cultivated had he lived longer.

3.  Any music is better than none. Some grades of society are benefited by music of this kind.

4.  There is no reason on earth why woman cannot do everything that man can do. All she needs to demonstrate her ability is freedom of her own will.

J. B. Sharland.

1.  Violin.

2.  In America, the patriotic expression of those sentiments which make the nation the home of every kindred and tribe.

3.  Good selections are usually played. Influence is for good, however painful at times.

4.  When we have more women composers, we can better answer the question. We recall at the moment only Mrs. Beach, who, out of ten thousand students, has achieved success as a composer.

F. H. Allen.

1.  The violin.

2.  By its expression to the imagination purely through advanced intelligence, whereby it might be comprehended through the eye, as a novel is read.

3.  Upon those to whom the German brass band, crank pianos, etc., are music, the influence must be the same as that of more perfect performances upon others.

4.  A woman simply needs the same qualities to become a composer of music that a man requires. Any distinction between the sexes on this point seems to me to be absurd. The future, I believe, will prove the truth of this statement.

B. J. Lang.

1. Violin.

2 That depends on who are coming up to be the leaders of to-morrow. If the same kind that have been the real leaders from Bach to Brahms, it seems to me that the development of pure music (as distinguished from music for the theatre, etc.) will keep on in much the same lines, the manner of expression changing almost

imperceptibly from one generation to another, as has heretofore been the case.

3.  Not for good, nor very much for bad, excepting for the increase of an unnecessary nervous wear and tear.

4.  I can but think that woman is coming in the future more to the front in musical composition; we have here at home some conspicuous cases of this.

Arthur Foote.

1.  Well what is the most musical music, anyway? Every instrument has its own peculiar qualities or characteristics, and in its way makes the most musical music. What is the noisiest noise, the greenest green or the bluest blue? Hard to say, you see. It’s largely, or altogether, a matter of individual taste and feeling. Even the trombone does the most musical thing in its way. The human voice is, strictly speaking, not an instrument, but we all know that it is the most perfect vehicle for musical expression. The modern pipe organ, combining as it does the greatest variety of tone color with the largest volume of sound, gives the most music. So much for the mostness. As to the musicalness of the music, that depends—on the music. The orchestra, considered as one instrument, is the ideal, but the organ, with its resources for musical expression, as a single instrument, is king.

2.  I believe that the capacity of music for expressing the emotion of love and passion has been developed to the highest degree by Wagner. There is still an immense field in the expression of religious emotion. This side of life, owing to the materialistic currents which have been so dominant, has, since Bach, been very inadequately expressed. A change is sure to come, in fact the dawn of a new light is already visible to those who have eyes to see and ears to hear. Keep your eye, for instance, on Dvorak—great, simple soul, and constant reader of the Bible that he is—and see what you will see during the next few years. You will then begin to realize somewhat of the new field the future has in store for music.

3.  I like them all. They add so much to the picturesqueness of life, and they please the children, which is in itself no small recommendation. Don’t let us get so over-cultivated that we cannot enjoy these things with the children, and thereby add to our health and happiness. So I say, hand-organs and brass bands? Yes, let’s have them; the more, the better!

4.  The day is coming when men and women will not be separated as now. Biology tells us that woman is the trunk of the tree; she the permanent factor, man the variant. She is not only the mother of the race, but of the arts as well. Hers has not been the hand to write, carve, etc., but she has stood as the inspiring cause. What, for instance, would Beethoven have been without that wonderful love of his? Take the “Immortal beloved” out of his life, and the Countess Potocka out of the life of Chopin, and imagine, if you can, the difference in result!

John Orth.

1.  While the violin is the most expressive of instruments, the complete modern church organ produces the most musical music, and is nearest to the orchestra in its effects as a single instrument.

2.  I have not much faith in the future of music. The so-called music of the future is not a logical outcome of the music of the past. There is a great gulf between the two; symmetry of form and thematic development, the very life blood of pure music, have been and are being sacrificed for dubious statement and confusion. The works of the recognized masters of to day destined to live, are those which follow most closely the art of musical composition which culminated in Beethoven. I hold a decidedly pessimistic view of the future of musical composition as a fine art.

3.  Many forms of street music are a delight to the multitude while painful to the educated ear. I would not have them banished, but I would have the government of every city withhold a license from any performer or bands of performers who could not pass an examination before a board of musical people chosen to determine upon their quality and tunefulness.

4. Man is essentially more creative than woman, and while we shall, no doubt, continue to have many charming compositions from women, I do not believe a woman composer will ever appear who will take rank with the masters.

George L. Osgood.

The Spire.


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