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An Interesting Interview With Verdi.

A correspondent of the London Morning Advertiser recently interviewed Verdi and succeeded in getting from him the following entertaining article:—

“France is not playing a very brilliant part in music just now,” said the veteran composer, turning to his old friend, who introduced the writer, and who, being a Frenchman, felt acutely the shafts leveled at his colleagues by the Italian maestro. “Ambroise Thomas, like myself, is old and fini. I saw him yesterday. He is a wreck. Perhaps his best work is ‘Mignon.’ ‘Francoise de Rimini’ contains some good things, but how on earth did he dare attack Dante with such a libretto? The ‘Tempete’ is downright bad. As to ‘Hamlet,’ I think Ambroise Thomas showed want of courage in not taking the bull by the horns and making the most of the splendid dramatic situations contained in Shakespeare’s play. I think I should have produced a very different work. Most of your living colleagues are a sickly lot. Massenet is a wild, harum-scarum rhapsodist, who has written some pretty songs; Saint-Saëns differs from him only in being one degree more mad. Since Wagner the musical field has been given up to chaos, and occupied by dissenting factions and rival composers. Those who imitate him have taken the bust of Beethoven off their pianos and replaced it with that of the Bayreuth composer. As regards Italian music, I think our youths ought to return to the love and study of song, which is our peculiar privilege. I don’t say this in aversion of German music, of which I am a warm admirer, but because I think that song is natural to us, by reason of our soil and climate. Once, a long time ago, some German musician said to me, talking of general tendencies, ‘You Italians don’t know how to compose a symphony.’ ‘You Germans,’ I retorted, ‘don’t know how to compose a song.’

“There is a strong propensity in most people to make themselves and their views the measure of excellence. Nor is the error confined to individuals. It is national. A country grows its taste like its fruit. The Germans are foremost in instrumental music. Why? Because the long winters, the deep snows, the fogs, the squalid and desolate winter landscapes, cause people in Germany to shut themselves up in warm rooms and amuse the slow hours with quartets and quintets. But who in Naples can endure to remain inside the house for even half a day? And when one goes into the open air, the lovely sky, the glorious sunshine, the beautiful earth, force your lips to utter a song, which is the natural expression of a lively and spontaneous movement of the soul. Still, although the entire power of Germany consists in bayonets and unity, which is highly adverse to civilization, I think the Germans share with us Italians the supremacy in music, although Russia is fast coming to the front. The new Slavic school displays a vigor, a daring, and a virility which makes me think the Muscovite is about to have his day. I have lived and worked through half a century in which the battle of the schools have been fought, with ardor, zeal, and not without bitterness; and I have come to this conclusion, that melody is the one factor in music which ages least. The works of Bellini and Donizetti—threadbare as they are—will ever remain as grapes which many a fox eyes with envy.”


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