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Woman and Music.

The London “Lancet” is sufficiently ungallant to utter the following: “There is no room here for the contention that, as compared with the boy, the girl has not had fair play; that opportunities for cultivating the art have in her case been few, in his many. The reverse is the truth. If there is a branch of education in which girls have been schooled, to the neglect of every other, it is precisely that of music. It is among the primary subjects to which she is put, and among the very last she is allowed to leave off. Not one hour a day, but many hours out of the 24, are consumed by her at the pianoforte, to say nothing of other instruments, while singing lessons are usually given in supplement to these. It might have been, though, that if practice gives perfection, woman would have excelled her male counterpart, not only as an executant, but as a composer. But what are the facts? In instrumental performance she cannot for a moment compare with him, while as to composition she is nowhere. Considering the time she has spent over it, her failure to evolve new harmonies, or even new melodies, is one of the most extraordinary enigmas in the history of the fine arts.”


What is to be done with the people who insist upon chattering, to the annoyance of their neighbors, while music is going on? Beethoven’s plan was to stop the music when he found he was playing to “hogs,” and Liszt adopted the same expedient. On one occasion, when the latter was playing before the late Emperor of Russia, he abruptly stopped on hearing the Czar talking. Noting the sudden general silence, the Emperor graciously requested the performer to continue; but Liszt left the instrument, made an elaborate bow, and, with cool and stinging wit, replied, “Sire, when the King speaks, all should remain silent.” But this method could hardly be adopted by those who allow the public to pay their money and take their choice of talk or tone. One recalls the story of the lady who, when a rest came in the music after a fortissimo climax, was heard telling her friend that “we always fry ours in lard.” The story is a chestnut, but it conveys a hint of what might be done to cover the concert-conversationalist with confusion.


Overdoing is as censurable as underdoing. To practice twelve or fifteen hours a day is fully as fatal as to practice only one hour. To play fortissimo or pianissimo, where only forte or piano is required, will spoil the effect. To substitute largo for andante, or presto for allegro, will often cause a failure. A concert programme one hour and a half in length, containing a due proportion of popular music, will give more satisfaction to the average audience than one three hours long made up exclusively of “the good old classics.” “Let your moderation be known to all men.”


—Miss Brower contributed recently a clever article to the Atlantic Monthly on the vexed question, “Is the musical idea masculine?” The fair authoress inclines to the affirmative, and actually goes so far as to print the following, for which, had it emanated from the editorial pen, we should shake in our editorial shoes: “Women can master the exact science of harmony, thorough bass, counterpoint and all; but, as somebody said of a wonderful German girl who spoke fluently in seven languages, ‘She can’t say anything worth listening to in any one of them.’”—The Keyboard.

I wonder if ever a song was sung
  But the singer’s heart sang sweeter?
I wonder if ever a rhyme was rung
  But the thought surpassed the metre?

I wonder if ever a sculptor wrought
  Till the cold stone echoed his ardent thought,
Or if ever a painter, with light and shade,
  The dreams of his inmost heart betrayed?



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