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Dr. Bernhard Marx, the famous and learned musician, writer, and critic, in his work on “General Musical Instruction,” says: “We have already said that, if possible, every one should learn music; we now pronounce our opinion more specially, that ‘every one, if possible, should learn singing.’ Song is man’s own true peculiar music. The voice is our own peculiar connate instrument. It is much more; it is ‘the living sympathetic organ of our souls.’ Whatever moves within us, whatever sensation or emotion we feel, becomes immediately embodied and perceptible in our voice; and so, indeed, the voice and song, as we may observe in the earliest infancy, are our first poetry and the most faithful companions of our feelings.

“If, as in song properly so-called, music and speech be lovingly united, and the words be those of a true poet, then is consummated the most intimate union of mind and soul, of understanding and feeling,—that combined unity in which the whole power of the human being is exhibited, and exerts upon the singer and the hearer that wonderful might of song which by infant nations was considered, not quite untruly, as supernatural.

” … Song is the most appropriate treasure of the solitary, and it is at the same time the most stringent and forcible bond of companionship… . Devotion in our churches becomes more edifying; our popular festivals and days of enjoyment become more animated; our social meetings more lively and intellectually joyful; our whole life, in short, becomes more elevated and cheerful by the spread of the love of song and of the power of singing among the greatest possible number of individuals. And these individuals will feel themselves more intimately connected with society, more largely participating in its benefits, of more worth in it, and gaining more by it, when they unite their voices in the social harmony of their friends.

”To the musician, but more especially to the composer, song is an almost irreplaceable and indispensable means of calling forth and seizing the most delicate, tender, and deepest strains of feeling from our inmost sensations. No instrument can be a substitute for song,—the immediate creation of our own soul in our own breast. We can have no deeper impression of the relations of sound, of the power of melody; we can not work more effectively upon our own souls and upon those of our hearers than by heartfelt song.

“Every friend of music, therefore, should sing; and every musician who has a tolerable voice should be a master of song in every branch.”


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You are reading Song from the July, 1898 issue of The Etude Magazine.

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