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How Verdi Preserved His Originality

Verdi seldom wrote a letter. When he did write one he usually had something interesting to say. Seven of his letters to friends were recently printed in the Roman Marzocco. In one of these he touches on the question of plagiarism and his inability to detect cases of it because of his lack of acquaintance with the world's stores of music: "Believe me, I am to be taken at my word when I speak of my utter musical ignorance. In my house there is hardly any music, and I have never gone to a library or to a publisher in order to look at any piece of music. True, I am familiar with some of the best works of our time, but not through study of them, but because of having often heard them in theatres. There is in this an intention, which you understand. I therefore tell you again that among the composers of the past and present I am the least cultured. But understand that I speak of culture, not of musical knowledge. As far as that is concerned, I would tell a lie if I denied that in the days of my youth I studied long and seriously. For that reason I find that my hand is sufficiently skilled to write down the notes I have in mind, and that I usually succeed in getting the effect I aim at. And if I frequently write something that is irregular, this is due to the facts that the strict rule does not give me just what I want and that I do not even approve of all the rules heretofore adopted. The treatises on counterpoint must be reformed."—Henry T. Finck in New York Evening Post.

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