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Julius Caesar; the "Balladen," Das Gluck von Edenhall, Des Sanger
Fluch, Vom Pagen und der Konigstochter, etc.] The public does not
exactly like these works, but their performance offers an
opportunity to point out how commendable a thing it is to "make
no effect." Finally, a comparison with the works of Beethoven in
his third period (played as they play them) comes in opportunely.

Certain later, inflated (schwulstig) and dull productions of R.
Schumann, which simply require to be played smoothly (glatt
herunter gespielt) are confounded with Beethoven; and an attempt
is made to show that they agree in spirit with the rarest,
boldest and most profound achievements of German music! Thus
Schumann's shallow bombast is made to pass for the equivalent of
the inexpressible purport of Beethoven--but always with the
reservation that strenuous eccentricity such as Beethoven's is
hardly admissible; whereas, vapid emptiness (das gleichgiltig
Nichtssagende) is right and proper: a point at which Schumann
properly played, and Beethoven improperly rendered, are perhaps
comparable without much fear of misunderstanding! Thus these
singular defenders of musical chastity stand towards our great
classical music in the position of eunuchs in the Grand-Turk's
Harem; and by the same token German Philistinism is ready to
entrust them with the care of music in the family--since it is
plain that anything ambiguous is not likely to proceed from that

is the fate of our music that really concerns us. We have little
reason to grieve if, after a century of wondrous productivity,
nothing particular happens to come to light for some little time.
But there is every reason to beware of suspicious persons who set
themselves up as the trustees and conservators of the "true
German spirit" of our inheritance.

Regarded as individuals, there is not much to blame in these
musicians; most of them compose very well. Herr Johannes Brahms
once had the kindness to play a composition of his own to me--a
piece with very serious variations--which I thought excellent,
and from which I gathered that he was impervious to a joke. His
performance of other pianoforte music at a concert gave me less
pleasure. I even thought it impertinent that the friends of this
gentleman professed themselves unable to attribute anything
beyond "extraordinary technical power" to "Liszt and his school,"
whilst the execution of Herr Brahms appeared so painfully dry,
inflexible and wooden. I should have liked to see Herr Brahms'
technique annointed with a little of the oil of Liszt's school;
an ointment which does not seem to issue spontaneously from the
keyboard, but is evidently got from a more aetherial region than
that of mere "technique." To all appearances, however, this was a
very respectable phenomenon; only it remains doubtful how such a
phenomenon could be set up in a natural way as the Messiah, or,
at least, the Messiah's most beloved disciple; unless, indeed, an
affected enthusiasm for mediaeval wood-carvings should have
induced us to accept those stiff wooden figures for the ideals of
ecclesiastical sanctity. In any case we must protest against any
presentation of our great warm-hearted Beethoven in the guise of
such sanctity. If THEY cannot bring out the difference between
Beethoven, whom they do not comprehend and therefore pervert, and
Schumann, who, for very simple reasons, IS incomprehensible, they
shall, at least, not be permitted to assume that no difference

I have already indicated sundry special aspects of this
sanctimoniousness. Following its aspirations a little further we
shall come upon a new field, across which our investigation on
and about conducting must now lead us. Some time ago the editor
of a South German journal discovered "hypocritical tendencies"
(muckerische Tendenzen) in my artistic theories. The man
evidently did not know what he was saying; he merely wished to
use an unpleasant word. But my experience has led me to
understand that the essence of hypocrisy, and the singular
tendency of a repulsive sect of hypocrites (Mucker), may be known
by certain characteristics:--they wish to be tempted, and
greedily seek temptation, in order to exercise their power of
resistance!--Actual scandal, however, does not begin until the
secret of the adepts and leaders of the sect is disclosed;--the
adepts reverse the object of the resistance--they resist with a
view to increasing the ultimate sense of beatitude. Accordingly,
if this were applied to art, one would perhaps not be saying a
senseless thing if one were to attribute hypocritical tendencies
to the queer "school for chastity" of this Musical Temperance
Society. The lower grades of the school may be conceived as
vacillating between the orgiastic spirit of musical art and the
reticence which their dogmatic maxim imposes upon them--whilst it
can easily be shewn that the higher grades nourish a deep desire
to enjoy that which is forbidden to the lower. The "Liebeslieder
Walzer" of the blessed Johannes (in spite of the silly title)
might be taken as the exercises of the lower grades; whereas the
intense longing after "the Opera," which troubles the
sanctimonious devotions of the adepts, may be accepted as the
mark of the higher and highest grades. If a single member, for
once only, were to achieve a success with an opera, it is more
than probable that the entire "school" would explode. But,
somehow, no such success has hitherto been achieved, and this
keeps the school together; for, every attempt that happens to
fail, can be made to appear as a conscious effort of abstinence,
in the sense of the exercises of the lower grades; [Footnote: For
a curious example of such exercises, see Ferdinand Hiller's "Oper
ohne Text;" a set of pianoforte pieces, a quatre mains.] and "the
opera," which beckons in the distance like a forlorn bride, can
be made to figure as a symbol of the temptation, which is to be
finally resisted--so that the authors of operatic failures may be
glorified as special saints.

Seriously speaking, how do these musical gentlemen stand with
regard to "THE OPERA?" Having paid them a visit in the concert-
room to which they belong, and from which they started, we shall
now, for the sake of "conducting," look after them at the

Herr Eduard Devrient, in his "Erinnerungen," has given us an
account of the difficulties his friend Mendelssohn met with in
the search for a textbook to an opera. It was to be a truly
"GERMAN" opera, and the master's friends were to find the
materials wherewith to construct it. Unfortunately, they did not
succeed in the quest. I suspect there were very simple reasons
for this. A good deal can be got at by means of discussion and
arrangement; but a "German" and "nobly-serene" opera, such as
Mendelssohn in his delicate ambition dreamt of, is not exactly a
thing that can be manufactured--nor old nor new testamentary
recipes will serve the purpose. The master did not live to reach
the goal: but his companions and apprentices continued their
efforts. Herr Hiller believed he could force on a success, simply
by dint of cheerful and unflagging perseverance. Everything, he
thought, depends upon a "lucky hit," such as others had made in
his very presence, and which steady perseverance, as in a game of
chance, must, sooner or later, bring round to him. But the "lucky
hit" invariably missed. Schumann also did not succeed, [Footnote:
"Genoveva," Oper in vier Acten, nach Tieck und F. Hebbel, Musik
von Robert Schumann. Op. 81."] and many other members of the
church of abstinence, both adepts and neophytes, have since
stretched forth their "chaste and innocent" hands in search of an
operatic success--they troubled greatly--but their efforts proved
fruitless--"the fortunate grip" failed.

Now, such experiences are apt to embitter the most harmless
persons. All the more so, since Capellmeisters and Musikdirectors
are daily occupied at the theatres, and are bound to serve in a
sphere in which they are absolutely helpless and impotent. And
the causes of their impotence, with regard to the composition of
an opera, are also the causes of their inability to conduct an
opera properly. Yet such is the fate of our public art, that
gentlemen who are not even able to conduct concert music, are the
sole leaders in the very complicated business of the opera
theatres! Let a reader of discretion imagine the condition of
things there!

I have been prolix in showing the weakness of our conductors, in
the very field, where, by rights, they ought to feel at home. I
can be brief now with regard to the opera. Here it simply comes
to this: "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do."
To characterize their disgraceful doings, I should have to show
how much that is good and significant MIGHT be done at the
theatres, and this would lead me too far. Let it be reserved for
another occasion. For the present I shall only say a little about
their ways as operatic conductors.

In the concert room these gentlemen go to work with the most
serious mien; at the opera they deem it becoming to put on a
nonchalant, sceptical, cleverly-frivolous air. They concede with
a smile that they are not quite at home in the opera, and do not
profess to understand much about things which they do not
particularly esteem. Accordingly, they are very accommodating and
complaisant towards vocalists, female and male, for whom they are
glad to make matters comfortable; they arrange the tempo,
introduce fermatas, ritardandos, accelerandos, transpositions,
and, above all, "cuts," whenever and wherever a vocalist chooses
to call for such. Whence indeed are they to derive the authority
to resist this or that absurd demand? If, perchance, a
pedantically disposed conductor should incline to insist upon
this or that detail, he will, as a rule, be found in the wrong.
For vocalists are at least at home and, in their own frivolous
way, at ease in the opera; they know well enough what they can
do, and how to do it; so that, if anything worthy of admiration

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