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piece under my direction, conducted it, and the very same
orchestra played it--in such wise that the audience hissed! I do
not care to investigate how far this result was due to the
straightforward honesty of the persons concerned; let it suffice
that competent musicians, who were present at the performance,
described to me the SORT OF TIME the Herr Capellmeister had
thought fit to beat to the overture--and therewith I knew enough.

If any conductor wishes to prove to his audience or to his
directors, etc., what an ambiguous risk they will run with "Die
Meistersinger," he need take no further trouble than to beat time
to the overture after the fashion in which he is wont to beat it
to the works of Beethoven, Mozart, and Bach (which fashion suits
the works of R. Schumann fairly well); it will then be
sufficiently obvious that he is dealing with a very unpleasant
kind of music--let anyone imagine so animated, yet so sensitive a
thing as the tempo which governs this overture, let this
delicately constituted thing suddenly be forced into the
Procrustus-bed of such a classical time-beater, what will become
of it? The doom is: "Herein shalt thou lie, whatsoever is too
long with thee shall be chopped off, and whatsoever is too short
shall be stretched!" Whereupon the band strikes up and overpowers
the cries of the victim! Safely bedded in this wise, not only the
overture, but, as will appear in the sequel, the entire opera of
Die Meistersinger, or as much of it as was left after the
Capellmeister's cuts, was presented to the public of Dresden. On
this occasion, correctly and technically speaking, the merits of
the conductor [Footnote: The late Julius Rietz.] consisted in
this: he made a guess at the main tempo, chose the broadest
nuance of it, and spread this over the whole, beating the
steadiest and stiffest square time from beginning to end! The
ultimate results were as follows: I had made use of the
combination of the two main themes under an ideal Tempo Andante
alia breve (quoted above from the conclusion of the overture,
page 94) to form a pleasant and cheerful conclusion to the entire
opera, something after the manner of a burden to some old popular
song: I had augmented and enlarged the treatment of the thematic
combination for this purpose, and now employed it as a sort of
accompaniment to Hans Sachs's epilogising praise of the "Master-
singers," and to his consolatory rhymes upon German art, with
which the work ends. Though the words are serious, the closing
apostrophe is none the less meant to have a cheering and hopeful
effect; and, to produce this, I counted upon that simple thematic
combination, the rhythmical movement of which was intended to
proceed smoothly, and was not meant to assume a pompous
character, except just before the end, when the chorus enters.
Now in the overture, the conductor had failed to see the
necessity of a modification of the original march-like tempo in
the direction of an Andante alla breve; and, of course, here--at
the close of the opera--he equally failed to feel that the
movement was not directly connected with the march tempo--his
first mistake was therefore continued, and he proceeded to
confine and hold fast the warmly-feeling singer of the part of
Hans Sachs in rigid 4/4 time, and to compel him to deliver his
final address in the stiffest and most awkward manner possible.
Friends of mine requested me to permit a large "cut" for Dresden,
as the effect of the close was so very depressing. I declined;
and the complaints soon ceased. At length I came to understand
the reason why; the Capellmeister had acted for the obstinate
composer; "solely with a view to the good of the work," he had
followed the dictates of his artistic insight and conscience, had
laid his hands on the troublesome apostrophe, and simply "CUT"
it.

"Cut! Cut!"--this is the ultimo ratio of our conductors; by its
aid they establish a satisfactory equilibrium between their own
incompetence, and the proper execution of the artistic tasks
before them. They remember the proverb: "What I know not, burns
me not!" ("was ich nicht weiss, macht mich nicht heiss") and the
public cannot object to an arrangement so eminently practical. It
only remains for me to consider what I am to say to a performance
of my work, which thus appears enclosed between a failure at
Alpha, and a failure at Omega? Outwardly things look very
pleasant: An unusually animated audience, and an ovation for the
Herr Capellmeister--to join in which the royal father of my
country returns to the front of his box. But, subsequently,
ominous reports about cuts which had been made, and further
changes and abbreviations super-added; whilst the impression of a
perfectly unabbreviated, but perfectly correct performance, at
Munich, remains in my mind, and makes it impossible for me to
agree with the mutilators. So disgraceful a state of things seems
inevitable, since few people understand the gravity of the evil,
and fewer still care to assist in any attempts to mend it.

On the other hand there is some little consolation in the fact
that in spite of all ill-treatment the work retains some of its
power--that fatal power and "effect" against which the professors
of the Leipsic conservatorium so earnestly warn their pupils, and
against which all sorts of destructive tactics are applied in
vain! Having made up my mind, not to assist personally at any
future performance like the recent ones of "Die Meistersinger" at
Dresden, I am content to accept the "success" of the work as a
consolatory example illustrating the fate of our classical music
in the hands of our conducting musicians. Classical music retains
its warmth, and continues to exist in spite of the maltreatment
they subject it to. It appears truly indestructible: and the
Spirit of German art may accept this indestructibility as a
consoling fact, and may fearlessly continue its efforts in
future. It might be asked: But what do the queer conductors with
celebrated names amount to, considered simply as practical
musicians? Looking at their perfect unanimity in every practical
matter one might be led to think that, after all, they understand
their business properly, and that, in spite of the protest of
one's feelings, their ways might even be "classical." The general
public is so ready to take the excellence of their doings for
granted, and to accept it as a matter of course, that the middle-
class musical people are not troubled with the slightest doubt as
to who is to beat time at their musical festivals, or on any
other great occasion when the nation desires to hear some music.
No one but Herr Hiller, Herr Rietz, or Herr Lachner is thought
fit for this. It would be simply impossible to celebrate the
hundredth anniversary of Beethoven's birth if these three
gentlemen should happen suddenly to sprain their wrists. On the
other hand, I am sorry to say I know of no one to whom I would
confidently entrust a single tempo in one of my operas; certainly
to no member of the staff of our army of time-beaters. Now and
then I have met with some poor devil who showed real skill and
talent for conducting: but such rare fellows find it difficult to
get on, because they are apt not only to see through the
incompetence of the celebrities, but imprudent enough to speak
about it. If, for instance, a man happens to discover serious
mistakes in the orchestra parts of "Figaro," from which the opera
had been played with special unction--heaven knows how often--
under the solemn conductorship of a celebrity, he is not likely
to gain the favour of his chief. Such gifted poor fellows are
destined to perish like the heretics of old.

As everything is thus apparently in good order, and seems likely
to remain so, I am again tempted to ask how CAN this be? We
entertain lurking doubts whether these gentlemen really ARE
musicians; evidently they do not evince the slightest MUSICAL
FEELING; yet, in fact, they HEAR very accurately (with
mathematical, not ideal, accuracy; contretemps like that of the
faulty orchestra parts do not happen to everyone); they are quick
at a score, read and play at sight (many of them, at least, do
so); in short, they prove true professionals; but, alongside of
this, their general education (Bildung)--in spite of all efforts-
-is such as can pass muster in the case of a musician only; so
that, if music were struck from the list of their attainments,
there would be little left--least of all, a man of spirit and
sense. No, no! they certainly ARE musicians and very competent
musicians, who know and can do everything that pertains to music.
Well, then? As soon as they begin to perform music they muddle
matters, and feel unsafe all round, unless it be in "Ewig,
selig," or at best in "Lord Sabaoth!"

That which makes our great music great is the very thing which
confuses these people; unfortunately, this cannot be expressed in
words and concepts, nor in arithmetical figures. Yet, what is it
other than music? and music only! What, then, can be the reason
of this barrenness, dryness, coldness, this complete inability to
feel the influence of true music, and, in its presence, to forget
any little vexation, any small jealous distress, or any mistaken
personal notion? Could Mozart's astonishing gift for arithmetic
serve us for a vague explanation? On the one hand, it seems that
with him--whose nervous system was so excessively sensitive to
any disturbing sound, whose heart beat with such overflowing
sympathy--the ideal elements of music met and united to form a
wondrous whole. On the other hand, Beethoven's naive way of
adding up his accounts is sufficiently well known; arithmetical
problems of any sort or kind assuredly never entered into his
social or musical plans. Compared with Mozart he appears as a
monstrum per excessum in the direction of sensibility, which, not
being checked and balanced by an intellectual counterweight from
the arithmetical side, can hardly be conceived as able to exist
or to escape premature destruction, if it had not fortunately
been protected by a singularly tough and robust constitution. Nor

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