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the bar quoted, he interpolated a sudden piano, so that he might
in time get a perceptible crescendo. Of course, I erased this
piano and restored the energetic forte in its integrity. And
thus, I presume, I again committed an offence against "Lobe and
Bernsdorf's eternal laws of truth and beauty," which Reissiger,
in his day, was so careful to obey.

After I had left Dresden, when this A major symphony came to be
performed again under Reissiger, he did not feel at ease about
that passage; so he stopped the orchestra, and advised that it
should be taken mezzo forte!

On another occasion (not very long ago, at Munich), I was present
at a public performance of the overture to "Egmont," which proved
instructive--somewhat after the manner of the customary
performances of the overture to "Der Freyschutz." In the Allegro
of the Egmont overture [Footnote: Beethoven: op. 84.] the
powerful and weighty sostenuto of the introduction:

[Figure: musical example]

is used in rhythmical diminution as the first half of the second
theme, and is answered in the other half, by a soft and smooth

[Figure: musical example]

The conductor, [Footnote: Franz Lachner] in accordance with
"classical" custom, permitted this concise and concentrated
theme, a contrast of power and gentle self-content, to be swept
away by the rush of the Allegro, like a sere and withered leaf;
so that, whenever it caught the ear at all, a sort of dance pace
was heard, in which, during the two opening bars the dancers
stepped forward, and in the two following bars twirled about in
"Laendler" [Footnote: Laendler--an Austrian peasant's dance, in
triple time, from which the waltz is derived.] fashion.

When Bulow, in the absence of the favourite senior conductor, was
called upon to lead the music to Egmont at Munich, I induced him,
amongst other things, to attend to the proper rendering of this
passage. It proved at once strikingly effective--concise,
laconic--as Beethoven meant it. The tempo, which up to that point
had been kept up with passionate animation, was firmly arrested,
and very slightly modified--just as much, and no more than was
necessary to permit the orchestra properly to attack this
thematic combination, so full of energetic decision and of a
contemplative sense of happiness. At the end of the 3/4 time the
combination is treated in a broader and still more determined
manner; and thus these simple, but indispensible, modifications
brought about a new reading of the overture--the CORRECT reading.
The impression produced by this properly conducted performance
was singular, to say the least of it; I was assured that the
manager of the Court theatre was persuaded there had been "a

No one among the audience of the celebrated Odeon Concerts at
Munich dreamt of "a break-down" when the above-mentioned senior
"classical" conductor led the performance of Mozart's G minor
symphony, when I happened to be present. The manner in which the
Andante of the symphony was played, and the effect it produced
was altogether surprising. Who has not, in his youth, admired
this beautiful piece, and tried to realize it in his own way? In
what way? No matter. If the marks of expression are scanty, the
wonderful composition arouses one's feelings; and fancy supplies
the means to read it in accordance with such feelings. It seems
as though Mozart had expected something of the kind, for he has
given but few and meagre indications of the expression. So we
felt free to indulge ourselves in the delicately increasing swing
of the quavers, with the moon-like rise of the violins:

[Figure: musical example]

the notes of which we believed to sound softly legato; the
tenderly whispering

[Figure: musical example]

touched us as with wings of angels, and before the solemn
admonitions and questionings of

[Figure: musical example]

(which, however, we heard in a finely sustained crescendo) we
imagined ourselves led to a blissful evanescence, which came upon
us with the final bars. Fancies of this sort, however, were not
permitted during the "strictly classical" performance, under the
veteran Capellmeister, at the Munich Odeon; the proceedings,
there, were carried on with a degree of solemnity, enough to make
one's flesh creep, with a sensation akin to a foretaste of
eternal perdition.

The lightly floating Andante was converted into a ponderous
Largo; not the hundredth part of the weight of a single quaver
was spared us; stiff and ghastly, like a bronze pigtail, the
battuta of this Andante was swung over our heads; even the
feathers on the angel's wings were turned into corkscrew curls--
rigid, like those of the seven year's war. Already, I felt myself
placed under the staff of a Prussian recruiting officer, A.D.
1740, and longed to be bought off--but! who can guess my terror,
when the veteran turned back the pages, and recommenced his
Largo--Andante, merely to do "classical" justice to the two
little dots before the double bar in the score! I looked about me
for help and succour--and beheld another wondrous thing: the
audience listened patiently: quite convinced that everything was
in the best possible order, and that they were having a true
Mozartian "feast for the ears" in all innocence and safety.--This
being so, I acquiesced, and bowed my head in silence.

Once, however, a little later on, my patience failed. At a
rehearsal of "Tannhauser" I had quietly allowed a good deal to
pass by unnoticed--even the clerical tempo at which my knights
had to march up in the second act. But now it became evident that
the undoubtedly "veteran" master could not even make out how 4/4
time was to be changed to an equivalent 6/4: i.e., two crotchets

[Figure: two crotchets (quarter notes)]

into a triplet of three crotchets

[Figure: a triplet of three crotchets (quarter notes)]

The trouble arose during Tannhauser's narrative of his pilgrimage
(Act III.), when 4/4

[Figure: musical score example]

is replaced by 6/4

This was too much for the veteran. He was very properly
accustomed to beat 4/4 on the square; but it is also the custom
of such conductors to beat 6/4 after the manner of 6/8, that is,
with an Alla breve beat--two in the bar. (Only in the Andante of
the G minor symphony did I witness six grave quaver beats = 1, 2,
3,--4, 5, 6). But, for my poor narrative about the Pope at Rome,
the conductor thought two timid Alla breve beats sufficient--so
that the members of the orchestra might be left at liberty to
make out the crotchets as best they could. Thus it came to pass
that the tempo was taken at exactly double the proper pace:
namely, instead of the equivalents just described, things
appeared thus:

[Figure: musical score example]

Now, this may have been very interesting, musically, but it
compelled the poor singer of Tannhauser to relate his painful
recollections of Rome to a gay and lively waltz-rhythm (which,
again, reminds me of Lohengrin's narrative about the Holy Grail,
at Wiesbaden, where I heard it recited scherzando, as though it
were about Queen Mab). But as I was, in this case, dealing with
so excellent a representative of Tannhauser as Ludwig Schnorr,
[Footnote: Ludwig Schnorr von Carolsfeld, the first "Tristan"
died 1865.] I was bound to establish the right tempo, and, for
once, respectfully to interfere. This, I am sorry to say, caused
some scandal and annoyance. I fear in course of time, it even
caused some little martyrdom, and inspired a cold-blooded Gospel-
critic [Footnote: David Strauss, author of "Das Leben Jesu."] to
celebrate and console the veteran-martyr in a couple of sonnets.
Indeed, we have now got sundry "martyrs of classical music"
crowned with a halo of poetry. I shall beg leave to examine them
still more closely in the sequel.

It has repeatedly been pointed out that our conductors dislike
attempts at modification of tempo, for the sake of perspicuity in
the rendering of Beethoven and other classical music. I have
shewn that plausible objections can be urged against such
modifications, so long as they are not accompanied by
corresponding modifications of tone and expression; and I have
further shewn that such objections have no foundation other than
the incompetence of conductors, who attempt to perform functions
for which they are not fit. In fact, there is but one valid
objection which can be urged against the mode of procedure I
advocate, namely this: nothing can be more detrimental to a piece
of music than ARBITRARY NUANCES of tempo, etc., such as are
likely to be introduced by this or that self-willed and conceited
time-beater, for the sake of what he may deem "effective." In
that way, certainly, the very existence of our classical music
might, in course of time, be undermined. Now, what is to be said
or done in the face of so sad a state of things? A sound public
opinion with regard to questions of art does not exist in
Germany; and there is nothing amongst us that could effectually
put a stop to such vagaries. Thus, the above objection, valid as
it is (though seldom put forward in good faith), again points
towards the conductors; for, if incompetent persons are not to be
permitted to maltreat classical music at their pleasure, how is
it that the best and most influential musicians have not taken
this matter in hand? why have they themselves led classical music
into such a groove of triviality and actual disfigurement? In
many instances the objection in question is merely put forward as
a pretext for opposition to all efforts in the direction I have
indicated. Indolent and incompetent persons form an immense
majority: and, under certain circumstances, incompetency and
sluggishness unite, and grow aggressive.

The first performances of classical compositions with us have, as
a rule, been very imperfect. (One has but to recall the accounts
of the circumstances under which Beethoven's most difficult
symphonies were first performed!). A good deal also has, from the
first, been brought before the German public in an absolutely
incorrect manner (compare my essay on "Gluck's Overture to

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