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Iphigenia in Aulis" in one of the earlier volumes of the "Neue
Zeitschrift fur Musik.") [Footnote: Wagner. "Gessammelte
Schriften." Vol. V.. p.143.] This being so, how can the current
style of execution appear other than it is? In Germany the
"conservators" of such works are both ignorant and incompetent.
And, on the other hand, suppose one were to take an unprejudiced
and impartial view of the manner in which a master like
Mendelssohn led such works! How can it be expected that lesser
musicians, not to speak of musical mediocrities generally, should
really comprehend things which have remained doubtful to their
master? For average people, who are not specially gifted, there
is but one good guide to excellence--a good example; and a
guiding example was not to be found in the path chosen by the
host of mediocrities. Unfortunately, they entirely occupy this
path or pass, at present,--without a guide or leader--and any
other person who might, perchance, be capable of setting up a
proper example, has no room left. For these reasons I deem it
worth while to strip this spirit of reticence and shallow
pretence of the halo of sanctity with which it poses as the
"chaste spirit of German art." A poor and pretentious pietism at
present stifles every effort, and shuts out every breath of fresh
air from the musical atmosphere. At this rate we may live to see
our glorious music turned into a colourless and ridiculous bug-

I therefore think it advisable to take a straightforward survey
of this spirit, to look closely into its eyes, and to openly
assert that it has NOTHING in common with the true spirit of
German music. It is not easy to estimate the positive weight and
value of modern, Beethovenian, music--but we may perhaps hope to
get at some negative proof of its worth, by an examination of the
pseudo-Beethovenian-classicism now in the ascendant.

It is curious to note how the opposition to the things I advocate
finds vent in the press, where uneducated scribblers clamour and
create a disturbance, whilst in the profession proper, the
utterances are far from noisy, though sufficiently bitter. ("You
see he cannot express himself," a lady once said to me with a sly
glance at one of these reticent musicians). As I have said at the
outset this new musical Areopagus consists of two distinct
species: Germans of the old type, who have managed to hold out in
the South of Germany, but are now gradually disappearing; and the
elegant Cosmopolites, who have arisen from the school of
Mendelssohn in the North, and are now in the ascendant. Formerly
the two species did not think much of each other; but latterly,
in the face of certain disturbances which seem to threaten their
nourishing business, they have united in mutual admiration; so
that in the South the Mendelssohnian school, with all that
pertains to it, is now lauded and protected--whilst, in the
North, the prototype of South-German sterility is welcomed
[Footnote: Franz Lachner and his Orchestral Suites.] with sudden
and profound respect--an honour which Lindpaintner of blessed
memory [Footnote: Peter Josef von Lindpainter, 1791-1856,
Capellmeister at Stuttgart] did not live to see. Thus to ensure
their prosperity the two species are shaking hands. Perhaps at
the outset such an alliance was rather repugnant to those of the
old native type; but they got over the difficulty by the aid of
that not particularly laudable propensity of Germans: namely, a
timid feeling of jealousy which accompanies a sense of
helplessness (die mit der Unbeholfenheit verbundenc Scheelsucht).
This propensity spoilt the temper of one of the most eminent
German musicians of later times, [Footnote: Robert Schumann.] led
him to repudiate his true nature, and to submit to the
regulations of the elegant and alien second species. The
opposition of the more subordinate musicians signifies nothing
beyond this: "we cannot advance, we do not want others to
advance, and we are annoyed to see them advance in spite of us."
This is at least honest Philistinism; dishonest only under

In the newly-formed camp, however, things arc not so simple. Most
complicated maxims have there been evolved from the queer
ramifications of personal, social, and even national interests.
Without going into details, I will only touch one prominent
HIDE AND SUPPRESS. The members of the fraternity hardly think it
desirable to show that they are "musicians" at all; and they have
sufficient reason for this.

Our true German musician was originally a man difficult to
associate with. In days gone by the social position of musicians
in Germany, as in France and England, was far from good. Princes,
and aristocratical society generally, hardly recognised the
social status of musicians (Italians alone excepted). Italians
were everywhere preferred to native Germans (witness the
treatment Mozart met with at the Imperial Court at Vienna).
Musicians remained peculiar half-wild, half-childish beings, and
were treated as such by their employers. The education, even of
the most gifted, bore traces of the fact that they had not really
come under the influence of refined and intelligent society--
(think of Beethoven when he came in contact with Goethe at
Teplitz). It was taken for granted that the mental organisation
of professional musicians was such as to render them
insusceptible to the influence of culture. When Marschner,
[Footnote: Heinrich Marschner, 1796-1861, operatic composer;
Weber's colleague at Dresden, subsequently conductor at Leipzig
and Hanover.] in 1848, found me striving to awaken the spirit of
the members of the Dresden orchestra, he seriously dissuaded me,
saying he thought professional musicians incapable of
understanding what I meant. Certain it is, as I have already
said, that the higher and highest professional posts were
formerly occupied by men who had gradually risen from the ranks,
and in a good journeyman-like sense this had brought about many
an excellent result. A certain family feeling, not devoid of
warmth and depth, was developed in such patriarchal orchestras--
and this family feeling was ready to respond to the suggestions
of a sympathetic leader. But just as, for instance, the Jews
formerly kept aloof from our handicraftsmen, so the new species
of conductors did not grow up among the musical guilds--they
would have shrunk from the hard work there. They simply took the
lead of the guilds--much as the bankers take the lead in our
industrial society. To be able to do this creditably conductors
had to show themselves possessed of something that was lacking to
the musicians from the ranks--something at least very difficult
to acquire in a sufficient degree, if it was not altogether
lacking: namely, a certain varnish of culture (Gebildetheit). As
a banker is equipped with capital, so our elegant conductors are
the possessors of pseudo-culture. I say pseudo-culture, not
CULTURE, for whoever really possesses the latter is a superior
person and above ridicule. But there can be no harm in discussing
our varnished and elegant friends.

I have not met with a case in which the results of true culture,
an open mind and a free spirit, have become apparent amongst
them. Even Mendelssohn, whose manifold gifts had been cultivated
most assiduously, never got over a certain anxious timidity; and
in spite of all his well-merited successes, he remained outside
the pale of German art-life. It seems probable that a feeling of
isolation and constraint was a source of much pain to him, and
shortened his life. The reason for this is to be found in the
fact that the motives of a desire for culture, such as his, lack
spontaneity--(dass dem Motive eines solchen Bildungsdranges keine
Unbefangenheit innewohnt)--and arise from a desire to cover and
conceal some part of a man's individuality, rather than to
develop it freely.

But true culture is not the result of such a process: a man may
grow extremely intelligent in certain ways; yet the point at
which these ways meet may be other than that of "pure
intelligence" (reinschende Intelligenz). To watch such an inner
process in the case of a particularly gifted and delicately
organized individual is sometimes touching; in the case of lesser
and more trivial natures however, the contemplation of the
process and its results is simply nauseous.

Flat and empty pseudo-culture confronts us with a grin, and if we
are not inclined to grin in return, as superficial observers of
our civilization are wont to do, we may indeed grow seriously
indignant. And German musicians now-a-days have good reason to be
indignant if this miserable sham culture presumes to judge of the
spirit and significance of our glorious music.

Generally speaking, it is a characteristic TRAIT of pseudo-
culture not to insist too much, not to enter deeply into a
subject or, as the phrase goes, not to make much fuss about
anything. Thus, whatever is high, great and deep, is treated as a
matter of course, a commonplace, naturally at everybody's beck
and call; something that can be readily acquired, and, if need
be, imitated. Again, that which is sublime, god-like, demonic,
must not be dwelt upon, simply because it is impossible or
difficult to copy. Pseudo-culture accordingly talks of
"excrescencies," "exaggerations," and the like--and sets up a
novel system of aesthetics, which professes to rest upon Goethe--
since he, too, was averse to prodigious monstrosities, and was
good enough to invent "artistic calm and beauty" in lieu thereof.
"The guileless innocence of art" becomes an object of laudation;
and Schiller, who now and then was too violent, is treated rather
contemptuously; so, in sage accord with the Philistines of the
day, a new conception of classicality is evolved. In other
departments of art, too, the Greeks are pressed into service, on
the ground that Greece was the very home of "clear transparent
serenity;" and, finally, such shallow meddling with all that is
most earnest and terrible in the existence of man, is gathered

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