Page images


good music in America, nor that a vulgar and depraved taste is to be for ever gratified, but that the efforts of the lovers of the art must be directed to elevating the taste of the people at large. They must not seek so much to please the few, as to instruct and refine the many.

Music must be made popular, not by debasing the art, but by elevating the people. Once excite a general love of the art in all classes, and the standard of music will rapidly rise. In no art is taste more rapidly progressive.

Another effect of our levelling principles upon music is, that the majority of the performers must be native. Italian company cannot be maintained here ; nor can choirs of foreign singers be kept for our churches. At the most, our leaders and instructers alone can be imported ; most of the music of the country must be committed to American performers. The consequence, we allow, is, that there is an iminense amount of very bad amateur music. Not a country village but has its choir of singers from the people. Music of some sort is everywhere. But let us reflect

upon the importance of this fact, that music is everywhere ; no matter how bad, if there be but a commencement, we may hope for improvement. It is a beautiful principle in our nature, that our conception is far beyond our execution. The choir of singers, who can perform in a tolerable manner the tune of Old Hundred, and the congregation which can enjoy the performance, are fitted to estimate a high order of music. A country where the mass of people have a real relish for music of any kind, no matter how indifferent, is in a fair way to have a national music of no mean character.

We do not undertake to assert, that we should not have better music than we now enjoy, if the Italian opera were established in some of our cities. Perhaps even centuries must pass away, before we can listen to such music as is yearly performed at the King's opera in London. But we wish to impress upon our readers the truth, that, if such an opera were supported among us, it would do nothing to promote our national music. Could the whole of that wonderful company who enchant the cities of Europe with their strains, Lablache and the Grisis, Rubini and Tamburini, and all the others that end in ini, be induced to make their abode in New York or Philadelphia, the cause of the art would gain little in America by their presence. Their music would be for the wealthy few;

not only beyond the means of a large majority of our citizens, but also beyond their taste, and altogether unsuitable to do any thing towards elevating their taste. Between such music as that and the mass of people, there must be a complete non-intercourse.

More than this, the establishment of such an opera would do harm to the cause of music among us.

The efforts of the wealthy would be exhausted in its support. The taste of one class would be gratified to the entire exclusion of the many from any such enjoyment. Native performers would be depressed ; native music derided. The travelling Chinese, when first introduced into a ball-room, inquired with great wonder, why all these gentlemen and ladies took the trouble to dance themselves? why did they not hire dancers? With similar notions about music, namely, that it is better to hire foreign performers exclusively, we are about as likely to have a national music, as the Chinese to dance.

The establishment of the Academy of Music in Boston will do more to advance the art among us in ten years, than the New York Opera could have effected in ten centuries. The Academy offers instruction on terms which need not repel the poorest citizens ; at the same time, it is able to give concerts which shall be cheap enough for any to attend. We have felt, when we have seen the Odeon crowded at these concerts, and have listened to the truly magnificent performances of native musicians, collected or reared by the Academy, that the art was indeed prospering among us.

And what are the pieces which week after week draw two thousand of our fellow citizens at a time to the Odeon ? Certainly not of a low order of music, but selected from the highest productions of the art ; the compositions of Haydn, of Mozart, of Neukomm, of Romberg, and other great masters. We will venture to say, that the Oratorio of the Creation” is as well known and as popular in Boston as in Vienna. The efforts of the Academy are calculated in the best possible manner to prepare


for national music among us. Its object is to render music popular ; to plant the art among the people ; to make it a universal resource for elegant enjoyment. To promote this object nothing could be better adapted than the measure taken by the city of Boston of introducing music as part of the regular course of instruction in the public schools ; a measure for which we have in VOL. L. - NO. 106.


no small degree to thank the active and intelligent professors and directors of the Academy of Music.

It is commonly asserted, and we incline to think correctly, that there is less of good music in Boston than in the southern cities.

In its churches and drawing-rooms we hear less remarkable performances than in New York and Philadelphia. The young ladies do not play and sing so well, as their sisters further south. Few hereabouts can sing Italian airs in such a manner as to be recognised, even could the composer himself hear them ; and drawing-room music consists pretty much of the defunct remains of operas which have been murdered to make contre-danses of, or the hum-drum English songs brought out by the last popular concert-giver. But when we turn from such forlorn music as this to the grand concerts of the Academy, or the Handel and Haydn Society, and witness the crowds from all classes who flock to hear them, we feel assured, that music is established on a firm basis in Boston, and that it will be sure to prosper if the principles we have been suggesting are adhered to.

In speaking of the means of promoting the cause of music in this country, we must not omit noticing an excellent periodical to which we have bad occasion already to refer ; the “ Musical Magazine,” edited by Messrs. Hack and Hayward. The work is issued twice a month, in the octavo form. The subjects as announced in the prospectus to be discussed, are the Theory of Music ; Instrumental and Vocal Music ; the History of the Art and of Musical Instruments ; Biographical Notices of Composers ; Criticisms on Musical Compositions and Performances, &c. The Magazine has now reached the sixteenth number, and has thus far been extremely well sustained. It is not so professional as to be unintelligible to those who are not musicians, and at the same time it may be read with pleasure and profit by those who are. merit of the Magazine is, that the contents are made interesting. They open to the reader a little world by itself. In the biographies and anecdotes of musical composers and performers, and in the history of the art, we seem to be looking upon a life apart from the cares of the busy world about us ; a life whose paths are green, and whose bowers are pleasant. We earnestly hope that this excellent little periodical will be supported and encouraged. Its price is so low, that it need

One great

not repel any one, and we are sure that those who take it will never regret placing their names on the list of subscribers.

Art. II. – 1. A Report on Explosions, and the Causes of

Explosions, with Suggestions for their Prevention ; prepared at the Request of the Citizens of Cincinnati. Cin

cinnati. 1838. 8vo. pp. 76. 2. Letter from the Secretary of the Treasury, transmitting,

in Obedience to a Resolution of the House, of the 29th of June last, Information in Relation to Steam-Engines, fc. December 13th, 1838. 8vo. pp. 472.

The Steamboat, during the last twenty years, has been the means of peopling the West with millions of enterprising and prosperous citizens. It has built up large and wealthy cities, and placed within their reach all the means of comfort, all the elegances of refinement, and every blessing, social, religious, and literary, enjoyed by the inhabitants of the seaboard. It has borne to every foreign region the surplus of those productions, with which the teeming earth has rewarded the Western cultivators. In fact, it has been just as essential to the growth of the nations, that are now expanding themselves in all the vigor of healthy, thriving youth over the prairies and forests, as the rich soil, whose products must otherwise have lain useless on their hands. And it has enabled the whole West to anticipate, by centuries, the tardy growth which seemed to be in prospect for it, when a toilsome voyage of months was necessary to bring up, against the strong current of the Mississippi, a very slender portion of the necessaries and comforts, produced in older and more civilized countries.

Such magnificent results could not reasonably be expected, without some accompanying evils. good has never yet been administered unmixed to human lips ; and the amount of property that has been destroyed, the hundreds and thousands of human beings, that have been ingulfed by the turbid stream, the aching hearts of surviving

The cup of friends and bereaved families throughout every part of our country, give abundant proof, that the Father of Waters will ever and anon rebel against the dominion of man, and that his angry torrent has not yet been subdued into a safe thoroughfare, over which to float himself, and the various trophies of “his pride, his pomp, his skill.” In truth, the accidents involving destruction of life and property, have become so frequent upon the Western rivers, that we look as regularly, when we open a newspaper, for a steamboat disaster, as for the foreign news.

The importance of the subject, and the odium which such an apparent recklessness of life was bringing on the country, have led to statutory regulations on the part of several States, and have at last attracted the attention of the national legislature. The first result of this awakening has been, the passing of the “ Act for the better security of the lives of passengers on board of vessels, propelled in whole or in part by steam.” For ourselves, we hail the movement as auspicious; and, however short of meeting the necessities of the case, or of answering the purpose for which it was designed, this Act may be, (as we shall have occasion in the course of this article to show that it is,) yet, as indicating on the part of our representatives a disposition to investigate, and to do something in a matter of such extreme importance, we are disposed to rejoice, in the hope that it is the commencement of a course of legislation, which, if properly pursued, and rigidly enforced, must be productive of great good. Believing that much of the unwillingness which has been manifested by our legislators to act in this business, and much of the misapprehension which is so prevalent everywhere, arises from an ignorance of the subject, - not very surprising when we reflect, that but few even of those who travel most on these waters give themselves the trouble to investigate it, and that the interest of those concerned in the building and running of boats, while it gives them the requisite information, makes them very generally unwilling or unsafe witnesses, — we hold it very desirable, that all those who possess information should give it publicity; and it is with an earnest desire to contribute our mite towards the disseminating of correct views, that we approach the subject.

The intercourse between the East and the West has become so continuous, that there are few families on the sea

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »