« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
the greatest and the least, the gift more executive than creative, inference that in the musical had so considerable a faculty for temperament emotionalism holds literature as to have been honoured supreme sway, balanced by no with a place among Dr Nordau's corresponding force of intellect, "graphomaniacs,” beside Mr Rusfinds abundant confirmation in the kin; and that at present the comannals of musical biography. The poser is as often as not a more or new “mad doctors," as Charles less competent critic. Such inReade was so fond of calling their stances, however, show little more predecessors, who talk as though than that in days of widely difwe might all be composers if we
musical were all imbeciles or idiots, are genius lacks the opportunity, or not to be taken too seriously; and can hardly dare, to be ignorant. when they tell us of unmusical That the mental faculties of mathematicians from whose soft- some of the greater composers, of ened brains emanate melodies as no special distinction to start with, lovely as they are original, one were neglected to an extent for cannot but admire the versatility which there is no parallel in the that enables specialists in lunacy other arts, is due in part to to qualify as experts in music. the amazing precocity so freBut the lives of the great com- quently found in association with posers do show, unwelcome as the musical genius. Not unnaturally, truth may be, that music of a very though certainly to their misforhigh order has been produced by tune, the infant prodigies have men who were indisputably dunces, been allowed to follow the bent of if not simpletons. Hence the de- their nature without restraint, and graded alliances which noble music thus have missed the thorough inhas contracted with mean and tellectual discipline which, while foolish words; hence, too, the it would not have debarred them little that has been done by com- from doing the highest justice to posers of the first rank in the way their gift, would have tended to of elucidating the laws which their check their emotional excess and genius has evolved. No one will to equip them for the proper conbe found to deny to Gluck a place duct of life. So it is that Handel, among philosophic critics ; and apart from his own work, was there are those who look upon never known to have an interest Richard Wagner as the Elisha in anything but pictures, and that upon whom his mantle tardily Haydn and others do not seem descended. But while Wagner's to have been interested even in mental activity is beyond contro- pictures. This explanation, howversy, his pretensions to philosophy ever, does not wholly account for are ill sustained by the monstrous the limitations which led Heine theory which represents music as to hold the musical intellect in a kind of Aaron's rod destined to amused contempt.
Chopin, for swallow up all the other arts, in example, was no ignoramus; but flat defiance of evolutionary law. so great was the disproportion beIt must be conceded, too, that tween sense and sensibility in him Schumann and Berlioz, men of that, in spite of an education undoubted genius, though not on which included some acquaintance the highest plane, have left behind with the sciences, he could bring them much luminous and penetrat- himself to care for nothing but ing criticism ; that Liszt, with a women and their toilets, and was
even indifferent to music that lay a youth he had made up his mind outside his own genre. Beethoven to have no mistress but music, for himself, though he delighted in it is recorded of him that, having Homer and Plato, in Shakespeare journeyed to Lübeck to compete and Goethe, and was profoundly for the post of public organist, he affected by the history that was unhesitatingly refused to enter the making around him, was not a lists as soon as he learnt that the man of large outlook, still less of successful competitor was expected sound and balanced mind,—though to take the retiring organist's it would be unfair to judge his daughter to wife. Doubtless it logical faculties by a quaint in- at least as fortunate for stance of their exercise, which Fräulein Buxtehude as for himself deserves a wider currency. He that he declined a rivalry in which had dismissed a housekeeper be- he was so likely to succeed. cause, not in her own interest, but Beethoven, again, never married. in her master's, she had told a fib, But it was from no defect of senand when challenged to justify his sibility that the tribulations which severity, he did so by arguing that were distributed
among many suc"any one who tells a lie has not a cessive housekeepers were not pure heart, and cannot therefore heaped upon the devoted head of make pure soup”!
If love be a disease, It is not strange that the great Beethoven was always ill, or at masters, thus endowed with an best but convalescent. No less abnormal sensibility unqualified in than forty ladies save four has most instances by force of intellect he immortalised by his dedicaand unchecked by systematic men- tions to them. To Bettina von tal training, should have shown Arnim - Goethe's Bettina for themselves to be peculiarly sus- whom he long cherished a hopeceptible to romantic love, with less passion, he once said, after results too often painful and un- trying over a composition which edifiying. Nobody who knows how he had just written, “I made much their work has been in- that for you; you inspired me debted to this source of inspiration with it. I saw it written in is likely to deal censoriously with your eyes”; and this is but a irregularities which it is not diffi- specimen of the gallantries to cult on other grounds also to ex- which he was addicted. Twice tenuate. But one may at least at least he proposed—on one ocregret for their own sakes that casion to the lady who, as he the conjugal relation, to which by found to his mortification, was their temperament they were so already the fiancée of his friend powerfully drawn, should be pre- Hummel. That marriage would cisely the relation for which by have saved him from a good many their temperament they were dis- worries is certain enough; for it qualified. In Handel's life alone must be allowed that, as Emil the tender passion appears to have Naumann delicately puts it, he had no place.
He has been ac- “ did not possess any aptitude for cused, and that on no substantial household management." How authority, of but one affaire du thick and fast his domestic cour ; and, if the story be authen- troubles came may be seen from tic, it would seem that most of the these extracts, which the histosentiment and all the suffering rian makes from his diary for were on the lady's side.
1819-20 : “ 31st January. Gave
,” he once
notice to my housekeeper. . . course he wrote music in her 15th February. The new cook honour, and credited her with a
8th March. Cook genius hardly inferior to his own. gave me notice. ...
2:2d of “I would rather she played my March. The new housekeeper sonata than Vogler," came.” Yet it would be rash touchingly declared. And while to assume that he merits pity under her influence he delivered because his many loves were all himself of sentiments on the subin vain; for wretched as was the ject of marriage which can never solitary life of this storm - tossed be sufficiently admired. soul, the imagination shrinks from nobility," he compassionately excontemplating the misery which claims, “can never marry from he would have suffered-and in- inclination or love. ... But we flicted—in the matrimonial estate. poor common folk not only may
Haydn, less fortunate than the take a wife whom we love and mighty genius who carried on his who loves us, but we should, can, work, did marry-and was unable and will take such a one. For to live with his wife. The lady of we are not nobly born, aristocratic, his choice, a hairdresser's daughter, or rich, but little, mean, and poor, had determined to betake herself and so do not need a rich wife." to a nunnery, and when he found Unhappily these exalted views that she was not to be moved from failed to commend themselves to her pious decision, he was induced his more worldly minded father, by her father to console himself who invited his gifted son to picwith her elder sister. Frau Haydn ture himself as dying on a sack may not have been blessed with of straw in a hovel “full of starvthe sweetest of tempers; and she ing brats.” Always a model of was certainly destitute of any sense filial obedience, Wolfgang, in spite of humour. Not long before their of his "should, can, and will,” subformal separation, when her hus- mitted, and, Aloysia having marband was in London tempering his ried, transferred his affections to a labours with an innocent flirtation younger sister, whom he was carewith Mrs Schröter, the widow of ful to present to his parents in a the Queen's music-master, she wrote much more prosaic light. He ad. begging him to send her two thou- mitted that she was not possessed sand gulden, so that she might of "much intellect," and claimed purchase a little house to live in no more for her than that she had during the days of her widowhood. enough common - sense to fulfil Approving of her provident dis- her duties as wife and mother.” position, he inspected the house on
A less amiable temper than Conhis return, bought it, and occupied stanze's would have found it hard it for nine years after her decease! to resist the spell of so sweet and
Mozart's matrimonial experi- gracious a nature as Mozart's ; ence was in one respect curiously and this "angelic genius" died like Papa Haydn’s, although on the too early to put to very severe whole he fared better. Suscepti- strain a union which had ble from his boyhood to the charms unromantic an origin. Troubles of the fair, he, at the age of about there were, for the fascinating twenty-two, became enamoured of young maestro was the idol of Aloysia Weber, then a girl of fif- ladies, both great and small, and, teen, a vocalist with no hope of excellent as were his inclinations, fortune except from her voice. Of his behaviour was not always
marked by a rigour that left no so overwhelmed him that with a occasion for scandal. But, if we cry of horror he fell fainting to may trust his biographer, as often the ground. They say that in the as he sinned he confessed; and remaining months of his life he hazardous as candour in such a was never heard to laugh; and case must be, the penitent does there is little doubt that his own not appear to have gone without untimely end was hastened by the absolution,
grievous shock. Of Mendelssohn it can neither So lovely and pleasant a life as be said that he failed in love nor this is in strong contrast with the that he lived to regret his success. careers of many of the romantic But for him the lines were cast in composers, and may partly exsuch pleasant places that his must plain the gibes in which some be regarded as an altogether ex- partisans of Wagner-whose life ceptional case. His early death was as full of discords as is his is the least of the evidences that music - think fit to indulge at he was of those whom the gods his expense. Had Mendelssohn's love. Grandson of the philoso- nature been less morally harmonipher, he had for mother a woman ous, we might have been spared of rare accomplishments, while his some of the unworthy allusions father was not only a man of to his Jewish blood; and his sense and culture, but had a "superficiality "might conceivably pleasant wit to boot, as is shown have been less evident. However by the pretty mot which he was this may be, it is only when we turn humanly fond of repeating when from the classicists to the romanhis son had become famous. ticists that we find the besetting
Formerly," he would remark, weaknesses of the musical tem“I was the son of my father; now perament in their full developI am the father of my son.” Nor ment. Of
of these it must was Felix less fortunate in his be allowed that in morals, as in environment than in his ante- music, their allegiance has been cedents. He enjoyed a liberal reserved mainly for the comforteducation, and became a protégé able law of self-expression. The of the aged Goethe; and from the time for dealing quite frankly with time when Moscheles, at his first the greatest of them is not yet : lesson, saw that he was instructing when all the truth has come into bis master, and even the austere circulation, the world will perhaps Cherubini found it in him to say, marvel that even those who can “ Le garçon est riche, il fera bien, revel in the longueurs and cacoil fait même déjà bien,” his genius phonies of the composer equally never had to wait for recognition with his finest inspirations should In every relation of life, not ex- have been able to lavish upon the cepting that of marriage, he found a devotion little short of the happiness which even so finely idolatrous, Never was there a poised a nature as his cannot com- sorrier hero than this selfish vomand in the absence of favouring luptuary, who content to circumstances. His devotion to gratify his luxurious tastes at his wife, the daughter of a minister the expense of his friends, but of the French Reformed Church, was too independent to feel gratewas hardly greater than his affec- ful for their sacrifices; whose selftion for his parents, and for his indulgence was so much of a dissister Fanny, whose sudden death ease that he smoked in order not
VOL. CLX-NO. DCCCCLXIX.
to miss a sensation which others If Wagner complained of poor enjoyed, and was capable of driv. Minna because she had too little ing his host into the streets in of the artistic temperament to adthe small hours of the morning mire masterpieces which many of to replenish his snuff-box; and of the greatest of his musical conwhom his ardent champion, the late temporaries could not away with, Ferdinand Praeger, has to confess Berlioz did not find that the artistic that while he was ready enough temperament, even supplemented to enter into a quarrel, he “al- by strong mutual attraction, is a sufways moved away when it looked ficient bond of sympathy between like coming to blows." His cal- husband and wife. The story of lous neglect of his first wife, who his mad love for Henrietta Smithhad been his slave through years son, the Irish actress whom he of penury qualified by prodigality, saw as Ophelia and Desdemona in provoked the remonstrances of his Paris, has been told by himself friends, and forced Mr Praeger to with as much accuracy as is possay, “I can testify that Wagner sible to an egoist in treating of suffered severely from thoughtless- his own concerns. Without the ness. No shabbier letter was formality of an introduction he ever penned than the one he wrote began to bombard her with letters to Mr Praeger when he found that full of wild protestations, to which the long-suffering woman had con- no reply was vouchsafed; for Miss fided her troubles to their common Smithson was rather alarmed by a friend. “How could she have ex- wooing which savoured so much of pected,” he plaintively asks, " that lunacy, and at last gave orders I was to be shackled and fettered that no more of his effusions should as any ordinary cold common mor- be taken in. After an absence in tal? My inspirations carried me Rome, he returned to Paris to into a sphere she could not follow, find her taking the part of Juliet, and then the exuberance of my and it is on this occasion that he heated enthusiasm was met by a is said to have exclaimed, “Cette cold douche." The familiar plea femme j'épouserai, et sur ce drame that there should be one law for j'écrirai ma plus vaste symphonie genius and another for the " -a legend which he contradicts, mon mortal” is not intolerable though, he adds, “I did both." when urged by the apologetic hero- Presently he contrived that Miss worshipper: from the hero himself Smithson should be present at a it comes with but ill grace. “I performance of "Lelio," and seeing liked every luxury—she fettered in the work the story of the comme there,” he bleats of the woman poser's love for her, and recognising who had striven so hard to save bis genius, she went home, he says, him from the ruin threatened by lending to her the sensations which his colossal extravagance. But it would have been his in the case, is only when he declares—"The “like one walking in her sleep, truth is, I have spoiled Minna; almost unconscious of all that was too much did I indulge her, too happening around her.” Then much did I yield to her”—that she allowed him an introduction, one sees the depths of meanness and accepted him as her lover; to which he was capable of de- and a few months later, in 1833, scending, and the appalling self- they were married. deception which a greatly gifted The wedded love thus promismind may practise upon itself. ingly begun ran no smooth course,