« AnteriorContinuar »
devotedly, pure, and free from all the dross and sharp asperities of real personality; it is a communion of one soul with others, full of the internal feelings of humanity, and yet exempt from all oppressive materiality, or other disturbing objects. And thus this shadowy being, invoked by the musician's art, waves its life of high significence before us; we live in it, in pleasure or in pain, as the spirit of the artist wills; with him, faultless and untouched, our personality becomes involved in a manifold spiritual existence, and we experience in ourselves the countless riches of this spiritual life, together with our narrowly-limited corporeal reality. Herein we behold long departed beings and circumstances-those pure forms which Gluck evoked from Greece and the enchanted East: the patriarchal simplicity and dignity of that people, out of whose darkness the light of the world was to come, in Handel's songs: the mad confusion of the Pharisees and their party, before the holiness of the new covenant, in Bach's immortal works. All these pass before us; ages long in oblivion, seem sensibly present.
Whatever can move the human heart in innocence, joy, delicacy, and childish humour, the most lovely play of the imagination, and the most mysterious sensations of our spiritual essence, all that Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven could feel or imagine, is laid open to us, and becomes our own.
The real indwelling in art, and sincere devotion to it, are essential conditions in artistic education; without them we cannot participate in its inestimable gifts; they are absolutely indispensable.
It is not the possession of great artists, nor of great works of art, which insures to a nation or to its gifted individuals, a genuine artistic education, and thereby the full enjoyment, the highest pleasures of art. If such were the case, no nation could be more assured than ours of the highest musical education; since, during the last century, at least, our musicians have produced the most lofty and most pregnant ideas that have ever been embodied in sound. We have, on the other hand, experienced within a single century, after three noble exaltations, in the days of Bach and Handel, of Gluck,-Haydn, and Mozart, -and of Beethoven; also three several depressions from our upward flight; nay, if we will believe the loudest and most numerous voices of the day, it would seem that in many minds even the remembrance were lost of what in former days were universally acknowledged to be our brightest landmarks to excellence.
Playing and hearing only, cannot be relied on as a sufficient means of education, although they must be the foundation and companions of all musical cultivation; for we hear bad music as well as good; and we know that the weak and spurious produces its effect (often quicker and to a greater extent) as well as the elevated and genuine. We must herein the more readily acknowledge the power of sound, that even in its perverted employment it still exerts a vast influence over the mind and senses,-apart, moreover, from the effect of secondary objects, of prejudice, and of fashion. Indeed, it is not to be
denied, that the corporeal effect of sound acting in large masses, in conjunction with considerable talent, magnified, perhaps, by partiality into great superiority, in the performers, is capable of producing from very moderate or indifferent works an effect which may surprise artists of judgment; but the cause of that effect is not in the composition—it is the attribute of the large body or volume of sound, and of the influential partiality for the performers. Hence we may perceive how small the claims may be of many a vaunted work of art, whose pretensions have been estimated by its immediate consequences. Those persons, however, are acting very injudiciously, who, desirous of no further struggle, seem contented and satisfied with the good that exists. It will indeed endure without further exertion. It will be conveyed from artist to artist, and the raagnificent structure of art will be completed, so far as may be permitted to humanity. But the communication, the participation of artistic, and therewith civilized elevation to our contemporaries, cannot be allowed to remain stationary. The history of the world is reckoned by centuries, and at wide intervals. The moments of improvement progress like stars in the heavens, and with them as they roll; but the limited space of human life cannot dispense with its portion of their beneficent illumination.
In fine, the mere external, technical, mechanical, formal education, does not reach to the deep spring, where the lifestream of art is generated and preserved. It is but too often observable, unfortunately, how empty and unproductive this false external cultivation leaves the mind; how, in its pursuit, year after year, full of the noblest germs of life, and capable of the highest joys of art, are allowed to fade and wither away. It has been remarked but too frequently, that these disciples of technicality, these virtuosi, these amateur dilettanti, these thorough bass cognoscenti, and æsthetical critics, have the most unsatisfactory conception of art, that they have little sympathy with it, and are utter strangers to its nature and operation.
True artistic education, like true art, is not concerned merely with the technicalities, which make only a handicraftsman, nor with mere outward considerations, which, instead of living art, produce nothing but dead abstractions. It is governed by the essential nature of its duties, and assumes for its object the bringing into life and action the highest and fullest conception of art in each individual, and in the greatest number of individuals in the whole nation. In the pupil, it searches for the germ of artistic susceptibility and capacity. This spark it cherishes and frees from obstructions, and nourishes and strengthens into the power of life. It then contemplates the regions of art, and examines what has hitherto been produced. Of all this, and of that which is most worthy, it endeavours to convey as much as possible to the scholar, according to the power of each individual. This education does not move the hand and fill the ear alone, but penetrates by the senses into the soul; through the deeply moved sensibilities it awakens the inward consciousness. And now the waves of sound may
and roll-what the inward consciousness has ! surge apprehended, that which has become a sentiment and property of the mind, can be safely preserved and extended.
This, in brief, is the object of true artistic education, to elevate the capabilities, mental and corporeal, to the highest point. This is the indispensable process, without which, high attainment in art is not possible. This is more or less the enlightened struggle of all who either wholly or in part devote their life and powers to artistic employment; this, whether it be acknowledged or not, it is the absolutely undeniable and indispensable obligation of all teachers to produce.
Shall it be considered an empty dream to desire for our country, so deeply gifted in the art of sound, a general popular education in music, in that high and only true sense? Does not this want and right proclaim itself from the deep inborn feelings of the people, from the overflowing abundance of their conceptions, from our countless artists, from our display of the richest productions of art in advance of nations? Shall our festivals be never more joyous with our national songs, which are more abundant, more varied, more melodious, and more deeply touching than those of any people on earth? Shall the evangelical church be perpetually deprived of her own appropriate music, which centuries ago was created for her? Shall the catholic church, in whose sacred service music assumes so important a function, suffer in our country so deep a degradation as it has endured in Italy, where movements from Rossini's and Bellini's operas, and Auber's overtures, disgrace the most holy moments of the service? Or in Spain, where in recent times, church music is dumb, even to the psalmody of the priesthood? We fear it not, and those who with us have a higher trust, will labour incessantly with all their strength, and on all occasions, to attain the highest object. We, a laborious people, strong in body and mind, must strive for a higher elevation than tender nature has conferred on her southern children, to amuse their happy hours.
In so important a matter, however, the word or deed of individuals can do but little. The State only can produce the accomplishment of our aspirations. From this source much may be expected, if to good will, be added the power of finding fit agents, not handicraftsmen who would propagate their own peculiarities, but men who would add the spirit of art to its form, mind to technicality; in short, men who have made true art the object of their lives.
We must, at the same time, acknowledge that the condition and progress of art are entirely dependant upon the state of the political and moral relations and movements of the people. This has been already observed by many in the direction of art during the last ten years. But the history of art proves that her destiny in this regard has been governed by the highest wisdom and goodness. Let, therefore, each individual in joyful confidence do all he ought, and and can; may, and tranquilly await the result of doing his duty.
THIRD SECTION.-OF THE DISPOSITION OR VOCATION FOR MUSIC.
Considering the importance which we attribute to musical education, and the large demands on time and powers which application to it requires, the question becomes serious; what result can be reasonably expected by each individual from his exertions in this pursuit ?
This education, in order to be profitable, assumes certain predispositions in the pupil; and many a person may be drawn into a chain of labours and sacrifices, which, from want of natural appliances, may remain unrewarded. Many indeed, not ungifted individuals, capable of participating to a certain extent in art, being seduced by its charms, devote their whole lives to it and discover too late that their musical power is not sufficient for the profession, although it enables them to increase their enjoyment of art, and to have a deeper inward perception of its richness and beauty. The danger of a grave error, perhaps of a life thrown away, is more considerable to a gifted individual, than to one not so endowed; and even in the minor case of a mere amateur, the question is so important, that we cannot pass it over in a serious view of musical education, although we cannot hope to give a general and particular answer, which shall be in all cases satisfactory.
All men, with extremely few exceptions, have a disposition for music. They have even more disposition than is generally attributed to them; more than they themselves are accustomed to think. But nothing is more common than that this disposition, unrecognized by hesitating prejudice, neglected through idleness and indifference, or led astray by erroneous treatment, should become suppressed. The extremely rare exceptions are manifested by a perfect indifference to music, even to its corporeal effect, or indeed, in some cases, by a physically perceptible repugnance to it. In this case, pleasurable sensations can be derived from the measure, or from the rhythm only.
It is much more difficult to decide, how far the disposition of any determined individual extends; what may be expected from its cultivation; and whether it be such as to justify the adoption of music as the special vocation of life.
It may be asserted in general, from hundreds of experiments and instances, and from the contemplation of the subject, that
The disposition of each individual is equivalent, and is worth cultivation, in proportion, to the pleasure felt by the individual in the art itself.
"The pleasure in the art itself, not in the many subsidiary gratifications it may produce, and which may accompany an artistic life—not, therefore, the caprice of fashion, to learn music because others do -not the vanity of being better educated, nor of gaining the highest prize by redoubled exertion; all these pleasures abandon us, either before or soon after we have accomplished our object; they have been our reward, such as it was, but they were not the true pleasures of art, which in the real artist grow with his growth, and are immortal as the soul
that feels them. Hence, we see so many scholars, discontinuing, as soon as the days of instruction are past, all connexion with art; and hence, also, many a master, when his daily task is done, drags on the burthen of a weary life in an unloved profession, in useless sighs or resigned indifference.
But that the disposition exists in the proportion of our love of art, will be confessed by every keen observer of experience; and even without experience, we might infer that such would be the fact, since it would be purposeless to have a faculty implanted in us, which we have no power of calling into action.
He who takes pleasure in music, will soon try to imitate it; as we may remark in the youngest children, who generally sing, after their fashion, before they speak. It is chiefly in the means of musical employment, from ignorance of technicalities, that errors occur. A person may be seized with a desire to sing, but have only an indifferent voice, or rather, more probably, whose voice has been injured; or he may devote himself to an instrument, for the performance on which he is deficient in power or in corporal structure. But even in this latter case, nature will often maintain her rights, if the musical desire be original (not instilled or caught from example), and the insufficient organ will at last be developed, or it will be sustained by other powers, and completed or replaced. In all such cases,
however, it is advisable to seek counsel from the skilled in the matter.
If, apparently contrary to our views, the disposition for and pleasure in music be so often concealed, or, indeed, seemingly absent,-or, if the advance or delay of the learner vary from our expectations, we shall be led to acknowledge the probability of our departure from the system required by nature for education in music, in addition to our doubtful judgment, as to the musical disposition. This disposition is composed of several powers, which are sometimes found singly, and sometimes in combination, but each of which must be separately sought and nourished, long before musical instruction, commonly so called, begins. We must come to a clear understanding upon these points. They are decisive as to the question, whether music ought to be comprehended within the course of our occupations, and very important in the consequences of its admission.
Every participation in music presupposes that it makes some pleasurable impression either corporeal or mental. The most immediate is that which is produced by the mass of sound, or any particularly agreeable character of sound, the crash of a brass band, or the silvery tone of a little bell, &c. It is simply of an elementary and material nature, and warrants no mental participation, and therefore no mental disposition. It is only in the higher region that the spiritual effect of sound is perceived, and the corporeal sensations then show themselves to be a distinct portion of the disposition for art.
Our attention is next called to motion, measure, and rhythm. A deep meaning may be in rhythm; and the forms of bars are susceptible of endless
variety, whereby significance is endeavoured to be shown. The groundwork of all this is the placing or distribution of more or less emphatic moments in equal measures of time. Rhythm and measure depend upon the fixing or estimating one tone to be twice, four times, or half, one fourth part, &c., as long as another. The process is facilitated by placing together parcels of moments collectively equal (though unequal among themselves) into equal divisions of time, which time within the divisions is divided in the simplest manner possible, by two or three, forming the bars of two or three parts, or of more parts in the same ratio. This is a matter merely of the understanding, of measuring and reckoning, The distinguishing of the chief and secondary parts of the bar, by accentuating the first, is also purely mechanical. We may therefore consider the rhythmic disposition to be within the capacity of any rational being. We may conclude further, from the multitudes of raw recruits who march in exact time, and of threshers, who wield the flail in perfect three or four-part order, that the idea that men in general are defective in the perception of measure in time, is a mere prejudice.
A higher qualification, quite distinct from the preceding, is the perception of tone; the capability of distinguishing different tones, and of forming a determined and more or less durable conception of their relation to each other.
The pitch, or height or depth of a tone, is represented scientifically by the number of vibrations of the sounding body which produces it. Leibnitz has even described Music (mathematically considered) as a concealed mental arithmetic, making unconscious calculations. But it seems more probable that
the immediate apprehension of tones depends on a sympathy between the nerves of the hearer and the vibrations of the sounding body. The vibrations, however, of even inanimate bodies, produce sounds in other bodies similarly tuned, and moreover, call forth different but related sounds: and we find also, that trained or imitating birds; and the youngest infants, when they begin to learn singing or whistling from us, become imbued with, and can reproduce tones and successions of tones simply from hearing them.
Hence we may presume that also the faculty of a musical ear is common to most, if not to all men, so far as they can hear at all. But in this particular quality, the degrees of endowment are widely different, according to inward disposition or foreign assistance. The Author has never met with an instance of any person incapable of perceiving the difference between low and high; but it is common to find persons unable to distinguish with certainty a tone from half a tone, a third from a fourth, or a fourth from a fifth, until after some instruction and practice. Smaller intervals, as for example, a comma, or even what is called a quarter-tone, are often unappreciable to otherwise gifted musicians, especially pianists; while on the other hand, the finest gradations are usually perceptible to persons not possessed of any considerable musical qualifications, such as experimenters in acoustics, and pianoforte
tuners, who have educated the ear to such minute discrimination.
It is very common to confound this fine appreciation of sounds, with talent for music; or at least, to consider it as an indication of that talent. This, however, must not be assumed without many allowances. If this faculty be deficient or manifestly feeble, we may certainly suppose that the original powers of the mind have not been applied to the living sounds of music; nevertheless, more than one example can be named of very small or very imperfectly-developed appreciation of tone, accompanied by very considerable susceptibility for music.* On the other hand, the keenest perception of tonic differences is by no means a sign of, nay,—it is not essentially necessary for musical talent. Still less are certain external capabilities of this faculty, which are not uncommon, to be considered of any importance. Thus, there are persons not at all remarkable for musical talent, who can carry home with them from the orchestra the pitch of any piece of music, and reproduce it at pleasure. This is certainly not a useless faculty of memory, but it has no connection with deeper powers, and may indeed rather indicate a diminished activity of the imagination, unless it have been acquired by long habituation to the orchestra. On the other hand, it occasionally happens that highly-gifted singers and violinists permit themselves certain deviations from abstract purity of intonation, not from any want of perception, but from an impulse of the original and natural relations of sound, as distinguished from our artificial temperaments, or possibly from exaggerated expression.
If to these fundamental qualifications we add memory for musical compositions, a moderate activity of intellectual comprehension, and a certain degree of courage or confidence, with the necessary dexterity of limb, member, voice and speech,-we shall have assembled all the qualifications necessary for the cultivation of music. We should, however, never delay encouraging the growth of the higher faculties --the sensibility of the mind, and feelings for the significance of compositions, and of the forms of composition, and that direction of the mind which tends to give musical form and embodiment to sensations and ideas-the so potent spell and mystery of the poet-musician.
We have thus endeavoured to give a determined idea of disposition for music. It is, as we have seen, a combination of properties, and is therefore found in different states of completeness. It is rarely denied altogether to any individual, but seems to exist in the most diversified gradation and variety.
* This seems to be particularly the case among the mass of the people of France. In that country, singing is perpetual, and yet it is, in an incredible proportion, false and unsteady in tone. The small development of the musical faculties, in this instance, seems to arise from the manner of life, more external than intellectual, of the nation. It is indicated by the circumstance, that, notwithstanding general education and a great susceptibility for music, so few great composers have been produced in France, and that the most remarkable advances in art in that country have been occasioned by foreigners, namely, Lully, Gluck, and Spontini. We Germans, however, remember with gratitude that our Gluck acquired his perfection and recognition in the bosom of the refinement and intellectual activity of that highly distinguished nation in his days, and that the susceptibility of that nation has shown an equally noble appreciation of Haydn and Beethoven.
But as this aptitude, like every other human faculty, is capable of indefinite extension and improvement, it is never possible, at least in the beginning or before some cultivation, to predict how far we may expect any specified individual to advance. We must return to our original assumption— Every one will advance or be led so far as his sincere
but unalloyed pleasure in music calls him.
He, therefore, who has a susceptibility for music, and feels pleasure in it, may with confidence devote so much time and labour to it as his peculiar calling and circumstances may allow. So long as it is a labour of love with him, it will be a labour of profit also; and thus, to such a one, instruction will be no unnecessary nor useless burthen, until the limits of his faculties be attained. And let every one remember, that the chief end of all artistic education is no other than the exaltation of our susceptibility of, and participation in art, for our greater happiness and improvement. In this view, neither will a heated imagination drag us into a professional life against nature and intention; nor will the poor ambition of showy attainments, quite foreign to the true idea of art, rob us of the genuine reward of our exertions.
He, however, who thinks he feels an impulse to devote his entire life to music, should examine seriously whether this impulse be not imaginary; whether it be not rather a feeling of occasional and momentary enthusiasm, than a permanent and steady love for art. Whether the chief inducement be not, perhaps, the apparently unrestrained and joyous tenour of artistic life, or ambition excited by the brilliant career of others. These outward seductive allurements are, for the most part, bitterly repented of when too late. There are, indeed, examples of success attained under such insufficient motives, but rarely accompanied by inward satisfaction, and generally embittered by the loss of the real pleasure of art, and of bodily health.
Those, finally, who consider themselves called upon to adopt composition as a profession for life, should undergo a most rigid self-examination. Their calling is the highest, but it is also the most exacting and uncertain; and no one can counsel them with well-grounded decision. No person ought to dedicate himself to this branch of the profession, unless constrained by every impulse of his soul; no one who can endure with patience any other occupation-who is not willing to sacrifice, for the satisfaction of that vehement and resistless vocation, all the security and comfort of his existence, and who cannot look with firmness on the chance of missing the chief aim of all his exertions. Such a vocation is gene
rally, if not always, indicated in early years, by fanciful preluding, and attempts at composition. He who waits to compose, until he has learned the rules of composition, will rarely, if ever, be a composer. It is also to be considered, that a disposition thus early manifested, and in some degree fostered and nourished, has had time for development before the application of scientific rules,-that it is therefore in a more expanded and invigorated state, and gives the scholar the inestimable advantage of many
imaginings and experiences, whereby confidence has been acquired, equally remote from timidity and from presumption This advantage, however, is not indispensable. True love and perseverance, although later in the field—but not too late-may still gain the victory.
A composer by profession will, however, soon discover that his occupation cannot be the exclusive business of life, for the simple reason, that no one can compose always. Poetry, whether in tones, or words, or colours, demands the most vivid moments only of our existence; and with all the requirements for its production and exhibition, must still leave much of our lives in vacancy; the brightest and richest genius has no other destiny, neither would any other be endurable. Further still from the student, must be the vain and unhallowed hope of obtaining a competence by his productions. The greatest artists, Bach, Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven, were not able to accomplish that object. Such, indeed, has been sometimes effected by fashionable composers of the Italian Opera, patronized by the caprice of prime donne, but then only in advanced age. A subsidiary occupation has always been found necessary to a composer, such as singing, playing, conducting, or teaching; and notwithstanding the hindrance and burthen this occupation may perhaps now and then seem, it will be found a salutary and invigorating companion. Each of these occupations has a favorable and important aspect to the composer-one or more of them he must embrace, and this circumstance should have due weight in the choice of the profession.
FOURTH SECTION.-THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE MUSICAL FACULTIES.
We must have recognized that nature has given musical capabilities to most individuals; but that these powers and susceptibilities exist in the most manifold variety of gradations. The germ of these faculties, like that of all our other powers, is strengthened and unfolded by all the appearances and impressions of the outer world on us, from the moment of our birth; and when placed at the disposal of the instructor, it has already undergone a certain degree of expansion from the unconscious tuition of daily experience.
The development of the musical faculties, however, as far as regards the meaning of sounds, labours under disadvantages, particularly in northern climates, from which our other faculties are comparatively free. The most pressing wants and constantly urging requirements of life, call chiefly into action that other spiritual sense, the eye, in combination with the understanding. The child learns to distinguish earlier by the eye than the ear; while its understanding is almost incessantly employed in seizing the significance of sounds, as indicative of the objects of sense by which it is surrounded, rather than the meaning of sound in any musical relationship; a kind of affinity, which to the uneducated ear remains, perhaps, through life unknown. The musical element has less occasion to be exhibited by us more silent Germans, than among our
southern and western neighbours. It is, nevertheless, as deeply significant, well defined, and powerful in our language, even as in the Italian, which, indeed, can claim superiority only in some degree of clearness, and an old prejudice in its favour.
Long continued neglect and suppression, indeed, of musical qualifications, are much to be lamented; more particularly during musical education itself, when such neglect operates most severely. Parents and teachers are more apt to complain of the want of disposition in their pupils, than to seek in themselves the cause of that deficiency. Only when the delays and the misapprehensions shall be attacked on all sides, and overcome, will our conviction be complete, that the musical qualifications given to most men are much more considerable than is generally believed.
OF THE TIME PREVIOUS TO LEARNING. This period requires domestic care and solicitude, as a preparation for the directing hand of the master; and here it is, that the mother, as monitor of the awakening senses of her child, is called upon to exercise the budding susceptibilities on salutary objects, and shield their tender impressiveness from violent and distracting sensations. Certain determined sounds have an incalculable and lasting effect on the infant mind and senses, when presented to them without constraint or obvious intention. The pure sound of a little bell, the combined sounds of two or three glasses, producing, for example, c-q, and then g-d-b, the contrast of high clear sounds and low murmurings (in a decided rhythm, such, for example, as the following
which appears sufficiently conformable to nature) are best calculated to affect the infant perceptions. It can easily be imagined, how at a later period, listening to the rolling thunder, to the whispering and rustling of the evening breeze, to the murmuring brook, to the moan of the impending storm, to the warbling of the nightingale, may penetrate into, and influence the yearnings and aspirations of fresh youthful existence, wherein are imbedded those bright germs of thought, whose future expansion and manifestation are exhibited in the high productions of genius, at once the glory and the despair of each succeeding age! But how many circumstances conspire to disturb, counteract, and disenchant these beautiful and fructifying moments of early youth, particularly in large cities! How necessary is help, where nature cannot be left alone! How harrassing and destructive, while the precious moments of culture are so few, that the delicate and tender perceptions should be jarred by the harsh rolling of the streets, the deafening crash of brazen bands, and the rough growl of drums; that their fine organizations should be either rent or palsied by coarseness or force, while yet scarcely awake to their legitimate functions! Let, therefore, every mother who has a perception of the charms of music, and of its civilizing influence, weigh well the importance of the early education of the senses. Her simple