country before"? I f the latter pair were still with us, they might well need reviving on being told that their works had never been heard till Menuhin played them! What ignorant tosh some of these newspaper people do set down. Apparently, nothing is too silly to be said of music or musicians. To every one of us his peculiar defects; but I respectfully insist that I cannot conceive a musician's talking so foolishly of, say, chemistry or biology, chess, or any complex game, as an endless supply of journalists is found talking about the infinitely complex and subtle subject of music. Noses and Posies
A caption in PWlclz, to a picture showing a woman at a bellfoundry: "I'm looking for a tiny one in C major for the breakfast table." This ocld addition of " major" crops up fairly often (not always meant as a joke) when a single-note instrument is spoken of. The child Grieg (I think i t was) used to tell people that . " papa blows his nose in D." Presumably a two-note blow .
PUTlch had a page of pictures about the fleeing to and fro of a bassoon player, whom nobody would take in, because of his music-making. The title was" Fugue in B flat minor for solo uassoon." "Fugue" (literally, "flight") was perhaps too good a word to miss, in this connection, even if one for a bassoon is a bit ofa beater. Talking of fugues, did you ever hea r of the one by F. L. Rone, a contemporary of Beethoven's ?- a vocal fugue on three subjects which, on reversing the copy, could be sung backwards! Reviewing the Tristan Prelude and Liebestod recently, I remembered a Daily Herald man 's description of a performance of the music, " brilliantly curved to its climaxes, unforgettable for its silken anguish." The silken touch would surely suit someone like Liszt better than Wagner. In the film Victoria the Great, I am told that a band plays an Elgar Pomp march--in 1878. Leigh Henry, in his book on Dr. John Bull, the composer-virtuoso whom Queen Elizabeth favoured, tells of BuU's writing God save the Queen for the Armada thanksgiving service (ac tually, nobody knows who wrote the tune), and speaks of a " throbbing pedalnote "-at a t ime when organs in this country had not yet arrived at pedals . As we are back in the Golden Age, I will add a comment by Mr. Royle Shore, that excellent authority on and fine worker in the cause of old church music, upon a scene in Westward Ho! -the communion service in which Amyas Leigh and others joined in the Gloria and Te Dwm . Five hundred were in the church, and the crowd outside took up the latter hymn. This was about 1580, when (and for long afterwards) as Mr. Shore says, " all that the people sang in their parish churches w'!-s metrical psalmody. All else was said . . . . " Let us end with an ever-new old frivo 'lity, that answer of the young lady who, inquiring of the assistant in the music shop" Is this (the Chopin A fla,t Polonaise) difficult?" and being told, " Well, you see it has four flats," cheerfuHy responded "Oh, that doesn't matter; you see, if there are more than two, I just leave them all out." How nice i t would be if, when records come up containing many flats of doubt, I could adopt so l ight-hearted a plan: thus, in naturalman laziness, suggests your
W.R. , \ .
Beethoven. By Walter Riezler (Forrester, lOS. 6d.).
This is one of the best books I have ever r ead, about Beethoven's music .
Mr. Riezler is a clear, deep, philosophic thinker , who builds on " a deep conviction of the autonomy of music . Music is itself a language, whose field of expression comprises all Nature and all Humanity." As has more than once been urged in these pages, . , Music itself is the meaning." There is a sufficient discussion of the life, i l lustrated with seven portraits of various years. All through the book the reader can grow in the realisation of how Beethoven grew into and out of his age. Though n ever unsociable, he knew how to avoid wasting himself in society. Nature was " food and drink to him," as an English visitor said. "Universality " is an easy word to use, ; the ahthor shows what so great a word means, and how Beethoven's creative power made every one of his major works extraordinarily differe nt , and gave him the reach that, as he died, was bringing into his grasp new worlds of meaning, to be probed through th e new shaping of his art. In an essay on Beethoven aTld Absolute Music, we see the meaning of the composer's sketch-book methods (now, as I write, being helpfully expounded, in simpler form, by Mr. Goddard, in wireless talks). There arc referenc es, throughout the book, to other arts and artists-always i l luminating , n ever of the kind that seeks to " explain" one art in terms of another. You cannot do that, though momentary comparisons can set up a useful idea. It is the truest strength of Mr. Riezler's book that he probes for the " meaning" of music in its own terms only . That does not make him by any means unapproachable by non-music-readers. The music-type is not difficult to locate or follow; and I can guarantee that any real music-lover who sets hi s heart open to the purely musical heart of Beethoven's work , and his mind to Mr. Ri ezler's lines of thought, will be a fuller and a deeper music-lover, the more he ponders and listens in these ways. Though there are only about a hundred and thirty pages for th e discussion of the bulk of the works, every paragraph is suggestive and satisfying. Mr. Riezler is particularly good on the spiritualisation of Bee thoven's nature in the late works. In an appendix he analyses the first movement of the Eroica minutely, getting to the foundations of the musical facts. The sight of this need not frighten the non-technical, for there is ample nourishment in the rest of the book for the thoughtful listener who is prepared to do some rewarding digging in the garden of musical thought and experience.
The book is well indexed, has a chronological list of works, a small glossary, and a bibliography. The translation, by Mr. G. D. H. Pidcock, reads very naturally. I have not seen the original, but this seems excellent work in a difficult field. I congratulate and thank Mr. Pidcock, rejoice in a man like Mr. Riezler, and strongly recommend this splendidly musical, singlehearted book. My Life of Music, by Sir Henry Wood. (Gollancz , 7S. 6d .) .
This is a warming book, showing what a single-minded, swiftacting, tireless Briton can achieve in his own not-tao-musical land . It contains a year-by-year history of the Proms., with passing notes about works and artists , and plt:nty of good anecdotes . The Proms. se ttled Wood in his career in 1895, aftet· his wise, musical parents had let him wander abroad awhile, and sent him for two years to the R.A.M., whence he " ran out in a rage." But he loved his work. When he met the stocky, dogged Robert Newman his happy fate was decided . There is an immeme Appendix, listing some 850 novelties Wood has brought out. A few have been recorded, but many more might be. Who will comb i t? And that last-night sea-songs sport : recorded on th e spot, complete with cheers, i t wO'uld be a g:l y souvenir for Prom. lovers the world over.
Wood had to produce results with scandalously short rehearS:ll, in the old days- not so very long ago, either. Some would have refused. But he and Newman understood each other, cut CO.115 according to cloth, and knew how to act as public pacemakers, not policemen . Wood thinks the public must have what it wants, but he has always suggested many of its wants to it. He thinks little of most extremist music. Few of the moderns give him pleasure, but he's done his duty by them, like a t iue Briton. He has fought for things he believed worth while- women orchestral players, English works (ca nnily sandwiched between favourite classics), novelties, glowing colour, his and "Klenovsky's" Bach transcriptions - no matter if musicians groaned , and still do. His beliefs have probably not been very flexible , but his day needed a strong man. He was always ready to !,earn his job,