THE GRAMOPHONE London 0 jJice .' 58, Frith Street, London, W. 1.
Edited by CONIPTON MACKENZIE
TELEPHONE: Regent 1383.
Parmaxto, Westcent, London.
By THE EDITO'R
ON November 19th one hundred years ago Franz Schubert died of typhus just over two months before his thirty-second birthday. " Schubert has my soul," the mighty Beethoven had said of him when he lay fighting death in March of the previous year. Hiittenbrenner, a friend of Beethoven and Schubert, had brought the dying colossus some of the younger man's songs, of which turning over the pages he had declared, " Truly in Schubert lives the divine fire." I t was to a date shortly after this that legend ascribes the visit paid by Schubert when Hiittenbrenner announced him and asked who should go into the room first. " Let Schubert come first," said the dying man, and i t was when Hiittenbrenner and Schubert stood beside the bed of the dying man that he spoke those famous words. "You, Hiittenbrenner, have my heart, but Schubert has my soul." A few days later Schubert was one of the torch-bearers who escorted the dead Beethoven to the cemetery to the music of the funeral march from the Sonata Op. 28. On the way back Schubert stopped with some friends to drink wine, and after l ifting his glass to him whom they had just buried, filled i t again and drank to him who was to be the next. Twenty months later he died himself.
These and many other stories of the beloved genius whose centenary we are celebrating this month will be found in a book by Mr. Newman Flower (Cassells, 15s. net) which I commend to every reader who wishes to learn something o£ the life and surroundings of one who Illore kindly than any other composer has led humble aspirants into the magical world of great music. Mr. Flower tells his story frankly as well as feelingly, and I do hope that many of our readers will take the trouble to get acquainted with this biography, because they will learn from i t a great deal about th e life of an artist, and I should like to think that some of the thousands whom the Unfinished Symphony has admitted to a refuge £rom the toil and care of this twentieth-century world will give themselves the trouble to ponder for a few hours the existence, in a nineteenth-century world equally fuB as ours of toil ffild care, of that dear and lovable l i t t le man.
When we were thinking last year about the death of Beethoven, we were also aware of the fierce struggle of a Titan to live longer and do more. But Schubert seems to have passed from them a hundred years ago, as might a butterfly in November, and like one of his own prodigal melodies which are finished as simply as the fragrance of pinks from a June garden whose perfume is caught for a few footsteps and lost again too soon. I t is idle to speculate to what lengths or depths Schubert would have tak en his music had he lived his full span. I have myself always felt profoundly sure that the genius fated to early death instinctively crowds into his brief life an output that is more indicative o:f what he is than of what he might become. I do not wish to speculate about the ultimate work of Keats and Shelley. Had they been destined to live longer we should never have had their glory of premature blooming. The plant that knows i t is doomed to die soon, either because i t is growing in unkind soil or because i t is aware of some radical weakness in itself, will often flower and seed more profusdy than i ts companions better placed.
The soul of Beethoven was too tremendous a responsibility for that l i t t le man to whom he entrusted i t . But yet i t would not be exaggerated to fancy Beethoven's soul in that last great Quintet for two violins, viola and two violoncellos. And is i t too fanciful to perceive in that funeral march of the Trio in E flat major, which was performed at a concert on th e anniversary o£ Beethoven's death, an echo of his funeral, and in the way h e turns the sombre l i t t le tune to favour and to prettiness, a feeling of great embarrassment in the possessor of that too mighty soul? .
But let that pass. We devotees of the gramophone may be sure of one thing and that is how much Schubert would have enjoyed making the world-wide appeal he is able to make to-day. How near all the great composers are to us-so much n earer with their centenaries than most of the great poets and painters! It seems impossible to doubt that music has still greater wonders of art to unfold; i t seems impossible that we shall not soon get another Schubert to give out his melodies. He would not go so i l l rewarded now. But to Schubert will always remain the honour of having been the first to express in song this new self-conscious world of ours. He is truly the first modern song-writer. R.I.P.