Lundan Office: lOA, Soho Square,
Edited by COMPTON MACKENZIE
TELRPBora:: Regent 7977, 7978.
TELEGRAMS: PlU'maxto, Westcent, London.
ISUPPOSE this month I ought to resume the argument over the naming of musical works, but I do not feel in the mood for argument this month. Perhaps i t is the a,pproach of Christmas, or perhaps i t is the fatigue consequent upon the launching of Vox, of which, by the way, i t is too early to speak yet. I t is enough to say that the fourth number will have appeared before these words of mine are in print, and that by next January I hope to be in a position to tell readers of THE GRAMOPHONE something ::1bout the prospects of the new venture. One thing, however, I will say to the opponents of names, and tha,t is that I have just been told that Mozart's Symphony in E flat major was originally known as the Venlls Symphony. Here then is an opportunity to insist on the use of a lEgitimate t i t le, and, I might . add, an opportunity to allot one or two more titles in the same style. I t should not be hard to find among Mozart's many symphonies one that would respond to Mercury as a title. Surely my main contention is still unanswered. My contention is that i f the composers who have to rely on opus numbers to differentiate their works had been wrHing to-da,y they would have been the first to find names for many of their works which are at present untitled. Even Sir Edward Elgar, who only has two symphonies to worry about, gave his Second Symphony a motto, " Rarely, rarely, com'st thou, spirit of delight." As for the argument that the popularity of the Fifth Symphony of Beethoven is proof positive that neither I nor Mr. Percy Scholes know what we are talking about, my reply is that the Fifth Symphony of Beethoven has, by repeated playings, achieved the position in most people's minds of being THE Fifth Symphony, so that Fifth ~s become a memorable title. At the same time, I still maintain that the story of Fate knocking at the door did charge the popular imagination and did create in the public the right mood in which to listen to the Fifth Symphony. One of the evils of the gramophone and the radio is that, in spite of all they will do to make great music easily heard, they are undoubtedly going to spoil for the youth of the future some of the great moments that may happen in a man's life. I t is never going to be quite the saine thing to hear the Fifth Symphony for the first time either on a gramo-
phone record or over the microphone. His first hearing of the F 'ifth Symphony should mark a for ever unforgetable moment in a young man's intellectual spiritua.l, moral, and imaginative development. I can remember that for myself that experience was like the sudden turning of a key which seemed to admit me in one sublime instant to the whole company of human nature. That sudden unlocking of my heart in the presence of a great audience could never have been experienced in the isolation of my own room. I was sitting in the right hand corner of the top t ier at Queen's Hall, leaning over the orchestra and seeming positively to be floating on the music. I was not caught up to any seventh heaven of my own personal raptures, but rather I was, as i t were, absorbed into the expression of humanity which was visible all around me. I recall that close to my own place there were sitting a young man and a young woman very much in love with one another. She was dressed in an " arty" green gown of the period, and he was the kind of farouche young man with tumbled hair, thin face, and bright hungTY eyes who may be seen by the dozen in any artistic quarter busy hoping to become famous one day. And when Fate came knocking at the door in that opening first movement I lost all consciousness of my own petty egoism, and heard Fate knocking at the door for those two young people, and presently for the mass of that audience. The whole world seemed in love that afternoon, the whole world seemed hoping to become famous one day.
Many years later I experienced an infinitely fainter repetition of the emotion I have tried to communicate to my readers, but which I am only too well aware remains incommunicable as a dream, when I first played those old H.M.V. records made before the war of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra playing the Fifth Symphony of Beethoven under Nikisch. No gramophone record since of the Fifth Symphony has kindled in me even the dimmest suggestion of that first glorious performance so many years ago in Queen's Hall, and I am inclined to maintain that the genius of a really great conductor like Nikisch could surmount even the apparently unsurmountable difficulties of old-fashioned reproduction. Indeed, I believe that if the Fifth Symphony ever obtains