Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

ly appreciative audiences. One of these tising the music which affords to those Finsbury concerts was on a Sunday even: who know it such pure and elevating ing, when 1100 people were present. pleasure ; and which, once it obtains a Admission was of course free, but a vol- footing among the people themselves, untary collection was made afterward, of will make its own way and provide a which the results averaged twopence per source of growing interest which may in head.

time
prove

the most fatal of all rivals to Considering the sort of music per- lower forms of amusement. It can never formed, its reception by the audiences compete with these on their own ground, was favorable beyond what could have but by withdrawing from them gradually been expected. It has occurred that those who are capable of better things, every instrumental number in a pro- it must in the end raise the general standgramme has been encored ; single con- ard of enjoyment. certed movements have been so on sev- It is not always easy to recognize the eral occasions ; while violin or violon- fact that there is something antagonistic cello solos, when first-rate, elicit un- in philanthropy and art. The essence bounded enthusiasm. The last number of art is freedom and self-development, in the programmes is always instru- though there may be that voluntary submental, and it rarely happens that these ordination to a higher rule which is not people leave before the last note. In incompatible with these. Practical phithis how unlike the upper classes ! Many lanthropy aims at making men better well-known artists have given their ser- than they are, it may be by legislation, by vices, or accepted merely ncminal fees; persuasion, by inducement, but its end a boon to the society of which the im. is always modification. No nation is so portance cannot be overrated, as it has distinguished by the philanthropic spirit been abundantly proved that to make as the English, and a most admirable such music intelligible to such an audi- spirit it is, but not the soil most favorence a masterly performance is even able to the growth of art. When concerts more necessary than it is when the hear- are presented to people as something ers are more musically cultivated. good for them, a moral duty rather than

Except, it may be, in cases of individ- a privilege seems involved in frequenting uals, these concerts can hardly appeal 10 them. It lies at the root of so much the very lowest and most degraded class. that is done and so much that is not done In instrumental chamber music there is in England, this doing nothing for its little to excite or forcibly to arrest dull own sake, but for some secondary object attention ; while to follow it at all re- to be gained by the doing it, some adquires on the part of those to whom it is vantage, abstract or concrete, terrestrial utterly strange, an effort of mental con- or celestial. The object may in itself be centration which it is hopeless to expect all that is desirable, but it does not seem from people struggling and toiling for naturally to occur to us that by this dimere existence. The degree of perfec. rect aiming at it we may destroy or invaltion in performance, too, which, as we idate the most effectual means of bringhave said, is requisite if the music is to ing it about. Direct philanthropic acbe comprehensible, makes the getting- tion, like direct legislation, may counterup of concerts a serious matter, and ren- act certain manifestations of evil influders it impossible for this society to ences, but does not necessarily tend to multiply its operations and centres with modify the condition of things which the rapidity of the itinerant societies. has brought these weeds into existence, Its field must for a long time be more and will produce fresh crops as fast as restricted, and its results in appearance the first are removed. The soil must be less brilliant than theirs. But by sowing prepared, as well as the seed of better the seed of art for art's sake among the things sown. people, it strikes at the root of the state We are said to be, as a nation, unsociaof things described as existing in this ble ; and it is very true that the poorer country. It should with perseverance classes do not here, as in Germany, find become a permanent institution, putting relaxation after the labors of the day by within the people's reach the possibility meeting together to make music in connot only of hearing, but themselves prac- cert. Apart from the fact that the Ger NEW SERIES.–Voi.. XXX!II., No. 2

18

an

excuse

on

man standard of general education is as an element unfriendly to art develophigher than ours, there are many ieasons ment finds in oratorio peace and repose. for this. Our climate in great measure In the country especially, where the paroforbids outdoor recreation, while the chial clergy are foremost in all collective crowding of the vast masses of poor in gatherings for educational and recreative our great cities makes social meeting in purposes, there are numbers of people, their own homes impossible to our peo- the inheritors of puritanical principles, ple. On this subject we would refer our who cherish a distrust and dislike of readers to an interesting report of parish anything theatrical, to whom an operawork in Whitechapel (1878-9), by the house is terra incognita, and who have Rev. S. A. Barnett, than whom no man an unconfortable feeling about any art has done more to raise and educate the pursuit when it is quite dissociated from people under his charge. Whether his their own form of religious service. All work finds as yet its due recognition we the artistic and musical aspirations of know not, but it is the kind of work that this class are resumed and expressed in leaves permanent traces behind it. He the oratorio. They go up once or twice writes : From company, from social a year to hear the Messiah" or " Eliintercourse, the mass of the people is jah” at Exeter Hall, as the Jews went cut off.

No one can know the up to worship in the Temple at Jerusalives of our people without seeing their lem. But even this would not suffidulness, and many of us see in such ciently account for the vast comparative dulness

for their wild popularity in England of works of this courses ;'' while farther on he testifies sort without the fact that in these, and to the fact that “there is nothing which these only, some social co-operation is people find so interesting as their fellow- realized in art work. More of whatever creatures." It is manitest that no place capacity and love for music may be inaffords this interest to poor people but nate in us has been elicited by choral the public-house, of which it is to many societies than by any other influence. the greatest attraction. To dwell This choral music is loved because it is the numberless dangers and temptations known; it can be appropriated and unto which the better sort of men are here derstood, for all take, or have taken, or exposed would be superfluous.

might take, an active share in it. When Now music, as if to make up for being this feeling, now limited almost entirely the most abstract and ideal of all the to vocal works, extends to instrumental, arts, requires for its materialization, so there may be popular audiences here for to speak, more active co-operation than symphony concerts. does any other one of them. In order No society has recognized this fact so to have an objective existence at all, it distinctly, and made so sagacious and has, on every occasion of its present- practical a move in its direction, as the ment, to be re-created by performance. Birmingham Musical Association. In This gives it, for English people, at the winter of 1878-9, Mr. Collings, once an advantage and disadvantage as M.P., the then Mayor of Birmingham, * compared with other arts. Our practi- gave a series of four free concerts to cal nature is not the stuff of which good members of the artisan class, with the audiences are composed for works re- double purpose of affording pleasure to quiring brain-abstraction in the listener. his fellow-townsmen and of ascertaining On the other hand, it does afford the how far good music would be attractive very best material for active realization, to those who had previously had few and even a little actual practice in music opportunities of enjoying it. The regoes a long way in facilitating the effortsults were in the highest degree encourof listening, besides giving the natural aging, about 3000 persons being preshuman interest of a possible personal ent on each occasion. A public meetparticipation in the kind of thing per- ing was called to consider the matter, formed. No doubt this is one reason of which resulted in the establishment of the wide popularity of oratorio, which is greater here than in any other country. Not the only reason.

* To him, as well as to the secretary of the

The uneasy con- society, we are indebted for full information, scientiousness to which we have alluded

courteously given to us, of its proceedings.

was

the Birmingham Musical Association. hitherto unattainable except at serious Two ubjects were to be achieved, if cost." possible.

How this splendid project will work 1. “ The provision of cheap concerts can only be shown by time, and reof a high class, which, it was believed mains yet to be seen. Here, however, and hoped, would be self-supporting." we seem to have the suggestion of what Toward this end great advance has most of all is wanting, the co-operation already been made. Between Novem- of all classes in one object for its own ber 8th, 1879, and April 24th, 1880, a sake. Of all influences adverse to our series of twenty-two concerts was given. end, none is perhaps so fatal as the The music at these concerts was of prevalence of endless class distinctions, various kinds. Birmingham is rich in and nowhere are these so complex nor musical resources, and not being so vast so aggressive as in our “ democratic" as this unwieldy London, which can country. In Germany the broad line of only be worked by districts, it can afford demarcation between the nobility and to concentrate these resources on one the “ people” saves

a good deal of undertaking. Some were ballad con- trouble by dividing the world in two certs, varied by harp, organ, or violin well-defined sections. But here, where solos, or by vocal glees. Many were of professional people fight shy of shopthe choral kind dear to people's hearts. keepers, where large shopkeepers will Several choirs—the Festival Choir, the not send their children to school with Birmingham Philharmonic Union, and those of small shopkeepers, nor small Amateur Harmonic Association, and shopkeepers theirs with those of artimany more-assisted on different occa- sans, where farmers' daughters and sions, performing selections from the squires' daughters have distinct “cirbest oratorios ; cantatas, glees, and cles," where every one knows that nothpart-songs. On other evenings Mr. ing prevents him from rising any numStockley's band

the attraction, ber of grades in the social scale-if he when such works were given as the can, where each man, and still more overtures to Oberon and Masaniello, the each woman, is on the defensive lest he ballet music from Schubert's Rosamunde, or she should be suspected of associatand Rubinstein's Feramors, the intro- ing on equal terms with any one in a duction to the third act of Lohengrin, "lower set"—what chance here is Meyerbeer's Coronation March, and there for an art which neither knows Beethoven's First Symphony; these be- nor recognizes any of these things? If ing interspersed not only with ballads we are to combine in musical art work, and Volkslieder, but with songs by all sense of favors conferred or received Handel, Mendelssohn, and Beethoven. must be put aside. What is wanted is Many of the tickets (price 6d. and 3d.) association; and unless the upper were sold, by permission, at coffee- classes are finally to be excluded from houses, and in this manner reached the progress, the example must emanate right class of persons.

On some occa- from themselves. sions all tickets had been disposed of on In these centres where concerts are the day before the concert, and

established for introducing to the peomany evenings hundreds of people were ple a kind of music as yet utterly new turned away before the doors to them, can nothing be done toward opened.

putting such people en rapport with 2. The second object proposed by the what they are to hear? We constantly association is "the establishment of hear complaints from people of leisure, popular classes for musical instruction, women especially, of lack of scope for both vocal and instrumental, with the their powers or their energy. In this addition of a musical library, so varied attracting and drawing together of the as to include the compositions of all atoms of our masses of poor, there is the great masters, so copious as to work for any number, it rightly set afford a sufficient number of practice about. The choral societies are doing parts, and so accessible as to bring a great deal, but in the large cities, and within the reach of all classes music above all in London, there are vast

on

were

numbers of the population quite beyond may have some knowledge of reading their reach, and much remains to be. music at sight, and those who play by done that is not even attempted. We ear only. For those who desired it, of do not want only to beg people to come these last, special extra instruction might and hear us, but to put them in the way be provided. The music would probof doing for themselves what we now do ably have at first to be arranged to suit for them. We should like to see such the materials. From simple melodies a possibility established in every im- purely harmonized, it might be possible portant concert centre, in the shape, to soon to proceed to arrangements of easy begin with, of a singing-class for im- overtures and symphony movements. parting the rudiments of musical knowl- Here, again, if our amateurs who can edge. Trained teachers should be ap- read and play " a little," and especially pointed to these classes, for to do such some of those many gentlemen who now work efficiently requires knowledge and learn to play on the violin and other experience. But the labor would be orchestral instruments, would associate lightened and the impetus of the move themselves with such practice, they ment tenfold increased if amateurs might turn their smattering of knowlwould associate with the work by them- edge to the best account, and most selves joining such classes and singing effectually help themselves in helping too. If the teaching were good, this others who have not had their opportuwould be very instructive to those who nities. did so join ; there are plenty of men in It is probable that the nucleus of a the upper classes to whom it would be sort of orchestra might soon be formed as improving as to their artisan broth- in this way. When we come to inquire, ers; while ladies whose musical educa- it is astonishing how many men in the tion is limited, as too often it is, to the artisan class can play a little on some mere finger-practice of the pianoforte, instrument or other-cornet, saxhorn, would materially gain by such associa: Aute, concertina, nay even violin or viotion,

loncello. A “sister' engaged in hosBut besides this, if we expect work- pital work at Clewer states that in the ing-people to come and listen patiently male wards they have had, at different to instrumental music, after the novelty times, numbers of men who played such of the thing has worn off, we should instruments. On some occasions, when found some associations, be they at first there has been an unusual amount of on ever so humble a scale, for concerted “talent” among the convalescent painstrumental practice. The conductor tients, they have got up concerts among should be a good practical musician, themselves with great success. But either professional and paid out of the what was performed ? Solo tunes on society's funds, or an amateur fit for the the various instruments, and songs. work and able to devote himself to it. Nothing, beyond perhaps a “Christy Some competent person, too, should Minstrel ” chorus in unison, was atbe “retained" for the piano, which tempted in the way of ensemble. Each would be necessary, at any rate at first, individual showed off in his own indito fill up blanks in so elementary vidual manner. All this, with organiorchestra. A room with a piano in itzation and perseverance, might be made should be hired for, say, one or two available for better purposes. How evenings a week; a few special fittings constantly in some English circles is for this room, desks, etc., would be re- music still spoken of as a kind of snare, quired. It should then be made known likely to lead men who are its devotees in the neighborhood that any man who into “ low company.” In all ranks it can play on an instrument is welcome is true that men who possess any accomon such and such evenings for concert- plishment by means of which they can ed practice ; perhaps some nominal fee amuse their fellows are generally popumight be charged as condition of mem- lar, especially among idle people, and bership and toward defraying expenses. when a working-man sings his songs or If this appeal were responded to, it plays his tunes to his companions in the would be necessary to separate those public-house, no doubt the situation is who came into two classes : those who fraught with some peril, to say nothing of the temptation to undue vanity in themselves and as furnishing hints which the performer ! But it would be may be widely useful. Here in Fifestrange indeed in Germany, where music shire natural capacity and universal cois a serious thing, to hear such an alle- operation have quietly and without any gation made against it.

fuss established music, vocal music at From time to time information comes any rate, on a firm popular footing, from various parts of the country, all from which it may proceed to do great tending to confirm the belief that such things in time. It needs not external a movement as here has been vaguely support, it does not require to be shadowed forth is on foot, and slowly preached as a crusade, it has become an but surely making its way. Some facts indigenous, abiding, and elevating inwith regard to the county of Fife in par. terest. ticular are so remarkable as to be worth But the working-classes of London quoting.

and our vast crowded cities, in the fierce “Great interest is felt in music by struggle for existence, labor under social the lower classes. There are musical and physical disadvantages for such a associations in almost every town and pursuit unknown in remote counties village. A committee of gentlemen and unknown even in quiet German towns. others is formed in each such town to It is not to be wondered at if help, unmake arrangements with an Edinburgh necessary there, is wanted here. But conductor or local professor, and week- association is the only form of help that ly practices are held under his leader- will be productive of permanent good. ship during the winter season. Through Unless this is attained, we might as well these associations the lower orders plant a garden by plucking flowers from fisher people, mill girls, foundry lads- another garden, sticking them in the have opportunities of cultivating their ground and expecting them to grow, as taste and developing their voices. In go on calling to people to listen to what Dunfermline and Kirkcaldy, where the they cannot or do not share in. societies are very large, they engage a Let nothing that has been said be ungood Edinburgh orchestra for the pub- derstood as casting a slur on what has lic performance. In the fishing village been described as practical philanthropy, of Anstruther the conductor and mem. nor as depreciating any one of the noble bers of the orchestra are amateurs and efforts of disinterested men and women trades-people, the chorus-singers and to better the condition or raise the mensoloists are chiefly fisher people. At tal and moral standard of their suffering Leven, in a population of 2000, there fellow-creatures. The purest art and are between seventy and eighty mem- the highest philanthropy are truly one. bers in the Choral Union. These peo- But, in these things, cause and effect do ple read well, mostly from the old nota- pot follow each other in the anticipated, tion. Solos in the oratorios are invari- nor even in the desired, order. The ably sung by amateurs of all classes. self-devotion of the philanthropist reMany of the rank of dressmakers, milli-' sults in even greater good to himself ners, and small tradesmen, spend much than to those for whom he labors. The of their leisure time in getting up these artist who has striven to give adequate solos and songs for the frequent ama- expression to a grand thought knows how teur concerts. There are some very

far his execution has fallen short of his beautiful voices among them; and in conception, and is disappointed; the some of the girls, and men also, the tal- gainers by his work are those whom it ent for singing is so great that without inspires with his idea. The tendency instruction they sing their Handelian of philanthropy is toward introspection 'runs with the required distinct in its subjects ; it invites men to convocalization. Glee clubs, too,

sider themselves with a view to improvformed, independently of the Choral ing themselves. Art points to someUnion. The Scotch precentor is often thing beyond and greater than thema good musician, competent to train a selves. În aspiring to the highest good choir, to sing glees and part music, not men must become better, but only so only correctly but with taste."

long as they forget themselves in their These details are interesting, both in object. Of all the great art creations

are

« VorigeDoorgaan »