How to Listen to Music


The Content and Kinds of Music

Metaphysics to be avoided herein.

Bearing in mind the purpose of this book, I shall not ask the reader to accompany me far afield in the region of æsthetic philosophy or musical metaphysics. A short excursion is all that is necessary to make plain what is meant by such terms as Absolute music, Programme music, Classical, Romantic, and Chamber music and the like, which not only confront us continually in discussion, but stand for things which we must know if we would read programmes understandingly and appreciate the various phases in which music presents itself to us. It is interesting and valuable to know why an art-work stirs up pleasurable feelings within us, and to speculate upon its relations to the intellect and the emotions; but the circumstance that philosophers have never agreed, and probably never will agree, on these points, so far as the art of music is concerned, alone suffices to remove them from the field of this discussion.

Personal equation in judgment.

Intelligent listening is not conditioned upon such knowledge. Even when the study is begun, the questions whether or not music has a content beyond itself, where that content is to be sought, and how defined, will be decided in each case by the student for himself, on grounds which may be said to be as much in his nature as they are in the argument. The attitude of man toward the art is an individual one, and in some of its aspects defies explanation.

A musical fluid.

The amount and kind of pleasure which music gives him are frequently as much beyond his understanding and control as they are beyond the understanding and control of the man who sits beside him. They are consequences of just that particular combination of material and spiritual elements, just that blending of muscular, nervous, and cerebral tissues, which make him what he is, which segregate him as an individual from the mass of humanity. We speak of persons as susceptible or insusceptible to music as we speak of good and poor conductors of electricity; and the analogy implied here is particularly apt and striking. If we were still using the scientific terms of a few decades ago I should say that a musical fluid might yet be discovered and its laws correlated with those of heat, light, and electricity. Like them, when reduced to its lowest terms, music is a form of motion, and it should not be difficult on this analogy to construct a theory which would account for the physical phenomena which accompany the hearing of music in some persons, such as the recession of blood from the face, or an equally sudden suffusion of the same veins, a contraction of the scalp accompanied by chilliness or a prickling sensation, or that roughness of the skin called goose-flesh, "flesh moved by an idea, flesh horripilated by a thought."

Origin of musical elements.
Feelings and counterpoint.

It has been denied that feelings are the content of music, or that it is the mission of music to give expression to feelings; but the scientific fact remains that the fundamental elements of vocal music—pitch, quality, and dynamic intensity—are the results of feelings working upon the vocal organs; and even if Mr. Herbert Spencer's theory be rejected, it is too late now to deny that music is conceived by its creators as a language of the emotions and so applied by them. The German philosopher Herbarth sought to reduce the question to an absurdity by expressing surprise that musicians should still believe that feelings could be "the proximate cause of the rules of simple and double counterpoint;" but Dr. Stainer found a sufficient answer by accepting the proposition as put, and directing attention to the fact that the feelings of men having first decided what was pleasurable in polyphony, and the rules of counterpoint having afterward been drawn from specimens of pleasurable polyphony, it was entirely correct to say that feelings are the proximate cause of the laws of counterpoint.

How composers hear music.

It is because so many of us have been taught by poets and romancers to think that there is a picture of some kind, or a story in every piece of music, and find ourselves unable to agree upon the picture or the story in any given case, that confusion is so prevalent among the musical laity. Composers seldom find difficulty in understanding each other. They listen for beauty, and if they find it they look for the causes which have produced it, and in apprehending beauty and recognizing means and cause they unvolitionally rise to the plane whence a view of the composer's purposes is clear. Having grasped the mood of a composition and found that it is being sustained or varied in a manner accordant with their conceptions of beauty, they occupy themselves with another kind of differentiation altogether than the misled disciples of the musical rhapsodists who overlook the general design and miss the grand proclamation in their search for petty suggestions for pictures and stories among the details of the composition. Let musicians testify for us. In his romance, "Ein Glücklicher Abend," Wagner says:

Wagner's axiom.

"That which music expresses is eternal and ideal. It does not give voice to the passion, the love, the longing of this or the other individual, under these or the other circumstances, but to passion, love, longing itself."

Moritz Hauptmann says:


"The same music will admit of the most varied verbal expositions, and of not one of them can it be correctly said that it is exhaustive, the right one, and contains the whole significance of the music. This significance is contained most definitely in the music itself. It is not music that is ambiguous; it says the same thing to everybody; it speaks to mankind and gives voice only to human feelings. Ambiguity only then makes its appearance when each person attempts to formulate in his manner the emotional impression which he has received, when he attempts to fix and hold the ethereal essence of music, to utter the unutterable."

The "Songs without Words."

Mendelssohn inculcated the same lesson in a letter which he wrote to a young poet who had given titles to a number of the composer's "Songs Without Words," and incorporated what he conceived to be their sentiments in a set of poems. He sent his work to Mendelssohn with the request that the composer inform the writer whether or not he had succeeded in catching the meaning of the music. He desired the information because "music's capacity for expression is so vague and indeterminate." Mendelssohn replied:

"You give the various numbers of the book such titles as 'I Think of Thee,' 'Melancholy,' 'The Praise of God,' 'A Merry Hunt.' I can scarcely say whether I thought of these or other things while composing the music. Another might find 'I Think of Thee' where you find 'Melancholy,' and a real huntsman might consider 'A Merry Hunt' a veritable 'Praise of God.' But this is not because, as you think, music is vague. On the contrary, I believe that musical expression is altogether too definite, that it reaches regions and dwells in them whither words cannot follow it and must necessarily go lame when they make the attempt as you would have them do."

The tonal language.
Herbert Spencer's definition.
Natural expression.
Absolute music.

If I were to try to say why musicians, great musicians, speak thus of their art, my explanation would be that they have developed, farther than the rest of mankind have been able to develop it, a language of tones, which, had it been so willed, might have been developed so as to fill the place now occupied by articulate speech. Herbert Spencer, though speaking purely as a scientific investigator, not at all as an artist, defined music as "a language of feelings which may ultimately enable men vividly and completely to impress on each other the emotions they experience from moment to moment." We rely upon speech to do this now, but ever and anon when, in a moment of emotional exaltation, we are deserted by the articulate word we revert to the emotional cry which antedates speech, and find that that cry is universally understood because it is universally felt. More than speech, if its primitive element of emotionality be omitted, more than the primitive language of gesture, music is a natural mode of expression. All three forms have attained their present stage of development through conventions. Articulate speech has led in the development; gesture once occupied a high plane (in the pantomimic dance of the ancients) but has now retrograded; music, supreme at the outset, then neglected, is but now pushing forward into the place which its nature entitles it to occupy. When we conceive of an art-work composed of such elements, and foregoing the adventitious helps which may accrue to it from conventional idioms based on association of ideas, we have before us the concept of Absolute music, whose content, like that of every noble artistic composition, be it of tones or forms or colors or thoughts expressed in words, is that high ideal of goodness, truthfulness, and beauty for which all lofty imaginations strive. Such artworks are the instrumental compositions in the classic forms; such, too, may be said to be the high type of idealized "Programme" music, which, like the "Pastoral" symphony of Beethoven, is designed to awaken emotions like those awakened by the contemplation of things, but does not attempt to depict the things themselves. Having mentioned Programme music I must, of course, try to tell what it is; but the exposition must be preceded by an explanation of a kind of music which, because of its chastity, is set down as the finest form of absolute music. This is Chamber music.

Chamber music.
History of the term.
Haydn a servant.

In a broad sense, but one not employed in modern definition, Chamber music is all music not designed for performance in the church or theatre. (Out-of-door music cannot be considered among these artistic forms of aristocratic descent.) Once, and indeed at the time of its invention, the term meant music designed especially for the delectation of the most eminent patrons of the art—the kings and nobles whose love for it gave it maintenance and encouragement. This is implied by the term itself, which has the same etymology wherever the form of music is cultivated. In Italian it is Musica da Camera; in French, Musique de Chambre; in German, Kammermusik. All the terms have a common root. The Greek καμαρα signified an arch, a vaulted room, or a covered wagon. In the time of the Frankish kings the word was applied to the room in the royal palace in which the monarch's private property was kept, and in which he looked after his private affairs. When royalty took up the cultivation of music it was as a private, not as a court, function, and the concerts given for the entertainment of the royal family took place in the king's chamber, or private room. The musicians were nothing more nor less than servants in the royal household. This relationship endured into the present century. Haydn was a Hausofficier of Prince Esterhazy. As vice-chapelmaster he had to appear every morning in the Prince's ante-room to receive orders concerning the dinner-music and other entertainments of the day, and in the certificate of appointment his conduct is regulated with a particularity which we, who remember him and reverence his genius but have forgotten his master, think humiliating in the extreme.

Beethoven's Chamber music.

Out of this cultivation of music in the private chamber grew the characteristics of Chamber music, which we must consider if we would enjoy it ourselves and understand the great reverence which the great masters of music have always felt for it. Beethoven was the first great democrat among musicians. He would have none of the shackles which his predecessors wore, and compelled aristocracy of birth to bow to aristocracy of genius. But such was his reverence for the style of music which had grown up in the chambers of the great that he devoted the last three years of his life almost exclusively to its composition; the peroration of his proclamation to mankind consists of his last quartets—the holiest of holy things to the Chamber musicians of to-day.

The characteristics of Chamber music.

Chamber music represents pure thought, lofty imagination, and deep learning. These attributes are encouraged by the idea of privacy which is inseparable from the form. Composers find it the finest field for the display of their talents because their own skill in creating is to be paired with trained skill in hearing. Its representative pieces are written for strings alone—trios, quartets, and quintets. With the strings are sometimes associated a pianoforte, or one or more of the solo wind instruments—oboe, clarinet, or French horn; and as a rule the compositions adhere to classical lines (see Chapter V.). Of necessity the modesty of the apparatus compels it to forego nearly all the adventitious helps with which other forms of composition gain public approval. In the delineative arts Chamber music shows analogy with correct drawing and good composition, the absence of which cannot be atoned for by the most gorgeous coloring. In no other style is sympathy between performers and listeners so necessary, and for that reason Chamber music should always be heard in a small room with performers and listeners joined in angelic wedlock. Communities in which it flourishes under such conditions are musical.

Programme music.
The value of superscriptions.
The rule of judgment.

Properly speaking, the term Programme music ought to be applied only to instrumental compositions which make a frank effort to depict scenes, incidents, or emotional processes to which the composer himself gives the clew either by means of a descriptive title or a verbal motto. It is unfortunate that the term has come to be loosely used. In a high sense the purest and best music in the world is programmatic, its programme being, as I have said, that "high ideal of goodness, truthfulness, and beauty" which is the content of all true art. But the origin of the term was vulgar, and the most contemptible piece of tonal imitation now claims kinship in the popular mind with the exquisitely poetical creations of Schumann and the "Pastoral" symphony of Beethoven; and so it is become necessary to defend it in the case of noble compositions. A programme is not necessarily, as Ambros asserts, a certificate of poverty and an admission on the part of the composer that his art has got beyond its natural bounds. Whether it be merely a suggestive title, as in the case of some of the compositions of Beethoven, Schumann, and Mendelssohn, or an extended commentary, as in the symphonic poems of Liszt and the symphonies of Berlioz and Raff, the programme has a distinct value to the composer as well as the hearer. It can make the perceptive sense more impressible to the influence of the music; it can quicken the fancy, and fire the imagination; it can prevent a gross misconception of the intentions of a composer and the character of his composition. Nevertheless, in determining the artistic value of the work, the question goes not to the ingenuity of the programme or the clearness with which its suggestions have been carried out, but to the beauty of the music itself irrespective of the verbal commentary accompanying it. This rule must be maintained in order to prevent a degradation of the object of musical expression. The vile, the ugly, the painful are not fit subjects for music; music renounces, contravenes, negatives itself when it attempts their delineation.

A classification of Programme music might be made on these lines:

Kinds of Programme music.

I. Descriptive pieces which rest on imitation or suggestion of natural sounds.

II. Pieces whose contents are purely musical, but the mood of which is suggested by a poetical title.

III. Pieces in which the influence which determined their form and development is indicated not only by a title but also by a motto which is relied upon to mark out a train of thought for the listener which will bring his fancy into union with that of the composer. The motto may be verbal or pictorial.

IV. Symphonies or other composite works which have a title to indicate their general character, supplemented by explanatory superscriptions for each portion.

Imitation of natural sounds.
The nightingale.
The cat.
The cuckoo.

The first of these divisions rests upon the employment of the lowest form of conventional musical idiom. The material which the natural world provides for imitation by the musician is exceedingly scant. Unless we descend to mere noise, as in the descriptions of storms and battles (the shrieking of the wind, the crashing of thunder, and the roar of artillery—invaluable aids to the cheap descriptive writer), we have little else than the calls of a few birds. Nearly thirty years ago Wilhelm Tappert wrote an essay which he called "Zooplastik in Tönen." He ransacked the musical literature of centuries, but in all his examples the only animals the voices of which are unmistakable are four fowls—the cuckoo, quail (that is the German bird, not the American, which has a different call), the cock, and the hen. He has many descriptive sounds which suggest other birds and beasts, but only by association of idea; separated from title or text they suggest merely what they are—musical phrases. A reiteration of the rhythmical figure called the "Scotch snap," breaking gradually into a trill, is the common symbol of the nightingale's song, but it is not a copy of that song; three or four tones descending chromatically are given as the cat's mew, but they are made to be such only by placing the syllables Mi-au (taken from the vocabulary of the German cat) under them. Instances of this kind might be called characterization, or description by suggestion, and some of the best composers have made use of them, as will appear in these pages presently. The list being so small, and the lesson taught so large, it may be well to give a few striking instances of absolutely imitative music. The first bird to collaborate with a composer seems to have been the cuckoo, whose notes

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had sounded in many a folk-song ere Beethoven thought of enlisting the little solo performer in his "Pastoral" symphony. It is to be borne in mind, however, as a fact having some bearing on the artistic value of Programme music, that Beethoven's cuckoo changes his note to please the musician, and, instead of singing a minor third, he sings a major third thus:

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Cock and hen.

As long ago as 1688 Jacob Walter wrote a musical piece entitled "Gallina et Gallo," in which the hen was delineated in this theme:

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while the cock had the upper voice in the following example, his clear challenge sounding above the cackling of his mate:

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The most effective use yet made of the song of the hen, however, is in "La Poule," one of Rameau's "Pièces de Clavecin," printed in 1736, a delightful composition with this subject:

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The quail.

The quail's song is merely a monotonic rhythmical figure to which German fancy has fitted words of pious admonition:

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Conventional idioms.
Association of ideas.
Fancy and imagination.
Harmony and emotionality.

The paucity of examples in this department is a demonstration of the statement made elsewhere that nature does not provide music with models for imitation as it does painting and sculpture. The fact that, nevertheless, we have come to recognize a large number of idioms based on association of ideas stands the composer in good stead whenever he ventures into the domain of delineative or descriptive music, and this he can do without becoming crudely imitative. Repeated experiences have taught us to recognize resemblances between sequences or combinations of tones and things or ideas, and on these analogies, even though they be purely conventional (that is agreed upon, as we have agreed that a nod of the head shall convey assent, a shake of the head dissent, and a shrug of the shoulders doubt or indifference), the composers have built up a voluminous vocabulary of idioms which need only to be helped out by a suggestion to the mind to be eloquently illustrative. "Sometimes hearing a melody or harmony arouses an emotion like that aroused by the contemplation of a thing. Minor harmonies, slow movements, dark tonal colorings, combine directly to put a musically susceptible person in a mood congenial to thoughts of sorrow and death; and, inversely, the experience of sorrow, or the contemplation of death, creates affinity for minor harmonies, slow movements, and dark tonal colorings. Or we recognize attributes in music possessed also by things, and we consort the music and the things, external attributes bringing descriptive music into play, which excites the fancy, internal attributes calling for an exercise of the loftier faculty, imagination, to discern their meaning."[B] The latter kind is delineative music of the higher order, the kind that I have called idealized programme music, for it is the imagination which, as Ruskin has said, "sees the heart and inner nature and makes them felt, but is often obscure, mysterious, and interrupted in its giving out of outer detail," which is "a seer in the prophetic sense, calling the things that are not as though they were, and forever delighting to dwell on that which is not tangibly present." In this kind of music, harmony, the real seat of emotionality in music, is an eloquent factor, and, indeed, there is no greater mystery in the art, which is full of mystery, than the fact that the lowering of the second tone in the chord, which is the starting-point of harmony, should change an expression of satisfaction, energetic action, or jubilation into an accent of pain or sorrow. The major mode is "to do," the minor, "to suffer:"

Major and minor.

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Music and movement.
Handel's frogs.

How near a large number of suggestions, which are based wholly upon experience or association of ideas, lie to the popular fancy, might be illustrated by scores of examples. Thoughts of religious functions arise in us the moment we hear the trombones intone a solemn phrase in full harmony; an oboe melody in sixth-eighth time over a drone bass brings up a pastoral picture of a shepherd playing upon his pipe; trumpets and drums suggest war, and so on. The delineation of movement is easier to the musician than it is to the poet. Handel, who has conveyed the sensation of a "darkness which might be felt," in a chorus of his "Israel in Egypt," by means which appeal solely to the imagination stirred by feelings, has in the same work pictured the plague of frogs with a frank naïveté which almost upsets our seriousness of demeanor, by suggesting the characteristic movement of the creatures in the instrumental accompaniment to the arioso, "Their land brought forth frogs," which begins thus:

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The movement of water.

We find the gentle flux and reflux of water as if it were lapping a rocky shore in the exquisite figure out of which Mendelssohn constructed his "Hebrides" overture:

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and in fancy we ride on mighty surges when we listen to the principal subject of Rubinstein's "Ocean" symphony:

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In none of these instances can the composer be said to be imitative. Music cannot copy water, but it can do what water does, and so suggest water.

High and low.

Some of the most common devices of composers are based on conceptions that are wholly arbitrary. A musical tone cannot have position in space such as is indicated by high or low, yet so familiar is the association of acuteness of pitch with height, and gravity of pitch with depth, that composers continually delineate high things with acute tones and low things with grave tones, as witness Handel in one of the choruses of "The Messiah:"

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Ascent, descent, and distance delineated.

Similarly, too, does Beethoven describe the ascent into heaven and the descent into hell in the Credo of his mass in D. Beethoven's music, indeed, is full of tone-painting, and because it exemplifies a double device I make room for one more illustration. It is from the cantata "Becalmed at Sea, and a Prosperous Voyage," and in it the composer pictures the immensity of the sea by a sudden, extraordinary spreading out of his harmonies, which is musical, and dwelling a long time on the word "distance" (Weite) which is rhetorical:

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Bald imitation bad art.
Vocal music and delineation.
Beethoven's canon.

The extent to which tone-painting is justified is a question which might profitably concern us; but such a discussion as it deserves would far exceed the limits set for this book, and must be foregone. It cannot be too forcibly urged, however, as an aid to the listener, that efforts at musical cartooning have never been made by true composers, and that in the degree that music attempts simply to copy external things it falls in the scale of artistic truthfulness and value. Vocal music tolerates more of the descriptive element than instrumental because it is a mixed art; in it the purpose of music is to illustrate the poetry and, by intensifying the appeal to the fancy, to warm the emotions. Every piece of vocal music, moreover, carries its explanatory programme in its words. Still more tolerable and even righteous is it in the opera where it is but one of several factors which labor together to make up the sum of dramatic representation. But it must ever remain valueless unless it be idealized. Mendelssohn, desiring to put Bully Bottom into the overture to "A Midsummer Night's Dream," did not hesitate to use tones which suggest the bray of a donkey, yet the effect, like Handel's frogs and flies in "Israel," is one of absolute musical value. The canon which ought continually to be before the mind of the listener is that which Beethoven laid down with most painstaking care when he wrote the "Pastoral" symphony. Desiring to inform the listeners what were the images which inspired the various movements (in order, of course, that they might the better enter into the work by recalling them), he gave each part a superscription thus:

The "Pastoral" symphony.

I. "The agreeable and cheerful sensations awakened by arrival in the country."

II. "Scene by the brook."

III. "A merrymaking of the country folk."

IV. "Thunder-storm."

V. "Shepherds' song—feelings of charity combined with gratitude to the Deity after the storm."

In the title itself he included an admonitory explanation which should have everlasting validity: "Pastoral Symphony; more expression of feeling than painting." How seriously he thought on the subject we know from his sketch-books, in which occur a number of notes, some of which were evidently hints for superscriptions, some records of his convictions on the subject of descriptive music. The notes are reprinted in Nottebohm's "Zweite Beethoveniana," but I borrow Sir George Grove's translation:

Beethoven's notes on descriptive music.

"The hearers should be allowed to discover the situations."

"Sinfonia caracteristica, or a recollection of country life."

"All painting in instrumental music, if pushed too far, is a failure."

"Sinfonia pastorella. Anyone who has an idea of country life can make out for himself the intentions of the author without many titles."

"People will not require titles to recognize the general intention to be more a matter of feeling than of painting in sounds."

"Pastoral symphony: No picture, but something in which the emotions are expressed which are aroused in men by the pleasure of the country (or), in which some feelings of country life are set forth."[C]

As to the relation of programme to music Schumann laid down an admirable maxim when he said that while good music was not harmed by a descriptive title it was a bad indication if a composition needed one.

Classic and Romantic.

There are, among all the terms used in music, no words of vaguer meaning than Classic and Romantic. The idea which they convey most widely in conjunction is that of antithesis. When the Romantic School of composers is discussed it is almost universally presented as something opposed in character to the Classical School. There is little harm in this if we but bear in mind that all the terms which have come into use to describe different phases of musical development are entirely artificial and arbitrary—that they do not stand for anything absolute, but only serve as platforms of observation. If the terms had a fixed meaning we ought to be able, since they have established themselves in the language of history and criticism, to describe unambiguously and define clearly the boundary which separates them. This, however, is impossible. Each generation, nay, each decade, fixes the meaning of the words for itself and decides what works shall go into each category. It ought to be possible to discover a principle, a touchstone, which shall emancipate us from the mischievous and misleading notions that have so long prompted men to make the partitions between the schools out of dates and names.

Trench's definition of "classical."

The terms were borrowed from literary criticism; but even there, in the words of Archbishop Trench, "they either say nothing at all or say something erroneous." Classical has more to defend it than Romantic, because it has greater antiquity and, in one sense, has been used with less arbitrariness.

"The term," says Trench, "is drawn from the political economy of Rome. Such a man was rated as to his income in the third class, such another in the fourth, and so on, and he who was in the highest was emphatically said to be of the class, classicus, a class man, without adding the number as in that case superfluous; while all others were infra classem. Hence by an obvious analogy the best authors were rated as classici, or men of the highest class; just as in English we say 'men of rank' absolutely for men who are in the highest ranks of the State."

Thus Trench, and his historical definition, explains why in music also there is something more than a lurking suggestion of excellence in the conception of "classical;" but that fact does not put away the quarrel which we feel exists between Classic and Romantic.

Romantic in literature.
Schumann and Jean Paul.
Weber's operas.

As applied to literature Romantic was an adjective affected by certain poets, first in Germany, then in France, who wished to introduce a style of thought and expression different from that of those who followed old models. Intrinsically, of course, the term does not imply any such opposition but only bears witness to the source from which the poets drew their inspiration. This was the imaginative literature of the Middle Ages, the fantastical stories of chivalry and knighthood written in the Romance, or Romanic languages, such as Italian, Spanish, and Provençal. The principal elements of these stories were the marvellous and the supernatural. The composers whose names first spring into our minds when we think of the Romantic School are men like Mendelssohn and Schumann, who drew much of their inspiration from the young writers of their time who were making war on stilted rhetoric and conventionalism of phrase. Schumann touches hands with the Romantic poets in their strivings in two directions. His artistic conduct, especially in his early years, is inexplicable if Jean Paul be omitted from the equation. His music rebels against the formalism which had held despotic sway over the art, and also seeks to disclose the beauty which lies buried in the world of mystery in and around us, and give expression to the multitude of emotions to which unyielding formalism had refused adequate utterance. This, I think, is the chief element of Romanticism. Another has more of an external nature and genesis, and this we find in the works of such composers as Von Weber, who is Romantic chiefly in his operas, because of the supernaturalism and chivalry in their stories, and Mendelssohn, who, while distinctly Romantic in many of his strivings, was yet so great a master of form, and so attached to it, that the Romantic side of him was not fully developed.

A definition of "Classical" in music.
The creative and conservative principles.
Musical laws of necessity progressive.
Bach and Romanticism.
Creation and conservation.

If I were to attempt a definition it would be this: Classical composers are those of the first rank (to this extent we yield to the ancient Roman conception) who have developed music to the highest pitch of perfection on its formal side and, in obedience to generally accepted laws, preferring æsthetic beauty, pure and simple, over emotional content, or, at any rate, refusing to sacrifice form to characteristic expression. Romantic composers are those who have sought their ideals in other regions and striven to give expression to them irrespective of the restrictions and limitations of form and the conventions of law—composers with whom, in brief, content outweighs manner. This definition presents Classicism as the regulative and conservative principle in the history of the art, and Romanticism as the progressive, regenerative, and creative principle. It is easy to see how the notion of contest between them grew up, and the only harm which can come from such a notion will ensue only if we shut our eyes to the fact that it is a contest between two elements whose very opposition stimulates life, and whose union, perfect, peaceful, mutually supplemental, is found in every really great art-work. No law which fixes, and hence limits, form, can remain valid forever. Its end is served when it enforces itself long enough to keep lawlessness in check till the test of time has determined what is sound, sweet, and wholesome in the innovations which are always crowding eagerly into every creative activity in art and science. In art it is ever true, as Faust concludes, that "In the beginning was the deed." The laws of composition are the products of compositions; and, being such, they cannot remain unalterable so long as the impulse freshly to create remains. All great men are ahead of their time, and in all great music, no matter when written, you shall find instances of profounder meaning and deeper or newer feeling than marked the generality of contemporary compositions. So Bach frequently floods his formal utterances with Romantic feeling, and the face of Beethoven, serving at the altar in the temple of Beauty, is transfigured for us by divine light. The principles of creation and conservation move onward together, and what is Romantic to-day becomes Classic to-morrow. Romanticism is fluid Classicism. It is the emotional stimulus informing Romanticism which calls music into life, but no sooner is it born, free, untrammelled, nature's child, than the regulative principle places shackles upon it; but it is enslaved only that it may become and remain art.

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