Nicolas Slonimsky: Writings on Music: Slonimskyana (Nicolas Slonimsky: Writings on Music) - PDF Free Download (2024)




VOLUME FOUR Slonimskyana

Edited by Electra Slonimsky Yourke

ROUTLEDGE New York and London

Published in 2005 by Routledge 270 Madison Avenue New York, NY 10016 Published in Great Britain by Routledge 2 Park Square Milton Park, Abingdon Oxon OX14 4RN Copyright © 2005 by Electra Slonimsky Yourke Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group. This edition published in the Taylor & Francis e-Library, 2005. “To purchase your own copy of this or any of Taylor & Francis or Routledge’s collection of thousands of eBooks please go to” All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilized in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the author. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Slonimsky, Nicolas, 1894–1995 [Selections. 2003] Nicolas Slonimsky : writings on music. p. cm. Edited by Electra Slonimsky Yourke. Includes bibliographical references (p. ) and index. ISBN 0-415-96868-2 (v. 4 : alk. paper) 1. Music—History and criticism. I. Yourke, Electra. II. Title. ML60.S646 2003 780—dc21 2003011569 ISBN 0-203-99719-0 Master e-book ISBN

WANTED ALERT SECRETARY—TYPIST Full time—part time—for a dictionary of musical biography, already in progress. No knowledge of music is necessary. No virtuoso typing required; one does not have to know that millennium is spelled not only with two l’s, but with two n’s as well; still, one should not spell repitory for repertory, overature for overture. And one should be able to copy foreign names without reducing them to familiar shapes, e.g., Shubert, the theater chain owner, for Schubert, a composer. A modicum of editorial ability, enabling one to arrange a biographical entry according to a prescribed formula, would be a great asset. Energy and indefatigability are most desirable qualities; tired blood and exhaustion in anticipation of a mental effort are drawbacks. Hours are ad libitum—part-time, full time, overtime—mornings, afternoons, evenings. As to the financial arrangements, that depends on the applicant. Obviously, a talented typist capable of turning out fast copy with no more than a few dozen errors per page, will deserve, and receive, better pay than a lost soul gazing in perplexity into vacuous space before deciding whether the word admissible is spelled with ible or able. Write or phone to Nicolas Slonimsky, 295 Beacon St., Boston. Phone: Commonwealth 6–2798. An ad in the Harvard Crimson, June 1, 1957


Preface A Note from the Editor

PART I. HISTORICAL OVERVIEWS 1. Chamber Music in America (1963)

ix xiii


2. The Plush Era of Music in the U.S.: American Concert Life Since 1861 (date unknown)


3. Opera in the United States (date unknown)


PART II. TECHNIQUES OF COMPOSITION AND ANALYSIS 4. The Plurality of Melodic and Harmonic Systems (1938)


5. The Schillinger System (1946)


6. Music for the Eye and Its Listenable Patterns (1955)


7. Folklore, Harmony, Rhythm (1959)


8. Some Abstract Thoughts on Practical Aesthetics (1961)


9. Music and Surrealism (1966)


10. Exposition of Music (date unknown)

PART III. SKETCHES AND PORTRAITS 11. Wanda Landowska (1932) 12. Most Amazing Romance in Musical History [Tchaikovsky] (1935)


161 165



13. Chopiniana: Some Materials for a Biography (1948)


14. Composer in a Palace! [Malipiero] (1950)


15. The Koussevitzky Mission (1951)


16. Handel’s World: Its Magnificance, Its Practicality, and Its Survival in Our Time (1959)


17. The Weather at Mozart’s Funeral (1960)


18. Incapsulation of Alexander Steinert (1962)


19. Invultuation of Virgil Thomson (1962)


20. Ernst Toch (date unknown)


PART IV. HUMOR 21. As to the New Musical Reality: A Dialogue (1933)


22. Analects in Medicine, Mind and Music (1972)


23. Sex and the Music Librarian (1986)


PART V. IN AND AROUND MUSIC 24. Absolute Pitch (1930)


25. The Art of Conducting an Orchestra (1931)


26. Playing Music Together (1945)


27. Pitfalls of Musical Chronology (1946)


28. Musical Children: Prodigies or Monsters? (1948)


29. On Music Criticism (1967)


30. Pianists—Teachers and Virtuosi (1967)


31. Chess in Music (1973)


32. Petrushka (date unknown)


33. Les Noces (date unknown)








Cumulative Index: Volumes 1–4



At the beginning, it was not at all obvious how to organize this collection of Slonimsky writings, numbering in the hundreds. Clearly, Russian and Soviet music would be central. But also American music, North and South. Modern music cuts across all geographical categories. The articles varied considerably in length, tone, depth, intended readership. Written over more than fifty years, their historic perspective and writing style shift and evolve. Most of the earlier articles are about the present, while many of the later ones look back on that present that was. How should they be organized into four volumes? Finally, it emerged that the Boston Evening Transcript articles, though on diverse subjects, comprised a coherent stylistic and historic unit for the first volume. Russian/Soviet pieces then became volume two, and modern music, worldwide, was the obvious third volume. All articles on these three topics were pulled from the mix, regardless of when they were written or whether they were coherent in terms of style and length (they weren’t). That left . . . everything else, still a very large number of writings. Heterogeneous as to subject (to say the least), they were variously interesting, provocative, funny, scholarly, cerebral, offbeat, opinionated— in other words, Slonimskyana. Within this elastic title, articles on any subject, of any nature, from any source, of whatever length, could be included: herein the reader finds The Best of Everything Else. Ah, but how should they be organized? In what categories, what order? I confess that the five categories I created are absolutely artificial. As packages, some groupings are a bit lumpy, but not, I hope, offensive. Within each, the articles are in chronological order.




This volume includes a higher proportion of articles that I have only in manuscript form, without dates or publication information. They were obviously all written for a purpose—my father would never have sat down to write on The Plush Era of Music in the U.S. just for the fun of it—but either they were not finally published or they were published but he did not receive or retain the printed version. To readers (or publishers) who recognize any of the unattributed articles in this or the other volumes, I offer my apologies for failing to provide proper credit. The heterogeneity of this volume demonstrates that my father was not a scholar in the conventional sense, munching his way through a century, a style, or a composer. He did not have to worry about tenure. He had no desire to know everything there is to know about any one topic or person. His researches were driven by pure intellectual curiosity (often resulting in a book project) or commissions and, although—like any scholar—he regularly lost all sense of time when at the library, his zeal diminished when he had satisfied his own interest or the needs of the particular project. His pedantic side was fully fed by the endless updating of Baker’s Biographical Dictionary of Musicians, which he edited for some forty years. He enjoyed direct research into primary sources; I am not aware that he read up on what other scholars were doing (unless reviewing their books). His interest was especially piqued by the prospect of proving somebody else wrong—an erroneous birth or death date, a romanticized anecdote (the weather at Mozart’s funeral)—or historic ironies, most especially, the horrible reviews classical composers received from their contemporaries. All this sounds a bit dilettante-ish, but it was not, because of the background he brought to each topic. He drew upon his profound knowledge of the art and technique of music to produce numerous think pieces for professional readers, some of which I have included here. He wrote regular program notes for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, many of which I collected for a recently published volume called The Listener’s Companion. A request for a book introduction (Chapter 1) elicited an amazingly comprehensive survey with detailed analysis of the chamber music of numerous American composers. In bringing out this series, my intention is to make these serious writings available to students, musicians, biographers, and other scholars. It seems a shame to allow them to accompany their volumes to the book graveyard.



All this is to say that a volume legitimately titled Slonimskyana must include articles on diverse subjects, in different styles, for different readerships, written over more than half a century, and defying categorization. The reader also finds a CD tucked into the back cover of this volume. An explanation of the recording and my father’s liner notes for the original recordings are found in the Postlude to this volume. When it comes to acknowledgements and thanks, I hardly know where to begin. Assembling a collection of this size involves interaction with numerous people over a long time period. Almost all the writings themselves are in the Slonimsky Collection of the Library of Congress, where my father deposited his papers periodically over the years. The “finding aid” produced in 2000 under the direction of Robert Saladini is a marvelous guide. I have relied upon it in many ways, not the least to inspect every entry under “Writings” to make sure I have reviewed it for possible inclusion here. My endless queries and requests for copies have been cheerfully fielded by Ruth Foss, Kevin LaVine, and others, all under the benevolent stewardship of Jon Newsom, Director of the Music Collection, who saw more of me than he probably would have liked owing to the fact that the copying machine is outside his office door. Clearly, my father ingratiated himself with librarians over the years, and I have been the beneficiary of their good will in helping me to track down attributions and find lost words and even lost articles. In particular, Diane Ota, Curator of Music at the Boston Public Library, revealed the existence of scrapbooks compiled by my father in the early 60s with the then music librarian. They contained some unique items. She also facilitated their microfilming, so they can now be viewed at the Library of Congress as well. Other librarians and specialists responded to my email queries with grace and alacrity, often with unsolicited expressions of admiration for my father’s work. Such messages make this project worthwhile. Dr. Malena Kuss of Denton, Texas, reviewed all materials on Latin America, cleaning up accents, spellings, hyphenations, and capitalizations. Louis Pine, Schillinger historian of West Branch, Iowa, identified and dated the book review that is Chapter 5. Olga Manulkina of St. Petersburg, Russia, made helpful recommendations about selections for Volume 2, and Laurel Fay translated autographs from the Russian and provided valuable guidance on the presentation of musical selections.



Richard Carlin, music and dance editor of Routledge, believed from the start that there were enough worthwhile materials for a series of this size, and he was more than right. Despite our many squabbles, his confidence has not wavered. We both hope that every reader—student, music-lover, researcher, cultural historian—discovers something new and worthwhile in these pages. Electra Slonimsky Yourke New York, August 16, 2003


Every article in these volumes is presented in full without any editing whatever. I have also preserved the orthography and other stylistic elements as they appeared in the original publications or manuscripts. Changes were made only in the rare instance of errors or misprints obvious to me. Accordingly, readers will encounter a wide variety of spellings, especially of Russian names, and the disparate punctuation policies of dozens of different publications. I believe that fidelity to the originals helps highlight the historic nature of these documents, and preservation of the record, warts and all, was of great importance to my father, a lover of language in all its flowerings. —E.S.Y.


Part I



When the eccentric French conductor Jullien visited America in 1853, he presented several “monster concerts” at the Crystal Palace in New York. As a patronizing gesture to the natives, he included in one of his programmes a String Quartet by George Frederick Bristow, a violinist of the New York Philharmonic Society. In a public statement Jullien pronounced Bristow “a classical composer of European stature who successfully essayed the most difficult of all instrumental writing, that of the string quartet.” To an American musician such an accolade was the height of commendation. Bristow launched a subscription for a golden wreath, and presented it to Jullien as a token of gratitude. European, and specifically German, models completely dominated the form and substance of string quartets, piano trios, and violin sonatas written by Americans during the nineteenth century. Most performers were German immigrants, and the best-known ensembles bore such names as the Germania Society and the Mendelssohn Quintette Club. German musical hegemony in America began to weaken about the turn of the century. The aesthetic mode became neo-classical, superseding the inflated romantic genre; the Germanic form gave way to a more liberal construction, rhapsodic and impressionistic. Considerable stress was put on American subject-matter, with direct or indirect quotations from Negro, Indian, or cowboy tunes. The first piece of chamber music that became known as “American” was Dvorak’s String Quartet in F, op. 96, which he composed during his American visit in 1893. According to Dvorak’s own statement, made to Franz Kneisel on the occasion of the Ch. 1: originally published as the introduction to Cobbett’s Cyclopedic Survey of Chamber Music, Second Edition, Volume III, Oxford University Press, 1963.



Nicolas Slonimsky

world premiere of the work by the Kneisel Quartet, the themes were derived from Negro melodies. The eminent Boston music critic Philip Hale, reviewing the performance, observed tartly that “the Negroes encountered by Mr. Dvorak have a singular habit of whistling Scotch and Bohemian tunes.” Native American composers never succeeded in matching Dvorak and creating a popular piece of chamber music based on native themes. Arthur FARWELL (1872–1952) worked valiantly for the cause of American music, making use of Indian tunes in his chamber music. Another pioneer in American music, Henry Franklin Belknap GILBERT, the “Uramerikaner” as he was called by a German critic, arranged several of his piano pieces conceived in an authentically American style for various instrumental ensembles. The only American composer who successfully applied American themes to works of lasting value, Edward MACDOWELL, wrote no chamber music at all. The slow development of chamber music in America can be explained by the predilection of American composers for programmatic music. It required a radical departure from old-fashioned and flamboyant nationalism to initiate a chamber-music style, contrapuntal in essence and capable of expressing American ideas and moods in a communicative manner. The vigorous flowering of American chamber music from 1925 was made possible when American composers finally relinquished a narrowly programmatic style of composition. An isolated and unique instance of the creation of chamber music of great distinction and originality, and in a nationalistic style, is presented by that extraordinary American Charles IVES (1874–1954). In his string quartets and other instrumental works, written early in the twentieth century, he introduced a variety of environmental material—hymn tunes, patriotic songs, marches, and popular dances. To Ives, music was an active part of social life, a meeting of freely expressed and often discordant utterances. He was impatient with academic rules governing form and development. He felt that music should partake of the spirit of improvisation, and in his characteristic remarks strewn through his works he emphasized this relaxed freedom. In one of his string quartets the part of the second violin bears this inscription: “Join in again, Professor, all in the key of C!” The paradox of Ives is that for all his emphatic Americanism, almost ‘corny’ in its sources, he was a highly original experimenter who made use of such modern devices as atonality and polytonality long before the terms

Chamber Music in America


came into use. In one remarkable passage, in his Tone Roads No. 3, for chamber orchestra, he made use of a complete twelve-note series, repeated in different registers and in different rhythms, a procedure typical of the orthodox twelve-note technique. And Ives wrote this work in 1915, thus anticipating Schoenberg’s explicit use of the method by several years. Polytonal and atonal usages in the works of Ives result from natural distortions of melody and harmony, natural because they mimic the actual playing of familiar tunes by untutored musicians. In the First Violin Sonata (1903–8) Ives furnishes the tune of Lowell Mason’s hymn “Watchman, tell us of the night!” with a dissonant diatonic accompaniment. In the Fourth Violin Sonata, subtitled Children’s Day at the Camp Meeting (1915), there is in the last movement a quotation from Robert Lowry’s tune “Gather at the River,” in a similar modernistic harmonic setting (see Example 1). The Second String Quartet (1907–13) has three programmatic movements: “Discussions,” “Arguments,” and “The Call of the Mountains.” Again American hymnology and country dances provide the material. In his Piano Trio (1904) Ives uses an Alberti bass a l’Americaine, a sort of walking bass, typical of many American dances. One movement is marked “T. S. I. A. J.,” the initials signifying “This Scherzo Is a Joke.”

Example 1 (Copyright Theodore Presser Company.)

Apart from the phenomenon of Ives, aggressive Americanism is not conspicuous in American chamber music. The national characteristics are mainly expressed in propulsive and highly syncopated rhythms derived from ragtime, later tending towards idealized and compactly organized jazz forms. Characteristic rhythmical inflexions inevitably affect melodic structures, even in works atonally conceived. In purely diatonic or polytonal works the American rhythms impart a certain ambience suggesting the broad geographical expanses of the New World.


Nicolas Slonimsky

The technical idiom of American chamber music, at its point of stabilization about mid-twentieth century, is contrapuntal in essence, but not usually addicted to elaborate polyphonic development. The melodic patterns are often atonal, but the harmonic base is firm, often supported by organ points. There is an increasing spread of the dodecaphonic techniques. One after another, American composers, and naturalized citizens, succumb to the lure of various forms of serial writing. Particularly common in American chamber music is the use of twelve-note subjects as a melodic motto, without further development in the forms of inversion or retrograde motion. Some American composers of chamber music use a sort of adumbrative dodecaphony by writing melodies containing 9, 10, or 11 different thematic notes; non-repetition of essential thematic units, inherent in integral dodecaphony, remains the principal idea behind such usages. The emigration to the United States of several important European composers—Stravinsky, Schoenberg, Bartok, Hindemith, among them— influenced the development of American chamber music to a very great extent, through frequent performances of their works, through an increased interest aroused by their presence on the American scene, and through teaching. Hindemith taught at several American universities before returning to Europe in 1953, and his influence on impressionable young Americans was personal as well as doctrinal. Schoenberg lived in Los Angeles, far from the centres of American musical education in the eastern states, but a number of young (and even not so young) composers travelled to California to study with him. Schoenberg was anchoretic rather than peripatetic, and his influence, ever increasing even after his death, was that of a prophet. Bartok and Stravinsky did practically no teaching. The presence of these composers in America divided the country, musically speaking, into warring groups: pure constructivists and tonal contrapuntalists (Hindemith), atonalists and dodecaphonists (Schoenberg), folkloristic rhythmicians and instrumental colourists (Bartok), and austere neo-classicists and stylizers (Stravinsky). To be sure, there is a group of chamber-music composers who follow the trends of romantic music, using conventional techniques of the nineteenth century, and also some impressionists who imitate Ravel and Debussy, but they remain in the rearguard of musical action in America, and are all but ignored by the moulders of musical opinion. Ernest Bloch’s music is widely performed in the United States, but he produced few followers among American

Chamber Music in America


composers, and his former pupils veered away from his stylistic precepts. Darius Milhaud was a resident of the United States for many years without becoming a citizen; he had many American students, but failed to form a school of adherents to his particular type of composition. Broadly speaking, the neo-classical and the dodecaphonic styles dominate the American musical scene; sophisticated projections of American rhythms are fitted naturally into the neo-classical framework. The essence of American rhythm is vividly presented by Roy Harris, himself a composer of distinctive American works, in Henry Cowell’s symposium, American Composers on American Music (1933): Our rhythmic impulses are fundamentally different from the rhythmic impulses of Europeans; and from this unique rhythmic sense are generated different melodic and form values. Our sense of rhythm is less symmetrical than the European rhythmic sense. European musicians are trained to think of rhythm in its largest common denominator, while we are born with a feeling for its smallest units. That is why the jazz boys, chained to an unimaginative commercial routine which serves only crystallized symmetrical dance rhythms, are continually breaking out into superimposed rhythmic variations. This asymmetrical balancing of rhythmic phrases is in our blood. We do not employ unconventional rhythms as a sophisticated gesture; we cannot avoid them.

The chamber music of Roy HARRIS offers numerous instances of rhythmic Americanism as described by him. Melodically, it possesses a broad songful line, which he conceives as an expression of the vastness of the American West (he was born in Oklahoma). Several of his significant works were written for chamber groups: Sextet for piano, clarinet, and string quartet (1926), String Quartet No. 1 (1930), String Sextet (1932), Three Variations on a Theme (String Quartet No. 2), Piano Trio (1934), and String Quartet No. 3 (1937). The remarkable point about Harris’s chamber-music idiom is the inconspicuous incorporation of European modernism into a highly individualistic style. Like many other modern Americans, he made a dutiful pilgrimage to study with Nadia Boulanger in Paris. He also avidly studied Beethoven’s last string quartets, and Bach. He avoided the road to Stravinsky, and he had little interest in the development of atonal writing. He by-passed impressionism. There are no direct traces of any specific influence in his music. Yet the modern quality of his style is unmistakable.


Nicolas Slonimsky

If it were not for Harris’s strong individuality, he would have become an eclectic composer, a follower of trends. Fortunately for him (and perhaps for American music), Harris was preoccupied with his own personal musical message, which he also believed to be of universal validity. The aesthetic code which he elaborated in his String Quartet No. 3 has something of the medieval quality. It consists of four preludes and fugues, all couched in ecclesiastical modes, which Harris conceives as reflecting varying emotional qualities. The larger the initial intervals from the tonal centre, the brighter the mood. The Lydian mode appears, therefore, at the brightest end of the spectrum; its inversion, the Locrian mode, at the darkest. The Dorian mode, being invertible, is emotionally neutral, and also the most satisfying for the symmetrical sense. Like any other theory of melody, Harris’s spectrum of modes is arbitrary, but he utilizes it with compelling personal logic. The contrapuntal scheme of Harris’s String Quartet No. 3 is determined by the process of fugal imitation, in the preludes as well as in the fugues. The imitation is rather strict, at the intervals of the fourth and the fifth, thus adhering largely to the classical tradition of responses in the dominant and the subdominant. The fugal element is also prominent in his Piano Trio, the last movement of which is a fugue on the theme quoted in Example 2. Simple imitation at the octave is used to great advantage in the first movement of this work; there are numerous instances also of rhythmic canon, with entries at a very close range; this is a favourite device of Harris, which provides him with an opportunity of creating strong cross-accents in progressions of notes of even value. Much of this type of technique is found already in his first important piece of chamber music, the Sextet for piano, clarinet, and string quartet. In his orchestral and choral music Harris often adopts American subject-matter, but not in his chamber music. The spirit of classicism is particularly strong in his Quintet for piano and strings (1936), consisting of three movements: Passacaglia, Cadenza, and Fugue. There is no literal adherence to the form of passacaglia in the first movement; this term is expanded by Harris to mean a strong central pattern, beginning with a short melodic and rhythmic motto (see Example 3) and developing into a highly ornamental movement, approaching the character of a toccata in the piano part. The Fugue also includes toccatalike episodes.

Chamber Music in America


Example 2 (Used by permission.)

Example 3

The harmonic scheme in the chamber music of Harris is triadic. He combines closely related triads into seventh-chords, but studiously avoids the dominant seventh. By superimposing triads without a common note, he builds polyharmonic structures. In his chamber music the tonal element, in polyharmonic structures, remains very strong. William SCHUMAN (b. 1910) comes closest to Harris (with whom he studied for a brief while) in writing chamber music of an essentially classical cast, polyphonic in essence, and marked by strong asymmetrical rhythm. In Schuman’s string quartets the harmony is tense and dissonant; this is alleviated by passages in unison and by a strong sense of tonality, particularly in the opening and concluding bars of a movement. The first movement of Schuman’s String Quartet No. 2 (1937), headed “Sinfonia,” builds up tension by a gradual expansion of the basic motive (see Example 4). The theme of the second movement, Passacaglia (Example 5), is interesting in its quasi-dodecaphonic construction; it is made up of eight different notes.

Example 4


Nicolas Slonimsky

Example 5

It should be observed, however, that in this instance, as in similar passages in other works by non-dodecaphonic Americans, the underlying thought is not atonal but is derived from the modulatory cycle of fifths. The third and last movement is a Fugue. The building of the theme on fourths is characteristic, as is the nervous vigorous rhythm of the first subject (Example 6); the second subject is of a more flowing nature. The exposition in both cases is quite explicit.

Example 6

In Schuman’s String Quartet No. 4 (1950) the exhortation to the players, “calm and relaxed,” is made difficult by the harsh frictional discords of the opening Adagio, cast in two-part counterpoint (Example 7). The second movement, Allegro con fuoco, illustrates Schuman’s technique of divergent harmonic progressions; in the opening bars the ’cello moves consistently in contrary motion to the first violin (see Example 8). Here

Example 7

Chamber Music in America


Example 8

again we find an adumbration of a dodecaphonic theme; the initial nine notes of the principal theme are all different. The second theme is fugal in nature, and its component elements are polyphonically developed with great skill. The third movement, Andante, establishes at the outset a solemn hymn-like mood; the harmony is strong and dissonant; a powerful progression in the ’cello, in double stops, provides the tonal support. The fourth movement, Presto, contains interesting rhythmic developments of thematic fragments. Perhaps the greatest American master of pure chamber music is Walter PISTON (b. 1894). Throughout his career he has cultivated the type of instrumental music devoid of all programmatic artifice, and dedicated to purposeful melodic, harmonic, and polyphonic art. After a period of study with Nadia Boulanger in Paris, Piston joined the faculty of Harvard University, and it is in this atmosphere of enlightened academicism that his chamber music (as well as his symphonies) originated. This is not to say that Piston himself is an academic; his nineteenth-century predecessors would have been horrified at his modernism. But Piston’s chamber music, more than that of any other American composer, is the result of an evolutionary process. A central tonality is clearly established and invariably carried through. Each of his chamber-music works begins and ends on the same tonic, or on the tonic of the related key. The final chord sometimes lacks a third. Terminal thirdless triads, in open fifths, are, of course, characteristic not only of Walter Piston’s music but of many European composers of the neo-classical persuasion. Piston dispenses with the key signature.


Nicolas Slonimsky

The String Quartet No. 1 (1933) is precise in musical exposition, songful in slow melodic passages, and strongly rhythmical throughout. The String Quartet No. 2 (1935) is more ornamental, but presents no departures from the neoclassical genre. The String Quartet No. 3 (1947) is marked by a more strict and less florid musical discourse. Asymmetrical rhythms are virile and germane to the melodic patterns. The String Quartet No. 4 (1953) is similarly effective in design and technical execution. One of the finest of Piston’s chamber-music works is his Piano Quintet (1949). The first movement, Allegro comodo, is poetically conceived. The mood is almost romantic in its easy flow of harmonic figurations, against which the principal theme is projected (Example 9). Dynamic and harmonic tension marks the middle section, and here the intervallic structure is in fourths and fifths. The return to the simple thematic progression forms a natural conclusion. This movement is perhaps the most explicitly tonal piece of writing by Walter Piston; the key is plainly that of G minor, although the composer refuses to signify it by a key signature. The conclusion of the movement has all the three notes of the G minor triad.

Example 9 (Copyright 1953 [renewed] by Associated Music Publishers, Inc. [BMI]. International copyright secured. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission.)

The second movement, Adagio, is built on highly dissonant but ethereally light harmonies, supported by deep organ points. The melodic line is placed within narrow chromatic confines, then expands into diatonic progressions, while the dynamic curve leads from pianissimo to fortissimo, and back again.

Chamber Music in America


The third and last movement, Allegro vivo, is a typical Pistonian dance, cast in ternary form, with a quasi-fugal middle section. The coda is in G major, but the third of the chord is evaded at the end. An interesting work is Piston’s Quintet for flute and string quartet (1942). It is much lighter in texture than his string quartets and the Piano Quintet, and the idiom is transparently diatonic. Piston’s Divertimento for nine instruments (1946) presents a remarkable display of his polyphonic mastery. As in most of his instrumental works, the Divertimento is in three movements, with a slow movement placed between two fast ones. Of all chamber music written by American composers, that of Roger SESSIONS (b. 1896) is the most forbidding, the most uncompromisingly esoteric, and the most intricate in its construction. It is a philosopher’s art, conceived in an unrelentingly logical yet passionate spirit. It is not dry, and it is certainly not pedantic. But it is the product of deep thought, sharpened by a quest for perfection of design and execution. The texture is primarily contrapuntal, and the counterpoint is dissonant. Yet tonality is affirmed, and focal points of melodic patterns are clearly marked. Sessions applies the method of composition with twelve notes in a very personal manner; in some of his themes he deliberately stops short of dodecaphonic completeness, even though the melodic design is typically dodecaphonic. Sessions is not a composer of many works, but his chamber music is an important part of his output. In his String Quartet No. 1 (1936) he explicitly designates the key as that of E minor, but departs from it almost instantly upon stating the tonic triad in the opening movement, Tempo moderato. The second movement is Adagio molto; the third and last is Vivace molto. The final chord is a full E major triad. The String Quartet No. 2 (1950) is an austere piece of work in an emphatically classical form, even in outward peculiarities. It is in five movements. The opening Lento is a fugue with a quasi-dodecaphonic subject, in which a note is repeated non-consecutively, thus disrupting the series, which is not completed until fourteen notes are sounded (see Example 10). Another fugal subject, brought out in Un poco agitato, is totally dodecaphonic; there is imitation in inversion, and the first fugal theme appears in diminution. The thematic elements of both fugues are very much in evidence in a development section, which is worked out with great skill. The third movement, Andante tranquillo, is an air with variations


Nicolas Slonimsky

Example 10 (Copyright 1954 by Edward B. Marks Music Company. Copyright renewed. Used by permission.)

(see Example 11). The fourth movement, Presto, is a scherzo. After a pause, the last movement, Adagio, introduces an ornamented subject consisting of thirteen notes, eleven of which are different (see Example 12). In his String Quintet (1958) Sessions writes absolute music of the most austere type, with dodecaphonic themes skillfully adapted to a non-serial general design; canonic imitation, exact as to rhythm but free as to component intervals, is effectively applied. The Quintet consists of three movements: Movimento tranquillo is built on several interdependent twelve-note rows and numerous rhythmic stretti; Adagio ed espressivo is derived thematically from groups of six different notes; the employment of

Example 11 (Copyright 1959 by Edward B. Marks Music Company. Copyright renewed. Used by permission.)

Example 12 (Copyright 1959 by Edward B. Marks Music Company. Copyright renewed. Used by permission.)

Chamber Music in America


mirror-like progressions is deliberately non-literal; there is a rhapsodic quality in the expressive use of fragmented solo passages. The third movement, Allegro appassionato, is rhythmically potent, and maintains its pulse unswervingly, but the thematic treatment is fragmentary. The first statement contains eleven different notes of the chromatic scale, and to make up for this omission, the twelfth note is conspicuously placed on the very first beat of the movement. Sessions seems reluctant to follow the rigid outlines of dodecaphonic orthodoxy, but makes use of its technical devices for his own creative purposes. Among other chamber works by Sessions, the Duo for violin and piano should be mentioned as an entirely utilitarian piece of music. In the late 1920s a series of Copland-Sessions concerts of modern music attracted a great deal of attention in New York City. What united these two dissimilar composers was the eloquent precision of their techniques and the basic lyricism of their inspiration. Aaron COPLAND (b. 1900) has become one of the best-known American composers, and in his ballets and symphonic works created masterpieces of explicit folkloric American self-expression. In his chamber music he essayed the folkloric genre in a few pieces, but subsequently turned to a searching, esoteric, and at times brooding style of composition. His earliest instrumental pieces were Nocturne and Ukulele Serenade (1926) for violin and piano, in which he displayed his acute sense of nostalgia and engaging grotesquerie. Copland’s Two Pieces for String Quartet (1928) are of little interest. In 1929 he wrote a piano trio subtitled Vitebsk, inspired by a Jewish folk-song which he heard during a performance of Ansky’s play The Dybbuk, and which Ansky himself had heard in Vitebsk. This is an expressive work; in the string parts Copland makes use of quarter-tones, not as independent fractional intervals, but as colouristic devices intended to sharpen an orientalistic melodic line, much as Ernest Bloch applied quarter-tones in his Piano Quintet. In 1943 Copland completed a Violin Sonata in three movements. The first movement, Andante semplice, is a pensive elegy, austerely conceived; the second movement, Lento, is a tender modal air, reposing on organ points; the third movement, Allegretto giusto, a nervous dance, greatly varied in rhythm and dynamics. The opening motive of the first movement returns as a reminiscence at the conclusion of the sonata. The urban American rhythms that animated Copland’s earliest works were later enriched by Latin American inflexions. In 1933 he wrote a “Short Symphony” for the Orquesta Sinfonica de Mexico, dedicating the


Nicolas Slonimsky

score to its conductor, Carlos Chavez. In 1937 he arranged it for string quartet, clarinet, and piano, and it was in this reduced form, as a sextet, that the work became popular. The first movement of the Sextet, Allegro vivace, bears the designation “in a bold rhythmic style throughout.” The rhythms are asymmetrical, in a manner typical of Copland, but the groupings are distinctly HispanoAmerican, with the alternation and superposition of implied metres of 3/4 and 6/8 very much in evidence. The second movement, Lento, is a slow incantation, modally and rhythmically redolent of Latin American chants. The finale, marked “precise and rhythmic,” is full of vitality; its rhythms are close to the Afro-Cuban danzon; the cumulative agitation in the piano part relates this movement also to jazz. But there is no concession to vulgarity; this music is a highly sophisticated and yet authentic stylization of primitive rhythmic and melodic patterns. A signal departure from Copland’s familiar style is his Quartet for piano and strings (1950). For one thing, he adopts here a serial technique, using an eleven-note row in the very opening theme of the first movement, Adagio serio (see Example 13); the most conspicuous elements of the series are two mutually exclusive whole-tone groups. The second movement, Allegro giusto, retains the serial motto, but the fragmentation is such that the reference is not immediately apparent (see Example 14). The movement is greatly varied in rhythmic content, but the main pulse is steady throughout. The third movement, Non troppo lento, is in the nature of a soliloquy; fragments of mutually exclusive whole-tone scales constitute the thematic link with the original series (see Example 15); towards the end, ten notes of the series are presented in a figure of descending wholetone scales, in parallel major sixths. In 1960 Copland wrote a Nonet for three violins, three violas, and three ’cellos. It is in a single movement cyclically constructed, opening and closing with characteristic slow episodes. The more energetic middle section is freely rhapsodic, and rhythmically variegated. The triadic and polytriadic formations, so typical of many of Copland’s works in an American idiom, are peculiarly appropriate in the Nonet, scored as it is for

Example 13

Chamber Music in America


Example 14

Example 15

three hom*ogeneous groups of instruments. The economy of means and unprejudiced acceptance of several workable techniques in the chamber music of Copland are also characteristic of several other American composers. A remarkable range of such techniques, from simplest diatonic harmonies to the most complex and continuous discords, is found in the works of Wallingford RIEGGER (d. 1961). He combined the qualities of an experimenter and a teacher, and published numerous compositions, conventional in form and idiom, under many pseudonyms. His String Quartet No. 1 (1945) makes a leap into the realm of dodecaphony; it is based on a twelve-note series, which is exploited with great resourcefulness. The second movement of the work uses the retrograde series, the third the inverted form, and the fourth the inverted and retrograde. Riegger’s Quartet No. 2 (1949) is an essay in rhythm and atonal melody. The first theme of the first movement is a brisk Scherzando; the second theme a lyric incantation. The interval of the tritone is basic to the melodic development. The second movement opens with a slow subject, atonally angular, which is imitated canonically in a slightly altered inter-


Nicolas Slonimsky

vallic form; there is a rapid middle section. The third movement is energetic and lively; there are two principal motives, one broadly outlined, the other chromatic. The fourth movement is light and rhythmic. Riegger uses a twelve-note series for his Nonet for three trumpets, two horns, three trombones, and tuba (1951). The music develops freely, without slavish dependence on the declared serial progression. The wide intervallic skips in writing for brass instruments contribute to the peculiar effectiveness of the score. Riegger also makes skilful use of consecutive chordal progressions. Many other chamber-music works by Riegger still retain their musical value, beginning with an early but effective Piano Trio (1919), written in a pre-impressionist French manner. The list continues with Canons for Woodwinds (1931), Divertissem*nt for flute, harp, and ’cello (1933), Duos for Three Woodwinds (1943), in which the three instruments—flute, oboe, and clarinet—are successively paired, Woodwind Quintet (1952), and Piano Quintet (1959). A close contemporary of Riegger, John BECKER (1886–1961), is a bold experimenter in musical sonorities, and, like Riegger, is free from prejudice against traditional techniques. Becker introduced the term “soundpiece” to denote compositions for various instrumental combinations, in various styles. His Soundpiece No. 2 (1938) is subtitled Homage to Haydn. It is scored for string quartet reinforced by the double bass, and represents a polytonal and atonal version of an eighteenth-century work. The name of Henry COWELL (b. 1897) is associated with the period of American ultra-modernism. He is the founder of the quarterly New Music, which publishes modern works, and the co-inventor (with Leon Theremin) of the Rhythmicon, an instrument capable of producing simultaneous rhythms. As a very young man, he began to use so-called “tone-clusters,” columns of diatonic or pentatonic notes played on the keyboard with the forearm or the palm of the hand, according to the number of notes involved. He used tone-clusters in the piano part of his Suite for violin and piano (1927) (see Example 16). The most curious of Cowell’s pieces of chamber music is Ensemble (1924) for string quintet with thundersticks, instruments used in initiation ceremonies by southwestern American Indians. There are three parts for thundersticks, and the composer leaves the rhythmic and dynamic details to the discretion of the performer, suggesting only a general outline (in canonic imitation) in the initial bars.

Chamber Music in America


Example 16 (Copyright 1953 [renewed] by Associated Music Publishers, Inc. [BMI]. International copyright secured. All rights reserved.)

Unquestionably the most forceful and the most original innovator upon the American scene is Edgar VARESE (b. 1885) of Paris, who settled in New York as early as 1916. With the harpist Carlos Salzedo he founded there the International Composers’ Guild. His only work that may come under the heading of chamber music is Octandre, for flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, horn, trumpet, trombone, and double bass (1924). The score is typical of Varese’s style and technique; thematic succession is agglutinative, and all formal development is avoided; technical discords are used as selfsustaining units; the melodies are atonal. Carlos SALZEDO (1885–1961) composed a number of small ensembles for harp, or several harps, with other instruments. He also constructed new harp models capable of performing many special effects demanded by his highly complex technique. While the Frenchmen Varese and Salzedo were promoting modern music in America, the American composer George ANTHEIL (1900–59) was demonstrating his brand of American music in Paris. His Ballet mecanique created a sensation. When the fashion for ultra-modern music ceased, Antheil returned to America and devoted himself to the composition of practical music in an almost romantic vein. He wrote several string quartets, violin sonatas, and other chamber music, but these works received little attention. Antheil’s name remains in the annals of American music as that of the bard of the machine age.


Nicolas Slonimsky

At the opposite pole from American ultra-modernists stands Virgil THOMSON (b. 1896), a resident of Paris for many years, whose modernism finds its expression in a unique genre of sophisticated simplicity and stylistic paradox. He is known mainly through his musical play to Gertrude Stein’s text, Four Saints in Three Acts (in which there are many more saints than four, and one more act than three). He professes admiration for “le lieu commun,” while rejecting “banalite” and is not at all embarrassed by the unmodern and sometimes lowly character of his thematic material. Thomson’s String Quartet No. 1 (1931) could be passed for a work by a minor composer of the Mannheim School, with a minimum of adjustments. His String Quartet No. 2 (1932) is equally conventional. Much more interesting is his Stabat Mater for soprano and string quartet (1931), to French words by Max Jacob. Here Virgil Thomson’s neo-archaic counterpoint bridges the gap of the centuries, and creates a distinct poetic impression. An earlier work, a Sonata da Chiesa (1926) for clarinet, trumpet, viola, horn, and trombone, is the product of Thomson’s Parisian eclecticism, but it retains its effectiveness outside Paris. The first movement, Chorale, is a fine evocation of old church modes, and utilizes the organum of parallel fifths (see Example 17). The second movement, a Tango, skips a nearmillennium into the twentieth century (see Example 18). It is a nostalgic ballroom dance, stylized and contorted into a modernistic creation by changing metres and sharp rhythms. The last movement of the Sonata da Chiesa is a Fugue, with a subject constructed on a series of expanding intervals; the imitation is worked out with all the strictness of academic rules.

Example 17

Chamber Music in America


Example 18

Avowed romanticism is rare among American composers. Yet one of the most important figures of American music, Howard HANSON (b. 1896), admits and proclaims his faith in the primacy of romantic inspiration. As director of the Eastman School of Music in Rochester for many years, and teacher of composition, he has educated a generation of young American composers. There is little chamber music in Hanson’s creative catalogue. His early String Quartet in one movement (1923) commands attention for its sincere and unassuming melodiousness. It is not devoid of modernism; for all its simple graces, the work contains twentieth-century devices—asymmetrical rhythms, progressions in fourths, a suggestion of polytonality. Similar qualities of romantic modernism distinguish Hanson’s Fantasia on a Theme of Youth for piano and strings (1950). Bernard ROGERS (b. 1893), a music educator and colleague of Hanson at the Eastman School of Music, is known mostly for his symphonies and choral works, written in a tense romantic vein. In the field of chamber music he has written a string quartet and some minor pieces. A composer who began as a romanticist and moved towards highly emotional expressionism is David DIAMOND (b. 1915). The sources of his music are in the rhapsodic inspiration of Mahler and Bloch; in his idiom, Diamond reaches remote outposts of tonality, without quite abandoning it. When his purpose lies in simple expressiveness, he adopts a correspondingly simple harmonic language, without modernistic snobbism. Diamond’s first important work of chamber music was a Quintet for flute, violin, viola, ’cello, and piano (1937). The harmonic idiom maintains a clear diatonic line in the first movement, Allegro deciso e molto ritmico. The second movement (Romanza) is simple in melodic outline but increas-


Nicolas Slonimsky

ingly discordant in harmony. The last movement, Allegro veloce, is a jig, with some polytonal developments in the piano part. Diamond’s ’Cello Sonata (1938) is a work of great concentration. The first movement, Tempo giusto e maestoso, develops forcefully; the melody soars, while the piano part supplies florid counterpoint. The second movement, Lento assai, opens with a sonorous chant, which develops into a florid cantillation, followed by a rhythmic section of considerable complexity. The third movement, Andante con grand’ espressione, is a lyric intermezzo. The epilogue is a brief rhythmic dance, in Diamond’s favourite jig time (see Example 19) In his Violin Sonata (1946) Diamond pursues the mundane object of writing a modern work in a classical manner. The music is diaphanous, the rhythm steady and uncomplicated. The predominant tonalities of each of the four movements are indicated by key signatures. Diamond’s Quintet for clarinet, two violas, and two ’cellos (1950) has a sustained mood of sombreness, even in rapid episodes, a character due perhaps to the exclusion of the violin from the scoring. The clarinet is a true soloist, introducing an angular quasi-atonal motto, unaccompanied; the first movement concludes with a retrograde form, slightly modified, of the motto. The second movement, a scherzo, is in a simple dance form, with the clarinet again in the lead. The third movement, Andante non troppo, includes several changes of metre and rhythm. A fragment of the motto brings the movement to a close. The fourth and last movement, Allegro risoluto, is a rondo alternating between two contrasting themes and ending in a stretto.

Example 19

Chamber Music in America


Samuel BARBER (b. 1910) has the distinction of being the author of the most successful piece of American chamber music, known and performed frequently not only in the United States but also in Europe. It is the Molto adagio from his String Quartet composed in 1936. The music is a continuous melodic chant, with some contrapuntal embroidery, finely proportioned and discreetly harmonized. Example 20 shows the opening bars. It is often performed by string orchestras, under the title “Adagio for Strings.”

Example 20

The first movement of Barber’s String Quartet, Molto allegro e appassionato, possesses a propulsive rhythmic energy in its main subject (see Example 21); its melodic material appears later in a modified rhythmic pattern; there is also an important ambling figure in even motion. After the Molto adagio, the Quartet concludes with a brief movement, Molto allegro, which virtually recapitulates the material of the opening movement.

Example 21

Barber’s Serenade for String Quartet, written at the age of eighteen (1928), is a slight work of youthful charm. Another youthful work is his ’Cello Sonata (1932), conceived in an expansive, quasi-Italian manner, sonorous in its instrumental writing and lyric in melodic inspiration. Paul CRESTON (b. 1906) was born in New York of Italian parents; his real name is Joseph Guttoveggio. No adherent to any predetermined techniques, Creston writes music full of rhapsodic excitement and rhythmic energy. His harmony is modern without ostentation, and in his lyrical


Nicolas Slonimsky

writing he surrenders himself to a natural flow of melodious cantilena. Of his chamber music, the most important works are the Suite for saxophone and piano (1935), String Quartet (1936), Suite for viola and piano (1937), Suite for violin and piano (1939), Suite for flute, viola, and piano (1953), and Suite for ’cello and piano (1956). Norman DELLO JOIO (b. 1913), a New Yorker of Italian ancestry, successfully combines classical and romantic elements in his music. He composes with great facility, and his works are eminently practical in performance. His sense of tonality never falters, but his music expands freely, reaching the gates of polytonality. One of his most engaging compositions is his Trio for flute, ’cello, and piano (1947). The tonality of each movement is designated by the key signature; the modulatory plan is extensive, but the development is centripetal, so that the tonal centres are clearly established. The clarity of design and the lively sense of rhythm of Dello Joio’s works are contributing factors to his success. Among American composers whose music can be described as neoromantic are Douglas Moore, Harold Morris, Frederick Jacobi, and Randall Thompson. Douglas MOORE (b. 1893) is distinguished as a composer of several theatre works on American subjects. Among his chamber music, the Quintet for flute, oboe, clarinet, horn, and bassoon (1942) should be noted. Here is a simple piece with a distinctly American flavour; ragtime rhythms are in evidence in the first movement; ballad-like melodies are the features of the second movement; and the last movement is a gay American march, with the piccolo leading the way to a sophisticatedly shrill ending. A solitary figure in American music is Harold MORRIS (b. 1890). His sources of inspiration are post-Wagnerian; there is also a kinship with Scriabin’s ecstatic muse. His Piano Trio No. 2 (1937) exemplifies these derivations. Its first movement, a passacaglia, is anything but classical; the theme is sombre, angularly constructed; it soars upward, almost escaping tonality. Contrasting dynamics lend variety to the development, and the coda is full of large pianistic sonorities. The second movement, a scherzo, is appropriately light. The third movement is a meditation, with a quasiatonal theme; there is an excursion into a dance. The fourth and last movement is an accompanied fugue, quite orthodox as to fugal imitation, but bristling with thick polyharmonies in the piano part. Frederick JACOBI (d. 1952) wrote music on Indian and on Jewish themes in his early period, but later adopted a style unconnected with any ethnic source. His String Quartet No. 2 (1933) is idiomatically written for

Chamber Music in America


the instruments, and orthodox as to harmony. Jacobi’s String Quartet No. 3 (1945) is rhapsodic in its emotional tone; there is also a considerable rhythmic tension; the music is attractive, practical, and mildly modernistic. One of the most successful American composers is Randall THOMPSON (b. 1899), whose vocal works have established themselves in the repertory of choral societies in America. In the domain of chamber music he has produced brilliant works, ingratiating to players and listeners alike. His String Quartet No. 1 (1941) hardly ever transcends the borders of nineteenth-century harmony, and is clearly a tribute to the enduring values of the past. Asymmetrical rhythms alone give a clue to its modern origin and its American provenance. Example 22 shows the principal theme of the first movement.

Example 22

Randall Thompson’s Suite for oboe, clarinet, and viola (1940) is one of the very few pieces for such a heterogeneous trio composed in America. The subject-matter in all five movements is distinctly American, redolent of the rhythms of a rustic barn dance; the main themes in the first three movements are built entirely on the pentatonic scale. The following composers adhere to the neo-classical idiom, with wide varieties of personal expression: Quincy Porter, Ross Lee Finney, Arthur Berger, Irving Fine, Vincent Persichetti, Harold Shapero, Andrew Welsh Imbrie, William Bergsma, and Peter Mennin. Quincy PORTER (b. 1897) is one of the most prolific American composers of chamber music. Beginning with 1923, he has been writing string quartets at a steady pace. His style is eminently tonal, and invariably practical for performance. His String Quartet No. 4, composed in Paris in 1931, is distinguished by a natural lyric quality in melodic writing and a vigorous rhythmic sense. The third movement is interesting in its asymmetrical patterns; here time signatures are dispensed with, despite, or perhaps because of, the constantly shifting rhythmic groupings. Porter’s String Quartet No. 6 (1937) is a well-balanced work, in which strong rhythmic themes alternate with lyric episodes. The first movement,


Nicolas Slonimsky

Allegro molto, is animated by a dance-like rhythm (see Example 23), which is followed by a second theme of lyric quality, in a rondo-like succession. The second movement, Adagio, is a songful incantation, slowly rising to an eloquent climax. The middle section of the movement contains some rapid passages, but the conclusion is serene. The third movement, Allegro giocoso, is a tarantella.

Example 23 (Copyright 1937 by Quincy Porter. International copyright secured.)

Porter’s String Quartet No. 8 (1950) opens with a slow introduction, leading to a principal section with curiously fragmentized thematic material, while a swaying figure in the ’cello part provides unifying support. The concluding short movement, Adagio molto espressivo, intensifies the nervous impressionistic quality of the whole work. In 1958 Quincy Porter completed his String Quartet No. 9, in one movement. In 1960 he composed a Divertimento for woodwind quintet (flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, and French horn), and in 1961 a Quintet for harpsichord and string quartet. Ross Lee FINNEY (b. 1906) is also an industrious composer of chamber music. His String Quartet No. 6 (1950) is marked as being in E, indicating the central tonic, without specification as to major or minor. It is in fact neither, to judge by the final chords of each of the four movements. The first movement ends in a chord containing both G sharp and G natural; the second movement concludes on the unison A; the third on a chord of F minor; and the fourth on the first inversion of the tonic seventh chord, in E major. These details are significant inasmuch as they reflect the universal trend, particularly strong among American composers, towards reasserting the tonality by minimal allegiance. As for the general style of Finney’s sixth string quartet, it follows a neo-classical pattern. The form is particularly strict. Despite the neoclassical appearance of Finney’s

Chamber Music in America


String Quartet No. 6, there is present in it a seed of serialism. Themes are used as groups, and their metamorphoses follow those curious arithmetical patterns that distinguish the serial method from the classical principle of variations. The serial technique is much more strongly pronounced in Finney’s String Quartets No. 7 (1955) and No. 8 (1960). Permutation, rather than inversion or retrograde motion, is Finney’s chief modus operandi; also, the notes of the series are freely duplicated. And yet both quartets are tonally directed—“teleotonal,” to coin a potentially useful neologism. The musical action of the String Quartet No. 7 is centripetal towards C, that of No. 8, towards D. Finney’s other chamber works include three violin sonatas, two viola sonatas, two ’cello sonatas, two piano trios, a piano quartet, two piano quintets, and a string quintet. Arthur BERGER (b. 1912) is one of the most cultured and sophisticated composers of chamber music in America. He experienced the influence of both Stravinsky and Schoenberg, but eventually established a style of his own, in which the principle of tonality is emphasized, while the melodic line is allowed to wander beyond the tonal confines. His Quartet for flute, oboe, clarinet, and bassoon (1940) is designated as being in the key of C major, the favourite key of the neo-classicists, waving the banner of tonality with a vengeance. His later work, duo for oboe and clarinet (1955), carries a key signature; its melodic line is tangentially tonal. Irving FINE (1914–62) handled neo-classical forms with great adroitness; he used diatonic melodic patterns in the main, but in his later works he successfully applied dodecaphonic techniques. There is considerable variety in his music; the gaiety of his fast movements, with biting asymmetric rhythms, is spontaneous and effective; his meditative episodes are subtly expressive. His Violin Sonata (1948) follows Stravinsky’s neo-classical methods, particularly in stylized dance episodes. The sense of tonality is strong; even key signatures are used to mark modulatory shifts. By contrast, his String Quartet (1953) plunges into a sui generis dodecaphony. The serial themes are not stated explicitly at the outset, but are built up cumulatively, by sections, with a free repetition of thematic notes. The two movements of the Quartet are greatly contrasted. The first movement, Allegro risoluto, is built on angular intervallic patterns; tonality is neither emphasized nor shunned. The second movement, Lento, is a highly concentrated rhythmic improvisation; there are solo passages in the character of cadenzas; the counterpoint is saturated with dissonance. The interval of a tritone appears to be of thematic significance in the entire work.


Nicolas Slonimsky

Vincent PERSICHETTI (b. 1915) is one of the strongest exponents of chamber music in America. In a series of serenades for various instrumental groups he has evolved an individual neo-classical technique. His Pastoral for flute, oboe, clarinet, horn, and bassoon (1945) is an example of his simplest tonal style, with rapidly shifting tonics. He has further composed a String Quartet, a Piano Trio, and a Violin Sonata, all in a brilliant style, and with widely ranging idiomatic peculiarities. One of his most important works is the Quintet No. 2 for piano and strings (1954), in a protracted single movement but with frequent changes of tempo and character in its subdivisions. The remarkable feature of the work is its economy, its austere contrapuntal facture; the piano part is reduced almost to harpsichord sonorities, and chordal structures are few. None the less, the music has sustaining power throughout the long movement. Harold SHAPERO (b. 1920) writes music of great vitality and formal logic. A modern type of classicism with a powerful lyric strain seems to be his aesthetic goal. A self-critical composer, he writes with deliberation, and his total output is relatively small. Although he has experimented with some twelve-note processes, his music is rooted in tonal relationships. The rhythmic patterns are strong and varied, but the sense of symmetry and metrical periodicity is preserved in the main outline. Among his works for chamber music are a Sonata for trumpet and piano (1939), a String Quartet (1940), and a Violin Sonata (1942). Andrew Welsh IMBRIE (b. 1921) has written three string quartets, a Serenade for flute, viola, and piano (1952), and some other chamber music. His main concerns are expressiveness of the melodic line and clarity of contrapuntal texture. He achieves a lyric quality in slow movements by cumulative tension; in rapid passages there is a great deal of motoric energy. In his String Quartet No. 3 (1956) Imbrie introduces some dodecaphonic procedures, without sacrificing the basic classical sense of form. William BERGSMA (b. 1921) writes successfully in many genres. From the evidence of his String Quartet No. 1 (1942), it appears that he follows a neoclassical line; the tonal foundation is strong, but in his florid melody he departs from strict tonality, so that considerable dissonance results. His Suite for brass quartet (1940) is a simple piece of utilitarian music.

Chamber Music in America


One of the most consistent neo-classical American composers of instrumental music is Peter MENNIN (b. 1923). To him, the clarity of contrapuntal lines and the consequent transparency of the harmonic fabric are paramount considerations. His melodic inventiveness enables him to re-create classical forms in a modern manner. Of Mennin’s chamber music, the String Quartet No. 2 (1951) is characteristic. The first movement, Allegro ardentemente, gives the visual impression of a classical overture, with contrasting motoric and lyric themes. The auditive results are classical, with modernistic expansions and deviations. There are vigorous accents, both coincident and non-coincident with the bar lines. This energetic section subsides into a lyric Andante, leading to a concluding Lento in the form of a polyharmonic chorale. The second movement, Prestissimo, is an asymmetric scherzo, with constantly changing metres. The musical pulse never slackens, finally reaching a hom*orhythmic jig towards the end of the movement. The third movement, Adagio semplice, is a quiet peroration, ending in ethereal harmonies. After this moment of tranquillity, the final movement, Allegro focosamente, is launched in the softest dynamics and propulsive rhythms, without metrical changes. The music progresses cumulatively, and the alternation of pianissimo and fortissimo is continuous. The final chord is a thirdless C major. As far as formal development is concerned, Robert PALMER (b. 1915) belongs in the neo-classical group of American composers. But he has elected to use, in many of his works, a scale that is associated with exotic music, namely, a progression of alternating tones and semitones, an old orientalistic device much in favour with Rimsky-Korsakov and his friends of the nationalist Russian school. Palmer treats this scale modally as two disjunct minor tetrachords, in order to avoid monotonous neutrality. His Piano Quartet (1947) makes use of the scale in the first movement, Allegro e molto energico at the outset (see Example 24), but the contrasting theme is built on a pattern of wide intervals, with organ points to sustain the harmonic scheme. The second movement, Andante con

Example 24


Nicolas Slonimsky

moto e semplice, exploits the chromatic potentialities resulting from the constant alternation of major and minor triads on the same tonic. The third movement, Molto allegro e dinamico, veers away from Palmer’s chosen scale towards open tonality, and towards pandiatonicism. The work ends with a Presto. Among Palmer’s other chamber works to be mentioned are three string quartets (1939, 1947, 1954), a Sonata for viola and piano (1948), a Piano Quintet (1950), a Quintet for Wind instruments (1951), and a Quintet for clarinet, piano, and strings (1952). Benjamin LEES, born in 1924 of Russian parents in Harbin, Manchuria, was brought to the United States as an infant, and studied in California with Halsey Stevens and George Antheil. Going through a variety of influences, he eventually adopted a neoclassical style with romantic overtones. The tonal element is always strong, and the endings are explicitly triadic. For chamber music he has written two string quartets (1952, 1955), and a Violin Sonata (1954). Easley BLACKWOOD, born in Indianapolis in 1933, is one of the youngest aspirants to fame in serious American music. Favoured by prizes and commissions, he has dedicated himself to the composition of solid instrumental works. Standing aloof from fashionable trends, he expresses himself in romantic, expansive, proclamatory music, rich in massive sonorities. In chamber-music forms, he has written a Viola Sonata (1953), two string quartets (1957 and 1959), a Concertino for Five Instruments (1959), a Violin Sonata (1960), and a Fantasy for ’cello and piano (1960). Among younger Americans, the Texan Ramiro CORTES (b. 1933), of Mexican parentage, studied with Henry Cowell and others. His idiom is neoclassical, marked by quartal and quintal harmonies and sprightly counterpoint in a vivacious rhythmic manner. His Elegy for flute and piano (1952) is a poetic piece of lyric contemplation. A Divertimento for flute, clarinet, and bassoon (1953) in five movements, with antique cymbals obbligato, has a definitely Spanish-American colouring. Its fourth movement for unaccompanied flute presents an atonal pattern approximating to a serial type of melody. Among other chamber-music works by Cortes are a Piano Quintet (1954), a String Quartet (1958), and a Piano Trio (1959). Some highly prolific American composers have written little chamber music; among these are Halsey Stevens, John Verrall, Gardner Read, George Perle, Ellis B. Kohs, and Lockrem Johnson. Halsey STEVENS (b. 1908) has written chamber music of lucid contrapuntal quality. His Quintet

Chamber Music in America


for flute, violin, viola, ’cello, and piano (1945) is eminently tonal despite occasional acrid discords. He is also the composer of an ingenious set of Five Duos for two ’cellos. John VERRALL (b. 1908) has written four string quartets, a Sonata for viola and piano, a Divertissem*nt for clarinet, bassoon, and horn, and other chamber music. Generally speaking, his music represents an evolutionary trend, with the injection of dissonant counterpoint into an otherwise orthodox body of music. Gardner READ (b. 1913), who has to his credit more than 100 opus numbers, did not write his first string quartet until 1957. In it he reveals his mastery of the modern style; the essence of the music is neo-romantic. In the scherzo he makes use of a dodecaphonic series, but treats it as a colouristic device rather than a doctrinal subject. A unique piece is Gardner Read’s Sonoric Fantasia no. 1, op. 102 (1958), written for celesta, harp, and harpsichord. The three instruments naturally lend themselves to miniaturized pointillistic sonorities. The theme is hexatonic and is serially treated. There are subsequent polytonal expansions, and some ingenious fugal involvements. George PERLE (b. 1915) combines a free dodecaphonic style with a neoclassical design. In opposition to the orthodox twelve-note idiom, he often uses symmetrical thematic figures, and even sequences, a device virtually outlawed among American modernists. Perle’s String Quartet No. 3 (1947) is a representative specimen of his style. Ellis B. KOHS (b. 1916) is the composer of several pieces of chamber music which represent a synthesis of the neo-classic, romantic, and other trends among American composers. His String Quartet (1940) is a simple but ingratiating composition. He has also written sonatas for clarinet and for bassoon. Lockrem JOHNSON (b. 1924) diversifies his neo-classical style by percussive effects and colouristic devices that occasionally lend a touch of impressionism to his writing. His Sonata Breve (1948) and Sonata Rinverdita (1950) for violin and piano exemplify his style. The chamber music of Douglas TOWNSEND (b. 1921) deserves mention. He transplants the eighteenth-century idiom into the modern world with slight atonal deviations and occasional metric alterations. The most interesting of his works in this modern style galant is the Ballet Suite for three clarinets (1955). Ben WEBER (b. 1916) began as an experimenter, then compromised by adopting classical form, with moderately dissonant counterpoint and atonal melodic lines. His Sonata da Camera for violin and piano (1954) is a characteristic work. A rara avis among American composers is Alan HOVHANESS (b. 1911). Of Armenian and


Nicolas Slonimsky

Scotch descent, he has in his music re-created oriental cantillation, making effective use of melodic iteration, often confining his melodies to a few notes. Colouristic and impressionistic writing is out of fashion among American composers, but Hovhaness ignores this state of public opinion, and blithely goes on writing such cerulean-tinted pieces as Upon Enchanted Ground, for flute, ’cello, giant tamtam, and harp, and October Mountain, for marimba, glockenspiel, kettledrums, drums, and tarntam. He is very skilful in using exotic devices, and in his less flamboyant compositions, such as his Shatakh, for violin and piano (1953), he achieves considerable evocative power. It should be noted that after a period of almost hopeless non-recognition he became one of the most successful American composers of “mood music.” In a class by himself is Leonard BERNSTEIN (b. 1918), highly celebrated as symphonic conductor and composer; in addition, he is the author of several spectacularly successful musical comedies. In the field of chamber music, his Sonata for clarinet and piano (1941–2) demonstrates his versatility in handling the neo-classical idiom, with just enough spice to produce a stimulating effect. Three American composers, George Rochberg, Leon Kirchner, and Gunther Schuller, have contributed, each in his own manner, some interesting chamber music. George ROCHBERG (b. 1918) has written music in a neo-classical vein, and later in a quasi-impressionist manner, eventually tending towards very effective colouristic twelve-note genre. His String Quartet (1952) is an excellent example of such enlightened dodecaphony. The first movement, Molto adagio, establishes an impressionistic mood by means of adroit application of the twelve-note technique; the rhythms oscillate between groups of three and four. The next section, Vivace, is a scherzo, imaginatively and airily conceived; here, too, the dodecaphonic technique is applied with great effectiveness. There follows Molto tranquillo, a movement of considerable subtlety; the asymmetric metres, such as 11/16, do not seem whimsical, as in so many modern works, but somehow correspond to the inner plan of the music. The Allegro energico constitutes the finale. It is significant that every movement in Rochberg’s String Quartet ends on a dissonant chord composed of notes of thematic importance in the dodecaphonic series. Leon KIRCHNER (b. 1919) is one of the strongest talents among American composers of chamber music. He adopts the external characteristics of the evolutionary style moderne—a quasi-atonal melody,

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dissonant harmony mitigated by strong ground notes, percussive asymmetric rhythm, a sophisticated employment of classical forms. The resulting product is uncompromisingly intellectual, and yet curiously romantic in its projection of emotion. Kirchner’s String Quartet No.1 (1949) is one of his best works. The first movement, Allegro ma non troppo, opens with a vigorous and assertive repetition of a dissonant chord (see Example 25). Then a melodious tune is sounded by the first violin, soon giving way to an asymmetric dance-like motion. The rhythmic pattern grows in complexity, and is reflected externally in a progression of changing metres, 7/16, 9/16, and 10/16. The tension subsides almost instantly with the introduction of simple rhythmic figures. There is a fading-off of general sonority, and a pause leads to an Andante. Here we enter a free fantasy, with fiorituras and glissandos conjuring up a decidedly romantic mood. There are reminiscences of the opening, marked by a return of the original dissonant chord, until a recapitulation, adumbrated rather than explicitly outlined, is finally reached.

Example 25 (Copyright 1953 [renewed] by Associated Music Publishers, Inc. [BMI]. International copyright secured. All rights reserved.)

The second movement of Kirchner’s quartet, Adagio, is a free recitative; colouristic effects, such as ponticello and glissando, are used. The employment of unusual metres (11/16, 13/16, 7/16, 5/16) seems germinal to the plan rather than a sophisticated whimsicality. The third movement, Divertimento, is a classical dance, beginning as a waltz and ending as a gigue. The formal structure is emphasized by the


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use of time-honoured conventions, such as the insertion of a trio and the indicated repeat da capo. The fourth and last movement, Adagio, is a summary of the previous movements. There are the asymmetrical metres (15/16, 9/16, 7/16, &c.), rhythmic ground notes, cadenza-like episodes, and quasi-atonal melodic figures, as well as repeated notes and chords. After reaching fortissimo, the solo violin brings it down to triple piano. In his String Quartet No. 2 (1958), Kirchner adopts a style of unusual liberality in the selection and treatment of his materials. It is in three movements, which are separated by curiously evanescent cadences. The fabric remains dissonant, but these dissonances are academically arrived at, through completely unmysterious and often frankly chromatic progressions of the component voices, a procedure rather frowned upon in the inner ring of the American musical elite. The time-signatures in prime numbers in the numerator, characteristic of Kirchner’s sense of asymmetrical periodicity, are very much in evidence. The formal orientation is cyclic, so that thematic materials are recurrent upon occasion. Among Kirchner’s other chamber works to be mentioned are Sonata Concertante for violin and piano (1955) and Trio for violin, ’cello, and piano (1957). Gunther SCHULLER (b. 1925) is an experimenter by nature; he explores new possibilities through sheer curiosity, achieving signal results while adopting established modern techniques. He has written music for unusual ensembles: Fantasia Concertante for three oboes and piano (1946), Fantasia Concertante for three trombones and piano (1947), Quartet for four double basses (1947), Perpetuum Mobile for four muted horns and bassoon (1948), Duo Sonata for clarinet and bass clarinet (1949), and Five Pieces for five horns (1952). But perhaps his most striking work is his String Quartet No. 1 (1957), dodecaphonic in its materials. In the last movement Schuller makes an excursion into free improvisation on thematic notes selected from a prescribed twelve-note series. The first movement, Lento, is an essay in dissonant counterpoint marked by extreme rhythmic diversity and wide dynamic range. The twelve-note series underlying this movement is curious in that it follows the order of the chromatic scale, which is masked by scattering among successive instrumental entries. Chromatic clusters in minor seconds are in evidence in the ending of this movement. The second movement, Allegro, is also dodecaphonic, the elements of the basic series being composed of four mutually exclusive

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augmented triads. The third movement, Adagio, again exploits consecutive chromatic notes in the guise of a dodecaphonic series. Before the conclusion of the movement, at a place where a classical cadenza might occur, there is a lengthy section of dodecaphonic improvisation (see Example 26). The quartet ends on a chromatic cluster; the final notes form a minor second, which may be regarded as thematic of the whole work.

Example 26

Although Lukas FOSS (b. 1922) is not a native American composer (he was born in Berlin: his real name is Fuchs), he arrived in the United States as a boy, and has identified himself completely with the cause of American music. His gift is strong and original; his technique of composition is masterly. In his chosen idiom he has never wavered in accepting tonality as the fundamental principle of music. Stylistically, Foss is both a romanticist and a pragmatist; he writes his music for practical performance, and expresses in it his emotional attitude towards art and life. His String Quartet in G (1947) is a fairly characteristic, if early, example of his style. An introductory Andante leads to the main portion of the first movement, Allegro, marked by a brisk rhythm; slow episodes are inserted, and the movement itself ends in an Andante. The second movement is a theme with variations (see Example 27), in a continuous set without separations, leading to a lively finale, in fortissimo.


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Example 27 (Copyright 1949 by Carl Fischer, Inc., New York. International copyright secured. Used by permission.)

In his Capriccio for ’cello and piano (1946) Foss appears a classicist with a vengeance; there are whole sections with figures of broken major triads: the melodic lines in this work are built by gradual and discreet movement away from the central notes. And the ending is a clear C major chord. One of the most significant composers of modern chamber music in America is Elliott CARTER (b. 1908). His writing is terse, economical, percussively rhythmic, enormously complex without being opaque. Twelvenote configurations are in evidence, but the dodecaphonic series is not a generating factor. In the larger sense of thematic writing, virtually all of his works are based on the principle of variation. The basic idea may be a single dominating interval, for instance the minor second in the Eight Etudes and a Fantasy for woodwind quartet (1950). The material of his String Quartet No. 1 (1951) is evolved from a formative four-note chord (E, F, A flat, B flat), which comprises all the intervals from a minor second to a diminished fifth, and these intervals are used thematically in contrapuntal and harmonic groups. This is essentially a serial procedure. In quest of metric and rhythmic precision, Carter resorts to unusual time signatures, such as 21/32 in his ’Cello Sonata (1948), or 8/16 in his String Quartet No. 1. In the quartet he also applies an interesting concept of metric modulation, produced by the melodic superposition of two rhythmic groups having no common denominator. Thus a progression of four even notes against five even notes to a beat in two contiguous instrumental parts creates a combinational melody of eight uneven notes (the first notes of each group being played together), and Carter inserts an extra part spelling out the combinational melorhythm for the benefit of the players (see Example 28). Carter’s String Quartet No. 1 (1959) made history, for it was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1960, the New York Music Critics Circle award in

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Example 28

1961, and was voted the best work of the 1960–1 musical season by the International Rostrum of Composers in Paris, sponsored by UNESCO. These honours are all the more extraordinary since the work is abstruse in its conception, enormously difficult to perform or to perceive intelligently by the naked ear. It is in five connected movements: Introduction, Allegro fantastico, Presto scherzando, Andante espressivo, and Allegro. There are accompanied cadenzas for viola and ’cello, and an unaccompanied one for the first violin. On general lines, Carter’s String Quartet No. 2 consists of successive intensifications and rarefactions of musical materials. The climax comes in Tempo giusto, in which the four instruments combine in a dissonant polyrhythmic stretto. There are superpositions of rhythmic groups of seven, four, three, and five notes to a beat; on the extra stave Carter indicates the resultant intervals in the approximate vertical lines (Example 29). Each instrument specializes in certain intervals: the first violin in thirds and its multiples (fifths, sevenths, ninths), the second violin in minor seconds and major sevenths, the viola in minor sevenths and tritones, and the ’cello in fourths in minor sixths. Because of this individualization, Carter specifically enjoins the players to sit far apart during the performance, so as to


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Example 29

separate the instruments in space as well as in character. Every technical detail is specified in the score; various applications of pizzicato, produced with the fleshy part of the fingertip of the right hand, picked with the fingernail, or snapped against the fingerboard; slurs, accents, exact positions of the wedges of crescendo marks—all these technical indications assume importance. The errata appended to the miniature score of Carter’s String Quartet No. 2 reminds one of the table of corrections in Joyce’s Finnegans Wake—of indisputable importance to the author and the analyst, but bewildering to the uninitiated. Happily, a corrected score was issued in 1962. In the light of such developments of melodic and rhythmic specialization, the music of Ruth CRAWFORD (1901–53) acquires, posthumously, a new significance; for she explored serial techniques long before these problems became a matter of universal concern to modernminded composers. Her String Quartet (1931) seems to anticipate certain procedures that came into vogue, under various polysyllabic names, many years later. The first movement, Rubato assai, illustrates the concept of intervallic thematism, namely the prevalence of the major seventh. The second movement, Leggiero, is a study in contrapuntal cohesion with a predominant rhythmic theme. The third movement, Andante, is an essay in slow dynamic pulsations, ascending gradually to a fortissimo chord of

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four chromatic notes, and then descending very slowly to the lowest register, reaching quadruple pianissimo. The last movement, Allegro possibile, is a toccata for strings with an independent rhythmic melody in the first violin. An interesting variant of the serial technique is employed by Henry Leland CLARKE (b. 1907) in his duet for violin and viola entitled A Game That Two Can Play (1959). The two instruments use two mutually exclusive groups of six notes and two mutually exclusive groups of note values, so that each instrument operates, without encroachment, in its own melodic and rhythmic domain. A type of technique that may be described as lipophonic (by analogy with lipo-grammatical verse, omitting certain letters) is applied by Clarke in his String Quartet No. 3 (1958), in which semitones are excluded from both horizontal (melodic) and vertical (harmonic) lines. His other chamber works include String Quartet No. 1 (1928), Dialogue for clarinet and piano (1948), String Quartet No. 2 (1953), Nocturne for viola and piano (1955), and Saraband for the Golden Goose, for French horn and woodwind quartet (1957). Among native American followers of Schoenberg, Adolph WEISS (b. 1891) combines a faithful adherence to the basic tenets of dodecaphony with a genuine feeling for American folk rhythms. A professional bassoon player, he has composed much music for wind instruments; his Concerto for bassoon and string quartet (1949) is notable. In 1959 he wrote an interesting suite entitled Vade Mecum, consisting of 30 pieces for various combinations of five wind instruments (flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, and French horn), and comprising ten duos, nine trios, five quartets, and six quintets. Other chamber-music works include three String Quartets (1925, 1926, 1932), Sonata da Camera for flute and viola (1929), Trio for clarinet, viola, and ’cello (1948), and Rhapsody for four French horns (1957). Paradoxically, the trend towards total integral serial organization has generated on the outer fringe of American music its dialectical opposite, a total indeterminacy. A new term, “Aleatory music,” made its appearance in New York about 1950, to describe this indeterminate type of composition, in which notes, durations, rests, intervals, etc., are selected at random, following some numerical system, such as the calculus of probabilities. The chief prophet of aleatory music in America is John CAGE (b. 1912), who obtains basic data for his compositions by tossing coins according to the rules expounded in an ancient Chinese book of oracles. Cage’s music is difficult to classify according to categories, but most of his works are for small


Nicolas Slonimsky

groups, usually including a “prepared piano,” which is his own invention. The “preparation” consists in placing miscellaneous small objects such as coins, nails, clips, etc., on the piano strings, in order to alter the timbre of each individual note. Cage’s Water Music, scored for two prepared pianos, a radio receiver, and a container filled with water, is in a sense a quartet, or a trio with splashing water obbligato. Since the sounds emitted by the radio are unpredictable, no two performances of this work can be identical. John Cage has already acquired a number of disciples, some of whom in turn have formed their own systems of composition. Thus Morton FELDMAN (b. 1926) tempers aleatory indeterminacy with indications of approximate pitch (high, middle, or low) and of the total number of notes in a given fragment, leaving the realization of these partial instructions to the performer. Earle BROWN (b. 1926) experiments with recorded sounds. His Octet for Magnetic Tape is the product of eight different tape recordings combined according to a numerical series. Christian WOLFF (b. 1934) extends the serial principle to embrace the eighty-eight keys of the piano, leaving the order of the note series to chance. The ultimate aim of American composers of aleatory music is to relegate the entire process of composition to the impersonal realm of chance. It is logical therefore that attempts should be made to compose music, and specifically chamber music, with the aid of electronic computers. The first such composition was the Illiac Suite for string quartet, produced in 1957 by Leonard M. Isaacson and Lejaren A. Hiller, Jr., the “Illiac” of the title being the digital computer of the University of Illinois. The so-called Monte Carlo method of multiple probabilities controls the selection of notes, rests, durations, and dynamic intensities. Since dissonances have greater frequency of incidence in random combinations, computer music, when not tampered with by the programmer, usually turns out to be modernistic-sounding. In the wave of emigration from Europe to the United States between the two wars, several acknowledged European masters of modern music made their homes in America. The earliest settler was Ernest BLOCH (d. 1959). His reputation was established in Switzerland and France long before he came to New York in 1917. His style did not undergo radical changes during his American period; the haunting rhapsodic expression, the harmonious bitonality of two major keys at the distance of a tritone, the persuasive rhythmic drive, and the orientalistic melodic turn of the phrase, all these characteristics are present in Bloch’s music throughout his creative career. But in the works of his later period he introduced some-

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thing new—thematic dodecaphony; apparently he could not remain insensible to the tremendous influence of twelve-note composition all over the world. There are explicit twelve-note themes in his second, third, and fourth string quartets, but they are not dodecaphonic in the Schoenbergian sense; their melodic contents remain typically Blochian; Bloch’s favourite interval, the tritone, is the cornerstone of most of his twelve-note themes, as it is in his bitonal harmonies. Bloch does not use the classic transformations of the basic twelve-note series, and does not introduce serial elements into the contrapuntal and harmonic fabric. In other words, he accepts the method of composition with twelve notes only in the guise of a motto, nothing more. Bloch’s Poeme mystique for violin and piano (1925) reflects his early poetic style, with deep organ points, open fifths in parallel progressions, and quasiecclesiastical melodies. Toward the end of the piece the violin intones a Credo, and the Latin words are written out in the score (Example 30). There are several instances of bitonal writing, but the combination of tonalities is invariably euphonious.

Example 30 (Copyright 1961 by Broude Brothers. International copyright secured. All rights reserved. Used by permission.)

Bloch’s String Quartet No. 1 was written in 1916; No. 2 did not come until 1946. It is cast in four contrasting movements (Moderato, Presto, Andante, and Allegro molto). The work opens with a broad melody in the part of the first violin, suggesting a Hebraic chant. One by one the other instruments enter; oriental modes prevail; various melodic phrases combine in free counterpoint; there is an intensification of rhythmic pulse and dynamic drive; then the pace slackens gradually, and the movement ends with the same phrase with which it began. The second movement, Presto, is an essay in rhythmic motion, with songful episodes. The initial theme is highly syncopated; its component notes are later treated in a straightforward energetic allegro molto. The next section, meno mosso, is an interesting example of an inverted canon, with Bloch’s favourite interval, the tritone, serving as the thematic motto. The theme is actually nothing more than a sequence of tritones, comprising all twelve notes of the chromatic scale (see Example 31).


Nicolas Slonimsky

Example 31 (Copyright 1961 by Broude Brothers. International copyright secured. All rights reserved. Used by permission.)

As such it is technically dodecaphonic, in the same sense as the theme of four consecutive augmented triads, linearly spread out in the opening bars of Liszt’s Faust Symphony. The third movement Andante, is a gentle nocturne in which the original phrase from the first movement recurs as a reminiscence. The last movement, Allegro molto, leads to a passacaglia, the subject of which is derived from the initial notes of the first theme of the second movement; there is a canon on the dodecaphonic motto of the second movement; and finally a grand fugue, again derived from the initial notes of the first theme of the second movement. There are other intervallic references to materials previously used, so that the last movement becomes a summary of the whole work. The rhythmic energy is very high, and the climaxes powerful. The movement concludes on an Epilogue, with flowing arpeggios in the ’cello part; the thematic material is always relevant; there seems to be no fortuitous padding. The final phrase is the augmentation of the opening motto of the work. In his String Quartet No. 3 (1951–2) Bloch is still his old self, equally capable of producing fast movements charged with motoric energy and pensive interludes of poetic nostalgia. The ever-present interval of the tritone is symbolic of inner tension, and the pseudo-dodecaphonic themes serve as excellently chosen groupings of different notes lending themselves to rhythmic development without in the least affecting the contrapuntal and harmonic scheme. The first movement is an Allegro deciso, full of vitality and suggesting the form of a classical overture. The

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following Adagio non troppo is a poetic air, with a simple melody projected upon a wavy line of rhythmic figuration. The third movement, Allegro molto, is a scherzo, with a clearly defined middle section, and an explicit recapitulation. The fourth movement, Allegro, is based on a twelve-note theme, which is stated at the outset in full (Example 32), and is then fragmented, restated in transposition, and then in a fresh rhythmic arrangement, in augmentation, and finally in inversion. There is a stretto, and after considerable agitation the twelve-note motto is presented as a fugue subject. Still, the utilization of the theme is entirely free of dodecaphonic restraints.

Example 32 (Copyright 1961 by Broude Brothers. International copyright secured. All rights reserved. Used by permission.)

In 1953 Bloch wrote his String Quartet No. 4. The music presents no revelation; it has a familiar look and a familiar ring; yet it is no facile capitalizing on previously accumulated knowledge, imagination, and technique. The melodic writing is more angular; the harmonies more astringent. But there is no loss in the rhythmic momentum, no diminution of lyricism, no abandonment of colouristic effects. There are twelve-note motives, utilized for thematic convenience rather than as material for dodecaphonic manipulation. The first movement, Tranquillo, forms a web of dissonant harmonies, with tiny motives developing slowly in a languorous introduction. Then, with complete suddenness, an Allegro energico sets the mood of spirited motion; there is a brief return to initial tranquillity, whereupon the “allegro” resumes its dash with an even greater energy. The movement ends quietly in a berceuse-like rhythm. The second movement, Andante, has a folk-song quality in its simple melody (see Example 33). There is no immediate attempt at complication, but when the melody returns it is contorted into an atonal image. Then follows a dark agitated episode in asymmetrical rhythms; the principal theme appears in various guises, until the ending in pianissimo. The third movement, Presto, is melodically based on alternating tritone progressions, and the tritone also forms the foundation of bitonal harmonies in this movement. There is a middle section with a dance-like quasi-chromatic


Nicolas Slonimsky

Example 33 (Copyright 1961 by Broude Brothers. International copyright secured. All rights reserved. Used by permission.)

tune. The fourth and last movement opens with a meditative introduction, Calmo, soon leading to an Allegro deciso, which, after much adumbration, presents the principal dodecaphonic theme (see Example 34), which may be analysed as consisting of two mutually exclusive whole-tone scales (with the first and last note switching their places). The tritone is again brought to the fore; there is a lively contrapuntal accompaniment to the twelve-note theme, which appears also in canonic imitation. Finally, it is presented in slow tempo, harmonized with a descending chromatic figure in the bass. The ending is on a chord of G major in pianissimo.

Example 34 (Copyright 1961 by Broude Brothers. International copyright secured. All rights reserved. Used by permission.)

Continuing to compose vigorously, Ernest Bloch completed his String Quartet No. 5 in 1956. The music of this work represents a return to the “basic” Bloch: there is the familiar rhapsodic, emotional lyricism, and the impulsive motoric rhythm. The harmony tends toward a bitonality of two major keys at the tritone root relationship. The scale of alternating whole tones and semitones serves as the melodic foundation in some instances. The String Quartet No. 5 opens with a long introduction, Grave (Example 35); this leads to the main section, Allegro, marked by a strong rhythmic pulse (Example 36). After an interlude, piu calmo, the Allegro

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Example 35 (Copyright 1961 by Broude Brothers. International copyright secured. All rights reserved. Used by permission.)

Example 36 (Copyright 1961 by Broude Brothers. International copyright secured. All rights reserved. Used by permission.)

returns; there is a fugato, and a stretto in inverted imitation. The initial subject of Grave reappears in a rhythmic variant, in which the thematic notes are the same, but their function is altered through changes in note values. This device of rhythmic variation appears frequently in Bloch’s works of his last period. The first movement ends calmly, on a bitonal chord. The second movement, Calmo, is a study in cyclic construction, not only in thematic consistency (the initial theme, quoted in Example 37, is obviously related to Example 35 from the first movement) but also in rhythm and dynamics, so that the musical architecture here appears as a sphere. The soaring melody establishes the direction at once; after an intensification of rhythm and dynamics, the music returns to its calm mood, concluding on a pure major triad.

Example 37 (Copyright 1961 by Broude Brothers. International copyright secured. All rights reserved. Used by permission.)

The third movement is a Presto. After some preliminary passages in translucent open fifths there is a melodic episode, antiphonally distributed among the instruments. The musical motion now assumes the character of a dance, in rondo form, with duple and triple meters in alternation. A dissonant chord at the end of the movement leads to a festive finale, Allegro deciso. After a solemn chordal exordium, almost rhetorical in presentation,


Nicolas Slonimsky

and a pause, the allegro proper begins. The rhythm is varied, composed of units of two, three, and four notes. The principal theme consists of twelve different notes (see Example 38), and it appears later in the form of a rhythmic variant, with the order of the twelve-note series disrupted only by the displacement of one note. Further melodic material is explicitly tonal; the rhythmic exhilaration is maintained until the coda, Calmo, which recapitulates the twelve-note motto. The movement concludes on the chord of C major, in widely open harmony. The tonality of C major, which remains basic throughout the entire work, is further strengthened by the frequent use of the lowest note of the ’cello.

Example 38 (Copyright 1961 by Broude Brothers. International copyright secured. All rights reserved. Used by permission.)

In 1957 Bloch composed a Piano Quintet in three movements, his second (the first, with the application of quarter-tones, was written in 1921–3). The work represents Bloch’s last period, with his emotional power regulated by strong constructive thematic ideas. The leaping principal melody of the first movement, Animato, is composed of two twelve-note sections, the second of which is an exact transposition of the first, with some changes in octave position (Example 39). To both sections are appended two supernumerary notes, in a falling fifth, thus establishing a dominant-tonic pattern in clear tonality. The interval of the tritone is conspicuous here. By contrast, another twelve-note motive used in the first movement is built on narrow intervals (Example 40). It should be emphasized that Bloch uses such twelve-note themes for purely melodic purposes, without adhering to any dodecaphonic conventions.

Example 39 (Copyright 1961 by Broude Brothers. International copyright secured. All rights reserved. Used by permission.)

Chamber Music in America


Example 40 (Copyright 1961 by Broude Brothers. International copyright secured. All rights reserved. Used by permission.)

The second movement, Andante, is in the form of an air and variations. The initial melody dominates the development, and at the climactic point is enriched by sonorous harmonies. The third and last movement, Allegro, is a rollicking dance, essentially a rondo, with lyric interludes. The music is characteristically Blochian, with strongly suggested bitonal harmonies. In the last years of his life Bloch composed a Proclamation for trumpet and piano (1955; also with orchestra); a Suite Modale in four movements for flute and piano (1956), the essence of which is indicated by the title itself; three suites for ’cello solo (1956–7); and two suites for violin solo (1958). Besides the major international figures, numerous other distinguished musicians have sought refuge in the United States, and have become firmly established on the American scene. Among these is Ernst TOCH, whose most important works of his American period include a String Trio, op. 63, Piano Quintet, op, 64, and String Quartet, op. 70. The Piano Quintet is particularly interesting because Toch gives outspoken programmatic titles to its four movements: “The Lyrical Part,” “The Whimsical Part,” “The Contemplative Part,” “The Dramatic Part.” This shows, of course, that Toch is not afraid to admit his romantic leanings, even in this age of neo-classicism and constructivism. Toch’s String Quartet, op. 70, presents a study in contrasts. The first movement is based on an involuted chromatic figure (Example 41), with melodic fragments projected upon it. The piu mosso that follows is vigorous and harmonically rich. The second movement, Adagio, is nostalgic in its inspiration, with syncopating rhythms creating a sense of

Example 41 (Used by permission.)


Nicolas Slonimsky

dramatic tension. The third movement bears the title “Pensive Serenade”; the metrical and rhythmic changes are frequent, despite the professed contemplative mood. The fourth movement is extremely strong in its rhythmic and contrapuntal texture; there are some interesting technical devices in arpeggio passages (see Example 42). The sense of a central tonality is invariably preserved. The work ends in C major with a G flat major chord opposing it, then yielding the way. An enlightened and progressive musician, Toch does not exclude any workable technical procedure from his vocabulary. In a later String Quartet, op. 74 (1957), he applied for the first time the serial method of twelvenote composition in a free style.

Example 42 (Used by permission.)

Ernst KRENEK went to the U.S. in 1937 and became an American citizen. After World War II he spent much of his time in Europe. In the U.S. he composed productively, mostly in the dodecaphonic idiom; he also made use of the resources of electronic music. Bohuslav MARTINU spent the war years in America, and was active as composer of music in all genres, continuing along the stylistic lines of his works of the European period. He eventually returned to Europe and remained there until his death in 1959. The Austrian composer Paul Amadeus PISK, who studied with Schoenberg but never accepted the twelve-note technique, emigrated to America in 1936, and has continued to compose prolifically without much change in his original musical style—rhythmic, strongly contra-

Chamber Music in America


puntal, at times atonal. His chamber music written in America includes a Suite for four clarinets (1940), Sonata for clarinet and piano (1947), a Quartet for two trumpets, horn, and trombone (1951), Sonata for horn and piano (1953), Sonata for flute and piano (1954), Suite for oboe, clarinet, and piano (1955), String Trio (1958), Woodwind Quintet (1958), and a Trio for oboe, clarinet, and bassoon (1960). Mario CASTELNUOVO-TEDESCO (b. 1895) left Italy in 1939 and came to the United States, settling in California. His chambermusic works written in America comprise the Ballade for violin and piano (1940), Divertimento for two flutes (1943), Sonata for violin and viola (1945), Clarinet Sonata (1945), Sonata for viola and ’cello (1950), Second Piano Quintet (1951), and an interesting Quintet for guitar and strings (1950). In all these works he maintains the songful melodic line and the rich harmony characteristic of his productions during his formative years and early maturity in Italy. His mastery of instrumental writing is indisputable. An earlier settler in America was Bernard WAGENAAR, who emigrated to the United States from Holland in 1920. Among his many compositions, the String Quartet No. 3 (1940) is of interest. Here he exhibits his penchant for finely woven counterpoint and opulent harmonies rooted in the ground of strong tonality. He has an aptitude for writing in an austere hymn-like style, but he is also successful in playful “scherzando” movements. He may be generally described as a neo-romanticist. Among Russian composers who became naturalized in America, Nicolai Berezowsky and Nikolai Lopatnikoff contributed important pieces of chamber music. BEREZOWSKY (1900–53) was active as violinist and composer in New York, where he lived from 1922 until his death. His chamber music has elements of Russian folk-song style; in several of his chamber works Berezowsky adopts impressionist devices; his two quintets for woodwind instruments (1928 and 1937) are typical of this mixed Russian-French style. He further wrote two string sextets, two string quartets, and an interesting Duo for viola and clarinet. Nikolai LOPATNIKOFF (b. 1903), of Russian origin, acquired his early reputation in Germany. He settled in America in 1939. Of his works after that date, the Violin Sonata No. 2 is perhaps the most effective and the most characteristic of his style, neo-classical with a considerable admixture of dissonance, but firmly anchored in tonality.


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Vladimir DUKELSKY (b. 1903) left Russia as a very young man, and first attracted the attention of the musical world as a ballet composer for Diaghilev in Paris. He settled in America as a writer of lucrative musical comedies, and changed his name to Vernon Duke. His most important chamber-music work is a String Quartet in three movements (1956), emphatically designated as being in the key of C. It possesses a certain ingratiatingly modernistic elan vital. Nicolas NABOKOV (b. 1903) also started his career as a ballet composer for Diaghilev. From Russia, via Paris, he arrived in America in 1933. Among his works for small instrumental groups are a String Quartet (1937) and a Sonata for bassoon and piano (1941). Alexei HAIEFF (b. 1914), a native of Siberia, received his musical education in the U.S.A. He followed the neo-classical models of Stravinsky, and from his American environment picked up elements of jazz rhythms. His Three Bagatelles for oboe and bassoon (1955) are a typical example of entertainment music, adroitly written in a sophisticated utilitarian manner. Stefan WOLPE (b. 1902) lived in Germany and in Palestine before going to America in 1938. His music shows an extreme variety of styles, influences, and techniques; there are elements of folk-music, oriental chants, and even jazz. His melodic writing is decisively atonal, leaning towards the integral twelve-note technique. The harmonic and contrapuntal constructions are extremely discordant, and the rhythmic complications are many. His Violin Sonata (1949) is a fair example of his style. He provides special signs to indicate phrase units and focal points; the bar lines in the violin part are often non-coincident with those of the piano part. Ingolf DAHL (b. 1912), of Swedish ancestry, was educated in Germany and arrived in the United States in 1935. His chamber music is close in style to Stravinsky’s neo-classical period. The Concerto a tre for clarinet, violin, and ’cello (1946) is one of his most interesting works. The impression of fine stylization persists throughout, but Dahl manages to convey a sense of persuasive power despite the artificiality of this synthetic idiom. There is some ingratiating cantilena in songful episodes, and effective rhythmic co-ordination. His Andante and Arioso for flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, and horn (1942) also merits mention. Carlos SURINACH (b. 1915) is a native of Barcelona, Spain. He settled in New York in 1950 and became an American citizen in 1959.

Chamber Music in America


His compositions written in America retain the Spanish flavour, particularly the rhythms of Flamenco dances. Among his pieces written for small instrumental ensembles are Tres Cantos Berberes for flute, oboe, clarinet, viola, ’cello, and harp (1952), Ritmo Jondo for clarinet, trumpet, xylophone, and percussion (1952), and Tientos for English horn, harpsichord, and timpani (1953). A summary of the American chamber-music style may now be offered. The following qualities are characteristic of the prevalent trends: 1. Neo-classicism in the broadest sense of the term, implying strong formal structure and clear separation of consecutive movements, or parts within a movement. 2. A freely modulating or an outright atonal melody, tangential to the implied tonal centres. 3. A firm tonal substance, emphasized at times by nothing more than a focal point in the bass. In general, explicit tonal figurations are avoided, particularly arpeggios; equally avoided are sequences. 4. Economic and sometimes austere harmonies, either tonal, pandiatonic, or polytonal. Certain chords, particularly the dominantseventh chord, the diminished-seventh chord, and the augmented triad, are shunned with remarkable unanimity. This inhibition is indicative of the reaction against the romantic type of music prevalent in the nineteenth century, but it also prevents the integration of eighteenth-century classicism, cherished by most modern American composers, with the new classicism of the twentieth century. The tonic chords in the final cadences are usually approached through secondary-seventh chords or related triadic chords. 5. Strong asymmetrical rhythms, often implied in changing metres, but the tendency is towards a reversion to non-compound metres, while producing rhythmic variety within the bar itself regardless of the time signature. 6. Free dodecaphony. Virtually every American composer of chamber music after 1940 has experimented with some type of twelvenote writing, and Stravinsky’s espousal of the serial method in his late works has given an additional stimulus to this technique; several composers, notably Ernest Bloch, have made use of themes


Nicolas Slonimsky

comprising twelve different notes, without further dodecaphonic transformations. 7. Practical instrumental writing, without ostentatious colouristic devices, and avoidance of impressionistic effects. Special technical devices are widely used, but they are applied for reasons of greater expressiveness, and not for the sake of colour alone. 8. Virtual abandonment of programmatic subtitles in chambermusic works, except with ironic implications, or in outspoken imitation of similar subtitles in Baroque music. 9. A recession from folk-music materials in chamber works, except for special purposes. However, jazz rhythms are adopted as logical extensions of syncopation. In such cases jazz is not regarded as folk-music, but only as a technique. 10. Time-honoured ensemble formations, such as string quartets, instrumental sonatas, piano trios, and small wind combinations, are favoured over unusual settings, but solo works for virtually every orchestral instrument with piano accompaniments are also produced, sometimes with a didactic purpose. L AT I N A M E R I C A Composers of South America, Central America, and the West Indies cultivate vocal music by an innate gift and long tradition. The piano and the guitar are the preferred instruments for accompaniment and occasional solos. Chamber music occupies a very modest place in Latin America, but twentieth-century composers there are beginning to explore very seriously the potentialities of instrumental ensembles. Whereas ostentatious Americanism is conspicuously absent from chamber music written in North America, the Latin American counterpart of the genre is full of echoes of the countryside. Latin American composers are free from compulsions and inhibitions that govern the development of modern music in the United States. The fear of being regarded as unsophisticated and old-fashioned does not haunt the creative musicians south of the border. The most prolific, and in many ways the most remarkable, composer of South America was the Brazilian Heitor VILLA-LOBOS (d. 1959). In his music high sophistication, with a Parisian veneer, is combined with

Chamber Music in America


a most ingratiating spontaneity. His catalogue contains thousands upon thousands of works of every description. In the field of chamber music he composed fifteen string quartets, four violin sonatas, three piano trios, and numerous other works for various ensembles, of which the most striking are Bachianas Brasileiras. The name seeks to convey a mysterious affinity that exists, according to Villa-Lobos, between Brazilian folk-music and Bach’s scientific counterpoint; even the coincidence of the initial letters is presumed to be significant. Villa-Lobos treats his Brazilian materials with Bach-like counterpoint, and the effect is impressive. The scoring of the Bachianas Brasileiras that fall into the category of chamber music is as follows: No. 1 (1932) for eight ’cellos, No. 2 (1933) for eight ’cellos and soprano, No. 5 (1937) also for eight ’cellos and soprano, No. 6 (1938) for flute and bassoon. Folk-song elements in the music of Villa-Lobos are mostly recreated from the irreducible minimum of native melo-rhythms; it is but rarely that he quotes actual popular tunes. But he has said himself that he and folk-song are one. His tunes are tropically warm, and his rhythms throb with animal vitality. In consequence of the years he spent in Paris, he acquired the colouristic technique of impressionism. Bach, Brazil, and Paris all unite in his music with astonishing cohesiveness, and form a style that is both original and cosmopolitan. Among chamber works by other Brazilian composers, Trio Brasileiro by Oscar Lorenzo FERNANDEZ (1897–1948) should be mentioned. This is music charged with rhythmic verve and full of melodic invention in the native vein. Camargo GUARNIERI (b. 1907) is a Brazilian neo-classicist, whose symphonic works are almost “European” in their universality. In his chamber music two violin sonatas and a ’Cello Sonata are examples of a recession into a temperate zone of music. In Argentina the strongest composer of chamber music is Alberto GINASTERA (b. 1916). His Pampeana for ’cello and piano (1950) conveys a distinct feeling of Argentinian folk-song, in passionate chants and whirling dance rhythms, and at the same time demonstrates an ability to handle these materials in a highly disciplined fashion, so that the music is compact and effective. Ginastera has also written a String Quartet and a Duo for flute and oboe. Juan Carlos PAZ (b. 1897) is an Argentinian composer of the ultramodern school. After experimenting in various styles he adopted the


Nicolas Slonimsky

twelve-note technique and wrote several dodecaphonic compositions for various instruments with piano. In Chile the most significant composer of chamber music is Domingo SANTA CRUZ (b. 1899). His 3 piezas for violin and piano (1938) are severely contrapuntal and finely calculated; there is no denying, however, the inherent romantic quality of these pieces. In Cuba chamber music is cultivated mainly by Jose ARDEVOL (b. 1911), of Spanish birth. He settled in Havana in 1930, and developed fruitful activities as composer and conductor. A convinced neo-classicist, he writes instrumental music in which structure and texture, polyphony and variety, are paramount considerations. In his Musica de Camara for six instruments (1936) he includes a movement entitled “Quasi Habanera,” but even this is not a concession to the spirit of folk-lore, but a mere substitution for a European dance form in a classical suite. One of the most important composers of Latin America is Carlos CHAVEZ of Mexico. During his travels in the United States and in Europe he came into contact with modernistic music, and his own works reflect the mechanistic and anti-romantic trends of the period. Typical of this is his Energia for nine instruments (1925), producing an almost brutalizing effect by the driving force of relentless rhythms and harsh sonorities. His Sonatina for violin and piano (1928) is similarly elemental in its primitivism and its absence of songfulness. His three string quartets are much more elastic in their melodic and rhythmic essence; the String Quartet No. 3 (1944) has a definite neo-classical quality, and is marked by a sense of euphony. Although Chavez never resorts to explicit quotations from Mexican songs, his music bears an unmistakable imprint of native origin; the percussive quality of his melo-rhythmic progressions definitely corresponds to popular Mexican modes. A disciple of Chavez, Blas GALINDO (b. 1910) writes Mexican music of a neoclassical type, with strongly asymmetric rhythms. His Violin Sonata (1950) is a tour de force of diatonic (or rather pandiatonic) writing, as the score is almost totally devoid of accidentals. Rodolfo HALFFTER (b. 1900), a Spanish composer who made his home in Mexico after the Spanish civil war, has written several pieces of chamber music of great distinction. He cultivates neo-classicism, but there is an admixture of Hispanic melodic inflexions and rhythms in his music. His Pastorale for violin and piano (1949) is a fine example of his style of composition.

Chamber Music in America


As in the United States, chamber music was slow in developing in Latin America; for many decades instrumental ensembles were composed of random combinations of popular instruments. It was only in the second quarter of the twentieth century that Latin American composers began to write genuine chamber music, with a true contrapuntal and harmonic foundation, cast in a classical form. But folk-music continues to be the main source of inspiration. Latin American composers will not give up their love of colour for the sake of hemispherical respectability.


On February 20, 1861, President-elect Abraham Lincoln attended a performance of Verdi’s opera Un Ballo in Maschera at the New York Academy of Music. It was, of course, the censored version, in which the original libretto dealing with the historical assassination of Gustavus III, King of Sweden was revised to eliminate the perilous suggestion of regicide, and replaced by the murder of a mythical “Governor of Boston” named Riccardo. On the eve of the Civil War, the New York newspapers were filled with stories of “hideous plots” against the life of Abraham Lincoln, and denunciations of the adherents to the Southern American Confederacy, who “urged the plunder and destruction of the opulent classes, and of the man marked as the fount of the popular wrongs.” A warning was made to “scan carefully every proposed movement of the President-elect,” since “poisoned honey and suspicious boxes have been sent to him, and threats of assassination have been definitely ascertained.” But, wherever Abraham Lincoln appeared, “the harmony of incessant cheers was unbroken by indecent language or act of violence,” said the New-York Times (New York was invariably hyphenated at that time). The police protection of the President-elect in New York City was under the special care of Superintendent Kennedy, and it was “beautifully demonstrated.” Opera in the United States a hundred years ago was entirely in Italian hands, while orchestral and chamber music was monopolized by the Germans. The New-York Times had some bitter words to say regarding the inability of the Italian opera singers to join in the singing of the “StarSpangled Banner” in Lincoln’s honor. “After the first act,” the newspaper reported, “when the President-elect’s presence had been discovered by a few persons familiar with his appearance, a round of applause brought him 56

The Plush Era of Music in the U.S.


to his feet. The curtain then arose, and the artists sang the “Star-Spangled Banner”—at least Mesdames Philipps and Hinckley did, for the Italians, although they have been here for many years, have not yet mastered the difficulties of the language, and could not, of course, condescend to sing it. Intrusted to two American girls, the anthem received the best of treatment, and was vehemently applauded. The President-elect bowed his acknowledgments from the box.” The New-York Herald gave a vivid description of this scene of recognition: “The plain black cravat, the neat shirt collar turned over the neckcloth, the incipient whiskers and good-humored face that sat so demurely in the box, left no doubt in the public mind that Abraham Lincoln of Illinois was among them. All this time the opera singers were doing their best; the chorus chaps were expending their unwearied lungs to the extent of their second-class abilities; and the trumpeters and drummers were blowing and thumping their instruments in the most approved style.” Lincoln’s attendance at an opera that treated the subject of political assassination may have inspired some darksome premonitions, but Lincoln left at the end of the second act, and so did not witness the actual scene of murder. Not even the most feverish journalistic imagination could conjure up the vision of another visit to a theater four years thence, when the “hideous plot” became a reality. Opera, a century ago, was by far the most important social event in the United States. It was the entertainment of the wealthy and the well-born. The New-York Herald of February 21, 1861, describing Lincoln’s reception, reported that “gentlemen waved their hats and caps over their heads, and the ladies did the same with their handkerchiefs,” and then added significantly, “Coming as it did from a class of citizens whom the Presidentelect could not have had so excellent an opportunity of seeing assembled together under any other circ*mstances—and in consideration of the wealth, intelligence and respectability of those who were so met together—the demonstration becomes doubly valuable, and will not, as it should not, be readily forgotten by Mr. Lincoln.” Abraham Lincoln, it appears, was regarded as socially inferior to the assembled splendor of American society. The German Quartette Club of Hoboken, numbering twenty-two members (the designation “Quartette” was apparently non-numerical), serenaded Lincoln at the Astor House, performing various vocal composi-


Nicolas Slonimsky

tions. Then the forty-piece National Guard Band arrived, escorted by 150 “Wide Awakes” with badges. The band played arrangements from Verdi’s operas, quicksteps, and other dance tunes. The Italian-German dominance of American concert life in the nineteenth century, and well into the twentieth, was complete and undisputed. Musical societies were named in honor of German and Austrian composers—the Handel and Haydn Society, the Mendelssohn Quintette Club, a Mozart Verein, a Beethoven Verein, a Wagner Verein. There was a Germania Orchestra; choral societies in New York, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Philadelphia, Washington, were called Liederkranz, Liedertafel, or Sängerbund, and sang German songs. Orchestral conductors up to World War I were Germans, and so were most of the orchestra men. The German language was spoken almost exclusively during symphonic rehearsals in New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Baltimore. Time and again, some rebellious American musician would shout a mighty but hoarse shout about music for Americans by Americans. But he would be shouted down immediately: “You want music? Then go to Germany!” Truth to tell, these early pioneers of American music, whether in composition, performance, or education, were strong on slogans and weak on competence. One of the most picturesque of these was Jerome Hopkins, who shouted his way into American music in the 1870’s and 1880’s. The life of Hopkins would make an interesting subject, but unfortunately his entire archives, musical manuscripts and correspondence, which he willed to Amy Fay at his death in 1898, have been apparently lost. Hopkins imagined himself to be a martyr to the cause, and in one of his statements he mourned the martyrdom of American musicians who had gone to a “drunkard’s grave” (Harry Sanderson, T. Hagen, E. Remack, William King, A. H. Pease) or had committed suicide (Candido Berti, Ureli Corelli Hill, H. N. Sawyer). Three musicians, said Hopkins, suffered “early decline and consumption from disappointment”—William Saer, Von Oeckelen, and August Goeckel. U. C. Hill is well known, and his life and death (of poison) are well documented, but who are these other victims of American indifference to her own sons? Were they worth saving from disappointment and a drunkard’s grave? Brooding over all this, Hopkins wrote an emotional letter to Berlioz expressing his desire to go to Paris to live. Apparently he touched upon a sympathetic string, for Berlioz wrote him a remarkable letter in reply:

The Plush Era of Music in the U.S.


“Monsieur et cher confrère, I read your letter with considerable emotion. You say you are suffering for art’s sake; unfortunately, I am not the person to offer any consolation to you. You have a greatly mistaken idea of the kind of life that an artist (worthy of the name) leads in Paris. If New York is for you the Purgatory of musicians, then Paris is to me (and I know Paris) their Hell. So you should not be discouraged too deeply.” Berlioz then extended his welcome to Hopkins to “this Hell” (using the English words) but warned him not to delay his voyage: “Every morning I rise from my bed hoping that this will be my last day. My physical and moral distress leaves me no respite, and I have long said farewell to my musical illusions.” Berlioz concluded, half in English, half in French: “But I beg your pardon, Sir, if I give you this counsel. Laissez-moi vous serrer la main et vous adresser les dernières paroles du Ghost d’Hamlet: Farewell, farewell, remember me.” Idealistic and eccentric Americans have risen time and again to champion the cause of national music. One of the most ambitious among them was Mrs. Jeannette M. Thurber, a wealthy society lady in New York, who organized in the 1880’s an American opera company, presenting operas in English, with as many American singers as could qualify for the task. She published a grandiloquent prospectus, in which the superlatives were freely lavished in a manner worthy of P. T. Barnum himself: “Grand opera sung in English by the most competent artists—The musical guidance of Theodore Thomas—The unrivaled Thomas Orchestra—The largest chorus ever employed in grand opera in America, and composed entirely of fresh young voices—The largest ballet corps ever employed by grand opera in America—Four thousand new costumes, for which no expense has been spared—The armor, properties, and paraphernalia made from models by the best designers—The scenery designed by the Associated Artists of New York, and painted by the most eminent scenic artists of America.” Natives of twenty American cities, said the prospectus, were counted among the members of the American Opera Company, and the chorus represented 26 different states of the Union. The management “distinctly discouraged the pernicious star system” since it felt confident that “there is no lack of American singers who require only encouragement and opportunity to do honor to the musical reputation of their native land.” It is interesting to note that a statement of aims very similar to that of Mrs. Thurber, was also made in 1923 by the American Opera Company organized by Vladimir Rosing at the Eastman School of Music, Rochester.


Nicolas Slonimsky

The names of the two companies were the same; the operas were to be sung in English, and the star system was to be abolished. Mrs. Thurber’s plan included the formation of an American school of opera, and a similar opera school was established at the Eastman School of Music in connection with Rosing’s American Opera Company. Mrs. Thurber’s enterprise lasted two seasons and foundered with a mighty crash of bankruptcy, lawsuits, and countersuits. Rosing’s undertaking, backed by George Eastman’s money, came to its end peacefully in 1929. Mrs. Thurber had a splendid list of “Incorporators” for her American Opera Company, with Andrew Carnegie as president. The repertory included Faust, Lakmé, The Huguenots, Aida, Lohengrin, and The Flying Dutchman. The first season passed auspiciously from the artistic standpoint, but financially it was a failure. To ward off creditors, Mrs. Thurber renamed her enterprise the National Opera Company for the second season, hoping to make a fresh start. It undertook a grand tour to the Pacific Coast, but on the way back to New York it broke down completely, and Mrs. Thurber stopped payment to her troupe. Chorus singers and ballet girls were stranded; some leading singers retained lawyers to collect their fees, and Theodore Thomas himself put in a claim for the six months’ salary due him. “The National Opera scheme, from its boastful and vainglorious start to its miserable and contemptible end,” wrote the New York theatrical journal Truth in its issue of July 7, 1887, “has been marked by ignorance, vanity, bungling and failure. It was started to satisfy the desire for notoriety of a half-educated woman, possessed of a bank account but very little brains.” With her National Conservatory of Music, possessing “an ADMIRABLE FACULTY,” Mrs. Thurber was more successful. The performing arts were emphasized. There was a Trio Club, which presented concerts of chamber music. Victor Herbert played the cello. Ever a go-getter, Mrs. Thurber addressed a petition to Congress, asking for $200,000 for the National Conservatory. In this petition she stated that, should the grant be given, every Senator and every member of the House of Representatives would be given the right to send any deserving young musician of his State to the National Conservatory free of charge. The reaction to the petition was immediate and devastating. The Boston Gazette of February 25, 1888 declared: “Music is a luxury for the wealthy, and it would seem that Mrs. Thurber should take from her own

The Plush Era of Music in the U.S.


well-filled pocket all she can afford in the shape of assistance to her pet conservatory.” The Indianapolis Journal of the same date wrote: “Imagine a member of Congress facing his constituents after voting to appropriate $200,000 to teach young people how to execute vocal gymnastics, or play on the fiddle. We are not so esthetic as that.” Mrs. Thurber’s petition never got through, but in 1891 she made a coup that elevated her conservatory to a truly national, and even international, status. She managed to entice Dvorak to head the National Conservatory. Dvorak spent three fruitful seasons in New York, taught a number of talented Americans, and composed the New World Symphony. To some Americans, however, Dvorak was just another scheming foreigner bent on collecting money. “The arrival of Herr Anton Dworzak (sic),” wrote the New York Truth, “increases the already large circle of musical notabilities who are quitting the old fatherland and taking their abode in this ‘free country’ which is fast becoming the musical Eldorado of the world. Nikisch, Seidl, Xaver and Philip Scharwenka, Dworzak, they are all attracted by the wonderful chromatic sound of the American dollar.” Mrs. Thurber lived a very long life. She died in 1946, at the age of ninety-four. Grandiosity was not the exclusive American trait in the promotion of the arts. Berlioz, Wagner, and Liszt were glorified and maligned by the journalists of both hemispheres as the prophets of the ultimate noise. A cartoon published by G. Schirmer in 1869, under the caption “The Music of the Future” showed an orchestra of maniacs savagely attacking their instruments from every conceivable angle supplemented with a scaleful of yowling cats whose tails are pulled by a distracted attendant. The conductor leaps in midair, his arms and legs spread wide apart. On the stand before him is a symphonic poem by Liszt, and propped against the podium, another score inscribed: “WAGNER. Not to be played much till 1895.” The year of the Schirmer cartoon was also the year of the Great National Peace Jubilee held in Boston “to commemorate the restoration of peace throughout the land.” Peace was commemorated with a series of “monster” concerts which produced an amount of noise that no music of the future could equal. The word “monster,” incidentally, conveyed no pejorative sense, but was used as a synonym for prodigious and phenomenal. The Great National Peace Jubilee was organized and directed by the IrishAmerican bandmaster Patrick Gilmore, who assumed the proud title of “Projector.” The tumult and the commotion of the occasion soon passed


Nicolas Slonimsky

with contemptuous cries of “Humbug” resounding from the press, but one feature of the affair entered the annals of American music for all time, the Anvil Chorus from Il Trovatore performed by a huge vocal and instrumental ensemble, helped out by one hundred selected members of the Boston Fire Department, attired in red shirts, and hammering the main beat on one hundred anvils. The mania of grandiosity that possessed Gilmore was not satiated with the Great National Peace Jubilee. Three years later he staged in Boston a super-monster festival, the World Peace Jubilee. A mammoth Coliseum was erected on the wastelands of the Back Bay with an advertised seating capacity of one hundred thousand. (Checking on this figure, a skeptical reporter found that the Coliseum held only twenty-one thousand people.) There was “the greatest chorus ever organized of twenty thousand trained voices” (eighteen thousand was estimated by the press as a more likely figure). There was a “grand orchestra of one thousand musicians in classical and popular overtures” and “a military band of one thousand members in the most dashing marches and selections” (the newspapers said there were only eight hundred in each). Still and all, the World Peace Jubilee was, as advertised, the “grandest musical festival ever known in the history of the world.” It ran from June 17, 1872, to July 4. The Anvil Chorus was made a daily feature. The “Star-Spangled Banner” opened the festivities, with all the massed thousands of performers, plus “all the bells of Boston in chime and artillery accompaniment.” The bells were rung and the cannon fired “by electricity.” (In the mid-twentieth century, a more sophisticated signal was used to open a festival, when President Eisenhower pressed a button and let a beam of light from Arcturus pass through a photoelectric cell and ring a bell.) The Sextet from Lucia was then sung by a “bouquet of artists” numbering 150, accompanied by full orchestra, and conducted by the “Projector.” Farewell to the Forest, a four-part chorus by Mendelssohn, was performed by twenty thousand voices a cappella. The spirit of grandiosity here reached its apogee. Even newspapermen were impressed by such magnification. The Boston Daily Globe ran an editorial solemnly proclaiming that “the moral effect of this grand International Jubilee might be to perpetuate, as well as to celebrate, a state of peace throughout Christendom.” Ironically, far from being deafened by the great noise, some auditors found the effect disappointingly small. Even the hundred anvils, specially

The Plush Era of Music in the U.S.


imported from Birmingham, England, and weighing from 100 lbs. to 300 lbs. each, failed to produce an impression of overwhelming sonority. Apparently the directors of the World’s Peace Jubilee overlooked the Weber-Fechner law, according to which the intensity of a sensory perception is proportional to the logarithm of the stimulus, so that the auditory impression of twenty thousand voices is not twenty thousand times, but perhaps only twenty times stronger than that of a single voice, the exact proportion depending on an experimental constant. Military bands were brought over from Europe to take part in the Peace Jubilee. The participation of the Grenadier Guards Band of London created some international tension; there were protests in the British Parliament against exporting the Grenadiers to serve the sensationalism of American tastes. The great star of the show was Johann Strauss, the Waltz King, expressly invited for the occasion. He led the huge orchestra in the performance of the Beautiful Blue Danube and his other waltzes, conducting in the Viennese fashion, violin in hand, and giving cues with the bow. The Boston Post reported that Strauss “veered around vane-like, from one side to the other, and seemed the very impersonation of Terpsichore, while all the musicians under his control resolved themselves into a spontaneous band of Dryads and Bacchantes.” Johann Strauss was apparently the originator of the famous “shaggy dog story,” usually ascribed in musical anecdotage to Paderewski. It was reported in the New York World as follows: It is related of Johann Strauss, the Waltz King, that when he was in St. Petersburg, the fair Russian belles made a frightful series of demands upon him for locks of his hair. Strauss viewed the prospect with alarm. All these souvenirs would leave him bald. Then he had a brilliant idea. His dog was a huge black Newfoundland. Its shaggy coat was of precisely the texture of his hair, and today many a Russian album is enriched by the possession of a cherished lock of hair from Strauss’s dog. When he was coming to America, he could with difficulty be restrained, it is said, from bringing along the dog as a precautionary measure for a similar emergency. Great patriotic anniversaries invariably included musical festivals. In 1876, he centennial of the Declaration of Independence was celebrated by a series of concerts under the direction of Theodore Thomas, held in Philadelphia, the Cradle of Liberty. For this occasion Thomas induced Wagner to compose a special work, the worst he ever wrote, a Grand


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Centennial Inaugural March, dedicated to the Women’s Centennial Committee. In a letter to Thomas, Wagner pointed out that the “soft and tender passages” in the march were intended to portray “the beautiful and talented women of North America, as they take part in the cortège.” Considering the musical quality of these tender passages, Wagner’s opinion of American feminine beauty must have been very low. Theodore Thomas was also in charge of the musical program of the World’s Fair Columbian Exposition in Chicago during the summer of 1893. He invited Brahms to take part, but Brahms declined. He did secure the services of Paderewski and Saint-Saëns. Among American musical patriots, the figure of Silas Gamaliel Pratt imposes itself. Pratt is celebrated in legend for his remark to Wagner: “You are the Silas G. Pratt of Germany.” The spirit of grandiosity found in Pratt a faithful believer. But he was also a shrewd organizer, who knew how to raise money for his projects. In October 1891 he conducted in New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia a series of spectacles entitled The War in Song, a Military and Musical Allegory of the Late Civil War. The music was a medley of popular tunes of the period. Lantern slides provided visual illustrations. Detachments of soldiers marched through the audience to impart a sense of immediacy to the recent conflict. A “Battle Fantasia” was depicted in Pratt’s program notes: “The opposing forces rapidly approach! A combat! Crash of Arms! The Retreat! A dying soldier’s vision of home! The battle resumed with onrushing cavalry! Heroic resistance! The final charge and Victory!” Here, The Battle Cry of Freedom overwhelmed Dixie, and the Union was saved. Pratt’s Allegory of the Late Civil War was produced under the auspices of the Grant Monument Association. A voluminous program book, containing the texts and music of the songs, was published, with lucrative advertisem*nts, the most arresting of which proclaimed the curative powers of Bovinine, “prescribed by more than twenty-five thousand physicians,” guaranteed to “create new and vitalized blood,” and to “permanently cure nervous prostration, dyspepsia, cholera infantum, and excessive irritability of the stomach from any cause.” An engraving of a bull illustrated the advertisem*nt, and a testimonial from General Grant’s son assured the public that during the last four months of Grant’s life he was fed on Bovinine, and that “it was the use of this incomparable food alone that enabled him to finish the second volume of his memoirs.” Other advertisem*nts in the program book extolled Garfield tea for “constipation and

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sick headache,” and “Genuine Pansy Corsets” to constrict the waist and project the bosoms forward. Monster concerts and musical extravaganzas were to the public of a hundred years ago what television spectaculars in living color and cinematic epics on a wide screen are today. Guest artists on popular television shows are warned to reduce their solo numbers to a skeletal minimum, leaving out a modulation here, a variation there. At one of such shows, a child pianist was told to cut out an A major portion in Mozart’s Marcia alla Turca and proceed from F sharp minor directly to the initial A minor! Opportunistic artists ordered to commit similar atrocities salve their consciences by arguing that it is better to carry to the untutored millions in the mass audience even a monstrously mutilated classical piece than to surrender them completely to a diet of popular songs in symmetrical sequences harmonized to the point of maximum saturation with chromatic progressions of ninth-chords, and crooned by illiterate and voiceless entertainers. “One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh . . . and the wind returneth again according to his circuits.” American impresarios booking a celebrated European artist “according to his circuits” were as cautious as masters of ceremonies at television shows today not to overload the paying customers with culture, and insure variety of entertainment. The word “recital,” in the sense of a musical performance given by one person, was making its way into American usage but grudgingly. Reporting Anton Rubinstein’s concerts in New York in September, 1872, the New York Times used such locutions as “recital of Schumann’s Carnaval,” and “the pianist recited a suite.” Rubinstein played not more than one-third of the program. Besides the violin solos of his joint artist Henri Wieniawski, there were overtures by a makeshift orchestra and popular ballads sung by a soprano and a contralto to piano accompaniment. Despite these added attractions, Rubinstein’s concerts were poorly attended. The Boston Globe of October 16, 1872, deplored this lack of interest: “We make great pretenses to a refined musical cultivation, but we manifest it by crowding the theater where opera bouffe is played by women whose coarseness is their principal claim to popularity. An opera singer, if she be a pretty woman, will fill the house nightly with the élite of our dilettanti, even though her claims to musical genius be not of the highest order.” Opera singers were the darlings of the plush era. Sturdy of frame, ample-bosomed, stern of visage, accoutred in rich costume, wearing


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plumed hats and opaque veils, the operatic sopranos and contraltos excited the imagination of the less privileged humanity. Their marriages, their divorces, their unsanctified amours were as eagerly reported in the daily press as similar activities of movie stars are today, and their photographs taken in demurely alluring poses were the pin-up pictures of young America. Sometimes after the opera, college students would “unhorse” a diva’s carriage, and conduct her to her hotel with themselves in harness. Robert Graves has written a book-length paean in praise of Ava Gardner, the movie star. In the 1870’s, moved by no lesser ardor, Longfellow addressed adulatory verse to the singer Marie Rôze: “Oh Marie! Veil the radiant eyes/ That melt with inner light/ Conceal the brow that o’er them lies/ The bosom warm and bright./ The dainty chin, whose dimples play/ At merry hide-and-seek/ The mouth with careless laughter gay/ And either perfect cheek!” Some paraphernalia of old concert life disappeared with the advent of a more sober age. Lavish floral tributes, laurel wreaths, gifts of jewelry placed at the feet of an artist, all these tokens of admiration and esteem are gone. Sartorial effulgence among male artists gave way to a sober fulldress suit for the evening, a cut-away for the afternoon. Gone also is the abundant chevelure, bushy hair à la Paderewski (who was once dubbed a “human chrysanthemum”), natural curly hair of lesser virtuosos, and the long falling looks of musical Wunderkinder. A great deal of eccentric behavior on the stage, which was an attribute of the plush era, also fell out of favor. The greatest eccentric among pianists was Vladimir de Pachmann, the “Chopinzee” as Huneker called him. A stenographic report of his mumblings taken at one of his New York recitals read as follows: “I have a nervous in my thumb . . . But I am not tired . . . I work twenty hours a day . . . But I have a nervous in my thumb . . . Ah! Bravo, Pachmann! C’est joli! Schön, schön . . . Bellissimo!” Philip Hale made an attempt to explain away Pachmann’s eccentricities. “Why should one be disturbed,” he wrote, when the pianist, intoxicated by the beauty of a certain phrase, invites the audience to share joy with him, or points out with an uplifted hand some exquisite bit of tone gradations? There is no one like Mr. de Pachmann; he himself hears his music as though he were one of the audience, and if he calls attention to the heat of the room or exclaims “Schön!” it is as

The Plush Era of Music in the U.S.


though a neighbor whispered his discomfort or his delight. He smiles to you that you may realize how beautiful the notes are, when they trickle out of his fingers like singing water; he adores them and his own playing as if he had nothing to do with them.

But even Hale became exasperated when Vladimir de Pachmann put on a particularly obnoxious exhibition: The only thing that was lacking was a stereopticon with views of Chopin’s portraits, pianos that he played, women whom he loved, and a series of pictures of Mr. de Pachmann from childhood to the year of his first American concert tour. Miss Duncan dances on the stage with bare legs and arms, clad in a garment of thin gauze, illustrating various pieces of Chopin. It is a pity that Mr. De Pachmann cannot do this and play the piano at the same time.

It is difficult to believe that a century ago most instrumentalists performed in public with the music before them, and that playing from memory was exceptional. Anton Rubinstein’s ability to dispense with the notes amazed the American audiences during his tour of 1872. “To play a Beethoven concerto, Schumann’s Carnaval, and three other pieces,” wrote a music critic, “all compositions of the most complicated nature, without a note to assist him, is a feat of itself of no common magnitude.” Such effusive praise for something that every conservatory student nowadays takes for granted is astounding. It would seem that memorizing would be a natural result of study, at any time of music history. Conducting an orchestra from memory is another matter, for here the conductor learns the music by inner reconstruction of actual orchestral combinations, and it is therefore at least comprehensible that Toscanini’s ability to control an orchestra without consulting the score aroused admiration. But Toscanini’s repertory was, with a few exceptions, limited to classical and romantic literature, more or less symmetrically constructed, logically developed, and mellifluously orchestrated, so that the music needed only guidance and interpretive genius to make it roll. Then Mitropoulos produced a sensation by conducting from memory works of the ultra-modern school. Yet such feats are no longer rare. Young conductors, some of them scarcely out of school, lead rehearsals and concerts from memory as a matter of routine.


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Only chamber music groups still continue to use the notes, but some modern ensembles are beginning to break out of bondage and perform from memory. Commercialism was much more blatant in the musical affairs of the plush era than it is now, and pretensions to artistic aims were more transparently false. Advertising was frankly sensational, with exclamation points strewn all over. The announcements of the “Absolute Farewell American Tournée” of Adelina Patti during the season of 1903–4 were typical of this sensational commercialism. The management carefully explained that “Madame Patti never before in all her career announced officially, as in this instance, her farewell to the Public,” and pointed out that “in order to secure Madame Patti for another tour at all, the management had to outbid all others with whom he was in direct competition, and to evolve a contract that demands the largest honorarium ever accorded to any artist in the history of the world.” This was by way of introduction to the greatly raised prices of admission. Adelina Patti herself sang only a few numbers with the orchestra, and gave encores with the piano; the bulk of the program was taken up by a number of assisting artists—a solo pianist, a solo violinist, a solo cellist, a contralto, a tenor, and a baritone. Traffic in child prodigies was very active and apparently profitable. Among the few Wunderkinder who rose to great and merited fame was Josef Hofmann, advertised on his first appearance in America in 1887 as “The Greatest Genius of the Pianoforte since the days of Mozart.” Like Leopold Mozart who made Wolfgang a couple of years younger than in biological reality, Casimir Hofmann, Josef ’s father who organized his American tour, let the management advertise him as “The Wonderful Child Pianist and Composer Aged Ten,” when he was pushing twelve. The program was also typical: Hofmann played Beethoven’s First Piano Concerto, accompanied by a small orchestra under the direction of his father, who also conducted an overture, some Chopin pieces and a few compositions of his own. In addition, there were a violin soloist, a harpist, and three singers. Included in the program was also an “improvisation on a theme given by any lady or gentleman in the audience.” At the Boston concert, Chadwick suggested a theme from Frederick Cowen’s “Welsh” Symphony, and Hofmann dutifully improvised a variation on it. Hofmann’s appearances ran into unexpected trouble when, on January 28, 1888, the New York Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children

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appealed to the Mayor of the City of New York to suspend the permit for Hofmann’s further concerts on the ground that the child was being exploited to the detriment of his physical and mental health. Hofmann’s father opposed the motion, and arranged for an examination by four New York physicians. They found unanimously that “the boy’s physical functions are all in good order, and there are no indications that he has sustained any injury from his public appearances.” At that juncture, a deus ex machina appeared in the person of a wealthy New Yorker who offered the sum of fifty thousand dollars to Hofmann’s father for the purpose of the boy’s education, on condition that he would not appear in public until reaching the age of eighteen. The offer was cheerfully accepted, and satisfaction was expressed by all parties concerned. Wars, revolutions, and sometimes partisan politics have affected the programs and the selection of performers of musical works, in America as well as in Europe. A wave of anti-German feeling during the First World War engulfed even German classical music. German musicians who enjoyed a virtual monopoly of the American concert stage, suddenly found themselves classified as enemy aliens. Karl Muck, the supernal drillmaster of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, was arrested like a common criminal and interned for the duration of the war. So was Ernst Kunwald, the Austrian conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. Even the German classical composers were cast under suspicion as culture-bearers of militant Prussianism. Walter Damrosch, himself of German birth but an American citizen, pleaded that at least Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms be spared. But Wagner was practically banned from the American opera state. Nothing as silly happened during World War II despite the fact that Wagner was claimed by Hitler as the spiritual father of Nazism. The cold war with Russia brought some scattered cancellations of performances of works by Russian composers, and a Hearst columnist actually protested against the playing of Tchaikovsky’s symphonies. The brief interlude of McCarthyism brought discrimination against composers of known radical or liberal views. Aaron Copland’s Lincoln Portrait was taken off the symphony program at Eisenhower’s inauguration in January 1953, at the instigation of Representative Fred E. Busbey, Republican of Illinois, who made this immortal pronouncement; “There are many partriotic composers available without the long record of questionable affiliations of Copland. The Republican Party would have been ridiculed from one end of the United States to the other if Copland’s music


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had been played at the inaugural of a president elected to fight communism, among other things.” Although the American public and even financial backers of musical organizations take a latitudinarian view towards libertine conduct among artists, the ugly specter of moral turpitude was invoked against some foreign musicians ostentatiously living in sin. A French conductor was discharged in the 1940’s because of notorious cohabitation. When Scriabin came to America in 1905 with his common-law wife, there were rumors that deportation proceedings were begun against him, but he sailed for Europe before these rumors could be substantiated. The greatest moralistic ruckus on the American musical scene in the last hundred years was raised by the production of Salomé by Richard Strauss in New York and Boston. Not only religious and social groups, but even professional journalists and music critics voiced violent objections to the immorality of Oscar Wilde’s play and the sensationalism of the music. H. E. Krehbiel, of the New York Tribune, wrote of the “moral stench with which Salomé fills the nostrils of humanity,” and W. J. Henderson of the New York Sun opined that to judge by Salomé, the music of the future would find its mission “in sewer, pesthouse, and brothel.” A professional physician declared in a letter to the New York Times that Salomé was “a detailed and explicit exposition of the most horrible, disgusting, revolting, and unmentionable features of degeneracy.” The shocked stockholders of the Metropolitan Opera and Real Estate Company, among them J. P. Morgan, A. D. Juilliard, and William K. Vanderbilt, served notice on the management to discontinue further showings of Salomé and to refund money to ticket holders for the three scheduled performances. In Boston, the notorious New England Watch and Ward Society petitioned Mayor John F. Fitzgerald (grandfather of John F. Kennedy) to prevent the local presentation of Salomé, and other politically powerful organizations bombarded him with similar demands. But Fitzgerald stood off the assault with judicious calm. “The Mayor’s office,” he declared, “does not interfere as a rule with the productions in the Boston theaters. Licenses are issued under such conditions as the office makes, and we insist at all times that the productions be up to the proper standard. If any theater violates public decency by the presentation of anything offensive, we can revoke the license. If the people of Boston do not want the opera Salomé

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presented and give expression to that view, I do not think that the opera will be given. No theater manager will fly in the face of public opinion.” It was left for Fitzgerald’s successor, Mayor Hibbard, to ban the presentation of Salomé in Boston by the visiting Manhattan Opera Company. He did so on the bland pretext that a Boston lady of his acquaintance had seen the opera in New York and formed a categorical opinion that it was utterly unfit for the Boston public. Apart from quantitative expansion of audience through the marvels of electronics, has there been any inherent change in American concert life since 1861? Certain it is that musical mechanization and automation has not killed the individual artist, despite the agitation against “canned music” in the 1930’s. On the contrary, careers are now made in America by European artists through their recordings alone, and American music lovers flock eagerly to concerts by phonograph celebrities. There seems to be no diminution of concert activities by living artists. Grand Opera is still very much with us, and the nature of its repertory has remained almost unaltered in a century. Operas that have become popular since 1861 are still grand, still make their appeal to distilled sentiment, still follow the twin formulas of Wagnerian and Verdian constructions. American symphony orchestras have largely preserved the old type of program making—an overture, a classical symphony, an intermission, a solo concerto, and a raucous finale. With the shining exception of Leonard Bernstein, conductors of prime orchestras are still largely recruited from Europe, but the orchestra men are now mostly American-born. There is no doubt that the quality of orchestral playing has advanced enormously. If the famous Theodore Thomas Orchestra were to arise from the dead, its best performance would have been completely outshone by even a secondary American ensemble of today. Besides, a nineteenth-century American orchestra would have been unable to cope even with a relatively mild piece of modern music. The levitated conductor of the Music of the Future in the Schirmer cartoon of 1869 would have been grounded after a few measures had he replaced Liszt’s symphonic poem by a twentiethcentury work. There remains the intriguing and unanswerable question regarding the true greatness of the virtuosos of the plush era. Were they really insuperable technicians? Yet they could hardly be expected to match the


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technical dexterity demanded by the modern repertory of contemporary pianists and violinists, and would flounder when confronted with a composition in the new idiom. Their greatness then must have resided in the fidelity of interpretation. Yet there are indications that visiting virtuosos adopted an over-romanticized and sentimentalized interpretation of the classical masters. Some young musicians today, possibly under the influence of the movie portrayals of great virtuosos, are reviving this type of musical histrionics, but it manifests itself mainly by expressive movements of the head and the body rather than by deformations in the music itself. Perhaps, it is the sum total of technique, interpretive insight, absorption in the music, and an imponderable personal impressiveness that made for greatness. Perhaps it is true that there were giants in those days whose equals our century could not produce.

3 . O P E R A I N T H E U N I T E D S TAT E S

Two types of opera struggled for domination in the early years of American theatrical history: ballad-opera in English, and grand opera in Italian. Ballad-opera, imported from England, was a vernacular product, in which new words were adapted to well-known popular songs. The most famous of such ballad-operas was The Beggar’s Opera, produced in London in 1728, and heard in New York for the first time on 3 December 1750. In contradistinction to the vernacular ballad-opera, grand opera in America was almost exclusively an Italian product, managed by Italian impresarios, and sung in the Italian language by Italian singers. The extent of the Italian monopoly in opera in English-speaking countries is illustrated by the fact that Italian operatic terms, such as soprano, contralto, coloratura, bel canto, libretto, and the word opera itself, have become part of the English language. So great was the prestige of Italian opera artists that American-born singers often assumed Italian-sounding pseudonyms, such as Nordica (real name Norton), Nevada (real name Wixom), Albani (real name Lajeunesse), in order to facilitate their careers. The desire to emulate the success of Italian operatic art and to create a national American type of opera animated many American musicians. In this connection it may be of interest to quote an article on opera by Walt Whitman, published in Life Illustrated of 10 November 1855, describing his sentiments after hearing Verdi’s Ernani at the New York Opera House: “You envy Italy and almost become an enthusiast; you wish an equal art here, and an equal science and style, underlain by a perfect understanding of American realities and the appropriateness of our national spirit.” When Abraham Lincoln, as President-Elect, attended a performance of Un Ballo in Maschera at the Academy of Music in New York on 20 February 1861, the management wished to honor him by singing the 73


Nicolas Slonimsky

American national anthem, “The Star Spangled Banner,” but the Italian troupe did not know the melody, and the anthem had to be sung by two American chorus girls. Verdi’s opera was given in the censored version in which a “governor of Boston” (a nonexistent office) is stabbed to death. Since there were constant rumors on the eve of the American Civil War of a southern conspiracy against Lincoln’s life, the coincidence of his attendance of an Italian opera dealing with the assassination of an American public official was extraordinary. Historically speaking, American opera had a slow and hesitant start. It is remarkable that the United States, so rich in excellent symphony orchestras, has only one opera company, the Metropolitan of New York, that gives a full season of professional operatic performances. Not a single American opera is included in its repertory. And it is ironic that the only successful composer of opera in English in the United States is the Italian-born Gian Carlo Menotti, who has never become an American citizen. The earliest public notice of an American opera appeared in the Pennsylvania Chronicle of Philadelphia on 30 March 1767, advertising the publication of the text of “a new American comic opera” entitled The Disappointment, or The Force of Credulity. But the opera was never performed, because it contained satirical references to some important persons in Philadelphia and was adjudged libelous. The musical score did not survive, and the name of the composer is not known. The libretto was by Andrew Barton, but this may have been a pseudonym. This opera is of historical importance because its libretto contains the verses of “Yankee Doodle,” which proves that this famous song did not originate during the American Revolution, as has been supposed, but dates back to at least 1767. It is difficult to decide which was the first American opera. The Temple of Minerva, a play with music by Francis Hopkinson, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and the first American-born musical composer, was performed for the first time in the mansion of the French ambassador in Philadelphia on 11 December 1781, in the presence of George Washington. But its music was never published, and the manuscript has been lost. The Archers, or Mountaineers of Switzerland, with a libretto after Schiller’s Wilhelm Tell, and music by Benjamin Carr, a Britishborn musician, was produced by the Old American Company in New York on 18 April 1796. It contained an overture and several arias to original tunes, with English texts by William Dunlap.

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On 19 December 1796 the Old American Company in New York produced an operatic melodrama entitled Edwin and Angelina, or The Banditti, with a libretto by Elihu Hubbard Smith and music by Victor Pelissier, a French musician who settled in America in 1792. Pelissier subsequently wrote several other operatic melodramas, among them Bourville Castle, to a libretto by Benjamin Carr (New York, 16 January 1797), Ariadne Abandoned, to an anonymous libretto (New York, 26 April 1797), and The Launch, or Huzzah for the Constitution, to a libretto by John Hodgkinson (New York, 21 May 1798). The first American grand opera, at least in intent if not in content, was apparently Tammany, or The Indian Chief, in three acts, with a libretto by Mrs. Anne Julia Hatton and music by James Hewitt, produced at the John Street Theater in New York on 3 March 1794. It was revived in a two-act version under the title America Rediscovered at the same theater in New York on 13 March 1795. Hewitt’s music is lost, but is supposed to have contained genuine Indian melodies. The musical content of these operatic productions, to judge by the few examples of instrumental and vocal numbers that have been preserved, was primitive. Alberti basses served for harmonic accompaniment; the melodies were of the common ballad type, and the concerted pieces lacked elementary technical ability. Yet there were professional European musicians in America at the close of the 18th century who conducted teaching classes in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, and Baltimore, and composed theatrical music. Among them was Alexander Reinagle, born in England of Austrian parents in 1756, who settled in Philadelphia in 1736 and died in Baltimore in 1809. He contributed music to the plays Columbus (Philadelphia, 1 February 1797), The Castle Specter (Philadelphia, 2 April 1800), and several others. However, these productions were not operas in any real sense. On 6 April 1808, an operatic melodrama in three acts entitled The Indian Princess, or La Belle Sauvage, to a libretto by J. U. Barker, with a musical score by John Bray, was produced at the New Theater in Philadelphia. John Bray was apparently a musician of some education, but nothing is known about his life except that he died in 1822 at the age of 40. The distinction of being the first true opera composed and produced in America belongs to the “operatic drama” Enterprise, with a libretto by W. H. Hamilton and music by Arthur Clifton, first performed in Baltimore on 27 May 1822. It contains an overture of the classical type, several ballet


Nicolas Slonimsky

numbers, and separate arias, and the music is comparable in technical skill to contemporary European products. Eighteen selections from it were published in Baltimore by the author himself, in a vocal score with piano accompaniment. This edition is of such extreme rarity that the existence of Enterprise eluded the attention of historians of American music, and no mention of it is made in reference works. Mystery surrounds the true identity of the composer. Arthur Clifton is probably a pseudonym of Philip Anthony Corri, a musician of Italian extraction who lived in England and settled in America in 1814. Apparently he had trouble with the law, for an advertisem*nt appeared in a London publication offering a substantial reward for information about Anthony Corri, “a musical composer” presumed to have gone to the United States. In November 1824, a comic opera in two acts entitled The Saw Mill, or A Yankee Trick by Micah Hawkins (1777–1825) was produced at the Chatham Theater in New York with some success, and claims have been made for it as the first genuine American opera composed by a native of the United States. These claims can not be sustained; The Saw Mill belongs to the category of ballad-opera rather than grand opera. To satisfy the interest among American music lovers for European opera, an English musician, Charles Edward Horn (1786–1849), resident of Boston, made easy vocal and instrumental arrangements of celebrated arias from German, French, and Italian operas. Musically speaking, Horn’s arrangements were outrageous mutilations of the originals, but they gave the American public an opportunity to form an acquaintance with operatic masterworks, at a time when there were no performing organizations in America capable of giving complete operas. The first regular opera season in the United States was inaugurated at the St. Philippe Theatre in New Orleans on 30 January 1808 with the opera Une folie by Méhul, performed by a professional cast of singers recruited from French refugees who fled France after the Revolution, went to Haiti and then settled in New Orleans and remained there after the cession of the territory of Louisiana to the United States in 1803. New York City received its first massive introduction to Italian opera during the season 1825–26, by the celebrated singer and impresario, Manuel del Popolo García, an Italianized Spaniard. The season opened at the Park Theater on 29 November 1825 with Il Barbiere di Siviglia of Rossini. García’s troupe was most unusual, for it included three members of his family: his wife, his son Manuel García (who subsequently became

Opera in the United States


a famous singing teacher and died in London in 1906 at the age of 101), and his daughter, the future Maria Malibran who became a great opera star. The orchestra of the García Opera Company included all the standard instruments except the oboe, and was supplemented by a piano to sustain the harmony. The García troupe gave 79 performances at the Park Theater and the Bowery Theater in New York, completing their season on 30 September 1826. The prices of tickets were relatively high: two dollars for the loges, one dollar for orchestra seats, and twenty-five cents for the gallery. One of the most ardent promoters of Italian opera in America early in the nineteenth century was Lorenzo da Ponte, the author of the libretti for Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Le Nozze di Figaro, and Cosi fan tutte, who settled in New York in 1805. Da Ponte was instrumental in bringing to New York the Italian troupe of Giovanni Battista Montresor, who opened his season at the Richmond Hill Theater on 6 October 1832 with La Cenerentola of Rossini, with a fairly good group of singers; the orchestra, for the first time in New York, included oboe players. On 23 January 1833 Montresor opened the first Italian opera season in Philadelphia. On 18 November 1833, the Italian Opera House was inaugurated in New York. It presented several seasons of Italian opera, until it was destroyed by fire in 1839. An English opera company opened a season at the Park Theater in New York on 13 November 1833 with La Sonnambula of Bellini in English. The Park Theater was subsequently renamed the National Theater. It burned down on 23 September 1839. The cause of grand opera in English was greatly advanced in the United States in 1838, when Arthur Seguin and his wife, of London, established an English opera season in New York and other American cities, enjoying excellent professional and financial success until 1847, when they were compelled to discontinue regular performances. In the meantime an Italian restaurateur named Ferdinand Palmo rented a building on 39 Chambers Street, which housed public baths for ladies and gentlemen, remodeled its interior and renamed it Palmo’s Opera House. He charged uniform prices for all seats to attract the democratic public. Palmo’s Opera House opened its first season on 3 February 1844 with I Puritani by Bellini, in Italian. It closed in 1847. Towards the middle of the nineteenth century operatic performances were presented irregularly by visiting opera companies in various public buildings in New York. An opera house with a seating capacity of 1,500


Nicolas Slonimsky

people was opened in Astor Place in 1847; other places in New York where opera performances were given were Castle Garden and Niblo’s Theater. One of the best visiting opera companies was the Havana Opera Company with an all-Italian cast, which gave performances in the United States beginning in 1847. Luigi Arditi was conductor and Giovanni Bottesini assistant conductor and double-bass player. Gradually opera companies began to penetrate to the midwestern cities. Chicago, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Cleveland, and Detroit were given the opportunity to hear Italian opera. The discovery of gold in California in 1848 and the prosperity that came with it attracted numerous opera groups to San Francisco and other cities of the Golden West. The Pellegrini Opera Company gave a performance of La Sonnambula at the Adelphi Theater in San Francisco on 12 February 1851. A French opera company visited San Francisco in 1852. The English soprano Anna Bishop opened her own opera company in San Francisco in 1854. Eugenio and Giovanna Bianchi formed an Italian opera company in San Francisco in 1859. The Metropolitan Theater of San Francisco introduced a technical innovation in 1854, replacing the customary whale-oil lamps by gaslights. Unfortunately, it burned in 1857. But a new building was erected on its site on 1 July 1861. The Grand Opera House of San Francisco was opened on 17 January 1876. In 1906, the San Francisco earthquake destroyed all its theatres, and the Grand Opera House burned down in a spectacular conflagration. Although the American public had little opportunity to hear complete performances of serious operas, favorite arias from famous Italian operas became familiar in America through concert performances by visiting opera singers. Jenny Lind, “The Swedish Nightingale,” created a sensation during her tour in America in 1850. Her impresario was the celebrated American circus manager, P. T. Barnum, and his publicity campaign was calculated to inflame the public curiosity. But despite this sensational approach, Jenny Lind succeeded in maintaining her dignity as a serious artist, and in her programs she included many operatic selections. Adelina Patti invaded America in 1859, and continued her American tours until 1905 when she gave her “absolute farewell” appearance. Like Jenny Lind, she included many operatic arias in her concerts. Her immense popularity in the United States found its reflection in a song, “Sweet Adeline,” which became a perennial favorite of so-called “barbershop quar-

Opera in the United States


tets,” a type of ensemble singing in chromatic harmony and cultivated by professional barbers for the entertainment of their customers. Arias from Italian operas were published in the United States in various vocal and instrumental arrangements almost immediately after their productions in Europe. Verdi was unquestionably the most popular composer in mid-19th-century America. Military bands played arrangements of favorite Verdi arias during the American Civil War. At the Peace Jubilee Festival in Boston in 1869, the greatest attraction was the “Anvil Chorus” from Il Trovatore, performed by a huge orchestra and chorus supplemented by 100 firemen who struck 100 anvils with 100 hammers to mark the main beat. Several Italian and German composers who emigrated to America in the 19th century wrote operas on American subjects, mostly from Indian life. Eduard de Sobolewski (1808–72), an educated German musician, composed an American Indian opera entitled Mohega, to his own German libretto, and conducted it in Milwaukee on 11 October 1859. The Italian musician Felice Vinatieri (1832–96), who was a military bandmaster during the American Civil War, and who settled in the remote western territory of Dakota, wrote in 1889 an opera in four acts, The American Volunteer. The manuscript of Vinatieri’s opera was not discovered until many years later, and a partial performance of it was given for the first time on 4 March 1961 at Yankton College in South Dakota. Another interesting specimen of old American Indian opera is Omano, with an Italian libretto, composed by Lucien Southard (1827–81), a Native American composer. It was never performed on the stage. The extraordinary popularity of Italian opera produced a natural reaction among patriotically-minded American musicians. They became more and more vociferous in their demands for a national school of opera, inspired by American folklore and American history. One of the most eloquent among them was William Henry Fry (1815–64), a brilliant journalist as well as a composer. Determined to show the way, he undertook the composition of a grand opera in English, Leonora. Strangely enough, he took a subject not from American sources, but from a play The Lady of Lyons by the British novelist Bulwer-Lytton. The libretto was by the composer’s brother, Joseph Fry. Leonora was produced by the Arthur Seguin Opera Company at the Chestnut Street Theater in Philadelphia on 4 June 1845, and ran for 14 performances. The composer himself


Nicolas Slonimsky

conducted. His attempts to have it performed in New York City in the original English version were fruitless, and he finally bowed to the inevitable and had the libretto translated into Italian, and Leonora was produced by an Italian opera company at the Academy of Music in New York on 29 March 1858. Ironically, the score of Leonora, far from being an original American creation, was a feeble imitation of Italian models. The construction of the arias and the employment of the recitative followed closely the operas of Bellini and Donizetti. Thus the first attempt to write a national American opera became an act of subservience to Italian operatic art. Undeterred by the relative failure of Leonora, Fry wrote another grand opera in English, with a libretto by his brother, Notre Dame de Paris, after Victor Hugo. It was produced at the American Academy of Music in Philadelphia on 4 May 1864. George Frederick Bristow (1825–98) associated himself with William Henry Fry in the cause of American opera in English; more logically than Fry, Bristow selected an American subject for his first opera, Rip van Winkle, after the famous story by Washington Irving. It was described as “a grand romantic opera in three acts,” and was produced for the first time at Niblo’s Theatre on Broadway in New York on 27 September 1855. After seventeen performances in New York, it disappeared from the repertory. Futility and failure marked the operatic effort of another American composer, Dudley Buck (1839–1909), who was a musician of real ability. His opera from Mormon life entitled Deseret, or, A Saint’s Affliction was produced at Haverly’s Fourteenth Street Theater in New York on 11 October 1880, without significant repercussions. Even more extraordinary was the fiasco suffered by Buck’s close contemporary, John Knowles Paine, who after a period of serious music study in Germany became the founder of the first regular music department at Harvard University. His prestige in the American musical world was high. His “romantic opera” Azara, to a libretto by the composer himself after the medieval French tale Aucassin et Nicolette, was published in vocal score with English and German texts, but despite the agitation of his American admirers it was never performed on the stage. Some frustrated American composers arranged performances of their operas by collecting the necessary funds among friends. One of the most energetic promoters of his own cause was Silas Gamaliel Pratt (1840–1918), who traveled in Germany and met Wagner. Curiously enough, Pratt, like his predecessors Fry and others, selected a non-

Opera in the United States


American subject for his opera Zenobia, Queen of Palmyra, of which he wrote his own libretto. In a notice printed in the score, he proudly declared that his music “owes no allegiance to any special school,” adding, with heavy irony: “I trust that this fact will make it nonetheless acceptable to American audiences.” But Zenobia possessed none of the originality that Pratt claimed for himself. It was produced at McVicker’s Theater, Chicago, on 28 March 1883, and was a complete failure. Another interesting American “self-made” man of the period was Charles Jerome Hopkins (1836–98), who possessed grandiose ideas about educating children by teaching them to sing simple operas. Hopkins also claimed that he was the first to compose children’s operas. Towards the end of the 19th century, the influence of German music increased greatly in the United States. Symphony orchestras and choral groups consisted almost entirely of German musicians, and their conductors were also predominantly German. Under the impact of the Wagnerian era, American operatic enterprises began to experience German pressure. When the Metropolitan Opera House was inaugurated in New York City in 1883, it was still firmly in Italian hands. But in the second season, under the management of the German conductor Leopold Damrosch, a radical change took place. German singers replaced the Italians, and the entire repertory of the Metropolitan Opera was sung in the German language, even Italian and French operas. Wagner’s music dramas, still new to America, were staged for the first time in full. The German rule continued at the Metropolitan Opera through the season 1890–91 under the conductors Walter Damrosch and Anton Seidl. Then the Italians returned, to share the command with the Germans and Austrians. Gustav Mahler was conductor during the seasons 1907–10, and Arturo Toscanini during the seasons 1908–15. The Italian manager Giulio Gatti-Gasazza held the power at the Metropolitan for a quarter of a century, from 1910 till 1935. Edward Johnson, Canadian-born, directed the Metropolitan from 1935 until 1950, and was succeeded by Rudolf Bing of Vienna, who continued as manager in 1961. In view of the domination of Italian and German singers at American opera houses, it was only natural that attempts have been made from time to time to organize American opera companies employing exclusively American singers in a repertory of opera in English. One of the most ambitious projects of this nature was the American Opera Company organized in 1886 by a wealthy New York society woman, Jeanette Thurber. It opened


Nicolas Slonimsky

its first season in the Academy of Music in New York in 1886, with the eminent German conductor Theodore Thomas as musical director and received considerable approbation. But despite this auspicious beginning the American Opera Company suffered a financial debacle and disbanded during its second season. The only serious competition to the Metropolitan Opera Company was offered in New York by Oscar Hammerstein, who organized the Manhattan Opera Company in 1906 with a brilliant cast of celebrated singers including Melba, Luisa Tetrazzini, Mary Garden, Alessandro Bonci and Emma Calve. The Manhattan Opera Company gave the American premieres of Pelleas et Melisande and Elektra. After four seasons, during which the Manhattan Opera Company presented 49 different operas, and also gave seasons in Philadelphia and Baltimore, Hammerstein abandoned his enterprise and sold its property and rights to the Metropolitan Opera Company for the sum of $1,200,000. In the meantime, serious pressure was brought to bear on the management of the Metropolitan Opera Company in favor of native American opera. It achieved a partial success, and in 1911 the Metropolitan Opera Company offered a prize of $10,000 for the best opera by an American composer, in the hope that the result might be as fruitful as the Sonzogno competition which produced Cavalleria Rusticana. The prize was won by Horatio William Parker (1863–1919), an estimable composer educated in Germany, for his opera Mona. It was produced by the Metropolitan Opera House in New York on 14 March 1912, with a cast of singers almost entirely native Americans led by the German conductor Alfred Hertz. Alas, Mona failed to impress the public and was taken off the repertory after four performances. The list of American operas given by the Metropolitan Opera Company is brief and sad. It includes the following: The Pipe of Desire by Frederick Shepherd Converse (18 March 1910) Mona by Horatio Parker (14 March 1912) Cyrano de Bergerac by Walter Damrosch (27 February 1913) Madeleine by Victor Herbert (24 January 1914) The Canterbury Pilgrims by Reginald de Koven (8 March 1917) Shanewis by Charles Wakefield Cadman (23 March 1918) The Legend by Joseph Breil (12 March 1919)

Opera in the United States


The Temple Dancer by John Adam Hugo (12 March 1919) Cleopatra’s Night by Henry Hadley (31 January 1920) The King’s Henchman by Deems Taylor (17 February 1927) Peter Ibbetson by Deems Taylor (7 February 1931) The Emperor Jones by Louis Gruenberg (7 January 1933) Merry Mount by Howard Hanson (10 February 1934) The Man Without a Country by Walter Damrosch (12 May 1937) The Island God by Gian Carlo Menotti (20 February 1942) The Warrior by Bernard Rogers (11 January 1947) Vanessa by Samuel Barber (15 January 1958)

Not one of these operas survived in the repertory after a few performances. Ironically, Puccini’s opera on an American subject, La Fanciulla del West, commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera and produced in New York on 10 December 1910, had a far greater success than any opera by an American composer. Unable to secure performances of their operas in their own country, several American composers arranged for their productions in Europe. The first grand opera by an American to be produced in Europe was Zenobia by Louis Adolphe Coerne (1870–1922), presented at the Stadttheater in Bremen on 1 December 1905. The world premiere of Safié, one-act opera by Henry Hadley (1871–1937) was given at the Stadttheater in Mainz on 4 April 1909. The opera Poia on an Indian subject by Arthur Nevin (1871–1943) was produced at the Berlin Opera on 23 April 1910. Paul Hastings Allen (1883–1952), who wrote several operas with Italian libretti, had three of them produced for the first time in Italy: Il Filtro (Genoa, 26 October 1912), Milda (Venezia, 14 June 1913) and L’Ultimo dei Mohicani (Firenze, 24 February 1916). Two operas by Vittorio Giannini, American-born composer of Italian extraction, were produced in Germany; Lucedia (Munich, 20 October 1934) and The Scarlet Letter (Hamburg, 2 June 1938). The modernistic opera Transatlantik by George Antheil was produced in Frankfurt on 26 May 1930. While grand opera was of necessity a rare flower in the United States, operettas in English flourished continually. Easy to produce, they could be presented by travelling companies in a small hall with a minimum of expense, with a piano forming the backbone of a small orchestra. The so-called Boston Ideal Opera Company, assembled in 1879, presented


Nicolas Slonimsky

H.M.S. Pinafore by Gilbert and Sullivan throughout the United States; in 1887 the name of the company was changed to The Bostonians; it closed its activities in 1900. The last attempt to establish grand opera in English in the United States was made by the American impresario Henry Wilson Savage, who organized the Castle Square Opera Company in Boston in 1897, and in 1900–02 gave two seasons of opera in English at the American Theater in New York. In subsequent seasons he presented opera in English in several American cities, in a repertory that included the first production of Parsifal in English. In the twentieth century, opera companies were inaugurated at various times in Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, and San Francisco, but none was sustained for a great length of time. The Boston Opera House was built in 1909 for the Boston Opera Company, and gave regular seasons until 1914. After that only sporadic opera performances were given in the Boston Opera House by visiting companies. In 1958 the building was demolished. The Chicago Opera Company opened its first complete season on 3 November 1910, and with changing fortunes continued a full schedule of performances until 1922, when it was renamed the Chicago Civic Opera Company. In 1929, a new opera house was built for the company, but it ended its productions in 1932 because of insufficient financial support. The Chicago Lyric Theater opened its season on 1 November 1954. The Philadelphia Operatic Society was inaugurated at the Academy of Music on 16 April 1907, and the Philadelphia Civic Opera Company was organized in 1953. The San Francisco Opera Company was organized in 1923, and maintained a fairly regular schedule of productions, first at the Civic Auditorium, and beginning in 1932 in the specially built War Memorial Opera House. In 1943, the New York City Opera Company was organized at the City Center of Music and Drama. Its repertory emphasized the modern school of European and American operas. Washington, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Detroit, Santa Fe, St. Louis, Dallas, Baltimore, and many other American cities all had intermittent opera seasons, without being able to establish permanent organizations. The cultural importance of these organizations consisted in their progressive policy of presenting little-known works of the classical repertory and modern operas.

Opera in the United States


A peculiarly American institution was the establishment of private operas financed entirely by millionaires who made their fortunes in gold or silver or industrial inventions. The most spectacular of these private opera houses was the Tabor Opera House in Denver, built by Horace Tabor, known as the Silver King. When he lost his fortune with the devaluation of silver, his opera house closed. Another picturesque opera house still stands in Central City, Colorado. It was inaugurated in 1878 as “the greatest temple of the Muses west of the Mississippi.” When the prosperity boom, generated by silver and gold, ended, the Central City Opera House became a relic. Summer performances of operas began there in 1932 and continued as an attraction for tourists. George Eastman, the inventor of Kodak, financed the American Opera Company organized in 1925 at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, with Vladimir Rosing as director, but withdrew his support in 1929 when it became clear that the company could not be made successful. It must be noted that the designation “opera house” was often assigned in America to any building where entertainment was provided, which included vaudeville, dancing, cowboy acts, and minstrel shows. Such mixed spectacles came to be described humorously as “grand ole op’ry,” imitating the pronunciation of the words “grand old opera” by uneducated rustics. Composers in America, unsuccessful in grand opera, found excellent opportunities in light opera. Victor Herbert, of Dublin, after some futile attempts to write grand operas in English, became a pioneer of typical American operetta; among his productions, Mlle. Modiste, Naughty Marietta, and The Red Mill are perennial favorites. Rudolf Friml of Prague produced most of his successful operettas in America, among them The Firefly, Rose Marie, and The Vagabond King. Sigmund Romberg of Hungary made his career in America, where he created his greatest hits, The Student Prince and The Desert Song. In the 20th century, American operetta evolved into a peculiar national type, musical comedy. In some respects, musical comedy is a direct descendant of the old ballad-opera. The libretto, usually in rhymed verse, combines satire, fantasy, history, and topical subjects. Separate songs are highly formalized, approaching the structure of old operatic arias; the composition of ensembles is hom*ophonic; overtures are pots-pourris serving as a signal for the audience to assemble. Among 20th-century composers of American musical comedy, the most famous are Jerome Kern,


Nicolas Slonimsky

whose Show Boat became a classic of the American popular theater; Vincent Youmans, the composer of No, No, Nanette; Cole Porter, who wrote Can-Can and other Broadway hits; Richard Rodgers, the composer of the sensationally successful musical comedies Oklahoma! and South Pacific; and Frank Loesser, the author of Guys and Dolls. The Viennaborn Frederick Loewe wrote the fabulously popular show My Fair Lady. Kurt Weill, one of the most eloquent representatives of German satirical opera, succeeded in transplanting his theatrical talent into the form of the modern American musical show. His Dreigroschenoper was successfully produced in America as The Threepenny Opera. A unique phenomenon in the American musical theater is Leonard Bernstein, who combines in the highest degree the talents of a symphony conductor and a modern composer with an innate flair for writing tunes in a popular American style. His Broadway shows Wonderful Town and West Side Story are extremely sophisticated and yet possess unfailing mass appeal. The greatest original talent in the American musical theater was undoubtedly George Gershwin. A thoroughly educated musician, familiar with modern harmony, he created a new type of musical comedy derived from jazz rhythms, and crowned his career by writing an opera from Negro life, Porgy and Bess, first produced at the Colonial Theater in Boston on 30 September 1935, and since then performed all over America and Europe. The vogue of opera of “social consciousness” was very strong during the period between the two wars. The most eloquent representative in America of this social genre was Marc Blitzstein. His short operas The Cradle Will Rock (New York, 18 June 1937) and No for an Answer (New York, 5 January 1941) produced a strong impression. Unique in its genre is the opera Four Saints in Three Acts by Virgil Thomson, produced at Hartford, Connecticut, on 8 February 1934, a satire with religious overtones, to the libretto by Gertrude Stein. The failure of American composers to produce operas commensurate with the European standard impelled them to try their abilities in the more modest field of chamber opera, using a small orchestra, a limited number of singers, and practically no chorus. The most successful practitioner of American chamber opera is unquestionably Gian Carlo Menotti. Technically speaking, Menotti is not an American composer, for he has never relinquished his Italian citizenship. But he writes small operas to his own

Opera in the United States


libretti in the English language, and has formed a distinct type of American opera. The “Menotti style” is an artful combination of strong melodrama of the verismo type with surrealistic fantasy, psychological expressionism, and incidental humor. These qualities are developed to the point of maximum effectiveness in Menotti’s best opera, The Consul, depicting the tragedy of homeless refugees in desperate quest of escape. In The Medium, Menotti presents with equal skill the drama of a fraudulent spiritualist who becomes the victim of her own deception. His Christmas fairy tale Amahl and the Night Visitors is an imaginative variation of the story of the Magi. Quite different from the American verismo of Menotti is the type of folk opera that became popular in the United States towards the middle of the 20th century. Although the term “folk opera” is self-contradictory because it implies folkloric origin, it can be conveniently used to describe a theatrical presentation inspired by native legend or historical events. Such is The Ballad of Baby Doe by Douglas Moore, first produced at the Central City Opera on 7 July 1956. The story deals with the fabulous career of Horace Tabor, the builder of the Denver Opera House, and his young wife (the Baby Doe of the title), whose real name was Elizabeth McCourt Doe. She survived her husband by 40 years and was found frozen to death on 7 March 1935 near Leadville, Colorado, where her husband’s Matchless Mine was located. Douglas Moore attempted still another novel theatrical genre in Gallantry (New York, 15 March 1958), described as a “soap opera,” a term used in America for sentimental radio melodramas usually sponsored by soap manufacturers. A combination of history with the supernatural is found in Douglas Moore’s opera The Devil and Daniel Webster (New York, 18 May 1939). Among small operas approximating the type of American folk opera are the following: The Second Hurricane by Aaron Copland (New York, 21 April 1937); The Tender Land by Aaron Copland (New York, 1 April 1954); The Mighty Casey, “baseball opera” by William Schuman (Hartford, Connecticut, 4 May 1955); Trouble in Tahiti by Leonard Bernstein (Brandeis University, Waltham, Mass., 12 June 1952); The Jumping Frog of Calaveras County by Lukas Foss (Bloomington, Indiana, 18 May 1950): The Saint of Bleecker Street by Gian Carlo Menotti (New York, 27 December 1954); Susannah by Carlisle Floyd (Tallahassee, 24 February 1955): and Deseret by Leonard Kastle (television production 1 January 1961).


Nicolas Slonimsky

The neo-classical type of opera-oratorio is cultivated by many American composers. In such works mystical elements freely combine with realistic interludes and historical references. The two operas on the life of Joan of Arc by Norman Dello Joio, The Triumph of St. Joan (Bronxville, 9 May 1950) and The Trial at Rouen (New York, 8 April 1956), are examples of American opera-oratorio. With all these activities in the American theater, opera remains outside the main stream of American music. It is remarkable that such well-known Americans as Edward MacDowell, Charles Ives, Walter Piston, and Roy Harris have never written operas, and that so few American chamber operas have been produced with any degree of success. By contrast, American productivity in the field of orchestral and chamber music is strong in quality as well as in quantity.

Part II



The musical theorist, desiring to establish the laws of a melodic or harmonic language, should try to deduce a general law from specific occurrences in musical works by composers who were not conscious of following a law. The appearance of a new usage is signalized in most cases by the impossibility of accounting for it except by an exceedingly artificial method. In such cases it is well to form a working hypothesis from repeated occurrences, and then apply it to new cases. A typical case is the harmonization of melodies by major triads, with the outer voices moving in contrary motion, in the melodic positions successively of an octave, a third, a fifth, etc., in rotation. A classical example of this usage is met with in the opening bars of Palestrina’s Stabat Mater. It is revived, for quite different purposes, by Moussorgsky. In the second act of Boris Godounov, in Dmitri’s imperial dream, we have a succession of major chords moving in contrary motion in the following tonalities, quite unrelated from the viewpoint of orthodox harmony: E major, C-sharp major, A major, F-sharp major, and, enharmonically, E-flat major. The melodic positions, that is, intervals between the melody and the root, follow the formula, 8, 3, 5, 8, where 8 stands for the octave, 3 for the third, 5 for the fifth. When a diatonic degree is skipped, a melodic position is skipped as well. In the Moussorgsky example we have the ascending melody B, Csharp, E, F-sharp, and G, corresponding to the series 5, 8, 5, 8, 3. A diatonic degree is skipped between C-sharp and E, and so a melodic position is skipped as well.

Ch. 4: originally published in the Proceedings of the National Association of Music Teachers, 1938.



Nicolas Slonimsky

After Moussorgsky, Debussy was particularly fond of harmonizing in major triads. Another example of this usage is found in Puccini’s harmonization of the whole tone scale in the bass, in Tosca. There is no question that we deal here not with a mere extension of old harmonic laws, but with a new technique. It is curious to note that when we reverse the formula, reading it 8, 5, 3, 8, we find ourselves harmonizing in the three principal triads, as can be readily seen in subscribing melodic positions to the ascending C major scale, starting with the octave: 8, 5, 3, 8, 5, 3, or tonic, dominant, tonic, subdominant, etc. In harmonization of a chromatic melody, either the original formula, or the reversed formula can be used. For harmonization of a repeated tone, say C, using the original formula, we obtain the frequently used progression, C major, A-flat major, F major, C major. The same formula may be applied tonally or modally for harmonization of melodies. For teaching purposes, close harmony is preferred. Thus, harmonizing the three descending notes of “Three Blind Mice,” by the original formula, we use the descending series, say, 8, 5, 3, producing a modal effect. Using the second formula, and starting on 3, we obtain the familiar tonic, dominant, tonic progression. To sum up: the ascending melodies in the Moussorgsky-Debussy harmonization, as we shall term it, follow the melodic positions 8, 3, 5, 8, for a diatonic scale. The descending progression naturally follows the descending series, 8, 5, 3, 8. Generally speaking, this method of harmonization produces a modal effect. For tonal effect, we reverse the original series, obtaining the formula 8, 5, 3, 8, for ascending melodies, and 8, 3, 5, 8, for descending melodies. In the case of a given bass, as in the example from Tosca, we first construe the contrary motion, and then assign the ascending or descending series according to whether a tonal or modal effect is desired. In actual composition, the tonal formula is used in cadences. Of new techniques of composition, the twelve-tone one has assumed a very great significance. The emergence of this technique is the result of the great struggle between the tonal and atonal principles in modern music, which is in itself an aspect of the antinomy between the principle of repetition and the principle of non-repetition. The principle of repetition is represented in the constant recurrence of the tonic and the dominant, while the principle of non-repetition consists in avoidance of tones already used. The principle of repetition is exemplified in modern music by such works as Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex. The principle of non-

The Plurality of Melodic and Harmonic Systems


repetition is embodied in the compositions of the Vienna School, and finds its logical outcome in the twelve-tone system. In the systems based on the principle of repetition, the octave is divided into two unequal parts, and the scales derived from this system are scales of unequal steps. In systems founded on the principle of non-repetition, the octave is divided into equal parts, and the scales derived from this system are scales of equal steps. In the system of unequal division, based on the principle of repetition, the nearest keys are the tonic and the dominant, placed nearest in the conventional cycle of scales, and possessing a tone in common. In the system of equal division, based on the principle of non-repetition, the nearest keys are those whose keynotes lie at the distance of a tritone, that is, one-half of the octave, and they have no tone in common. These two polar tonalities, say C major and F-sharp major, form the bitonal chord which has played such a great role in the development of new music. The affinity between the two polar chords is disclosed in many curious ways. Thus, building the row of diminishing intervals, from the major sixth, down to its inversion, a minor third, we obtain two superimposed six-four chords, one in open harmony, the other in close harmony, in two polar keys. If we build such a row on C, we shall obtain C, A, F, C, F-sharp, B, D-sharp, F-sharp. The relationship of the two extreme tones is always a tritone. If we extend this row of diminishing intervals to a minor seventh on one end, and a major second on the other, the outer voices will still form a tritone, and the same will hold true when we build a diminishing series from a major seventh to a minor second. Generally speaking, a series of diminishing or augmenting intervals from any interval through all intermediate intervals to the inversion of the original interval, will result in the formation of a tritone between the two extreme voices. That it should be so is obvious from arithmetical reasoning. But it throws additional light on the importance of the tritone in certain arrangements of intervals. The tritone, so feared by medieval scholars for its diabolical properties, has indeed come to assume an important role in this diabolical age. But the tritone is more than the diabolus in musica of the Middle Ages. As we have seen, it forms a link between the equal division of the octave, and the unequal division, as exemplified in common triads, and the dual nature of the bitonal chord C major–F-sharp major is better understood when we emphasize the fact of the tritone relationship between their keynotes. When we use scales of equal division for root progression, and chords, figurations, or patterns of unequal division, for melodic and


Nicolas Slonimsky

harmonic purposes, we bring the tonal and atonal harmonies close together. The twelve-tone technique, which is the logical apotheosis of the principle of non-repetition, can thus be applied, and has been applied, to tonal composition. The celebrated quartal harmony, the chord building in fourths, is but an historical aspect of the twelve-tone technique. It can be used for building in thirds equally well. Alban Berg, in his Violin Concerto, came closest to the tonal use of the twelve-tone technique. The twelve tones can be arranged in thirds in four different ways: (1) by alternating two major thirds with one minor; (2) by alternating three successive minor thirds with one major third; (3) by arranging the thirds in the following order, one major, two minors, two majors, one minor, two majors, two minors, one major; (4) by arranging the thirds in the following order, one major, two minors, one major, three minors, one major, two minors, one major. The first row will result in four consecutive augmented triads, built at intervals of a major seventh. Such a series is used by Liszt in the Faust Symphony. To transform the Lisztian augmented triads into a twelve-tone row of thirds, we need only to transpose the second triad an octave up, the third triad two octaves up, and the fourth triad three octaves up. The second row results in three successive diminished-seventh chords, placed at intervals of a minor ninth. The third row will give us a major triad, two augmented triads, and a minor triad. The fourth row of thirds is the most significant one, for it shows that the twelve tones can be divided into four triads, two major, and two minor, and that furthermore, these triads can be strung out in thirds. If we build such a row of four mutually exclusive triads on C, we shall obtain the following tonalities: C major, B-flat major, G-sharp minor, and F-sharp minor. The twelve tones can be divided into major and minor triads in six different ways. There are two fundamental types of division. The first, building from C, is C major, D minor, F-sharp major, G-sharp minor. The second is C minor, D minor, E major, F-sharp major. The first type is capable of only one transposition, being symmetrical in regard to the position of major and minor triads. It is most interesting to note that in the first type both major triads and minor triads stand in the relation of the tritone. We have the familiar pair of twins, C major, F-sharp major, to which is added a new pair of twins in minor keys, D minor and G-sharp minor. In the second type there are three transpositions possible, as is readily seen

The Plurality of Melodic and Harmonic Systems


by starting on D, E, or F-sharp as the fundamental note. It is apparently impossible to divide the twelve tones into three major triads, and one minor, or three minors, and one major; the only possible division appears to be into two major and two minor triads. Further, the twelve tones can be divided into three diminished triads and one augmented triad in four different ways; into two augmented triads, one major triad, and one minor triad in four different ways; finally, into four augmented triads in only one way, which is that of the Lisztian Faust triads. In recent years interest has been aroused in twelve-tone rows in which the principle of non-repetition is extended from the non-repetition of component tones to the non-repetition of intervals between each pair of tones. At first glance it seems impossible to construct even a single row satisfying these requirements. By method of trial and error, it is easy to reach the ninth or the tenth note, using different intervals, but after that the unseasoned experimenter usually finds himself in the most uncomfortable straits, being unable to move without repeating a tone or using the same interval twice. Fritz Klein, in his paper published in 1925, was apparently the first to present the problem and to solve it, but he implied that his chord, which he picturesquely named Mutterakkord, was the only possible arrangement of twelve different tones and eleven different intervals. Ernst Krenek, in his recent book, showed that there were other ways of building Mutterakkords. He also underlined the fact that such chords are invertible, and that, moreover, they can be symmetrical. By that is meant that the first interval of the chord is the inversion of the last; the second interval, the inversion of the one before the last; and the central interval, the inversion of itself, that is, a tritone. This property has enabled Krenek to transpose an original six-tone row a tritone (up or down makes obviously no difference), and obtain a complementary six-tone row, strict as to the intervals, without repeating a tone. It appears, upon investigation, that it is possible to build symmetrical Mutterakkords in a quantity. First let us determine the interval between the fundamental tone and the upper limit of the chord. Inasmuch as all eleven intervals must be used, the interval between the fundamental tone and the upper tone must be the sum of the arithmetical progression from one to eleven semitones, which is sixty-six semitones, that is, five octaves and a tritone. By now we should not be surprised when a tritone turns up in unexpected places. So, if the fundamental tone is C, the upper tone will


Nicolas Slonimsky

be F-sharp or G-flat, whichever we prefer to name it. Inasmuch as the Mutterakkord is symmetrical, the relationship of the tritone must also exist between the second tone and the eleventh tone, the third and the tenth, and so on. The problem is now to find six different notes that would not contain a tritone between any pair among these six different tones, and that the intervals between each pair of these tones should be different, and not inversions of one another. The reason why we cannot have a tritone between any pair of the fundamental six-tone pattern is that the presence of a tritone will result in duplication in the upper half of the Mutterakkord, and the reason why we cannot use any interval and its inversion in the fundamental row is that inversions are reserved for the upper half, the chord being symmetrical by definition. Thus, we can use for the fundamental row, intervals such as 1, 2, 7, 4, 3. In this row no inversions are present, and there is no tritone. It is easy to determine the presence or absence of the tritone arithmetically, for, in case of the appearance of a tritone, a row of successive figures will add up to 6. For instance, the row of 1, 2, 3 will not serve, because the sum of these numbers is 6; neither will 1, 2, 4 do, for 2 plus 4 will again make 6. In fact the whole operation of building a Mutterakkord can be performed by an arithmetician. To satisfy the requirements, it will suffice that no sum of a row of successive intervals should add up to 6, 12, or a multiple of 12, and that no two numerals anywhere in the row should add up to 12. By experimenting along these lines with a piece of paper and a pencil, we find that nothing can be done with the initial rows of 1, 2, 3; or 1, 2, 4; or 1, 2, 5. Six is obviously taboo, for it represents the tritone, which is reserved for the middle interval of the Mutterakkord. The first combination possible, with 1 and 2 as initial numerals, is 1, 2, 7. After that, we have the choice of 4 or 8, and 3 or 9. As a matter of fact, there is no choice between 3 and 9, for the difference between 9 and 3 is 6, a tritone, and if 3 does not work, neither will 9. To return to our numbers: 1, 2, 7, 4 is perfectly all right inasmuch as no row of successive numerals adds up to 6 or 12 or a multiple of 12 and no two numerals anywhere in the row add up to 12. We have now 1, 2, 7, 4. The only interval left is 3, and if it does not work, we will have to start all over again. Fortunately, 3 works. It does not add up to 6, 12, or any multiple of 12, in a row of successive intervals. To translate into the language of tones: starting on C, we shall have C, D-flat, E-flat, B-flat for the first three intervals, 1, 2, 7. The next

The Plurality of Melodic and Harmonic Systems


numeral is 4, which will give us D, four semitones above B-flat. D is a new tone, and it does not form a semitone with any of the previously found tones. The next interval is 3, which will give us F, also not a repeat, and forming no tritone with any of the tones of the row. We might have used 9 instead of 3 with equal success, in which case we would have obtained B instead of F. All we need to do now is to transpose our six-tone row a tritone, and read it backwards. It is perhaps more convenient to read the original row backwards and write down the upper six notes in the direct order. The final answer is C, D-flat, E-flat, B-flat, D, F, B, G-sharp, E, A, G, F-sharp. The last F-sharp is, of course, expected. It is possible to build a Mutterakkord on any three given notes, even on a common C major triad. The C major Mutterakkord will appear thus: C, E, G, A-flat, E-flat, F, B, A, D, C-sharp, B-flat, F-sharp. I have compiled over a hundred Mutterrakkords, and have stopped simply because there are too many. I had to set additional limitations in order to make the task more interesting. And that is how I have come to build a universal Mutterakkord, which a friend of mine facetiously baptized Grossmutterakkord. It is an all-tone, all-interval, invertible symmetrical chord, formed of alternatingly odd and even intervals, if expressed in semitone units, of which the odd intervals form a descending arithmetical progression, the even intervals an ascending arithmetical progression. Despite the formidable sound, the Grossmutterakkord is very easy to construct. All we need to do is to run a chromatic scale in minor ninths upward until we reach the ultimate tritone, F-sharp, or G-flat, if we start from C. Then we continue the chromatic scale by going in major sevenths downward until we reach the initial C below. Another recipe is this: take the first note of the chromatic scale, then the last, then the second, then the one before last, and so on in spirals, until we arrive in the middle of the octave, thus: C, B, D-flat, Bflat, D, A, E-flat, A-flat, E, G, F, G-flat. It is readily seen that the chord based on this succession of tones will satisfy all the requirements. We shall have covered all the twelve tones, and all intervals will be different, each successive interval being diminished by a semitone. Furthermore, the intervals will be alternatingly odd and even, and both the odd series and the even series will form arithmetical progressions. As we distribute the tones of our chromatic spiral in an ascending column, we shall have constructed the Grossmutterakkord.


Nicolas Slonimsky

All-tone, all-interval, symmetric, invertible chord. It contains all twelve tones of the chromatic scale, and all eleven intervals from one to eleven semitones. Intervals symmetric in respect to the central interval are inversions in the octave of one another, and the central interval is the inversion of itself. Counted in semitone units, the composing intervals are alternatingly odd and even, the series of odd intervals forming a descending arithmetical progression, the even intervals an ascending arithmetical progression. The chord may be inverted by reversing the order of intervals. The structure of the chord is such that a chromatic scale is obtained by skipping every other note, from the bottom upward, and then from the top downward.

The Mutterakkord and the Grossmutterakkord are edifices based on the tritone, that is, on the principle of equal division of the octave. Fundamental scales of equal divisions are: the tritone scale, containing only two different notes; the ditone scale, which corresponds to the augmented triad; the sesquitone scale, which corresponds to the diminished seventh chord; the whole-tone scale; and the semitone scale, that is, the chromatic scale. The importance of these progressions in new schools of composition appears when we begin to interpolate passing notes, or extrapolate auxiliary notes. The trite diminished seventh chord arpeggio assumes a new significance when we extrapolate a fourth: C, extrapolated F; E-flat, extrapolated A-flat; F-sharp, extrapolated B; A, extrapolated D; and C. Still more interesting results are obtained when we extrapolate two notes, particularly if they form a tonal combination. Thus, by extrapolating a fourth and a major sixth, we obtain a row of consecutive major six-four chords on the basis of a sesquitone scale, a procedure characteristic of the French school of composition. Modulatory progressions by ditones, or major thirds, so typical in Liszt’s harmonies, are a product of equal division into three parts. The whole-tone scale may be regarded as either the subdivision of the tritone scale into three parts, or the subdivision of the ditone scale into two parts. When ditone chords are built on a sesquitone root progression, we obtain a complete twelve-tone series. Similarly, when sesquitone chords are built

The Plurality of Melodic and Harmonic Systems


upon a ditone root progression, we obtain a full twelve-tone series. Here the rule of non-repetition is singularly eloquent. The step from this usage to a logically developed twelve-tone system is not only natural, but inevitable. The new sensitiveness to the interval, irrespective of its place in the tonal frame, is also of great significance in new systems of composition. The alternating semitones and whole tones met with in Rimsky-Korsakov might be derivatives of the diminished seventh chord. The progression of alternating intervals of a minor second and a minor third, found in RimskyKorsakov’s later works, may be interpolated Lisztian ditones. The frequently used alternation of a minor second and a perfect fourth may find its harmonic explanation in the Neapolitan sixth. All these alternating intervals terminate within a single octave, and, as such, satisfy the desire for the cadence. But the situation is completely changed when we consider the alternation of a minor second and a major third, which lacks the octave terminal. Here the break with the tonal conception is quite evident. The alternation of a minor third and a perfect fourth leads us to a two-octave pattern, with three different tonalities implied. The interval pattern of minor third, perfect fourth, and minor second will give us four major sixth chords within the range of three octaves. It is interesting that the roots of these four chords of the sixth will form a sesquitone scale, that is, a scale of equal division. The frequency of occurrence of alternating interval patterns in actual compositions of the modern school is such as to justify the working hypothesis that, consciously or unconsciously, the composers employ this new technique. The attempt to explain the new usages by the old rules would only impede the clarification of new melodic and harmonic systems now in the process of emergence.


The publication of The Schillinger System of Musical Composition is a cultural event of considerable import. It provides a strong antidote to the growing belief among composers, particularly the younger ones, that multiplicity of musical resources is harmful to the development of a spontaneous talent. It will come as a shock to some musicians to discover that Schillinger promises, for example, 46,656 different styles of composition derived from only one set of chords of the thirteenth. Schillinger died in New York on March 23, 1943. His magnum opus was left in an incomplete and unedited condition. It was prepared for publication by Arnold Shaw and Lyle Dowling, both Schillinger disciples, who have also compiled a helpful glossary of terms. The entire work, comprising twelve sections dealing with all aspects of musical composition, is now published in two impressive volumes aggregating 1,640 pages. And it is published not by some idealistic Society for the Promotion of Abstruse Arts and Sciences, but by the very terrestrially-minded publishing house of Carl Fischer, Inc. Moreover, initial sales seem to indicate that the edition may actually be a commercial success, despite the rather awesome price of thirty dollars for the two volumes. Can it be that the musical public is much more receptive to new and progressive ventures than is commonly assumed by commercial publishers? The development of the Schillinger System goes back to Schillinger’s work in Russia, first at the State Institute of the History of Arts in Leningrad, and then at the State Central Technicum of Music in Moscow. It was then that he and his Russian colleagues made an earnest attempt to find a materialistic scientific basis for musical composition. Schillinger’s Ch. 5: originally published in The Musical Quarterly, vol. 3, no. 3, 1946.


The Schillinger System


own music was extremely advanced in its idiom, and often related to industrial themes. He was fascinated by the possibilities of scientifically exact tones obtainable on electronic musical instruments. When Schillinger came to the United States in 1928, he associated himself with Leon Theremin, and worked with him on a project of an electronic organ with micro-tuning. Later he became interested in the problem of coordination of all art forms, and evolved far-reaching theories on artistic application of all five senses. He produced a geometric moving picture, Synchronization, and experimented in animated color abstractions. Schillinger’s mundane success came, however, not from the esoteric fringe of cultural café society, but from the practical men of Broadway, composers of popular music, arrangers, and jazz players, who flocked to his studio—and later to his spacious “musical laboratory” on Park Avenue— to learn the technology of musical composition. Being unprejudiced and liberal-minded, they found the Schillinger System of great practical value. Gershwin spent several years studying with Schillinger, and applied the Schillinger technique of harmonic strata in the orchestral part of his opera Porgy and Bess. He also made use of Schillinger’s ideas of tonal and temporal expansion series, involving the multiplications of intervals in the theme. After Gershwin, many another celebrity of Broadway became a Schillinger disciple, and Schillinger soon became a legend among musicians eager to obtain the magical key to musical composition. Schillinger never swerved from his belief that music could and should be treated with the aid of mathematical science. As a result, some of his remarks are rather startling, to put it mildly. On numerous occasions, he stated his conviction that great men of music fell short of their objectives because of their lack of scientific know-how. Thus, speaking of modal composition, he says: “If the great composers of the past had known anything about this procedure, they would have overcome difficulties in finding the proper type of chords. . . . Rimsky-Korsakov, who is considered one of the best composers in modal writing, is helpless enough when he tries to find the proper chord progressions for such modes as Dorian or Mixolydian, but he becomes entirely helpless when he attempts to modulate through various modes” (p. 125). Objecting to improvisation as an unscientific method, Schillinger writes: “Many pianist-composers of the past, such as Chopin and Schumann, had very chaotic styles of piano writing, from both the acoustical and the harmonic standpoints. This is due to the fact that their compositions emerged from piano improvising”


Nicolas Slonimsky

(p. 1044). Commenting on psychological reaction to music of different periods of time, Schillinger observes: “One has a humorous or a pitying reaction toward the 1900 horseless carriage. We have exactly the same picture (i.e., if we are people representing our epoch rather than living anachronisms) in melodies composed by a Verdi or a Bellini; the mechanical efficiency is so low that it makes us smile if not laugh. The same melodies stimulate entirely different reactions among octogenarians surviving in our epoch of 400 miles per hour” (p. 283). And in the chapter on Geometrical Inversions, Schillinger finds deficiencies even in Bach: “By comparing the music of J. S. Bach with the following illustrations, the full range of what he could have done by using the method of geometrical inversions becomes clear. We cannot fail to see the esthetic advantage of this method of composition over the more casual one derived partly from dogmatic and partly from intuitive channels.” But Schillinger does not dismiss genius and intuition as negligible factors in the composition of music. “Intuitive artists of great merit,” he writes, “are usually endowed with great sensitiveness and intuitive knowledge of the underlying scheme of things. This is why a composer like Wagner is capable of projecting spiral formations through the medium of musical intonations without any analytical knowledge of the process involved” (p. 352). On the other hand, he holds out a promise to those not musically gifted that “once the laws underlying certain structures have been disclosed, anyone can develop any number of structures in a class through the use of a formula.” There is an unshakable faith in Schillinger’s expressed belief that in the new scientific era, old and outmoded musical tools will give way to streamlined electronic appliances. He opens his chapter on orchestration with the following statement: “What has been known for the last couple of centuries as a symphony orchestra is a heterogeneous aggregation of antiquated tools. Wooden boxes and bars, wooden pipes, dried sheep’s guts, horse hair, and the like are the materials out of which sound-producing instruments are built.” And he sounds a note of warning: “Though in my description of standard instruments all the necessary information is given, the composer must not overrate the importance of it, as the entire combination of a symphony orchestra, with all its component instruments, may soon become completely outmoded, and eventually obsolete. It will be a museum combination for the performance of old music. New instruments and combinations will take its place.” He recalls that he had been a pioneer in

The Schillinger System


the theoretical field of electronic music. “In 1918, I published an article (‘Electrification of Music’) in which I expounded my own ideas (at that time completely new and original) on the inadequacy of old musical instruments and on the necessity of developing new ones, where sound could be generated and controlled electrically. Though there is no universal use of electronic music yet, it is progressing very rapidly. Most of my dream has already come true.” The method of presentation of the Schillinger System is mathematical, but the mathematics involved does not go beyond elementary algebra, a little trigonometry, and a modicum of analytic geometry. Once the reader has mastered the terminology and the meaning of various symbols employed by Schillinger, he will have no difficulty in following the text. Still it may take some time before one can readily recognize a common major triad in the equation, ∑ = S3p (E1). It means that a given harmonic aggregate, designated by the Greek letter Sigma, is a Structure (S) in three parts (p) in the first Expansion (E1), that is, a diatonic scale strung out in thirds by skipping every other note. The concept of different orders of expansions allows Schillinger to make some interesting observations on the evolution of the harmonic style. He points out, for instance, that Debussy’s harmonies may be derived from the first expansion of the melodic minor scale in its third displacement (that is, beginning with the fourth note of the scale). And he finds that Scriabin’s tonal system is based on the same tonal progression in its second expansion, obtained by skipping two successive notes in the scale. One of Schillinger’s new musical tools is the geometric notation, a musical graph in which the abscissa indicates the relative durations of notes in a melodic fragment, and the ordinate shows the number of semitones. In this notation, a Bach fugue looks like a terraced skyscraper. Conversely, it is possible to transform any curve, chart, or diagram into a musical progression. In Schillinger’s classes, students used the fluctuating curve of a busy stockmarket day as a cantus firmus for contrapuntal exercises. The Theory of Rhythm occupies the central position in the Schillinger System. It underlies the theory of melody, harmony, and orchestration. Schillinger analyzes all rhythmic patterns as resultants of the projection of several rows of non-coincident note values, as for instance a series of quarter-notes superimposed on a series of dotted eighth-notes in the same metronome speed, or in Schillinger’s own words, “rhythmic groups as produced by the interference of two synchronized monomial periodici-


Nicolas Slonimsky

ties.” The value of this analytical treatment of rhythm is that it permits the formation of contrapuntal parts possessing a natural balance of contrasting elements. The most common type of this “interference of monomial periodicities” is syncopation, but Schillinger goes far beyond that, by synchronizing squares and cubes of binomials (groups of two different note values), trinomials (groups of three note values), and higher polynomials, with the original monomials (that is, groups of notes of the same duration). Formidable as this terminology may sound to a freshman in the Schillinger lore, the principle involved is simple. The same universality of approach characterizes Schillinger’s Theory of Scales. He classifies as scales groups of any number of tonal units, beginning with a one-unit scale, which represents a single note. He introduces a concept of symmetric scales, based on the division of the octave into two, three, four, six, and twelve equal parts. New groups of scales are obtained by the division of two octaves into three parts, three octaves into four parts, etc. The interpolation of passing notes fills in the large intervals between pivotal tones. Schillinger then relates the resulting progressions to chordal structures which are derived from these scales. This relationship of scale families and relative harmonies was outlined for the first time by Schillinger in his earlier work, Kaleidophone, published in 1940. The Theory of Scales in the Schillinger System forms the background of his Theory of Melody. In Schillinger’s conception, melody is the musical projection of a curve analyzable into trigonometric functions of sine and cosine. The dynamic quality of the melodic line is determined by the alternation of balancing and unbalancing axes, which are melodic fragments directed to and away from the axis of perfect balance. This latter represents the tone of maximum duration in a given melodic fragment. To illustrate different types of melodic progressions, Schillinger draws graphs of centripetal and centrifugal melodies, first in their geometrical appearance, then in graph notation, and finally in musical examples. He further relates the arithmetical summation series with melodies in which each successive interval is the sum of two or more preceding intervals counted in semitone units. He also demonstrates how musical intervals can be multiplied, so that a Bach fugue would sound like a piece by Debussy, in whole tones, since all semitones would vanish in the process of intervallic doubling. Schillinger’s Theory of Harmony includes an account of orthodox procedures, but its methodological value lies in the greatly generalized idea of stratified harmony, in which single tones are formed into two-note,

The Schillinger System


three-note and four-note combinations, which in their turn serve as units for larger harmonic structures, or “pitch assemblages,” as Schillinger terms all simultaneous tonal combinations. Harmonic strata are also used by Schillinger in canonic forms, where chords are imitated in the different groups of instruments in an orchestral score. Proceeding in the direction of further generalization, Schillinger tackles the problem of musical semantics. He draws a Psychological Dial, in which responses to rhythms and chords are graphically represented by eight segments of a circle. He gives samples of “sonic symbols,” and offers musical sketches illustrating pictorial subjects, such as “A Moonless Night in the Desert,” and “Starry Sky Over Grand Canyon.” The chapter on musical semantics is of obvious value to composers of incidental music for radio and moving pictures. The conditions for a posthumous publication are such that there must inevitably be faults of organization, and gaps in logical illation. Schillinger had an innate feeling for scientific reasoning, but there are moments of confusion in his text, as when he compares rhythmic subdivision to cellular multiplication and refers to “spermatozoa and other microbes.” In the description of percussion instruments, the Cuban drum bongo is called pango, and the Brazilian dance, the carioca, is classified as an Afro-Cuban dance form. Some sections of the Schillinger System stand in need of condensation. For instance, in the chapter on instrumental forms, seventeen pages are given to the enumeration of all possible permutations of three notes, including repetitions of the same note. It would be absurd to pretend that the Schillinger System will provide an easy introduction to musical composition. Its study requires intense concentration and willingness to follow in detail the practical recommendations. But the importance of the Schillinger System transcends its purely practical aspect. While it seems to be impervious to esthetic stimuli, and its treatment of music of the past will strike most readers as debatable, it does give a tremendous intellectual fillip. It revitalizes musical theories that have for a long time been in a state of academic stagnation. Above all, it takes a progressive view of music as an art capable of producing significant mutations, and it demonstrates that even in a practical world new ideas strongly and cogently enunciated will find fertile ground.


The effectiveness of musical impressions depends on the symmetry and proportionate distribution of musical sounds; in musical notation, these sounds are represented by symbols which we call notes. If symmetry must prevail in sonorous activity, then it will be reflected also on the written page, much as the phenomenon of sound waves produces a pattern of curves and lines when translated into the visual medium on the screen of the newest gadgets. It is therefore no exaggeration to say that if a piece of music looks good, it sounds good. By extension, it may even be asserted that neatness in musical notation contributes to the excellence of the music itself, particularly in the work of students. Of course, we know that Beethoven wrote music in a very untidy fashion, but comparaison n’est pas raison. Or, to put the same idea in the form of an old Roman proverb, Quod licet lovi non licet bovi. I had better not translate this because some composers who hope to emulate Beethoven by writing their masterpieces in a sloppy way may take offense. Strangely enough, modern composers who recognize no traditional rules of harmony, are sticklers for legible musical handwriting. Ernst Krenek wrote me about a talented pupil of his who had also been my pupil: “We must insist that he should not let his talents interfere with the legibility of his music.” Krenek’s advice was well heeded, and that pupil has subsequently become a famous American composer, as American composers go. Stravinsky writes not only legibly, but with the clarity of a professional draughtsman. Well-sharpened pencils, rulers and other drawing utensils Ch. 6: talk given at the A.L.A. Convention, Philadelphia, July 3, 1955.


Music for the Eye and Its Listenable Patterns


occupy an important place on his desk. The formidable master of “organized music” Edgar Varese plans the writing of his polyrhythmic scores with the precision of an engineer; in fact, he was first trained to be a mechanical engineer. On Schoenberg’s 75th birthday I sent him a copy of my palindromic canon based on the theme from his Ode to Napoleon. Schoenberg acknowledged receipt with thanks, and added a postscript: “Your canon is very ingenious—is it your own handwriting? The notes look wonderful.” The importance of visible patterns to a creative composer can be shown in the contrapuntal design in the opening bars of the last movement of Tchaikovsky’s Sixth Symphony. Certainly Tchaikovsky was not a constructivist or a modernist in any sense of the word; he lived in the world of melodies and harmonies, and he scorned cerebral composers who were concerned with visual patterns. As we all remember, that last movement of the Pathètique opens with a haunting, mournful melody; the violins weep in sorrow, descending the steps of the B-minor scale. But let us look at the score. We discover that the violins and the rest of the strings do not descend at all; they jump around in zigzags. The first note of the tune is taken by the second violins; the second by the first violins; the third again by the second violins, and so on in alternation. The same alternating pattern prevails among the violas and the cellos. No music lover, not even a music critic, would ever perceive this contrapuntal jockeying by listening to the Pathètique. Not even conductors who know the score by heart (most particularly those who know the score by heart) are aware that they are not hearing this melody as it registers in the ears of most listeners. Why then did Tchaikovsky resort to this unnatural grouping? The reason lay in his musical upbringing. He could not tolerate the idea of parallel motion in four-part harmony. When the theme recurs later in the movement, it is supported by a powerful pedal point, and then Tchaikovsky lets his harmony slide in a flow of satisfying, juicy schmaltz. Many musicians have been fascinated by the possibility of reducing great master works to geometrical patterns. Old masters of counterpoint invented mirror fugues and other purely visual attractions. Busoni saw a Gothic arch in the works of Bach. The Russian composer, Sergey Taneyev, was convinced that great music could be written according to arithmetical and geometric schemes. Another Russian, Edouard Conius, developed a system of charts which he fondly believed would explain every musical


Nicolas Slonimsky

work no matter how complicated. Once he invited Alexander Glazunov to look over something very important. When Glazunov arrived, Conius led him into his working room, and with a great show of mystery, unrolled a great big diagram in various colors. “This is your 8th symphony!” he declared proudly. “Amazing,” exclaimed Glazunov. “When I wrote my symphony, I never realized it looked like this.” The culmination of this rationalization of music in terms of visual patterns was reached in the celebrated Schillinger System. Schillinger was a convinced, almost fanatical, believer in the logicality of music. He thought that if the right algebraic and geometric pattern of musical composition could be discovered, artistic perfection would be achieved automatically. He did not totally exclude imagination, intuition, and even genius; he believed that these elements might be helpful as, for instance, a sharp eye for distances is helpful to a land surveyor. He bemoaned the fact that Bach missed the opportunity of inverting the theme of his Invention in F, exact as to the intervals, resulting in a minor triad. Curiously enough, Schillinger was not won over by the dodecaphonic method of composition, in which all inversions and retrograde motions are used. The retrograde progression of musical themes can be appreciated only visually. Does it mean that it should have no place in music? This is what some proponents of music for art’s sake would claim. But the word art itself has a double meaning, as a creation of the free human mind, and as a technique, a synonym for artfulness. And a developed musical technique is an essential part of art as a creative phenomenon. Among modern composers Paul Hindemith accepts art both as a creative phenomenon and a technique, although he rejects artistic trickery. Alongside his romantic works (for he is undoubtedly a romanticist) there are works of pure constructivism. The Prelude and the Postlude in his piano suite Ludus Tonalis are mutually invertible. This means that if you turn the music upside down and start at the end, then the Postlude will become the Prelude, with allowance made for sharps and flats which would have to be retroactive in the topsy-turvy version. There is a piece by an uncelebrated composer called Vice-Versa, which removes this difficulty by being entirely flatless and sharpless. And it is self-invertible; when turned upside down and read backwards, it turns out the same. Perhaps the most ingenious of all such topsy-turvy compositions is a piece attributed to Mozart, and probably written by a German contrapuntist early in the 19th century. It is called Krebsgang, that is, a Crab Step. It was believed that an

Music for the Eye and Its Listenable Patterns


actual crab, the crustacean, walked backwards. A story is told that the French scientist, Cuvier, was asked to check on the description of a crab as a red fish that walks backwards. Cuvier replied that the definition was perfectly all right except that a crab is not a fish; it is not red unless it is boiled; and it does not walk backwards; it walks sideways. But whatever the actual crustaceans do, the musical crabs are retrograde animals. To return to the Crab Step by pseudo-Mozart: it operates in such a way that two violinists facing each other and reading the music placed on a table can perform it so that the harmony comes out according to the best traditional standards. When we stop to consider that the notes of the first bar have to harmonize with the notes of the last bar played upside-down and backwards, and that the middle bar must harmonize with itself turned upside-down, too, then we will arrive at the proper appreciation of this contrapuntal feat. Among contemporary composers, the most original audio-visualist is Villa-Lobos. He has developed a method of musical photography. He traces a photograph on graph paper; then he selects an arbitrary ratio of musical intervals and horizontal and vertical spaces on the paper and translates the outline into melody. Horizontal lines represent duration; vertical lines represent intervals. In this fashion he composed a piece depicting the New York skyline. That he is not faking is proved to my satisfaction when he spent nearly two hours in my presence to draw the melody of my wife and daughter at the breakfast table. I regret to say that the melody completely lacked the rhythmic excitement that is present in all music by Villa-Lobos. So musical pages seem to give a visual picture of the subject that the music is supposed to represent. The musical notation of the storm section of Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony suggests to a person with vivid imagination the dark streams of turbulent water in the lower strings, the wind-driven clouds in the woodwind instruments, and the bolts of lightning in the quick passages of the violins. The intervallic symbolism of Bach is clear both to the eye and the ear. The words “so far” are represented in Bach by the interval of a minor ninth; the words “I shall stand firm” are sung on a single note; the words “get up, get up” run up in a major arpeggio. Let us now consider the educational value of Augenmusik. A composer’s technique can not be properly evaluated by listening alone, even though no composer would deliberately write music for the eye. Even


Nicolas Slonimsky

composers of twelve tone music insist that the final judgment of musical value comes at a hearing. It is true that performance can be much more faithful to the composer’s idea than the written notes. The effects of rubato are quite untranslatable into musical notation, although Schillinger tried to establish an absolutely scientific method of rubato, ritando, and accellerando by changing time signatures. Thus a gradual ritardando is shown in one of his piano pieces as a progression of time signatures such as these: 16/64; 17/64; 18/64 (or 9/32), etc. With electronic instruments, such precise measurements of tempo changes become possible. The American composer, Conlon Nancarrow, has solved the problem of unlimited variety of rhythmical designs by composing music on perforated player-piano rolls. His compositions cannot be played by any live pianist, or by any number of live pianists playing simultaneously. The mathematical precision of the polyrhythmic patterns in some of his player-piano works such as the Boogie-Woogie Suite is astounding and unlike anything that is heard in any musical composition no matter how complex. Modern music has a modern look to the eye. Around the turn of the century when musical complexity was measured by chromatic deviations from the basic key, the modernity of a musical work could well be measured by the number of sharps and flats per bar. Some composers have used triple-flats and triple-sharps in order to justify chromatic modulations. Under such circ*mstances a complex look may disguise the simplest chords. In Ravel’s Piano Trio, there is a whole section in C major, but the C major triad is repeatedly written B-sharp, F-flat, F-double-sharp. Dodecaphonic composers have abandoned this impractical method of notation; Schoenberg adopts the pragmatic method of using the immediately understandable sharps and flats, adhering in this case to the traditional cycle of scales. Thus, B-flat is much more frequently used in Schoenberg’s notation than A-sharp, quite in accordance with the historic development and the evolutionary formation of tetrachords. A page of Schoenberg looks much less modern than a page of Ravel or even a page of Richard Strauss. A similar process of pragmatic simplification is observable in the successive works of Stravinsky. In Le Sacre du Printemps, he has a whole passage in the scale of B-sharp major, that is, a scale with twelve sharps. In this he was motivated by the affinity of this scale with C-sharp major, occurring simultaneously in the same passage, producing the effect of sharp bitonality, the two keys being a semitone apart.

Music for the Eye and Its Listenable Patterns


The visual image of tone clusters used by Charles Ives and Henry Cowell is as impressive as its auditory effect, particularly when such tone clusters are used on black keys. The Greeks should have had a word for black key clusters: panpeptatonic. I am willing to propose this term for adoption; it is as logical as another term which I proposed some years ago, pandiatonicism, which has been duly accepted in various music dictionaries, even though it has failed as yet to make the Webster or the Roget Thesaurus. Among other modernistic formations that look as formidable to the eye as they sound to the ear is the Grandmother Chord, which is a dodecaphonic edifice, consisting of twelve different notes, and eleven different intervals. By inverting the paternal Grandmother Chord, we obtain a maternal Grandmother Chord, its conjugate, so to speak. The intervals in such a chord are inverted around the central axis, which is self-invertible, being a tritone. In the field of rhythm, the written notes often give a misleading impression to the listener. Even classical composers have written passages arranged in metrical units that contradict the auditory impression. The simplest forms of such contradictions are syncopated passages in which the accent falls on the off-beat, and the bar line bisects the musical phrase. Schumann was particularly fond of such musical trompe l’oeil. For instance in his Aufschwung, the contrasting lyric theme begins on the weak beat, but the listener perceives it as being on the strong beat. A modern composer would have curtailed the final bar of the first section and would have begun the lyric theme on the main beat adding an extra beat towards the end. Instead of the uniform 6/8 time signature there would be two bars of 3/8 on both ends, or else a bar of 9/8 in the beginning. Even more remarkable is the passage in the last movement of Schumann’s piano concerto, where the ear perceives a simple melody in 3/2 time but the conductor beats 3/4 time with the downbeat falling between the two chords, on a rest. So, the ear hears a slow waltz, while the conductor beats a syncopated polka. This subdivision of triple time into two sections is characteristic of Spanish rhythms, in which a musical compound unit of 6/8 is subdivided simultaneously into two primary units of 3/8 each, and three secondary units of 2/8 each. The incongruity between the look and the sound of music is show in the opening bar of the “Sacred Dance” in Stravinsky’s Sacre du Printemps. There the notation shows a fermata on a 16th note rest, followed by a


Nicolas Slonimsky

crashing chord. There is a fermata also on the chord itself. Now, what is the difference between a syncopated chord and a non-syncopated one, if it is preceded and followed by a hold? The difference is that when the chord is syncopated out of context, the conductor will have a terrible time getting the instruments to attack the notes simultaneously. The audience will see the conductor beating an energetic downbeat, and the orchestra responding nervously. With a plain downbeat, there would be no such hazard. Here the pedantic feeling for Augenmusik seems out of place. Charles Ives uses several different meters in the opening pages of the second movement of his Fourth Symphony. Theoretically, the orchestra players should count their elementary units and somehow come together at the end of the section. In his score Three Places in New England, Ives has two village bands marching out of step. To be precise, one band marches 33 1/3% faster than the other. The conductor is enjoined to beat the two different tempi at once. The following arrangement would be the most practical: the right hand beats 4 to a bar, and the left hand 2 to a bar so that the two beats of the left hand equal three beats of the right hand. Both hands come together on the downbeat every three measures of the right hand and every four measures of the left hand. The faster village band in the Ives score would follow the left hand, and the slower band would follow the right hand, and all will be well. Here the visual element will help the auditory element, for the listener observing the conductor in action will be able to visualize the two different tempi. This is not the most complicated case of double meter in modern music. In a piece by the American composer, Wallingford Riegger, 5/8 meter is combined with 2/8, so that the downbeats coincide every ten beats. Most composers indicate different meters by grouping the notes of a musical phrase with a slur over the bar line. In Stravinsky’s History of a Soldier, the double bass has a very simple accompanying figure of four notes, while the rest of the instruments keep changing meter. The result is that the off-beat in the double bass often falls on the main beat of the rest of the instruments, and the player on the bass involuntarily puts an accent on a weak beat. The logical way of treating such polyrhythmic combinations is to convert them into polymetric lines. Let us take for instance a passage in History of a Soldier in which there is a sequence of changing meters: 3/4, 3/4, 5/8, 4/8, 3/8. During this time, the double bass has a figure of four eighth notes. Let us assign a separate meter of 2/4 to

Music for the Eye and Its Listenable Patterns


the double bass, and the passage can be easily reduced to a simple polymetric, or rather bimetric scheme. The polyrhythmic designs in popular music would also gain if they would be translated into polymetric combinations. Let us consider for instance Gershwin’s “I Got Rhythm.” This is no simple syncopation, although unfortunately the tune is usually massacred by name bands in a syncopated version. The accompanying figure represents a steady square time. The melody begins on the second note; it is written in even dotted eighth-notes. Thus it acquires a lyric character eminently suitable for saxophones dripping with sophisticated schmaltz. Each melody note thus has the value of three units, while the smallest common denominator in the bass has two units. This polyrhythmic design becomes clear in Gershwin’s own virtuoso arrangement of the tune for piano solo. After a typical modulation a major third up, the melodic units are expanded into a series of quick arpeggios of three notes each. What has it all to do with the subject of audio-visual interpretation? A great deal. What I am trying to point out is that the listener hears different rhythms from what he sees on the written page. In the early days of the talkies the audience was invited to sing popular tunes following the bouncing ball on the screen. That bouncing ball gave an excellent visual impression of musical intervals, fully as good as the visual representation of notes in the eleventh century manuscripts. One more example of a classical composition that sounds different from what it looks. After the exposition of the principal theme in the first movement of the First Symphony of Brahms, there is an episode which looks syncopated on the printed page with groups of notes constituting a musical phrase slurred over the bar line. An instinctive musician would interpret this passage as a bar containing a single eighth note followed by several bars in 6/8. In modern scores such single-unit bars occur fairly frequently, that is before the advent of neo-classicism, when modern composers began to seek safety in the sanctuary of traditional uniform meters. Practical applications of the audio-visual synthesis are still far from being fully exploited. A small beginning has been made in some educational organizations by following the score while listening to the recording of a symphony. One visualizes a more effective method of presenting the same problem. Perhaps it will take the form of an animated score, the pages being projected or the screen and the important themes followed up


Nicolas Slonimsky

by a sort of bouncing ball, but avoiding cuteness and little animals à la Walt Disney. The style of such musical animation ought to be similar to a documentary. Even the old-fashioned type of programmatic interpretation may not be out of place provided that such an analysis is not over-dramatized or inflated with preposterous metaphors. The audio part of such interpretation has been inaugurated rather successfully in the series of music appreciation records put out by the Book of the Month Club. The idea is really very good, even if the cliche “music appreciation” conjures up the vision of a woman’s club lecturer telling the somnolent assemblage of Helen Hokinson characters all about the beauties of Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony complete with the movie version of Schubert’s being in love with the young Countess Estrerhazy. Those who have seen the movie know the story: Schubert plays the first two movements of the Unfinished Symphony for the young girl, his pupil, and opens his heart to her. She looks at him commiseratingly and points out the unbridgeable chasm between their social stations. Schubert wipes his glasses dimmed with tears and declares that the symphony, like his love, shall remain unfinished. It is definitely not recommended that visual aids to auditory impressions should be presented in the form of such moving pictures as this film biography of Schubert, or even a more remarkable film biography of Tchaikovsky which has to be seen to be believed, and I have seen it, and I still can’t believe it. In this visual interpretation of Tchaikovsky’s music and his life, Madame von Meck, his elderly benefactress, turns out to be the Czar’s niece, resplendent in her aristocratic décolleté. In her estate, she has a swimming pool, and together Madame von Meck and Tchaikovsky take an underwater swim, emerging from it in a passionate clinch, followed by a fadeout. Once in a while the movie biographers get into trouble. Schumann’s grandson sued the film company that produced a picture called The Song of Life or something like that in which Schumann was represented as a sentimental nincompoop who didn’t realize that Brahms was having an affair with Clara right under his nose. Yet audio-visual movies, when handled with a little imagination and a little respect for music history and the intelligence of the customers, can become a powerful educational medium. Walt Disney produced a film called The Story of the Instruments which gave a remarkable presentation

Music for the Eye and Its Listenable Patterns


of the three main divisions of instrumental sonorities: strings, wind and percussion. This little film sketch was particularly remarkable for its faithful presentation of the laws of acoustics; the injection of humor helped, too. Several years ago I saw in Life magazine a series of pictures about a new musical teaching method for children. Every child manipulated a large plastic keyboard, and there was some system of lights connecting the master keyboard on the platform with the keyboards of the pupils. If I am not mistaken, red lights flared up whenever a pupil hit the wrong note. One thinks fondly of a system of signals registering wrong notes, or wrong tempi in a special scoreboard for the benefit of musical juries and music critics in general. A scientific Music Analyzer is not quite impossible to imagine. The catch phrases in music appreciation such as tension, intensity, intensiveness, and similar words not clearly distinguishable in their meanings, might be measured on a Discordoscope. Each dissonance would send the musical mercury up a notch, and when the ratio of dissonance against consonances reaches a critical point, the Discordoscope would erupt in a jangling of bells and a display of kaleidoscopic colors, equivalent to hitting a jackpot. The visual measurement of dissonances, that is theoretical discords, such as minor seconds, major sevenths, augmented. fourths, etc., may be very enlightening for a serious student of modern music. It may be shown, for instance, that some modern works actually contain fewer discords than the highly ornamented pieces by Bach, or the Tristanesque appoggiaturas of Wagner. It could be then proved, visually and acoustically, that the distinguishing trait of modern music is not the overabundance of dissonances, but the rejection of the basic tonality. Thus a chain of corrected dissonances, such as seventh chords, without a resolution may sound quite soothing when arranged in a harmonic sequence, whereas a series of consecutive concords may sound unbearably dissonant. The most obvious illustration of such discordant concords is a bitonal major scale, say E major played against C major. The intervals are thirds or sixths, and the Discordoscope would show no agitation whatsoever. Yet most people, particularly those who have had the detriment of a conservatory education, would say that this music is dissonant and those who “just growed” naturally would say that the scales sound funny. A design both polytonal and polyrhythmic would of course show a considerable incidence of discords,


Nicolas Slonimsky

but probably not more than those obtaining in the principal section of Chopin’s Fantaisie-Impromptu, which has a complicated polyrhythmic design of four against three and a melodic line laden with appoggiaturas. Perhaps the most old-fashioned and the most concordant composition ever written is my own suite entitled Studies in Black and White. There is not a single dissonance in the entire composition, all twenty-one pages of it, and yet it certainly does not sound as soothing as The Maiden’s Prayer. In this suite the right hand plays on the white keys, and the left hand on the black keys, but only consonant intervals are used, thirds, sixths, and once in a while a fifth. To put it in impressive big words, this music is set in a mutually exclusive two-part counterpoint, respectively in pandiatonic and panpentatonic fields. A visual system of notation for piano has been recently developed in Holland. It is called Klavarskribo, an obvious combination of the words for Clavier or Klavir and skribo from the Latin word meaning “to write.” This system of notation is a revival of the old tablature. A 20th-century example of tablature is the ukelele notation given in the commercial editions of popular songs. Still tablature uses numbers and symbols; Klavarskribo uses actual notes placed on a vertical staff representing the white and the black keys of a piano keyboard. Virtually all major classical works for piano have been now issued in Klavarskribo notation. I certainly do not preach the abolition of the five-line staff in favor of Klavarskribo or any other new-fangled system of notation any more than I would militate for the establishment of Esperanto as a universal language. But I feel that it would be of great benefit to music education if visual impressions from the printed page were synchronized on some electronic gadget, so that the music printed on a continuous roll would unfold before the eye while playing it on a tape recorder. Synchronization could be established fairly easily, and important passages could be played over and over again while principal and secondary themes are pointed out by an instructor or by a robot. A highly complicated contrapuntal work would be taken apart with the aid of buttons and dials such as are used by do-it-yourself enthusiasts on their high fidelity machines. Just imagine what a beautiful job such a machine could do on a complicated Bach fugue, automatically showing inversions, augmentations and diminutions. To dream a little more, one could well imagine an automatic copyright machine that would sort out identical popular tunes so that no one could

Music for the Eye and Its Listenable Patterns


sue Irving Berlin, or some other luminary of Tin Pan Alley for plagiarism. Such a machine would translate auditory impressions into visual curves and lines, and automatically find their nearest equivalents. Then all musical quotations would have to be acknowledged. I will conclude this thought by reciting a limerick: There was a composer of note Who borrowed each tune that he wrote And it was with pleasure That in the last measure He signed with a flourish: “Unquote.”

7 . F O L K L O R E , H A R M O N Y, R H Y T H M

Music dictionaries publish long articles on musical folklore, but the very definition of this term is vague. The word “folklore” was invented a little over a hundred years ago by an English antiquarian, editor of a bibliographic magazine in London, whose name was W. J. Thoms. It actually means learning or knowledge, particularly when applied to an assembly of unclassified and unorganized information, such as relates to the customs and the manners of a tribe or a nation. The term “folklore” is now used in every language in the world, and it is sometimes confused with the lore not of a people but of individuals. Particularly in Europe and in Latin America, popular fairy tales or songs are classified as folklore, even if they were composed by a definite personality. When the Soviet delegation of composers and musicologists visited the United States a few weeks ago, one of them mentioned the fact in a television broadcast that American folk music is very popular in Russia, and as an example quoted the American folk song “Mississippi,” which he said was a favorite of his small son. But Americans present at that broadcast could not identify the song by its title, and looked rather perplexed. It turned out that what was meant was “Ol’ Man River” by Jerome Kern from his musical comedy Show Boat. Even when I informed the Soviet musicologist that the song, known in Russia as “Mississippi,” could not possibly be called a folk song since its composer is known, he replied that any song that achieves world-wide popularity becomes ipso facto a folk song. To the English scholar, such confusion is particularly annoying. Folk music is supposed to be music created anonymously by the people themCh. 7: lecture delivered in Puerto Rico, November 27, 1959.


Folklore, Harmony, Rhythm


selves. When I published an article on folk songs of different nations, and mentioned the fact that “Estrellita,” which was written by the Mexican composer Manuel Ponce, became a folk song, the late Percy A. Scholes, the author of the Oxford Companion to Music, wrote me emphasizing the terminological impossibility of such confusion. No song written by somebody can become a folk song, even if it is a bestseller. The famous Civil War song “Dixie” was regarded as a folk song, but was in reality the composition of Daniel Decatur Emmett, who wrote it in 1859. How dangerous it is to assume that a song is anonymous was shown by the revelation some twenty years ago that the famous American birthday greeting song, “Happy Birthday to You,” was not at all an anonymous popular song, but the creation of a schoolteacher who published it first in the 1890s in a collection of kindergarten songs, where it was sung to the words “Good morning, dear teacher.” Some clerk in the Chicago publishing firm of Summy and Co. discovered this fact while going over the old collections published by that firm, and immediately realized the commercial possibilities of his discovery. It so happened that at that time Western Union launched a new form of wire service, singing birthday greetings, so that the telegraph operator would call up the addressee and sing to him: “Happy birthday to you.” Also about the same time a Hollywood movie was produced about a millionaire whose family was so indifferent to him that they did not remember his birthday. In the last scene he stands alone in his mansion and sings to himself: “Happy birthday to me.” Well, when the clerk in Chicago discovered that the tune was copyrighted, his company instituted suits for thousands upon a thousands of dollars for infringement of copyright, a very serious business in the United States. Western Union quickly changed the tune of their singing telegrams to the tune “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow,” first making sure that this tune was not composed by anybody. One after another, so-called anonymous folk songs turn out to be actual compositions by some obscure person. For instance, in Schumann’s Carnaval there occurs a Grossvater-Tanz to symbolize the Philistines flying from the triumphant march of the imaginary Society of David. Schumann designated this tune as an anonymous air of the 18th century, whereas in fact it is the composition of one Karl Gottlieb Hering, who died as a very old man only a few years before Schumann’s own death.


Nicolas Slonimsky

There are numerous examples of such revelations. For instance, there is a famous Matchiche, which is sung in the United States to the words “I got myself a nickel to buy a pickle.” It is one of the most popular tunes in the whole world, familiar to Russians, Japanese, Australians, and Icelandians, under different titles, and with different sets of words. I must confess that when I was preparing for publication the manuscript of my book, Music of Latin America, I included this song in the section on Brazil, believing this to be the earliest popular example of Maxixe. When my book was already in proofs, I happened to ask a visiting Brazilian whether this dance tune was authentic. He laughed in my face and assured me that it was just a nightclub tune, probably of European origin. I quickly eliminated the musical illustration from my book, thus saving my face from becoming very red. Then I set out to establish the origin of this song. In the Library of Congress there were several editions, all originating from the copyright about 1903. One of the most popular titles was in Italian, “La Sorella,” but the earliest edition seemed to be French. I inquired at the Society of French Composers and found that the song, originally published under the title “La Matchiche” in Paris in 1903, was written by Charles Borel-Clerc, who was still alive. He died only a few months ago, and his death was not even reported in musical journals, and no one played the celebrated tune in a minor key as a fitting requiem. Composed “folk songs” are being created all the time, the newest source being radio and television commercials and so-called signature tunes of programs. Probably 99% of all American boys and girls will recognize the Dragnet tune more readily than the opening notes of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. This tune was composed by a professional musician named Walter Schumann, who died this year. The famous advertisem*nt of Winston cigarettes threatens to become part of American folklore, as a horrible example of commercial inspiration. The words contained a deliberate solecism, a grammatical error in the use of the form, “like a cigarette should,” instead of “as a cigarette should.” But the theme has some elements of primitive music, in the employment of the pentatonic scale, and of handclapping and other percussion effects. Among religious songs, one of the most popular is the Christmas carol “Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht,” which was for many years mistaken for a folk song. But it is in fact the composition of a 19th-century Austrian organist named Franz Gruber.

Folklore, Harmony, Rhythm


One of the most popular Neapolitan ballads, “Funiculi Funicula,” which was used as a folk song by Richard Strauss, was written by the Italian song composer Luigi Denza. Now let’s turn to real folk songs, of ancient vintage, possessing that austere air of antiquity, timelessness, and universality that is the characteristic of a true national creation. Such ancient songs are transmitted from generation to generation, either without changes or with minor alterations in rhythm and melody. Words do not seem to be of great importance and are often composed much later to an existing tune. There exists a strong conviction among many musical folklorists that the most beautiful folk song ever created is the Irish melody “Londonderry Air.” It does possess an extraordinary balance of rhythm and melody which creates an archlike melorhythmic structure that seems to satisfy the ancient requirements for symmetry, proportion, and beauty. I have elaborated a test by which a melody can be judged as to quality, and I have even formulated the beauty test in mathematical terms, namely that duration of a note multiplied by its distance from the assumed tonal center must equal a symmetrically positioned note on the other side of such a tonal center. The sums of these products in a perfect melody must equal zero, counting the values below the tonal center as negative. I shall not discuss this formula in further detail, for such a discussion should be a subject of a special seminar. But there can be no question that melody and rhythm should balance each other, and that there is no such thing as a beautiful melody with imperfect rhythm or beautiful rhythm with an imperfect melody. The combined term, “melorhythm,” has been in use in Latin American musicology, and I earnestly wish that it should be universally adopted, just as the hyphenated expression “space-time” has been adopted in modern physics. To return to “Londonderry Air.” It was first published 104 years ago, as a peasant tune popular around Londonderry. It was notated by George Petrie, who was a painter and an antiquary, and he received this melody from two sisters, who wrote it down while listening to the singing of peasants. The question arises: how can we be sure that on the road from peasant to the sisters to the painter to the music paper the tune was not deformed beyond recognition? The simple answer is, we can’t. In fact, later folk song collectors have already questioned the meter of “Londonderry Air,” suggesting that it should be really in triple time rather than in


Nicolas Slonimsky

quadruple time, and that the original collector interpreted a short caesura for an extra beat. More interesting is the problem of the original pentatonic construction of the melody. If it is ancient, and Irish, then it should be pentatonic, and the leading tone at the very opening should be changed to the submedian. In that case, only five different notes would be employed in the entire song. Another very famous folk song that is ancient, but only recently set down on paper, is the “Volga Boatmen’s Song.” Its origin is well known from the famous picture by Repin: a group of peasants pulling a boat upstream walking on the bank of the Volga, a rope over their shoulders. The falling cadence, from the subdominant to the tonic, so typical of Russian folk songs, here acquires a kinetic force, marking the point of relaxation in anticipation of another effort. Some German scholars have come out with the theory that all songs are essentially vocal counterparts of physical activity, particularly labor, but also energetic walking or running. The rise of the melody would correspond to inhaling, and the fall to exhaling. If so, then most folk songs should be in one-two time, which agrees with statistical findings of rhythmical studies. The melodic range of folk songs and popular songs of a later day shows a remarkable uniformity, comprising an octave, and corresponding, in the language of modern scales, to the span between the lower and the upper dominants. It is easy to find any number of songs that would satisfy this formula, “The Marseillaise,” for instance. Incidentally, there is considerable evidence that Rouget de l’Isle did not compose the tune, but only wrote the words, while the authorship of this tune is variously ascribed to Ignace Pleyel and other contemporary musicians. Nobody can settle this question now; it may even be that “The Marseillaise” is an authentic folk song. It cannot be ancient because it has a melorhythmic structure in a definitely tonal form. What about the harmonic element in folk songs? Are all folk songs monodic, consisting of only one unaccompanied line? Are there any genuine folk songs that have implied harmony? There is a school of Russian musicologists who advance the theory of the polyphonic origin of old Russian songs. The only defect in this theory is that the harmonic implications seem to indicate a pre-existing harmonic arrangement characteristic of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The early collectors of Russian songs were Germans who thought in terms of German melorhythmic entities. When Beethoven wrote his Rasumovsky Quartets he

Folklore, Harmony, Rhythm


used a collection published in 1790 by a German named Pratch, and inevitably adopted Pratch’s harmonization. What were the Russian melodies as Pratch really heard them, without his Germanic preconceptions? No one can tell. A much more authentic collection than Pratch’s is one by Paltchikov published in 1890, containing no harmonizations, but notating several variants of each song. Now, it turns out that some of these variants harmonize perfectly with other variants. In other words, by combining two or three variants, a harmonic setting is achieved. I have arranged some of these songs by using one of the variants as the principal refrain, and another as a contrasting refrain, with some interesting consequences. But it is impossible to enter the minds of ancient Russian peasants a hundred years ago and to decide whether they thought harmonically. We must therefore accept the notations of popular songs made by educated musicians as the only available incarnations of the elusive and mysterious folk songs formed in the minds and in the vocal cords of unlettered peasants. It is interesting that when symphonic composers make use of popular songs they usually accept the harmonization of the original collectors as well. A remarkable instance of this is provided in RimskyKorsakov’s Spanish Capriccio. Until very recently it was not known where Rimsky-Korsakov found the Spanish songs he used in this score: “Alborada,” “The Evening Dance,” “The Gypsy Song,” and the “Asturian Fandango.” The discovery of a collection of Spanish songs, Ecos de Espana by Jose Inzenga, in the library left after Rimsky-Korsakov’s death solved this problem. Inzenga’s collection was published in Madrid in 1874, and Rimsky-Korsakov wrote the Spanish Capriccio in 1887. A comparison between Inzenga’s harmonization and Rimsky-Korsakov’s reveals, astonishingly enough, an almost complete identity. The same is true of the rhythms, particularly in the accompaniment by drums. Thus, RimskyKorsakov not merely used the elements of the Spanish songs collected by Inzenga, but also Inzenga’s harmonic and rhythmic arrangements, apparently regarding them as essential to the authenticity of the songs as the melorhythmic line itself. The most remarkable circ*mstance in tabulating and analyzing genuine folk songs is that the best of them are entirely anonymous. This statement sounds tautological. Folk songs are folk songs, and therefore anonymous. But the amazing and inexplicable thing about these songs is this very anonymity. By what miraculous faculty do uneducated and illiterate


Nicolas Slonimsky

peasants (for the majority of folk songs are peasant songs) create beautiful melodies and punctuate them with natural rhythms? These folk songs have a power of musical penetration that seems to be denied to the greatest composers of the world. Surely Mozart or Beethoven or Verdi could create melodies equal to those by peasants, but we find that the most famous, and presumably the most enduring, songs that all the world knows are these anonymous peasant songs of the people. Each nation has its own treasures of folk songs which are as much a part of their life as the entire complex of customs and manners known under the generic name of folklore. Old men are the greatest librarians of folk songs; blind old men are the greatest keepers of the tradition. An Argentinian writer said, when a very old villager dies, a library burns down. The mystery of anonymous creation of imperishable folk songs is parallel to the mystery of anonymous creation of great epics, wise proverbs, and in fact, of the language itself. The composite Homer, blind and old, is greater than writers of epics who undoubtedly existed. Folklore is greater than the sum of accomplishments by all the great writers in the world. And folk songs are greater than the sum of achievements of all great composers put together. This is not a paradox, for without a language and a folklore, there can be no poets and writers. Without anonymously created folk song patterns there can be no composers. The mystery of folklore is great, but no deeper than the mystery of the creative faculty in mankind.


In his widely read newspaper column, the late Arthur Brisbane once wrote something to the effect that “Dr. Albert Einstein is a very learned man, and his relativity is a very clever conception, but we Americans are practical people, and we cannot understand what on earth the speed of light has to do with mass and energy.” Yet the “practical” men of America, with the aid of many “impractical” intellectuals from Europe, gave the answer in December, 1942, in the concrete practical terms of atomic fission. Arthur Brisbane, unfortunately, did not live to witness this demonstration of one of the more amazing aspects of purely abstract (and particularly mathematical) thought—its unexpected, and perhaps unexpectable as well, practical applicability to many and diverse activities. On Simplicity, Complexity, and Symmetry in Mathematics, the Arts, and Chess. Much of the fascination of mathematics lies in the mysterious connection among numerical abstractions that seem to have no corporeal existence even in the phantom world of irrational and imaginary numbers. What, for example, can be the logical link connecting the circumference of a circle, the base of natural logarithms, and the almost inconceivable square root of a negative quantity? Yet the equation connecting these three symbols is of basic importance to mathematics. Many mathematicians speak of the “beauty” of such simple but profound formulas. Can there also be beauty in complexity? This problem is pertinent to the entire spectrum of the arts—to music, to painting, to literature. When a complex dissonance is resolved into a nearby consonance, by means of an elegant and symmetric movement of convergence or divergence, not even the most hardened lover of classical simplicity will object. But what Ch. 8: originally published in The American People’s Encyclopedia Year Book, 1961.



Nicolas Slonimsky

if dissonance follows dissonance with no relief in sight? Can such progressions be beautiful? By means of acoustical measurements dissonances in music can be proved to have a jarring effect on the auditory nerve, owing to the noncoincidence of crests and troughs in the sound waves. With respect to the visual arts, a similar effect is produced on the retina of the eye by rapid changes from bright light to darkness, but no critic of modern art has advanced the claim that a painting of a woman with three eyes and a split nose can cause deterioration of one’s optic nerve. And the vagaries of modern literature obviously cannot affect any of the five senses directly; taste, custom, and adaptability are the only criteria as they combine to create a synthetic concept of aesthetics. The assertion that there can be an aesthetic quality in a game of chess will startle no one who has played the game, but the fact of this quality is quite remarkable, because a chess game is a dual creation, in which opportunities for brilliant and spectacular moves cannot be planned unilaterally (as a poet or a composer may plan) but result from the clash and interplay of two strong chess minds. Each move, and especially the brilliant climactic one, must be the best move under the circ*mstances—that leading to the quickest decision—and not merely a frivolous gesture designed to impress the amateur. Thus, when the U.S. chess champion Frank Marshall, in a game played in 1912, moved his queen into a veritable hornets’ nest of enemy pieces where it could be captured by either of the two diagonally adjacent pawns or by the opposing queen on the same file, this was admittedly the most spectacular move possible, but it was also the quickest way for him to win the game. Even more astounding, perhaps, is the visual effect of symmetry that some of the best games produce on the chessboard. Since a chess game is an interplay of lines of force arbitrarily assigned to various chessmen, the aesthetically satisfying situations are as interesting epistemologically as are the gratifications provided by works of art. On the Relativity of Absolute Music. In the famous line, De la musique avant toute chose . . . (music above all else), a poet once postulated the supremacy of music among the fine arts. In search of this musical quality, poets and painters abandoned representationalism and began to experiment with vocables having no definite linguistic meaning, and with visual shapes conveying no recognizable association. There is no question but that an essential quality of music is its indefinability. “Program music” may, of course, include an imitation of nature such as the “bird songs” in

Some Abstract Thoughts on Practical Aesthetics


Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony; it may convey cheerful moods through its dancelike rhythms; and it may depict melancholy by slowly moving melodies in the low register. But such external effects are not of the essence. When poets and painters invoke music as a higher art, they speak of music that is of architectonic purity—“absolute music,” such as Bach’s instrumental suites and fugues. And yet composers themselves see no such horizons of absolute beauty in the process of writing music. Romantic paintings showing a Mozart or a Beethoven receiving inspiration from muses and cupids in the clouds above are simply not true to the known lives of these and other great composers. Thus, while music is indubitably an art sui generis, nurtured by its own inner laws, these “laws” change alarmingly from century to century. Hence, drastic changes in the basic concepts of beauty in music, such have occurred since 1900, have required a drastic revision of musical philosophy. No musical composition written before 1900 ever ended on a chord that contained more than three different notes forming a perfect concord. Furthermore, it was generally assumed that a piece had to end in the same key in which it began. In his song If (1896), Richard Strauss, in a spirit of innocent malice, provided an ending in a key a semitone higher than the beginning; in a footnote, he advised singers and their accompanists who might perform the song before the end of the nineteenth century to transpose the ending into the same tonality as the opening. It was not a particularly good joke in 1896, and in terms of the subsequent emancipation of dissonance and the virtual abolition of tonality in an increasing number of modern compositions, Strauss’ joking admonition seems in retrospect even more feeble. For several decades the surviving music critics of the old regime cried anarchy, but they failed to stop the transition to a new order. Paradoxically, the revolution was effected and exemplified principally in two contrasting tendencies: the highly intellectual school of musical Expressionism that developed in central Europe, and the spontaneous, largely untutored, and primitivistic art that went into the creation of American Jazz. Musical Expressionism abolished tonality, but it did not long remain in a state of atonal vacuum. Arnold Schönberg, the greatest musical innovator of the first half of the century, introduced an idea as simple as it was radical: the monothematism of “dodecaphonic” (12-tone) composition. That is, an entire work is based on a single subject of 12 different notes which, like so many atoms in a molecule, are arranged horizontally


Nicolas Slonimsky

(resulting in melody), vertically (resulting in harmony), and diagonally (resulting in counterpoint). Dissonances are not merely emancipated: they are actually given preference over consonances. There is, however, nothing in the basic tenets of Schönberg’s method of composition with 12 tones that forbids the use of common triads. Since it is possible to arrange 12 different notes in 4 mutually exclusive triads, but always in 2 pairs of major and minor triads, it is quite possible to write 12-tone music in the familiar major and minor keys. Even so, a classically conditioned listener, unfamiliar with the succession of mutually exclusive triads, is likely to be disturbed, puzzled, or intrigued by a sort of linear dissonance, similar to the visual after-images on the retina that make motion pictures possible, although there is no retention of auditory impressions in the ear. Dodecaphonic music soon expanded into serial music, in which not only the notes themselves, but intervals, the durations of individual notes, and instrumental colors, are different. On Jazz, Improvisation, and an Aleatory Bathroom. Born out of dissonance and free rhythm, jazz is at its vigorous best when practiced by relatively unlettered and untutored musicians. European composers, in quest of new vitality, eagerly pounced on jazz resources before and after World War I. Later, a reverse movement began to manifest itself among many jazz players: a desire to learn the mysteries of European techniques and apply them to their instinctive art. The results, as shown in “progressive jazz” after World War II, were lamentable. Spontaneous vigor was lost and the mistaken goal of “educated music” was not attained. As musical primitivism was refrigerated by civilization, aridity of invention and loss of fertility ensued. The best of jazz consists in free but co-ordinated improvisation. A certain number of relatively uncomplicated chords, posited in a prearranged succession, gives sufficient harmonic guidance. Post-Beethoven musicians of the classical persuasion had long deprecated improvisation; but suddenly it gained a certain respectability in the newest kind of “classical” composition: Random Music, or Aleatory Music (from alea, by lot). Thus, the U.S. composer John Cage wrote music in diagrams and other pictorial designs, in which the details of performance were largely delegated to the interpreters. As The Aleatory School of Composition became the rage of the avant-garde, an alliance was formed with the makers of “electronic music,” with its sounds that no human performer could emulate. Chance became art. Unpredictability became science.

Some Abstract Thoughts on Practical Aesthetics


In pictorial arts, a similar development took place. Random configurations became artistic phenomena. Thus, in his volume about The Artist in His Studio, Alexander Liberman wrote, in all solemnity, about the bathroom of Pierre Bonnard’s villa at Le Cannet: “Bonnard explored the intimacy of life further than any of his contemporaries. Dreary everyday reality was transformed by his art into an object of admiration and beauty. The folds of his bathrobe, as he left it, have the nobility of medieval sculpture.” The book includes a full-page photograph of the bathroom in question, with the bathrobe hanging from a hook. The Aleatory Principle in Painting has been lustily practiced by “action painters,” who throw colors on the canvas at random. Thus, Franz Kline, a leading artist of the U.S. school of Abstract Expressionism, declared that for him a painting exists in the motion of the brush that determines the result. But the idol and anointed maître of action painters was Jackson Pollock, who drove himself with suicidal speed both in his art and in his car, and who perished in a frightful automobile smashup, just as his paintings had begun to sell at fantastically high prices. Jackson Pollock experimented with aleatory painting by allowing colors to drip from the tubes “at random”; later he chose to spread his canvas on the floor so as to be able to work at the picture from four sides, walking around it and actually “being in the picture” himself. “When I am in my painting,” he said, “I’m not aware of what I’m doing. . . . The painting has a life of its own. I try to let it come through.” Yet Pollock was not an integrally aleatory painter, for he directed the process once the image had begun to shape itself on the canvas; even his “dripping tube” method of painting is not truly aleatory so long as the selection of the colors and the squeezing of tubes are controlled by the painter. Jean Dubuffet, the highly fashionable leader of the French avantgarde, preaches the necessity of “delirium” and “burning dementia” in painting. His is basically a romantic aesthetic, and the shapes of Dubuffet’s paintings are far more specific than the Abstract Expressionism of Jackson Pollock. If European antecedents are to be considered, Jackson Pollock represented the second generation of Wassily Kandinsky’s Expressionism, while Dubuffet carries a step further the sophisticated naiveté and infantilistic primitivism of Paul Klee. On the Problem of Listening. A major paradox of modern music, painting and sculpture, and literature is the disproportion between a creator’s almost painful intellectual concentration in producing a techni-


Nicolas Slonimsky

cally intricate and self-consistent work, and the virtual impossibility of conveying its total meaning to the listener, the viewer, or the reader. In music, this paradox is particularly striking. Dodecaphonic and serial techniques, which engage the minds of a multitude of mid-twentieth century composers, cannot be appreciated through simple listening, even by a highly qualified musician with a perfect sense of pitch. Thus, an important part of these techniques is the retrograde motion of the principal melody; yet it is impossible to recognize aurally the derivation of the tune in its retrograde form. Does this mean that the process itself is invalid? The answer must be in the negative, else other devices, much more amenable to comprehension, would have to be declared aesthetically meaningless, and music as an art would be reduced to stagnation. Looking Is Easier Than Listening. Painting and sculpture, no matter how abstract, are fortunately subject to immediate apperception, although not to uniform interpretation. As to the latter, the ink blots of the Rorschach tests might well be replaced by the ambiguous shapes of abstract expressionist paintings in assessing the psychological attitudes of the observer. On Reading and Word Play. Literature ought to be the most comprehensible (and comprehensive) of all arts, but it is certain that relatively few readers can understand the various esoteric references contained in works by writers who combine deep hermetical learning and a love of linguistics. Perhaps it was always so. Approximations of word images, jeux de mots, or plain puns, have fascinated writers from William Shakespeare to Vladimir Nabokov. In Act III, Scene 4, of Shakespeare’s Henry the Fifth, for example, Katherine is given instructions in elementary English, and is shocked to learn that le pied is “de foot” and la robe is “de coun” (gown), for the French hom*onyms of the English words are vulgar; but so few nonFrench readers of Shakespeare know these expressions that the scene in which they occur is not excluded even in school editions of the plays. Nabokov, the enormously cultured author of Lolita, writes in a richly metaphorical but colloquial American idiom, interspersed with much French, some German and Italian, and even bits of macaronic Latin. He is addicted to multilingual parnomasia (word play), but his jeux de mots remain within the legitimate limits of linguistics. The more lubricious parts of Lolita, which presumably constitute the prime attraction for most buyers of the book, have little philological esoterica, but the most poignant and dramatic episodes—such as the one in which, as though in a literary hallu-

Some Abstract Thoughts on Practical Aesthetics


cination, Lolita’s stepfather sees the accidental approximations of the names of celebrated poets and novelists in the registries of a string of motels along his desperate route as the mocking paronyms of the supposed abductor of his “nymphet”—remain uncomprehended by the majority of people who read the book. Puns and Paronyms are catalysts of literary imagination. James Joyce achieved a virtuosity of sorts in the famous “bird chapter” of his Finnegans Wake, in which common words are distorted to convey ornithological allusions: “Have you aviar seen anywing to eagle it?”—and much more of the same. There are words that are paronyms of beauty but are semantically repugnant. “Oliguria” has a beautiful, perfectly orchestrated Italianate sound, and would seem a verbal counterpart of a quasi-dodecaphonic musical theme with its four different vowels (o, i, u, and a), two liquid consonants (l and r), and a strong guttural g. These are the phonetic ingredients of which the noms de cinéma are made. But, alas, “oliguria” belies its attractive sound, for it is a medical term for an unpleasant urological condition. There are, on the other hand, interesting and useful words that come into disrepute because of a paronymous association; formication, for instance, which comes from formica (ant), means nothing more objectionable than the swarming of ants.


Isms in music throughout history have paralleled the fashions of literature and painting. Classical music incorporates the Aristotelian ideals of the unity of place, time and action. Romantic music is inspired by tales of romance. Baroque music is an analogue of baroque architecture. Musical impressionism is the tonal counterpart of impressionist art. Expressionism in modern musical drama suggests the techniques of abstract expressionism in painting. Futurism, primarily a literary movement, found its musical echo in the Arte dei Rumori, the Art of Noises promulgated by Luigi Russolo, who was also an Expressionist painter. Musical Surrealism arose primarily as a reaction against Contented Music, the music of the salon, the cult of the virtuoso, the art of tonal tranquillization. It was greatly influenced by the nihilistic spirit of destruction preached by the Dadaists. In the early years of the Russian Revolution, musical turbulence produced powerful waves of total negation. The old anarchistic slogan launched by Bakunin a century before, “The Lust of Destruction is a Creative Lust,” still retained its fascination among the Russian intelligentsia. A Russian professor, Arsenyi Avraamov submitted a proposal to the Commissariat of Culture of the young Soviet Republic to have all pianos confiscated in the bourgeois households (there were none in proletarian lodgings) and to replace them by keyboard instruments tuned according to the natural Pythagorean scale. The revolutionary generation would then be brought up in the atmosphere filled with scientifically rationalized musical sounds. This new world was to fulfill the dreams of the Chekhovian characters who, long before the Revolution, put their faith in the future when life would be “inexpressibly beautiful.” Ch. 9: originally published in Artforum, September 1966.


Music and Surrealism


A sharp turn of the esthetic wheel reversed the direction of Soviet music from scientific rationalism to socialist realism, conservative in its structure, national in melodic sources and socially oriented in political contents. Before the doctrine of socialist realism became official, Soviet composers had produced works definitely surrealistic in their esthetic derivation. Among them, the satirical opera, The Nose, by Dimitry Shostakovitch is a striking example. Its subject is taken from Gogol, the most Surrealistic of Russian novelists. The fantastic story deals with the sudden disappearance of the nose from the face of a government functionary. It turns up in the shape of a plump clerk roaming the streets of St. Petersburg. When the noseless victim catches up with the fugitive and demands its return, the latter denies all allegations of nasal origin and claims independence as a separate individual. Eventually the Nose is restored to its original site. The music of The Nose contains remarkable effects. There is an octet of janitors in a polyphonic glossolalia. A thunderous sneeze explodes in the orchestra. To suit the Surrealistic action, the music itself is extremely dissonant. There is also an unusual interlude scored for drums only. After a few performances, The Nose was banished from the Soviet stage as a product of decadent bourgeois art. An even more vehement reception was accorded to Shostakovitch’s second opera Lady Macbeth of the District of Mtzensk. The composer was condemned for writing a neurotically dissonant score in order to please the perverted tastes of a small modernist coterie. Furthermore, the production was attacked for its unbridled naturalism. A symphonic entr’acte, in which a suggestive passage in the slide trombones illustrates an act of infidelity in progress behind the inner curtain, moved Pravda to outraged indignation. More acceptable to Soviet society was the opera The Love for Three Oranges by Prokofiev. Surrealistic in its grotesquerie, it is written in the style of the Italian opera buffa. A witch curses a young prince for having insulted her, and condemns him to a desperate search for three oranges. When he finally stumbles upon them, they break open, each releasing a princess. Only one princess survives to be united with the prince, the other two perishing of thirst. Prokofiev’s music is Surrealistic in its use of several harmonic planes in unexpected juxtaposition of tonalities, and sharply asymmetric rhythms within symmetric meters. Libretti of surrealist nature exercised peculiar attraction to modern composers. Ernst Krenek’s opera Jonny spielt auf is Surrealistic in its story


Nicolas Slonimsky

and in its music. It tells the story of a Negro jazz player who symbolically conquers the world and is enthroned in the last act on top of a rotating terrestrial globe. He also conquers women of Europe. (When the Metropolitan Opera produced the work, Jonny was cast as a blackface minstrel in deference to the sensibilities of its Southern patrons.) Paul Hindemith contributed to the surrealistic movement in the musical theater by producing a short operatic sketch Hin und Zuruck, which is a melodramatic palindrome: the action is reversed after the husband in the play kills his adulterous wife; she comes back to life and the husband backs out of the door. The dissonant texture and rhythmic asymmetry of the score contribute to the Surrealistic effect of the music. Musical Surrealism is present to a degree in the operas of Gian Carlo Menotti, for which he writes his own libretti. Among them The Medium poses the problem of reality versus unreality in a Surrealistic manner. In it, a fraudulent spiritualist falls a victim of the terrors she herself conjured up. The Turn of the Screw, a chamber opera by Benjamin Britten, relates the Surrealistic tale of Henry James, in which the incompatible planes of life and death are intersected. The music reflects, by its graduated discords and rhythmic torsion, the anxiety of the drama. Ballet and pantomime are natural media for Surrealist representation. Stravinsky’s Petrushka, in which the puppets become more real than their manipulator, is essentially Surrealistic in its interchange of reality and unreality. It was in Petrushka that polytonality (or more precisely, bitonality) was first used in modern music. This bitonality consists in a close approximation of two tonalities, C major and F sharp major, situated at the opposite poles of the cycle of scales and separated by a tritone, the forbidden interval of medieval music described by musical theologians as “Diabolus in Musica.” But the very polarity and incompatibility of these two keys made this Stravinskian bitonality extremely alluring to a whole generation of modern composers. Darius Milhaud makes integral use of it in his ballet Le Boeuf sur le Toit, with a scenario by Jean Cocteau depicting incongruous events in an American speakeasy. Milhaud’s ballet La Création du Monde is a surrealistic picture of Creation. The music is inspired by the rhythms of the blues which Milhaud heard during his trip to America. The work is in fact the first stage production making use of the jazz idiom. Elements of bitonality and syncopation suggest an aura of Surrealism. The ballet The Miraculous Mandarin by Béla Bartók is a paradigm of dramatic and musical Surrealism. The story is nightmarish. A Chinese

Music and Surrealism


mandarin is lured to a bordello where he is robbed and stabbed, but his overpowering sexual desire gives him miraculous powers to survive. He dies only when the woman quenches his lust. The mandarin is characterized in the score by the pentatonic Chinese scale, harmonized by two non-identical pairs of tritones. The old “Diabolus in Musica” here reappears in an exotic setting. The illogic of a Surrealist libretto sometimes invites a paradoxically simple musical realization; Gertrude Stein’s play Four Saints in Three Acts is Surrealistic in its tantalizing non sequiturs. It has four acts, not three, and some two dozen saints in the cast, not four. To this play Virgil Thomson wrote an equally tantalizing score, unmodernistic, triadic, but immediately stimulating. “Jamais de banalite, toujours un lieu commun,” he summarized his method, in French, for the author of this article. Realistic music to a Surrealist libretto is also the case of Les Mamelles de Tirésias by Francis Poulenc. The play is by Apollinaire, the inventor of Surrealism as a dramatic style, who entitled it specifically as “drame surréaliste.” His artistic purpose was to create action that would be more real than reality itself. In the play, as in Poulenc’s opera, the nourishing mamelles float away from the heroine’s torso in the form of inflated balloons, effecting a transsexual change. In the meantime the woman’s husband acquires secondary female characteristics, becoming his wife’s wife, his wife being her husband’s husband. The former husband gives birth to 40,000 children through multiple parturition, after which the couple perform another volte-face, reverting to their original sexes. In his opera Francis Poulenc affects simple harmonies and songful melodies. Tonality remains the foundation of the music, in contrast with the fantastic action on the stage. Although Apollinaire invented the term Surrealism, it was left to André Breton to launch it as an influential artistic movement. In his Surrealist Manifesto of 1924, he describes Surrealism as “psychic automatism” and emphasizes the immediacy of the process of creation and freedom of rational processes. Essentially Breton’s surrealism is a technique of free association, leading to hallucinogenic art. Breton admits that this concept of surrealism is quite different from that of Apollinaire, and argues that while Apollinaire originated the term itself, he caught only the letter, not the spirit, of the Surrealist style. Apollinaire remarked that surrealism is the rational technique of the improbable. Jean Cocteau, in his film Le Sang du Poète says that poetry is


Nicolas Slonimsky

a realistic description of unreal events. The Third Edition of Webster’s International Dictionary describes Surrealism as follows: “The principles, ideals, or practice of producing fantastic or incongruous imagery in art or literature by means of unnatural juxtapositions and combinations.” The Nouveau Petit Larousse has this entry on surrealism: “Tendance d’une école (née vers 1904) a négliger toute préoccupation logique.” Surrealism is oxymoronic. It thrives on the incompatibility of opposites. Cold flame, thunderous silence, calm desperation, painstaking idleness are familiar verbal examples of oxymoronic usage. Sometimes names of persons give a Surrealist twist to their profession, as in the cases of the Boston dentist Dr. Toothacher or the Chicago gangster Arturo Indelicato. The fur-lined cup and saucer, devised in 1936 by Meret Oppenheim, then 23 years old, has become a classic of the Surrealist genre. A striking example of Surrealist incongruity is an exhibit named Bagel Jewelry by a young New York artist, in which a real bagel was encased in a jewelry box. It was priced at $100 and was promptly sold. There are frequent parallels between Surrealist art and music. Marcel Duchamp exhibited a urinal and called it The Fountain. An American band leader strung a toilet seat with violin strings and incorporated it into his orchestra under the name Latrinophone. In Dali’s painting entitled Concert, a faceless musician plays cello on the back of a human figure mounted on a cello pin. The f resonators are carved out on the human cello’s buttocks. Interestingly enough, the Surrealist image of a human cello was carried out in an actual concert at an avant-garde concert in New York. A young girl cellist performed a solo on the spinal column of a young man stripped to the waist, using a regular bow, but applying occasional skin pizzicati. In another musical painting by Dali, Six Apparitions of Lenin on a Piano, several heads of Lenin crowned with aureoles, are placed along the keyboard. Here the sense of Surrealistic incongruity in a musical setting is extremely sharp. René Magritte places a bass tuba, a torso and a chair against a darkening sky over a realistic sea. In Man Ray’s painting Object for Destruction a print of a human eye is attached to the pendulum of a metronome. Real metronomes are the media in a musical composition by the Hungarian Gyorgy Ligeti. Its score instructs the performers to set up 100 metronomes on the stage, all ticking

Music and Surrealism


at different speeds. The piece is considered ended when the last metronome expires. As in all revolutionary movements in art, Surrealism is militantly opposed to society, extending its antagonism even to its own potential public. In his Second Manifesto of Surrealism, André Breton makes this antagonism plain. “Public approval,” he writes, “is to be resisted above all. We must resolutely keep the public from entering our gatherings. We should keep the public in a state of exasperation at the entrance by a system of challenges and provocations.” A similar distrust of the general public, and particularly of the critics, is manifested in the statement of aims of the Society for Private Performances founded in Vienna in November 1918 by Arnold Schoenberg in order to present programs of modern music unacceptable to commercial organizations. If we follow the definition of Surrealism according to Apollinaire rather than Breton, we would nominate Erik Satie as the most radical surrealist among composers. Yet Satie entitled his surrealist ballet Parade, “Ballet réaliste.” The scenario of Parade is indeed realistic; it represents a series of theatrical attractions paraded before the public by two competing American managers. The score is of the dance hall type, but despite its vulgarizing manner, it sparkles with modern invention. Jean Cocteau wrote about Parade: “Satie’s music suppresses the sauce. The result is a totally nude object which scandalizes by its very nakedness.” Cocteau was opposed to Surrealism as an esthetic technique, but he admired Satie, and recognized that “in the theater everything must be false in order to look true.” Apollinaire’s exhortations to make “rational use of non-similitudinarianism” postulating “the insane verities of art” are realized in the oxymoronic, Surrealistic titles of Satie’s piano pieces: Crépuscule matinal de Midi, Heures séculaires et instantanées, Fantaisie musculaire, Sonatine bureaucratique. The music of Parade is deliberately unsophisticated, but its very quality of emphatic commonplace elevates it to a higher artistic plateau. Satie made a similarly simplistic musical setting for his ballet Relâche. The very title is Surrealistic for Relâche means a cancellation of performance. Francis Picabia painted a Surrealistic frontispiece for the published edition of Relâche. It represents a nude male figure wearing a wrist watch and a top hat inclining towards the bearded Satie, formally dressed, winking and


Nicolas Slonimsky

holding a sign with a characteristic rhetorical query: “When will people get rid of the habit of explaining everything?” In his introduction to the score of Relâche, Picabia urged to avoid all semblance of logic in its production: “Surtout pas de logique rationelle.” A not-very-polite invitation was extended to the audience in leaflets distributed during the first performance of Relâche: “Those who are not satisfied are authorized to get the hell out of here.” The original French text was more direct; it used the familiar transitive sex verb. The epitome of Satie’s Surrealistic illogic is demonstrated in his Musique d’ameublement. The audience was urged to discard the music and to treat it merely as part of the environment, like furniture (hence the title). But the public perversely kept their seats and listened attentively, while Satie waved his cane and shouted: “Don’t listen! Walk around and talk loudly!” Fifty years after Musique d’ameublement, furniture became concert music, at least nominally. In a chamber opera by the American composer La Monte Young entitled A Poem for Tables, Benches and Chairs, the musical action consisted solely in moving tables, benches and chairs around the hall. John Cage, the acknowledged leader of the American avant-garde, adopts procedures that are definitely Surrealistic. In his Suite for Toy Pianos, the disproportionate appearance of the tiny instruments and the life-size pianists crouching before their eight-note keyboards, provided a genuine Surrealistic effect, which was further enhanced at some performances by having the sound amplified electronically, adding auditory incongruity of the sonic booms to the visual disparity of size. The basically Surrealistic techniques of montage and collage found their application in Musique Concrète, born in a Paris studio, on a spring day in 1948, where the French radio engineer Pierre Schaeffer amused himself by combining the sounds and noises of the studio and recording them on magnetic tape. Esthetically speaking, Musique Concrète was a direct descendant of the romantic montage exemplified by Schumann’s insertion of the Marseillaise in his Carnival, or Tchaikovsky’s use of a few bars of the Russian Requiem in his Symphonie Pathetique. Charles Ives, the most original American composer of the century, practiced his own brand of Musique Concrète by the liberal use in his symphonies and sonatas of bits of popular ballads, church hymns, old-fashioned piano favorites, and even quotations from Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony.

Music and Surrealism


Commenting on the rise in popularity of Verdi’s operas and the decline of the taste for Wagner during the last decades, Ernst Krenek sagely remarked that Verdi is closer to modernity because the translucid diatonic fabric of his music lends itself easily to surrealistic polytonal expansion or atonal deformation, while Wagner’s dense chromatic harmony leaves no interstices for further elaboration. Since musical reality is strongly connected with the sense of tonality, it follows that musical Surrealism ought to be either polytonal or atonal. The French school of composition prefers multiple tonality, while the Germans follow the chromatic path to integral atonality, ultimately leading to the development of the 12-tone technique. It was in 1924, the year of André Breton’s first Surrealist Manifesto that Schoenberg codified the principles of his method of composition with 12 tones related only to one another, a definition that Schoenberg formulated himself. The method is also known under the Greek name Dodecaphony. Surrealistic effects can be achieved by dodecaphonic melodies, but historically Schoenberg’s school served Expressionist music par excellence. The principle of non-repetition of thematic notes inherent in dodecaphony was eventually extended to intervals, rhythms, instruments and dynamics. This further subtilization is owed mainly to Schoenberg’s disciple Anton von Webern. The development became known as Serial Music, in which all elements of composition, melody, harmony, rhythm, instrumentation, were functions of a cybernetical set, governing the direction of the work. When a simple tonal melody is dodecaphonically deformed and arranged in a thematic series in which no note is repeated, the result may justifiably be described as Surrealistic. A dodecaphonic version of “Happy Birthday to You” lends itself easily to such a dodecaphonic arrangement, for the original tune contains twelve notes. The second section of the tune is then arranged in retrograde progression of the 12-tone series. By doubling the intervals of a Bach fugue, a Surrealistic effect is achieved, converting Baroque polyphony into an Impressionistic palette, for with the elimination of the semitones, the whole-tone scale, cultivated by Debussy and his followers, becomes the main matrix of the arrangement. The same fugue, dislocated by a shift of tonics, raised or lowered a semitone at the end of each musical phrase, will produce a neo-Classical effect, which also partakes of Surrealism.


Nicolas Slonimsky

Serial music, until recently a hermetic science, has now become a realistic art. So greatly has the perceptive acuity of 20th-century listeners progressed that even the most complex atonal melodies are now meaningful to the hom*o Aestheticus. The carillon announcing the end of the intermission period in Philharmonic Hall, Lincoln Center, New York, now plays the 12-tone theme of the dodecaphonic violin concerto by Alban Berg, instead of the Westminster chimes. Notation itself has undergone a Surrealistic sea change. Instead of the familiar notes perched like so many black crows on telegraph wires, avantgarde composers draw geometric figures and arrows and spread thick inky stripes across the music staff. The author of this article has himself contributed to notational Surrealism in his perpetual rondo Möbius Strip Tease. The music is written on a Möbius band with a single continuous surface. The performer places it around his head and rotates the band following the music. There is a tendency in the extreme avant-garde to denude tonal material from all embroidery or costumery, creating a sort of “musique dépouillée”—plucked music. Edgar Varèse, whose prophetic music laid the foundation of many modern techniques, spoke of a “son organisé.” The avant-garde, taking Varèse as a point of departure, explores the “son aboli” in which no sounds are produced at all. The zenith (or the nadir) of this musical nihilism—or subrealism, infrarealism, irrealism—is attained in John Cage’s composition entitled 4’ 33.” Its orchestration is indicated as follows: “Tacet, any instrument or combination of instruments.” It is in three movements, Cage explains, during which no sounds are intentionally produced. At the performance of a similar silent piece of music, the coughs of the listeners were tape-recorded, electronically transmogrified and arranged into a composition entitled Cough Music. Silent music has its pictorial antecedent in Malevitch’s White on White. Neo-Classical music, with its proliferation of tonal centers in polytonal harmonies finds its cognate in the geometrical surrealism of Relativity by Maurits Cornelis Escher. The modern American composer Gunther Schuller selects an atonal idiom in his music illustrating the conceptions of Paul Klee. A Surrealist object by Miroslav Sutej of Yugoslavia bears the title Bombardment of the Optic Nerve. Some modern musical compositions may well be designated Bombardment of the Auditory Nerve. The technique of trompe l’oeil in art might well be simulated in music by some sort

Music and Surrealism


of trompe l’oreille. Jean Cocteau speaks of “myopic ears” of average concert goers. Such ears should be easy to fool. Since optical paintings have now been scientifically placed in the category of Op Art, musicians might as well introduce an analogous category of Aud Music. In John Cage’s Theatrical Piece, newspapers were strewn on the floor, a lawnmower was wheeled in and proceeded to chew them up with a racket in the highest decibel numbers. It was loud, but was it art? Not in the classical sense of that much abused term, but it was surely Aud Music.


The process of listening to music differs considerably among musicians and non-musicians. People who don’t know anything about music enjoy listening to their favorite symphonies and operas. And it is the people, not the professional musicians, who determine the popularity of this or that classical work. This seems paradoxical. How can a person who does not know anything about music be a judge of which symphony is beautiful and which is not? But this paradox is peculiar not only to the art of music, but to literature and painting as well. Musical cemeteries are full of crosses over the graves of composers who were once professionally regarded as equal to the best of their period, but who are doomed by the voice of the people to remain in the dark shadows of musical death forever. Examples are many. Raff and Rheinberger were regarded as the equals of Brahms, but they died, and Brahms continued to live. Schubert had a contemporary named Norbert Burgmuller, who died at the age of twenty-six, and who left an unfinished symphony in the same key of B minor as Schubert’s famous work. Burgmuller’s unfinished symphony had numerous performances, while Schubert’s was not even discovered until some thirty years after his death. The judgment of the people decided in favor of Schubert. The people are not always right, however, particularly in regard to works of the modern school. There are remarkable instances of rising popularity (usually posthumous) of composers appreciated during their lifetime by only a handful of admirers and friends. The most striking cases are those of Charles Ives in America and Anton von Webern of Austria. By a fantastic twist of belated recognition, these esoteric composers, writing Ch. 10: from an incomplete manuscript entitled Exposition of Music, of which only this portion is found.


Exposition of Music


in a difficult dissonant idiom, became favorites among the least educated members of the musical profession, the jazz players, who found something inspiring in the ultramundane sonorities of Anton von Webern. Have our musical ears grown larger and more receptive to modern sounds, like the large radio antennas listening in on outer space? Can the art of listening improve from one generation to another? Is there such a thing as an art of listening? An art—perhaps not; but a practical and fruitful method—undoubtedly. A catch phrase, Creative Listening, has been put in circulation by educationists, by analogy with creative writing. But how can a passive occupation such as listening be creative? Like most catchphrases, this one is misapplied, perhaps through a desire on the part of music educators to flatter people who listen to classical music into believing that they actively participate in the performance by lending their ears and part of their attention to the sounds of music. Creative Listening should be replaced by the more appropriate phrase Analytical Listening. This makes plain sense. Even a non-musician can analyze a musical composition through Intelligent Listening, observing certain recognizable patterns. Let us start from the simplest patterns, the contrast between loud and soft music in a single composition, then fast and slow fragments. Loudness does not always go with speed. There are numerous highly effective compositions, for instance the “Queen Mab” Scherzo in Romeo and Juliet by Berlioz, that go very fast but play very soft. And then there are, of course, numerous instances when loud chords are played with long breaks between them. Thus the first lesson in Analytic Listening would be to make a mental count of loud music played fast, loud music played slow, soft music played fast, soft music played slow. This will establish the listening categories of dynamics and tempo, and their interrelation. The idea seems ridiculously elementary, but as a matter of fact the observation of these contrasts is of value even to a professional music critic. A much harder task in Analytical Listening is to make observations of recurrent melodic patterns. This requires a retentive memory. No melody is ever wasted by the composer in the beginning without recapturing it in the middle or towards the end of a musical work. An analytical listener must try to retain an image of a melody and its rhythmic shape as an inseparable unit, and then be on the alert for a recurrence of this melody, perhaps played by another instrument, in another tonal range, perhaps changing from a minor key to a major key, from a fast tempo to a slow tempo, but still retaining its original proportions. The next step is to separate the melody


Nicolas Slonimsky

from its rhythm and to watch for the recurrence of the rhythmic figure, regardless of the melody. Finally, and most difficult, one should try to form the image of the melody in terms of intervals, ascending and descending, large and small. A new insight of Analytic Listening will be obtained by grasping the meaning of a melody as a succession of intervals, regardless of the rhythm. A melody regarded in this way would supply a meaningful graph, give us a new understanding of the structure of music. Such graphic analysis through listening is of great value even to professional musicians who may not always appreciate the structural content of the music they play instinctively from long experience. Even the most unmusical person can be trained to listen analytically for such elementary contrasts as softness and loudness, melodies going up and melodies going down, slowness or speed of the tempo. The ability to recognize a given melody when it appears again can also be acquired through analysis of the melodic structure. To give an example, “The StarSpangled Banner” may be described in terms of melodic fall and rise, as follows: two medium-sized intervals falling, three medium-sized intervals going up; a rhythmic stop, another medium-sized interval going up; two small intervals falling, a large interval falling, two small intervals rising, a rhythmic stop; etc. This sort of thing may appear silly to an American who, no matter how unmusical, must be able to give a reasonable facsimile of the national anthem. But such an exercise is very valuable as a preparation for the analysis of much more difficult musical patterns. A word of caution: one should not confuse an interval with a note. An interval is a distance between two notes. In order to form a musical interval, one must have two notes, just as in order to count a full day, one must have two midnights. For listening to complex modern music, perception of intervals is of paramount importance. The most fashionable modern idiom of the second half of the 20th century, the twelve-note method of composition, is based on a unified theme of twelve different notes, which is used also in the forms of inversion, in which the original intervals change direction, and in retrograde motion, in which the last interval becomes first. Instinctive listening, without analytical perception, will fail completely in twelve-note music. Many musicians have raised the question of the possibility of recognizing a melody run backwards at all. Paradoxically, a person who approaches modern music intellectually may be able to recognize such altered patterns more readily than a talented professional musician.

Exposition of Music


But is it necessary, one may ask, for a music lover to exert himself in order to develop acute perception of twelve-note music? The answer is that no exertion of intellectual or even physical faculties is ever wasted. The physical culture enthusiast learns to move his limbs in the most unnatural ways, so that simple movements will require no effort. A mathematician absorbed in intricate abstractions of his science develops techniques that become of practical importance in modern physics. A professional musician, a music lover, an amateur performer, must strive to achieve a maximum ability to handle musical materials, analytically and practically. Fortunately for such aficionados, simple arithmetic will quite suffice in building up a solid analytical knowledge of music. Talent cannot be awarded to a person born without it, and the musical gift is inborn as well as stubborn; it cannot be purchased for any price of exertion, and it will not go away through any attempt at suppression. To return to Analytical Listening. The perception of rhythmic patterns can be fostered by intellectual abstraction, just as melodic patterns can be analyzed through their intervallic structure. The primary musical rhythms are no more complex than the familiar syllabification of verse, or Morse code. It is amazing to realize that virtually all classical music is rhythmically derived from a dozen or two primary patterns. One must be able to abstract oneself from the melody and follow only the rhythmic proportions. Shakespeare’s line comes to mind: How sour sweet music is When time is broke and no proportion kept!*

So far we have been dealing with the perception of a single line of music, a rhythmic melody. The next step in the development of Analytical Listening is to follow the repetition of such a melody by another voice, or another instrument, in canonic imitation. The process is familiar to children who sing rounds, but in symphonic or chamber music even the most obvious type of imitation may pass unnoticed, when it overlaps, let us say, between the violins and the cellos. An untutored listener may even imagine that the “time is broke” and the players are at odds. The last movement of the violin sonata by Cesar Franck is constructed in canon form, the pianist *“Broke” is, of course, not an illiterate mistake, but an old form of the participle “broken.”


Nicolas Slonimsky

playing the tune first, and the violinist entering afterwards. One sweet old lady listening to a performance of this sonata was heard to remark: “Isn’t it too bad that they didn’t rehearse enough?” A higher dimension Analytical Listening is the simultaneous perception of two or more musical lines. While listening to a musical canon, or a round, like the French song “Frère Jacques,” or the old English round “Summer Is Icumen In,” even an inexperienced listener can make an ear-jump from one voice to another, while still following with the ear’s periphery the first voice. After all we can see several things at once, without losing the sense of the complete picture, so why not learn to listen to several things at once, and still keep the image of the total ear-picture? When the musical lines are distinct and easily separable, and possess different rhythms, as in rounds, we listen contrapuntally. When all musical lines move together as an organic whole, in the same rhythm, and the separate parts are merely components of changing chords, then we listen harmonically. The goal in Analytical Listening, whether contrapuntally or harmonically, is to attain an ability to separate individual voices from the ensemble and to follow not only the top line usually assigned to the melody, but also the inside lines, some of which may even be a succession of identical notes. A still higher dimension of Analytical Listening is attained in the process of listening instrumentally. Here the necessary prerequisite is to acquaint oneself with the tone-colors of the various instruments of the orchestra. The first rudimentary step is the differentiation between the sounds of string instruments and the sounds of wind instruments. This suggestion should not be treated with a condescending smile. Of course, even the most earless individual can tell the sound of the double-bass from that of the flute. But it is not so easy to tell the muted French horn from the cello or the low register of the clarinet from that of the viola. And when a wind instrument and a string instrument play the same notes, the sounds coalesce so that it is difficult even for a trained musician to separate the components of the synthetic sound produced by such unison playing. The differentiation among various instruments of the same type is achieved only after attentive and persistent listening. The bassoon can give a very good imitation of the French horn, in some registers at least. The flute in the low register can masquerade as a clarinet. The trombone, supposedly a loud and clumsy creation, can coo as gently as a dove, and baffle the listener. Among string instruments, the high viola or cello notes may be made to sound like low violin notes. Wind instruments of the same

Exposition of Music


family, as for instance the oboe and the alto oboe (usually known as the English horn) sound so much alike in similar registers that they can hardly be differentiated at all. And it takes a professional musician of long orchestral experience to distinguish between a single note played on a clarinet in B-flat and its sibling, the clarinet in A. One of the highest dimensions of Analytical Listening is thematic plurality in unity, i.e., variations on a theme. The motto E pluribus unum is relevant here, for the form of variation presents both uniformity and plurality. The theme is variously adorned by melodic ornamentation and is artfully altered in rhythm. The skill of the composer is measured by his ability to make the theme shine through all these altered shapes. The highest dimension of Analytical Listening is architectonic listening. Here the listener is invited to embrace the entire composition as a balanced image containing a multiplicity of parts but depending for its effect on the balanced design. Furthermore, this contemplation must carry an emotional impact, an appreciation of tonal beauty that is the secret of musical enjoyment. An analogy with visual absorption is justifiable here. When we look at a great painting, in which a multitude of individual images is subordinated to the chief design, the impression of beauty is a sum of infinitely small details. Change a brush-stroke, and the general impression is insensibly altered. Similarly, the wrong inflection in singing a Schubert song, a forced dynamic change in an impressionistic tone-poem by Debussy, a momentary instability of rhythmic motion, such minute imperfections are not consciously perceived, but they somehow diminish the effectiveness of the entire composition. An untutored music lover judges the quality of performance and of the composition itself by an instinctive summation of perfections and imperfections, and it is indeed remarkable that the judgment of the public, and not that of the professionals, ultimately determines the success or the failure of a composer or a performer. It is even more remarkable that such a collective judgment is usually correct from the purely professional standpoint. Leaving aside the ephemeral fame of unmusical performers of popular pieces, or the mutilated productions of real music, we find that fame and excellence go together, the infinitesimal technical details add up to general perfection of performance, and sooner or later to worldly success. Unquestionably a professional musician will extract much more specific appreciation from listening to a new work than an instinctive amateur.


Nicolas Slonimsky

To such a trained musician, the rudiments of the musical structure are perceived subliminally, without effort, much as elementary parts of speech are understood by a person to whom the language is native. He will know exactly what notes are played by what instruments; musical phrases will appear as simple as sentences to an average reader. He will be able to anticipate a chord or a melodic turn, much as a reader turning a page in the middle of a sentence can guess what the next words must be. He can subordinate all these obvious musical developments to the larger design, and gain a clear view of the architecture of the entire composition. Furthermore, he will be able to tell when wrong notes are played in a new work, just as a reader can spot an obvious misprint. A trained musician who possesses the sense of absolute pitch, a retentive memory, and an ability to concentrate may be able to reconstruct whole sections of an unfamiliar work from a single hearing. There are numerous verified stories about musicians who astounded their composer friends by discussing in great and specific detail a complex work after a performance. Intrinsically this is no more astounding than a professional litterateur’s ability to discuss a new play intelligently and in detail after its first production. For music is a language, and to persons who speak that language, it has its logic and its coherence, qualities that are indispensable to any expressive art. An interesting question is whether intellectual listening by a highly professional musician is apt to give more enjoyment than instinctive listening by a non-professional. It is possible to argue that instinctive listeners have an advantage. Too much learning generates a hypercritical attitude and intolerance of minor faults. Some great performers actually refuse to listen to other artists because of the difference in subjective interpretation, which a self-centered musician is apt to regard as a transgression against the spirit of the music itself. A musical theorist, who has no such personal axe to grind, may be incapable of an emotional enjoyment of music because he is totally absorbed in technical details. On the other hand, an intellectual listener will become excited over some brilliant exercise of contrapuntal skill which will pass entirely unnoticed by the non-professional, or even by musicians who have no special training in the matters of theory. A great artist is, of course, as critical of himself as of his colleagues. When Toscanini was dissatisfied with some details of a symphonic performance, which appeared celestially beautiful to the public, he would fly into a rage at compliments.

Exposition of Music


Musicians are no different from actors in their professional attitude, in self-aggrandizement and contemptuous dismissal of rivals, and in their exaggerated demands for the perfection of their own performance. The public accepts their eccentricities as inevitable attributes of genius and continues to enjoy their art regardless of personal idiosyncrasies. We have discussed at length the problems of Analytical Listening by untutored music lovers, Intellectual Listening by learned theorists, and Intolerant Listening by high professionals. Each performer strives to render as faithfully as possible the intentions of the composer. Pronouncements by celebrated artists invariably emphasize their obeisance to the creators of the music they perform. The formula is this: “I play Beethoven’s music as he created it. All others traduce this great music for the sake of their vanity.” Wanda Landowska, the great performer of Bach, used to say, “Let them play Bach their way, and I’ll play Bach his way.” Another saying by Wanda Landowska regarding interpretation is worth quoting: “The composer invites you to be a guest in the mansion of his art. You can move about along the halls, but it would be impertinent to abuse his hospitality and lie down on the rug and put your feet on his table.” The meaning of this is only too clear: a certain freedom of interpretation is inevitable and even welcome in preference to total rigidity; but bad manners are as inadmissible in music as in social conduct. True greatness is achieved in musical interpretation by relentless selfcontrol and cool and objective listening to one’s own performance, with technical virtuosity subordinated to this intellectual planning. Only hopeless amateurs abandon themselves to the inspiration of the moment, in the belief that the subjective state of musical happiness is a sure indication of adequate performance. Far from it. A performer who abandons himself to such euphoria is apt to lose all control over his performance, with disastrous results. It is true that many great pianists and violinists occasionally hit wrong notes. Anton Rubinstein once remarked that he could give a whole concert made up of wrong notes from his previous recitals. The eccentric piano virtuoso Vladimir de Pachmann startled his audience by crawling under the piano after the last number on the program. “I am looking for the wrong notes I played,” he explained. Wrong notes are accidents that do not invalidate a truly great performance, which is shaped by the perfection of formal balance, subtle gradation of loudness and softness, the swelling and ebbing of musical waves, subtlety in changes of speed, beauty of tone in melodic passages,


Nicolas Slonimsky

swiftness and evenness of technical runs, effectiveness without grossness. All these qualities combine to bring out the poetry and drama inherent in every musical work of true merit. A discerning listener can judge the rank of a performer after a few bars, for there is an unmistakable criterion of technique and expression that cannot be counterfeited. The gate of music is the ear. Musical perception and ability to perform music, the art of self-listening, all these faculties depend on the perfection of our auditory apparatus. It is amazing, therefore, that Beethoven was able to write great music when he was, if not totally deaf, then certainly so hard of hearing that he had to rely on a notebook in which his collocutors wrote their remarks. Smetana was deaf for several years before his death in an insane asylum, but while his mind was lucid, his deafness did not interfere with his ability as a composer. In fact, he wrote his best-known work, The Moldau, when the realm of sound no longer existed for him. And in his last string quartet he inserted in the violin part the high E, the note that he constantly heard. The sound may be compared to the dial tone on a telephone. A similar tintinnus (without deafness) afflicted Schumann, but the note he heard was A-flat, and he did not make use of it in any of his works, for his mental deterioration progressed too rapidly. Gabriel Faure was also deaf several years before his death, but it did not prevent him from composing. It is interesting to note also that one of the most famous musical writers on acoustics, the science of sound, the French scholar Sauveur, was deaf from infancy. How could Beethoven compose if be could not hear sounds? The answer is that his creative imagination had already built a dome of sound and he no longer needed external stimuli to organize these sounds into melodies and harmonies. In fact, every composer absorbed in the process of writing notes on music paper is deaf to the outside world, almost literally so. ACOUSTICS If our eyes were to be connected with the auditory nerve, and our ears with the optical nerve, we would hear sounds with our eyes, and see colors with our ears. Both sounds and colors are nothing but subjective perceptions of a certain band of frequencies of vibration. We don’t sense the infra-red or the ultra-violet in the visual spectrum, but birds may be guided by the

Exposition of Music


ultra-violet light, and co*ckroaches find their way to food by the infinitesimally small amount of heat emitted by infra-red. With the aid of electronic devices, we can hear light beams by converting them into tones. But beyond a certain limited range of sounds we are deaf. On the other side of the aural spectrum, the frequencies of vibrations less than fifteen disintegrate into separate beats. H. G. Wells in his story “The Modern Accelerator” tells of an amazing potion which enables a human being to accelerate his senses a thousandfold. The inventor takes a walk in a town that seems at a standstill to him, while he feels the friction heat in his clothes because objectively he moves hundreds of miles an hour. He goes to the public square to hear a band play, but instead of musical sounds he hears pulsating heavy beats, for the sound waves move too slowly for him. To him only the highest ultrasonics, that is, sounds far above the human range, are perceptible as tones. The retina of the eye forms after-images that linger a fraction of a second, making possible the movies. Sound, however, leaves no similar after-images in the cochlea of the ear and this makes music possible. If the inner ear vibrated after the source of the sound had ceased, melodies would overlap and bunch up into tonal blurs. Sound is produced by air waves propagating from the source in all directions. The air is rippled analogously to the water in a pond when a pebble is thrown in. The pitch depends on frequency of sound waves reaching the ear per time unit. If the source of sound recedes, then fewer waves reach us per second, and we hear a falling tone. If the source moves toward us, more sound waves reach us, and we hear a rising tone. This phenomenon was discovered by the Austrian physicist Doppler when he noticed that the whistle of an approaching train rose in pitch, and fell in pitch when the train was moving away. The Doppler Effect, as it is called, simply could not have been discovered before him because there was no means of moving the source of sound with sufficient rapidity to register the difference in the human ear. A word of caution: the colloquial use of the term “air waves” as applied to radio transmission is misleading. Radio waves are electronic vibrations and do not depend on the air as a medium. They lie far beyond the range of acoustical vibrations perceptible to the human ear, and are converted into audible sounds through special techniques. No sound exists beyond the earth’s atmosphere. Two earthlings meeting on the airless surface of


Nicolas Slonimsky

the moon will have to communicate by means of wireless, even when they stand on the same spot. Musical tones are produced by periodical waves of an identifiable symmetric structure. Noises have no such recognizable pattern. The air waves that produce musical tones can be made visible by a very simple experiment. Only two pieces of equipment are necessary: a cylinder covered with lampblack and a tuning fork with a sharp pin attached to one of its prongs. The cylinder is rotated rather fast with the aid of a crank. Then the tuning fork is set into vibration by the simple act of squeezing the prongs between the fingers, and its sharp end is brought into contact with the surface of the rotating cylinder for exactly one second. This will produce a wavy line on the cylinder. If the tuning fork sounds the middle A, there will be 440 waves traced on the surface of the blackened cylinder in one second. Middle A is the standard pitch for tuning orchestral instruments. For the convenience of musicians the 440-cycle standard A for tuning purposes is periodically broadcast from the National Bureau of Standards in Washington. The standard American pitch is very high, and the tendency of many orchestras in America is to raise it still higher, so that the middle A has 444 cycles per second. In Europe, however, standard pitch is much lower, averaging 435 cycles. This discrepancy leads to confusion. A European-trained musician who has the misfortune to possess absolute pitch will hear B-flat instead of A when an American orchestra tunes up. In the 18th century the standard pitch was still lower than the presentday European A. If Mozart, who possessed a phenomenal absolute pitch, came back from his pauper’s grave to hear his Jupiter Symphony performed by an American orchestra, or if he played an American recording of it, it would register in his sensitive ear as somewhere between D-flat and D Major instead of the glorious Jovian C Major. Our ears can perceive the range of frequencies, or vibrations per second, from about 15 to 20,000 cycles. The lowest A on the modern grand piano has 27 1/2 cycles; the highest C in the treble six has 4,224 cycles. The cochlea of our ear, which is its resonating body, is itself arranged like a grand piano, and its strings, microscopically tiny hair fibers, respond sympathetically to each sound, identifying it. The cochlea can also analyze complex sounds, and identify their component notes, a most amazing faculty which still awaits a scientific explanation. The response in the extreme high or extreme low registers is much less precise. Not even the

Exposition of Music


keenest ear can readily distinguish between B and C in the highest treble or between A and B-flat in the lowest bass. The modern grand piano has eighty-eight keys. In Ravel’s piano piece Jeux d’eau, there is a coruscatingly effective pyrotechnical cadenza in which the left hand goes down by octaves on G-sharps. But since there is no Gsharp below the lowest A, Ravel lets the left hand hit the low A instead, and no one is the wiser for this substitution. A ninety-seven-note piano has been constructed, with several extra keys in the lower register; on this instrument, Ravel’s piece can be performed with a proper octave run all the way down to G-sharp. Mozart and his contemporaries had only fifty-two notes on their keyboard instruments, from C below middle C to F two and a half octaves above middle C. In Mozart’s famous C Major Sonata, the second theme in the recapitulation starts on G, but since there was no high G on Mozart’s piano, he was compelled to write the opening phrase of this theme an octave lower, and then jump to the high treble when it was within range for the melody. Similar rearrangements were forced on Beethoven in his early sonatas. The question that bothers musicologists and editors is, Have we of the 20th century the moral right to accommodate Mozart and Beethoven retroactively, and write in the missing notes for them? After all, we have a handful of high keys above Mozart’s F to play. Wouldn’t Mozart approve? Some musicians even claim that the very limitation of the 18thcentury keyboard provided variety when a theme reappeared in a higher register. The human ear ceases to hear sounds much beyond the octave above the highest C of the piano. But dogs can. Dog whistles, producing 25,000 cycles and more, are widely used by hunters and detectives. Monkeys can hear tones nearly three octaves above the highest C on the piano keyboard, up to about 30,000 cycles. Bats orient themselves in dark caves by echoes in the high ultrasonic range. Very low sounds and very high sounds can be produced electronically, but they may be actually painful for human ears. Very high notes give the sensation of sticking sharp needles in the eardrum. Very low sound in the infrasonic range may produce nausea. The pitch of a musical tone depends entirely on the number of vibrations per second. The loudest middle A and the softest middle A will vibrate at the frequency of 440 cycles per second. Different degrees of loudness can depend on the amplitude of the oscillation of a sounding body. If we pluck a string very vigorously we will see


Nicolas Slonimsky

a shape like a great spindle. Obviously, the thicker the spindle is, the greater the amplitude of vibration, the louder the sound. Periodical vibrations are extremely powerful because, like a child’s swing, they are cumulative. Soldiers are not allowed to march across a suspension bridge in uniform and unchanging rhythm because the infinitesimal swings produced by each stop add up relentlessly so that finally even the strongest cables on which the bridge is fastened may break and destroy the bridge. Cumulative vibrations produced by tuning in on a sounding body with absolute precision may break things at a distance. It is difficult to separate fact from legend, but it has been repeatedly asserted that singers possessing an ability to sustain a note without altering its pitch for a long time could break glasses, Chinese vases, chandeliers, and other fragile objects. A radio listener sued the British Broadcasting Corporation claiming that a precious glass tumbler was shattered to pieces in his living room when a soprano hit a high note. Numerous stories are told about singers breaking dishes by the sound of their voices. Caruso was supposed to have broken a mirror while shaving and practicing. His reputation as a glass shatterer gave him a chance to deliver a famous bon mot. He was in San Francisco with an opera company during the great earthquake of 1906. On the morning after the catastrophe, he was seen sitting on the steps of the entrance of his ruined hotel, shaking his head unhappily. “I knew it would happen after I hit that high C last night,” he observed. Perhaps Joshua did bring down the walls of Jericho by blowing his trumpet. Loudness of sound has nothing to do with its destructive capacity. The important factor is the resonance. Every pianist has had the annoying experience of rattling dishes, lamps, glasses and other objects when a certain note is playing, when there is a common frequency of vibrations. No less a person than Nikola Tesla, the electric wizard, asserted that he could reduce the Empire State building to a mass of rubble by attaching small oscillators to its walls, adjust the resonance so as to produce tremors, and by constant accumulation of periodic vibrations, bring the whole structure down. High frequency sound waves can kill small animals by setting in vibrations the vital cells in their bodies. Such ultrasonics can also perform useful tasks, such as drill holes in teeth or remove dirt from clothes without soap or water.

Exposition of Music


It is a common belief that the loudness of sound is directly proportional to the number of instruments or human voices, so that a chorus of one hundred singers sounds ten times as loud as a group of ten singers. This is not so. The sensation of loudness increases at a much slower rate. A workable formula is that while the force of the sound increases in the geometrical progression, the sensation increases in the arithmetical progression. Another formulation of the same physiological law states that sensation is proportionate to the logarithm of the impact. Thus a hundred singers will produce a sound only twice as loud as ten singers, since the logarithm of one hundred is two; one thousand singers will sound only three times as loud as ten singers, etc. During the National Peace Jubilee Festival, staged in Boston in 1869, the climactic event was the performance of the “Anvil Chorus” from Verdi’s opera Il Trovatore by a chorus and orchestra numbering in thousands and one hundred firemen beating out the rhythm on one hundred anvils. But the sound produced by those hundred anvils appeared disappointingly small. The managers of the Festival did not realize that one hundred anvils delivered an amount of sound only about three times as loud as a single anvil. The unit of loudness is a decibel, proposed by the Bell Telephone Laboratories in 1924. The word is a compound of deci (1/10) and bel (abbreviated last name of the inventor of the telephone, Alexander Graham Bell). The terms “decibel” and “bells” are now commonly used in measuring the level of noises produced by modern machinery and airplanes. It has been established that the sound level of 120 decibels is a maximum that can be endured by the human ear without suffering pain. When the first demonstration of stereophonic reproduction of sound was given in Carnegie Hall in New York on April 9, 1940, the maximum level was set at 100 decibels, which corresponded to the sound of an ensemble of some two thousand musicians. Several electrical amplifiers, placed at strategic points of the hall, produced the all enveloping three-dimensional sound, coming from all directions. The word “stereo,” now a commonplace term in high-fidelity recording, was borrowed from the field of optics, by analogy with the once popular stereoscopic photography. With the introduction of electrical amplification, the ambition of the organizers of the “monster” festivals of the past century to overwhelm and deafen the audience came to fruition. Any hi-fi buff can now generate more noise with his record player than the greatest noisemakers of old.


Nicolas Slonimsky

The expression “You can hear a pin drop” has become a reality. A Cleveland professor made a demonstration of it in 1949, when he asked his audience to refrain from coughing and wheezing, and then dropped a pin in the vicinity of a sensitive microphone. The pin made a boom. The siren song that lured unwary sailors to destruction in Homer’s Odyssey may receive a new interpretation in the light of modern acoustical research. The voices of these mythical creatures, half woman and half bird, may have been in the ultrasonic range, producing disorientation and mental confusion. Ulysses roped himself to the mast of his ship in order to escape the acoustical danger, and he filled the ears of his crew with wax which not even the ultrasonics could penetrate. Now that engineers know so much about acoustics, is it not strange that some modern auditoriums constructed according to the latest specifications of the science of sound are often lacking in the vital quality of old-fashioned halls built by the rule of thumb? Some ultra-modern concert halls in Europe are acoustically speaking so lifeless that, in their exasperation, the engineers had to hang draperies around the walls to give warmth to the modern bleakness of unimpeded sound. Such factors as reverberation, sound absorption, and the spacing of seats had to be considered in the minutest detail. It was found, for instance, that the difference of only half a second in the reverberation time meant a difference between vibrant sound full of life and the dead resonance of an empty barn. In the old halls, the loges, the balconies, the individual seats, were adorned with lyres, cupids, angels, Greek gods, or gargoyles, which broke the stream of sound and effected a fine flow of harmony. But modern architects could not very well cover their utilitarian creations with such rococo ornaments. A solution was seemingly arrived at by hanging panels and spheres of different materials over the stage and in the corners of the halls. This arrangement has a modern look, and at the same time it provides breaks to form the essential eddies of sound waves. Even more baffling to a modern acoustician is the superiority of old string instruments to the new. Stradivarius knew nothing about physics. He collected in the neighboring woods the type of material which would make the best fiddles, and he had a geometric instinct for the proper shape of the instrument, and for the most resonant f-holes, symmetrically positioned on both sides of the fingerboard. Furthermore, he must have possessed an olfactory sense of exceptional acuity in order to select the right kind of varnish to make the wood pliable without being brittle. He

Exposition of Music


continued manufacturing string instruments until the age of ninety, leaving a legacy of unattainable perfection for three centuries to contend with. Why can’t the secret of Stradivarius be analyzed, his wood and his varnish synthesized, and his instruments recreated in the modern laboratory? In our scientific age it is intellectually inadmissible to postulate a mystical quality that an Italian peasant possessed as a gift of God, and that our modern gods are unable to capture and put to practice.

Part III


1 1 . WA N D A L A N D O W S K A

Her fingers on the cembalo Type out the polyphonic lore Of Bach’s Inventions,—and restore The true original edition Unobfuscated by tradition. Her expert fingers on the cembalo Upturn embellishments and trills, Revive bicentenary thrills, Hereto tabooed by orthodoxy Whose Bach is only Bach by proxy. Her dextrous fingers on the cembalo Elaborate the double counterpoint Where Dux and Comes, point counter point, At measured intervals, in faithful imitation Parade to finish in cadential exaltation. N. S. St.-Leu-La-Forêt—Boston. 1932.

St.-Leu-La-Forêt is a pastoral retreat some twenty kilometers out of Paris; the forest implied in the name is still there, but the village is making relentless inroads into it. Simple folk inhabit the district; close neighborhood of Paris hardly influences the leisurely pace of their lives, and the setting of the sun is still the signal for a general curfew. It is the Ch. 11: originally published in Disques, 1932.



Nicolas Slonimsky

eighteenth century preserved intact; and it is altogether fitting that the greatest protagonist living of the eighteenth century music should make her home at St.-Leu-La-Forêt. In Wanda Landowska’s home the eighteenth century is preserved artistically; the ancient art is here made object of intimate and sympathetic study; the house, Number 88 on Rue Pontoise, which is Landowska’s property and home, is the gathering center of many lovers of the music of the past. Aspirants and professional musicians from Berlin and Rome, London and Lisbon, Boston and San Francisco, come here as students to learn the art of playing on a wholly obsolete instrument, the harpsichord (=cembalo, =clavecin), under the guidance of the greatest player on this instrument who is also the greatest champion for its revival. So powerful is Wanda Landowska’s conviction of the harpsichord’s usefulness in modern times that she induced and inspired Falla to write his now celebrated Harpsichord Concerto, and Francis Poulenc the Concert Champêtre which also makes use of the clavecin (I use the terms clavecin, cembalo and harpsichord interchangeably as a reminder that all these names designate the identical instrument where the strings are plucked, as distinct from the clavichord where strings are struck). Wanda Landowska teaches peripatetically—in the music room, in the concert auditorium, in the garden. In the music room the student learns the art at the keyboard, in the auditorium he presents a ready program to fellow-students, and in the garden he exchanges views on pertinent subjects. Then there is a library which includes quaint editions of obscure works, monumental editions of Bach’s Gesellschaft, books in all European languages, and pictures of the multitudinous Wanda on the walls,— sketches made by famous artists, silhouettes, cartoons. A series of photographs of Leo Tolstoi with inscriptions in Russian and French adorns her private study on the second floor of the spacious mansion. The concert auditorium is built on simple lines—no architectural embellishments or trills—in the garden. Landowska’s summer festivals of ancient music take place there on consecutive Sundays. Before a very distinguished assembly from Paris she plays informally. Often, before starting on a fugue, she would address—in Polish—her faithful majordomo, Kasimir—or, diminutively, Kazia,—suggesting that a window should be opened; or between two inventions she would ask—in German—her inseparable secretary Elsa about somebody in the audi-

Wanda Landowska


ence who was not comfortably seated. Then—in French—she would say a few words about this or that piece on the program for the benefit of her friends, the audience. Her program notes, imaginatively written in the exquisite style, give an added incentive to enlightened enjoyment. Then, Wanda Landowska plays, changing from one instrument to another, and, when Chopin is in order, abandoning the cembalo for the modern pianoforte. Under her fingers, all these niceties of notation, slurs and staccatos, are animated and given form. Some new phonograph records of Wanda Landowska have appeared on the European market; the recording of the C Minor Fantasy of Bach is as near the original as could be wished; it seems we can hear the impact of the plucked strings. The playing of Wanda Landowska bears the intuitive quality of true interpretation. It is so consistent with itself, every particular is thought out with such minute care that the whole acquires the faculty of immediate conviction. Wanda Landowska is least of all a pedantic interpreter; she is not intent on faithful reproduction of notated sounds, but rather on the restoration of the whole. In the vexed question of “small notes,” suspensions, trills and other signs employed in the eighteenth century musical stenography, she follows the laws of musical consistency. The classics were much more liberal than the moderns. Much was left to a discreet interpreter in the music of even such a “mathematical” composer as Bach and no one could more justly set the boundaries of the permissible than Wanda Landowska herself in her fiery essay on ancient music*: “The ancient ad libitum was equivalent to our ‘please, feel at home,’ addressed to a gentleman with the assurance he will not presume upon it and turn the house upside down, throwing out of the window the things which are not to his taste, or introducing others which will not be to ours.” The book quoted and the numerous articles written by Wanda Landowska for European magazines reveal her as a writer of astounding resourcefulness and literary talent. Brilliant sallies of humor, historic anecdotage, easy and pertinent quotations from every conceivable author in every conceivable language make her writing something entirely different from a pedantic research-work compilation. And most certainly she is unique among professional virtuosos in her command of logical sequence *MUSIC OF THE PAST. By Wanda Landowska. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.


Nicolas Slonimsky

and style. How many musician-interpreters can express their ideas, when and if they have any, in clear writing? How many among them would think of going through libraries in search of enlightening material? Wanda Landowska has made herself a scholar free of pedantry and an artist free of ignorance. It is a happy and rare combination of qualities.


In a small, old town, named Klin, near Moscow, stands a house in which Tchaikovsky spent many years of his life. After his death, the house was acquired by his faithful servant, Alexis Sofronov, a simple peasant, who, with the aid of Tchaikovsky’s brothers, made it into a museum. Thirteen bound volumes of letters and documents, preserved in the house, contain, within their covers, the entire life of Tchaikovsky. Only a small part of these documents was published by Tchaikovsky’s brother, Modest, in his biography. The rest was silence; even the story of Tchaikovsky’s relationship with Madame von Meck—one of the greatest epistolary romances since Abélard and Héloise—was not given out in all of its poignant implications. The time has now come when Tchaikovsky’s life, and the lives of his intimates, is history. Alexis Sofronov died in 1925. The Museum has become property of the state; and now the Soviet Publishing House, Academia, has undertaken to publish the facts of Tchaikovsky’s life. Tchaikovsky was a great letter writer; his relationship with Madame von Meck was entirely by correspondence; he shunned a personal acquaintance with strange persistence, fearing, perhaps, that Madame von Meck’s admiration for his music and his personality might develop into an embarrassing passion. While Madame von Meck acquiesced in this impersonal intimacy, it is only too clear, from the new evidence of her letters, that she was ready and willing to enter a personal companionship with the composer. In one of her early letters, she suggested a more intimate form of address, a familiar “thee” for the formal “you.” But Tchaikovsky demurred from the suggestion, explaining that the use of the informal pronoun in correspondence would make him self-conscious. Ch. 12: originally published in The Etude, October–November 1935.



Nicolas Slonimsky

A TORN HEART SPEAKS In these circ*mstances, Madame von Meck had to use the utmost discretion and to weigh her emotions on the most delicate balance, in order to be able to say so much without saying the irretractable. “You are the only human being that can give me such exalted joy, and I am infinitely grateful to you for giving it,” she wrote on one occasion; and then again, “My affection for you is so deep, you are so dear and precious to me that tears come to my eyes and my heart trembles with ecstasy.” Also, “I cannot tell you what I feel when I listen to your music. I am ready to surrender my soul, you are like unto God to me. All that is noble, pure and exalted rises from the bottom of my heart.” Perhaps nearest of all did she come to a declaration of love, in a letter in which she admitted her jealousy, however sublimated, of Tchaikovsky’s unfortunate wife. Thus, “Do you know that I am jealous of you in a most inexcusable manner, as a woman is jealous of her lover?” she wrote on September 26, 1879.* “Do you know that when you got married I was terribly depressed, as though something was torn from my heart. I felt pain and bitterness, the thought of your intimacy with that woman was intolerable to me. . . . I hated this woman because she made you unhappy, yet I would have hated her a hundred times more, had you been happy with her. I felt that she took something away from me that belonged to me only, for I love you as no one else can love you, and I admire you more than the world. If it is embarrassing to read all this, forgive my spontaneous confession. But I want you to know that I am not such an idealist after all. . . . I want to be assured that nothing is changed in our relationship as long as I live, that no one. . . . but I have no right to say what I was going to say. So, please forgive and forget.” Tchaikovsky echoed these sentiments, in not quite so passionate a pitch: “I have never met any one who would be so close to my inner self, who would respond so sensitively to every thought, to every beat of my heart. . . . I believe that your sympathy for my music is explained by the fact that you are, even as I, full of yearning towards an ideal. Our sufferings are equal, we both sail the boundless ocean of skepticism, in search for a harbor.” *All dates are given in new (Gregorian) style. In the 19th century the Russian calendar was twelve days behind Europe.

The Most Amazing Romance in Musical History


A D E L I C AT E S I T U AT I O N Many years afterwards, Tchaikovsky wrote in his diary, “I believe that letters are never quite sincere. I judge by myself. To whomever and for whatever purpose I write, I cannot help thinking of the impression which my letters would produce, not only on the correspondent, but on any person who may happen to read them. Consequently, I pose for the reader. At times I try to make the tone of my letter simple and sincere, but, apart from letters, written in a moment of uncontrollable emotion, I am never myself. . . . When I read the letters of celebrated people, published after their death, I always have a vague sensation of falseness and make-believe.” In his correspondence with Madame von Meck it was doubly difficult for Tchaikovsky to be quite sincere. The fact that she was his benefactress held him in constant tension. Throughout, she showed the greatest tact in bestowing her favors on him without making him feel uncomfortably indebted to her. Tchaikovsky’s letters, written upon receipt of each subsidy, must have been absolutely sincere, for undoubtedly they were written in a state of “uncontrollable” and happy emotion. “You are truly my good fairy; I cannot find adequate words to express the affection with which I would repay my limitless indebtedness to you.” “Your friendship has become for me the cornerstone of my happiness and peace of mind.” “If my love and gratitude for you ever finds a means of expression, then there is no sacrifice that I would not make for your sake.”“Nadejda Filaretovna, every note, that will come from my pen, will be dedicated to you.”* Tchaikovsky’s letters show a different emotion when Madame von Meck was remiss in her expected benefactions. Thus he writes to brother Anatol, from Italy, in December, 1877, “From N. F. nothing as yet. . . . It surprises me not a little. I have only ten lire in my pocket.” Two days later he writes, “Incidentally, about Madame von Meck. Today is the fifth of the month, and there is no sign of money. I have three lire in my pocket; and, if nothing arrives by tomorrow, I will have to think up something.” The money did arrive the next day, and Tchaikovsky writes the glad news: “This morning a letter from N. F. with a cheque. She has sent me the money for two months. Her letter is eight pages long, full of philosophy.” Three days

*Nadejda is a common Russian name. It means: Hope. Filaretovna is the patronymic; that is, Madame Meck’s father’s Christian name was Filaret.


Nicolas Slonimsky

later, Tchaikovskv writes, “Good God! Where would I be without Madame von Meck? Be she thrice blessed!” Madame von Meck was, indeed, more than generous. Starting with a thinly veiled “commission” for a work Tchaikovsky never wrote, but for which she paid him a disproportionately large sum in advance, she offered him a subsidy of six thousand rubles annually. Apart from this, she sent him extra sums from time to time. Writing his brother Anatol, from Italy, in January and February of 1878, he mentions all these bounties: “As usual she writes a thousand tender thoughts, and sends me a cheque for fifteen hundred francs extra. This money comes in very handy. What an incredible woman! She guesses right when and what to tell me, how to comfort me.” And then, again, “When I came home, I found a registered letter from N. F. This time she sent four thousand instead of three thousand. . . . I cannot tell why, but my heart was heavy from the consciousness of my exploiting this amazingly generous woman. . . . I wrote her a long letter, and for the first time in our correspondence I was at a loss for words. It may be that I felt conscious-stricken, or that it is difficult to keep thanking and thanking for an eternity; but the fact is I labored hard before I could write my letter.” IN NOBLE RECTITUDE Only once did Tchaikovsky decline to accept a supernumerary sum that could not be justified by any real or imaginary need; and even then he regretted that he did. “Yesterday, I performed a deed of extraordinary civic courage,” he writes to Anatol. “N. F. sent me two thousand francs in gold, for the publication of my ‘Suite!’ I have money, although not quite enough, and oh! how handy this sum would come in! But I suddenly felt possessed with civic courage. I decided that it would be simply indecent to take money from her, after all that she is doing for me, and that for a publication that not only costs me nothing but brings me an honorarium from the publisher! In a word, I returned the money to her with a most affectionate letter, and now (oh, shame and horror!) I regret it! I must say that sometimes I am horrified at my own covetousness and greed for money.” These self-condemning words are applicable to some subsequent facts. In 1880, while receiving his annual subsidy from Madame von Meck, Tchaikovsky tried to find another Maecenas who would help him to pay off

The Most Amazing Romance in Musical History


debts, the existence of which he could not confess to Madame von Meck. In the following year, he addressed a petition to the new Emperor, Alexander the Third, with a request to grant him a subsidy of three thousand rubles. At that time he was friendly with several granddukes and therefore could hope that the request would find support in the Court. He received the three thousand, and not a soul, not even his brothers, knew about this episode at the time. THE LAST CHAPTER The “romance in letters” between Tchaikovsky and Madame von Meck continued for thirteen years, from 1878, when Madame von Meck, a recent widow of a railroad magnate, felt for the first time the fascination of a comparatively young and not yet famous composer, to 1891, when the correspondence stopped as abruptly as it had started. Tchaikovsky had already reached the peak of his glory. He scarcely needed the six thousand rubles, which Madame von Meck continued to send him every year. And finally a letter came from her notifying Tchaikovsky that reverses in her fortune compelled her to stop the subsidy. This letter was also the last he ever received from his “best friend,” the woman who inspired the Fourth Symphony, who saved him from moral and financial ruin. In vain did he try to find out through her son, who at that time had married Tchaikovsky’s niece, what was the cause of the cessation of all correspondence. He had sufficient reason to suspect the truth—the many awful truths that might have opened Madame von Meck’s eyes. Was it his duplicity in money deals? Or was it something even more dishonorable, the true and unutterable cause of his failure in marriage, his great “sin,” which he had tried to cover by a liaison with a woman, “any woman at all,” as he cynically wrote to his brother Modest a year before his marriage? This ignorance of the true reason for Madame von Meck’s defection tortured him until his last breath, and on his deathbed he reproachfully invoked the familiar name, “Nadejda Filaretovna! Nadejda Filaretovna! Why did you do it?” He could not know that Nadejda Filaretovna was, too, near her death, which overtook her a few months after. Throughout the thirteen years of their intimacy, Tchaikovsky and Madame von Meck never met face to face, never spoke a word to each other; but they saw each other on many occasions. Perhaps the most extra-


Nicolas Slonimsky

ordinary episode of their unique romance was their life in close proximity in Florence. Madame von Meck arrived in Florence ahead of Tchaikovsky; she rented for him a villa at a walking distance from her. Tchaikovsky arrived in Florence on December 2, 1878 (new style), accompanied by his faithful Alexis; and a letter from Madame von Meck, sent by messenger, awaited him. Florence, Dec. 2, 1878, Porta Romana, Villa Oppenheim. Welcome, my good, my dear, my incomparable friend! How glad I am, oh, how glad that you have come! To feel your presence near, to know the rooms you live in, to enjoy the same sights that are before your eyes, to share with you the very temperature of the air—it is a blessing, which can not be expressed in words! How ardently I hope that the lodgings that I selected for you are to your taste—be welcome here, my delightful friend! Now you are my guest, my fair guest, dear to my heart. Please, my dear, good friend, if you are in need of something, a carriage, or books, or whatever you may desire, address yourself direct to the Villa Oppenheim as to your own home, and be assured that it will be a joy to me. For a walk, I recommend a very pleasant one in your immediate vicinity; it is a convent, Campo Santo and Piazza San Miniato—a delightful spot. We take a walk every day regularly, in all kinds of weather, and start always at eleven, and go slightly beyond Villa Bonciani, which is now your residence, my priceless friend. Thence we turn back and retrace our steps, arriving home at twelve, in time for lunch. I prepared papers and periodicals for you. Good-bye, my dear, incomparable friend, Piotr Ilyitch, take a good rest after your voyage. I am so worried over your constant indispositions. God grant it that your sojourn here is good for your health! I press your hand. Loving you with all my soul.– N. v.-Meck.

Tchaikovsky replied at once:

The Most Amazing Romance in Musical History


Florence, Dec. 3, 1878 Villa Bonciani. I really cannot find words, my dear friend, to express how completely enchanted I am by all that surrounds me here. A more ideal place to live in cannot be imagined. Last night, I could not fall asleep for a long time, roaming in my delightful abode, enjoying this wonderful quietude, relishing the idea that I am on the territory of the good town of Florence, that I am so near you. This morning when I opened the shutters, the enchantment rose higher. I love dearly the characteristic originality of Florentine suburbs! As to the villa, its drawback is that it is too good, too commodious, too spacious. I am afraid to get spoiled. One of the most precious conveniences of my apartment is the large balcony, where I may breathe fresh air without leaving my house. For me, an ardent lover of fresh air, it is of capital importance. Yesterday I took full advantage of this marvelous promenade. The weather was excellent when I arrived, but today it changed. I brought you rain and bad weather.

Tchaikovsky wrote on the same day to his brother Anatol in Moscow: . . . My house consists of a number of excellent rooms. There is a splendid pianoforte in the hall, two huge vases of flowers, and all necessary stationery supplies. I am completely enchanted with all this, but my chief delight is the wonderful view, complete calm—all this within a half-hour’s walk from town! On my way here I was slightly worried by the fact that N. F. lives in close vicinity, and at times I even suspected that she intended to invite me to visit her. But her letter, which I found lying on my desk, relieved me. It is possible to arrange everything so that we need not meet.

Florence, Dec. 3, 1878, Villa Oppenheim. I cannot express, my precious Piotr Ilyitch, how happy I am that you like your house, and that we are so near each other. Even my own rooms seem more cheerful and my daily walks more pleasant. This morning I passed near your residence, looked into all windows and tried to guess what you


Nicolas Slonimsky

were doing. I bemoan the fact that the weather is so bad today, but it was not you who brought bad weather; it was that way all along. But tomorrow, or day after tomorrow, the sun will surely appear, and then everything will be fine. . . . When you take a walk, will you, please, pass by my villa, to see where I live? I just played the Canzonetta from your “Violin Concerto,” with a violinist, and I cannot find words to describe my enthusiasm. . . . Are your rooms warm, my dear friend? I was afraid that it may be cold, and ordered to start the fire in the hearth. Good-bye, dear neighbor. Now I will write you short letters, but often. Loving you with all my soul. N. F. v.-Meck.

Florence, Dec. 3, 1878, Villa Bonciani, 11:00 P.M. My dear friend:—I received your letter at dinner-time. It happened that Ivan Vasiliev [Madame von Meck’s messenger], looking for Aliosha [Alexis Sofronov, Tchaikovsky’s servant], found me instead, and handed me the cigarettes sent by you. Gracious God, how infinitely good and kind you are to me, my dear, my precious friend! Just five minutes before the appearance of these cigarettes I noticed that my supply was getting small and that I would have to ask you for some. The moment I thought about it, the cigarettes fell on me out of a blue sky, and what excellent cigarettes! My walk, despite inclement weather, was a very pleasant one. I enjoyed the marvelous view at San Miniato, and on the way back we passed by Porta Romana so that I could see your wonderful villa. What a view you have there! What a charming garden! I heard children’s voices— must be your youngsters. How strange it was to reflect that in this villa, so near me, lives my best friend! . . . Please, do not trouble yourself with an answer to every one of my letters. I know full well how difficult it is for you to find time for writing. But I will write you nearly every day. When do you go to Vienna? Goodnight, my wonderful friend.

He wrote again on the next day, December 4, at 10:00 p.m., concluding with the following lines:

The Most Amazing Romance in Musical History

What marvelous weather we had from one to five this afternoon! What an enchanting view opens from Viale dei Colli! It is beautiful to the point of madness. Historical truth demands that I mention, if ever so briefly, the not inconsiderable excitement that I experienced when you and your household passed by me today. It is so novel, so unusual for me! I am so accustomed to see you with my inner sight only. It is so difficult to persuade myself that my invisible good fairy may for a moment become visible! It is like magic!

Madame von Meck to Tchaikovsky: Florence, Dec. 5, 1878, Porta Romanta, Villa Oppenheim. Pardon me, my dear, good Piotr Ilyitch, for not answering your letter yesterday; but I can write only in the morning. After writing I take an eyewash with cold water, which prevents headaches. If I write in the middle of the day, I always get a headache, and I dread it, because with me it usually continues for at least three days and upsets me for a long time. Tell me, my dear, do they give you good food? Do you eat fruits at dinner? As to cigarettes, call on me any time you need them; I have a large stock, and of the best Turkish tobacco. You know, of course, that Turkish tobacco is least harmful; it contains the least percentage of nicotine. I will send you three different kinds, and you will tell me which you like best. One of them was brought direct from Turkey by our relative, a Guard Officer, and the tobacco is excellent, but you may find it too aromatic, too tender—men do not always like this kind. I am so glad that you saw my villa; it is very pretty inside. If you wish to see it, all you have to do is to tell when, and you will not find a soul in here. Last night we passed near you, my dear friend. There was light in your dining-room, from which I concluded that you were having dinner. Did you notice, my dear, that I have slightly changed the order of rooms? I wanted your bedroom to be on the sunny side. Are you satisfied with your piano? . . .

Tchaikovsky to Madame von Meck:



Nicolas Slonimsky

Florence, Dec. 5, Morning. Villa Bonciani. . . . They feed me very well indeed. I am very much satisfied with Signor Hector who serves me. . . . I have enough cigarettes thus far . . .

Tchaikovsky wrote Madame von Meck again late at night on the same date. Florence, Dec. 5, 1878, Villa Bonciani. I am extremely grateful to you, my dear, for the invitation to visit your villa. But, please, forgive me. I am an odd person, and I will not take advantage of this invitation as long as you are here. I know that in your villa I would not find a soul, as you write. But this very circ*mstance embarrasses me. It is depressing to think that everyone should vanish at my sight. I should prefer to visit the Villa Oppenheim immediately after your departure, and I would ask you to make arrangements for such a visit. Please, do not be angry with me for declining your offer. Goodnight, my dear friend.

On the same day he wrote his brother Anatol: I live here very comfortably in luxury and peace. But I cannot conceal that the proximity of N. F. embarrasses me somewhat. She passes by very often. What if I should run into her? How should I act? Apparently, she is not afraid of it, because she even sent me a ticket to the theater where she is going, too. She wants me to see her villa, and although she says that I will not meet a soul during my visit, I am uneasy about it. At times, I even imagine that she wants a personal meeting, although there is not a hint in this direction in her daily letters. All this makes me feel not quite at liberty, and, to tell the truth, I wish she would leave as soon as possible.

From Madame von Meck’s letter the next morning:

The Most Amazing Romance in Musical History


Florence, Dec. 6, 1878, 8:00 a.m. Villa Oppenheim. What fog today! I am afraid that when we go out for a walk we will not find our way to Villa Bonciani. I am so glad that they serve good food, my dear friend, and that you are satisfied with your Signor Hector. But you did not tell me if they give you fruit. I am so glad you like the views from our Viale. It is now five weeks that I watch this view twice a day, and every time I enjoy it greatly. . . . Good-bye my dear. All yours, N. v.-Meck.

On the same morning, perhaps only a half-an-hour later, Madame von Meck wrote again: Florence, Dec. 6, 1878, Morning. Villa Oppenheim. No sooner had I sent my letter to you, my priceless Piotr Ilyitch, than I received yours. Please, do not think that I force myself to write. I write out of my own necessity, because my thoughts and my whole being are with you, and it is understandable that I am moved to commune with you. Concerning my invitation to visit my villa. I realise, my dear friend, that I suggested something awkward. . . . But I will be very glad, my dear, if you come here after my departure. . . . While I am writing, the fog has disappeared, and the sun is shining through. In half-an-hour we will pass by your villa.

Tchaikovsky answered this double message the same day, Dec. 6, at 9:00 p.m. Florence, Dec. 6, 9:00 p.m. Villa Bonciani. . . . The lighting is excellent here, and that is why I did not take the candles that Ivan Vasiliev brought from you. But, God, how touched I am by your infinite care and kindness! Thank you, my dear, my good friend. . . . Last night I could not make up my mind to go to sleep, so beautiful was the


Nicolas Slonimsky

moonlit night. I walked up and down the balcony, relished the fresh air and enjoyed the silent night.

He wrote again on the following morning: Dec. 7, Morning, Villa Bonciani. . . . I always forget to answer your question about the fruit. They serve me fruit regularly, in great abundance. On the whole, the food is excellent, and if there is any inconvenience, it is in the number of meals. . . . It rained all evening, so I could not enjoy the night’s freshness on my balcony as I did last night. . . .

Madame von Meck answered the next morning. In that single day, Sunday, Dec. 8, Tchaikovsky sent her four separate notes, one of which announced the fine success that his Fourth Symphony obtained in Moscow.* On Tuesday, December 10, 1878, Tchaikovsky and Madame von Meck attended an opera in Florence, and Tchaikovsky wrote to her on the following day: I could see you very well in the theater, and I do not have to say what a joy that was. I followed your example in leaving after the second act. I sat where you saw me—near the trumpets and trombones who have so much work to do in this opera.

On the same day, Dec. 11, 1878, Tchaikovsky wrote to his brother Anatol: N.F. was in the theater, too, and it embarrassed me, as her proximity always does. I cannot help thinking that she wants to meet me. For instance, every day I watch her as she passes by my villa, and stops, and tries to see where I am. How should I act? Shall I step to the window and bow? But if so, why not say “How do you do?” However, in her daily, long,

*Tchaikovsky always referred to the Fourth Symphony as “our,” that is, his and her, symphony; the score bears the dedication: “To my best friend.”

The Most Amazing Romance in Musical History

fine, intelligent and remarkably kind letters there is not an inkling of her desire of a personal meeting.

Madame von Meck wrote on Dec. 13, 1878: What a wonderful man you are! What a heart, what kindness! Such men as you are born to make others happy. You cannot imagine what happiness it is for me to have your letters every single day! Since you are here, I am indifferent to all difficulties that beset me. When I feel pained and chilled by so much egotism, ingratitude and callousness, I think of you, and I feel so warm in my heart, that I forgive the others. With what sadness I think that this happiness is not for long, that I will have to leave in two weeks.

On December 25th, a farewell note came to Villa Bonciani: Good-bye, my dear, incomparable friend. I am writing you for the last time from the Villa Oppenheim in your dear neighborhood. I thank you, my dear, for all the good you have done for me, and I will always recall with joy the time I passed so near you, in constant communion with you. I feel sad to the point of tears that this happiness is at an end, but I am trying to console myself with the thought that some day it may come back.

Tchaikovsky replied at once: My dear and good friend! I thank you for everything: for the wonderful days which I spent here, for all your infinite cares, for your friendly sentiments. You are the source of my material and moral well-being, and my gratitude is beyond expression.

To his brothers he wrote this time without mental reservations: N.F. has left, and, much to my surprise I miss her very much. With tears in my eyes I pass by her deserted villa. . . . I am so accustomed to be in daily communication with her, to watch her every morning, as she passed by my house, accompanied by her entire retinue, that what at first embarrassed me, now constitutes the subject of a most sincere regret. But, God, what a remarkable, wonderful woman!



Nicolas Slonimsky

Nadejda Filaretovna von Meck was Tchaikovsky’s good angel. But the picture would be incomplete if, beside the angel, there had not lurked a demon. That demon was Tchaikovsky’s nominal wife, Antonina Ivanovna Milyukova. Their romance started trivially. The young woman admired him from afar, wrote him letters, as a young romantic musically-inclined girl (at one time she attended the Moscow Conservatory) would write to an idolized hero of her dreams. Two of her letters, dated May 1877, have been preserved in the archives of the Tchaikovsky Museum at Klin. She wrote: Wherever I am, I cannot forget you or stop loving you. What I like in you, I will find in no other man; I would not even look at another man after you. Yet, only a week ago I had to listen to protestations of a man who has learned to love me from my school days and has remained faithful for five years. It was as painful to listen to him as it must be painful to read my letters having nothing encouraging to say in reply, when, even with the best of intentions, you are unable to show anything but complete indifference.

In her second letter, Antonina Ivanovna writes in the same vein: Having read your letter, I felt I loved you twice as much. Perhaps, if you were perfection itself, I would have remained indifferent to you. There is no defect that would force me to renounce my love for you. This is not a momentary infatuation, but a sentiment that has been growing for a long time, and I could not destroy it even if I wanted to. I dare assure you that I am an honest and decent girl, in the full sense a the word, and that I have nothing to conceal from you. My first kiss will be for you, and for no one else. Do not try to discourage me concerning your qualities, because it will be a waste of time. I cannot live without you. Perhaps I will kill myself. Then, let me look at you, and kiss you, so that even in the other world I should remember this kiss.

Tchaikovsky’s letters to Antonina Ivanovna have not come to us, but we have his letter to Madame von Meck, in which he states his reasons for the marriage. The letter is dated, Moscow, July 3, 1877, three days before the wedding ceremony, only a few months after the beginning of his correspondence with Madame von Meck.

The Most Amazing Romance in Musical History

In the first place I must tell you that I, most unexpectedly, have become a bridegroom. This is how it happened. A short time ago I received a letter from a girl whom I had met and known before. From this letter I learned that she had for a long time honored me with her love. The letter was written so sincerely, so warmly, that I decided to answer it. Although my reply did not give my correspondent any hope, we continued our correspondence. The outcome of it all was that I agreed to pay her a visit. Why did I do it? Now, I believe that the power of fate drove me to this girl. During our meeting I explained to her that I nurtured for her a sentiment no more tender than that of mere friendship. After I left, I realized the folly of my action. If I am not in love with her, if I cannot reciprocate her sentiments, why should I go to see her, and what may be the end of it all? From her subsequent letter, I concluded that, if, having gone so far, I shouId suddenly turn away from her, it would make her wretchedly unhappy and drive her to a tragic end. Thus, I was confronted with a perplexing dilemma; either to save my freedom and let her perish (perish is not just an empty word: she really loves me beyond all measure), or to marry. I could not but select the latter alternative. In this, I was supported by the fact that my eighty-twoyear-old father, and all my friends and relations want to see me married. So, one fine day, I betook myself to my future spouse and told her candidly that while I could not love her, I would be her faithful and grateful friend. I described my temperament, my irritability, unevenness of moods, my shyness of people, my circ*mstances, all in minute detail. After that, I asked her if she would be my wife. The reply was naturally in the affirmative. I cannot express in words the torments through which I passed the first few days after this. It is not difficult to understand why. At the age of thirty-seven, possessing innate antipathy for matrimony, to be reduced by the force of circ*mstances to the status of a bridegroom, and at that, a bridegroom not in the least enamored with his fiancée is very painful. Now I will say a few words about my future wife. Her name is Antonina Ivanovna Mulyukova. She is twenty-eight years of age. She is rather attractive. Her reputation is spotless. She is poor, moderately intelligent: she seems very kind-hearted and is capable of unlimited devotion. One of these days our marriage will take place. What will happen next, I do not know.



Nicolas Slonimsky

After the marriage, he wrote to Madame von Meck: Kiev, August 9, 1877, Nadejda Filaretovna: Here is a brief history of what I have had to live through since July 18; that is, from the day of my wedding. I wrote you already that I married not because of my heart’s desire but yielding to an inconceivable chain of circ*mstances, leading inexorably to a most difficult dilemma. I had to choose between turning away from a young woman whose affection for me I had so carelessly encouraged, or marrying her. I chose the latter. But after the ceremony, when I found myself alone with my wife, I suddenly realized that I had not for her even a simple feeling of friendship: worse than that, that she is hateful to me in the fullest sense of the word. I realized that I, or at least my music, was doomed to perdition. My future appeared to me as a pitiable half-existence, an unbearable comedy. My wife is not guilty of anything: she never intended to drive me to matrimony. Consequently it would be base and cruel to tell her that I have no love for her, that I regard her as an intolerable burden. The only way out was to dissemble. But to go on pretending as long as I live is the greatest of ordeals. I sank into profound despair, which is all the more horrible, since there is no one near me who could comfort and encourage me. I began to think of death eagerly, passionately. Death seemed the only way out; but violent self-destruction would be out of the question. I must tell you that I am deeply attached to some of my relations, to my sister, two brothers and my father. Should I decide on suicide and carry out my decision, it would strike them a death blow. There are many other people, there are several dear friends, whose affection and friendship attaches me to life. Besides. I have the weakness (if it may be called a weakness) to love life, love my work, love my future successes. I have not yet said all that I want to say before I die. Since death does not take me, what am I to do ?

He wrote to his brothers much more frankly: I would be a liar if I would try to assure you that I am completely happy, that I am accustomed to my new situation and so on. After the terrible

The Most Amazing Romance in Musical History


day of July 19th (the day of the wedding), after all this interminable moral torture, one cannot easily recover. The most encouraging thing is that my wife does not understand my unhappy state. Now, and all the time, she has an air of satisfaction and contentment. She is not difficult. She agrees to anything and is satisfied with anything. We had talked over things, and our relationship is clearly determined. She consents and will never complain. All she needs is to tend me and take care of me. I have full liberty of action. As soon as we get accustomed to each other, she will not hamper me in anything. She is very limited, and this is a good thing. An intelligent woman would frighten me. With this woman, I feel such superiority that there can be no fear.

On July 23, 1877, Tchaikovsky wrote to his brother Anatol: I live through a really difficult period of my life. However, I feel that little by little I get accustomed to my new status. It would be horrid to deceive my wife. So I told her beforehand that she could count on my brotherly love only. Physically, my wife is absolutely repulsive to me.

The state of mind and body of Tchaikovsky while in Moscow is shown in the following incident which he related to a friend: The weather was cold and nasty, and there was frost at night. On one of such nights I went to the deserted shore of my Moskva river, and the idea came to my mind to catch a fatal cold. Unobserved, I waded into the water up to the waist, and I stayed in the water as long as I could endure the cramps in my body. I came out of the river with a firm conviction that I would certainly die of pneumonia or some other disease. But my constitution proved to be so strong that this icy bath passed without consequences. I did not try again but felt that I could not go on like that any longer. I wrote to my brother Anatol, asking him to send me a fictitious telegram demanding an urgent trip to St. Petersburg. This he did without delay. I recall little about my sojourn in St. Petersburg. I remember terrible fits of nerves.

He did not return to Moscow and to his wife. He went abroad. To Madame von Meck he wrote from Clarens, Switzerland, on October 23, 1877:


Nicolas Slonimsky

I spent two weeks with my wife in Moscow. Those two weeks were a series of the most excruciating moral trials. I felt at once that I could not love her. I could not get accustomed to her. I was in despair. I sought death. I believed it was the only way out. I had fits of insanity during which my soul was filled with such savage hatred for my wretched wife that I could have choked her to death. My conservatory work and my home work became impossible. I was losing my mind. Yet, I could blame no one except myself. My lack of character, my weakness, my little practical sense, my childishness all were responsible for this. At that time I received a telegram from my brother, informing me that, in connection with the renewal of performances of my opera, it was necessary that I should go to St. Petersburg. Mad with happiness that I could get out of this hell of pretense, falsehood and hypocrisy, I went to St. Petersburg. When I saw my brother, all that was pent up in my soul during the two endless weeks burst out. My brother went to Moscow, had a talk with my wife and arranged that he would take me abroad and my wife would go to Odessa so that no one should know anything about it.

In conclusion, he asked Nadejda Filaretovna to let him have more money. Madame von Meck answered in her typical fashion: Dear Piotr Ilyitch, why do you hurt my feelings by worrying about your finances? Am I not your friend? You know how many happy hours you have given me, how deeply grateful I am for that, how necessary you are to me, how keenly I desire you to be what you were created for; consequently, I am doing nothing for you, but all for myself. By tormenting yourself, you spoil my happiness in taking care of you, as if showing that I am not a friend. Why do you do it? It hurts me so. . . . If I should need something, you would get it for me, would you not? So we are quits, and now, please Piotr Ilyitch, do not interfere with my management of your affairs.

Tchaikovsky’s gratitude was without end. With Madame von Meck’s unlimited resources, he felt safe. He went to Italy. He was still boiling with rage against his wife, who kept writing him vitriolic letters. He wrote to Modest on November 7, 1877:

The Most Amazing Romance in Musical History


Her last letter is remarkable in that from a sheep she is transformed into a wild, sly and treacherous cat. According to her, I am a deceiver who married her in order to shield myself against scandal. She is horrified at my shameful perversity, etc., etc. What filth! But the devil take her!

A curious document, illustrating Tchaikovskv’s mental distress at that period, is preserved at the Museum at Klin. It is a book of Tragedies of Euripides, in a Latin translation, published in 1591, bearing an inscription in Tchaikovsky’s handwriting: Stolen on December 15, 1877 by Piotr Tchaikovsky, court counsellor and conservatory professor, from the Library of the Palace of the Doges in Venice.

Yet at the same time, during the most harrowing period of his personal life, Tchaikovsky composed his finest creations, the Fourth Symphony and the opera, Eugene Onegin. A letter from Venice to his brother, dated Dec. 24, 1877, reads: Only thanks to the monotonous existence in Venice and absence of all distraction could I work with such perseverance and determination. When I am at “Eugene Onegin,” I do not feel the same satisfaction as in writing the symphony. I am writing the opera in a casual way, it may be worth while or it may not. The symphony is different: I write it in clear conviction that it is an unusual work, and the most perfect in form of all my previous writings.

When a divorce seemed imperative, Madame von Meck wrote Tchaikovsky: Moscow, Feb. 24, 1878. I am terribly worried and perturbed that you are being annoyed. Unfortunately I could think of no other means to remedy this situation, except through indifference and patience, for it is not likely that she would agree to a divorce, unless she finds another man who would be willing to marry her. If this is the case, why not offer her a sum of money as advance payment towards what you are paying her now—say, ten thou-


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sand rubles? It may be that she will consent to give you a divorce on this condition. I would undertake to raise this sum. Please try, my good friend. I do want to see you protected against annoyance.

Tchaikovsky replied from Clarens, in Switzerland: Clarens, March 10, 1878. I will now answer, my dear Nadejda Filaretovna, your questions concerning my future, in which your friendship promises me so much happiness. You are, truly, my good fairy and I do not find words to express the love and affection with which I repay all that you are doing for me. As regards my relationship with a certain person, a divorce would be the best way to end the whole affair; it is my heartiest wish. I am convinced that the sum which you mention is quite sufficient and that that certain person will prefer it to the very precarious pension, which I undertook to pay her. But I can consent to this form of tribute only in case she makes a formal promise to divorce me. Recently I had an occasion to convince myself that this certain person would never let me alone were it not for the fear to lose her pension. I am giving her this pension conditionally: “Behave yourself; don’t annoy me or my relations (she had already begun writing letters to my old father): conduct yourself in such a manner as not to be a burden; then you will get your pension. If not, live on your own.” You may think this language harsh or cruel. I wish I could tell you the repulsive details demonstrating that this certain person is not only absolutely soulless and petty, but that she is beneath contempt.

But the divorce proved to be more difficult than could be imagined, and this despite the fact that Tchaikovsky’s brother, Anatol, who assumed the role of an intermediary, was himself a member of the legal profession. Tchaikovsky’s wife, contrary to his expectations, shifted the whole affair onto the psychological rather than financial plane; she wrote him on May 27, I878: You want a divorce, but why should it be negotiated in the courts? You write that you assume the guilt—there is nothing surprising in that. You want freedom for yourself and never stop to consider whether it is good

The Most Amazing Romance in Musical History


or bad for me. Was it not enough, the sorrow that you made me suffer, when you abandoned me without mercy to the derision and contempt of everyone, and now you want to sue me on false grounds? Where is that man whom I regarded as a demigod, who was free of all human failings? If you only knew how bitter my disappointment is! You are offering me a sum of ten thousand rubles after the divorce. I consider it within my right to claim this money. Where shall I go, broken not only physically, but also morally? A physical ailment can be cured, but no one can cure a broken heart. But what security will this money offer me when I have a debt of twenty five hundred rubles which I must pay, or else my and my sister’s last property will be taken away? I address you as a man in whom the last good instincts have not yet perished, or so I hope. Pay this debt first, instead of paying the lawyers, and send me the ten thousand rubles. I appeal to your conscience; believe me, I am not guided by greed; you yourself will feel happier in the knowledge that I am saved from misery and privation. You have your genius which gives you material security, but nature has not endowed me with anything out of the ordinary. . . . Pangs of conscience will be your greatest punishment. Let God be our Judge. I shall expect your instructions to settle this affair quietly, without scandal.

Tchaikovsky’s impression of this letter we find in his correspondence with Madame von Meck : I received a letter from a certain person. Among phenomenally stupid and idiotic speculations, there is however a formal consent to a divorce. Having read that, I felt mad with happiness and ran around the garden for an hour and a half until I felt physically exhausted.

The tragedy and comedy of divorce continued. Madame Tchaikovsky refused to understand the legal aspect of the situation. Jurgenson, the well known publisher, sought to see her in Tchaikovsky’s behalf. He wrote Tchaikovsky about his visit: We talked at great length, and Antonina Ivanovna occasionally showed signs of excitement and indignation. At first she took me for a representative of a divorce agency, and declared that she would not speak to anyone except her husband, expressed her disapproval of yourself,


Nicolas Slonimsky

attacked Anatol, and so on. The conversation revolved in a vicious circle, and we kept reverting to the point of departure. I became convinced that it is impossible to deal with her. She would tolerate no “lies,” not for the whole world. I tried to explain that there would not be any lies, since your unfaithfulness would be legally proved, but she replied imperturbably: “And I will prove the contrary!” [June 1878]

The proceedings came to an impasse. Tchaikovsky wrote Madame von Meck that he would not need the ten thousand rubles and asked her to let him have three or four thousand to pay his wife’s pension several years in advance, also to help her liquidate her debts. He added: Thus, my dreams to lift the heavy chains of my burden, are shattered by inconceivable stupidity of a certain person. There is only one thing left— to protect myself, as far as possible, from all encounters with her, from all memories of her. Let us hope that some day she will understand that she needs a divorce just as much as I do. But then she will not get any payment for it. [June 28, 1878]

There was no divorce. Antonina Ivanovna remained Tchaikovsky’s wife until her death. Between 1880 and 1890 she met a man to whom she subsequently bore several children. She once wrote Tchaikovsky, asking him to adopt her son. Her sanity suffered in 1896, and she was committed to a sanitarium where she died in 1917.


Biographers of Chopin are unhappy people. Although Chopin lived most of his creative life in Paris, then the center of the musical universe, the factual information about Chopin’s daily life is inadequate and unenlightening. The little stories told about Chopin in the memoirs of his friends, even such brilliant and articulate friends as Liszt and George Sand, are frequently refuted by geographic and temporal discrepancies, and direct quotations from Chopin’s conversation are patently untrustworthy. Unfortunately, Chopin himself recorded little of the daily events of his life. He seldom dated his manuscripts, and he rarely divulged the sources of inspiration of his music. It is all the more frustrating to an ambitious biographer because many of Chopin’s compositions seem to be narrative or pictorial in content. The familiar nicknames—Revolutionary Etude, Raindrop Prelude, and Minute Waltz—are the inventions of publishers. True, George Sand wrote romantically about the Raindrop Prelude, but she failed to specify either the number or the key of that Prelude, so that numbers 6, 8, and 15 vie for this distinction. Besides, Chopin himself disavowed the whole story of his having imitated the rain on the roof in any of his music. Among the uncertainties of Chopin’s life, there is the question of his date of birth. Karasowski gives it as March 1, 1809, adding ruefully: “Even on his monument at Père la Chaise, in Paris, 1810 is engraved instead of 1809, an error that ought to have been rectified long ago.” And yet Karasowski’s date is wrong. The discovery of Chopin’s certificate of baptism definitely establishes the date of Chopin’s birth as February 22, Ch. 13: originally published in The Musical Quarterly, October 1948.



Nicolas Slonimsky

1810. Although the document was published in 1893, the confusion about Chopin’s birth date persisted for many years, and there were sporadic centennial celebrations and commemorative articles in 1909. Thus Daniel Gregory Mason published an article in Putnam’s Magazine in the issue of March 1909 under the title, “Two Musical Centenaries, Mendelssohn and Chopin.” In Poland, however, Chopin’s anniversary was celebrated in 1910. Chopin himself believed that his birthday fell on March 1, 1810, and this was the date he gave in his letter of acceptance of membership addressed to the Société Littéraire Polonaise de Paris, and dated January 11, 1833. Members of his family sent him their birthday greetings for March 1, occasionally alternating it with March 5, which was Chopin’s saint’s-day. The inscription on the urn in the Holy Cross in Warsaw in which Chopin’s heart lies, gives the date as March 2, 1810. How could this confusion arise? One possible explanation is that by 1833, when Chopin gave his date of birth to the Polish Literary Society, Warsaw was under Russian rule, and the Julian calendar was enforced within the Russian-governed districts. Chopin’s family may have added twelve days to equalize the two calendars, in the mistaken belief that Chopin’s birthday—February 22, 1810, had to be counted according to old-style calendar. His day of birth would then come out on March 6, close enough to one of the dates, March 5, given by the family. However, in 1810 Warsaw was not under Russian administration and all official documents were dated according to the Gregorian calendar. It may be advisable to append here the original Latin text of Chopin’s certificate of baptism found in the parochial book in Brochow, and signed by the curate Jan Duchnowski: Anno 1810, 23 Aprili. Ego, qui supra supplevi ceremonias super infantem baptizatum ex aqua bini nominis Fridericum Franciscum, natum die 22 Februarii, Magnificorum Nicolai Choppen Gali et Justinae de Krzyzanowska Legitimorum Conjugum Patrini Magnificus Franciscus Grebecki de villa Ciulny cum Magnifica Domina Anna Skarbekowa Contessa de Zelazowa Wola.

Another document signed by Duchnowski is even more precise, for it gives the exact hour of Chopin’s birth. It reads in a translation from the original Polish text:



Year 1810, on April 23, at 3:00 p.m. Before me, curate of Brochow, district of Sochaczew, department of Warsaw, Nicolas Chopyn, aged forty, living at the Village of Zelazowa Wola, presented a child of the masculine gender, born at his house on Feb. 22, at six o’clock in the evening this year.

Another moot point is the French origin of Chopin’s father. Several reputable writers subscribe to the legend that Chopin’s father’s ancestry was Polish. According to this version, now thoroughly discredited, a Polish courtier named Nicolas Szopa was a member of the retinue of the Polish King Stanislaus (1677–1766) and came with the King, who was also Duke of Lorraine, to France and settled in Nancy. The possessive form of the name Szopa is Szopen, and it corresponds phonetically to the French sound of the name Chopin. The documents proving beyond doubt the French origin of Chopin’s father were first published in the article “Les Origines Lorraines de Chopin,” by A. Evrard, curé of Xaronval and Marainville, in the January 1927 issue of Pays Lorrain. The certificate of baptism of Chopin’s father, Nicolas Chopin, reads as follows: Nicolas, fils légitime de François Chopin, charon et de Marguerite Deflin, son épouse, de Marainville, est né le 15, a été baptisé le seize avril 1771. Il a eu pour parrain: Jean-Nicolas Deflin, garçon de Diarville et pour marraine: Thérèse Chopin, fille de Xirocourt qui a fait sa marque.

The article contains also the text of the act of second marriage of Chopin’s grandfather, François Chopin: Acte de mariage de François Chopin age de 62 ans, né a Ambacourt, département des Vosges: le 11 Novembre 1738, veuf de défunte Marguerite Deflin, laquelle est décédée le 5 fructidor an deux de la République Française, fils de Nicolas Chopin, vigneron demeurant à Ambacourt et de Elisabeth Bastien, son épouse et de Marguerite Laprevote, âgé de 62 ans, née a Vomecourt le trente unième jour de mars de l’année 1738, veuve de François Mortefer. Ce jour vingt sixième jour du mois de Brumaire, an neuf de la République Française, à l’heure de six heures, en la commune de Marainville, au lieu destiné à la réunion des citoyens, se sont presentés: François Chopin vigneron etc. . . .


Nicolas Slonimsky

This document gives the names of Chopin’s great-grandparents, Nicolas Chopin and Elisabeth Bastien. An article by B. Sydow, “W Sprawie Pochodzenia Fryderyka Chopina,” in the Polish magazine Ruch Muzyczny (March 1948), gives also the names of Chopin’s great-great-grandparents, François Chopin and Catherine Oudot. This traces Chopin’s French ancestry back to 1700, or even beyond. Exact dates of birth of these remote forebears of Chopin are unknown. During World War II a ludicrous attempt was made by the Germans to prove that Chopin was a descendant of the old Alsatian family named Schopping. The New York Times of May 5, 1944, reported that a Dr. Abb, the German director of the Cracow Library, had made a speech at the opening of a Chopin exhibit there in which he enunciated this theory. The Times followed this story by an editorial ridiculing the German claim and pointing out, quite correctly, that Chopin’s mother was Polish, and his father French. A sequel to this editorial was a letter to the Times dated Brooklyn July 7, 1944, and signed by Adelaide Stites, once more reviving the legend of Chopin’s great-grandfather named Szopa and citing in support the dubious authority of Antoni Gronowicz, the author of a Chopin biography. The argument advanced by the supporters of this now discarded theory is this: If Nicolas Chopin was not of Polish ancestry, why did he choose to go to Poland? Why did he remain there for the rest of his life? Is it not likely that he must have had relatives and friends in Poland who offered him help and employment? This argument ignores the historical fact that numerous Frenchmen settled in Russia and Poland late in the 18th century and throughout the 19th century, attracted by the great demand for French teachers and tutors in Russian homes. The character of a French tutor, a member of the household, is a familiar one in Russian homes. These Frenchmen usually married Russian women and never went back to France. They did not have to learn Russian or Polish, for at that time French was the language of the aristocracy and even of the middle class in Russia. The epistolary language in Russian society was almost exclusively French. Thus Pushkin, in his Byronic poem Eugene Onegin, has the heroine Tatiana write her declaration of love to Eugene in French, representing the Russian text of the letter as a poor translation of the sparkling original, “a Freischütz played by a pupil’s timid fingers.” The novels of Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky are interspersed with whole passages in French. War and Peace begins with a French dialogue. At one

Jean Chopin (d. in infancy, 1747)

Emilia Chopin (1813–27)

Izabela Chopin & Antoni Barcinski (1811– ? ) (no children)

Marguerite Chopin & Nicolas Bastien (1776–1845)

Claude Chopin (1745–47)

Fryderyk Franciszek Chopin (1810–49) with him expired the family line of Chopin

Anna Chopin & Joseph Thomas (1770–1845)

Nicholas Chopin & Justin Krzyzanowska (1771–1844) (married 1806) teacher

Ludwicka Marianna Chopin & Kalasanty Jedrzejewicz (1807–55) (1803–53) (4 children: Henryk, Ludwika, Antoni, Fryderyk)

Dominique Chopin (b.c. 1740)

François Chopin & Marguerite Deflin (1738–1814) (d. 1793) vine-grower

François Chopin & Catherine Oudot vine-grower Nicholas Chopin & Elizabeth Bastien vine-grower (married 1738)

Chopiniana 191


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time educated classes in Russia spoke in a half-French, half-Russian lingo, “a mixture of French with Nizhni-Novgorod,” as characterized by Griboyedov in his famous comedy, Woe From Intelligence. Chopin’s father, too, became a nauczyciel, a teacher, and like many Frenchmen before and after him married a native woman. A complete genealogy of Chopin on his father’s side is given in Ruch Muzyczny of March 1948. If Chopin’s birth and origin gave rise to legends, there are also many romantic inventions surrounding Chopin’s death. Chopin’s friends and memoirists have attributed numerous (and improbable) deathbed statements to him, usually couched in fine literary phrases. And there were so many claimants to the honor of having held dying Chopin in their arms that Turgenev, in his novel Smoke, refers to them in a sarcastic sentence: “In Europe there are nearly one thousand ladies in whose arms Chopin expired.” Strangely enough, early biographers of Chopin missed the most eloquent testimony of Chopin’s state of mind during his last days on earth: his scribbled message to friends in which he begs them to have an autopsy performed on his body for fear of a premature burial: “Comme cette toux m’étouffera je vous conjure de faire ouvrir mon corps pour (que) je (ne) sois pas enterré vif.” The words in parentheses were left out by Chopin, but the meaning of the message is clear: “Since this cough will choke me to death, I implore you to have my body opened so that I am not buried alive.” Some Chopin biographers misread the third word of the message as terre, which makes no sense. When and under what circ*mstances did Chopin write down these agonized words? The self-styled witnesses of Chopin’s last moments have nothing to say on this important point. It is doubtful whether the existence of this document was known to Karasowski, Liszt, and other early biographers of Chopin. Yet the fact that Chopin resorted to writing in his agony, and the great effort that he put into the penning of the message, show that he was no longer able to speak in the last days of his life. This realization does away with the various accounts of Chopin’s deathbed pronouncements. An even more curious question is this: Why was Chopin afraid of burial alive? This terror must have been planted deep in his mind. Chopin was morbid by nature, and his morbidity was fed by the literature of the times, recurrent accounts in the press of the unknown horrors of the grave, and the pseudo-scientific talk about mesmerism, magnetism, and other mysterious phenomena of the human soul. But there may have been a



more intimate knowledge of possible premature burial in Chopin’s mind, connected with an episode that had taken place years before in George Sand’s family. An infant brother of George Sand died on September 8, 1808, and was buried the next day. After the burial, the family was suddenly seized with fears that the child was not dead. The father rushed to the cemetery, dug up the coffin, and pried open the lid. The child was indeed dead, but the story of this horrible experience lived for a long time in the family. There is little doubt that George Sand related this story to Chopin, and it is the kind of story that a morbidly inclined artist was not likely ever to forget. The official notice of Chopin’s death, obtained from the archives of the City of Paris, reads: L’an mil huit cent quarante neuf, le dix sept octobre, est décédé a Paris, place Vendôme no 12, deuxième arrondissem*nt, Frédéric François Chopin, artiste, âgé de trente neuf ans, né à Zelazowa Wola (Gouvernement de Varsovie), célibataire. Le Membre de la Commission, Felix CHAROY.

Chopin was buried at Père la Chaise in Paris. His heart was transferred to Warsaw and inurned at the Church of the Holy Cross. The church was completely demolished by the Nazi bombardment, but the urn with Chopin’s heart was recovered in the ruins after the war. The custom of heart burial is very old. Contrary to the widely held belief, the Catholic Church does not forbid an autopsy of the human body after death as long as the permission of the family is secured. Nor does it object to the separation of the heart from the body. In view of the scarcity of Chopin anecdotes, a hopeful biographer cannot afford to reject the little stories published in the press during the lifetime of men and women who had known Chopin personally. The only criterion in accepting such stories as valid biographical material must be their psychological plausibility. Among items that deserve at least as much consideration as anecdotes told by Karasowski, Liszt, Franchomme, Lenz, and others, is the following paragraph that appeared in the Musical World of London, in the issue of March 11, 1876: Chopin lent a friend the score of his Concerto in E Minor. The friend, knowing how fastidious Chopin was, received it in fear and trembling. He


Nicolas Slonimsky

carried it home and never turned over the leaves without first putting on gloves, so as not to soil the paper. At length he returned the score, free from the slightest stain or spot. Chopin took it, and, on opening it, exclaimed indignantly, and with a horrible grimace, “My dear sir, you were smoking when you went through it!”

The painter Ziem, who knew Chopin in Paris, tells a rather fantastic story dealing with the Funeral March from the B-flat minor Sonata. Ziem gives names, places, and addresses to substantiate his account, and this solicitude for detail makes his tale less unacceptable. He tells of an evening at the house of a French peer, Paul Chevandier de Valdrome, who lived at 39 rue de la Tour-d’Auvergne in Paris. There were present, besides Ziem himself, Prince Edmond de Polignac and Count de Ludre. Valdrome was a man of eccentric habits. Among the paraphernalia of his luxuriously appointed home, he kept a skeleton, a rare possession of a private citizen in those times. At the party, Prince de Polignac amused himself by seating the skeleton at the piano, and moving the bony fingers on the keyboard. The weirdness of the spectacle of a skeleton-pianist impressed all those present. Shortly afterwards, Chopin called on Ziem in his Paris apartment. Chopin was in a gloomy mood, and explained to Ziem that he had passed a terrible night “combating a host of uncanny specters who had threatened to do him all kinds of mischief.” Then Ziem told Chopin about the skeleton. The story affected Chopin very deeply. According to Ziem’s account, his eyes turned towards the piano that Ziem had in his studio and he expressed an ardent desire to see the skeleton. Ziem was glad to oblige, and arranged a dinner party at his apartment, to which he invited Chopin, a painter named Ricard, and Valdrome, the owner of the skeleton. Valdrome instructed his servant to bring the skeleton along. The scene that followed is quoted from Ziem’s account, reprinted from a newspaper story, in the Musical Courier of June 7, 1897: Chopin, his face pale and his eyes opened to their extent, had enveloped himself in a long winding sheet and, pressed against his throbbing breast, he held the ghastly skeleton. The silence of the studio was all at once broken by the sound of music, slow, sad, profound, splendid music, music such as none of us had ever heard before. Immeasurably amazed we were as the beautiful sounds succeeded each other, and were gradually fashioned into the world-renowned Funeral March. On to the end played Chopin, still grasping the skeleton, and so spellbound were we that not



until the last note was struck did we really recover our senses. Then we hastened to congratulate the shroud-robed musician, and reached his side just as he was on the point of fainting.

Se non è vero è ben trovato. At least the story is in character. Chopin was a willing and often gullible believer in things supernatural. In one of his last letters, dated July 28, 1849, he tells a mysterious story about a somnambulist who helped to locate the missing envelope with 25,000 francs sent to Chopin by his admirer, the Scotchwoman, Jane Stirling. Recounting the assurance with which the somnambulist went straight to the concierge of the apartment Chopin had occupied in the Cité d’Orléans, who had the envelope, Chopin asks rhetorically: “How can one help believing in magnetism after this?” Chopin was an easy target for the simple tricks of would-be scientific miracle-makers. Thus he reports to his parents, in a letter of October 11, 1846: Mr. Faber of London, a professor of mathematics and a mechanician, has exhibited a very ingenious automaton which he calls Euphonia, and which produces fairly clearly not one or two words, but whole sentences and, still more surprising, sings an air of Haydn and God Save the Queen. If opera directors could have many such androids, they could do without chorus singers who cost a lot and give a lot of trouble.

In the eyes of the musical press, Chopin was primarily a brilliant pianist; his compositions were regarded as little more than charming improvisations of a sensitive musician. A cautious appraisal of Chopin as a composer is given in the April 1839 issue of the London and Westminster Review: As a composer, one of the most remarkable artists of the marvelous Paris School is Frédéric Chopin. With him we enter the circle of instrumental art as it exists at present in Paris; for though born near Warsaw in the year 1810, he was for the last seven years wholly resided in the French metropolis, and there gained his reputation as a chamber-player—his touch being too delicate and his physical power too far behind the warmth of his conceptions, to make him eminent in an orchestra. Chopin never improvises, as a matter of course, or unless he feels himself thoroughly inspired; but if you have the good fortune of meeting him on one of these happy days—if you follow the play of his animated


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countenance and the wonderful agility of his fingers, which appear as if they were dislocated—if you hear the anguish of the strings, which still vibrate in your ear after he has ceased—you waken as if from a dream, and ask if the pale and fragile man you see before you can be the same as he who has so completely subdued you.

The concern felt by Chopin’s friends because he did not write operas or symphonies is a curious reflection of the spirit of the times. Even George Sand considered it incumbent upon her to offer, after his death, an apology for Chopin’s failure to create in orchestral forms. “Neither saxophone nor ophicleide was necessary for him,” she writes. “The day will come when his music will be arranged for orchestra without change of the piano score, when all the world will know this genius.” This is an extraordinary passage, and it throws abundant light on George Sand’s own failure to understand the essence of Chopin’s creative force. Brief notices of Chopin’s activities appeared from time to time in the musical journals. The Musical World of January 3, 1839, reports: “Chopin. This distinguished pianist who suffers from pulmonary affection, has gone to Spain to escape the rigor of a winter in Paris.” The Revue et Gazette Musicale de Paris of November 5, 1843, publishes the following announcement: “M. Chopin et M. Panofka sont de retour à Paris depuis le commencement de cette semaine.” The bracketing of Chopin’s name with that of Panofka, a mediocre violinist and singing teacher, is characteristic. When Chopin died, the Musical Times of London reported the event in ten lines under the heading “Death of Chopin, the Pianist.” The obituary stated: “M. Frédéric Chopin died of a disease of the chest, at the comparatively early age of thirty-nine.” There was no mention in this notice that Chopin was also a composer. In music histories Chopin is set down as a poetic romanticist, delicate of touch, and almost effeminate in his melodic invention. But to some musicians of Chopin’s time, he was the personification of savagery and wild abandon. He was indeed regarded as a romantic, but the word romance a hundred-odd years ago implied something quite different from the present meaning of the word. Then romance meant extravagant indulgence in the flights of fancy fed by irrationality and mental instability. Some English music critics were particularly impatient with Chopin’s music and the new piano technique he had introduced. Thus the Musical World in its issue of February 17, 1837, publishes this review of Chopin’s Polonaise op. 35:



Album des Pianistes de Première Force, No. 35. Grande Polonaise Brillante par Frédéric Chopin. It will require a player of the “premiere force” to scramble through this piece. To such, therefore, and the fa*gger of nine hours a day, and the solitary prisoner—if any there be, indulged with a piano—we recommend it for practice; and when their task is accomplished, they will be in a condition to play an uncommon number of notes in a short time.

A review more moderate in tone, dealing with an Impromptu by Chopin (opus number or key not indicated), appeared in the Musical World of July 16, 1840. This composition has rather more interest for the musician than the usual run of productions by the disciples of the school to which M. Chopin belongs. An essential point in this seems to be the purposed avoidance of the sonata, concerto, or other regular forms of composition, and the adoption of the fantasia, impromptu, or some other vagrant affair of a similar kind in which lack of the attributes of scholarship is excused by the undefined nature of the work. Regularity of structure is easily dispensed with in an undertaking which has no recognized form; and thus are produced with incredible rapidity, compositions intended merely as tests of manual dexterity. Although belonging to the same class of writing, M. Chopin’s impromptu is neither so outrageously difficult nor so deficient of musician-like treatment as most things of its kind.

A polemical war was raging at the time between the British musicians grouped around the editors of the Musical World and the French school of composition fostered by the Revue et Gazette Musicale de Paris. The Musical World characterized the Gazette Musicale as “this exceedingly stupid hebdomadal puff, made up of shreds and patches from the German papers and the occasional lucubrations of the sublime proprietor, M. Schlesinger, who knows about as much of music as an orang-outang of mathematics.” Poor Schlesinger! He fancied himself a great connoisseur of music. Years later, in its issue of April 3, 1869, the Musical World was to pay tribute to Schlesinger by reproducing, from a Berlin publication, an article Schlesinger wrote about his first meeting with Chopin. Schlesinger alludes to, among other things, the well-known episode of Chopin’s encounter with Kalkbrenner:


Nicolas Slonimsky

A short time after his arrival in Paris, in the year 1831, Chopin, in virtue of a letter of introduction given him in Germany, paid me a visit, and played some of his charming Mazurkas, then unpublished. Impressed by his original and captivating execution, and no less so by the little compositions themselves, I held out my hand to him and we became friends. Some days after our first interview, he again called on me, but this time he was evidently agitated. In reply to my inquiries, he informed me, with his eyes full of tears, that he had just come from Kalkbrenner’s, to whom he had played something, to hear what Kalkbrenner thought and to profit by his advice but the verdict was: “That is not pianoforte playing. You must begin again from the beginning. Come and see me soon; I will myself give you lessons, for you appear to possess talent.” “So, I am only a bungler,” continued Chopin, “a bungler, who, blended by the indulgent approbation of the world, fancied he was something.”— “You are foolish!” I said. “Do not be guilty of any absurdity. You know, as I myself recently saw, more in your little finger than Kalkbrenner in his whole body, and you will far surpass him in reputation.”—“But,” he observed sadly, “how shall I live in future here in Paris. In consequence of Kalkbrenner’s opinion, no one, will purchase my manuscripts.” “Oh, oh!” I replied. “If that is it, just let me hear what you have composed.” He immediately sat down at the piano, and played his 24 “Etudes,” several of his Nocturnes, Mazurkas, and Waltzes, the Polonaise Op.22, and the magnificent Ballad in G-Minor, Op. 23. He played probably three hours, and then paused, perfectly exhausted but without making any sign of leaving off for good. Overpowered with the impression produced by his incomparable performance, I expressed my admiration and rapture at his playing as well as at his talent for composition, and prophesying for him an unusually brilliant future, I begged him to bring me all the compositions he had written as well as all he might eventually write. We soon agreed about the price. Since then we were always friends, I myself being his publisher, to whom he immediately played whatever he wrote.

The campaign against Chopin reached its peak in a vicious article published in the October 28, 1841, issue of the Musical World: Frédéric Chopin: Souvenir de la Pologne; Seventh Set of Mazurkas (Wessel and Stapleton). Monsieur Frédéric Chopin has by some means or other which we cannot divine, obtained an enormous reputation, a reputation but too


often refused to composers of ten times his genius. A Chopin is by no means a putter down of commonplaces; but he is, what by many would be esteemed worse, a dealer in the most absurd and hyperbolical extravagances. It is a striking satire on the capability for thought, possessed by the musical Profession, that so very crude and limited a writer should be esteemed, as he is very generally, a profound and classical musician. M. Chopin does not want for ideas, but they never extend beyond eight or sixteen bars at the utmost, and then he is invariably in nubibus. The greatest art in musical composition is that which is employed in prolonging or developing any thought that may arrive—the thought may be the result of natural ability, but the faculty of using it happily—of making it give character to an extended work—of working out of it all of which it is capable—of causing it to be not only the original feature, but the prevailing sentiment—this enviable faculty belongs only to the practiced as well as the gifted composer; and this faculty is utterly unexhibited by M. Chopin—indeed, the works of this author invariably give us the idea of an enthusiastic schoolboy, whose parts are by no means on a par with his enthusiasm, who will be original whether he can or not. There is a clumsiness about his harmonies in the midst of their affected strangeness, a sickliness about his melodies despite their evidently forced unlikeness to familiar phrases, an utter ignorance of design everywhere apparent in his lengthened works, a striving and straining after an originality which, when obtained, only appears knotty, crude, and ill-digested, which wholly forbid the possibility of M. Chopin being a skilled or even a moderately proficient artist. It is all very well for a feverish enthusiast like M. Liszt to talk poetical nothings in La France Musicale about M. Chopin’s music; but for our parts, we cannot by any manner of means see the connexion between philosophy and affectation, between poetry and rhodomontade, and we venture to call the ears and the judgment of any unprejudiced persons to witness that the entire works of M. Chopin present a motley surface of ranting hyperbole and excruciating cacophony. When he is not thus singular, he is no better than Strauss or any other waltz compounder; and being thus singular, he is by many degrees more intolerable, more tiresome, and ridiculous. M. Liszt is reported to have said that there was an aristocracy of mediocrity in England, at the head of which was William Sterndale Bennett; he might, with a vast deal more of truth, have asserted, that there is an aristocracy of hyperbole and nonsense in Paris, of which himself and his friend, the philosophic Chopin, are at the summit. If Messrs. Sterndale Bennett and



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George Macfarren be mediocre, most true is it that Messrs. Chopin and Liszt are super-magnificent; no two things can bear a more superlative difference to each other than the opposite schools thus eminently represented; if one be good the other must perforce be bad—allow this, and we are content—let posterity award to each its real desert. There is an excuse at present for Chopin’s delinquencies; he is entrammelled in the enthralling bonds of that arch-enchantress, George Sand, celebrated equally for the number and excellence of her romances and her lovers; not less we wonder how she who once swayed the heart of the sublime and terrible religious democrat Lamennais, can be content to wanton away her dream-like existence with an artistical nonentity like Chopin. We have said so much of the man, that we have neither space nor inclination to say much of the music; suffice it;—such as admire Chopin, and they are legion, will admire these Mazurkas, which are super-eminently Chopinical; that do not we.

This assault was too much to bear for the British copyright owners of Chopin’s works. The very next issue of the Musical World, that of November 4, 1841, contains a long reply from Messrs. Wessel and Stapleton. Their defense of Chopin is as revealing of the confusion of values as the original attack itself. At this distance, a comparison of Chopin with Sterndale Bennett and G. Alexander Macfarren appears as a bit of unsubtle irony, but of course Messrs. Wessel and Stapleton intended nothing of the sort, and were merely presenting modest claims for their composer. The full text of the publishers’ letter to the editor of the Musical World follows: Sir, with all respect for the superior judgment almost invariably displayed in your Review department, we feel it a duty to ourselves, and also to the public we serve to say a word in reply to your wholesale denunciations of the works of M. Chopin, in the last number of the Musical World. As we are the sole proprietors of his numerous compositions, perhaps you will not condemn our intrusion on this occasion, for a moment of your invaluable time. We were led to purchase the copyright of these works—firstly, from our own opinion of their merits; secondly, from their immense popularity abroad;. and lastly from the unanimous praises accorded to them from the highest authorities of the present day; among whom are Hector Berlioz, Ferdinand Hiller, Henri Herz, Robert Schumann, Sigismund Thalberg, Ignace Moscheles, François Liszt, Edward Schultz,


Henri Bertini, Jules Janin, Jules Maurel, George Sand, Frederic Soulie, H. de Balzac, Jules Benedict, Madame de Belleville Oury, Theodore Doehler, Frederic Kalkbrenner, John Cramer, Jacques Rosenhain, Charles Czerny, Aloys Schmitt, Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, Clara Wieck, Alexander Dreyschock, Adolphe Henselt, Catarine Bott, Robena Laidlaw, with innumerable others; and in England, Messrs. Chorley, Ella, Hogarth, Parry, Ayrton, Gauntlett, and Professor Taylor, the distinguished critics, and Messrs. Henry Field, W. M Holmes, Henry Lincoln, William Aspull, George Kiallmark, H. B. Richards, Charles Neate, John Clinton, F. B. Jewson, Cipriano Potter, and other eminent pianists and composers. With such authority to back our private opinion, we did not hesitate to arrange with M. Chopin for the copyright of all his compositions, and their reception by the musical public generally has borne us out in our anticipations of a successful result to our undertaking. In our admiration of Chopin, we by no means wish to depreciate the undisputedly high claims to distinction of Messrs. Sterndale Bennett and G. Alexander Marfarren, with whom we do not wish to compare him, in fact, with the latter gentleman and Chopin no comparison can be well made, as though Mr. Macfarren has greatly distinguished himself as a sinfonist and operatic composer, he has scarcely adventured into the field of pianoforte composition; still, we say it with sincerity, none would be happier than ourselves in giving him a hearty welcome in that line, which we doubt not he would equally adorn and elevate. With regard to Chopin being entangled in the trammels of the celebrated George Sand, we imagine it rather an incentive to great performances rather than a drawback on his mental exercise, to endeavor, by his writings to please the fancy and emulate the praise of one of the most brilliant writers of Europe—acknowledged as much for her critical acumen on subjects of art as for the unrivalled beauty of her literary productions. Depend upon it, Mr. Editor, Madame George Sand considers Chopin anything rather than a NONENTITY, or she would hardly, as you eloquently remark, “trifle away her dream-like existence” in his society. Trusting to your invariable liberality and fair dealing for inserting this at your earliest convenience, and once more apologizing for our intrusion, we beg leave to remain, Your very obedient servants and constant readers, Wessel and Stapleton 67, Frith Street, Soho, Nov. 1, 1841.



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The Musical World had the last word in the controversy. The editors appended a note to the letter of Chopin’s publishers, setting Chopin down as a mere trifler with the high art of music: We trust always to maintain the character for “liberality” and “fair dealing,” which Messrs. Wessel and Stapleton accord to our journal. Respecting M. Chopin, though somewhat startled at the formidable array of testimony brought against us, we can but reassert our opinion—it may be an individual one; but on recurring to M. Chopin’s works and to our late notice, we can vouch that it is an honest one. We cannot recognize M. Chopin on the rank where fashion has stilted him; but we readily grant him the merit of doing clever eccentric trifles; and whatever the long list of counsellors the spirited publishers have consulted may have said to the contrary, we are persuaded they must think with us, that such species of ingenuity has no more to do with high art than the contriver of a Dutch toy is entitled to a place beside the inventor of a steam engine, or the fabricator of a Paris caricature to be lauded as a second Raphael. This is unhappily an age for trifling, and the duty of a critic seems to us to be most fitly exercised when it tends to the correction of a debility in the public taste—to show that adroitness is not genius—that fashion is not intrinsic value—that extravagant attempt is not poetical achievement— that there is a wide distance between the genuine virtue of those who scatter ingots in our path, and those who throw glittering sand in our eyes—and that eminence belongs, of right, only to the truly great, and to the age that fosters greatness. We think Messrs. Wessel and Stapleton have misinterpreted their counsellors, and have mistaken their author’s popularity for his artistical value. If M. Mendelssohn, Dr. Schumann, or Mr. Potter, will assert that M. Chopin is entitled to be considered a great musician, we will endeavor to believe them, and succumb accordingly. If the redoubtable knot of “distinguished critics” par excellence, above mentioned, have been unable to discover anything undeserving of “unanimous praise” in M. Chopin’s works, we venture to assure them and the publishers that there will be no difficulty in pointing out a hundred palpable faults, and an infinitude of meretricious ugliness, such as, to real taste and judgment, are intolerable. Let not our gallantry be impugned if we presume to differ with our correspondents, and most probably with M. Chopin, in their estimate of the “acumen” of Madame George Sand. Enjoying as she deservedly does,



a very high and extensive reputation as a writer of fiction and romancist, the lady may well afford that her claims to infallibility as a connoisseur should be questioned, especially in art, which she treats but superficially, and a science with which she confesses to have very slight acquaintance. We have repeatedly wished well to the liberal enterprise evinced by Messrs. Wessel and Stapleton in their dissemination of good and salutary things; and we sincerely hope that such sterling commodities may substantially compensate them for the bursting of a few air bubbles.

The hostility of the Musical World towards Chopin was somewhat softened as time went on. In their review of Chopin’s collected works, published in the issue of August 10, 1843, the editors of the Musical World conceded that Chopin was an important composer of piano pieces: Whatever opinion we may entertain of the general tendency of M. Chopin’s music, it is impossible to deny that he occupies a foremost rank among the pianoforte composers of the present day. In Paris, that hotbed of hyperbole and long beards, his admirers regard him as a species of musical Wordsworth, inasmuch as he utterly scorns popularity, and writes entirely up to his own standard of excellence, looking upon the opinion of the multitude as altogether a delusion. Thus far does M. Chopin resemble the great English poet; but in any other light no two beings can be less alike, no two characters more repulsively opposite. Mr. Chopin is a wayward, moody, half-thoughtless being, with great natural talent for music, but with a defective education of which he is irritably conscious. Had he but given his capabilities a fair chance, he might have been a great as well as an original composer; he might have exercised men’s hearts as well as their fingers. He has been from the first of his career a spoiled child. The Parisians, who understand as much of music as Mr. Coronor Wakeley of the poetry of Wordsworth, immediately—for the solitary reason that he was mysterious and unintelligible—welcomed him as a demigod. He was bespattered by the feuilletonists with Liszt at their head, till they scarcely knew whether he was on earth or in the moon. M. Jules Janin, whose ideas on music are somewhere about as muddled as his ideas on most other subjects, was just the man to receive M. Chopin with open arms—for, avowedly, they are of the same kidney in their general sentiments of art. Accordingly appeared a long feuilleton in the Journal des Débats, more flowery of expression and empty of


Nicolas Slonimsky

meaning, more alive with tropes, and denuded of common sense, more polysyllabically sesquipedalian and critically nonentitous than usual, in which M. Chopin was peppered, salted, and served up to the readers of the Débats as a dish of neglected merit—and the dressing was so artfully concocted, that the Parisians with their accustomed gullibility, swallowed M. Chopin without consideration; and having swallowed him they must do their best to digest him, which we opine will be the harder of the two tasks. We must be understood to object merely to the misappreciation of M. Chopin—to the obstinate perversity which drags him from his legitimate throne, and places him on another for which he is wholly unfitted. As a pianist and a writer of useful, various, and original studies or exercises for the pianoforte, M. Chopin has few, if any rivals; as a musician of sentiment, he is little better than an imposter.

A week later, in the issue of August 17, 1843, the Musical World once more returned to Chopin, this time in a benevolent and charitable mood: We promised to say a few words about Chopin—let us redeem our pledge. Chopin has been injured in two ways—he has been overrated and underrated. He has been overrated by the enthusiasts of the romantic school, with Doctor Liszt and Dr. Schumann at their head, who have elevated him into a position which he was surely never intended to occupy—and what of really good and great was in him, has been sadly endangered by the conceit begotten of extravagant applause. He has been underrated by the followers of the classical school, represented by Mendelssohn and Spohr, who, with a very superficial knowledge of his writings, have set him down as a charlatan, only differing from the crowd in superior and hyper-daring eccentricity. The injustice of both sides is manifest to the calm observer. To place Chopin by the side of Beethoven or Mendelssohn is no more or less absurd than to depreciate him to a level of Thalberg or Dohler. He cannot be a thoroughly great composer because he lacks the first requisite of greatness—viz., the power of continuity. He cannot, moreover, be classed among the common herd since he is eminently an original thinker and is blessed with an inexhaustible invention and a deep well of new and touching melody. Chopin is incapable of producing a symphony or an overture—that is to say, a good symphony or overture—because though


he has fancy enough to supply admirable materials, he has not a sufficient development of the organ of consistency—the bump of epicism, it may be called—to enable him to demonstrate, carry out, amplify, and complete his original notions. His concertos, par exemple, his longest published works, are remarkable for this deficiency. Brilliant and effective as they are, they stop short of greatness in their lack of continuous feeling. The subjects are all excellent, but they fail to give a coloring to the whole. The entire work is not a consequence of the first idea, but wholly independent of it—so much so, that the motive of either of Chopin’s concertos would serve as well for the other as for that to which they appertain. Therefore is Chopin incapable of a large and profound work of art. But on the other hand, in composition of less important aim—in fantasias of all kinds, where the fancy may sport, unrestrained by the shackles of form—in short movements, potpourris, and capriccios, Chopin’s rich fund of ideas, his pleasant fancy, his melancholy humour, his fresh and fluent melody, his elegant graces, his piquant remplissage, his poetical and passionate coloring are displayed to consummate advantage, and place him far apart from the herd of composers of this or any other age. Our young English composers have been unwarrantably and even ridiculously prejudiced against the writings of Chopin. Their very slight acquaintance with them places their opposition in a manifestly absurd light. It is sheer bigotry—in many cases, ignorant coxcombry, and nothing better. We have no patience with this utter condemnation of a musician of original and striking genius, with nothing but obstinacy and the most ungenerous and narrow-sighted prejudice for its base. From all we hear of Chopin, we are sure he would be the first to commend and encourage the genius of any young English musician who might chance to come under his notice, in spite of the unworthy prejudice, and one-eyed, one-arm’d, one-legg’d, one-handed, one-footed, and no-headed bigotry with which he has been peppered and pulverised by all of them in a body. This we say advisedly, and we recommend our brethren of the profession to ponder on what has been adduced. Chopin is a distinguished musician, if not a Beethoven. Let us give real merit its due; which will be a surer method of acquiring our own deserts than the method we have hitherto so rashly and stupidly adopted. Let us pluck the mote from our own eye and then look into that of our brother.



Nicolas Slonimsky

Other London publications were no less hostile to Chopin than the Musical World. Thus the Dramatic and Musical Review of September 23, 1843, published a paragraph under the caption, “Chopin’s Balloon”: Mr. Stapleton has published “An Essay on the Works of Frederic Chopin,” which is evidently written to puff the unsaleable works of this composer: “The course of this simple motive lies through a world of evolving progressions among the intricacies of which it is conducted on the supple shoulders of a rolling accompaniment of light footed triplets which bear away their delicious burden with the delight of a lover carrying his mistress to the world’s end—anon embracing it and hugging it with close amplectitude, exemplifying mystically the arcana of psychical anastomosis—the synthanics of intellectual comprehension—till joyfully they bear it to the end, on the wings of an inflammable pedal passage, which is enough to lift you off your feet with a bare excitement!!!” All this rubbish is about a tarantella! Was the booby mad or drunk when he penned such trash as this? We shall take an early opportunity of giving our opinion of the compositions of M. Chopin.

The editors of the Dramatic and Musical Review lost no time in getting back to the discussion of Chopin’s music. A review of Chopin’s Ballade No. 3 and other works appeared in the October 28, 1843, issue: We are aware that it would be unfair and injudicious to criticise the music of M. Chopin by the chaste models of Mozart or Clementi, or even of Beethoven. He can only be compared as piano-forte writer with his contemporaries but judging the specimens the titles of which are given above, we can only think that the wildness both of the melody and harmony is excessive. Though not without occasional gleams of a land of savage and fearful beauty, we cannot imagine any musician to feel otherwise than dissatisfied with the effect of either of the above pieces. We do not doubt that much of the music of M. Chopin is destined to become fashionable and as we cannot imagine the distinguishing features of modern piano-forte music to be further exaggerated than by himself, we may venture to hope for a return to the more wholesome taste by the time that our composer has “had his day.”

As if there were not enough confusion between fact and fancy in Chopin’s biographies, there was thrown upon unsuspecting music editors



a Chopin forgery, attractive enough to land squarely on the pages of several respectable music journals. It happened in 1907. On January 8 of that year, the Neue Musik-Zeitung published extracts from a booklet entitled Chopins Tagebuchblätter, autorisierte Uebersetzung von Helene Wiesenthal. It was not said from what language the translation was made, and who authorized it. The alleged Chopin diary made a quick round trip in the international press. Le Guide Musical of September 8-15, 1907, published an article by Gaston Knosp unabashedly entitled “Le journal de Chopin.” Knosp wrote ecstatically: On vient de remettre la main sur les feuillets d’un journal autographe de Chopin. Ces feuillets, rédigés en langue polonaise, jettent un jour tout nouveau sur certaines questions qui jusqu’à présent se réclamaient le plus souvent du terroir de la légende et de la fantaisie. Le journal en question est surtout intéressant à cause du chapitre des femmes dans la vie de Chopin.

When events reported in the “journal” contradicted too patently the known data of Chopin’s life, Gaston Knosp summarily dismissed the latter. Les assertions des témoins auriculaires, même celles de Liszt, sont réduites à néant vis-à-vis des notes manuscrites de Chopin.

When Chopin of the “Diary” referred to the Scotchwoman Jane Stirling as Rebecca Stirling, Knosp admitted it was strange, but decided that this change in the first name must have had some symbolic significance which Chopin alone could understand. It must be conceded that the “Diary” is quite in character with Chopin’s personality as imagined and portrayed by some of his biographers. There is the characteristic psychologizing, direct quotations, invocations to Poland, impassioned thoughts of George Sand whom he calls by her real name Aurora, and more guarded references to Miss Stirling. The background of Chopin’s life in this “Diary” is taken mainly from Karasowski’s biography. In fact, the similarity of the German wording of the “Diary” to the German edition of Karasowski’s book led to the final exposure of the fraud. Long before then, sharp-minded individuals like Moriz Rosenthal, spotting some suspicious inconsistencies in the “Diary,” expressed their doubts as to its authenticity. Finally the editor of the Neue Musik-Zeitung sent an urgent request to Frau Wiesenthal begging her to


Nicolas Slonimsky

state where she had obtained the material. To this Frau Wiesenthal replied that she had translated the “Diary” from an English version supplied to her by Miss Jeanette Lee, an American novelist from New England. When pressed for further information, Frau Wiesenthal professed ignorance as to Miss Lee’s whereabouts. There the matter was allowed to rest. It may be of interest to quote some of the entries in Chopin’s journal manufactured by Frau Wiesenthal. Here is a paragraph dated Majorca, November 16, 1838: Our two souls are alone in this island of the sea. At night I go to bed to listen to the noise of the waves upon the rocks. Rebecca Stirling has come to visit us. She brought violets, great English violets. Their perfume intoxicates me day and night in this damp monastic cell. The convent is cold and dark, the wind comes in at all joints, so that the doors creak all night long. It is freezing cold. When I cough, I feel it down to the bottom of my heart. I adore the light, it sings sweet melodies in my ears. I do not wish to die. The shadows pursue me. But life is strong. Rebecca’s violets on my tomb! I do not wish to die.

An entry dated “Castle Stirling [!], June 16, 1848” is the most banal of the lot. Cruelly, my soul curses you, repulses you! Aurora, your kisses burn me like kisses of fire. What uneasiness seizes me! Shall I ever have rest? Earth from Poland will soon cover me. This silver vase contains a handful of it. I can take it in my hands! Dear country with the musical soul! This handful of earth from thy fertile fields is always near me. They are to throw it into my grave, on my breast—on that dead and tormented burden. But the burning, beating heart, they must take from me nerve by nerve, and send it back to the land from whence it came. Dear Poland! I see thee through the fog, and with you my mothers’ eyes, her mouth, her chin, Poland, who singest and weepest—poor country!

Let us hope that Frau Wiesenthal’s little invention will not be dug up by some overzealous biographer in the centennial year 1949 and solemnly republished as a new and startling discovery. The above is a fair warning.


SURROUNDED BY TREASURES AND HOUSEHOLD PETS, MALIPIERO PERSONIFIES AN AGELESS TRADITION Composer in a Palace! Only in Italy can such a thing happen. Nowhere else in the world are there so many bona fide palaces converted into educational institutions and musical conservatories, and nowhere else is there such a vital continuity of the arts. The landmarks of Italy are not mileposts, the landscape is not mere background, the beautiful monuments are not relics, and today’s art is not a modern invention detached from the artistic past. History is part of the Italian present, and contemporary artists belong to Italy of all ages. The foremost composer of Italy today, Francesco Malipiero, personifies this tradition in modern music. He writes in a style that is distinctly a twentieth-century style. His music is built on a broad melodic foundation, but it is fortified by structures of complex harmonies, often combining two different tonalities. But he also is a great scholar of old Italian music. He has edited the complete works of the first Italian composer of operas, Claudio Monteverde; and he is in charge of a 25-volume edition of the works by Antonio Vivaldi, the Venetian master of the time of Bach. Malipiero does his work of arranging and editing with complete absorption in the task—he has written 4,000 pages of music manuscript for his modern edition of Monteverde! Malipiero is also a great teacher. He is director of the Conservatorio Benedetto Marcello, named after another important composer of the Italian past. This conservatory is housed in the Palazzo Pisani, one of the Venetian Renaissance palaces, which is situated in the heart of the city, but Ch. 14: originally published in The Christian Science Monitor, September 30, 1950.



Nicolas Slonimsky

Malipiero is not only director, but also the keeper of the keys, caretaker and custodian of the treasures, of the Palazzo Pisani. Among these treasures there are canvases by Tintoretto, a library of musical manuscripts, including unpublished and heretofore unknown symphonies by the eighteenth-century Italian composer, Baldassare Galuppi, and a collection of old instruments. When, returning to the Conservatorio late at night, Malipiero turns the ornamented iron key in the lock of the huge door, animal sounds, barking and meowing, are heard inside. Malipiero keeps several dogs and cats of uncertain breeds in his palace dwelling. Once, when a large trunk of art objects was brought into the palazzo for safekeeping, one of Malipiero’s dogs made a stance at it and would not leave. The trunk was opened and from it emerged a red kitten, famished and emaciated, but still alive. It was forthwith christened Vivaldi, because Vivaldi was known as “Il Rosso”—the red one—on account of his flaming red hair. Malipiero is a popular figure in Venice. Gondoliers and shoeshine boys, theater ushers and street vendors, address him familiarly as “Maestro.” Despite his age—he was born in 1882—he is youthfully energetic and his vitality is inexhaustible. He jumps into a gondola with an easy spring, natural in one who was born and brought up in the City of the Canals. He is a fascinating talker. He speaks fluent French and German, as well as his native Italian, and despite the tremendous amount of work he always finds time to receive visitors, discuss the latest musical trends, and serve as cicerone, taking friends on a sightseeing tour by gondola and on foot. Malipiero composes at a large-size table in the second story of the Palazzo Pisani. The table is piled up with manuscripts, his own, or some eighteenth-century works which he is preparing for publication. He teaches his students in one of the several spacious halls, using the piano for musical illustrations. Occasionally, one of Malipiero’s cats takes a walk on the keyboard. This, too, has a tradition behind it. A feline keyboard promenade inspired Domenico Scarlatti, the Neapolitan composer who lived for a time in Venice, to write his famous “Cat’s Fugue.” The nature of a musical cat does not change through the centuries. Malipiero and his English wife have a villa in Asolo, a little town some distance from Venice. The Malipieros had some hair-raising experiences during the Nazi occupation of Venice toward the end of the war. A British airman who escaped from a war prisoners’ camp took refuge in the Malipiero villa in Asolo when he was told by the anti-Fascist partisans that

Composer in a Palace!


Madame Malipiero was English. He was placed in the attic, while Nazis and some Italian Fascists requisitioned the lower floor of the villa. Fortunately, the airman was of a very silent disposition and spent the several harrowing weeks in the villa reading English books which Madame Malipiero had in her library. At the first opportune moment it was arranged for him to escape to the mountains, where he rejoined the partisans. He finally got to England and the Malipieros had a nice letter from him notifying them of his safety. During the war years, Malipiero composed little. The advent of peace gave him a new impetus for work. Since 1945, Malipiero has written five symphonies. He had written two symphonies years before, so the total of his symphonies is seven. It is interesting to note the dates of completion of each of these new symphonies. The Third Symphony, subtitled Of Bells, was completed on Feb. 14, 1945; the Fourth on Dec. 3, 1946; the Fifth (subtitled Concertante in Eco) on July 25, 1947; the Sixth on Nov. 26, 1947; and the Seventh (subtitled Delle Canzoni) on Aug. 26, 1948. The publication of these symphonies followed almost immediately upon completion, owing to Malipiero’s important position in Italian music, and also to the extraordinary development of the music-publishing industry in postwar Italy. The miniature score of Malipiero’s Seventh Symphony was published by Ricordi in the spring of 1949, barely six months after its completion! The Fourth Symphony, incidentally, saved Malipiero’s villa in Asolo from being sold for taxes. This symphony was commissioned by the Koussevitzky Foundation; the fee, $1,000, representing a tremendous sum in Italian lire, was enough to pay the mortgage and the taxes. The Malipieros hope that some day their villa, with its garden and surrounding land, will become a composers’ colony, similar to the MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, New Hampshire. Malipiero’s description of his Seventh Symphony—Delle Canzone (Of Songs)—can be taken as an epitome of his creative life: “A chant is heard; it is like the voice of a rhapsodic poet of old, singing from the Grappa, the sacred mountain, while far in the distance, receding still farther, lies Venice.”


Serge Koussevitzky, who died on June 4 [1951] at the age of seventy-six, was not merely a conductor of instinctive genius. His concerts—in Russia, in France, in America—had a mission to perform. This mission was both personal and musical. It was personal because Koussevitzky had at every stage of his life served the cause of a composer, or several composers, to whom he was personally attached. It was musical, because the composers whose works he chose for performance were good and often great composers, and because Koussevitzky gave a totality of devotion to the music he played. He could not do things by halves, or even by 99 per cent. Whether it was an acknowledged masterpiece of the past that he was to conduct or a new pioneer work, it was to him, for the duration of the concert, a great piece of music. Once when Koussevitzky conducted the Fantastic Symphony a modernistically-minded friend remarked to him that there was much in Berlioz’s score that was sheer bombast. An expression of agony appeared on Koussevitzky’s face. “Even if it is so, I don’t want to discuss it,” he said. “I must not think of defects when I play the music.” On another occasion Koussevitzky was going over the score of Scriabin’s Divine Poem with young Prokofieff, who offered some irreverent suggestions for improving Scriabin’s orchestration, such as putting an extra bass drum in the score. Koussevitzky, visibly perturbed, cut the conversation short. Koussevitzky was a great catalyst. He championed his cause with relentless determination until the reluctant world was willing to accept the new composers whom he promoted, or the novel interpretations of classical and romantic masterpieces which he offered to the public. But if he Ch. 15: originally published in The Saturday Review, June 30, 1951.


The Koussevitzky Mission


had influenced to a degree the musical climate of the half century, the changing times exercised a reciprocal influence on him. Koussevitzky came to America in 1924 as a champion of Russian music. He was the apostle of Scriabin, for whom he had done so much in Russia as interpreter and publisher of Scriabin’s music. It was Scriabin’s Poem of Ecstasy that Koussevitzky featured at his opening concert in America, and Scriabin’s music continued to figure on his programs for many years. But as the new type of modern music, more virile and direct in its impact, began to dominate the musical scene, Koussevitzky gradually became detached from Scriabin. During the last decade of his tenure as conductor of the Boston Symphony, Scriabin had disappeared from the programs. The old Russians—Borodin, Rimsky-Korsakov, even Moussorgsky—had similarly receded into limbo. Only Tchaikovsky held his place firmly. In this Koussevitzky followed the trend of the times, for Tchaikovsky was unexpectedly espoused by the moderns as one of the most significant creators in nineteenth-century music. Of the modern Russians Stravinsky and Prokofieff (then still living in Paris) were high on Koussevitzky’s list. It was at Koussevitzky’s institution that Stravinsky wrote his Piano Concerto, and it was Koussevitzky’s practical notion that this concerto would give Stravinsky an opportunity to come to America as soloist in his own work. Koussevitzky also commissioned Stravinsky to write a work for the fiftieth anniversary of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, which resulted in the composition of the Symphony of Psalms. Prokofieff, too, had numerous compositions performed for the first time by Koussevitzky in Paris and in Boston, and he was twice invited by Koussevitzky to conduct guest appearances of the Boston Symphony in his own works. Several Russian composers of American residence and citizenship, Nabokov, Berezowsky, Lopatnikoff, owed their careers to Koussevitzky. At least one of them, Vladimir Dukelsky, had the majority of his works performed by the Boston Symphony under Koussevitzky, while other American orchestras abstained. Koussevitzky’s greatest service as a musical catalyst was the encouragement he gave to the group of American composers whose creative gifts had matured during the second quarter of the present century. Koussevitzky’s first American composer was Aaron Copland. Even with Koussevitzky’s unshakable hold on the Boston audiences it was an act of courage to put Copland’s “jazz” Piano Concerto on the program, with the composer as soloist dispensing strange sounds in staid Symphony Hall.


Nicolas Slonimsky

From that day most of Copland’s major works received their first performances under Koussevitzky in Boston, being carried to New York and elsewhere on Boston Symphony tours. Walter Piston, too, was the recipient of commissions for new works from Koussevitzky. All of the symphonies by Roy Harris were given by the Boston Symphony during Koussevitzky’s regime, five of them in first performance. Howard Hanson figured on his programs. Samuel Barber, William Schuman, and David Diamond were championed by Koussevitzky with undiminishing zeal. And of the younger generation Lukas Foss was welcomed by Koussevitzky into the fold. Koussevitzky possessed an uncanny sense of musical values in new scores by unknown composers. He was rarely mistaken in pushing a new talent over the opposition of the critics, the public, and often even the members of the orchestra. This was particularly evident in the cases of Aaron Copland and Roy Harris, whose early works did not meet with general approval. The examination of the programs of the Boston Symphony during Koussevitzky’s quarter of the century with that orchestra shows only one instance when Koussevitzky had given repeated performances of symphonic works by a composer who failed to live up to expectations. This precision of judgment is explained by Koussevitzky’s intensity of musical feeling. He followed his instinct rather than technical calculation of musical structure. He could overlook occasional crudity of orchestration, unnecessary dissonance, and formal diffuseness in a score, but he never failed to sense an independent talent struggling through the music. If there was one type of music that left him cold, it was the smooth, technically brilliant, learned type of music that presented no obstacle to study and performance but lacked personal warmth. The same conviction in the correctness of his judgment that animated Koussevitzky in championing new works was the active element in his interpretations as well. As conductor, too, he was a relentless catalyst. His legendary reply to a musician who said that he could not play a difficult passage at required speed—“You must can!”—illustrates Koussevitzky’s relationship with his players. This relationship, goodness knows, was not all sweetness and light, and Koussevitzky was often unreasonable in his demands on the orchestra; but as one musician put it, “Even when he tells us something that is absolutely wrong, we follow him enthusiastically.” Koussevitzky could drive the players to distraction by rehearsing individual violin stands in a Tchaikovsky symphony that, as the saying goes,

The Koussevitzky Mission


they could play in their sleep. But Koussevitzky refused to let them play except in a palpitating state of vigilance. Conducting a thrice familiar work in an “unimportant” town on tour, he pressed the orchestra on with a passionate devotion that other conductors would reserve for a gala performance at Carnegie Hall. This very capacity of never-flagging musical ecstasy was the secret of Koussevitzky’s appeal. Unconsciously, every listener—even a non-musical one—felt that he was getting a hundred-percent performance for his money. Musicians might have been painfully cognizant of unnecessary expenditure of energy in Koussevitzky’s onrushing drive, in his anguished cues when the music seemed to play itself if left alone, in his insistence on conducting instrumental solo passages which are traditionally performed ad libitum—but to the audience this absorption in the music constituted a guarantee of the genuineness of the conductor’s effort. To Koussevitzky there were no secondary parts in a musical score, no transition passages to be glossed over lightly. In a Brahms symphony he would turn to the violas and dramatically underline groups of notes that are nothing more than a sectional development. He would address the violins in a familiar pleading gesture of the outstretched hands, entreating them to play with greater force when they were already exerting all their strength at a climax. He would imperiously point at the trumpets and urge them to give more when they had already given their all. Or else he would impatiently hush a drum player when the drumbeats had long reached the threshold of inaudibility. Many said that Koussevitzky was a born actor, that he enjoyed his own performance as well as the music. It may be so, but is not the conducting podium properly a stage? If the orchestra and the audience are to be impressed with the music, pedestrian restraint is hardly the means to accomplish that. Of all conductors Koussevitzky professed unreserved admiration only for Arthur Nikisch. As a token of this admiration Koussevitzky once volunteered to play the double-bass in the orchestra when Nikisch conducted in Leipzig. (That was the time when Koussevitzky was creating a sensation as a double-bass virtuoso.) If Koussevitzky can be fitted into any category of conductors it is the Nikisch category, a sort of glorified improvisation along the lines of a rigidly predetermined interpretation. During his entire career Koussevitzky rarely changed these basic lines, even when they seemed to contradict the letter of the printed page. The improvisatory part in his performances was the product of what is largely described as inspiration,


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and success—subjective and objective—depended on the balance of form and mood. Nikisch, who lived before the day of electrical recording, left but a fleeting legend after his death. Happily, the legend of Koussevitzky has been immortalized in recorded sound. Beethoven and Brahms, Tchaikovsky and Sibelius, Berlioz and Strauss, Ravel and Debussy, Stravinsky and Prokofieff can still be heard as Koussevitzky heard them. In his Russian avatar Koussevitzky founded a publishing house, which in its generosity to composers was without a parallel. Out of his vast fortune he undertook to pay the composers a handsome sum of money as a commission, plus the royalties. The first composer to benefit by this arrangement was Scriabin, to whom it was a matter of life or death, for he was then in very difficult financial circ*mstances. Stravinsky’s Petrouchka and Le Sacre du Printemps were also published by Koussevitzky, as well as some Rachmaninoff works. Following the Revolution Koussevitzky’s publishing activities were moved to Berlin and Paris. There, the Edition Russe de Musique, as Koussevitzky named it, published works by Prokofieff and other Russian composers residing abroad at the time. Again Koussevitzky was a catalyst, giving to the world—often over the strong opposition of the businessmen in the management—complete scores of modern masterpieces which otherwise would have waited many years for publication. The Koussevitzky imprint on the title pages of these scores is a monument to his service in behalf of modern music. Koussevitzky left still another legacy as the founder of the Berkshire Music Center and the organizer of the Berkshire Festivals. He taught conducting; he imparted his passion for orchestral music to Leonard Bernstein, whom he called “the child of my spirit.” Another favorite student of Koussevitzky, Eleazar de Carvalho, has inherited a part of Koussevitzky’s musical spirit. Composers who have received commissions to write works for Koussevitzky, young conductors who studied with him, the millions who heard him in Boston, in the Berkshires, in New York, in Europe, in South America, in Israel, have in various degrees of intimacy participated in Koussevitzky’s music-making. The life of no other conductor has been so rich and so versatile in fruitful achievement.

1 6 . HANDEL’S WORLD: ITS MAGNIFICENCE, ITS PRACTICALITY, AND ITS SURVIVAL IN OUR TIME Handel passed by a church in London and heard one of his sacred choruses sung off pitch in a wretched ensemble. “Almighty Lord!” he exclaimed. “This is not the music I wrote for Thy Glory.” Even more than his exact contemporary Bach, Handel has become a symbol of exalted classicism. His corpulent figure, weighing about 210 pounds, the air of authority, stately dignity, the magnificence of his countenance, and the splendid wig which seemed to be firmly glued to his natural hair, all these external qualities are reflected in his music. The adjectives elicited from writers for more than two centuries constitute a whole thesaurus of synonyms: noble, majestic, grand, imposing, glorious, resplendent, lofty, great, sublime, mighty, dignified, stately, lordly, princely, peerless, immortal, illustrious, and lustrous. Unfortunately there exists a wretched tribe of anti-classicists who dare to raise their sacrilegious cry asserting that Handel was a magnificent bore. Such people are, of course, beyond redemption. Mussorgsky must be included among them. He mocked irreverently at Handel as patron saint of self-made classicists who were long on obedience, short on inspiration. In his hilarious spoof, Peepshow, Mussorgsky included a quotation from Handel’s oratorio Judas Maccabaeus, to ridicule a Russian conservatory professor named Zaremba, who preached that in classical music minor keys represent sin, and major keys redemption from sin. No one is so reckless as to attack Bach; the target of irreverence among classical composers is Handel, and only Handel. Why? Is it because of the satisfaction one gets out of defying the undefiable, something like Ch. 16: lecture delivered in connection with a performance of Semele, conducted by Thor Johnson, (possibly) January 30, 1959, Evanston, IL.



Nicolas Slonimsky

Don Giovanni inviting the statue to dinner. But Handel stands unperturbed in the sanctuary of his monument at Westminster Abbey, holding the tablet with the quotation from Messiah. Burney, the great musical historian who knew Handel personally, left the following description of him: “The figure of Handel was large, and he was somewhat unwieldy in his actions; but his countenance was full of fire and dignity. His general look was somewhat heavy and sour, but when he did smile, it was the sun bursting out of a black cloud. There was a sudden flash of intelligence, wit, and good humour, beaming in his countenance which I hardly ever saw in any other.” Handel’s entire musical vocabulary consists of basic triads and their inversions, the dominant seventh-chord, and the so-called secondary seventh-chord, but not the tonic seventh. That he could produce such an immense body of music, without ever failing to achieve the desired effect with these basic means of composition, is a source of wonder. For it must be stated plainly that Handel was a marvelous harmonist, but not a genius of counterpoint. The comparison is, of course, with Bach. The reason that no musician ever attempts to question Bach’s greatness, or Bach’s universality, or Bach’s timelessness, or Bach’s unsurpassable technical achievements, is that we cannot possibly come near to duplicating or even approaching the absolute mastery of Bach’s fugues. Furthermore, we find in Bach the seeds of the contemporary idiom, including strident dissonances, such as occur in his A Minor Fugue from the First Book of the Well Tempered Clavier. What an inversion of the theme! Such leaps of intervals remind us of Stravinsky. In many other works of Bach we find unexpected modern parallels. Not so in Handel. He is a true classicist who embodies the entire wealth of classical achievement, but without stimulating the developments beyond his immediate time. One can study Bach endlessly, seeking and discovering new ingenuity. One can study Handel, too, but there can be no sense of discovery. The music is too beautiful, too perfect to be arresting. Greatness, yes, stimulation, no. It is now two hundred years that Handel has been enshrined in the minds of musical mankind. Every bit of Handel lore has been sifted through, weighed and measured. We have at our disposal tremendous catalogues, complete editions, analyses, and books on Handel, describing his music in familiar superlatives. But we still do not possess a study that would be of the greatest value for the study of harmonic, melodic, and rhythmic

Handel’s World


material used by Handel in his works. Such a study would shed new light on the nature of classicism itself. Because Handel was primarily a great cultivator of monody, there will be no necessity of classifying his contrapuntal procedures, which would be imperative in any study of Bach. What is the percentage of tonic, dominant and subdominant chords in Handel’s collected works? What is the number of identical cadences? How many sequences? How long are the chains of sequential imitations? An intrepid musicologist who is willing to devote half his natural life to this task will certainly acquire a small, but honorable place in the shadow of Handel’s statue. Anyway, the task is much more worthwhile than writing another Ph.D. thesis on Handel’s Messiah. Then there is a valuable essay entitled “Gustave Waltz: Was He Handel’s Cook?” This is musicology, mind you, and entertaining musicology at that. Handel was supposed to say “Gluck knows no more counterpoint than my cook Waltz.” Gustave Waltz was in fact a good musician, a singer, who sang in Handel’s oratorios. There are no mysteries in Handel’s music. The writing is so lucid and transparent that it would appear almost as diaphanous as the emperor’s clothes in Andersen’s tale. But Handel needs no garments; his power resides in his gravity, in his centripetal force. Simplicity, yes; flimsiness, no. Because of Handel’s firm hold of the ground, his music is understandable to anyone anywhere. Bach is not. The nearest that Bach came to universal popularity is in the air on the G string, which of course is the bright invention of the violinist Wilhelmj, who made a notorious arrangement from Bach’s suite in D major. A companion piece to that is Handel’s celebrated Largo, which is the instrumental arrangement, or derangement, by persons unknown. The original tune is the song “Ombra mai fù” from Handel’s opera Serse. Bach has nothing as popular to offer as Handel’s air and variations from the fifth Harpsichord Suite of the first set, famous under the title “The Harmonious Blacksmith.” Here I might as well repeat for the umpteenth time that the title is utterly phony, so that the piece might as well be called the “Harphonious Blacksmith.” The earliest known publication of it under the phony title was by the British Harmonic Institution in 1819, in an arrangement for piano four hands. Yet this story went so far that the blacksmith who was supposed to have sung the air for Handel was actually identified as an artisan in a London suburb and the theme of the air was inscribed on the tombstone of its alleged originator. There used to be exhibited the anvil which the harmonious blacksmith was


Nicolas Slonimsky

supposed to wield to mark time while singing. Worse still, the very authorship of this tune has been questioned when a similar air by an obscure musician named Richard Jones, a close contemporary of Handel, was discovered, creating a problem whether Handel took it from Jones, or Jones from Handel. This kind of speculation is of course entirely idle for the very simple reason that the melodic and harmonic ingredients of the harmonious blacksmith’s tune are common to composers of several centuries. Here is another fine subject for an aspiring Ph.D. There are thousands of 18thcentury manuscripts in European libraries, and at least one in a hundred ought to contain a tune similar to Handel’s. With luck, such a Ph.D. may come upon even an identical tune, in which case he will be immediately eligible for a professorship in the most renowned institutions of musical learning. If not so lucky there is always a way of manufacturing one’s luck, by ever so slightly altering the theme in some obscure manuscript to bring it closer to “The Harmonious Blacksmith.” But if too much honesty precludes such a course of action, there is always left the time-honored device of adumbration. This is done by stating that the theme is identical except for a rhythmic rearrangement, and melodic substitution of one degree by another, and the change of triads and their inversion in the accompaniment. Musicological journals are full of such scholarly papers. Another fruitful line of investigation is the interdependence of the Hallelujah chorus from the Messiah and the popular song of the 1920s, “Yes We Have No Bananas.” So Handel is very much with us, the earliest classical composer to penetrate the great musical and even unmusical masses. Does it mean that Handel is intrinsically cheap, that he was a musical opportunist, as Grove’s Dictionary described him? Not at all. There is no fault in being acceptable to hoi polloi. Nor is it a virtue, but one cannot damn a composer simply because his works are made into a thousand arrangements, or even approximate a popular song. We must defend Handel. Popularity, yes—vulgarity, no. Ernst Krenek made an observation, in one of his articles in a German music periodical, that has struck me by its inherent esthetic truth. In trying to explain why Wagner’s popularity faded in the 20th century, while Verdi received increasingly greater appreciation, he said that Wagner’s musical texture is so thick that there is no room for adding more elaborations, while Verdi’s tunes are simplicity itself, and they yield themselves to ornamenta-

Handel’s World


tion and metamorphoses into a new contemporary idiom. He compared the process with surrealism in painting. Indeed, surrealism is incongruous realism, where perfectly realistic figures are combined in impossible forms; a perfectly normal female head is placed on a telephone pole, or watches are left to dry on the branches of a tree to demonstrate persistence of memory, or a man with a patch over his left eye stands in the middle of the desert holding a glass of whiskey. The individual parts of such representations are perfectly realistic, but their juxtaposition is nightmarish. Now, the parallel between Verdi and Wagner is true in regard to Handel and Bach. Handel can be a point of departure for a surrealist arrangement in a polytonal, atonal, or pandiatonic style, but Bach will resist such treatment because of the overabundance of counterpoint. I must emphasize that I do not deny Handel’s great craftsmanship in contrapuntal and in fugal writing, which would be madness, but I point out merely that Bach had much more of it, and created enormously intricate edifices of canonic imitation and the fugue, structures that are as complex and as extraordinary as the formulas of the differential and integral analysis calculus, so beautiful in their symmetry, and yet so profound in their implications. Of course, Bach supplied the accompaniment for the celebrated solo by Gounod, “Ave Maria,” but after all, this accompaniment was a series of arpeggios from Bach’s very first prelude of the forty-eight. I will illustrate this notion of Handel Modernized by playing the theme of “The Harmonious Blacksmith” in a form of continuous modulation, so that every bar will contain four different keys, usually in chromatic order. [Play] There is also a possibility of arranging the theme in a twelve-tone series. When harmonized in dominant-seventh chords taken from different keys, the effect is fairly interesting, and amazingly enough, very euphonious. But then Handel will have euphony no matter what outrage is perpetrated upon him. For the sake of fairness, I must also play a multitonal version of Bach’s C minor Fugue from the First Book. But this of course is Bach’s most popular and most dance-like fugue, and one of the few compositions of Bach that would yield to a modernistic treatment. The great Ebenezer Prout wrote the following lyric for the subject of this fugue: “John Sebastian Bach sat upon a tack, but he soon got up again with a howl.” Imitation of Handel’s style is extremely easy, because of its uniformity. I will permit myself to play my own take-off on Handel, the first song of


Nicolas Slonimsky

my suite “Gravestones at Hanco*ck, New Hampshire.” The words are actually taken from the tombstone of a Mrs. Knight, who died in 1815: “Vain world, fare-well to you! Heaven is my native air. I bid my friends adieu, Impatient to be there.” [Play] Now that I have antagonized and outraged Handel lovers, I will make amends by pointing out that the title of my lecture contains reference to the practicality and survival in our time of Handel’s magnificent world. Survival, yes, embalming, no. What sort of man was Handel? What kind of life did he live? There was no Boswell to give us a detailed account of Handel’s life, and anecdotes concerning Handel’s temper, his devout spirit, his terrible German accent when he spoke English, have no spark of authenticity in them. Musicologists take refuge in quoting authorities, but why should any person writing a biography of Handel be regarded as reliable? Even the testimony of Mattheson, who was a friend of Handel from his boyhood, is open to much doubt. The famous story of a duel between Handel and Mattheson when they were both cembalists at the Hamburg Opera is duly reported in Mattheson’s lexicon, The Portals of Honor: “When we left the opera we came to blows in the public market before a large audience. The duel might have ended very badly for us both, if by God’s mercy my sword had not broken in coming into contact with a hard metal button of my opponent.” Mattheson was twenty-three at the time, Handel was nineteen. Mattheson occasionally performed on the stage, leaving the harpsichord in the charge of Handel. On the near-fatal day, if we are to swallow the melodrama, Mattheson’s own opera Cleopatra was performed at the Hamburg Opera. When Mattheson was through with his stage bit, he returned to the orchestra, expecting to take his accustomed place. But Handel refused to yield. Newman Flower, the British biographer of Handel, solemnly reports the episode. The footnotes in Flower’s book are the acme of the ludicrous. Footnote number one: “Romain Rolland in his life of Handel declares that he gave up the harpsichord only on two previous occasions.” Footnote number two: “Chrysander also says that Mattheson struck Handel.” Of such nonsense are authoritative biographies made. Let us review some biographical data of Handel. Handel’s monument in Westminster Abbey bears the inscription: born February XXIII MDCLXXXV, died on Good Friday, April XIII, MDCCLIX. He was baptized on the 24th of February 1685, and the baptismal entry is found in the book of the Liebfrauenkirche at the Saxon town of Halle. But the

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Gregorian calendar was not introduced in England until 1752, when September 11 became September 12. He died after midnight on Good Friday, i.e., on Saturday. He was known among his Italian friends as Il Sassone, The Saxon. Handel’s original name was Georg Friederich. In England, he changed it to George Frideric, no k at the end, so that it is neither German nor English. He was the child of his father’s second marriage, and when Handel was born, his father was sixty-three years old. His father’s profession was that of a barber-surgeon. In those times every barber was a surgeon, and vice versa. In fact, the familiar red stripes of the barber pole indicate the blood that barbers used to shed in the bloodletting. Many biographies of musicians contain the familiar phrase: “The father wanted him to pursue his own profession, but the boy wanted to study music.” Then we enter the realm of fantasy, with the descriptions of Handel’s trials and tribulations in learning music. Again we have learned footnotes in various books of reference, relating to an episode when the child Handel ran after the carriage taking his father to Weissenfels, and was picked up out of pity, and so was exhibited as a musical prodigy at the court of the Duke of SaxeWeissenfels, who was impressed and persuaded the barber-surgeon to let his son study with the great Zachau in Halle. The footnote in Grove’s Dictionary comments: “The tale is vouched for by Mainwaring, who is followed by Chrysander, Schoelcher, Rockstro and Streatfeild, but not by Flower or Leichtentritt.” But let us get away from all these unascertainable trivia. Let us move to an episode which has a peculiar fascination. Handel was a young man of eighteen when Mattheson proposed a joint trip to Lubeck, to hear and to meet the famous organist Buxtehude. We have no absolute evidence that Handel was offered the position of Buxtehude’s successor at a price, namely to take in holy matrimony Buxtehude’s oldest daughter, Anna Margrete, aged thirty. Mattheson was given the first choice but declined. Two years later, Johann Sebastian Bach made his famous journey to Lubeck. Bach was twenty, and he was offered the hand of Anna Margrete, then thirty-two, and also declined. Buxtehude finally found a suitable sonin-law, from the same town where Handel and Mattheson worked, Hamburg. The incumbent’s name was Schieferdecker. He married Anna Margrete, and inherited the job after Buxtehude’s death. Incidentally, Buxtehude himself got his Lubeck job by marrying the daughter of his predecessor Franz Tunder.


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It is not clear what method of transportation Mattheson and Handel selected to proceed to Lubeck, but the story about Bach’s hike on foot from Arnstadt must be discounted. Out of curiosity, I delved into this, and wrote to the mayor of Arnstadt for some information as to the physical possibility of such a trip over the Harz Mountains during the month of October when Bach made the trip, and received a detailed account of the geography and the climate of the area, ruling out such a possibility. Bach must have hitchhiked, as he did during his student days. The next important episode in Handel’s life was his trip to Italy. There he became acquainted with the Italian style of opera and oratorio, and had his first success with his opera Rodrigo. In popular biographies of Handel we read that he had an ardent love affair in Florence with the celebrated Italian singer Vittoria Tesi, but she was born in 1700, and Handel was in Italy in 1707, so she was seven years old at the time. The chain of circ*mstances that led Handel to his journey to England, where he remained for the rest of his life, began with his appointment as court musician to Prince Georg of Hanover. This Prince Georg became George I of England, and the founder of the Hanover Dynasty on the British throne, succeeding Queen Anne. Handel’s tangled relations with George I, in Hanover and later in London, have been the subject of much confusion on the part of Handel’s biographers. The point is that Handel traveled to England while in the service of the court of Hanover, and it was said that the Prince resented Handel’s taking leave for extended periods. But there seems to be no substance in this particular tale. George I certainly treated Handel royally, in both the literal and the figurative sense. The King asked Handel to write for him the famous piece of Water Music, which took place on the Thames in July 1717. An orchestra was assembled on a barge next to the royal sea craft, and the music was expressly written by Handel. After that, Handel continued to be in royal favor, and soon became a director of the opera company founded in London under the somewhat misleading title The Royal Academy of Music. His codirector was Giovanni Bononcini, a man who was destined for immortality because of the famous rivalry with Handel. A poem published in a London paper became famous: Some say, compared to Bononcini That Mein Herr Handel’s but a ninny; Others aver that he to Handel

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Is scarcely fit to hold a candle. Strange all this difference should be Twixt tweedledum and tweedledee.

Who was Bononcini? Until recently, reference works carried question marks in lieu of information on Bononcini’s last years of life. He lost his competition with Handel, but not before knocking out Handel himself as an opera composer. After the double knockout, Handel turned to the composition of oratorios, much to the benefit of the musical world, and Bononcini left England in disgrace in consequence of a very strange case of plagiarism. In Paris, Bononcini got mixed up with a charlatan who called himself Count Ughi, and who claimed the discovery of atomic transmutation. Bononcini gave him a large part of his earnings in exchange for a recipe for the transformation of base metals into gold and a jar of muddy fluid. The instructions read as follows: “Put this fluid in a clean vase and place it in a dark corner, where no light of the sun, the moon, or the stars can penetrate; let it stand until it acquires a green color and repelling odor; add some of your own blood, and drink a spoonful of it. This is the philosopher’s stone, which cures all internal and external diseases and transmutes all metals into pure gold.” Alas, not all the blood from Bononcini’s veins could give him the gold he sorely needed. He found refuge in Vienna, where he received a pension from the Empress Maria Theresa. His pleas to her for more money to satisfy creditors are pathetic documents. He died at the age of seventyseven. Handel survived him by twelve years. As director of an opera company, Handel had his share of trouble dealing with primadonnas, not only with temperamental female primadonnas, but with male primadonnas as well, or rather, neuter ones, the tribe of Italian Castrati, who commanded the greatest salaries in the 18th century. There was in Handel’s company the celebrated Francesca Cuzzoni, whose voice was so marvelous that an opera lover shouted from the gallery after she finished a coloratura aria: “Damn her! She has a nest of nightingales in her belly!” Her greatest rival was Faustina Bordoni and their feud was the daily topic of London gossip. At first she did not like Handel’s Italian operas and refused to sing an aria that Handel wrote for her. The story goes that Handel seized her vigorously and threatened to throw her out the window if she would not comply. There was a happy ending. She sang and conquered both Handel and the audience. This is not


Nicolas Slonimsky

to be construed as a suggestion that Handel felt the allure of her feminine charms. From all evidence Handel was a sincere bachelor. He never married. The primadonna of the other kind was Senesino, the Italian male mezzo-soprano from the town of Sienna. He sang in several of Handel’s operas. At the performance of Handel’s Julius Caesar, just as Senesino sang the words “Caesar never knew fear,” a piece of the scenery fell from the roof at his feet. He was so frightened that he uttered a cry of horror and the performance had to be interrupted. His quarrels with Handel were more or less on a permanent basis but the causes remain unclear. Perhaps too much should not be made out of these ordinary fights between members of an opera company with temperaments flashing and ambitions soaring. This is a natural condition of musicians, particularly with singers gathered in the performance of an arduous task. British lexicographers classify Handel among British composers. If this claim sounds ludicrous, we must consider the fact that Handel wrote his greatest works to texts in English and that his operas were in Italian. In short there was nothing German about him except his English, but then the King of England himself spoke awful English. In 1726, at the age of forty-one, Handel petitioned the Right Honorable The Lords Spiritual and Temporal in Parliament Assembled to grant him British naturalization. The King signed the bill and so a German-speaking prince from Hanover made Handel of Halle a British subject. In England, Handel abandoned his umlaut, removed the “e” in the middle of Friederich and the “h” at the end, and added an “e” to Georg. How should Handel’s name be pronounced, Handel or Haandel? The King died shortly afterwards and there was another George on the throne of England. Times changed. Grand opera ceased to draw crowds and became the target of ridicule in The Beggar’s Opera. Handel went to Italy in search of singers but when he returned to London with fine prospects and imported an excellent Venetian Castrato named Bernacchi, even the Castrati could no longer attract the fickle London populace, which was completely seduced by the attractions of The Beggar’s Opera in English. It often happens that seemingly fortuitous events and chance encounters lead to the opening of an important chapter in history, literature or art. Such a confluence of opportunities resulted in the production of an old work by Handel to a Biblical text, Haman and Mordecai. But the Bishop

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of London forbade the performance of this work on the stage because Biblical characters were too sacred to be thus represented. This prohibition was in force for two centuries. It is interesting to recall that Samson and Delilah of Saint-Saëns was not produced on the stage until the time of World War I. But there was no prohibition of a concert performance without costumes or scenery. This gave Handel the idea to rewrite this old work and present it as an oratorio. This he did and revised the score, added several numbers and renamed it Esther. This was the first true oratorio in English and one of a series of Handel’s great works, culminating in Messiah. Handel did not abandon the composition of Italian opera, but his task was becoming more and more difficult. An influential group of English aristocrats led by the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Marlborough established a regular conspiracy against Handel. They engaged the Italian composer Porpora to lead the new Opera of the Nobility. Porpora proceeded to lure away Handel’s best primadonnas and his best Castrati, which dealt a mortal blow to Handel’s revived operatic ambitions. Porpora was much more important than Bononcini and he was a successful composer. But the London aristocrats did not maintain him for a long time and soon he went back to the Continent, eventually dying in poverty in Naples on March 3, 1768, at the age of eighty-one. After the second bout with an Italian opera composer, Handel abandoned the operatic enterprise; besides he was now engaged in the composition of religious operas or oratorios which were invariably met with the utmost applause, as the phrase went in those times. It is difficult to draw the line between a religious opera, a dramatic oratorio and opera proper. Thus we find that the same work of Handel may receive different designations according to the type of prevalent performance. Is Semele an opera, a secular oratorio or sacred drama? The text is by William Conreid and originally it was to be an opera but later the idea of stage action was dropped. After its production at Covent Garden in 1744, it fell into oblivion and was not revived until a hundred years later in England, and 215 years later, in 1959, in the United States. But one aria, “Where e’er she walks,” has become a celebrated solo. As you know, it is the aria of Jupiter, still in the guise of a mortal. The list of oratorios beginning with Ester in 1732 continues almost without a break until 1752, with the peak reached in 1742 when Messiah was produced. The subjects are from famous episodes in religious history:


Nicolas Slonimsky

Saul, Israel in Egypt, Samson, Joseph and His Brethren, Belshazzar, Judas Maccabaeus, Joshua, Susanna, Solomon, and Jephtha. The later oratorios, including Solomon, were to the texts of an insignificant English poet. But none of them could approach Messiah in the quality of inspiration and musical substance. Messiah also presents a rare example of a work that was stamped at once as a revelation of genius, to the composer, to the first audience, and to audiences during the two centuries following. Handel was supposed to have exclaimed, upon completing the Hallelujah chorus: “I thought I saw heaven before me and great God Himself!” This is reported by Laetitia Hawkins, daughter of the historian, on the authority of Dr. Abbott Dean. The first production took place not in London but in Dublin, where Handel had received an invitation from the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. The journals of Dublin commented upon the exquisite delight that the work afforded to the crowded audience. Handel’s inspired facility was amazing. He wrote the entire score of Messiah in twenty-four days. He completed his secular oratorio, or opera, Semele to the words adapted from the original libretto by Conreid. Semele was a figure in Greek mythology, the daughter of King Cadmus who was loved by Jupiter and who perished when she begged Jupiter to show himself in all his glory. The gamma rays emanating from his countenance killed her and she therefore became known as Keraunia, that is, “thunder-smitten.” Incidentally, in a dictionary of mental aberrations, there is listed a keraunophobia, which means a morbid fear of thunder and lightning. So much for Semele. It was in the summer of 1748, when Handel was sixty-three years old, that he undertook the composition of his sacred choral work Solomon. It was produced at Covent Garden in March 1749. It is of some interest that Handel wrote the original manuscript of Solomon on music papers of different sizes, as if he had scraped the bottom of his drawer to use up all the paper he had. One biographer made the profound surmise that Handel must have been broke and could not afford the price of music paper. Such are the lengths to which some biographers go in order to explain a perfectly trivial occurrence for which there could be any number of reasons. It had been a long time since Handel received a court commission. The treaty of peace with France was concluded at Aachen, and a celebration was in order, and Handel was summoned to compose music for the huge spectacle with fireworks. Handel had a large band with twenty trumpets, twenty horns, flutes, bassoons, and a great number of kettledrums and side

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drums. Handel’s music was welcomed by all concerned, even the King, but the fireworks fizzled. A few years before his death, Handel began to lose his eyesight. He had an affliction that was incurable; an operation was attempted but it brought no relief. The news of his illness was even published in a London theatrical journal. But still Handel continued to play in public, performing on the organ. Money was coming in from performances of his old works, and Handel was able to pay off all his debts. Still he had enough strength to lead a performance of Messiah at the keyboard a week before his death. He was buried in Westminster Abbey. Handel’s greatness lies primarily in his oratorios and operas. His instrumental music, though of very fine quality, does not impose as Bach’s instrumental music does. His suites for harpsichord are brilliant without being inspired. Of much greater importance are his instrumental concertos. Some of his organ concertos may have been composed as interludes for his oratorios. But the most glorious of Handel’s instrumental compositions are his twelve grand concertos, written in the style of a concerto grosso. There are usually three instrumentalists forming the section known as concertino, and four sections known as ripieno. Concertino, of course, means little concerto, and ripieno is the same word as the English replenish, so that these string parts are designed to provide the support rather than the essential substance. In all these works there is a part for the figured bass, to be executed on the harpsichord. Handel cast his mighty shadow on English music for a century after his death. English composers of oratorios were mesmerized by Handel’s art so that they could do no more than produce mediocre facsimiles. It was not until the advent of Mendelssohn that a new great influence swung the British nation. In America too, Handel was the musical God. His works were among the first classical compositions heard in colonial America. The Handel and Haydn Society has much more Handel than Haydn in it, and Messiah still traditionally opens its season. Long before Bach became widely known, Handel was acknowledged as the greatest of the greatest.


The story of Mozart’s early death and his burial in a mass grave fills some of the most poignant pages of musical history. The last chapter of virtually every biography of Mozart contains a melancholy description of the funeral itself during a raging December storm. In his basic biography of Mozart, Otto Jahn writes: At 3 o’clock in the afternoon of December 6, Mozart’s body received the benediction at St. Stephen’s Church . . . A heavy storm of snow and rain was raging, and the few friends who had assembled for the funeral procession stood with umbrellas around the bier, which was then carried through the Schulerstrasse to the Cemetery of St. Mark. As the storm grew still worse, the mourners decided to turn back at the gate, so that not a friend stood by when the body was lowered into the grave.*

Subsequent biographies and entries in musical dictionaries reproduced Jahn’s description of the funeral with only slight variations. Here are some quotations: On the day of the burial the weather was so bad that even the few friends who followed the coffin turned back at the gate. (Eitner, Quelien-Lexikon) His few friends accompanied the coffin only halfway owing to bad weather. (Riemann, Musiklexikon, 11th ed.) Ch. 17: originally published in The Musical Quarterly, January 1960.

*Otto Jahn, W.A. Mozart, Leipzig, 1856–59, IV, 687 f. 230

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On the 6th December the plain coffin was carried through the streets on the shoulders of two men, followed by the faithful Sussmayr. At St. Stephen’s Church a few others joined the procession, including, it is thought, Albrechtsberger, Lange, Schikaneder, Van Swieten, and Salieri; but the appalling weather—it was a day of storm and heavy snow—soon drove them all home. (Ernest Newman, Stories of the Great Operas, N. Y., 1928, p. 315) Mozart’s burial took place on the afternoon of December 6. It was a thirdclass funeral at the cost of 8 gulden and 36 kreuzer plus 3 gulden for the hearse. The plain pinewood coffin was consecrated in the Church of St. Stephen. A few friends . . . followed the bier with umbrellas to the gate. Then the mournful procession was scattered. Stormy December weather drove even the last of the faithful back to town. Not a single friend reached the cemetery of St. Mark to throw a handful of earth on the grave of the dead master. (Bernhard Paumgartner, Mozart, Vienna, 4th ed., 1945, p. 466) At 3 o’clock in the afternoon of the 6th his body was removed to St. Stephen’s; the service was held in the open air, as was the custom with the poorest class of funeral, and Van Swieten, Sussmayr, Salieri, Deiner, Roser and Orsler stood round the bier. They followed as far as the city gates and then turned back, as a violent storm was raging, and the hearse went its way, unaccompanied, to the churchyard of St. Marx [sic]. (Grove, 5th ed., 1954; essentially identical with the first edition, 1880) A small group joined the funeral procession; of the family there were the brothers-in-law Hofer and Lange, while the ailing Constanze was absent; further, the friends Van Swieten, Salieri, Albrechtsberger, Roser von Reiter, Orsler, Sussmayr, and Deiner. Schikaneder had excused himself. Inclement weather, with driving snow and rain, forced these few to disperse at the gate. (Erich Schenk, W. A. Mozart, Vienna, 1955, p. 784)

In his semi-fictional biography, Mozart, Genius und Mensch (Hamburg, 1955), Adolf Goldschmitt gives this vivid description of Mozart’s burial (p. 346):


Nicolas Slonimsky

The storm roars and howls through the Stubentor in the faces of the mourners. They struggle through up to the gate. Then opens a vast expanse, filled with dancing, galloping snowflakes. . . . “How long still to go?” howls the storm. The snow mutters, “How long still to go?” as it crunches under the feet of the marchers. Then from its nests in the hats, in the furs, and in the crape, the snow begins to melt and drip, and to ask: “Does it make any sense?” . . . In this dreadful storm, in this whirling, crackling snow, in which their feet keep slipping, which makes all thought uncertain and questionable, is not this effort, this struggle senseless? The first who begins to understand is the Baron van Swieten. He speaks to Salieri, who marches next to him, but in the storm his words are blown away. . . . One after another, the others follow him with mourning hearts.

An “entr’acte” contributed by Sir George Grove to the program book of the 6th concert of the Glasgow Choral Union, of December 8, 1874, gives a definitive summation of facts and fancies regarding Mozart’s funeral, to which little was added later: Van Swieten undertook to arrange for the hearse and coffin—it would have been more to the purpose if he had also volunteered to pay for them. The undertaker’s charge was 8 florins 36 kreuzers, and the hearse 3 florins, in all but some 25 shillings—the mere price of an opera box at one of the performances of Don Juan at Vienna, but a heavy charge on a widow’s purse. And these two were the only visitors. Schikaneder, the Manager, for whom Mozart had written his Zauberflöte, and who had made money enough by that and Mozart’s other pieces to rebuild the largest theatre in the city—he, irredeemable snob as he must have been, never came near the house, but contented himself with running about the town in tears, saying that Mozart’s ghost was pursuing him, and leaving the poor widowed Constance in her penniless misery and trouble. . . . For that they were very poor, there can be no doubt. . . . No wonder, therefore, that it was late in the day before the arrangements for the funeral of such a pauper could be made. It was three in the afternoon of the 6th before the coffin was deposited in one of the chapels on the north side of St. Stephen’s. Van Swieten, Salieri, Sussmayr, and two other musicians named Roser and Orsler, appear to have been the only persons present, besides the officiating priest and the bearers of the coffin. It was a terribly

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inclement day; rain and sleet coming down fast; and an eye-witness describes how the little band of mourners stood shivering round the hearse with their umbrellas up as it left the door of the church. It was then far on in the dark cold December afternoon, and the evening was fast closing in before the solitary hearse had passed the Stubenthor, and reached the distant graveyard of St. Mark, in which, amongst the “third class,” the great composer of the “Jupiter” Symphony and the Requiem found his resting place. By this time the weather had proved too much for all the mourners; they had dropped off one by one, and Mozart’s body was accompanied only by the driver of the carriage.

In all these accounts there is complete unanimity as to the stormy weather raging on the day of Mozart’s funeral. Yet the early biographers of Mozart make no mention of the storm. There is nothing about it in Schlichtegroll’s Nekrolog for the year 1791, nothing in Niemtschek’s biography (Prague, 1798), and, significantly enough, nothing in Nissen’s account of Mozart’s life and death, first published at Leipzig in 1828. Nissen, who married Mozart’s widow, was most anxious to explain her position at Mozart’s death. He writes: Baron van Swieten came immediately after his death, so as to weep with the widow, who had lain in the bed of her dead husband in order to catch his disease and die with him. In order to prevent her from surrendering herself to her despair, she was taken to Herr Bauernfeld, an associate of Schikaneder, and later to Herr Goldhahn. (p. 572) Stricken by Mozart’s death, the widow herself fell severely ill, so that Baron van Swieten had to take care of the burial of Mozart’s body. Since he had to observe the greatest possible economy for the family, the coffin was put in a common grave and all other expenditures were also avoided. (p. 576)

Mozart’s widow and his sister-in-law Sophie Haibl contributed to the posthumous publication of Nissen’s book, and it is inconceivable that they should have omitted from their account of Mozart’s death and funeral the dramatic phenomenon of a heavy storm. Besides, stormy weather at the funeral would have offered an extenuating circ*mstance for the widow’s absence. And of course it is most unlikely that Mozart’s closest intimates should have simply forgotten the weather.


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No mention of the storm is found in the Nouvelle Biographie de Mozart by Oulibicheff (Moscow, 1843) or in the Life of Mozart by Edward Holmes (London, 1845). In fact, no biography before Otto Jahn’s has any reference to the subject. Where did Jahn find his information? The answer is provided in an inconspicuous footnote in Vol. 4, p. 688, of Jahn’s biography of Mozart, published at Leipzig in 1859. The footnote cites No. 28 of the Wiener Morgen-Post of the centennial year 1856, but vouchsafes no direct quotation from that journal. Subsequent biographers have dropped this bibliographical reference, relying entirely on the authority of Jahn for the authenticity of the report. This all-important article, the source of the information about the storm, was published anonymously in the Wiener Morgen-Post on January 28, 1856, as a contribution by “one of the people,” and the implication is plain that this supposed eye-witness account was being published for the first time. Here are the essential parts: Mozart’s body received benediction at St. Stephen’s on December 7,* at 3 o’clock in the afternoon . . . The burial was of the third class, costing 8 florins, 36 kreuzer. Besides, the hearse cost 3 florins. The night of Mozart’s death was dark and stormy. Also at the benediction it began to blow and storm. Rain and snow fell together, as though nature wished to show its anger with the great musician’s contemporaries who came to his funeral in such small numbers. Only a few friends and three women followed the body. Mozart’s wife was not present. These few people stood with umbrellas around the bier, which was afterwards conducted through the Schulerstrasse to the cemetery of St. Mark’s. As the storm grew still heavier, even those few friends decided to turn back at the gates, and betook themselves to the tavern of the Silver Serpent.

Thus we find that the legend of Mozart’s sad funeral in a forbidding blizzard rests on the account of the only one of the participants to record the event. Unfortunately, this witness, who remains anonymous,** tells his *An error, corrected in all Mozart biographies. That the funeral took place on December 6 is established by the parish entry at St. Stephen’s.

**Jahn, IV, 682, ascribes the account to Joseph Deiner, manager of the Silver Serpent. There is nothing, however, in the report, where Deiner is referred to in the third person, to substantiate this attribution.

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story sixty-four years after the event took place. Since it is quite unlikely that a child would have attended the funeral of a musician, we are in addition dealing with a very old man—or perhaps with a Romantic steeped in Jean Paul and E. T. A. Hoffmann. Can the deposition of such a witness— and as we have seen, there are no others—be accepted? Furthermore, the opportune publication of this story in January 1856, exactly a hundred years after Mozart’s birth, and never previously, raises the suspicion that it was composed ad hoc.* We had better rely on the testimony of science itself, for science, too, keeps a diary. Moreover, this diary is impersonal, factual, and not subject to the vagaries of Empfindsamkeit. Such testimony is offered by the records of the Vienna meteorological bureau, which go back into the 18th century. I sent an inquiry to the Zentralanstalt für Meteorologie und Gecodynamik of Vienna, and to my amazement and delight received a prompt answer from Professor F. Steinhauser, dated July 9, 1959. He reports the following entry in the records of the Vienna Observatory under the date of December 6, 1791:

Barometric pressure Temperature Wind

8 a.m. 3 p.m. 10 p.m. 1 27" 7''' 27'' 8''' 27'' 7 ⁄2''' + 2.6° R + 3.0° R + 3.0° R Weak east wind at all these times of day.

The barometric pressure is given here in Vienna inches and Vienna lines (12 Vienna lines equal 1 Vienna inch; one Vienna line equals 2.195 mm.). In English measure, the average barometric pressure of 27" 71/2''' equals about 28.5 inches. The temperature, here given in the Reaumur thermometric scale, varied from 37.9 to 38.8 degrees Fahrenheit. Professor Steinhauser adds to his report another precious document: an entry in the diaries of Count Karl Zinzendorf, kept in the Austrian State Archives, in which the weather conditions of the period are punctiliously noted. In Vol. 36 (year 1791), p. 287, of the diary, under the date of December 6, is found the following observation: “Temps doux et brouillard fréquent.” *Incidentally, the virtual certainty that the Morgen-Post centennial feuilleton is a Romantic fabrication eliminates from any factual biography of Mozart the entire melodramatic account contained therein of Mozart’s last visit to the tavern of the Silver Serpent and of his melancholy exchanges with Deiner, all in direct quotations, with a highly literary turn of phrase of both collocutors, and including Deiner’s private thoughts while drinking the glass of wine left unfinished by Mozart.


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Mild weather and frequent drizzle or mist! Zinzendorf ’s observation corresponds well with the weather report, the virtual absence of wind, and temperature above the freezing point at all times of the day, ruling out the possibility of snow. Certainly an intermittent drizzle could not be regarded as deterring Mozart’s friends from following the coffin to the grave. And, as we have found, Mozart’s family never claimed that the weather was inclement. Professor Steinhauser advances the explanation that in the 18th century it was customary to accompany the body to the grave only when the cemetery was situated in the immediate vicinity of the church. St. Mark’s, where Mozart was buried, was about half an hour’s march from St. Stephen’s Cathedral. Women rarely, if ever, attended funerals at the time and this may well account for Constanze’s absence. It should be observed, also, that Nissen does not seek to excuse her absence in the funeral procession, but only her inability to make arrangements for the burial. Who were the mourners? Nissen and other early biographers are silent on the subject. Otto Jahn lists the following: Baron van Swieten, Salieri, Sussmayr, Joseph Deiner (who was summoned from the Silver Serpent to dress Mozart’s body), the ’cellist Orsler, and the Kapellmeister Roser. Whether Emanuel Schikaneder, Mozart’s librettist and intimate friend, was present will never be known. Some biographers add to this list the names of Mozart’s brothers-in-law Lange and Hofer, and also Albrechtsberger. Most interesting is the inclusion of Salieri among the mourners, in view of the rumor that spread soon after Mozart’s death accusing Salieri of poisoning him. It was Anselm Hüttenbrenner, a pupil of Salieri, who was the first to claim that Salieri attended Mozart’s funeral. In his obituary article on his teacher, in the Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung of November 1825, he wrote: “Salieri spoke of Mozart always with exceptional respect . . . . He visited Mozart two days before Mozart died, and was one of the few who accompanied the body.” Hüttenbrenner was not yet born when Mozart died, and his testimony may be accepted at best as a remembrance of what Salieri himself told him; but Hüttenbrenner does not make even that claim. The assertion that Salieri was present at the funeral therefore rests on a very flimsy foundation. No one has yet suggested that Salieri attended Mozart’s funeral to look at the result of his “dreadful deed” and to make sure that Mozart, whom he was supposed to have poisoned, was indeed dead.

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The rumor of poisoning found literary expression in Pushkin’s play Mozart and Salieri, written in 1830— that is, only five years after Salieri’s death. Among Pushkin’s papers was found a note relating to this play: “During the first performance of Don Giovanni, while the entire audience, which included great connoisseurs, silently admired Mozart’s harmony, a hiss was heard. Everyone turned to its source in amazement and indignation, and the celebrated Salieri left the theater in a rage, consumed by envy. Some German periodicals report that on his deathbed he admitted a dreadful deed, the poisoning of great Mozart. An envious rival who could hiss Don Giovanni was capable of poisoning its creator.” Even the most vicious detractors of Salieri never claimed that he had ever demonstrated in public his hostility to Mozart and his lack of appreciation of Mozart’s music. On the other hand, we know that Salieri attended a performance of Die Zauberflöte on October 13, 1791, that Mozart himself took Salieri in a carriage to the theater, and that Salieri was so entranced with the music that “from the overture to the last chorus there was not a single number that did not call forth from him a bravo! or bello!”* Among fantastic tales regarding Salieri’s guilt was this: In 1822 Rossini asked Salieri to introduce him to Beethoven. Salieri obliged, and took Rossini to Beethoven’s house in Vienna. When Beethoven caught sight of Salieri, he turned to Rossini and cried out: “How dare you come to my house with Mozart’s poisoner?” Salieri hastily retreated, and was so shaken by the encounter that he suffered a mental collapse leading to complete insanity. The tale is hardly worth refuting, for Beethoven proudly acknowledged that Salieri was his teacher, and dedicated to him several works, all this, of course, many years after Mozart’s death. That Salieri died nearly insane is true. His friend Rochlitz wrote in the June 1825 number of the Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung: Salieri lost himself in dark delusions. . . . He imagined that his reputation was ruined, and sometimes accused himself of dreadful crimes.

*See Mozart’s letter to Constanze, Oct. 14, 1791, in Emily Anderson, ed., The Letters of Mozart & His Family, London, 1938, III, 1442 f.


Nicolas Slonimsky

Edward Holmes, in his Life of Mozart (New York, 1845, p. 360, note), makes Salieri’s self-accusation specific: Mozart’s notion that he had been poisoned was always treated by those about him as a fantastic idea. . . . The tale of poisoning, however, having transpired, Salieri, the known inveterate foe of Mozart, was fixed upon as the imaginary criminal. It is a singular fact that Salieri, who died in the public hospital of Vienna, thought fit on his deathbed to make a solemn deposition of his innocence before witnesses, and that the document thus duly signed and attested was made public.

No such document has ever come to light, or has been mentioned in the literature on Salieri. But the Soviet musicologist Igor Boelza, in his book Mozart and Salieri, published in Russian in 1953, asserts that Guido Adler discovered in the Vienna archives a communication from Salieri’s father confessor to the Archbishop of Vienna reporting that on his deathbed Salieri not only admitted poisoning Mozart but also explained in detail how he administered the slowly working venom. According to Boelza, Adler had no time to publish the document, but spoke about his findings to the Soviet music scholar Boris Asafiev. However, Asafiev never referred to the story in any of his published writings. Since both Adler and Asafiev are dead, the onus probandi of the existence of Salieri’s confession rests with Boelza, who has so far not corroborated his original report. The calumny grew as rapidly and as luxuriantly as the one in the famous aria of Don Basilio in The Barber of Seville. Voices for the defense were barely audible in the noise. One of the most determined among Salieri’s defenders was the Austrian composer Sigismund Neukomm, whose communication on the subject appeared in an English translation in the Quarterly Musical Magazine of London, 1826, pp. 336–38: The public papers persist in repeating that Salieri has confessed himself the cause of Mozart’s untimely end, but none of them have mentioned the source of this horrible report, which defames the memory of one, who for fifty-eight years has engaged the universal attention of Vienna. It is the duty of every honourable man, when an unfounded report is current, by which the memory of a celebrated artist will be dishonoured, to relate all that he knows. . . . Mozart and Salieri entertained for each other a mutual esteem, without any intimate friendship, for they were

The Weather at Mozart’s Funeral


accustomed at Vienna, each to acknowledge the other’s distinguished merit. No one could impute to Salieri any jealousy of Mozart’s talents, and whoever was acquainted with him (as I was) will agree with me, that this man led, for eight and fifty years, an unblemished life, employing himself simply in his art, and taking every opportunity of doing good to his neighbours. Such an one, I think, could be no murderer—a man who, during the four and thirty years that have passed since Mozart’s death, has preserved that delightful flow of spirits which has rendered his society so attractive. Even if it were proved that Salieri declared himself when dying the perpetrator of this dreadful crime, one ought surely not so easily to receive as truth, and promulgate as such, the words which escape from an unhappy dying old man of seventy-four, worn out by ceaseless pain, when it is known how much his intellects had decayed for months before his decease.

The tale of Salieri’s murderous crime was revived in Nazi Germany by Mathilde Ludendorff, M.D., in a book entitled Mozarts Leben und gewaltsamer Tod, published by a Ludendorff family printing press (Ludendorffs Verlag) at Munich in 1936. She develops the thesis that Mozart was murdered by the Freemasons,* among whom were Salieri, van Swieten, and the mysterious messenger who commissioned the Requiem. Taking advantage of their proximity to Mozart and his trust in them, they slowly poisoned him. Nissen, also a Mason, covered up the crime in his biography of Mozart. Constanze was innocent, and knew nothing about the plot. Mozart’s crime, in the view of the murderers, was the revelation of secret Masonic rites that he made in Die Zauberflöte. True, Mathilde Ludendorff admits, Mozart himself was a Mason, but he was drawn into the Masonic Order through his racial and personal simplicity. At first, he failed to understand the sinister nature of the Order. When his eyes were finally opened, he decided to expose the misdeeds of the Freemasons, thus sealing his death warrant, immediately upon the production of Die Zauberflöte. Mathilde Ludendorff dismisses the fact that all these people were Catholics in good standing by claiming that the official religion was for them nothing but a cloak to cover their true intentions and beliefs. She also *Jahn, W. A. Mozart, 2nd ed., 1871–73, II, 349, note, had mentioned the attempt by one writer to establish this notion.


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offers a brilliant solution to the psychological puzzle presented by the actions of Baron van Swieten, a rich man who let Mozart be buried in a pauper’s grave. It seems that according to the Masonic laws, the body of the transgressor must be cursed, that its skull should be removed so as to prevent decent burial, and that his grave should be unmarked. The thesis thus accepts the long discredited story, possibly based on the known fate of Haydn’s cranium, that Mozart’s skull was detached from the body and hidden, and it also advances the notion that Constanze was kept away from the cemetery by van Swieten under the pretext of safeguarding her health. In all fairness, it should be noted that Mathilde Ludendorff herself concedes that some people might regard her as mad. Her book certainly justifies that supposition. To sum up: Mozart’s pusillanimous friends, colleagues, patrons, competitors—even his alleged murderer—who stayed away from his funeral could not blame the atmospheric conditions. The tale of Mozart’s funeral was a product of the Romantic age. Melodramatically inclined biographers could not very well have Mozart dying, racked with fever, surrounded by friends while exhaling his last immortal melody (as pictured in a well-known 19th-century painting), and so had to be content with a storm-tossed funeral. The Victorians could not stomach the heartless unconcern of the rich Baron van Swieten, who carefully reduced the costs of the funeral to fit the family’s depleted purse, but such a realistic attitude was quite in keeping with the unromantic spirit of the time. Even Nissen speaks of the necessity of “holding down expenditures,” which explains the third-class funeral. But meteorological records, with relentless objectivity, demolish the Romantic picture, for they inform us that though the funeral took place in the dead of winter, it happened that December 6, 1791, was a relatively mild day that could have prevented no one from marching all the way to St. Mark’s Cemetery and throwing a handful of earth on Mozart’s grave—if he so wished. Some thirty-five years later another great Viennese musician, Ludwig van Beethoven, was laid to rest, but he was accorded a grand funeral worthy of his fame, and his grave was well identified. Mirabile dictu, the famous thunderstorm at the time of Beethoven’s death, reported by all Beethoven biographers, actually did occur! Dr. Steinhauser not only supplied the report on the Vienna weather during Mozart’s funeral but also was kind enough to communicate to me a complete account of the meteorological

The Weather at Mozart’s Funeral


conditions on the day of Beethoven’s death, March 26, 1827. At three o’clock in the afternoon stormy weather began, and at four o’clock lightning and thunder struck, with strong winds. As for Beethoven’s defiant gesture with a clenched fist at the “powers of evil,” as the peals of thunder filled the air, this story owes its origin to the selfsame Anselin Hüttenbrenner who was responsible for the highly dubious details of Salieri’s presence at Mozart’s funeral, and must be regarded as another example of musico-biographical folklore.


When in May, 1927, Alexander Steinert was awarded the American Prix de Rome, he was already a recipient of other honors, as a graduate from Harvard College in 1922 and as the youngest composer to be represented on a program by the Boston Symphony Orchestra. He was twenty-six when his symphonic poem Nuit meridionale was conducted by his good friend and encourager Serge Koussevitzky. A gentle austral wind blew through the nocturnal landscape of Nuit meridionale with impressionistic sensuality, and even the dour dowagers of the Friday audience at Symphony Hall were wreathed in smiles at the Steinertian sounds wafting towards them. Fresh out of Harvard, magna cum laude, Steinert crossed the ocean to inhale the musky air of Paris. Vincent d’Indy, Koechlin, and Gedalge were still living, and Steinert eagerly received instruction in counterpoint, orchestration, and impressionistic polyharmony. In an as yet unpublished and unwritten monograph, La Nature dans la musique du Bostonien Steinert, the well-known international musicographer Nomi Slyks submits Nuit meridionale to detailed meteorological analysis, indicating the relationship between clouds and harmonies. Thus nimbus formations are represented by flutey melismas embroidered on a layer of augmented eleventh-chords, cumulus clouds by consecutive major triads in the Dorian mode, and thunderheads by muted French horns over tremolo. The changing barometric pressure is paralleled by a change in dynamics from quintuple pianissimo to sextuple fortissimo. If Steinert’s first tone-poem was infused with Gallic meridional scent, his second, Leggenda Sinfonica, the fruit of his sojourn at the American Ch. 18: originally published in the Harvard Class of 1922 Alumni Bulletin, April 1, 1962.


Incapsulation of Alexander Steinert


Academy in Rome, is redolent of Italian emanations. Both are geographically Mediterranean. In a voluminous dissertation, Della mitologia italiana nell’ opere del Steinert Bostonense, the Croatian musicologist Mysl Skino relates Steinert’s modalities to some aspects of musica riservata, pointing out the verità del soggetto in his numero sonoro making his music an opus supranaturale. At the present stage of Steinertology, it would be a mistake to conclude that his compositions relate exclusively to such nature painting. A few years after the Leggenda Sinfonica, Steinert produced a Concerto Sinfonico for Piano and Orchestra, written in a classical manner, and difficult enough for the solo instrument to justify a performance by the composer himself. Indeed, Steinert played it at a pair of Boston Symphony concerts, with Koussevitzky as always presiding at the podium. Impressionism, romanticism, and classicism—such were the three stages of the evolution of Steinert’s musical aesthetics, thus reversing the order of conventional music history. But Steinert is also a realist, an artisan dwelling in a pragmatic world. He even writes music for the films and television. Whenever the level of the sound track rises suspiciously above the average, the odds are better than even that Alexander Steinert is the composer of the score. A Renaissance Man par excellence, Steinert is multifaceted. One of these facets is conducting. He made a tour with Gershwin’s opera Porgy and Bess, which he reorchestrated according to the size of the number of players available for each performance. He speaks several Romance languages, and he is at home in many countries of Europe. Detailed incapsulation of Alexander Steinert’s musical oeuvre must await the publication of the above-mentioned monographs by Nomi Slyks and Mysl Skino. The present article is but a tentative adumbration in chiaroscuro.


In a dissertation recently submitted to the faculty of theology of the University of Mannheim, Wieviele Heilige und wieviele Akte in Virgil Thomson’s “Vier Heilige in drei Akten”?, the learned author, Milos Kyns, dissects Virgil Thomson’s best-known opera, Four Saints in Three Acts, arriving at the oxymoronic conclusion that the opera is really a tetralogical trilogy. Indeed, its title allows for only three acts—whereas the actual number of acts is four. As for the number of saints, the principle of indeterminacy rules, for some saints appear in duplicate. The opera was first brought out in 1934 by the Friends and Enemies of Modern Music, founded by Virgil Thomson. As everyone knows, Virgil Thomson composed Four Saints in Three Acts to a play by his old good friend Gertrude Stein. The chorus contains her famous line “Pigeons on the grass alas.” Philological analysis establishes that the word alas in this context is not an anguished ejacul*tion expressive of despair and dismay, but the accusative plural of the Latin word ala, wing. Virgil Thomson’s namesake, the poet Virgil, illustrated this usage in the line “velorum pandimus alas,” which is given in some variorum editions as “columbarum in herbis alas,” thus relating the wings directly to pigeons (specifically, Columba fasciata of the western U.S.). A concert of Virgil Thomson’s music was given at Town Hall, New York, on December 18, 1961, to honor his sixty-fifth birthday (actually he was born sixty-five years and twenty-three days before the concert). He received a unique tribute when TIME Magazine reviewed the concert in the issue which appeared on the newsstands six days before the event took place. Ch. 19: originally published in the Harvard Class of 1922 Alumni Bulletin, April 1, 1962.


Invultuation of Virgil Thomson


Virgil Thomson was born in Kansas City, Missouri, but astutely selected Harvard University as his Alma Mater. After graduation he was the organist at King’s Chapel, the church where early in the eighteenth century the congregation refused to install an organ in the belief that it was “a box of whistles with a devil inside.” However, in his sacred music Virgil Thomson was not at all tempted by the devil who might have lurked inside the organ he played at King’s Chapel. His music is in fact reverential, and replete with old New England hymnology. True, he employs a dodecaphonic motto in his Requiem, but is dodecaphony necessarily diabolical? The theologians must decide. From King’s Chapel to Paris was a logical step. In the 1920’s, all good Americans—or at least all good young musical Americans—were customarily channeled to the Paris studio of Nadia Boulanger, that extraordinary nursemaid of modern music. Virgil Thomson did not have to tarry long at the Boulangerie. His distinctive style of composition had already been formed. It may be summarized in a motto, “Jamais de banalité, toujours le lieu commun.” At a time when no self-respecting modernist dared to use common triads, Virgil Thomson rebelliously established them as the foundations of his harmony. Not that he was insensible to the lure of Schoenbergian dodecaphony, the method of composing with twelve tones related only to each other; but he dramatically fused dodecaphony with common triads. In his film score Louisiana Story he runs two dodecaphonic rows simultaneously in the treble and the bass in explicit triadic harmony. In his symphonic picture The Seine at Night he makes use of four mutually exclusive triads, a device he had found in an obscure volume of abstruse notions entitled Thesaurus of Scales and Melodic Patterns, compiled by an eccentric musical theoretician with an unspellable name. Life in Paris was intellectually pleasant to Virgil Thomson. He was stimulated by the hedonistic atmosphere of new French music and acquired a permanent affection for it. In appreciation of his services in its behalf, Virgil Thomson was given the cross of the Légion d’Honneur. The ceremony took place in Nice, while the band of the First Moroccan Regiment played appropriate selections. A photograph of the event is reproduced in the literature on Virgil Thomson. In contradistinction to most American Parisians, Virgil Thomson was never an expatriate emotionally. To him America was ever the land of the


Nicolas Slonimsky

free and the home of the brave. He glorifies the American pioneer of women’s rights, Susan B. Anthony, in his opera The Mother of Us All, for which Gertrude Stein wrote the book. In the cast there are also two characters cryptically named Gertrude S. and Virgil T. For all his sophistication, Virgil Thomson has a streak of sentimentality in him, for things and for people. His affectionate regard for friends he showed in a series of unique musical portraits. Among the sitters were Mayor LaGuardia, Picasso, Aaron Copland, and Tristan Tzara. The latter earned a place among the immortals because while drinking in the Terrace Cafe in Zurich at 6:00 p.m. on the 8th of February 1916, he single-handedly invented Dadaism. During his fourteen years as the music critic of the New York Herald Tribune, Virgil Thomson revealed himself as a literary virtuoso of the highest caliber. He showed a fine lack of impartiality in his judgment, and in abundance of enlightened bias. These qualities were instrumental in raising the blood pressure in the veins and arteries of the entrenched members of the musical Establishment. His goofs, when he goofed, were magnificent. Once, reviewing a book on opera, he complained of a lack of pictorial illustrations, and when the publisher protested that there were in fact hundreds of them in the book, he freely admitted that he had somehow overlooked this profusion. In his writing, as in his conversation, the ebullience of Virgil Thomson’s wit often threatens to engulf the reader or the collocutor. But he is also willing to unselfishly listen, if someone says something that might be worth attention. If not, he nods and succumbs to narcolepsy. Virgil Thomson has no use for lexicographers per se, but lexicographers have great use for Virgil Thomson. The Third Edition of Webster’s New International Dictionary quotes him no fewer than twenty-seven times. Very fittingly, among the quotations from his writings there is one to illustrate the usage of the word taste (“All tastes are legitimate, and it is not necessary to account for them.”). Virgil Thomson is also quoted in Webster under the following entries: Taste, Limit, Literal, Pedagogue, Perform, Rehearse, Percussion, Luxurious, Pretense, Feel, Second-class, Serious, Sentiment, Shameless, Equilibrium, Static, Essential, Asymmetry, Entry, Whatever, Youngish, Veil, Turn, and Lousy. That last word is used by Thomson not in the common nosological sense of being infested with lice, but in the colloquial sense of being replete with undesirable objects, as “The concert halls were lousy with violinists.”


Ernst Toch once said to me: “I am the forgotten composer of the twentieth century.” There was inexpressible sadness in this remark, and I was naturally impelled to contradict it. After all, the name of Ernst Toch is familiar to every educated musician. I had just been commissioned at that time to write an extensive article about him for the voluminous Italian edition Enciclopedia dello Spettacolo. The article appeared in its last volume in 1962, and I was able to tell Ernst Toch about it. Another article about him which I contributed to the Encyclopedia Britannica, is scheduled for publication in its next printing. And, of course, comprehensive biographical entries on Toch are found in all musical dictionaries, published in all European languages. But could this lexicographical recognition be of any consolation to an active, energetic, and vital composer? Of course not. Much more important to Ernst Toch was to increase the frequency of performance of his symphonies, his vocal works, his concertos, his chamber music. Not just first performances, but second and third performances, to test the durability of his music. The last major performance of Toch’s music that I heard was the fine interpretation of his Fifth Symphony given by Erich Leinsdorf with the Boston Symphony Orchestra on March. 13, 1964. As I listened, it seemed to me that the symphony possessed a unique combination of modern romanticism with subtly elaborated technical innovations, which seemed to convey a tale. It bears the title, Jephthah, a Rhapsodic Poem, and indeed there was something in this music that suggested the clash of arms and the fateful promise given by Jephthah to sacrifice his daughter if victory was granted to him—a turbulence of shifting tonalities, a turmoil of asymCh. 20: originally published in The Playgoer, date unknown.



Nicolas Slonimsky

metrical rhythms, a turgidity of bitonal harmonies. Undoubtedly, the symphony could be programmatically explained and annotated; hunting literal references, one could even find a motif for the key word shibboleth which Jephthah’s enemies could not pronounce because they lacked the sound of sh in their language, and for which they were put to death. Toch was deeply versed in history and legend, but could contemporary audiences appreciate these allusions? And would not the critics be prejudiced against any kind of programmatic design in a musical work? Besides, as I ventured to suggest to him somewhat facetiously, the name Jephthah itself sounded more like a woman’s than a man’s. With amazing vigor and productivity, Toch wrote one work after another in his last years, including a strangely attractive expressionistic opera. His friends and admirers should do everything in their power to bring about performances of this music. But will there be second performances? That is the crucial question. Replying to my rebuttal of his notion of being forgotten, Toch sadly gave me statistics of non-performances of his symphonies—twelve years of non-performance by one orchestra, ten years by another, and so on down the line. I countered these figures by asserting that for a composer of his degree of profundity, even the few actual performances testified to the inherent vitality of his music. And didn’t he succeed in producing a “merry overture,” Pinocchio, that became almost a popular hit? Only the imponderable future will render judgment on the significance, in temporal terms, of Toch’s music. Awaiting this decision, his many friends in America and in Europe may take action of immediate importance—establish an Ernst Toch Prize for a symphonic work written in a style which approaches in the widest possible sense the basic ideals of that noble and unforgettable musician, that great man, Ernst Toch.

Part IV



Persons MODERNIST: A Harmful Drudge PRETERIST: A Man Commanding Respect and Drawing a Salary

MODERNIST. Have you read André Gide’s Feuillets in La Nouvelle

Revue Française? His observations are so lucid and so self-evident that they impress the reader as being not new. In fact, they are as old as Plato’s “Memnon,” the story of a New Mentality formed by Socrates on Memnon’s tabula rasa, while the sophists stand by and jeer. PRETERIST . I take La Revue des Deux Mondes when I feel like reading a French magazine. But I am aware of Gide’s recent conversion to Bolshevism. MODERNIST. I am not interested in the political implications of his attitude. The importance of his “Feuillets” lies in the fact that he re-establishes the simple truth that education has more to do with the building of a mentality than the inherited instincts of the species. For your edification I shall read the original French—an argument in a foreign language sounds always so much more convincing—“C’est l’homme même qu’il importe de changer . . . Et vous savez fort bien tout cela et ce que vous enseignez à vos enfants va façonner ceux-ci pour la vie; que l’on ne se débarasse jamais ou qu’avec le plus grand effort (et dont bien peu seront capables) de cette première empreinte.” Ch. 21: originally published in Panorama, October 1933.



Nicolas Slonimsky

PRETERIST. I understand the French, but I am in the dark as to the impli-

cations of the text. MODERNIST. Yet it is most directly applicable to our system of musical education. We are imprinted with the Western code of esthetics as established circa 1650. All that went before that date or came after 1900 is foreign to our conservatory-bred musicians, and we call it modern, coloring the word in an objectionable manner. The ancient Greeks knew quarter tones; some modernists have revived the study of fractional tones—and now the very word, quarter-tone, has acquired an objectionable tinge . . . Yet were we employed in Aeschylus’s chorus 2,400 years ago we would have had to master the enharmonics, i.e., quartertones, to keep our job, just as contemporary chorus-girls have had to master blue notes. PRETERIST. No one knows much about Greek enharmonics. But it is diverting to note that whenever a modernist rises in defence of modernism he evokes venerable antiquity as ultima ratio. If without a respectable past we cannot be modernistic, then why be modernistic? MODERNIST. The form of logical error that you just perpetrated is called, I believe, petitio principii. On what do you base your premise that modernists are bent on destruction of their past? You want to destroy our present, not we your past. PRETERIST. Aren’t you out to destroy? Wouldn’t you abolish Beethoven by decree were you given power? MODERNIST. I am not particularly fond of Beethoven at his turgidest, but no decrees will be issued against him in our hypothetical republic of modernists. Even Bruckner will be freely administered via long-playing records for those suffering from insomnia . . . I had my sweetest dreams hearkening to Bruckner’s Symphony in E major (it was E major, by Gad!) in Vienna, with Furtwängler conducting. No wonder, Hitler’s motto should be “Deutschland, erwache.” They’ve had too much Bruckner. PRETERIST. You are being facetious. It is poor policy in a serious argument begun with quotations in French. And if it is your design to turn our little altercation into a dialogue for public print, as I am sure it is, inasmuch as you fellows have no private altercations nor private lives, then you’d better return to your lambs. MODERNIST. The whole point about modernist musicians is that they include their entire past in their experience, and add a present. Romantic lovers of the past know no present and attack modern music

As to the New Musical Reality


only because it is the music of the present. Modernists revive significant composers, such as Verdi, dropped by the traditionalists who in their bourgeois smugness declared him old-fashioned. Modernists compose in every conceivable idiom, in every conceivable form. They make use of steel-sheets, sirens or lion-roars when they want sonority, but they are equally interested in the infinitesimally small quantities of musical matter. The shortest orchestral composition, by a Viennese theorist, includes six and a half bars; better still, there has been published a canon, by an American composer, based on rests as subject matter. When this canon was performed in Paris, the audience giggled because there were too few notes in the score, and these few notes were but a foil for the rests . . . From the musical atom to a musical nebula is the range of modern music. PRETERIST. The way it looks to me, these fellows composing rests are merely trying to attract attention. MODERNIST. I knew it was coming. But take it from me, and do not dare to question the absolute truth of the following statement, lest I grow indignant—a very unbecoming pose for a modernist—these composers of atonal pricks and polytonal bricks are the most unselfish laborers on earth. Without hope for worldly reward, they work their way through staves of music paper, knowing full well that if by some long chance they get their work produced, half of these notes will be doomed to annihilation under bewildered bows, reeds and batons of contemporary orchestras. Fortunate are they that do not live to hear their work smashed to pieces by a hostile body of musicians and conductors! They will die (of scurvy) hearing heavenly chords (strictly atonal), of a celestial orchestra of countless angels, rehearsed four times a week for an eternity. . . . PRETERIST. Most touching. Your scurvy-stricken atonalists are pretty aggressive nevertheless. Look at the fuss they started against society that does not coddle them tenderly enough. They demand recognition, including the golden calf. MODERNIST. Their only error is their method. Appealing to musical plutocrats for justice is idiotic. What they should do is smash down doors and break into sanctified premises. The old-time futurists (what hymns are they now arranging for what male quartets?) were more consistent—they had stronger lungs, too. PRETERIST. Direct action, I see. Proletarian uprising and all that. Wish I could see the proletariat. As far as I can judge from the reports, the


Nicolas Slonimsky

modernists possess the land. The press greets them with headlines— derisive at times, but still headlines—festivals are held in their honor, endowed publishing houses print their abstruse revelations, and even cold cash is adjudged them through liberal fellowships. MODERNIST. I am not unmindful of that. But the public at large is fed exclusively on the music symbolized by the triumvirate of names, Dvorak, Damrosch and Roxy. Musical institutions are headed by men and women—oh, mostly women—who believe in the four-part harmony of their hymn-books as the only Gospel. . . . I can prove that a flaccid, banal piece of music written according to hymn-book harmony has more chances in this world than a full-blooded, original composition in a modernistic vein. PRETERIST. Then change the world. MODERNIST. This is exactly what we intend to do. But for this we must take up the key positions in the educational system, as well as on the radio. We must form the musical mind of the youth for, in André Gide’s words, an adult with formed ideas cannot be changed except by sheer force, “cet homme-ci n’est déjà plus réadaptable.” Where modernists were given liberty as in Teuton countries after the war, they made surprising progress with the masses, and it took the Nazi counter-revolution to put Pfitzner in place of Hindemith. But Vienna is still free, and even the radio stations there broadcast modern music unmolested. PRETERIST. A friend of mine—a wag, by the way—whenever be meets a modernist genius, sends him to Vienna. “Why Vienna?” quoth the genius. “Because all great composers are buried there.” MODERNIST. Very witty. PRETERIST. Not as witty as the famous instruction in the score by a renowned modernist: “beginning with the letter G the bassoon may play anything he likes.” MODERNIST. Or the equally apocryphal story about the Shah of Persia who liked the tuning of the orchestra better than the rest of the operatic performance he attended. PRETERIST. Or the thoroughly authenticated story about two modernistic numbers for voice and orchestra, of which the singer sang No. 1 while the orchestra played No. 2, and No. 1 being lengthier, the singer found herself still spanning her unwieldy intervals after the orchestra had emitted the final squeak. The conductor had to apologize to the earnest devotees of modern music and start all over again, this time making sure

As to the New Musical Reality


that both parties were engaged in the same number, which, however made little difference in the cacophony that ensued. MODERNIST. You refuse then to discuss the matter seriously. PRETERIST. It is not my fault that the discussion is unintentionally humorous. MODERNIST. A sense of humor is most needed to tolerate fellows like yourself. However, this controversy is not to be settled in a parlor, but on a battle-field. PRETERIST. This battle may prove another “Battle of Jena.” MODERNIST. What battle of Jena? PRETERIST. Oh, it’s an ancient composition, and do you know for what it is scored? MODERNIST. For what? PRETERIST. For two flutes.

22. ANALECTS IN MEDICINE, MIND AND MUSIC M E L O S O M AT I C S In Anton Chekhov’s short story The Black Monk, a young science teacher has a recurrent hallucination of a black monk who appears in a cloud of dust and engages him in philosophical conversation. The vision appeared to him for the first time during a performance of the Italian composer Gaetano Braga’s Walachian Legend, a violin piece now known to millions as Angel’s Serenade. The legend itself, the teacher learns, concerns just such a wandering monk. One night, the young man’s family finds him talking to an empty chair. He is sent to a psychiatrist and is apparently cured. The visions cease, but he suffers from tubercular hemorrhages. During a particularly bad attack of coughing, he hears the Angel’s Serenade. The black monk appears before him, and the teacher collapses in death. Chekhov was a medical man, and it is probable that he drew the story from his own clinical experience. Melosomatic associations of this nature are not rare. A Russian tenor, well known some years ago, used to sob uncontrollably when he heard the C-sharp minor Prelude of Rachmaninoff, for it was associated in his mind with a woman in his past. To him, the mournful and bell-like tones of the theme signified the funeral of a passion. NEUROSES When Rachmaninoff was a young man, he developed a neuralgic condition in his right hand. He was treated by a Dr. Dahl, one of the early Ch. 22: originally published in the program book of the record album Medicine, Mind and Music: A Consideration of Their Links Through the Centuries, issued by Columbia Stereo in 1972.


Analects in Medicine, Mind and Music


practitioners of psychoanalysis in Russia. He recovered, and in gratitude dedicated his celebrated Second Piano Concerto to Dahl. An American composer, who thought his works unjustifiably neglected, developed a strange numbness of the index finger of his right hand. He consulted a neurologist, who was perspicacious enough to inquire as to the circ*mstances under which he suffered this disability. It turned out that the crucial finger became paralyzed each time he sat down at his desk to write. The psychosomatic cause was obvious: the sense of the futility of composition when there seemed little likelihood of performance. After therapy, the composer liberated himself from this inhibition and resumed composing. Alas, he had no better luck in getting his new works performed. NARCOSIS The first “clinical” musical composition was the Symphonie fantastique by Hector Berlioz, to which the composer gave the full, autobiographical title, Episode de la vie d’un artiste: Symphonie fantastique. For its first performance, in 1830, and for publication of the score some years later, Berlioz outlined the story of the work: “A young musician of vivid imagination sees for the first time a woman who personifies his ideal of beauty and charm. In a lover’s fit of despondency he takes opium. The narcotic dose induces strange visions, and his memories, senses and feelings are translated into musical ideas and images. He thinks that he has killed his beloved, is sentenced to death, is led to the scaffold, and witnesses his own execution. By a curious process of association, her cherished image is invariably accompanied in his mind by a musical idea in which he expresses the grace and nobility of the object of his love. This double idée fixe pursues him; and that is the reason for its recurring appearance in all five movements of the symphony.” The Symphonie fantastique was the first musical work intended as a profession of love. The lady in the case was a Shakespearian actress named Harriet Smithson, whose performances in Paris aroused the admiration of young Berlioz, then a youth of twenty-five. The ultra-romantic circ*mstance of the affair was that Berlioz had never met her. Besides, he spoke no English and Miss Smithson knew no French. But, watching her as Ophelia, Berlioz felt that he was Hamlet. He roamed the streets of Paris, his long hair and his artistically slight, trian-


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gular beard unkempt. He was profoundly shocked when it was brought to his attention that Miss Smithson’s private life was not beyond reproach. He raged, but in a feverish state decided to write a symphony as an offering of his heart. The consequences of the Symphonie fantastique are both melodramatic and comical. Miss Smithson did not show up at its première. Her Shakespearian company went bankrupt and funds had to be collected for her in Paris, a task in which Berlioz was understandably active. During all these peripeties Berlioz finally met the lady, proposed to her and married her. They had a son, Louis, to whom the composer dedicated the work that is the sequel to the Symphonie fantastique and Part Two of Episode From the Life of an Artist. Its title is Lélio, or the Return to Life. Madame Smithson-Berlioz failed to live up to the ideal of the idée fixe. The ardent lover drifted apart from the Ophelia of his opium dream. Harriet Smithson died in 1854, when the composer was 51 years old. Berlioz remarried, but his second marriage, barren of both romance and progeny, was even less successful than the first. CHOLERA It is not always easy to draw an equation between a composer’s state of mind and the character of a work written during a period of distress or the melosomatic effect produced by such a work. A fairly convincing thesis may be propounded on the parallelism between Tchaikovsky’s predilection for minor keys (five out of his six symphonies are in the minor mode) and his psychological syndromes. Tchaikovsky’s friend and fellow composer, César Cui, wrote cruelly: “There are people who constantly complain about their fates and are particularly fond of describing their illnesses. In his music Tchaikovsky, too, complains about his fate and talks about his maladies.” Melancholy is the prevalent mood of Tchaikovsky’s music, reaching its maximum of morbid self-expression in his Sixth Symphony, the Symphonie pathétique. In a trombone passage in the first movement, there is a quotation from the Russian mass for the dead that may be interpreted as a premonition of death. Indeed, Tchaikovsky died of cholera shortly after he had conducted the first performance of the Pathétique. But there may be other connotations. Tchaikovsky dedicated the Pathétique to his favorite

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nephew, “Bobik” Davidov, and the funereal reference in the score may have signified to him the death of a dangerous affection. In his diary Tchaikovsky noted, “I sat on a bench in the garden with Bobik, holding hands. God, save me from this ultimate disaster!” Young Davidov never even acknowledged the receipt of the score that Tchaikovsky sent him. After the composer’s death, in 1893, rumors were rampant in Russia that Tchaikovsky had committed suicide by drinking a glass of unboiled, contaminated water from the River Neva. This version was given credence around the world. British and American newspapers, in particular, reported Tchaikovsky’s death as a masked suicide. The early editions of The Oxford Companion to Music presented this speculation as fact. Even today, in Soviet Russia, the suicide theory continues to flourish. The most sensational version is this: Tchaikovsky had been having an affair with a young nobleman who was related to the Imperial family. Czar Alexander III found out about it and angrily issued an order for Tchaikovsky’s arrest. A courtier, wanting to prevent a public scandal, suggested to the composer’s brother and biographer, Modest, that the only way to save everyone’s honor was for Tchaikovsky to kill himself by a poison that simulated the symptoms of cholera, of which an epidemic was raging at the time. A family council was held, and Tchaikovsky, in the depth of despair, agreed to carry out the weird scheme. This version is flatly contradicted by a letter from Tchaikovsky’s family physician to Modest that offers a postmortem account of the progress of the disease and states that the virulence of the infection had left no hope for recovery. To this the proponents of the suicide theory countered that the letter was written much later as a covering document to save face. Furthermore, the argument continued, had Tchaikovsky really died of cholera, the health authorities in St. Petersburg would not have allowed his coffin to remain open nor permitted relatives and friends to kiss the corpse on the lips, according to the Russian custom, for those who had died of cholera were buried in zinc coffins hermetically sealed to prevent contamination. That his coffin was indeed left open during the funeral service is proved by contemporary photographs. Why was an exception made in Tchaikovsky’s case? The subjective morbidity of the Pathétique moved the music critic of the Boston Evening Transcript, in an article written five years after Tchaikovsky’s death, to describe the work in clinical terms:


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The Pathétique Symphony treads all the foul ditches and sewers of human despair; it is as unclean as music can ever be. The unspeakable second theme of the first movement may tell of what Heine called the impotent senile remembrance of calf love. But of what a calf love! That of Hogarth’s lazy apprentice. Indisputably there is power in it; who but Tchaikovsky could have made the vulgar, obscene phrase, powerful? The second movement, with its strabismal rhythm, is hardly less ignoble; the third, sheer billingsgate. In the finale, bleary-eyed paresis meets us face to face; and that solemn closing epitaph of the trombones might begin with: “Here continues to rot. . . .”

N O S TA L G I A Strong men when at great distances from home have been known to burst into tears upon hearing native songs. It is conceivable that brainwashing has been aided by such melosomatic methods. Confessions may be easier to achieve from some prisoners by playing folk songs than by physical torture. SUICIDE Can a piece of music so affect a susceptible listener as to drive him to suicide? Gustav Mahler, whose morbid disposition led him to the brink of insanity, feared that the final song of his symphony with voices, “Das Lied von der Erde” (“The Song of the Earth”), might drive people to suicide. “Do you think it is safe to perform this music in public?” he asked a friend. “Would not the listeners go out in the streets and kill themselves after hearing it?” Nobody committed suicide after listening to “Das Lied von der Erde.” But there is solid documentation of the fact that a popular song so depressed a number of people that a minor suicide wave rolled over Europe and America. It was “Gloomy Sunday,” by the Hungarian composer Rezso Seress. The Hungarian government decided to ban the song from radio broadcasts after a number of suicides had been directly traced to “Gloomy Sunday.” In 1937, a student at the University of Michigan shot himself and left a note stating that he realized the futility of life after listening to a record of the song. “Gloomy Sunday,” like Frankenstein’s

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monster, ended by killing its maker. Rezso Seress jumped from a window of his Budapest apartment on January 7, 1968—a Sunday. ODONTOLOGY Can physical pain have a melosomatic effect? It seems to have had a catalytic effect on Stravinsky when he was writing the final pages of Le Sacre du printemps. He jotted these words in the manuscript. “Today, Sunday, on the 17th November, 1912, suffering from an excruciating toothache, I completed the music of Le Sacre.” VETERINARY According to some reports, animals are selectively sensitive to music. It is a well-known fact, of course, that dogs can hear “unheard music” of ultrasonic range lying beyond that of the human ear. Since high pitch, on the threshold of audibility, produces acute discomfort, concerts of ultrasonic music, or “music to cause pain by,” may become an avant-garde development. Infrasonics are also well suited for inflicting pain. Low frequencies may create shock waves that impinge on the diaphragm and the abdomen in a most unsettling manner. Stories abound about musical cats, cows and insects of various sorts. In a biography of Ignace Paderewski, the author reports that a spider in the pianist’s Vienna studio never failed to descend from the ceiling when Paderewski practiced the G-sharp minor Chopin Etude, which seemed to be the spider’s favorite piece. Paderewski gave strict orders to the landlady not to harm the insect. Beethoven, it seems, also had a musical spider, about which a story was published in a contemporary music magazine. Perhaps the two spiders were related. Modern animals seem to prefer jazz and popular music. Experiments conducted at milking time on New Zealand dairy farms during the summer of 1947 proved to the satisfaction of the scientists in charge that cows increased production when jazz records were played, but fidgeted nervously and withheld milk at the sounds of Mozart and Beethoven. Pigs, too, are said to enjoy popular music and jazz: 2,500 pigs on a New Jersey farm were exposed to a constant flood of jazz, and they put on weight faster than unjazzed pigs. They seemed to fatten particularly well on Bing Crosby records.


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British beasts possess more refined tastes. In the 1940s, the British Broadcasting Corporation received a letter from a farmer in Surrey who wrote, “We find that our cows give their highest milk yields to the strains of 18th-century music, such as Haydn’s string quartets. On the other hand, jazz produces a definite kick-the-bucket tendency in them.” Can animal mating be stimulated by music, any kind of music? Apparently not. The Curator of Reptiles at the Brookfield Zoo in Chicago, it was reported, was very anxious to induce a pair of alligators to mate. Noting that the alligator mating call approximated the pitch of B-flat below middle C, he hired four French-horn players to hit B-flat in unison. The musicians blew hard and long, but nothing happened. Music to copulate by, at least among reptiles, is still a thing of the future. SANITY Many composers of cheerful and wholesome music have gone insane, among them Schumann and MacDowell. On the other hand, some composers of atonal operas dealing with incest, sexual murder and multiple perversions, have themselves been men of unquestionable sanity. In this sane category one can cite Alban Berg, composer of the agonizing operas Wozzeck and Lulu, and the contemporary Argentinian composer Alberto Ginastera. His opera Bomarzo, dealing with adultery, impotence and general depravity, so shocked the military junta of his native country that it was banned in Buenos Aires. THERAPEUTICS “A new science of musical therapy for the mentally ill” was reported to the American Psychiatric Association in 1943 by Dr. Ira M. Altshuler. He asserted that the playing of appropriate music acted through the thalamus, the seat of emotion in the brain, through which sensory impulses travel to the grey matter of the cerebral cortex. Variations in tempo, in pitch and in the volume of sound, he said, affected the mentally disturbed patients in various ways that could be useful in therapy. Numerous experiments using music have been conducted on patients in need of treatment for mental disturbances. Romantic music has been played to relieve manic-depressive patients, popular dance music for catatonic young people, and sentimental songs for sexually repressed women.

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Reactions have been carefully observed, tables of coordinates computerized, and medical equivalents of diatonic melodies in major keys and chromatic modulations into minor keys have been evaluated and charted in graphs. No logical pattern has emerged, however, and the conclusions of experts in music therapy are no more convincing than astrological tables. The only method that could yield data to support most melosomatic theories is that of measuring conditioned musical reflexes, but we do not know any systematic studies in the field. With modern methods for measuring electric currents in the nerve fibers, a quantitative relationship might be established between the melorhythmic stimulus and the degree of the excitation of the nerve. This might follow the lines of the Weber-Fechner law, according to which the sensation produced by a loud sound relates as the logarithm of the stimulus. That is, in order to produce the sensation of a tone twice as loud, the decibel count would have to be increased tenfold. But the relationship between purely musical properties, such as melodiousness and harmoniousness or consonance and dissonance on the one hand, and the excitation of the sensorium on the other, seems to be beyond the reach of science. Acoustically, concords are more harmonious than discords, but there is no bridge between this physical phenomenon and the quality of the reception by the ear. Equally unfathomable is the aesthetic equivalent of a sensory impression. It is impossible to assess the quality of a melorhythmic phrase, for in physiological analysis, its motion picture disintegrates into a series of musical stills along the fiber of the auditory nerve. This incommensurability of physiology and esthetics was clear to researchers in the field a hundred years ago. The German physiologist Lotze wrote in his Medizinische Psychologie (1852), “A careful study of melodies would elicit the admission that we know nothing whatever about the conditions under which the change from one type of nerve excitation to another becomes the physical substratum of the powerful esthetic sensations which vary with the music.” RHYTHM There is no doubt that rhythm exercises a measurable physiological influence on the listener. In the concert hall, ladies may nod their heads during the performance of a rhythmic portion of a symphony, men tap fingers on


Nicolas Slonimsky

their knees, children shuffle their feet. The powerful impact of rhythmic drum beating and ritual chants is well known to anthropologists. So strong was the percutosomatic and revolutiogenic effect of large conga drums on the villagers in the Cuban interior that the dictator Machado ordered their confiscation and destruction. Measured, uniform rhythm can even produce a physically destructive effect. An electric street-car can be derailed by people swinging back and forth in rhythm. Soldiers are forbidden to march across suspension bridges in military formation, for the accumulated amplitude of vibrations could shake the bridges from their moorings. Rhythmic music has been said to have an unnerving effect on young people as well as on bridges and streetcars. Swing“turned on”America’s youth long before the advent of LSD. On May 30, 1938, The New York Times ran banner headlines: “SWING BANDS PUT 23,400 IN FRENZY: JITTERBUGS CAVORT AS 25 ORCHESTRAS BLARE IN CARNIVAL.” An inevitable corollary was this announcement:“PASTOR SCORES SWING AS DEBASING YOUTH. DECLARES IT SHOWS AN OBVIOUS DEGENERACY IN OUR CULTURE AND FROTHINESS OF AGE.” A nostalgic tone, heard by every generation from most aging critics of its popular music, pervades an observation written in the Thirties by William Allen White, editor of The Emporia Gazette: “Fifty-five years ago and more, the writer hereof earned his first dollar playing for dances,” he reminisced. “In those pre-historic days dance music was tuneful, something you could whistle. And with a buxom armful of gently protesting but finally surrendering corn-fed Walnut Valley gal in your arms . . . a fellow kind of felt he was of some importance. That dance romantic was as different from the dance we saw last night, and the music was as different from that which squawked and shrieked and roared and bellowed in syncopated savagery, as if the two had been treaded and heard upon another planet.” Long before swing, the guardians of public decorum issued warnings against the immorality of syncopated music. In its issue of September 13, 1899, The Musical Courier of New York published an editorial denouncing ragtime, “Degenerate Music.” “A wave of vulgar, filthy and suggestive music,” it fulminated, “has inundated the land. Nothing but ragtime prevails—and the cakewalk with its obscene posturings, its lewd gestures. One reads with amazement and disgust of the historical and aristocratic names joining in this sex dance. Our children, our young men and women,

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are continually exposed to the contiguity, to the monotonous attrition of this vulgarizing music. It is artistically and morally depressing and should be suppressed by press and pulpit.” In 1901, the American Federation of Musicians, the musician’s labor union, adopted a resolution urging its members to “make every effort to suppress and discourage the playing and publishing of such musical trash as ragtime, and substitute for it the works of recognized and competent composers, thereby teaching the general public to appreciate a wholesome, decent and intellectual class of music.” Scholarly voices were heard in defense of ragtime. An assistant librarian in the Music Division of the Library of Congress sent a communication to The Musical Courier of May 31, 1900, suggesting that American rag was related to the ragas of India. But such sober (though inaccurate) views were rare. Condemnation of the new American popular music continued to be the rule. In June 1905, the Journal of the International Music Society said, “Ragtime is the outcome of rag speech, which preaches the gospel of force, which casts tradition, balance, duty, elegance and refinement to the wind, and which believes that more respect can be made by punching certain syllables into the brain of the listeners. It becomes modified when allied with music. It gives rise to a sense of disorder, which, combined with the emotional expression of the music, suggests an irresponsibility and a sensation of careless jollity agreeable to the tired or vacuous brain.” The tone of moral indignation has now considerably subsided. Ragtime has long since acquired the aroma of an antique art, delightful and smile-provoking in its naïveté. The great Charles Ives preserved the feeling of this once robust American dance rhythm in his incomparable works. Gigantic orchestrions thumping out delicious ragtime are to be found in the collection at the Cliff House in San Francisco. It is hard for us now to understand why this innocuous music was so violently rejected by the pillars of musical society seventy years ago. PHARMACOPOEIA Musical pharmacopoeia is rich in prescriptions for instant virtuosity. An Italian singing teacher who plied a highly successful trade in New York and Boston circa 1900 advertised the Neapolitan Compressed Air Siphon (of which, alas, no photographs seem to exist) that was guaranteed to produce,


Nicolas Slonimsky

upon inhalation, perfect bel canto from the larynges and pharynges of the users. The maestro made annual trips to Naples, where he replenished the bottles in the presence of witnesses and photographers. There was no fraud; the air was genuine. Testimonials from grateful alumni and alumnae attested that whereas before the treatment their voices sounded cracked and coarse, after inhaling the bottled air they could sing like Caruso or Patti. EMOTIONS For at least two centuries, music theorists have attempted to define the emotional content of music. Eduard Hanslick, a defender of the absolute property of the art, cited, disapprovingly, in his classical essay, “Vom Musikalisch-Schönen” (“On Musical Beauty”), first published in 1854, a number of such definitions: “A melodious phrase is derived from the language of emotion, inducing in a sensitive listener the same state of mind that generated it.”“Music is the art of producing sounds capable of exciting and sustaining emotions and passions.” “Each feeling and each state of mind has its own inherent sound and rhythm, and these have their objective counterpart in music.” Hanslick then went about demolishing these notions by reducing them to absurdity. He related, for example, the legend of Eric the Good, King of Denmark, who ordered all weapons removed from his reach before he allowed a lutenist to play, lest he be moved to violence by the music. Even so, as the playing progressed, he rushed out, seized his sword, and slew four men. But can the interdependence of a melorhythmic pattern and its message be completely denied? Bach developed a whole code of intervallic and rhythmic symbols. In one of his cantatas, the words “Get up, get up” are set to music in a rising arpeggio. “Follow me” is represented by a scale from the lowest reaches of the bass voice to the treble range of high soprano. References to the crucifixion are invariably expressed by chromatically involuted musical phrases. The fall of man, Hell, the Devil and forces of evil are usually portrayed by leaping passages containing tritones, and the tritone was described by the medieval scholars as diabolus in musica (the Devil in music). The diminished-seventh chord often supplied the harmony for the repelling images of perdition. This chord, incidentally, became a favorite device of Italian opera composers to illustrate tragic events on the stage. It acquired the nickname, accordo di stupefazione, for

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it was supposed to plunge the audience into the state of stupefaction. In time, opera goers became conditioned to the chord, and whenever the diminished-seventh was heard in a string tremolo, its favorite location, tension spread among the listeners. OTOLOGY Among composers there are intriguing associations of mind, health and mental attitudes, but it is difficult, if not impossible, to connect these psychological factors with the resulting musical compositions. Although some conservative early critics tried to prove that the advanced harmonies of Beethoven’s last works were the result of his impaired hearing, there is really no reflection of Beethoven’s tragic deafness in his music. In his book The Music of Nature (London, 1837), William Gardiner wrote, nevertheless, “Beethoven’s imagination seems to have fed upon the ruins of his sensitive organs.” We can occasionally find physiological phenomena experienced by a composer reflected in his music. The great Bohemian composer Smetana suffered from tinnitus. Pressure on the auditory nerve made him hear a high E. In his first string quartet, which he entitled From My Life, he made the first violin sustain a high E. Schumann had a similar case of tinnitus, on A-flat, but he did not use it in any of his works.


This is Dybbuk speaking, through the invultuation of Bill Lichtenwanger. I am sorry that I am unable to be present in person, but the Philadelphia Orchestra program book some years ago referred to me as “the late Nicolas Slonimsky.” (I wired them back protesting that I was late only in delivering manuscripts to my publishers, and that I was still technically alive and even capable of running a forty-minute mile.) Furthermore, according to the caption underneath a Kodak snapshot of me as a neurotic Russian boy, taken in a Finnish spa during the summer of 1910, I died in 1967. In view of these circ*mstances, any discussion of sex must be strictly posthumous. Since my name appears in various respectable, though not always accurate, musical encyclopedias, I feel that I owe an explanation to the honorable members of the Music Library Association how it is that, next to highly dignified topics of the talks scheduled for the present meetings, sex was allowed to raise its exhibitionistic head. Well, I plead not guilty. As I was making my customary pre-Christmas tour of music libraries, one staff member after another greeted me with a display of prurient interest, utterly incompatible with the customary image of a music librarian as a bespectacled, sandy-faced, scholarly-looking lady or gentleman, uncertain as to age or sexual classification, and covered by a layer of dust gathered in the stacks. Virtually everyone said, with a suggestive twinkle, “I can’t wait to hear your talk at the MLA convention,” and unaccustomed as I am to compliments, I worked my facial muscles into a responsive smile. Not until I received the mimeographed notice of the meeting did I discover what the title of my talk was to be! Some clown in the Music Library Association must have played a nasty trick on me, and I think I know who. Ch. 23: originally published in the I.S.A.M. Newsletter, November 1986.


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I was aware, of course, that sex lurks even in music libraries, and that its repression often finds an outlet in sexo-typographical fantasies. My publisher once received an order from a music library for a book of mine itemized in the order form as Sexicon of Musical Invention by Solo Minsky. What is the proper place of sex in the music library? Ten years ago, sweating out the fifth edition of Baker’s Biographical Dictionary of Musicians, I was tipped off that the autobiography of the German prima donna Wilhelmine Schröder-Devrient, retailing her nightly tours of the boudoirs of musical celebrities, which is solemnly listed as an authentic document in the bibliographies of most reference books, was a fake put together by an anonymous, and largely unimaginative, p*rnographer. To be sure, the volume is kid stuff by present-day standards, but it was hot enough a hundred years ago to be banned from German bookstores. Naturally I was aroused, and on my next visit in the marble halls of the Library of Congress, I filled in a request slip for the book. The librarian, an innocent-looking chap, asked me with a show of uncommon alacrity, “Do you want the French edition too? It’s illustrated, you know.” In no more than ninety seconds, both the German and the French editions were placed in my hands—the quickest service I had ever had in any library. I expressed my amazement at the page’s expeditiousness, and the librarian remarked casually, “Oh, we all know where those books are.” I used to sign my letters to a friendly member of the staff of the Library of Congress, “Formicatingly yours,” to express my itching eagerness in pursuit of a musicological point. He automatically misread the word and asked me, “With whom?” The same librarian figuratively raised his eyebrows when he came across an item in Baker’s on the Neapolitan opera composer Luigi Ricci, Sr., which mentioned the fact that Ricci had a son by his wife’s identical twin sister. He jotted in the margin, “Could he tell any difference?” From yet another skeptical librarian I received a request for the clarification of my statement in Baker’s that the French cellist François Servais was an illegitimate son of Liszt and Princess Carolyne Sayn-Wittgenstein. “Is this a presumptive, assumptive, or documented statement?” he demanded. “In other words—can you prove it, and if so, how?” That posed quite a problem. According to my dictionary and several other sources, Servais was born in darkest Russia in the 1840s, about the time when Liszt was traveling there in the company of the princess. I wrote to the Soviet author of a history of Russian-born cello players asking him to check on


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the registries of Russian lodginghouses where Liszt and the princess might have slept about nine months before Servais was born, but the dismaying reply came that there was no evidence at all that Servais was ever born in Russia. I then approached the problem from the other end, the reported death of Servais in Asnières near Paris. I wrote to the mayor of the town for a copy of the death certificate, and received an obliging answer from him to the effect that there was no record of Servais’s death there, but pointing out there are fourteen towns in France called Asnières, and one in Switzerland, and suggesting to me to try all those towns. He also directed me to an illegitimate descendant of Liszt living in Paris on Avenue du President Kennedy. But what could this descendant know about another illegitimate offspring of Liszt? I gave up the whole thing in disgust. Insofar as musical bastardy is the incontinent result of overt sex, such topics are of legitimate concern to the music librarian. But what to do about celebrated musicians who claim to be bastards but are nothing of the sort? Such as the claim of the famous pianist Sigismond Thalberg. He spread the rumor that he was the illegitimate son of a petty duke and a shabby baroness. Grove’s Dictionary [5th ed.] supported the claim and declared in a footnote that his birth certificate was lost. Well, I got that birth certificate from the archives of Geneva, where Thalberg was born, and it says in plain French that he was the son of a non-ducal Frankfurt merchant Thalberg and a non-baroness named Stein. But so attractive was the glamour of noble origin, however illegitimate, in the nineteenth century that Thalberg allowed the circulation of a fabricated letter, supposedly written by his baroness mother to his duke father, suggesting that he should be named Thalberg, since he was destined to become as deep an artist as a valley—Thal—and as lofty a spirit as a mountain—Berg! Is it necessary to know a composer’s sex syndrome in order to understand his music? Heterosexual melancholy oozes out of every note and every appoggiatura of Tchaikovsky’s music, so it comes as a shock to discover that the signals are crossed and the signs point in the opposite direction. A deep Freudian would probably uncover the truth by noting the prevalence of feminine endings in most of Tchaikovsky’s melodies as well as his predilection for minor effeminate-sounding keys. Before the advent of the era of candor, Tchaikovsky’s biographers, including his brother (who had tastes similar to those of Tchaikovsky himself), duly reported the “fact” that Tchaikovsky was married, that his wife did not understand him, and that he poured out his soul to

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Madame von Meck, whom he studiously avoided in the mortal fear that she might have heterosexual designs on him. Incidentally, all references to Tchaikovsky’s hom*osexuality have been deleted in recent Soviet editions of the composer’s diaries and letters. The ban has also been extended to East Germany, where a fictional biography of Tchaikovsky, with a frank discussion of his proclivities, has been confiscated. For a sexually alert music librarian it is of special interest to know that an early Soviet edition of Tchaikovsky’s correspondence with his relatives, which contains some juicy passages (e.g., Tchaikovsky responding in full empathy to his brother Modest’s ecstatic description of his excitement at watching a bevy of young seminarians filing out after classes), is an unbook whose very existence is denied by Soviet bibliographers. Inquiries from persistent Western librarians are usually referred to a new edition of the correspondence, in which such objectionable episodes are carefully removed, with or without benefit of eloquent dots of ellipsis. A music library is by intent a depository of wisdom and information, ever ready to answer questions from perplexed music lovers. Was Wagner an illegitimate son of the actor Geyer whom Wagner’s mother married after Wagner’s father’s death? Who cares? The Nazis cared, very deeply so, because there was something suspiciously semitic in Geyer’s profile and even in Wagner’s own profile. To their great relief, Nazi genealogists managed to prove that all the Geyers were hereditary Aryans. Illegitimacy never bothered them; the important point was to prove that, whether legitimate or illegitimate, Wagner was racially pure. As all music librarians know, Wagner stole Liszt’s daughter Cosima from her wedded husband Hans von Bulow, while the latter was busy rehearsing Tristan und Isolde. When Cosima von Bülow procreated a female child, Wagner brazenly named her Isolde. Some forty years later, Isolde sued her mother for equal rights in Wagner’s estate, but the court ruled against her, pointing out that the putative time of conception—the period between eight and ten months before her birth—took place when Bülow was still lodging in direct proximity to Cosima, and therefore could have been Isolde’s real father. The Russians have a wonderful word Nebylitza—literally, an “unwasity” (un-was-ity). Many sexual unwasities are found in popular biographies of great composers. Take Brahms. When he had his first confrontation with females en masse—conducting a Hamburg girls’ chorus as an unbearded youth (he matured, pogonologically speaking, only when he began writing


Nicolas Slonimsky

symphonies), he fainted and had to be carried away. Some biographers try to whip up his platonic friendship with Clara Schumann into something passionate, only to fail dismally. No feminine companion could possibly be foisted on Brahms by romantic writers. An enterprising American author undertook a tour of Viennese bordelli in the 1920s and interviewed a number of ancient hags who were only too eager to tell, for a consideration, all about their servicing Brahms in an exotic way—the only way be could function, or so they said. The music librarian ought to be able to render an unbiased judgment about the value of such a biography in response to an inquiry. Of all the wild stories found in dictionaries of musical biography the most fantastic is the story of Giusto Ferdinando Tenducci, a male soprano, who eloped with an English girl. According to his intimates, he was a triorchis. The extra cylinder enabled him to procreate. One of the most fantastic unwasities perpetrated on the unsuspecting public was the unwarranted publication of a batch of fabricated Chopin letters purportedly addressed to one of his early lady friends, Delphina Potocka, in which Chopin reveals himself as an ardent sensualist, an experienced Don Juan, and a gross p*rnographer. The letters were produced by a Polish woman, who claimed that she had copied them from originals in the palace of the descendants of the Potocka family. (The originals, she explained, were sent by messenger to Paris after the German invasion of Poland, but they were never found.) The trouble with the letters was that Chopin used in them some obscene slang expressions that were not current in Polish until about 1900. For instance, he referred to his Polonaise in Adur as “A Durka,” which means hole in Polish, with clear anatomical connotations. There were also chronological discrepancies. When confronted with the cumulative evidence of these incongruities, the woman who concocted the “Chopin” correspondence in the first place swallowed poison. When a sex scandal about a musician spills into public print, it becomes proper material for the shelves of a music library. Paganini chose to defend himself when he took a sixteen-year-old English girl across the channel to France to promote her singing career. Eventually she made her way to America. The manuscript of her memoirs is in the possession of a collector in St. Louis, along with many other unique memorabilia of celebrated musicians, but he is unwilling to let his treasures be published.

Sex and the Music Librarian


An ideal sex story, from the standpoint of fact-conscious music librarians, is the courtship of Miss Smithson by Berlioz via the Fantastic Symphony: there is a unique romantic story, opium smoking, psychedelic hallucinations, and in the end actual marriage. This is sex in excelsis. The sex question that comes up most often in the music library is this: Who was Beethoven’s Immortal Beloved? The answer is: The incorporeal eternal femininity in Beethoven’s lonely visions. The absence of all parameters of time, space, and locus in the letter points up the unreality of the object of Beethoven’s fantasy. The letter was never dispatched and remained in Beethoven’s possession. The style, the wording, the emotional pitch closely approximate the passionate expressions in Goethe’s Sorrows of Young Werther. It would be most interesting to compare Beethoven’s letter to some of Werther’s appeals: “Yes, dear Charlotte! I will take care of everything as you wish. Do give me more errands to perform, etc., etc., etc.” But, of course, Beethoven did not use a name in his letter. Confronted with Beethoven’s loveless life, Freudian and non-Freudian biographers have labored mightily on romantic unwasities. There is a book centered on a certain day in Beethoven’s life when he visited a certain town coincidentally with a certain lady of his Vienna circle. Nine months later the lady, married, gave birth to a child. Ergo, the child was Beethoven’s. One can easily imagine how many paternity claims could be made on such evidence. Another book, very deep and very dark, interprets Beethoven’s relationship with his nephew as a case of latent hom*osexuality. In the monastic seclusion of their windowless cubicles, music librarians often exchange succulent bits of sex gossip about composers, performers, and even their own colleagues. Yes, Virginia, sex is rampant in your music libraries.

Part V



Every friend of a genuine Wunderkind must have heard fantastic tales of the infant’s prodigious sense of pitch—that is, the ability to name, in a blindfold test, any number of notes simultaneously sounded. Some orchestra leaders are said to possess similar powers of musical clairvoyance (or shall we say, clairaudience?). With the first approach of an experimental hand, however, such tales and legends usually vanish into the realm of naive nonsense. The cold fact is that the power of tone-detecting is extremely limited, even among phenomenally gifted individuals. The probability of the existence of a 100% absolute pitch which would enable its owner to name, in truth, any number of notes, any tone-cluster, to borrow a fashionable term, appears very slight when we consider the acoustical maze existing in our world of compound tones. Every sound, at least theoretically, presents a complex system of harmonics built on a fundamental tone. “Actual” tones differ only in degree of intensity from “ghost” tones, which, under the various names of overtones, combinational tones, etc., form a sort of musical ectoplasm around each sounding body. At times, indeed, these spook tones materialize themselves to a confusing degree. Inexpert performers on wind instruments have a hard time ridding themselves of unwelcome octaves and fifths above and below. Some players, on the other hand, cultivate such tones for the sake of color. Evsei Beloussov, the ’cellist, can play octaves on a single string, an effect which he chooses to term—let us hope, metaphorically— “Yogi tones.”

Ch. 24: originally published in American Mercury, October 1930.



Nicolas Slonimsky

In his classical book, Music, a Science and an Art, Professor Redfield gives an interesting transcription of our national Danish-British-AustrianAmerican hymn, “God save the King”—“My country, ’tis of thee,” with all the ghost tones written out. The look of it is even more appalling than its sound as performed by military bands at patriotic functions. All this musical exhaust reaches our ears even in the purest of symphonies. We are fortunately unaware of its existence, as we are unaware of the existence of tiny specks constantly floating in our field of vision, but it clouds our perception in finer tests, and proves the eventual undoing of those whose self-assurance prompts the impossible claim of infallibility. All these parasitical tones are often increased in volume through sympathetic vibration of surrounding objects. “Jedes Bönchen hat sein Tönchen,” says an irreverent private in Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front. In a less coprological sense, every quasi-flexible object is attuned to a certain pitch. Our very ears, or rather their external parts, vibrate sympathetically to the tones lying between E and G of the fourth octave—the circ*mstance that makes these tones disagreeably shrill. If, by inserting a tube of paper into the cars, we change their vibrational number, the tinkling sound peculiar to them disappears. Yet, limited as they are by the very nature of things, the members of the caste of absolute pitchers possess qualifications which are specific and unmistakable. To qualify for membership, a person must be able to instantly name any single note, struck on the piano or any other instrument with definite pitch, within the range of, say, five octaves, leaving out the extreme high and low registers. The answers must be correct in all cases, not in the majority only. Twenty tests, separated by an interval of time (to avoid the possibility of an accidental guess in the first test, with the subsequent reliance on relative pitch) ought to be sufficient. The answers must be given instantly, without preliminary figuring out. To a true absolute pitcher there can be no more doubt about a certain note being a C, or a D, than there can be, to an ordinary person, any question that a certain color is red or blue. In fact, it may be said of persons deprived of the sense of absolute pitch that they are tone-deaf, in perfect analogy with persons that are colorblind. Jaques-Dalcrose developed a method which enables one to form a sense of absolute pitch through measuring the tension of the vocal cords with the fingers, while intoning a certain note. But this method, even if successful, would be only another Braille’s alphabet for the blind, applied to sound. Needless to say, it has

Absolute Pitch


nothing in common with an inborn sense of pitch which cannot be acquired as it cannot be lost. For it is an inborn sense, though its physiological premises are highly uncertain. Children who have it reveal it as soon as they learn the names of the notes, and retain it throughout their lives, whether they become professional musicians or not. On Doomsday they will unhesitatingly recognize the key of the Archangel Gabriel’s fanfare. On the other hand, the pariahs of absolute pitch may rise to the height of musical fame, and yet never know whereabouts they are in the scale. They may develop a tolerable sense of relative pitch, and even get to recognize certain tones by the muscular tension of their own vocal cords, unconsciously attuned to the given tone, but ever so often they will slip into a gross error, sometimes missing by several semitones. And always they would have to think before giving their answer, a necessity unknown to the members of the privileged caste. The importance of the sense of absolute pitch has been greatly stressed by some, and violently attacked by others. The truth is that it is undeniably a great convenience to all musicians, but of more value to conductors than to pianists or other instrumentalists. Composers but rarely possess it, and the absence of it does not seem to interfere with their creative powers. Certainly, the mere possession of it does not predicate great musicianship, though it always points to a musical nature. An International Absolute Pitch Club (the founding of which is hereby urged) would be to the world of music what the Caterpillar Club, formed of pilots who have had to jump for their lives on parachutes, is to the world of aviation. Some distinguished birdmen are its members, but along with them, many aviatorial mediocrities as well. The possession of absolute pitch may prove of great advantage in everyday life. Commuting from a suburb to town on a trolley, I noticed that the humming sound, rising in proportion to the speed, reached its high at the B flat of the tenor voice, and that riding on that high note through a certain open stretch of the road, I would get to town in so many minutes. It took proportionately more time to reach town with an A, and still longer with an A flat. Having built an experimental table, based on daily practice, I could always tell just how late I would be at the office. In war the approach of a shrapnel announces itself in the form of a hissing sound. When its pitch rises beyond a certain high note, we know that it is directly headed towards us, and so may gain time to say our prayers. Undoubtedly, there are many other handy applications of absolute pitch.


Nicolas Slonimsky

But the same absolute pitch may be—and very often is—a source of annoyance to its owner. Horatio Parker, who was supersensitive in this respect, complained to William Lyon Phelps of the tortures connected with too fine a sense of hearing, and professed his envy for the latter’s blissful imperviousness to music. Yet, Rimsky-Korsakov, who was a champion, composed one of his loveliest operas on a piano in B flat, as he facetiously called it—that is, a piano tuned a full tone lower. Striking a C and hearing a B flat must have been an excruciatingly painful experience for him. But are not clarinet players doomed to play different notes from what they hear? All performers on transposing instruments, indeed, must be suffering from this sort of maladjustment. But here we come to a debatable point. The standard of pitch has never been definitely set for any lasting period of time. The A of the American Federation of Musicians, assigned 440 vibrations a second, is nearly a semitone higher than the pitch of Handel. Thus, our orchestras in playing Handel’s works, or, for that matter, any Eighteenth Century works, perform them a semitone higher than they were intended to sound. At various times, the standard of pitch deviated from ours even more than that. Some freak readings record an A with but 376 vibrations a second, which corresponds to our F sharp, a minor third below. (A dilapidated small organ of l’Hospice Comptesse at Lille, gives this pitch-number.) At other times, the pitch for A went as high as 570 vibrations a second, corresponding to our C sharp, a major third above. (The North German Church of the Seventeenth Century provides an example of this high pitch.) Thus, we see that our standard A has traveled through the centuries from F sharp to C sharp—that is, within the interval of a perfect fifth! What price absolute pitch in the light of such perplexing relativity? But we must not be unduly perturbed. It matters little whether we call our A an A or a B flat, as Handel would. So long as the difference is expressed in complete semitones, we have but to transpose every given note to adapt it to the current standard. The question becomes more confused when there is a difference of a quarter tone between two local standards. This difference is nearly reached between the low pitch of some of the European countries and the American standard pitch. In such a case, a European with a sense of absolute pitch will associate the American A with either A or B flat until he is accustomed to the new pitch. I have said that the sense of absolute pitch is extremely limited in the number of tones which any person can possibly detect. But few experi-

Absolute Pitch


ments have been made to establish this limit, and find its causes. In 1913, Professor Stumpf of Berlin examined the sense of pitch of Erich Wolfgang Korngold, the most outstanding Wunderkind of modern times. (He is thirty now, and disappointing.) He found that Korngold could name chords of from four to five selectively discordant tones. I have made similar experiments with Messrs. Alfredo Casella, the composer, Jesús Mariá Sanromá, the pianist, Joseph Achron, the violinist and composer, Arie Abileah, a virtuoso on the Theremino-Vox, and others, all clairaudients of rarest powers. They easily passed the test of two and three notes, simultaneously struck, no matter how discordant. The first casualties announced themselves with the addition of a gratingly dissonant fourth note. Still the majority of guesses were correct. The fifth note—maliciously disagreeable with the rest of the chord—got them all. The jarring interference and the “beats” to which it gave rise must have formed a physiologically insurmountable obstacle to the correct perception of the tones. The recipe for chords apt to create “beats” is very simple. Take several adjoining notes of the chromatic scale, distribute them liberally so as to form intervals of the major seventh and the minor ninth, and check on all chords that make any sense. Schoenberg’s tonal combinations are eminently suitable for such exercises. Then go to your nearest Wunderkind or an orchestral monarch and try the chords over on the piano. If he succeeds in disentangling more than four notes at a time without looking at your fingers—communicate with this writer at once.


To the average concert-going citizen any orchestra conductor is a demiurge revealing by an imperious wave of the hand all the audible elements of Heaven and Hell. To the average manager every orchestra conductor is a coefficient of the Box-Office-Attraction value. To the average musical critic every orchestra conductor is a sceptered personification of the heterogeneous body of string-bowers, reed-blowers, and drum-beaters. To the average orchestra musician every conductor is a fake and a nuisance. Time brings revision. The concert-going citizen finds that the man with the baton is an ordinary specimen of our kind; the manager worriedly sees his baby’s Sex Appeal (which is another symbol for Box-OfficeAttraction) wane with every day; the critic, having bestowed upon the leader all the adjectives borrowed from the textbook of electricity and magnetism, subsides into routine praise and routine reproof; and the musician to his astonishment perceives that the conductor at times is helpful. A conductor is thus a living antinomy. Anyone looking at the thing open mindedly is no more a part in the game than the music-lover that sets the tempi and controls the nuances on a player piano. Someone else’s fingers do the dirty work; to the one at the stick goes the pleasure of shaping the musical phrase. The evolution of the conductor as a separate species is edifying to follow. Some two hundred years ago his presence was really an insinuation against the musicians’ competence. Quartettes were and are played without a fifth person. Quintettes, sextettes and septettes dispense with the conductor’s services. Schubert’s Octette is not supposed to be conducted. Stravinsky’s is. The difference may not be of difficulty but of Ch. 25: originally published in The Overture, September 1931.


The Art of Conducting an Orchestra


principle. Would a trio or a duo gain in coherence by the presence of a competent timekeeper? It undoubtedly would, particularly if the players are a green bunch. A good prompter is as necessary as he is harmless. But when he mounts the stage and begins to play the magician, and, by the aid of a deaf-and-dumb alphabet, dispenses lines that are Shakespeare’s, acknowledging the role that is destined for the actors, as if they were trained seals, then he must be branded as an impostor and denounced as such, even if tradition has sanctioned his farcical presumption. Early conductors were pathetically unaware of their latent possibilities, and knew nothing about the psychology of hero worship. They beat time with a scroll of paper, or else, sitting at the Cembalo, contributed to the musicians’ efforts. There was much nodding, rhythmical wheezing, much swaying of the body and foot-stamping. The maintenance of the proper tempo seemed to be all their concern. The conductor was then held in no greater esteem than a competent coach is now. He was often the composer of the music, and his office as conductor was not yet clearly differentiated. He was also a drillmaster and a disciplinarian. Just who was the first to transform the time-beater into the chief figure of the orchestra is not known with certainty. The invention of the metronome by Maelzel a little over a century ago seemed to eliminate the need of a human agent in marking the tempo. Beethoven was yet living, and took a great fancy to the novel contrivance. With an eye on the posterity that he knew would attempt to garrote his turbulent music, he painstakingly semaphored his Mss. with metronomic signs according to his own stubborn notions. Poor soul! He had been dead hardly five years when the faithful Schindler went out of his way to prove how impracticable Beethoven’s indications were and how he never intended to have them taken literally. Thus, in presence of the Master’s plain words and figures, the Big Controversy of the Beethovenian tempi began. Psychologically, the year of Schindler’s repudiation of Beethoven marked the advent of the modern conductor. He found his raison d’etre to be tampering with Beethoven’s tempi. For Beethoven’s was the only music worth conducting. Mozart, Handel, and Haydn were far too placid for any vivisector to approach; and the nineteenth century of music was still young. Beethoven, with his sombre moods, sudden digressions and programmatic designs afforded a great field for experiments. For a hundred years the Big Controversy has raged, producing schools, creating schisms, establishing reputations.


Nicolas Slonimsky

Wagner set his mind to a philosophically analytic interpretation of Beethoven’s works, and, ostensibly deferring to Mendelssohn, slyly tilted at him for his heretical views. Hans von Buelow was trying his best to divide every bar of Beethoven’s into two parts consisting respectively of accelerando and ritardando. For this Weingartner assaulted him, not without venom. Three musical generations have passed since Beethoven’s death. The centenary celebrations were conducted with a great variety of tempi, under different latitudes and longitudes. Who knows? Mayhap some obscure kappelmeister in the town of Bonn had dug out Beethoven’s metronomical indications and had gone over them sympathetically and open-mindedly. He might even have followed Beethoven’s prayer that no more than sixty musicians should be employed to do justice to his works. The nineteenth century contributed a great number of interpretable compositions. Romanticism blossomed forth in all the magnificence of its delusions. Not a bar would be written without an arriere-pensee. Berlioz contrived a huge monstrosity with his potential biography as a subject, and called it Fantastic Symphony. The performance of it was to break the heart and fill with tardy remorse the perfidious Miss Smith whose wretchedness was subtly exposed in the score. Berlioz married the lady in due time, but failed to destroy the Ms. and all available copies as so much anachronistic balderdash. The Fantastic Symphony was a boon to conductors of all colors and persuasions. Here at last was a piece of music in such chaotic state that a moulding hand could have been applied without running the risk of distorting anything at all. Besides, it afforded untold opportunities for interpretation, and no interpretation could be dismissed as ridiculous. Then also conductors began to acquire a most precious sense of immunity from accidents. There was no way of telling, with the advent of romantic music and its more or less daring harmonies, what was right and what was wrong. A very shrewd listener could tell that something sounded “funny,” but out of the three possible culprits—the composer, the collective musician and the conductor—why should he pick on the latter? Berlioz himself was quick to discover the harm that such hit-and-run conductors may do to the composer. He relates a story involving the celebrated Habeneck which appears incredible to a modern reader. But there it stands:

The Art of Conducting an Orchestra


Suspicious as usual, I took care to be close to Habeneck—in fact, back to back to him—keeping an eye on the group of kettledrums (which he could not see) as the critical moment drew near. There are about a thousand bars in my Requiem; will it be believed that at this—the most important of all—Habeneck calmly laid down his baton and, with the utmost deliberation, took a pinch of snuff. But my eye was upon him; turning on my heel, in a flash I stretched out my arm and marked the four mighty beats. The executants followed me, all went right, and my longdreamed-of effect was a magnificent triumph. (Berlioz, Autobiography, Chap. 23.)

Nowadays the conductor is intent upon appearances more than on anything else. Even if an entire section is out and the remaining contingents at odds, he will preserve his dignity and military bearing. The regiment must march on regardless of casualties. During the war a German military band became the object of deadly gunfire. As musicians fell one after another their colleagues alertly picked up the silenced leads. The trombone- and tuba-players, being large targets, were the first to be hit; but the clarinets shifted forthwith to the low register, and the harmony was thus restored. Somebody ought to erect a memorial tablet in tribute to the valor and musicianship of those Germans. Some time in the nebulous forties the conductor definitely turned his back to the public. He began to feel that the players needed more attention. The shy high-collared figure of the composer-conductor was slowly receding into the background, and the spring-gaited professional director came into being. The law of natural selection began to work. Abandoning his squatting-place at the piano, the leader stood erect; a graceful baton, considered barbaric only a few years before, now became a symbol of power and government. The plastic movements of hands, the body intent upon the orchestra, made a better picture seen from behind. Yet in the theatres the conductor was still compelled to face the public. The operatic conductor, whose business is full of dangers and constantly threatens disaster, has remained the stepchild of the baton. The stage and the singers prove too absorbing to the audience. In the theatre the conductor is still the prompter of yore, an admirable drudge on whose abilities, however, hangs the entire edifice. He is given his due—and the prima donna never


Nicolas Slonimsky

fails to bring him out on the stage for an awkward bow before an audience applauding his inconspicuous services as well as the first lady’s generosity. By about 1875 the conductor is a distinct species. He gradually absorbs the collective virtues of his catguts, wood, brass and skins. He is careful not to admit the responsibility for the orchestra’s possible failings. He develops the dogma of infallibility and impeccability. He can’t be wrong; his gestures can’t be out of tune. If he “swims,” he is wise enough not to show it. He has learned the art of starting with the orchestra and finishing with it. He modestly accepts praise and floral tributes, and with an engaging smile declines the blame for shortcomings with more worldliness than a certain celebrated singer who when not in the best of vocal condition indignantly points at the accompanist as the cause of his defection. The intricacy of modern scores contributes to the conductor’s safety. Even in Beethoven’s time it was risky to hunt wrong cues. One of Beethoven’s satellites received a humiliating rebuke from the Master for his rash remark about the “stupid” horn-player who must have had “no ear” to enter against a dissonant chord in the famous passage of the Eroica. The modern listener who will triumphantly detect the faulty pitch of a violinist and jeer at a pianist’s wrong bass, will never dare to blame the conductor, even if he beats time in five-and-a-half in a waltz. To be sure, the orchestra will know, the hired rabble! But the orchestra be damned! Twelve years ago events occurred in Russia that “shook the world.” The country was in the state of violent transsubstantiation. It was easy to do away with industrial, political, and celestial bosses. There was more difficulty with the artistic Brahmins. According to orthodox Marxist theory, artists belonged to no class in particular, being an excrescence of capitalist society. The new proletarian regime needed them for entertainment, as did the old. The artists were invited to bring their gifts to the people, and obeyed the order with astonishing willingness. The number of casualties among them (if shootings may be called casualties) was consequently very small. With all men presumably born equal the existence of an orchestra conductor was an obvious abomination in communistic eyes. At that time the class-consciousness of orchestral bosses was unmistakably tending toward capitalist society. They were leaving the country, using all sorts of subterfuge. It was a voluntary abdication coinciding with the theoretical revolt of the orchestral masses. In the summer of 1917 an overconscientious nationalist timpani player, distracted by heat and the war, had missed

The Art of Conducting an Orchestra


his cue in Littolf ’s overture “Robespierre,” in the place where the dictator’s sliced head is supposed to roll down into the basket. . . . How he could have missed so important an entrance in such a well-known piece he never disclosed, for he died on the very next day. He was extolled in the press as the example of a true artist. But it was evident that the conductor would not have died of grief had he missed the cue. The disparity was too fragrantly felt and the necessity of reform became urgent. After a few hesitant years the Per-Symph-Ens, the First Symphonic Ensemble, sprang up and set to work with fiendish determination, conductorless and free. At first the undertaking was considered as one of the many freaks of the Soviets. Soon, however, it became apparent that the thing was to stay. The Per-Symph-Ens rapidly advanced until it proved that the idea of a leaderless ensemble was not a mere communistic conventionality. This successfully applied the principle of chamber music to the full symphony orchestra with startling results. Upon hearing Per-Symph-Ens in a gala performance Otto Klemperer remarked that he felt like being driven out of business. It was one of those jocular sayings that his brethren should ponder with all due seriousness. Just how primitive and clumsy is the whole arrangement of communicating musical thoughts through various motions of the hands is impossible to imagine unless we shake off all our civilized prejudices and inquire soberly into the matter. The gestures are limited to a few strokes, which may mean this and also may mean that. The musicians of the orchestra know what they are talking about when they say that they have to acclimatize themselves to each new conductor and his peculiar manners to attain any degree of good ensemble. There exists a code of signals for beating the time, with slight variations in different national schools, but certainly no self-respecting conductor could see any virtue in this. Timebeating is rather a term of abuse among the professionals. A star conductor would stop beating time altogether for a space of sixteen measures or so, to relax and also to demonstrate the orchestra’s wonderful training and discipline. He little understands what an indictment he brings upon himself by his practice. Like the proverbial boy who earned a reputation by pretending to perform on a phonograph, the Narcissus-complexed conductor realizes very well the negligibility of his share in all this edifice of sounds produced by other fellows’ lungs and other fellows’ hands; but he soon persuades himself that ’tis but illusion and that the real cause of the racket resides in his splendid self.


Nicolas Slonimsky

This profession of playing upon the orchestra is peculiar in one respect: While no amateur pianist or violinist would dare to appear in public without years spent in preliminary studies, any one possessing the natural gift of bodily grace and a fair ability to tell the difference ’twixt tweedledum and tweedledee can become a tolerable conductor almost overnight. The champions of the cause circulate a theory that conductors are born and not made. So also were the Roman augurs appointed by Divine providence to their occupation of bothering with the birds’ viscera, but they used to wink at each other in token of mutual understanding. The music-loving dentist who was convinced of his conductorial gifts because he was irresistibly moved to beat time and rock rhythmically back and forth in his seat at Symphony concerts was after all not so very much mistaken. The same clay; different mould. To reveal art and conceal the artist is art’s aim. Certainly no conductor would subscribe to such a statement. He has been undergoing the change—from the freak with a scroll to the aristocrat with a stick—not to hide himself under the bushel of voluntary resignation. To shine on the world is his calling; and histrionic abilities in a leader are as essential as the gift of musical imagination. A year or two ago Pierre Monteux, an excellent musician and conductor, made a very bad slip. In a public interview he expressed his displeasure at the attitude of certain people who judge an orchestral conductor from the standpoint of his looks. The statement produced quite a flare-up in the press, and Mr. Monteux was assaulted from every direction. All agreed that if there was some truth in the matter, Mr. Monteux should have been the last person to divulge it; his motives might very easily have been misconstrued. Mr. Monteux’s opponents subsequently set out to the ungrateful job of cataloguing short legs and vast abdomens of various successful conductors, which was plainly a waste of time. Mr. Monteux had never intended to say that a rounded belly or a thick-set torso bars its bearer irretrievably from success in the line of endeavor herein discussed. There is no other profession that gives rise to so many anecdotes as that of conductor. Musicians of the orchestra, rightfully suspicious and cynical, set foxy traps to his ignorance. But the times when knowledge, good ear, tradition, etc., were considered essential to qualify a leader, are long past. What if he misses a cue or two? What if he knows only a general outline of the work he is about to interpret? What if he has never studied the composer’s tempi? The audience will know the music even less than the

The Art of Conducting an Orchestra


conductor; and the critic, even if possessing acute ear and profound erudition, would never splash anything like this: In the middle section of this composition the conductor lost his place and, while flipping the pages back and forth, continued to beat the three-four time, ignoring the shift to the original alla breve. The orchestra valiantly went along trying not to follow the confusing down-beat. Having inquired in an unfortunately audible tone of voice where he was, he receives a scurrilous reply from his concertmaster that he was in Carnegie Hall, New York City. Striving to locate a cadenza, he was informed by his flute player that it had long been over. He then proceeds in the hope to catch up with the orchestra, finally falling in at a variance of one bar, which he beat solo after the concluding C major chord.

As to the musicians, they are the hardest to please. The annals of recent Symphony concerts disclose, however, a case of instantaneous conquest. It was that of Sir Thomas Beecham, the humorous gentlemen from the British Isles. He appeared at the first rehearsal without a score. Even the desk was removed. Conducting from memory considerably increases the conductor’s efficiency, eliminating all physical obstacles between him and the players. While the feat of leading a performance without notes requires, strictly speaking, less effort than memorizing a recital program, conducting rehearsals by heart presupposes unusual ability and knowledge. Sir Thomas has certainly passed the highest tests. His genial manners, moreover, seemed to ridicule the notion (upheld by some orchestra musicians themselves) that the only way of gaining respect is to treat the musicians as underdogs. Departing from his brief stay in America, Sir Thomas extolled American orchestras and remarked, also, in reply to a question, that the most striking impression he received was when during a concert, swaying his body rather immoderately, he felt that his suspenders gave way. He arrived at the end without disastrous results. Later in the season he gave a concert at the Grand Opera in Paris. The papers reported that he had the emptiest house in a year. Humorous and gentleman-like conductors, making no mystery about their suspenders, do not appeal to the hero-worshipping public. It frequently happens that an orchestral player rises to the lofty post of a conductor. Like all upstarts, he usually takes grim vengeance for his


Nicolas Slonimsky

past sufferings, adopting into the bargain the worst features of his former oppressor. The depth of ignominy to which a second trombone disguised as a conductor for a night or a week may submit his recent colleagues is commensurate with the latters’ callousness to abuse. Insipidity, arrogance, and the worst kind of maniacal self-indulgence seem to be inseparable from this profession of vicarious and often fraudulent music-making. Contemplating these humans clad in the blackand-white of an evening cloth, bearing an air of ill assumed superiority, with a psyche untouched by evolution—one feels like prophesying and scribing on the walls. Abolish the kind if it produces so little tangible worth and so much imposture, ignorance and hatred!

2 6 . P L AY I N G M U S I C T O G E T H E R

A pianist, a violinist, and a cellist gathered to play trios for a group of friends. For their program they selected the less familiar trios of Beethoven and other classics. In fact, they played at sight, relying on their professional skill for an adequate performance. When they finished the first movement, one of those present exclaimed: “How wonderfully you keep time! You must have played this trio a dozen times to achieve such a perfect ensemble.” The musicians chuckled, but did not disabuse the enchanted listener. Yet, the problem raised by this compliment to the musicianship of the players is very much to the point. Indeed, how can several players, no matter how musical, perform a composition they have never seen before without falling apart? What is the nature of this musical intermingling which anticipates the musical thought of the composer in a collective accomplishment? Of course there are indications in the score as to the speed and character of the music, and sometimes metronome markings giving the exact number of beats per minute. For instance, the indication that a quarter note equals 60 means that there are 60 quarter notes to a minute, or one to a second. A quarter note equaling 120 on the metronome means that there are two beats to a second. But no musician can possibly maintain a steady tempo for any length of time and, indeed, a uniform tempo might result in a monotonous performance. It must be flexible, fluid, subordinated to the principal musical phrase, with occasional retarding and accelerating at strategic points near the beginning or the end of a musical phrase.

Ch. 26: originally published in The Christian Science Monitor, December 15, 1945.



Nicolas Slonimsky

Slight variations of tempo are legitimate even within a single bar—this is the style of playing known as rubato, literally, robbed. The musician robs Paul to pay Peter, by taking a fraction of duration from one part of the measure, and adding to another. Unfortunately, some musicians are inclined to the reprehensible practice of robbing Paul without paying Peter (which results in an undue hastening of tempo), or—which in music is still worse—paying Peter out of the listening time by dragging out the tempo and forgetting to pick it up. In ensemble playing all variations of tempo must, of course, be strictly synchronized. Leopold Godowsky, the famous pianist, who was also a wit, was once asked by a member of a string quartet after a concert of quartet music: “Maestro, how did you like our tempo?” “Oh, fine,” replied Godowsky, “particularly yours.” Apparently the players were rather anarchistic in their common music making. It also happens occasionally that listeners assume too much knowledge of technical matters, and make a faux pas in their criticism of an imperfect ensemble. The last movement of the violin sonata by César Franck is built on a canon, in which the pianist and violinist play the theme a bar apart. A concertgoer who boasted some musical feelings, but possessed little of cautious judgment, was heard to remark, “Isn’t it a pity they didn’t rehearse a little more! In the last movement they were out of step all the time.” By tradition trios, quartets, quintets, and sextets are played without a conductor. The first violinist may give an imperceptible nod to start the music going, and the natural rhythmic sway of heads and arms may help to establish the tempo, but otherwise the players are held together by that mysterious force of collective musicianship, which shares both anticipation of the colleague’s action and individual initiative in shaping the musical phrase. When there is a conductor, for a larger ensemble, the initiative is relegated to him. In the eighteenth century, when symphonic ensembles were small, conducting was usually done by the player on the harpsichord, who kept the time by bodily movement and accented chords on the first beat. Early in the nineteenth century conductors faced the audience and beat time with their arms in a uniform fashion. Johann Strauss conducted his waltzes in Vienna with his back to the orchestra, and playing the violin to set the tempo. This practice is still preserved in café orchestras and in some jazz bands, in which the leader may take up the trumpet or the trombone instead of the violin. The importance of the conductor was not realized until the middle of the nineteenth century. When Mendelssohn conducted

Playing Music Together


his symphonies in London he would beat the time only for a few bars and then sit down, and after the movement of the symphony was finished without his aid, he would join the audience in applause. Imagine the conductor of today applauding the orchestra after the end of a concert! The conductor’s baton, that symbol of dominance, is also a later development. When the German composer Spohr used the baton at his concerts in England in 1820, the public was shocked. It was customary at that time to conduct with a roll of paper. The great Verdi used a thick fieldmarshal’s baton, which he held firmly in the middle. Then in the twentieth century, several conductors decided that they could achieve greater expressiveness using bare hands to communicate their wishes to the players. But is a conductor absolutely necessary? Why can five players perform a very difficult quintet without relying on the outside guidance, but a hundred players cannot? Would not a conductorless orchestra give each player a feeling of personal responsibility, resulting in a chamber music quality and a greater perfection of individual performance? To answer this question a very interesting experiment was undertaken in Russia in 1922, with the foundation of the Persymfans, or First Symphonic Ensemble, without a conductor. For five years, the Persymfans presented concerts of classical and modern music, and the excellence of its performances seemed to prove that a musical army can march to victory without a commanding general officer. The experiment was also in keeping with the philosophy of collectivism that animates Soviet Russia. But in the end the Persymfans had to give up. It was found that while conductorless playing undoubtedly could be accomplished with excellent results, it was uneconomical, that too much time was spent in agreeing on the tempo and the nuance. It was also intimated that the concertmaster of Persymfans was the actual if not official conductor of the conductorless ensemble. An orchestra without a leader was also presented in New York City in a few concerts that attracted considerable attention by its novelty, but it, too, proved impractical. Even musical democracy has to have leaders. If they are efficient, the orchestra will give them every co-operation; if not, woe betide the aspirant who has not the knowledge or the ability to impress his command on the musicians. They can make his life miserable by polite acceptance of his inept dictates, with lamentable results. But even with a first-class conductor, how can the players interpret with such a uniformity of action the subtle motions of his hand, and how


Nicolas Slonimsky

can they translate them into musical speech? The power of musical intercommunication is accepted as an actual phenomenon, but is not explained. The social philosophers have been fascinated by the wonder of collective harmony. If musical collectivism is possible, why not an ideal democracy in the harmony of mutual effort?


Reviewing the second edition of Grove’s Dictionary of Music and Musicians, Philip Hale remarked that “in the making of dictionaries there is no such thing as plenary inspiration.” Unfortunately, the random element is still very much present in reference works on musical biography. Editors cannot afford the time or the expense of checking on the facts and fancies published in the supposedly authoritative sources and, as a result, wrong dates, erroneous chronology, and inaccurate information are carried over from one dictionary to another, acquiring an aura of false respectability. Often the chronology in a biographical article is self-contradictory. For instance, the second edition of Grove’s Dictionary gives the dates of Moussorgsky’s birth and death as 1835 and 1881, at the same time stating that Moussorgsky died on his forty-second birthday. That 1881 minus 1835 is not 42 is sufficiently obvious, yet no one on the editorial staff noticed the error, and it was repeated in the third edition of the Dictionary. Moussorgsky was born in 1839, not 1835, and he died not on his forty-second birthday, but one week after it. In the meantime, the error went into general reference works, including the Encyclopedia Britannica, and there were several centennial concerts of Moussorgsky’s music presented on the ninety-sixth anniversary of his birth, in 1935. The centennial of Weber was also celebrated all over the world, including Germany, on the wrong date. Weber was born not on December 18, 1786, which date is given in all music dictionaries, but a month earlier. Ch. 27: originally published in The Music Journal, November–December 1946. Note that the passages appearing here in italics within brackets are deletions or changes made in my father’s hand on the published pages—E.S.Y.



Nicolas Slonimsky

A registry of baptism, obtained by this writer from Eutin, Weber’s birthplace, establishes the fact that Weber was baptised on November 20, 1786. The inference that Weber was born on November 18 of that year is drawn from the circ*mstance that he celebrated his birthday on that date in his later life, and the likelihood that he was born only a day or two before baptism. The centennial of Widor was almost thrown a year off when preparations were made for its celebration in the United States. Widor was born on February 21, 1844, not in 1845, and the organizers of the centennial had to do some quick work in staging the memorial concert a whole year ahead of schedule when the error was pointed out to them, and the evidence, in the form of a registration of birth in Lyons, France, was produced. How careful one should be in judging secondhand proofs of authenticity is demonstrated by the mix-up in the dating of Rameau’s birth and baptism in the third edition of Grove’s Dictionary. In a footnote to the Rameau article, it is stated that the monument erected to Rameau in his native town of Dijon bears his date of birth, October 23, 1683. Yet in the same article, the date of Rameau’s baptism is given, correctly so, as September 25, 1683, four weeks before the alleged date of birth. Inquiries made at Dijon have revealed the fact that only the year of Rameau’s birth is engraved on his monument, so that the information in Grove’s Dictionary is entirely unfounded. It would be interesting to know how it originated. The date of baptism is frequently substituted for the actual date of birth. Such errors are natural. For instance, in the third edition of Baker’s Biographical Dictionary of Musicians, the editor states that Puccini, in an autograph letter, gave him his date of birth as December 23, 1858. But this was actually his date of baptism. The records of the municipality of Lucca reveal that Puccini, “una creatura di sesso maschile alla quale furono imposti i nomi di Giacomo, Antonio, Domenico, Michele, Seconda, Maria,” was born in Lucca at 2:00 a.m. on the day of December 22, 1858. Curious results follow when the writer of a biographical article fuses two musicians of the same or similar names into one. To quote but one instance, Boieldieu is credited in the dictionaries with two “posthumous” operas, Marguerite and L’Aïeul. They were composed by his natural son and namesake, Adrien, as anyone can discover by consulting the Dictionnaire des opéras, by Clément and Larousse.

Pitfalls of Musical Chronology


The converse process of splitting one composer into two, of different ages and nationalities, is illustrated by these two items, printed one after the other in A Dictionary of Modern Music and Musicians, edited by the late A. Eaglefield-Hull. (He jumped under the train in consequence of polemical attacks against him in the music press.) MALISHEFSKY, Vitold Josephovitch. Russ. compr. b. Moghilef-Podolsk, 8 Sept. 1873. Stud. under Rimsky-Korsakof. Now lives in Poland. MALISZEWSKI, Witold. Polish compr. condr. b. Mohylow Podolski, 8 July, 1873. In 1898, began to study theory under Rimsky-Korsakof at Petrograd Cons.; at present lives in Warsaw.

The task of a chronology-minded editor of music dictionaries is made difficult by the common practice among musical subjects of doctoring their dates of birth in the direction of youthfulness. Thus, a contemporary composer-conductor gives his birthday as June 1, 1899 for the program book of the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra of October 1929. Five years later, in a biographical notice for the New York Philharmonic program book, the year of birth is advanced to 1900, while the day and the month are left unaltered. And in America’s Young Men, the date is June 1, 1901. All this without the wit and bluntness of a Whistler who, when queried whether he was born in Lowell, Massachusetts, about sixty-seven years previous, declared: “I shall be born when and where I want, and I do not choose to be born at Lowell, and I refuse to be sixty-seven.” His preferred birthplace was St. Petersburg, Russia. Autobiographical data supplied by singers, male and female, are particularly suspect. Thus, John Sims Reeves, the English singer, states in his autobiography that he was born on October 21, 1821. But documentary evidence reveals that he was born on September 26, 1818. The celebrated vocal teacher, Mathilde Marchesi, listed the year of her birth in all biographical accounts as 1826. But when she died in London in 1913, the family announcement in the obituary column of the London Times, which certainly can be trusted under the circ*mstances, read: “Died in her ninety-second year,” which would set the year of Mathilde Marchesi’s birth as 1822, not 1826. The famous Canadian prima donna, Emma Lajeunesse, known as Albani, was born not in 1852, as given in most dictionaries, but in 1847.


Nicolas Slonimsky

The correct date was established through the registries of a convent school which she attended in Canada as a child. Incidentally, there are strong indications that Albani was born not in Canada but in Plattsburg, New York [which, if confirmed, would rob the British National Biography of an important entry, and put Albani into the Dictionary of American Biography.] The correct date of birth of the “greatest Carmen,” Emma Calve, was established from the registries of Decazeville, France, where she was born on August 15, 1858, and not on any later date given in various dictionaries. Still another Emma, Emma Thursby, had quite a number of years clipped off her age, to judge by the dictionaries. She was born in 1845, not in 1854 or 1857, as variously given. An exception among operatic divas is the Chinese [Shanghai]-born American Emma, Emma Eames. In her memoirs she gives the correct year of her birth as 1865, even though several dictionaries make her two years younger. Child prodigies diminish their ages as a matter of professional routine. Rare are the Wunderkinder who are willing to set the record straight when they grow up. Such a rarity is Yehudi Menuhin, whose date of birth is listed in reference works as January 22, 1917. In an interview, published in the New York Times of January 11, 1942, under the heading, Menuhin Confesses About His Birthday Now That He Is Over 25, he admitted that he was born on April 22, 1916. Death dates of musicians, even famous musicians, are not always easy to ascertain. For instance, nothing is known regarding the last years of Buononcini, the rival of Handel. The probabilities are that he died in Venice. There were no centralized registries of death in eighteenth-century Venice, and the only hope of finding a registry of Buononcini’s death lies in the systematic search in the church archives of Venice, a formidable task in view of the fact that there are 30 old churches in Venice. It is only recently that the dates and places of death of Vivaldi and of Domenico Scarlatti were definitely established. Vivaldi died in Vienna and was buried there on July 28, 1741. Scarlatti went to Madrid in the last years of his life, and died there on July 23, 1757. It may never be known how many European musicians lost their lives during World War II. Lina Cavalieri was killed in her villa near Florence by a bomb during an American air raid on February 8, 1944—an ironic finale for an operatic diva famous for her beauty, whose American tour

Pitfalls of Musical Chronology


early in the century took the country by storm. The French opera composer Raoul Laparra was killed near Paris during an Allied air raid on April 4, 1943. Johan Alain, the young French composer, was killed in active service on June 20, 1940 while a member of a motorcycle reconnaissance party near Saumur. In occupied Paris, Henry Prunières died on April 11,1942, and André Pirro on November 11, 1943. Alfred Bachelet died at Nancy on February 10, 1944; G. M. Witkowski in Lyons, on August 12, 1943. Cecile Chaminade died in Monte Carlo on April 18, 1944. The Belgian composer Paul Gilson died in Brussels on April 3, 1942. The Danish music historian William Behrend died in Copenhagen on April 23, 1940. The nonagenarian Norwegian composer Ivor Holter died in occupied Oslo on January 25, 1941. Sinding also died there on December 3, 1941. Switzerland reported the death of Friedrich Klose, in Locarno, on December 24, 1942, and that of Otto Barblan, in Geneva, on December 20, 1943. In Sweden, Wilhelm Peterson-Berger died on December 3, 1942, at Oestersund. In Italy, the conductor Leopoldo Mugnone died in Naples on December 22, 1941. Mascagni’s death, widely reported, occurred in Rome on August 2, 1945. In Berlin, Richard Burmeister died on February 19, 1944, and Emil Reznicek on August 5, 1945. The Austrian modernist Anton von Webern was assassinated under mysterious circ*mstances by his sonin-law, on September 15, 1945, near the village of Mittelsill, in Austria. The Nazi concentration camps claimed several victims among known musicians. Rudolf Karel, the Czech composer, perished at the Terezin camp on March 3, 1945. The Czech musicologist Vladimir Heifert was imprisoned during the war, and died in Prague shortly after liberation, on May 18, 1945. Unavoidably, premature announcements of death creep into obituary columns, and from them into the dictionaries. The death of Romain Rolland was erroneously reported on October 19, 1943. He died after the liberation, in his home at Vézelay, on December 30, 1944. Moser’s Musiklexikon lists Daniel Gregory Mason—still fortunately among us—as having departed this life on March 15, 1930, and this was copied by other European dictionaries. The pianist Alexander Siloti lived a quarter of a century after 1919, when he was supposed to have died, according to Grove. And the English operetta composer, Sidney Jones, survived by thirty-two years the death date assigned to him by Riemann.


Nicolas Slonimsky

Then there is the following delectable story told by Burton Rascoe in his significantly titled book, Before I Forget. Just before the war, Frederick Stock, the conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, had arranged with Gustav Mahler, the Austrian composer, to stage in Chicago the world premiere of Mahler’s so-called Symphony of a Thousand. Mahler mailed the score to Stock just before August 4, 1914. The score was seized in England and held there for the duration of the war in the belief that it was an elaborate cipher message to German spies.

A wonderful tale [story] unfortunately vitiated by the consideration [fact] that Mahler was long dead when WorId War I broke out, and could not possibly have taken the time out to mail his score to Chicago. [Need one add that] The world premiere of Mahler’s Symphony was given under his direction in Munich, on September 12, 1910, [and that by 1914] the score was published and available to anyone [in Chicago or any other place]? Yet the tale is certain to bob up in some collection of anecdotes about musicians. A good story like this will not be allowed to go to waste on account of a minor discrepancy of dates.


Some years ago I conducted a few concerts with one of America’s major orchestras. After a rehearsal, one of the violinists of the orchestra asked me if my grandmother was from the town of Minsk, Russia. He was a shy, bald-headed, bespectacled man who played the violin in the routine manner of an orchestral veteran. He explained to me that many years ago he used to play at my grandmother’s home. When he came to America he changed his name to make it more pronounceable than the Russian original. As he told me his story, a long-dormant memory came back to me. I remember the stories my grandmother told me about a wonderful boy violinist whom she befriended in Minsk, and who played concerts for the Czar and later received an important position in America. “I hope that you too will some day be a celebrated musician and perhaps even go to America,” my grandmother used to add. And this indifferent orchestra player was the erstwhile prodigy! One wonders how many prodigies grow up to be great violinists or pianists. The number of frustrated ambitions and unfulfilled hopes is disheartening. And this applies to composers as well as to pianists and violinists. There are no child prodigies of the ’cello, the clarinet, or the flute, and no child has ever appeared in a song recital. Voice is the one faculty that comes only with maturity. A recent phenomenon is the appearance of child conductors. The first child conductor to attract universal attention was Willy Ferrero, who was born in the United States of Italian parents. Before World War I he made a sensation, and was hailed as the musical marvel of the century. Then he vanished from the international scene, and settled in Milan as an opera Ch. 28: originally published in The Etude, October 1948.



Nicolas Slonimsky

conductor. American soldiers returning from Italy reported that Willy Ferrero presented special concerts for them, and that his conducting was competent, though not very exciting. After a quarter of a century of scarcity of child conductors, a talented Pittsburgh boy, Lorin Maazel, was allowed to make several appearances with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. The newspaper PM, in its issue of July 6, 1941, succinctly described the event in the headline, “ElevenYear-Old Wrings Zing Out of Toscanini’s Band.” The boy showed considerable musical understanding and rhythmical vivacity as he led the orchestra through a series of standard symphonies and overtures, and the orchestra musicians were joking among themselves that their next conductor would probably be a trained seal. After the end of World War II, a crop of boy conductors, some not yet ten years old, appeared in Italy. There was Pierino Gamba, nine years old, who led orchestras in Rome and Paris, and Ferruccio Burco, only eight years old and “looking like a curly-headed angel.” Burco was quickly snapped up by American managers and in February 1948 led an eighty piece orchestra in Carnegie Hall attended by a crowd of hysterical admirers. When he was asked what he thought of Toscanini (who was also 8 years old, only with a cipher after 8), little Ferruccio remarked, scratching a bare knee, “He’s a pretty good conductor, too.” The files of old music magazines are strewn with erstwhile music prodigies. The Musical Courier of June 4, 1884, published this item: “A Boston Musical Wonder. Master Herbert Bitswell, is only five years old and yet has excited great astonishment by his remarkable performance of a Bach gavotte. He is considered a prodigy.” Where is Master Bitswell now? The year 1898 saw the appearance of a four-year-old girl Miada Czerny, a piano prodigy and a lineal descendant of Carl Czerny of velocity school fame. “Thus do the sins of the ancestors fall upon the defenseless heads of descendants,” observed the Musical Courier sententiously. When Clara Louise Webb, a little girl of eight years of age, gave a piano recital in 1890, a doll was brought on the stage and deposited in a convenient chair as she mounted the piano stool. Another little girl, Hattie Scholder, gave a piano recital in New York in 1900. According to the Musical Courier; she performed Bach and Beethoven in a way “worthy of the most exacting standards, with a dignity, finish and symmetry that would alternately astonish and delight the lovers

Musical Children


of music.” When someone asked her if she liked dolls, she answered with precocious disdain: “I certainly do not.” The epidemic of child prodigies inspired the famous British magazine Punch in 1893 to publish the following poetic effusion: Prodigies here, and prodigies there, Prodigies, prodigies everywhere. Neat little nimble prodigy girls, Short frock, stockings, and corkscrew curls. Pert little priggish prodigy boys, Long hair, ‘knickers,’ and lots of noise. Prodigy concerts at half past eight, Prodigies stay up far too late. Prodigies taking by storm the town Sketching an octave up and down. Swelling fugues with a massive bass Fingers all in their proper place. Firework fantasies, Oh, so smart! Chopin, Schubert, and old Mozart. Some with Beethoven making free, Wagner as easy as ABC. Prodigy A deserves a medal For skill in the use of the softer pedal. Prodigy B should have a prize For her manner of using her hazel eyes. Prodigies playing quick or slow, Piano, Forte, FORTISSIMO. Little females and tiny males, All of them thumping out their scales. Little fellows in socks and shorts, Beating their Broadwood pianofortes. Little maidens in frill and frock, Scraping away like one o’clock. Little and clever—but why proceed? Basta, basta! agreed, agreed! Prodigies are such an awful bore; We’ve enough, and too many, and don’t want more.


Nicolas Slonimsky

About ten per cent of child prodigies make good and become adult virtuosos. Jascha Heifetz was a child prodigy with flowing locks of hair, and he certainly did make good. So did Mischa Elman and Yehudi Menuhin. Among piano prodigies of our time, Josef Hofmann was undoubtedly the greatest. His American tour in 1887–1888 was sensational. He also ran into trouble with the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. On January 28, 1888, the society addressed the following letter to the Mayor of the City of New York, Abram S. Hewitt: Dear Sir: On November 29, 1887, Your Honor issued the following permit, under Section 292 of the Penal Code: “Permission is hereby given to Josef Hofmann to perform on the piano at the Metropolitan Opera House upon not exceeding 4 days in each week, pursuant to the provisions of Section 292 of the Penal Code.” Since that time, the boy has been exhibited pursuant to the permission in this city, but in addition to the public performances given under your license he has also been exhibited at private entertainments, and on the days intervening taken to Boston and there exhibited. The result of this strain upon his physical system has been such that this Society is in receipt of numerous complaints from reputable citizens insisting that the child is overworked, and to such an extent that there is danger of his physical health giving way. On Saturday last, a lady writes me, he was seen crying when the door was opened for him to come on the stage, and they had to wait until he recovered sufficiently to appear. It is further stated that the excuse given by the father for subjecting the child to such an overstrain is the necessity of procuring means for his musical education; but I am also credibly informed that the father has refused an offer from a gentleman in Boston to give him the necessary education until he is 21 years of age if the father will withdraw the child from the stage. There can be no question about the extraordinary talent which the child possesses, but I very much fear that his future existence is being discounted in order to put money into the pockets of those who have succeeded in contracting his services, or else to gratify the vanity of a parent who certainly ought to consider what will become of any child of such years, forced to work thus mentally and physically to an extent entirely incompatible with the laws of health.

Musical Children


Hofmann’s manager, Marcus Meyer, heatedly denied the imputations of the S.P.C.C. “It is a lie that Hofmann has been exhibited at private entertainments,” he declared. “Since the 25th of November he has played thirty times, including twenty matinees and one private performance at Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt’s in the afternoon. We have a license from the Mayor for him to play four times a week. He has only played here once a week. Certainly he has played elsewhere, but what business is that of Mayor Hewitt’s? He is playing over in Brooklyn now. The longest distance Hofmann has travelled is from here to Boston, and he has always gone in the daytime. I don’t believe he ever cried. He is too bright and cheerful for that. As to this story of somebody paying for his education, that’s another. Somebody in Boston said some man ought to give it. Nobody offered it. They are not that kind of philanthropists in Boston.” As a result of this agitation, the artistic tours of Josef Hofmann were interrupted for a period of several years, and he was given full opportunity to study and relax. He returned to America as an adult virtuoso at the age of twenty-two. While child violinists and child pianists are practically common occurrences in the musical prodigy market, child composers are relatively rare. After all, it takes more ability and mature concentration to compose an organized piece of music than to play through a piano sonata or a violin concerto. Mozart’s music composed at fifteen shows unmistakable genius. Schubert wrote some of his greatest songs at seventeen. The most extraordinary child composer of the twentieth century was Erich Wolfgang Korngold, the son of the Vienna music critic, Julius Korngold. When his father sent young Erich’s Trio to Richard Strauss for examination—the composer was only twelve years old at the time— Strauss replied: “My reaction is not merely an admiration for your son’s talent; it is more in the nature of hushed awe.” When Korngold was only thirteen, his opera Der Schneemann was performed in Vienna. True, the orchestration of the opera was fixed by Alexander Zemlinsky, the competent Austrian composer and teacher of a generation of Austrian musicians, including Arnold Schoenberg, but Korngold’s achievement still stands high. Musicians and critics freely compared Korngold with Mozart. They saw a peculiar significance in the fact that Korngold’s second name, like Mozart’s was Wolfgang. H. T. Parker wrote in the Boston Evening Transcript of April 12, 1913: “As Mozart was born armed cap-à-pied into his musical world of the eighteenth century,


Nicolas Slonimsky

so Korngold seems to have been born into the musical world of the twentieth. He works as by the freest of instincts.” Another critic wrote: “Korngold is emphatically Wolfgang II in the precociousness of his genius. Everything points to the probability that he will be at least one of the greatest composers of this generation.” But there were some dissenting voices. When Nikisch conducted Korngold’s Overture in 1911, Philip Hale offered this caustic comment: “The Overture deserves an honorable place in the Museum of Infant Prodigies. If Master Korngold could make such a noise at fourteen, what will he not do when he is twenty-eight? The thought is appalling.” In 1938 Korngold came to America and became a successful composer for the movies. But when his Violin Concerto was given its première in New York in 1947, Irving Kolodin snapped: “More Korn than Gold.” Korngold is still a successful middle-of-the-road composer, but he is no longer compared with Mozart. How can the unsuspecting parents tell whether their hopeful offsprings are or are not child prodigies? One definite sign is the possession by a child of absolute pitch, the ability to name any note or, still better, a chord played on the piano. The tests of absolute pitch should be conducted scientifically, starting with simple chords of four notes, and progressively increasing the difficulty up to highly dissonant combinations. Try, for instance, this one: D, C-sharp, C, B, arranged in major sevenths, or D-flat, C, G, F-sharp. Or any other chord composed of chromatic tones spread over in open harmony. They will surely stump the little absolute pitchers, and even grown-up ones, too.

The prodigies themselves do not enjoy their sheltered existence. Their parents are constantly fearful of any injury that may befall their musical

Musical Children


fingers. One of them, the fifteen-year-old Jacqueline Horner, a Hollywood film pianist, decided to get away from it all, and vanished from her parental home on January 15, 1948. She was soon located in San Francisco and brought back to Hollywood as a stubborn child. But she had her story to tell, too. “They made me practice the piano eight hours a day,” she complained bitterly. “I could never play with the other kids because they were afraid I might hurt my hands. I could never go swimming because they thought the water would injure my ears and spoil my sense of musical hearing. I always had to go to bed early. I was exhibited like a trained animal. I couldn’t even go to school with the other kids. The only people I ever saw were my music teachers—three of them!” Brave Jacqueline Horner! The hearts of many another child prodigy will go out to her. Three music teachers! Where was the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Musical Children all this time?


A literary critic reads a book, forms an opinion of its qualities and defects, and writes an informed review, checking back to the printed page for accuracy and fairness. An art critic stands before a painting, examines it in detail, classifies its style as realistic, surrealistic, representational, or abstract, and puts down his impressions. A drama critic follows the action on the stage, estimates its fidelity to life, its symbolic power, and the author’s ability to maintain the interest of the public, and reports on the content and treatment of the play. A cinema critic usually has access to the script and can attend a preview to judge the expertness of the plot and the talent of the actors. A literal-minded critic of a stage performance or a movie will note the implausibilities of the plot and perhaps comment ruefully on the unnecessariness of such unbelievabilities. A music critic, on the other hand, is compelled to judge a nonverbal, nonstationary production in a noncommunicable medium. For music is a res in se, a language without words, an object in time sequence that eludes compatible description, a panorama of sounds devoid of syllogistic illation. A music critic hearing a new work for the first time must somehow express his opinion of its merit and at the same time render a judgment of the quality of performance. A formidable task, indeed. An opera plot is easily told. The literary source of a symphonic work can be described. Biographical facts about the composer may help the critic and reader to place the music in an appropriate ethnic or historical category. But the essence of music remains elusive. Ch. 29: originally published in the program book of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, March 1967.


On Music Criticism


Schopenhauer said that a “musician utters greatest wisdom in a language unintelligible to his intellect.” And, faithful to the dialectic precepts of German philosophy, he concluded that the concept of the universe is contained in music, and that a philosopher who succeeded in defining music by means of ideas would be able to construct a philosophical doctrine explaining the secret of the universe. Without going into ideology in his interpretation of music, the critic is faced with the task of describing a composition in sentences that at least reflect the conformation of musical phrases. When Schumann referred to the great C major symphony of Schubert as of “heavenly length,” he made his meaning pragmatically clear. The symphony is, indeed, long; but by using the celestial apposition in his definition, Schumann implied that it is never tedious. Wagner described Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony as the “apotheosis of the dance.” He wrote: “Beethoven played his Hungarian rustic dance in the last movement of the Seventh Symphony for all Nature. If someone could see Nature dancing to this music, he would have thought that a new planet was being born before his eyes in an awesome whirlwind.” These winged phrases by famous men are quoted and requoted, often without modification. Some imaginative descriptions of a musical work become nicknames. Moonlight Sonata, for instance, is a title picked up from a critic’s remark that to him the first movement of Beethoven’s Sonata quasi una fantasia suggested the moonlit scene on Lake Lucerne. Such nicknames are convenient capsules of popular music criticism. Beethoven never said that the opening four notes of his Fifth Symphony represents Fate knocking at the door, but the figure is not inappropriate. Chopin’s D-flat prelude is commonly known as the Raindrop Prelude because of the steady rhythm of repeated notes that form an inner pedal point on the dominant. Nobody knows who assigned the nicknames to Mozart’s Jupiter Symphony, Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto, Haydn’s Surprise Symphony or Chopin’s Minute Waltz, but none of these descriptions is incompatible with the spirit of the music, repugnant as they all may be to the musicologist striving for accuracy of reference. Music criticism must be differentiated from musical annotation. Program notes entail a scholarly examination, a technical analysis, and a stylistic study of the score. In the golden age of German romantic scholasticism, detailed guides, replete with musical examples and high-flown rhetoric, were compiled and distributed at premieres of new works. This


Nicolas Slonimsky

art reached a peak in the analysis of Wagner’s operas and Richard Strauss’s symphonic poems, with their plethora of leitmotivs. The term leitmotiv was itself of post-Wagnerian origin; Wagner never used it, preferring the word grundthema. To music critics annotated guides are invaluable and for such works as Wagner’s operatic tetralogy, The Ring of the Nibelung, indispensable. In this work clear musical examples provide a compendium of the entire cycle, with specific counterparts for every topic, emotion and character: the Gold of the Rhine, the Sword, the Magic, Fire, Love, Renunciation of Love, Wotan, Siegfried, the assorted Valkyries, the giants and the dwarves, and the Valhalla itself. When the leading motives of topics and characters are intertwined, the listener immediately understands the dramatic meaning of the music. In creating this extraordinary network of motives, Wagner almost fulfilled Schopenhauer’s ideal of universal philosophy through the fusion of musical expression and cognitive concepts. Since Wagner was a great admirer of Schopenhauer, it is fair to assume that he consciously attempted to reach such an ideal, and thus to justify his claim for supremacy in universal art. The story is told of a critic who complained to Richard Strauss that he had no printed guide for Strauss’s Don Quixote and therefore could not follow the music intelligently. A twenty-seven page pamphlet was indeed published for the first performance. It contained a multitude of musical examples for every action, circ*mstance, and thought of the Knight of the Sorrowful Countenance, his henchman Sancho Panza, and his ideal beloved Dulcinea. The annotator even went so far as to explain that certain strange harmonies in the introduction reflect Don Quixote’s lack of realistic understanding of the simple things in life. In a recent work of fiction the author ingeniously described a document by the geometric configurations of each letter: 0 was oval; L was a right-angled triangle without a hypotenuse whose vertical side was twice as long as the horizontal side, with the latter to the right of the angle; A was an isosceles triangle with two sides prolonged; and so on. Using an analogous system for musical annotation, it is quite possible to give a total account of a musical score note by note, interval by interval, and also specify the duration of each note. Some analysts of ultramodern works approach such literalness. This is a reductio ad absurdum of the problem of verbally describing music.

On Music Criticism


What, then, is the ideal of enlightened music criticism? Should it be a poetic invocation of musical sounds without technical allusions to the texture of the music itself? What is the golden mean between imaginative literary flights of fancy and pedantry? Heinrich Heine, who wrote about music during his self-imposed exile in Paris, once described Berlioz as a “huge nightingale.” The image is certainly apt: Berlioz had visions of musical immensities but his music also sang like a melodious bird. Yet the phrase does not describe the character of any one particular composition by Berlioz. Visual images are the obvious resource of music critics. Comparing a Mozart serenade to a painting by Raphael, the writer can suggest at once the qualities of beauty, perfection, and ingenuousness of spirit. Eduard Hanslick, the famous Vienna critic who during his long career incessantly assailed Wagner’s music, wrote that the prelude to Tristan und Isolde reminded him of an old Italian painting of a martyr whose intestines were slowly being unwound on a spit. The figure of speech is calculated to convey a visual impression of Wagner’s winding chromatics. Hanslick resorted to an olfactory simile in describing Tchaikovsky’s violin concerto. “Friedrich Vischer once observed,” he wrote, “that paintings of obscene subjects stink to the eye. Tchaikovsky’s violin concerto gives us the hideous example of music that stinks to the ear.” Offensive remarks by witty persons are remembered longer than praise. I have assembled hundreds of quotations from music criticisms by intolerant men in my Lexicon of Musical Invective, with an “Invecticon” for an index, listing abusive expressions hurled at composers from the time of Beethoven. But I could gather no material for my book from the critical press of the last twenty years or so. The critics have become tame and timid. They have lost the power of righteous indignation that burned so furiously in the hearts of their predecessors. Nobody in his right senses would attempt now to equal the language of the critic of the Boston Evening Transcript who described Tchaikovsky’s Pathétique symphony as “the impotent senile remembrance of calf love.” Invasion into the private life of a composer was commonplace in nineteenth-century music criticism. Here is a quotation from a London musical publication of 1841, reviewing a Chopin recital: “There is an excuse at present for Chopin’s delinquencies; he is entrammeled in the enthralling bonds of that arch-enchantress George Sand, celebrated equally for the


Nicolas Slonimsky

number and excellence of her romances and her lovers; not less we wonder how she can be content to wanton away her dreamlike existence with an artistical nonentity like Chopin.” James Gibbons Huneker, a brilliant man of American letters, met Debussy in Paris in 1903 and reported his impressions of him in anthropological terms: “I was struck by the unique ugliness of Debussy. . . . With his long hair, unkempt beard, uncouth clothing and soft hat, he looked more like a Bohemian, a Croat, a Hun, than a Gaul. His high, prominent cheekbones lend a Mongolian aspect to his face. The head is brachycephalic, the hair black. . . . Again I see his curious asymmetrical face, the pointed fawn ears, the projecting cheekbones—the man is a wraith from the East; his music was heard long ago in the hill temples of Borneo; was made as a symphony to welcome the headhunters with their ghastly spoils of war!” One almost regrets the disappearance of such fire-breathing music criticism. Nowadays critics resort to dry humor in their confrontation with hypermodern cacophony. Even the happenings of the avant-garde, which may include such entries as the physical destruction of a piano, egg throwing, and a simulacrum of self-immolation, do not seem to upset modern critics, who report such events with the equanimity and exactness of detail befitting the coverage of natural disasters and homicides. There have been great music critics who could not read notes and had no technical knowledge of music, but somehow possessed the boldness of intuition that enabled them to divine the worth of a new work. Paul Rosenfeld of New York City, who admitted his lack of musical training, played an important role in fostering new, and particularly American, music in the 1920s by encouraging young composers. H. T. Parker of Boston, who was primarily a drama critic and never studied music, was able nevertheless to distinguish important new music from passing fads. On the other side of the ledger, many thoroughly qualified musicians who write on music show a lamentable lack of understanding when called upon to estimate the value of a new work. H. E. Krehbiel of the New York Tribune, for example, wrote that “as far as a musical mind could determine, La Mer might have been played backwards without changing its effectiveness.” Neither knowledge of music nor journalistic talent will qualify a music critic for his job if he lacks the third dimension of music criticism: the ability to approach a contemporary work fearlessly on its own stylistic terms, to grasp its significance for the future, and to estimate its technical

On Music Criticism


achievement and psychological impact. In our modernistic musical world, when music critics are apt to hail an opera or symphony simply because of the novelty of its musical language, it may take considerable courage to praise something written in a conservative idiom. A truly enlightened critic must be able to judge durable values regardless of the style and idiom of the music, and he must be able to frame his opinion in a language understandable to everyone, both rich in verbal imagery and precise in technical reference.


Teaching music is an art, a science, and a psychological occupation. George Bernard Shaw wrote cruelly: “Those who can, do; those who cannot, teach.” But the aphorism cuts both ways, at least as far as music is concerned. There are great piano virtuosos who are totally devoid of psychological qualities essential for a good teacher, and there are great piano teachers who are unable to give a public concert of any distinction. In a television hour devoted to teachers, Leonard Bernstein flashed on the screen a picture of his piano teacher, Madame Isabelle Vengerova. “How I miss this lovable Tirana!” he exclaimed by way of comment. Tirana—a female tyrant—was Bernstein’s affectionate nickname for Vengerova during his studies with her at Curtis Institute of Philadelphia. Vengerova was famous for her insistence on absolute perfection. She kept her pupils far beyond the appointed schedule until she was satisfied with the result. And when an exhausted victim begged for release, Vengerova would shout that she would never let a student of hers disgrace her reputation. Vengerova’s teacher was the famous Austrian pianist Theodor Leschetizky, the founder of the Viennese school of piano teaching. He was a 19th-century gentleman of impeccable manners. His schedule was precise; each student received only an hour of his time. Each dutifully deposited a gold coin, his uniform fee, on a table by the piano before the lessons began. Leschetizky married several of his pupils, among them Anna Essipova, the brilliant Russian pianist who subsequently trained a generation of virtuosos. Vengerova became her assistant. Ch. 30: originally published in the Los Angeles Philharmonic program book, April 6, 1967.




Essipova was a perfectionist and possessed infinite patience in going over the minutest details of tone production on the keyboard. Prokofiev paid tribute in his autobiography to Essipova, whose student he was. Piano teachers of the stature of Leschetizky, Essipova and Vengerova are believers in a single method of attaining perfection. In the Viennese school, the basic position was that of the Kugelhand (ball hand). All other methods were regarded as heresies. The Kugelhand provided the best leverage for the fingers by forming a perfect hemisphere, and secured a maximum of prehensile power with a minimum of effort. The static position, before the actual playing began, was to be a state of repose, with the five fingers of each hand resting on the white keys, the middle finger naturally projecting a little farther. In scale passages the thumb was to be advanced under the ball of the hand, ready to strike the key as the right hand moved towards the treble or the left hand towards the bass. All other positions of the hand depended on this basic attitude, so says the Vienna Gospel according to Leschetizky. The wrist, serving as a fulcrum, must be maintained completely free from tension. Some fanatics among piano teachers put a tumbler of water on the wrists of their pupils and made them play exercises without spilling the water. Not all of Leschetizky’s pupils followed his method. The great Paderewski, who took lessons with Leschetizky, played with his fingers outstretched, a position that seemed to secure greater power than the Kugelhand. Paderewski never taught classes, but occasionally gave advice to young pianists who were thus able to claim the distinction of being Paderewski’s pupils. An anecdote, not necessarily an apocryphal one, will illustrate the point. During the last months of his life Paderewski lived near New York. Taking a morning walk in the country he passed by a cottage with a sign MISS HELEN SPRINGLE, PIANO TEACHER. She was practicing Paderewski’s Minuet, and kept playing F natural instead of F sharp. Unable to stand it, Paderewski knocked at the door. He introduced himself to Miss Springle and asked if she would not do him a favor. “Why, anything. Anything at all!” she gasped. “Then will you kindly play F sharp in my Minuet?” Paderewski said. Several days later he passed by the same road. Miss Springle was still studying his Minuet, this time with F sharp. There was a new sign on the door: MISS HELEN SPRINGLE, PIANO TEACHER, ONLY AMERICAN PUPIL OF PADEREWSKI. Among truly great women piano teachers, the name of Rosina Lhevinne is outstanding. After a successful career in Russia as a concert


Nicolas Slonimsky

pianist, she came to America and joined the faculty of the Juilliard School of Music in New York. Although the musical world had known her name for many years, her fame became incandescent when her young student, Van Cliburn, won the Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow in 1958. Rosina Lhevinne is the widow of the celebrated virtuoso pianist Joseph Lhevinne (who received a posthumous tribute from President Truman who described him as the greatest pianist he had ever heard). Leschetizky, Vengerova, Rosina Lhevinne, are professional piano teachers whose aim is to give their students a perfect command of technique, touch and phrasing. But music history knows towering figures among piano virtuosos who never taught professionally but who inspired multitudes of young pianists without actually training them. Among these were Anton Rubinstein, Franz Liszt and Sergei Rachmaninoff. Liszt had a flock of admiring pupils gathered around him in Weimar, where he settled after a spectacular career as a virtuoso. His mode of instruction was to make suggestions, and then play the work himself, emphasizing the finer points of phrasing and style. Hundreds claim to be Liszt’s pupils; but in most cases they were the recipients only of artistic advice, rather than objects of private instruction. One of his American students, Carl V. Lachmund, took detailed notes of Liszt’s remarks during lessons. He reports that Liszt refused to be bothered with technical details. “Ich bin kein Professor!” he grumbled. When provoked by a particularly untidy performance, he would exclaim: “This is not a laundry shop! Wash your soiled linen at home!” If a student failed to produce an effective trill, Liszt would mutter: “Such economy of notes!” When a student attempted to play one of Liszt’s own virtuoso compositions and blurred a technical passage, Liszt shouted: “Stop mixing that salad!” Anton Rubinstein was, like Liszt, an inspiring presence rather than a professional corrector of mistakes. He liked to play each piece he taught, by way of demonstration, and derived considerable satisfaction from the student’s dismay trying to emulate his performance. Anton’s brother Nicholas was the head of the Moscow Conservatory, and also a brilliant pianist. He taught classes and did not disdain purely technical instruction. As for Rachmaninoff, he never had pupils, but he loved to hear great young pianists, like Horowitz, in the privacy of his home. Some fascinating glimpses of Beethoven’s piano teaching come to us in the testimony of Carl Czerny, the author of celebrated piano exercises. Czerny, who studied with Beethoven regularly, reports that Beethoven taught him how to use the thumb in order to produce a perfect legato. It



was said of Czerny himself that he detested children, and that this detestation was the subconscious stimulus for his publishing all those thousands of piano studies that have become the instrument of torture for millions of young pianists. Needless to say, Czerny never married. The basic tenet of all piano teaching is gradualism. It lies at the foundation of progressive studies by Czerny and others. The great Muzio Clementi published a collection of piano studies entitled Gradus ad Parnassum, that is, ascent on the abode of the Muses. The Germans in particular excelled in piano teaching. Among the many pedagogues who helped to build whole generations of pianists, the name of Adolf Henselt deserves a mention. After a fairly successful concert career he settled in Russia and devoted himself passionately to teaching. He was a great believer in the adage that practice makes perfect. He practiced so long and so arduously that he drove himself to nervous collapse. He published a curious manual, in Russian, in 1869, with the long title, Rules for Teaching Piano Playing, Based on Many Years’ Experience, Being a Manual for Instructors and Lady Students. In his preface to this little volume he sets down his primary rules: “Attention must be paid not so much to the external brilliance of performance as to a thorough study of the elements of piano playing, for only through such practice can one attain true virtuosity, usually through sheer diligence.” Most piano teachers are of the conviction that their instrument has its unique functions, and that no attempt should be made to transcend the natural sonorities peculiar to it. But Ferruccio Busoni, the extraordinary pianist and composer of Italian-German parentage, transformed the piano into an orchestra by summoning fantastic sonorities through a cunning application of the pedals, particularly the middle sustaining pedal. In his own playing he conjured up the tones of the French horn in the middle register of the piano, roaring trombones in the bass, and the purest flute sounds in the high treble. But his ideas did not prevail. By and large, the piano teachers of today maintain the classical principles of Clementi, Czerny and Henselt. With the aid of electronics it would be quite possible to transform the piano into a musical leviathan capable of performing wonders, grow a hundred thumbs and produce fantastic effects through digital computers. But piano teachers are faithful to their old-fashioned instruments, antiquated dampers and pedals with limited action. Children born in the last third of the twentieth century, destined to become piano virtuosos in the twenty-first century, will continue to study piano playing, as practiced and taught by Liszt, Leschetizky and Vengerova.


Forty years ago I was privileged to meet Capablanca. I was conducting a series of concerts of ultra-modern music at the Hollywood Bowl, inflicting the sonorities of Ives and Varese on the innocents of California, an action that put a permanent quietus on my career as an orchestral conductor: eventually the women’s Politburo that presided over the management of the place succeeded in expelling me from that paradise in the hills of Hollywood. Moreover, they spread word around about my musical misdeeds, and I could never again get a conducting engagement. José Raúl Capablanca was a faithful follower of my concerts. We met several times, he asking me about music, and I seeking to penetrate the mystery of his chess power. Trying to discover some concrete link between music and chess, I sketched out a chess prelude, more or less along the lines of Giuoco Piano. I played it for Capablanca, and he called the moves unhesitatingly:

Capablanca, then in his early forties, looked like an intelligent edition of Rudolph Valentino. I retain clearly the visual impression of his set of Ch. 31: originally published in Allegro, March 1973.


Chess in Music


shining teeth. But he could also be acerbic. He told me terrible things about Alekhine, to whom he had just lost the chess championship; he accused the victor of trying to arrange the match in a northern environment which the Cuban could not tolerate. A little later I met Alekhine in New York and my most striking memory of him is his set of shining gold fillings. I engaged him in a lengthy conversation in our common native language and he told me terrible things about Capablanca, claiming that the latter insisted on playing their match in a tropical country with the calculated intent to reduce Alekhine, who was reared in sub-Arctic Russia, to the state of a dehydrated mango. They also quarrelled about the conditions of the match, the hall, the table, the chessboard, etc. Fascinated by this dispute of the giants, I tried to induce Capablanca to put his complaints against Alekhine on paper, but he wrote back saying that he preferred these backstage differences to remain in limbo. Some musicians are ardent chess players. Some chess players are ardent music lovers. According to the rules of the syllogism, no conclusion can be drawn from these two particular premises. But still, musicians who are chess fanatics are irresistibly drawn to musical comparisons while watching great games in progress. Paul Reif told the readers of Allegro the engaging story of his instrumental chess piece entitled Philidor’s Defense. Reif took as his subject matter the famous game using Philidor’s Defense played in 1858 by the Duke of Brunswick and Count Isouard. Reif ’s program annotations for Philidor’s Defense give a precise parallel between the musical movements and the chess moves. The fact that the game portrayed was played in the Duke’s box at the Paris Opera during a performance of Rossini’s The Barber of Seville provided Reif with a welcome opportunity to use a few bars from the overture of the opera. Reif ’s work is perhaps the most explicit musical interpretation of a specific chess game. Most other compositions derived from chess are symbolic. There is a ballet by Sir Arthur Bliss, entitled Checkmate, which was produced in Paris on June 15, 1937. The scenario, by the composer himself, suggests the Vienna opening. There are six tableaux: “Dance of the Four Knights,” “Entry of the Black Queen,” “The Red Knight,” “Ceremony of the Red Bishops,” “Death of the Red Knight,” and “Checkmate.” The French composer Marcel Delannoy, wrote a ballet cantata Le Fou de la Dame (The Queen’s Bishop), which was produced at the festival of the


Nicolas Slonimsky

International Society for Contemporary Music in Geneva on April 6, 1929. The production was enacted as a medieval chanson de geste, with the White Queen’s Bishop fighting a valiant battle in her name along the long diagonal, the inevitable denouement being the scene when he falls inanimate at her feet, protecting her integrity and saving the game for the White pieces. The most notorious musician who made his mark on the world of chess was the inventor of the metronome, Johann Nepomuk Maelzel. He was also the creator of “an automatic chess player,” which made a grand tour in Europe and America early in the 19th century and fascinated the gullible populace eager to believe in the magic of popular mechanics. Maelzel’s automatic player, a mechanical figure which apparently made legal chess moves on the board and which won a number of games at special exhibitions, was manipulated by a dwarfish chess master who was ensconced amid fake machinery under the table and moved the magnetized figures from below. Edgar Allan Poe devoted his short story “The Chess Player” to Maelzel’s hoax. Among composers of the modern era, the strongest chess player was Prokofiev, who reached the first category, just below the rank of a national master. The former Soviet chess champion Botvinnik reminisces about Prokofiev: I made my first acquaintance with Prokofiev as a chess player in 1936 at the International Tournament in Moscow. Prokofiev, who was an excellent player, never missed a single session. His sympathies were divided. As a Russian, he could not help wishing for my victory and at the same time he did not want to see the defeat of Capablanca, with whom he had played chess in Paris. A few months later I shared first prize with Capablanca in Nottingham. After the tournament was over, I received a congratulatory telegram from Prokofiev. I showed it to Capablanca, who turned pale and could barely carry on the conversation. I guessed immediately that he had not received a telegram from Prokofiev. But a couple of hours later, Capablanca sought me out, beaming with pleasure; he too, had received his telegram from Prokofiev. Of course, the two telegrams had been dispatched from Moscow simultaneously, but apparently the Soviet telegraph workers decided on their own that the first congratulatory message should be sent to the Soviet champion. Prokofiev loved chess passionately. He ardently participated in chess

Chess in Music


activities of the Moscow Center of Workers in the Fine Arts. Soviet chess players recall his match with David Oistrakh, which was held under the most extraordinary regulations: the winner was to receive a prize and the loser was to give a free concert for the chess-playing workers in the Center. I played chess with Prokofiev a number of times. His most outstanding characteristic as a chess player was his aggressive spirit. He always led with an attack which he conducted with great ingenuity; he never cared for a passive defense. Prokofiev’s illness did not diminish his interest in chess. In the summer of 1951 he registered for an exhibition of simultaneous playing which I was giving in Moscow. Unfortunately, Prokofiev’s doctors forbade him to play. Still, he was allowed to watch the session, which he followed with his usual excitement. This was the last chess event he ever attended.

The chess match between Prokofiev and Oistrakh mentioned by Botvinnik took place in Moscow on November 9, 1937. Ten games were to be played, twice a week, at night. The time regulations allowed thirty-six moves in two hours and ten moves every hour after that. Alas, the match was never completed. Only seven games were played, and the annals of the club of Masters of Art do not report the scores. Oistrakh records his impressions of Prokofiev as a chess player: Prokofiev was an avid chess player, and could sit at the chessboard for hours on end. We met often at the Moscow International Tournament in 1936, and since Prokofiev was my neighbor, we sometimes arranged blitz encounters of our own. It was extraordinary with what boyish excitement Prokofiev drew diagrams of victories and defeats in color crayons! He enjoyed his victories tremendously and was quite seriously upset when he lost. I have saved the printed invitation to our match organized in 1937 by the Center of Workers of the Fine Arts. The match was arranged according to strict rules with proper time control and judges. We spent sleepless nights after our games, constantly analyzing them as if they were contests for the chess championship of the world. I cannot recall why the match was never completed.

Is there something in common between a chess player bent over the chess board, figuring out his next move and an artist giving a recital? An Irish woman journalist reported that during the championship match in


Nicolas Slonimsky

Reykjavik, Spassky, arriving always on time, and waiting for the unpredictable Bobby Fisher to show up, reminded her of a pianist looking at the keyboard, waiting for the audience to settle down before beginning to play. If parallels between chess and music are to be drawn, these lines may be suggested: Classical music—Positional play (Capablanca, Fisher, Spassky) Romantic music—Combinational play (Alekhine, Steinitz) Modernistic music—Unconventional openings and gambits (Morphy, Anderssen).

Some thematic parallels are obvious. A trombone spanning its entire range to the highest note suggests the Queen crossing the long diagonal to arrive at the eighth rank. A defensive oboe in the lowest register in a chromatic slow movement reminds one of the King about to be administered a smothered mate. The violins are Pawns, because there are so many of them in the orchestra. The basses are Rooks that move in the low register. The bassoons, easily jumping along awkward intervals, correspond to the Knights. The Bishops can be compared with clarinets or trumpets. Here is a quiz for chess-playing musicians. What chess openings are suggested by the following musical works? The Blue Danube Waltz A Siciliana followed by Fafner’s Leitmotiv Lakmé Egmont Iberia

Answers to Musical Chess Quiz Ruy Lopez Dutch Defense Indian Defense The Dragon Variation of the Sicilian Defense The Vienna game


Petrushka is the name of an old Russian puppet show dating back to the seventeenth century. Petrushka is the central character of the show; the name itself is the diminutive of Peter. Other standard characters were a magician, a policeman, a conniving gypsy woman, and an exotic swordsman. The shows were the principal entertainment features during the Russian Shrove-Tide, or maslenitza (literally, butter time). In anticipation of Lent, immense amounts of blini (Russian pancakes) piled up with caviar and sour cream were consumed by the celebrants, and contests were held for records of gluttony; a story goes that a Russian merchant devoured forty blini at a single meal, but died after being hailed as the contest winner. The puppets, usually mounted on thick wooden holders were manipulated by the puppet master concealed behind a screen in a booth. He recited the lines using a voice altering pipe, the pishchik (literally, the squeaker). Petrushka was the butt of constant assaults, but eventually triumphed over his foes. Like most Russian children of the time, Stravinsky found Petrushka irresistibly attractive. He regularly attended the shows held on the spacious Admiralty Square in St. Petersburg, then the capital of the Russian Empire, where Stravinsky spent his childhood. Petrushka was usually accompanied by a hurdy-gurdy, and its cacophonous grinding out of popular tunes punctuated by drum rolls summoning the public before the show must have left an indelible impression in Stravinsky’s memory. No wonder then that when Stravinsky thought of a fitting subject à la russe for his new ballet commissioned by the Russian impresario Diaghilev for his next season of Ballet Russe in Paris, he thought of Petrushka. Stravinsky was abroad at the time, and wrote the score in Lausanne and 323


Nicolas Slonimsky

Clarens, Switzerland, in Beaulieu, France, and in Rome, completing it on May 26, 1911, barely in time to rush the music for the production which took place in Paris on June 13, 1911. Stravinsky was only twenty-eight years old then. Neither he nor Diaghilev could ever imagine that this youthful work would become a significant landmark in the evolution of modern music. To be sure, Stravinsky was not the first to set a carnival to music; Schumann did so three-quarters of a century before him. There are traits in common between Schumann’s “scènes mignonnes composées sur quatre notes” (the four notes were the letters of the German musical alphabet AS-C-H, spelling out the name of a place in Bohemia where Schumann had a lady friend) and Stravinsky’s Russian carnival. Both consist of disparate numbers of unrelated pieces; Schumann’s work was unified by a common theme; in Stravinsky’s score the sense of unity was conveyed by the recurrence of Russian folksongs and city ballads. Composing the music away from Russia, Stravinsky could not be sure of remembering the tunes correctly. He appealed for help to his friend, Rimsky-Korsakov’s son Andrei. In a letter from Beaulieu of September 16, 1910, Stravinsky writes: “I implore you to send me without delay the tunes of two street songs (or perhaps they are factory songs),” and he jotted down the opening bars of the Russian ballads sung to the words “On a Somber Autumn Night” and “The Moon Floats Over the River.” With typical Russian exaggerations Stravinsky adds: “If you oblige me, you will be a real friend, and I will pray God for you forever and ever.” But he cautions Andrei: “Please, keep it a secret. As soon as I get the tunes, I will tell you what I am working on now.” Andrei responded promptly, and the two songs were duly incorporated in the first scene of Petrushka, played on the Russian barrel-organ, the sharmanka. (This is a most curious Russian word derived from the French popular song, “Charmante Catherine,” which was the tune played on the first sharmanka imported into Russia from France early in the nineteenth century.) Stravinsky made use of several authentic Russian folksongs in the score of Petrushka. Stravinsky’s father was a famous opera singer, Fyodor Stravinsky (during his early apprenticeship with Rimsky-Korsakov Stravinsky was known to mutual friends as “a young son of the famous bass singer of the Imperial Opera”) and had a large library of Russian songs which Stravinsky eagerly studied in his youth. Some of these songs found their way into the score of Petrushka in a considerably altered outline. Their identification is difficult, but at least two were national songs known



to every Russian, the dance motives “Down the Peterskaya Street” and “On My Entrance Gates” (as in many folksongs the words make little sense). Also well known is the dance tune of the coachmen with its insistent stomping. Furthermore, Stravinsky borrowed two waltz tunes by the Viennese composer Joseph Lanner, the predecessor of Strauss. But in one instance of free borrowing in Petrushka Stravinsky acted without due caution. During his stay in Beaulieu, he was attracted by a fetching refrain played by an organ grinder in the street. Assuming that it was a cosmopolitan tune without an identifiable author, he nonchalantly inserted it in the repertoire of his sharmanka in the opening tableau. But he had a rude shock when he was confronted by a lawsuit for infringement of copyright. The tune turned out to be a modern chansonette to the words “Elle avait une jambe de bois” by a French composer with an Englishsounding name, Émile Spenser. Stravinsky and his publishers had to agree to pay Spenser a share of royalties each time Petrushka was performed. The genesis of Petrushka involved more than just collecting a number of popular tunes and arranging them in a colorful collage. The original idea in the music was a sort of Konzertstück for piano and orchestra. Stravinsky always composed at the piano, even though he was far from being a virtuoso pianist. In fact, the famous “Petrushka chord,” consisting of two superimposed tonalities, C major and F-sharp major, has a clear pianistic origin, with the right hand playing triadic figurations in C major, and the left hand playing similar arpeggios in F-sharp major. No intentional bitonality was involved. Stravinsky needed acrid discords to express Petrushka’s anguish. The incisive major and minor seconds formed by playing the C major arpeggio in its basic triadic form against an arpeggio formed by the first inversion of the F-sharp major triad supplied the “Petrushka effect.” But philosophically inclined theorists could not refrain from pointing out that the tonics of the two triads in question stood in the relationship of the tritone, the “diabolus in musica” of the medieval scholiasts. Further dissection and reassembly revealed that the hexachords of the two diabolically related tonalities of C major and F-sharp major were mutually exclusive and added up to a complete set of twelve different tones of the chromatic scale, throwing a beam of light towards dodecaphony. None of this was dreamt of in poor Petrushka’s dilemma, but finding profundity in simplicity is a tempting preoccupation of scholars. When Diaghilev paid a visit to Stravinsky in Switzerland to discuss a new ballet on a Russian subject to repeat the success of Stravinsky’s The


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Firebird, produced by the Ballet Russe in Paris in June 1910, he expected to hear sketches from a ballet tentatively titled The Great Sacrifice, which later became Le Sacre du Printemps. He was surprised when Stravinsky played for him fragments of his pianistic Konzertstück, the embryo of Petrushka. But with his infallible sense of artistic and commercial values, Diaghilev immediately caught on to Stravinsky’s idea of Petrushka, and suggested to him to work out a scenario with the eminent Russian stage designer and connoisseur of choreography Alexandre Benois. A lengthy correspondence ensued between the two. Stravinsky outlined the action, which was to take place during the days of the maslenitza, at Shrove-Tide, or Mardi Gras, in the Admiralty Square in St. Petersburg. The cast of characters included, besides Petrushka and the showman himself, a flighty ballerina and a splendiferous Moor. There were to be four scenes. The first scene portrayed the festivities in a pyrotechnic display of instrumental colors. The ineffable Hanslick once wrote of the finale of Tchaikovsky’s violin concerto that it had the smell of drunken muzhiks disporting themselves at a Russian village fair. The score of Petrushka smells indeed of Russia, but this is the kind of smell that is dear to Russian patriots, a smell once affectionately invoked by Pushkin in the opening stanzas of Ruslan and Ludmila. The first scene opens with the sounds of the Russian garmonika (accordion), with its typical see-sawing between the tonic and the dominant, simulating the compression and dilation of the instrument. The sharmanka grinds its sentimental tunes, and then the orchestra with the active participation of the piano erupts in a breathtaking Russian dance, the most famous of all tunes of Petrushka, and for the nonce a fully original invention of Stravinsky. The second scene takes place in Petrushka’s lonely room. The ballerina pays him a brief call, but rejects his pathetic advances. The third scene is in the well-appointed residence of the Moor, who has no trouble in captivating the ballerina with his exotic wiles. Petrushka makes an unexpected appearance but is chased away by the selfconfident Moor. The fourth and last scene returns to Admiralty Square. There is a dance of nursemaids walking to the tune of a Russian folksong. A trained bear performs a ponderous step. A drunken merchant creates a momentary disturbance. The well-fed Russian coachmen stomp with their heavy boots. Masked men and women join the crowd. Then tragedy supervenes. The Moor, suddenly endowed by spontaneous locomotion, chases



Petrushka out of the booth and into the crowd, and splits his wooden head asunder with his deadly scimitar. The crowd is horrified by the reality of the event, but the showman quickly picks up the puppets so that everyone could see that they were nothing but creatures of wood and sawdust. But— and here is a twist—Petrushka, the puppet, is only a simulacrum of the real, ideal, immortal and one may say philosophical, Platonic Petrushka, who appears on the top of the booth and thumbs his nose in a gesture of defiance to the showman and the public. The title of Petrushka in the program of Ballet Russe, and in the published edition, bore the following inscription: “Scènes-burlesques in 4 tableaux by Igor Stravinsky and Alexandre Benois; music by Igor Stravinsky.” The score was also dedicated to Benois. In his memoirs of the production Benois expresses unbounded admiration for the genius of Stravinsky, and yet he adds with some show of discontent: “The authorship of the ballet was almost entirely mine, including the principal characters, the plot and the development of action.” Parenthetically, he remarks that since both he and Stravinsky were the authors of the libretto, his name should have been placed first in the program according to alphabetical order. In his letters to Stravinsky (copies of which are preserved in the Soviet state archives) Benois is revealed as a very insistent collaborator, even in the purely musical treatment of the work. For the last scene, he writes, “There must be a sense of tremendous relief and immense joy, with a merry-go-round, sideshows, torch bearers, and a devilish abandonment in the orgiastic dance. There must be a counterpoint of at least twenty subjects; there must be all kinds of tinkling sounds, little bells, and perhaps even the Russian garmonika in the orchestra.” Stravinsky did not put an actual Russian garmonika (accordion) in the orchestration, but he certainly produced a beguiling facsimile thereof. And if he did not write vigesimal counterpoint, that is counterpoint in twenty parts, he certainly created a web of mutually colliding tunes that ought to satisfy any addict of polyphony. In his Carnival, Schumann separated two of the pieces by a supposedly mysterious section marked Sphinx, not to be played. Stravinsky inserted rather lengthy drumrolls between the scenes of Petrushka but Benois felt that he needed a musical interlude in such cases and begged Stravinsky to compose “just 60 seconds of music” to fill in the crevice. Stravinsky refused to compromise. “It would, of course, be easy to compose


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a piece of competent trash to fill a minute’s time,” he wrote back, but he insisted that the drumrolls were parts of the action representing the signal to the public that the show is about to begin. While Benois and Stravinsky exchanged arguments about minor details, Diaghilev was dispatching threatening telegrams to Stravinsky demanding the delivery of the score. “I am frightened by the time element,” Stravinsky lamented in a letter to Benois. “And the supreme cruelty is that neither Diaghilev nor you give a damn about it! This state of affairs is quite familiar to me from my experience with The Firebird” (an eloquent testimony to the desperate haste Stravinsky was in during the time he wrote his ballets for Diaghilev). But no outsider seemed to be aware of these emotional tribulations when Petrushka was finally produced by Diaghilev’s Ballet Russe in Paris on the memorable day of June 13, 1911. Pierre Monteux conducted the orchestra. The choreography was by the celebrated Russian balletmaster Fokine; the scenery and costumes were designed by Benois. The part of Petrushka was danced and mimed by the legendary Nijinsky. The spectacle and the music overwhelmed the public and the critics. “Petrushka is a marvel,” said the critic of the leading Paris art journal Comoedia. “What an abundance of melodious tunes, both original and traditional! What a profusion of fantastic rhythms! What eloquence! What vitality!” Among French musicians who were greatly impressed by Stravinsky’s music was Debussy. And yet he warned, only half facetiously: “Stravinsky is a young savage. He fancies extravagant cravats and kisses ladies’ hands while stepping on their toes. In his old age he will be insufferable. But at the moment he is incredible!” Most editions of the score bear the title in French spelling, Petrouchka, since the work was written for a Paris production. In English, the phonetic spelling is Petrushka, but if a safer approximation to the Russian sound is desired, then the name should be Petrooshka. The original instrumentation of the score was extremely opulent, ablaze with instrumental colors, with woodwinds quadrupled, two trumpets, two cornets, three trombones, a tuba, and a rich percussion section, including xylophones and a celesta, besides the crucial piano part, as well as two harps and the mandatory strings. Yet, a third of a century later, Stravinsky, in conformity with his monastic renunciation of sonority for sonority’s sake, resolved to strip Petrushka of all its blazing colors. He reduced the instrumentation and rearranged the whimsically free rhythmic figurations in the individual



instrumental parts in order to create a pragmatically self-consistent ensemble in clear contrapuntal lines and harmonies. Conductors who loved the original score, among them Ernest Ansermet, cried outrage at Stravinsky’s self-mutilation. But the Soviet conductor Gennady Rozhdestvensky published an effusive apologia of the new Petrushka, collating parallel sections of the old and new versions in an effort to prove, point by point, the superiority of Stravinsky’s reorchestration. Yet, statistics militate in favor of the original score, which still enjoys a majority of contemporary performances. Skeptics may point out, however, that the new version is protected by copyright, and that orchestras and conductors must pay royalties for performance, while the original version is in the public domain, inviting parsimonious orchestral associations to play Petrushka free of charge.


Stravinsky’s style of composition underwent numerous changes during his long creative career. Yet in each of his works his music retains an unmistakably Russian character. Stravinsky’s themes in his music of Russian inspiration are firmly embedded within the interval of a fifth. The falling cadences of a perfect fourth are much in evidence. The melodies are remarkably short; they generate variations by adding swift grace notes in a manner of the Russian popular popevka, a characteristic melodic strain of ancient Russian extraction. (In binary melodic structure, typical of Russian folk music, such a popevka often opens with a zapev, a pre-melody, and concludes with a pripev, a post-melody. These Russian words are all derived from the root pev, the past participle form of the verb pet, to sing.) Within this narrow melodic compass, Russian modality offers a field of rich intervallic variety. It allows a free interchange of the major and minor modes; in the dissonant superimposition of a major triad upon the minor of the same tonic a hom*onymic bitonality is created. Such a bitonal hom*onymic triad is employed explicitly by Stravinsky as a thematic motto in his early choral work Zvezdolikyi; it also serves as the opening chord in the second part of Le Sacre du Printemps. When such hom*onymous major and minor triads are involuted horizontally, a semitone formed in the center of the chord provides a starting point for chromatic developments. The complexity of Stravinsky’s scores is visually apparent by constant metrical changes and a concomitant overlapping of rhythmic patterns. But this complexity is only an outer aspect of an inner simplicity revealed by Ch. 33: the first typescript page of this article is marked “Preface to Translated Text,” not in my father’s handwriting. There is no date. I have not been able to locate any published version of “Les Noces” with his translation.—E.S.Y.


Les Noces


a constancy of the basic impulse. It is remarkable how seldom we find the indications of accelerando or ritardando in Stravinsky’s music. The listener perceives the steady beat amid all the rhythmic and metric changes. In this constancy of the main beat, the score of Les Noces is a paradigm. The music drives on unimpeded by gratuitous deviations. Does this mean that the music is nothing but a mechanical megametrical construction? Not at all. By assigning a definite tempo, using metronomic indications rather than the ambiguous Italian designations, and by varying the dynamic values, a complete freedom is achieved in expressive power. And Stravinsky never ceased to remind his public that expressive power resides in the structure of the music itself, not in its interpretation. In a remarkable statement made in 1934 Stravinsky declared that his music cannot be judged solely from the esthetic standpoint, that one cannot criticize a concrete fact, a person or an object in a state of functioning: “The nose is not fabricated; the nose is. So is my art.” There is an aura of the Baroque in Stravinsky’s insistence on the functional aspect of his music. Clarity of line, firmness of beat, the security of tempo are to Stravinsky the paramount considerations. When Stravinsky mobilizes a large assortment of percussion instruments in his scores, he does it not for the sake of exotic color but for the strict maintenance of the rhythmic pulse. He cultivates the decisive and hard stroke. Rehearsing his Ragtime in Paris in 1923, Stravinsky kept urging the drum player to use a harder stick. “Plus dur! Plus dur!” he exhorted, until the exasperated Frenchman shouted back: “Qu’est-ce que vous voulez—que je joue avec ma queue?” and made an obscene gesture. To which the rest of the players responded in a chorus of derision: “Tu te flattes! Tu te flattes!” Stravinsky worked a long time on Les Noces. He began its composition in Switzerland in 1914, completing the vocal score in 1917. But he could not make up his mind on the orchestration which he changed radically numerous times. Finally he adopted the functional scoring for a quartet of vocal soloists, chorus and an orchestra consisting of four pianos, xylophone, timpani and several pitchless drums. The piano parts are treated as pitched drums, with dynamics in sharp relief of fortissimo and pianissimo, sforzando and piano. The performers are expected to play with fingers of steel, far from the delicacy of “timid pupils,” to quote a musical reference from Pushkin. As Stravinsky’s plans for the instrumentation of Les Noces underwent numerous changes, so did the title of the work itself. He conceived the


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work as a divertissem*nt, a masque. The title in the printed edition was Svadebka (diminutive of Svadba, literally, “little wedding” or “rustic wedding”). The subtitle was Russian Choreographic Scenes with Singing and Playing. The work became known to the general public under the French title Les Noces, in which the intimate diminutive of the Russian title Svadebka became obscured. The score was dedicated to Diaghilev, Stravinsky’s faithful patron and friend. (When Stravinsky felt that death was near he expressed the desire to be buried next to Diaghilev’s grave at the Russian cemetery enclave in Venice, and his wish was fulfilled.) The first performance of Les Noces took place in Paris, by Diaghilev’s Ballet Russe, on June 13, 1923. Ernest Ansermet was the conductor. The score is divided by the composer into two parts, approximately equal in duration. The first part is subdivided into three scenes: “At the Bride’s,” “At the Bridegroom’s” and “Departure of the Bride.” Part Two, without subdivisions into scenes, is descriptive of the wedding ritual itself. The Russian title is “The Red Table,” the adjective here connoting festive splendor. (In old Russian the word red meant both “red” and “beautiful”; Red Square in Moscow signified a beautiful square when the name originated some three centuries ago.) By metonymy, “The Red Table” is the scene of the grand repast, “The Feast.” The text of Les Noces was put together by Stravinsky himself. He made use of authentic sources, of which the most important was a collection of popular Russian verses compiled early in the nineteenth century by Peter Kireyevsky; the original edition of this collection graced the library of Stravinsky’s father who was a famous opera singer and a great student of Russian folkways. The language is that of deep peasantry, rich in verbal imagery, with grammar and syntax wrested out of their customary forms. Phonetic aberrations abound; syllables clash and telescope into one another; consonants are palatalized and vowels are mutated. In the poetic tradition of Russian epics, there are characteristic narrative tropes in allusive parallelisms. A red berry touches another red berry: the bridegroom courts his bride. Two white swans swim close together: the bride and groom embrace each other. The bride laments her imminent separation from her parents and complains about the rough handling she received from the old matchmaker. These are familiar motives of Russian folk poetry. The bridegroom’s request for the blessing of his parents reflects old religious rites. The finale erupts in a veritable quodlibet. A man wanders

Les Noces


in, complaining bitterly, in the syncopated manner of a hocketus, that he lost a golden ring. Convivial guests try to force a woman to drink, but she refuses. A female character tells of her adventures at sea, but is not believed. Members of the wedding excoriate the bride’s father accusing him of selling his daughter into matrimony. Drunken men vulgarly comment on the womanly attractions of the bride and offer estimates of her worth in terms of rubles. (The rhythmic figure here is identical to the previous announcement of the lost ring; in a footnote Stravinsky indicates the rustic palatalization of the open Russian vowels to approximate peasant speech.) An astute contemporary critic of Russian folk literature observed that the natural verse mold of Russian children is the trochee, a foot of two syllables, a stressed one followed by an unstressed one in accentual meter. The trochee is also the most common beat in Russian folk poetry. The text of Les Noces gives abundant examples of this Russian prosody. The trochaic pulse throbs throughout the music itself, and it is this strong, vital beat which makes Les Noces sound so profoundly Russian. When Stravinsky played his newly completed score for Diaghilev, so the assiduous chroniclers with long memories report, Diaghilev wept “because the music was so Russian.” It is interesting that in Les Noces the cast of characters does not provide a definite assignment of vocalists to their parts. The role of the bride is sometimes taken over, in first person singular, by one of the bridesmaids; minor parts are not fixed, and are frequently given to the chorus. This interchangeability of characters reflects the spirit of the masque. No importance is attached to precise identification of the cast; a personage may assume another mask to suit the scenic action. In undertaking a workable translation of the text of Les Noces into English, I was fully cognizant of the curse “traduttore-traditore.” In musical texts the danger of being a traitorous translator is aggravated by the necessity of maintaining strict correspondence between the quantity of the syllables of the original and that of the translation. We are only too familiar with the cavalier practice of so many translations of song texts in which the rhythmic line is mutilated by cutting off inconvenient endings or adding notes to a musical phrase. And all too often, translations become free paraphrases of the text, departing widely from the original. I made it a rule in the present translation not to alter a single rhythmic figure, not to delete or add a single note. I have also made it a point to preserve the syllabic


Nicolas Slonimsky

distribution in tied notes. In other words, I made sure that the total number of syllables in the English translation equals the total number of syllables in the Russian original. This primary requisite fulfilled, I have tried to attain an easy singability of the melodic line, placing open vowels on high notes whenever possible, and otherwise selecting appropriate sound quantities. I also took into consideration the fact that Stravinsky often places accents on metrically unstressed beats in order to obtain an effect of vigorous syncopation. Despite the frequency of metrical changes in the score of Les Noces, the verbally important beginnings of a musical phrase carry their clear impetus whatever the notational place they occupy in each individual measure. Thus a stressed beat may become a stressed upbeat when a phrase is repeated in a changed meter. I have applied a similar parallelism in my translation. When a Russian idiom cannot be rendered literally to make sense, I selected metaphorical or rhetorical figures of speech that convey the nuances of the original. In one or two instances I resorted to auxiliary elucidation. In Russian hagiology the names of the Christian martyrs Cosmas and Damian are venerated as joint protectors of home and health; their names are often hyphenated in the titles of Russian churches and monasteries. According to legend, Cosmas and Damian were twin brothers who suffered martyrdom under Diocletian, and I added the reference to their twinship and to their common martyrdom in the corresponding lines of my translation. Finally, there are instances when a faithful translation of Russian words and idioms would be completely meaningless to a non-Russian. Then there is no alternative but to circumvent the passage entirely and substitute for it a dramatically comprehensible turn. When the guests at the wedding feast suddenly cry out, “Bitter! Bitter! The wine is undrinkable!” they follow traditional wedding ritual that the wine is not sweetened until the bride and groom kiss. There were not enough syllables in the text to fit in this elaborate explanation, and I had to replace the outcry of “Bitter!” by a simple exhortation to the bridegroom: “Kiss her! Kiss her!” No attempt has been made to approximate the sound and the verbal mutations of the Russian peasant speech by a similar twisting of English phonetic values, or by resorting to American or British slang in order to impart an air of specious rusticity. When the members of the wedding make plans to purchase the best available provençal olive oil to dress the groom’s hair, they mispronounce the word provençal atrociously. No point

Les Noces


would be gained to contrive an English mispronunciation; on the other hand, it would be odd to have the Russian peasants pronounce this alien word correctly in a translation. Accordingly, I have omitted it entirely. A recent article in a New York publication, emanating from highly authoritative sources, asserts categorically that Svadebka can be sung only in Russian, because the sounds of the Russian words constitute an integral part of its musical design and that no translation can satisfy both the quantitative and accentual formulas of the original and at the same time convey the literal sense of the text. In my translation, I did my best to refute this assertion, and I advance the claim that my translation does indeed transfer from Russian into English the quantitative and accentual formulas of the original, with a maximum of attainable fidelity to the Russian poetic spirit embodied in Stravinsky’s text.

Nicolas Slonimsky performing Five Advertising Songs at his ninety-fifth birthday tribute, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, April 27, 1989. Performance can be heard on track 8 of the CD.


My father did not take himself seriously as a composer, but periodically he was inspired to create a musical setting for an image, poem, or technical concept. In fact, he often used the same idea in several settings. On this CD, certain motifs and melodies pop up in several different pieces. The works, all short, are usually very clever, often including—or consisting of—lots of inside musical jokes. But others are lyrical, poignant, even lush. Cerebral in origin though each piece may be, they all sound very good in performance. Three sets are performed rather often: the advertising songs; Gravestones in Hanco*ck, New Hampshire; and My Toy Balloon, a favorite for children’s concerts in its orchestral version, with balloons tied to the music stands, to be punctured by the players at the end. Most of the selections on this CD were re-created from the masters of two recordings of my father’s music issued by Orion Records in 1971 and 1972. I am very grateful to Giveon Cornfield for allowing me to reissue these portions of the recordings he created. Also included are performances of Piccolo Divertimento and Five Advertising Songs, recorded live at my father’s ninety-fifth birthday celebration at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. (Since recording conditions were poor, these tracks must be defined as archival.) Those who are curious about my father’s voice will hear it at the end when he introduces his own rendition of the advertising songs. These merciless satires are often performed professionally, but their rendition is only described as “inimitable” when he performs them himself. 51 Minitudes is published by G. Schirmer, and My Toy Balloon in the orchestral version by Shawnee Press, Inc., Delaware Water Gap, PA. Most of the remaining works are published by Cambria Publishing, Lomita, CA, headed by Lance Bowling. He has been a longtime friend of my father, 337


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recording or collecting, over the years, tapes of his performances and interviews. He put this disk together from the masters and tapes and guided its production. I am very grateful for his expertise. Below are the liner notes that my father wrote for the original recordings, sequenced so as to match the playlist. E.S.Y. When I was six my mother informed me that I was a genius. This revelation haunted me through my adolescence and early maturity, relaxing its tense grip on me only with the advent of the Age of Wisdom. When I went to grade school in St. Petersburg, my native city, my mother addressed the class cautioning my schoolmates against coming into close physical contact with me or indulging in rough games which might be harmful to my delicate pianistic fingers. This speech led to the expected results, but I was not badly maimed. My first and only piano teacher was my aunt, Isabelle Vengerova, famed as a pedagogue both in Russia and in America where she came to live. As I grew I joined her class at the St. Petersburg Conservatory. The director Glazunov, a tremendously imposing figure of a man, was impressed by my gift of perfect pitch and by my apparently sympathetic playing of the standard romantic pieces of the curriculum. After my public examination in May 1909, he wrote: “Despite his youthful years, there is felt a certain perfection in his playing, together with an attractive and powerful touch at the keyboard.” A year later Glazunov expanded on his appreciation: “An excellent musical virtuoso talent. His playing is full of elegance and taste.” To both opinions he appended the highest Russian mark, 5+. Music was not my only talent. I had an uncommon aptitude for numbers and earned the nickname Newtonchick at home. But despite a whole summer of instruction I could never learn to swim. Also, the outside world was slow in recognizing my certified genius. Other child prodigies of my generation overtook and surpassed me. Came the Revolution, and I was thrown into social turmoil. I had to earn my living by playing undignified music in disreputable places. I left Russia, went to Paris and eventually to the promised land of every early Russian, the United States of America. Safe from revolutionary upheavals and material deprivations, I gradually drifted towards composition, then to orchestral conducting, and, continuing on the downgrade, to musicology and lexicography.



My first Gradus ad Parnassum in America was the publication in 1929 of my anti-pianistic Studies in Black and White in New Music, a quarterly founded by that formidable champion of modern devices, Henry Cowell. True to my spirit of contrariness, I went against the mainstream. While composers vied with each other in piling up dissonance upon dissonance, I decided to write a piano suite employing only literal concords. Furthermore, I decreed that the right hand should play on the white keys only, and the left hand on the black keys. Consequently, there is no need of accidentals. No key signature was required in the right hand as the flats in the left hand were arrayed like a ladder. I described this procedure as consonant counterpoint in mutually exclusive diatonic and pentatonic systems, for I have always been addicted to polysyllabic self-expression. I wrote the studies in the summer of 1928, and both the whimsical idiom and the titles of individual movements reflect the simple sophistication of the period: “Jazzelette,” “A Penny for Your Thoughts,” “Happy Farmer,” “Quasi Fugato,” “Anatomy of Melancholy, March,” “The Sax Dreaming of a Flute,” “Sin 2x + Cos 2x = 1” (this trigonometrical piece ends on a unison to symbolize figure 1), and “Typographical Errors.” There is also a Prelude in which euphonious dissonances are discreetly employed, while the harmonies betray my early adoration of Scriabin whose family I intimately knew in Russia. Henry Cowell reported to me in mock horror that the sales of my opus were almost commercial in numbers, which threw a dark shadow of suspicion on my modernism, for it was a dogma that real modern music did not sell. In 1941 I went to South America to gather materials for a book on Latin American music. A product of this trip was a sweet melody which I called Modinha Russo-Brazileira. This symbiotic conceit was prompted by a remarkable melorhythmic kinship between Brazilian and Russian popular songs. When I played my Modinha to Brazilians, they claimed it as their own, but Russians who heard it thought that it was an old Russian gypsy song. I arranged it for piano, and also as a wordless vocalise. Everyone who composes music falls at one time or another under the spell of Spanish rhythms. In the bloom of my retarded maturity, I produced a Hispanic piano suite, entitled Silhouettes Iberiennes (the most popular composers of Spanish music being French, I wanted to pay them titular lip service). It is in three movements. In the first, “Aromas de Leyenda,” I did my best to convey the “scent of a legend” of the title in lush sonorities, replete with authenticated Phrygian cadences peculiar to Spanish songs. In the second movement, “Jota,” I modernized its rhythm


Nicolas Slonimsky

to an asymmetric 5/8 meter. In the last, “Festive Dance,” I indulged myself in a sumptuous display of obsolescent virtuosity. I was lucky in having the master guitarist Laurindo Almeida arrange my Iberian silhouettes for his instrument. He did doubly so, in fact, for he transcribed my suite for two guitars and recorded it, playing a duet with himself. To this he added an arrangement of my Modinha Russo-Brasileira. Bravo Laurindo! Another by-product of my Latin American trip was a set of variations on a Brazilian tune, which I published in two versions, one for piano and one for orchestra, under the title My Toy Balloon. The orchestral score actually includes a fleet of colored balloons to be popped in a series of sforzandi. The piece contains the theme and six variations: “Music Box,”“All Over the Keyboard,” “In a Minor Mode,” “Like the Xylophone,” “With Apologies to Brahms,” and “Circus Parade.” In the second variation, the theme, which descends from C to A through B flat, hits the lowest and the highest keys on the piano keyboard. In the xylophonic variation, the vertical intervals are consonant, but the environment is polytonal. The barcarollelike variation that follows bears a whimsical acknowledgement to Brahms, because of its obvious adumbration to his famous lullaby. The finale is a raucous circus march. In 1947, I published an ambitious compendium, Thesaurus of Scales and Melodic Patterns, a sort of pandect of all potential progressions of tones and plausible musical phrases in all styles and idioms. (When I sent a copy to Schoenberg, he wrote me back—and I cherish his letter, written in English—“You have certainly accomplished a feat of tonal gymnastics and apparently exhausted all possible combinations of tones. But I am a composer, and I must follow my inspiration.”) Among various modern techniques in the Thesaurus I included examples of Pandiatonicism, a term I invented to describe free interchangeable use of the seven notes of the diatonic scales in melody and harmony. The Thesaurus culminated in the creation of the Grandmother Chord, containing all twelve notes of the chromatic scale and all eleven intervals from a minor second to a major seventh. It came to me in a moment of plenary inspiration, in the afternoon of February 13, 1938. Bemused by the contemporary trend of miniaturization, I composed a number of piano pieces, Minitudes, i.e., mini-etudes, with just a whiff of a suggestion of minimal infinitudes in this porte-manteau word. The intervallic material of these Minitudes is derived chiefly from the Thesaurus. Each Minitude lasts from 5 to 45 seconds, thus justifying the title. The



number of Minitudes is undetermined, depending on the method of counting individual patterns. The minimum is 34; the maximum is 66. The arithmetical mean of 34 and 66 is 50, which is a good round figure to decide on. The introductory Minitude is named “Orion”: it is indeed of galactic dimensions, for it takes nearly a full sidereal minute of time to play. Its intervallic structure is that of the Grandmother Chord but despite its atonal consistence, the piece is harmonized along consonant contrapuntal lines. From stars to Leipzig—“Orion” is followed by two derangements of Bach’s C minor fugue from the first book of the Well-Tempered Clavier. In the first, the theme is subjected to constant modulations by semitones; in the second, its intervals are multiplied by two, as a result of which the semitones vanish, and the entire fugue assumes a quasi-Debussyan atmosphere hung over whole-tone scales. Next comes a surgical operation performed on Schoenberg’s Klavierstuck op. 33a, to which I assigned a jaw-breaking name “Cryptokrebschoenwagnerbergblatt.” When decoded, the title denotes a hidden crab progression resulting in a Schoenbergian Tristanesque evocation. There follows a little march, “La Tromperie ensourdinée.” The next piece is a broken chromatic scale harmonized by chromatically ascending bass lines. Among miscellaneous dodecaphonic patterns there is a rhythmic Minitude entitled “Dodecaphilia.” It is followed by “Triskaidecaphobia,” represented by a chromatic scale spread all over the keyboard in major sevenths and minor ninths. (Charles Ives tells us that his father, a bandmaster who entertained futuristic notions taught young Ives to play the chromatic scale in minor ninths with an admonition: “If you must play a chromatic scale at all, then play it like a man!”) Dodecaphonic derangements of “Ach, Du Lieber Augustin” and of “Happy Birthday to You” are the next two numbers. Then comes an exercise in mutually exclusive major and minor triads. Three polyphonic palindromes follow, and then there is a “Stultifying March.” An impressionistic improvisation on the scale of six notes, C, E flat, F, F sharp, A, B, is followed by a Minitude derived from an eight-note scale of alternating whole tones and semitones. Next comes a Minitude in major scales with changing tonics; another Minitude exploits mutually exclusive whole-tone scales; then there is a Polytetra-chord, comprising the twelve consecutive tetrachords of the cycle of major scales. This is followed by a lyric Minitude in a counterpoint of octaves and thirds. A bitonal scale of C major and F sharp major tetrachords is run off with ninth-chord harmonization. Then


Nicolas Slonimsky

there is a dodecaphonic Minitude composed of successive heptatonic and pentatonic scales. Polytonal polyrhythmics is the subject of the following four minitudinal exercises, with the right hand playing in one key, and the left hand in another, in different rhythms. As a diversion, a dodecaphonic pattern consisting of disjointed intervals is romantically harmonized in seventh-chords. There follows a dodecaphonic series of two mutually exclusive hexachords. Examples of combinational harmonies derived from the scale of alternating whole tones and semitones are given in the next group of Minitudes. After a spate of pandiatonic thematic cadences, the musical landscape changes abruptly, descending into the lowest depths of vulgarity. In fact, the opening two pieces of this grouping bear the candid titles “Banality” and “Banal Vulgarity.” The first is a variation on a German teaching piece, with a fragment of an Argentinian tango thrown in; the second is an exercise on the tune of a Russian children’s song, “Sparrow, Sparrow, Where Were You?” The last two Minitudes are disarmingly alphabetical: “Cabbage Waltz” and “A Bad Egg Polka.” The titles are spelled in musical notes, forward and backwards, C-A-B-B-A-G-E (E-G-A-B-B-A-C) and A-B-A-D-E-G-G (G-G-E-C-A-B-A) in unashamed C major. I spent the summer of 1945 in Hanco*ck, New Hampshire, and I used to take nostalgic walks in a beautifully preserved old cemetery there. The inscriptions on the gravestones were epitaphs of young and old lives, spent with spiritual resignation to mortality. I set six of them to music in a vocal suite entitled simply Gravestones in Hanco*ck, New Hampshire. The style of each setting is intended to fit the era of the passing of the person reposing underneath the gravestone. The first song marks the grave of Mrs. Dorcas Knight, who died in 1815 at the age of 60, and the music is appropriately Handelian. The next epitaph memorializes “Mrs. Lydia, wife of Captain David Low,” who died in 1829 at the age of 31. Naturally, the melody is in the Lydian mode. Next to Lydia’s tomb there stand monuments to Captain Low’s two subsequent wives, both dead at a childbearing age, presumably of puerperal fever. David Moors, a lumberjack, died in 1841 at the age of 29; he is lamented, with many a baroque fioritura, as “the once happy father, the joy of his beloved wife and daughter.” He was crushed to death by a falling tree. The accompaniment here represents a consecutive series of major tetrachords traversing the circle of scales five times. The next tombstone was dedicated to the 15-year-old Rosa Wilson, who died in 1856, and the musical setting is a sentimental ballad. Except for the lumberjack, these deaths were peaceful. Not so that of Edwin



Kimball who fell on the battlefield during the Civil War at the age of 21 as a member of the 16th Regiment of New Hampshire Volunteers. The steady drumbeat supplies the proper mood, while the melodic figurations combine elements of “Dixie” and “Yankee Doodle.” The dead of past centuries possessed a grave sense of humor. The last song of the cycle commemorates one Abbot Casset who died in 1837 at the age of 27. His epitaph is a standard piece of mortuary doggerel: “Stop my friends as you pass by. As you are now so once was I. As I am now so you must be. Prepare for death and follow me.” The melody closely imitates the macabre nursery rhyme, “The worms crawl in, the worms crawl out. . . .” When I came to America from darkest Russia in 1923, I instantly succumbed to the unique poetry of commercial advertisem*nts in the gaudy pages of American magazines. Cynicism came much later. I set to music some of the most uninhibited outpourings of the advertising Muse. I can even claim priority as composer of the first advertising songs designed for concert performance. They are: “Make This a Day of Pepsodent!” “Utica Sheets and Pillow Cases,” “Pillsbury Bran Muffins,” “Vauv Nose Powder” and “Children Cry for Castoria!” The Pepsodent song was on a par with the best fourth-rate Italian operas, full of emotional bel canto. The sheets of Utica were spread with the artiness of a slightly adulterated Schumann. The Bran Muffin ad bore a banner headline, “And Then Her Doctor Told Her. . . .” showing a bearded Germanic physician pointing an ominous index finger at a dejected but beautiful female sufferer slumped in an armchair. One could expect the worst, but the doctor in the ad was concerned only with correcting the lady’s “faulty elimination.” I borrowed the theme from Rachmaninoff ’s C sharp minor Prelude to depict her condition in suitably dramatic terms. There followed “No More Shiny Nose!” attesting to the durable effect of the powder. In the Castoria song, the climax came with the cry, “Mother, relieve your constipated child!” A parlando recitative against a dissonant tremolo reassured the parents that Castoria did not include harmful drugs or narcotics. My advertising songs enjoyed a gratifying success at friendly gatherings. Eventually, I decided to publish them. To my surprise, the Pepsodent Company refused to let me use their brand name, so I changed it to Plurodent, and revised the text accordingly. The nose powder went out of existence, so I did not have to bother about the copyright. Amazingly, the Castoria people gave me unqualified permission to use their name.


Track One—Piccolo Divertimento No. 1 (et al), ensemble version of Studies in Black and White; (Cal Arts Ensemble, William Kraft, conductor); live concert April 27, 1989, ninety-fifth birthday tribute, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. Track Two—Studies in Black and White (for Piano), Nicolas Slonimsky, piano. Orion Recording 72100, 1972. Track Three—Modinha Russo-Brasileira, Laurindo Almeida, twin guitars. Orion Recording 72100, 1972. Track Four—Silhouettes Iberiennes, Laurindo Almeida, twin guitars; three movements: 1/ Aromas de Leyenda; 2/ Jota; 3/ Danza Festiva. Orion Recording 72100, 1972 Track Five—Variations on a Brazilian Tune (My Toy Balloon), Nicolas Slonimsky, piano. Orion Recording 7145, 1971. Track Six—Minitudes, Nicolas Slonimsky, piano. Orion Recording 72100, 1972 (recording does not exactly match publication titled 51 Minitudes for Piano, G. Schirmer, 1979). Track Seven—Gravestones in Hanco*ck, New Hampshire, Nicolas Slonimsky, piano; Nancy Bramlage, soprano: 1/ Vain World; 2/ Lydia; 3/ Here peacefully lies the once happy father; 4/ A lovely rose; 5/ In Memphis Tennessee; 6/ Stop, my friend, as you pass by. Orion Recording 7145, 1971. Track Eight—Short acknowledgment by Nicolas Slonimsky, followed by (three of) Five Advertising Songs, Nicolas Slonimsky, piano and vocal: 1/ Children Cry for Castoria; 2/ And Then Her Doctor Told Her; 3/ Make This a Day; live concert April 27, 1989, 95th birthday tribute, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. All rights controlled by Cambria Master Recordings and the Nicolas Slonimsky estate.



absolute music, relativity of, 126–127 absolute pitch, 277–281; child prodigies and, 306 acoustics, 150–157 aesthetics, 125–131 Alain, Johan, 299 aleatory music, 128 Alekhine, Alexander, 319 Allen, Paul, 83 Amahl and the Night Visitors, 87 American chamber music, 4–55; see also names of specific composers American concert life, 56–72 American Opera Company, 59–60, 81–82, 85 Antheil, George, 19, 83 “Anvil Chorus,” 62, 79 Apollinaire, Guillaume, 135, 137 Ardevol, Jose, 54 Arditi, Luigi, 78 Aufschwung (Schumann), 111 Augenmusik, 109–110 Avraamov, Arsenyi, 132 Bach, Johann Sebastian, 109, 221 Bachelet, Alfred, 299 Bachianas Brasileiras, 53 Ballad of Baby Doe, The, 87 ballad-operas, 73 Ballo in Maschera, Un, 56 Barber, Samuel, 23–24

Barbiere di Siviglia, Il, 76 Barblan, Otto, 299 Barker, J. U., 75 Bartok, Bela, 6, 134–135 Barton, Andrew, 74 Beautiful Blue Danube, 63 Becker, John, 18 Beecham, Sir Thomas, 289 Beethoven, Ludwig van, 150, 153; controversy between Schindler and, 283; funeral of, 240–241; interest in sex of, 273; Pastoral Symphony, 109; philosophically analytic interpretation of works, 284 Beggar’s Opera, The, 73, 226 Behrend, William, 299 Beloussov, Evsei, 277 Berezowsky, Nicolai, 49 Berg, Alban, 94 Berger, Arthur, 27 Bergsma, William, 28 Berlioz, Hector, 58–59, 273, 284–285 Bernstein, Leonard, 32, 86, 87 Bitswell, Herbert, 302 Blackwood, Easley, 30 Bliss, Arthur, 319 Blitzstein, Marc, 86 Bloch, Ernest, 6–7, 40–47 Boeuf sur le Toit, Le, 134 Bordoni, Faustina, 225–226 Borel-Clerc, Charles, 120 Boris Godounov, 91 347

348 Boston Ideal Opera Company, 83–84 Boston Opera House, 84 Brahms, Johannes, 113, 271–272 Bray, John, 75 Breton, André, 135, 137, 139 Bristow, George Frederick, 80 Britten, Benjamin, 134 Brown, Earle, 40 Buck, Dudley, 80 Burco, Ferruccio, 302 Burmeister, Richard, 299 Busoni, Ferruccio, 317 Cage, John, 39–40, 128, 140; “prepared piano,” 40; Suite for Toy Pianos, 138; Theatrical Piece, 141; Water Music, 40 Capablanca, José Raúl, 318–319 Carter, Elliott, 35–37 Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Mario, 49 Castle Square Opera Company, 84 Cavalieri, Lina, 299–300 Central City Opera House, 85 chamber music, see names of specific composers; Latin American composers Chaminade, Cecile, 299 Chavez, Carlos, 54 chess in music, 318–322; Alexander Alekhine, 319; Arthur Bliss, 319; Checkmate, 319; Johann Nepomuk Maelzel, 320; José Raúl Capablanca, 318–319; Le Fou de la Dame (The Queen’s Bishop), 319–320; Marcel Delannoy, 319–320; parallels between chess and music, 322; Paul Reif, 319; Sergei Prokofiev, 320–322 Chicago Civic Opera Company, 84 Chicago Lyric Theater, 84 child prodigies, 301–307; Clara Louise Webb, 302; Erich Wolfgang Korngold, 305–306; Ferruccio Burco, 302; Franz Schubert, 305; Hattie Scholder, 302–303; Herbert Bitswell, 302; Jacqueline Horner, 307; Jascha Heifetz, 303; Josef Hofmann, 304–305; Lorin Maazel, 302; Miada Czerny, 302; Mischa

Index Elman, 304; Pierino Gamba, 302; Willy Ferrero, 301–302; Wolfgang Mozart, 305; Yehudi Menuhin, 304 Chopin, Frédéric, 187–208; certificate of baptism, 188; controversy about, 200–203; date of birth, 187–189; death of, 192, 193; in eyes of musical press, 195–196; fear of burial alive, 192–193; French origin of father, 189; great-grandparents of, 190; heart, burial of, 193; hostility of Musical World toward, 197–205; known as poetic romanticist, 196–197; letters to Delphina Potocka, 272; Maurice Schlesinger, 197–198; Polish, question of being, 190; state of mind before death, 192; stories published about, 193–195 Clarke, Henry Leland, 39 Clementi, Muzio, 317 Clifton, Arthur, 75–76 Cocteau, Jean, 135–136 Coerne, Louis Adolphe, 83 Concert Champêtre (Poulenc), 162 conductors; in 1875, 286; child conductors, 301; early conductors, 283; evolution of, 282–283; importance of, 292–293; orchestral player rising to, 289–290; revealing art and concealing artist, 288; turning back to public, 285 Conius, Edouard, 107–108 Consul, The, 87 Copland, Aaron, 15–17, 69–70, 87; Copland-Sessions concerts, 15 Cortes, Ramiro, 30 Cowell, Henry, 18–19, 110 Crab Step (Krebsgang), 108–109 Crawford, Ruth, 37–38 Création du Monde, La (Milhaud), 134 Creston, Paul, 23–24 Cuzzoni, Francesca, 225 Czerny, Carl, 316–317 Czerny, Miada, 302 Dahl, Ingolf, 50 Dali, Salvador, 136

Index Damrosch, Leopold, 81 Damrosch, Walter, 69, 81 Debussy, Claude, 91 Delannoy, Marcel, 319–320 Dello Joio, Norman, 24, 87 Denza, Luigi, 121 Diaghilev, Serge, 325–326, 332 Diamond, David, 21 Discordoscope, 115 ditone chords, 98 dodecaphonic music, 5, 6, 41, 94–95, 127–128, 145 doppler effect, 151 Dowling, Lyle, 100 Dubuffet, Jean, 129 Duchamp, Marcel, 136 Dukelsky, Vladimir, 50 Dvorak, Anton, 3–4, 61 Eames, Emma, 298 Eastman, George, 85 Elman, Mischa, 304 emotional content of music, 266–267 Escher, Maurits Cornelis, 140 Essipova, Anna, 314–315 expressionism, 127 Fanciulla del West, La, 83 Fantaisie-Impromptu, 116 Fantastic Symphony, 212, 284–285 Farwell, Arthur, 4 Faure, Gabriel, 150 Faust Symphony, 42, 94 Feldman, Morton, 40 Fernandez, Oscar Lorenzo, 53 Ferrero, Willy, 301–302 Fine, Irving, 27 Finney, Ross Lee, 26–27 Fitzgerald, John F., 70–71 Floyd, Carlisle, 87 folklore, 118–124; American folk music popular in Russia, 118; of ancient vintage, 121; “anonymous” folk songs, 119; Charles Borel-Clerc, 120; determining folk music, 118–119; folkloristic rhythmicians,

349 6; “Funiculi Funicula,” 121; harmonic element in folk songs, 122; Jose Inzenga, 123; “La Matchiche,” 120; “Londonderry Air,” 121–122; Luigi Denza, 121; Nikolai RimskyKorsakov, 123; Paltchikov, 123; peasant songs, 123–124; on radio and television commercials, 120; religious songs, 120; Russian songs, 122–123; Spanish Capriccio, 123; Spanish songs, 123; “Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht,” 120; “The Marseillaise,” 122; “Volga Boatmen’s Song,” 122 Foss, Lukas, 35, 87 Fou de la Dame, Le (The Queen’s Bishop), 319–320 Fountain, The, 136 Four Saints in Three Acts, 135 Friml, Rudolf, 85 Fry, William Henry, 79–80 “Funiculi Funicula,” 121 Galindo, Blas, 54 Gamba, Pierino, 302 García, Manuel, 76–77 Gatti-Gasazza, Giulio, 81 geometric notation, 103 German musicians during WWI, 69 German Quartette Club of Hoboken, 57–58 Gershwin, George, 86, 100, 113 “ghost” tones, 277 Giannini, Vittorio, 83 Gilbert, Henry, 4 Gilmore, Patrick, 61–63 Gilson, Paul, 299 Ginastera, Alberto, 53 Glazunov, Alexander, 108 Godowsky, Leopold, 292 Goldschmitt, Adolf, 230–231 Gradus ad Parnassum (Clementi), 317 Grandmother Chord, 111 grand opera, 71, 73, 75 Grand Opera House of San Francisco, 78 Graves, Robert, 66

350 Great National Peace Jubilee, 61 Grenadier Guards Band, 63 Grossmutterakkord, 97–98 Grove, Sir George, 232–233 Grove’s Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 270, 295 Gruber, Franz, 120 Guarnieri, Camargo, 53 Guttoveggio, Joseph, see Creston, Paul Hadley, Henry, 83 Haieff, Alexei, 50 Hale, Philip, 66–67, 295 Halffter, Rodolfo, 54 Haman and Mordecai, 226 Hamilton, W. H., 75–76 Hammerstein, Oscar, 82 Handel, George Frideric, 217–229; The Beggar’s Opera, 226; British composer, classified as, 226; Burney’s description of, 218; comparison to Bach, 221; death of, 229; as director of opera company, 225; Esther, 227–228; and Faustina Bordoni, 225–226; and Francesca Cuzzoni, 225; Haman and Mordecai, 226; imitating style of, 221–222; Largo, 219; life of, 222–225; Messiah, 219, 220, 227–228; musical vocabulary of, 218; perfection in music, 218; Porpora’s blow to operatic ambitions, 227; Samson and Delilah, 227; Semele, 228; Senesino, mezzo-soprano, 226; Serse, 219; Solomon, 228; symbol of exalted classicism, 217; “The Harmonious Blacksmith,” 221; Water Music, 224 Hanson, Howard, 21 Harris, Roy, 7–9 Havana Opera Company, 78 Hawkins, Micah, 76 Heifert, Vladimir, 299 Heifetz, Jascha, 303 Henselt, Adolf, 317 Herbert, Victor, 85 Hewitt, James, 75 Hindemith, Paul, 6, 108, 134 Hin und Zuruck, 134

Index History of a Soldier, 112–113 Hofmann, Josef, 68–69, 304–305 Holmes, Edward, 238 Holter, Ivor, 299 Hopkins, Charles Jerome, 58, 81 Hopkinson, Francis, 74 Horn, Charles Edward, 76 Horner, Jacqueline, 307 Hovhaness, Alan, 31–32 Huneker, James Gibbons, 312 If, 127 “I Got Rhythm,” 113 Imbrie, Andrew Welsh, 28 improvisation, 128 Inzenga, Jose, 123 Italian opera, 73, 76 Ives, Charles, 4–5, 110, 112, 138 Jacobi, Frederick, 24–25 Jahn, Otto, 230, 234 Jaques-Dalcrose method, 278–279 jazz, 128 Jeux d’eau, 153 Johnson, Lockrem, 31 John Street Theater, 75 Jones, Sidney, 299 Kaleidophone, 104 Karel, Rudolf, 299 Kastle, Leonard, 87 Kern, Jerome, 85–86 Kirchner, Leon, 32–34 Klavarskribo notation, 116 Klein, Fritz Heinrich, 95–98 Kohs, Ellis B., 31 Korngold, Erich Wolfgang, 281, 305–306 Koussevitzky, Serge, 212–216; admiration of Arthur Nikisch, 215–216; conducted Fantastic Symphony, 212; encouragement to American composers, 213–214; founder of Berkshire Music Center, 216; founder of publishing house, 216; Poem of Ecstasy featured at

Index opening concert, 213; requiring players to rehearse, 214–215 Krenek, Ernst, 48, 96, 106; comparisons of Verdi and Wagner, 220–221; Jonny spielt auf, 133–134 Kugelhand method, 315 Kunwald, Ernst, 69 Lady Macbeth of the District of Mtzensk, 133 Lajeunesse, Emma, 297–298 Landowska, Wanda, 149, 161–164 Laparra, Raoul, 299 Latin American chamber music, 52–54; see also names of specific composers Lees, Benjamin, 30 Leschetizky, Theodor, 314–315 Lhevinne, Rosina, 315–316 Liberman, Alexander, 129 Life of Mozart, 238 Lincoln, Abraham, 56–57, 73–74 Lind, Jenny, 78 listening; analytical, 143–147; architectonic, 147; creative, 143; instinctive, 144; intellectual, 143, 148 Liszt, Franz, 94–95, 316 Loesser, Frank, 86 Loewe, Frederick, 86 “Londonderry Air,” 121–122 Lopatnikoff, Nikolai, 49 Love for Three Oranges, The, 133 Ludendorff, Mathilde, 239–240 Ludus Tonalis, 108 Maazel, Lorin, 302 MacDowell, Edward, 4 Maelzel, Johann Nepomuk, 320 Mahler, Gustav, 81 Maiden’s Prayer, The, 116 Malevitch, Kasimir, 140 Malibran, Maria, 77 Malipiero, Francesco, 209–211 Mamelles de Tiresias, Les, 135 Manhattan Opera Company, 82 “Marseillaise, The,” 122 Martinu, Bohuslav, 48

351 Mason, Daniel Gregory, 299 medicine, mind and music, 256–267; cholera, 258–260; emotions, 266–267; melosomatics, 256; neuroses, 257–258; nostalgia, 260; odontology, 261; otology, 267; pharmacopoeia, 265–266; rhythm, 263–265; sanity, 262; suicide, 260–261; therapeutics, 262–263; veterinary, 261–262 Medium, The, 87, 134 melodic and harmonic systems, 91–99; alternating intervals, 99; composition technique, 92; determining presence or absence of tritone arithmetically, 96; ditone chords, 98; Grossmutterakkord, 97–98; Lisztian augmented triads, 94–95; Lisztian Faust triads, 95; modulatory progressions, 98; MoussorgskyDebussy harmonization, 92; Mutterakkord, 95–98; nonrepetition principle, 92–93; repetition principle, 92; translating into language of tones, 96–97; tritone, 93–94; twelve-tone technique, 94 Mennin, Peter, 29 Menotti, Gian Carlo, 86–87, 134 Menuhin, Yehudi, 304 Messiah, 219, 227–228 Metropolitan Opera House, 81–83 Metropolitan Theater of San Francisco, 78 Milhaud, Darius, 7, 134 Milyukova, Antonina Ivanovna, 178–186 Miraculous Mandarin, The, 134–135 “Modern Accelerator, The,” 151 Moldau, The, 150 Mona, 82 Monteux, Pierre, 288 Moore, Douglas, 24, 87 Morris, Harold, 24 Moussorgsky, Modest, 92, 295 Mozart, Genius und Mensch, 231–232 Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus, *funeral of, 230–241 Mozart and Salieri, 237 Muck, Karl, 69

352 Mugnone, Leopoldo, 299 musical annotation, 309–310 musical chronology, pitfalls of, 295–300 Music, a Science and an Art, 278 music criticism, 308–313 musicians playing together, 291–294 Musique Concrète, 138 Musique d’ameublement, 138 Musorgsky, Modest, see Moussorgsky, Modest Mutterakkord, 95–98 Nabokov, Nicolas, 50 Nancarrow, Conlon, 110 National Conservatory of Music, 60 National Opera Company, 60 National Peace Jubilee Festival, 155 Native American composers, 4 Neukomm, Sigismund, 238–239 Nevin, Arthur, 83 New York City Opera Company, 84 Nikisch, Arthur, 215–216 Noces, Les, 330–336 nonrepetition principle, 92–93 Nose, The, 133 notation, musical, 106–117; audiovisual, 113–114; Augenmusik, 109–110; Crab Step (Krebsgang), 108–109; Discordoscope, 115; Grandmother Chord, 111; intervallic symbolism of Bach, 109; Klavarskribo notation, 116; polymetric combinations, 113; polyrhythmic design, 113; pragmatic simplification, 110; Schillinger System, 108; syncopated passages, 111; visible patterns, 107; visual measurement of dissonances, 115 Object for Destruction, 136–137 Oedipus Rex, 92 Old American Company in New York, 74–75 opera companies; see also names of specific opera companies; Handel, director of, 225; in Midwestern cities, 78; in twentieth century, 84

Index opera in United States, 73–88; see also names of specific operas; specific composers Oppenheim, Meret, 136 Pachmann, Vladimir de, 66–67 Paderewski, Ignace, 315 Paine, John Knowles, 80 Palmer, Robert, 29–30 Palmo’s Opera House, 77 Parade, 137 Parker, Horatio William, 82 Park Theater, 77 Pastoral Symphony, 109 Pathètique, 107 Patti, Adelina, 68, 78–79 Paz, Juan Carlos, 53–54 peasant songs, 123–124 Pelissier, Victor, 75 Pellegrini Opera Company, 78 Perle, George, 31 Persichetti, Vincent, 28 Per-Symph-Ens, 287, 293 Peterson-Berger, Wilhelm, 299 Petrushka, 323–329; authentic Russian folk songs in, 324–325; free borrowing in, 325; genesis of, 325; production of, 328 Philadelphia Civic Opera Company, 84 Philidor’s Defense, 319 pianists, teachers and virtuosi, 314–317; see also names of specific pianists Picabia, Francis, 137–138 Pirro, André, 299 Pisk, Paul Amadeus, 48–49 Piston, Walter, 11–12 pitch, 152, 280; see also absolute pitch Poeme mystique, 41 Poem for Tables, Benches and Chairs, A, 138 Poem of Ecstasy, 213 polyrhythmy, 113 Ponte, Lorenzo da, 77 Porter, Cole, 86 Porter, Quincy, 25–26 Poulenc, Francis, 135, 162

Index Pratt, Silas Gamaliel, 64–65, 80–81 “prepared piano,” 40 Prokofiev, Sergei, 133, 320–322 Prunières, Henri, 299 Puccini, Giacomo, 296 Rachmaninoff, Sergei, 316 radio commercials, 120 radio waves, 151–152 Rameau, Jean-Philippe, 296 Rascoe, Burton, 300 Ravel, Maurice, 110, 153 Read, Gardner, 31 Reif, Paul, 319 Reinagle, Alexander, 75 Relâche, 137–138 religious songs, 120 rhythm, 263–265 Ricci, Luigi, 269 Riegger, Wallingford, 17–18, 112 Rimsky-Korsakov, Nikolai, 99, 123 Rochberg, George, 32 Rodgers, Richard, 86 Rogers, Bernard, 21 Rolland, Romain, 299 Romberg, Sigmund, 85 Rosing, Vladimir, 85 Rôze, Marie, 66 rubato style, 292 Rubinstein, Anton, 65, 67–68, 316 Russian songs, 122–123, 324–325 Sacre du Printemps, Le, 110, 111–112 Salieri, Antonio, 237–239 Salomé, 70–71 Salzedo, Carlos, 19 Samson and Delilah, 227 Sand, George, 187, 192–193 San Francisco Opera Company, 84 Sang du Poète, Le, 135–136 Santa Cruz, Domingo, 54 Saraband for the Golden Goose, 39 Satie, Erik, 137–138 Savage, Henry Wilson, 84 Scarlatti, Domenico, 299 Schaeffer, Pierre, 138

353 Schillinger System, 100–105, 108 Schoenberg, Arnold, 6, 107, 110, 127, 128, 137 Scholder, Hattie, 302–303 Schröder-Devrient, Wilhelmine, 269 Schubert, Franz, 114, 305 Schuller, Gunther, 34–35, 140 Schuman, William, 9–10, 87 Schumann, Robert, 111, 114, 150 Seguin, Arthur, 77 Seidl, Anton, 81 Semele, 228 serial music, 128, 139–140 Serse, 219 Servais, François, 269–270 Sessions, Roger, 13–15 sex and music librarians, 268–273; autobiography of Wilhelmine Schröder-Devrient, 269; Baker’s Biographical Dictionary of Musicians, 269; Chopin letters to Delphina Potocka, 272; courtship of Miss Smithson by Berlioz, 273; François Servais, 269–270; Giusto Ferdinando Tenducci, 272; Grove’s Dictionary, 270; illegitimacy of Wagner, 271; Johannes Brahms, 271–272; knowing composer’s sex syndrome, 270–271; Ludwig van Beethoven, 273; Luigi Ricci, 269; musical bastardy, 270; proper place of, 269; Pytor Tchaikovsky, 270–271; Richard Wagner, 271; sex scandal about musicians, 272; sexual unwasities, 271–272; Sigismond Thalberg, 270 Shapero, Harold, 28 Shaw, Arnold, 100 Shostakovitch, Dimitri, 133 Six Apparitions of Lenin on a Piano, 136 Smetana, Bedrich, 150 Smith, Elihu Hubbard, 75 Sobolewski, Eduard de, 79 Solomon, 228 Sonnambula, La, 77

354 sound; general discussion, 150–151; high frequency waves, 154; loudness of, 154–155 Southard, Lucien, 79 Spanish Capriccio, 123 Stabat Mater, 91 standard pitch, 152, 280 “Star-Spangled Banner, The,” 56–57, 144 Stein, Gertrude, 135 Steinert, Alexander, 242–243 Stevens, Halsey, 30–31 “Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht,” 120 Story of the Instruments, The, 114–115 Strauss, Johann, 63, 292 Strauss, Richard, 70–71, 127 Stravinsky, Igor, 6, 92, 106–107; History of a Soldier, 112–113; Le Sacre du Printemps, 110, 111–112; Les Noces, 330–332; Petrushka, 134, 323–331; statement on judgment of his music, 331; style of, 330 Studies in Black and White, 116 Suite for Toy Pianos, 138 Surinach, Carlos, 50–51 surrealism, music and, 132–141; Möbius band, 140; Musique Concrète, 138; Musique d’ameublement, 138; polytonal or atonal, 139; “psychic automatism,” 135; Pythagorean scale, 132; serial music, 139–140; Surrealist libretto, 135 Sutej, Miroslav, 140 Tabor Opera House, 85 Taneyev, Sergey, 107 Tchaikovsky, Pyotr Ilyitch, 107, 114; Antonina Ivanovna Milyukova, wife of, 178–186; decline of money, 168; heterosexual melancholy in music, 270–271; house made into museum, 165; and Madame von Meck, 165–186; petition to Emperor, 169 Tenducci, Giusto Ferdinando, 272 Thalberg, Sigismond, 270 Theatrical Piece, 141 Thomas, Theodore, 63–64, 82

Index Thompson, Randall, 25 Thomson, Virgil, 20, 86, 244–246 Three Places in New England, 112 Thurber, Jeannette M., 59–61, 81–82 Toch, Ernst, 47–48, 247–248 Tosca, 92 Toscanini, Arturo, 81 Townsend, Douglas, 31 tritone, 93–94, 96 Turn of the Screw, The, 134 twelve-tone (twelve-note) music, see dodecaphonic music Varèse, Edgar, 19, 107, 140 Vengerova, Isabelle, 314–315 Verdi, Giuseppe, 79, 220–221 Verrall, John, 31 Villa-Lobos, Heitor, 52–53, 109 Vinatieri, Felice, 79 Vivaldi, Antonio, 299 “Volga Boatmen’s Song,” 122 von Meck, Madame, 165–186 von Webern, Anton, 299 Wagenaar, Bernard, 49 Wagner, Richard, 63–64; comparisons to Verdi, 220–221; description of Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony, 309; illegitimacy of, 271; and Liszt’s daughter, 271 War Memorial Opera House, 84 Water Music, 40, 224 Webb, Clara Louise, 302 Weber, Ben, 31, 295–296 Weill, Kurt, 86 Weiss, Adolph, 39 Wells, H. G., 151 Whitman, Walt, 73 Wieniawski, Henri, 65 Witkowski, G. M., 299 Wolff, Christian, 40 Wolpe, Stefan, 50 World Peace Jubilee, 62–63 World’s Fair Columbian Exposition, 64 Youmans, Vincent, 86 Young, La Monte, 138


absolute music, relativity of, 4:126–4:127 absolute pitch, 4:277–4:281; child prodigies and, 4:306 a cappella works, 3:256 Achorripsis, 3:81 acoustics, 4:150–4:157 adaptationism, 2:179–2:180 Adohmyan, Lahn, 1:151–1:152 aeromusic, 1:162 aesthetics, 4:125–4:131 Akhmatova, Anna, 1:88, 1:98 Alain, Johan, 4:299 Alaleona, Domenico, 3:104 aleatory music, 4:128 Alekhine, Alexander, 4:319 Alesksey, Tsar, 2:6–2:7 Alexandroff, Anatol, 2:147 Alexandrov, Alexander, 2:19, 2:165 Allen, Paul, 1:40–1:41, 4:83 All in the Spring Wind, 3:144–3:145 Altenberg Lieder, 3:68 Altenberg, Peter, 3:68 Altschuler, Modest, 2:50 Alyabyev, Alexander, 2:8 Amahl and the Night Visitors, 4:87 American Ballads, 3:320 American chamber music, 4:3–4:55; see also names of specific composers American concert life, 4:56–4:72 American music, 3:56–3:65; constructivist composers, 3:61; Elliott Carter, 3:61; George Gershwin, 3:63;

Gian Carlo Menotti, 3:63; John Cage, 3:57–3:58; Leonard Bernstein, 3:63; Lukas Foss, 3:63; Marc Blitzstein, 3:62; neoclassicism, 3:64–3:65; Norman Dello Joio, 3:62; operas, 3:61–3:63; Peggy Glanville-Hicks, 3:63–3:64; progress of American music, 3:56–3:57; Randall Thompson, 3:62; Roger Sessions, 3:61; romanticism, 3:59; short satirical operas, 3:62–3:63; utilitarian music, 3:59–3:60; Vincent Persichetti, 3:61; Walter Piston, 3:60–3:61 American Opera Company, 4:59–4:60, 4:81–4:82, 4:85 American Portraits: 1929, 3:246 Amériques, 3:213 Amiable Conversation, 3:112 Amirov, Fikret, 2:196–2:197 Andreyev, V., 2:5 And the Fallen Petals, 3:140, 3:145 Antheil, George, 1:18–1:19, 1:41, 1:51, 1:80, 1:139, 3:15–3:16, 3:58, 3:112, 4:19, 4:83 Antoniou, Theodor, 3:79 Anvil Chorus, 4:62, 4:79 Apollinaire, Guillaume, 4:135, 4:137 Araja, Francesco, 2:8 Araújo, Gomes de, 3:31 Arcana, 3:206, 3:216 Ardevol, José, 1:138, 3:10, 4:54 Arditi, Luigi, 4:78 Arensky, Anton, 2:12, 2:45, 2:55 Armenian Radio, 2:223–2:224 355

356 Arte dei rumori, 3:70 Asafiev, Boris, 2:18, 2:58, 2:147 Asatiani, Lian, 2:239 Association of Contemporary Music in Leningrad, 2:16 Association of Proletarian Musicians, 2:182 atonality, 1:58, 1:122–1:125, 1:152, 1:175, 3:158; definition of, 1:123; school of, 1:170 Aufschwung (Schumann), 4:111 Augenmusik, 1:64, 4:109–4:110 Auric, Georges, 1:37, 1:88, 2:128 Avierino, Nicolas, 1:7–1:10 Avierino, Olga, 1:8, 1:9–1:10 Avraamov, Arsenyi, 4:132 Ayala, Daniel, 1:178 Babbitt, Milton, 3:95–3:96, 3:96–3:97, 3:113–3:114 Bach, Johann Sebastian, 4:109, 4:221; musical transcription of, 1:166–1:167; Well-Tempered Clavichord, 1:160–1:161 Bachelet, Alfred, 4:299 Bachianas Brasileiras, 3:29, 3:224, 4:53 Bair, 2:145 Bakunin, Mikhail, 2:187 Balakirev, Mili, 1:81, 1:101, 1:103, 1:151, 2:41, 2:166, 2:169, 2:195; Islamey, 2:9; The Mighty Five and, 2:9, 2:25–2:26, 2:35; RimskyKorsakov and, 2:38; Russian folk songs and, 2:4, 2:24; “Vision,” 2:28 Balanchine, George, 2:238–2:239 Balanchivadze, Andrei, 2:238–2:239 Balasanian, 2:163 Ballad of Baby Doe, The, 4:87 ballad-operas, 4:73 Ballet mecanique, 3:112 Ballet Russe, 2:13, 2:16, 2:63; see also Diaghilev, Sergei; Russian composers and, 2:13–2:14 Ballo in Maschera, Un, 4:56 Bandura, Jovan, 1:138 Banshee, The, 3:149 Barbacci, Rodolfo, 3:28, 3:38–3:39

Cumulative Index Barber, Samuel, 2:206, 2:207, 2:209, 3:58, 3:111, 4:23–4:24 Barbiere di Siviglia, Il, 4:76 Barblan, Otto, 4:299 Barker, J. U., 4:75 Bartok, Bela, 1:157, 2:129, 2:211, 3:115, 3:129–3:133, 4:6, 4:134–4:135 Barton, Andrew, 4:74 Beautiful Blue Danube, 4:63 Becker, John, 4:18 Beecham, Sir Thomas, 1:4, 4:289 Beethoven, Ludwig van, 1:104, 1:145, 1:148, 1:170, 2:4, 2:98, 2:129, 2:150, 2:154, 2:198, 4:150, 4:153; controversy between Schindler and, 4:283; funeral of, 4:240–4:241; interest in sex of, 4:273; Pastoral Symphony, 4:109; philosophically analytic interpretation of works, 4:284; Razumovsky Quartets, 2:23 Beggar’s Opera, The, 4:73, 4:226 Behrend, William, 4:299 Belaieff, Mitrofan (Belaiev), 2:42, 2:49–2:50, 2:55 Belaiev, Victor, 1:73, 1:93 Beloussov, Evsei, 4:277 Belyi, Victor, 2:147 Belza, Igor, 2:225 Bembe, 3:8 Benedictine Monks of Solesmes, 1:141 Benois, Albert, 2:63 Benois, Alexandre, 2:63 Berezovsky, Maxim, 2:7 Berezowsky, Nicolai, 4:49 Berg, Alban, 1:126, 1:170, 2:183, 2:192, 2:210, 3:54, 3:68, 4:94; Wozzeck, 2:128 Berger, Arthur, 3:97, 4:27 Bergsma, William, 4:28 Berio, Luciano, 3:118 Berlin, Irving, 1:62 Berlioz, Hector, 1:14, 1:37, 2:29, 4:58–4:59, 4:273, 4:284–4:285 Bernstein, Leonard, 3:63, 3:111–3:112, 4:32, 4:86, 4:87 Bertrand, M. René, 1:33 Bezimensky, 2:94–2:95

Cumulative Index bitonality, 1:90 Bitswell, Herbert, 4:302 Black Maskers, The, 3:200 Blackwood, Easley, 3:64, 4:30 Blanter, Matuei, 2:19, 2:164 Blazkov, Igor, 2:114a, 2:216–2:218 Bliss, Arthur, 4:319 Blitzstein, Marc, 1:135, 3:62, 3:250–3:251, 4:86 Bloch, Ernest, 1:18, 1:19, 1:41, 1:42, 1:51, 1:76–1:81, 3:200–3:201, 4:6–4:7, 4:40–4:47; “America,” 1:76, 1:80; Concerto Grosso, 1:79; Jewish identity of, 1:78–1:80; “Macbeth,” 1:78; Shelomo for Cello and Orchestra, 1:79; Suite for Chamber Orchestra, 1:80; Suite for Viola and Orchestra, 1:80; “The Jewish Poems,” 1:78–1:79 Blow the Man Down, 3:280 Boero, Felipe, 3:42 Boeuf sur le Toit, Le, 4:134 Bond, Carrie Jacobs, 1:39 Boogie-Woogie Suites, 3:192 Boor, The, 3:179 Bordoni, Faustina, 4:225–4:226 Borel-Clerc, Charles, 4:120 Boris Godounov, 4:91 Borodin, Alexander, 1:81, 1:151, 2:19, 2:140, 2:166, 2:169; “Conceit,” 2:28; The Mighty Five and, 2:9, 2:25–2:26, 2:35; prime number signatures and, 2:22; Prince Igor, 2:10; Second Symphony, 2:10; In the Steppes of Central Asia, 2:10; “The Sea,” 2:28 Bortniansky, Dmitri, 2:7 Boston Ideal Opera Company, 4:83–4:84 Boston Opera House, 4:84 Boulanger, Nadia, 1:17, 1:42, 1:114, 1:129, 1:161–1:162, 3:110–3:111, 3:240 Brahms, Johannes, 4:113, 4:271–4:272 Brant, Henry, 3:92–3:93 Braudo, Eugene, 1:167 Bray, John, 4:75 Breton, André, 4:135, 4:137, 4:139

357 Bristow, George Frederick, 4:80 Britten, Benjamin, 4:134 Brown, Earle, 3:114, 4:40 Brusilovsky, Eugeni, 2:162 Buck, Dudley, 4:80 Buhlig, Richard, 1:18 Burbank, Richard, 3:125 Burco, Ferruccio, 4:302 Burmeister, Richard, 4:299 Busoni, Ferruccio, 4:317; Doktor Faust, 2:128 Cage, John, 3:57–3:58, 3:88–3:89, 3:113, 3:114, 4:39–4:40, 4:128, 4:140; “prepared piano,” 4:40; Suite for Toy Pianos, 4:138; Theatrical Piece, 4:141; Water Music, 4:40 Canaro, Francisco, 3:26 Capablanca, José Raúl, 4:318–4:319 Carpenter, John Alden, 1:41 Carrillo, Julián, 3:29–3:30 Carter, Elliott, 3:61, 4:35–4:37; Second String Quartet, 2:207 Casella, Alfredo, 1:14–1:16, 1:62, 1:63–1:66, 1:71, 1:85, 1:93, 2:128, 2:129, 3:17–3:18; atonality and, 1:64; chromaticism and, 1:65; Concerto Romano, 1:64, 1:65; “Evolution of Music,” 1:15; “Italia,” 1:64; musical diction of, 1:65; “Pages of War,” 1:15, 1:64; “Partita,” 1:15, 1:66; polytonality and, 1:15; “Scarlattiana,” 1:15, 1:66; Serenato for Clarinet, Bassoon, Trumpet, Violin and Violoncello, 1:64; Sonata for Piano and Violoncello, 1:64–1:65; “Twentieth Century Style,” 1:14 Castagnone, Riccardo, 3:21 Castañeda, José, 3:25, 3:32–3:33 Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Mario, 4:49 Castle Square Opera Company, 4:84 Castro, José María, 3:42, 3:43 Caturla, Alejandro García, 1:138, 3:8–3:9, 3:25, 3:134–3:137 Cavalieri, Lina, 4:299–4:300 Celebration, 3:284 Centauro do Ouro, see Golden Centaur, The

358 Central City Opera House, 4:85 Cephalus and Procris, 2:8 Chadwick, George W., 1:40 Chaikovsky, Pyotr, see Tchaikovsky, Pyotr Ilyitch Chaliapin, Feodor, 2:27 Challenge: 1940, 3:268–3:269 Chalupt, René, 1:88 chamber music, see names of specific composers; Latin American composers Chaminade, Cecile, 4:299 Chanler, Teddy, 3:13 Chapayev, 1:154–1:157 Charpentier, Gustave, 1:21 Chasins, Abraham, 1:185 Chavez, Carlos, 1:42, 1:176–1:179, 4:54; “Energia,” 1:177; “H. P.,” 1:176; “Los Custro Soles,” 1:177; Proletarian Symphony, 1:158, 1:177; “Pyramid,” 1:177; “Republican Overture,” 1:177; Sonatina, 1:158; “Three Hexagons,” 1:177 Cherepnin, Nicolas, see Tcherepnin, Nicolas chess in music, 4:318–4:322; Alexander Alekhine, 4:319; Arthur Bliss, 4:319; Checkmate, 4:319; Johann Nepomuk Maelzel, 4:320; José Raúl Capablanca, 4:318–4:319; Le Fou de la Dame (The Queen’s Bishop), 4:319–4:320; Marcel Delannoy, 4:319–4:320; parallels between chess and music, 4:322; Paul Reif, 4:319; Sergei Prokofiev, 4:320–4:322 Chicago Civic Opera Company, 4:84 Chicago Lyric Theater, 4:84 child prodigies, 4:301–4:307; Clara Louise Webb, 4:302; Erich Wolfgang Korngold, 4:305–4:306; Ferruccio Burco, 4:302; Franz Schubert, 4:305; Hattie Scholder, 4:302–4:303; Herbert Bitswell, 4:302; Jacqueline Horner, 4:307; Jascha Heifetz, 4:303; Josef Hofmann, 4:304–4:305; Lorin Maazel, 4:302; Miada Czerny, 4:302; Mischa Elman, 4:304; Pierino Gamba, 4:302; Willy Ferrero, 4:301–4:302; Wolfgang Mozart, 4:305; Yehudi Menuhin, 4:304

Cumulative Index Children of Pireus, The, 3:80 Children’s Theater in Moscow, 2:82, 2:143, 2:157 Chilean composers, 3:24, 3:25 Chisko, Oles, see Tchishko, Oles Chopin, Frédéric, 1:2, 4:187–4:208; certificate of baptism, 4:188; controversy about, 4:200–4:203; date of birth, 4:187–4:189; death of, 4:192, 4:193; in eyes of musical press, 4:195–4:196; fear of burial alive, 4:192–4:193; French origin of father, 4:189; great-grandparents of, 4:190; heart, burial of, 4:193; hostility of Musical World toward, 4:197–4:205; letters to Delphina Potocka, 4:272; Maurice Schlesinger, 4:197–4:198; Nocturne, 2:74; Polish, question of being, 4:190; state of mind before death, 4:192; stories published about, 4:193–4:195; Valse brillante, 2:74 chords, 1:149–1:150, 1:166 Chorikon, 3:80 Choros, 3:224 Chou, Wen-chung, 3:138–3:147; And the Fallen Petals, 3:140, 3:145; form of work, 3:143; Landscapes, 3:140, 3:144–3:145; linear movement motives in, 3:142; rhythm in work, 3:143; Seven Poems of Ta’ng Dynasty, 3:146–3:147; Soliloquy of a Bhiksuni, 3:146; tempo in work, 3:143; tonality in work, 3:142; vertical amplification, 3:142–3:143; The Willows Are New, 3:145–3:146 Christmas Tree, The, 3:99 Christou, Jani, 3:74–3:77 Chronicle of Prince Igor, 2:5 Cimarosa, Domenico, 2:8 Cimarron, 3:270 Clarke, Henry Leland, 4:39 Claudel, Paul, 1:179 Clementi, Muzio, 4:317 Cliburn, Van, 2:231 Clifton, Arthur, 4:75–4:76 Coates, Albert, 1:69

Cumulative Index Cocteau, Jean, 1:11, 1:56, 4:135–4:136; Markevitch and, 1:115; Oedipus Rex, 1:4; “Parade,” 1:59 Coerne, Louis Adolphe, 4:83 Collet, Henri, 2:128 color associations in music, 2:13, 2:37–2:38 Communist Party, Central Committee of, 2:169, 2:171, 2:174, 2:176 composers, see names of specific composers composition by geometry, 1:160–1:161 Concert Champêtre (Poulenc), 4:162 Concord Sonata, 3:110, 3:166–3:167 conductors; in 1875, 4:286; child conductors, 4:301; early conductors, 4:283; evolution of, 4:282–4:283; importance of, 4:292–4:293; necessity of, 4:293; orchestral player rising to, 4:289–4:290; revealing art and concealing artist, 4:288; turning back to public, 4:285 Conius, Edouard, 4:107–4:108 Conservatory of St. Petersburg, 1:82 Conservatory of Tiflis, 2:65–2:66 constructivist composers, 3:61 Consul, The, 4:87 Contreras, Salvador, 1:178 Converse, Frederick, 1:40 Coolidge, Elizabeth Sprague, 2:77 Copland, Aaron, 1:16–1:19, 1:39, 1:42, 1:57, 1:177, 2:207, 3:59, 3:111, 4:15–4:17, 4:69–4:70, 4:87; Copland-Sessions concerts, 4:15; jazz and, 1:60; Sessions and, 1:16–1:19; “Two Pieces for String Quartet,” 1:17; “Vocalise,” 1:39 Coronela, 3:46 Cortes, Ramiro, 4:30 counterpoint, 1:103–1:104 Cowell, Henry, 1:47–1:51, 1:137, 1:175–1:176, 2:129, 2:209, 3:15, 3:60, 3:112–3:113, 3:148–3:152, 4:18–4:19, 4:110; “Amiable Conversation,” 1:49; “Antinomy,” 1:49; “Music of the Future,” 1:51; New Music, 1:42, 1:49, 3:152; Polyphonica, 3:151; Rhythmicana,

359 3:150; String and Percussion Piano, 1:48; Suite for Violin and Piano, 1:158; Synchrony, 3:150–3:151; tone-clusters and, 1:41, 1:48, 1:49–1:50, 1:158 Crab Step (Krebsgang), 4:108–4:109 Craft, Robert, 3:66 Crawford, Ruth, 1:18, 1:42, 4:37–4:38 Création du Monde, La (Milhaud), 4:134 Creston, Paul, 3:59, 4:23–4:24 Crumb, George, 3:89–3:90, 3:114 Cuban music, 3:6–3:11; Alejandro García Caturla, 3:8–3:9, 3:25, 3:134–3:137; Amadeo Roldan, 3:7–3:8; instruments, 3:6; Jose Ardevol, 3:10; Maria Munoz de Quevedo, 3:10–3:11; orchestra, 3:6; Pedro Sanjuan, 3:9–3:10; Philharmonic Orchestra, 3:10; Rumba, 3:6 Cui, Cesar Antonovich, 1:81, 1:101–1:102, 2:9, 2:25, 2:26, 2:29, 2:35, 2:42 Cuzzoni, Francesca, 4:225 Czar Alexander III, 2:224 Czech composers, 2:25 Czerny, Carl, 4:316–4:317 Czerny, Miada, 4:302 Dahl, Ingolf, 4:50 Dali, Salvador, 4:136 Dallapiccola, Luigi, 3:18–3:20, 3:54 Damrosch, Leopold, 4:81 Damrosch, Walter, 4:69, 4:81 Danielou, Alain, 1:4 Dankevich, Konstantin, 2:196, 2:218 Daphnis et Chloé, 3:71 d’Arezzo, Guido, 1:149 Dargomijsky (Dargomyzhsky), Alexander, 1:54, 2:27, 2:29; Kamennyi Gost, 2:9; Kazatchok, 2:25; Russalka, 2:9 Debussy, Claude, 1:48, 1:59, 1:89, 1:91, 1:98, 1:103, 1:124, 1:177, 2:38, 2:73, 2:208, 3:100, 4:91; biography of, 1:172–1:174; La Mer, 2:28; “Pelléas”, 1:109, 1:173

360 Debussy, Lilly, 1:173 De Falla, Manuel, 1:103 Delaney, Robert, 1:17 Delannoy, Marcel, 4:319–4:320 Delgadillo, Luis A., 3:23 Dello Joio, Norman, 3:62, 4:24, 4:87 Denza, Luigi, 4:121; “Funiculi Funicula,” 2:23 Déserts, 3:211 Deshevov, Vladimir; Ice and Steel, 2:15; The Rails, 2:16, 2:150 Desiccated Embryos, 3:69 Desir, 3:100 Diaghilev, Sergei, 1:168, 1:181, 1:182, 2:157, 4:325–4:326, 4:332; Ballet Russe in Paris and, 2:13, 2:74; see also Ballet Russe; Markevitch and, 1:113, 1:115, 1:116; Russian composers and, 2:13–2:14, 2:79–2:80; Sleeping Beauty and, 1:6 Diamond, David, 3:59, 4:21 Dichotomy, 3:197 Die Musik, 1:136, 1:137, 1:142 d’Indy, Vincent, 1:89, 1:139 Discordoscope, 4:115 Disney, Walt, 3:217 ditone chords, 4:98 dodecaphonic music, 1:119, 1:123, 1:125, 1:136, 1:175, 2:184, 2:192, 2:201, 2:208, 2:210, 3:50–3:55, 3:170, 4:5, 4:6, 4:41, 4:94–4:95, 4:127–4:128, 4:145; Alban Berg, 3:54; Anton von Webern, 3:54; Arnold Schoenberg, creator of, 3:50–3:54; arranging twelve tone rows, 3:51–3:52; disciples of Arnold Schoenberg, 3:54–3:55; dissonances and consonances, 3:53; Ernst Krenek, 3:54; Fartein Valen, 3:55; Franz Liszt, 3:53; Fritz Klein, 3:53; Josef Matthias Hauer, 3:52; Klavierstück for piano, 3:55; Luigi Dallapiccola, 3:54; twelve-tone composition method, 3:51–3:52 Dolzhansky, A., 2:215 Dom Mocquerau, 1:141 Dom Pothier, 1:141 doppler effect, 4:151

Cumulative Index Dorian mode, 3:298 Dowling, Lyle, 4:100 Droeghmans, Maurice, 1:9 Druskin, Mikhail, 2:184–2:185 Dubuffet, Jean, 4:129 Duchamp, Marcel, 4:136 Duffey, Beula (Johana Harris), 3:261–3:263 Dukelsky, Vladimir, 1:51–1:54, 1:179–1:183, 2:14, 4:50; aka Vernon Duke, 1:182; Concerto in the key of C Major, 1:181; Diaghilev and, 1:53; folk tunes and, 1:54; La DemoisellePaysanne, 1:181; Piano Concerto in C Major, 1:52–1:54; Stravinsky and, 1:54; Symphony in F, 1:51; The Yellow Mask, 1:181; Zephir and Flore, 1:181 Dunayevsky, Isaac, 2:19, 2:136, 2:148, 2:173; Song About Love, 2:153 Durey, Louis, 1:11, 1:37, 2:128 Dushkin, Samuel, 1:109, 2:78; Duo Concertant, 1:158 Dvorak, Anton, 1:62, 4:3–4:4, 4:61 dynaphone, 1:33 Dzerzhinsky, Ivan, 2:15, 2:136, 2:145–2:146, 2:163; The Blood of the People, 2:145; Podniataya Tselina (Soil Uprooted), 2:15, 2:145, 2:159, 2:161; Tikhyl Don (Quiet Flows the Don), 2:15, 2:133, 2:140, 2:145, 2:161 Eames, Emma, 4:298 Eastman, George, 1:xi, 4:85 Eastman School, 1:xi Ecuatorial, 3:211 Edition Russe de Musique, 2:51 Edman, Irwin, 3:285 Eisenstein, Sergei, 1:155 Eisler, Hanns, 1:123, 1:152, 2:173, 2:184, 2:193 Elektra, 3:216 Eliot, T. S., 1:xiv Ellis, A. J., 1:160 Elman, Mischa, 4:304 Elson, Louis, 2:38

Cumulative Index emotional content of music, 4:266–4:267 Engel, Julius, 2:55 environmental music, 3:121–3:122 Escher, Maurits Cornelis, 4:140 Espace, 3:212 Essipova, Anna, 2:80, 4:314–4:315 euphonious dissonances, 3:102–3:103 Evans, Edwin, 1:44–1:47 Evocation, 3:85–3:86 expressionism, 4:127 Falla, Manuel de, 2:38 Fanciulla del West, La, 4:83 Fantaisie-Impromptu, 4:116 Fantastic Symphony, 4:212, 4:284–4:285 Farwell, Arthur, 3:237–3:238, 4:4 Faure, Gabriel, 4:150 Faust Symphony, 4:42, 4:94 Feinburg, Samuel, 2:147 Feldman, Morton, 3:91, 4:40 Fernandez, Oscar Lorenzo, 4:53 Ferrero, Willy, 4:301–4:302 Festin de l’Araignée, Le, 3:71–3:72 Findeisen, Nicolas, 2:7 Fine, Irving, 4:27 Finney, Ross Lee, 4:26–4:27 Fitzgerald, John F., 4:70–4:71 Five Orchestral Pieces, 3:67 Floyd, Carlisle, 4:87 folklore, 3:116, 3:118, 4:118–4:124; American folk music popular in Russia, 4:118; of ancient vintage, 4:121; “anonymous” folk songs, 4:119; Charles Borel-Clerc, 4:120; determining folk music, 4:118–4:119; folkloristic rhythmicians, 4:6; “Funiculi Funicula,” 4:121; harmonic element in folk songs, 4:122; Jewish, 2:18, 2:147; Jose Inzenga, 4:123; “La Matchiche,” 4:120; “Londonderry Air,” 4:121–4:122; Luigi Denza, 4:121; Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, 4:123; Paltchikov, 4:123; peasant songs, 4:123–4:124; on radio and

361 television commercials, 4:120; religious songs, 4:120; Russian, see Russian folklore; Spanish Capriccio, 4:123; Spanish songs, 4:123; “Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht,” 4:120; “The Marseillaise,” 4:122; “Volga Boatmen’s Song,” 4:122 folk music, 1:147, 1:151, 1:157, 3:116; Bulgarian, 1:138; Mexican, 1:158, 1:176; Russian, see Russian folk music; Turkish, 1:147 Folksong Symphony, 3:267–3:268, 3:319 Fomin, Evstigney, 2:8 Foote, Arthur, 1:40 Forest Play, 3:154 formalism, 2:169, 2:177, 2:215; critique of, 2:169–2:174; definition of, 2:215 Fortner, Wolfgang, 3:80 Foss, Lukas, 3:63, 4:35, 4:87 Fou de la Dame, Le (The Queen’s Bishop), 4:319–4:320 Fountain, The, 4:136 Four Nocturnes for Violin and Piano (Night Music II), 3:89–3:90 Four Saints in Three Acts, 3:62, 4:135 Fourth of July, The, 3:162 Franck, César, 1:107, 2:56 Freedom’s Land, 3:269 Friml, Rudolf, 4:85 Frolov, 2:163 Fruit of Gold, 3:283 Fry, William Henry, 4:79–4:80 “Funiculi Funicula,” 4:121 “furniture music,” 3:118 Futurist movement, 1:41, 1:98, 1:140, 1:162, 3:70–3:71 Gadzhibekov, Uzeir, 2:136 Galeano, Ignacio Villanueva, 3:30–3:31 Galindo, Blas, 4:54 Galliard, John Ernest, 3:4 Galuppi, Baldassare, 2:8 Gamba, Pierino, 4:302 García, Manuel, 4:76–4:77 Gatti-Gasazza, Giulio, 4:81 Gavazzeni, Gianandrea, 3:21–3:22 Gazouleas, Stephanos, 3:79

362 Gebrauchmusik, 1:158, 1:170 geometric notation, 4:103 Georgian Composers’ Union, 2:207, 2:212 German musicians during WWI, 4:69 German Quartette Club of Hoboken, 4:57–4:58 Gershkovich, F., 2:185–2:187 Gershwin, George, 2:197, 2:209, 3:63, 3:116, 3:116–3:117, 4:86, 4:100, 4:113 Gershwin, Ira, 1:41, 1:180 Gettysburg Address Symphony, 3:276 “ghost” tones, 4:277 Giannini, Vittorio, 4:83 Gide, André, 2:78 Gilbert, Benjamin F., 1:20 Gilbert, Henry, 1:19–1:23, 1:40, 4:4 Gilman, Lawrence, 1:74 Gilmore, Patrick, 4:61–4:63 Gilson, Paul, 4:299 Gilson-Gilbert, Therese A., 1:20 Ginastera, Alberto, 4:53 Gladkovsky and Prussak: Za Krasnyi Petrograd, 2:15 Glanville-Hicks, Peggy, 3:63–3:64 Glass, Philip, 3:119 Glazunov, Alexander, 1:81–1:85, 1:86, 2:12, 2:50, 2:55, 2:65, 4:108; ballet music and, 1:84; chord, 1:83; compositions of, 2:42; counterpoint of, 1:84; folk tunes and, 1:84; influences on, 1:83; Liszt and, 2:43; modernism and, 2:44; “Moyen Age,” 1:84; national music and, 2:41; oriental music and, 2:43; reception of, 2:42; Rimsky-Korsakov and, 2:41; Shostakovich and, 1:169; Sixth Symphony, 1:83; “Volga Boatmen’s Song,” 1:84; “Stenka Razin,” 1:84; St. Petersburg Conservatory and, 2:43; Symphony in E, 1:82; Variations for Pianoforte, 1:83 Glebov, Igor, 1:76, 2:18, 2:147 Glière, Reinhold, 1:93, 2:12, 2:18, 2:45–2:47, 2:79, 2:144; Hitler’s End Will Come, 2:138, 2:144; Red Poppy,

Cumulative Index 2:23, 2:46–2:47, 2:136, 2:159; Shakh-Senem, 2:45, 2:162 Glinka, Mikhail (Michael) Ivanovich, 1:54, 1:100, 1:104, 1:181, 2:8, 2:22, 2:63, 2:76, 2:166, 2:215, 3:122; Ivan Susanin (A Life for the Tsar), 2:8, 2:26–2:27, 2:57, 2:63, 2:135, 2:166, 2:224; Kamarinskaya, 2:9, 2:25; Ruslan and Ludmila, 2:8, 2:26 Glinka, Shestakova, 1:100, 1:102 Gnessin, Mikhail (Michael), 2:18, 2:144, 2:147; Symphonic Monument, 2:195 Godet, Robert, 1:173 Godowsky, Leopold, 4:292 Goedicke, Alexander, 2:144 Gogol, Nicolai, 1:101, 2:17, 2:29, 2:85, 2:145, 2:156 Goldberg, Isaac, 1:57 Golden Centaur, The (Centauro do Ouro), 3:47, 3:220, 3:222 Goldschmitt, Adolf, 4:230–4:231 Golenischev-Kutusov, Arseny A., 1:101 Goossens, Eugène, 1:43–1:47; chromatic composing of, 1:45–1:46; “East of Suez,” 1:47; “Hurdy-Gurdy Man,” 1:46–1:47; Phantasy Quartet, 1:47; Rhythmic Dance, 1:46; Second Sonata for Violin and Piano, 1:159 Goossens, Eugène, Sr., 1:44 Goossens, Léon, 1:44 Gorky, Maxim, 2:50 Gounod, Charles, 2:160 Grabovsky, Leonid, 2:114a, 2:217 Gradus ad Parnassum (Clementi), 4:317 Grandmother Chord, 4:111 grand opera, 4:71, 4:73, 4:75 Grand Opera House of San Francisco, 4:78 graphic notation, 3:114 Graves, Robert, 4:66 Grazia, Sebastian de, 2:120 Great National Peace Jubilee, 4:61 Greek music, 3:73–3:84; Anestis Logothetis, 3:83; Arghyris Kounadis, 3:80; Arnold Schoenberg, 3:73–3:74; Dimitri Levidis, 3:78; George Leotsakos, 3:83; Georges Poniridis, 3:77; George Tsouyopoulos,

Cumulative Index 3:82–3:83; Ianis Xenakis, 3:81–3:82; Jani Christou, 3:74–3:77; Manos Hadzidakis, 3:80; Metatropes, 3:74; Nikos Mamangakis, 3:82; Nikos Skalkottas, 3:73–3:74; Patterns and Permutations, 3:74; Petro Petridis, 3:77–3:78; Stephanos Gazouleas, 3:79; stochastic music, 3:82; Theodor Antoniou, 3:79; Yannis Ioannidis, 3:79; Yiannis Papaioannou, 3:78; Yorgo Sicilianos, 3:76–3:77 Gregorian chant, 1:141, 1:144 Grein, Gregory, 2:18 Grenadier Guards Band, 4:63 Gretchaninov, Alexander (Gretchaninoff), 2:8, 2:12, 2:13, 2:29–2:30 Grossmutterakkord, 4:97–4:98 Grove, Sir George, 4:232–4:233 Grove’s Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 4:270, 4:295 Gruber, Franz, 2:142, 4:120 Grzimali, Ivan V., 1:8 Guarnieri, Camargo, 4:53 Gulak-Artemovsky, Semyon Stepanovitch, 2:211 Guttoveggio, Joseph, see Creston, Paul Haba, Alois, 1:147 Hadley, Henry, 4:83 Hadzidakis, Manos, 3:80 Haieff, Alexei, 4:50 Hale, Philip, 3:72, 4:66–4:67, 4:295 Halffter, Rodolfo, 4:54 Haman and Mordecai, 4:226 Hamilton, W. H., 4:75–4:76 Hammerstein, Oscar, 4:82 Handel, George Frideric, 4:217–4:229; The Beggar’s Opera, 4:226; British composer, classified as, 4:226; Burney’s description of, 4:218; comparison to Bach, 4:221; death of, 4:229; as director of opera company, 4:225; Esther, 4:227–4:228; and Faustina Bordoni, 4:225–4:226; and Francesca Cuzzoni, 4:225; Haman and Mordecai, 4:226; imitating style

363 of, 4:221–4:222; Largo, 4:219; life of, 4:222–4:225; Messiah, 4:219, 4:220, 4:227–4:228; musical vocabulary of, 4:218; perfection in music, 4:218; Porpora’s blow to operatic ambitions, 4:227; Samson and Delilah, 4:227; Semele, 4:228; Senesino, mezzo-soprano, 4:226; Serse, 4:219; Solomon, 4:228; symbol of exalted classicism, 4:217; “The Harmonious Blacksmith,” 4:221; Water Music, 4:224 Hanslick, Eduard, 2:38 Hanson, Howard, 3:58, 3:153–3:156, 4:21 Harburg, E. Y., 1:180 Harishkin, Simeon, 2:6 Harris, Johana, 3:261–3:263 Harris, Roy, 1:42, 1:126–1:131, 1:139, 2:122, 2:207, 2:209, 3:12–3:13, 3:59, 3:111, 3:231–3:334, 4:7–4:9; Abraham Lincoln, influence on, 3:231–3:233, 3:276, 3:318; Concerto for Clarinet, Piano and String Quartet, 1:130; concerto in Paris, 3:240–3:242; counterpoint, 3:291; form, 3:292; Overture from the Sadness and Gayety of the American Scene, 1:130–1:131, 3:247; genius of, 3:248–3:249; gloomy grandeur of, 3:250–3:251; harmony, 3:292; high pitch in work, 3:281–3:284; intervals and tonality, 3:293–3:299; and Leroy Harris, 3:233–3:235; lucky number five, 3:261–3:263; melodic inspiration and moods of, 3:267–3:271; melody, 3:290–3:291; modern classicism, 3:303–3:311; orchestration, 3:293; Piano Sonata, 1:130; polytonality and, 1:130; rhythm, 3:291; salute to Soviet Society, 3:273–3:275; seven tones of the modal scale and, 1:129; sphere of harmonies, 3:299–3:303; symphonies, 3:251–3:253, 3:275–3:277, 3:311–3:318; vocal writing, 3:293; work for Jascha Heifetz, 3:263–3:266

364 Hauer, Josef Matthias, 1:175, 3:52, 3:104; “Twelve-Tone Music,” 1:122–1:123 Havana Opera Company, 4:78 Hawkins, Micah, 4:76 Heifert, Vladimir, 4:299 Heifetz, Jascha, 3:263–3:266, 4:303 Henry, Leigh, 1:120–1:121 Henselt, Adolf, 4:317 Herbert, Victor, 4:85 Hertz, Alfred, 1:128 Herzka (Hertzka), Emil, 1:147 Heseltine, Philip, 1:153 Hewitt, James, 4:75 Hill, Edward Burlingame, 1:40 Hindemith, Paul, 2:172, 3:104, 4:6, 4:108, 4:134; Concerto for Orchestra, 1:61; “Suite 1922,” 1:61 Hin und Zuruck, 4:134 Hippius, Zinaida, 2:58 History of a Soldier, 4:112–4:113 Hofmann, Josef, 4:68–4:69, 4:304–4:305 Holmes, Edward, 4:238 Holter, Ivor, 4:299 Honegger, Arthur, 1:34–1:38, 1:126, 2:128, 2:129, 2:211; Ansermet and, 1:12; Concertino, 1:61; “Homage to Ravel,” 1:36; “Horace Victorieux,” 1:38; “Judith,” 1:37; “King David,” 1:10–1:11, 1:37; “Pacific 231,” 1:11, 1:34–1:35, 1:37, 1:93, 1:162, 2:16; “Pastorale d’Ete,” 1:38; “Rugby,” 1:35; Sonata for Violin and Piano, 1:36; Stravinsky and, 1:12 Hopkins, Charles Jerome, 4:81, 4:58 Hopkinson, Francis, 4:74 Horgan, Paul, 1:xi Horn, Charles Edward, 4:76 Horner, Jacqueline, 4:307 Hovhaness, Alan, 4:31–4:32 Huneker, James Gibbons, 4:312 Hunting Horn Symphony, 1:148–1:149 Hyperprism, 3:206, 3:207 If, 4:127 “I Got Rhythm,” 3:117, 4:113

Cumulative Index Ilya Murometz, 2:46 Imbrie, Andrew Welsh, 4:28 Impressions of a Rainy Day, 3:239 improvisation, 4:128 Intégrales, 3:215 Interpunctus, theory of, 2:68–2:69, 2:70 intervallic specialization, 3:121 intervals, 1:166–1:167 Intonarumori, 3:70 Inzenga, Jose, 4:123 Ioannidis, Yannis, 3:79 Ionisation, 3:13, 3:115, 3:209–3:210 Ippolitov-Ivanov, Mikhail, 2:12, 2:45 Italian futurists, 3:69–3:70, 3:112 Italian music, modern, 3:17–3:22; Adone Zecchi, 3:20–3:21; Alfredo Casella, 3:17–3:18; Franco Margola, 3:21; Gianandrea Gavazzeni, 3:21–3:22; Gian Francesco Malipiero, 3:17–3:18; Gian Luca Tocchi, 3:18–3:20; Giulio Cesare Sonzogno, 3:21; Goffredo Petrassi, 3:18–3:19; Ildebrando Pizzetti, 3:17; Lino Liviabella, 3:20; Luigi Dallapiccola, 3:18–3:20; Ottorino Respighi, 3:17; Renzo Rosselini, 3:21; Riccardo Castagnone, 3:21; Riccardo Nielsen, 3:21 Italian opera, 4:73, 4:76 Ivan the Terrible, 2:7 Ives, Charles, 1:xiii, 1:42, 1:48, 1:131–1:136, 2:209, 3:57, 3:71, 3:72, 3:109–3:110, 3:157–3:169, 4:4–4:5, 4:110, 4:112, 4:138; “114 Songs,” 1:131; church harmony and music of, 1:132; Concord Sonata, 1:132, 1:133, 1:164; “December,” 1:135; Essays Before a Sonata (Concord, Massachusetts, 1840–1860), 1:131, 3:157 ; First Symphony, 1:134; The Fourth of July, 1:134, 1:135, 3:158, 3:162, 3:166 ; Fourth Sonata for Violin, 1:136; Fourth Symphony, 1:133, 1:164; “In the Alley,” 1:132; Ives & Myrick Insurance Company and, 1:132; Lincoln, the Great Commoner, 1:164, 3:166; as musical

Cumulative Index prophet, 3:165–3:169; as musical rebel, 3:157–3:165; Soliloquy and Dance, 1:135, 3:272, 3:309; “Thoreau,” 1:135, 3:164; Thoreau and, 1:133; Three Places in New England, 1:132, 1:133, 1:163, 1:164, 2:207; Washington’s Birthday, 1:134, 3:166; writing of, 1:132 Jacobi, Frederick, 4:24–4:25 Jahn, Otto, 4:230, 4:234 Jaques-Dalcroze (Dalcrose), Emile, 1:35, 4:278–4:279 Jatchaturyan, Aram, see Khatchaturian, Aram jazz, 1:38–1:43, 1:152, 2:197, 3:100, 3:117, 4:128; American, 1:55, 1:61–1:62, 2:152–2:153, 2:173; blues and, 1:60; Europe and, 1:54–1:63; improvisation, 1:58; notation and, 1:144; polyrhythms of, 1:60, 1:62; popularity of, 2:174; rhythms, 1:55; Soviet, 2:18, 2:110, 2:153, 2:173–2:174; theory of, 1:57 Jeppesen, Knud, 3:271–3:272 Jeux d’eau, 4:153 Johnson, Lockrem, 4:31 Johnson, Robert Underwood, 1:165 Johnson, Tom, 3:120 John Street Theater, 4:75 Jones, Sidney, 4:299 Jonny spielt auf, 3:117 Jrennikov, Tijon, see Khrennikov, Tikhon Kabalevsky, Dmitri, 2:18, 2:114a, 2:161, 2:177–2:178, 2:196, 2:198; At the Approaches to Moscow, 2:146; Sonatina for Piano, 2:159 Kadosa, Paul, 1:157; Partita for Violin and Piano, 1:158; Piano Concerto, 1:158 Kalafati, Basil (Vasili), 1:95, 2:72 Kaleidophone, 4:104 Kalinnikov, Vassily, 2:12 Kalkbrenner, Frédéric, 1:14 Kalomiris, Manolis, 3:77 Kane, Helen, 1:57

365 Karel, Rudolf, 4:299 Kastalsky, Alexander, 2:24 Kastle, Leonard, 4:87 Kay, Ulysses, 3:170–3:179; best works of, 3:173; dramatic expression of, 3:179; first works of, 3:172–3:173; harmonies in music, 3:177; modernism of, 3:170; musical memories of, 3:171–3:172; polyphonic writing, 3:176; use of instrumentation, 3:178; use of melodic line, 3:174–3:175

Kâzim, Neil, 1:147 Keldysh, Yuri, 2:205 Kelley, Edgar Stillman: New England Symphony, 1:40 Kentucky Spring, 3:283 Kern, Jerome, 4:85–4:86 Ketelbey, Albert, 2:154 Khatchaturian, Aram, 2:18, 2:144, 2:146, 2:161–2:162, 2:163, 2:171, 2:200–2:203, 2:229, 2:238; formalism and, 2:169; Gayane, 2:168, 2:202, 2:229; Heroic Moscow, 2:146; “On Creative Boldness and Inspiration,” 2:176–2:182; Poem about Stalin, 2:146, 2:167; Rhapsody-Concerto (Rhapsody), 2:199; Spartacus, 2:201–2:202, 2:229, 2:239; Symphonie-Poème, 2:170–2:171 Khomiakov, 2:28 Khrennikov, Tikhon (Kehrennikov, Tikkon) (Khrennikoff, Tikhon), 2:114b, 2:114e, 2:146, 2:161, 2:170, 2:172, 2:175, 2:196–2:197, 2:213; The Blood of the People, 2:168; Brothers, 2:15; During the Storm, 2:140, 2:146, 2:213 Khrushchev, Nikita; critique of modern music by, 2:183, 2:184, 2:187, 2:208–2:209, 2:235; musical tastes of, 2:215, 2:241 Kiev Conservatory, 2:218, 2:227 Kind, Johann Friedrich, 2:63 Kirchner, Leon, 4:32–4:34 Klavarskribo notation, 4:116 Klein, Fritz Heinrich, 3:53, 3:113, 4:95–4:98

366 Knipper, Leo (Lev), 2:18, 2:139–2:140, 2:146–2:147, 2:161; Fourth Symphony, 2:164; “Polyushko Pole” (“Meadowland”), 2:19, 2:163, 2:164; Severnyl Veter (North Wind), 2:15 Kodalyi (Kodály), Zoltán, 1:157 Kohs, Ellis B., 4:31 Koltzov, Michel, 1:154 Korngold, Erich Wolfgang, 4:281, 4:305–4:306 Koshetz, Nina, 1:10 Kounadis, Arghyris, 3:80 Koussevitzky, Serge, 1:xi, 2:49, 2:51–2:52, 3:251–3:252, 3:264, 3:273–3:274, 4:212–4:216; admiration of Arthur Nikisch, 4:215–4:216; conducted Fantastic Symphony, 4:212; encouragement to American composers, 4:213–4:214; founder of Berkshire Music Center, 4:216; founder of publishing house, 4:216; Poem of Ecstasy featured at opening concert, 4:213; requiring players to rehearse, 4:214–4:215; Slonimsky and, 1:xii Koval, Marian, 2:139, 2:175; Emelian Pugatchov, 2:101, 2:139, 2:144, 2:147, 2:167 Kozlovsky, Ivan, 2:163 Krashnukha, G., 2:154 Krein, Alexander, 2:18, 2:144, 2:147; Ode to Lenin, 2:147, 2:167 Krein, Gregory, 2:147 Krein, Julian, 1:186, 2:18, 2:147, 2:194 Krenek, Ernst, 1:62, 2:128, 2:211, 3:54, 4:48, 4:96, 4:106; comparisons of Verdi and Wagner, 4:220–4:221; Jonny spielt auf, 4:133–4:134 Krylov, Pavel, 2:177 Kryzhanovsky, Ivan, 2:58 Kugelhand method, 4:315 Kunwald, Ernst, 4:69 Lady Macbeth of the District of Mtzensk, 3:123, 4:133 Lajeunesse, Emma, 4:297–4:298 Lamm, Paul, 1:73

Cumulative Index Landowska, Wanda, 1:9, 4:149, 4:161–4:164 Landscapes, 3:140, 3:144–3:145 Laparra, Raoul, 4:299 Latin American composers, 3:23–3:49; Alejandro García Caturla, 3:8–3:9, 3:25, 3:134–3:137; Alfonso Leng, 3:25; and American critics, 3:28–3:29; Andres Sas, opinions of, 3:36–3:38; chamber music, 4:52–4:54; Chilean composers, 3:24, 3:25; copyrighting of music from, 3:26; corresponding with, 3:39–3:40; in Ecuador, 3:26–3:27; Francisco Canaro, 3:26; in Guatemala, 3:33; Guillermo Uribe Holguin, 3:25; how earn living, 3:24–3:25; José Castañeda, 3:25, 3:32–3:33; judgment of values of, 3:34–3:35; Julián Carrillo, 3:29–3:30; Luis A. Delgadillo, 3:23; musical violence in Argentina, 3:27–3:28; obtaining manuscripts from, 3:40–3:48; political complexion of, 3:48–3:49; prizes awarded, 3:23–3:24; purchasing published music of, 3:48; Raoul de Verneuil, 3:38; Rodolfo Barbacci, 3:38–3:39; self-appreciation of, 3:30–3:31; Universalism and Indigenism present in music from, 3:29 League of Composers, 1:16, 1:39 Lee Fisien Ming, 2:69 Lees, Benjamin, 3:180–3:189, 4:30; Concerto for Chamber Orchestra, 3:186; concertos by, 3:184–3:185; contrasts in music, 3:181; Fourth Piano Sonata, 3:188–3:189; Gestalt, 3:187–3:188; Medea in Corinth, 3:182; rhythmic percussion in work of, 3:180–3:181; Spectrum for orchestra, 3:187; symphonist, 3:183; Third Symphony of, 3:184; tripartite symmetry, 3:185–3:186; The Trumpet of the Swan, 3:182–3:183 Leng, Alfonso, 3:25 Lenin, V. I., 2:167, 2:171 Leningrad; Association of Contemporary Music, 2:150, 2:174; Conservatory, 1:169, 2:129, 2:133,

Cumulative Index 2:193, 2:195; Philharmonic Orchestra, 2:115, 2:142 Leotsakos, George, 3:83 Leschetizky, Theodor, 4:314–4:315 Leskov, 2:88 Les Sylphides, 2:74 Lesur, Daniel, 2:114b Levidis, Dimitri, 3:78 Lhevinne, Rosina, 4:315–4:316 Liadov, Anatole, 1:81, 1:119, 2:4, 2:12, 2:55, 2:58, 2:80; Russian folk songs and, 2:24 Liatoshinsky, Boris, 2:147; Shchors, 2:15, 2:162 Liberman, Alexander, 4:129 Life of Mozart, 4:238 Lincoln, Abraham, 4:56–4:57, 4:73–4:74 Lind, Jenny, 4:78 listening; analytical, 4:143–4:147; architectonic, 4:147; creative, 4:143; instinctive, 4:144; intellectual, 4:143, 4:148 Liszt, Franz, 1:3, 3:53, 4:94–4:95, 4:316 Litinsky, Genrik, 2:194–2:195 Little Suite, 3:299 Liviabella, Lino, 3:20 Lockwood, Normand, 2:36 Locrian mode, 3:298 Loeffler, Charles Martin, 1:40, 1:43 Loesser, Frank, 4:86 Loewe, Frederick, 4:86 Logothetis, Anestis, 3:83 “Londonderry Air,” 4:121–4:122 Lopatnikoff, Nikolai, 4:49 Lourié, Arthur, 1:39, 1:97–1:99, 2:127–2:128 Love for Three Oranges, The, 4:133 Lowell, Joan, 1:55 Ludendorff, Mathilde, 4:239–4:240 Ludus Tonalis, 4:108 Lux Aeturna, 3:154 Lvov, Alexei, 2:7 Lvov, G., 2:170–2:171 Lvov, Nicolas, 2:4, 2:23 Lydian mode, 3:298

367 Maazel, Lorin, 4:302 MacDowell, Edward, 1:20–1:21, 1:39–1:40, 3:109–3:110, 4:4; Woodland Sketches, 1:39 Machavariani, Eugene, 2:114a, 2:238 Maelzel, Johann Nepomuk, 4:320 Maeterlinck, Maurice, 1:124 Mahler, Gustav, 1:170, 3:124, 4:81 Maiden’s Prayer, The, 4:116 Makarova, Nina, 2:18, 2:147, 2:162, 2:200, 2:202, 2:229, 2:238 Malevitch, Kasimir, 4:140 Malibran, Maria, 4:77 Malipiero, Gian Francesco, 3:13, 3:17–3:18, 4:209–4:211 Malko, Nicolas, 1:169, 2:92 Mallarmé, Stephane, 1:36 Mamangakis, Nikos, 3:82 Mamelles de Tiresias, Les, 4:135 Mamoulian, Rouben, 1:xi Manfredini, Vincenzo, 2:8 Manhattan Opera Company, 4:82 Manifesto Futurista Della Aeromusica, 1:162 Mann, Thomas, 3:105 Man of Aran, 3:15 Margola, Franco, 3:21 Marinetti, F. T., 1:41, 1:143, 1:162 Marinkovic, Josef, 1:138 Mariscal, Manuel, 1:178 Marjollet, Serge, 1:9 Markevitch, Igor, 1:113–1:117, 2:14 “Marseillaise, The,” 4:122 Marshak, 2:122 Martin, Frank, 1:35, 1:61 Martinu, Bohuslav, 1:1, 4:48 Martynov, Ivan, 2:205 Marx, Joseph, 1:147 Marx, Karl, 1:140 Marxism, artistic, 2:129 Mason, Daniel Gregory, 4:299 Mayakovsky, Vladimir, 1:98, 1:151, 1:170 Mayer-Serra, Otto, 3:44 Medea in Corinth, 3:182 medicine, mind and music, 4:256–4:267; cholera, 4:258–4:260;

368 emotions, 4:266–4:267; melosomatics, 4:256; neuroses, 4:257–4:258; nostalgia, 4:260; odontology, 4:261; otology, 4:267; pharmacopoeia, 4:265–4:266; rhythm, 4:263–4:265; sanity, 4:262; suicide, 4:260–4:261; therapeutics, 4:262–4:263; veterinary, 4:261–4:262 Medium, The, 4:87, 4:134 Medoza, Vincente, 1:178 Medtner, Nicolas, 2:12 Meitus, Julius, 2:150 Melgunov, 2:21, 2:24 melodic and harmonic systems, 4:91–4:99; alternating intervals, 4:99; composition technique, 4:92; determining presence or absence of tritone arithmetically, 4:96; ditone chords, 4:98; Grossmutterakkord, 4:97–4:98; Lisztian augmented triads, 4:94–4:95; Lisztian Faust triads, 4:95; modulatory progressions, 4:98; MoussorgskyDebussy harmonization, 4:92; Mutterakkord, 4:95–4:98; nonrepetition principle, 4:92–4:93; repetition principle, 4:92; translating into language of tones, 4:96–4:97; tritone, 4:93–4:94; twelve-tone technique, 4:94 Memories and Commentaries, 3:66 Mencken, H. L., 1:65 Mennin, Peter, 3:90, 4:29 Menotti, Gian Carlo, 3:63, 4:86–4:87, 4:134 Menuhin, Yehudi, 4:304 Merry Mount, 3:156 Messiah, 4:219, 4:227–4:228 metamathematical music, 3:67 Metatropes, 3:74 Metropolitan Opera House, 4:81–4:83 Metropolitan Theater of San Francisco, 4:78 Mexico, 1:176–1:177 Meyerbeer, Giacomo, 2:15, 2:135, 2:160 Mezières Theater, 1:12

Cumulative Index Miaskovsky, Nicolas Yakovlevich, 1:93, 3:123; absolute music and, 2:58; “Autobiographical Notes,” 2:58–2:59, 2:159–2:160; compositions of, 2:58; folk motives and, 2:60; formalism and, 2:169, 2:171; Glière and, 2:58; Hippius and, 2:58; “Lenin Song,” 2:59; Rimsky-Korsakov and, 2:57–2:58; romanticism of, 2:58; second symphonic period of, 2:59; Shostakovich and, 2:131; St. Petersburg Conservatory and, 2:58; symphonies of, 2:18, 2:58–2:62, 2:133, 2:140, 2:143, 2:213; third symphonic period of, 2:59; “Wings of the Soviets,” 2:59 Mighty Five, The, 1:101–1:103, 2:9, 2:10, 2:12, 2:26, 2:35, 2:73; see also Balakirev, Mili Mignone, Francisco, 3:28, 3:48–3:49 Mihalovici, Marcel, 1:147 Milhaud, Darius, 1:11, 1:12, 1:37, 1:45, 1:46, 1:115–1:116, 1:177, 2:129, 2:211, 4:7, 4:134; “Bull on the Roof,” 1:106; jazz and, 1:60–1:61; Les Malheurs d’Orphée, 2:128 Miloyevic, Miloj, 1:138 Milyukova, Antonina Ivanovna, 4:178–4:186 Miraculous Mandarin, The, 4:134–4:135 “Modern Accelerator, The,” 4:151 modernism; denunciation of, 2:168–2:174, 2:183, 2:225; Soviet, 2:156 modernist composers, 3:12–3:16; Edgar Varèse, 3:13–3:15; George Antheil, 3:15–3:16; Henry Cowell, 3:15; Roy Harris, 3:12–3:13 modern music, overview, 3:3–3:5 Mogutchaya Kutchka, see Mighty Five, The Mokranjc, Stevan, 1:138 Mokreyeva, Galina, 2:216–2:217 Mokroussov, Boris, 2:138–2:139, 2:144 Moldau, The, 4:150 Mona, 4:82 Moncada, Eduardo, 1:178

Cumulative Index Moncayo, Pablo, 1:178 Monologue, 3:82 Montagu-Nathan, M., 2:19 Monteux, Pierre, 4:288 Moore, Douglas, 4:24, 4:87 Morozova, Margarita, 2:50 Morris, Harold, 4:24 Morsima-Amorsima, 3:81 Moscow; Conservatory, 2:11, 2:46, 2:139, 2:224; Festival of Music, 2:139, 2:141, 2:143; “School,” 2:12 Mossolov, Alexander, 1:92–1:94, 2:191, 2:195, 2:239; “Four Advertisem*nts,” 1:93; influences on, 1:93; Iron Foundry, 2:95, 2:144; “Music of Machines,” 1:92, 1:93; “Steel,” 1:93; Zavod, 2:16, 2:150 Moussorgsky (Mussorgsky) (Musorgsky), Modest Petrovich, 1:81, 1:100–1:104, 1:151, 2:27, 2:35, 2:195, 4:92, 4:295; Boris Godunov, 1:73–1:76, 1:102, 2:10, 2:110, 4:91; counterpoint and, 1:103–1:104; “Doll,” 1:104; “Golliwog’s Cakewalk,” 1:59; harmony of, 1:103; influence of, 2:140; “Intermezzo passion,” 1:101; Khovanshchina, 2:10; Marriage, 1:101, 2:10; The Mighty Five and, 1:103, 2:9, 2:25; national folklore and, 2:10; Pictures at an Exhibition, 2:10, 2:195; prime number signatures and, 2:22; RAPM and, 2:129, 2:154; Rayok, 2:29; Rimsky-Korsakov and, 1:73–1:75, 1:100, 1:102–1:103; The Songs of Death, 2:29; “Summer Motiv,” 1:104; “Trepak,” 1:104 Mozart, Genius und Mensch, 4:231–4:232 Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus, 2:225, 4:230–4:241 Mozart and Salieri, 4:237 Mravinsky, Eugene, 2:121 Muck, Karl, 4:69 Mugnone, Leopoldo, 4:299 Munch, Charles, 3:283 Munoz de Quevedo, Maria, 3:10–3:11

369 Muradelli, Vano, 2:18, 2:138, 2:147, 2:171; Great Friendship, 2:169–2:170 musical annotation, 4:309–4:310 musical chronology, pitfalls of, 4:295–4:300 musical comedies, European, 1:56 musical imagery, 3:141 Musical Times, 1:45 Music, a Science and an Art, 4:278 music criticism, 4:308–4:313; describing compositions, 4:309; different than musical annotation, 4:309–4:310; disappearance of fire-breathing music criticism, 4:312; Hanslick’s use of olfactory simile, 4:311; invasion of private life of composer, 4:311–4:312; judgment of language without words, 4:308; offensive remarks by witty persons, 4:311; qualities needed in, 4:312–4:313; visual images, 4:311; winged phrases by famous men, 4:309 Music for Percussion, 3:82–3:83 musicians playing together, 4:291–4:294 Music Since 1900, 3:125 Musique Concrète, 3:118, 4:138 Musique d’ameublement, 4:138 musique galante, 1:158 Mutterakkord, 4:95–4:98 Mystic Chord, 2:13 Nabokov, Nicolas, 2:14, 2:114d, 4:50 Nabokov, Vladimir, 1:186 Nancarrow, Conlon, 3:190–3:193, 4:110 National Conservatory of Music, 4:60 Nationalist School of St. Petersburg, 2:12, 2:195 National Opera Company, 4:60 National Peace Jubilee Festival, 4:155 national traditionalism, 2:215 Native American composers, 4:4 naturalism, 2:155 Nekrasov, Nikolai, 2:29 neo-classicism, 2:175, 3:64–3:65

370 Nestiev, Izrail, 2:173 Nestor, 2:6 Neukomm, Sigismund, 4:238–4:239 Nevin, Arthur, 4:83 New Economic Policy (NEP), 2:128, 2:134, 2:153 Newman, Ernest, 1:103, 1:119, 3:67 New Music, 3:152 New Musical Resources, 3:113 New York City Opera Company, 4:84 Nicolaev, Leonid, see Nikolaev, Leonid Nicolayevna, Nadezhda (Purgold), 2:34 Nicotra, Tobla, 1:66–1:72 Nielsen, Riccardo, 3:21 Nijinsky, Vaslav, 1:168 Nikisch, Arthur, 4:215–4:216 Nikolaev, Leonid, 1:169, 2:91, 2:122 Noces, Les, 4:330–4:336 Nono, Luigi, 2:184 nonrepetition principle, 4:92–4:93 Nose, The, 4:133 notation, musical, 1:144–1:145, 4:106–4:117; audio-visual, 4:113–4:114; Augenmusik, 4:109–4:110; Crab Step (Krebsgang), 4:108–4:109; Discordoscope, 4:115; Grandmother Chord, 4:111; intervallic symbolism of Bach, 4:109; Klavarskribo notation, 4:116; polymetric combinations, 4:113; polyrhythmic design, 4:113; pragmatic simplification, 4:110; Schillinger System, 4:108; syncopated passages, 4:111; visible patterns, 4:107; visual measurement of dissonances, 4:115 Object for Destruction, 4:136–4:137 Obouhov, Nicolas, 1:99, 3:104 Obraztsov, Sergei, 2:232 Octandre, 3:207 Ode To Friendship, 3:274 Ode To Truth, 3:269 Oedipus Rex, 4:92 Offenbach, Jacques, 1:56 Ogolevetz, Alexi, 2:174

Cumulative Index Oistrakh, David, 2:215 Old American Company in New York, 4:74–4:75 One Tenth of a Nation, 3:268 opera companies; see also names of specific opera companies; Handel, director of, 4:225; in Midwestern cities, 4:78; in twentieth century, 4:84 opera in United States, 4:73–4:88; see also names of specific operas; specific composers Oppenheim, Meret, 4:136 Orff, Carl, 3:116 Ornstein, Leo, 1:442 Oropeza, Roberto, 1:178 Orquesta Sinfonica of Mexico City, 1:176, 1:177, 1:178 Ostretsov, 2:89, 2:97 Ouchkoff, Natalie, 2:51 Overture from the Gayety and Sadness of the American Scene, 3:247 Pachmann, Vladimir de, 4:66–4:67 Paderewski, Ignace, 4:315 Paine, John Knowles, 4:80 Paisiello, Giovanni, 2:4, 2:8, 2:23 Paliashvili, Zakhari, 2:163 Palmer, Robert, 2:36, 4:29–4:30 Palmo’s Opera House, 4:77 Paltchikov, N., 2:4, 2:21, 2:23, 2:24 pandiatonicism, 1:158, 3:101 Papaioannou, Yiannis, 3:78 Parade, 4:137 Paris Commune, 2:160 Parisian chord, 3:302 Paris Schola Cantorum, 1:139 Parker, Horatio William, 1:40, 1:134, 4:82 Parker, H.T., 3:252–3:253 Park Theater, 4:77 Pashkevitch, Vassily, 2:8 Pastoral Symphony, 4:109 Pastore, Annibale, 1:72 Pathètique, 4:107 Patterns and Permutations, 3:74 Patti, Adelina, 2:29, 4:68, 4:78–4:79

Cumulative Index Pavlova, Anna, 2:66 Paz, Juan Carlos, 4:53–4:54 peasant songs, 4:123–4:124 Pelissier, Victor, 4:75 Pellegrini Opera Company, 4:78 Penis Dimension, 3:215 Perle, George, 4:31 Persichetti, Vincent, 3:61, 4:28 Persymfans (also Persimfans; PerSymph-Ens; Pervi Simfonitcheski Ansamble [First Symphonic Ensemble]), 2:15, 2:129, 2:151, 4:287, 4:293 Peterson-Berger, Wilhelm, 4:299 Peter the Great, 2:7 Petrassi, Goffredo, 3:18–3:19 Petridis, Petro, 3:77–3:78 Petrograd Conservatory, see St. Petersburg Conservatory Petroushka chord, 3:101 Petrushka, 2:63, 4:323–4:329; authentic Russian folk songs in, 4:324–4:325; free borrowing in, 4:325; genesis of, 4:325; production of, 4:328 Petyrek, Felix, 2:36 Philadelphia Civic Opera Company, 4:84 Philharmonic Orchestra of Havana, 1:138 Philidor’s Defense, 4:319 Phoenix Music, 3:75 pianists, teachers and virtuosi, 4:314–4:317; see also names of specific pianists Picabia, Francis, 4:137–4:138 Picasso, Pablo, 1:98 Pierrot Lunaire, 3:66–3:67 Pijper, Willem, 2:36, 2:68 Pirro, André, 4:299 Pisk, Paul Amadeus, 4:48–4:49 Piston, Walter, 1:175–1:176, 3:60–3:61, 3:94, 3:111, 3:194–3:195, 4:11–4:12 pitch, 1:159–1:160, 4:152, 4:280; see also absolute pitch Pithoprakta, 3:81 Pizzetti, Ildebrando, 3:17 player piano, 3:191

371 Poème électronique, 3:211–3:212 Poeme mystique, 4:41 Poem for Tables, Benches and Chairs, A, 4:138 Poem of Ecstasy, 2:13, 2:49, 2:51, 2:54, 4:213 Polovinkin, Leonid, 2:147 polymetric combinations, 4:113 Polyphonica, 3:151 polyphonic writing, 3:176 polyrhythmic design, 4:113 polyrhythmy, 1:60, 1:62, 3:158 polytonality, 1:3, 1:45, 1:58, 1:103, 1:106, 1:109–1:110, 1:115, 1:130, 3:18, 3:101, 3:158 Ponce, Manuel, 3:26; “Chapultepec,” 1:178 Poniridis, Georges, 3:77 Ponte, Lorenzo da, 4:77 Popov, Gabriel (Gavril), 2:128, 2:147, 2:161, 2:169, 2:171; Expressions, 2:173 Porgy and Bess, 3:63 Porter, Cole, 4:86 Porter, Quincy, 1:80, 4:25–4:26; Quintet for Piano and Strings, 1:18 Potemkin, 1:155, 1:156 Poulenc, Francis, 1:37, 1:88, 2:128, 4:135, 4:162 Pratch, Ivan, 2:4, 2:23, 2:24 Pratella, Francesco Balilla, 1:162, 3:70 Pratt, Silas Gamaliel, 4:64–4:65, 4:80–4:81 Pravda, 1:154, 1:156 “prepared piano,” 4:40 Principles of Proletarian Music, 2:16 Production Collective of Composers (PROCOLL), 2:152 progressivism, 2:215 Prokofiev, Sergei, 1:1, 1:51, 1:65, 1:85–1:88, 1:93, 2:114d, 2:180, 2:192, 2:219, 3:3, 3:123, 4:133, 4:320–4:322; 1941, 2:168; Alexander Nevsky, 2:17, 2:82, 2:101, 2:139, 2:143, 2:166, 2:180; Ballad of an Unknown Boy, 2:17, 2:143;

372 Prokofiev, Sergei (continued), ballets by, 2:81; Chout, 1:87; Classical Symphony, 1:85, 2:81; Desert Island, 2:80; Diaghilev and, 1:85, 2:79–2:80; displaced tonality of, 2:157; Feast During the Plague, 2:80; film music of, 2:81, 2:139; First Concerto, 1:86; The Flaming Angel, 1:87; formalism and, 2:169; The Gambler, 1:87; The Giant, 2:80; Glière and, 2:80; influence of, 1:181–1:182, 1:184–1:185; jazz and, 1:59–1:60; Lieutenant Kizhe, 2:82; Love for Three Oranges, 1:85, 2:128; lyricism of, 1:88; March for Band, op. 99, 2:157–2:158; Ode on the End of the War, 2:168; Opus One, 1:86; Overture on Russian Themes, 2:82, 2:133; Partisans of the Ukraine, 2:143; Le Pas d’Acier, 1:88, 2:16, 2:79–2:80; Peter and the Wolf, 2:82, 2:143, 2:157–2:158; piano concertos by, 2:82; The Prodigal Son, 2:81; Quintet, 1:20; Scythian Suite, 1:87, 2:80–2:81; Seven, They Are Seven, 1:87, 2:81; socialist realism and, 2:79; sources for music of, 1:87; Soviet music and, 2:14, 2:79, 2:133, 2:156–2:157, 2:163, 2:167; The Tale of a Real Man, 2:171–2:172; War and Peace, 2:17, 2:143, 2:211, 2:241 Prokofieva, Lina, 2:114b, 2:219 Proletarian Organization of Musicians, 3:122 Prometheus Bound, 3:75 Protiv Nepmanskoy Musiky, 2:153 Prunières, Henri, 1:172, 1:173, 4:299; La Revue Musicale, 1:32–1:33 Puccini, Giacomo, 4:296; Tosca, 2:15, 2:160 Pugatchov, Yemelian, 1:156 Purcell, Henry, 1:43 Pushkin, Alexander, 1:181, 2:9, 2:11, 2:36, 2:76, 2:80, 2:100, 2:225 Quarter-Tone Music, Society of, 2:152 Quevedo, Antonio and Maria de, 1:138 Quombex, 3:93

Cumulative Index Rachmaninoff, Sergey (Rachmaninov), 1:183–1:186, 2:19, 2:29, 2:51, 2:166, 4:316; “Lilacs,” 1:185; Prelude in C sharp minor, 1:185; Second Piano Concerto, 1:185, 2:12; Third Piano Concerto, 1:185–1:186 radio commercials, 4:120 radio waves, 4:151–4:152 rag rhythms, 1:59, 1:61 Rameau, Jean-Philippe, 1:150, 4:296 RAPM, see Russian Association of Proletarian Musicians Rascoe, Burton, 4:300 Rasin, Stenka, 1:156 Ravel, Maurice, 1:2, 1:11, 1:91, 1:110, 1:126, 1:177, 2:10, 3:71, 4:110, 4:153; L’Enfant et les Sortileges, 2:128; jazz and, 1:60; Violin Sonata, 1:60 Read, Gardner, 4:31 Rebikov, Vladimir, 2:13 rectograph, 3:46 Redfield, John, 1:24, 1:26 Reger, Max, 3:104 Reich, Steve, 3:119 Reif, Paul, 4:319 Reinagle, Alexander, 4:75 Relâche, 4:137–4:138 religious songs, 4:120 Rebambaramba, La, 3:8 Respighi, Ottorino, 3:17 Revelation of the Fifth Seal, The, 3:77 revolutionary songs, 2:5, 2:127 Revue Musicale, La, 1:173 Revueltas, Silvestro, 3:46; “8X Radio y Janitzio,” 1:178; “Colorines,” 1:178 rhumba, 3:6, 3:137 rhythm, 4:263–4:265 Rhythmicana, 3:150 rhythmicon, 3:150 Ricci, Luigi, 4:269 Riegger, Wallingford, 3:59, 3:87–3:88, 3:196–3:198, 4:17–4:18, 4:112 Riemann, Hugo, 2:67 Riesemann, Oskar von, 1:101 Rimsky-Korsakov, Andrey, 2:194–2:195 Rimsky-Korsakov, George, 2:129, 2:152

Cumulative Index Rimsky-Korsakov, Nicolas (Nicolai), 1:37, 1:62, 1:75, 1:89, 1:150, 1:151, 4:99, 4:123; Capriccio Espagnol, 2:38; Chronicle of My Musical Life, 1:81, 2:19, 2:33; color associations and, 2:37–2:38; compositions of, 2:36–2:38; eight-note scale of, 2:68; folk songs and, 2:4, 2:22; The Golden co*ckerel (Le Coq d’Or), 2:36–2:37, 2:67; influence of, 2:30, 2:39–2:40, 2:80; Kaschey the Immortal, 2:37; The Mighty Five and, 2:25–2:26; Mlada, 2:36; Musorgsky and, 1:73–1:75, 1:100, 1:102–1:103; nationalism and, 2:35; Neapolitan Song, 2:23; oriental themes in, 2:38; reception of, 2:33; rhythm and, 2:37; Russian Easter Overture, 2:38; Russian folk songs and, 2:24, 2:29; Sadko, 2:5, 2:9, 2:37, 2:39; Saminsky and, 1:119; Scheherazade, 2:10, 2:33, 2:36, 2:38, 2:40; Serbian Fantasy, 2:25; Shostakovich and, 1:169; Skazanye o Nevidimom Grado Kitezhe (The Invisible City of Kitezh), 2:10, 2:104; Snegurotchka (Snow Maiden), 2:9, 2:38; St. Petersburg Conservatory and, 2:35; Stravinsky and, 1:103, 2:13; tonepainting and, 2:68; Tsar Saltan, 2:10; Tsarskaya Nevesta, 2:10; Zolotoy Petushck, 2:10 Rios, Jose, 1:178 Rivera, Diego, 1:177 Rochberg, George, 4:32 rock music, 3:117 Rodgers, Richard, 4:86 Rodzinski, Artur, 3:246 Rogers, Bernard, 4:21 Rogowski, Ludomir, 2:36 Roldan, Amadeo, 1:138, 3:7–3:8 Rolland, Romain, 1:78, 4:299 Romanov, Constantin, 1:84 romanticism in American music, 3:58–3:59 Romantic Symphony, 3:155 Romberg, Sigmund, 4:85 Rosenfeld, Paul, 1:38–1:43, 3:243

373 Rosing, Vladimir, 1:xi, 4:85 Roslavets, Nicholas (Roslavetz), 2:128, 2:156 Rosselini, Renzo, 3:21 Roussel, Albert, 1:88–1:92, 3:71–3:72; “Banks of the Sacred Stream,” 1:91; “Birth of the Lyre,” 1:90; bitonality and, 1:90; “Chinese Ode,” 1:89; “City of the Rose,” 1:91; Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, 1:91; “Evocations,” 1:91, 1:92; “Gods in the Shadows of Caves,” 1:91; Greek modes in work of, 1:90; impressionism of, 1:91; “Le Jardin Mouillé” 1:89; “Padmavati,” 1:89, 1:90, 1:92; “Psalm LXXX,” 1:90; rhythms of, 1:91; Stravinsky and, 1:91; Suite in F, 1:91 Rôze, Marie, 4:66 rubato style, 4:292 Rubinstein, Anton, 1:8, 1:184, 2:19, 2:35, 4:65, 4:67–4:68, 4:316; Demon, 2:11; “Night,” 1:30 Rubinstein, Madame Ida, 2:78 Rubinstein, Nicholas, 2:11, 2:224–2:225 Rudhyar, Dane, 1:18, 1:42, 1:43 Ruggles, Carl, 1:42 Russian Association of Proletarian Musicians, The (RAPM), 2:16, 2:129–2:132, 2:166, 2:191; dissolution of, 2:134, 2:192; ideology of, 2:152, 2:154; Nevinnaya Propaganda Imperialisma, 2:154; Za Proletarskuyu Musiku, 2:152–2:153 Russian folklore, 2:9, 2:163, 2:177; colorism and, 2:13; influence of, 2:10 Russian folk music, 2:3, 2:160; Caucasian, 2:167; characteristics of, 2:4, 2:21; city songs, 2:23; collections of, 2:4, 2:22, 2:24; development of, 2:7; folklore and, 2:5; gypsy songs, 2:23; influence of, 2:11, 2:131, 2:158, 2:162; minstrels, 2:6; peasant songs, 2:24; polytonality of, 2:4, 2:21, 2:24; recording of, 2:4, 2:24; rhythms in, 2:22; Soviet music and, 2:19, 2:164, 2:195

374 Russian music, 2:3, 4:122–4:123, 4:324–4:325; see also Russian folk music; Soviet music; academism of, 2:161; after 1917, see Soviet music; American folk music in, 4:118; art songs, 2:8; ballet, 2:8, 2:232; choral, 2:7; Christianization of, 2:7; church music, 2:8, 2:19; civil war songs, 2:23, 2:47; classical, 2:165, 2:170, 2:173, 2:179; diatonic language of, 2:159; evolution of, 2:8, 2:11, 2:19; impact of, 2:30; influence of folklore on, 2:9, 2:11; influence of Italian music on, 2:8; modernism and, 2:161, 2:166; national, 2:8–2:13, 2:25, 2:26–2:27, 2:127, 2:158, 2:165–2:167; of national minorities, 2:127, 2:134, 2:163; nineteenthcentury, 2:19, 2:131, 2:168, 2:172; orientalism, 2:26, 2:36, 2:39–2:40, 2:163; polytonality and, 2:7, 2:93, 2:129; popular, 2:163; 4:122–4:123, 4:324–4:325; puppetry, 2:6, 2:232; religious, 2:3, 2:7, 2:19; rhythm in, 2:22, 2:24; romanticism, 2:13, 2:29–2:30; secular, 2:8; Soviet music and, 2:127, 2:162–2:164, 2:170, 2:191–2:192; tone-painting, 2:28; Wagner’s influence on, 2:27 Russian Musical Gazette, The, 2:55 Russian musical instruments, 2:5–2:7, 2:19, 2:163 Russian National School, 1:81, 1:119, 1:151, 2:8, 2:29, 2:154, 2:169 Russian opera, 2:8, 2:10–2:11, 2:15; see also Soviet opera Russolo, Luigi, 3:70–3:71; Intonarumori, 1:140; L’Arte dei Rumori, 1:140 Sabaniev, Leonard, 1:87, 2:19 Sacre du Printemps, Le, 3:66, 3:68–3:69, 4:110, 4:111–4:112 Sadko, 3:115 Sahl, Michael, 3:91–3:92 Saint-Saëns, Camille, 1:30 Salas, Angel, 1:178 Salieri, Antonio, 2:225, 4:237–4:239 Salomé, 4:70–4:71

Cumulative Index Salzedo, Carlos, 4:19 Salzedo, Leonard, 1:48–1:49 Saminsky, Lazare, 2:58; Music of Our Day, 1:117–1:120; Rimsky-Korsakov and, 1:119; The Plague’s Gagliarda, 1:119 Sammy’s Fighting Sons, 3:270 Samosud, Samuel, 2:88–2:89, 2:103 Samson and Delilah, 4:227 Sand, George, 4:187, 4:192–4:193 Sandi, Luis, 1:178 Sands, Carl, 1:152 San Francisco Opera Company, 4:84 Sang du Poète, Le, 4:135–4:136 Sanjuan, Pedro, 3:9–3:10 Santa Cruz, Domingo, 4:54 Saraband for the Golden Goose, 4:39 Sarti, Giuseppe, 2:8 Sas, Andres, 3:36–3:38 Satie, Erik, 1:36, 1:57, 1:59, 1:89, 2:128, 3:69, 3:118–3:119, 4:137–4:138 satirical operas, 3:62–3:63 Savage, Henry Wilson, 4:84 Sazonova, Julia, 1:61 Scarlatti, Domenico, 4:299 Schaeffer, Pierre, 4:138 Schauffler, Robert, 1:145 Schillinger, Josef, 1:160, 2:128, 2:174, 3:117 Schillinger System, 4:100–4:105, 4:108 Schindler, Anton Felix, 1:145 Schmitt, Florent, 1:37, 1:91, 1:109–1:113 Schneerson, Gregory, 2:142, 2:209; American music and, 2:153, 2:174; Eisler and, 2:173; Miaskovsky and, 2:60–2:61; Music Living and Dead, 2:210; Shostakovitch and, 2:97 Schoenberg, Arnold, 1:42, 1:45, 1:65, 1:98, 1:113, 1:120–1:126, 1:147, 2:131, 3:50–3:55, 3:66–3:67, 3:72, 3:73–3:74, 3:104–3:108, 3:129–3:133, 4:6, 4:107, 4:110, 4:127, 4:128, 4:137; “Accompaniment to a Cinema Scene,” 1:122, 1:125; in Austria, 1:136–1:137; Chamber Symphony, 1:124; composing and, 1:160; dodecaphonic music and,

Cumulative Index 2:197; film music, 2:186; Five Orchestral Pieces, 1:120, 1:125; “Gurre-Lieder,” 1:121, 1:124; influence of, 1:126, 1:167, 2:67, 2:173, 2:192, 2:210; “Jacob’s Ladder,” 1:121; method of composition, 2:183–2:187; as painter and writer, 1:121–1:122, 1:125; Pierrot Lunaire, 1:120, 1:137, 3:66–3:67; Quartet in F sharp minor, 1:124; Quintet, 1:2; Society for Private Performances, 1:123; Soviet criticism of, 2:172, 2:183–2:187, 2:208; theory and practice of, 1:124–1:125; “Thrice Seven Poems,” 1:124; tonality and atonality of, 1:122, 1:124; twelvetone system, 2:128; Variations for Orchestra, 1:137; “Verklarte Nacht,” 1:121, 1:122, 1:124 Scholder, Hattie, 4:302–4:303 Schröder-Devrient, Wilhelmine, 4:269 Schubert, Franz, 4:114, 4:305 Schuller, Gunther, 2:207, 4:34–4:35, 4:140 Schuman, William, 3:59, 4:9–4:10, 4:87; Third String Quartet, 2:207 Schumann, Robert, 4:111, 4:114, 4:150 Scriabin, Alexander, 1:1, 1:2, 1:8, 1:42, 1:82, 1:98, 1:149, 1:167, 2:19, 2:71, 2:156, 3:100–3:101; Belaieff and, 2:49–2:50, 2:55; clavier à lumières and, 2:13, 2:49; Divine Poem, 2:13, 2:49, 2:50, 2:54; Etude, 1:30; Koussevitzky and, 2:49, 2:51–2:52; Morozova and, 2:50–2:51; Mystery, 2:13; Mystic Chord and, 2:13, 2:48, 2:53; mysticism of, 2:51; Ouchkoff and, 2:51; philosophy of, 2:48; Poem of Ecstasy, 2:13, 2:49, 2:51, 2:54; Poem of Fire, 2:13, 2:48, 2:54; Prometheus, 1:26, 2:13, 2:48–2:49, 2:54; reception of, 2:51, 2:55–2:56; Second Symphony, 2:54–2:56; Wagner and, 2:48 Scriabin, Julian, 1:52, 2:52–2:53 Scriabin, Tatiana, 2:53 Second Piece for Violin Alone, 3:93–3:94 Seguin, Arthur, 4:77

375 Seidl, Anton, 4:81 Semele, 4:228 Serenade for Orchestra, 3:177, 3:178 serial music, 3:113, 4:128, 4:139–4:140 Serov, Alexander, 2:10–2:11, 2:21 Serse, 4:219 Servais, François, 4:269–4:270 Sessions, Roger, 1:16–1:19, 1:39, 1:42, 1:80, 2:186, 3:61, 3:94–3:95, 3:107, 3:199–3:203, 4:13–4:15; biography of, 3:200–3:202; Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, 3:203; “Masques,” 1:18; Sonata for Piano, 1:17; use of rhythm, 3:203 Seven, The, 1:11 Seven Poems of Ta’ng Dynasty, 3:146–3:147 sex and music librarians, 4:268–4:273; autobiography of Wilhelmine Schröder-Devrient, 4:269; Baker’s Biographical Dictionary of Musicians, 4:269; Chopin letters to Delphina Potocka, 4:272; courtship of Miss Smithson by Berlioz, 4:273; François Servais, 4:269–4:270; Giusto Ferdinando Tenducci, 4:272; Grove’s Dictionary, 4:270; illegitimacy of Wagner, 4:271; Johannes Brahms, 4:271–4:272; knowing composer’s sex syndrome, 4:270–4:271; Ludwig van Beethoven, 4:273; Luigi Ricci, 4:269; musical bastardy, 4:270; proper place of, 4:269; Pytor Tchaikovsky, 4:270–4:271; Richard Wagner, 4:271; sex scandal about musicians, 4:272; sexual unwasities, 4:271–4:272; Sigismond Thalberg, 4:270 Shalyapin, Boris, 1:8 Shapero, Harold, 4:28 Shapey, Ralph, 3:85–3:87 Shaporin, Yuri (Youri), 2:138, 2:139, 2:169, 2:194; The Decembrists, 2:136–2:137, 2:193, 2:218; Na Pole Kulikovom (On the Kulikov Field), 2:17, 2:101, 2:139, 2:144, 2:166; Skazanye o Bitve za Russkuyu Zemlyu (Chronicle of a Battle for Russian Land), 2:18, 2:168

376 Shaw, Arnold, 4:100 Shebalin, Vissarion, 2:18, 2:147, 2:161, 2:169, 2:171 Shekhter, Boris, 2:147; Yusup and Akhmet, 2:162 Shirinsky, Vassili, 2:147 Sholokhov (Sholohoff), 2:136, 2:145; Soil Upturned, 2:136, 2:140; Tikhyl Don (Quiet Flows the Don), 2:15, 2:133, 2:136, 2:140 Shostakovitch, Dmitri, 1:93, 2:16–2:17, 2:114e, 2:134, 2:167, 2:168, 2:177, 2:192, 2:196–2:198, 2:208, 2:231, 3:123–3:124, 4:133; absolute music and, 2:145; American music and, 2:122; the art of the grotesque and, 1:169–1:170; “Bedbug,” 1:170; The Bolt, 1:169, 2:88; Cello Sonata, 1:169, 2:117; chamber music of, 2:109; composing of, 1:162, 1:170; Eighth String Quartet, 2:212, 2:214; Eighth Symphony, 2:17, 2:120–2:121; Fifth Symphony, 2:17, 2:97–2:99, 2:121, 2:141, 2:145, 2:155; film music and, 2:110, 2:122, 2:171; First Symphony, 1:169, 1:171, 2:91–2:93, 2:95–2:96, 2:99, 2:116, 2:141, 2:145; Five Fragments for Orchestra, 2:119; folklore and, 2:100, 2:122, 2:145; Forest Cantata, 2:171; Fourteenth Symphony, 2:184; Fourth Symphony, 2:97, 2:119, 2:132, 2:175, 2:193; Glazounov and, 1:169; The Golden Age, 1:169, 2:17, 2:86–2:88, 2:156; influences on, 1:170; jazz and, 1:61, 2:110; Lady Macbeth of the District of Mtsensk (Katerina Izmailova), 1:170, 2:16, 2:88–2:91, 2:116–2:117, 2:131–2:132, 2:136, 2:140–2:141, 2:145, 2:155, 2:158, 2:191; The Limpid Stream (The Lucid Stream) (The Sparkling Brook), 2:90, 2:117, 2:132, 2:141, 2:145, 2:155; list of works by, 2:111–2:114; musical development of, 1:169; The Nose, 2:17, 2:71, 2:85, 2:131, 2:145, 2:156, 2:192; Piano Concerto, 1:171, 2:110, 2:193; Piano Quintet, 2:17, 2:107–2:108, 2:119, 2:145; Piano

Cumulative Index Sonata, 1:171; Piano Sonata (Second), op. 64, 2:121–2:123; political views of, 1:162–1:163, 1:170; polyrhythmy of, 2:93; polytonality of, 2:93; Prokofiev and, 1:169; reception of, 2:85–2:86, 2:88–2:91, 2:100, 2:103, 2:105, 2:108, 2:115–2:116, 2:119, 2:120–2:122, 2:131–2:132, 2:134, 2:141, 2:155, 2:161, 2:169; RimskyKorsakov and, 1:169; second period of, 1:169; Second Symphony (October Symphony), 1:170, 2:17, 2:93–2:95, 2:98, 2:141, 2:150; Seventh Symphony (Leningrad Symphony) (War Symphony), 2:17, 2:84, 2:101–2:107, 2:115–2:119, 2:120–2:121, 2:123, 2:141, 2:142–2:143, 2:145, 2:155, 2:167; Sixth Symphony, 2:10, 2:100–2:101, 2:108, 2:141, 2:155; Sonata for ‘Cello and Piano, 2:108; “Song of the United Nations,” 2:122; Soviet music and, 2:155–2:156, 2:161, 2:170, 2:175, 2:180, 2:182; Stravinsky and, 1:169; String Quartet, 2:108–2:109, 2:184; Svetly Rutchey, 2:16; Tchaikovsky and, 2:86; third period of, 1:170–1:171; Third Symphony (May First Symphony), 1:170, 2:17, 2:95–2:96, 2:141; Twenty-Four Preludes, 1:171; wartime and, 2:138 Sicilianos, Yorgo, 3:76–3:77 Siegmeister, Elie, 1:151–1:152, 1:161–1:162 Siloti, Alexander, 1:30–1:31 Siohan, Robert, 1:11 Sir, Léo, 1:37 Six, The (Les Six; The French Six), 1:11, 1:37, 1:147, 3:119 Six Apparitions of Lenin on a Piano, 4:136 Six Synthetic Poems, 3:10 Skalkottas, Nikos, 3:73–3:74 Skriabin, see Scriabin Slavenski, Josef, 1:138, 1:147 Slonimsky, Alexander, 2:206, 2:213 Slonimsky, Electra, 2:114c Slonimsky, Mikhail, 2:205

Cumulative Index Slonimsky, Sergei, 2:114c, 2:184, 3:121 Smetana, Bedrich, 4:150 Smith, Elihu Hubbard, 4:75 Sobolewski, Eduard de, 4:79 Socialist Realism in music, 2:14, 2:47, 2:79, 2:154, 2:160, 2:183, 2:225 Sokalsky, Pyotr, 2:3, 2:21–2:22 Sokolov, N. A., 1:169 Soliloquy and Dance, 3:272 Soliloquy of a Bhiksuni, 3:146 Sollberger, Harvey, 3:97–3:98 Sollertinsky, Ivan, 1:169, 2:85–2:86, 2:91, 2:183 Solomon, 4:228 Solos, 3:98 Sonata Concertante, 3:90 Sonnambula, La, 4:77 Sonzogno, Giulio Cesare, 3:21 Sorabji, Kaikhosru, 1:152–1:154 sound; general discussion, 4:150–4:151; high frequency waves, 4:154; loudness of, 4:154–4:155 Southard, Lucien, 4:79 Soviet composers; see also Soviet opera; Soviet music; names of specific composers; attack on Soviet Union and, 2:138–2:139, 2:144, 2:168; musical styles of, 2:158–2:159, 2:161, 2:168; nationalism and, 2:17; older generation of, 2:18; Spanish Civil War and, 2:138–2:139; triadic parallelism and, 2:158, 2:161; war and, 2:138–2:143, 2:168; Western music and, 2:158 Soviet film, 1:154–1:157, 1:170 Soviet music, 2:14, 2:19, 2:45, 2:183, 2:191, 2:209; American music and, 2:196–2:197, 2:207; characteristics of, 2:156–2:157; classicism and, 2:175; development of, 2:14, 2:127–2:134, 2:149–2:175, 2:176–2:177, 2:214; early, 2:128, 2:162; esthetics, 2:14; in films, 2:146; first period of, 2:128, 2:134, 2:149, 2:150; folklore and folk music influence on, 2:145, 2:162, 2:169–2:170; formalism and, 2:169–2:171; formative factors in,

377 2:157; ideology of, 2:16, 2:129–2:130, 2:165–2:174, 2:178; influence of Western music on, 2:128–2:131, 2:153, 2:183; mass songs, 2:19, 2:165; modernism and, 2:93, 2:168, 2:170–2:175, 2:183, 2:225; national anthem, 2:165; polytonality and, 2:129, 2:162, 2:169; popular, 2:164; pre-modern trend in, 2:152; Prokofiev and, 2:157; proletarianism and, 2:162; Russian music and, 2:191–2:192, 2:195; second period of, 2:130, 2:134, 2:149; Socialist Realism and, 2:79, 2:134, 2:150, 2:154, 2:160, 2:167, 2:170, 2:183; third period of, 2:131–2:133, 2:134, 2:149; threnody, 2:127; tonality and, 2:162, 2:169 Soviet opera, 2:135–2:137, 2:178; see also Russian opera; Soviet composers; caricature in, 2:136; national minorities and, 2:136; Socialist Realism in, 2:161; subjects of, 2:140, 2:146, 2:160 Sovietskaya Musyka (Sovetskaia Muzyka), 1:167, 2:134, 2:191, 2:211; Khachaturian and, 2:176–2:178; Miaskovsky and, 2:58, 2:133, 2:140, 2:159; music critiques in, 2:139, 2:171–2:174; Soviet music and, 2:20 Spanish Capriccio, 4:123 Spectrum, 3:187 Spiritoso, 3:187 Sprechstimme, 3:67, 3:114 Stabat Mater, 4:91 Stalin, Josef, 2:145, 2:172; cult of personality of, 2:235; death of, 2:177; Socialist Realism and, 2:16, 2:127, 2:133, 2:150, 2:171; Soviet music composed about, 2:167 Stallin, Jacob von, 2:6 standard pitch, 4:152, 4:280 Stanislavsky, Konstantin, 2:27 “The Star-Spangled Banner,” 4:56–4:57, 4:144 Starokadomsky, Mikhail, 2:18, 2:147, 2:161 Stasov, Vladimir, 1:75, 1:101–1:102, 2:9, 2:25, 2:26, 2:35, 2:42

378 State Central Puppet Theater, 2:232 State Little Opera Theater, 2:85 State Music Publishing House, 2:20, 2:214 Stein, Gertrude, 4:135 Steinberg, Maximilian, 1:93, 1:169, 2:18, 2:73–2:74, 2:91, 2:147; TurkSib, 2:144, 2:159, 2:195 Steinert, Alexander, 4:242–4:243 Stevens, Halsey, 4:30–4:31 “Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht,” 4:120 Stokowski, Leopold, 1:75–1:76, 1:169, 2:116, 2:193; Music for All of Us, 2:211 Story of the Instruments, The, 4:114–4:115 St. Petersburg Academy of Science, 2:24 St. Petersburg Conservatory, 2:11, 2:12, 2:35, 2:58 Stratégie, 3:82 Strauss, Johann, 4:63, 4:292 Strauss, Richard, 1:2, 1:121, 2:208, 3:53, 4:70–4:71, 4:127; Alpine Symphony, 1:84; Aus Italien, 2:23 Stravinsky, Igor, 1:2, 1:42, 1:82, 1:94–1:96, 1:98, 1:104–1:109, 1:143, 1:150, 1:158, 1:179, 1:181, 1:183, 2:128, 2:131, 2:210, 3:3, 3:65, 3:67–3:68, 3:101–3:102, 3:103, 3:108, 4:6, 4:92, 4:106–4:107; American tours of, 2:77; “Apollo,” 1:53, 1:95, 1:106; Le Baiser de la Fée, 2:77; Berceuses du Chat, 2:75; Capriccio for piano and orchestra, 2:77; Card Party, 2:78; change of styles and, 2:75–2:77; Chant funèbre, op. 5, 2:74; “Chronique de ma Vie,” 1:168; Concerto for 16 instruments (Dumbarton Oaks), 2:78; Concerto for 2 pianos, 2:78; Concerto for piano and orchestra of wind instruments, 2:77; Concerto in D for Violin and Orchestra, 1:104–1:105, 1:107–1:109; Diaghilev and, 2:74, 2:76; Duo Concertant, 1:166, 2:78; Fantastic Scherzo, op. 3, 2:73, 2:74; Le Faune et la bergère, 2:73; The Firebird, 1:74, 1:94, 1:96, 1:105, 2:13, 2:74, 2:76, 2:217; Fireworks, 2:74;

Cumulative Index First Symphony, 2:73; harmonization of, 1:95; History of a Soldier, 1:105, 1:108, 2:76, 2:77, 4:112–4:113; Honegger and, 1:12; influence of, 2:73; jazz and, 1:59; Mavra, 1:5, 2:76, 2:128; melodies of, 1:106; modern music and, 2:74; Les Noces, 1:59, 1:94, 1:96, 1:106, 2:75, 4:330–4:332; Octet for wind instruments, 2:76–2:77; Oedipus Rex, 1:4–1:5, 1:11, 1:37, 2:77, 2:78, 4:92; Pergolesi and, 2:76, 2:77; Perséphone, 2:78; Petrouchka chord and, 2:75, 2:76; Petrushka (Petrouchka), 1:3, 1:51, 1:59, 1:61, 1:106, 1:111, 1:168, 2:13, 2:23, 2:63, 2:74, 4:134, 4:323–4:331; polytonality and, 1:149, 2:75; Pribaoutki, 2:75; Pulcinella, 1:95, 2:76, 2:77; Ragtime, 1:5, 1:59, 1:108, 2:76; Renard, 2:75; rhythm of, 1:96, 1:166; Rimsky-Korsakov and, 1:103, 2:73, 2:74; Le Rossignol, 2:74; Russian folk songs and, 2:22, 2:75; Russian national music and, 2:13; Russian Revolution and, 2:75; Le Sacre du Printemps, 1:5, 1:43, 1:59–1:60, 1:91, 1:94, 1:96, 1:111, 1:168, 2:14, 2:75, 2:76, 4:110, 4:111–4:112; scores of, 1:105; Scriabin and, 2:52; Symphony of Psalms, 1:105, 1:108, 2:77–2:78, 2:116, 2:192; syncopation and, 1:59; Tchaikovsky and, 2:76; Tcherepnin and, 2:67; “Volga Boatmen’s Song” and, 2:75 Stravinsky, Sviatoslav, 2:78 Streets of Laredo, 3:320 Studies in Black and White, 4:116 Suite for Toy Pianos, 4:138 Sullivan, Arthur, 1:43 Surinach, Carlos, 4:50–4:51 surrealism, music and, 4:132–4:141; Möbius band, 4:140; Musique Concrète, 4:138; Musique d’ameublement, 4:138; polytonal or atonal, 4:139; “psychic automatism,” 4:135; Pythagorean scale, 4:132; scientifically rationalized musical sounds, 4:132; serial music, 4:139–4:140; Surrealist libretto, 4:135

Cumulative Index Susanin, Ivan, 2:63; see also Glinka, Michael Sutej, Miroslav, 4:140 Sviridov, Yuri, 2:212, 2:231 Symphonie pathetique, 3:115 Symphony for Voices, 3:257–3:258, 3:305–3:308 Synchrony, 3:150–3:151 Szabo, F., 2:5 Tabor Opera House, 4:85 Tailleferre, Germaine, 1:37, 2:128 Tanagra, 3:76–3:77 Taneyev, Sergey (Taneiev) (Taneev), 1:83, 1:123, 2:12, 2:45, 2:55, 2:58, 2:224, 4:107 Tansman, Aleksander, 1:2, 1:3, 2:224 Tasin, Dima, 2:139, 2:144 Taylor, Deems, 1:40 Tchaikovsky, Hippolytus, 2:64 Tchaikovsky, Pyotr Ilyitch, 1:82, 1:83, 1:94, 1:95, 1:145–1:146, 1:150–1:151, 1:186, 2:9, 2:19, 2:76, 2:150, 2:224–2:225, 4:107, 4:114; 1812 Overture, 2:166, 2:224; Antonina Ivanovna Milyukova, wife of, 4:178–4:179, 4:180–4:186; decline of money, 4:168; Eugene Onegin, 2:11, 2:136; heterosexual melancholy in music, 4:270–4:271; house made into museum, 4:165; influence of, 2:12, 2:13, 2:35, 2:168; and Madame von Meck, 4:165–4:186; nationalism of, 2:11, 2:27–2:28; The Nutcracker, 2:11; Pathétique, 2:11, 2:166; petition to Emperor, 4:169; Pique-Dame, 2:11, 2:191, 2:193; popularity of, 2:136; Quartet, op. 11, 2:23; Russian church music and, 2:8; Russian folk songs and, 2:4, 2:11, 2:24, 2:100; Russian romanticism and, 2:29–2:30; Sleeping Beauty, 1:6, 2:11; Swan Lake, 2:11; symphonic poems of, 2:11 Tchemberdzhi: Karlugas, 2:162–2:163 Tcherepnin, Alexander, 2:72 Tcherepnin, Ivan, 2:71–2:72 Tcherepnin, Nicolas, 2:12, 2:29; American period of, 2:71; Conservatory of Tiflis and,

379 2:65–2:66; electronic music and, 2:71, 2:72; folk music and, 2:69; Fourth Symphony, 2:65; Ivan the Terrible, 2:64; Le Pavillon d’Armide, 2:63; nine-note scale and (Tcherepnin Scale), 2:67–2:68; Pièces sans titres, op. 7, 2:64; Second Piano Sonata, 2:71–2:72; Second Symphony, 2:71; Story of Ivan the Fool, 2:71; Stravinsky and, 2:67; Symphonic Prayer, 2:71; Symphony in E, op. 42, 2:69, 2:71; theory of Interpunctus and, 2:68–2:69, 2:70; Thirteenth Piano Sonata, 2:65; Trio, op. 34, 2:71 Tcherepnin, Serge, 2:71–2:72 Tchishko (Chisko), Oles, 2:15, 2:136, 2:160 Tender Melody, 3:73 Tenducci, Giusto Ferdinando, 4:272 Thalberg, Sigismond, 4:270 Theatrical Piece, 4:141 Theremin, Leon, 1:23–1:32, 1:33, 3:211; appearances by, 1:27–1:28; Emiriton, 2:15; musical inventions of, 1:25–1:26, 1:29, 1:33; Persymfans, 2:129, 2:151; plural musical systems and, 1:26; Thereminovox, 1:25–1:26, 1:30–1:31, 2:15, 2:151, 2:226 Thomas, Theodore, 4:63–4:64, 4:82 Thompson, Randall, 3:62, 4:25 Thomson, Virgil, 1:42, 2:207, 3:119–3:120, 3:251, 4:20, 4:86, 4:244–4:246 Three-Page Sonata, 3:163 Three Places in New England, 3:158, 3:162, 3:165, 4:112 Thurber, Jeannette M., 4:59–4:61, 4:81–4:82 Time Suite, 3:260–3:261 Titov, Nicolas, 2:8 Tocchi, Gian Luca, 3:18–3:20 Toch, Ernst, 4:47–4:48, 4:247–4:248 Tolstoy, Alexei; Shostakovitch and, 2:103, 2:105, 2:115, 2:155; Soviet music criticism of, 2:97; writing of, 2:123, 2:137, 2:141, 2:229 Tolstoy, Leo, 2:17 tonality, 2:186, 2:201

380 tonal theory and practice, 1:159–1:163 tone clusters, 1:41, 1:48, 2:129, 3:112, 3:149 Tone Roads, 3:169 Toradze, David, 2:239 Tosca, 4:92 Toscanini, Arturo, 1:66–1:72, 2:107, 2:116, 2:119, 3:265, 4:81 Totten, Edyth, 1:16 Townsend, Douglas, 4:31 Traetta, Tommaso, 2:8 tritone, 1:149–1:150, 1:166, 2:152, 3:102, 3:204, 4:93–4:94, 4:96 Trumpet of the Swan, The, 3:182–3:183 Trutovsky, Vasily, 2:4, 2:22–2:23, 2:24 Tsarist National Anthem, 2:7 Tsouyopoulos, George, 3:82–3:83 Turgeniev, Ivan, 2:26, 2:242 Turn of the Screw, The, 4:134 twelve-tone music, see dodecaphonic music twentieth-century music, 3:99–3:125; computerized music, 3:120; environmental music, 3:121–3:122; euphonious dissonances, 3:102–3:103; folklore, 3:116, 3:118; folk songs, 3:116; French Six (Les Six), 3:119; jazz, 3:100, 3:117; legislating musical style, 3:122–3:123; music in space, 3:121; noneuphonious dissonances, 3:103; objets trouves method, 3:118; pandiatonicism, 3:101; 3:119; polytonality, 3:101; ragtime, 3:100, 3:117; rock music, 3:117; serialism by appointment, 3:121; Sprechstimme, 3:114 Union of Composers of the Soviet Union, 2:204–2:206, 2:212–2:215; charter of, 2:214–2:215; criticism of, 2:170–2:171, 2:177–2:178; directives of, 2:162, 2:170–2:171; February 1948 resolution, 2:170, 2:172, 2:176, 2:181; leading members of, 2:175; The Paths of Evolution of Soviet Music, 2:172; Russian folklore and, 2:162

Cumulative Index Union of Composers of Ukraine, 2:218 Uribe Holguin, Guillermo, 3:25 utilitarian music, 3:59–3:60 Valderrama, Carlos, 3:39 Valen, Fartein, 3:55 Valerius, Adriannus, 1:141–1:142 Vallas, Léon, 1:172, 1:174 Varèse, Edgar, 1:41, 1:51, 1:89, 1:139, 1:177, 2:193, 3:13–3:15, 3:115, 3:204–3:216, 4:19, 4:107, 4:140; Amériques, 1:41, 1:63, 3:213; compared to Perotinus Magnus, 3:204; criticism of Arcana, 3:206; death of, 3:216; faith in himself, 3:207; Hyperprism, 3:206; influence after death of, 3:213–3:214; influence on Frank Zappa, 3:214–3:215; Ionisation performance, 3:209–3:210; methods of, 3:215; Octandre, 3:207; and Philips Company, 3:211–3:212; physical appearance of, 3:212–3:213; Poème électronique, 3:211–3:212; rendition of rhythmic values in music, 3:215–3:216; review of Hyperprism, 3:207; use of electronic sound, 3:211 Varlamov, Alexander, 2:8, 2:23 Varzar, Nina, 2:91 Vasiliev, Georgi, 1:155–1:156 Vasiliev, Sergei, 1:155; Montage of a Cinema Picture, 1:155 Vassilenko, Sergey, 2:12, 2:18, 2:79, 2:144, 2:159; Red Army Rhapsody, 2:159 Vaurabourg, Andrée, 1:36 Vengerova, Isabelle, 4:314–4:315 Veprik, Alexander, 2:18 Verdi, Giuseppe, 2:136, 4:79, 4:220–4:221 Verneuil, Raoul de, 3:38 Verrall, John, 4:31 Verstovsky, Alexey, 2:8 Vienna School, 2:184–2:185 Villa-Lobos, Heitor, 3:116, 3:217–3:228, 4:52–4:53, 4:109; Bachianas Brasileiras, 3:224; birthdate, 3:221; Centauro do Ouro manuscript,

Cumulative Index


3:220; and children, 3:221; Choros, 3:224; on folklore, 3:116; head of education in Rio de Janeiro, 3:218–3:219; history of, 3:225–3:227; manuscripts of, 3:220; medieval polyphonic medley in music of, 3:223–3:224; and nature, 3:224–3:225; physical energy of, 3:221; scientific music of, 3:228; telescoped words, use of when writing, 3:219–3:220 Vinatieri, Felice, 4:79 violinists, music for twentieth-century, 3:85–3:98; Arthur Berger, 3:97; George Crumb, 3:89–3:90; Harvey Sollberger, 3:97–3:98; Henry Brant, 3:92–3:93; John Cage, 3:88–3:89; Michael Sahl, 3:91–3:92; Milton Babbitt, 3:95–3:96; Morton Feldman, 3:91; Peter Mennin, 3:90; Ralph Shapey, 3:85–3:87; Roger Sessions, 3:94–3:95; Stefan Wolpe, 3:93–3:94; Wallingford Riegger, 3:87–3:88; Walter Piston, 3:94 Vivaldi, Antonio, 4:299 Vladigerov, Pancho, 1:146–1:147 “Volga Boatmen’s Song,” 2:3, 2:75, 4:122 von Helmholz (Helmholtz), Hermann, 1:160 von Meck, Madame, 1:145–1:146, 2:xi, 2:28, 2:38, 4:165–4:186 von Webern, Anton, 1:125, 1:137, 1:175, 2:128, 2:183, 2:184–2:185, 2:210, 3:54, 4:299; Der Freischutz, 2:63 Vuillermoz, Emile, 1:110

Wedding Song, 3:281 Weill, Kurt, 4:86 Weiss, Adolph, 1:42, 4:39 Weiss, Rudolph, 1:18 Weissberg, Julia, 2:195 Wells, H. G., 1:2, 1:26, 1:84, 4:151 Wertheim, Alma, 3:240 Weyl, Josef, 1:142 When Johnny Comes Marching Home, 3:234, 3:247–3:248, 3:318–3:319 Whiteman, Paul, 1:57–1:58 Whitman, Walt, 1:20, 1:40, 4:73 Wiéner, Jean, 1:60 Wieniawski, Henri, 2:23, 4:65 Willows Are New, The, 3:145–3:146 Witkowski, G. M., 4:299 Wolff, Christian, 4:40 Wolpe, Stefan, 3:93–3:94, 4:50 Work, 3:272 Worker and the Theatre, The, 2:90–2:91 Worker’s Music League, 1:151–1:152 World Peace Jubilee, 4:62–4:63 World’s Fair Columbian Exposition, 4:64

Wagenaar, Bernard, 4:49 Wagner, Richard, 1:94, 1:124, 1:142–1:143, 2:27, 4:63–4:64; comparisons to Verdi, 4:220–4:221; description of Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony, 4:309; illegitimacy of, 4:271; and Liszt’s daughter, 4:271; Parsifal, 2:10 War Memorial Opera House, 4:84 Water Music, 4:40, 4:224 Webb, Clara Louise, 4:302 Weber, Ben, 4:31, 4:295–4:296

Zakharov, Vladimir; Provozhanye (Farewell), 2:19; “Taking Her Home,” 2:164–2:165 Zamiatin, Evgeny, 2:194 Zappa, Frank, 3:214 Zaslavsky, David, 2:172 Zecchi, Adone, 3:20–3:21 Zhdanov, Andrei, 2:172–2:173, 2:176–2:177, 2:179, 2:182 Zhelobinsky, Valery, 2:18, 2:147 Zighera, Alfred, 1:9 Zighera, Benard, 1:9

Xenakis, Ianis, 3:81–3:82 Yamba-O, 3:9, 3:135–3:136 Yarustovsky, Boris, 2:196–2:197 Yessenin, Sergei, 2:231 Yevtushenko, Yevgeny, 2:230 Youmans, Vincent, 4:86 Young, La Monte, 3:119, 4:138

Note from NS: “Portrait of me made in Paris in 1925 by the Russian painter Vasily Shukhayev, who was fascinated, he said, by the surreal asymmetry of my nose bridge.”

NS with Johnny Carson on the Tonight Show, May 1986.

In Florida, with friends.

NS with his granddaughter, Katharine, and cat, Grody, at his house on his ninetysixth birthday celebration, April 1990. Photograph by Betty Freeman.

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