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great truth home to them He makes them necessary to each other at every turn. In this respect man is more helpless than the brutes that perish. No animal is less self-dependent than he. From the moment he issues from the womb till he is laid in the grave he needs the help of parents, of nurses, of teachers. On the right hand and on the left he has to lean on the arm of his fellow-man. Life would be impossible to him without the aid, and would soon become insupportable without the sympathy, of his kind. And lest the migrations of the race should induce men to forget their common origin and the home for which they are destined, the necessity of mutual fellowship pursues them over seas and continents. Each land has some gifts peculiar to itself which makes it the interest of all nations to be on terms of friendship with one another. And thus a loving Providence makes even our temporal wants subservient to higher purposes, teaching us the impiety of the first murderer's selfish exclamation, and compelling us to see that our true happiness lies in being each his “brother's keeper.” This principle of mutual interdependence runs through the whole of man's natural life; and it is no less conspicuous in his moral and spiritual life. Nor is it bounded by this earthly scene. Death does not destroy the family relationship of our race. The dead are “not lost, but gone before,” and constitute, with those still left behind, one family—“the whole family in heaven and in earth," as St. Paul expresses it. Now what can be so well calculated to keep this truth alive in our minds as the doctrine and practice of praying for the dead ? Condemn that doctrine, and then see whether death has indeed “lost its sting" as you stand by the grave of your beloved !
The third truth implied in praying for the dead, and the last one which I shall touch on here, may be stated briefly as follows :—The heart of man instinctively refuses to believe in death, and to accept it as its natural and final destiny. The heart searches for its vanished kindred, and will not believe that they cease to be, or that its interest in them, or theirs in it, is broken. It is a universal sentiment of humanity; and the more civilized humanity is, the deeper is the sentiment. It is seen in an Old Mortality going up and down the country laboriously renewing the time-worn tombstones of the Covenanters, and in the great orator of Athens, who knew the spell that it contained when he promised victory to his degenerate countrymen by a passionate adjuration of “ the dead at Marathon." It is also seen in those legends of many lands which represent some hero or national benefactor as enjoying an immunity from the last debt of humanity; our own Arthur still living in the vale of Avalon, or the great German Kaiser sleeping in his mystic cave till his country shall again need bis trusty sword. The fact is, we all pray for the dead—at least all
loving hearts do. When our beloved pass away from us we follow them with our longing thoughts, we speculate on their condition in the world unseen, we wish them well. And what is a wish but an unexpressed prayer ? “Every good and holy desire,” says Hooker,
though it lack the form, hath notwithstanding in itself the substance, and with Him the force of a prayer, who regardeth the very moanings and sighs of the heart of man.” And what is the greatest of our poet-laureate's poems—“In Memoriam,”—but an agonized acknowledgment of the same truth? See, too, how it breaks out of his heart instinctively in his noble ode on the death of the Duke of Wellington
“God accept him ; Christ receive him." Such is the prayer in which he sums up the mute feelings of a nation in grief at the loss of its greatest captain.
The Executive Musician. WHAT possible moral influence can an executive musician either
receive or distribute through his art ? First, let us inquire what he is, with regard to his functions. The Player, like the Composer, is passive. The one is possessed by the inspirations of his own genius, the other by the inspirations of a genius not his own. The Player like the Composer, is active. The one exerts himself to put his conceptions into a communicable form ; the other charges himself with the office of conveying them, through that form, to the world. The composing and executive faculties are quite distinct. A great composer is often an ineffective player, whilst many a leading player, with all the requisite knowledge and study, is incapable of composing good music.
The same is true of the drama. The great actors are seldom great dramatists ; neither Garrick nor any of the Keans or Kembles have been famous authors. The great dramatic authors in their turn have usually been but mediocre before the footlights. Shakspeare himself, if we may trust tradition, was not more than respectable in his great parts.
The originative faculty is usually considered more heaven-born, as it is certainly far more rare than the executive gift. Few women have hitherto possessed the first, numbers have attained the highest
rank in the second. We have had peerless actresses, but no female dramatists of mark. Music has an unlimited number of notable syrens and lady instrumentalists, but not one original female composer has yet made her appearance. The ladies of the period, even in England, no doubt write drawing-room ballads, and their friends sing them ; but the typical English ballad—we do not speak of really fine old tunes, or the good work of Mr. Sullivan, and a few other true English musicians,—can hardly be called a musical composition, even when warbled in bad English by a Patti.
But however high we may place the composer (and if we regard him as the recreator and disciplinarian of the emotions we shall place him very high), the person who stands between the composer and the audience has a vast and direct power of which we are bound to give some account.
And here I notice the double function of music as an executive art; not only is it a means of revealing a certain order or succession of emotion in the composer's mind, but it provides each player with a powerful medium of self-revelation. There are many different ways of playing the same piece of music; the conscientious player will no doubt begin by carefully studying the movement, noting any p's or f's, &c., which the composer may have vouchsafed to give as hints of his meaning; and having tried to master the emotional unity of the piece, he will then-bearing a few prominent p’s and f's in his mind-trust to a certain infection of impulse to carry him through its execution. But as the music marches and develops beneath his fingers, what opportunities there are for the expression of his own individuality ; what little refinements of reading, what subtle points, what imperceptible artifices for riveting choice turns in the composition upon
the ear of the listener! The great composers seem to cast off all egotism when they lay down their pens. They are the generous and sympathetic friends of those who interpret them; they will give them all reasonable license. “The music,” each master seems to say, "is yours and mine ; if you would discover and share my impulse through it, I would also discover and share yours in it. I will bring the gem and you shall bring the light, and together we will set before the world the raptures and mysteries of sound, wrought through the golden art of music into immortal Tone Poems.”
But although music is given to the player as a sort of private property, the player must no doubt respect the general outline and balance of emotion discoverable upon a careful study of his sonata or solo; but he was intended to interpret its details for himself, to express through the unalterable elations and depressions involved in the structure of the music the various and subtle degrees of intensity of which he may be at the time, or at any time, capable. He may
give infinite inflexions of his own, delicate treatments in different measures of velocity, often unperceived by the many, but none the less of infinite importance and meaning to the intelligent hearer.
In different hands then, it may be said, the same piece will sound quite differently. Then music has no fixed significance of its own and is merely the plaything of caprice, and the vague and doubtful echo of emotion ? Not so. Every piece of music worthy of the name has a fixed progression and completeness of emotion, but within its outlines it also possesses an elastic quality and a power of expressional variety which helps it to combine and cling about each new executant as though made for him alone. The player thus discovers in his music not only the emotional scheme and conception of the composer, but also congenial elements, which he appropriates after his own fashion, and which constitute that striking bond of momentary sympathy which exists so strangely between fine singers or soloists and their audiences.
But may I here observe, that substantially there is far less difference than is generally supposed between the “readings” of eminent players. Between M. Charles Hallé's and Madame Schumann's readings of the Moonlight Sonata, for instance (and we select these eminent artists as the opposite poles of the musical temperament), there is the same kind of difference as we might notice between Mrs. Glyn's and Mrs. Kemble's readings of a scene in Shakspeare, or between Mr. Phelps's and M. Fechter's impersonations of Hamlet. Difference of minute inflexions and variety of inflexions—difference of degrees in the intensity or velocity of the emotion traversed; but substantially each would be found to preserve the same general appreciation of the
in which the different sections are intended to march. Here and there a dispute would arise; but, in fact, the good reader or actor does exactly what the performer ought to do. In the first place, he carefully studies the meaning of his author; and in the second, he allows his own individuality free play, in flowing period and subtle rendering within the elastic limits always characteristic of a highly emotional work of art.
The best executive musician, then, is he who has thoroughly mastered his composer's thought, and who, in expressing that thought to others, allows his own individuality to pierce freely, as every man must do who has not only learned by rote, but really assimilated what he comes forward to reproduce. To the above definition of what an executant should be, every other description of what executants are
can be easily referred. Executants are of six kinds :
1. Those who study the composer and also express themselves. 2. Those who express themselves, without regard to the composer.