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passages. In Mr. Iarecki's first movement everyone plays so con-
stantly that the cellist's only chance to turn over is with his left hand
as he sounds an open string. Such monotony is the negation of art.
And effect for effect, Mr. Reiser's are preferable. His pedal point,
high on the first violin, in the first movement, is original and striking,
and a persistent figure, also for high violin, in the second movement is
agreeable both to ear and mind; while Mr. Iarecki, sending his viola
up to Arctic regions where all vegetation ceases, achieves oddity per-
haps, but does not give pleasure.

Why, then, with such serious shortcomings, did this quartet take
first prize away from eighty-one competitors? Why did the judges
prefer it to a work so much more virile as the Reiser Quartet, to say
nothing of others, such as Mr. Lorenz Smith's, that rumor makes one
wish one could hear? Why did the audience, despite the wandering
attention that always betrays a struggle with boredom, politely give
it their applause? Let us, Irish fashion, answer the questions with
others. Why do many women wear furs on hot summer days, trans-
parent stockings in winter, hats that prevent them from seeing, and
shoes that prevent them from walking? Because fashion so decrees.
Fashion never consults reason, instinct, or natural human preference.
It hands down its dictates to its slaves, who hasten unthinking to obey
the oracle. Now we of the musical public have thus become slaves
to a fashion; and, snobs and "highbrows" that we are, we never ven-
ture to disobey it, though it kill us with sheer boredom. It calls itself
"ultra-modernism"; it taboos emotional vitality in any of its mani-
festations and insists on a stereotype style, a certain kind of harmony,
stock "effects." It is as conventional as any convention which has
ever existed, and more fatal to the spontaneity indispensable to artistic
life than most, because so much narrower — it excludes far more than
it includes. Our art is visibly languishing under it; through its
tyranny we are losing the tradition of broader, freer styles; and most
musical people, if they were candid, would confess they dread hearing
new works, not because they are difficult to understand (they are only
too easy !) but because of their sheer yawn-compelling emptiness and
all-alike-ness.

Is it not time for those to whom music is something more than ear-
tickling, who need its refreshment, its solace, its immense emotional
impetus, to protest against its domination by a coterie? Should not
the judges in a competition of this sort have a serious enough sense
of their responsibility to our general musical life to lead the most en-



The Berkshire Festivals, IQ18-IQ20 47

lightened and vital public taste forward instead of following the most
artificial and snobbish element of public taste backward ? Should not
the public itself rouse itself to the realization that effect-music is a mere
toy which it cannot play with forever without reverting to infantility,
and that if it wishes to grow up musically it must cultivate a type of
art which has something of import to say to our minds and hearts, and
is master of the varied technique necessary to say it? One thing is
certain. In these grim times when we are perforce paring our lives
down to the basic essentials, no interest that wishes to survive can
afford to flirt with futility. Effect-music is a toy of the pampered
classes that may as well go.

The music that the human spirit of the coming democracy will
need will be a music not to tickle or surprise the senses nor to minister
to the consciousness of snobbish superiority and exclusiveness, but to
regale, enlighten, and develop the mind, to arouse and satisfy the
heart. It exists already, and will be added to by composers still
unborn. It is neither old nor new. It is certainly not "ultra-
modern." It is eternal with the eternity of beauty.



THE SECOND FESTIVAL, 1919

The second annual Berkshire Festival of Chamber Music, which
took place in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, September 25th, 26th, and 27th,
1 9 19, was in all respects a satisfactory continuation of the work for the
nobler forms of music begun last year. The dates set this year were
later in the season, and the change was for the good: instead of the
equinoctial rains and mists of last summer, we had bright autumnal
sunshine, with a clear blue sky and light clouds — and something of
Indian-summer warmth and sweetness in the air. The performances,
too, were as interestingly varied as last year, and more uniformly well-
prepared, while the programs were on the whole well-balanced between
standard works to delight the sense of beauty and novelties to gratify
curiosity. But perhaps the most auspicious sign of all, this year, was
the attitude of the audience : its devotion, its evident sense of participa-
tion in a memorable artistic experience, its discriminating attention.
It was clear that the listeners felt themselves not mere passive recipi-
ents of the generosity of the donor of the festivals, Mrs. F. S. Coolidge,
but active cooperators with her in the creation of an atmosphere in
which music is intelligently loved. Indeed, so sincere and spontaneous
seemed this love of the best in music that one had the rare sense that
there was no need to pamper curiosity, and that the percentage of
novelties might well have been less than it was; howsoever Bloch,
Ravel, Stravinsky might startle, beguile, or amuse, it was Beethoven
and Brahms that brought the sigh of relief and delight, and again and
again saved the day for pure musical joy.

The program for the first afternoon, September 25th, played by the
Berkshire String Quartet, with Louis Bailly taking the place of Clar-
ence Evans as viola, comprised the Beethoven quartet, op. 132, the
quartet recently written by Sir Edward Elgar among other works as a
first venture in chamber music of a past master of the orchestra, and
the sonata for viola and piano by Miss Rebecca Clarke, another Eng-
lish composer, which was the second composition chosen this year from
the seventy-two submitted in competition for the one-thousand-dollar

48



The Second Festival, igig 10

prize offered by Mrs. Coolidge. Elgar's quartet is a little disappoint-
ing. Admirably written for the strings, as one should expect from him ,
it contains some themes that verge dangerously upon the common-
place, and it is not free from those singsong over-regular rhythmic
designs which are one of the pitfalls of his style. Nevertheless it con-
tains much musicianly and expressive music, makes no attempt to
prostitute the string quartet into a mere medium of color, and was well
worth a hearing.

Miss Clarke's sonata aroused great interest, not only because its
composer was a woman, but because, hitherto almost unknown, she
had come within an ace of taking first prize away from a composer of the
reputation of Mr. Ernest Bloch. Her sonata made a decidedly favor-
able impression. A violist herself, she has written with a keen sense
of the special genius of the instrument, the things it can do best, and
the sardonic macabre quality of its expressiveness. In this respect she
seems to have excelled Mr. Bloch; his sonata is not very specifically
"viola" in quality, indeed its plangent, metallic, coruscating hardness
seems rather to call for the more brilliant violin. But Miss Clarke her-
self would probably not regard her work as possessing the extraordinary
musical force, logic, and passion of the Bloch work. Beside it her
piece seems a little nerveless and diffuse; and although there are fine
moments, especially the opening and the close of the first movement,
there is also some wandering and fumbling and a tendency to seek
"effects" by the wayside and forget the main road. The first and
third movements are more than tinged with Debussy, but the first has
genuinely individual quality as well.

On Friday morning there was a concert of chamber music with
wind instruments: a pastorale by Daniel Gregory Mason for clarinet,
violin, and piano, played by Messrs. Langenus and Kortschak and the
composer; a trio by Leo Sowerby for flute, viola, and piano, played by
Messrs. Maquarre and Bailly and the composer; and the Brahms horn
trio, splendidly played by Jacques Gordon, violin, Leopold de Mare
horn (of the Chicago Orchestra), and Harold Bauer. Mr. Sowerby is
a Chicagoan of great talent and almost greater youth, whose music
irritates scarcely less than it interests. Without pity on his audience,
seduced by the fascinations of viola and flute with piano, the composer
indulges an undiscriminating facility, a glib diffuseness, which ends
by turning all his streams of thought (often sparkling fresh at their
source) into stagnant fens wherein all landmarks disappear. "If you
would be dull, tell all." Mr. Sowerby makes everything so important



cq Music as a Humanity

that nothing is important. Like so many young composers he has not
realized that clear form is the first condition of dramatic effectiveness,
and that a musical like a verbal idiom becomes flaccid when there are too
many adjectives and adverbs for the nouns and verbs. Yet few of
our younger men have such genuine ideas, so definite a flavor of
individuality as that disclosed here, not to be obscured by many
Debussyisms. The main theme of the third movement for instance,
a broad and justly projected melody for viola, seemed to have great
expressive possibilities, if only it could be disentangled from its sur-
rounding surplusage. This movement is far the finest. The second is
amusing, as of a sort of reformed and repented jazz band, and the first
contains some charming effects, if a little reminiscent of " L'Apres-
midi d'un Faune." The finale again leans too heavily on Debussy,
and perhaps Faure, and contains a deal of the note-spinning that its
author can do with such fatal ease. Mr. Sowerby is one of the most
promising figures in our American music; but he is at present like a
young and vigorous fruit tree that has run wild and is all gone to wood
and leaves. Will he have the courage for a heroic pruning process?

The Friday afternoon concert marked the middle, and certainly for
pure musical joy the high point, of the festival. It was given by the
Flonzaley Quartet, with Mr. Ugo Ara back in his place as viola, and
consisted of a Mozart quartet of delicious clarity and freshness, the
richly romantic Quartet of Dvorak in E-flat major, and Beethoven's
incomparable " Muss es sein " Quartet. All these varying works were
played with an appropriate variety of style, with matchless accuracy
of ensemble, and with the care in planning and the skill in executing a
thousand shades of force and color with which admirers of the Flon-
zaley Quartet have long been gratefully familiar.

Saturday morning's concert proved a pleasant innovation in its
extending of the ordinary acceptation of "chamber music" to include
small groups of voices as well as of instruments. The program had
been planned, and its numbers presenting difficulties of ensemble were
conducted, by Mr. Frederick Stock, of the Chicago Orchestra; the
well-known soloists Florence Hinkle, Eva Gauthier, Merle Alcock,
Lambert Murphy, and Reinald Werrenrath had been engaged; and
the instrumental accompaniment included wind instruments as well
as strings and piano. The fine acoustic qualities of the Music Temple
were realized afresh as one listened to the rich and noble sonority of
the string quartet with bass in a Purcell air sung by Mr. Werrenrath
and even more with the contralto of Miss Alcock in a beautiful Salve



The Second Festival, iqiq ^ i

Regina of Pergolese. Mr. Lambert Murphy offered a novelty (to
most American listeners, though it is often sung in England) well
worth hearing, in Vaughan Williams's "On Wenlock Edge, "settings of
texts by A. E. Housman. These poems are almost too perfect as
literature to be set to music ; it seems a pity to underscore, sometimes to
dislocate, their exquisitely just metrical and rhythmical emphasis by
musical elaboration — a weakening by exaggeration; and there is too
much thought in them too, since texts for music should be as nearly
purely ejaculatory as possible. But Mr. Williams has certainly used
them as the basis of a striking and highly individual musical work.
There are most imaginative color effects, as in the strange harmonies
of muted strings with chimes in the piano suggested by the lines:

" In summer time on Bredon
The bells they sound so clear";

there are finely realized dramatic contrasts, as in the song where the
dead plowman asks (in successive stanzas pianissimo), "Is my team
plowing?" " Is my girl happy?" " Is my friend hearty ? " — to be
answered each time with the brusque indifference of the living; there
is often a deep expressiveness, though seldom is it clinched by an in-
evitable or satisfying beauty of melodic line.

Three tiresomely inconsequential songs by Ravel were sung by Miss
Eva Gauthier, on symbolistic texts by Mallarme. One of those
stories that always pass from mouth to mouth at gatherings like these
festivals gives a good definition of symbolism, at least from the point
of view of the plain man. Miss Gauthier, so it runs, was heard telling
an inquirer as to the meaning of these words that they did not mean
anything in particular — they were simply a peg to hang the music on.
A little later she was heard assuring another seeker after knowledge
that "the music was wonderful, it suited the words so exactly." It
does.

"Trois Poesies de la Lyrique Japonaise," by Stravinsky, also sung
by Miss Gauthier, were not only cleverer but far more amusing than
the Ravel pieces. They are in Stravinsky's now well-known style,
without attempt at specifically musical quality, but astonishingly
realistic in pictorial suggestion. The second, especially, with its
glassy, icy sonorities, fairly made one shiver; and the audience, de-
lighted, redemanded it.

It was hard to see why "The Day of Beauty," a lyric suite by



C2 Music as a Humanity

Clough Leighter, commonplace and sentimental to vulgarity, was in-
cluded in the program, sung by Miss Hinkle with an indistinctness of
enunciation that made the words unintelligible — though that was no
great loss. The concert closed with an excellent performance of
Brahms's beautiful " Liebeslieder."

The final concert was built around the prize-composition Sonata for
Viola and Piano, by Ernest Bloch, played splendidly by Louis Bailly
and Harold Bauer, placed between a new quartet by the indefatigable
Saint-Saens and the Beethoven Septet. The " Dean of French com-
posers " has added little to his work by this latest composition. Though
excellently played by the Berkshire Quartet, it was so trite, so pseudo-
classic in method and style, so devoid of emotional vitality and pre-
occupied with childish tricks like the plucking of the open strings in
succession, that one sighed at the decline of a great man who, what-
ever his limitations, has done good service to music and loved it well.

About the Bloch sonata one hesitates to express an opinion. It
came at the end of three days of music, when one's receptivity was
jaded; it is uncompromisingly unconventional in its harmonic scheme;
and it is terribly long. One saw at once that it was the work of a
master musician, who had his meaning as well as his technical means
thoroughly in hand and wrought with the economy and directness of
ripe experience. One was particularly struck by the boldness of the
rhythmic outlines, the far-flung profiles of the thematic motives. But
as Mr. Richard Aldrich has whimsically remarked: "This music does
not aim to please"; and to some it was acutely painful. The frag-
mentary and fugitive character of the themes, the apparently willful
succession of moods, the ceaselessly dissonant harmonic schemes,
making the ear callous at last and obliterating that sense of contrast
on which dissonance depends for its true effect : above all the forbid-
ding, acrid, and apparently bitterly ironical character of the emotion
embodied in this strangely monotonous music — all these qualities
made one wonder whether art too is destined to become as disagreeable
as most other things in the modern world. It seems an irony of fate
that at the very time when actual life is becoming so confused, noisy,
and distracted that one longs more than ever for the refuge of art, art
too should become so confused, noisy, and distracted that life seems
almost quiet in comparison. Perhaps modern music is a subtly dis-
guised intervention of Providence to protect our overtired nerves by
bringing to our consciousness the tranquility that may exist, by con-
trast, in the most unlikely places, say in a subway. Of course it is



The Second Festival, igig 53

impossible to resent such suffering without being told that we are
hopelessly old-fashioned, that Beethoven hurt many sensibilities in
his day, and tha*t our grandchildren will probably take this music
as if it were so much milk. One is tempted to reply that our grand-
children are welcome to any music they like, provided that we for our
part may only be left in peace in our subways, where the noises make
no pretense of going together.



THE THIRD FESTIVAL, 1920

There seems to have been considerable difference of opinion among
those attending the third annual festival of chamber music given by
Mrs. F. S. Coolidge at Pittsfield, Massachusetts, September 23-25,
1920, as to the felicity of introducing music for two pianos. After the
playing of Beethoven's Quartet in C Sharp Minor by the Berkshire
Quartet, the rest of the program of the first afternoon was made up
of music for two pianos by Brahms, Debussy, Casella, and Ropartz,
played by Messrs. Guy Maier and Lee Pattison. Some thought the
players admirably deft ; others found them lacking in light and shade.
A lady, an amateur, was thrilled by the thought that they had played
together in the trenches; a man, a professional critic, recalled Mr.
Philip Hale's comment on a similar team, that while neither player
was particularly expressive by himself, together they were like the
two halves of a Seidlitz powder. In general it may be held that two
pianos form the least agreeable of all chamber-music combinations,
degenerate most easily of all to the mechanical. If the many possible
permutations of strings and piano do not supply sufficient variety, it
would seem better to resort to voices or woodwind instruments, as
was done last year.

On Friday morning, September 24th, Mr. Efrem Zimbalist and
Mr. John Powell gave a recital of violin and piano sonatas. Brahms's
pensive yet gracious Sonata in D Minor they made a little heavy, a
little bloomless, taking both the Adagio and the Poco presto rather
slowly, and playing as if they did not feel quite at home in this work
which so peculiarly demands complete repose and an elastic rhythm.
The Beethoven G Major Sonata went better.

Mr. Powell's own Sonata in A flat in one movement renewed and
confirmed the deep impression it made when the same players gave
it a year or so ago in New York. Its fundamental qualities are of
the rarest : a freshness and beauty of melodic thought that can dispense
with the sensationalism, the constant search for eccentricity, that mars
so much of our music nowadays — that can afford to be simple and

54



The Third Festival, IQ20 tr

sincere; an idiom that though certainly it derives from Schumann and
Brahms is nevertheless genuinely personal; a power of construction
that uses skillfully an ingenious scheme for welding all the four move-
ments of the usual sonata into one, and stands the music solidly upon
its feet. Along with these rare virtues go, however, certain faults.
There is diffuseness, inability to eliminate the inessential or that
which cancels more important points, surrender at times to purely
conventional, even claptrap effects, like rising chromatic sequences
and frenetic climaxes a la Tschaikowsky. There are many pebbles
and much sand which the composer has not taken the trouble to wash
away from his nuggets of the pure metal, the main themes.

Unfortunately, too, the condensation of four movements into one,
greatly as it enhances unity of impression and sustainment of mood,
puts upon the hearer's attention so severe a tax that all impediments
to the current of the music become doubly, trebly disastrous. The
scheme is admirable: Sonata exposition and development; scherzo;
slow movement as trio; return of scherzo; second development
(fugato); recapitulation; and coda. The treatment of some of the
transitions is as felicitous, too, as the general scheme, and shows
Mr. Powell to have an instinct for musical architectonics as fine as
it is rare — for instance, the premonitions of the scherzo theme before
it enters, and the dovetailing by which the fugato is made to start
before the brilliant run which precedes it has ended. Nevertheless
one cannot but feel that in the charm of his themes, and perhaps in
the interest of an unavowed program, the composer has forgotten that
a flagging of the auditor's attention is as disastrous as a failure of his
own thought, and that the span of human attention is pitifully brief.
If he would shorten the exposition a little, and the recapitulation a
good deal, ruthlessly reducing it indeed to the three main themes, he
would immensely enhance the effect of the whole sonata. It is worth
the trouble. Its main themes have a depth of feeling, a simplicity of
style, a beauty and variety of melodic and rhythmic curve, rare in our
music, or indeed in any music. It is a work of genuine nobility.

The concert of Friday afternoon was given by the London String
Quartet, Messrs. James Levey, Thomas W. Petre, H. Waldo Warner,
and C. Warwick Evans, heard in America for the first time. These
visitors from England were subjected to a trying ordeal, sweltering
in the sultriest kind of September afternoon, in formal dress, on a
platform only a few feet raised above a curious audience of strangers,
playing in succession three taxing works, with two of which most of



56 Music as a Humanity

their auditors were wholly unfamiliar. From the moment they fin-
ished the somber yet noble and genuinely English first movement of
the Frank Bridge Quartet in E Minor there was no doubt of the en-
thusiastic response which they continued to elicit all the afternoon.
Their playing, like the Bridge music, has that dignity and virile
strength, that fine contempt for exaggeration and sentimentality, that
singularly stirring reticence, giving as it does the exciting sense of
unplumbed reserves in the background, which is the true note of
Anglo-Saxon music. One felt it thrillingly in the beautiful yet so quiet
Adagio molto of Bridge. One felt it in the cool nonchalance of the
scherzo, with its quality of English country dance. The finale of this
Bridge quartet is a little less distinctive than the other movements,
perhaps, although the return at the end to the theme of the first
movement and the dying away of the whole on a single pianissimo
note of the cello is very finely conceived.

Mr. H. Waldo Warner's Folk-Song Phantasy on "Dance to Your
Daddy," which gained first prize in one of the Cobbett Competitions,
is like most prize works gratefully written for the strings, and effective
(in a somewhat Griegish way), but rather diluted music. The concert
closed with a masterly performance of Beethoven's great E Minor
Rasoumoffsky Quartet, arousing eager anticipations of the cycle of
all Beethoven's quartets which these players are to give in New York
this season.

The concert of Saturday morning was rather an interlude in the
regular business of the festival. Seven golden harps, six of them
played by young women, form doubtless an agreeable picture for the
eye, but can hardly be taken seriously by those able to distinguish the
essentially beautiful from the meretriciously attractive.

The prize-winning work of the year opened the afternoon concert —
Francesco Malipiero's "Rispetti e Strambotti," named after ancient
Italian verse-forms, roughly translatable as "Madrigals and Gro-
tesques." When the gentlemen of the Berkshire Quartet, Messrs.
Kortschak, Gordon, Evans, and Stoeber, came upon the stage to make
this their last contribution to the music of the festivals with which
they have been so closely connected, and for which Mr. Kortschak
especially has done so much work, they were greeted by an audience
rising to applaud, a reception which profoundly moved them. They
responded by playing with more than their ordinary authority and
dramatic expressiveness. The prize work proved rather disappointing.


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