Radio Digest (Nov 1930-Apr 1931)

Record Details:

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89 as lofty as any ever scaled by the wizard of Bayreuth in his most serious moments. There is not a dull moment in the play or in the music. I hope that every reader will take the earliest opportunity to become acquainted with this music. The Prelude or Overture of which we have been speaking is often played by symphony orchestras. Watch for it, and listen to it. Hear the pompous march of the grave conservative guild of the master singers, the ravishing beauty of Walther's melody which he composes for the contest, the delicious love music. Above all, in the latter half, hear the extraordinary exhibition of technical skill in which Wagner, as if to refute the charge often brought against him in his days of struggle that he could not write polyphonically (that is, keep two or three tunes going simultaneously and separately) actually inserts a fugal passage with no less than five melodies, all parts of the opera, going at once. All of them when a good conductor wields the baton are easily audible. I have rambled along here about Wagner and about operas generally, although I freely confess that to me most operas are dreadful bores. I would indeed go many a mile to hear Mozart's merry and lovely Marriage of Figaro, Wagner's Maestersinger or Puccini's Butterfly. As for the Gilbert and Sullivan masterpieces . . . well they are in a class of their own. Some day we'll talk about them. The history of the growth and development of opera is intensely fascinating. Some day I shall inflict upon you a dose of talk about this. Seidel and his Strad Do you know the work of that excellent artist Toscha Seidel? He is one of our best violinists. He has not only a thorough mastery of the intensely difficult violin technique, but also genuine musical perception and a temperament which enables him to discipline his emotions and present the patterns of the music he interprets so that they become plain, clear and intelligible. He neither spills all over with sentimentality (miscalled "'feeling"), nor asks us to be satisfied with mere technical display. He has both feeling and technique; and he knows how to bend each to his will. I have been listening with genuine pleasure to Mr. Seidel's historical violin programs, in the course of which he is giving us music ranging from the sincere and clear cut art of the seventeenth century to the sophisticated and complex music of to-day. To me, the violin music of the 18th century, which Mr. Seidel illustrated during a recent concert, is the loveliest of all violin literature. This is largely, I think, because the composers of that age had to write music which could be played readily on instruments and by players still quite innocent of modern technical achievement. It was not until the development of the Cremona school of violin making, which came to its climax under Stradivari about the year 1715, that the modern art of violin playing was born; nor did that art become what we know to-day until the epoch of Paganini a hundred years later. The dazzling technical fireworks which now we take as a matter of course, were .then unheard of. Violin music therefore was based mainly upon a refined sense of tonal beauty, and upon simple, clear, well-designed musical patterns which, in a day of formality, politeness and clear thinking, were at once appropriate and inevitable. I hope you all heard Mr. Seidel and I hope that you will watch for the later concerts in his historical series. He is a fine artist and I confess to a great fancy for his playing. His fiddle, by the way, is one of the finest works by that great master of all fiddle makers, Antonio Stradivari, whose little house and workshop still stand in Cremona. Papa Haydn Recently the Philharmonic Society orchestra under Toscanini played one of the loveliest and most easily followed of all works in the symphony form, the beautiful little symphony in the key of G major by old Papa Haydn. Haydn died as late as 1809, nearly twenty years after Mozart had passed behind the veil at the very height of his powers. Der alte papa was old and tired, but his good humor and his charm of manner remained with him to the end. He had begun to make his own music twenty years before Beethoven was born and his teacher was old Porpora, some of whose music Toscha Seidel played in the course of the program to which I have been alluding. Haydn set the form of the symphony. That form remains to this day. Many have tried to break it down, but in vain. It was good enough for Haydn, for Mozart, for Beethoven, for Mendelssohn, for Schubert, for Schumann, for Brahms. Naturally, in Haydn's hands it was always, as befits something new, simple and clear. You can follow without the least difficulty the introduction, the two main themes, their development and the close of the first movement. You can recognize the languid beauty of the song-like second movement, the simple joyousness of the Scherzo, which is so obviously founded on the dance step known as Minuet. Then the closing Rondo in all its jolly merriment is so characteristically Haydn. Musical Definitions for your Scrapbook Here are two more musical definitions to add to your collection. Minuet: a graceful dance in -?4 (waltz) time, but slower than the waltz and not danced in groups. It was a celebrated dance form through tin' seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The Italian name is Minuetto and the French Minuet u\ In German and in English it is commonly called Minuet. The Scherzo (Italian word meaning jest — I have already described it as a musical form) which Beethoven invented for the third movement of his symphonies, grew out of the graceful beauty of Haydn's minuet music. Rondo: This is an Italian word. It carries the same meaning as the French "rondeau" or the English "rondel" or "roundel." In music it is a sort of circular movement, distinguished by the fact that one tune reappears at definite and regular intervals throughout its course. A similar form is used in poetry, under the same name. Here is a charming specimen, which will indicate what I mean: "Love comes back to his vacant dwelling — The old old love that we knew of yore! We see him stand by the open door, With his great eyes sad and his bosom swelling, He makes as though in our arms repelling He fain would lie as he lay before; — Love comes back to his vacant dwelling The old old love that we knew of yore. Ah, who shall help us from overspelling That sweet forgotten, forbidden lore? E'en as we doubt, in our hearts once more With a rush of tears to our eyelids welling Love comes back to his vacant dwelling The old, old love that we knew of yore." Austin Dobson. Here the two lines beginning "The old old love" correspond to the recurring theme of a musical rondo. The closing movements of early symphonies (Haydn's, Mozart's, Beethoven's first two) are in Rondo form. Ossip Gabrilowitsch, conductor of the Detroit Symphony, frequently hcird on Radio.