PROGRESS OF MUSIC IN SCOTLAND.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE SPECTATOR.
Aberdeen, 14th October 1831, MR. SPECTATOR-I am an old lover of music ; and, during the former part of my life, have heard, both in England and on the Continent, most of the best singers and players. My time for travel is over ; and unless the means of en- soymg my favourite art are brought to my door, I must forego the pleasure which it was used to bring me. As an "old coachman loves the smack of the whip," I endeavour, through the assistance of your paper, to follow and to enjoy., as far as I can, the progress of music in England; and presuming that you will scarcely travel to the banks of the Dee and the Don to hear and report on a Festival, will you allow me, for once, to usurp the critic's chair. The Aberdeen Festival has been carried through principally by the exertions of a gentleman whose name is too well known here, and his character too highly respected, to need any eulogium from me-I mean Mr. LEWIS CROMBIE. The arrangements were intrusted to Mr. T. COOKE and Mr. E. TAYLOR, of London; and the result has shown that no misplaced reliance has been bestowed on these gentlemen. The undertaking has had many difficulties to encounter. The names of HAYDN, Mina wr, awl Berrnovnx, have scarcely reached our population, much less their immortal works. In England, these perioeted meetings diffuse musical taste throughout that branch of the kingdom, and people know what sort of gratification they have to anticipate. Here the taste has to be created. Our bigots have not been idle: threats and anathemas have been lavishly dealt out on the projectors, performers, and attendants on the Festival. These circumstances have rendered the attempt much more difficult than in South Britain. " Wi' wind and tide fair i' your tail,
Right on ye scud your sea-way ; But in the teeth o' baith to sail,
It maks an uneo tee-way."
The manner in which this Festival has been got up has surprised every one who heard it. The perfect arrangement and method which appeared in every department-the extraordinary facility and correctness with which the whole apparatus was moved-were delightful. The orchestra in the church appeared like a vast machine, guided, controlled, urged by the conductor's hand. There was neither hesitation nor doubt, but the confidence of experience and sound judgment on the one side, and implicit obedience on the other. Mr. T. Cooxn is one of the most able leaders I have ever heard. So perfect is his ac- quaintance with every style of music, that it would be difficult for any one unaware of his prevalent occupation, to decide whether it was connected with sacred or secular. Our singers were Madame STOCKHAUSEN} Miss MyssoN, Master HOWE, Messrs. HAWKINS, HOBRs, and Pursues ; Mr. E. TAYLOR was the conductor.
I need not descant on the merits of the singers, but will merely content my self with giving you a few general impressions resulting front our premier Festi- val. The first is, the admirable choice of materials, and their felicitous arrange- ment. I partake in your dislike of selections: they are of English (I suppose of Covent Garden) growth : never in Germany did I hear oratorios pulled to pieces and their scattered members stiewed over the act of a concert-bill. On this occasion, it was probably necessary to give us a taste of whatever was most excellent ; but the several schemes were grouped with a studi- ous and proper regard to character and date. Be did not jumble together BEETHOVEN and Pe acyLs, nor tear the fragment of a sen- tence front a Mass. Nothing gratified me more than a renewal of acquaint- ance with one of the Masses of Mena inr, which I remember to have heard performed by his own band at Prague. It lived in my memory as fresh as if only a week had passed. IlesimEL was new to me; and a worthy disciple he is of the MOZART school. You will scarcely credit me when I say, that the Xessiafi was a novelty in Aberdeen: but io lung established fame had reached us, and it thew our largest audience. I wish next to notice the high standald of musical excellence which the managers of this Festival seemed to have adopted. There was variety, but not as you sometimes say, " the variety of good and bad." We may have our preferences towards different composers and different styles, but no one will deny the supremacy of HANDEL, HAYDN, MoZAIIT, BEETHOVEN, HUMMEL, and CHERUBINI ; and front their writings our entertainment was culled. I regretted that none of your English Chards writers were allowed to make their appearance. To us they are strangers and foreigners ; and the welcome which is denied them in their own country, would, perhaps, await th.:m in ours. I believe I speak the opinion of my neighbours in sayioo.. that the Festival far exceeded their anticipations. In truth, they scarcely knew what to expect; and I think on sonic future occasion they will learn to appreciate and throng to hear a repetitiou of the high musical treat of the present week.