SOME BOOKS FOR MUSICIANS* THE new " International Library of
Music " has made a promising start with Mr. Romain Rolland's A Musical Tour through the Land of the Past.1 This time Mr. Rolland has doffed his grandiose biographical manner and given us a really entertaining book. He writes mainly of those eighteenth- century musicians, such as the Mannheim symphonists, who, although of importance in their day, are now forgotten. Bach, as we all know, was esteemed by his contemporaries only as a performer on the organ and clavichord, while even the best of his compositions were considered of little account. In those days " the composer of note " was Telemann, whom Schubert called " the peerless master." His compositions were admired in every country in Europe. German musicians of this period had an excellent habit of writing autobiographies. Telemann wrote three. From these, we presume, Mr. Rolland has constructed his fascinating study. In Grove's Dictionary Telemann is dismissed. rather summarily as a stodgy and unenterprising Cappel-Meister. Judged by his correspondence he seems to have been the exact opposite—the Stravinsky or the Schonberg of his day. Telemann writes, for instance, " One must never say to art : Thou shalt go no further. One is always going further, and one should always be going • (1) A Musical Tour through the Land of the Past. By Romain Rolland. " The International Library of Music." London : Regan Paul. [10s. 6d. net.]— (2) The Art of the Player-Piano. By Sydney Grew. Same series and publisher. 112$. 6d. mil—(j) Musical Portraits. By Paul Rosenfeld. Same series and publisher. [10s. 6d. net.]-(1) How to Became a Pianist- By Mark Hambourg. London C. Arthur Pearson. [3s. Od. net.]--(5) Pedalling in Pianoforte Music 44, Algernon H. Liudo. Loudon • Regan Paul. [4s. 6d. net.]—(6) The Sonata : its ruin and Meaning. By F. Helena Marks. London: William Beeves. Ifle. further." In a letter to Graun, a more conservative but equally distinguished contemporary, he says :—" If there is no longer anything new to be found in melody, it must be sought in harmony." Gratin is evidently alarmed. He
expostulates : " To seek fresh combinations in harmony is, to my mind, to seek new letters in a language. Our modern professors are rather for abolishing a few." Then Telemann shows his hand : ",yes, they tell me that one must not go too far. And I reply that one must go to the very depths if one would deserve the name of a true master. This is what I wished to justify in my system of Intervals, and for this I expect, not reproaches, but rather a gratias at least in the future." Telemann was amazingly prolific. He could write a
piece of church music, so Handel declared, as quickly as anyone else could write a letter. His comic operas were among the first on the field. His cantatas were ingenious and dramatic,
and he was undoubtedly a pioneer in instrumental music. Of " French Overtures " alone he wrote two hundred.
Mr. Rolland gives us equally attractive descriptions of other worthies—Hasse, Fasch, Johann Stanunitz, George Benda, the creator of the tragic Singspiel, and Metastasio, the famous librettist—and shows us what jolly and estimable people they were. Finally, Mr. Rolland entirely disperses our illusions about the dullness of these old composers by giving a synopsis of a humorous novel written by Johann Kuhnau, whom one could never imagine associated with humour. Kuhnau's Biblical Sonatas are still played occa-
sionally. They are interesting as early examples of programme music ; in one of them David's encounter with Goliath is represented by a twirl and a rapid ascending scale suggesting
the passage of the stone, and then a loud crash as Goliath tumbles down. Kuhnau's novel, however, is apparently a most delightful work. Apart from the light it throws on German domestic life in the eighteenth century, it is amusing as a satire on the Italian musicians who were then a fashion in musical Germany—how history is repeated 1—to the exclusion of native talent. The hero is a German adventurer who adopts an Italian name and poses as a maestro. Apropos of this, Kitimat' tells a story of another German musician called Hans Jelme, who changed his name to Jean de Jelme with diasastrous results. He forgot that the German pronunciation turned it into Schand-Schelm, so that he was mocked by all.
Kuhnau's hero has similar misfortunes. On one occasion, after advertising himself in a distinctly modern way, he is entreated to perform in public. He endeavours to postpone the performance, he declares that a jealous rival has crippled his right hand with a dagger, he protests that he merely strums the clavier for amusement and that his genius can be
seen only in his compositions ; but in vain. To do him honour his admirers choose him a difficult piece- After all this fuss he sits at the clavichord, plays a few insipidly correct chords as a prelude, and, on the pretext that he has a cold, he sets out
a couple of snuff-boxes on either end of the instrument. When he sees difficult passages ahead of him for the right hand he takes snuff from the right-hand box. When there are rapid passages in the bass he takes snuff from the left-hand box. In this way the difficulties were always evaded. Mr. Rolland also writes on Handel and Pepys, and describes musical Europe in Dr. Burney's day in chapters which are as delightful as the rest. In every way this book is preferable to Mr.
Rolland's deplorable Life of Beethoven that we noticed some time ago.
In the second volume in this series Mr. Sydney Grew sup-
plies a text-book2 on the technique of the player-piano. He says that it takes three years to make a good player-pianist
out of a person of average intelligence, and we feel that he is right, for to master his book would require the greater part of that time. The following description of the relation of triple to duple time will give the reader a taste of Mr. Grew's worst manner : —
" Three counts may stand for two, in the sense that a certain couple of the three counts represents a doubling of the quantity of a certain one count of the two. This statement, read quickly, sounds like .a conundrum ; but it means that if two pieces of elastic substance, each an inch long, are placed end to end, and the half of one piece stretched out to the length of a full inch, and fixed in that position, the result will be as the conversion of duple time music into triple-time."
However, Mr. Grew has lucid intervals, and in them he makes full amends. He is practical, erudite and playful. We recommend the book with one reservation. The reader must
go no further than Chapter III. Thenceforward Mr. Grew embarks upon a highly controversial and obseure exposition of prosody.
The third volume 3 of the " International Library " is less interesting. Mr. Paul Rosenfeld, an American critic, describes in an efficient but scarcely illuminating way the work of a number of modern composers. The company he has chosen is not altogether . select and not wholly modern. However, many of our readers who are puzzled by the aims of the modernists—" So many men with such various intentions "- will find a reasoned estimate of such composers as Schonberg, Ornstein, Stravinsky, Loeffler and Bloch. Mr. Rosenfeld's dignified bdok recalls another collection of musical portraits that was written a year ago by a countryman of his. These portraits were imaginary conversations by about sixty com- posers, and their great attraction was the racy American in which they expressed themselves. Meycrbcer, we remem- ber, made this astounding avowal : " I'm human, I'm just a living little man, but in the big I'm all for Art."
Mr. Mark Hambourg 4 has some excellent advice for those who propose to " carve out a career" for themselves, as he puts it, with a piano. Briefly, his advice is " don't." Mr. Hambourg then proceeds to outline a severe course of training, excellent in itself, but sufficiently arduous to dishearten any who still think there is a short cut to piano-playing. This little book is certainly worthy of attention. Advanced students in particular will find some useful practical hints in the later chapters. Mr. Lindo has treated one of the most subtle and difficult sides of piano technique in a highly satis- factory way. Among other things he describes, probably for the first time, many of the unorthodox devices of pro- fessional pianists. One, known as silent pressure, is a method of obtaining most beautifid sonorities, yet, strangely enough, it has been wholly ignored by composers. The large number of musical examples admirably illustrates Mr. Lindo's text. Miss Helena Marks regards The SonataG from a purely mechanical and superficial point of view. Her careful analyses of all the Mozart sonatas should be of use to teachers and students.