27 FEBRUARY 1948, Page 26

THIS is the story of music in England from 1844

to 5944, as told in the pages of The Musical Times, which was founded in the former year. It is, in fact, a remarkably detailed historical survey, which leaves no side of musical life untouched. It is interesting to read how just a hundred years ago the country was swept by enthusiasm for sight-reading as taught by a certain Joseph Mainzer, ex-priest and Left-wing politician, who found that his non-musical record— whit% interested no one but the police in the Continental countries —was here of enormous propaganda value and aroused interest and sympathy in people whom no teacher of singing would have stirred. (And how little, at bottom, we have changed in our attitude to foreigners !) The " procession of oratorio composers " shows in detail to what a national industry the manufacture of 'oratorio amounted during the second half of the last century ; and the other (and more attractive) side of the picture is shown by full accounts of the leading singers and instrumentalists, conductors and composers, both British and foreign, who were active in England during the period. Considerable space is given to tracing the development of musical education, both in schools and universities and in the various musical colleges, whose origins and subsequent history are given. Nor are the less serious, even the frivolous, sides of musical life ignored. The origin of " recitals," programme notes, behaviour of the public at concerts, infant prodigies, even the " art and' practice of whistling "—The Musical Times has yielded rich evidence on all these subjects. Perhaps most attractive of all are the illustrations consisting of ir8 plates with often as many as six portraits to a plate. The faces of the oratorio composers, the women choristers, the eminent organists and public-school music-masters, Jenny Lind as a pro- fessor of the Royal College and Alma Tadema's Byzantine piano all throw a light on the activities recounted in the text. Here is the final refutation of the quip about England being an unmusical country, "das Land ohne Musik." There is no vouching for the quality of much of the music but of sheer quantity Mr. Scholes's two volumes provide eloquent witness.