Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Music Pages From May 1908

EXPLANATORY NOTES ON OUR MUSIC PAGES.  Our music pages this month contain material which is not only of most attractive character, but also of real educational value, a number of the pieces calling for extended comment.  Schubert’s “Impromptu,” Op. 90, No. 4, is an important and very popular classic, frequently used in recitals and in advanced teaching.  Our plates have been prepared according to the revision of Franz Liszt, which embodies his ideas as to the proper fingering, phrasing and dynamics.  This piece requires a facile technic, a clear light touch and a certain amount of velocity.  The characteristic figure in sixteenth notes must be delivered with absolute evenness throughout.  When the counter melody appears in the left hand this must be well brought out in the manner of a ‘cello or baritone solo.  When the melody appears in the right hand with triplet accompaniment this must also be well brought out.  In the middle section in C sharp minor the repeated chords of the accompaniment must be decidedly subdued in order that the melody may stand out and to avoid heaviness.  The frequent crescendos and decrescendos must be carefully managed.  This piece will require diligent study.


Enjoy Krystian Zimerman performing Schubert's "Impromptu":


Music By The Ton

Somebody once said that it requires more force to sound a note gently on the piano than to lift the lid of a kettle.  A German musician has just proved it.  He has calculated that minimum pressure of the finger playing pianissimo is equal to a quarter of a pound.  Few kettle lids weigh so much.  The German’s calculation is easily verified if one takes a small handful of coins and piles them on a key of the piano.  When a sufficient quantity is piled on to make a note sound, they can be weighed.  If the pianist is playing fortissimo a much greater force is of course needed.  At times a force of six pounds is thrown upon a single key to produce a solitary effect.  This is what gives pianists the wonderful strength of finger so often commented on.  A story used to be told of Paderewski that he could crack a pane of French plate-glass half-an-inch thick merely by placing one hand upon it, as if upon a piano keyboard, and striking it sharply with his middle finger.  Chopin’s last study in C minor has a passage which take two minutes and five seconds to play.  The total pressure brought to bear on this has been estimated as amounting to three tons.
 Enjoy Natalia Bezuglova's performance of Chopin's Piano Etude in C Minor, Op. 25, No. 12:


In Mighty Waters

                Our friends may remember that in the February issue of The Etude we published an editorial upon the miraculous power of music as a comforter.  We declared that the highest office of music is to take away the griefs of life.  We tried to show that music is the great anodyne of the world.  We had not dreamed that in a few months we were to confront a grim exemplification or this thought.
                With the sinking of the Titanic, sixteen hundred lives were sacrificed to the greed for useless luxury and needless speed.  Fate sneered at the highest achievement of man who sought dominion on the seas.  The heroism of those who lost their lives is a monument to the valor of all who believe in the high ideals of the Anglo-Saxon race.
                We feel that we cannot pass this time without joining with our readers in a tribute to that little band of musicians which kept on playing, true to their duty, until the dark waters closed over them.  Not one of the band was saved.  If you ever thought that musicians were not to be classed with men of bravery, reflect upon that unthinkable night of April 14th, 1912.
                The valor of those men who gave their souls to cheer the dying had in it the true sacrifice of the Christ spirit.  No scene more tragic, more heroic, more inspiring can be found in the history of all time.  The night was starlit.  The sea was calm.  The small boats were moving away from the great ship.  Above the cries and moans of the weak came the sound of the band playing a hymn.  That was something more than mere heroism.  Such courage in the face of utter helplessness was the noblest manifestation of the divine in man.  Can we ever conceive what that music must have meant to those on that boat during the last few hideous moments?
                Here then, are the names of the eight men who took part in the saddest requiem of all time.  At that moment the world found a new regard for those who follow the profession of music.  This little group rose from the rank and file of ordinary musicians to become the world’s highest types of heroes.  May their names be kept shining forever in the annals of human bravery.

                HARTLEY                                          CLARK
                HUME                                                 BRAILEY
                TAYLOR                                             KRINS
                WOODWARD                                    BREICOUX.

                In memoriam let us repeat the last lines of the hymn Autumn, said to have been chosen by the much-loved journalist and educator, W.T. Stead, just before the Titanic sank to its grave two miles below.
Hold me up in mighty waters,
                Keep mine eyes on things above—
Righteousness, divine atonement,
                Peace and everlasting love.


Sunday, April 21, 2013


 SCHEHERAZADE speaks. . . .  It is a tale of marvels, to beguile her lord.  She tells of Sinbad and the magic isles . . . horses with brazen feet, and men of steel . . . sultans and princesses, houris and turbaned slaves.  Color, warmth, rhythm, the very perfumes of the Orient breathe in her artful words.
                From that ancient collection of tales known as the Arabian Nights, Rimsky-Korsakoff drew inspiration for some of the most vivid and exotic music ever written.  His Scheherazade Suite is a marvelous arabesque of orchestral color, brilliantly imaginative, technically fine.  Three generations of music-lovers have delighted in it.  It should be in every musical library.
                The Scheherazade Suite has been recorded by Leopold Stokowski and the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra.  It is available in a special album, with an explanatory booklet.  In it, Victor’s Orthophonic process has preserved both the full splendor of the music itself and the subtlety and vigor of its interpretation.
                The nearest Victor dealer will gladly play you the Scheherazade Suite, or any of the beautiful new Victor recordings, by the foremost artists and orchestras. . . .  Write today for the free illustrated booklet, “A Musical Galaxy,” with foreword by Leopold Stokowski—a commentary upon six of the greatest moments in music.             Victor Talking Machine Company, Camden, N.J., U.S.A.
 Enjoy The Moscow Symphony Orchestra in their performance of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade (Arthur Arnold conducting - Elena Semenova, Violin) (5 parts):


Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Singer's Etude

Prepared by the American Academy of Teachers in Singing, with Notations by H.M. Doubleday 

 I.  “Singing is healthful; it develops the lungs and purifies the blood by emptying the lungs more completely of used air and filling them deeply with fresh air.”
                We well know that consistent manual labor will accomplish healthy results to all, but, when one leads a sedentary life, to take exercise for exercise itself is not always attractive.
                The natural physical benefit resulting from singing, properly done, alone or associated with others, bring the two-fold benefit of valuable exercise and pleasure.
                It is on record that in an aggregate of some 3,000 singers of choirs and singing societies in London, England, that only three became ill with influenza during the great epidemic.
                So much for breathing exercises.
                II.  “Singing promotes a good bodily posture and a graceful carriage.”
                III.  “Singing lends expressiveness to the countenance and animation to the mind.”
                It is the duty of one who assumes a public position as a singer or speaker to acquire grace of bodily position, and a pleasing facial expression.  This is as necessary as that one should be properly dressed.  A sad or serious expression, maintained during the description of a moonlight scene or the beauties of the mocking bird’s song, during the speaking or singing, would have an unfortunate influence on the performance.  To acquire the habit of visualizing the story or the scene which is being portrayed will influence the expression of face and bodily action in a most acceptable way.
                IV.  “Singing increases poise and self-confidence, and develops character through difficulties overcome.”
                When the body joins the mind in living the part, timidity and thought of self give way to the wish to carry the message or description (in which the singer is interested) to the hearers for their education or pleasure.  The singer or speaker is there for that purpose.


                V.  “Singing gives a pleasanter, richer speaking voice and improved speech, thereby adding to the charm of personality.”
                When you hear a voice speaking or singing with a quality as herein described the owner has studied vocal culture or it is a natural endowment.  The beautiful voice helps out very much even when a story is not of the highest interest.  The attention will be held by the “lure” of the voice.
                Some speakers are born with a pleasant voice, many with a harsh and perhaps unpleasant emission of tone; it is particularly advantageous for this latter class to study voice culture.
                VI.  “Singing strengthens the memory and the power of concentration.”
                All singing as far as is possible, should be done with the words properly memorized in order that the meaning of the story or description as given by the words may be visualized and the proper expression of both words and music be an important part of the performance.
                If this method is always maintained valuable results are bound to ensue and an excellent habit is invariably formed.
                VII.  “Singing acquaints one with the inner meaning of words, and thus stimulates deeper insight into poetry and prose.”
                VIII.  “Singing enables one to understand and enjoy more fully the art of great singers.”
                Nothing is more valuable than reading the personal talks of eminent singers, which throughout point to the necessity of good and even tone, as well as correct enunciation and expression of the words, which are the basis of the music.  Each great singer may show minor defects in his performance, but study will educate all to detect and avoid defects in tone expression and enunciation.  It s most valuable to read what great singers say about their own expression as students.
                IX.  “Singing awakens living interest in the beauties of music and admits one to the rich and varied treasury of the literature of song.”


                X.  “Singing brings new aspirations and new buoyancy into life, through the absorbing pursuit of an ideal.”
                Of course an ambitious student of music finds that his interest becomes more generally acute as he delves into its mastery; but only in vocal music as he becomes a singer himself do pleasure and profit become real and intense.
                The beauties in nature and human life generally become evident step by step, as the study of the voice proceeds.
                With the voice cultivated that art of the poet becomes a living thing.
                When asked how the pupils of the singing class were affected in their general class work, the Head Mistress replied, “They have learned to look for the beautiful.”  Here we have a very good reason for studying singing and a mental specific which should guide the life and thoughts away from crime and other evils.
                Should the state governments spend adequate funds to better progress in musical study in general and singing in particular, I do not think it rash to prophesy a general decrease in crime and in fact in all evil-doing.
                Thus any laxity in the teaching of the most advanced type of singing and expression for the young school children would indicate bad judgment, for a desire to find the beautiful may become part of the education as spelling is a part.
                If a child can be led to look for his pleasure in exercise that is clean and good, during his school-boy days, he is not so likely to drift into criminal ways when he leaves school.  Notice that Shakespeare says in the “Merchant of Venice,” Act V, Scene I,
                “The man that hath no music in himself
                Nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds,
                Is fit for treason, stratagems and spoils;
                The motions of this spirit are dull as nights,
                And his affections dark as Erebus.
                Let no such man be trusted.”
                It might be possible to create a craving for music as strong as the desire for cheap amusements provided the child is placed under the proper influence at an early age, say, as soon as he can read.


                XI.  “Singing as a means of self-expression is a medium of release for pent-up emotions.”
                In sadness as in joy the sweet musical sounds have a marked effect upon the listener akin to charm, pleasure and interest.  At a wedding the joy of the assembled friends is increased by the atmosphere of music.  As the bride moves up the aisle the sound of the organ and the singing by the choir bring a sense of the triumph of love to all the minds of the listeners.
                Why is music, especially singing, a usual part of the service for the dead?  Does not the voice of the sweet singer relieve the sense of oppression, especially for those who are present as relatives and dear friends?  When there is sadness and trouble in the circle of the family or friends gathered together, how surely the sense of relief and support come:  to the sufferers when fitting strains of singing by a sweet voice pervades the room.  The proper words and voice should be available at all occasions of meting, whether sad or joyous; therefore study singing and learn to sing with the mind, the face and voice.
                XII.  “Singing, though followed with no thought of professionalism, gives pleasure to oneself and ultimately to one’s friends.  Its appeal is universal.”
                Of course the young pupil of singing, taught at school, will not and should not be urged to think of the professional side of the study.  That condition is the outcome of natural desire, ability and, later, honest study.  A child should begin to study singing and expression when it has learned to read, and to some extent express as it reads and knows what it is reading about.  Children can be led to find pleasure themselves and give pleasure to their friends and listeners, by singing and reading properly.  How these things can be accomplished depends mainly upon the teacher.  Mrs. RosilaSmiley, one expert, St. Petersburg, Florida, states “that the unusual child, that is, the child who isn’t musical, does not exist.”  And The Etude, in an editorial, notes, “In fact there are so very many instances of the power o music in developing the mind that we are convinced that wherever there is musical receptivity (and that means about 99% of mankind) the study of music is one of the most remunerative of all.”
 Enjoy Kiri Te Kanawa and The Royal Opera House Orchestra in their performance of "Exultate, jubilate" by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: