|Dr. Joseph Joachim by Russell & Sons (1898)|
“Künstler sollen nicht Diener, sondern Priester des Publikums sein.”(Artists should not be servants, but priests of the public.)
Whenever I had an opportunity of hearing Joachim play, I always felt as though he were a priest, thrilling his congregation with a sermon revealing the noblest moral beauties of a theme which could not help but interest all humanity.
All our great men have freely and generously acknowledged their debt to Luther, none with greater appreciation than Goethe. A linguistic genius like Luther, his language recalls Luther’s in its simplicity, its wealth of imagery and folk idiom, its concrete biblical quality. This is especially true of the language of the youthful poet, at a time when art to him meant nature, poetry the expression of a heart overflowing with feeling, when he drank deep at the fountain of folk song and the Bible. This was the time also when the human side of Luther’s Reformation appealed to him more strongly than its spiritual significance. But the youthful enthusiasm of the storm-and-stress poet for Luther’s humanness made room for a profound respect and appreciation of the mature thinker, Goethe, for Luther the Reformer and liberator from intellectual and spiritual thralldom.
We scarcely know how much we owe to Luther and the Reformation in general. We are freed from the fetters of mental narrowness. We have in consequence of our increasing culture, become capable of turning back to the fountain-head and of comprehending Christianity in its purity. We have, again the courage to stand with firm feet on God’s earth and to feel ourselves in our God-endowed human nature. Let mental culture go on advancing, let the natural sciences go on gaining in depth and breadth, and the human mind expand as it may, it will never go beyond the elevation and moral culture of Christianity as it gleams and shines forth in the Gospel!
These two short poems were composed at least as early as 1795, when Schiller published them, though perhaps a bit earlier. They were clearly intended as a pairing, and they consistently appeared published together during Goethe’s lifetime. The image they present is an unusual one, but highly evocative of the thinking of the early Romantic period. Normally we would associate danger at sea with a violent storm. But Goethe points to just the opposite: complete quiet. For a ship stuck in a listless latitude, the absence of wind could be every bit as threatening as a storm, though also combined with a greater measure of mystery. The image that Goethe presents is a masterful study in contradictions: the utter peace of the motionless sea provokes fear and alarm. But the fear associated with the calm sea gives way to joy as a mist is dispelled and the wind kicks up. The tension is finally dispelled when land is sighted.
Once, when expecting a visit from Joachim, Schumann jokingly proposed our composing a violin sonata all together, and then letting Joachim guess who was the author of each movement. The first movement fell to me, the intermezzo and finale were composed by Schumann, whilst Brahms wrote the scherzo on a theme from my first movement. After having played the sonata with Clara Schumann, Joachim immediately recognized the author of each part.
No friendship did more to reduce Brahms’s loneliness than that with Joseph Joachim, the violinist and composer who was two years his senior (and outlived him by a decade). “Free but lonely” (Frei aber einsam) was Joachim’s personal motto; its initials FAE make a musical pattern which Schumann, Brahms, and Dietrich used in their jointly composed “F. A. E.” Sonata for Violin and Piano. Brahms also employed the theme elsewhere, for example in the first movement of his String Quartet in A Minor, Op. 51, No. 2.
Sketched in the year 1841; newly orchestrated in the year 1853. When the first strains of this Symphony were conceived Joseph Joachim was then a little fellow. Since then the Symphony, and still more the little fellow, has grown, wherefore I dedicate it to him—though in secret.ROBERT SCHUMANN.Düsseldorf, December 23, 1853.
Clarinet Solo “FAE” Anagrams
Italian Titles “FAE” Anagrams
There seems to have been no specific ‘enigma’ in mind at the outset: Elgar’s first playing of the music was hardly more than a running over the keys to aid relaxation. It was Alice Elgar’s interruption, apparently, that called him to attention and helped to identify the phrases which were to become the ‘Enigma’ theme. This suggests it is unlikely that the theme should conceal some counterpoint or cipher needed to solve the ‘Enigma’.
Stars over the Sea
Owing mainly to changes in music fashion Mendelssohn’s impressive output of psalm settings, motets, cantatas, occasional liturgical pieces and the Lobgesang (Hymn of Praise); works that figured so prominently in the European music life of the mid to late 1800s are either largely forgotten or rarely performed. In fact, around the early part of the twentieth century many musicologists including eminent German musicologist Hermann Kretzschmar (1848-1924) considered Mendelssohn’s sacred choral music to be the most important genre of his broad output.
A further factor of major significance is that Elgar was strongly influenced by the second stage of the Romantic Movement. This I suspect to have been mediated through his mother, who grew up at precisely the time when the influence of Byron and Wordsworth was at its height. Her role in introducing her son to the works of Longfellow is well documented. The concept of the Romantic artist as a lone figure battling against a hostile and philistine society was almost obsessively acted out by Elgar throughout his life, as was that other key notion, the primacy of the creative artists’s psyche and personal feelings over all social considerations.
‘Bramo assai, poco spero, nulla chieggio’ Tasso
See ‘Sir Rich Grenville’ 15 –
What may be termed the Wagner literature increases, and as time goes on is likely still to increase. A daring composer, who put forth such novel theories, who wrote such remarkable music, and possessed such a marked personality, will certainly engage the attention of the musical world for many a year to come. Despite all that has been written about him, Wagner’s character is still an enigma; the Wagner of one period is not always the Wagner of another.
We feel towards the works of a Shakespeare, a Beethoven, or a Wagner as towards a miracle; and Wagner testifies that he himself stood before a completed art-work of his own as before an enigma (R. 65). That this religious side of his being found more expression in the old man living away from the world, than it did when he was young and still fighting his way through the midmost throng of battle, is natural. A sort of transfiguration takes place here. The assertion that Wagner became religious in his old age can only provoke a smile. When in his s0-called revolutionary time he violently attacked a degenerate church, he proved by so doing his deep “religiousness” ; St. Francis, Luther, and Savonarola did the same.
Since I’ve been back I have sketched a set of Variations (orkestry) on an original theme: the Variations have amused me because I’ve labeled ‘em with the nicknames of my particular friends—you are Nimrod. That is to say I’ve written the variations each one to represent the mood of the ‘party’—I’ve liked to imagine the ‘party’ writing the var: him (or her) self & have written what I think they would have written—if they were asses enough to compose – it’s a quaint idea & the result is amusing to those behind the scenes & won’t affect the hearer who ‘nose nuffin’. What think you?
|Ludwig van Beethoven rendered by Hadi Karimi|
We were seated at the piano, Wagner and I, playing a duet version of Bach’s preludes and fugues from the Well-Tempered Clavier. My friend! That wasn’t the old pedant, the father of fugue and counterpoint! No, that was the prototype of Beethoven’s C minor symphony [No. 5], the work of the greatest composer, the founder of German music. It sounded quite different from what I was used to hearing. Oh, this Wagner! It is impossible to describe what demonic power lies in these pieces when they are interpreted by my noble master. When we got to the C sharp minor Fantasy I could restrain myself no longer, the tears poured from my eyes. Wagner too was quite moved by the power of Bach’s sounds. Time and again he called out ‘he is the greatest master’.
Without the example of Bach, Wagner’s schemes of Leitmotif would never in his lifetime have become woven into that close polyphonic texture which secures for his music a flow as continuous as that as drama itself:—and ultimately connected with this is the whole subject of Wagner’s harmonization, which in many of its boldest characteristics was foreshadowed by Bach.
Questioned as to his actual feeling for the perpetuation of the fugal style, he rose and walked rapidly about, as is his custom when interested. “It has been done,” he said. “Bach has done it. No man has greater reverence for Bach than I. I play three or four preludes and fugues from the ‘Well-tempered Klavier every day.’
The ‘Enigma’ orchestral-piece is Op. 36. What the solution of the ‘Enigma’ may be, nobody but the composer knows. The theme is a counterpoint on some well-known melody which is never heard, the variations are the theme seen through the personalities of friends, with an intermezzo and a coda, the last added at the request of friends aided and abetted by Dr. Richter, who accepted the work on its merits, having received the score in Vienna from his agent in London, and who at the time had not met with the composer.