By Charles G.
Prejudice dies hard, and in the sphere of music it seems most difficult to remove. How Often I have heard it said: "I suppose you will admit that the gramophone and the radio between them have nearly killed amateur music." Of course I admit nothing of the kind. The streams of amateur music have been deflected, but they have never dried up; indeed, they are cutting for themselves wider and deeper channels to-day.
Let us examine for a moment the ledger of the amateur musician. On the debit side we must place two things. It is, I am afraid, true to say that there has been a great falling-off of pupils for those who teach singing, the piano or violin. This is due to the fact that amateurs are to some extent discouraged by the high standard of singing and playing which exists to-day. Secondly, it is true that some of our older provincial musical societies are "feeling the draught."
Mass-Movement In Singing
In the first place there is what we may call a mass-movement in singing to-day. This has encouraged musical festivals, in which the massing of singers or players makes possible the engagement of firstclass conductors and soloists, and so ensures a higher standard of performance than is possible to individual societies.
Next, the class-teaching of stringed instruments is a feature of our day. Violinists, for instance, meet together and can thus be introduced to orchestral playing, which is all to their advantage. Nor is chamber music dead. A great many amateurs still meet together to run over some of the quartets and trios with which the great masters have lavishly endowed us.
Amateur Music Not Dying
This music-making is for their own pleasure; they do not seek an audience; such practice as this is of great educational value. There is a great opening for conductors to-day; there are, in fact, a number of schools for conductors, courses in chamber music, madrigal singing and the like, and over a hundred and thirty students attended the fourth School for Rural Conductors in London last year.
All that is wanted is more directors who can undertake with skill and sympathy this kind of class-teaching. In any case, such facts as these enable one to deny categorically the statement that amateur music is dying.
The "Proms." at the Queen's Hall arc as well supported this year as ever, but I have seen one or two unnecessarily harsh criticisms of the music performed. It must be remembered that this is a non-stop performance of eight weeks, excluding Sundays; that about five symphonies are tackled every week, apart from other major works like concerti, tone poems, complicated modern music_ and the introduction of novelties, on which so much depends for the budding composer.
No living conductor could ever hope to bring this mass of music up to the pitch that can be seeuted at on occasional concert, when thiee or four works have been rehearsed for days together. What is surprising and worthy of comment is surely the high average standard night after night that Sir Henry Wood reaches in many different kinds of musical interpretation, and apart from that, the unique benefit of a season like this, both for the instrumentalists and for the public, who throng the doors of their favourite concert hall.
Nor is the applause unreal. If it seems over-generous at times and undiscriminating, the reason is a loyal human feeling of gratitude on the part of the public, who arc all out to enjoy themselves and wish to say "thank s ou" to eondoctor, orchestra and soloists who provide such wonderful fare.
It has long since become a social as well as a musical event. Go among the promenaders and witness their spirit of friendliness and enthusiasm. It is the English counterpart to those wild scenes of applause we have all witnessed at an opera house abroad.
New Gramophone Records
The H.M.V. list for August is smaller, as is natural during the holiday month, but contains none the less some striking records which will suit all tastes. Among the instrumental solos pride of place must be given to the first record made by Jose Iturlei for pianoforte, See illana No. 3 (Albeniz) and Goyescas No. 4 (Granados).
Iturbi is a Spanish artist, rightly considered to be among the finest pianists of our day. He has been heard in England on several occasions, but during recent years he has lived for the most part in America, where his popularity is said to equal that of Cortot and of Schnabel.
His pieces on this record are chosen from the most distinguished of his own compatriots, the first being taken from the Spanish Suite of Albeniz. Iturbi's playing is full of a strange expressive beauty, and we should like much to hear his interpretation of, say, Chopin or Beethoven in days to come, and hope such recordings will be made. D82154 (6s.).
Lily Pons's Solos
tral accompaniment with 13arbirolli as conductor. All the delicacy and beauty of her voice are shown in Bishop's Lo, hear the gentle Lark, the flute obbligato being played by Gordon Walker. On the other side of the record is an extract from Mozart's Enchanted Flute, the solo Alt, I knew it sung in French. DB2502 (6s.) Peter Dawson also figures among the soloists of the month with a song by that long-established favourite Wilfred Sanderson, Old Man Noah; capital words and a capital tune. This is coupled with Here's to the Good ON Days (Hunk), a song recently published by Messrs. Broadhurst. B8334 (2s. 6d.)
Mark Hambourg contributes two Hungarian rhapsodies by Liszt, Nos. 5 and 7, C2578 (4s.). The forceful mastery of this pianist's style is well exhibited in these solos, and we have now reached a point in the development of pianoforte recording when a sforzando can be heard without any hint of what used to be called "blasting." The tone throughout is magnificent.
Aldershot Tattoo Among the popular records special mention must be made of actual excerpts from the Aldershot Tattoo. Here the massed bands of the Aldershot Command provide all the stir and bustle of a great military pageant. Many old English tunes are included in this medley, such as Here's a Health unto His Majesty and The Boys of the Old Brigade.
The pipes and drums are most effective in Land of our Fathers, the massed bands give us The British Grenadiers, and the selection ends with Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance No. 4, to be followed by The Soldier's Hymn to the King; Oh God. Whose Mercy; Abide with me; and last of all the national anthem. These records are indeed a stirring reminder of the jubilee tattoo. C2768/9 (4s. each).
From the La Scala orchestra comes a recording that will give pleasure to all lovers of Schubert's well-known tunes—a Fan
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