Page 10, 30th December 1938

30th December 1938
Page 10
Page 10, 30th December 1938 — Music

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Music does not progress by breaking rules


Ernest Moss

IN making a review of the chief musical events of the year I am relying ou my memory, so I must apologise for the omissions which, paradoxically, will probably be present.

One of the most important events was the publication of Hindemith's book, Unterweisung im Tonatz: Thearetischer Tell, because it once again puts forward the arguments that the delights of tonality are due to permanent acoustical and not transient psychological reasons. Whether the arguments are true or not, Hindemith is one of the most " modern" composers and his book is an illustration of what is now being more widely admitted in "advanced" circles; namely, that music cannot progress by breaking the "rules," which in any case have all been broken long ago.

THE absorption of Austria by Ger many has changed the character of the Salzburg Festival. It is now national, not international. Some of the evil has been swept away wtih the good, however. There is undoubtedly some truth in the German assertion that the old Salzburg was more important as a society gathering than as a music festival.

The biggest change in German music, however, apart from the banning of Jewish composers and conductors, is in the sphere of musicology. Since it must be more and more intensively racial, since its function is to a large extent to be propaganda for Nazi philosophy, it can no longer hope to be objective.

IN England one of the most welcome signs in music was the beginning of the end of the virtuoso craze. More and more soloists are playing their concertos from music-books, not from memory.

There have been sporadic, not very successful, attempts to compose English operas, but we are still looking for a new Purcell.

Glyndebourne broke with the allMozart tradition and included Donizetti and Verdi in its repertoire. This is an Indication of the decline of Wagner's star (in spite of Ernest Newman's gallant efforts) and the revival of interest in Italian opera. Perhaps this new interest will do something to revive the lost art of singing.

THE best new ballet of the year was probably Hindemith's Nobiassima Visione; the best composition, Stravinsky's Dumbarton Oaks.

We have had some important new works from English composers; Benjamin Britten's piano concerto, for instance. But there is still no evidence that English composers are producing an appreciable amount of music really worth listening to.

Sadler'S Wells has continued to be the liveliest musical institution in the country, ready to find something new to try out. The latest effort was Don Carlos in English.

That sublime composer, Gluck, has continued to be neglected, though Covent Garden did have a go at him. Sadler's Wells has yet to do something about him.

OTHER events of the year were the first Toscanini Festival, the return of Menuhin to the concert hall, revival of the Schumann violin concerto, the revival of the cheap "Pop " concerts, the (disputed) discovery of a Haydn symphony, various centenary celebrations like the Sibelius, the Bizet, and the Bi-Centenary of the Royal Society of Musicians, Henry Wood's Jubilee, the encroachment of pseudojazz on the Sunday wireless programmes, the death of Sir Landon Ronald, and the appointment of new principals for the Royal College of Music (Dr. George Dyson) and the Guildhall School of Music (Elio Cundell).

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