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musical notices by a gentleman who is employed to write occasional strictures for the "Pall Mall Gazette," when its more powerful contributor is otherwise engaged. The critic of the "Daily News" and "Express"-one concern in fact-enjoys, however, the reputation of acting independently of any other paper, or any other class of writers, and says what he believes to be right, and honest, and true, without favour or affection, and with an utter disregard of that system of cliqueism which it is so desirable to expose and explode. This gentleman is also accredited with fulfilling the same duties for the "London Journal," in which, although the observations are by no means laudatory as a general rule, they are at least candid and fair. There are several other journals besides those to which I have referred, such, for instance, as the "Athenæum"-the musical critic of which has peculiar views, which he expresses with no slight tinge of acerbity, making himself frequently more of a partisan than it is ever advisable for a critic to be, but never laying himself open to the accusation of being either servile or subject to the control of others; and the "Orchestra,” the property of a musical "Limited Liability Company" in Regent Street, the many caustic remarks of which would occasion greater terror among musical artistes, and its gauntleted hand would do more positive damage to the musical profession, were it not devoid of the influence which attaches to "The Times," and other more important daily and weekly organs. As, however, with the critic of the "Athenæum," so also is it with those who have the control of the "Orchestra." No one who knows anything about those gentlemen will, for a moment, accuse them of catching their inspiration from the critic of the leading journal, or of writing upon dictation, notwithstanding they again and again. go very far towards imitating his invariable bitterness.
It is frequently asserted-for the truth of which I do not pretend to vouch-that a dread of the sarcasm of "The Times" critic is so generally prevalent that scarcely a foreign artiste ventures to appear in London without seeking to propitiate him, and that an English performer would scarcely dare to come before the public, if it were thought he or she would be severely handled in a journal of such enormous influence.
The following circumstances very currently reported, probably have given rise to this impression. Not very long ago a pianist of the highest continental reputation, Mdlle. Clauss, came to London Whether from the continent with the highest recommendations.
she sought the good services of the musical critic of "The Times,"
I do not pretend to say. My impression, from what actually transpired, would lead me to believe she did not do so. Largely gifted as this young and accomplished lady is-brilliant and facile as is her execution-full of sentiment and feeling as are her interpretations of the works of the greatest and best masters—she failed to secure the good opinion of her critic, and was persistently written down for some months. All at once, however, "a change came o'er the spirit of the critic's dream," and severity became "fine by degrees and beautifully less." Mdlle. Clauss, however, speedily withdrew from London, and has not, to the loss of the public, been heard for several seasons. Another lady, a pianist of the most brilliant powers, left, by the decease of her accomplished husband (a composer, whose works are beginning to be appreciated, in the very teeth of all that has been and still is written against them) with the hard lot before her of having to educate and support a large family, which but for her exertions would have starved, was treated after the same fashion. She was accused of "bullying the pianoforte," of giving exaggerated readings of the compositions she presented, of being, in fact, incompetent to receive here the same mede of approbation which the most accomplished of musical critics, and the cognoscenti of the continent had there accorded her. What Madame Schumann suffered from such "hard measure," those who know her intimately can most positively testify. But whilst this line of writing was pursued, there was another female pianist before the public-an accomplished and intelligent English performer, possessed of undoubted talent, and gifted with a power of mechanism that is rarely indeed met with. Upon this lady no praise was too large to be lavished. Week after week criticisms appeared in "The Times" in her behalf calculated to make it appear that she alone was the greatest of modern pianoforte players. That Mdlle. Arabella Goddard was in every respect what "The Times" said of her, some persons may doubt; but giving her all the credit due to her, and richly deserved as the loudest praise awarded her may be, its reiteration became nauseous so long as others, possessed of equal gifts with herself, were represented as being scarcely worthy of the smallest consideration. Madame Schumann, however-for reasons easily to be explained, but upon which I refrain from entering, because it might be touching too closely on private affairs, not as referring to herself, but to the critic, and the lady he so largely praised-has ceased to be exposed to the damaging observations which would have crushed her, had she not been a woman of indomitable
courage, fully determined that the time should come when she would establish and maintain her position here, as she had already done abroad.
It is not alone, however, as against vocalists and instrumentalists that this system of criticism, so much complained of by the musical profession prevails. It extends very much further. Let me take a well-known case in point. Whether correctly judged or not, I will not pretend to say, but M. Gounod is assumed to be the leading operawriter of the day. It so happened, however, that when that composer's first opera, "Sappho," was brought out in London, a feud existed between the musical critic of "The Times," and the prima donna-Madame Pauline Viardot-who introduced it. That the work itself was weak and patchy, unequal in some respects, and pretentious in others, even M. Gounod's greatest admirers have not ventured to deny. It was, however, by no means judged upon its merits, but was cruelly mauled, no less by "The Times," than by the musical critics of other journals. That M. Gounod should have failed in this one instance was not at all remarkable. Several of Mozart's early operas, brim full as they are of sparkling melody, and abounding with delicious instrumentation, no longer hold possession of the public ear. By far the largest proportion of the compositions Rossini threw off at railroad speed, when he wrote for bread, and had to make his reputation, are wholly unknown in this country, and totally forgotten even in Italy, where they were written and produced. But it would be set down as the height of absurdity were it assumed that, because these great maestros failed with some of their earlier effusions, they had no talent, and that their later works are not worth listening to. Yet it was in this manner that M. Gounod was treated by the "leading journal of Europe." So pertinaciously, indeed, was the prejudice maintained against this composer, that the belief became general, in the best informed circles, that "Faust -an opera which has gone the round of the world-was for several years by such means kept out of England. When Mr. Coleridge, Q.C., asked Mr. Benedict, at the trial of "Ryan v. Wood," in the Court of Queen's Bench, last February twelvemonth, for libel against the "Orchestra "-that journal having attacked Mr. Ryan on the score of the unfairness of his criticismswhether this were not the fact, that amiable and accomplished musician expressed his doubts whether it could possibly have been so. Mr. Benedict's mind evidently revolted at the supposition that such great unworthiness could anywhere prevail. Nevertheless, the impression is still prevalent that it was so; and the comparatively scant praise which that
work still receives, induces the belief that Mr. Coleridge was much nearer the truth than Mr. Benedict imagined. Who that remembers the manner in which Mr. Costa's "Eli" was criticised in "The Times," when it was brought out at the Birmingham Festival in 1855, can doubt that personality was at the bottom of the severe remarks then passed upon a work which, in spite of the damage intended to be done to it, yet lives, and becomes more and more popular every time it is heard? At that time it was well-known that Mr. Costa-having been assailed because "The Times" critic had taken up the cause of Professor Bennett, in reference to the Philharmonic Concerts, out of which he did his best and worst to write Mr. Costa, and into which he certainly wrote Professor Bennett, who succeeded Herr Wagner, whom unfavourable criticism crushed-had preferred a complaint to the proprietors of "The Times," not so much on his own account, as in behalf of the profession, of which he is no less a strenuous champion than an eminent member. Of late, however, Mr. Costa is no longer attacked as of yore-public approbation doubtless having been sufficiently strong to endorse the opinion of no less an authority than Meyerbeer himself, that he is "the greatest chef d'orchestre of the world," and to render the depreciation, at one time attempted by a portion of the press against him, innocuous. This, however, has not changed the tone of another journal, which, with unceasing pertinacity-evidently because of something unknown to the public being behind-continues, on every occasion, to carp at his direction of oratorios and operas, and to denounce whatever curtailments he may make, be they great or small, in works of considerable length, which, if they were given as written and played abroad, would detain audiences-if they would stay-long after midnight.
From an exactly similar cause, the works of Wagner, although daily increasing in popularity upon the continent, are prevented from being given in London. The fiat has gone forth to abuse those worksto assert, in fact, that there is nothing in them but " sound and fury, signifying nothing." Chiefly in consequence of this decision, the managers of the two London opera-houses refrain from producing the Tannhäuser, the Rienzi, the Lohengrin, and Der Fliegende Holländer, so that the public, if they wish to hear them, must go all the way to Berlin, Dresden, Munich, or Vienna for that purpose!
From so 66 plain and unvarnished tale" as I have told-which, however, but skims the surface of the general unfairness of musical criticism now prevailing-it will be apparent that the public is very far from obtaining a just, or even a reasonable, opinion about artistes on
the one hand, and compositions and composers on the other. The musical profession "sighs and cries" against the many unfair inflictions its members have to endure; but they have not the courage to resist a system of terrorism which would be denounced with the utmost vehemence, were it reported as existing in any other country but our own. Continental professors despise us, because of journalistic persistence in this line of conduct, and repudiate the idea that we can, by any possibility, be entitled to the character of a musical people. Devoutly is it to be hoped that the time may not be far distant when the object, for which this paper is solely written, may be obtained -that the metropolitan press may be thoroughly purged from even the suspicion of such unfairness as I have-after much considerationresolved to do my best to expose; when its repetition, either by means of the signature of the critic being attached, or by some other arrangement, will have been rendered impossible.
ONLY to hear her voice,
When the pure breath that doth its sound compose
Comes with a gentle cadence in its tone,
And I rejoice.
To look into her eyes
(Books that can tell such charming histories,
Emit quick sparks of fire,
Must make true souls aspire
To see her turn and speak
To some poor cripple-beggar in the crowd,
With simple grace, her thoughtful features bow'd
To mark her precious sympathy elate
The broken castaway,
Might move lost souls to pray
For one so meek.
G. D. A.