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THE approach of the spring and summer season of music in London promises to revive an old vexed question in the economy of concerts. In a short time we shall be once more plunged into the whirl of numberless soirées and matinées. "Recitals," slow and sombre in character; "choral performances;" "historical concerts," with their dry and dusty illustrations; "ballad concerts," with their wearisome reiteration of the half-dozen new songs of the year; the portentously classic and the noisily popular; the semi-sacred and the wholly profane; added to the legion of benefit performances-from the dead level of which one or two "monstre concerts" stand delusively forth-make up a total from which a less indurated public than that of London in the dog-days might well shrink appalled. But to the well-seasoned Londoner whose knowledge of the three early summer months is a yearly-repeated experience, this multitudinous infliction presents few terrors. Recalling the story of the clock pendulum which considered the necessity of ticking sixty times in every minute, involving no less than 86,400 ticks every day, an insupportable piece of labour, until it was reminded that if it was required to tick sixty times per minute, it had at least a whole minute allotted it to perform that task, the Londoner consoles himself with a similar reflection. If he has to go through some dozen musical performances in the course of the week, he at any rate knows the limit of the infliction. The penal term is only three months in duration. So rapid a course of life could not possibly bear a longer stretch, the surplus of oxygen in the social atmosphere would otherwise exhaust vitality. We cannot keep up the high pressure for a long time in succession; and the weary denizen of the stalls can look forward to the breezy moors, the cool sands, the peaceful pastures, that are to come. He may console himself with this prospect, and in the interim he may calculate the exact strain put upon his faculties, and the amount of endurance requisite to meet it. Five minutes' patience to endure this feeble ballad; three quarters of an hour's repression during that sonata; a stray whiff of pleasure for the next opera movement, counterbalanced by the tedium of the succeeding concerto in endless parts. He could fore-reckon on the precise amount of fortitude necessary to enable him "to suffer and be strong," but for one unfortunate item, which throws him out of all calculation. In
balancing his books he has to leave a wide and unsatisfactory margin for encores. He can never be certain where an encore will come in, disturb his reckoning, and induce a superadded strain on the faculty of endurance. In the philosophy which consoled the clock pendulum, no proviso was ever made for the necessity of encores; the bargain distinctly was for sixty ticks, and a whole minute allowed; the proposition that, in consideration of efficiency in ticking, some fifty per cent. of vibrations should be required, would have invalidated the whole arrangement at once. But the theory of encores involves this monstrous proposition, that the more efficiently the labour is performed, the greater stress is put upon the labourer; so that, if he be perfectly effective, he shall be required to perform his task two if not three times over.
But, it may be said in defence of the system, the encore is simply a compliment paid to the artist. In exceptional cases it may be so considered. There are, we admit, performers in plenty who accept a bis as the legitimate tribute to their genius, and who are terribly disappointed if they do not earn this favour. The new pianist, for instance, charged with an excess of vanity derived from the exaggerated reception of his instrumental fireworks on the Continent, is quite content that his acrobatic exhibition with one hand should be interrupted in the midst by the efforts of a friendly claque. His supercilious face brightens at the applause of that crowd who mistake his gymnastics for genius. His walk from the piano-modelled on the strut of Hyde Park loungers demonstrates his prodigious self-satisfaction. To him the encore is an unmixed blessing, for he lives for ostentation, not for art. Or, to take another example, the rising vocalist, whose triumphs have hitherto been confined to suburban platforms, is delighted with every bis which advances his position towards St. James's Hall. Far different is it with the tried and conscientious artist. To him the encore is so habitual that it ceases to have any value; it becomes simply an infliction. A "recall" would convey quite as eloquently the praise of the multitude. In fact, a recall to the platform has the full worth of an encore as a complimentary demonstration, while at the same time it imposes no inconvenience. Sometimes, too, the unity of a musical masterpiece is destroyed by the enforced repetition of one portion. A sonata, for instance, is constructed so as to elaborate, according to the intention of the composer, a certain defined succession of ideas. To repeat one of the movements is to upset the effect of the whole. It is like a sum in proportion, or an algebraic equation, where yon cannot double one of the quantities and expect the result to be the
same. Of course the conscientious artist knows this, and is irritated at the blind admiration which has no sense of harmony. What theatrical audience would ever demand that a well-acted scene, a well-devised situation, or even a well-delivered speech be repeated? Imagine Hamlet forced to recapitulate "To be, or not to be"! Or what reader would wish the thrilling chapters in a novel to be printed twice over? Why, then, should a rule equally senseless, productive of an equal lapse of harmony, prevail in the concert-room?
If it were left to performers alone, we believe that the encore system would soon fall into disfavour. The eminent artists would set the lead of discountenancing the bis, and the second and third rank would follow the fashion for the sake of being thought eminent. But performers are proverbially anxious to conciliate their audience, and audiences are wont to insist on the privilege, imagining they get more for their money. Mr. Sims Reeves, who steadily opposes the custom, is frequently made aware of the views of his audience on this point. Last autumn he underwent considerable insult in Manchester because he declined to repeat a ballad. He had yielded to the first bis; he civilly repudiated the second, being tired, and being further alive to the peril of exerting a throat so sensitive as his own. The Mancunians persisted in the encore: Mr. Reeves held out with equal resolution. He had at first declined the compliment; he now stood on the justice of the case, and refused the demand. The Mancunians broke into an uproar; they hissed, they yelled, they drove from the platform the succeeding singer-a lady-until she retired in tears; they ultimately broke up the concert. Why? Simply because Mr. Sims Reeves objected to give them double what he stipulated by contract to perform. He had bargained to sing two songs; his audience asked for four at the same price. They had the right to ask it, but they had not the shadow of a right to enforce the claim, or even to feel aggrieved if Mr. Reeves declined. You may offer half-price for any article of commerce if you please, but you are not privileged to insult the vendor if he bows you out of the shop. You may make the excellence of your baker's last batch a pretext for asking two loaves at the price of one; but the baker is fairly empowered to dissent from that view. Yet to require two penny buns for a penny because the buns are good, is not more unreasonable than the principle involved in an encore.
The absurdity of a habit loses its force by daily repetition, otherwise the ludicrous character of the encore system would be selfevident.
How it strikes one at first sight, before habit has inured
one to its defects, is exemplified by the story of Pasta's maid. The great artist had given her servant, a simple country-girl, an order for the opera. It was a grand occasion-a night in which Pasta appeared in one of her masterpieces. Never had she acted bettervoice, declamation, emotion, everything about her, conspired to make that assumption famous in lyric annals. Applause rained on her at every turn; she was bissée times out of mention; in short, it was a furore. At the end of the evening she wearily asked her waitingmaid how she had enjoyed the play.
"Well, the play, ma'am, was fine, but I felt sorry for you," was the reply.
"For me, child! And why ?"
"Well, ma'am," said the waiting-maid, "you did everything so badly, that the people were always shouting and storming at you, and making you do all over again.”
This was the ingenue's reading of an encore.
But it is not on the performer alone that the custom of indiscriminate encoring heavily falls. It is equally wearying to a large portion of the audience. Every one familiar with those crowded and popular resorts, yclept national concerts," or "ballad concerts," well remembers the "ssh," deepening into a sibilant sound, which comes from the connoisseurs when the applause of the ignorant benches threatens an injudicious bis. But the plaudits are louder than the dissident tones; the singer reappears on the platform, and politeness silences the connoisseurs, while the noisy ones redouble their acclamation. Then the observer may note a look of weariness steal over the habitual concert-goer as he settles resignedly down to the inevitable repetition. The encorist may say that herein the feeling of the majority is consulted; but the proposition is not always true. A few noisy applauders can easily overpower the polite many. The efforts of a claque will prevail against the wishes of a dissentient audience. For whereas it is voted rude to hiss, no canon denounces applause, save in a cathedral. And even if it be granted that the majority have decided for an encore, it does not necessarily make out a case for them beyond appeal. For the vulgar, who attend a concert once in a way, and who are greedily anxious to obtain the most for their money, have no right to dictate to the cultivated few-the steady patrons of the art-have no right, that is to say, to impose a condition over and above the contract. They pay their money for a stipulated commodity, and they do not deserve to claim that which, not being in the bond, inconveniences a portion of the constituency.
The New York Associated Press.
THE organization known as the "New York Associated Press was formed soon after the magnetic telegraph became recognized as a success, and when the facilities of the lines were so limited that it was quite impossible to satisfactorily serve a distinct set of despatches to each of the several New York journals requiring the news. The project originated with David Hale, then of the New York "Journal of Commerce," who proposed to James Gordon Bennett, of the "Herald," a combination of their two papers in the collection of news. Having agreed upon their plans, these parties invited and secured the co-operation of the "Tribune," "Times," "Sun," and "Courier and Enquirer;" all of New York city. Out of that beginning has grown the great and powerful institution which now collects, at the commercial metropolis of the western hemisphere, the daily news of the entire world, by telegraph, and distributes it thence to every section of the United States.
The present Associated Press is a simple partnership for the collection of news, and consists of the proprietors of the New York "Herald," "Tribune," "Times," "World," "Journal of Commerce," "Sun," and "Express." These journalists own the Institution, and theoretically control its affairs, though its details in fact are managed chiefly by its General Agent (or Superintendent), acting under the immediate direction of an Executive Committee, to whom the General Agent appeals for advice when necessary.
Special agents are appointed in the chief cities of the United States, all subject to the General Agent, and responsible to him. Besides these, there are hundreds of smaller cities and towns, where the local press is charged with the duty of acting as agents of the New York Association. The duties of these subordinate agents are, first, to collect and forward to the general agency the news of their respective localities; and, second, to receive the telegraphic news supplied by the New York office, and distribute the same to the press of their vicinity.
The Association has its agents also in Europe and China, on the Pacific coast, in Central and South America, the West Indies, and the British Provinces of North America; everywhere, in fact, whence it is desirable to receive news by telegraph. Its collection of European