New informations and/or suggestions are always welcome.
Between 1900 and 1910 the music of Strauss, Mahler and Bruckner was still arousing much controversy. I would say the same for that of Debussy, Reger, Stravinsky, Schoenberg, Ravel and Delius. A little later Hindemith, Bartok and Honegger entered the lists. If you glance through the programmes of my Wiesbaden days you will find all these names, and many others now famous. And you will observe that I gave the first performances of many works which afterwards became classics. Do for your generation, my dear friend, what I did for mine. If you have rendered no service to the art of your contemporaries you will have done nothing of any value. It is better to serve than to exploit.
A few lines back I wrote the name of Delius. A British subject but of German origin, Delius had been intended by his parents for a commercial career. At the age of twenty he was working an orange plantation in Florida. It was there that he began to study music on his own, and then he left America to settle in Europe. I heard his Seadrift, based on the poem by Walt Whitman, performed at a festival held in Essen in I906 with the composer present. As I listened to this music, which is so undeservedly sneered at nowadays, I forgot orchestra, singers and audience and lost myself in a dream from which I only awoke the next morning I went to see Delius. He was a charming man, natural, sensitive and good-hearted. "I am like Brünnhilde", he said to me: "I have eight sisters..." As for me, I declared to him, "I haven't got an orchestra yet, but as soon as I have the first work I'll play is your Seadrift!" And I kept my promise, at Frankfurt, though I slightly rearranged the orchestration which I considered imperfect. Delius was in the audience again that evening. He embraced me and said, "You did well to re-touch the orchestration. It's something I should never have given anyone permission to do, but with you it's different, because I realize you are fond of me"
At this point, I think, the young musician for whom these words are intended will pluck me by the sleeve and tell me that he does not know how to take this anecdote. Take it, then, as a proof that one can sometimes put love for a musical work in the place of respect for the text. "Sometimes", I said.
Here now are a few pieces of practical advice: I hope they will obscure the memory of over-long digressions.
For me reading affords a rest from music. I have devoured entire libraries, musical and non-musical. For professional study, that is, the art of conducting, the writings of Wagner and Weingartner have been of great use to me. But Plato, the Greek tragedians, all great writers in general and a few whimsical ones in particular have enriched or amused me very seasonably. Read too, and show those who know you that one can be at the same time a good musician and a cultured man.
(Schuricht admired Joseph von Eichendorff and Adalbert Stifter.)
The interpretative artist should be endowed, first and foremost, with that kind of spiritual musical intuition which permits him to sense the original impulse of the work he is interpreting; and secondly with the gift of making clear in his own presentation the essence which he sees.
We know that to a talented interpretative musician illumination often comes at the first reading of a score. It does not consist in escape from his own being but rather in the apparent awakening by the rays of the creator's genius of congenial forces in the interpreter, and these point him along the path of re-creation.
Such illumination loses nothing of its absolute character nor of its intensity in the period when the interpreter is penetrating the structure and details of the work; throughout his exploration he seems to be ever joined to the creator by a wonderful link that leads him through the creative process which the work itself underwent.
If the interpretative artist is fortunate enough to touch the "active nucleus" of the musical cell, whence stem all the forces which govern the work, this "nucleus" will guide him even in the smallest details. And then the general conception, the tempos and nuances, the ways by which the force in the work is to be expressed, will impose themselves on him as it were of their own accord; and all apparent freedom of interpretation will thus follow logically from the relationships of those forces which form the texture of the work.
And eventually, the interpretative artist will transmit "pure music" to the listener, winning for him a conviction in his deepest soul of possessing something ineffable.
Of course if the governing inspiration of a work is not apparent to the interpreter at first reading, he will endeavour to discover by slow plodding the interpretation and the "Active nucleus" which will make plain to him the essence of the work and open up to him the road to unknown territories.
"In attempting to to express the feelings that were awakened in the depths of my soul by your incomparable art and wonderful dedication, I have become ever more aware that words cannot do justice to such an experience. I stand before you, my heart overflowing with gratitude and admiration; and yet it is impossible to express what I feel concerning the unforgettable experience of the perfection with which your mastery moulded Beethoven and Bruckner. Permit me, this time in spirit, to shake your hands most warmly."
"When I was young, I concentrated on the modern composers: Stravinsky, Bartok, Hindemith, and so on. I still love them, of course, but nowadays I am more and more in demand as an interpreter of the classical and romantic composers. I am an exponent of an old tradition. I have nothing against the music of today, but I feel it is important to rejuvenate the sense of tradition."
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