The American Orchestra and Theodore Thomas

The American Orchestra and Theodore Thomas

The American Orchestra and Theodore Thomas

The American Orchestra and Theodore Thomas

Excerpt

Without sounding the ever-ready pipe of vainglory, we may justly affirm that in one division of representative art the American achievement has gone beyond debate. The grand orchestra is now more than our foremost cultural asset; it has become our sign of honor among the nations. Even if sceptical or scornful about our other endeavors, the world assigns to this a verity of excellence. Starting so much later than the rest and starting handicapped, we seem, despite shortcomings and our own incredulities, to have developed the orchestra above the average attainment. If we lag about other arts, we lead in this.

Forty years or so have set down most of the visible signs of this gracious growth. Only so far back as 1876 they were not known to mortal sight, certainly, and otherwise had been scouted as impossible. Two bands, one leader, and an interest so small it seemed to pessimists a higher power of nothing may be counted as the sorry whole of our performance in that year. In many places were small groups of instrumentalists that played together unstably and were regarded by most of their fellow townsmen as partly insane; in many places there was for vocal music a large, sincere, and always expanding devotion. But beyond two bands and one leader, the thing we know now as the grand or symphony orchestra functioned chiefly to the ear of hope.

Even the one leader and the two bands, with all the most audacious of the casuals, played little music that would now be thought fitted for the symphonic dignity and much that to-day is sent down to the nursery. Besides, they were sustained (if at all) by the part of the public that was musically trained . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.