COMPOSER AND INSTRUMENT
THE HISTORY of musical art, as exemplified by the solo instrument is germane to the history of the development and growth of the instruments themselves. As composers grew more exacting in their demands, devoted craftsmen sought to meet their requirements during the centuries that preceded the modern era (which, for our present purpose, may be taken to begin with Beethoven), when all essential progress in the development of the two chief musical instruments, the violin and the pianoforte, was an accomplished fact. No better violins have been made than those built by Stradivari and although the pianoforte of today is a better instrument than that which served Beethoven, the music Beethoven wrote for his instrument makes full use of every improvement the ingenuity of present- day makers has been able to devise.
The demand of the composer came first; technical developments followed. When the maker attempted to anticipate the composer, his experiments were not so successful; take, for instance, the saxophone, which, in spite of Berlioz's eulogy, is an instrument fit only for the jazz-bands that employ it. The great period of violin-making, remarks Parry, nearly coincides with the early period of music for string instruments, and he goes on to say that the highest point in violin-making was reached when string music took definite and permanent shape in the works of the great school of Italian violinists and composers. This statement is perfectly accurate historically; but it ignores the force of the impulse given to instrumental as well as to vocal music by the musiche nuove of the Florentine school. Monteverdi's Orfeo was performed and published before Stradivari was born, and the violinists who took part in those performances must have been acutely conscious of the poverty of their instruments. The