It is hoped that this book may so present the chief types of musical art as to assist readers to distinguish for themselves its great masterpieces, to understand their aims and methods, and to respond to their appeal. Only as we Americans learn to react individually to art, resisting the herd opinions that are so easy and so false, can we become discriminating enough to acclaim the good and reject the bad. In the coming decades we are to wield much power in music, and it is important that we should make ourselves intelligent judges of what is new as well as seasoned lovers of the old but ever youthful beauty we call "classic."
Again, it is only through such independence that we can hope to raise our taste above provincialism and give it freedom and reach -- let it breathe the air of the world. The smug self-satisfaction, the narrow nationalism into which inexperience so easily falls can never satisfy those of us who have once really known and loved masterpieces. We shall be on our guard against that strange sort of "patriotism" that would give America anything less than the best, wherever it may have been produced. We shall know that in art the only frontiers are those that separate mediocrity from excellence.
Norfolk, Connecticut August 17, 1924.