BASIL DE SELINCOURT
IN DAYS BEFORE THE DOORS of the purgatory of criticism had closed behind me, in the fond days of youth when I still nourished dreams of entering the heaven of art, it was music which beckoned to me most imperiously, and the heavenliest attribute of music to my budding perception was its lastingness: himmlische Länge! How early, alas! I became familiar with that comment dropped on the enchanted air at the close of some favourite composition: "a little too long, isn't it?": a comment that would precipitate all magic from the element and leave a company conscious of the stiffness of human muscles and human faces and wondering whether it was not time for tea. Ruskin's dictum, that Bach had an incorrigible faculty for running on, decided me, I recollect, that there must be one reservation even in a boy's worship for Ruskin. The greatest musician to my mind was he who gained Paradise and stayed there; and the greatest of instruments the organ, partly because of the fascination of its mechanism and power, but also for its celestial faculty of sustainment.
What are the relations in music between length and meaning, duration and effect? The question is not so simple as it once appeared to me, but I have never completely abandoned my old in