(Born at Havre, France, on March 10, 1892)
SOME SAY that Honegger had no business to summon a locomotive engine for inspiration. No doubt this music of Honegger's is "clever," but cleverness in music quickly palls. Louis Antoine Jullien years ago in this country excited wild enthusiasm by his Firemen's Quadrille, in which a conflagration, the bells, the rush of the Firemen, the squirting and the shout of the foreman, "Wash her, Thirteen!" were graphically portrayed.
But there is majestic poetry in great machines, even in railway engines. One of Turner's most striking pictures is the one depictting a hare running madly across a viaduct with a pursuing locomotive in rain and mist. What was the most poetic thing of the Philadelphia exposition of 1876? The superb Corliss engine, epic in strength and grandeur. Walt Whitman, Kipling, and others have found inspiration in a locomotive; why reproach a composer for attempting to express "the visual impression and the physical sensation" of it? One may like or dislike Pacific 231, but it is something more than a musical joke; it was not merely devised for sensational effect.
When Pacific 231 was first performed in Paris at Koussevitzky's concerts, MAY 8 AND 15, 1924, Honegger made this commentary:
"I have always had a passionate love for locomotives. To me they