The Music Criticism of Hugo Wolf

By Henry Pleasants; Hugo Wolf | Go to book overview

tongue of matters concerning the salvation of your souls."

Does not this anecdote, as passed on by C. Ch. Lichtenberg, 4 fit our concert going public to a T? But there could come a time when Hebrew music will sound more intelligible to these people than some musical sermon by Brahms. By that time, however, the long-awaited and true messiah may well have made his appearance. I hope it will no longer be my lot to review him.

1.
Marcus Alilius Regulus, third century Roman general and statesman, who was captured in Africa toward the close of the first Punic War. According to tradition, he was sent on parole to Rome to negotiate either a peace or an exchange of prisoners, and urged the senate to refuse the proposals, also insisting on being returned to Carthage to fulfill the terms of his parole. Upon his arrival in Carthage, the legend has it, he was tortured to death.
2.
Presumably Hanslick, Speidel and Kalbeck.
3.
John Aylmer ( 1521-1594), Bishop of London in the reign of Elizabeth 1, a controversial and contentious clergyman characterized as "Morrell, the bad shepherd," in Edmund Spenser's Shepheardes Calender ( 1579).
4.
Georg Christoph Lichtenberg ( 1742-1799), German aphorist and physicist. Two visits to England resulted in a book, Letters from England. Wolf's source for the Bishop Aylmer anecdote, however, was more likely a Brockhaus selection, Georg Christoph Lichienherg's Gedanken und Maximen[ Thoughts and Maxims], Leipzig, 1871, in which Bishop Aylmer's words appear almost exactly as Wolf gives them.

46. Advice to Operatic Visitors

March 29, 1885

Every opera singer who takes it upon himself to appear as guest on a foreign stage would do well to remember that he is entering an enemy camp, that he is necessarily declaring war on that singer whose roles he chooses for his debut. I say "necessarily" because the rare exceptions among singers and actors, those whose characters are not composed of vanity, envy and narcissism, prove the rule. Since, however, and fortunately, every singer regards himself as an exception (to the rule) -- whether from vanity and narcissism need not concern us for the moment -- there remains no danger for the individual.

Now, a sensible person will hardly deceive another without nurturing the desire or wish to defeat his adversaries. To this end he may or may not be justified according to the availability to him of the ways and means of fulfilling his wishes, of turning hope into reality. A clever fellow, accordingly, attacks only when sufficiently sure of himself. Will he also rely solely on his own strength and superiority? If there were only two persons on this planet, or two nations, certainly! But matters being as they are, he will be forced to play

-128-

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