The Music Criticism of Hugo Wolf

By Henry Pleasants; Hugo Wolf | Go to book overview

Is it a disgrace to compose entertaining music? That's all we need to render our already much abused temples of art exclusive havens for boring music simply because the muse of our modern Handels, Bachs and Beethovens, with their gouty legs and moldy cheekbones, simulate a dignified aspect. Lively music should find a welcome everythere, regardless of genre. In music too, as in all other arts, Voltaire's maxim applies: "Every genre is permitted except the boring." 2 So let us show due respect for the amusing genre of Suppé in the concert hall, too, where certainly its role will not be the worst.

It is true, to be sure, that operetta composers very rarely find their way into the concert hall, but is that anything to be proud of? An out-and-out rascal, as far as I am concerned, is always preferable to a hypocrite. And if the music of the operetta entertains much loose and fickle company, there are to be found around the crumbling toes of the decrepit goddess of our art music hypocrisy, prudery and boredom -- three reprehensible characters stationed menacingly at the portals of the concert hall and screeching in a ghastly language intelligible enough to the sophisticated musician: "Lasciate ogni speranza, voi ch'entrate!"

It was, thus, a happy thought of the recitalists to find a place for Suppé in their program.

A welcome contrast to the vocal pieces were the piano offerings of Herr Emil Weeber. Herr Weeber happily plays the stopgap role in Vienna. The artist overdoes his modesty in putting so low a value on his accomplishments. His fiery playing, and a technic not to be underestimated, might well encourage him to place his capacities more in the foreground, to appear more often and more conspicuously in public, to undertake tours, etc.

With a light heart I lay aside the pen which, in this season, has so stubbornly resisted its employment in the reviewing of concerts. One hopes that this will be the last.

1.
"Abschiedslied der Zugvögel," one of a set of six two-part songs, Opus 63.
2.
"Tous les genres sont bons hors le genre ennuyeux," from the Preface to L'Enfant Prodigue.

85. Materna in L'Africaine

May 16, 1886

The way in which our opera repertoire is chosen begins to be quite witty, although the wit in the stereotyped scheduling and cancelling of the Wagner operas is neither exceptionally good nor new. The persistence and regularity

-213-

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