Music Composers

Hector Berlioz-Part 9

Mendelssohn was still more severe in his judgment of Berlioz. "He is a perfect caricature, without one spark of talent," he wrote in one of his letters.

Peculiarly enough, Berlioz himself felt very keenly extravagance and exaggeration in the music of other composers. Of Wagner's "Tannhauser" he wrote: "Wagner is turning singers into goats . . . he is decidedly mad; he will die of apoplexy after all. Liszt, who was expected, never came. I think he expected a fiasco. The second performance was worse than the first. No more laughter - the audience was too furious and, regardless of the presence of the Emperor and Empress, hissed unmercifully. Coming out Wagner was vituperated as a scoundrel, an idiot, an impertinent wretch."

And to Madame Massart (a distinguished pianist, wife of the violinist Massart) he wrote: "Ah, God in Heaven! what a performance! what peals of laughter! The Parisians have shown themselves under a quite new light; they laughed at the indecency (polissonerios) of a farcical orchestration; they laughed at the naivete of a hoboe; at least they understand that there is a style in music. As to the horrors, they have hissed them splendidly."

However, there were two famous musicians who recognized Berlioz's genius and even made great efforts to enforce public recognition of his works. Liszt, always ready to help young striving talent, cooperated often in Berlioz's concerts and even spent great sums of money to have Schlesinger, the Paris publisher, print his "Symphonie Fanstastique"; and Paganini, the famous violinist, after hearing that work sent him the following letter: "Dear friend - Only Berlioz can remind me of Beethoven, and I who have heard that divine work - so worthy of your genius - beg you to accept the enclosed 20,000 (twenty thousand) francs as a tribute of respect. Believe me ever your affectionate friend, Nicolo Paganini "Paris, 18 Dec., 1838."

The Etude Magazine September 1919





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