Music Composers

Benjamin Cutter-Part 4

American parents cannot understand, for instance, what makes a certain child so "queer." With no musical past of their own to speak of, unacquainted with the conditions that would otherwise render them knowing and discerning, they gaze on a boy who is distracted and absent, poor in his school, ever scribbling tunes, moody, irritable, as a conundrum. Of the creative impulse that is striving within him and that finds perhaps a vent in arrangements of rag-time pieces, marches and little songs - the reflexes of what he has already heard - they have no conception. They may encourage him in practicing in this lower field of our art, but they are surely unaware that rightly led, this holy impulse would soon be carried out and beyond the vulgarity of rag-time music into the things that are better and higher, and that this queer boy, poor in school though not necessarily poor in wit, the object of the scorn of his successful brother scholars with their mater-of-fact minds moving in the inherited channels of mathematics and the humanities, that this same boy may have in him the germs of genius and undoubtedly possesses a gift that developed, will lift him, other things being equal, to a high place in his calling. They are unaware that such a boy, repressed, discouraged, may pass, perforce, without interest through his school course, and with a sense of derailment go through life, off his rightful track, out of his sphere, and rankling and sore at heart. As the years go by the creative impulse will become extinct. In its place will flow a wellspring of sorrow and bitterness that will surge up afresh whenever the compositions of this or that more favored one are heard.

Obstructions in America

This is no imaginary picture. To point to those who serve as subjects for it would be easy. In New England, where the writer passed his boyhood, the distrust of a musician's career, due to religious belief and ideas, has had its part to play. Again, the sheer inability of parents to understand an abnormal child. Again, the business sense of a parent = "too little money in music."

The Etude Magazine November 1912





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