Music Composers

Benjamin Cutter-Part 5

The American youth, when he comes to study, comes late, generally too late. His brain cells are no longer in their early plasticity and impressibility. He learns; but it takes him long to learn, longer than it would have taken some years earlier, because the channels of thought are now formed slowly. When he should be writing in the larger forms, handling an orchestra, dealing in its many colored tones, he is painfully and slowly wrestling with that part of counterpoint that his more favored brother abroad learned with comparative ease four years earlier.

Let us be understood. Certain men have begun late and have even reached greatness. Witness Tschaikowsky who began when twenty-one; witness Schumann. But they seem to have paid for it, Schumann never reaching the highest point in form and Tshaikowsky becoming apparently a neurotic, as the hysteria of his music betrays. The success of these men does not invalidate our contention; that the youth of gifts who begins late so exhausts himself in the effort to acquire technical proficiency that his Muse generally fails him when it should really first begin to sing. Add to this the stress of starting in a profession, the burden of a family that a young man may incur, and we have more reason why so many young Americans of gifts have after a time of promise, even unusual promise, fallen back into the rut of earning a living and have allowed their gift to remain hidden, unused.

The Etude Magazine November 1912





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