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CHAPTER I We once had a glorious school of composers. It departed, with no sunset splendour on it, nor even the comfortable ripe tints of autumn. The sun of the young morning shone on its close; the dews of dawn gleam for ever on the last music; the freshness and purity of the air of early morning linger about it. It closed with Purcell, and it is no hyperbole to say the note that distinguishes Purcell's music from all other music in the world... more...

CHAPTER I JOSEPH HAYDN It is, as a rule, inexpedient to begin a book with the peroration. Children are spared the physic of the moral till they have sucked in the sweetness of the tale. Adults may draw from a book what of good there is in it, and close it before reaching the chapter usually devoted to fine writing. But the case of Haydn is extraordinary. One can only sustain interest in a biography of the man by an ever-present sense that he... more...

LIFE OF WAGNER HIS YOUTH 1813-1834. The old world is very remote from us now, but it is worth while making a small attempt to realize how it stood to Wagner. When he was born, in 1813, Bach had been dead only a little over sixty years; Mozart had been dead about twenty years, and Haydn about ten; Beethoven was in the full splendour of his tremendous powers; Weber and Schubert had still their finest work to do. To grasp all that this means,... more...

INTRODUCTION It is now one hundred years since Richard Wagner was born, thirty since he died. In every land he has his monument in one shape or another; his music-dramas can be heard all the world over; all the ancient controversies as to their merits or demerits have died down. The Bayreuth theatre, the outward and visible sign of his inner greatness, has risen to the point of its most splendid glory and lapsed into the limbo of tenth-rate... more...

Many years ago, in the essay which is set second in this collection, I wrote (speaking of the early English composers) that "at length the first great wave of music culminated in the works of Tallis and Byrde ... Byrde is infinitely greater than Tallis, and seems worthy indeed to stand beside Palestrina." Generally one modifies one's opinions as one grows older; very often it is necessary to reverse them. This one on Byrde I adhere to: indeed I... more...