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Music and Some Highly Musical People

Music and Some Highly Musical People

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A DESCRIPTION OF MUSIC. "In the storm, in the smoke, in the fight, I comeTo help thee, dear, with my fife and my drum.My name is Music: and, when the bellRings for the dead men, I rule the knell;And, whenever the mariner wrecked through the blastHears the fog-bell sound, it was I who passed.The poet hath told you how I, a young maid,Came fresh from the gods to the myrtle shade;And thence, by a power divine, I stoleTo where the waters of the Mincius roll;Then down by Clitumnus and Arno's valeI wandered, passionate and pale,Until I found me at sacred Rome,Where one of the Medici gave me a home.Leo—great Leo!—he worshipped me,And the Vatican stairs for my feet were free.And, now I am come to your glorious land,Give me good greeting with open hand.Remember Beethoven,—I gave him his art,—And Sebastian Bach, and superb Mozart:Join those in my worship; and, when you goWherever their mighty organs blow,Hear in them heaven's trumpets to men below."T.W. Parsons.

WHAT is music? Quite easy is it to answer after the manner of the dictionaries, and say, "Music is (1) a number of sounds following each other in a natural, pleasing manner; (2) the science of harmonious sounds; and (3) the art of so combining them as to please the ear." These are, however, only brief, cold, and arbitrary definitions: music is far more than as thus defined. Indeed, to go no farther in the description of this really sublime manifestation of the beautiful would be to very inadequately express its manifold meanings, its helpful, delightful uses. And yet the impressions made upon the mind and the depth of feeling awakened in the heart by music are such as to render only a partial (a far from satisfying one) description of the same possible, even to those most skilful and eloquent in the use of language; for, in fact, ordinary language, after exhausting all of its many resources in portraying the mind's conceptions, in depicting the heart's finer, deeper feelings, reveals, after all, its poverty, when sought to describe effects so entrancing, and emotions so deep-reaching, as those produced by music. No: the latter must be heard, it must be felt, its sweetly thrilling symphonies must touch the heart and fill the senses, in order that it may be, in its fulness, appreciated; for then it is that music is expressed in a language of most subtle power,—a language all its own, and universal, bearing with it ever an exquisitely touching pathos and sweetness that all mankind may feel.

And so I may not hope to bring here to the reader's mind more than a slight conception of what music is. Nor does he stand in need of any labored effort to teach him the nature and power, the beneficent attributes, of this beautiful art. With his own soul attuned to all the delightful sounds of melody and harmony that everywhere about him, in nature and in art, he constantly hears, the reader requires no great length of words in explanation of that which he so deeply feels, and therefore already understands....