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spread, if not always a flattering, Queen Victoria amongst them. These notoriety. In England, a tradition ob- precious gifts, on Rubinstein's return tains amongst the generality of our to Moscow, were immediately sold or piano teachers, descending from them pawned by his enterprising mother to to their pupils, that Rubinstein was a meet the daily needs of their household. sensational, if not a very "accurate," From his prodigy days onwards, till player. His own little joke, that in shortly before his death, Rubinstein, England he was always considered to the pianist, was constantly before the play more wrong notes than right ones, public. Like Chopin and Liszt, he repis here gravely perpetuated as a truism. resents in himself an era and a school His mother gave him his first musical of pianoforte playing. Both the lasttraining, perching him on a stool before named musicians were greatly inan old-fashioned square piano and terested in his prodigy feats in Paris, often coercing him to obedience with and for some years Liszt was avowedly raps on the knuckles and other ener. Rubinstein's musical idol and model. getic admonitions. Exactly as he hap-- Rubinstein's matured playing, though, pened to be swayed by his impulses, the was to a great extent the outcome of child was idle, inattentive, or diligent, the purely pianistic qualities of but always brilliantly clever and soon Chopin's compositions—the Alpha and altogether beyond the maternal powers Omega of music written solely for the of tuition. Being an eminently practical pianoforte medium. Not until Chopin's and shrewd Jewess, Madame Rubin- compositions had been carefully stein was speedily convinced that the studied by pianists, both from a boy's uncommon musical gifts might technical and an æsthetic point of view, easily be made an excellent source of could any really new and individual livelihood not only for himself but for schools of interpretation arise. Rubinthe entire family, which was not a stein was one of these students, and a small one and at that time in very pre- • whole world of expression and thought carious and needy circumstances. She separated him from the old “fingerplaced Anton, therefore, with Villoing, fertigkeit" school which continued to å French teacher of the piano ac flourish as late even as the 'sixties, credited to be the best master then emanating from such players as Humliving in Moscow. But Villoing would mel, Czerny, Kalkbrenner, Thalberg; probably never have been heard of out- even the great Liszt himself was but side Russia, had it not been for his the supreme culmination and apotheofamous connection with Rubinstein, sis of this school. If we define Chopin whom he exploited at the age of ten as the lyrist of the piano, then Rubinthrough Europe as a prodigy. He was stein brought out all its dramatic the only professional piano teacher the capacity. He was a perfect actor upon boy ever had, and even his instructions the instrument, and he had what the came to an end after their three years' generality of professional pianists lack, tour through the principal cities of namely, an inexhaustible fund of sponEurope. Villoing never accepted any taneity. You might have heard him payment for teaching Rubinstein, but play the same piece a dozen times, yet the money earned during the prodigy never twice alike. It was this feature period served to support both pupil in his playing which so puzzled and and professor. Another little harvest perplexed his critics, causing them to was reaped in the numerous valuable solemnly shake their heads over his trinkets and jewels presented to the “inaccuracies." His readings of Beechild by various Royal personages, thoven were amongst his finest interpretations. Each of the great sonatas pointed out the hundred-and-one difrevealed itself to him as a tragedy or ferent effects obtainable by a skilful a comedy, Shakespearian in grandeur use of the pedals. He was also the or subtlety. Schumann, then scarcely first musician to take a comprehensive known to the average amateur music view of the whole course of pianoforte cian, was also especially appreciated literature, the earliest evolution of by Rubinstein. He caught all this com- which he traced back to Elizabethan poser's grotesque, fantastic humor, his England. His seven historical recitals, alternate melancholy, tenderness, or repeated in different countries, were a playfulness. His giant grasp was per- monumental record of his intimate haps almost too rough and rude for kuowledge of his subject, so was the Chopin's most delicate, ethereal moods. great series of thirty-two lecture-reAnd yet, no sooner has one made this citals upon the development of pianostatement than one wishes to contra forte music and virtuosity, first given dict it. For there comes back to one at the St. Petersburg Conservatoire in a remembrance of Rubinstein's en- the years 1888-1889. Before Rubinstein trancing rendering of the Chopin died, the present-day commis voyageur berceuse, op. 57, of which he made a pianists, travelling hurriedly from veritable lullaby for Titania's fairy place to place with a stereotyped slumbers. And what dramatic and fas- programme to be repeated hundreds of cinating tone-poems he could create out times, were already active in their of the oft-maligned Liszt transcrip- labors. He once undertook the "busitions. When, for instance, he played ness" himself in America, and afterthe Schubert-Liszt Erlkönig fantasia wards pronounced his experience to every shade of meaning in Goethe's have been positively one of the most ballad seemed to vibrate through the humiliating and irksome of his whole listener—the dense, dark forest, the life. Nothing would induce him to retempestuous wind howling through the . peat the experiment, not even a genutrees, the ghostly, supernatural at ine offer of £25,000 for one tour. He mosphere evoked by the Erlkönig and used a common Russian simile when he his seductions, the fearsome state of remarked that he could never bring agony of the child, the soothing calm himself to regard art as “Merely the evinced by the father-compared to cow that supplies the milk." InRubinstein's wonderful conception of numerable anecdotes and reminiscences this composition its rendition by other of his playing remain, some ludicrous, pianists is little more than a clever others pathetic. None is pleasanter or study in octaves. Rubinstein was de- more truly typical of the great artist cidedly influenced by Chopin in plac- than the following story, related by a ing the piano higher even than the Russian biographer. Rubinstein was human voice or the orchestra as a already sixty-two, and a dream of his medium of musical expression. “It life remained unfulfilled, a keen desire, alone of all musical instruments,” he namely, to visit the Caucasus, the pearl remarked, "is a musical entirety; all the of Russia's possessions, with its wild others are but musical fractions.” He scenery of mountain and sea; truly a made an intimate study of the whole land of poetry and romance. At last, range of its possibilities, particularly of during the summer of 1892, the pianist the uses of the pedals, which he was had an opportunity of making a prowont to graphically describe as the longed visit to some friends who “soul of the piano." There exists a possessed an estate in the mountains brochure of some pages in which he near Tiflis.A piano was placed in an isolated pavilion in a little wood some did not leave a single posthumous way from the house, and here Rubin- work. To deal exhaustively with each stein retired early each morning to group of his music would require a study. He was delighted with the large volume. Dashed down at the delicious peace and quietness of his fever heat of inspiration, without surroundings. But one morning, so pause for revision or pruning, his style goes the tale, a stranger from Tiflis is a true index to the inequalities of happened to walk through the wood his nature. The force of his concepand heard, issuing from the pavilion, tion so possessed him, so carried him strains of piano-playing such as he had away, that he was in mortal suffering never heard before. He returned the until he transferred the idea to paper, next day with a friend, and again but there he seemed to quit it once and heard the magic sounds. The wonder for all. Had he, in addition to his was noised abroad, and in a few days splendid abilities, had the patience of people began to assemble in hundreds a Beethoven or of a Tshaikovski, there as early as 5.30 a.m., in order to secure is little doubt that he might well have places near the windows. Rubinstein taken his place amongst the half naturally could not long remain in dozen composers universally conceded ignorance of this concourse of listeners to be the greatest masters of their art. and at first was disposed to be ex- His heart and brain seemed to throb tremely annoyed at having his much- and overflow with beautiful melody; prized privacy invaded. But, finally, his subjects were never commonplace;his good nature and his amused appre- his ideas were cast in a grand, often a ciation of the unique situation pre- majestic, mould. He had at his comvailed and he actually gave a course mand a fund of fine romantic feeling of nine gratis concerts at 8 o'clock each and a powerful imagination. And yet morning. The windows of the pavilion what a lamentable waste of good mawere all thrown wide open, but he terial there is in this music–absolutely made no recognition of his alfresco au- typical of the man who could earn and diences and only a few could from time dissipate a fortune in a day. How freto time catch a glimpse of his profile. quently he spoils an expressive melody, There was very little, by the way, to rich in undulating curves and rhythms, betoken bis Jewish blood in Rubin- with slipshod, trite harmonies; or else stein's physiognomy. On the contrary, his themes are crowded together with with years it became more and more no regard for contrast or for proper Russian, with its square-cut outline, its development. Or after a tremendous prominent cheek bones, short fleshy working up of the listener's interest, nose, and heavy brows.
he makes pause, and there is no pro
portionate climax, Just that quality III.
of spontaneity, which was so peculiarly
fascinating in his playing, in his comIt is far more difficult to justly ap- positions can degenerate into unpraise Rubinstein's merits and limita finished uncohesive improvization. In tions as a creative musician than to this Rubinstein resembled Liszt, but sum up his genius as a pianist. He though his musical thought soared to was one of the most prolific of com- a far higher plane than Liszt ever posers of every branch of composition, reached, and though he had a ring of from a simple lyric to a grand opera; passionate sincerity, which Liszt lacked and he is, we believe, the one modern even in his best moments, he was withmusician of the nineteenth century who out the latter's acute sense of or
LIVING AGE. VOL. XXVI. 1380
chestral color, nor had he Liszt's tech- pen. Only of late years with closer nical facility for effective instrumenta- study have Russians awakened to the tion. Theoretically, Rubinstein was fact that there is much that is Slav, or, a staunch conservative in music. He to be strictly accurate, that is essenrepeatedly averred that the art is in tially Oriental, in Rubinstein's musical its decadence; yet practically, albeit utterances. His fine opera, The Demon, possibly quite unconsciously, he was a founded upon Lermontov's celebrated red hot revolutionary. We have seen version of a Caucasian legend, is now that he was anything but conservative one of the most frequently performed in his methods of approaching piano- works in the repertory of the Imperial forte literature, and in spite of the Lyric Stage, and another purely Russarcasm which he often poured forth sian opera, The Merchant Kalashnikov, against modern "meaning," and "pro- is revived as often as the Censor will grammes" in music, he left many con- permit. Whilst touching upon that conspicuous examples of both; the very remarkable creation, The Demon, “Ocean," "The Dramatic," and the one would like to suggest that Rubin"Russian” symphonies, for instance, or stein here had a subject perfectly akin the orchestral character studies, “An- to his own violently emotional individ. tony and Cleopatra," "Ivan, the Terri- uality. In many points the principal ble," and "Don Quixote.” Outside personage of this opera is the exact Russia, Rubinstein has often been counterpart of the composer's own nadespised and reviled because he neither ture, with its gusts of passion, its appreciated nor imitated Wagner. It alluring seductiveness, its masterful may yet come to be considered by strength, and also its dire weakness. foreigners as much as by his own If we count a revelation of character countrymen that in reality one of his in art as a higher asset than style and most distinctive qualities was his polish, then, in spite of all its defects, entire "aloofness" from Wagnerian dic- Rubinstein's music remains an extraortates. His fifteen operas were written dinarily interesting study. Some three in such a manner that Wagner need not or four of his songs and a few only of necessarily have ever lived. One pass- his shorter piano pieces are frequently ing strange paradox in Rubinstein's heard in England, but there are at least opinions was his attitude towards forty-five settings of Russian words by national mood and spirit in music. He Koltsov, Lermontov, and other poets, declared that the employment of na- which are probably completely untional themes and national color only known here. indicated poverty of invention and an Delightful, as illustrative of the com'exhaustion of the mainsprings of musi- poser's keen sense of humor, is the 'cal inspiration. Nevertheless, he did song-cycle upon a number of fables by not hesitate to include Glinka, the the famous fabulist, Kriulov, op. 64. founder of the Russian school of music, The vocal duets and choruses are also amongst the "Immortals”; and as we most of them extremely effective and have already noticed, his enthusiasm eminently grateful to the voice. Out for Chopin was well-nigh unbounded. of a quantity of chamber music one During his lifetime, unfortunately for would wish to secure a foremost place his advancement as a Russian com- on concert programmes for the two poser, his compatriots took him at his 'cello sonatas; for the octett, op. 9, for own valuation and believed his asser- pianoforte and chamber orchestra; for tions that it were vain to search for the greater number of the trios for national traits in any work from his pianoforte and strings; for the quin
tette for pianoforte and wood wind; back upon what he set out to mainly or for the brilliant “Bal Costumé" avoid, namely, a mutilated concert propianoforte duet. The “Ocean" sym- gramme. One of these sacred operas, phony, in spite of a certain heaviness it is interesting to notice, is taken from and want of contrast in its orchestra. Milton's Paradise Regained. tion, is nevertheless undoubtedly a very remarkable piece of nature-painting in music. For, heard as an entirety, it can offer to the imagination A remarkable phase in the activities a very subtle presentment of the sea of several of the greatest modern which, with all its action and restless. musicians has been their literary ness, can yet remain a symbol of eter- faculty. Berlioz, Schumann, Liszt, nal rest of his operas again there is Wagner, were all voluminous writers. one, which, if adequately staged and Rubinstein was also a writer, though performed here, could not fail to at certainly not voluminous in his literary tract and hold an English audience. output. There only exist some three or This is Feramors, founded upon Moore's four booklets from his pen. But brief Lalla Rookh. The libretto of this opera as they are, from beginning to end they is beautifully put together and the form exceedingly good reading and are music is full of sparkling lyricism. It very original in their point of view. has much, too, of that Oriental suavity They consist mostly of haphazard repeculiar to Rubinstein in his best vein flections upon life and art, jotted and also quite in keeping with his sub- down apparently exactly as they OCject.
curred to him; and scattered through One musical form with which Rubin- them one lights repeatedly upon allustein, curiously enough, expected to sions to women and love. Were it specially succeed in this country, was possible to obtain the necessary data staged oratorio, otherwise known as an interesting book could doubtless be sacred opera. He found something written upon Rubinstein's love affairs. singularly incongruous, or rather irrev. If hearsay is to be believed, these were erent, not to say ludicrous, in the very numerous. Here are a few of his ordinary rendering of oratorio, in which random thoughts upon the opposite sex, the principal parts are consigned to selected here and there, both from the fashionably attired singers standing Russian and German originals :stiffly on a platform. And England be. ing the country in which this branch God created woman. She remains of music has chiefly found a home, he the most beautiful of His creations, but
full of faults. He did not remove them, finally hoped to propagate his views
being convinced that they would but here and delight the British public by
enhance her charms. presenting it with its beloved oratorio against a background of realistic Bibli.
The increase in the number of cal scenery, with the vocal parts acted women interested in the art of music, as well as sung. Needless to say, in instrumental execution, as well as England is the very last country in in composition (I exclude the art of which such an idea could flourish, and
singing, a field in which woman has as far as English listeners are con
always accomplished much work of pre
eminent quality), dates from the seccerned, Rubinstein was doomed to dis
ond half of our century. I consider appointment; or else he had to fall
this growing excess as one of the signs 1 This work has, we believe, been once put of the decay of our art. Women are upon the London stage.
wanting in two principal requisites, for