An excerpt of a review from The Bookman , Volume 51: HUMOROUS books on musical topics are scarce. While a considerable number of musical critics have a sense of fun and the gift of wit, these qualities usually appear only in their newspaper comments. William James Henderson, for instance, has been for years a bon mot incarnate in his daily remarks on musical doings, but his books are as serious as sermons. Among England's critics none is better informed or a greater literary artist than Ernest Newman, but no one would ...
An excerpt of a review from The Bookman , Volume 51: HUMOROUS books on musical topics are scarce. While a considerable number of musical critics have a sense of fun and the gift of wit, these qualities usually appear only in their newspaper comments. William James Henderson, for instance, has been for years a bon mot incarnate in his daily remarks on musical doings, but his books are as serious as sermons. Among England's critics none is better informed or a greater literary artist than Ernest Newman, but no one would have guessed from his books on Gluck, Wagner, Hugo Wolf, Elgar, and Strauss that there was also in him a rich vein of humor. The readers of his short articles in newspapers and magazines got the benefit of this; and now the best of them have been collected and published in a volume called "A Musical Motley." It was surely unnecessary for the author to apologize for including these "gay" articles in a volume made up largely of papers that are "excessively grave." But Mr. Newman is never dull, even when he is grave. It was the dull concerts and operas he had to hear that made him turn to humor for relief. In these hours of suffering, he declares, a critic "must either go mad and deal death all round him or see himself and his sad profession humorously." Among the humorous articles in this book there are several that Artemus Ward or Mark Twain would have been glad to have written. Perhaps the most amusing of them is entitled "Composers and Obituary Notices," in which the author berates musicians for putting journalists to a good deal of inconvenience by their inconsiderate way of dying just before the paper goes to press. In most of the forty-four articles in this book the serious is mingled with the jocose. The sketch (pages 22-33) of the possibilities of the future, when one violin can be made to do the work of fifty, is grotesque; and yet it is brimful of suggestions for musicians and also, in particular, for the makers of good machine music, before which the handmade music will have to go down as the arrow had to go down before the gun, and the wooden ship before the ironclad. The popular violinist, Jascha Heifetz, cordially agrees with Mr. Newman that enough is better than a feast. "I really cannot imagine anything more terrible than always to hear, think and make music," he remarked to Frederick H. Martens, who interviewed him for a chapter in his book on "Violin Mastery." Fritz Kreisler told Mr. Martens he found practising of secondary importance to the necessity of keeping himself mentally and physically fresh and in the right mood for his work. Ysaye, the Belgian, in his talk with Mr. Martens, emphasized the patriotic note, complaining that writers on violin schools too often confuse the Belgian and French. "Many of the great violin names, in fact, -Vieuxtemps, Leonard, Marsick, Remi, Parent, de Broux, Musin, Thomson, -are all Belgian..."..
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