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handful. The events of the last fifteen months lent an emphasis wholly new to the remark about South Africa, and to the linking of South Africa with the name of Australasia. As one more of the links of Empire, it is asked that sons of the colonies may have their chance of helping in the government of the Empire as a whole.
EDWARD E. MORRIS.
THE UNIVERSITY OF MELBOURNE.
I HAVE been asked to write something on the master who has so lately gone from us.
Verdi is dead! Do not these few words speak to us as no review article can do; and besides, must not Verdi's significance for me personally be without interest to your readers? What then is there left? Biographical notices? They are to be found in every encyclopædia. The slight indication of an instantaneous photograph, seen with the eye of a northerner? For this would be required an objectivity of which I am by no means sure that I am possessed. In spite, however, of all these disadvantages, I will make the attempt.
With Verdi is gone the last of the great ones, and if it were permissible to compare artistic greatness I would say that Verdi was greater than either Bellini, Rossini, or Donizetti. I would go so far, éven, as to say that side by side with Wagner he was, on the whole, the greatest dramatist of the century.
But-great, greater, greatest, do not even exist in the realm of art; what is great is great, and therewith a full stop. What we all feel at Verdi's death is how infinitely empty at this moment the world seems without him. Where now are to be found among the younger generation of musicians the new, the unwonted, the strongly personal elements of Verdi's art, and these above all in the domain of drama? In Germany, France, England, Russia, Scandinavia? We see them nowhere nowadays, but there are rumours and signs that these qualities are already in swaddling-clothes, and if the signs do not deceive us, it will not be long before the great copying machines after Wagner and Verdi, which are fashionable for the time being, are consigned to an eternal oblivion.
We are waiting for a personality, and that is the reason why Verdi's death fills us with a peculiar sadness. When Gade died here, in Copenhagen, eight years ago, a priest said, at his bier, that his place would soon be filled by another. Such a prodigious piece of stupidity, such a display of an incredibly undeveloped conception of the importance of the beautiful, was it reserved for a Protestant priest to give utterance to! A Roman Catholic priest could not say such a thing, least of all an Italian one, for in Italy all classes of Translated from the Norwegian by Ethel Hearn.
society, without exception, stand in strikingly direct relations with their great men. They feel a joyous pride in them, and I shall never forget the breath-bated awe with which the Roman man-inthe-street repeats the name of one of his great ones.
It is this relationship, in which Verdi so well understood how to place himself with regard to his countrymen, which dictates his position towards the land of his birth. What he was to his country we can best estimate when we read that after his death the municipal authorities of Milan met in the middle of the night to discuss in what manner honour should be shown to the deceased; and that in Rome, where all the schools gave their scholars holidays until the funeral had taken place, a sitting of the Senate was entirely devoted to the memory of Verdi.
I mention these facts because they show Verdi as a national hero, and it was in this light that the people were accustomed to regard him. A national artist he is to the core, the first and the foremost; as such did he begin, and his great triumphs in youth and in later manhood, among which are the now less known operas Nabucco and I Lombardi, and a decade later the celebrated Rigoletto, Il Trovatore and La Traviata, indicate all a national standpoint. Then came to pass the remarkable thing that Verdi as a fully matured man greatly widened his horizon, though retaining at the same time what was national in his art: he became a cosmopolitan. Even in the Traviata he treads-personal characteristics apart-in many respects, in the footprints of his compatriots. He belonged to a school which in the musicland of our century was treated with contumely. At the Leipzig Conservatorium, in the fifties and sixties, a mention of Verdi's music met with nothing but a contemptuous shrug of the shoulders or the smile of superiority. In learned circles his music was considered meretricious because the national element in it was disregarded, and neither Mendelssohn nor Schumann was able to see Verdi's art as a true expression of the emotional life of his country people. It was Wagner who not only saw this, but who also honestly confessed how much he had learned from the Italians, and chief among them from Bellini. Since those days the Germans have gone so far, even, as to acknowledge that the Verdi of this period should be heard in Italy in order that the truly national element in his art may be fully appreciated.
As far as I know there is now a pause in Verdi's dramatic production; and after this comes, in 1871, Aida. What a marvellous development! What significant years in Verdi's inner life does it not betoken! If any one should ask me what school this work belongs to, I could not answer him. It stands upon the shoulders of the art of all time. The newer masters of both France and Germany gave him impulses, but nothing more: Aida is a masterpiece in which his own originality is combined with a wide and
sympathetic view of what is best in musical contemporaneity. Verdi the Italian and Verdi the European hold out a hand to one another: the language he here speaks is the language of the world, and we need not go to the country of the composer to understand it. For this reason Aida was a success all along the line. His melodies, his harmonies, his treatment of orchestra and choruses, each and all claim the same admiration-and one thing more: the Egyptian local colour. This is not the outcome of a refined technique, but is achieved in great measure by the power his imagination had of transporting itself to the place where the scene of his work is laid. As one example among many, I will merely mention the night scene on the Nile, at the beginning of the third act, in which the. flageolet tones of the violoncellos and double-basses, the pizzicato of the violas, and the combined tremolo and arpeggios of the violins accompany an extremely strange flute melody. You are carried. away to the solitude of an African night-hear the mysterious and indeterminate sounds peculiar to it. Imagination and technique, in conjunction, have succeeded in producing an effect which is entrancing from its marvellous fullness of character.
After Aida appeared Otello, in 1887: an interval of sixteen good years, but then this work marks again a new period. In it Verdi is on the highest mountain-top which in his long career it was ever granted him to attain. The long training through different styles of art was a necessity that he might be enabled to create the grand and exalted view which is the distinguishing feature of this proud work.
Tschaikowsky, in his memoirs, regrets that Verdi reached this height so late in life; he thinks that it might have been attained while imagination still had the elasticity of youth if he had known the contemporary masters of drama in other countries. Unfortunately I have not the book by me, but I remember that Tschaikowsky succeeds very happily in putting his thought into words; but all the same I cannot agree with him. It is not given to us to possess at one and the same time youth and the results of a long life. In order to produce a work such as Otello it was necessary for Verdi to undergo his long uninterrupted process of transformation; and the capacity for further development, the depth, the versatility which the ageing master here displays is something astounding. Though he may not be young, still he shows a youthful spirit which can juggle with the fiercest passions of unruly matter. Verdi is not our debtor in anything. There is in his music Shakesperian demoniacality: he shrinks not before such a redoubtable task as the composing of Iago's grand monologue with its gloomy god-denying philosophy of life and death-and how high does he not soar in this scene!
Among the many remarkable things in the instrumentation of this opera is the use made, among other things, of the entire collec
tive orchestra apparatus for the production of a pianissimo, and a fear-inspiring pianissimo it is. This effect is, I think, new, at any rate I do not remember to have met with it in the works of any other
It would seem as if Aida and Otello vied with each other for the first place in Verdi's production. I mentioned the Egyptian colour in Aida. I used at one time often to go to the Royal Theatre in Copenhagen, where this opera was admirably rendered and where the orchestra was conducted by Johan Svendsen, and enjoyed the glorious work to the utmost. When, however, the first notes of the overture to the last act were played, I always became aware of a pair of questioning musician's eyes, from the orchestra or the surrounding audience, fixed upon me. On mentioning the matter and asking if any explanation could be given of it, I was told that it was thought that Verdi showed here an intimate acquaintance with the newer Norwegian music. How far this is true I cannot tell, but that Verdi did know the Norwegian folk-songs I am prepared, after this overture, to say was a certainty. It is a bit of touching, melancholy music, in which the master, in an admirable manner, lets the wood-wind instruments depict Desdemona's presentiments of death.
Were I to embark upon an exhaustive enumeration of the beauties of this work it would be long before I had finished, but there can be no doubt that Otello will stand by the side of Aida as a landmark, not only in the work of Verdi, but in the whole dramatic production of our time.
His last opera, Falstaff, is the new Verdi down to the ground, but nevertheless it is evident that the modern ideas in it are preached by an old master. His fancy does not take flight as formerly; there is even something short-breathed about it now and again, but of Falstaff on the whole it must be said that it contains a true mine of artistic detail.
It is impossible when writing of Verdi's art to omit the mention of his Requiem and his Swan Song: sacred pieces for choir and orchestra. They represent Roman Catholic culture at its highest, and are full of the deepest and most beautiful inspirations by which the master was ever carried away; while his admirable quartet for stringed instruments is a proof, not only of his versatility, but also of his fine sense of the intimate in the world of chamber music. It is a curious fact that both Verdi and Rossini concluded their lengthy dramatic careers by writing sacred music.
I regret that I did not know Verdi personally. I once called upon him in Paris, but without meeting him, and received in return his visiting card at my hotel. I have kept it, and the envelope, on which he had written my-unfortunately not his-name, as a relic. That is all. How willingly would I have looked upon the man Verdi,