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「Copland on Music を読む」最終回の3「板挟みに苦しむオーケストラの各団体」 




Address delivered at the Providence, R.I., convention of the American Symphony Orchestra League in June 1956. 


第3章 板挟みに苦しむオーケストラの各団体 

1956年6月 米国オーケストラ連盟 年次総会(ロードアイランド州プロビデンス)での講演 




SOMETHING IS STRANGELY AMISS in the orchestral world of today. It is natural that we be concerned, for our symphony orchestras are without question the most important and vital musical medium in the country. The symphony orchestra is at the same time the nerve center of any musical community and the composer's favorite medium. Most musical creators have a rather sentimental feeling about symphony orchestra. To a composer, anybody that has anything to do with an orchestra has a certain glamor, all the way from the conductor to the janitor of the auditorium. Since our future as composers is very largely bound up with the symphonic medium, we are naturally deeply concerned with its present situation and future outlook. 



Composers are generally convinced that if the present policies of most orchestras continue as they now exist, then we are all headed for some kind of dead-end. By and large our symphony orchestras have no real long-range program policy. They operate from week to week, from season to season, as if they were improving their whole program. If they get by in any one season they are happy. If they do not get by (if there is a deficit, that is), they are sad. But that is not the way the composer sees the problem. To him the problem exists even when any particular orchestra plays to full houses and has no deficit. What we must all do is to take a larger view. 



The audience, after all, is the central factor in this situation. What music the audience hears depends largely on those who control programming ― whether it be the conductor, the manager, the board of trustees, the ladies auxiliary committee, or whoever. Those responsible have the double task of satisfying the audience and providing a forward-looking, long-range program policy. But if we study typical programs today, what do we find? We find programs that are limited in scope, repetitious in content, and therefore unexciting. Present programming tends to stultify and mummify our musical public. Under such conditions we composers are strongly tempted to ask: What are you doing to our audience? Frankly, we have very little confidence when we bring out pieces before such audiences. Often we sense that the audience that listens to us is not the right audience for our music. Why? Because they have not been musically nurtured and fed properly, with a resultant vitamin lack of musical understanding. 



The key to a healthy orchestral future is now, as it always has been, the quality and balance of its program make-up. This has been pointed out many times, with little or no result. No other art shows a similar imbalance between old and new works presented. No other art attempts to live so exclusively on works of the past. This may provide a temporary solution but it builds to no future, for no live art can exist forever on a diet of past glories alone. 



The situation as it now exists is by no means a local one. It is also typical of what goes on in other countries. Recently the French composer Henri Dutilleux provided graphic illustration as to the deteriorating conditions in Parisian program making. He chose four famous French orchestras in Paris and compared the number of works by living French composers performed by these same orchestras in the month of January 1925, 1935, and 1955. Here is what he found: in January 1925, 31 works were played by living Frenchmen; in January 1935, 17 works; and in January 1955, only 4 works. 



We in America can supply analogous statistics. The New York Philharmonic Symphony Society has a better-than-average reputation as a purveyor of new works. And yet here is the record of works by living American composers performed during the four seasons 1950 - 51 through 1953 - 54 (Since the advent of the American conductor Leonard Bernstein as musical director, these figures have improved, but they remain true nevertheless for average American orchestra). 



Season: 1950 - 51   

Total number of works performed: 155   

Number of works by living Americans: 9 





1951- 52  




1952 - 53 




1953 - 54 




Despite the generally recognized rise in American creative vigor in the symphonic field, no comparable rise in the number of performances is discernible. On the contrary, statistics prove that we continue to drag our feet in a continuance of the status quo. The National Music Council has drawn up comparative figures that show the percentage of performed works by native American composers to have remained the same in two seasons fifteen years apart: 8 per cent in 1939, and 8 per cent in 1954, despite the fact that double the number of works were performed in 1954. More American music had been played, but the percentage of all works played had remained the same. 



American prides itself on progress. But these figures do not speak well for what is going on. Rather they indicate a shocking lack of live interest and civic pride in the accomplishments and future of our American music. The effect of all this on the developing composer is naturally very grave. A young composer simply cannot produce the best he is capable of in so unpromising an environment. In the last five years I can think of no single American composer under the age of thirty who has been nurtured or encouraged in the United States because of the efforts of one of our leading symphony orchestras. More and more our organizations are depending on well-known American names to fill out their quota of native music. Less and less are they seeking out and introducing completely unknown names of real promise. Unless our symphonic organizations take on this responsibility, they are not entirely fulfilling their cultural task. Worse still, they are obstructing the flowering of one of our most significant national assets, the gifted young composer. 



It seems to me that in doing little or nothing to stimulate new talent our symphony societies show surprisingly limited business acumen. If a commercial enterprise ran its affairs with so small a regard for its future welfare, stockholders would soon melt away. Most big firms invest funds with an eye to what their business is headed for ten years hence. Why shouldn't that attitude also apply in the symphonic field? Isn't it ironic that this apparent lack of planned interest in the future of our native school should come at a time when we have more composers writing works that are demonstrably better in quality than ever before in our musical history. 



An instructive comparison may be made by taking note of what transpires in recorded music as regards native composition. David Hall reports that we now have some five hundred works by American composers available on long-play records. I have always been astonished by the seeming unconcern of those in the concert field as to what goes on in the record market. Why shouldn't symphony management occasionally find out what people are buying in the record shops? These record buyers interest composers very much because they are making up their own minds as to what it is they prefer to hear. In the case of more than one recording I can report that despite excellent sales reports this clear show of interest was absolutely unreflected in the concert world. As long as the concert hall is unresponsive in this matter of listening tastes, people who buy records are not going to be persuaded to enter the concert hall. If this continues, a widening split will become increasingly evident between those who are content to listen passively at concerts and those who demonstrate a passionate interest in the music they want to hear. 



Here and now we cannot hope to do more than stimulate discusson of these vital matters. Perhaps I can summarize my thought by making a few specific suggestions: 

1. A system of checks and balances should be instituted so that each orchestra guarantee itself adequate variety in programs throughout a season chosen from differeint categories of the musical repertoire. 

2. Every concert should deliberately have an element challenging to an audience, so as to counteract conventional attitudes in music response. 

3. Seeking out and developing new talent in orchestral writing should be made a permanent feature of basic policy. 





「Copland on Music を読む」最終回の2「演奏家は新しい音楽にどう向き合うべきか」 




Reprinted from the music page of the London Sunday Times, October 12, 1958. 


第2章 演奏家は新しい音楽にどう向き合うべきか 

1958年10月12日付 ロンドン「サンデー・タイムズ」誌 音楽欄より再掲 


A VISITING COMPOSER like myself, settled in Mayfair for a dozen weeks goes program-shopping more or less as the typical American tourist goes window-shopping. No tourist can hope to buy everything ― just as I have no intention of hearing everything ― but it is always of interest to know what is being offered in the music emporiums of a world center. 



One is naturally on the lookout for musical fare not obtainable at home. My own peering into London's programs of the recent past and those to come has left me rather disgruntled: what is being offered, in the main, is a rehash of more of the same. I don't wish to appear too surprised: something of the sort, I suppose, was to be expected. Why? Because the condition is world-wide; whether one is in Buenos Aires or Tel-Aviv or New Orleans, audiences are usually offered “more of the same.” One signal difference is that London seems to have contracted the more-of-the-same disease in a more virulent form than is evident elsewhere. 



There is no need to paint the picture blacker than it is. I realize that there are notable exceptions in evenings such as the BBC's all-Monteverdi program or the London Philharmonic Orchestra's Twentieth Century series. (The latter, I was pleased to see, attracted a large and enthusiastic public at its opening concert.) But these only point up the all-pervading conventionality of the run-of-the-mill concert program. In such surroundings Debussy and Ravel look like ultramodernists. 



The musical life of a great city is a complex and often puzzling affair. A mere visitor can hardly hope to say who or what is responsible for the present unhappy situation. (It may even be ungracious of me to bring the matter up at all.) But in so far as the appalling sameness of repertoire is a universal problem it bears examination by any serious musician. Other commentators have put the blame in various quarters: the money-harassed impresarios, the timid or unimaginative program directors; and, of course, that simple soul, the uniformed music lover, has also been the subject of considerable invective. 



Apart from every other consideration I have often wondered about the effect of all this on the performing artist, without whose intervention nothing can be heard. It is almost inconceivable for a composer to imagine what it must be like to confine one's musical activity to the endless repetition of the same famous pieces by the same famous composers, season after season, year after year. To us these artists seem trapped: they spend their lives in sonic strait-jackets, manufactured in their despite by the master composers. How do they react to their sorry state? Some appear to accept the inevitable; others are so inured to their condition they hardly realize what has happened to them; still others ― especially ensemble musicians who must play the music set before them ― harbor their frustrations in silence. 



Every composer has had occasion to think about what he might say or do to reawaken these musicians to a sense of responsibility to the art they serve, to reanimate their interest in the whole corpus of musical literature, old and new. What, after all, is the responsibility of the performer to the art of music? Isn't it to keep music fully alive, renewed, refreshed? And how is that to be accomplished if the interpreter fails us? 



One important touchstone of the performer's sense of responsibility is his relationship with the music of his own time. Many of them, I know, have no relation of any kind. This is particularly true of many of the great virtuoso performers, whose names can easily be inserted by my readers. It is my impression that 75 per cent of the performers now before the public have lost all contract with the music of their living contemporaries. Each one of them has a bad conscience in this matter, and with cause. Not having kept abreast of today's music, they are positively frightened of it. And yet they need such music to relieve the stylistic monotony of their programs. I have never known a public concert of a variegated make-up that wasn't enlivened by ten minutes of controversial music. Even those who are sure to hate it are given something to talk about. Involvement in contemporary music aids the interpreter in another significant way. To my mind no one can adequately interpret the classics of the past without hearing them through the ears of the present. To play or conduct Beethoven's scherzi in a contemporary spirit, you must feel at home with Stravinskian rhythms. And I can even recommend familiarity with the rhythms of American jazz for those who want to play Couperin. 



Not all famous performers are to be reproached with their neglect of the living composer. In the distant past Arthur Rubinstein was acclaimed for his sponsorship of the music of Villa-Lobos, and Sir Thomas Beecham for his persistent championing of the music of Delius. Perhaps the most outstanding example in recent times was the effective battle fought by Serge Koussevitzky in introducing a whole generation of American composers to the United States public. I know at first hand of the Russian conductor's efforts on behalf of the newer composers, having been one of his principal beneficiaries. It was a lesson in leadership to observe how, over a period of twenty-five years, Koussevitzky used every possible tactic to win over his listeners (and his orchestra) to a cause he passionately believed in. 



Apathy in the making of programs ― giving the public what it wants and nothing but what it wants ― leads to the complete stagnation of music as an art. Can anyone seriously maintain that that is all that lies ahead? In some way, not clear to me as yet, we must persuade the interpreter to take a hand in the making of musical history by letting us hear the full sonorous range of music past and present. 


「Copland on Music を読む」最終回の1「自分は音楽センスのない耳なんだろうか?」 




Occasional Pieces 






In 1955, Henry Pleasants, music critic, published a book entitled The Agony of Modern Music, in which he attacked the writers of serious music and hailed the genius of the jazz composer. The New York Times Magazine invited Mr. Pleasants to sum up the argument of his book and asked me to present the case for the defense. This is my first and only essay in musical polemics. 







MUSICAL COMPOSITION during the first half of our century was vigorously alive partly because of the amount of controversy it was able to arouse. As the century advanced the noise of battle receded until by now we had reluctantly come to assume that the good fight for the acceptance of modern music was over. It was welcome news, therefore, to hear that a rear-guard attack was about to be launched from what used to be a main source of opposition: the professional music critic. It looked as if we were in for some old-fashioned fisticuffs, but the nature of the attack soured our expectations. The trouble is that, according to his analysis, Henry Pleasants is pummeling nothing but a carcass. 



He contends that so-called classical music is bankrupt in our age ― the old forms of symphony and concerto and opera are exhausted, all our vaunted innovations are old hat, and the serious composer is obsolete. The present-day writer of serious music is held up to view as a sort of musical parvenu, incapable of earning a living through musical composition, skulking about the concert halls for musical crumbs, sought after by none, desperately trying to convince himself that he is rightful heir to the heritage of the masters, and deluding public and critics alike into conferring upon him a spurious respectability for “culture's “ sake. The clear implication is that the best we can do is to lie down and die. 



But if all is lost for us, the serious composers, music itself goes on, Mr. Pleasants tells us. It is vox populi, as expressed at the box office, that shows the way. Fearlessly and logically pursuing his argument to its absurd conclusion, he asserts that the stream of Western musical culture continues triumphantly in the music of our popular composers. “Jazz is modern music ― and nothing else is.” So ends the most confused book on music ever issued in America. 



The question arises as to whether it serves any purpose to attempt a defense of serious contemporary music. I hold to the simple proposition that the only way to comprehend a “difficult” piece of abstract sculpture is to keep looking at it, and the only way to understand “difficult” modern music is to keep listening to it (Not all of it is difficult listening, by the way.) For that reason it seems basically useless to explain the accomplishments of present-day music to people who are incapable of getting any excitement out of it. 



If you hear this music and fail to realize that it has added a new dimension to Western musical art, that it has a power and tension and expressiveness typically twentieth-century in quality, that it has overcome the rhythmic inhibitions of the nineteenth century and added complexes of chordal progressions never before conceived, that it has invented subtle or brash combinations of hitherto-unheard timbres, that it offers new structural principles that open up vistas for the future ― I say, if your pulse remains steady at the contemplation of all this and if listening to it does not add up to a fresh and different musical experience for you, then any defense of mine, or of anybody else, can be of no use whatsoever. 














The plain fact is that the composer of our century has earned the right to be considered a master of new sonorous images. Because of him music behaves differently, its textures are differently, it rears itself more suddenly and plunges more precipitously. It even stops differently. But it shares with older music the expression of basic human emotions, even though at times it may seem more painful, more nostalgic, more obscure, more hectic, more sarcastic. Whatever else it may be, it is the voice of our own age and in that sense it needs no apology. 



This is the music we are told nobody likes. But let's take a closer look at “nobody.” There is general agreement that new multitudes have come to serious music listening in the past two or three decades. Now we are faced with a situation long familiar in the literary world; namely, the need to differentiate clearly among the various publics available to the writer. No publisher of an author-philosopher like Whitehead would expect him to reach the enormous public of a novelist like Hemingway. Ought we then to say “nobody” reads Whitehead? 



In music we have failed to make distinctions among lovers of serious works. Thus the philosophical music of Charles Ives is discussed as if it were meant to appeal to the same audience reached by music of the Khachaturian type. To say that Ives, or any similar composer, has “no audience” is like saying that Whitehead has no audience. He has, through the nature of his work, a smaller but no less enthusiastic audience ― and one that in the long view may mean more to the art of music than the “big” audience will. 



Moreover, if one takes the whole free world into account, there is a small but growing public for new music in every country. These people are not to be found in the convention-ridden concert halls but in the record shops as independent collectors, or as listeners to new music, recorded or otherwise, broadcast over the air. The long-play record catalogues bear interesting testimony concerning contemporary musical taste. In January 1950 they listed ten LP recordings by Bela Bartok; five years later, fifty Bartok works were available. Schnorrer, Stravinsky, Hindemith, Milhaud ― all show proportionate gains. If nobody likes modern music, why do the record makers foolishly continue to issue it? 



Nevertheless, it is quite true that a serious problem remains with regard to the live performance of unfamiliar modern music for the “big” public. Analogies here are closer to the theater than the book world. Our problem in music arises from the fact that Ives and Khachaturian must be “sold” to the same public at the same box office at the same time. The impresarios have a simple solution: remove the Ives. 



Sponsors and trustees repeatedly tell us that unfamiliar music spells losses. But isn't it ironic that those who are responsible for artistic policy at the Metropolitan Opera House or the New York Phillharmonic Orchestra must watch the box office like the lowliest moneygrubber on Broadway? 



What we need in music is people with the vision of those who founded the Museum of Modern Art twenty-five years ago, people willing to spend for the sake of the future of art and the cultural health of the community. If new music is “poison at the box office,” it is the responsibility of those who direct our cultural organizations to find funds sufficient to counteract this poison. Otherwise conductor and performers will gradually become nothing more than mummified guardians of a musical museum, while composers look for other outlets for their creative energies. 



One of the more fanciful notions of the Pleasants book is the idea that music that does not pay its way is to give place to music that does ― namely, jazz. The juxtaposition of “jazz” and “classical” has been going on for a long time now. I can remember it as an amusing vaudeville act when I was a boy. No one took it seriously then and there is no reason why it should be taken seriously now. 



Certainly what our popular composers have accomplished is a source of pride to all of us. Anyone who has heard American jazz played for an audience in a foreign country, as I have, can testify to its enormous appeal. But to imagine that serious music is endangered by the wide acceptance of our popular music, or that one may be substituted for the other, is to be utterly naive as to comparative musical values. 



Why are these two categories of music incommensurable? Two reasons must suffice here: the character and quality of the emotion aroused, and the relation of length to significance. To take the latter first: equating a thirty-minute symphony with a three-minute song is like equating a five-act play with an eight-line poem. An art like music, if successfully carried out, adds significance through its playing time, since the large conception that is implicit in a long work forces the creator to grapple with problems of organization and development and variety that can rightfully be applied to only important materials. An inspired eight-line poem is worth more than a poorly conceived five-act play, to be sure, but this does not change the basic principle involved. 



Can we then equate a two-page popular composition with one of similar length by Scarlatti or Prokofieff? Here the scale is the same but the emotional substance is likely to be different. Artistic substance is admittedly a matter one can argue endlessly. A good blues song may be a sincerely felt and moving expression, but the substance of the emotion aroused is generally less affecting than that awakened by a moving and sincerely felt spiritual, for example. 



There is no way of proving this except through consensus. Similarly, there is no way of proving that a Scarlatti piano piece is better than a piece of popular music except to point out that it has a more subtle musical invention and formal organization and means more because it didn't come off the top of the composer's mind and isn't easily forgotten. 



It is nevertheless not at all unlikely that a modern Scarlatti might turn to jazz as a legitimate form of expression. As a matter of fact, the newer forms of progressive jazz promise composers of the liveliest imagination. But it is undeniable that this type of jazz composer is well aware of and helps himself to devices of the serious modern composer, and more often than not turns out to be a pupil of one. Also jazz composers of this caliber meet with the same sort of opposition from the “big” public as their counterparts in the serious field. 



Whatever form of new music is contemplated, one thing is certain: without generousity of spirit one can understand nothing. Without openness, warmth, good-will, the lending of one's ears, nothing new in music can possibly reach us. 



Charles Ives, ruminating on why it was his music seemed to “upset people,” ruefully asked himself: “Are my ears on wrong?” It isn't a bad idea for the composer to take an occasional look in the mirror. But the mirror must not be one of those penny-arcade distortion affairs that Mr. Pleasants has set up. 


コープランド「What to Listen for in Music」を読む 第0回の1 謝辞:レナード・スラットキン

Aaron Copland アーロン・コープランド

What to Listen for in Music  音楽を聴く時は、ここに注「耳」




指揮者 レナード・スラットキンの謝辞

編集者 アラン・リッチの前書き

作曲家 ウィリアム・シューマンの序文



Aaron Copland: 

America's Musical Voice 

Leonard Slatkin 


He was the American West. He was the heartbeat of  New York. He was more than simply a figure in American musical history. Aaron Copland was a pioneer in a country full of innovators. And when we think of composers from the States who made a significant impact on the world scene, only a few names come to mind: Ives, Gershwin, Barber, and Bernstein. But as the top of the list it is always Copland.









Why at the top? I feel that it was Copland who saw us through the musical turmoil that was the twentieth cen-tury. Certainly it can be argued that Ives (1874-1954)  was the first to give a truly national flavor to the music of America. But his was an isolated version, followed by few at the time and misunderstood by most. Gershwin gave the nation a sense of popular identity, but his works for the concert hall showed an imitative gift that was not allowed to develop in his all too brief life (he died at the age of thirty-nine). 




Samuel Barber (1910-81) reinvented the romantic era, but he rarely strayed into a truly American style of com-position. And Bernstein, who should have inherited Copland's mantle, is probably best remembered more for his performing abilities rather than his creative output. 




I do not meant to be unduly harsh on these masters. It is certainly not out of lack of respect. They were all giants and it is impossible to envision the American musical landscape without their vital contributions. But Copland is our musical history and collective musical conscience. He gave voice to the feelings of a country in times of war and peace. His individuality came through in virtually every work he wrote. One is always aware that no one else could have created any of his pieces. 




With the republication of this volume, we are also reminded that he was a leader in music education. But a composer lives first and foremost by the notes on a page, rather than the words. And here was a man who could create so many different worlds for all of us. 




First, there was the brash young man, fresh from his studies in Paris. His teacher, Nadia Boulanger, charged him to truly establish an “American” style of concert music. In his first large-scale work, the Symphony for Organ and Orchestra, the conductor, Walter Damrosch exclaimed, “If a man of twenty-five can write music like this, in five years he'll be ready to commit murder.” Leonard Bernstein used to play Copland's “Piano Variations” at parties, proudly saying that the work was “guaranteed to clear out the room in two minutes.” 




Listening today, it is hard to find much that could en-gender these reactions. Certainly there was an edge to the music, but it was hardly anything that was not being done by others. Perhaps it was because Copland was doing it with a firm American style, perhaps filled with jazz rhythms and spiky harmonies. 




But as the country was drawn into conflict, both the man and his music changed. The world of ballet gave us his memorable scores to Billy the Kid, Rodeo, and Appalachian Spring. And his Third Symphony seemed to delve deeply into the subconscious and abstract but at the same time help a country find its symphonic foothold .




He wrote for the screen, radio, and theater. Although there is only one large-scale opera, it too seems to sum up feelings that could only be created in the United States. In the final years of his composing life, having had his patriotism and political affiliations called into question, he turned to a more severe form of writing. Once again, his change of style was shocking, but it always spoke in his distinctive voice. To read this book is also a way to find out about that voice. 




It is not possible to get tired of conducting his music, from the simplicity of “Quiet City” to the bustle of “Music for a Great City.” Short works, such as the “Danzon Cubano,” are just as rewarding as the longer pieces, such as the “Symphonic Ode.” Like Beeethoven, Copland always seemed to know what note came next. There is a sense of inevitability, a gift granted to only a select few. And he always knew when to stop. 




I met Copland only a few times. Starting in the late 1960s, he began to forsake composition for conducting, but not just of his own music. As the assistant conductor in Saint Louis, I had the privilege to work with him on balances and dynamics. His repertoire was intriguing. Championing younger American composers as well as neglected ones, he may not have been the best advocate on the podium, but his largesse carried great weight. It has been said that as a conducor, he was a great composer.




In rereading this book, I was reminded of the way Copland could expound on complex musical matters and yet deliver them with clarity and simplicity, never writing down to the reader. Yes, it was a different time and it was assumed that most people had some working knowledge of the fundamental elements of music. But even if that is not true now, it is easy to grasp what he is saying. Ultimately it comes down to concentrating and enjoying. Copland invites us to listen, rather than just hear.




And so his work as an author gives us all a chance to hear yet another voice of this extraordinary musician.



「Copland on Music を読む」第12回の8「バルトークの生涯と音楽」ハルゼー・スティーヴンス著



The Life and Music of Bartok (1953) 



COMPOSER, CRITIC, AND HEAD of the Composition Department at the University of Southern California, Halsey Stevens has written the first full-length study of Bela Bartok to be published in English. Bartok presents an absorbing task for any biographer. He was a major figure in the contemporary musical scene with a personality not easily fathomable. And his body of work provides the kind of complex material a professional musician loves to explore. 



Being himself a composer, Mr. Stevens naturally is concerned more with the work than with the life of the composer. There is no reason to regret this, except that the appeal of his book is thus limited. Professional musicians will find the sober and erudite analyses of musical textures highly interesting; others will have to await a more Boswellian biographer. 



The first third of the book relates in straightforward fashion the main facts of Bartok's life. There is no attempt to probe the special fascination of the Bartokian temperament: the shyness and personal reticence that hid an indomitably independent spirit; the freedom of the inspired artist held in check by an almost pedantic self-discipline. Nor does Mr. Stevens dwell upon another curious aspect of the Bartok story: why it was that his death in 1945 seemed to touch off an enormous increase in the performances of his works. Most affecting is the unadorned recital of Bartok's illnesses and financial difficulties during his last years in American exile. Excerpts from the composer's letters in this section reveal him in the unsuspected role of a delightful correspondent. 



The rest of the book is given over to a careful examination of every composition Bartok ever wrote, divided according to category. In each instance the author knows what he thinks and states it persuasively. He seems to have had in mind a reference text, most useful to those with the musical score readily at hand. This emphasis on textual exposition engenders a thesis-like atmosphere at times, and Mr. Stevens is not averse to throwing in an occasional term that glares at one from the page through its unfamiliarity (the “crasis” of the piano; the “dioristitc” details of traditional forms). 



Embedded in the factual descriptive matter are many acute and cogent observations regarding Bartok's musical mentality and style that the ordinary music-lover would find illuminating, if only they were written into a more “normal” context. As it is, he is unlikely ever to find them at all, and that's a pity.  



Mr. Stevens is at his best when he is most outspoken ― when he has a special point to plead. He is particularly eloquent on the subject of Bartok's finest achievement, the six string quartets. Some of his most perceptive writing will be found in that chapter, especially his enthusiasm for the more recondite example of the form ― Quartets Nos.3 and 4. He can be sharply critical also, and rightly so, it would seem, as in the case of the posthumously reconstructed Concerto for Viola, whose defects he clearly exposes. 



As was to be expected, the book amply demonstrates the close connection between Bartok's musical manner and his lifelong preoccupation with Hungarian folk-song sources and those of adjoining nationalities. Despite earlier examples of musical nationalism in the work of Glinka, Smetana, and Grieg, it was left for Bartok to show in a definitive way that a simple folk song did not necesssarily imply a simple harmonic setting based on conventional harmonies. Having wedded folk song to modern harmony, the composer then successfully incorporated native musical materials into extended musical forms. And in the final metamorphosis, as Mr. Stevens phrases it, Bartok “employs neither folk melodies nor imitations of folk melodies, but absorbs their essence in such a way that it pervades his music.” 



Mr. Stevens is not an impressionist critic; he is not satisfied until he pin-points these essences as themes, motives, rhythms, and scale structures. He is particularly keen in writing of Bartok's handling of the two- or three-note motive. These, Mr. Stevens writes, are “in a continuous state of regeneration. They grow organically; they proliferate; the evolutionary process is kinetic... the line between reason and intuition is never sharply defined, but the compact thematic logic cannot be denied.” 



Mr. Stevens' book does credit to American musical scholarship. It makes one want to rehear the Bartok's works in the light of what the author has found in them. That is praise indeed for any book on music.