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「Copland on Music を読む」第6回の1 ある作曲家の徒然日記







4章 ある作曲家の徒然日記 






It seems to me now that there are two kinds of composers of opera. This thought occurred when I heard Henry Barraud explain his reluctance to plunge into a second opera after the performance of his first, Numance, at the Paris Opera. His hesitation rang a bell and echoed my own thoughts. The fact that we can reasonably balance the thought of the labor and possible returns of an opera and decide calmly whether to launch into one again indicates that we are both different from the composer who is hopelessly attached to this forme fatale. We play at writing operas, but the operatic repertory is made up of works by men who could do little else: Verdi, Wagner, Puccini, Bizet, Rossini. It is some consolation to recall that we have precedent among the great dead who “played at it” too: Fidelio, Pelleas, Penelope. (Mozart is, as always, a law unto himself.) 







Georges Auric tells me that Ravel said to him that he would have liked to write a brochure on orchestration, illustrated by examples from his own work that did not come off. In other words, the reverse of Rimsky-Korsakoff's treatise, in which he illustrates only his successes. Auric also claims that Ravel told him he was dissatisfied with the final orchestral crescendo of La Valse. When I told this to Nadia Boulanger, she said that the morning after the premiere of Bolero she called to compliment Ravel on the perfection of his orchestral know-how. She reports that Ravel replied rather sadly, “If only the Chansons madecasses had come off as well.” Curious, isn't it, that this humble approach to arcana of instruments combined should be the mark of the virtuoso orchestrator. (Schonberg quotes Mahler and Strauss to the same effect.) 







If there is anything more deadly to musical interpretation than the soigne approach, I don't know what it is. (Thought of this during X's concert last night.) When the emphasis is all on sheen, on beauty of sound, on suavity and elegance, the nature of the composer's expressive idea goes right out the window. Composers simply do not think their music in that way. Before all else, they want their music to have character ー and when this is all smoothed away by removing the outward marks of personality ー furrowed brow and gnarled hands and wrinkled neck ー we get nothing but a simulacrum of beautiful (in themselves) sonorities. When that happens in a concert hall, you might as well go home. No music will be made there that night. 







Nothing pleases the composer so much as to have people disagree as to the movements of his piece that they liked best. If there is enough disagreement, it means that everyone liked something best ー which is just what the composer wants to hear. The fact that this might include other parts that no one liked never seems to matter. 






The literary man and the art of music: subject for an essay. Ever since I saw Ezra Pound turn pages for George Antheil's concert in the Paris of the twenties, I have puzzled over what music means to the literary man. For one thing, when he takes to it at all, which is none too often, he rarely seems able to hear it for itself alone. It isn't that he sees literal images, as one might suspect, or that he reads into music meanings that aren't there. It's just that he seldom seems comfortable with it. In some curious way it escapes him. Confronted with the sound of music, we are all mystified by its precise nature, and react differently to that mystery: the medical doctor has an easy familiarity with it, often using it as a means of moving back quickly to the world of health; the mathematician looks upon it as the sounding proof of hidden truths still to be uncovered; the minister utilizes it as handmaiden in the Lord's work ... But the literary man, he seems mostly to be uncomfortable with it, and when he puts two words together to characterize a musical experience, one of them is almost certain to be wrong. If he uses an adjective to describe a flute, it is likely to be the one word a musician would never connect with the flute. A recent quotation from the letter of a dramatist: “If there is incidental music in the play, it should sing on the romantic instruments and forswear brass and tympany,[!]” For one G. B. S. or one Proust or one Mann there are dozens of literature's great who rarely if ever venture a mention of music in the length and breadth of their work. These are the wise ones; the others, gingerly stepping amid the notes, are likely to fall flat on their faces. These others are the ones who puzzle me ー and arouse a benign and secret sympathy. 







At lunch with Poulenc, who recounted at great length the libretto of his new opera, Les Dialogues des Carmelites. It was easy to see how much the fate of this work, still to be heard, means to him. A little frightening to contemplate what his disappointment will be if the opera doesn't “go over.” And yet he is giving it to La Scala of Milan for its world premiere ー La Scala, famous for making mincemeat of new operas. There is something very composerish about all of this, for we would all willingly put our heads into the same noose. (Postscriptum: Poulenc won out this time! 







Today I was reminded of my intention to write someday an orchestral work entitled Extravaganza. It seems a long long time since anyone has written an Espana or Borelo ー the kind of brilliant orchestral piece that everyone loves.