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「Copland on Musicを読む」第10回の2 バーデンバーデン1927年



Baden-Baden: 1927 



THE FESTIVAL of Deutsche Kammermusik, which was inaugurated in 1921 at Donaueshcingen under the patronage of Prince Max Egon zu Fuerstenberg, took place this year at Baden-Baden, a need for larger quarters making the change necessary. Five varied and engrossing programs were presented thanks to the perspicacity of a committee of three: Heinrich Burkard, Josef Haas, and Paul Hindemith. Two concerts of chamber music, an afternoon of original works for mechanical instruments, an evening of motion pictures with music, and finally a performance of four one-act chamber operas gave an excellent cross-section of music in 1927. Men of established reputations like Bartok and Berg rubbed elbows with young radicals like Kurt Weill. Even new talents were disclosed such as the twenty-four year old Russian, Nicolai Lopatnikoff (Now [1960] an American citizen, professor of composition at Carnegie Institute of Technology). 




The festivals when formerly given at Donaueschingen differed from all others in that a new form was suggested to composers each year as a field for experiment. Thus compositions for small chorus in madrigal style were encouraged in 1925 and music for military band and for mechanical instruments in 1926. This policy was retained at Baden-Baden and the attention of composers was directed to chamber opera. Chamber operas is a growth from the recent widespread interest in chamber orchestra, the intention being not to write grand opera reduced to a small scale but to conceive a work directly for a few singers and a few instrumentalists. It was a delightful experiment, suggesting manifold possibilities, and the four little operas heard on the evening of July 17 proved unquestionably to be the event of the festival. 



The shortest and best work, in my opinion, was Darius Milhaud's opera minute, as he calls it: The Abduction of Europa on a libretto of Henri Hoppenot. The entire opera takes only eight minutes to perform. Milhaud, who understands the medium admirably, was the first to venture in this field and has already produced several small operas, notably Les Malheurs d'Orhpee and Esther de Carpentras. My own enthusiasm for this recent example of his work was not shared by many of its hearers at Baden-Baden. A renewed acquaintance with the vocal score, however, has only served to strengthen my conviction that it is a little chef d'oeuvre. Milhaud possesses one of the most personal styles of our day. In The Abduction of Europa he expresses the tender, nostalgic side of his nature in which a French sensuousness and elegance of melodic line is tinged by a Hebraic melancholy. The heavy-handed performance afforded the delicate work at Baden-Baden did much to obscure its very real merits.  



The chamber opera that aroused most discussion was Kurt Weill's Mahagonny (accent on the third syllable, please!) A pupil of Busoni's, Weill is the new enfant terrible of Germany. But it is not so easy to be an enfant terrible as it used to be and nothing is more painful than the spectacle of a composer trying too hard to be revolutionary. Weill, in writing Mahagonny, cannot escape the accusation. It is termed a “songspiel” and is, in effect, a series of pseudo-popular songs in the jazz manner. (One remembers particularly Jessie and Bessie repeatedly singing in English, “Is here no telephone.”) Weill is not without musical gifts, but these are too often sacrificed for the sake of a questionable dramatic effectiveness. 



Hindemith's Hin und Zuruck is based on a sketch from Charlot's Revue in which a little melodrama is played first forward and then backward with hilarious results. The music was also reversed, with Hindemith's customary mastery. Though not particularly remarkable for its musical content, Hin und Zuruck proved a highly diverting piece. 



The Princess on the Pea by Ernst Toch, after the fairy tale of Hans Andersen, was charming enough but did not avoid the pitfall of being grand opera on a small scale. Toch is a composer who has been gradually coming to the fore in Germany, but though he commands astonishing facility in the use of modern technique, his music seems to me essentially conventional (this statement needs revision in the light of the many works composed by Ernst Toch since 1927, especially his Pulitzer prize-winning Symphony No.3 ). 



Of the works played at the two concerts of chamber music Alban Berg's Lyric Suite for string quartet found most favor. Unlike so many examples of this composer's output, the Lyric Suite is comparatively easy to comprehend. Perhaps this is due to the striking clarity of construction. It is in six well-contrasted parts, all of them frankly emotional, containing a lovely andante amoroso, and a shadowy and original allegro misterioso. Berg is now forty-two and it is foolish to continue discussing him merely as a Schonberg pupil. The similarities between his own style and that of his teacher's are only superficial. In reality their natures are opposed, Berg, unlike Schonberg, being essentially naive, with a warm, emotional, Tristanesque personality. The Lyric Suite seems to me to be one of the best works written for string quartet in recent years. 



On the same program Bela Bartok played his own Sonata for Piano, composed in 1926. Nothing could be more characteristically Bartok than this sonata with its Hungarian folk tunes, its incisive rhythms, its hard, unsentimental quality. To possess so characteristic a manner carries with it the danger of self-repetition, and Bartok has come perilously near it in his sonata. 



A first performance anywhere was given of a little cantata for a trio of women's voices, tenor, piano and violin, by Hanns Eisler. In comparison with the amusing and purposely banal text of the Diary the music seemed lacking in humor. Nevertheless it was apparent that this young pupil of Schonberg and Webern is more than usually gifted. 



The afternoon devoted to mechanical music made clear that only music written expressly with the special problems of mechanical instruments in mind can be called entirely successful. This was well understood by Nicolai Lopatnikoff, one of the discoveries of the festival. His Toccata and Scherzo for mechanical piano combined astonishing prestissimos and other manually impossible feats with a freshness and originality of inspiration that reminded one of Prokofieff. A Suite for mechanical organ by Paul Hindemith was composed in his best manner. Ernst Toch also had a Study for mechanical organ. A garbled version of the first part of Antheil's Ballet Mecanique was given with a badly functioning mechanical piano. 



One word should be added about the music that Hindemith wrote for mechanical organ to accompany an animated cartoon called Krazy Kat at the Circus. The wit and diablerie, the abundant flow of melodic ideas, the vitality and force of this little commentary on a very amusing film confirmed one's opinion that in Hindemith Germany has its first great composer since 1900.