「Copland on Music を読む」第12回の6 ヴァージル・トムソン著「音楽事情」


第2章 〇〇の本 




Virgil Thomson's Musical State (1939) 

ヴァージル・トムソン「Musical State(音楽事情)」(1948年) 


VIRGIL THOMSON has written the most original book on music that America has produced. The State of Music is the wittiest, the most provocative, the best written, the least conventional book on matters musical I have ever seen (always excepting Berlioz). If you want to have fun, watch how people react to this book. It will undoubtedly be taken too solemnly by some, not solemnly enough by others. It will make many readers hopping mad. It will simply delight other. In other words, it is the book that every reader of Modern Music would expect Virgil Thomson to write ― a book that only he could have written. 

ヴァージル・トムソンのこの度の著作は、我が国でこれまで出版された書籍の中では、最も独自色の強い音楽関連の本である。「The State of Music(音楽事情)」は、私がこれまで見てきた中では。最もウィットに富み、最も読者を挑発し、最もよく書かれており、最もありきたり「ではない」、音楽関連の本である(勿論、ベルリオーズの本が一番なのは、毎度のことである)。真面目に読み込みすぎる方もいれば、不十分な方もいることは、間違いない。熱狂する人は多いだろう。普通に喜ぶ人もいるだろう。あちこちで引用されたり話題に登ったりするだろう。別の言い方をすると、ヴァージル・トムソンの前作「Modern Music(現代の音楽)」を読んだ全ての方が彼に期待した、彼にしか書けない作品、というわけである。 


Composers especially can profit by reading it. The State of Music is primarily a discussion of their own profession. There is very little about good and bad composers, good and bad music. Thomson is positively squeamish about judging other men's music. Instead he describes the composer's general situation in the Musical State and in the world at large. For once the composer is treated as a human being, with not merely a craftsman's interest, but also economic, political, and social interests. One can violently disagree with any number of Thomson's conclusions on these matters, but the composer qua composer emerges from these pages as a personage, un homme. 

作曲をする人はこの本を読むといいだろう。勉強になる。「The State of Music(音楽事情)」の主眼は、作曲家の仕事についてである。作曲家の良し悪しや、音楽の良し悪しについては、殆ど触れていない。トムソンは、良い意味で他の人の音楽を吟味する上で気を遣っている。良し悪しについて論じるのではなく、彼は作曲家の置かれている状況全般を、音楽界で、そして世間一般の中で書き記している。作曲家を人間として、それも単に物作りに携わる者としてだけでなく、お金のことや政治のこと、あるいは世の中に対する事全てに関心を示す者として扱っている。これに関しては、トムソンが本の中で述べていることについて猛烈に反発が起きる可能性もあるだろう。だが、作曲家を作曲家として、生身の人間としての描き方をしている。 


Thomson has an almost medieval sense of the composer's professional community of interests ― both financial and artistic. He is strongly for a composer's united front vis-a-vis the home government (whatever form it may take ― democratic or authoritarian), the music employers (whether they be publishers, patronesses, or radio stations), and the music consumers. (What music-lovers are to you are just plain customers to him.) Professional solidarity is about the only thing preached in this book. 



The composer, according to Thomson, is a miniature capitalist, with “vested interests” in his compositions. This makes him different from the musical executant, who, being paid a wage on an hourly basis, is properly organized in trade-unions, affiliated with other trade-unions. The composer, like the doctor, the lawyer, or the literary man, is more properly organized in guilds or alliances. The present setup, in which composers and publishers band together for the collection of performing rights, is less desirable than a possible future alliance between the composers and their executants. As far as I know Thomson is the first composer among us who has ever considered these things. Everyone else has been so busy upholding artistic ideals that they have completely lost sight of the composer's professional status as such. 



Money is a word that doesn't frighten Thomson. Au contraire, he likes it. It explains a great many otherwise inexplicable things. Musical style, for instance. Tell Thomson how you make your money and he will tell you what your musical style is likely to be, In the highly diverting chapter on “Why Composers Write How” (the economic determinism of musical style), composers' possible income sources are tabulated with devastating completeness. Heaven help you if you live off the “appreciation racket.” A composer, says V. T., can sink no lower. On the other hand, he exudes a warm glow when writing about that rara avis ― the composer who can support himself exclusively from collections of royalties on the sale or performance of his music. “Royalties and performing-rights fees are to any composer a sweetly solemn thought” is the way he puts it. It's a chapter with a great deal of real observation in it, despite an overdose of continuous generalizations. 



The composer as a political animal is another of Thomson's preoccupations. It keeps cropping up on every other page. If I understand him correctly, Thomson has no quarrel with the individual composer who dabbles in politics. He thinks that said composer might be better employed working at his music at home, but still, there is no great harm in it. What he will not have, however, is that the composer's organization be involved in the affairs of any particular political party, rightist, leftist, or liberal. He firmly maintains that the proper province of the composer's organization is the setting of musical policies. “We must demand... from any governing agency of whatever kind in any possible state, both economic security for our members and the musical direction of all enterprises of whatever nature where music is employed.” I strongly suspect an oversimplification here. But whatever its value as a program for the future, it makes sense here and now in America, where composers have no control over musical affairs, let alone political ones. 



Composers are not Thomson's sole concern in the State of Music. There are very amusing sketches of the artists in neighboring states ― the painters, the poets, the architects, the actors, the photographers. The dancers, poor dears, rate only one sentence. They are “autoerotic and lack conversation.” 



Under the pretext of telling “How to Write a Piece” there are excellent analyses of the considerable problems involved in writing music for the screen, the stage, the ballet, and the opera. Thomson knows whereof he speaks, having written successfully in all these forms himself. He has sound advice to give, worth the attention of any composer. His handling of concert music is touched by a certain amount of personal acrimony. “It is a very intense little affair,” he says. The shortcomings of the concert field are gone over once again, without adding very much to an already-sore subject. 



But Thomson's really big guns are reserved for that special field of the concert world as “modern music.” He sees an International Modern Music Ring, (something like Father Coughlin's International Bankers) a kind of self-perpetuating oligarchy, intent on performing or allowing to be performed only one kind of music ― the dissonant-contrapuntal style. This is just our old friend Virgil having a good time. For fifteen years now he has been repeating the same thing, as if we didn't know that this same style of modern music, which he supposedly abhors, has served as the perfect foil for the simplicities of Thomson, Sauguet, and Co. Now, as Thomson himself points out, the international style in modern music is rapidly drying up. Everyone is beginning to see the advantages of melodious and harmonious-sounding music. That old gag about the modern-music style is in for some serious revision. 

だがこの演奏会用音楽という特別な分野に対してこそ、彼は伝家の宝刀で一刀両断を打ち込んでいる。彼は国際現代音楽協会(カフリン司祭のInternational Bankdersみたいなものだが)のことを、しぶとく生きながらえる寡頭政治集団とみなし、自分たちが演奏するにせよ、他者に演奏させるにせよ、認める音楽は唯一つ、不協和音による対位法を用いた作品だけだ、としている。これぞ、良き時代を共に過ごした我らが盟友、ヴァージルである。今日まで15年間、彼はこの主張を繰り返し続けている。彼が忌み嫌っているであろうこの様式の音楽こそ、本人やアンリ・ゾーゲ、そして私の音楽の持つシンプルさにとっては、格好の引き立て役となっていることを、まるで私達が気づいていないかのようなものの言いようだ。さてトムソン自身が指摘するように、現代音楽においては国際的なスタイルというものは、急速に先細りしている。皆がメロディがハッキリしていて和声がきれいに響く音楽の良さに注目し始めている。かつての現代音楽のスタイルが持っていた目くらましは、今やしっかりと見直す時期に来ている。 


One thing is sure. It will be a long time before there is another book on music as fascinating as this one. Unless Thomson himself can be persuaded to write it.