ヴォーン・ウィリアムズ「National Music」(1934) 第5章(1/2)民謡と作曲家










In the last two chapters I described folk-songs. Now, I want to discuss the importance of all this to us, not as antiquarians or mere researchers but as musicians living in the 20th century. Has it anything to say to us as creative artists? Well, I would suggest that to say the least of it, it acts as a touchstone. Artistic self-deception is the easiest thing in the world and we must be continually testing ourselves as to our sincerity, to make sure that our emotions are not all vicarious. Will not the folk-song supply this test? In the folk-song we find music which is unpremeditated and therefore of necessity sincere, music which has stood the test of time, music which must be representative of our race as no other music can. 





This, then, or something like this is the foundation, it seems to me, on which all our art must rest, however far from it we spread and however high above it we build. As Hubert Parry says, "All things that mark the folk-music of the race also betoken the quality of the race and as a faithful reflection of ourselves we must needs cherish it. Moreover it is worth remembering that the great composers ... have concentrated upon their folk-music much attention, since style is ultimately national. True style comes not from the individual but from the products of crowds of fellow-workers who sift and try and try again till they have found the thing that suits their native taste and the purest product of such efforts is folk-song which ... outlasts the greatest works of art and becomes a heritage to generations and in that heritage may lie the ultimate solution of characteristic national art." 




But what do we mean when we talk of building up a national art on the basis of folk-song? I, for one, assure you that I do not imagine that one can make one's music national merely by introducing a few folk-tunes into it. Beethoven did not become a Russian because he introduced two Russian folk-songs, out of compliment to the Russian Ambassador, into his Rasumowsky Quartets. Nor does Delius become an Englishman because he happens to use an English folk-tune introduced to him by his friend, Percy Grainger, as a canto fermo in one of his purely Nordic inspirations. So I am far from suggesting that anyone can make his music "national" by adding a few touches of local colour. Nevertheless I do hold that any school of national music must be fashioned on the basis of the raw material of its own national song; and this, in spite of the fact that one could name many composers whose music certainly reflects their own country, but who had confessedly little or no knowledge of their own folk-music. 




Such a composer was Tschaikowsky, but in his case the national idiom was already, so-to-speak, in the air and he wrote his national music as naturally as he spoke his own language. A stronger case perhaps is our own English composer Edward Elgar. I have some hesitation in discussing in public or venturing to appraise the music of one whom we, in England, all revere as our leader, but the case of Elgar is always quoted by those who oppose the theory of what is known as the "folk-song school of composers." Elgar confessedly knows and cares little about English folk-song. As you know, the case in England is different from Russia. In the days when Elgar formed his style, English folk-song was not "in the air" but was consciously revived and made popular only about thirty years ago. Now what does this revival mean to the composer? It means that several of us found here in its simplest form the musical idiom which we unconsciously were cultivating in ourselves, it gave a point to our imagination; far from fettering us, it freed us from foreign influences which weighed on us, which we could not get rid of, but which we felt were not pointing in the direction in which we really wanted to go. The knowledge of our folk-songs did not so much discover for us something new, but uncovered for us something which had been hidden by foreign matter. Now, in the music of Elgar, in that part of it which seems to me most beautiful and most characteristic, I see that same direction clearly pointed out. When I hear the fifth variation of the "Enigma" series I feel the same sense of familiarity, the same sense of the something peculiarly belonging to me as an Englishman which I also felt when I first heard "Bushes and Briars" or "Lazarus." In other works of Elgar I feel other influences not so germane to me and I cannot help believing that that is the reason why I love, say, the "Be merciful" chorus from "Gerontius" more, and the prelude to the same work less.[footnote: This was written in 1932.]  




Mr. Bernard Shaw, in what I think is one of his best plays, "The Dark Lady of the Sonnets," imagines Shakespeare waiting on the terrace of Whitehall Palace for his lady and entering into conversation with the sentry he finds there. The sentry's conversation is racy and characteristic; he describes his sergeant as a "fell" sergeant. When he is frightened he calls on "angels and ministers of heaven" to defend him. Here, in truth, is the raw material of poetry and Shakespeare is soon busy with his notebook, preserving these pregnant sayings for future use. Mr. Shaw tells us in his preface to this play that he has been accused of impugning Shakespeare's "originality" when he represents him as "treasuring and using the jewels of unconsciously musical speech which common people utter and throw away every day."  




Or take the case of Burns--there can be no more original genius than Burns and yet it is well known that he founded much of his most beautiful poetry on traditional songs which his wife used to sing to him and which he gradually modified until the derivative material became his own. It all comes back to Emerson's well known saying that the most original genius is the most indebted man. And if we all, whether geniuses or not, are in debt, why not be in debt among other things to that which is the fountain head from which all music must originally have sprung? 




What is originality? Perhaps you know Gilbert Murray's aphorism that "the genius may be a rebel against tradition, but at the same time he is a child of it." Nobody has ever created or ever will create something out of nothing. We have a common stock of words and notes from which to select. The artist selects rather than creates.  




Originality is something much more subtle than being what advertisements call "different." A great artist can infuse a common thought with a special radiance. Schumann used to say that Beethoven's chromatic scales sounded unlike anybody else's. Hundreds of people might have heard Mr. Shaw's sentry make his pithy remarks, but it required a Shakespeare to see their beauty, to realize their implications, to cut the diamond and give it its true setting.  




I remember being told a story of how the artist Burne-Jones pointed out to a young friend that the blackened stone of the Oxford College buildings was beautiful. The young friend had, up to then, taken it for granted with everybody else that the colour was ugly. Now any fool can see that the Oxford Colleges are black, but it required an artist to see that this black colour was beautiful. 




Probably one of the most original phrases in the world is the opening to the prelude of Wagner's Tristan, yet it is almost identical with one out of Mozart's C major Quartet. Its originality lies in the fact that with Wagner it had a definite emotional purpose, while with Mozart it was probably an harmonic experiment. We can be pretty sure that the Mozart phrase had not the same emotional effect on its contemporary hearers as the Prelude to "Tristan" has on us, because the world was not then ready for such an emotional experience. When Mozart wanted to write amorous music, the mode of expression that suggested itself to him was "La ci darem." To take another example, it was not Debussy who was the inventor of the whole-tone scale; anyone can sit down to the piano and play that and probably composers have often experimented with it in private. I have it on the authority of Sir Hugh Allen that an English 18th Century composer, John Stanley, wrote a fugue on a subject in the whole-tone scale, but this of course was in the nature of an experiment; it was reserved for Debussy to see the significance of this method of expression and to explore its harmonic possibilities. And just as John Stanley before Debussy used the whole-tone scale without producing anything vital because it struck no corresponding sympathetic chord in his imagination, so the younger generation of composers since Debussy fail to make their whole-tone music vital because, to them, it is no longer a truth but only a truism. A composer is original, not because he tries to be so, but because he cannot help it. Monteverde and his contemporaries introduced an entirely new form of art, the Opera, under the impression that they were reviving the declamation of the ancient Greeks. Mozart's "musical clock" Fantasia was a deliberate attempt to imitate the style of Handel, but Mozart sings to you in every note of it. I suppose there is nothing in the world more characteristic of its author than Coleridge's "Ancient Mariner," but this was deliberately modelled on the ballads in Percy's "Reliques." A really original work remains original always. What is merely novel becomes stale when the novelty has worn off. The diminished 7th as a means of dramatic excitement is now considered an outworn device, but the "Barabbas" from Bach's St. Matthew Passion remains as exciting and as unexpected for us today as it was when Bach wrote it two hundred years ago. When Brahms and Liszt were both new composers the music of Liszt was considered new and exciting, while that of Brahms was thought to be old-fashioned and obscurantist. Nowadays Brahms sounds as fresh as ever, while Liszt has become intolerably old-fashioned. 




Do we not perhaps lay too much stress on originality and personality in music? The object of the composer is to produce a beautiful work of art and as long as the result is beautiful it seems to me it matters very little how that result is brought about. This idea of originality, especially in subject matter, is a very recent growth.  




The great masters of music have never hesitated to build on folk-song material when they wished to. Certain musical critics cannot get out of their heads that it is a source of weakness in a composer to use what they call "borrowed" material. I remember one writer saying unctuously that Bach never needed to borrow from folk-song. He could have known very little about Bach. I think he was an organist, which may account for it. As you probably know, about three-quarters of Bach's work is built up on the popular hymn-tunes which he loved so well, in fact, "borrowed" material. Not all of these hymn-tunes are, of course, folk-songs in the technical sense of the word, though many of them are adaptations from traditional melodies. 




But let us start a little further back. 




Through all the ecclesiastical music of the 15th and early 16th Centuries runs the mysterious figure of "l'homme armé," a secular tune which it became the fashion to introduce as a canto fermo into masses and motets. Now why did these early choral composers introduce this and other secular airs into their Masses? As I daresay you know, the thing became a scandal and was prohibited because the congregations, when they heard the sound of the tunes they knew proceeding from the choir, would join in singing, not the words of the Mass but the words proper to the tune, which were often, I believe, not for edification. 




I think these old composers felt that they must keep in touch with real life, that they believed, unconsciously, that music which is vital must preserve the popular element. If we look down the ages this is true of all great music. Could anything be more "popular" than a fugue subject of the "Cum Sancto" in Bach's B minor Mass, or the opening of the Finale of Beethoven's C minor? When hearers complained to Beethoven that his later quartets did not please, he did not reply that he was the high priest of an esoteric cult or that art was for the few, but he said, "They will please one day." 




To return to "l'homme armé." The practice was discontinued by papal edict in the 16th Century, but I think we can trace the influence in the "tuney" bits which Palestrina occasionally introduces into his motets and masses, when the metre of the words allows it, as at the "Osanna." A little later than Palestrina we find the Elizabethan Virginal composers doing much the same thing and we owe our knowledge of such tunes as "Sellenger's Round," "Carman's Whistle," "John, Come Kiss Me Now" and dozens of others, in fact our whole knowledge of what was being sung in the streets of London in the reign of Elizabeth, to the fact that these Virginal composers introduced these songs into their compositions. Little they cared about "originality"--perhaps they felt as we felt in modern England about twenty-five years ago, that these tunes must not remain unrecorded, that the fashionable English ladies who played on their virginals and were then, as now, apt to look with an exaggerated reverence on anything that came from overseas, would be all the better for a good honest English tune. 




May I interpolate here our personal experiences in England in modern times? 




In the early days of the "Folk-song Movement" when we were all students, we felt there was something to be expressed by us Englishmen, that we had not got to the bottom of it; we saw signs of it in the works of our older composers; but we could not help feeling that foreign influences occasionally cramped them. Then Cecil Sharp brought to the notice of his countrymen the extraordinary wealth of beautiful English folk-songs, of which we had previously hardly had an inkling. Here was something entirely new to us and yet not new. We felt that this was what we expected our national melody to be, we knew somehow that when we first heard "Dives and Lazarus" or "Bushes and Briars" that this was just what we were looking for. Well, we were dazzled, we wanted to preach a new gospel, we wanted to rhapsodize on these tunes just as Liszt and Grieg had done on theirs: we did not suppose that by so doing we were inventing a national music ready-made--we simply were fascinated by the tunes and wanted other people to be fascinated too, and our mentors in the public press have lost no opportunity of telling us so. Some clever journalist has invented the phrase "synthetic folk-song" and has told us "that any student with moderate inventive ability can write synthetic folk-songs literally by the yard." What is meant by the word "literally" I fear I do not know. Personally, I think it is just as good for the student to write synthetic folk-song as synthetic Strauss, Debussy or Elgar "by the yard" if his music paper is large enough. All student work is synthetic; he absorbs what appeals to him and I cannot help thinking that what appeals to him most naturally will be the music of his immediate surrounding unless his mind is forcibly turned in another direction by his training, by his environment or, more subtle than these, by that dreadful artistic snobbery which poisons the minds of young artists in England and, as far as I can judge, in America as well. It is by synthesis that the student learns. Early Beethoven is "synthetic" Haydn. Early Wagner is "synthetic" Weber and I believe that for a student to do a little "synthetic" folk-song writing is a better way of arriving at self-knowledge than imitation of the latest importations from Russia or Spain which after all only cause him to write "synthetic" Russian and Spanish folk-song, and that at second-hand.