ヴォーン・ウィリアムズ「National Music」(1934)第8章(全9章)締めくくりに寄せて(前半)

National Music 


Date of first publication: 1934 

Author: Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958) 





第8章 締めくくりに寄せて (前半)



I will venture to say a little more about the future of music in America. I admit that I have not really got sufficient data to say much that is positive and you may think it very impertinent of me to attempt the task, but I feel that the future of music in America has something in common with that in England and that what is true of one may be true of the other. Here in America you have the finest orchestras in the world, you are determined to have nothing but the best, to engage the finest players, the finest conductors and to play the finest music. You have organized colleges and conservatories, you see to it that the study of musical appreciation and musical history are given a prominent place in your educational scheme; but I want you to ask yourselves whether because of these things, or might I say, in spite of these things, you are musical--or are going the way to become musical? Have you in the midst of all these activities the one thing needful? I am not going to answer the question because I do not know enough, but you may well ask me what do you mean by the "one thing needful"? You may think, judging from previous lectures, that I think folk-song the one thing needful, and that conditions in America do not admit of folk-songs, because there is no peasant class to make and sing them. 




Folk-song is not a cause of national music, it is a manifestation of it. The cultivation of folk-songs is only one aspect of the desire to found an art on the fundamental principles which are essential to its well-being. National music is not necessarily folk-song; on the other hand folk-song is, by nature, necessarily national. You may truly have got past that stage of development that makes folk-song possible. Nevertheless the spirit may be there all the same, the spirit of nationality. Or perhaps you may say that you have too many folk-songs. You have the folk-songs of the Negro, those of the Indian, those of the English settlers, and perhaps you will tell me that if I went to Oregon I should find the national music of the Swede, or that in New York I should be able to take my choice among the songs of every nation from Greece to China, and you might well ask me how a national music can grow out of that, since you cannot have a national art without a national language, a national tradition and so on. 




But is it not perhaps the other way out? That some common art will be a bond of union and be one of the means out of which a national spirit will grow? Music is indeed in one sense the universal language, by which I do not mean that it is a cosmopolitan language but that it is, I believe, the only means of artistic expression which is natural to everybody. Music is above all things the art of the common man. The other arts have their practical counterparts; when we use our pen to order a ton of coal or our paintbrush to repair the damages made by our neighbour's motor car on our front gate, we are not necessarily expressing ourselves artistically; but the wildest howl of the savage, or the most careless whistling of the errand boy is nothing else than an attempt to reach into the infinite, which attempt we call art. And it seems to me that for this reason music is able to grow out of our ordinary life in a way that no other art can. We hear a great deal of the ugliness of modern life and we are making frantic attempts to preserve some visual beauty in the world. But we need no preservation societies, no national parks to preserve the amenities of music. The more sordid our surroundings, the more raucous the mechanical noises that assail our ears, the more I believe shall we turn to that art which comes entirely from within, as a means of self-expression. Music is above all others the art of the humble. We are laughed at in England for our bourgeoisie--personally I am proud to be described as a bourgeois. I remember a young exquisite saying to me that he didn't like Bach "because he was so bourgeois." I am not at all sure that it is not a true criticism and that that is why Bach appeals especially to me and my fellow bourgeois. I feel sure that it is not necessary for great composers to imitate Margaret Kennedy's Sanger and to banish themselves onto Austrian mountainsides. I believe that every community and every mental state should have its artistic equivalent. 




I was told the other day that some of the English music which appeals to us at home was considered "smug" by foreign critics. I was delighted to hear it because it suggested to me that our English composers had some secret which is at present for our ears only. That it is not also for others does not distress me. One day perhaps our "native wood-notes wild" may cross the frontier hand in hand with Shakespeare, but they will not do so unless they are true to the land of their birth.  





I expect the American composer has some secret to tell his own people if he will only trouble to find out what it is, if he will search for lights hidden under bushels or for nuggets of gold in heaps of dross. Why not look below the surface occasionally and find out what it is in the direct appeal of the popular tune which makes the audience go home whistling; to see if there is not some genuine artistic impulse hidden in unlikely corners? I don't suggest for a moment that a composer should ever write down to a supposed public; he must of course be true to himself in order not to be false to any man; the universal popular art is, alas, still a dream. But music is the youngest of the arts. We have perhaps not yet started to explore the promised land and before we can do so we may have to experience a change of heart.  




I have been told that my talks turn into sermons. I hope that up to the present I have managed to keep off sermons, but now I fear that nature is becoming too strong for me and I propose to finish not by preaching you one sermon but three, each with its appropriate text. 




My first text is "Unless ye become as little children ye shall not enter the Kingdom of Heaven." Education is said to be what a man has learnt and forgotten. I believe that in music we are still learning and do not yet know how to forget. Until our music becomes a really spontaneous expression, first of ourselves, next of our community, then and then only of the world, in fact until it is as unpremeditated as that of the folk-singer, it will not be vital. How should the childlike mind show itself in us? For one thing we must learn to walk before we can run. It is so easy now to be clever and to join in the race halfway without going the full course. But that is not the way to write true music. We cannot see perhaps why with all the wealth of the world at our disposal we cannot enter into the inheritance of a German or a Russian tradition straightaway without all these tiresome preliminaries. Any student can nowadays pick up all the tricks of the trade which go to make a Wagner or a Debussy or a Sibelius, but I assure you if we do this there will be something lacking in our music. We must in spirit though not in form start again from the beginning, even at the risk of appearing parochial, and do something, however small, which only we can do and our own people can appreciate. 




Of course in recommending the childlike mind I am not speaking to the extremely young. I do not expect boys and girls under twenty-five to be childlike. Of course you have got to try your 'prentice hands on your symphonic poems, on your modernistic ballets or your atonal fugues according to the period of musical history when the disease attacks you. But when you have got through your measles and tried your hand at everything and discovered how futile is the letter without the spirit, it is then that you will begin to examine yourselves and find out which is the straight way up the hill of difficulty. 




After this necessary digression I can pick up the main thread again. 




All artistic movements which have produced great men had small and humble beginnings. It was the humble Singspiel of Adam Hiller and other local German composers which led the way to Mozart's "Magic Flute," and then on by way of Weber and Marschner to Richard Wagner. If Germany had not started with "Der Dorf Barbier" she would never have finished up with "Die Meistersinger." 




Perhaps the history of the Russian school is more striking still. We are apt to think of the Russians in terms of the complexities of Stravinsky or the gorgeous colouring of Rimsky-Korsakov or the epic grandeur of Moussorgsky. But we must trace the history of Russian nationalism back to an almost unknown composer who wrote operas with the definite object of catching the humbler part of the Russian public by "rendering native song in a national manner." Close on his heels followed Glinka whose "Life for the Czar" was a definite bid for popularity through patriotism. Glinka's avowed object in his music was to make his fellow countrymen "feel at home." Is it not a good criterion of the sincerity of our music whether it will succeed in making our own people "feel at home"? The trouble of course is that we have so divorced art from life that people have got into the habit of thinking of music as necessarily something exotic. They do not want to be made to "feel at home" and so the snobbery of the composer who wants to be sure that he is doing the latest thing and the snobbery of the hearer who wants to imagine that he is anything but his real self follow each other round in a vicious circle. 




But you may say to me that our younger composers are doing just what you tell them to--they are raking out folk-songs from every conceivable quarter of the world and incorporating snatches of them into their compositions. Yes, but what are they doing with them when they have got them? It is of no use disguising them so that their fragrance is entirely lost or making them vehicles for mere cleverness as did the medieval composers with their l'homme armé. It is not enough for music to come from the people, it must also be for the people. The people must not be written down to, they must be written up to. The triviality which is so fashionable among the intelligentsia of our modern musical polity is the worst of precious affectations. But the ordinary man expects from a serious composer serious music and will not be at all frightened even at a little "uplift." 




What the ordinary man will expect from the composer is not cleverness, or persiflage or an assumed vulgarity. He can get real vulgarity enough if he wants it in his daily life, but he will want something that will open to him the "magic casements." 




Life is very exciting for the young composer nowadays; he is free of all rules, the means at his disposal for making new effects are almost unlimited; he is taking part in a breathless race to produce what is more and more unheard of. The temptations to beat all competitors in that race are great. Perhaps he is like the young novelist who is tempted to show off all that he knows about "Life" and to cram his pages with night clubs and the amours of financial magnates about which he only knows at second-hand. This is all very alluring, but it is only first-hand experience which counts: simulated sentiment can only result in failure. 




I receive from time to time a publication, issued from America, called "New Music," consisting chiefly of compositions by young Americans. I do not pretend that I can make head or tail of what these young composers are saying, or what they are aiming at, but I am an old fogey and I realize that I am not justified in praising or blaming it. But I am justified in asking at whom it is addressed. Is it merely the music of a clique, or has it a genuine message to young America? All great music has the element of popular appeal, it must penetrate beyond the walls of the studio into the world outside. 




"They may prove well in the lecture rooms yet not prove at all under the spacious clouds and along the landscape and flowing currents." Can these composers of the new music say, do they even want to say with Beethoven, "It will please one day"? 




The three watch words of great music are sincerity, simplicity and serenity. Once more, and I believe for the last time, I will speak to you about folk-song. Let our composers and performers, when they can spare time from solving some new problem in atonality or exploiting the top register of the double-bassoon, refresh themselves occasionally with a draught of that pure water.