英日対訳:トーマス・ビーチャム自叙伝「A Mingled Chime」第2章・幼かった頃 (1/2)





第2章 幼かった頃 (前半 



Thus my existence moved onward in silence and contemplation until my sixth year, when I was taken to my first concert. It was a piano recital, and a series of new pieces by Grieg gave the program a distinction we find none too frequently in events of this kind nowadays. Long after I had been put to bed that evening I lay awake thinking hard about my novel experience, and the music revolved distractingly in my head over and over again like a blatant merry-go-round at a country fair. Suddenly a daring idea came to me; I got out of bed, went downstairs to the drawing room where I heard voices, opened the door and walked in. There I found several of the family as well as my nurse, to whom my mother was giving some orders, and amid profound and astonished silence I advanced to the middle of the floor and said: “Please may I learn the piano?” 




The spectacles fell from my grandfather’s nose as if removed by magic; the book he was reading dropped just as precipitately from my father’s hands to the floor; my mother tried to scream but surprise had deprived her of voice, and my old nurse, nicknamed Tiny, who was of immense physique and suffered from heart trouble, burst into tears and nearly fainted away. I was hurried quickly out of the room and submitted to an exhaustive examination, as if I had been a complicated piece of machinery run down in some vital part; but as nothing untoward was revealed I was returned to bed, and the little party went below again to determine what was to be done next. The debate was long and animated but, once the shock of bewilderment had worn off, it began to be glimpsed that the crisis was less physiological than spiritual. 




The following day the Don Basilio of our establishment, the local organist, was called in, and I was made to undergo another rigorous but this time aesthetical inspection. This excellent man, who derived most of his income from teaching the piano and the rudiments of music to the children of half the families in the district, pronounced emphatically that I was suffering from a long suppression of the artistic instinct and should be given relief without delay. I must have had some innate, if unconscious, acquaintance with the great Carthusian principle— “Now or when,” for to his evident satisfaction I decided to have my first lesson there and then. I was promptly placed before the keyboard, and for a few minutes several pairs of eyes watched, as breathlessly as if Liszt or Rubinstein were upon the stool, my attempts to penetrate the mysteries of five consecutive notes. In this modest and not unromantic fashion was I introduced to the divine art.  




I found the lessons wholly to my liking. There was sometimes a little practice and always a great deal of conversation, or rather monologue, on the part of my master. He was a single-minded enthusiast, with Mozart as the object of his worship, and any criticism or depreciation of his idol, however guardedly expressed, never failed to arouse in him a storm of agitation and disgust. Some of this adoration, I fear, proceeded more from faith than learning, for one of his favorite compositions was the notorious Twelfth Mass, much of it obviously the production of another hand. But a small Lancashire town of the eighties was hardly the place where nicety of taste or scholarship was likely to be found  

“in excelsis,” and I am not ashamed to confess that for many years I shared his guilty attachment for this pleasant example of musical forgery. 




Discovering that what I loved best to hear were the stories of the operas, he would relate to me at almost every visit those of Figaro, Don Giovanni, and The Magic Flute, punctuating the narrative with excerpts from the better known vocal and instrumental numbers. And so it came about that, almost before I had struggled through my scales, the joyous shapes of Susanna, Zerlina, Cherubino, and Papageno were nearly as living to me as tlie real people I saw daily in my home. It was an agreeable system of instruction, if possibly not the soundest on which to found a method of pianoforte playing; for though I worked along conscientiously enough to acquire an early knowledge of the gentle flights of Dussek and Clementi, the glamour of the stage, even if seen from afar, gradually dissipated much of that other and earlier spell laid upon me in the concert room. A longing for a nearer view of my enchanted world began to take possession of me, but this was not easy to gratify, as my age was considered far too tender for the profane contact of the theater. 




The mechanical genius of the present age has decreed that if Mahomet cannot go to the mountain, then the mountain must go to Mahomet; or, in other words, if man does not want to go forth in search of music, he can stay comfortably at home and have it brought to him there. But even in those unenlightened days we had our makeshifts for the genuine article. My father nourished a passion for musical boxes of every description, and the house almost overflowed with them. Some were cunningly designed as bits of ordinary domestic furniture or objects of common use, and the visitor who hung up his hat on a certain peg of the hall rack, or who absent-mindedly abstracted the wrong umbrella from the stand, would be startled at having provoked into life the cheerful strains of William Tell or Fra Diavolo. But others were serious  and solid affairs, elaborate of build, full of strange devices and bringing forth sounds of elfin delight. That delicate tintin-bulating tone, those laughing cascades of crystalline notes, that extravagance of ornament truly rococo, the comic battery of drums and other tiny clattering things, how I loved them then, and how I lament their absence now! For they would seem to have vanished utterly from the earth like a part of some submerged civilization, and though I have wandered over most of the land of their origin in search of surviving specimens, a generation has grown up to which they are almost as unfamiliar as the velocipede or spinning wheel. And yet to have them back again I would cheerfully throw into the sea or on to the dust heap most of those triumphs of modern invention which claim to be trustworthier instruments of reproduction. 




I am often asked if it is not all to the good that music should be conveyed, no matter how, to tens of thousands who knew nothing of it before. It is an artful question, not to be answered after the style of a witness in the box by a plain yea or nay; and I reply by countering with another from my side. Can some of these whirrings and whizzings, these metallic dronings and lugubrious whinings be said to be music at all? But if I don’t like the sound, surely I must admit that some of the spirit of the great masters is there. Yes, I do, and just about as much as there is of the real thunder of Jupiter in the little box that Calchas the Soothsayer carries about with him in Offenbach’s La Belle Helene. I am beginning to think that a certain supersensory percentage of the human tribe of today must be evolving in a way that enables it to absorb music through some other medium than their ears alone. Not otherwise can I account for the growing disregard, even among musicians, of what is after all an important element in music, sound. What largely distinguishes good music from bad is the beautiful sound of the one as compared with the ugly sound of  

the other, and the nice question arises to which I have yet to receive a plain answer. Does music which is beautiful when played exactly in accordance with its composer’s intentions, and which is made to sound ugly by being played under totally different conditions, remain good or turn bad? But my musical boxes, what of them? Although toys, and none pretended they were anything better, they were lovely toys and harmless to offend the most fastidious ear. Hearing them render anything grave or monumental suggested tiny copies of Michael Angelo or John of Bologna done in Dresden or Chelsea porcelain, and if one could not help laughing, at all events the laughter was kindly and affectionate.