英日対訳:トーマス・ビーチャム自叙伝「A Mingled Chime」第8章(1/2)1900のロンドン「我、ビリギャルに非ず!」




8 . LONDON IN 1900  

第8章 1900年ロンドンにて 



My first feeling on arriving in London was one of relief at having escaped from a circle of living which was becoming each day less sympathetic to me. My duties in our smooth-running and highly organized business had been of the lightest, and the opportunities for serious work in other directions altogether limited. I was expected to fit in with and settle down to a routine through which the current of life flowed lazily and insignificantly, when I felt the growing need of getting to grips with something more arduous and absorbing. Thanks to an earlier knowledge of the larger world outside, I had reached a maturity beyond that of most of my generation, and what I wanted was some exacting and whole-time work to which I could devote a constantly increasing energy which had not yet found the right outlet for its full exercise.  




Just as it is hard for those who have lived in comfortable circumstances to accept a lower standard of living when it is suddenly thrust upon them, so is it in most cases no easy problem for a young man who is without preparation for a specific career to decide what he can best do if thrown back largely on his own resources. But in mine no difficulty of choice was present, for I had one definite accomplishment at least, music, and that it had to be in one form or another. For many years I had worked in a general way, sometimes zealously and at others casually, at the piano, a few other instruments, and the various arts of composition. I had read dozens of text books, histories and biographies, and knew backwards La Grande Traite of Berlioz. It was time to gather up all these loose threads and bind them together in a solid bundle of efficiency.  




In public accounts of my career has frequently appeared the assertion that I am almost entirely self-taught and, beginning as a rank amateur, have attained a professional status with some difficulty after a long and painful novitiate. Nothing could be more remote from the truth. It is possible that at the age of twenty I might have failed to answer some of the questions in an examination paper set for boys of sixteen in a musical academy; but probably I should fail with equal success today, and I venture to say that a fair number of my most gifted colleagues would do no better. On the other hand, owing to my travels abroad and wider association with musicians here and there, my miscellaneous fund of information was much more extensive than that of others of my age.  




But even in childhood I had been taught those rudiments of the art which still go by the nonsensical name of theory, and at school I worked regularly with a master who was a man of excellent taste and scholarship. At Oxford I continued the same line of study with John Varley Roberts, the organist of Magdalen, who scanned and criticized all my earliest essays in composition. Varley Roberts, who was then getting on in years, was a bluff outspoken Yorkshireman of the old school, simple, thorough, and imbued with the belief that nothing of much consequence had happened to music since the death of Beethoven. A true son of his native county, he was a first-rate choral trainer, and his choir at Magdalen, the best in Oxford, equalled in reputation that of King’s College Chapel at Cambridge. For all so-called voice producers and their contending views on how or how not to sing he had a healthy and old-fashioned contempt which he delighted to air on every suitable and unsuitable occasion. There coincided with the period of my residence there a mild wave of interest in a subject which in most quarters is as much of a fixed science as table rapping, and during one term we had a convocation of eminent authorities from all over the country for the exchange of ideas. At all the meetings where lectures were delivered and treatises read Varley Roberts was present, together with a large contingent of his choir boys; and when the proceedings were terminated and the participants had departed whence they came, he called his flock together and addressed them in this refreshing style, “Now, lads, you have heard a great deal about the voice in the last few days, but I’ve got just this to say to you and don't you forget it. All you’ve got to do is to stand up, throw your heads back and sing; all the rest’s humbug.”  




During the year I spent in Lancashire I was introduced by Steudner Welsing, my piano master, to a young professor of composition at the Liverpool School of Music, Frederic Austin, who as time went on developed into one of the versatile and accomplished musicians of the day. With him I further pursued the straight path of knowledge to my distinct advantage but more on the aesthetic than on the technical side. For this was my first encounter with an wholly modern and up-to-date type of musical mind, adventurous, impressionable, and yet coolly analytical and tolerant. The brief association I enjoyed with him had the beneficial result of sweeping out of my mind the lingering cobweb traces of the rigid scholasticism to which I had bowed grudgingly at Oxford, so that by the time I left for the South I was culturally emancipated enough to be able to accept or reject whatever came to me with infinitely greater self-confidence. At the same time, to make sure that there should be no gaps in my armor of instruction, I went to see Sir Charles Villiers Stanford and, laying my case before him, asked if he would take me as a private pupil. He explained that he had little time for such work outside the College of Music, and passed me on to his chief assistant, Charles Wood, with some of whose compositions I was already acquainted.  




During the previous year, an enterprising and audacious scheme had been launched at New Brighton, a popular resort a few miles from Liverpool on the other side of the Mersey, where an orchestra of about sixty players, under Granville Bantock, gave weekly concerts with the program of each given up to the work of a single British composer. There it was that I heard the music of all those men who were then looked upon as the leaders of the English musical renaissance, Parry, MacKenzie, Stanford, Corder, Wood, Wallace, and Bantock himself. There was a good deal of genuine interest in and enthusiasm for this prolific native movement, and in certain circles and journals nearly everything produced by it was hailed as a masterpiece. Now and then I come across cantatas or oratories on the back pages of which are press notices of some piece written during the last quarter of the century, and I have to rub my eyes twice before I can credit what I am reading. All our geese were swans, no longer need we suffer from any complex of inferiority, we had caught up with our neighbors of Italy and Germany, and the future of the art was in our hands. The names of Brahms and Parry were coupled together in a fashion that suggested an equality of achievement in the two men, and any adverse criticism from abroad was looked upon as prejudice or jealousy. In short, a cheerful wave of musical chauvinism was sweeping over the land, and all of us to a greater or lesser degree were borne along upon it.  




With Charles Wood I worked steadily and industriously for over two years, submitting to him every imaginable kind of exercise, fugues, choral pieces accompanied and unaccompanied, orchestral fragments, one grand opera (of which I myself wrote the libretto), and another in a lighter vein. The manuscripts of these early efforts disappeared years ago, and I have offered up many a prayer that they remain eternally missing. The declining days of Grieg were saddened by the remembrance of a string quartet written in extreme youth which too had been lost, and the painful thought that it might be discovered and published after his death by some injudicious busybody was the one dark shadow in a happy and contented life.  




I sometimes wonder if the present generation can possibly realize how different is the world it is inhabiting and accepting as a matter of course from that of fifty years ago. Gibbon in the Decline and Fall has reminded us that in his time, the latter half of the eighteenth century, the transport facilities from Rome to London had remained unchanged since the days of the Emperor Hadrian, and modern historians have had their say about the striking transformations wrought everywhere by the discovery of steam at the beginning of the nineteenth. But the inventions which crowded upon us at its close are perhaps too near to be appraised as justly, and we have yet to learn whether some of them may be regarded as blessings or curses. The society in which I was brought up knew nothing of the telephone, the motor car, the gramophone, the airplane, the submarine, the radio, or even modern journalism. In the London of 1900, horse-drawn buses and hansom cabs still provided the chief means of getting about, supplemented by a semi-underground railway that was a veritable portent of dirt and gloom. But apart from little inconveniences like these life for some of us was unquestionably more spacious and agreeable. The sense of security was universal, and no man in his senses doubted for a moment that the British Empire, which was then about one hundred and fifty years old, was destined to remain just where it stood for another thousand or two at least. The national debt was small, the income tax was negligible, a golden sovereign purchased twice as much as did its paper equivalent twenty years later, and most important of all, Parliament sat for only half the year, thus enabling the executive part of the Government to get on with its duties quickly and efficiently. The Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1897 seemed to British people everywhere to be not only the close of one great imperialistic era but the beginning of another that was to be still more glorious; and even the disquietihg revelations of Mr. Rowntree of the deplorable condition in which about one-third of our population actually existed failed to wound the national pride or disturb its tranquil complacency.