英日対訳:T.ビーチャム自叙伝A Mingled Chime第34回(2/2)美しきパースの娘/新聞業界とのせめぎあい








A quasi-novelty was an English version of Ivan the Terrible, which is by way of being a companion piece to the beautiful La Fiancee du Czar, which I gave many years later. Both of them are unduly neglected, hut it may he that performed by a company other than Russian they fail to make their full effect. As I have already said, the bulk of the Russian repertoire is intensely national and liable to lose much of its potential appeal, if dependent upon an alien interpretation. An actual novelty was a charming little opera which won an instant success everywhere and remained in our repertoire for years. The Fair Maid of Perth by Bizet. When first given in London the press took up a hostile attitude toward it, one newspaper asserting that there were half a dozen British composers at hand to write something much better. I at once offered a prize of £500 for a work which, in the opinion of three competent judges, should equal it in merit, and guaranteed its production as well as the publication of the score; but not a single competitor came forward to answer the challenge. It was an interesting symptom of the widening of public interest in opera everywhere that this piece, which is a typical specimen of French opera comique, should have been so quickly and generally accepted when six or seven years earlier it would have been an almost certain failure. It was also the means of converting a Philistine friend of mine in Manchester to the appreciation of serious music; for, dining with him one night, I asked if he had yet been to the opera, and he replied that nothing on earth would induce him to go anywhere near it. Years before someone had taken him to a later Wagner music-drama, given very indifferently; he had been bored to death and had no intention of repeating the awful experience. I bet him a box of cigars that he would not find the Fair Maid a bore, won over the sympathies of his wife, and finally prevailed on him to make the trial. The next day he rang up to say that he had found it almost as good as a musical comedy and asked if there were any more like it. I thought for a moment of recommending Tristan but repented and proposed II Seraglio. This he found equally to his taste, no doubt for the reason that it is itself nothing more than a musical comedy, differing only from the popular type in that while the comedy is in no way inferior the music is vastly superior to any other of its kind in the world.  




The addition of Tannhauser and Die Walkure to the repertoire provoked the ire of a certain newspaper magnate, who liked to think of himself as the real ruler of England and the keeper of all men’s consciences. In his view German music was an integral part of the German soul, and as that especial entity was a very unpleasant freak of nature, it was unfit and improper to foist on the public anything born of it. I really ought, he urged, to banish it from my theater; otherwise he would have to launch the thunderbolt of disapproval against me in his columns. I pointed out that Wagner was the favorite composer of that section of the audience which was in khaki, and that it was because of its insistent demand for these two operas that I was playing them at all. This shook him a bit, but not enough; for he went on to suggest that if members of His Majesty’s Forces had such perverted tendencies, their erring steps should be guided into the right path. I thought it was time to resort to the use of the argumentum ad hominem, and made him a sporting offer. I knew he had some fine old German pictures in his house of which he was justifiably proud, and I undertook, if he would bring them into Trafalgar Square (having well advertised the event a week ahead in all his journals) and bum them in full view of the public as a protest against the abysmal iniquity of the Teutonic spirit, that the very next day I would withdraw everything of Wagner from my program. But until he was prepared to make some personal sacrifice of the kind he could hardly expect me to do so. He was so bowled out by the proposition that for quite half-a-minute he was silent. Then the suspicion of a smile appeared on his face which by and by broadened into a grin, and he at last said: “It is rather silly, isn’t it?” And there we left the matter.  




I have often been baffled and disconcerted by the phenomenon, in an era which vaunts itself to be progressive, of the big newspaper owner. That he is occasionally a problem to government also was to be recognized some ten years later when the Prime Minister of the day had to remind two of the more presumptuous specimens of the breed that the alliance of great power and small responsibility was not one to be tolerated indefinitely in an orderly state. Most of those whom I have met have been men of moderate education, less culture, repelling manners, and victims of the most offensive kind of megalomania. One of them, perhaps the most fantastic of the whole set, having attended an opera performance for the first time in his life, telephoned the next day a friend of mine to say how much he liked it, but wanted to know more about this fellow Wagner, who he understood had written the piece. On being told that Wagner was a tolerably well-known composer, whose works were quite popular, his spontaneous comment was “Not half enough, I am going to give him a boost in my papers.” The gist of this interesting conversation was communicated to me without loss of time, and I rang up one of the great man’s more knowledgeable editors to warn him that his chief had just discovered Wagner and was preparing to introduce him to the notice of the public. “Good Lord,” he groaned, “this must be stopped at once,” and stopped it was, rather to my regret, as there must have been hundreds besides myself who would have appreciated this announcement of Richard’s existence from the latest of his converts.  




It is only just to add that here and there were others of a different denomination, a few survivals of a journalistic age on which had not yet been showered the blessings of the Yellow Press, and one or two who combined the liveliest modern technique with some respect for past tradition. Standing head and shoulders above any rival, not only in this last named group but in all others, was the brilliant and dynamic Alfred Harmsworth, Lord Northcliffe. Patriotic, far-seeing and receptive, of him alone can it be said that the forces and influence of the new school were on the whole employed beneficially as well as audaciously. As in the case of nearly all men who have risen from a modest position to one of authority over so many of their fellows, he both received and welcomed any amount of adulation. But I think that however large may have been his capacity for absorbing it, he must have felt a twinge of embarrassment at some of the tributes offered him. Among these the most picturesquely strained was that of a popular versifier who, struck by the coincidence in Christian names, proclaimed to an astonished public that during its thousand years of troubled history the three outstanding heroes among the company of England’s saviors in time of peril were Alfred the Great, Alfred Tennyson, and Alfred Harmsworth. It is no disparagement of the sanity of his views on most matters to say that some of his utterances and prognostications have a slightly comical ring in the light of political developments both at home and abroad during the past twenty-five years; for among the formidable crowd who have been preaching and prophesying to us all this time, all but one or two have been proved to be hopelessly at fault. Incidentally, some of them, now of very advanced years, are still at the game, probably with equal fatuity and credulity. Evidently once a seer always a seer, and the itch for looldng into the future appears to be as inesistible as any other form of speculation, the only difference being that it is practiced at other people’s expense instead of one’s own. But one instance of Lord Northcliffe’s more uncalculated pronouncements I cannot help recalling, for the double reason that it was I think the last occasion I saw him, and a perfect example of the way in which the whirligig of time brings in its revenge. It occurred at a public lunch at which he was the guest of honor, and on being called upon for the usual speech, delivered a fiery onslaught on Mr. Winston Churchill, who not long before had left the government. In his opinion the present Prime Minister of England was a man unfit to hold any important office of the Crown, it was unthinkable that he should ever do so again, and he (Northcliffe) would see to it that he never would!  











Bizet: The Fair Maid of Perth (La Jolie Fille de Perth) - Orchestral Suite 

London Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Sir Thomas Beecham 

Recorded June 24, 1934, in EMI's Studio No. 1, Abbey Road, London.   


Aubade; Serenade 


Gipsy Dance (Danse bohémienne)