Moral Fire: Musical Portraits from America's Fin de Siècle

By Joseph Horowitz

Joseph Horowitz writes in ethical fireplace: “If the Met’s screaming Wagnerites status on chairs (in the Nineties) are unthinkable at the present time, it truly is partially simply because we distrust excessive feeling. our youngsters avidly specialise in vicarious varieties of digital interpersonal diversion. Our laptops and televisions ensnare us in a surrogate global that shuns all yet facile passions; simply Jon Stewart and invoice Maher percentage moments of ethical outrage disguised as comedy.”

Arguing that the previous can end up instructive and inspirational, Horowitz revisits 4 mind-blowing personalities—Henry Higginson, Laura Langford, Henry Krehbiel and Charles Ives—whose missionary paintings within the realm of tradition signaled a trust within the basic decency of civilized human nature, within the universality of ethical values, and in development towards a country of peace and love.

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He used to be pleasingly challenged through Tannhäuser. He wolfed Gluck, Weber, Meyerbeer, and Bellini (“but the Italian song is especially meager after the German”). within the live performance corridor, he heard Haydn, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Schumann. He all started track classes. He discovered to play the piano. eleven even though he back domestic in 1853 and spent the higher a part of years pursuing one of these service provider enterprise his father first knew, Henry used to be again in Europe 3 years later: in London, the place he “didn’t like some of the images” in a Turner convey; in Paris, the place he wrote of the Madeleine: “too a lot gilded, an excessive amount of bosh, for beauty”; in Florence, the place Charlie Lowell used to be heavily in poor health; in Dresden, the place he used to be relieved to discover Lowell relocated and at the mend. Henry wound up settling in Vienna, the place for 2 years he pursued a spartan academic regime. His weekly musical consumption was once 9 classes and lectures. His nutritional consumption, often omitting supper, used to be restricted via his monetary assets; he instructed his father: “A huge section of my every year bills aren't for myself. . . . I occasionally curse myself for attempting to aid others while I’ve no longer adequate funds for my very own genuine wishes, yet back imagine that money good used isn't really wasted. ” Higginson’s reports incorporated concord, voice, and piano. He said domestic that his voice used to be no longer powerful sufficient for a corridor. His keyboard stories floundered while he damage his left arm from overuse, and sure annoyed what grew to become an enduring damage via having it bled. 12 In no different interval is the mutual affection of dad and son as brilliant as in this sustained absence overseas. “Many thank you in your portrait; it's a very very good likeness,” writes Henry in may possibly 1858. “A contact of grey within the hair and whiskers and some wrinkles to teach that you're not younger, a half-smile and a half-joke on your eyes to suggest the thrill of your nature, the pleasantest mouth on this planet with its absolute best expression . . . —it is all capital, the true previous daddy. ” one other specimen: “You are a capital correspondent in volume and caliber; don't brain reproving me from time to time (a rarity new to me to date from home), resolution my questions, supply me information and recommendation, and better of all a grin and a kiss on the finish. ” A sampling of George’s recommendation, on letter-writing: “Aim at simplicity and conciseness. ” And Henry did. “A letter could be basically a bit speak on paper, and that's rather all. ” George at one element chided: “My expensive Henry, you recognize I connect little value to kinds, to set principles of society, that are for the main half unmeaning, yet as an issue of right flavor in your half, wouldn't it be in greater preserving to put out of your mind the phrases ‘old fellow,’ ‘old boy,’ and so forth. , whilst addressing me? i feel so. ”13 Singular proof of the worldly influence of the Hapsburg capital on a tender Bostonian was once Henry’s fast acquisition of Jewish acquaintances. “I by no means observed a Jew ahead of coming here,” he tells George. “But these whom i've got recognized in Vienna are very gifted, real, liberal in perspectives of existence and faith, and free-handed to a wonderful quantity.

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