All About Music
      Strauss was never the fine, the perfect artist. Even in the first flare of youth, even at the time when he was the meteoric, dazzling figure flaunting over all the baldpates of the universe the standard of the musical future, it was apparent that there were serious flaws in his spirit. Despite the audacity with which he realized his amazing and poignant and ironic visions, despite his youthful fire and exuberance—and it was as something of a golden youth of music that Strauss burst upon the world—one sensed in him the not quite beautifully deepened man, heard at moments a callow accent in his eloquence, felt that an unmistakable alloy was fused with the generous gold. The purity, the inwardness, the searchings of the heart, the religious sentiment of beauty, present so unmistakably in the art of the great men who had developed music, were wanting in his work. He had neither the unswerving sense of style, nor the weightiness of touch, that mark the perfect craftsman. He was not sufficiently a scrupulous and exacting artist. It was apparent that he was careless, too easily contented with some of his material, not always happy in his detail. Mixed with his fire there was a sort of laziness and indifference. But, in those days, Strauss was unmistakably the genius, the original and bitingly expressive musician, the engineer of proud orchestral flights, the outrider and bannerman of his art, and one forgave his shortcomings because of the radiance of his figure, or remained only half-conscious of them.
      For, once his period of apprenticeship passed, and all desire to write symphonies and chamber-music in the styles of Schumann and Mendelssohn and Brahms, to construct operas after the pattern of "Tannhäuser" and "Parsifal" gone out of him, this slender, sleepy young Bavarian with the pale curly hair and mustaches had commenced to develop the expressive power of music amazingly, to make the orchestra speak wonderfully as it had never spoken before. Under his touch the symphony, that most rigid and abstract and venerable of forms, was actually displaying some of the novel's narrative and analytical power, its literalness and concreteness of detail. It was describing the developments of a character, was psychologizing as it had hitherto done only in conjunction with poetry or the theater. Strauss made it represent the inflammations of the sex illusion, comment upon Nietzsche and Cervantes, recount the adventures, somersaults and end of a legendary rascal, portray a hero of our time. He made all these intellectual concepts plastic in a music of a brilliance and a sprightliness and mordancy that not overmany classic symphonies can rival. Other and former composers, no doubt, had dreamt of making the orchestra more concretely expressive, more precisely narrative and descriptive. The "Pastoral" symphony is by no means the first piece of deliberately, confessedly programmatic music. And before Strauss, both Berlioz and Liszt had experimented with the narrative, descriptive, analytical symphony. But it was only with Strauss that the symphonic novel was finally realized.
Neither Berlioz nor Liszt had really embodied their programs in living music. Liszt invariably sacrificed program to sanctioned musical form. For all his radicalism, he was too trammeled by the classical concepts, the traditional musical schemes and patterns to quite realize the symphony based on an extra-musical scheme. His symphonic poems reveal how difficult it was for him to make his music follow the curve of his ideas. In "Die Ideale," for instance, for the sake of a conventional close, he departed entirely from the curve of the poem of Schiller which he was pretending to transmute. The variations in which he reproduced Lamartine's verse are stereotyped enough. When was there a time when composers did not deform their themes in amorous, rustic and warlike variations? The relation between the pompous and somewhat empty "Lament and Triumph" and the unique, the distinct thing that was the life of Torquato Tasso is outward enough. And even "Mazeppa," in which Liszt's virtuosic genius stood him in good stead, makes one feel as though Liszt could never quite keep his eye on the fact, and finally became engrossed in the weaving of a musical pattern fairly extraneous to his idea. The "Faust Symphony" is, after all, an exception. Berlioz, too, failed on the whole to achieve the musical novel. Whenever he did attain musical form, it was generally at the expense of his program. Are the somewhat picturesque episodes of "Harold in Italy," whatever their virtues, and they are many, more than vaguely related to the Byronism that ostensibly elemented them? The surprisingly conventional overture to "King Lear" makes one feel as though Berlioz had sat through a performance of one of Shakespeare's comedies under the impression that he was assisting at the tragedy, so unrelated to its subject is the music. And where, on the other hand, Berlioz did succeed in being regardful of his program, as in the "Symphonic Fantastique," or in "Lélio," there resulted a somewhat thin and formless music.
     But Strauss, benefiting by the experiments of his two predecessors, realized the new form better than any one before him had done. For he possessed the special gifts necessary to the performance of the task. He possessed, in the first place, a miraculous power of musical characterization. Through the representative nicety of his themes, through his inordinate capacity for thematic variation and transformation, his playful and witty and colorful instrumentation, Strauss was able to impart to his music a concreteness and descriptiveness and realism hitherto unknown to symphonic art, to characterize briefly, sparingly, justly, a personage, a situation, an event. He could be pathetic, ironic, playful, mordant, musing, at will. He was sure in his tone, was low-German in "Till Eulenspiegel," courtly and brilliant in "Don Juan," noble and bitterly sarcastic in "Don Quixote," childlike in "Tod und Verklärung." His orchestra was able to accommodate itself to all the folds and curves of his elaborate programs, to find equivalents for individual traits. It is not simply "a man," or even "an amatory hero" that is portrayed in "Don Juan." It is no vague symbol for the poet of the sort created by "Orpheus" or "Tasso" or "Mazeppa." It is Lenau's hero himself, the particular being Don Juan Tenorio. The vibrant, brilliant music of the up-surging, light-treading strings, of the resonant, palpitating brass, springs forth in virile march, reveals the man himself, his physical glamour, his intoxication that caused him to see in every woman the Venus, and that in the end made him the victim as well as the hero of the sexual life. It is Till Eulenspiegel himself, the scurvy, comic rascal, the eternal dirty little boy with his witty and obscene gestures, who leers out of every measure of the tone-poem named for him, and twirls his fingers at his nose's end at all the decorous and respectable world. Here, for once, orchestral music is really wonderfully rascally and impudent, horns gleeful and windy and insolent, wood-wind puckish and obscene. Here a musical form reels hilariously and cuts capers and dances on bald heads. The variation of "Don Quixote" that describes with wood-wind and tambourine Dulcinea del Toboso is plump and plebeian and good-natured with her very person, is all the more trenchantly vulgar and flat for the preceding suave variation that describes the knight's fair, sonorous dream of her. There is no music more plaintively stupid than that which in the same work figures the "sheep" against which Don Quixote battles so valiantly. Nor is there any music more maliciously, malevolently petty than that which represents the adversaries in "Ein Heldenleben." So exceedingly definite is the portrait of the Hero's Consort, for which Frau Richard Strauss, without doubt, sat, that without even having seen a photograph of the lady, one can aver that she is graced with a diatonic figure. And, certainly the most amusing passage of "Sinfonia Domestica" is that complex of Bavarian lustihood, Bavarian grossness, Bavarian dreaminess and Bavarian good nature, the thematic group that serves as autoportrait of the composer.
       And just as there seemed few characters that Strauss could not paint, in those days, so, too, there seemed few situations, few atmospheres, to which he could not do justice. A couple of measures, the sinister  palpitation of the timpani and the violas, the brooding of the wood-wind, the dull flickering of the flutes, the laboring breath of the strings, and we are lying on the death-bed, exhausted and gasping for air, weighed by the wrecks of hopes, awaiting the cruel blows on the heart that will end everything. Horns and violins quaver and snarl, flutes shrill, a brief figure descends in the oboes and clarinets, and Till has shed his rascal-sweat and danced on the air. The orchestra reveals us Don Juan's love affairs in all their individuality: first the passionate, fiery relation with the Countess, quickly begun and quickly ended; then the gentler and more inward communion with Anna, with the boredom resulting from the lady's continual demand for sentiment and romantic posturing; then the great night of love and roses, with its intoxicated golden winding horns, its ecstatically singing violins; and finally the crushing disappointment, the shudder of disgust. The battle in "Ein Heldenleben" pictures war really; the whistling, ironical wind-machine in "Don Quixote" satirizes dreams bitingly as no music has done; the orchestra describes the enthusiastic Don recovering from his madness, and smiles a conclusion; in "Also Sprach Zarathustra" it piles high the tomes of science, and waltzes with the Superman in distant worlds.
        And then, though less fecund an inventor than Liszt, less rich and large a temperament than Berlioz, Strauss was better able than either of his masters to organize his material on difficult and original lines, and find musical forms representative of his programs. Because of their labors, he was born freer of the classical traditions than they had been, and was able to make music plot more exactly the curves of his concepts, to submit the older forms, such as the rondo and the theme and variations, more perfectly to his purpose. Compositions of the sort of "Till Eulenspiegel," "Tod und Verklärung" and "Ein Heldenleben," solidly made and yet both narrative and dramatic, place the symphonic poem in the category of legitimate musical forms. The themes of "Till" grow out of each other quite as do the themes of a Beethoven symphony or of "Tristan" or of "Parsifal." Indeed, Strauss has done for the symphonic poem something of what Wagner did for the opera. And not an overwhelming number of classical symphonies contain music more eloquent than, say, the "sunrise" in "Also Sprach Zarathustra," or the final variation of "Don Quixote" with its piercing, shattering trumpets of defeat, or the terrifying opening passage of "Tod und Verklärung." For Strauss was able to unloose his verve and fantasy completely in the construction of his edifices. His orchestra moves in strangest and most unconventional curves, shoots with the violence of an exploding firearm, ambles like a palfrey, swoops like a bird. There are few who, at a first hearing of a Strauss poem, do not feel as though some wild and troubling and panic presence had leaned over the concert hall and bedeviled the orchestra. For, in his hands, it is no longer the familiar and terrorless thing it once had been, a thing about whose behavior one can be certain. It has become a formidable engine of steel and gold, vibrant with mad and unexpected things. Patterns leap and tumble out of it. Violin music launches swiftly into space, trumpets run scales, the tempi move with the velocity of express trains. It has become a giant, terrible bird, the great auk of music, that seizes you in its talons and spirals into the empyrean.
      But it was what he seemed to promise to perform, to bring into being, even more than what he had already definitely accomplished, that spread about the figure of Strauss the peculiar radiance. It was Nietzsche who had made current the dream of a new music, a music that should be fiercely and beautifully animal, full of laughter, of the dry good light of the intellect, of "salt and fire and the great, compelling logic, of the light feet of the south, the dance of the stars, the quivering dayshine of the Mediterranean." The other composers, the Beethovens and Brahms and Wagners, had been sad, suffering, wounded men, men who had lost their divine innocence and joy in the shambles, and whose spiritual bodies were scarred, for all the muscular strength gained during their fights, by hunger and frustration and agony. Pain had even marred their song. For what should have been innocence and effortless movement and godlike joy, Mozartean coordination and harmony, was full of terrible cries, and convulsive, rending motions, and shrouding sorrow. And Nietzsche had dreamt of music of another sort. He had dreamt of a music that should be a bridge to the Superman, the man whose every motion would be carefree. He had seen striding across mountain chains in the bright air of an eternal morning a youth irradiant with unbroken energy, before whom all the world lay open in vernal sunshine like a domain before its lord. He had seen one beside whom the other musicians would stand as convicts from Siberian prison camps who had stumbled upon a banquet of the gods. He had seen a young Titan of music, drunken with life and fire and joy, dancing and reeling and laughing on the top of the world, and with fingers amid the stars, sending suns and constellations crashing. He had caught sight of the old and eternally youthful figure of Indian Dionysos.
      And even though Strauss himself could scarcely be mistaken for the god, nevertheless he made Nietzsche's dream appear realizable. He permitted one for an instant to perceive a musical realm in which the earth-fast could not breathe. He permitted one for an instant to hear ringing "the prelude of a deeper, mightier, perchance a more evil and mysterious music; a super-German music which does not fade, wither and die away beside the blue and wanton sea and the clear Mediterranean sky; a music super-European, which would assert itself even amid the tawny sunsets of the desert; a music whose soul is akin to the palm-trees; a music that can consort and prowl with great, beautiful, lonely beasts of prey; a music whose supreme charm is its ignorance of Good and Evil." For he came with some of the light and careless and arrogant tread, the intellectual sparkling, the superb gesture and port, of the musician of the new race. The man who composed such music, one knew, had been born on some sort of human height, in some cooler, brighter atmosphere than that of the crowded valleys. For in this music there beat a faster pulse, moved a lighter, fierier, prouder body, sounded a more ironic and disdainful laughter, breathed a rarer air than had beat and moved and sounded and breathed in music. It made drunken with pleasant sound, with full rich harmonies, with exuberant dance and waltz movements. It seemed to adumbrate the arrival of a new sort of men, men of saner, sounder, more athletic souls and more robust and cool intelligences, a generation that was vitally satisfied, was less torn and belabored by the inexpressible longings of the romantic world, a generation very much at home on the globe. For it had none of the restless, sick desire of Wagner, none of his excessive pathos, his heaviness and stiff grandeur. It had come down off its buskins, was more easy, witty, diverting, exciting, popular and yet cerebral. Though it was obviously the speech of a complicated, modern man, self-conscious, sophisticated, nervous, product of a society perhaps not quite as free and Nietzschean as it deemed itself, but yet cultivated and illuminated and refined, it nevertheless seemed exuberantly sound. The sweet, broad, diatonic idiom, the humor, the sleepy Bavarian accent, the pert, naïve, little folk-tunes it employed, the tranquil, touching, childlike tones, the close of "Tod und Verklärung," with its wondrous unfolding of corolla upon corolla, were refreshing indeed after all the burning chromaticism of Wagner, the sultry air of Klingsor's wonder-garden.
        And this music glittered with the sun. The pitch of Wagner's orchestra had, after all, been predominantly sober and subdued. But in the orchestra of Strauss, the color-gamut of the plein-air painters got a musical equivalent. Those high and brilliant tints, these shimmering, biting tones, make one feel as though Strauss made music with the paint-brush of a Monet or a Van Gogh. His trumpets are high and brilliant and silvery, his violins scintillant and electric, at moments winding a lazy, happy, smoke-blue thread through the sunburnt fabric of the score. His horns glow with soft, fruity timbres. The new sweetness of color which he attains in his songs, the pale gold of "Morgen," the rose of the Serenade, the mild evening blue of "Traum durch die Dämmerung," shimmers throughout his orchestra scores. Never have wind instruments sounded more richly, dulcetly, than in that "Serenade für dreizehn Bläser." At a first hearing of "Also Sprach Zarathustra," it seemed as though the very dayspring had descended into the orchestra to make that famous, brassy opening passage. For here, in the hand of Strauss, the orchestra begins to round out its form and assume its logical shape. The various families of instruments are made independent; often play separately. The shattering brass of which Berlioz had dreamt is realized. Violas d'amore, hecklephones, wind-machines, are introduced into the band; the familiar instruments are used in unfamiliar registers. Through the tone-poems of Strauss, the orchestral composer for the first time has a suitable palette, and can achieve a brilliance as great as that which the modern painter can attain.
       To-day, it is difficult to realize that Richard Strauss ever incensed such high hopes, that there was a time when he made appear realizable Nietzsche's mad dream of a modern music, and that for awhile the nimbus of Dionysos burnt round his figure. To-day it is difficult to remember that once upon a time Strauss seemed to the world the golden youth of music, the engineer of proud orchestral flights, the outrider and bannerman of his art. For it is long since he has promised to reveal the new beauty, the new rhythm, has seemed the wonderful start and flight toward some rarer plane of existence, some bluer ether, the friend of everything intrepid and living and young, the "arrow of longing for the Superman." It is a long while since any gracious, lordly light has irradiated his person. In recent years he has become almost the very reverse of what he was, of what he gave so brave an earnest of becoming. He who was once so electric, so vital, so brilliant a figure has become dreary and outward and stupid, even. He who once seemed the champion of the new has come to fill us with the weariness of the struggle, with deep self-distrust and discouragement, has become a heavy and oppressive weight. He who once sought to express the world about him, to be the poet of the coming time, now seems inspired only by a desire to do the amazing, the surface thing, and plies himself to every ephemeral and shallow current of modern life. For Strauss has not only not deepened and matured and increased in stature; he has not even stood still, remained the artist that once he was. He has progressively and steadily deteriorated during the last decade. He has become a bad musician. He is the cruel, the great disappointment of modern music, of modern art. The dream-light has failed altogether, has made the succeeding darkness the thicker for the momentary illumination. Strauss to-day is seen as a rocket that sizzled up into the sky with many-colored blaze, and then broke suddenly and extinguished swiftly into the midnight.
        It is not easy, even for those who were aware from the very first that Strauss was not the spirit "pardlike, beautiful and swift" and that there always were distinctly gross and insensitive particles in him, to recognize in the slack and listless person who concocts "Joseph's Legende" and the "Alpensymphonie," the young and fiery composer, genius despite all the impurities of his style, who composed "Till Eulenspiegel" and "Don Quixote"; not easy, even though the contours of his idiom have not radically altered, and though in the sleepy facile periods of his later style one catches sight at times of the broad, simple diction of his earlier. For the later Strauss lacks pre-eminently and signally just the traits that made of the earlier so brilliant and engaging a figure. Behind the works of the earlier Strauss there was visible an intensely fierily experiencing being, a man who had powerful and poignant and beautiful sensations, and the gift of expressing them richly. Behind the work of the latter there is all too apparent a man who for a long while has felt nothing beautiful or strong or full, who no longer possesses the power of feeling anything at all, and is inwardly wasted and dull and spent. The one had a burning and wonderful pressure of speech. The other seems unable to concentrate energy and interest sufficiently to create a hard and living piece of work. The one seemed to blaze new pathways through the brain. The other steps languidly in roadways well worn. He is not even amusing any longer. The contriver of wonderful orchestral machines, the man who penetrated into the death-chamber and stood under the gibbet, has turned to toying with his medium, to imitating other composers, Mozart in "Der Rosenkavalier," Haendel in "Joseph's Legende," Offenbach and Lully (a coupling that only Strauss has the lack of taste to bring about) in "Ariadne auf Naxos." He has become increasingly facile and unoriginal, has taken to quoting unblushingly Mendelssohn, Tchaikowsky, Wagner, himself, even. His insensitivity has waxed inordinately, and led him to mix styles, to commingle dramatic and coloratura passages, to jumble the idioms of three centuries in a single work, to play all manner of pointless pranks with his art. His literary taste has grown increasingly uncertain. He who was once so careful in his choice of lyrics, and recognized the talents of such modern German poets as Birnbaum and Dehmel and Mackay, accepts librettos as dull and inartistic and precious as those with which Hofmannsthal is supplying him, and lends his art to the boring buffooneries of "Der Rosenkavalier" and "Ariadne auf Naxos." Something in him has bent and been fouled.
     One thing at least the Strauss of the tone-poems indisputably was. He was freely, dazzlingly, daringly expressive. And this is what the Strauss of the last years thinly and rarely is. It is not Oscar Wilde's wax flowers of speech, nor the excessively stiff and conventionalized action of "Salome," that bores one with the Strauss opera of that name. It is not even the libretto of "Der Rosenkavalier," essentially coarse and boorish and insensitive as it is beneath all its powdered preciosity, that wearies one with Strauss's "Musical Comedy"; or the hybrid, lame, tasteless form of "Ariadne auf Naxos" that turns one against that little monstrosity. It is the generally inexpressive and insufficient music in which Strauss has vested them. The music of "Salome," for instance, is not even commensurable with Wilde's drama. It was the evacuation of an obsessive desire, the revulsion from a pitiless sensuality that the poet had intended to procure through this representation. But Strauss's music, save in such exceptional passages as the shimmering, restless, nerve-sick opening page, or the beginning of the scene with the head, or certain other crimson patches, hampers and even negates the intended effect. It emasculates the drama with its pervasive prettiness, its lazy felicitousness where it ought to be monstrous and terrifying, its reminiscences of Mendelssohn, Tchaikowsky and "Little Egypt." The lascivious and hieratic dance, the dance of the seven veils, is represented by a valse lente. Oftentimes the score verges perilously on circus-music, recalls the sideshows at county fairs. No doubt, in so doing it weakens the odor exuded by Wilde's play. But if we must have an operatic "Salome," it is but reasonable to demand that the composer in his music express the sexual cruelty and frenzy symbolized in the figure of the dancer. And the Salome of Strauss's score is as little the Salome of Wilde as she is the Salome of Flaubert or Beardsley or Moreau or Huysmans. One cannot help feeling her eminently a buxom, opulent Berliner, the wife, say, of the proprietor of a large department store; a heavy lady a good deal less "dämonisch" and "perverse" than she would like to have it appear. But there are moments when one feels as though Strauss's heroine were not even a Berliner, or of the upper middle class. There are moments when she is plainly Käthi, the waitress at the Münchner Hofbraühaus. And though she declares to Jokanaan that "it is his mouth of which she is enamored," she delivers the words in her own true-hearted, unaffected brogue.
       Nor is "Elektra," more sharp than "Salome," though it oftentimes is, the musical equivalent for the massive and violent forms of archaic Greek sculpture that Strauss intended it be. Elektra herself is perhaps more truly incarnate fury than Salome is incarnate luxury; ugliness and demoniacal brooding, madness and cruelty are here more sheerly powerfully expressed than in the earlier score; the scene of recognition between brother and sister is more large and touching than anything in "Salome"; Elektra's paean and dance, for all its closeness to a banal cantilena, its tempo di valse so characteristic of the later Strauss, is perhaps more grandiosely and balefully triumphant than the dancer's scene with the head. Nevertheless, the work is by no means realized. It is formally impure, a thing that none of the earlier tone-poems are. Neither style nor shape are deeply felt. Both are superficially and externally conceived; and nothing so conclusively demonstrates it as the extreme ineffectually of the moments of contrast with which Strauss has attempted to relieve the dominant mood of his work. Just as in "Salome" the more restless and sensual passages, lazily felt as they are, are nevertheless infinitely more significant than the intensely contrasting silly music assigned to the Prophet, so, too, in "Elektra," the moments when Strauss is cruel, brutal, ugly are of a much higher expressiveness than those in which he has sought to write beautifully. For whereas in moments of the first sort the lions of the Mycenæ gates do at times snarl and glower, in those of the second it is the Teutonic beer-mug that makes itself felt. Elektra laments her father in a very pretty and undistinguished melody, and entreats her sister to slay Klytemnæstra to the accompaniment of a sort of valse perverse. It is also in tempo di valse that Chrysothemis declares her need of wifehood and motherhood. As an organism the work does not exist.
        But even the expressiveness and considerability of "Salome" and "Elektra," limited and unsatisfactory as they are, are wanting in the more recent works. With "Der Rosenkavalier," Strauss seems to have reached a condition in which it is impossible for him to penetrate a subject deeply. No doubt he always was spotty, even though in his golden days he invariably fixed the inner informing binding rhythm of each of his works. But his last works are not only spotty, but completely spineless as well, invertebrate masses upon which a few jewels, a few fine patches, gleam dully. "Salome" and "Elektra" had at least a certain dignity, a certain bearing. "Der Rosenkavalier," "Ariadne auf Naxos," "Joseph's Legende" and "Eine Alpensymphonie" are makeshift, slack, slovenly despite all technical virtuosity, all orchestral marvels. Every one knows what the score of "Rosenkavalier" should have been, a gay, florid, licentious thing, the very image of the gallant century with its mundane amours and ribbons and cupids, its petit-maîtres and furbelows and billets-doux, its light emotions and equally light surrenders. But Strauss's music is singularly flat and hollow and dun, joyless and soggy, even though it is dotted with waltzes and contains the delightful introduction to the third act, and the brilliant trio. It has all the worst faults of the libretto. Hofmannsthal's "comedy for music," though gross and vulgar in spirit, and unoriginal in design, is full of a sort of clever preciosity, full of piquant details culled from eighteenth-century prints and memoirs. The scene of the coiffing is a print of Hogarth's translated to the stage; Rofrano's name "Octavian Maria Ehrenreich Bonaventura Fernand Hyazinth" is like an essay on the culture of the Vienna of Canaletto; the polite jargon of eighteenth-century aristocratic Austria spoken by the characters, with its stiff, courteous forms and intermingled French, must have been studied from old journals and gazettes. And Strauss's score is equally precious, equally a thing of erudition and cleverness. Mozart turned the imbecilities of Schickaneder to his uses; Weber triumphed over the ridiculous romancings of Helmine von Chezy. But Strauss follows Hofmannsthal helplessly, soddenly. Just as Hofmannsthal imitates Hogarth, so Strauss imitates Mozart, affects his style, his turns, his spirit; inserts a syrupy air in the style of Haendel or Méhul in the first act; and jumbles Mozart with modern comic-opera waltzes, Haendel with post-Wagnerian incantations. And like Hofmannsthal's libretto, the score remains a superficial and formless thing. The inner and coherent rhythm, the spiritual beat and swing, the great unity and direction, are wanting. "I have always wanted to write an opera like Mozart's, and now I have done it," Strauss is reported to have said after the first performance of "Der Rosenkavalier." But "Der Rosenkavalier" is almost antipodal to "Don Giovanni" or to "Falstaff" or to "Die Meistersinger" or to any of the great comic operas. For it lacks just the thing the others possess abundantly, a strong lyrical movement, a warm emotion that informs the music bar after bar, scene after scene, act after act, and imparts to the auditor the joy, the vitality, the beauty of which the composers' hearts were full. It is a long while since Strauss has felt anything of the sort.
       Had the new time produced no musical art, had no Debussy nor Scriabine, no Strawinsky nor Bloch, put in appearance, one might possibly have found oneself compelled to believe the mournful decadence of Richard Strauss the inevitable development awaiting musical genius in the modern world. There exists a group, international in composition, which, above all other contemporary bodies, arrogates to itself the style of modernity. It is the group, tendrils of which reach into every great capital and center, into every artistic movement and cause, of the bored ones, the spoilt ones. The present system has lifted into a quasi aristocratic and leisurely state vast numbers of people without background, without tradition or culture or taste. By reason of its largeness and resources, this group of people without taste, without interest, without finesse, has come to dominate in particular the world of art as the world of play, has come to demand distraction, sensation, excitement which its unreal existence does not afford it. Indeed, this band has come to give a cast to the whole of present-day life; its members pretend to represent present-day culture. It is with this group with its frayed sensibilities and tired pulses that Strauss has become increasingly identified, till of late he has become something like its court-musician, supplying it with stimulants, awaking its curiosities, astonishing and exciting it with the superficial novelty of his works, trying to procure it the experiences it is so lamentably unable to procure itself. It is for it that he created the trumpery horrors, the sweet erotics of the score of "Salome." It is for it that he imitated Mozart saccharinely in "Der Rosenkavalier"; mangled Molière's comedy; committed the vulgarities and hypocrisies of "Joseph's Legende." And did no evidence roundly to the contrary exist, one might suppose this group to really represent modern life; that its modernity was the only true one; and that in expressing it, in conforming to it, Strauss was functioning in the only manner granted the contemporary composer. But since such evidence exists aplenty, since a dozen other musicians, to speak only of the practitioners of a single art, have managed to keep themselves immune and yet create beauty about them, to remain on the plane upon which Strauss began life, to persevere in the direction in which he was originally set, and yet live fully, one finds oneself convinced that the deterioration of Strauss, which has made him musical purveyor to this group, has not been the result of the pressure of outward and hostile circumstances. One finds oneself positively convinced that it was some inner weakness within himself that permitted the spoilt and ugly folk to seduce him from his road, and use him for their purposes.
        And in the end it is as the victim of a psychic deterioration that one is forced to regard this unfortunate man. The thing that one sees happening to so many people about one, the extinction of a flame, the withering of a blossom, the dulling and coarsening of the sensibilities, the decay of the mental energies, seems to have happened to him, too. And since it happens in the lives of so many folk, why should it surprise one to see it happening in the life of an artist, and deflowering genius and ruining musical art? All the hectic, unreal activity of the later Strauss, the dissipation of forces, points back to such a cause. He declares himself in every action the type who can no longer gather his energies to the performance of an honest piece of work, who can no longer achieve direct, full, living expression, who can no longer penetrate the center of a subject, an idea. He is the type of man unfaithful to himself in some fundamental relation, unfaithful to himself throughout his deeds. Many people have thought a love of money the cause of Strauss's decay; that for the sake of gain he has delivered himself bound hand and foot into the power of his publishers, and for the sake of gain turned out bad music. No doubt, the love of money plays an inordinate rôle in the man's life, and keeps on playing a greater and greater. But it is probable that Strauss's desire for incessant gain is a sort of perversion, a mania that has gotten control over him because his energies are inwardly prevented from taking their logical course, and creating works of art. Luxury-loving as he is, Strauss has probably never needed money sorely. Some money he doubtlessly inherited through his mother, the daughter of the Munich beer-brewer Pschorr; his works have always fetched large prices—his publishers have paid him as much as a thousand dollars for a single song; and he has always been able to earn great sums by conducting. No matter how lofty and severe his art might have become, he would always have been able to live as he chose. There is no doubt that he would have earned quite as much money with "Salome" and "Der Rosenkavalier" had they been works of high, artistic merit as he has earned with them in their present condition. The truth is that he has rationalized his unwillingness to go through the labor-pains of creation by pretending to himself a constant and great need of money, and permitting himself to dissipate his energies in a hectic, disturbed, shallow existence, in a tremor of concert-tours, guest-conductorships, money-making enterprises of all sorts, which leave him about two or three of the summer months for composition, and probably rob him of his best energies. So works leave his writing table half-conceived, half-executed. The score of "Elektra" he permits his publishers to snatch from him before he is quite finished with it. He commences composing "Der Rosenkavalier" before having even seen the third act. The third act arrives; Strauss finds it miserable. But it is too late. The work is half-finished, and Strauss has to go through with it. Composition becomes more and more a mechanical thing, the brilliant orchestration of sloppy, undistinguished music, the polishing up of details, the play of superficial cleverness which makes a score like "Der Rosenkavalier," feeble as it is, interesting to many musicians.
And Richard Strauss, the one living musician who could with greatest ease settle down to uninterrupted composition, gets to his writing table in his apartment in Charlottenburg every evening at nine o'clock, that is, whenever he is not on duty at the Berlin Opera.
       And always the excuses: "Earning money for the support of wife and child is not shameful," "I am going to accumulate a large enough fortune so that I can give up conducting entirely and spend all my time composing." But one can be sure that when Strauss soliloquizes, it is a different defense that he makes. One can be sure, then, that he justifies himself cynically, bitterly, grossly, tells himself that the game is not worth the candle, that greatness is a matter of advertisement, that only the values of the commercial world exist, that other success than the procurement of applause and wealth and notoriety constitutes failure. Why should you take the trouble to write good work that will bring you posthumous fame when without trouble you can write work that will bring you fame during your lifetime? The whole world is sham and advertisement and opportunism, is it not? Reputations are made by publishers and newspapers. Greatness is a matter determined by majorities. But impress the public, but compose works that will arouse universal comment, but break a few academic formulas and get yourself talked about, but write music that will surprise and seem wonderful at a first hearing, and your fame is assured. The important thing is to live luxuriously and keep your name before the public. In so doing one will have lived life as fully as it can be lived. And after one is dead, what does it all matter?
     Yet, though the world be full of men whose spiritual energies have been lamed in kindred fashions, the terrible misadventure of Richard Strauss remains deeply affecting. However far the millions of bright spirits who have died a living death have fallen, their fall has been no farther than this man's. There can be no doubt of the completeness of Strauss's disaster. It is a long while since he has been much besides a bore to his once fervent admirers, an object of hatred to thousands of honest, idealistic musicians. He has completely, in his fifty-sixth year, lost the position of leadership, of eminence that once he had. Even before the war his operas held the stage only with difficulty. And it is possible that he will outlive his fame. One wonders whether he is not one of the men whose inflated reputations the war has pricked, and that a world will shortly wonder, before his two new operas, how it was possible that it should have been held at all by the man. Had he been the most idealistic, the most uncompromising of musicians he could not be less respected. Perhaps his last chance lay in the "Alpensymphonie." Here was a ceremony that could have made him priest once again. Europe had reached a summit, humanity had had a vision. Before it lay a long descent, a cloudburst, the sunset of a civilization, another night. Could Strauss have once more girded himself, once more summoned the faith, the energy, the fire that created those first grand pages that won a world to him, he might have been saved. But it was impossible. Something in him was dead forever. And so, to us, who should have been his champions, his audiences, his work already seems old, part of the past even at its best, unreal except for a few of the fine symphonic works. To us, who once thought to see in him the man of the new time, he seems only the brave, sonorous trumpet-call that heralded a king who never put in his appearance, the glare that in the East lights the sky for an instant and seems to promise a new day, but extinguishes again. He is indeed the false dawn of modern music.

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