Februa.ry 1936

"My thirst grew. I bought a gramophone, H.M.V. by name, and have made for myself a collection of major works that money cannot buy. I tried chamber music, choral works, and Lieder, but over all is the wonderful melody of a Largo, a melody that is surely not of this world, but a melody that conveys to me the serenity, majesty, and deep feeling of an eternal love. And now at the age of twenty-five, with a lifetime still before me, I can still see that moment, still hear that wonderful cor anglais solo that has made for me a world of my own, a world that none can join with me, where I tread wondrous halls, see wondrous things in company with Anton Dvorak. That world is music, mistress of all the arts, where men can be akin to angels, and see beyond this human ken."

We have printed on another page Mr. Brook's, Mr. Wilson's, Mr. Creasey's and Mr. Taylor's essays, and I am sure that none of them will begrudge the prize to Mr. Merifleld.

One of the interesting aspects of this competition was the variety of choice. Dvorak's New World Symphony attracted two other competitors, and Beethoven's Fifth Symphony two or three; but the rest of the fifty or so competitors did not trespass upon one another's first experiences. The best essay on Beethoven's Fifth Symphony was written by Mr. James Turton of Southport, and I wish we had space to print i t in full. His experience of i t was with the Landon Ronald version published by H.M .V . in 1923, and an amusing result was that for three years he found the third movement incomprehensible until, hearing a later recording under the same conductor, he discovered that a mistake had been made in the labelling of sides five and six in his previous version. For three years he had been playing the third movement upside down, as i t were, and he could not make out 'why i t seemed to end in the air! Mr. Turton was particularly good, too, in his description of the way he had to break the news to his wife that he had bought a 26s. symphony. Perhaps the neatest revenge man has taken on woman for her part in the Eden disaster was the invention of the gramophone.

Mr. Pettifer of Barry Dock, Glamorgan, wrote a charming essay on the "Columbia records of the Mozart Symphony in C, No. 34." I t was first played to him by a friend:

" , Do you like symphonies?' he asked. . . . "Caution mixed with a certain amount of fear prompted the truthful reply:

" , I don't think I've ever heard one.' " , You will like this,' he said, 'although the first disc is missing. . . . '

" I was so affected by the beauty of this wonderful sympbony that, determined to possess it, I gave up smoking for over four years to buy a gramophone, became a fibre enthusiast, and persuaded my friend to sell me the two records cheaply, and when the financial horizon is a l i t t le clearer I intend to buy the other disc to complete i t ."

Mr. Ivor Ades wrote another charming essay of his first experience of real music when he was given a Decca portable gramophone at the age of ten, and found among a lot of dance records one record of Luigini's Ballet Egyptien.

How consistently a ,,,rriter whose attitude towards life one dislikes will irritate one with every observation he makes!

Mr. Frank Smith, of Fursby Avenue, London, in a capital essay on first hearing Beethoven's Fifth Symphony at Queen's Hall , mentions reading in Barbellion "that he complained of a woman who knitted while Sir Henry Wood was conducting the Fifth Symphony, and said he thought sucr a woman would no doubt have knitted at the foot of the Cross." This remark impressed Mr. Smith; but I find i t typical of Barbellion's to me det estable point of view about everything. Why should not a woman knit during the Fifth Symphony if she is sufficiently skilful to knit, as so many women can, without any mental attention to what she is doing? I f Barbellion had been listening to the Fifth Symphony himself with the concentration he demanded from the knitter, he would not have noticed whether she was knitting or not.

One essay which made a particularly personal appeal to myself was that of Mr. Callender of Glasgow on first hearing the Minuet in Don Gioranni. I agree with him about i ts peculiar beauty and I have always wondered why, so far as I am aware, no record has been made of it. And I like Mr. Sharpe: "I have owed much to Tchaikovsky's Marche Slav. I did not hear i t turned into a fox-trot, but used to play i t on the Aeolian thirty-three years ago."

But I must not indulge in any more quotations from competition essays, for there was hardly one which did not have something of interest and, as I have said, the variety was extraordinary. I was glad to read in several of the accompanying letters that their authors have now realised what an extremely difficult thing i t is to write intelligibly about music when one departs from pureJy technical criticism.

Vibrato and Tremolo

In addition to paying me as graceful a compliment as any writer could hope for, Madame Emma Eames in the course of her remarks about vibrato and tremolo last month threw a brilliant l ight on a question which readers of my Editorials probably think by no\\' is an obsession of my own.

"To the British-or rather English-ear," wrote Madame Eames, "the ideally beautiful sound is that which approaches as nearly as possible the flute or wood-wind. The ideal sound for other countries is based on the stringed instruments."

I take i t that Madame Eames would on consideration substitute clarinet for wood-wind, because an instrument like the oboe surely possesses vibrato. I find I once wrote in a novel of mine called Vestal Fire: