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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000865.txt from 1997/12

From: DGross1226 <>
Subj: Leeson, Morales, and The Messiah
Date: Thu, 18 Dec 1997 23:54:05 -0500

As a clarinetist having been invited to sing bass (sorry, urtext
orchestration, no clarinets) in the chorus of the Pasadena (California) Lyric
Opera's performance of The Messiah this coming Saturday, I noted with
considerable interest the following quotation by Dr. Hugo Goldschmidt from "
Die Lehre von der vokalen Ornamentik des 17. und 18. Jauhundrerts" cited by
Max Spicker in his "Introductory Note" to the 1912 G. Schirmer edition of
Handel's The Messiah. I trust it will afford yet some more enriching food for

Addressing the issue of interpretation of the parts by the soloists, Dr.
Goldscmidt postulates that, "The essence of reproduction, to feel and re-
create that which was not felt and imparted by the creator, does not exclude
-- within natural limitations -- the assertion of creative power. The modern
theory of aesthetics founded by Lipps rightly proceeds from the idea that the
interpreting artist creates, in a sense, the work anew. With his gradual
penetration of the art-work he creates new values, which are of the highest
importance for art because, without them, the creations of the great masters
are only so much writing, and thus remain sealed to enjoyment. But the
interpreter's work is no mere execution, comparable, let us say, to that of
the builder who transmutes the architect's plans into material reality. His
task is rather to seize the vital conception of the art-work, to blend it with
his own ego and the views of the period, and thus to inbue it with life and

Whether singer or instrumentalist, he is a child of his time. His artistry is
a product of its mental culture. It develops and changes with the evolution
of artistic requirements. His formative and emotional powers are derived from
the spirit of the epoch to which he belongs. Consequently we shall always
approach the art-productions of earlier times throught the medium of our own
spiritual and emotional nature. It follows that the domain with which
artistic reproduction may open us, although to a greater extent, and as broad
in scope as the points of contact with modern sensibility can reach, will be
dependent in any given period on a constantly shifting relations to the
treasures of former times. The genuine great masterworks of the past retain
their importance; they are immortal; but our relations to them are not
constant, and change with the changing impressionablity of the times.

We hear the great works of these past-masters of former centuries --
Palestrina, Gabrielli, Handel and Bach, yes, and even Mozart and Beethoven --
with other ears than our forefathers, or even their grandfathers. What we have
experienced since their time, whatever we have wrested to our eternal gain,
this is which sounds those works in our ears. Much that charmed former
generations has no effect on ours; so much is part and parcel of the time
which gave it birth, and decays with its passing. Only what is exhalted over
time and place remains as eternal gain; and here, again, another generation
finds new treasures that earlier ones passed by undeeding. This is the
unfailing criterion of true greatness, that its creations continually beget
ever-new, ever-changing values, that they bring to each successive generation
new revelations.

Consider the history of Handel's art. The eightheenth century, in its latter
half, admired it in ther form of arrangements by contemporaries, those by
Mozart and Hiller. Our present-day musical interpretation -- on Dr.
Crysander's initiative -- has gone back to the historically authenticated
form, and disclosed to us the true Handel in its full grandeur. But it owes
its success, not to a recognition that things must be so because Handel would
have them so, but because they appeal more directly to our sense and feeling
than do the arrangements of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries."

Respectfully submitted,

Don Gross
La Canada, California

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