excerpt from 'My Musical Life' pp. 177-8 (296 words)

excerpt from 'My Musical Life' pp. 177-8 (296 words)

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My Musical Life

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I have drawn a deplorable scene descriptive of the hearing of music in private; let me revive a scene, fresh, doubtless, in the memory of many now living, in which the hearing of music in public probably reached its climax. I allude to the production of MENDELSSOHN'S Elijah at the Birmingham festival of 1846, upon which occasion MENDELSSOHN himself wielded the conductor's baton.

On that memorable August morning in the year 1846 when, punctual to the minute, FELIX MENDELSSOHN stepped into the conductor's seat, and, facing the immense audience assembled in the noble Town Hall of Birmingham, was received with a storm of applause which was taken up and redoubled by the chorus and orchestra how little did that vast audience know that in little more than a year from that time the heart of the great composer would have ceased to beat! That day, we must always think, was the crowning moment of his life, and that great oratorio seems to us the culmination of his mighty musical and dramatic faculty. All those who were present declare that that first public performance was one never to be forgotten the novelty of treatment, the startling effects, the enchanting subjects, the prodigious daring of some of the situations, the heavenly melodies which have since become musical watchwards, and, above all, the presence of the composer, who sent an electric thrill through the room, and inspired chorus, band, and singers with the same lofty enthusiasm which made him so great and irresistible in achievement all this may now, alas, be remembered, but can never be reproduced. It made the hearing of the music of Elijah for the first time a perfectly typical occasion, and one whose conditions, as far as they are realisable, should never cease to be striven after.   

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excerpt from 'My Musical Life' pp. 177-8 (296 words)


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