excerpt from 'In Pursuit of Music' pp. 61-62 (221 words)

excerpt from 'In Pursuit of Music' pp. 61-62 (221 words)

part of

In Pursuit of Music

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urn:iso:std:iso:639:ed-3:eng

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61-62

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W.J.Turner was noted for his violent antiwagnerianism […] But of the Toscanini performance of the Verdi Requiem he took us aside and murmured ‘Mark this well, for you will never hear the like of it again.’

                Yet I, having heard very little Verdi and so much of the German classics, was only on the fringe of appreciating him at that time.  The excitement of the Dies Irae, with an outsize bass-drum attacked as no instrument can have been done since Toscanini ceased to wield a baton, was undeniable; but, idiot that I was, I had gone quite unprepared for the unashamed dramaticism of it all, the unsophisticated treatment of melody and harmony, that by comparison with the admittedly vintage Verdi of Falstaff – which I already knew and loved – struck me as naïve, even banal.  The confession, which I am obliged to record, shows how misleading and artistically false it is to apply one composer’s yardstick to adjudge another of a different style and climate.  (The Brahms Requiem had been an unfortunate yardstick in this case!)  But my growing interest in Verdi, fostered by Falstaff and Otello, soon brought my heart into line, and by the time Toscanini came to London for two more Requiem performances the following year (1938) I was all allegiance.

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excerpt from 'In Pursuit of Music' pp. 61-62 (221 words)

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