Background - Etude
in D Flat Un Sospiro
MUSIC IS THE UNIVERSAL LANGUAGE
A very special way to communicate feelings and emotions.
Of all the languages in the world, music is the most cosmopolitan, all at once it is the most
subjective and the most personal. It is a language understood by all people, because it expresses
something in common for everyone. It may be the simple melody of a folk tune or the stirring
sound of a symphony it is our innermost feeling of sensibility that responds immediately. We are
carried away on magical wings through the whole scale of human emotions. The language of
music is the mirror of our soul, an expression of the inexpressible. Free from the limitations of
speech, it applies directly to the feeling. More than any other form of expression it embraces the
whole feeling of sentiment, passion, and sensibility, and therefore its evolution is a part of the
history of human culture in general, rather than that of any particular race or creed.
The history of music reveals great charm - it is full of life, the topic intimately connected to the
miraculous sources of the human spirit. It has been found that the heroes of history also knew
how to combat, suffer, and die their ideals, and that their influence upon the evolution of
mankind plays an important part in general history; an often more important part than that of
gunpowder plots and courtly intrigues. The development of history in intellectual life and
progress is free from racial or national hatred, and the goal is universal peace.
Just as other languages were progressively elaborated, the language of music developed only
gradually in form and expression. To trace this development in its growth is not only interesting
but is of importance for the understanding and the true valuation of musical production of
different times. Should one not be satisfied with the explanation that "Music is a gift of the
Gods," then the history of music will help him to unveil the great mysteries of human emotion,
to appreciate the eternal laws of beauty, and there fore to understand the foundations of art and
aesthetic value in general.
Subjective appreciation of music can depend on it "absolute" beauty. But even then, the more it
belongs to earlier historic periods, the more it loses a great part of its effect on our modem
harmonic feelings. There are countless thousands of people who no longer have contact with the
music of Mozart, because their ears are so filled with the sounds of modern harmony. The
treasures of music full of wonderfully pure, dignified, wholesome beauty means nothing to them
now, because they consider this music "obsolete!" On the other hand, music students of today are
the best patrons of our libraries. They are better informed on current events, finance, etc.
Learning quicker to make their way in life.
Here is where the value of historical knowledge appears. To appreciate a Beethoven,
Tchaikovsky, Brahms, or Mozart as a product of their times means simply to love them as we
love the companions of our childhood, our youth. They are like the gentle old people with good
manners and clear thoughts with whom just to sit and talk with is a pleasure. We sometimes find
it difficult to meet them on their own ground - somehow our harmonic feelings have changed,
now we are used to stronger effects; but this is by no means an excuse for becoming ignorant or
indifferent to the achievements of their musical culture. Just to sit and listen to them in our
nervous over strained time is a relaxation, an unsurpassed relaxation at the command of
everyone who has a piano in his home and enjoy playing it.
When you play a piano, it's like reciting from the keys a poem, it enables you to translate a
thought, to inspire noble conceptions, to open all of the hidden springs of memory and all that
tends to reach the soul, and to touch the heart of your listeners and to yourself.
Looking back on a past filled with such pleasurable moments, there is no doubt that they were
hard earned, but well worth searching out. If only one could live them over again... but then
these pleasures of the past both personal and antique, can only be passed on to our children for
rediscovery, and that is the way it should be.
Value of historical knowledge in the appreciation of music.
By Frederick G.
The Etude Magazine May 1915