Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

8

that seizes your meaning before you utter it, and reads by happy and quickened intuition the untold joys and sorrows of the heart. Every delicate shade of feeling, every nuance of expression is the special gift of this mature woman. That other young girl is painstaking, careful, conscientious, but her fine technique will never reveal anything but a commonplace and practical nature. In this face, with the eyes looking down in command upon the strings whilst the bow is firmly gripped and the violin held with something like a despotic clutch, the look is eloquent. “ Thou shalt do my bidding,” it seems to say.

"I will have my will of thee; thou shalt yield up to me the utmost that is in thee. I will dominate thy power, and pluck out the heart of thy mystery. Thou hast no secrets that I shall not fathom, no depth or subtlety that I will not explore, no magic that I may not master.

I am thine but upon one condition only, that thou art utterly mine!” And here is a face transfigured as in a dream, looking into the infinite, and conversing with the angels. And lo here is immeasurable aspiration, as though all sound were a parable, a mere pattern of things in the heavens, given us that we may speak of mysteries behind the veil, a prophecy, day, almost an earnest, of some future state just sensed by as what time we stretch forth the spiritual antenne of our being and touch the invisibles. And here, is the shrewd glance of the mere clever expert; and next comes a young girl with glowing health and spirits, whose violin is to her as a rollicking, happy companion before " the sorrow comes with years.” Yes, it is a wonderful portrait gallery, a revelation of what the musical art does for the soul, and, above all, what woman is to the violin and what the violin may be to woman.

But truly a woman needs to be as well mated with her violin as with a husband. In this matter let none choose for her: let her choose for herself, let her see many suitors. If she fancies that delicate Grancino let her have it ; does that Stainer, with its sharp, crisp, biting sound, fascinate her, well she will arrest and fascinate others through it. That somewhat venerable Urquhart, with its homely, guardian-like look of respectability and old-world courtesy and fine finish, attracts her; its voice is full of gentle and pathetic counsel and wise understanding; she loves it, let her have it. Do not some girls

, marry their guardians ? That bell-like Stradivari is certainly for you, bright queen of soloists, 'red rose of health and pleasure, with the brilliant dash, the reckless pathos, the bold and confident initiative that takes the room by storm and compels enthusiasm ! soft and tender little soul, with a gift of trembling and persuasive sensibility, sweet violet of peace and subtle fragrance, albeit at times wet with the dewy tears of pity, or “wild with all regret,” for you the sweet Amati-Amati the consoler, Amati the lover-answering your thought and satisfying your need, and as responsive to your

a

And for you,

[ocr errors]

flattering moods as an Æolian harp to the wind. And for

And for you, strong, passionate artist soul, with the vigour of a man, and yet with all the intensity and flashing many-sidedness of a richly organised woman, for you, the great Joseph Guarnerius, the king and despot of the concert-room, the ruler of the orchestra, the soul-companion and flaming minister of the great Paganini. To each woman her own. Let there be no mesalliance ; remember how close, how prolonged, how incessant, how intimate is to be your companionship with that violin, what moods you will have to explore together, what experiences you will have to share, how dependent you will be upon one another in this strange “world, with all its lights and shadows, all the wealth and all the woe!”

Yes, you cannot afford to be ill-mated with your violin; no detail is unimportant. See that the neck fits your hand which will so often clasp it, and has to glide easily up and down; that the finger-board is nicely adapted in breadth to the span of your fingers, which have so often to cover and press it ; that the size and proportions of the instrament are suitable to you, and the feel of it all over is comfortable —for you are to hold it, carry it, caress it. It is to be so close to you just at those times when you feel most, express most, give most of yourself to it, and through it to others. It is to be the one thing at such moments literally nearest your hand and your heart. When you have found an instrument to fit you completely, you will feel, like a true lover, that you cannot live without it. Let nothing stand between you and it-beg, borrow the money and buy it; crimes have alas! been committed before now to secure such congenial fiddles, “'tis true, 'tis pity ; pity 'tis 'tis true!” Violins have been carried off like stolen brides, stolen by their irresponsible admirers. Their owners have been stalked, cajoled, even cheated, and their deaths have been watched for as those watch for and rejoice over the disappearance of hated rivals in love. I knew a great player, one quite in the first rank, who could never be trusted with the loan of a violin to which he had taken a fancy; he was in the habit of disappearing suddenly and the violin along with him. Thus even the covetousness and the frailty of man seem to lend a kind of tragic lustre to the weird and irresistible fascinations of the violin !

It is no part of my programme to chronicle the exploits of female violinists, or even to record their names. Although isolated celebrities, regarded as eccentricities, have appeared occasionally on the concert stage before the present century, it was not till the Sisters Millanolo electrified Europe in 1838–57—the one by her irresistible pathos, the other by her vivacity and breadth of tone—that criticism was silenced and prejudice had to hide its diminished head. Mlle. Therese Mill. anolo, the eldest, still lives in Paris, and is widely known and beloved as Madame Parmentier, the widow of a distinguished French officer. There is but one other name worthy to be bracketed with hers; it is that of Mlle. Wilhelmina Neruda, afterwards Norman Neruda, and now Lady Hallé. This great artiste, the widow of the distinguished pianist, Sir Charles Hallé, is certainly the most accomplished all-round lady violinist that has ever appeared. If not rivalling the Millanolos in a certain romantic charm, she probably has a larger acquaintance with the classical and the advanced schools, which in the days of the Millanolos were less affected by the virtuoso than they are now. Lady Hallé's quartet-playing is unrivalled, no female competitor having yet made good her claim to compete successfully with her; whilst her execution of bravura music and star-solos, when she pleases to indulge in such lighter sensations, is as faultless as it is effective and captivating. It would be almost invidious to mention the large number of female aspirants to the highest violin honours now before the public, but I shall not be far wrong if, looking with a prophetic eye into the future, I prophesy that the name of Mand Macarthy, now a mere child (aged 14, 1898), will stand out as the brightest violin genius of the last decade of the nineteenth century.

I might be expected to say a word about lady 'cellists before I close this disquisition on “ Violins and Girls.” I first saw a lady violoncellist in 1857; she held the instrument, as a man holds it, between her knees, and it seemed to me ungraceful. Girls now have a strong supporting-rod fixed in the instrument, which lifts it from the ground for them, and with more or less grace the body of the instrument is held flat against their knees without defining them. The 'cello will nevor be so graceful, nor will it probably be ever wielded by women with such charm as the violin. It will always remain in their hands a little unwieldy. But now that the bicycle and the racket, the golfclub, and even the gun, have been claimed by the sex as their own, we can hardly expect them to draw the line at the violoncello—no, nor yet at the double bass, flute, or even the drums and trumpet ! The adoption of the violin by women has given an enormous impulse to the violin trade; and if it has in some cases aggravated the sufferings of many middle-class families and ministered to the vanity of many silly and incompetent girls, we must also remember that it has provided rare and gifted women with a magical instrument for selfexpression and self-revelation, and dowered the modern concert-room with an entirely now and fascinating manifestation of the “ Eternal Feminine."

H. R. HAWEIS.

THE REVOLT IN ITALY.

MAY

AY 1898 will be remembered for a long time in Italy, and one

may wish that that eventful month may mark the turningpoint in political life of the new kingdom. The revolt was general, the explosion broke ont almost suddenly, but long was the period of preparation. “ Malcontento ” is quite a household word in Italy—and

. the Italians had more than one reason to be dissatisfied with their national government.

The rise in the price of bread, as a consequence of the HispanoAmerican war, was the immediate, but by no means the only, cause of the aprising which darkened the skies of sunny Italy for several days. The enormous taxation imposed upon a people yet young in its national life, in order to carry out a policy far too big for the financial means of the country; the failure in the attempt to establish a strong colony in the Red Sea ; the economic war with France; the scanty help Italy received from her allies in time of need; the political corruption, unchecked when not encouraged by those who stood at the helm of the State ; the impotence of the Chambers of Deputies to deal with the evil-doers as the claims of justice and the voice of the people required, all these evils have prepared a propitious ground for the agitators both of the radical and reactionary parties.

The Bread Riots began towards the end of April, and in a few days they assumed a very alarming aspect, especially in the small towns of the Neapolitan provinces, inhabited by people ordinarily pacific and law-abiding. The destruction of property was wanton and widespread, women careless of their lives leading the men to the assault. In many cases the riots soon came to an end; in others the immediate abolition of the octroi did not produce the desired effect.

To show how hard was the task of the local authorities I will point VOL. LXXIV.

H

out, as a fair instance, what happened at Naples. First, there was a demonstration against the daty on bread, which was promptly abolished. Then another demonstration took place against the price of bread, which was still too high, and the price was lowered to thirty-five cents per kilo—about threepence for a two-pound loaf. The people were pleased, but not the bakers, who at once decided to shut up all their bakeries. The Mayor wisely opened about forty municipal bakeries. The people had their bread, but the bakers were out of work ; hence a fourth riotous demonstration of all the workers. The Mayor was once more equal to the emergency, and told them, “You want work, very well. Go to your bakeries, make as much bread as you like, and, provided it is of the proper quality and properly baked, I will buy it from you and sell it to the people. "

The public peace at Naples was thus restored, but in the neighbouring villages the riots increased to a very alarming extent. In many cases the ferocity of the people was simply Kurdish. I will remember in their favour malo suades fame, but even hunger, in its most cruel form, cannot justify atrocious deeds of the following kind.

On May 1 a mob of about tbree thousand, mostly women, took possession of the little town of Minervino Murge, in the province of Bari. In less than three hours they ransacked and devastated all the public buildings—town hall, post office, telegraph office, savings' bank, tax-collector's office, octroi office and six private houses. The Under-Prefect of Barletta, informed of what was going on, sent there thirty soldiers and a few carabineers. They were, however, powerless to cope with the revolt, and were compelled at once to take shelter in the barracks, which were soon surrounded by the irritated mob. Meantime the house of the doctor, Signor Giuseppe Brandi, and the house and mill of Signor Barletta, were ransacked and ruined, after the massacre of the owners. Doctor Brandi faced the mob from the window of his upper room, and begged them, for mercy's sake, to go away, as his wife was ill, and any disturbance might kill her, as, in fact, it did.

One of the ringleaders answered the doctor with a scornfal and threatening grin, and with all his might tried to smash the door. The doctor seized a revolver and killed him on the spot. The house was at once invaded, the doctor was soon caught and cut to pieces with an axe, and the bed on which Signora Brandi was lying was set on fire. She contrived to get out of the flames, but soon after fell dead on the ground.

Signor Barletta was similarly situated. He, too, tried to appease the mob by giving them the keys of the mill. Take all the flour," he said, “but save my life and my wife's.” The mob shouted in reply, “A morte ! A morte!" Signor Barletta then took all he

« PreviousContinue »