MUSIC AND PEACE
AN ADDRESS BY
ETTORE MAZZOLENI, B.A., B.Mus.
Chairman: The President, Major F. L. Clouse
Thursday, December 19, 1947
MAJOR CLOUSE: Ladies and gentlemen of the Empire Club of Canada and ladies and gentlemen of our air audience. I want to say how pleased and how honoured we members of the Club feel today in having the ladies with us at our Christmas meeting. And I would like to pay a tribute to the Executive Committee of a few years ago who inaugurated this custom. I feel confident you will enjoy the excellent entertainment today and I hope you all may be with us again next year and in years to come.
And to the ladies and gentlemen listening in on the air, may I say that you, too, are most welcome and I only regret that you may not be present to enjoy this delicious Christmas luncheon with us. However, keep tuned to this station for I assure you a musical treat is in store for you.
This year the Toronto Conservatory of Music, a department of the U. of T., celebrates its Diamond Jubilee. Many of us may not realize that this is the largest school of music in the British Empire. Apart from the local students, whose numbers run into many thousands, nearly 25,000 students of music throughout the Dominion are examined each year by the Conservatory's travelling staff. We welcome today, as one of our honored guests, the Principal of this University of Music--Ettore Mazzoleni. Many of you have seen Mr. Mazzoleni conducting the symphony for he is also Associate Conductor of The Toronto Symphony Orchestra.
Mr. Mazzoleni was born in Switzerland--of Italian parents. He received the greater part of his musical education at Oxford University in England. For two years he was can the Opera Staff at the Royal College of Music and he was also collaborator with the great English composers--Vaughan Williams and Sir Adrian Voult.
Mr. Mazzoleni came to Canada in the late twenties, becoming a Member of the Faculty of Upper Canada College and for several years was associated with The Toronto Conservatory of Music, being appointed Principal last spring.
It is my pleasure to now introduce, Ettore Mazzoleni, B.A., B.Mus.
ETTORE MAZZOLENI: It is a great pleasure for me to speak today at the Christmas luncheon of the Empire Club. It gives me the opportunity of meeting many old friends; it gives me the opportunity of speaking to you as a serious musician at a time when music is all about us; and it gives me a very welcome opportunity of speaking to a Club that has shown a lively interest in almost every field explored by the mind and spirit of man, in politics--both domestic and international--in economics, in education, in science, and in the arts: although I am a little suspicious of the fact that you wait until your members are thoroughly disarmed by a large Christmas meal and the presence of the ladies before you introduce to them a musician!
It is now many months since the victory of the Allied forces brought to an end a long and devastating war that must hold up the development of those nations in its direct path by decades. In this ordeal of sudden shock and brutal violence the great Commonwealth of Nations whose heritage we so proudly share played a magnificent part. Today, in the face of new responsibilities and a changing pattern of life, we must be prepared to play a part no less important than that we played during the years of war.
The building of peace will not be an easy task.
Tyranny and oppression have been overthrown, but all about us is confusion and mistrust, chaos and hatred. There was a time, in the last century, when men seemed to assume that a state of peace was the normal condition among highly civilized people. They reasoned that the new weapons which had been invented since the discovery of gunpowder were at the disposal of the civilized, and that the uncivilized could only learn to use them at the cost of ceasing to be uncivilized. The reasoning never changed. But among the changes that came over the human mind in the 1900's was the realization that war is an everpresent danger throughout the entire world. A danger to civilization itself.
The building up of peace usually means the changing of frontiers, the setting up of new governments, and new national allegiances. In theory peace is made by agreement. In practice it seems to be made by disagreement among those powers or states which have agreed to take part in making the peace. The exit-doors of the peace-conferences are too plainly marked.
But these problems are the concern of politics.
I want to ask you just now to consider another problem--not politics, but art, or culture, or enlightenment, whatever you choose to call it.
There are other values than political and economic systems that serve to build the world and to build peace. These are spiritual values. And of these none is more important than culture. If we are to have a true peace, a peace based upon that freedom which is the best of all things in the life of man, then we must support only a policy which combines both political and cultural leadership.
In his address at the opening of the Berkshire Music Centre this summer; Serge Koussevitsky, the conductor of the Boston Symphony Ochestra, spoke with deep feeling of this problem. He said, "If we conceive culture as part of the spiritual life, then their dissociation becomes a great evil and is now intolerable. Just as a body is dead without the spirit, so is a political state dead-a lifeless organism-without the progressive forces of enlightenment and culture."
The day is fast coming when artists and other men of creative thought, who are commonly supposed to be outside the sphere of practical accomplishment, will be recognized again as a very necessary force in the development of a progressive society and the making of a permanent peace that has as its security not f ear but a common understanding among all men. There is one language which can speak to us all-the language of music. For that reason I suggest that we look at the present state of music in contemplation of, and preparation for these new responsibilities of a changing art in a fast changing world.
One fact about music today is obvious--there is a far greater quantity of music than at any other time. Its influence and its quality--and it is a commonplace that quantity does not mean quality--may be open to question. But the quantity is there, and is altogether remarkable.
Music is abroad. Music, which for so long belonged to the church and the privileged few who had the time and money for its enjoyment, has become more and more a part of the life of the people. It is fast becoming a truly democratic art.
Mechanical inventions, such as the radio and recording, have made the literature of music readily available to everyone--to the man-in-the-street, if he ever goes home--so that it is no longer a formal occasion confined to a hall.
But mechanical inventions are not alone responsible. Almost a century ago music became increasingly popular in central Europe with the industrial changes taking place. It was wisely fostered by industrial powers, so that the old traditions of music became a habit of the people. In England a similar growth of interest in music took place during the first decades of this century. A more swiftmoving growth, as you would expect, coming so many years after the other, it has continued while the movement in central Europe stagnated. In America the growth has been even more recent, but when it cane it came with the swiftness and enormity that are in keeping with all the legendary tales of the Americas. The depression-psychological and economic-which hit Europe after the first Great War was too much for its aging musical traditions. The depression which hit the Americas in '29 coincided, paradoxically enough, with the greatest period of musical development.
We cannot gauge the full possibilities of radio-in fact, there was a time when the authorities had not the slightest idea where they were going or what they were trying to do. (Many have still not found out.) There was at first an excess of music both good and bad-particularly bad-because the programme-makers had to assure themselves that whatever they gave the public would be intelligible to the lowest intelligence among listeners-in, and would not offend the religions, political, or moral principles of any single member of the communitya condition that must deprive any programme of life or colour.
Now, no one can be quite sure what music is all about, so it became the very stuff of radio.
But anything that is insipid is the worst of its kind, particularly music, and when it is linked with cheap sentiment and cheap morality it can reach the lowest depths of bad taste. And in this machine-made age we have had more than our fair share of bad taste.
This, however, is only the beginning of the story.
At first it was feared that radio might empty the concert-halls, even close them. Quite the contrary. Radio brought music to countless listeners who had known nothing of it. Out of this vast audience came many asking for more. Dissatisfied with what they were getting, or made curious, they sought it in the concert-hall-and a new audience was born.
The musically-minded began by being indifferent, even scornful-Sir Thomas Beecham once asked forgiveness for the millions of fools who thought the noise they heard on the radio was music--and they continued to attend the public and private concerts they had always attended, together with the new audience. What is more, their own interests, both critical and personal, were even more stimulated by the range of experience offered by radio.
Commercialism will doubtless do as much good for music and the arts as it threatened at one time to do harm. But the means may sometimes be ludicrous.
One striking feature of the last few years has been the sponsoring of the Metropolitan Opera and the major symphony orchestras of this continent by industrial corporations. This is significant in that it suggests that big business has awakened to the fact that the public has reached the state where it can take symphonic music by itself without any sugar-coating. It may be argued that these programmes are mere window-dressing and rivalry, and that the large' industrial corporations have money to spend--but now that they are spending it on music they must believe that a large part of the public wants, enjoys, and will listen to good music. The industrial corporation is fast becoming the patron of the arts.
Music, of course, belongs to two sorts of people-the makers and the listeners.
One curious thing about this spread of music has been the fact that while in most ways it was admirable for the public-although if music is to be a vital art we must be makers and not listeners only or there will soon come a time when there will be no one to listen to--the musicians themselves suffered. The greater the demand for music; the less the services of the musician were required. A few years ago the demand for players in England became so great that the pernicious substitute system came into being. Since that time radio, recording, and the movie industry have curiously affected the musician, so that either he has too much to do (in which case he cannot possibly enjoy what he is doing, and the performance suffers) or he has too little to do (in which case he cannot visibly enjoy what he is doing because he is underfed and disgruntled.)
This is an age of competence and increased skill. In music nothing is more striking than the rise in the general standard of musical technique. The very nature and demands of modern music are so remarkable as to prove this. For one good pupil fifty years ago, there must be a hundred better today. There can be no question, for example, of the astonishing increase in piano-technique--partly the result of the work of great teachers and pioneers in analysing technique and the methods of teaching. It would be idle to make any comment upon the improvement in orchestral playing-nothing could better illustrate this than the growth of school orchestras. In the States, which have been most progressive in this work, it would be difficult to find any High School of any pretensions that did not have its own fairly complete orchestra as well as band. The singing of good songs is no longer a specialized task for those whose former supreme achievement was the popular ballad with its one top note. This is reflected not only in the concert-hall but also in the home. Most homes have a piano--often a relic of the Victorian era when piano-playing was a young lady's drawing-room accomplishment, or an heirloom of the later era when prosperity made the piano a necessary part of the furniture. There was a time when music in the home was very nearly the curse of the age. I can remember evenings of dismal ballads and so-called sacred music when the drawing-room was filled with Lost Chords and Holy Cities, and a young lady by the name of Maud was nightly invited to come into the garden no matter what the hour or weather. It was a virtue then to be profoundly dismal.
Much of this development, of course, is the outcome of the great change in the attitude of education to music. Education has been effectively bitten by the musical bug, and there is no curing the bite. Music no longer belongs to little sister; it is no longer a grim alternative to sport; it is no longer the last resort of the dull-witted. Well-taught, music is a pleasure drawn from the pupil, not pumped into him.
Music may occasionally be taken for granted. It can never again be ignored.
I have sketched for you a little of the background against which those of us who have any part in the direction which will be followed in the art of music in the next few years must work. The future belongs to youth.
When the feudalistic and ecclesiastic systems of the Middle Ages broke down they were succeeded by a revolt, especially of youth, and out of that revolt and a sense of new-born freedom arose a golden age of art and education. Today the aggressive nationalism that found its logical outcome in the bitterness and tragedy of two great wars is slowly being replaced with international understanding. Youth is ready to rebel again. There is a new sense of freedom, a new force in life and thought that must be wisely guided. All plans for peace that have as their goal a public common good founded upon the liberty, equality, and dignity of man acknowledge the fact that education and culture must show the way. Peace and goodwill among men will result only where there is understanding and unity. And there is no greater element of unity than music. More than any other art it has the force, the power to cross barriers and to speak a language common to all. By its very nature it can sustain those values without which the world can so swiftly decline to a state of barbarism. Political and economic reforms may achieve the peace-without the spiritual values they cannot sustain it.