Review of "The Music Lover"
"The Music Lover," reviewed below by Professor Spalding, is by Dr. Henry Van Dyke, who has recently been nominated by President Eliot as lecturer in France for the coming year. Dr. Van Dyke has been professor of English literature at Princeton since 1900.
THE MUSIC LOVER. By Henry Van Dyke h.'94. Moffat, Yard & Co.
In "The Music Lover" Henry Van Dyke describes with his usual felicity of style the tranquilizing and uplifting effect made upon a toil-worn man of the world by a performance of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony in C minor. Subjective interpretations of musical masterpieces are fraught with danger, as the same music may mean one thing to one hearer and something else to another. But Mr. Van Dyke has shown discretion in selecting for his possibly too rhapsodic treatment a work of Beethoven which is intensely subjective and even, as far as absolute music can be, definitely autobiographic. It is well known that the Fifth Symphony was composed at a time when Beethoven was most unhappy because of the breaking off of his engagement to a beautiful young girl, and was consequently pouring out his grief and his despair in impassioned music. In fact, the first movement of this symphony is literally a musical expression of the struggle between Fate and the human soul. But Beethoven's wonderful music is never narrowly personal. Its great influence with the public the world over comes from the fact that Beethoven, through his own intensity and depth of feeling, succeeds in voicing the sorrows, the aspirations, and the unsatisfied ideals of all humanity. This moving influence of Beethoven's marvelous symphony is eloquently described in this sketch. Mr. Van Dyke's correct use of technical language is also to be warmly commended. Music is so much an art of emotion, so vague and ovanescent, that even the best writers at times indulge in flowery language and use technical and aesthetic terms in a way which alienates the professional musician and misleads the layman. "The Music Lover" is singularly free from this kind of writing and may he cordially recommended as a very charming and poetic interpretation of perhaps the greatest masterpiece for orchestra ever composed.