PITTING AMERICAN VIOLIN WORKS
AGAINST THE FOREIGN PRODUCT
Published in Musical America
October 14, 1911
What's in a name? And yet, a name may make a difference, the fair Juliet to the contrary notwithstanding. If our motor boat hadn't its ridiculous name, we should not get half the fun out of it that we do. “Fiddle-dee-dee” causes a smile and often raises a good-natured “halloo” in the boats that we pass at close range. We seem to carry a talisman with us in our name and our “fiddler” ensign, that arouses a spontaneous spirit of good-will and good-fellowship wherever we speed our little craft. There is a free masonry anyway among water-folk that is good to contemplate. It matters not in the least if one's engine breaks down--there are a dozen offers of help in no time--and if one finds a sailor becalmed or his rudder disabled it is an exhilarating adventure to tow him into port, even though one gets home late to supper in consequence.
There is music in the sea, too. I had never noticed that the sea speaks in diatonic intervals, until Edwin Grasse, the blind composer-violinist, drew my attention to the curious effect. The surf ripples forward and back in diatonic scales--unlike the wind, which manifests itself chromatically. By the way, Mr. Grasse has written a fascinating and clever study called Wellenspiel (will some one suggest an adequate English equivalent?) which I shall play this Winter.
I have found several really good program pieces by American composers, which I shall use on most of my forthcoming recital programs. Arthur Bergh's mellow “Musings,” Harry Gilbert's vivacious Scherzo, W. H. Humiston's brisk and concise “Suite” are all worth playing. Several other good things are awaiting their turn--indeed the signs are most hopeful for a good repertoire of American violin compositions; compositions that one can pit against the foreign product on one and the same program.
That the times are propitious musically is evidenced by the interesting material that Musical America printed right through the so-called dull season. My felicitations!