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English and Foreign Cathedral Services

W. E. Dickson
1879 The Musical Times and Singing Class Circular  
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more » ... ellini " (Berlioz) * Pianoforte Soli (Bach, Liszt). Ischl.-Concert of Herren H. Franke and A. Grunfeld (August 25): Sonata for Pianoforte and Violin (Schumann); Vlolin Concerto, Andante and Finale (Mendelssohn); Fantaisie-Caprice for Violin (Vieuxtemps) * Pianoforte Solos ( Bach, Mozart, Schumann, Raff, Chopin); Fantasia on Themes, by Wagner (Grunfeld). from " Benvenuto Cellini " (Berlioz) * Pianoforte Soli (Bach, Liszt). Ischl.-Concert of Herren H. Franke and A. Grunfeld (August 25): Sonata for Pianoforte and Violin (Schumann); Vlolin Concerto, Andante and Finale (Mendelssohn); Fantaisie-Caprice for Violin (Vieuxtemps) * Pianoforte Solos ( Bach, Mozart, Schumann, Raff, Chopin); Fantasia on Themes, by Wagner (Grunfeld). THE MUSICAL TIMES. OCTOBER I, I879. THE MUSICAL TIMES. OCTOBER I, I879. 543 543 in the antiphonal chanting of the Psalms, but I think he would advise us most strongly to mass our two choirs into one when the antiphonal music is over. We might not care to discuss with our foreign friend the many diEculties which our intense English conservatism interposes in the way of such a change, but he would have done a good work if, after his departure, we discussed them among ourselves with a view to overcoming them-and if this letter should contribute towards a full and careful consideration of this subject by church musicians of eminence and learning, I shall indeed very heartily rejoice. Much of the excellence of the vocal performance this morning at St. Stephen's was doubtless due to the position of the vocalists in a compact group clustered around their master. No wonder that les nances were so delicate]y given, when boys and men were alike within the influence of the signs. perceptible by themselves alone, which an experienced conductor knows so well how to give. At home we augment greatly the difficulty of securing the accurate performance of arduous compositions by leaving the divided choir where it has been placed during the antiphonal Psalms, and by denying to it the immense advarItage of a conductor. With us the conductor is at his organ, out of sight, often many feet above the pavement of the church, and several yards from the choir. That little boys should sing steadily and well under such circumstances, especially in solo passages, is to myself a matter for svonder. If all our larger anthems and all the greater modern settings of the Te Deum laudamus and the other noble hymns of the church could be sung by the choir grouped in the nave. or in the chancel east of the stails, near to a small but adequate organ, played by an assistant, the whole conducted by the principal organist, standing among the singers and controlling the player, a vast improvement would be the result. And then we should have room for an orchestra ! Then we might hope that the enthusiasts, who are found in most cathedral cities, would bring together their violins, celli, and contrabassi, and diligently practise the orchestral church music which we already possess, and to which additions would doubtless soon be made by the unerring operation of the law of supply and demand; and every-Sunday in the year, or at any rate on frequently recurring occasions, music might be reverently oSered as an adornment of our worship in a form not less complete and entire than that which we deem essential in the pursuit of our own gratification. One point more. I think the stranger from Vienna would criticise severely our retention of the falsetto voice. A solo, especially, by an adult counter-tenor, would be to him little short of abominable. This may, indeed, be a matter of taste; with those who so regard it, the old proverb bids us avoid disputation. But all, I think, must concede that we should greatly increase the power, and improve the balance, of our English choirs by throwing the svhole strength of our men into the legitimate adult male parts, the tenor and bass, and by dividing the boys between the two upper parts. The change of system would not be unattended with formidable difficultiesmuch of the music which still holds its place in our services must be consigned to oblivion, or republished with extensive modification of inner parts-the choirmaster's work with the boys would at first be largely increased, and he must not shrink from the assiduous drllling of the youthful alti in the art of vocalisation from day to day and from year to year: but, let the change be once made, not in one cathedral only, but in all, not timidly and by way of experiment, but with bold and resolute decision founded on the deliberate advice of sound professional musicians, men who have at heart the progress of true musical art in England, and especially its consecration to the highest of all purposes-let the change be boldly made, I say, and in a very few years, when the peculiar effect of the falsetto voice, which has many admirers, has been forgotten in English churches, the authors of that change vvill be remembered with gratitude.-I am, Sir, your faithful servant, W. E. DICKSON, Precentor of Ely. Vienna, Sept. 7, I879. P.S.-Since writing the above, I have attended another very noble service, with an augmented orchestra, including tromboni and timpani. Against this instrumental force,
doi:10.2307/3356795 fatcat:4db3novxzbhfveistdpjdnphfe