Nineteenth-Century Music by Carl Dahlhaus, and: The Lost Chord: Essays on Victorian Music edited by Nicholas Temperley (review)
- Victorian Review
- Victorian Studies Association of Western Canada
- Volume 16, Number 2, Winter 1990
- pp. 61-67
- View Citation
- Additional Information
REVIEWS Carl Dahlhaus. Nineteenth-Century Music. Trans. J. Bradford Robinson. Berkeley and Los Angeles: U of California P, 1989. ? + 417. Orig. pub. Wiesbaden, 1980. $35.00 US (cloth). Nicholas Temperley, ed. The Lost Chord: Essays on Victorian Music. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1989. 180 + 90-min. audiocassette. $35.00 US (cloth). These two books, both scholarly in intent, could hardly differ more from one another: the late Carl Dahlhaus' s work is German, his Weltanschauung wholly continental, Temperley' s British/American, his concerns wholly Victorian. Thus the books ' implied audiences have little in common. Dahlhaus is organized by chapters which comprise an introduction and discussions of "watershed" periods from 1814-1830, 18301848 , 1848-1870, 1870-1889, and 1889-1914. Temperley 's collection is an often unsatisfactory revision of the FaU 1986 Victorian Studies, including an editor ' s introduction, seven essays on aspects of Victorian music, and a cassette which includes Victorian songs (e. g. BaUe), piano pieces (The Battle of Prague [c. 1788], a Mendelssohn Fantasia), six Ruskin songs, S. S. Wesley church music, and Somervell ' s Maud. LiteraUy and figuratively, Temperley ' s collection is much slighter than Dahlhaus ' s work, for the Indiana UP publication betrays many signs of haste and inattention. Temperley does give us Victorian music on cassette, thus effectively recreating the amateur (and, in view of the variable quality of most of the performances and of the audio engineering, I mean "amateur") atmosphere of the drawing room. In contrast, Dahlhaus 's book is heavily philosophical and aesthetic, assuming as it does intimate familiarity with (among many) E. T. A. Hoffmann, Schopenhauer, and Schlegel; Temperley 's collection includes an essay which bungles the history of the piano. Dahlhaus has a Glossary (the headings include "a cappella," "aria," "atonality," "bel canto," "cadence," and "NeapoUtan sixth") the headnote to which states, with arrestingly and unintentionally ironical misdirection, that the definitions "are limited to matters which the reader needs to know in order to understand this book" (395). But anyone who needs such glosses will not be capable of profiting from Nineteenth-Century Music. 62Victorian Review Never can any jacket blurb have been less true than that of the U of CaUfornia P translation of Dahlhaus: it claims that he "speaks to the general reader." Actual typical references are to "one of the post-Op. 59 string quartets" (10), which requires a reader who is informed about Beethoven's styUstic periods, and to (of Schumann's Piano Concerto ) "an andante version of the theme . . . interpolated as an episode before the development section" (141). Dahlhaus' s analysis, here as frequently elsewhere, assumes that the reader, while reading text can simultaneously "play" the music in her/his mind. Dahlhaus does not often print musical examples; we are expected to read him with our miniature scores in hand. Free of any musical example, he refers to "a submotive from the second theme [which] is isolated and manipulated in measure 73" (153) in the first movement of Schubert's Unfinished Symphony. Some musicians will remember these bars, but no general readers. Dahlhaus makes even more strenuous demands: an example is his analysis (61-62) of five sections of Act I of Rossini ' s L'assedio di Corinto which quotes not even a fragment of a score, a score which will be neither in the general reader ' s piano bench nor in some musicologists ' libraries. It catches the flavor of Dahlhaus ' s interpretation of this opera to observe that he makes offhand but stimulating comments ("as in every successful fugue, it is the relation between the principal and secondary voices in the second and third entrances that brings the form to life") as well as marvellously provocative remarks which would require another book for their development ("it is the librettist's job to create a disturbance on stage without changing the persons doing the singing"). The most striking problems of The Lost Chord are editorial. At random: as in the original issue of KS, sloppiness confuses the listed cassette contents with what is actually recorded on the end of Side 1 and the beginning of Side 2. Neither Professor Temperley nor Indiana UP ' s readers appear to have checked the table of contents against the...