chapter  XVI
18 Pages

THE RUSSIAN SCHOOL

ONE of the most important differences between the music of the nineteenth century and that of all its predecessors consists in the emergence for the first time of specifically national idioms, hitherto confined to popular or folk-music. Racial differences of outlook' and mentality had, of course, always existed to as great an extent in music as in any other sphere of activity_ In spirit Morley is as English, Jannequin as French, Schutz as German, as any subsequent composers, but the fact remains that they were content for the most part to express their racially coloured thoughts in a universal, cosmopolitan idiom which, like Latin in the Middle Ages, was regarded as the only possible vehicle of expression for the highest order of musical conceptions. Up to the end of the eighteenth century, from Lisbon to St. Petersburg, from London to Palermo, one uniform musical speech prevailed, and the same composers were appreciated throughout the civilized world without national distinctions or reservations. Even when folk-songs or dances were deliberately employed as the thematic basis of compositions, as in the symphonies of Haydn or in the Rasoumoffsky quartets of Beethoven, no attempt was made to present them in such a way as to draw attention to their origin or to emphasize their idiomatic peculiarities in any way; they were, on the contrary, translated, as it were, into the current international idioms, and treated in exactly the same way as any other subjects.