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The German Classics of The Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Vol. VIII by Various

Part 9 out of 9

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Whether our grandchildren will laugh at us because we saw thus and not
otherwise need not disturb our peace of mind, for no present has any
kind of guarantee that it will not be laughed at by the immediate
future.

* * * * *

THE MUSICAL EAR[15] (1852)

By W.X. RIEHL

TRANSLATED BY FRANCES H. KING

The North German pitch differs in general from the South German--I mean
the orchestral pitch.

The Viennese pitch is the highest in Germany. They go still higher,
however, in St. Petersburg; the pitch in which they play on the Neva is
the highest in the whole of Europe. The climax of the European
concert-pitch of the present day may be represented in its three
principal degrees by the orchestral tone of the three capitals--Paris,
Vienna, St. Petersburg--ascending from the lowest pitch to the highest.
There is no German concert-pitch, but there are dozens of different
German concert-pitches--a Viennese, a Berlin, a Dresden, a Frankfurt
pitch, etc., so that in the light of such distinctions even the
above-mentioned division into northern and southern tone appears like a
very general hypothesis. The Parisian pitch and the French pitch, on the
contrary, are accepted without caviling as synonymous.[16] Italy, on the
other hand, is also without a uniform pitch; as early as a hundred years
ago a distinction was made there between the Roman, the Venetian, the
Lombard pitch, ascending from the lower to the higher. It may therefore
be said that in Rome they play approximately in the Parisian pitch, in
upper Italy in the Viennese and St. Petersburg pitch. I am not indulging
in any political metaphors, but in sober musical truth.

Is it possible, however, that this variety of musical tone, the
historical roots of which extend back so far, may be something arbitrary
and accidental? The very usage of the German language lends a
significant double meaning to the word _Stimmung_ (pitch, tone, mood).
It stamps with the same name, on the one hand, the given basis upon
which are built up the harmonies of music and, on the other, the
harmonies of emotional life.

It is one of the most fascinating, but at the same time most difficult
tasks of the history of culture to catch, as it were, the personal
emotions, the pitch upon which each generation is based, in distinction
from the perception of the outspoken deeds and thoughts of the age.

This task would be incapable of solution if the history of art did not
furnish us a key to it. I have already shown in the preceding essay on
the _Eye for Natural Scenery_, that the question does not concern the
historical appreciation of the work of art as such, so much as the
investigation of the special manner in which a generation has perceived
and enjoyed the beautiful. And indeed this is more easily discerned in
the case of the most fluid, subjective species of the beautiful, in
natural beauty, than in the more objective artistic beauty.

In art, however, musical beauty comes closest to natural beauty, since
it is in its turn the most subjective, the most general in its
expression, and the most versatile in its forms. The phenomenon, so
important from the point of the history of culture, namely, that each
age sees with its own eyes and hears with its own ears, can therefore
nowhere be more sharply observed than in the conception of natural
beauty and in the fundamental forms of musical expression which happen
to prevail for the time being. I will speak, therefore, of these
fundamental forms and not of musical works of art, for by means of what
one might call, by way of comparison, musical natural beauty, by means
of the prototypes of the high or low tones, of tone-color, of time, of
rhythm, etc., we can test most clearly the unconscious transformation
of the musical ear in contrast to the conscious development of artistic
taste.

Let us compare the orchestral pitch of the eighteenth with that of the
nineteenth century. As the peoples of Europe became more passionate and
agitated in public and in private life, and as our whole intellectual
life rose to a higher level, our orchestral tone was keyed up higher. In
1739 Euler reckoned the vibrations of the great eight-foot C to be one
hundred and eighteen to the second. In 1776, Marpurg, for the same tone,
gives one hundred and twenty-five vibrations. Chladni, in the year 1802,
calculated its vibrations as a hundred and twenty-eight, twenty years
later as a hundred and thirty-six to a hundred and thirty-eight to the
second. And since then we have, no doubt, gone noticeably higher!

We find, then, that the tone has risen most emphatically since the
appearance of the Romanticists; in the days of the Classical School it
remained the same for the greatest length of time. The latter was the
period of the most moderate artistic expression. At present, on the
contrary, we thirst for shriller and shriller tones, higher and higher
singing. Even though every violin treble-string snaps and every singer's
throat becomes exhausted before its time, we go on forcing the tone
higher from decade to decade.

The entirely reversed relation of church-pitch to concert-pitch, which
has taken place in the course of time, appears noteworthy in this
connection. Even in the eighteenth century, church-pitch was much higher
than concert-pitch, and surely for a reason far deeper than the mere
wish to save tin on the organ pipes. For the old masters used church
music for the portrayal of strong emotions, and on this account they
needed the shriller pitch. Bach is much more shrilly and
characteristically dramatic in his church cantatas than contemporary
masters of Italian opera. Chamber and theatrical music, for which the
lower, milder, more agreeable orchestral tone was chosen, was played,
for the most part, only with the semblance of emotion. When Gluck and
Mozart transported tragedy from the church to the stage and concert
hall, concert-pitch naturally had to assume the role of church-pitch,
and thus the former has in fact gradually become higher than the latter.

There is still another fact connected with this. Haendel's operas seem to
us concert-like; the arias of Bach's church cantatas often appear
operatic. Many numbers of these cantatas would disturb us today in
church; on the other hand we consider them exquisite religious parlor
music--which they were far from being in Bach's day. We are no longer
such a vehemently excitable generation religiously as to be able to
endure Bach's music to its full extent in church; on the other hand, as
individuals, in the family, in society we are infinitely more vehemently
excitable and much higher tuned spiritually as well than were those of
the eighteenth century; we want Bach in the concert hall and in the
parlor. The pious and yet forcible leader of St. Thomas' Choir has been
made a parlor musician by us and for us--but for his own generation he
was not one.

In the last hundred years the compass of pitch of almost all instruments
has been considerably enlarged in the treble. The high registers in
which every ordinary violinist must be able to play nowadays would in
those days have seemed too break-neck for the foremost virtuosos. Men
themselves were not tuned high enough to take pleasure in such poignant
chirping. The flute of the seventeenth century was a fourth lower than
that of the eighteenth. In the flute and the piccolo of the nineteenth
century we have again risen a third, yes, an entire octave above the
eighteenth century! Our great-grandfathers called the bass flute _flauto
d'amore_, the alto oboe, _oboe d'amore_, a bass viol, _viola d'amore_,
because their ear found preferably in the deep middle tones the
character of the tender, the sweet, and the languishing. Now we can
scarcely play on the violin or wind instrument a love melody which does
not rise two or three octaves above the normal.

The standard Italian song-composers of the first half of the last
century were especially fond of using the middle register for tones
expressive of peculiarly dramatic pathos, as well as for powerful final
passages of arias. Our differently tuned ear demands that these tones of
passion shall, as a rule, be as high as possible. The alto voice as a
solo voice has almost entirely disappeared from the operas in which it
formerly played so conspicuous a part. The elevated tone of our whole
inner man has deprived us of any ear for the alto.

In any case we have here reached an extreme which is contrary to the
very construction of the human vocal organs. Scarcely is moderate and
natural compass of tone still permitted, even in a song. In every age
the song-composer had been allowed to construct his melodies out of the
fewest possible tones. While the elder Bach in his arias often chases
the human voice in the most ruthless manner from one extreme to the
other, his sons and pupils in their little German songs confine
themselves to the most modest compass. Most of the later composers
proceeded in the same way up to the time of the Romanticists; then the
bonds were snapped, even in this respect. Schubert, on the one hand,
could compose the most moderate songs, on the other, the most
immoderate. It often seems (and this is also the case with Beethoven)
that his fantasy rebelled against the fact that a curb was placed upon
it by the natural limitation of the human voice.

This natural limitation, however, is once for all not to be done away
with, and it is ignored only at the expense of feasibility. Some later
Romanticists, therefore, such as Spohr and Mendelssohn, came back
immediately to the comfortable middle register as the real vocal
register of song. The thirst for shrill sounds had made men entirely
forget that a song must be easy to sing just because it must always be
sung suggestively and never be delivered with full dramatic execution.
Do not our singers, who since Schubert's time are so fond of making a
song a dramatic scene, feel how ridiculous it would be if a reader
should declaim a song at the top of his voice like the dialogue of a
drama?

In the invaluable privilege of writing for a moderate compass, a
song-composer, almost alone of all composers, is provided with a means
of reacting gradually upon instrumental music and of tuning anew the ear
of our generation, so that it shall no longer find satisfaction in the
shrill tones of extreme voice registers and the euphony of strong,
easily and comfortably attained middle tones shall again be universally
perceived. At the present moment our instrumental art has, in this
particular, fallen under the tyranny of piano manufacturers and makers
of wind instruments. When the keyboard of the grand piano has been made
longer by a few keys, the composers think they are remaining "behind the
times" if they do not immediately introduce these new high treble tones
into their next work, and when the wind instruments have been enriched
by several new valves and regulators the scores immediately grow in
proportion to these keys and pistons. But does art feel no shame at
having thus fallen under the dominion of trade!

The ear of the eighteenth century preferred human voices whose _timbre_
approached closest to the violin, the oboe or the 'cello, and considered
that such were peculiarly fitted for lyric and dramatic expression. The
eunuch sings as if he had an oboe in his throat; it is much too harsh
and lacking in brilliancy for our ear, which values incomparably higher
the more brilliant, clearer _timbre_, corresponding to the tone of the
flute, clarinet, or horn. The favorite _timbre_ of the eighteenth
century compares with that of the nineteenth as dull oxidized gold does
with that brightly polished. The period of the Romanticists marks here
too the turning-point of taste; Beethoven completed the emancipation of
the above-mentioned wind instruments in the symphony. The modern
treatment of the piano with the introduction of the perfect chord
accelerated its victory at the same time. It worked favorably for the
external brilliancy of tone of this instrument, while gradually closing
the ears of the dilettante and the musician to the charms of a simple
but characteristic management of the voice in accordance with the rules
of counterpoint. Thus the layman nowadays has seldom an ear for the
subtleties of the string quartet, whereas, on the other hand, our
great-grandfathers would indubitably have run away from the sound of our
brass bands and military music. The earlier symphonies, since they were
essentially intended to bring out the effects of the stringed
instruments, now seem like darkened pictures. Yet the symphonies have
certainly remained unchanged; only our ear has grown dull so far as
comprehension of the tone-color of the string quartet is concerned. The
same full orchestra, which in those works sounded so overpoweringly
imposing seventy years ago, now sounds to us simply powerful. In such
symphonies, in order to sharpen our ears, which have become dulled in
this respect, we have arrived at the strange necessity of doubling the
parts of the stringed instruments in a simple wind instrument
_ensemble_, so as to attain the same effect which old masters attained
with a simple distribution of the string parts.

The characterization of musical keys is very strange. In different ages
an entirely different capacity of expression, often an exactly opposite
color, has been attributed to each separate key. In the eighteenth
century G-major was still a brilliant, ingratiating, voluptuous
key--indeed, in the seventeenth century, Athanasius Kircher goes so far
as to call it _tonum voluptuosum_. We, on the contrary, consider G-major
particularly modest, naive, harmless, faintly-colored, simple, even
trivial. Aristotle ascribes to the Dorian key, which corresponds
approximately to our D-minor, the expression of dignity and constancy;
five hundred years later Athaenaeus also calls this key manly,
magnificent, majestic. D-minor, therefore, had for the ear of the
ancient world about the same character that C-major has for us. That is
indeed a jump _a dorio ad phrygium_.

What, however, was for the ancients not proverbially, but literally, a
jump _a dorio ad phrygium_--namely, the contrast between D-minor and
E-minor--is for us no longer such a very astonishing antithesis. In the
seventeenth century Prinz finds the same Dorian key--which for Aristotle
bore the stamp of dignity and constancy--as D-minor, not only "grave"
but also "lively and joyous, reverent and temperate." This key conveys
to Kircher's ear the impression of strength and energy. For Matheson it
possesses "a pious, quiet, large, agreeable and contented quality,"
which encourages devotion and peace of mind, and, for that matter, may
also be employed to express pleasure. On the other hand, since Ch. P.
Schubert's theoretical procedure and since the use Gluck and Mozart have
made of D-minor in dramatic practice, the modern esthetic critic finds
the stamp of womanly melancholy, dark brooding, deep anxiety, in the
selfsame key which for a former age was the _tonus primus_, the one
particularly expressive of manly dignity and strength. And, to cap the
climax, the ear of the musical Romanticist of our day has become quite
accustomed also to hear in D-minor devilish rage and revengeful fury, as
well as all sorts of demoniacal terror and dreadful, midnight, musical
vampirism, as, for example, we find the Queen of Night giving vent in
D-minor to the "hellish revenge" which boils in her heart, and in the
_Freischuetz_ hell triumphs in D-minor. In the seventeenth century,
Sethus Calvisius, speaking of C-major, the Ionian key, says it was
formerly a favorite key for love songs and therefore had acquired the
reputation of being a somewhat wanton and lewd melody; in his day, on
the contrary, it resounded clear, warlike, and was used to lead the
warriors in battle. The victoriously joyful battle hymn of the
Protestant church, "A mighty fortress is our God," is therefore in the
Ionian key. Calvisius himself is, however, puzzled at this incredible
transformation in the conception of the selfsame thing, and adds that
one is almost inclined to suspect that what is now known as the Ionian
key was formerly called the Phrygian, and _vice versa_. The fact is,
however, that the names have not changed--it is the ear which has
changed. If before Calvisius C-major was the erotic key, in the
seventeenth century G-major was considered so; in the eighteenth, on the
contrary, when love poetry jumps from the merry and playful over to the
sentimental, the musical ear likewise altered accordingly, and even
before the time of Werther and Siegwart the languishing, gently
melancholy G-minor was the fashionable tone, for the erotic Matheson,
indeed, even goes so far as to declare that it is the "most beautiful of
tones"--an opinion which is certainly characteristic of the state of
nerves of the world of culture at that day. We have outgrown this
tearful, tender love melody and now consider A-major to be a key
especially appropriate for the love song; and already we find Don Juan
declaring his love to Zerlina in A-major.

Since the days of the Romanticists, since Beethoven, our ear, in the
conception of the keys also, has decidedly turned away from the more
simple and natural toward the more eccentric. In the keys C-, G-, D-,
F-, B-and E-flat major the eighteenth century still found characteristic
peculiarities which we are scarcely able to hear at present; to the
over-irritated modern ear these simple keys sound flat, colorless, and
empty; instead, we have dug our way deeper and deeper among the
out-of-the-way keys, and melodies which our fathers made use of only to
produce the rarest and strongest emotions have already become the daily
bread of our composers.

One can, in the end, escape from this chaos of differing ears only if
one accedes to the opinion of old Quantz, the flute teacher of Frederick
the Great, who, after an exhaustive argument for and against, comes to
the conclusion that in theory nothing can be definitely decided
concerning the characters of the keys; in practice, however, the
composer is sure to feel that everything does not sound equally well in
all keys and therefore must decide each individual case separately, in
conformity with his artistic ear and instinct; I will merely add--also
in conformity with the ear of his time. For Quantz, by declining to make
a theoretical decision, shows that his ear had fallen captive to the
Italian musical school which strove not so much to hear the
characteristic in music as the simply beautiful, and, indifferent to the
prevailing lively controversy over the keys, composed its melodies as
was most convenient for the voice of the singer and the fingers of the
accompanist.

In the first half of the eighteenth century people still possessed a
very keen ear for dance music. The great majority of the dance melodies
of that time are moderately animated. To our modern ear and pulse-beat,
on the contrary, slow dance music seems to be a contradiction in itself;
a melody which in those days inspired people and started their feet to
dancing would now lull us to sleep. We desire stormily exciting dance
music; our ancestors gave the preference to the gayly stimulating kind.
How entirely differently constituted, how differently qualified
historically, politically, and socially, was that generation in whose
ears sounded the dance rhythm of the majestic _sarabande_, the solemnly
animated _entree, loure_, and _chaconne_, the delicate pastoral
_musette_, the staid gliding _siciliano_, and the measured, graceful
minuet, compared to a generation who dance the whirling waltz, the
stormy skipping _galop_, and the furious _cancan!_ In the opera the
tragic hero could dance a _sarabande_, and even in choral songs of the
church the ear of the eighteenth century could distinguish dance music.
Matheson made (1739) out of the choral song "When we are in dire
distress" a very danceable minuet; out of "How beautifully upon us
shines the morning star" a _gavotte_; out of "Lord Jesus Christ, thou
greatest gift" a _sarabande_; out of "Be joyful, my soul" a _burree_;
and finally out of "I call to Thee, Lord Jesus Christ" a _polonaise_, by
preserving the choral melodies note for note and only changing the
rhythm, just exactly in the same way as we now make marches, waltzes,
and polkas out of operatic arias. What colossal contrasts of the musical
ear in the course of a single century! In them is marked not only a
revolution of artistic development, but a much greater revolution of the
entire system of social ethics.

In several musical authors of the first decade of the last century we
find the remark that the fashionable taste in music had at that time
suddenly veered around; a short time before, the greatest effects had
been produced with the fastest possible tempo, the most animated rhythm
and figures; now slow, solemn music was the order of the day. In the
seventeenth century the twelve-eighths time was mainly employed for
dance music and, in general, for quick movements; in the beginning of
the eighteenth century, on the contrary, this species of time conveyed
to people's ears something quite different; it then became the
conventional measure for the soft, yearning _adagio_. Haendel, in his
lively _gigs_ and in his lingering pastoral love arias, gives us side by
side both conceptions of twelve-eighths time. In the second half of the
century this species of time, so much in vogue formerly, disappears
almost entirely. Generally speaking, in the period of Haydn the sense of
rhythm undergoes a simplifying process, and many species of time are
done away with altogether. There is, in this particular, no greater
contrast than Haydn and Sebastian Bach. Haydn generalizes the rhythms in
order to attain the most telling and universally comprehensible effect
possible; Bach individualizes them in order to get the most subtle
result possible. Haydn and his age were satisfied, in the main, with the
four-fourths and two-fourths, three-fourths and six-eighths rhythm; he
simplified all conceivable rhythmic forms in such a manner that it was
possible to express them in one of these four rhythms. Bach employs at
least three times as many species of time and is so hair-splitting in
his selections that it is more often a question of a refinement of
designation, of professional coquetting with the master secrets of
technique, than of any real difference in the matter. Only it must be
said that this, with him, springs from a feeling for the most delicate
shades of rhythm, such as has never existed since. The ear of the whole
Bach age had a much keener appreciation than ours, of the subtleties of
rhythm. At that time, in order to distinguish in the ball-room whether a
_courante_ or a minuet, whether a _gavotte_ or a _bourree_, were being
played, a keenness of rhythmic instinct was necessary, of which in truth
very little has survived in our young dancing people of today, who often
have to bethink themselves whether it is a waltz or a polka which the
music is beating in their ears with the rhythmic flail.

In the first decades of our century an ear for fine rhythmic _nuances_
of dance music scarcely existed any longer, while at the same time, in
concert-music, a greater wealth of rhythm was developing. Never were
people inspired by more rhythmically flat dance tunes than those of the
waltzes, schottisches, etc., which, for example, were danced in the
twenties. The ear for the fine shades of "danceableness" in musical
rhythm had at that time become absolutely dulled and had fallen asleep;
now it is perceptibly awakening once more. Our polkas, mazurkas, etc.,
based on the clearly defined original rhythm of the national
folk-dances, are promising harbingers of this. But is there not an
important hint for the historian of culture in the fact that the sense
for the finer dance rhythms began to die out at the time of the French
revolution and was most completely extinguished in the rough days of the
Napoleonic tempest and the decade immediately following, whereas in the
age of Louis XIV. the ear for the subtleties of dance rhythm appears to
have been most universally and most highly developed? And with the newly
awakening delight in the _rococo_ the modern ear is again becoming
perceptibly keener as regards the _nuances_ of dance rhythms.

We have grown quicker in tempo in exactly the same proportion as we have
become more elevated in pitch. We live twice as quickly as the
eighteenth century, and therefore our music is performed twice as
quickly. Most of our musicians can no longer play even a Haydn minuet
because they no longer have an ear or a pulse for the comfortable
moderate movement of these compositions. The calm, easy-going _andante_,
in which our classical age portrayed many of its clearest and purest
musical pictures, is a tempo absolutely tabooed by modern Romanticists.
_Comodo, comodamente_, i.e., comfortably, was, a hundred years ago, a
very favorite designation for the manner of performing individual
musical compositions. This superscription has quite disappeared from
circulation in our day, and we are much more apt to mount up to the
_furioso_ than to remain quietly behind with the _Comodo_. The old
masters also had a species of composition with the superscription
"_Furia_," but their fury was not to be taken very seriously, for the
_furia_ was a dance. The French in former times considered the very slow
trill to be especially beautiful. This kind of trill sounds to us
amateurishly ridiculous, while, on the contrary, the most admired rapid
trills of our best singers of today would probably have been called
"false shakes" a hundred and fifty years ago. Incidentally it may be
remarked that two hundred years ago people actually took pleasure in
trilling with the third instead of with the second; this, in the
eighteenth century, was only adhered to by bagpipers, while to our ear
it has become an absolute abomination and barbarity.

A hundred years ago it was considered very daring to perform an _adagio_
before the public in a concert hall. Contemporary musical authors utter
emphatic warnings against this experiment. A sustained, seriously
melancholy composition, dying away in quiet passion, was naturally just
as tiresome for the opulent merry company of those days as a fugue
composition is for the majority of our public. People sought to be
pleasantly incited by music, not thrillingly excited; therefore
comfortable slow tempo was demanded, but no _adagio_. If one did attempt
an _adagio_ in a gallant style of composition the player first had to
render it lively and amusing by all sorts of freely added adornments, by
means of passages and cadences, by improvised trills, _gruppettos_,
_pincements_, _battements_, _flattements_, _doubles_, etc. "In the
_adagio_," says Quantz, speaking of the mode of execution, "each note
must be, as it were, caressed." In the execution of our heroic _adagios_
it is rather required that each note shall be maltreated. From the
viewpoint of the historian of culture it is an important fact that the
first half of the eighteenth century had not yet acquired an ear for the
sentimental, feminine _adagio_. The _adagios_ of Bach and Haendel are all
of the masculine gender. And then what a remarkable alteration of the
musical ear took place, when, in the second half of the same century,
the soft-as-butter _adagios_ of the composers of the day all at once
caused every beautiful soul to melt with tender emotion! At the same
time that the Werther-Siegwart period starts in literature, the layman
acquired an ear for the _adagio_. How very slightly as yet has the
intimate concatenation between the development of music and that of
literature been investigated. The entire _Siegwart_ is indeed nothing
but a melting Pleyel _adagio_, translated into windy words. A
priceless passage in _Siegwart_ treats of the _adagio_. Siegwart and his
school friend are playing one evening an _adagio_ of Schwindl on the
violin: "And now they played so meltingly, so whimperingly and so
lamentingly, that their souls became soft as wax. They laid down their
violins, looked at one another with tears in their eyes, said nothing
but 'excellent'--and went to bed." The ear of the sentimental period,
which had so suddenly become sensitive to the _adagio_, has never been
so tersely branded! From that time on there was a regular debauch of
_adagio_ beatitude. In the time of Jean Paul they wrote as a maxim in
autograph albums that a bad man could not play an _adagio_, not to
mention other florid trash of this sort. Nevertheless, the moment when
we acquired an ear for the _adagio_ remains epoch-making in the history
of culture.

It is not strange that, in harmony, much that formed surprising
contrasts for our ancestors should, on the contrary, cause us very
little surprise, or rather should appear trivial to us.
[Illustration: A VILLAGE FUNERAL _From the Painting by Benjamin
Vautier_]

But that combinations of harmony should sound absolutely false and
nonsensical to the ear of one generation, which to the ear of another
age sounded beautiful and natural--this is a puzzling fact. The shrill
and unprepared dissonances which we now often consider very effective
were thought to be ear-splitting a hundred years ago. But let us go
still further. The awful succession of fourths in the diaphonies of
Guido of Arezzo, in the eleventh century, are so incongruous to our ear
that expert singers must exercise the utmost self-control in order even
to give utterance to such combinations of harmony--and yet they must
have sounded beautiful and natural to the medieval ear! Even dogs, which
listen quietly to modern third and sixth passages, begin to howl
lamentably if one plays before them on the violin the barbaric fourth
passages of the Guido diaphonies! This historically verified alternation
of the musical ear is indeed incomprehensible. It may serve, however, to
help us to divine how horribly medieval dogs would have howled if one
had been able to play to them--well, let us say, modulations from
_Tannhaeuser_.

The concert music of the first half of the eighteenth century was _in
its trivial entirety_ a "diversion of the mind and wit." In the same way
that we now write "popular musical text-books," they wrote, in that day,
directions "how a _galant homme_ could attain complete comprehension of
and taste in music," and Matheson says, not satirically, but in earnest:
"Formerly only two things were demanded of a composition, namely, melody
and harmony; but nowadays one would come off badly if one did not add
the third thing, namely, gallantry, which, however, can in no wise be
learned or set down in rules but is acquired only by good taste and
sound judgment. If one wished for an example, and were the reader
perhaps not gallant enough to understand what gallantry means in music,
it might not come amiss to use that of a dress, in which the cloth could
represent the so necessary harmony, the style; the suitable melody, and
then perhaps the embroidery might represent the gallantry."

With such tailor-like artistic taste prevalent in the gallant world of
that day, it is all the more astonishing that a solitary great spirit
like Sebastian Bach dared to develop his best thoughts and most peculiar
forms also in concert music. To be sure, as a natural consequence he had
to remain solitary.

The above mentioned music "for the diversion of the mind and wit" loved
short pieces, concise composition, minor measures, frequent repetitions
of the same thought. The intellectual ear grasps all that easily, and
amuses itself with the comparison of themes which are repeated in the
same or in changed forms. We, on the contrary, nearly always listen to
music with a dreamy, seldom with an intellectually comparative ear;
therefore modern music is much more influential, but also much more
dangerous, than the old. Musical pieces increase in length from year to
year, in order that, during the performance of them, one may have the
requisite time to dream. The composition has become infinitely more
complicated. Formerly four measures sufficed for a simple melodic
phrase, then six, then eight, now twelve and sixteen are hardly enough.
Worthy old Schicht called young Beethoven a musical pig when he first
learned to know the broad architectonic composition in the latter's
works. He listened to the man of the future with the ear of his own past
age, and in so far was quite right. To the people of the earlier period
of the eighteenth century Beethoven's works would certainly have seemed
unspeakably confused and bombastic, indeed like the products of musical
insanity and, moreover, swarming with the worst kind of stylistic and
grammatical blunders, as they did indeed appear at times even to the
older contemporaries of the master. Little by little, however, it has
grown to be rather risky to assert this fact, for every musical ass now
argues that _because_ his works please nobody, therefore he must be a
Beethoven.

The concise thoughts and phrases of the old masters are disturbing to
our dreamy musical ear--they are disquieting, they wake us up. Modern
musicians are very seldom able to perform impressively this all too
concise style of composition because they are no longer accustomed to
interchange _forte_ and _piano_ and melodic expression in such short
musical sentences; they only have ear and hand for very broad periods,
yard-long _fortes_, _pianos_ and _crescendos_. By far the greater part
of the older chamber-music of the eighteenth century has for our ear
something soberly rationalistic. Such imitative music in that age
compares with modern imitative music as the painted allegories of the
Pigtail age compare with the symbolical paintings of Kaulbach. Johann
Jacob Frohberger, court organist to the Emperor Ferdinand III.,
portrayed the dangers which he incurred crossing the Rhine in
an--_allemande_. To the ear of his contemporaries this portrayal sounded
absolutely plain and intelligible. Dietrich Buxtehude described the
nature of the planets in seven suites for the piano. The Hamburg
organist, Matthias Weckmann, set the sixty-third chapter of Isaiah to
music, and the then celebrated missionary to the Jews, Edzardi, bore him
witness that in the bass he had painted the Messiah as plainly as if he
had seen Him with his own eyes. We have no longer any ear for the
comprehension of such rationalistically allegorized music; indeed, we
can understand the ear which a former age possessed for it just as
little as we can understand the euphony which the ear of the Middle Ages
found in Guido's fourth-harmonies, which now even the dogs cannot put up
with.

I shall break off here with the presentation of my documents concerning
the alteration of the musical ear. If one tried to expatiate instead of
merely suggesting, the sketch would soon grow to be a book.

There is certainly a wonderful charm in conjuring up the spirit of past
ages from yellowed sheets of music, and, with the help of historical
study, in quiet cozy hours, to tune one's own ear anew, so that it may
once more hear in spirit the harmonies which were listened to by
generations long since deceased, just as they sounded to the ear of the
latter. There is a wonderful charm in searching after the most secret
instinctive tones of the emotional life of a bygone world, the natural
sounds of their souls, which are so entirely different from our own and
which would be lost for us--since picture and word stand too far
off--had they not found fixed expression in musical composition. The
character-picture of the last century, as portrayed by the historian of
culture, is lacking in that peculiar soulful lustre, that mysterious
little luminous point which shines upon the beholder from the eye of a
well-painted portrait, if such things as the knowledge of the eye for
natural scenery and the ear for music of the age are not included among
the features of the character-picture.

THE STRUGGLE OF THE ROCOCO WITH THE PIGTAIL[17]

By W.H. RIEHL

Translated by FRANCES H. KING

No time is so rich as the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in humorous
original types of a distinct _genre_, who built for themselves a world
apart. Everywhere in this period we meet with eccentrics by profession,
who with deliberate intention play, as the actors say, a "charged"
character-part. Their freaks and gambols were considered worthy to be
handed on to posterity in memoirs and books of anecdote, and whoever
wanted to be a gentleman was obliged, in some particulars at least, to
be a fool. The romantic adventures of the Middle Ages returned again in
a new costume, in less fantastic but far more humorous forms; Don
Quixote exchanged his helmet for a wig.

For the nineteenth century original types of this kind--where they still
happen to exist--are quite adventitious; for the seventeenth and
eighteenth centuries they were essential.

That capricious glorying in the most baroque personality possible, that
leaning toward individual caricature, inborn in the whole age, agrees
indeed very well with the arbitrarily fantastic taste of the Rococo
period--of the seventeenth century--but it stands in sharpest contrast
to the tendency of the Pigtail in the eighteenth. For to prune down the
natural growth, to sober down the fantastic, to make the luxurious poor,
emaciated, and uniform, and to weave life, art, and science on the same
loom of academic rule--all this is a characteristic which distinguishes
the Pigtail from the Rococo. This leaning toward individual caricature
nevertheless was maintained throughout the entire age of the Pigtail.
Indeed the very figure in the escutcheon of this period, the pigtail of
hair, grew out of the contradictory effort to restrain and render
uniform the natural luxuriance of the hair, and yet at the same time to
append to men's backs a pure freak, a little, absolutely original
scroll.

One might say, in short, one extreme challenged the other. When people
had banished the old professional clown from the stage, they felt the
necessity of running about themselves as clowns. The sober, enlightened
age protested against the old folk-tales with goblins, gnomes, elves,
and other kindred sprites, but, to make up for it, thousands of living
caricatures played in their own rooms the part of goblins and gnomes,
and lady shepherdesses appropriated the roles of the elves, nixies, and
nymphs.

This phenomenon, however, leads to facts of much deeper significance for
the history of culture. Let us first define the conceptions. The words
"rococo" and "pigtail" at first applied only to the plastic arts; we
are, however, gradually becoming accustomed to employ them to designate
the whole period of culture. That is right and commendable, for those
words have been taken from real life, from experience by the senses,
whereas, as a rule, we almost always fabricate lifeless scholastic terms
for such things.

The Rococo--in the plastic arts--presupposes the Renaissance, and I
believe it has even been called the Renaissance gone crazy. One might
say more justly that when the Renaissance got intoxicated it became the
Rococo. And if the Rococo is the drunken debauch of the Renaissance then
the Pigtail would be the seediness which follows after it.

But I must rein in my steed to a quieter pace and give a more scholastic
definition.

In the Renaissance, antique forms were born again, at first within and
beside the medieval, finally replacing them entirely. But the new age of
the sixteenth century had new needs, new senses, new passions, which
the antique could satisfy no more fully than could the Gothic. When a
person is no longer an old Roman he cannot quite build and fashion like
the old Romans. For this reason the antique was pulled and stretched and
fitted on the new man as well as could be managed. It is, however, just
as hard to adapt forms of art as to alter coats which have been cut out
for some one else's body. Only a few of the greatest architects and
sculptors succeeded for a little while in reconciling the inner
contradiction between the new life and the old art. No period of art had
so short a flourishing period as the genuine Renaissance; when it came
into the world it bore the birthmark of mannerism on its forehead.

This mannerism in its fulness and maturity is the Rococo. The burly men
and women bubbling over with life, in whom the stormy spirit of the age
of discovery and invention, of social revolution and religious
reformation, had not yet spent itself, finding the forms of the antique
too confined and yet not wishing to give them up, pulled and stretched
them, added to them scrolls and crossettes, nay, even shattered them to
fragments and then held fast to their ruins, indeed even went so far as
to find these caricatures and ruins more beautiful than the original.
The Rococo is violent in chains, insolent in constraint, drunken in
sobriety. It is the art of a rich, voluptuous, mystic, restless age.

Then came war and desolation, poverty and misery. Decadent men become
dry and pedantic. Oppression and tyranny without engender pedagogism
within. Thus the art of the Rococo became in the eighteenth century
poor, sober, squeezed into rules, deprived of every passionate impulse
which formerly might have reconciled us to its efflorescence. Mannerists
of genius can glitter alluringly, pedantic ones are deterringly boring.
The Pigtail is the dried-up Rococo, trimmed according to academic rules.
The luxurious Rococo flora, composed of all kinds of plants, poisonous
herbs, and weeds is presented to us, in the age of the Pigtail, as a
dead herbarium on blotting-paper.

The periods of the history of art are measured only in round numbers.
Thus the plastic artist may well say that the Renaissance belongs to the
sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the Baroque to the seventeenth, and
the Rococo and the Pigtail to the eighteenth. But for the historian of
culture, on the other hand, this calculation is a little too round.
German literature during a good part of the Rococo period already
belongs to the Pigtail, and it frees itself from the Pigtail in the very
densest Pigtail period of the architect and the sculptor. Palestrina and
Orlando di Lasso represent the aftermath of the Middle Ages in the
period of the Renaissance; Haendel and Bach, in the eighteenth century,
would have stood much closer to the Rococo than to the Pigtail, if they
had not been such original and peculiar geniuses that one cannot quite
classify them under these heads at all.

And yet the Rococo strikes a key-note which resounds through the whole
history of culture of the seventeenth century, just as the Pigtail does
through that of the eighteenth. On that account one need not give up the
general character of the period, and yet one can see how the Rococo
still presses forward in the Pigtail age. For in the battle of spirits
the columns do not advance with even step and even front like the
battalions on the parade ground, but here the file-leaders are often a
century in advance of the centre.

When, therefore, the history of art and morals of the previous century
shows us how at that time discordant spirits nevertheless wrestled with
one another on common ground, the excess of fantastic arbitrariness with
the most sober, universal pedantry, I call it simply a struggle of the
Rococo with the Pigtail.

Men despised real history and broke with it, to be subjected all the
more to the tyranny of historical ghosts. While the poets were fettered
in blind worship of the unities of Aristotle as of a fundamental
historical law, Houdart, without understanding a word of Greek,
corrected Homer, whose poetry did not seem to conform sufficiently to
rule.

In the characters of the great sovereigns of the eighteenth century,
who created new, stricter, more regular forms of government, the same
contrast appears between personal arbitrariness and devotion to this
universal law founded by them. Frederick the Great, Joseph II.,
Catherine of Russia, Maria Theresa, Charles XII., Peter the Great, could
none of them quite escape from the eccentricity which was considered the
necessary attribute of genius. They furnished material, therefore, for
countless anecdotes; by personal whims, freaks, and caprices they freed
themselves at times from the new spirit of social uniformity and
political legal equality. One could not reconcile such anecdote-business
with the picture of the antique and medieval hero-kings. In the last two
centuries, on the contrary, a king had to be witty if his greatness was
not to be considered tedious by the people of the Pigtail. The
scandalous chronicle of the Courts was at least as important as the
political chronicles of the kingdoms. Through his mother-wit and his
good jokes Old Fritz became a popular figure even among his adversaries,
and among the people outside of Prussia he still lives on today in the
anecdotes of his private life rather than in his princely actions. All
the kings and heroes of the Rococo age therefore are rather material for
the historical _genre_ picture of the novel and the comedy, than for the
genuine historical picture of the epic and the tragedy. One can fully
characterize them only by painting a hundred individual traits
expressive of their peculiarity and their caprice, and this is
incompatible with the great epic style. It is by no means accidental
that Scherenberg is unable to get away from the most arbitrary crabbed
versification in his historical _genre_ poems celebrating Frederick the
Great. The capricious heroes with pigtails do not tolerate smooth
verses. The favorite verse-form of their day, however, the stiff
alexandrine, characterizes the Pigtail exclusively, not the Rococo.

The small princes imitated the great, and what in the latter had been
original traits of character, became in the former amusing caricatures.
The one copies Peter the Great's wedding of dwarfs; the other the giant
guard of Frederick Wilhelm I. A prince with such a wonderful passion for
the bass viol as Duke Maurice of Saxe-Merseburg, who even laid a small
bass viol in the cradle of his new-born daughter, was possible only in
the eighteenth century. It may be that his subjects did not even call
him a fool, but only a man of princely whims. A prince who wields the
fiddle-bow instead of the sceptre and thereby keeps his hands "clean
from blood and ink atrocities," is a true representative of the Rococo,
not of the Pigtail. That Landgrave of Hesse who wished to create a
second Potsdam in Pirmasens, and was made blissful by the thought that
he could hold his court in the tobacco-reeking guard-room, who
celebrated the greatest triumph of his reign when he had his entire
grenadier regiment manoeuvre in the pitch-dark drill-hall without the
least disorder occurring in the ranks, he is a real Rococo figure, for
by his mad fancies he humorously destroyed the long pigtail appended to
his actions.

A prince in those days had to be a virtuoso of personality. At the same
time the etiquette of the Courts, which amounted to the most rigid
conformity to rules, formed a strange contradiction to the ambition of
the individual prince to shine as an original. It is this same
contradiction which also characterizes the art and science of that time,
the contradiction between academic conformity to rules and the most
arbitrary scroll work, the contradiction between the Pigtail and the
Rococo. An old hack-blade of a German prince of the Empire, finding at a
state dinner that a foreign prince had loaded too much meat upon his
plate, without more ado took away half of it, and this incident
admirably denotes the struggle of the age between arbitrariness and
etiquette. In order to revenge the slight offense committed against
etiquette by the prince, and guest, the host is guilty of a far greater
one, and his act was without doubt admired as a real stroke of genius.

In the highest circles of society people often believed they could not
amuse themselves better than by voluntarily submitting to the most
severe despotism of an external constraint, in order to allow the utmost
latitude to personal whims. Herein lies the colossal humor, the deep
self-mockery of the age. One of the most remarkable monuments of this
self-mockery was founded by a Margrave of Baireuth in the Hermitage near
Baireuth. In order to enjoy the pleasures of a sojourn in the country
the whole Court had to play at being monks and nuns. By silence and
solitude, by painfully shackling themselves with all sorts of wearisome
rules imitated from religious orders, the "hermits" had to prepare for
social pleasures and Court festivities. In order to enjoy Court life in
a new way people disguised it under the serious mask of the cloister;
people tortured and bored themselves in order to be merry, and buckled
social intercourse into a straitjacket, in order to give it the
appearance of an entirely new and free movement.

Even German Pietism, which in the beginning of the eighteenth century
gained so many adherents in the world of fashion, showed a piece of
Rococo in the Pigtail. It, too, was founded, in part, on a mixture of
the most subjective freedom and arbitrariness with the most rigid
constraint of a new religious order; therefore it often appeared
revolutionary, reformatory, and reactionary, all at the same time. They
burst the fetters of benumbed dogmatism and petrified church government
in order to inclose every free breath in new fetters. Even the last,
most involuntary act of life--dying--had to be performed systematically.
Pietistic literature of this time produced a work in four volumes which,
with the most minute detail, submits the last hours of fifty-one lately
departed persons to a sort of comparative anatomy, so that people could
learn from it, scholastically as it were, the best way to die. The
author of this work, a Count von Henkel, congratulates a friend, who had
been a witness of the "instructive death" of a certain Herr von Geusau,
in these words: "It was worth while to have heard a _Collegium
privatissimum_ on the art of dying like a Christian, especially from
such a _professore moribundo_."

The French Neo-Romanticists, who declare war in the most decided manner
against all literary traditions of the eighteenth century, nevertheless
absolutely revel in material furnished by that time; the gentlemen in
wigs have become their most profitable heroes, and in real life, as well
as in our novels, we can find no more modern way to decorate our parlors
and our furniture than by covering them with the scroll work of the
wig-age. This is only an apparent contradiction. It is not the Pigtail
but the Rococo that we are reviving so industriously, not the academic
constraint of rules, but the subjective arbitrariness, the spirit of the
original, freakish types. This untrammeled caprice of the Rococo age
seems to us as fresh as nature compared with the well planned symmetry
of our modern conditions, which no longer permit one to be a real fool,
and therefore do not allow any dazzling figures of romance to come to
the surface, just as the eighteenth century, on its part, no longer
engendered any real dramatic characters. If Rousseau, as soon as the
spirit of coarseness came over him, hurls the most spirited abuse at
everybody, if the peasant poet, Robert Burns, "a giant original man," as
Thomas Carlyle calls him, suddenly appearing among the puppets and
buffoons of the eighteenth century, is gaped at like a curiosity in the
salons of Edinburgh on account of his rough simple nature, then we too
can find delight in the natural strength which is hidden in the Pigtail
under the form of the Rococo. Even the historian of art, who grows
indignant over the extinction of the historic sense in that age, over
the vandalism with which an arrogant lack of understanding destroyed the
monuments of the Middle Ages--even he must, at the same time, admire the
self consciousness which speaks in this vandalism, the defiant belief in
the wisdom of their own age, which boldly remolded everything to suit
their own taste because they were finally persuaded that this taste was
the only true one. It is a peculiar sign of conscious strength and of
vitality breaking out in the midst of the sickly life of a degenerate
age. We can almost envy the old pigtails for this blind belief in
themselves, which grows out of the boastful arbitrariness of the Rococo,
in the midst of and in spite of the constraint of the Pigtail, and is
closely connected with the mad cult of originality practised by so many
individual types. We have strong doubts concerning the excellence of our
advanced mental development, while in the days of our great-grandfathers
nobody doubted that that age, which we properly stigmatize with the
sobriquet of the Pigtail Age, was really the golden age of art and
science.

Our South-German peasants still live completely in the Rococo as regards
artistic taste. They have forgotten the Middle Ages and have not yet
found modern art. To the peasant of the Black Forest, the splendid,
baroque, dome-shaped church of St. Blasien is a much greater marvel of
native art than the Freiburg cathedral. Gaudy, exaggeratedly fantastic
Rococo saints are generally considered by Catholic country people very
much more edifying than a picture in the severe style of the Middle Ages
or of the modern school. In the ornamentation of utensils and houses of
our peasants the Rococo style has quite naively been carried along into
our own times, and whoever nowadays wishes to have genuine Rococo chairs
in his parlor not infrequently searches through the peasants' houses.
The pleasure which the peasant takes in the Rococo, which has bravely
survived so many changes in taste, is easily explained. The peasant
himself is an original, rather, 'tis true, as a species than
individually, and the brilliant, fantastic, affected, violent quality of
the Rococo appealed to his rough, sturdy child's nature, just like large
capital letters. On the other hand he never sympathized with the genuine
Pigtail. The scant, niggardly dress-coat of this period was never
adopted as the prevailing costume of the people, any more than the
fashion of wearing the hair in a real pigtail, and the bare facades of
the academic Pigtail architecture never became epoch-making in popular,
architecture. The peasant only appropriated to himself the Rococo out
of the Pigtail of the last century.

We pedantic city people, on the contrary, in the outer construction of
our houses, in their joiner-like, barrack architecture with the
monotonous rows of windows, have all this time remained prisoners of the
Pigtail; but in the gaudy, whimsical decoration of our rooms, on the
other hand, we have reached the Rococo once more, and only very recently
have we begun to improve by going back to the powerful individualism of
the Renaissance--as, for instance, in many of the new streets in Munich.
There is, however, nothing adventitious about this, for, in general, a
more personal, original life is flourishing in our _bourgeoisie_ than
there was twenty years ago.

In the Rococo period there was an endless amount of portrait painting,
and this partiality to having one's picture done in oils, pastel,
engraving, in silhouette and in miniature medallion, maintained itself
throughout the entire Pigtail period. It was conformable to the spirit
of the times and to one's rank to look upon one's own features as
something not to be despised, and not a soul suspected that there was
any personal vanity in it.

In the same way that people had their portraits executed by the
engraver, they also liked to depict their own likeness in their letters,
diaries, and memoirs. The custom came to us from the French in the
seventeenth century, and, as a real child of the Rococo, triumphantly
survived the struggle with the Pigtail, and lasted on into the
nineteenth century. No man nowadays can carry on such extensive friendly
correspondence as was universally carried on from fifty to a hundred
years ago. This self-inspection, this importance attached to little
personalities, disgusts us. The letters of Gleim, Heinse, Jacobi,
Johannes Mueller suffice to make us feel fully conscious of this disgust.
We should now call the man a coxcomb who considered his precious ego so
important that he had to carry on, year in and year out, a yard-long
correspondence about himself. General interests have grown, private
interests have shriveled up, but thereby, indeed, the original types of
the old days have become impossible.

That strange union of charlatanism and science, of prognosticating
mysticism and sharp-eyed observation which in the Renaissance had, as
it were, become incorporated in large learned guilds, such as the
astrologers, alchemists, theosophists, etc., dies away in the Rococo
period in isolated strange individuals. Mesmer, Lavater, Athanasius
Kircher, Cagliostro are such Rococo figures in the very midst of the
Pigtail. Professor Beireis, in Helmstaedt, who in the eighteenth century
still tried his hand at making gold, carried on an incredible jugglery
with his collection of curios and made his enlightened contemporaries
believe that he possessed a diamond weighing six thousand four hundred
carats, which the Emperor of China had pawned with him, would, in former
times, if he had not been duly burned as a magician, have become the
head of a school. In the eighteenth century he merely remained a
mysterious eccentric type whose gaudy collection was gazed upon with
astonishment by all travelers, half charlatan, half savant--in any case,
however, a marvelous virtuoso of personality. In our day even such an
isolated original type would no longer be possible at all. It is
thoroughly Rococo.

The Middle Ages had had its guild secrets. In the period of the Rococo a
trading in secrets by individual scholars and artists had grown out of
it. Among the painters and musicians especially, even the smallest
master carried on his particular legerdemain with the "secrets" of art,
which he alone ostensibly possessed and communicated only to his pupils.

The profession of court fool had died out. In its place the individual
geniuses of folly appeared in the Rococo age, such as Gundeling, the
passive clown, who was made a fool of by others, and Kyau, the
Eulenspiegel of the eighteenth century, who himself hoaxed other people.
In the learned Athanasius Kircher the charlatan of genius struggles
continually with the pedant; that is the great struggle which continued
throughout the entire age, in religion, art, science, and
statecraft--the struggle of the Rococo with the Pigtail. The repugnant
inner lack of truthfulness of so many important personages of this age
has its roots in this unadjusted struggle. In order to appear a real
original, one dared not be quite simple, truthful, and open.
Muenchhausen, the notorious liar, is a genuine Rococo caricature in the
Pigtail age.

The most original of all the original people in those days ended up as
caricatures. The Rococo is the conscious humor of the Pigtail; for that
reason it can still be used artistically today, whereas the Pigtail,
which is totally lacking in the humor of self-knowledge, has long been
artistically dead. Even today when a genre-painter wishes to paint real
lifelike caricatures he paints them in Rococo costume. Hasenclever's
Hieronymus Jobs, for example, would appear to us absolutely exaggerated,
if the figures in these pictures did not wear pigtails and wigs. Only in
this unique age of the Rococo does it seem to us possible that such
freaks could have walked the earth in the flesh. And we are not wrong in
so thinking; for the mania to be an original type, a virtuoso of
personality, in that day turned innumerable persons into genuine
caricatures. A certain Count von Hoditz, in the middle of the eighteenth
century, founded a so-called "Maria Theresa sheep-farm" (in honor of the
Empress) on his estate Roswalde, in Silesia, and here his subjects and
villeins had to play at Greece and Rome, year in and year out. Temples
were erected to Thetis, Diana, Flora, etc., and peasants went about
dressed up as haruspices and augurs. The Pontifex slaughtered a sheep on
the sacrificial altar, the oracle was consulted in a cave, and in a
temple dedicated to the sun young priests kept up an ever-flaming fire.
On this estate an actor was master of the hunt, librarian, theatre
director, high priest of the sun and--schoolmaster, all in his own
person; and Frederick the Great was so pleased with the Silesian Arcadia
that he celebrated it in a poetic epistle. If one tried nowadays to give
an accurate description of this bare reality in a novel it would look
like the most exaggerated caricature. The Rococo, however, can bear the
strongest laying on of color and the most distorted forms. It was not
without some reason that, in those days, they loved to chisel or carve
on every house door and on the neck of every violin a hideous face which
is making grimaces and sticking out its tongue. Many of the figures in
Moliere's and Holberg's comedies, and in the innumerable farces written
in imitation of them in the eighteenth century, now appear to us clumsy,
extravagant caricatures. But if we recall such historical phenomena as
the above-mentioned Maria Theresa sheep-farm, we will find that for
their age the clumsy figures were well portrayed characteristic types,
far rather than caricatures. In them is mirrored the unmanageable
eccentricity of the more original persons in the Pigtail age, so
abounding in constraint and training.

Without this contrast of arbitrariness and restraint, which presents
itself under the form of a struggle of the Rococo with the Pigtail, the
history of culture, and still more the history of art, of the
seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, is quite incomprehensible. The
great political revolution of the nineties could never have been a
product of the rigid Pigtail age, but it could very well have been a
result of the Rococo in the Pigtail. In the Rococo there was still life,
mad, ungovernable life; the Pigtail always had a Hippocratic face. The
virtuosos of personality, the strange Rococo original types, were the
forbears of the literary Storm and Stress writers, the artistic
reformers, the big and little demagogues. The pedants of the Pigtail, on
the other hand, were the prophets of the pipe-clay, the bureaucracy, the
rationalistic mechanical training of young and old in church and school.
And this contrast of the Rococo and the Pigtail still continues today,
but veiled and in a new garment, not only on and in our houses but also
in our public and private life. The genuine original types of the
Rococo, however, the fantastic virtuosos of personality, have, indeed,
long since been gathered to their fathers and will not return.

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 1: This peculiarity distinguishes Gotthelf's _Bauernspiegel_
from the nearly contemporary _Oberhof_, the episode of Immermann's
_Muenchhausen_ which is intended as a popular contrast to the
aristocratic society represented in the larger part of that novel. Cf.
Vol. vii, p. 169.]

[Footnote 2: Editor's note.--Numerous omissions have been made in the
course of the narrative, reducing the length of the original text by
about one fifth. Wherever necessary for the continuity of the story, the
essence of the excluded portions has been supplied by synopses. These
synopses are printed enclosed in brackets.

Permission Kegan Paul, Trench, Truebner & Co., Ltd., London.]

[Footnote 3: This old country saying is founded on the similarity in
sound between _sechse_ (sixes) and _hexe_ (witch).]

[Footnote 4: Permission Bernhard Tauchnitz, Leipzig.]

[Footnote 5: _Translator's note_. In Mecklenburg the cows are always
milked in the fields.]

[Footnote 6: Translator's note. The Kammer is the chief government
office in Mecklenburg, and Mr. von Rambow was a member of it.]

[Footnote 7: A mortgage or lien, a corruption of _Hypothek_.]

[Footnote 8: _Translator's note_.--This story is founded on fact, and
during Reuter's last visit to Stuer (from the 13th of December, 1868,
till the 29th of January, 1869) he discovered this great amusement that
he had been given the very room in which the director of the
establishment told him the hero of the tale had been attacked by a
neighbor's bees while he was lying helpless in the "packing" sheets. See
Duboc's "Auf Reuterschem Boden" in Westermann's "Monats-Hefte."]

[Footnote 9: _Translator's note_.--A common saying in Mecklenburg, the
origin of which is unknown.]

[Footnote 10: From _Bunte Steine_]

[Footnote 11: From _The Natural History of the People_.]

[Footnote 12: Hilly woodland in the eastern part of the Island of
Ruegen.]

[Footnote 13: From _Studies in the Culture of Three Centuries_.]

[Footnote 14: Claude Lorraine himself, who according to tradition is
said to have made studies near Munich, did not go into the high
mountains, but, quite in keeping with the eye for natural scenery of his
time, remained on the plateau.]

[Footnote 15: From _Studies in the Culture of Three Centuries_.]

[Footnote 16: France centralizes in this respect also and at present
(1858) a council is being called together in Paris to reestablish the
catholicity of European orchestral pitch.]

[Footnote 17: From _Studies in the Culture of Three Centuries_.]

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