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Author:Richard Buckle
Topics:Quotes about Education

Quote by Richard Buckle : “It was music first of”

It was music first of all that brought us together. Without being professionals or virtuosos, we were all passionate lovers of music; but Serge dreamed of devoting himself entirely to the art. All the time he was studying law along with us, he took singing lessons with Cotogni, the famous baritone of the Italian Opera; while for musical theory, which he wanted to master completely so as to rival Moussorgsky and Tchaikovsky, he went to the very source and studied with Rimsky-Korsakov. However, our musical tastes were not always the same. The quality our group valued most was what the Germans call Stimmung, and besides this, the power of suggestion and dramatic force. The Bach of the Passions, Gluck, Schubert, Wagner and the Russian composers – Borodin in ‘Prince Igor’, Rimsky and, above all, Tchaikovsky, were our gods. Tchaikovsky’s ‘Queen of Spades’ had just been performed for the first time at the Opera of St Petersburg, and we were ecstatic about its Hoffmannesque element, notably the scene in the old Countess’s bedroom. We liked the composer’s famous Romances much less, finding them insipid and sometimes trivial. These Romances, however, were just what Diaghilev liked. What he valued most was broad melody, and in particular whatever gave a singer the chance to display the sensuous qualities of his voice. During the years of his apprenticeship he bore our criticisms and jokes with resignation, but as he learned more about music – and about the history of art in general – he gained in self-confidence and found reasons to justify his predilections. There came a time when not only did he dare to withstand our attacks but went on to refute our arguments fiercely. – Richard Buckle