Summer 1963 • Vol. XXV No. 3 NonfictionJuly 1, 1963 |

Music in the Victorian Novel

D. J. Smith MUSIC IN THE VICTORIAN NOVEL TIHE VICTORIANS CULTIVATED MUSIC; THEY PURSUED IT; THEY pretended to have captured it; but in reality it eluded them. The root of the difficulty was lack of taste. No amount of energy or intellectual curiosity could make up for this failing. In too many cases the English musical public could not tell the difference between good Italian tenors or Bohemian music mas- ters or German conductors or Hungarian composers and their fourth-rate counterparts, seeking an easy living at the expense of uncritical, culture-hungry audiences. Not only the public was at fault; the real trouble was that many English critics and professional musicians had little more discrimination than the laymen whose opinions they were trying to form. Yet English music underwent a progressive amelioration during the Victorian period. In the first half of the nineteenth century the musical landscape, even in the optimistic view of a loyal English critic, was notoriously bleak.

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