The Symphony


IN the first article by me to appear in the Atlantic, I discussed the nature of music itself, in order that I might clear away certain popular misconceptions about it; and now, in discussing what is undoubtedly the greatest of musical forms, I desire first to state, as nearly as may be, what, in its essence, it is. A symphony is, of course, like other music in being an arrangement of rhythmic figures, of melodies (usually called themes), and of harmonies. But before describing it as such, — before dealing with its materials, its form, its history, and its place in the art of music, — I wish to treat it solely as a thing of beauty expressed in terms of sound. Many people seem to think music an art dealing with objects as the other arts do, or with ideas as does literature. Some, never having become sensitized to it in childhood, look upon it as of no importance whatever; a large number have tried to perform it on an instrument and have failed; others have succeeded, at the price of thinking of it only in terms of technique. A certain happy few, some of whom can perform it and some of whom cannot, are satisfied to take it as it is, to enjoy it and be stimulated by it. These are the true musicians, and we should all aspire to join their happy company.

What we call a symphony is merely a series of ordered sounds produced by means of instruments of various kinds. It is sound and nothing else. Our programme books tell us about ‘ first themes’ and ‘second themes,’ and we make what effort we can to patch together the various brilliant textures of symphonic music into a coherent pattern; but the music we seek lies behind these outward manifestations, as, in a lesser sense, the significance of a great poem lies behind or beneath the actual words. A symphony is not a record of something else; it is not a picture of something else; you cannot use the word ‘else’ in connection with it because it is itself only. Any intelligent person, on being shown a diagram or plan of a symphonic movement, could be made to understand how and why the material was so disposed; for that disposition is dictated to the composer by the nature of sound and by the limitations and capacities of human beings, and it conforms to certain principles which operate everywhere; but that understanding would not reveal the symphony to him.

There is in every one of us a region of sensibility in which mind and emotion are blended and from which the imagination acts, and it is to this sensibility that music appeals. The mind is not the whole man, and the imagination, which we believe to be the highest function of human beings, cannot act from the mind alone. Mathematics, for example, does not lie entirely in the domain of the mind, and the same thing may be said of any other department of science. We cannot conceive any act of the imagination whatever that does not glow with the radiance of emotion or feeling. So that music, in appealing to the whole being, is not so completely isolated as is generally supposed. But the simultaneous appeal of music to the mind and the feelings has led to much confusion on the part of writers who have not been sensitive to all its qualities. In his essay on Education Herbert Spencer, for example, in discussing the union of science and poetry says, —

‘ It is doubtless true that, as states of consciousness, cognition and emotion tend to exclude each other. And it is doubtless true that an extreme activity of the reflective powers tends to deaden the feelings; while an extreme activity of the feelings tends to deaden the reflective powers: in which sense, indeed, all orders of activity are antagonistic to each other.’

Now this statement reveals at once the limitations of a philosophic mind when dealing with something which requires apprehension by the feelings also. In listening to music the reflective powers are not engaged with objects or with definite ideas, but with pure sounds which require only correlation with themselves, and the conditions of mutual exclusion between thought and feeling no longer exist because the music is expressing thought and feeling in the same terms.1 Spencer speaks of science as full of poetry, which is true enough, but his statement about music reveals his incapacity to understand it. And his misconceptions about art in general may be illustrated by the following concerning the axis in sculpture, as applied to a standing figure: —

‘But sculptors unfamiliar with the theory of equilibrium not uncommonly so represent this attitude that the line of direction falls midway between the feet. Ignorance of the laws of momentum leads to analogous errors; as witness the admired Discobolus, which, as it is posed, must inevitably fall forward the moment the quoit is delivered.’

This observation completely misses the quite sound reasons for the pose of that remarkable statue, and, if applied to sculpture in general, would destroy the famous Victory of Samothrace, and many other fine examples of Greek sculpture.

But it is strange and mysterious, after all, that these ordered sounds should be so precious to us; that we should preserve their printed symbols generation after generation and continually reproduce them as sound, feeling them to be strong and stable and true; that we should even come to say, after many generations, that their creator was a wise man who had in him a profound philosophy. And it is stranger still to realize how convincing is this philosophy compared to any philosophy of the reason; and to see how profound, in it, is the sense of reconciliation — a reconciliation which the mind seeks in vain. Our life consists of thought, feeling, and action, phenomena of what we are, and in actual life never quite reconcilable. But the world of music is not actual life. Music, ‘the image of the will,’ and absolved from actual phenomena, achieves by virtue of this freedom a complete and profound philosophy — a philosophy unintelligible to the mind alone, but intelligible to the complete being.

The strength of every art lies chiefly in the completeness of its detachment from reality. Sculpture does not gain by being realistic, picturesque, or decorative; on the contrary it is at its highest when it is ideal, detached and superhuman. Painting does not gain by being categorical, but is greatest when it seeks something beyond the outward, physical view. The novel or the essay depends for its greatness on its power of relating real persons, things, and ideas to that greater and deeper reality of which they are a part. In this sense music stands supreme above the other arts because it is the most detached. The elements of thought and feeling and action are, in music, presented as elements. The thought is not thought even in the abstract, for it is not ‘ about’ anything; the feeling is not actual feeling and the action is not real action. Each of these properties, or states, of the human being is here expressed in its essence, detached from all actual manifestation. None but the highest type of mind, none but a heart full of deep human sympathy, none but a vigorous, militant spirit, could have conceived and brought forth such compositions, for example, as the Third and Ninth symphonies of Beethoven; yet they are nothing but sound — neither the intelligence, nor the feeling, nor the action is real.

It is from this point of view, then, that I approach the symphony. I do not need now to dwell on its history, on its form, or on its means of expression, because these are merely incidental to its being a profound human document. Pure music at its highest is the will of man made manifest, and one may doubt if that will becomes fully manifest in any other of his creations. It compasses all his actions, all his thoughts, all his feelings; it translates his dreams; it satisfies his insatiable curiosities; it justifies his pride (as he himself never does); it makes him the God he would be; it is like a crystal ball, in whose mystic depths the whole of life moves in a shadow fantasy. Music does this, no less and (especially) no more.

I make this qualification because herein lies the great fallacy in listening to symphonies and other pieces of pure music. You cannot understand a symphony by trying to find out what the composer meant. Music is not a language, and cannot be translated into your own terms of speech. When a trumpet blares and you make any of the conventional associations with the trumpet, — such as a battle, a hunt, a proclamation, a signal, — off goes your mind on a stream of alien ideas that may carry you anywhere and that will certainly carry you further and further away from the music itself. Each of the orchestral instruments has its own individual association; the oboe reminds you of a shepherd’s pipe, the flute of a bird’s song, the French horn of hunting, and so forth; but each one of the instruments in the orchestra, as you listen to it, is forming lines, as it were, in a great design. And this design, always complete at any one point, goes on unceasingly, forming itself ever and ever anew. It is always complete and always incomplete, always moving onward, always delicately poised for inevitable flight. As you listen you have lived a thousand lives; dream after dream has dissolved itself in your consciousness; each moment has been a perfect and complete existence in itself. When it is finished, you awake to what you call happiness or unhappiness, peace or struggle, satisfaction or chagrin; the unreal spectacle of the world imposes itself upon you again; you are once more a human being. Why ask that glorious world in which your nature has been freed and your soul has been disencumbered of your body, to assume all the imperfections of this one? The gods, of necessity, dwell in the heavens. No, you cannot understand music by translating it into other terms, or by preserving your associations with the world in which you live. Mind and feeling, sublimated by the magic of these sounds, must detach themselves and rise to a world of pure imagination where there is no locality.

Reconciliation! A philosophy without a category; a religion without a dogma; an indestructible shadowworld which offers no explanations, promulgates no opinions, and has no mission — which exists completely in itself. What more shall we ask for? Why cry to the heavens for a manifestation? Why take refuge in a so-called system of philosophy? Why shuffle the whole problem off on a dogma? What comfort to a squirrel in a cage to know the number of its bars? Is our slow and inevitable progress from the unknown to the unknown any more significant because we have learned to tell our beads — intellectual, religious, or æsthetic; to mumble our little formulae and to pick our way, eyes downward, among the stones and thorns, never once glancing clear-eyed upward to the sun? We have always sought a fourth dimension, and have always had it. We want what we have not; we wish to be what we are not, and all the time it has been within our grasp. We make a far-away heaven to answer this universal cry, when our hand is on its very door-latch. Our imagination falters most when we apply it to things nearest us. Where can heaven be if not here?

This, then, is my thesis. A symphony is not merely an arrangement of rhythms, melodies, and harmonies; it is not a record of the thoughts, feelings, and deeds of men; it is not a picture of man or nature. Rather does it launch itself from these into the unknown. It is pure imagination set free from the actual.


The foregoing does not, in any sense, preclude that idea of a symphony which is expressible in terms of rhythm, melody, and harmony. What I have said has been said for the purpose of preventing a conception of it in those terms only (and, of course, in still lower terms). Our physical hearing is a transit to the imagination, and we want the physical hearing to serve that purpose. Nothing retards it more than an attempt at the time to intellectualize the process. In other words, listening to a symphony should consist in giving yourself freely to it, in making of yourself a passive medium. Your study of the arrangement of themes, and so forth, should precede or follow the actual experience. And if you have no leisure or opportunity for such study, and depend entirely on an occasional concert, you should nevertheless continue to pursue the same inactivity, allowing the music itself to increase your susceptibility little by little. If the mind is employed in an attempt to extricate order from confusion, it usurps for the moment the other functions of listening. And I would go so far as to say that the proper goal of a musical education should be to arrive at such a state of impressionability to pure music as would leave the mind, the feelings, and the imagination free to act subconsciously without active direction, and without struggle. The matter is so obvious. There is the music; here is the person. It awaits him. It was created of him and for him. It is inconceivable without him. It is his spirit coming back to him purified. It is the only thing he cannot sully, and which cannot sully him, for, in the very nature of it, it cannot be turned to base uses. What man would be, here he is. In making this beautiful spectacle of life, as Conrad says, he has found its only explanation.

What I have said thus far may seem of but slight assistance to the average person who attends symphony concerts. I have stated what I thought symphonic music to be, and have urged my readers not to listen to it analytically. But my purpose here is not to attempt to blaze an easy path for the music-lover; in fact I am unqualifiedly opposed to that too common practice of æsthetic writing. There is no easy path, and an attempt to find one is disastrous to any progress whatever. Every person who has attained to a real understanding of æsthetic objects knows that the growth of that understanding has been slow. The characteristic weakness of our artistic status is self-deception. We are not frank with ourselves; we are unwilling to admit ourselves in ignorance; we advance opinions which are not our own. The only possible basis for advancement in anything is intellectual honesty. Information about a symphony is useless unless there is a real appeal in the music itself, so I do not attempt to provide here a panacea. Just the opposite is my purpose. All I want to do is to show that the symphony is worth struggling for, and to brush away such misconceptions about it as might retard the progress of those who have the will and the perseverance to struggle. And when there is no will to struggle, nothing can be accomplished. What is called ‘mental lassitude’ is almost a contradiction in terms.

It is obvious that a proper musical education would have solved our problems in a natural manner. If, as children, we had been taught to sing only beautiful songs; if we had been trained to listen to music; if our memory for musical phrases, rhythms, and harmonics, had been cultivated, we should be quick in apprehending all the qualities of a symphony, for all our analytical reasoning would have been done beforehand. And nothing can ever take the place of such an education, because the natural taste for music, which is so strong in childhood, has in us been allowed to lapse. So that our first duty is to our children. We want them to avoid our own mistakes. In every household, in every school, public or private, this ideal of music-study should be kept in mind — namely, that the children should enter life so prepared by their early training as to be able to enjoy the greatest music.

I take a form of pure music as the type of our highest attainment because when music is allied to action or to words it gives certain hostages. Furthermore, the symphony evolved slowly under the law of its own being, and it represents the application to music of those general laws of proportion and balance, of unity and variety, which govern all artistic expression. It has never been subjected to alien influences; popularity has not been its motive power; virtuosity has never dictated to it. It is solid in its construction, and true in its ideals. If you understand the symphony, you can apply that understanding to any other form of music. If one compares it with the opera, this distinction is at once evident. In the opera that antagonism of which Spencer speaks, between states of feeling and of cognition, does exist, because the mind is there appealed to through objects rather than through pure sound. The symphony speaks in its own terms; opera speaks in terms of characters in action, of costume, and of scenery, as well as of music. Even the greatest operas cause you to reflect on something outside themselves — on human motives as they find expression in human action. In either Don Giovanni or Tristan, although the music reaches great heights of beauty and is profoundly moving, there is the inevitable struggle between seeing and hearing, the inevitable difficulty between a simultaneous state of cognition and of feeling.

The symphony entirely escapes this dilemma. No doubt great motives lie beneath it; no doubt it, too, is a drama of human life; for otherwise it could not be great as a work of art; but the play of motives in a symphony is hidden behind the impenetrable veil of sound. The Third, Fifth, and Ninth symphonies of Beethoven are truly dramatic, but only in this sense. They range from the tender to the terrible; they have their own emotional climaxes; they philosophize, they brood, they grin like a comic mask; action and reaction follow each other as in life itself. Nothing is lacking but that one inconsequential thing— reality. Art is truth; life is but a shadow fading to nothingness as the sun sets. The symphony, then, is a book of life. It moves from one point of time to another; it has room for laughter and for tears; but, more important still, its magnitude gives it opportunity for disorder or confusion.

I have said that the symphony evolved slowly under the laws of its own being, and I wish to state briefly, and (as far as possible) in simple terms, how this evolution came about. If I should go back to the very beginning I should have to point out that the primal difference between music and noise consists in the intensity of vibration and in the grouping of the sounds into regular series by means of accents. A series of unaccented tones does not make music. If a clock, in striking twelve, should, by accenting certain strokes, throw the whole number into regular groups, it would supply the basis for music. Within the metrical groups of twos, threes, and so forth, all sorts of subdivisions may exist, and these constitute what is called rhythm in music. Rhythm, in brief, is the variety which any melody imposes on the regular beats which constitute its time-basis. It is from this rhythmic movement that the symphony gets its quality of action, and the precursors of the symphony in this respect were the old folk-songs and dancetunes the melodies of which are full of rhythmic diversity.

The line from these early naïve compositions down to symphonic music was never broken, and there is hardly a symphony in existence that does not, in its variety of movement, pay direct tribute to them. The force of the impetus which this movement gives may be observed at the close of nearly every piece of music where it becomes necessary to use conventional chords to ease off the stress of the impetus. The last forty measures of the Fifth Symphony of Beethoven constitute a sort of brake on the huge moving mass. Chopin’s Polonaise, Opus 26, No. 1, on the contrary, does not end; it stops. Fielding’s Tom Jones, on the other hand, postpones its climax to a point dangerously near the end of the book, and leaves us with a sense of breathlessness or aggravation.

We become infused with this momentum in music; we are caught up in it; we ‘ keep time ’ to it with hand, or foot, or head. When it is given out with great vigor, any temporary displacement of it produces almost the effect of a cataclysm — as in the first movement of Beethoven’s Third Symphony, where great chords in twos clash across already established metric groups of threes. I dwell on this point at some length because here lies a large part of the energy of music. The rhythmic figures to which I have referred contain within themselves a primal force. They are capable of throwing off parts of themselves, and these, caught in the primary orbit, live as separate identities, until the too-powerful attraction of the greater mass absorbs them again. As rhythm, then, a symphonic movement is like sublimated physical energy. As the first oscillation of its impulse strikes our consciousness, we are caught up into a world of movement which has the inevitability of star courses. We, ourselves, are all rhythm — rhythm imprisoned and awaiting release. In music we become one with all that ceaseless movement or vibration without which there would be no physical or spiritual world at all.

I say, then, that rhythm is the very heart of music; that while we are all susceptible to it (though comparatively few people can move their hands or feet or bodies in perfect rhythm — they would be much better off if they could!) we do not altogether see what significance it has as an æsthetic property of music. When the heart of music stops beating as in one of Beethoven’s scherzi we are surprised, or perhaps disturbed, not answering to the marvelous silence; when two or even three rhythms are acting simultaneously, we are confused and helpless before the most fascinating of æsthetic phenomena.


Let me next dwell briefly on that element in the evolution of symphonic music which consists in the use of several themes simultaneously. Should we trace this back to its original, we should find ourselves in the ninth century. Now, while I know that this is not the place for a dissertation on any abstruse musical terms, I shall venture this much, not only because this method of writing is used in nearly all really fine music, but because a large part of the pleasure to be derived from listening to a symphony depends on our capacity to follow the varied strands of melody that constitute it. Is it not so, also, with the novel? The chief theme of Meredith’s The Egoist has numberless counter-themes running through and around it. It is not by any means to be found in Sir Willoughby alone, for you understand it through Vernon’s good sense, through Clara’s dart-like intuitions, through Mr. Middleton’s patient surprise at having such a daughter, through Letitia, and Crossjay, and Horace de Cray, — through a dozen situations, numberless conversations, and a score of episodes, — all these are continually explaining and illuminating the theme for you. It is true that music asks you to listen to several melodies at once; but what does the episode of Crossjay’s unwitting listening to Sir Willoughby’s belated declaration to Letitia ask you to do? Is it enough merely to record the scene as it is unfolded to you? Or do you remember Crossjay’s father stumping up the avenue in his ill-fitting clothes? Clara’s intercessions for Crossjay? Vernon’s attempts to adjust him to Sir Willoughby’s overbearing grandiloquence? And do you not have to remember, especially, that Crossjay had been locked out of his room by Sir Willoughby himself and had sought the ottoman as a refuge? These are all strands of the chief melody in that remarkable composition. (Not all the strands are there, for satire never tells the whole truth. Tony, in Ethel Sidgwick’s Promise and Succession is an egoist, also.) In this sense, a novel is not successive, but simultaneous. All that has been and all that is to be exists in every moment of life; that is all that what we call ‘the present’ means. The chief difference between such play of character around an idea, and the movement of many musical themes around a central one lies in the detached and spiritualized quality of sound.

It is obvious that music written for an orchestra containing some twenty or more different kinds of instruments and scores of performers must have great variety of expression. Each instrument has its own tone-color, its own range, and its own technique, and each must be given its own thing to say. In this sense symphonic music is an intricate mesh of melodies, each intent on its own purpose, each a part of the whole. In no other of its varied means of expression is the symphony more strictly and more fully an evolution than in this one of complex melodic textures. There has been no hiatus. From its first great moment of perfection in the time of Palestrina, through the madrigal and fugue, through dance-tunes conventionalized in the suite, through organ pieces, oratorios, and the like, this method of writing has persisted. Wagner bases his whole musical structure on the play and inter-play of melodic lines in his leit-motifs. Bach is all melodic texture. Music written in this manner is called ‘polyphonic,’ and the method of writing it is called ‘ counterpoint.’

In direct contrast to this is ‘monodic’ music, which employs only one melody against an accompaniment of chords. A large part of the music that we hear is monodic; an aria by Puccini, a popular song, most church music — these have one melody only. So has Poe’s For Annie. Polyphonic music has the great advantage of being intensive in its expression; it evolves out of itself. When I say that almost the whole of the first movement of the Ninth Symphony is evolved out of a few measures near the beginning, I mean that the melodic fragments of the theme take on a life of their own and by so doing illustrate and expound the significance of the original thesis from which they sprang.

This quality, or property, in music, upon which I have laid some stress is, then, not so much a matter of technique as of æsthetics. The thing done and the manner of doing it are each the result of general laws, and I venture to dwell on them here, not for expert, technical reasons, but because I wish to offer the listener to symphonies one of his most delightful opportunities. Note should finally be made of the important fact that only those symphonic themes which have a varied and vibrant rhythm serve well the purposes of counterpoint; for the essence of instrumental counterpoint lies in setting against each other two or more melodic phrases in contrasting rhythms.

I do not mean to imply by the foregoing that symphonic music persistently employs counterpoint as against simple melody. There are whole passages in the symphonies of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven, where one tune is given out against an accompaniment of chords, and a lyric composer like Schubert employs counterpoint somewhat rarely. But in the greatest symphonies the predominating method of expression is through polyphony. In writing about counterpoint I have dwelt on the rhythmic quality in melody, and have stated that a well-defined and varied rhythm is essential to contrapuntal treatment. I might almost have said that all good melody depends on rhythm. I do say, — expecting many a silent protest from certain of my readers, — that all the greatest melodies have a finely adjusted rhythm, and I apply this statement to all melody, from the folk-song to the present time.

I might enumerate beautiful melodies whose effect depends on other properties than rhythm, — as the second melody in Chopin’s Nocturne in G major, Opus 37, No. 2, — but I should add that, as melody, existing by itself, it is not fine, and the reason is that its rhythm is monotonous. And when I say it is not fine, I mean that it is not highly imaginative, and depends too much on its harmonization. And when, in turn, I say that, I mean, perforce, that it is too emotional. The difference between such a theme and one with a really fine rhythm is the difference between Poe’s The Raven and Keats’s Ode to a Grecian Urn. In the former, the mind is being continually lulled by the soft undulation of the rhythms and rhymes; in the latter, the mind is being continually stimulated by their complexities. Yet Keats’s ode is as unified as Poe’s lyric.

There are melodies for songs, for the pianoforte, for the violin, and for the orchestra; there are sonata melodies and there are symphonic melodies, just as there is a shape for a hatchet, and a shape for a pair of scissors — which is only stating once again the old law that the style must suit the medium of expression, or that the shape must suit the uses to which a thing is put. Symphonic themes, in contradistinction to themes for songs, or short pianoforte pieces, or dances, should be inconclusive; they are valuable for what they presage rather than for what they state, and they should indicate their own destiny. The four notes with which the Fifth Symphony of Beethoven begins are so, — in fact the whole theme is valueless by itself, — but they contain enough pent-up energy to vitalize, not only the first movement, but the three which follow it. If it were possible for each reader of these words to hear —as an interlude to his reading — a series of great symphonic melodies, and if he would listen to them carefully, he would find almost every one to contain a finely adjusted rhythm.

Symphonic themes present certain difficulties to the listener whose understanding of melody is limited to a square-cut tune in strophic form. He is accustomed to a certain musical punctuation — a comma (so to speak) after the first and third lines of the music, a semicolon after the second, and a period at the end. And when he gets an extra period thrown in (as he does after the third line of the tune ‘ America ’), he is all the happier. When he hears the opening theme of the Eroica Symphony break in two in the middle and fall apart, he gets discouraged, for his musical imagination has not been sufficiently developed to see that that very breaking apart presages the tragic turmoil of the whole movement. When Brahms gives out, in the opening measures of his Third Symphony, two themes at once, he does not fathom the element of strife which is involved, and so cannot follow its progress to the final triumph of one of them.

But the symphony contains everything, and there is a place in it for lyric melody, provided the flight be long and sweeping. The ‘slow movement’ of a symphony contains such themes, but they are not content to be merely fine melodies. They, too, must contain some potentiality which the movement realizes. The best and most familiar example will be found in Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, where the first rhythmic unit (contained in the first three notes) of the beautiful romantic theme detaches itself and pursues an almost scandalous existence, full of delicate pranks and grimaces, and comic quips and turns, now gentle, now ironic, now pretending to be sentimental, until it finally rejoins the theme again. This piece is a romance touched with comedy— a romance great enough to suffer all the by-play without the least dilution of its quality.

Any attempt in an article like this to explain the intricacies of harmonic development as it is seen in the symphony must be inconclusive. Harmony is, in itself, less tangible than either rhythm or melody, for it lacks to a considerable extent the element of continuity. It may touch with light or shade one brief moment in a piece of music (as it frequently does in Schubert’s compositions); it may produce a bewildering riot of color (as in modern Russian pieces); or it may cover the whole piece with a subdued shadow (as in the slow movement of Franck’s Quintet). But the real office of harmony is to serve melody. I mean by this that when two or more melodies sound together, they make harmony at every point of contact, and this harmony, incidental to the movement of melodic parts, has a reality which chords cannot acquire by themselves. And the whole justification for many of the ugly sounds in ultra-modern music lies in this one perfectly correct theory. Not that the laws must not be obeyed — as they frequently are not; not that a composer may violate nature and do what he likes. He must, as of old, justify in reason all the dissonances arising from his melodic adventures. He should remember Bach, whose melodies clash in never-to-beforgotten stridence, striking forth such flashes of strange beauty as can come only from a war of themes.

The symphony is, then, an arrangement of rhythms, melodies, and harmonies. Each of these three elements has a life of its own, — the rhythms, taken all together, have their own coherence, the melodies theirs, and the harmonies theirs, — but each belongs to the whole. The rhythm of Poe’s For Annie would be an impossible rhythm with which to carry forward the purposes of any part of The Ring and the Book. Equally useless would be the rhythms of Schubert’s ‘ Unfinished ’ Symphony to carry forward the purposes of Beethoven’s Ninth. The whole structure of Poe’s poem would disintegrate if one single word fell out of place; so would the fabric of a Schubert melody, were a note destroyed.

In every direction, wherever we look, this cohesion of all objects in themselves, this blending of all objects into a greater body, reveals itself. This is the basis of all religious belief, of a novel, of the composition of a picture, or of life itself. To say that a symphony is made up of separate elements, that each of these elements has a life of its own, and that they all unite in a common purpose, is to state a truism. And to suppose that a symphony can be understood without an understanding of all its elements is to state an absurdity

  1. I stated in an article in the Atlantic for February, 1916, what justification there is for using the word ‘intellectual’ in regard to music, and I speak here of ‘thought’ in that sense. — THE AUTHOR.