Close Comments

Leave a Comment

This 'web version' uses Optical Character Recognition (OCR), to interpret the original printed copy and convert it to computer-readable text. This technology can result in text errors.

Masters of Masters of Russian Music” is the Russian Music. title of a series of ‘mall, timely solumes .sued by the house of Con- -iable. rhree of the Irx)ks deal with Ghinka (18o4-i857). Mouissnorsk” (IS,-i 8Ii), and ltimskv Korsakoit (1844- isX8). Mr M M,nftagu Nathan, author of the studies, is 1 ,lreful and well equipped student of Russian music, and presents verv readablale views of the intentions as well as ihe :Lccmphshment of each composer. All have been

heard In lalndon, and the uit css of IH{msky Korsakotf and Moussorgskv in the s.n,tns f Russian opera and ballet that were the most no,t.lble feature of musical life in andon during the seasons inirnedrately preceding the war will not have been forgotten. In the years to come we shall doubtles have Russian music it plenty, anti it is well to unlhr.stand how the Russian comlnlsers broke away from the It.lhan and I( rman con- venltions, and learned to ex- press thenlisilves in what has Inw i tolme the accepted nlusical idiom of their native I Crd. (;lnka, of course, led the way with his olpera, ” A .lte for thie ITsr ” (183si), and in a certain sense iet.ame the Iatlier of a numlnerous and gilted progeny. Yet, ioddly lenlough, the influence of Italy n- clearly felt in the work that gave the national bias to I]Russian ,operatic comlxwers. Apparentlv it was the aim i.atlher than the accomplihsh- ment that brought alxout the desired enil Of Moussorgsky Mr. Nathan writes with im- iensee adtmir.atlon, and nmakes Is hIlk iorwa.rd to the time

wlhen we .hall have a better knowledge of the dissolute nman of genrus who died in earls middle-age after an attack n, delirium tremens. Rimsky Korsakoff has come into his kingdom in Englan.d, and has developed to an extra- ordiniarv degree the Oriental side of Russian music. Mr. Montagu Nathan’s method is to write an interesting intro- ductloll to tollow It with a section entitled ” Career.” ittle more than a rather unhappily written collection of tct,. drv as the Sahara; and to close with a chapter or tto iof valuable and discriminating criticism, followed by l short list of the composer’s best-known works. It must

be admitted that the biographical details are comparatively unimportant when they must be presented within strict Inrts of space, but the method of presentation could have been bettered. Glinka sought to remove music from the influences of South and Central Europe. Rimsky Korsakoff and those whom he has inspired have Onentalised it to an extent that suggests too great a bias in another direction. It may be that when we know Moussorgsky better we shall find that the real national achievement lies there. Who, remembering ” Bons (Godounov ” and ” Khovansh- china.” will be surprised ? The pity is that the composer


did not live to bring his extraordinary gifts to fuller fruition : his output was regrettably small. ” Forty Yeu ” The Evolution of Justice ” might be at the the secondary title of ” Forty Years at Criminal Bar.” the Criminal Bar.” by Edmund D. Purcell, of the Middle Temple, bar- rister-at-law (T. Fisher Unwin). Barristenal recollections are usually notable for their ” good stones.” some of which are painfully bad when resurrected into cold print. Other books of this kind stir up the dead memories of forgotten

cnmes, and occasionally we are given a chapter which holds the interest. Mr. Purcell held his reader by neither of these methods. Very probably he set out with the light intention of entertainment, but he achieved a far higher end by giving us a most informative volume on the evolution of justice-or, perhaps, to be more exact, the evolution of law. He shows that a most striking change has come about in the method of trying prisoners, and a yet more striking change is to be observed in their punish- ment. In the year 1877 a woman aged seventy-eight was sentenced to seven years’ penal servitude for stealing a

leg of mutton. A youth of nineteen, convicted of petty larceny, was given seven years penal servitude, to be followed by seven years’ police super- vision. At the Middlesex Ses- sions of 1877 the majority of the criminals received seven- year sentences. In 1912 the favourite figure was three. The old-time Judges were ex- ceedingly harsh in the punish- ments they ordered, and we now have abundant evidence that, instead of preventing crime, these brutal sentences made habitual criminals. A child of ten might be sent to a convict prison, and must be sea there for not less than ten days if it was desired to send him to a reformatory ! Nothing more favourable to the cultiva- tion of a criminal class could be imagined. That the whole spirit of Criminal Law pro- cedure has altered immensely for the better is well demon- strated by this book, and Mr. Purcell is a unique wit- ness, since during his own professional career he had seen the great change come about. On the much-vexed question -Should an advo- cate secure the acouittal of

a guilty client ?–Mr. Purcell has some ingenious argu- ments to offer. He took a sporting pleasure in having saved more than one disreputable fellow from jail. Some of his wins were, in his own words, ” really scandals.” Mr. Purcell’s defence is that a Court of Law is a Court of Law, not of morals. But we are afraid that if he had been asked was it a Court of Justice, his pretty logic would have collapsed. However, he saved many an innocent man, and his book treats the whole subject with such humanity and kindliness that it wins us over much as he won over juries.

Close Comments

Leave a Comment

Browse this issue

You are on page 22 of 30

Issue 4066. - Vol CL

Mar, 24 1917

Illustrated London News