MUSICAL MEMORY - online book

A System To Cultivate The Musical Memory For Musicians.

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MUSICAL MEMORY.                                               69
rehearsals. These, like his performances, are conducted from memory, and the least inaccuracy either as to notes, rhythm or phrasing, no matter how subordinate the part, or how complex the score, is instantly detected by him, and in order to set the player right he may either sing the passage, or even show upon the instrument how it should be played, if such were necessary. In 1876 he directed the whole of the rehearsals and performances of Wagner's " Ring " at Bayreuth, and it was said, at the conclusion of the Festival, that if the whole of the scores had been lost, Dr. Richter could have written them out from memory, a feat which every student of Wagner would know to be absolutely phenomenal.
132.   The late Professor of Music at Oxford, the Rev. Sir Frederick Gore Ouseley, was always remarkable for his general power of musical memory as well as for his exceptional power of retaining definite pitches. The Rev. J. Hampton, Warden of St, Michael's College, Ten-bury, has contributed the following passage, illustrative of these gifts, to Mr. Havergal's Memorials of Sir Frederick:—"At Cambridge, in the year 1861, I heard Beethoven's Septett for the first time, and on my return mentioned the fact to Sir Frederick, who immediately went to the piano and commenced the work, pointing out each instrument that had any prominent part. He played on for 20 minutes and then only stopped from fatigue. I told him, that I wondered that I had never heard him play it before. He said that he had never done so—had not seen it in print, and only heard it once in his life, ten years before in Rome. When living in London it was his delight to visit the organ lofts of St. Paul's and Westminster Abbey. After an absence of several months in Spain, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, and Paris, where he had tried every organ of any size, he returned to England and soon visited his friend Sir John Goss at St. Paul's. Sir John asked him to sound C, which he did, and then Sir John put down B, which was in perfect tune, whereupon Sir Frederick immediately smiled and said, 'You have had all the pipes cut down since I was last here.' Sir John assured me that the pitch of the organ had been raised a semitone."
133.   The following, which is supplied by Mr. T L. Southgate to Sir Frederick's " Life," is also worth quoting as evidence of the possession of an exceptional retentive power. Mr. Southgate says, "We were dis­cussing the question of dancing as a part of Church public worship, and I read him a letter received from a friend in Abyssinia who told me that there they still 'danced before the Lord,' as it is recorded David did. ' Oh,' said Ouseley with a smile, ' I have seen that much nearer home. In 1851 I went to Spain for a tour, and on a special high day I saw a solemn fandango danced in front of the high altar at Seville; and this was the music it was danced to.' He then went to the piano and played a delicate little piece, quite Spanish in tone, with the exception of a peculiar use of the chord of the ' Italian Sixth.' I asked him whether that was correct, and expressed astonishment that he should have remembered this piece, heard but once some thirty-six years ago. ' Quite right,' he replied, ' I thought that chord would startle you,' and then he continued, ' If I thoroughly give my mind to receive a piece of music, I generally succeed in mastering it, and never afterwards forget it.'"
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