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Music from the South.                       81
sensual. Whether the scene be St. Mark's at
Venice, or Michael Angelo's noble church built
above the baths of Diocletian at Rome, or the
gorgeous and complete cathedral of Monreale above
Palermo, or the strange temple in the little town,
which loads the island in the lovely lake of Orta;
one and the same tale is to be heard everywhere :
organ-playing, with the ambling four-in-a-bar bass
which so affronted Mendelssohn, ridiculous enough
to make Frescobaldi turn in his grave—vocal
melodies repugnantly frivolous enough to call up
the solemn Pope Marcel 1 us, once more to drive the
doves and the money-changers from the house of
worship.
And it may be observed that the vitiation of one
branch of any given art, connived at on the poor
excuse of creating a momentary sensation, is surely
attended by retributive decay in every other one. It is
a striking warning, in a land which may be to-day
as rich in genius as it ever was, to consider to what
a pass the headlong pursuit of sensation, no matter
how false, so it be only sufficiently exciting, has
brought Italian music's last stronghold, the theatre.
Ignorance and Rant now reign, where Skill and
Beauty were formerly King and Queen. It is not
G







E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III