MUSICAL MEMORY - online book

A System To Cultivate The Musical Memory For Musicians.

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64                                               MUSICAL MEMORY.
sensation; Wolfgang was called upon to execute the Miserere in presence of the Papal singer, Christofori, who was amazed at its correct­ness. L. Mozart's news excited consternation in Salzburg, mother and daughter believing that Wolfgang had sinned in transcribing the Miserere, and fearing unpleasant consequences if it should become known. ' When we read your ideas about the Miserere,' answered the father, ' we both laughed loud and long. You need not be in the least afraid. It is taken in quite another way. All Rome and the Pope himself know that Wolfgang has written the Miserere, and instead of punishment, it has brought him honour. You must not fail to show my letter everywhere, and let His Grace the Archbishop know of it." This feat was undoubtedly a remarkable one, but all Mozart's biographers have borne witness to the fact that he possessed an ear of wonderful delicacy and retentive power. Jahn states that when Mozart was not more than five years old he observed that his own violin was tuned an eighth of a tone higher than one belonging to Herr Schachtner, a friend of his father's, upon which he had played a day or two previous, and on comparison this proved to be the case.
121.  Another great composer who, like Mozart, possessed a phe­nomenal power of memory was Mendelssohn. He, also, during a visit to Rome, performed the feat of recording Allegri's Miserere, whilst the following story, the particulars of which have been supplied to me by Mr. T. L. Southgate, describes] a feat of a somewhat similar nature. Mendelssohn, when in England, was sometimes the guest of Attwood, the organist of St. Paul's Cathedral. During one of his visits he heard at the Cathedral a composition, either a Service or an Anthem of Attwood's. This pleased him so much that he offered to score it for the orchestra Attwood readily accepted Mendelssohn's offer, but the matter was not again referred to until after Mendelssohn's return to Germany, when Attwood wrote to him offering to send a copy of the work in question for reference. Mendelssohn's reply was a full orchestral score of it, which he had completed from memory, after hearing it once or perhaps twice at St. Paul's. A comparison of this full score with Attwood's vocal score showed that in no respect had his memory failed him.
122.  That Mendelssohn was an earnest student of all Bach's works is well known, and his great admiration of the St. Matthew "Passion" led him to revive that work at Berlin in 1829, the centenary year of its first production. Referring to this event, the following passage, taken from some anecdotes of Mendelssohn by Pastor Julius Schubring, of which a translation appeared in the Musical World'of May 12th and 19th, 1866, is worth recalling. The writer says, " How thoroughly he (Mendelssohn) had rendered himself master of this work was proved by his directing one of the later rehearsals at the piano without any music before him, and by his remarking, at the conclusion of the movement, ' In the twenty-third bar the soprano has C and not C sharp;'" whilst Sir Charles Halle in his Autobiography gives us an account of what happened at the per­formance of this same piece. He says, " It is well-known that when he (Mendelssohn) revived Bach's ' Passion Music,' and conducted the first performance of that immortal work, after it had been dormant for
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