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12 Works of Carl Van Vechten

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I The Land of Joy “Dancing is something more than an amusement in Spain. It is part of that solemn ritual which enters into the whole life of the people. It expresses their very spirit.” Havelock Ellis. An idle observer of theatrical conditions might derive a certain ironic pleasure from remarking the contradiction implied in […]

“All’eta di settanta Non si ama, ne si canta.” Italian proverb. “I am not sure,” writes Arthur Symons in his admirable essay on SarahBernhardt, “that the best moment to study an artist is not the momentof what is called decadence. The first energy of inspiration is gone;what remains is the method, the mechanism, and it […]

“Gautier had a theory to the effect that to be a member of the Academy was simply and solely a matter of predestination. ‘There is no need to do anything,’ he would say, ‘and so far as the writing of books is concerned that is entirely useless. A man is born an Academician as he […]

Some toothless old sentimentalist or other periodically sets up a melancholy howl for “the good old days of comic opera,” whatever or whenever they were. Perhaps none of us, once past forty, is guiltless in this respect. Nothing, not even the smell of an apple-blossom from the old homestead, the sight of a daguerreotype of […]

H. L. Mencken pointed out to me recently, in his most earnest and persuasive manner, that it was my duty to write a book about the American composers, exposing their futile pretensions and describing their flaccid opera, stave by stave. It was in vain that I urged that this would be but a sleeveless errand, […]

“We can never depend upon any right adjustment of emotion to circumstance.” Max Beerbohm. Ordinarily one does not learn things about oneself from Edmund Gosse, but my discovery that I am a Pyrrhonist is due to that literary man. A Pyrrhonist, says Mr. Gosse, is “one who doubts whether it is worth while to struggle […]

“Give me some music,–music, moody food Of us that trade in love.” Shakespeare’s Cleopatra. It is my firm belief that there is an intimate relationship between the stomach and the ear, the saucepan and the crotchet, the mysteries of Mrs. Rorer and the mysteries of Mme. Marchesi. It has even occurred to me that one […]

Au Bal Musette

Story type: Essay

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“Aupres de ma blonde Qu’il fait bon, fait bon, bon, bon….” Old French Song. It has often been remarked by philosophers and philistines alike that the commonest facts of existence escape our attention until they are impressed upon it in some unusual way. For example I knew nothing of the sovereign powers of citronella as […]

” It’s the law of life that nothing new can come into the world without pain. ” Karen Borneman. The art of vocalization is retarding the progress of the modern music drama. That is the simple fact although, doubtless, you are as accustomed as I am to hearing it expressed a rebours. How many times […]

Edgar Saltus

Story type: Essay

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“O no, we never mention him, His name is never heard!” Old Ballad. To write about Edgar Saltus should be vieux jeu. The man is an American; he was born in 1858; he accomplished some of his best work in the Eighties and the Nineties, in the days when mutton-legged sleeves, whatnots, Rogers groups, cat-tails, […]

” To know whether you are enjoying a piece of music or not you must see whether you find yourself looking at the advertisements of Pears’ soap at the end of the program. ” Samuel Butler. What is the distinction in the mind of Everycritic between good music and bad music, in the mind of […]

” It is a painful thing, at best, to live up to one’s bricabric, if one has any; but to live up to the bricabric of many lands and of many centuries is a strain which no wise man would dream of inflicting upon his constitution. ” Agnes Repplier. In Defence of Bad Taste In […]