Thus music had almost come back to its own, as far as the higher kind of teaching and the intellectual world were concerned. It remained for a place to be found for it in other kinds of teaching ; for there, and especially in secondary education, its advance was less sure. It remained for us to make it enter into the life of the nation and into the people’s education. This was a difficult task, for in France art has always had an aristocratic character ; and it was a task in which neither the State nor musicians were very interested. The Republic still continued to regard music as something outside the people. There had even been opposition shown during the last thirty years towards any attempt at popular musical education. In the old days of the Pasdeloup concerts one could pay seventy-five centimes for the cheapest places, and have a seat for that ; but at some of the symphony concerts to-day the cheapest seats are two and four francs. And so the people that sometimes came to the Pasdeloup concerts never come at all to the big concerts today.
And that is why one should applaud the enterprise of Victor Charpentier, who, in March, 1905, founded a Symphonic Society of amateurs called L’Orchestre, to give free hearings for the benefit of the people. And in that Paris, where forty years ago one would have had a good deal of trouble to get together two or three amateur quartettes, Victor Charpentier has been able to count on one hundred and fifty good performers, l who under his direction, or that of Saint-Saëns or Gabriel Fauré, have already given seventeen free concerts, of which ten were given at the Trocadéro. It is to be hoped that the State will help forward such a generous work for the people in a rather more practical way than it has done up till now.
Attempts have been made at different times to found a Théâtre Lyrique Populaire. But up to the present time none has succeeded. The first at-tempts were made in 1847. M. Carvalho’s old Théâtre-Lyrique was never a financial success, though quite distinguished performances of operas were given there, such as Gounod’s Faust and Gluck’s Orfeo, with Mme. Viardot as an interpreter and Berlioz as conductor ; and the directors who followed CarvalhoRety, Pasdeloup, etc.did not succeed any better. In 1875 Vizentini took over the Gaîté, with a grant of two hundred thousand francs and excellent artists ; but he had to give it up. Since then all sorts of other schemes have been tried by Viollet-le-Duc, Guimet, Lamoureux, Melchior de Vogüé and Julien Goujon, Gabriel Parisot, Colonne and Milliet, Deville, Lagoanère, Corneille, Gailhard, and Carré but one of them achieved any success. At the moment, a new attempt is being made ; and this time the thing seems to show every sign of being a success.
But whatever may be the educational value of the theatre and concerts, they are not complete enough in themselves for the people. To make their influence deep and enduring it must be combined with teaching. Music, no less than every other expression of thought, has no use for the illiterate.
So in this case there was everything to be done. There was no other popular teaching but that of the numerous Galin-Paris-Chevé schools. These schools have rendered great service, and are continuing to render it ; but their simplified methods are not without drawbacks and gaps. Their purpose is to teach the people a musical language different from that of cultured people ; and although it may not be as difficult as is supposed to go from a knowledge of the one to a knowledge of the other, it is always wrong to raise up a fresh barrierhowever small it isbetween the` cultured people and the other people, who in our own country are already too widely separated.
And besides, it is not enough to know one’s letters ; one must also have books to read. What books have the people had ?so far songs sung at the café concerts and the stupid répertoires of choral societies. The folk-song had practically disappeared, and was not yet ready for re-birth ; for the populace, even more readily than the cultured people, are inclined to blush at anything which suggests ” popularity.”
It is nearly twenty-five years since M. Bourgault-Ducoudray, who was one of the people who fostered the growth of choral singing in France, pointed out, in an account of the teaching of singing, the use-fulness of making children sing the old popular airs of the French provinces, and of getting the teachers to make collections of them. In 1895, as the result of a meeting organised by the Correspondance générale de l’Instruction primaire, delightful collections of folk-songs were distributed in the schools. The melodies were taken from old airs collected by M. Julien Tiersot, and M. Maurice Buchor had put some fresh and sparkling verses to them. “M. Buchor,” I wrote at the time, ” will enjoy a pleasure not common to poets of our day : his songs will soar up into the open air, like the lark in his Chanson de labour. The populace may even recognise its own spirit in them, and one day take possession of them, as if they were of their own contriving.” This prediction has been almost completely realised, and M. Buchor’s songs are now the property of all the people of France.
But M. Buchor did not remain content to be a poet of popular song. During the last twelve years he has made, with untiring energy, a tour of all the Écoles Normales in France, returning several times to places where he found signs of good vocal ability. In each school he made the pupils sing his songsin unison, or in two or three parts, sometimes massing the boys’ and girls’ schools of one town together. His ambition grew with his success ; and to the folk-song melodies. he began gradually to add pieces of classical music. And to impress the music better on the singers he changed the existing words, and tried to find others, which by their moral and poetic beauty more exactly translated the musical feeling. And at last he composed and grouped together twenty-four poems in his Poème de la Vie humainefine odes and songs, written for classic airs and choruses, a vast repertory of the people’s joys and sorrows, fitting the momentous hours of family or public life. With a people that has ancient musical traditions, as Germany has, music is the vehicle for the words and impresses them in the heart ; but in France’s case it is truer to say that the words have brought the music of Händel and Beethoven into the hearts of French school-children. The great thing is that the music has really got hold of them, and that now one may hear the provincial Écoles Normales performing choruses from Fidelio, The Messiah, Schumann’s Faust, or Bach cantatas.’ The honour of this remarkable achievement, which no. one could nave believed possible twenty years ago, belongs almost entirely to M. Maurice Buchor.
M. Buchor’s endeavours have been the most extensive and the most fruitful, but he is not alone in individual effort. There was, twenty years ago, in the suburbs of Paris and in theprovinces, a large number of well-meaning people who devoted them-selves to the work of musical education with sincerity and splendid enthusiasm. But their good works were too isolated, and were swamped by the apathy of the people about them ; though some-times they kindled little fires of love and understanding in art, which only needed coaxing in order to burn brightly ; and even their less happy efforts generally succeeded in lighting a few sparks, which were left smouldering in people’s hearts.
At length, as a result of these individual efforts, the State began to show an interest in this educational movement, although it had for so long stood apart from it. It discovered, in its turn, the educational value of singing. A musical test was instituted at the examination for the Brevet supérieur which made the study of solfeggio a more serious matter in the Écoles Normales. In 1903 an endeavour was made to organise the teaching of music in the schools and colleges in a more rational way. In 1904, following the suggestions of M. Saint-Saëns and M. Bourgault-Ducoudray, class-singing was incorporated with other subjects in the pro-gramme of teaching, l and a free school of choral singing was started in Paris under the honorary chairmanship of M. Henry Marcel, director of the Beaux-Arts, and under the direction of M. Radiguer. Quite lately a choral society for young school-girls has been formed, with the Vice-Provost as president and a membership of from six to seven hundred young girls, who since 1906 have given an annual concert under the direction of M. Gabriel Pierné. And lastly, at the end of 1907, an association of professors was started to undertake the teaching of music in the institutions of public instruction ; its chairman was the Inspector-General, M. Gilles, and its honorary presidents were M. Liard and M. Saint-Saëns. Its object is to aid the progress of musical instruction by establishing a centre to promote friendly relations among professors of music ; by centralising their interests and studies ; by organising a circulating library of music and a periodical magazine in which questions relating to music may be discussed ; by establishing communication between French professors and foreign professors ; and by seeking to bring together professors of music and professors in other branches of public teaching.
All this is not much, and we are yet terribly behindhand, especially as regards secondary teaching, which is considered less important than primary teaching.’ But we ate scrambling out of an abyss of ignorance, and it is something to have the desire to get out of it. We must remember that Germany has not always been in its present plethoric state of musical prosperity. The great choral societies only date from the end of the eighteenth century. Germany in the time of Bach was poorif not poorerin means for performing choral works than France today. Bach’s only executants were his pupils at the Thomasschule at Leipsic, of which barely a score knew how to sing. And now these people gather together for the great Mannergesangsfeste (choral festivals) and the Musikfeste (music festivals) of Imperial Germany.
Let us hope on and persevere. The main thing is that a start has been made ; the thing that remains is to have patience andpersistence.