By C. Hubert H. Parry
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print Publication Year: 2009
Online Publication Date:August 2010
Original Publication Year:1893
Chapter DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511693236.007
Subjects: Music criticism
The development of principles of design in music must inevitably wait upon the development of technique. Very little can be done with limited means of performance; and adequacy of such means is dependent on the previous perfecting of various instruments, and on the discovery of the particular types of expression and figure which are adapted to them. One of the reasons why instrumental music lagged behind was that men were slow in finding out the arts of execution; and even when the stock of figures and phrases which were adapted to various instruments had become plentiful, it took composers some time to assimilate them sufficiently, so as to have them always ready at hand to apply to the purposes of art when composing. It was this which gave performers so great an advantage in the early days, and accounts for the fact that all the great composers of organ music in early days were famous organists, and all the successful composers of violin music were brilliant public performers. In modern times it is necessarily rather the reverse, and the greatest composers are famous for anything rather than for their powers as executants.