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packed up his things directly; paid his lodging;
and went off in a two-horse fly at eight
o'clock in the morning."


A THICK little volume, Musique et Musiciens,
has just been given to the world by M. Oscar
Commettant, which ably touches upon all the
important musical questions of the day, illustrating
them from time to time by curious and amusing
anecdotes. Not the least interesting chapter is
that devoted to the piano; and its authority is
all the greater from its author's himself holding
a distinguished position among the pianists of
the French metropolis.

Pianists at present constitute, in other
countries as well as in France, the main battalion of
the instrumental army. It will be scarcely
credited that Paris alone numbers twenty thousand
professors of the piano; but the census
proves the truth of the fact. It is true that
these twenty thousand professors do not all of
them earn their guinea per lesson, not a few
being content with the modest remuneration of
a cup of coffee-and-milk with a buttered roll.

At the head of the French pianists, public
opinion has for some time placed Emile Prudent;
and justly so: which makes his loss the more to
be regretted. While listening to Prudent's
performances, you became immediately aware that a
well organised head guided the fingers, which
had acquired the intelligence and sensibility
of the artist's mind and heart. He would
never have been the person to conceive the idea
like a certain great German pianist, who is as
clever a puffist as he is an admirable executant
of paying women at the rate of twenty-five
francs per concert, to pretend to faint away with
pleasure in the middle of a fantasia taken at such
a rapid pace that it would have been humanly
impossible to finish it. The pianist abruptly left
his instrument to rush to the assistance of the
poor fainting lady, while everybody in the room
believed that, but for that untoward accident,
the prodigious pianist would have completed the
greatest of miracles. It happened one night that
a woman paid to faint, forgot her cue, and fell
fast asleep. The pianist was performing Weber's
concerto. Reckoning on the fainting of this female
to interrupt the finale of the piece, he took it in
an impossible time. What could he do in such a
perplexing case? Stumble and trip like a vulgar
pianist, or pretend to be stopped by defective
memory? No; he simply played the part which
the fainteress (excuse the word) ought to have
acted, and fainted away himself. People crowded
around the pianist, who became doubly
phenomenal through his electric execution, and his
frail and susceptible organisation. They carried
him out into the green-room. The men
applauded as if they meant to bring down the
ceiling; the women waved their handkerchiefs to
manifest their enthusiasm; and the fainteress,
on waking, fainted, perhaps really, with despair
at not having pretended to faint.

Prudent's happy influence may be considered
as one of the causes of the superiority of French
pianists in general over foreign ones. For, M.
Commettant asserts, this superiority really exists,
and cannot be disputed. Formerly, it belonged
to Germany; now, it belongs to France. Vienna
takes rank, in this respect, not only after Paris,
but after London, where good pianists abound.

By the side of Emile Prudent may be ranged
a considerable number of pianists, strangers by
birth, but naturalised in France by talent, education,
and a more or less constant sojourn in the
country. The happy influence, on the art of
piano playing, of the compositions of Thalberg,
Kruger, Ascher, Rosenhain, and many others, is
incontestable. These eminent artists are fond of
Paris, because Paris is fond of them, and treats
them as her spoiled children. In Parisian drawing-rooms,
the piano is a throne whose occupant
is contemplated, admired, made much of, by an
undissembling court, who flatter him with hearty
good will, and applaud him conscientiously.
Chopin has been heard to say that he could live
in no other city but Paris. What would have
become of his poetic temperament (M.
Commettant demands) if necessity had constrained
him to perform in certain aristocratic London
saloons, where the artistswhatever their
celebrity, were they Beethoven or Mozart
themselvesare penned up, like lepers, on an
indicated spot, which they are only permitted
to leave at the order of the head of the house,
for the purpose of displaying their powers
in the midst of a general hum of conversation?
Assuredly, he could not have borne it; and the
great wonder is that superior artists should be
found who will submit to such treatment from
persons whose principal, sometimes whose only
merit, is, to bear a noble (sometimes an ignoble)
name, and to possess a large fortune. In
Paris, good society better appreciates the value
of artists. It is aware what natural qualities,
what persevering efforts, what obstinate labour,
and what noble ardour, are indispensable, in
order to acquire superiority in any art; and as
it really loves the arts, it also loves artists.

Greatly to be pitied are the children of whom
their parents determine to make musical phenomena.
It pains one to behold the pale thin
countenances of these interesting martyrs of the
demisemiquaver. Poor dear creatures! At an
age when they ought to ramble through the
fields, breathe the open air, laugh and play, they
are shut up in a chamber, seated at a piano, with
their ears and their minds at full stretch upon
music; the inevitable effect of which, on such
feeble constitutions, already tried by growth and
want of exercise, is to develop, out of all
proportion, their nervous system, at the expense of
their muscular and sanguine system, or, in other
words, to compromise their health for ever. It
is to be hoped that the fathers and mothers of
these unhappy infants are not aware of the injury