Monday, May 21, 2012

None of the places from St. Petersburgh are worth mentioning, till you get to...

WYBOURG.

This is a large handsome town, with a considerable navigation upon its shores; it is strongly fortified. Here you pass through two barriers, at each of which you are detained some time whilst the officer of the guard examines your passport and podoroschna; and then, before you leave the town, they are again visited by the Military and Civil Governors, which detains you better than an hour; and, as you cannot enter the town after dark, the best way is to contrive to arrive here about dinner time, as here is a tolerable inn kept by an Italian, and an ordinary, wine included, for one silver rouble and a half.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

And I like that Finnish man's stuff, Sibelius, too,

I did like her method with Brahms, and she was not unwilling, at my suggestion, to go over and over the Three Rhapsodies. On the Third Intermezzo she was at her best, and a good best it was.

"You were talking of Debussy," she remarked. "I've got some of his stuff here. But I don't get into it. I don't understand it, and there is no use in trying. It doesn't seem altogether like real music to me. It fails to get hold of me, just as I fail to get hold of it."

"Yet you like MacDowell," I challenged.

"Y. . . es," she admitted grudgingly. "His New England Idylls and Fireside Tales. And I like that Finnish man's stuff, Sibelius, too, although it seems to me too soft, too richly soft, too beautiful, if you know what I mean. It seems to cloy."

What a pity, I thought, that with that noble masculine touch of hers she is unaware of the deeps of music. Some day I shall try to get from her just what Beethoven, say, and Chopin, mean to her. She has not read Shaw's Perfect Wagnerite, nor had she ever heard of Nietzsche's Case of Wagner. She likes Mozart, and old Boccherini, and Leonardo Leo. Likewise she is partial to Schumann, especially Forest Scenes. And she played his Papillons most brilliantly. When I closed my eyes I could have sworn it was a man's fingers on the keys.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Guide their daring steps to Finland fairs

By dancing meteors then, that ceaseless shake
A waving blaze refracted o'er the heavens,
And vivid moons, and stars that keener play
With doubled lustre from the radiant waste,
Even in the depth of polar night they find
A wondrous day-enough to light the chase
Or guide their daring steps to Finland fairs.
Wished spring returns; and from the hazy south,
While dim Aurora slowly moves before,
The welcome sun, just verging up at first,
By small degrees extends the swelling curve;
Till, seen at last for gay rejoicing months,
Still round and round his spiral course he winds,
And, as he nearly dips his flaming orb,
Wheels up again and re-ascends the sky.

Frozen Lapland, rude and churlish Finland

 I never addressed myself, in the language of decency and friendship, to a woman, whether civilized or savage, without receiving a decent an...