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Full text of "The Note Books Of Samuel Butler"

Handel and Music             m

suppose I was really of this opinion already, but it was not
till I got a little touch from outside that I knew it. From
that moment Beethoven began to go back, and now I feel
towards him much as I did when I first heard his work,
except, of course, that I see a gnosis in him of which as a
young man I knew nothing. But I do not greatly care about
gnosis, I want agape; and Beethoven's agape is not the
healthy robust tenderness of Handel, it is a sickly maudlin
thing in comparison. Anyhow I do not like him. I like
Mozart and Haydn better, but not so much better as I should
like to like them.

Handel and Domenico Scarlatti

Handel and Domenico Scarlatti were contemporaries
almost to a year, both as regards birth and death. They
knew each other very well in Italy and Scarlatti never men-
tioned Handel's name without crossing himself, but I have
not heard that Handel crossed himself at the mention of
Scarlatti's name. I know very little of Scarlatti's music
and have not even that little well enough in my head to
write about it; I retain only a residuary impression that
it is often very charming and links Haydn with Bach, more-
over that it is distinctly un-Handelian.

Handel must have known and comprehended Scarlatti's
tendencies perfectly well: his rejection, therefore, of the
principles that lead to them must have been deliberate.
Scarlatti leads to Haydn, Haydn to Mozart and hence,
through Beethoven, to modern music. That Handel fore-
saw this I do not doubt, nor yet that he felt, as I do myself,
that modern music means something, I know not what,
which is not what I mean by music. It is playing another
game and has set itself aims which, no doubt, are excellent
but which are not mine.

Of course I know that this may be all wrong : I know how
very limited and superficial my own acquaintance with music
is. Still I have a strong feeling as though from John Dunstable,
or whoever it may have been, to Handel the tide of music
was rising, intermittently no doubt but still rising, and that
since Handel's time it has been falling. Or, rather perhaps
I should say that music bifurcated with Handel and Bach—