The real essence or music lies in its sincerity and its meaning. If music is meaningless, it must have avowedly missed its object. The B.B.C. Contemporary Music concert recently afforded some good illustrations of this.
Frank Bridge's 'cello concerto, " Oration," was, indeed, very pleasant to listen to, and in some parts quite enjoyable, but the piece as a whole was a meaningless nothing. Furthermore, it was a great strain, as all the movements were played without a break. Miss Florence Hooton is to be congratulated on her interpretation of it, and she showed that she possesses a sound technique. The composer conducted.
No Melody On the other hand, Conrad Beck's " Innominata " was a really interesting orchestral work. The beginning was rather weak and seemed to lead nowhere, but after the first twenty bars or so it made amends. Melody, it is true, was practically non-existent, but it contained some fine pulsating, rhythmic passages; chords that spoke; something which could not easily be expressed in words. It was sincere and profound. It was music.
The third piece, Copland's " Music for the Theatre," was the direct antithesis. It must have been the first time that Dr. Boult has conducted jazz. That it was amusing I would not deny, but I think it would have been more suited to either the theatre or the dance orchestra. It was undoubtedly rhythmic. but that was all. The instruments were misused, and the whole thing was a farce. As music for the theatre it was probably quite fitting, but as music for a symphony concert it was not. R. J. B.