Surely music has some higher office than to amuse or even to give enjoyment. For if, among all the arts, it lies closest to the heart or the love-nature, surely its office must be the highest one. Without doubt it may be made the means of awakening the religious nature of man, causing that true vibration which begins at the very centre of life and works from there outward to the circumference. True religious feeling later resolves itself into true philosophic thought and this, in turn, becomes true physical action. Only the highest form of music can be made to awaken man's inner life, and through such an awakening his whole life will be influenced and transformed. I doubt if many as yet fully realise the vast benefit to be derived from music. Ideals rule the world. The lover of music constantly finds his mind inspired by new ideals, for, in absorbing the music, he drinks in something more than the rhythm, melody, and harmony; he gets from it something of the living spirit that brought it into being.
In many and various ways music can be used for the development of life and the rounding out of character. It can arouse one's sympathies so that the listener will take a greater and a more sympathetic interest in the welfare of his fellow-man. It can have such a refining influence that kindness, gentleness, and courtesy are all true expressions of its effects upon life. It can inspire hope and courage, in fact, its strengthening and renewing influence cannot be overestimated. Not only can it be made an influence for the healing of those who are sick in mind and body, but it will be used for bringing the greatest good to all mankind. It can comfort the sorrowing, strengthen the weak, and uplift the despondent. There is no field of human endeavour that it may not enter and bring with it something that will inspire to new effort and incite to continued progress.
When composers as a class have come to see this, their compositions will be directed to definite ends and purposes. They will know, too, that only as they can realise in their own consciousness the highest and truest ideals, will their music prove effective in accomplishing its desired end. They will also realise that only as they give their very best to the world will their music continue to live in the minds and the hearts of the people. Beethoven lives in his music in a greater way to-day than he did while he lived in the body, and there is an ever-increasing appreciation of his work. While he may not have lived a happy life, yet he gave so much happiness to others through his music, that in doing this he was storing up real riches for himself. When he passed from the world he took these with him, for the only riches one can take into that other phase of life are the accumulations of heart and mind. The beautiful ideals he expressed through music, while they were given to the world at large, or rather to all who were ready to appreciate them, still remained with him to bless and to comfort his own life. Men do not always reap in this little life all they have sown. With some, the greatest part of the reaping time may come in another life. We live in a universe of cause and effect. So sometime and somewhere Beethoven will reap the full effects of the causes which he set in motion, for what we give to the world, be it good or be it ill, comes back to comfort or to disturb us in our after life. "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." Some of the composers who ranked high in their time, who composed for the passing hour merely to amuse the public of that day, are almost forgotten. They had their brief day of popularity, but, because their ideals were either partial or unreal, when they passed away, they left nothing behind them that would stand the test of time. For it is only the real that lives and continues to bless.
In music, as in every other effort of life, it is the honesty, the sincerity, and the integrity that count in the end. And so all composers of true music, like all men who have living ideals, will continue to live in their music long after they have passed from this earth. The composers who desire to please, who sacrifice their ideals for the popularity of the moment, may enjoy all kinds of worldly honours and material possessions, but all those things they leave behind them, and in the end their work passes away and they are remembered no more; while all that is true in music will live, whether it be a great symphony by a Beethoven, or the light, joyous music filled with the sweetness and innocence of Mendelssohn's "Spring Song," or "Wedding March." Because life is many-sided there must be the joyous and the light, as well as the serious and the strong; and composers in order to be true to themselves must give full and true expression of what they feel and think in every phase of life. Not every composer can be a Beethoven or a Wagner, but every composer can be true to his highest self, and can express that truth just as much in the bright, joyous song as someone else can do in a more serious production. Only in this way will music come to take its proper place in life.
While music may be made to portray every human emotion, nevertheless we know that there are unreal, as well as real, emotions, and that the music that deals with the unreal only serves to perpetuate the unreal, and can serve no really beneficial purpose. Some may say that such music is needed by way of contrast, that it merely serves as a background for the appreciation of music of a higher class. I do not believe that this is true. The musician might say that it is only through discords that perfect music is brought out, and that, if the discords were left out, music would have a degree of monotony in it that it does not now possess. Granting the truth of this, it does not follow that the unreal emotions should be exploited in order to make the real emotions manifest, for everything necessary in the way of contrast will be found by following natural methods. I might illustrate it in this way: that even the joyous songs written by composers of northern countries have their undertone of sadness as the result of the great struggle of life. In other words, there will come into the music quite sufficient of emotional disturbance without any special effort of the composer to put it there.