From Barbieri to Heine


It seems that Dr. Sidad has transferred his immense power of concentration for the treatment of dental diseases, his sincere and passionate vocation, to frantic reading during the holidays. He does not stop there and uses Liencres’ silence to read with pleasure. Menendez Pelayo… Gives me a reason for it Barbieri And by the way, he tells me how a humanist from Santander made him want to read poetry Heine… He never imagined that Don Marcelino would so accurately illustrate the history of Spanish music to us, and even less would it have occurred to him that Barbieri, the most famous zarzuelero of the 19th century, would take an appropriate place in his work. Job. He was also surprised by Don Marcelino’s mental openness to open up poetry like Heine’s, which, in principle, did not match his classical tastes: “Many doors lead to the enchanted city of fantasy: let’s not insist on closing any of them. … them, nor in limiting the number of pleasures of the spirit. “

Yes, Don Marcelino gave music the meaning it had in classical times. This is the only art, as Plato said in Republiccapable of transforming society. This was the purpose of the musical movement that Barbieri led during the Restoration, and Menendez Pelayo thought correctly: “Music is again the art of collective learning” Moreover, in the hour of crisis for the rest of the plastic arts and for literature itself, according to the critic, music realizes its ideal. In other words, for Don Marcelino, and in the sense that he was ahead of him by more than a century, this is the only Art that is constantly evolving: “Today, music is everywhere: there are philosophical systems that are music (and not always heavenly music). , and if there are aesthetic issues that have the privilege to excite and share, then these are no longer those that are associated with Poetry and Architecture, as it was during the glorious romantic movement, but those that are associated with the theory and practice of Music. “

I do not know how correctly our author of the summer helps in this assessment of music, which my friend Angel singles out among other qualities, but one thing is indisputable: Don Marcelino is one of the few thinkers in Spain at the end of the 19th century. that he took this art seriously. Spanish philosophers wrote little about music, some even wrote demonstration of their musical ignorance, but Don Marcelino saves the honor of this guild of humanists. If I leave aside Gustavo Goodewho even played the piano well, few like Menendez Pelayo paid as much attention as he did to find out what are the main ways to achieve improvement in people’s musical education. He made a decisive contribution to the development of the bibliographic and aesthetic heritage of the history of Spanish music. He searched, ordered and classified the sources that are needed to research and guide musical aesthetics.

Sadly, Don Marcelino’s greatest contribution — music as the “art of collective education” — was scorned by political leaders and his intellectual elite. Low level of public education in general, but “Music education” borders on illiteracy… Few in Spain believe that not understanding music or not knowing the importance of music for the education of a nation means being illiterate. Indeed, it is difficult for an ordinary Spaniard to understand that “taste has been brought up”, any taste, starting with the literary one, lends itself to education. This, the education of artistic tastes in general and poetry in particular, is the first thing that Brujo de Villahizán singles out to me from the short texts that Don Marcelino dedicated to Heine.

Translation value

Aesthetic education and the value of translation, or, better to say, the merits of the translators of Heine’s poetry – these are the key themes that Don Marcelino touches on in these two works. The first is a prologue to the Spanish translation he made. Jose Joaquin Herrero, in 1883 Poems and fantasies Heine. The second is a letter to Enrique Perez Bonalde, Venezuelan poet who lived in New York in 1886, on his Spanish translation Buch der lieder (A collection of songs) Heine is perhaps the only collection of poems in the history of literature that is popular today. The first edition, 1827, was published 12 times with a circulation of 5,000 copies. What a modern poetry publication could compete with Heine! Also in Spain, a Jewish poet from Düsseldorf was soon read, who composed the most popular song in Germany: Lorelei, whose first verse is already a declaration of romanticism: “I am looking in vain for what I feel.”

Thanks to these translations, as well as the translations of the Valencian poet Teodoro Llorente, which were preceded by translations Eulogio Florentino Sanswho made neat versions of some of his most famous LiederHeine was well known in Spain. At that time, our country was not “outskirts”, as I wrote in 1964, Manuel Sacristan famous communist after passing through the ranks of the phalangists [1] The cultural life of the era of the Restoration was not at all wasteland … But what we were about to do was the embodiment of the approach of Don Marcelino, the classic taster of poets, to romantic poets par excellence. On the education of taste! Although he never questioned the prose genius of Heine, whom he considered to be the first satirist of the modern world, he was reluctant about his poetry, and although he never cursed or forbade “art forms that were not easy for him to get to or that they made” … not to get along with his character and inclinations ”, it was difficult for him to enter Heine’s romanticism. But since he never renounced any form of art and never considered his Christian principles an antinomy with the cultivation of pagan aesthetics, Don Marcelino persistently cultivated his poetic taste. And, finally, he managed, as he bluntly declares, to enter Heine’s poetry with a pure gaze.

I am convinced that this educational process was undoubtedly influenced by his friend. Amos Escalante, an exquisite taster of European romantic poetry. But, above all, his own intellectual effort, a real exercise in cultivating taste, led him to read Heine directly, and not by decomposing him. Since he accepted everything as it really is, he realized the value of poetry as music. And then, when he decided that he understood, the hour of his critical judgment came: the versatility of Heine’s poetryfar from German nationalism, “does not penetrate through the eyes, but impregnates the soul with light dew. These poems have everything, but volatile and airy. Each reader puts into this music words that are suggested by his state of mind.” … (…) Anyone who absentmindedly opens Heine’s book and begins to flip through these works without any matter (according to the vulgar understanding of matter), soon feels how inner voices rise that respond to the voice of the poet, and transfer a storm of dry leaves into his memory, and that’s all yet to shed light on the still badly extinguished coals. “

Made a nest in Voltaire’s wig


It is impossible to imitate Heine’s irony. It is as unique as its time. For Don Marcelino, the study of an author isolated from the literature and society of his time is always impossible. And since Don Marcelino was well aware of the circumstances of Heine’s time, he welcomes the ingenuity of the German critic: “Heine is a German nightingale who made a nest in Voltaire’s wigHeine cannot resist the parody: “Jewish by race, German by birth, French by old place of residence and some parts (not the best) of his genius. He sought warmth, light and freedom in the south for his thoughtful and Germanic poetry. All this resulted in a pungent and spicy fruit, and at the same time tasty and tender, which, perhaps, will never be repeated in the world, because the conditions in which it was given are not those that were obtained artificially. “

And in spite of this beautiful criticism of Heine, suspicion, a terrifying prejudice, was sown about the contempt that Menendez Pelayo had for the romantic, paradoxical, most enlightened that Europe has given. These two texts, read with enthusiasm by a dentist whose office walls are full of beautiful poetry, prove otherwise. Menendez Pelayo himself criticizes himself for not appreciating him enough. However, this rebuke Don Marcelino had to endure stoically part of his life. A prejudice that became an ideological cliché after his death and especially from generation 27… But about this and about the denial of his work

[1] This is not the only blur Sacristan throws in his introduction, on the other hand, very well-documented, to the Vergara edition published in 1964. Plays Heine.

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