National Geographic : 1915 Oct
Copyright, Campbell Art Co. Reproduced from o I4 -Tahy's famous S paintingow ned6,e e thate Aolian Coineo n pny andon h VJ LI Hall. New Yorlc. dods T is an old story now-begun three quarters of a century ago. A placid valley in old Roumania shone in a crimson grandeur on that evening, touched by the setting sun. Before a fire the gypsies sat. They laughed; they chattered; they sang their wild dark faces, their tawdry tinsel gleaming to the fire. Slightly apart sat a man. Pale and lean and ascetic-looking le was-and yet about him seemed to cling the spirit of some vague, mysteri ous romance. He was the great Franz Liszt-the darling of European Taste, of Fashion, of Beauty-come there on a strange quest. Years before he had heard a gypsy song. For years its weird and clinging melody had haunted him. Always had it been in his mind, thrilling him with its strange beauty. It had drawn him to that lonely spot, far from the triumph of courts and palaces. He had come to sojourn there to share the gypsies' thoughts and lives to learn the magic secret of their songs. A Haunting Melody Lower and lower sank the sun turning the gold to dusk. Yet still he listened. Out from the fire's red glow sounded some song that had within it the mourn ful wistfulness of a child-then held a burst of passion vivid as a flower. Those gypsies' souls sang there before that fire - and floated on magic waves to him who listened trans fixed and silent-in the dark. That day was born the vision of an immortal beauty of music, born of that silent genius sitting there, which will never fade while music beauty lives upon the earth. The Gypsy Song Immortalized It was three years later. A great audi ence sat breathless, waiting for Liszt himself. He sat at the instrument. There was a minute's pause-and then a sort of magic came. The master played-and the mind went back to that peaceful Roumanian valley, to the gypsy folk whose voices had sounded forth those age-old songs to be transfigured by a genius mind. That music lived again infinitely beautified-infinitely adorned. All the pathos of that homeless, wander ing race leaped like witcheries from be neath his hands. The poor tinsel, the gaudy clothes, the dark passionate faces seemed to rise again from the keys. Mystery, lament, glad, mad gaiety became crystallized in one imperishable beauty of music - in the soul of immemorial gypsies enshrined upon the keys. Suddenly -almost abruptly- he ceased. The master had completed the playing of his masterpiece. Liszt had given the priceless gift of his Second Hungarian Rhapsody to the world.