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The Spike Golden Jubilee Number May 1949



A lectureship in Music was established in 1946. The Music syllabus takes students through to Stage III of the B.A. degree and to the Mus.B. degree. The syllabus is the same as that for the other University Colleges in New Zealand, which seems to be an adaptation of the course set by examiners in London up to about 1930. The course for the Mus.B. degree was set out at Oxford in 1862 by Sir Frederick Ouseley (whose church music can still be heard at the Cathedral in Christchurch), and modified by Sir Hugh Allen in 1918; at Cambridge it was set out by Sir Charles Stanford in 1887. The course that has been taken over is academic; it has been assumed that what suits the English amateur, the English oratorio composer, the English organist seeking a post in one of the cathedrals, is still the course for our students. The odd gifted music-student who has a talent for composition has had to adapt himself to the syllabus, 1862-model. The argument seems to be that if we could only seal him up and prevent him from hearing any music written since the founding of the college in 1899, all might still be well, but music has broken out into territory well-known to students, but still unmapped by theorists. Brave attempts have been made, notably by Hindemith, to bring the new music in line with academic practise, or rather to search for valid rules for the art of music.

To the question, why do you want to study music at the University? students usually give one of these answers: they want a unit for their B.A., they want to know something about harmony and counterpoint, they want to establish themselves in their jobs at the N.B.S.; and occasionally one nearly says because I like music, and is too reticent to say it.

Something that we can do for him is to give him as good a training in his craft as we can, to show him that technique, as a recent writer has put it, "can be studied only in terms of the period under discussion, that what is 'wrong' for one period may be 'right' for another." This means of course that he had better acquaint himself with as much music as he can; that he had better sound for himself bar 9 of the Andante of Mozart's Piano Concerto K.488 and recognise what Mozart is doing, than lard his work with Neapolitan sixths mugged up out of a text-book.

It is useful, therefore, to have as much music page 72 performed at the College as is possible. The Victoria University College Glee Club flourishes; I am sorry we have no record of its past activities. In recent years performances of Purcell's Dido and Aeneas, of Britten's Rejoice in the Lamb, of Vaughan Williams' Songs to be Sung in Time of War, of Bach's Sacred Songs have been given; weekly mid-day programmes have included works by 20th century composers, Berg, Schoenberg, Hindemith, Stravinsky, Copland, and Bach's 48.

The Chancellor, Sir David Smith, in a recent address, quoted Professor John Macmurray's remark that "The primary function of universities is to act as cultural centres in our civilization." Students at Cambridge have the services in the College Chapels, they can enjoy string quartets brought down from London, they live in a tradition of performances of music. Perhaps we shall have to learn to be patrons, to be able to call on a string quartet so that our students can hear regularly the quartets of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert, and the finest chamber music.

Frederick Page