But this was not always the case. The cornet was far less successful at its origin; and, indeed, not many years ago, the masses treated the instrument with supreme indifference, while that time-honored antagonist, -"routine," -contested its qualities, and strove hard to prohibit their application. This phenomenon, however, is of never-failing recurrence at the birth of every new invention, however excellent it may be; and of this fact the appearance of the saxhorn and the saxophone, instruments of still more recent date than the cornet, gave a new and striking proof.
The first musicians who played the cornet were, for the most part, either performers on the horn, or trumpeters. Each imparted to his performance the peculiarities resulting from his tastes, his abilities, and his habits; and I need scarcely add that the kind of execution which resulted from so many incomplete and heterogeneous elements, was deficient in the extreme, and, for a long while, presented the lamentable spectacle of imperfections and failures of the most painful description.
Gradually, however, matters assumed a more favorable aspect. Executants really worthy of the name of artists began to make their appearance. Some excited admiration for their extreme agility; others were applauded for the expression with which they played; one was remarkable for strength of lip; another for the high tones to which he ascended; others for the brilliancy and volume of their tone. .It was, if I may be permitted the expression, the reign of specialties; but it does not appear that a single one of the artists then in vogue ever thought of realizing or of obtaining the sum total of qualities which alone can constitute a great artist.
This, then, is the point on which I wish to insist, and to which I wish particularly to call attention. At present the inadequacy of the old school of performers is unanimously acknowledged, as is, also, the insufficiency of their instruction. That which is required, is methodical execution and methodical instruction. It is not sufficient to phrase well, or to execute difficult passages with skill; it is necessary that both should be equally well done. In a word, it is necessary that the cornet, as well as the flute, the clarinet, the violin, and the voice should possess the pure style and the grand method of which a few professors, -the Conservatoire in particular,-have conserved the precious secret and the salutary traditions.
This is the aim which I have incessantly kept in view throughout my already long career; and, if numerous series of brilliant successes, obtained in the presence- of the most competent judges and the most critical audiences, give me the right to believe that I have, at any rate, approached the desired end, I shall not lay myself open to the charge of presumption, in entering confidently upon the delicate mission of transmitting to others the results of my own profound studies and assiduous practice. I have long beer: a professor; and this work is, to a certain extent, merely the resume of a long experience which each day has brought nearer to perfection.
My explanations will be found as short and as clear as possible, for I wish to instruct and not to terrify the student. Long pages of "text" are seldom read ; and it is therefore highly advantageous to replace the latter by exercises and examples. This is the wealth which I consider cannot be too lavishly accumulated; this is the source which can never be too plentifully drawn from. This, however, will be perceived from the extent of the present volume, in which, in my opinion, will be found the solution of all difficulties and of all problems.
I have endeavored to compose studies of a melodic nature, and, in general, to render Ore study of the instrument as agreeable as possible. In 4 word, I have endeavored to lead the pupil without discouragement to the highest limits of execution, expression, and style, destined to characterize the new school.
J. B. ARBAN.