"Lord Leighton and Music"
(Feb. 3, 1896, Issue 34803, pg. 7 col. A)
Sir,— As an old friend of the late Lord Leighton I should like to call
attention to an incident connected with his official career which, I think,
illustrates what I regard as a dominant feature in his many-sided character
— viz., the liberal and generous view he took of the equality of all the
arts — and which claims from us musicians special recognition.
In common with my brother musicians I had long entertained a feeling that
the Royal Academy under Lord Leighton's predecessors had, as the only State institution representing British art, failed to give any recognition to the
art of music; and this feeling I had often expressed in years long gone by
to my friends of the Royal Academy, to Mr. Leighton (as he was then) and
On his accession to the presidency, the very first banquet he presided over
was marked by the presence of invited representatives of the hitherto tabooed
art, and from that day to this musicians have ever been honoured guests at
the annual festival.
In 1891 Lord Leighton caused "Music" to be included (for the first time in
the annals of the Academy) in the list of toasts proposed at the dinner,
and was kind enough to select me to respond. In proposing the toast (to
quote the words of your report on the occasion) he described music as
"the divine art to which it is given at one moment to sweep the very inmost
chords of human emotions, and at another to lift us out of and above our
earthly selves into a region of rapt serenity which the din of life may
reach only as the half-heard murmur of a distant sea."
Never was a compliment to the art we all love paid more eloquently or more
gracefully; and never was a compliment appreciated more gratefully than it
was by my fellow artists and by
Your obedient servant,
Athenaeum Club, Feb. 1.
25 November, 2004