What is new in the artistic spirit of revolt . . . is its bitterness and its universal range. . . . I may venture to assert that today it has, as it seldom had before, the aspect of a grievance. The mildest, and therefore perhaps the most serious form of the grievance, is that the load of classical tradition has long been so heavy as to repress further creative impulse. . . . What I do believe to be fundamentally wrong is every attitude towards Classical masterpieces that does not make them a stimulus instead of an oppression.
—D. F. Tovey, Stimulus and the Classics of Music (1914)

The nineteenth-century violinist Joseph Joachim thought that Donald Francis Tovey knew more about music than either Brahms or the Schumanns. Pablo Casals went one better by publicly acknowledging Tovey as one of the very greatest musicians of all time. The critic (and former bank clerk)...


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