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Hereditary Genius
general remarks I made in the last chapter on artists, apply
with especial force to Musicians. The irregularity of their lives is
commonly extreme; the union of a painstaking disposition with the
temperament requisite for a good musician is as rare as in poets, and
the distractions incident to the public life of a great performer are
vastly greater. Hence, although the fact of the inheritance of musical
taste is notorious and undeniable, I find it exceedingly difficult to
discuss its distribution among families. I also found it impossible to
obtain a list of first-class musicians that commanded general
approval, of a length suitable to my purposes. There is excessive
jealousy in the musical world, fostered no doubt by the dependence of
musicians upon public caprice for their professional advancement.
Consequently, each school disparages others; individuals do the same,
and most biographers are unusually adulatory of their heroes, and
unjust to those with whom they compare them. There exists no
firmly-established public opinion on the merits of musicians, similar to
that which exists in regard to poets and painters, and it is even
difficult to find private persons of fair musical tastes, who are
qualified to give a deliberate and dispassionate selection of the most
eminent musicians. As I have mentioned at the head of the appendix
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