• Tim Braithwaite

M. Garcia on the Decline of Singing Immediately Before the Golden Age of Commercial Recording (1894)

Updated: Feb 14

‘At the present day the acquirement of flexibility is not in great esteem, and were it not, perhaps, for the venerable Handel, declamatory music would reign alone. This is to be regretted, for not only must the art suffer, but also the young fresh voices to which the brilliant florid style is the most congenial; the harder and more settled organs being best suited for declamation. It would not be difficult to trace the causes of the decline of the florid style. Let it suffice, however, to mention, as one of the most important, the disapperance of the race of great singers who, besides originating this art, carried it to its highest point of excellence. The impresario, influenced by the exigencies of the modern prima donna, has been constrained to offer less gifted and accomplished virtuosi to the composer, who in turn has been compelled to simplify the role of the voice and to rely more and more upon orchestral effects. Thus, singing is becoming as much a lost art as the manufacture of Mandarin china or the varnish used by the old masters.’

Manuel Garcia Jr., Hints on Singing, trans. Beata Garcia (London: Ascherberg, 1894).

The image below is taken from the same book by Manuel Garcia and demonstrates the laryngoscope which he invented in 1854.