Sandys, John Edwin. Orationes Et Epistolae Cantabrigienses. London: Macmillan, 1910, 3-4.
[English translation below © Robert W. Eshbach]


J. E. Sandys: Oration at Cambridge University
Upon the Awarding of the Mus. Doc. to Joseph Joachim, March 8, 1877

QUAE abhinc annos triginta in hac ipsa curia, coram Alberto Principe Cancellario nostro admodum deflendo, coram ipsa Regina nemini nostrum non dilecta, hunc, vixdum e pueris egressum, eximios cantus fidibus modulantem audivit; eadem Academia virum, per omnem Europam inter principes totius artis musicae iam diu numeratum, hodie reducem salvere iubet. Hodie nobis redditus est Orpheus, —utinam ipsa etiam adesset Eurydice; [1] nunc iterum, ut poëtae verbis utar quem Cremonae vicina genuit Mantus, Academi in silvis Orpheus

‘obloquitur numeris septem discrimina vocum
iamque eadem digitis, iam pectine pulsat eburno.’ [2]

Quid dicam de illis qui inter fautores tanti ingenii olim exstiterunt, de viris sempiternae memoriae Mendelssohnio et Schumanno? Nobis autem tamquam triplici vinculo hospitii coniunctus est Regiae Academiae Artium apud Berolinenses Professor, trium deinceps Professorum Cantabrigiensium amicus, primum Thomae Attwood Walmisley, deinde Wilelmi Sterndale Bennett, denique illius qui nuper horum sacrorum antistes a vobis est creatus,

τὸν πέρι μοῦσ᾽ ἐφίλησε, δίδου δ᾽ ἀγαθόν τε κακόν τε:
ὀφθαλμῶν μὲν ἄμερσε, δίδου δ᾽ ἡδεῖαν ἀοιδήν. [3]

Tantis igitur gloriatur praeceptoribus ars illa, quae in solitudine consolatur, in turba delectat vitaeque communis societatem iucundiorem reddit; quae fessos recreat, aegrotantibus, si non ipsam dare salutem (sicut olim insanienti Hebraeorum regi), auxilium tamen aliquatenus ferre hodie conatur; quae ipsum Dei cultum adiuvat, et intimos animi affectus exprimit, ipsa intima numerorum cantuumque nixa scientia. Quid autem si ars tanta Musarum nomine vere digna, in hac etiam Musarum domo quasi in ordinem redacta atque via quadam et ratione alumnis nostris tradita, inter severiora nostra studia sedem suam aliquando vindicabit? Quid si, inter tot ‘tripodas, praemia fortium,’ novam quandam laureolam Apollini Musagetae dedicare volueritis? Interim huic Apollinis ministro quem ipsum prope appellaverim Arcitenentem, huic interpreti certe divinorum in arte sua virorum Sebastiani Bach et Ludovici Beethoven; qui magnus ipse vates magnorum vatum memoriam non sinit interire; [5] hanc lauream nostram Apollinarem, hunc titulum Doctoris in Musica, donare licet: qui honos numquam antehac ab ulla Academia Britannica habitus est alienigenae, uno illo excepto, qui nascentis mundi primordia immortali cantu consociavit, Iosepho Haydn. [6]

At enim Λίνον μὲν ἐπ᾽ εὐτυχεῖ μολπᾷ Φοῖβος ἰαχεῖ, τὸν κάλλειφθιτόν
κιθάραν ἐλαύνων πλήκτρῳ  χρυσέῳ. [7]

Gravamur hodie abesse popularem huius viri, alterum Musarum Teutonicarum decus, virum in difficillimo musicae genere facillimum, Iohannem Brahms. Quamquam autem ipse fato iniquo procul retentus est, carmen illius egregium quod ‘fatorum’ nuncupatur vesperi audietis; audietis etiam novum opus, quo non modo ceteros omnes sed se ipsum superasse dicitur. Post tot triumphos nemo negabit tanto viro consentaneam esse requiem. Ceterum quo maiore animi aegritudine illum absentem desideramus, eo elatiore gaudio praesentem salutamus Iosephum Ioachim.

[1] [Meant is] Amalie Joachim

[2] Virgil, Aen. iv. 646 [recte: vi — RWE] [“Matching their gestures with the seven tones,
Striking the lyre, now with his fingers, now with his ivory plectrum.” — RWE]

[3] “Then the herald drew near, leading the good minstrel, whom the Muse loved above all other men, and gave him both good and evil; of his sight she deprived him, but gave him the gift of sweet song.” Homer, Od. Viii 61.

[4] In the context of the phrase “inter tot ‘tripodas, praemia fortium,'” the word “tripodas” refers to the ancient Greek tripod, which was a three-legged stool or stand often used as a ceremonial or artistic prize. It symbolized victory, honor, and recognition. In this context, “tripodas” metaphorically represents prestigious awards or accolades given to accomplished individuals or victors. — RWE

[5] Overture on the death of the patriot-poet Heinrich von Kleist, composed for this occasion. [Elegiac Overture ‘In Memoriam Heinrich von Kleist’, Op. 13 — RWE]

[6] Mus. Doc. At Oxford, 1794.

[7] “Now Apollo plucks his sweet-voiced lyre with a golden plectrum and a sad song follows his song of joy.” Euripides Heracles, H. F. 349.


Thirty years ago, in this very hall, in the presence of our esteemed Chancellor Prince Albert, and before our beloved Queen herself, this man, barely out of his childhood, was heard playing exquisite melodies on the strings of his violin. Today, the same Academy bids welcome to a man who has long been counted among the foremost in the whole art of music, as recognized throughout all of Europe. Today Orpheus has been restored to us—would that Eurydice [1] herself were also present! Now, once again, as the poet born in Mantua near Cremona says, Orpheus speaks in the forest of the Academy:

‘obloquitur numeris septem discrimina vocum
iamque eadem digitis, iam pectine pulsat eburno.’ [2]

What can I say about those who once stood among the admirers of such great talent, about men of eternal memory like Mendelssohn and Schumann? But for us, he is connected as if by a triple bond of hospitality, a Professor at the Royal Academy of Arts among the Berliners; he is also a friend of three successive Professors at Cambridge, first of Thomas Attwood Walmisley, then of William Sterndale Bennett, finally, that person who recently was appointed by you as the leader of these sacred rites,

τὸν πέρι μοῦσ᾽ ἐφίλησε, δίδου δ᾽ ἀγαθόν τε κακόν τε:
ὀφθαλμῶν μὲν ἄμερσε, δίδου δ᾽ ἡδεῖαν ἀοιδήν. [3]

Therefore, that art boasts such great masters which comforts in solitude, delights in the crowd, and makes the fellowship of common life more enjoyable; which refreshes the weary, and though it may not grant salvation itself (as it did once to the mad Hebrew king), strives today to offer some degree of succor to the sick; which aids in the worship of God himself and expresses the innermost emotions of the soul, relying on the profound understanding of numbers and the science of sacred song. But what if this art, worthy of the name of the Muses, organized even within this very house of the Muses and handed down to our students through a specific approach and system, should someday claim its place among our more serious pursuits? What if, among all these “tripods” [4] and “rewards for the brave,” you were to wish to dedicate a new kind of laurel to Apollo, the leader of the Muses? Meanwhile, this minister of Apollo, whom I have almost called the Arcitenens [“bow-carrier” — Apollo] himself, this interpreter of divine works in his own art, [5] and certainly of Sebastian Bach and Ludwig Beethoven, who are themselves great prophets, does not permit the memory of great prophets to perish. Our Apollinian laurel, the title of Doctor of Music, can indeed be bestowed upon him. This honor has never before been given by any British Academy to a foreigner, except for one, who united the beginnings of the nascent world with immortal music: Joseph Haydn. [6]

But indeed,

Λίνον μὲν ἐπ᾽ εὐτυχεῖ μολπᾷ Φοῖβος ἰαχεῖ, τὸν κάλλειφθιτόν
κιθάραν ἐλαύνων πλήκτρῳ  χρυσέῳ. [7]

We are greatly saddened by the absence today of that beloved man, the other pride of the Teutonic Muses, the most adept in the most challenging genre of music, Johannes Brahms. However, although he himself has been kept far away by cruel fate, you will hear this remarkable composition of his, which is called “Fate,” this evening; you will also hear a new work, by which it is said that he has not only surpassed all others but even himself. After so many triumphs, no one will deny that such a great man deserves appropriate rest. However, the more we long for Brahms in his absence, the greater our joy in welcoming Joseph Joachim in his presence.