But "Der Rosenkavalier" is almost antipodal to "Don Giovanni" or to "Falstaff" or to "Die Meistersinger" or to any of the great comic operas.

Every one knows what the score of "Rosenkavalier" should have been, a gay, florid, licentious thing, the very image of the gallant century with its mundane amours and ribbons and cupids, its petit-maîtres and furbelows and billets-doux, its light emotions and equally light surrenders.

She had, for example, abandoned the Rosenkavalier waltz, having never succeeded in struggling through more than about ten bars of it, and those the simplest. But her French dances she had notably improved in. She knew some of them by heart and could patter them off with a very tasteful vivacity. Instead of practising, she now played gently through a slow waltz from memory.

So works leave his writing table half-conceived, half-executed. The score of "Elektra" he permits his publishers to snatch from him before he is quite finished with it. He commences composing "Der Rosenkavalier" before having even seen the third act. The third act arrives; Strauss finds it miserable. But it is too late. The work is half-finished, and Strauss has to go through with it.

While we were at Wiesbaden we seldom spent much time at the dinner table, as J. P. usually took his choice between walking in the garden of the Kurhaus and listening to the orchestra and going to the opera. One night we motored over to Frankfort to hear Der Rosenkavalier, but the excursion was a dismal failure.

He scores conventionally, that is, latter-day commonplaces are the rule in his disposition and treatment of the instrumental army. Like Mozart, he is melodious, easy to follow, and, like Mozart, he begins by building on his immediate predecessor, in his case Strauss. Debussy is not absent, nor is Fritz Delius. I heard not a little of Der Rosenkavalier.

However, Elektra needs no apology, and the joyous Rosenkavalier is a distinct addition to the repertory of high-class musical comedy. Strauss is an experimenter and no doubt a man for whom the visible box-office exists, to parody a saying of Gautier's. But we must judge him by his own highest standard, the standard of Elektra, Don Quixote, and Till Eulenspiegel, not to mention the beautiful songs.

"Der Rosenkavalier," "Ariadne auf Naxos," "Joseph's Legende" and "Eine Alpensymphonie" are makeshift, slack, slovenly despite all technical virtuosity, all orchestral marvels.

The inner and coherent rhythm, the spiritual beat and swing, the great unity and direction, are wanting. "I have always wanted to write an opera like Mozart's, and now I have done it," Strauss is reported to have said after the first performance of "Der Rosenkavalier."

With "Der Rosenkavalier," Strauss seems to have reached a condition in which it is impossible for him to penetrate a subject deeply. No doubt he always was spotty, even though in his golden days he invariably fixed the inner informing binding rhythm of each of his works.