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sound and movement on the screen. The Goerz Company of Berlin claim that by the use of negatives eight times more sensitive to light than any hitherto produced it will be possible to take films almost in the dark. The rights to the Scheufftan process has been acquired for Great Britain and the Empire (excluding Canada) by British International Films. By this system a photograph of the scene desired is reflected into a mirror in conjunction with a partly built-up set constructed in the studio. The built-up portion is only carried a few feet higher than the actor's heads, the rest is reflection. Naturally the saving in expense effected is enormous.

IV. MUSIC.

The musical year was more interesting in its promise than in its achievement. In the latter respect it was much as its predecessor had been. In the former it produced a scheme for the permanent foundation of opera unlike any that had preceded it. In the autumn Sir Thomas Beecham launched his scheme, the Imperial League of Opera, whereby he bound himself to produce certain series of operatic performances in London and in certain provincial cities if a given number of subscribers would come forward at 20s. per head for two years, with the subsequent addition of 30s. to complete a subscription of 21. 10s. for five years. At the end of the year the subscription was still in doubt, though full of promise. It was found, however, that Sir Thomas Beecham's time-limit for the receipt of the subscriptions-something less than four full months-was too restricted, and a little later the date was altered. Meanwhile Sir Thomas Beecham sailed at the very end of the year for New York to conduct Sunday concerts by the New York Philharmonic, the Philadelphia, and the Boston Symphony Orchestras.

In the summer a two-months season of cosmopolitan opera was held at Covent Garden under the auspices of the London Opera Syndicate, a prominent feature of which was the first production in England of Puccini's

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posthumous opera “Turandot.” It was magnificently mounted, and included in its cast Mme. Jeritza, a very prominent prima donna of the period, but it is extremely doubtful if it will hold a permanent place in the operatic repertory, for, in spite of the advance which Puccini shows here in almost the whole of operatic technique, it lacks most of the qualities which have endeared his earlier operas to the public of most lands. In the season were seen two cycles of Der Ring des Nibelung," "Rosenkavalier "-possibly more attractive even than before-" Tristan," and Parsifal," and, in view of the Beethoven Centenary, "Fidelio was revived, but not with the greatest success. The casts, many of which were superb, included such distinguished singers as Lotte Lehmann, Frieda Leider, Delia Reinhardt, Olczewska, Elizabeth Schumann, Lauritz Melchior, Richard Mayr, and Friedrich Schorr some of whom took part also in the Italian operas which were in the scheme. Bruno Walter again earned universal applause as conductor. The revival of "Gli Ugonotti was a frank failure, but " Il Trovatore " proved attractive. Charles B. Cochran

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created something of a sensation by his tentative effort to convert the Albert Hall into an opera house, at least temporarily, by his remarkable production in the autumn of Rimsky-Korsakoff's opera "Mozart and Salieri," a work hitherto unheard here. The opera had the advantage of Chaliapin in the cast of two; and the simple décor and lighting were superb. Two performances were given and something like 7,500l. were taken. At Golders Green two short seasons of opera were given by the British National Opera Co. During the provincial tour of this company The Leper's Flute," a new opera by Ian Colvin and Ernest Bryson, was produced at Glasgow and later performed, in a somewhat altered version, at Golders Green; and the R.C.M. students gave remarkably good performances of Debussy's "Pelléas et Melisande," and the R.A.M. of "Fidelio " and "The Mastersingers." Two visits were

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paid by the Russian Ballet, whose work is of the most "modern" type. The National Concerts of the British Broadcasting Corporation had a peculiar interest, because, owing to their great revenue, the B.B.C. were enabled to produce works under conditions quite impossible for private societies. Among the important works produced were Honegger's Psalm "King David," and Gustav Holst's "The Morning of the Year "--this given later at the R.C.M. as a choral ballet.

Among other new works of the year were the Hungarian composer Kodaly's "Psalmus Hungaricus," given first at Cambridge, and repeated by the Philharmonic Choir in London. Arthur Bliss's " Hymn to Apollo," Sibelius's eighth and Myaskovski's sixth symphony, Respighi's "Sinfonia Drammatica," and Dame Ethel Smyth's concerto for violin, horn, and orchestra were among other new works to be heard. Among the chief new chamber compositions produced during the year were Arnold Bax's Second Quartet, a quartet by J. B. McEwen, a quintet by Sir Walford Davies, a quartet by Eric Fogg, an extremely modernistic composer, while the Contemporary Music Centre introduced us to several important Continental productions by Hindemith, Honegger, etc. The Promenade Concerts, which ceased to exist under the old régime, were undertaken by the B.B.C., Sir Henry J. Wood conducting, and met with a very great

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Berlioz's "Requiem" was revived by Sir Hamilton Harty, and the Beethoven Centenary was marked by some superb performances of his quartets by the Lener Quartet. The Royal Philharmonic Society sang the Missa Solennis in celebration under Sir Hugh Allen, and at the very end of the year the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra gave two concerts in London under the direction of Furtwängler, which for a time set the town aflame in controversy by its remarkable dexterity.

FINANCE AND COMMERCE IN 1927.

THE year 1927 was at home a period of recuperation from the grave labour troubles of 1926, and at the end of the year the economic position was more favourable than at any other time since the signing of the Armistice. The number of unemployed, which had increased enormously in 1926, was reduced, the total at the end of the year being 1,332,300, as against 1,495,800 at the end of 1926. Export trade in November was the largest recorded for a period of three years, the pound sterling at the close of 1927 stood above par in relation to the American dollar for the first time since early in the war, and the general business outlook was brighter than it had been for a decade. This remark applies particularly to the relations between capital and labour. Towards the close of 1927 the Trades Union Congress, which had called the General Strike in May, 1926, accepted an invitation extended by Sir Alfred Mond and twenty-five industrialists representing a wide range of business activity to a conference to discuss means for raising the efficiency of industry and maintaining and increasing the workers' standard of living. The amalgamation movement in industry -or, to give it its more accurate description, the rationalisation processadvanced still further, the most important event being the fusion of the armament-making, shipbuilding, and special steel businesses of Vickers and Armstrong's, under the title of Vickers-Armstrongs, Limited. Other important amalgamations included the merging of Debenhams with the Drapery Trust, which controlled the majority of the big provincial drapery stores; the fusion of Anton Jurgens and Van Den Berghs, the two largest margarine manufacturers and owners of provision shop companies in Europe; the amalgamation of other drapery stores, such as Selfridge's and Whiteley's; and the merging of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Bank with the Bank of Liverpool and Martin's, under the new title of Martin's Bank. Efforts were made to bring about amalgamations in the iron and steel industry, the cotton and wool industries, and the coal industry. Arrangements in the direction of ultimate fusion were made in the coal industry, but in the other industries mentioned not much progress was recorded owing to the severe depression in these trades and the difficulty in agreeing upon terms. On the Continent the chief events were the further improvement effected in the currency situation. Italy, in the last days of December, returned to the gold exchange standard, the new ratio being fixed at 92-46 lire to the pound sterling and 19 lire to the American dollar. Poland arranged a stabilisation scheme with the help of English and American banks, and in the autumn established a gold exchange standard at the rate of 43.38 zloty to the pound sterling. France surprised the world by effecting a great improvement in her financial position,

and for some time the French exchange stood at about 124f. to the pound sterling, which compared with a figure of nearly 250f. touched during the early part of 1926. France had plenty of gold with which to return to the gold standard, but she was not expected to do so until after the elections in 1928, owing to the political difficulties of securing agreement as to the rate of de jure stabilisation. Germany completed the third year's working of the Dawes Plan successfully. Unfortunately, the very success of the scheme has proved a menace to its future fulfilment. Germany has borrowed so freely abroad since the adoption of the Dawes Plan, and America has been such a willing lender, that Germany has borrowed about twice as much as she has paid in reparations. In other words, she has not really paid reparations, but borrowed them. The influx of foreign capital at steadily falling rates of interest raised the standard of living in Germany, and this caused the municipal, State, and Federal authorities to increase their expenditure. The German Budget, which in the first year of the Dawes Plan had a surplus, now shows a deficit, and Germany generally showed a readiness to borrow and spend which alarmed those who were best informed, particularly the Agent-General for Reparation Payments, who sent a Memorandum to the German Government in the autumn calling attention to the crippling effect on reparation payments of a continuance of Germany's spendthrift policy. This had the result of checking German borrowing abroad, and it is hoped that in the not far distant future it will be possible to fund the reparation liability by an issue of German securities, the service of which will be a purely German responsibility. At present, the responsibility of payment rests not with Germany but with the Transfer Committee set up by the Dawes Plan, which, it appears, has very little real power to control the German exchange, and therefore very limited authority to remit the reparation payments even when they are collected in Germany.

Commodity Prices.-Commodity prices in this country again declined, but to a less extent than in previous years. This indicates that prices have now reached approximately the post-war normal level. We reproduce below, as usual, The Times index number of commodity prices for December 31, 1927, and December, 1926, based upon sixty quotations, together with the number in April, 1920 (when the highest point was touched) and at the close of the last seven years :

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