« ElőzőTovább »
And like that bird my heart, too, sings— "Sweet - heart! sweet - heart! sweet-heart!" When
heav'n is dark or bright and blue, When trees are bare or leaves are new, It
Sweet - heart! sweet - heart! sweet-heart!" If I should sing a" whole year long, My
"Sweet-heart! sweet - heart! sweet- heart! sweet - heart! sweet - heart! sweet - heart.
occasion, we recommend M. Charles Hall6 to print in the programmes of the evening.
An amateur, who was present at the performance in the Free Trade Hall, writes as subjoined :—
"I was really very sorry not to see you on Wednesday evening nt Manchester. You would havo been highly pleased with tho whole performance. I have seldom witnessed such onthusiasm, such waving of hats and handkerchiefs, such unanimous applause and cheering. It was a sight worth a journey to Manchester, moro especially when it is considered that the demonstration in favour of the music of Gluck (so subtle and grand a master—so profoundly dramatic a genius) was made by an audience of more than 3,000 persons, an audience thnt filled the large hall from extremity to extremity. With regard to the performance itself, I can assure you it was admirable, and you would have found very little indeed to criticise. The success was so unequivocal that I nm informed it is the intention of Mr. Halle" to repeat the Bame opera, with the same performers, on the 8th of next month."
Mr. Halle" is entitled to our heartiest good wishes, as he is entitled to those of all real lovers of genuine music—music that, not only time, but the universal verdict of civilised
composed his music, was adapted by the French poet Guillard from r. poem by Goethe, who has, of course, observed the main incidents and treatment as developed by Euripides. Orestes, coming to Tauri, in Scythia, in company with Pylades, has been commanded to bear off the image of Diana; after which bo is to meet with a respite from the avenging furies of his mother. His sister, Iphigenia, carried away by Diana, from Aulis, when on tho point of being sacrificed by her father, is expiating a dream that led her to suppose Orestes dead, when a herdsman announces tho arrival and deteotion of two strangers, whom she is bound by her office to sacrifice. On meeting, a mutual discovery takes place, and tho brother and sister plot their flight. Iphigenia imposes on tho superstitious fears of Thoas, and, removing to the sea coast, they are on tho point of making their escape, when they ore surprised, and driven back by streBS of weather. Thoas is about to pursue them, but Minerva appears, and restrains him, at tho same time procuring liberty of return for tho Grecian captives, who form the chorus.
"Gluck's opera opens with an instrumental movement, depicting alternate calm and tempest, duriug which a prayer is offered up by Iphigenia and her priestesses to Diana; we have then a succession of fragmentary recitatives, interspersed with choruses for the priestesses, until Thoas appears, and expresses to Iphigenia his dread of the danger impending over himself and house. His entrance is followed by a chorus of Scythians, introductory to tho entrance of Pylades ond Orestes. A wild hurst of joy from tho Scythians, at tho prospect of being able thus to propitiate the Doity, closes the first act. Act the second opens with the display of mutual friendship between Pylades and Orestes; Orestes loading himself with reproach for having been the instrument of hurrying his friend into danger. Pylades endeavours to console him; when the fri?nds arc parted, as if for ever, by the edict of their barbarian foes. Orestes, left to himself, becomes a prey to tho avenging Furies; Iphigenia appears in time to soothe his half-maddened brain; and elicits from him, without apprising him who she really is, the destinies of her father Agamemnon's family sinoe she herself was snatched from the sacrifice at Aulis. The act closes with the lamentations of tho priestess for the sorrows of her race, and her grief at the supposed death of Orestes. In Act III., Iphigenia, interested in Orestes, hut still ignorant that he is her brother, endeavours to savo him; Orestes declines to avail himself of a rescue which Pylades cannot share, and the two refuse, each in behalf of the other, the boon held out to them by Iphigenia. The act ends by Pylades, at the earnest entreaty of Orestes, consenting to take a letter to Electra, Iphigenia's surviving sister, at Myconee. During the absence of Pylades, the preparations for tho sacrifice of Orestes are carried on. Iphigenia delays the rite; but when at last she is advancing towards Orestes with uplifted knife and faltering step, he declares himself her long-lost brother. Their mutual transports are cut short by the entrance) of Thoas, who determines, in his blind fury, to sacrifice indiscriminately both priestess and victim; but at this juncture Pylades stabs the barbarian monarch to the heart, and delivers the sister of his friend and her attendant captives from the thraldom that has Bo long oppressed them. Diana then appears, and directs the Greeks to set sail, bearing with them the statue erected to her honour in the Temple of Taurie."
Europe (in accordance with that of Gluck's own "Fatherland") has proclaimed "classical"—or, in plain language, imperishable.
When the "Classical" Series of tho Monday Popular Concerts was commenced last season at the St. James's Hall, the question naturally arose whether the epithets "classical" and "popular" could be applied with appropriateness to the same entertainment. The word "classical" is variously interpreted, and is frequently employed in a sense manifestly incorrect (as in the case of certain orchestral and chamber compositions which resemble the works of the great masters only in form); and it would be easy to prove that what ofton passes for classical music, is not at all popular. If a work is to be called " classical" merely because it is correct in form, and written in intelligent and more or less exact imitation of undeniable master-pieces; and if by " popular" is meant that alono wliich appertains to the mob, then it is evident that "popular" and "classical" aro incompatible terms. But no production of art can fairly be spoken of as classical until it has stood tho test of time, and also, we are inclined to think, of expatriation—perhaps transpatriation would be a better word. Eacine, for whom the taste, in Madame de Sevignfj's opinion, was to pass away like that for coffee, is still considered a classic in France; but while all Europe retains the use of the berry which heats but not enlivens, not one foreign nation has adopted Eacine, or any other of the French poets. Tho great comic dramatist* of France, on the other hand, is known and appreciated everywhere. "Every man who learns to read," says M. Sainte-Beuve, with almost as much truth as ingenuity, "is another reader for Moliere," and it is quite true that thousands of playgoers who have never even heard his name are familiar with jokes, scenes, and characters which are borrowed or imitated from Moliere's plays. Shakspere has passed more triumphantly than any other poet what may be called the tests of time and space; for no other writer is so much read in the present day, and while some of the greatest authors of modern Europe, from Goethe to Victor Hugo, and fro in Goethe to M. Guizot, have made his works the subject of their earnest study, his dramas are played in some form or other in tho "popular" theatres of Germany, France, Bussia, and probably many other countries.
If we turn to what is vulgarly and absurdly called "art"— as if to the exclusion of all other kinds—we find in Eaphael an example of a painter whose works seem to acquire fresh vitality with each succeeding century, which live equally in all civilised countries, and which delight all classes of men. M. Ingres, who by the consent of his own countrymen, is the greatest, or one of the two greatest painters of modern France, has dedicated his whole life to Eaphael; even the pre-Baphaelitos do not spurn him—they only wish modestly to go beforo him, which, according to them, means beyond him; the photographs from the cartoons are ordered (thanks to the enormous demand for them they cannot now be bought) by thousands at the South Kensington Museum; and there is not a more " popular" design for the picture-brooches sold in the Palais Eoyal at Paris than the world-famed "Virgin of the Chair."
The notions expressed in the above remarks, however much they may partake of the nature of truisms,
deserve to be repeated from time to time if only for the benefit of those -who maintain that works of the highest genius cannot be appreciated by the great bulk of mankind, and they have been suggested to us by the enormous attendance at the Mozart concert last Monday at St. James's Hall, when the whole of the area was filled long before the entertainment commenced; and by the applause with which the various compositions were received, the slow movements of a quartet and a sonata being positively redemanded. We suppose if any music can be called "classical," it is that of the composer who ceased to write seventy years ago, and whose melodies are still as fresh as any—the most beautiful or the most recent—that have been given to the world since his death; whose pre-eminence as a "great master" is acknowledged by all musicians; whose tunes are known in all civilised lands; and whose operatic works are played in every European language. Nor can the epithet of " popular" in its widest sense be applied to any composer, classical or unclassical, so justly as to Mozart, inasmuch as his works, whether heard in the theatre, in the concert-room, or in the humblest private dwelling, through the medium of an orchestra, a quartet, a single instrument, or a voice that is capable of ordinary musical expression, are more generally appreciated and admired than the productions of any other master, great or small.
Of course it would be a sad error to argue from this coincidence in respect to one great composer, between the most thoroughly educated and only very slightly educated tastes, that any fair estimate of the value of works of art can be arrived at by taking the opinions, or rather the likings and dislikings, of the masses. We have no doubt that if the votes of Mr. Bright's friends could be collected on the subject, they would prefer some nigger insipidity or monstrosity not only to the Jupiter symphony—which would also be the case with numbers of their superiors—but even to "La ci darem" or the "Addio;" while in France the seveu millions who elected Louis Napoleon to the Imperial throne would probably pronounce in favour of "La cus-quette du pero Bugeaud" if called upon to choose between that and "II mio tesoro." An utterly uneducated boor at a concert of high class music hears no more than a cow sees in presence of a magnificent landscape; but there is this important difference between the two animals—the latter can never become a connoisseur in painting, whereas the former, if he possesses the ordinary qualities of a man, may learn little by little to love music, and thus acquire a new and elevating pleasure. As every individual partakes of a common nature, there cannot be any very wide fundamental differences in matters of taste and sentiment. In nature similar objects produce similar emotions in all men; thus, all are impressed by objects of striking grandeur or of surpassing beauty. And, in the same way, every one a little removed from the condition of the brute finds something to charm him or to excite his admiration in the music of Mozart. Sunrise, the stars, lofty mountains, the sea, have beauty for every human creature, and. by analogy, it is easy to understand how the greatest of composers must, in a liberal interpretation of the word, be also the most popular.
Rarely do we see general delight more plainly and strongly manifested than we did on Tuesday last, when Mr. Albert Smith re-appeared before the public in his own Egyptian Hall. In the applause of the audience, and in the look of the "entertainer," there was something that
seemed like the whole world joining together in the brief proposition, "It's all right," uttered with a vast deal of emphasis.
The great Albert was affected; there was a friendliness in the greeting which could not escape his notice, and which brought the tears to his eyes. And he hit the right nail on the head when he declared his conviction that there is a sort of friendship between himself and his patrons, this conviction being based on the receipt of divers letters during his illness, written by persons of whom he had never heard, and all expressing the deepest anxiety for his recovery.
Certainly no one is more widely known in this country than Mr. Albert Smith, or enjoys a more extensive popularity. First in the field of all the modern "entertainers"—sedulous in keeping his entertainment distinct from that of all competitors—combining the character of the traveller with those of the comic vocalist and actor,— provided beforehand with a large circle of private friends,— Mr. Albert Smith has unquestionably made of himself a metropolitan institution of no small importance. Photographic artists have been anxious to catch the similitude of his physiognomy, and to suspend it among the choice works, wherewith they would engage the attention of the passer-by. We will run the risk of an Hibernicism, by declaring that everybody has seen Albert Smith, and everybody else has seen his portrait. If a child of five years old, looking at the likeness of Albert Smith, professed ignorance of the person represented, it would denote a state of benighted ignorance, demanding the immediate attention of the Earl of Shaftesbury. When Albert Smith had newly returned from the oriental trip, on which he based his first entertainment—the "Overland Mail"—some folks laughed at the beard, which covered his previously smooth chin. Short-sighted mirth! With that beai-d will Albert's face go down to a posterity who will believe that he never existed without it. There is now in our possession a portrait of Albert without a beard—but this is not the Albert of Mont Blanc, of Baden-Baden, of Canton; not the Albert who threatened to depart from us a fortnight ago, and and thus caused all London to shudder.
While the recovery of the popular idol was yet uncertain, we abstained from remark on the subject of his universally lamented illness, beyond the mere record of the fact, thus avoiding the gross indecency of the many newsmongers, who no sooner heard of the calamity than they at once inferred the most lamentable results, and spread their surmises about the town. On Christmas Eve the decease of Mr. Albert Smith was asserted in every place where men connected with periodical literature do congregate, as the great occurrence of the day, with all the aplomb of the most profound conviction. Had we chosen to follow in the train we might easily have filled our columns with all sorts of sepulchral bubbles, which would have been regarded with grim interest by a gaping multitude. But we have reserved the record of these impertinences till the present time, when Albert Smith is on his legs again, and he may fairly laugh at them as gabblings representing no truth, save only the interest with which he was universally regarded.
Yes, we will tell thee now, dear Albert, that on that dismal Christmas Eve thy untimely end was bewailed to an extent, far beyond any extent thou couldst have surmised, even on the receipt of thy numerous letters, the very rapidity with which the sad rumour was circulated amply demonstrating how much thou art cared for. The news of Wright's death had already depressed the spirits not a little, but Wright had 29
for some time been withdrawn from public gaze, whereas thou, Albert, wert in the plenitude of thy glory.
Not a whit too far do we go, when we assert that the supjwsed decease of Albert Smith was one of the mournfulest instances of the uncertainty of human affairs. Had an unprecedented combination of rare talent and singular good fortune led to no other result than this 1 Was the Egyptian Hall to be prematurely closed, and stand like a sort of modern antique mausoleum, marking the site of the merriment and good-humour which had promised to delight the London public for many years yet to come?
There is an old proverb to the effect that we only know the value of our treasures by the loss of them; and we have had an opportunity of testing this proverb in the case of Albert Smith, without experiencing the calamity that usually pertains to such trials. Thanks to over-busy tongues, the world was made to fancy for a moment that it was without an Albert Smith ;—and, lo! here was a gap in the cycle of entertainments,—nay, more, here was a gap in the many, many circles over which the genial Albert, in his private moments, was wont to shed the radiance of his hilarity. The solar system, with one of the principal planets knocked out by an intrusive comet, would not look more incomplete than the London season bereft of Albert Smith by the untimely snatch of destiny. Only fancy, all those portraits in the shops changed into semblances of one who was no longer'living. Should we not seem to be walking in a city of tombs, as one would wander through the mazes of that great Pyramid, which itself grew lively under the footstep of the ever-cheerful Albert J
"Wo would not venture on these ghastly reflections, did they not refer to a calamity that has proved itself unreal, like one of those ghosts that vanish as soon as the investigation dares to touch them. Christian is allowed to smile at the Valley of the Shadow of Death when he has left its terrors behind; nor is whistling, when one is fairly out of the wood, ever deemed presumptuous. We dwell on the dismals, that we may be the better able to appreciate the joy we now feel, pleased to realize the old Virgilian consolation—Hcec olim meminisse juvabit.
Yes, we write these lines shortly after a visit to the Egyptian Hall, where we have seen the Achilles of "entertainers," not as Odysseus saw the Achilles of Greece, amid the shades, but alive and kicking the weight of uneasiness from the hearts of countless admirers. He is not only well planted on the surface of this sublunary globe, but he looks, talks, and laughs, as if he did not mean to be uprooted in a Wry, and we still feel the effect of the pleasant apparition. A word that, by the way, is here to be deprived of its common connection with ghosts.
A happy new year to Albert Smith, and may it be long before we are terrified again with even a dream of losing him.
The London Ouchestral Association.—The first meeting of this Society took place on Saturday evening at St. James's Hall, when upwards of sixty amateur instrumentalists were present, and very creditably performed several overtures and symphonies under the able direction of Dr. James Pech. The next meetings are announced to take place every Saturday evening, terminating in June.
London Glee And Madrigal Union.—The performances of the Union at the Egyptian Hall during the past week having proved eminently successful. Mr. Mitchell, of Bond-street, has made arrangements for a second series of entertainments, commencing on Monday next, when the programme will be varied. The audiences have been numerous and fashionable, including many of the nobility at present in the metropolis.
GLASGOW MUSICAL FESTIVAL Scotland, at last, seems bent upon acquiring musical distinction. The prospectus of the forthcoming musicul festival at Glasgow looks like a genuine festival prospectus; and to show that we have none of the ill feeling towards our Transtweedian neighbours which divers irate personages from Aberdeen, and sundry less irate, but more sulky, from "Auld Reekie," have chosen to insinuate, we insert the introductoiy remarks without suppressing a word, not even excepting a paragraph which is manifestly an advertisement:—
"The musical festivals held triennially in England have been productive of results so generally appreciated in the South, that their non-introduction into Scotland has been mntter of frequent regret. It was well understood, however, that the production of celebrated musical works north of the Tweed, on a scale sufficiently great to constitute a festival, involved an extent of risk which rendered the undertaking all but impossible. Indeed, until within a comparatively recent period, the performance of a single oratorio in a suitable manner, generally resulted in pecuniary loss, and as a natural consequence, works of that class have been produced lees frequently than their pre-eminent merit demands. But during the last few years a gratifying improve* ment has been perceptible in the public taste; an increased interest has been manifested in the highest class of music j and it is therefore believed, that the time has now arrived when the design of a musical festival will obtain adequate support, and be regarded as an appropriate expression of the public appreciation of one of the most ennobling of the fino arts. And while the fact will record the progress of that taste for classical compositions expected in a country so peculiarly rich in national musio, the result of such a festival must operate powerfully in advancing the study of music, and in extending its elevating influences.
*' These considerations have induced the proposal to celebrate, on the 24th and three following days of January, 1860, and under the auspices of the Glasgow Choral Union, the first Glasgow musical festival, in aid of the funds of the Glasgow Royal Infirmary and the Asylum for the Blind. The musical arrangements are on a scale suited to the character of the undertaking. The festival will embrace three complete oratorios and a grand miscellaneous concert; and the Directors have satisfaction in stating that a new oratorio entitled Gideon, written for the occasion by Charles E. Horsley, Esq., the eminent composer of David, Joseph, and other sacred works, will be produced for the first time, along with the Messiah and the Elijah,—the chefs-aVautre of Handel and Mendelssohn. It is apparent, however, that the practice followed on such occasions in England, whero the oratorios are generally performed during the day, is impracticable in Scotland, and the concerts will, therefore, take place on the evenings of Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.
"Eight solo vocalists have been engaged, of acknowledged excellence, accustomed to interpret the works of the great masters in sacred music; and it may be stated, that the principal soprano, Madamo Novello, comes from her residence in Italy for the sole purpose of attending the festival. The band is composed exclusively of eminent artists, from the London Philharmonic Society; and the chorus will consist of the Glasgow Choral Union, numbering/owr hundred voices.
"At English festivals, with most extensive hall accommodation, the price of reserved seats is one guinea each, and at such a rate, it is evident, not only that a heavy expenditure can be sustained, but that a considerable surplus can be available for charitable purposes. In Scotland, on the other hand, the adoption of such a price would, to say the least, be a hazardous experiment, though the publio halls will not contain audiences so large as can be accommodated in Birmingham, Leeds, or Bradford: the City Hall of Glasgow, where the concerts will be held, being capable of containing, at such performances, only from 1700 to 1800 persons. From calculations made by the directors, however, it was found that they were in a position, from various circumstances, to organise a musical festival, in every respect worthy of the name, at tho published rates of subscription; but it is presumed that many will be disposed to promote the objects in viow, by increasing their subscriptions, in which event a corresponding supply ot additional tickets will bo issued.
"The Subscription Book closed on the 21st December, and the remaining tickets will now be issued by Messrs. J. Muir Wood aud Co., 42, Buchanan-street, Glasgow. The subscriptions are deposited in the Commercial Bank of Scotland, at Glasgow, in an account styled 'The Festival Fund.' And, in conjunction with tho treasurer and secretary of the Choral Union, Alexander Harvey, Esq., Govanhaugb, Jame<