Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

faire d'une maniere plus agreable qu'en se faisant entendre aux chanteurs. -„

Mine. Sainton s'est mise au piano avec une grace charmante, et elle a chantu plusieurs morccaux anglais ct allemands avee no style remarquable et un grand talent. Familiarisee depuis longtemps avec la belle musique d'Haydn et de Haendel, elle interprete ces celebres compositeurs Stoc le plus grand succes.

Elle n'a point ces eclats de voix que Ton en tend chaque jour sur nos scenes franchises, ni les notes basses de nos contralti de conservatoire, sons equivoques qui n'out de chant que le noin. Mme. Sainton-Dolby possede un organe exoeptionneL un contralto, coinme on en tronvait a l'cpoque ou Rossini ecrivait pour ce genre de voix, d'une bonne etenduc et descendant sans le moiudre effort aux notes les plus graves. Elle chante avec art, avec expression, avec ame. Eile nuance chaque phrase; chaque note a une intention particulicre et quelque morceau qu'elle interprcte, Mme. Sainton va droit an caeur.

Nous loi avons entendu chanter plusieurs airs de Haydn, de Haendel, des chansons populaires de Londres, deux melodies eomposees expressly pour elle par Luders et Randegger, ct a chacun de ces morceaux elle trouve le moyen d'interesser l'auditeur; on est parfois saisi d'une douce Amotion par la nianicre hcureusc dont elle rend les plus simples idoes. Elle cesse de chanter, on l'ecoute encore.

On reproche a la nation anglaise un exterieur froid et compasse; on pretend que l'Angleterre ne produit pas de bons chanteurs; Mmo. Sainton-Dolby est une preuve evidente du contraire; et si les Soeietes philharmoniques de Londres ont des elements, nous nedirons pas pareils, parce qu'on trouve rarement une organisation riche et complete comme celle de Mme. Sainton, niais des elements qne puisse seconder un si beau talent, nous couprenons l'effet que produit chez le people anglais les reunions musicales, si vantecs, et nous re^retterons de n'avoir pu connaitre plus tot une grnnde artiste qui unit a un si beau talent la grace ct l'afl'abilite les plus exquises.

Pa ci. D£ Labcbthe.

FLORAL HALL.

The concerts under the direction of Mr. Alfred Mellon had, in less than a week after their institution, taken so firm a hold of the public that their early approaching termination was a matter to bo regretted, not alone by the speculator, but also by the lovers of music who, at the actual season of the year, are afforded so few opportunities in this metropolis of enjoying their favourite recreaSince our last notice the"

repeated, the programme (with one unimportant exception) identical with that which' conferred such unqualified satisfaction on this day 1'orrnight. A still bolder step—that of presenting Handel's Messiah (the whole oratorio—allowing for those slight curtailments in the last part rendered conventional by Exeter Hall)—was followed on Friday week by a success which our neighbours "itoutrc manche" might reasonably style "eclatant." The solo singers were Miss Parepa, Miss Augusta Thomson, and Mad. Laura Baxter, Messrs. Wilbye Cooper and Lewis Thomas— all artists of eminent merit, and for' the most part thoroughly versed in the music of Handel. The performance of this immortal masterpiece, under the direction oT Mr. Alfred Mellon—who conducts an oratorio just as well as bo does an opera, a symphony, an overture, or a concerto—literally enchanted an audience estimated at between 4,000 and 5,000 in number. So much for " unmusical London," at the non-musical period of the year. In any other city of the world, under the circumstances, there would, in all probability, not have been found a dozen persons to support such an undertaking. ■■< ■■ ■

But the two "Mendelssohn nights," added to the "Messiah night," only led to further enterprise in the same praiseworthy direction. Mr. Mellon doubtless had occasion to note that the "education" given by the late M. Jullien to the "masses" was too sound and general to be affected, in a prejudicial sense, even by the lamented death of the musician who was first to emulate the "schoolmaster abroad" of Lord Brougham. A Mozart selection was provided ou Tuesday evening, a selection from Haydn's Creation was the chief attraction on Wednesday, while Beethoven's

colossal "No. 9" (the Choral Symphony') was given on Thursday, and Mendelssohn's Elijah (entire) on Friday. The production of this last great work (worthy pendant to the Handel chef (Toeuvre) was fully warranted by the reception accorded to The Messiah.

Meanwhile the concert on Monday night, which was attended by an immense concourse, was extremely interesting, inasmuch as the first part was wholly taken up with compositions by native musicians. AmdSg-these, such ephemeral pieces as Mr. Kingsbury's ballad of "The Sailor's Wife" (sung by Miss Leffler); Mr. Callcott's Artists' Corps Polka (by the band); Mr. Mellon's Isabella Waltz (ditto); the cavatina, "O bright were my visions," from Mr. Mellon's Vietorine (encored—singer, Miss Parepa); Mr. Hatton's part-song, "Ah! could I with fancy stray" (by the chorusj; Mr. Mellon's new volunteer song, "Every man join heart and soul" (Mr. Wilbye Cooper); and Dr. Arne's " Soldier Tired," marvellously executed, as usual, by Mr. Thomas Harper —the most admirable trumpet player in Europe, who lias not merely succeeded, but surpassed his justly eminent father (also encored)—chiefly represented our English composers in the light of unpretending, but, at the same time, none the less acceptable, dilettanti. On the other hand, the trio from Mr. John Barnett's Mountain Sylph (Miss Parepa, Messrs. Wilbye Cooper and Thomas), together with that unexcelled choral glee of Bishop, "The Chough and Crow" (solos by Miss Parepa, Miss Leffler, and Mr. Thomas), consecrated by time, are now universally admitted as "classical." Nevertheless, the most striking features of the programme were Mr. Alfred Mellon's own brilliant and admirably instrumented concert-overture, entitled Romulus (literally, as the French say, enlevie by the orchestra); a pompous and thoroughly drnmatic march, from Mr. Charles Horsley's new oratorio of Gideon (which, to the shame of our London societies, Glasgow had the credit of producing); and the better-known cantata of Mr. Howard Glover, entitled Tarn o'Shanter. The last-named (with which Mr. Mellon took such pains as became him when the work of a distinguished brother musician was committed to his charge) was capitally executed, and brought the first part of the concert to a close with the utmost eclat. Mr. Wilbye Cooper's performance of the solo part was in all respects first-rate, the graphic text of Burns, and the stirring and characteristic music to which it has been set by Mr. Glover, being equally well delivered. No composition of recent times has more legitimately attained popularity than Tarn o'Shanter. The warmest lover of the poetry of Burns, and especially of this his admitted masterpiece, could hardly have wished to see Tarn o'Shanter wedded to music more inspiriting. Every scene, every incident, every shade of expression is felicitously caught and illustrated by the English composer, who — it may be said without exaggeration—has translated the romantic and inimitable Scottish legend into music so graphic and congenial, that it would be difficult hereafter to fancy it associated with any other. 7am o'Shanter was received with the warmth of appreciation that has never yet failed to attend its adequate performance since first produced (under M. Berlioz) at the New Philharmonic Concerts. —■ On Friday the 31st ult. (writes an occasional contributor) was assembled one of the largest audiences that ever listened to the Messiah. That an announcement of the work that has been and is more frequently performed than any other extant, attracted so many auditors, must be attributed, over and above the work itself, to the reputation of the Royal Italian Opera Chorus, and to the important fact that it was Mr. Alfred Mellon's first appearance as an oratorio conductor in London. That gentleman, the versatility of whose talent is truly remarkable, brought the band and choir through with triumphant success. The choruses might have been more effective in the remoter parts of the Hall it' the choir had been more numerous; but the capability of each member of the body was proved beyond dispute. Miss Parepa's execution of "Rejoice greatly" claims our suffrages for very brilliant delivery. Miss Augusta Thomson's singing is exactly suited in the air " How beautiful," which she rendered with very correct intonation. Mad. Laura Baxter and Miss Leffler divided the contralto music, the first ledy achieving a well-merited success in "lie was despised" (encored); and the latter singing "But who may abide" in a commendably correct style. Mr. Wilbye Cooper's exertions to do justice to the arduous tenor music did not pass unnoticed; the plaudits bestowed on him were thoroughly deserved. Mr. Lewis Thomas (like his contemporary and senior, Mr. Weiss) holds the enviable position of a bass among a shoal of baritones. His solid manner, and the full round tone which increases in volume as he descends into the abyss below the stave, are all his own. He was enthusiastically applauded in "Why do the nations?" his delivery of the triplet passages being wonderfully exact, and the ponderosity of tone preserved throughout. The audience enjoyed the performance as if the work had never before been produced. Indeed the applause was occasionally more boisterous than is advisable at a'sacred concert.

(From the Illustrated Timet.) A Quantity of new dance music has been produtsed at the Floral Hall, much of which has a military character, or at least military titles. Thus, there is a lively "Rifle Galop," by H. Farmer, in which the orchestra have to shout "Hurrah !" (a performance demanding no inconsiderable amount of animal spirits, especially as the said shout is in no way suggested by the music); and a polka, by Callcott, named after the "Artists' Corps," to which valiant company about half of the Covent Garden band belong. Let these admirable instrumentalists fight together as well as they play together — let their execution in the field be anything like what it is in the orchestra, and their enemies will fall before them like one man. "The Artists' Corps Polka" (which we have not heard) was to have been performed for the first time at a semi-military concert given in honour of the volunteer movement and for the special benefit of the band of the said " corps." This company was, we believe, founded by artists of the brush; but the artists of the fiddle and the bow (or "artistes," as most of our contemporaries think fit to call them) seem now to form the majority of its members.

We must not forget that Private Mellon has been wielding the baton (Field Marshal in the orchestra—Full Private in the Rifles!) over one of his own compositions—a new waltz, named (as all waltzes should be) after a young lady, and not after a ferocious Muscovite republican like Mr. Alexander Herzen. What can there be in republicanism, and, above all, in Russian republicanism, that suggests waltzing P The memory of Colonel Pestal, one of the leaders of the insurrection of 1825, has been more damaged by an unscrupulous London music publisher, who connected his name with a vapid waltz-tunc, than by all the sneers and misrepresentations directed against him by Russian absolutists. Prince Galitzin has behaved better to Mr. Herzen, the waltz named after him being, at least, a waltz of some beauty and some character. Now the Prince has given us a quadrille (performed for the first lime last week at the Floral Hall) which is founded on Russian melodies, and entitled the "Ogareff," Mr. OgarefF being another republican, also (what is far more important) a poet, and a cooperator of Mr. Herzen in the publication of the Russian journal, of Paternoster Row, known as the Kolokol, or " Bell."

But to return to Private Mellon. His Isabella Waltz, then, is a very charming waltz, and an honour to the young lady after whom it is named. The new cornet-player, too, of Private Mellon's band has brought out a polka which gives the new cornet-player an opportunity of bringing out some difficult and distressingly loud passages. This is called, with some propriety, "The Whirlwind Polka," and when Mr. Levy is playing it we expect every moment that he will blow his own head off.

Finally, wo "assisted" one night at the fag end of the performance of a quadrille, in which the music of the last figure appeared to have been twisted out of the magnificent march in the Prophite. One of Handel's oratorios is announced for next week. Let us hope that no attempt will be made to convert any of its choruses into galopades.

As to the vexed question of the Floral Hall's special adaptability for musical performances, we can safely say that it is fur superior in that respect to all other glass buildings that we know of—such, for instance, as the Crystal Palace, or the Palais do l'lndustrie in Paris. The waves of sonority, however, are not sufficiently compressed by walls of glass, which, moreover, have the disadvantage of letting in a considerable amount of sound— that is to say, noise—from the outside. During the recent tole

rably successful imitation of a deluge the clatter on the roof hat been like the rattling of small shot, and occasionally like the roll of a score of drums. Such an accompaniment, not having been devised by the composer, nor calculated upon by the conductor nor in any way taken into account by the singer, is sure to pnv duce a bad eflect, especially with an air that commences piano like "Casta diva." There are portions of Norma in which the tattooing of the rain upon the roof would not be quite so much out of place; but it does not (as Mile. Parepa we are sure will testify) suit "Casts,diva" at all.

PROFESSIONAL SINGING IN CHURCIIES.

RUPLT OF THIS CHURCUWAJtDBN TO THE UlOHT Kl.vi HI .v> THE

Loan Bishop or Rirox. My Lord,—It is with painful feelings of regret 1 feel bound to reply to your lordship's letter, published in the Leeds Intelligencer of the 11th but) also to that of an incumbent, which was also published in the Intelligencer on the 1-th inst.

In your lordship's letter you state, ' " that a professional linger, Miss W., had been engaged to sing select pieces of music during the service. I consider such an announcement as this highly objectionable." I would ask your lordship whether you mean the engagement of Miss W., or the announcement of the pieces she sung as highly objectionable, or both. In either case I beg respectfully to express my dissent from your lordship's views.

This feeling is not mine alone, but also that of many others. We do consider sclcce pieces — as anthemB, spiritual songs, ice.—as parts of divine service, and quite as sacred; and when the performances of these sacred pieces draw together an attentive and sober-minded congregation to listen to and hear the Word of God preached, surely your lordship should pause and learn our position before you hastily condemn oar proceedings. It may suit the purpose of one or two individuals to cause your lordship to ceusure us, the churchwardens; 11 tn:hsianding which I do not feel, as yet, convinced that we have justly merited your lordship's displeasure.

Your lordship also says, "I delight in good music." If so, how are you to have good music except through the medium of those who make a profession of it? It is usual iu cathedrals and parish churches to engage professional singers. I cannot perceive the difference why the constant employment of professional singers should differ frm their occasional engagement, as was the case in our church on the Sabbath alluded to. Again, I cannot conceive why the same objection will not apply to the organists of cathedrals and churches, they being chiefly professional men, and engaged in many instances at very high salaries. In either case their services are paid for. Nor can I see any objection to it.

I agree with your lordship that it is desirable that "all singing in churches in which the congregation cannot take part is objectionable/ In order to avoid that inconvenience, we stated in our notices, as yoar lordship will have perceived, what sacred pieces would be sung, and anyono who could or thought proper to joiu might do so. In doing this we only did what is regularly done in many cathedrals and some parish churches. If, on the other hand, it be your lordship's opinio* that all professional singers and players are to be dispensed with, who are to sing the anthems, or sacred songs, during divine service as directed in the Book of Common Prayer? Your lordship will be aware that the anthems in the earliest period of church service consisted usually of a solo, or sacred song, followed by a chorus, in which the congregation might join: the same is generally the case with more modern music. You will also be aware that few, except a professional sincer, would attempt to sing a solo.

Perhaps yonr lordship may say that it is the announcement of some particular singer which is objectionable. If so, may I ask your lordship in what way the announcement of tho name of a particular clergyman to preach a sermon differs from that of a singer, when the object in both eases is the soliciting of money from the congregation fori, purpose? The object in cither case is to attract the attention of the public, and through that medium to procure their chariublc donations. I will now go to a statement of circumstances which induced ui to appeal to tho parishioners and others through the medium of the church service. The district church, with which I am officially connected, not having undergone any repairs for the last 18 years (the warming apparatus erected in 1851 cannot be considered as snch), it had suffered greatly from the severity of last and previous winters. The rain had penetrated the roof, and, in the rainy season, the water ran down on both the pulpit and reading-desk, as well as into the pews. The woodwork in the roof was beginning to decay. Matters standing thus, we. the churchwardens, were conscious that if the church could not be repaired it would soon become untenable. The next question was, how were we to raise the money for the repairs? Those who attend the church are nearly all of the labouring class. The great body of the inhabitants are dissenters. Consequently it would be impossible to raise the money by a church rate. Our only alternative, therefore, was to appeal to the generosity of the neighbouring gentry, and I am happy to say that appeal was not made in vain. After exhausting all probable resources near home, we still required a sum of more than £20 to complete the work. Our only feasible plan, which your lordship so much condemns, of raising the money was to enlist the assistance of a deservedly popular clergyman (the Rev. Mr. Stowell), who, together with the curate, should preach sermons in behalf of the object in question, and to engage a portion of the Bradford Parish Church Choir, as well as a Miss W., who had lately been of the choir of Huddersfield Church. This was not done without first consulting the incumbent by me alone; the curate, not being at home at the time, did not and of course could not take part in the matter, though I must state that in soliciting aid from the neighbouring gentry, I should not have been so successful without his assistance. On Thursday, July 9th, I waited on the incumbent at the Parsonage, to lay before him a statement of the monies subscribed, and also explained to him what further sum would be required to complete the repairs necessary to be done. In these repairs there was no ornamental work or " embellishments" contemplated. After some conversation as to the mode of raising the sum further required, we both agreed we had no alternative but to follow former precedents: he suggested the following in addition, that " silver should be charged on all who went into the church." This I could not comply with, so far as the body of the church was concerned. He also stated, that '• our own choir will not be sufficient for the occasion :" hence the engagement of the Bradford Parish Church Choir, &c

The sermons, together with the singing, drew to the church a great number of people, and to quote the words of the Reverend Mr. Stowell, he said he " had never before preached to so large a congregation as had assembled 1n tlic church that evening, and never to a more attentive and orderly one." Such being the case, I take the liberty to express a hope that it was "no profanation of a church," and my conviction is that the inhabitants of this township and of the surrounding district know how to appreciate a good sermon as well as gsod singing. By these means we were put into a position to pay the work-people for their labour, and the church was put into good repair and preservation, forming a strange contrast with that state of dilapidation which the dayschools in'fonnection with the church now present; and in neither of which is there either a teacher or a scholar. Had we not had recourse to the means above stated, our collections would have been very inadequate, as may be surmised from the fact that the collections at our annual sermons have seldom, if ever, exceeded £2. 10s., and very rarely ever have reached that amount.

The incumbent, in his letter to your lordship, states that "so far from countenancing the proceedings, I requested my family not to aitend the service." Whether from illness, or from some other cause, best known to himself, his memory seems to be at fault, or bis request was not attended to, for four of his family out of six, I have reason to believe, were present at both afternoon and evening service. He also aUudes in his letter to '* a kindred act in 1852," and deplores the consequences. Notwithstanding which, in June 1853, he sanctions the preaching of two sermons, the engagement of four professional singers, and one amateur. A circular printed on that occasion is in my possession, and tliat circular was drawn up by the incumbent, although in his letter to your lordship he professes to be so " Ihtenselt Adverse" to such proceedings. That circular I took as a guide in the arrangement of the course which your lordship so strongly condemns. It may happen that your lordship may charge me with uncharitableness in thus alluding to the part taken by the incumbent at a time when he is suffering from sickness, but your lordship will bear in mind that I am not the aggressive party, I am merely standing in self-defence. You may also say I speak strongly on these matters, J certainly feel so; and were your lordship fully acquainted with the difficulties I have had to contend with, from different sources, for years past, I think your lordship would sympathise with instead of blaming me.

I am, my lord, your most humble and obedient servant,

J. Weight, Churchwarden.

Retoet Op The Bisuor Of Ripon.

Palace, Ripon, August 23, 1860. Sir,—I have to acknowledge your letter, which (without either date or address appended to it) has reached me by this morning's post. You state that you feel bound to reply to a letter of mine which was inserted

in some of the provincial newspapers on the 11th inst., and also to a letter from an incumbent which appeared at a later date in the same papers.

You have taken upon yourself the responsibility of defending the practice against which I have thought it a duty to record my strong objection.

The practice which I condemn is that of announcing that any professional singer whatever will, at any particular service, 6ing select pieces of music, for the sake of attracting largo numbers of persons to attend church on such an occasion. In the letter which you have addressed to me you defend the practice upon the following grounds:

1. The custom in cathedrals.

2. The requirements in our book of Common Prayer.

3. The ordinary practice of announcing, on special occasions, particular preachers.

4. The difficulties which churchwardens experience in obtaining the funds which are required for the repair of churches, &c.

With respect to "the custom in cathedrals," there is s wide distinction between cathedrals and ordinary parish churches. I, for one, should be very sorry to see tho ordinary plain and simple service of our parish churches supplanted by cathedral music; nor do I believe that the great body of English Churchmen would regard with any favour an attempt to assimilate the mode of conducting public worship in ordinary parish churches to that' which prevails in cathedrals. But you are mistaken in supposing it is the custom to announce that professional singers will take part in cathedral services. Each cathedral has its own staff of singers, who are trained to the practise of music, and to whom devolves mainly the due performance of tho musical portions of the service. I am not aware of any instance in which professional singing has been advertised as an attraction to bring persons to attend cathedral service. It is universally known that cathedral service differs from tho ordinary parochial service, and the custom in cathedrals is not the law for parish churches.

(2.) With respect to tho "requirements of the Book of Common Prayer," you ask " who are to sing the anthems or sacred songs during divine service as directed in the Book of Common Prayer?" If you will he at the trouble of looking at the Book of Common Prayer, you will find there is no such direction as you appear to imagine.

The services, such as tho " Vcnite exultcmus," "Te Deum," &c. &c, are to be "said or sung." There is no law that they arc to be sung. With respect to the anthem the rubric specifics the place in the service where, if sung, it is to bo introduced ; but the terms cf the rubric, "in quires and places where they sing here followeth the anthem,' distinctly imply that the performance of an anthem is the exception, not the rule.

The experience of the overwhelming majority of the parish churches in the kingdom clearly proves that the requirements of tho Book of Common Prayer may be kept without resorting to the practice which you have come forward to defend, of engaging and advertising professional singers to take port and sing select pieces of music during divine service. You are surely aware of churches in your neighbourhood where the musical portions of tho service aro admirably conducted— where even services and anthems are occasionally introduced — but where it is never the custom to make a parade of professional singing to attract a congregation, or on tho plea of meeting the requirements of our Book of Common Prayer.

(3.) You attempt to draw a parallel between the announcement of some eminently gifted singer to perform at a special service, and the ordinary notice that 60tno well-known clergyman will preach the sermon.

The two cases are totally different. The people are invited to attend the ordinance of preaching because it is one of the chief instrumentalities of which it i'leases God to make use to save souls. The object of advertising a particular preacher is not to afford an intellectual treat, but to give to greater numbers tho opportunity of hearing from one of Christ's ministers the exposition of God's word, in order that their souls may receive spiritual profit. Will you compare this with the advertisement that a particular vocalist will sing on some special occasion, in order that the lovers of music may have the gratification of hearing his, or her, musical talent, and then pay for his entertainment by casting in his offering to swell the so-called charitable collection? Is the Lord's Day the time for musical entertainments? Is the hallowed house of prayer the place for the display of musical talent? or the sacred hours of the Sabbath to bo spent in gratifying the appetite and taste for beautiful music?

But (4.) you seem to defend the practice upon the ground of the financial difficulties in which unhappily churchwardens who are zealous in tho discharge of their official duties are often placed. I can honestly assure you that I sympathise with you in those difficulties. I regret that, owing in a great measure to the present unsatisfactory state of the Chnrch-rnto question, so much difficulty sometimes nttends the obtaining requisite funds whether fr.r the repair of the fabric or the maintenance of the services of .your church.

But it is a fundamental principle, "riot to do evil that good may corne," nor do I believe that it ever can be necessary to resort to such unworthy means as the hiring and advertising professional singers to perform in our churches, in order to raise the necessary funds to mainlain the ordinances of public worship. Tho practice is in reality indefensible. It is derogatory to the honour of God. It is at variance with the spirit of your Church Service. It is fraught with many evils. Its tendency is to degrade our churches to the level of the concert room ; to make persons lose sight of the Teal ends of public worship, and, in their admiration of musical talent, to forget that we meet in the Lord's Honse for united prayer, united praise — and in order that our souls may bo fed with the wholesome food of God's holy word and sacraments.

When a parish is blest with an active and laborious minister of Christ, in season and out of season, abounding in his Master's work,—preaching to his people both by word and example, and shewing himself "in all things a pattern of good words," I am sanguine enough to believe that such a minister will succeed to rally around him au attached and willing people, ready to uphold to the utmost of their power the due observance of our holy religion. There will be no need in such a case to employ any doubtful measures for creating an interest in behalf of the Church or her services. I am desirous to see these services upheld with the utmost propriety and efficiency. There is not a parish in the diocese in which there may not be found a sufficient number of persons competent to lead congregational singing. I think it important to cultivate the taste for music. We ought to givo to God of our best; but it is no gain to the cause of religion, whenever by the introduction of highly artistic music the congregation are doprived of tho privilege of joining in the praises of God; or whenever, for tho sake of replenishing a churchwarden's exchequer, the season for tho celebration of public worship is employed as an occasion for calling together a multitude to have their musical taste gratified by the performance of select pieces of fine music.

I am, Sir, faithfully yours,

R. Rirox.

Mr. Joseph Wright, Churchwarden. . .

Notice.

The Musical World may be obtained direct from the Office, 28 Holies Street, by quarterly subscription of Five Shillings, payable in advance; or by order of any NewsvcndoT.' Advertisements are received until Three o'clock on Friday After-' noon, and must be paid for when delivered.

y f Three lines (about 30 words) 2*. 6d.

Ctrms \Every additional line (10 wards) , 6d.

. .... &{>t lltusual Morto.

LONDON: SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER '8, 1860.

THE Sonata, the noblest form that instrumental music can assume, appears to be going out of date. So much the worse for the art. Let the Sonata be once entirely laid aside, as antiquated, and music will rapidly fall from the high place it now occupies as a beautiful and intellectual pursuit. Sonatas continue to bo written, it is true; the German and French catalogues of new music, the latter more rarely than the former, and tho English still more rarely than the latter, occasionally announce a new sonata, by some unknown composer ; but few of the tried and acknowledged writers ever venture on producing, certainly not on publishing, a work of this gravity and importance. A young musician not seldom begins his career with " a grand sonata," witli all the four movements unusually long, which, for want of encouragement, he prints at his own expense. Finding that it does not sell, and that, excepting tho few ho may have presented to his friends, who do not thank him, the fifty or hundred copies

originally issued remain a dead weight upon the shelves of his publisher, he abandons all idea of composing a second sonata, and at once sets to work upon caprweios, fantasias, romance*, sketches, songs without words, and whatever he may consider the most marketable commodity. If he be ambitious, and a lover of his art, he will not descend to the variations, rondos, sketches ti la vahc, &c,, with which our pianofortes are covered by/ those, who.ane neither; he follows, however, in the train of, bis coatan)poraries, and gives birth to a series, of short moveaicnts in the capriccio form—that is in no form whatever — which he dignifies by names borrowed from others, or names of his . own coinage, having no intelligible connection with the works to which tliey aro, applied. Whether from all this farrago of the fancy, anythiflg clear and symmetrical will ariso, to induce us to regret the sonata no longer, it is for some commanding genius to preTe, Mendelssohn invented a beautiful form, in the Lieder ohm Worte; but he exhausted it himself. To him it was but an exercise of the fancy, an easing of his continually taveotite brain from some of the ideas with which it was overstocked, and which he did not find convertible to loftier purposes; but his imitators—for the most part unblessed with one idea in a twelvemonth, destitute of fancy and iuvantion-rr attempting to emulate him, have only demonstrated:ibat incompetency. Their Lieder ohne Worte are little better than an empty figure of accompaniment, to which a meagre and passionless tune has been made to fit, with infinite sad unprofitable labour. So true is this, that the title of Songs without Words—in German, French, or English—affixed to a piece of new music, predisposes us against the author, and takes away all the inclination we might otherwise have felt to look at his work. To Mendelssohn, also, may be traced the endless forms which the capriccio, or caprice, hak assumed within the last twenty years. But his imitators—, who include, we may almost say, the entire race of modem composers for the piano—independently of the barrenness of their invention, have altogether overlooked that element which in Mendelssohn's smallest efforts' is never absen,^ the symmetry and consequence of form which ally them, more or less to the sonata.

The fantasia used to be regarded, among the old writer?, as a sort of improvisation, and was an exception, not a rule. But what would Mozart have thought, had he |f«$ now, and found nine works out of every ten devoted to the pianoforte and other instruments, fantasias—long or short —in other words improvisations, without plan or orderunmeaning jumbles of themes, good or bad, which inigot belong to anything else than that in which they appear, with quite as much or quite as little 'propriety?' Mozart would not have believed his ears. The ingenious development, or working out, of a theme—which Whs wont to signalise, not merely fantasias, but actual improvisations— he would have sought in vain ; much more in vain the elaborate fugue, demonstrating the composer's facility counterpoint, that lent interest to the fantasias of the elder masters. <

Some will have it that Beethoveri completely exhausted ■ the sonata. But this is a manifest error. Beethoven rather showed, by the infinite variety he imparted to it, that the sonata was inexhaustible. He was aware of all the.laiest resources of the art—as may be well supposed, since he had so large a share in their invention ; but he could find no better or more convenient field for their development than this particular one, which already existed, and already,« constant use can wear, had been worn threadbare by Mozart and Haydn—to say nothing of Dussek, a composer too often disregarded by superficial writers, in considering the history and progress of the art. But Beethoven came to the sonata with a world of new ideas; in his hands it was as fresh, and vigorous, and young, as when it first issued from the prolific brain of Haydn, who by right of this one invention enjoys the undisputed title of "Father of Instrumental Music."

The numberless and prodigious inspirations of Beethoven still filling the world with new delight and wonder, it was an impossible task for any instrumental writer immediately coming after him to take him as a model, without becoming his slavish imitator. This shows Mendelssohn and Spohr, the two original composers of instrumental music in our day, in a worthier light. What they accomplished, when it is considered how near they were to Beethoven, must be admitted to be extraordinary. In their symphonies, quartets, and other productions of the kind,* while adhering to tho plan of Haydn, which cannot be profitably neglected, they revealed new thoughts, new means of development, and entirely new styles. There is not a shadow of resemblance in the writing of either of them to those of Haydn, Mozart, or Beethoven. Spohr, the elder of tho two, may be said to have completely fulfilled his mission, while Mendelssohn, the younger, was unhappily cut off in his prime. Happily he lived t) complete the oratorio of Elijah, the greatest masterpiece of modern art. Wholly original as are the manners of these great men, they emulated their predecessors — Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven, —in their reverent adherence to the one true form—that of The SoifsjA.

—t—

IN a general view of the history of the Opera, the central figures would be Gluck and Mozart. Before Gluck's time the operatic art was in its infancy, and since the death of Mozart no operas have been produced equal to that composer's masterpieces. Mozart must have commenced his Idomeneo, the first of his celebrated works, the very year that Gluck retired to Vienna, after giving to the Parisians his Iphigenie en Tauride; but though contemporaries in the strict sense of the word, Gluck and Mozart can scarcely be looked upon as belonging to the same musical epoch. The compositions of the former, however immortal, have at least anantiquecast; those of the latter have quite a modern air; and it must appear to the audiences of the present day that far more than twenty-three years separate Orfeo from Don Giovanni, though that is the precise interval that elapsed between the production of the opera by which Gluck, and of that by which Mozart, is best known in this country. Gluck, after a centuiy and a half of opera, so far surpassed all his predecessors that no work by a composer anterior to him is now ever performed. Lulli wrote an Armida, which was followed by Rameau's Armida, which was followed by Gluck's Armida; and Monteverde wrote an Orfeo a hundred and fifty years beforo Gluck produced the Orfeo which was played only the other night at the Royal Italian Opera. The Orfeo, then, of our existing operatic repertory takes us back through its subject to the earliest of regular Italian operas, and similarly Gluck, through his Armida, appears os the successor of Rameau* who was the successor of Lulli, who usually passes for tho founder of the opera in France—a country where it is particularly interesting to trace the progress of that entertainment, inas

* It is scarcely necessary to remind our readers that a symphony is a sonata for the orchestra—a quartet a sonata for four stringed instrument!, &c.

much as it can be observed at one establishment, which has existed continuously for two hundred years, and which, under the title of Academie Royale, Academic Nationale, and Academie lmpcriale (it has now gone by each of these names twice), has witnessed the production of more operatic masterpieces than any other theatre in any city in the world. To convince the reader of the truth of this latter assertion we need only remind him of the works written for the Academie Royale by Gluck and Piccinni (or Piccini) immediately before the Revolution, and of tho Masaniello of Auber, the William Tell of Rossini, and the Robert the Devil of Meyerbeer, given for tho first time at the said Academie within sixteen years of the termination of the Napoleonic wars. Neither Naples, nor Milan, nor Prague, nor Vienna, nor Munich, nor Dresden, nor Berlin, has individually seen the birth of so many great operatic works by different masters, though, of course, if judged by the number of great composers to whom they have given birth both Germany and Italy must bo ranked infinitely higher than France. Indeed, if wo compare France with our own country, we find, it is true, that an opera in the national language was established earlier, and an Italian Opera much earlier there than here ; but, on the other hand, the French, until Gluck's time, had never any composers, native or adopted, at all comparable to our Purcell, who produced his King Arthur as far back as 1691.

Lulli is generally said to have introduced opera into France, and, indeed, is represented in a picture, well known to opera-goers, receiving a privilege from the hands of Louis XIV. as a reward and encouragement for his services in that respect. This privilege, however, was neither deserved nor obtained in the manner supposed. Cardinal Mazarin introduced Italian Opera into Paris in 1645, when Lulli was only twelve years of age; and the first French opera, entitled Akebar, Roi de Mogol, words and music by the Abbe Mailly, was brought out tho year following in the Episcopal Palace of Carpentras, under the direction of Cardinal Bichi, Urban the Eighth's legate. Clement VII. had already appeared as a librettist, and it is said that Urban VIII. himself recommended the importation of the opera into France; so that the real father of the lyric stage in that country was certainly not a scullion but in all probability a Pope.

The second French opera was La Pastorale en musigue, words by Pcrrin, music by Cambert, which was privately represented at Issy ; and the third Pomone, also by Perrin and Cambert, which was publicly performed in Paris. Pomone was the first Freneh opera heard by the Parisian public, and it was to Perrin its author, and not to Lulli, that the patent of the Royal Academy of Music was granted. A privilege for establishing an Academy of Music had been conceded a hundred years beforo by Charles tho Ninth, to Antoine de Baif, — the word "Academie" being used as an equivalent for "Accademia," the Italian for concert. Perrin's license appears to have been a renewal, as to form, of de Baifs, and thus originated the eminently absurd title which the chief operatic theatre of Paris has retained ever since. The Academy of Music is of course an academy in the sense in which the Theatre Francais is a collego of declamation, and the Palais Royal Theatre a school of morality; but no one need seek to justify its titlo because it is known to owe its existence to a confusion of terms.

Six French operas, complete and in five acts, had been performed before Lulli, supported by Mad. do Montespan, succeeded in depriving Perrin of his "privilege," and

« ElőzőTovább »