« ElőzőTovább »
activity of soul, of which it is only the mediate and secondarycause.
With the exception of the two cases in which the impression of music mingles with the national and religious feelings, there is no occasion to consider what it might gain by becoming German, Eussian, French, or Italian, supposing it to rely wholly on its own resources. Is it not its most precious advantage over all spoken languages, that it is a universal language, the elements whereof lie in nature, and in the universal laws of the human organization, admitting, neither in a theoretic nor an aesthetic point of view, of any local tradition or difference between races 1 In the state of nature, music is always special, because it is still very imperfect; the more perfect it becomes, the more universal does it seek to be. Its universality, which is one of its essential attributes, is also the goal to which it must strive. Let us understand one another. By means of its intrinsic peculiarities, music corresponds to the different emotions of the soul only in a
feneral, and, so to say, abstract manner. If the question be, ow to bring before the hearers the impression, or, more strictly speaking, the musical equivalent of an emotion, our art presents no object which can awaken this in us, as poetry and painting can; it applies neither mediating elements nor artistic illusion; but it touches immediately the principle, out of which all the emotions of the kind in question flow. We hear two or three phrases of a melody, a harmonic series of some chords, and we say, " These express joy, these despair, and these love." This music can do without"the interpretation of a text, and without making use of the representative signification, which custom may have attached to certain melodies. The outward symptoms and the moral shadings, which modify the expression of passions according to manners, religions, and social ideas, language and climate, belong to the domain of the literatures, of which they fix the necessary speciality or nationality. Music in itself possesses no means of expressing these; or, if it sometimes succeed in doing it, it is only through the association of ideas, of which we have above spoken. All such portrayings are enclosed in a purely psychological circle, and never give anything beside the human me. What we call dramatic character is for the musician nothing more than the temperature or naturel of the person, which verifies itself in the situation of the piece, and must be determined, not by what the person could do, say, think, or wish, but solely by what it has the capacity to feel; and that because musical analogies answer indirectly to the interior and hidden springs of the passions; that is, to their principle. But this principle is the same with all men; and this is the reason why the empire of music embraces all countries, all classes of society, all stages of civilization, all degrees of intelligence, and stretches far beyond the geographical and intellectual limits, where the kingdom of the other arts leaves off. In theory, this universal intelligibleness is the fairest prerogative of the composer; but, in the practice of the theatre, he is continually forced to renounce it partially, whether he will or not.
Every nation, every epoch has its own taste, which it necessarily imparts to the musicians whom it produces. This taste is in its nature special, and what is special never can be wholly harmonized with the expression of things absolute—as, for example, the human passions considered in their px-inciple. Hence it follows, that the imitations of dramatic music have commonly only a relative worth, only a passing and local resemblance to objects represented, that is to say, to the feelings of the persons; a resemblance, which on the one hand constantly diminishes with the change in musical taste, and which on the other does not exist at all to a strange audience. The speciality of the taste of the times is a cause why music becomes antiquated, and the speciality of the local taste a cause which makes it less intelligible and less attractive in localities where a different taste prevails. When one sets out to give the universal language of feeling, he gets no further than producing the language of his time or of his hearers. But, since the musicians cannot do otherwise, we will see how they contrive, as natives, to please the public and themselves. If one wishes to convince himself, he will find four ways of nationalizing or localising the score of an opera.
(To be continued.)
Concert Foe Hospital Op Woken, Soho-sqtjabe.—The Marquis and Marchioness of Westminster placed their magnificent mansion, Grosvcnor-house, Grosvenor-street, at the disposal of the committee of management of the nbovo institution for a musical and dramatic performance, which took place on Monday in aid of tho funds. The Picture Gallery was selected both for concert-room and theatre, and the decorations and fittings were left, to tho charge of Baron Marochetti, one of the committee of management, and Mr. Phillips, Royal Academician. Tho music, which was under the direction of Mr. Henry Leslie, was of the popular miscellaneous kind. The singers—including non-professionals—were Mrs. Sartoris, Mrs. Nassau Senior, Madame Gassier, Miss Wilson, Mr. Charles Braham, Mr. Tennant, Hon. William Ashley, Sir John Harington, Mr. Albert Smith, Herr Kumpel, M. Gassier, Signor Belletti, and tiie London Deutseher Manner Clior; the instrumentalists, M. Halle, Herr Ernst, Signer Piatt], and Herr Blumenthal. Besides Mr. Henry Leslie, the director general of the music, there were sundry sou-s-tifficiers, who presided variously. In the first part Mr. Benedict was at the piano ; in the second, Mr. Lindsay Sloper. Mr. Frank Mori accompanied Mr. Charles Braham in two airs by Verdi, and Herr Ernst Puuer directed the London Deutseher Maimer Chor. Never was concert more diversely conducted, or better. Between tho parts was presented a comedietta, by Mr. Tom T.iylor, entitled Tlie Late Lamented, written expressly for the occasion, tho characters by Mrs. Sartoris, Miss Mary Boyle, Mr. Alfred Wigan, Mr. Sp«noe and the author. It was well acted, and elicited much applause. Not the least entertaining part of the performance was Mr. Albert Smith's "Country Fair," which made the aristocratic audience "laugh consumedly." Above eight hundred and fifty tickets were disposed of, and a considerable sum has been realised for the funds of the hospital. Tho Duchess of Cambridge, tho Princess Mary, and the Duchess of Mocklonburgh Strclitz, were among the fashionables present.
Mkyebbeeb.—The distinguished composer of the HvguenoU and the ProphUe, who has not been in England since 1832, is at present in London, superintending the production, at the Royal Italian Opera, of his last great work—L'Etoile du Nord. It is almost needless to remark that M. Meyerbeer has been received by the social and artistic coteries of the metropolis with all tho respect duo to one who has contributed so much to their enjoyment, the Queeu having also paid him the honour of inviting him to dine at Buckingham Palace. We would suggest that our local musical societies should present an address to M. Meyerbeer, and request him to honour us with a visit during his stay in England. He is the greatest of living (writing) musicians, and some complimentary notice ought to be taken of his presence amongst us. Could not our Philharmonic Society give a grand performance of some of his works, and request him to conduct on tho occasion? Such a performance would be a most proper and appropriate compliment to M. Meyerbeer, and might be made to reflect credit botli upon him and upon ourselves.
Meuthtr.—The Messiah was given in the Temperance Hall bv the Musical Union on Thursday evening. The execution was highly creditable to the committee, who originated the performance. The solo vocalists were Miss Cole (London), Miss Taylor and Miss Roberts (Mcrthyr), Mr. Marshall Ward (Hereford Cathedral), Messrs. Kosser, J. Joues, D. Davies, and Hopkins. Tho receipts of tho concert, which was for the benefit of the vocal orchestra, did not meet Ihe expenses, the "solitary point of failure," according to the Merthyr Journal.
Mow To Take Sebastopol.—A musical instrument maker of Genova has received an order from Russia for 100,000 musical boxes to play the national air. A general of tho first French republic, surrounded by superior forces, wrote to the minister:—".Send me a reinforcement of several regiments, or some thousand copies of the 'Marseillaise.'" The government, which had fourteen armies to maintain, fouud it more convenient to send copies of the Hymn. The soldiers learned it, and, singing it, broke through the enemy's ranks. The Czar thinks, perhaps, to relieve Sebastopol in a similar manner, and, as the Russians cannot sing, on aecouut of their unmusical language, to furnish them with music ready made. On a given day, each soldier will attach one box to his knapsack, tho general will give tho word, " Play ! forward, march!" tho gates of the city will open, tho army advance, and the enemies' batteries be silenced or fall, as the walls of Jericho at the sound of Joshua's trumpet.
If heaven has blessed you with a lively imagination, you will often sit alono for hours as if chained to your piano, endeavouring to give vent to your inmost thoughts in harmony, and the less clear the realms of harmony are to you, the more mysteriously will you be drawn within the magic circle. Such hours as these are the happiest of our youth. Take care, however, not to deliver yourself up too often to a talent that causes you to waste both time and strength on shadows.—Schumann.
E. GRATTAN COOKE begs to inform hi* friends
that it is not his intention to leave this world at present (D. V.). and he therefore begs they will not credit auyivpurt, which m iy appear in the "Times," announcing his sudden death. If the weather should become rather moro moderate, Mr. O rat tan Cooke trusts to improve in health and spirits.
MISS BLANCHE CAP IL L—(Voice, Contralto), Professor of Music and Singing1, 47, Alfred-street, River-terrace, Islington, where letters"respecting pupils or engagements may bo addressed.
MR. And MADAME R. SIDNEY PRATTEN, Profeasors of the Flute, Guitar, and Concertina, 131b, Oxford-street; whero their Coocertiua Classes are held, and where all their compositions may bo had for the above instruments.
ERR REICHARDT begs to inform his friends that
ORCHESTRA.—Violin, Violoncello, Clarionet, Oboe,
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TUST PUBLISHED.—FANTASIA on the celebrated
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In the Pres*.—The 12th Edition of the above popular Song, with Symphonies and Accompaniments, by the Lite Fmlay Duu.
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MTJS. BAC, OXON.—The Exercise, written for the degree of Bachelor in music, by Richard Hacking, Junr. Bury, Lancashire, l>einsf a sacred Cantata for five voices with orchestral accompaniment entitle I "Judgments and Mercies," and performed before the University of Oxford in commemoration wijck, June 18th, 1855. wdl shortly bo published by subscription, in vocal score, with an accompaniment arranged for tho orguu or Piauoforte. Price 10s. 6d. Subscribers' names received by the Author.
*/ Just published, in a very handsome volume, price One Guinea, a collection of Welsh Melodies, arranged for tho Harp by John Thomas, as introduced at his lato concert at Willis's Rooms —Boosey and Sons, 28, Hollcn-strcet, and to be had also of the Author, 88, Great Portland-street.
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OPERA AND DRAMA.
OPERA AND THE CONSTITUTION OF MUSIC.
BY RICHARD WAGNER.
Our task is finished—for we have pursued the capability of music in opera up to the manifestation of its incapability.
When we speak, now-a-days, of operatic music, properly so-called, we no longer speak of an art, but a mere fashion. Only the critic, who feels nothing of the pressure of artistic necessity within his breast, is still able to give utterance to hopes or doubts of the future of opera; the artist himself, provided he has not sunk to the level of a speculator on the public, proves that he regards opera as dead, from the fact that he tries to find other outlets for himself, and, in so doing, stumbles over the energetic participation of the poet as something to be sought.
But here, in this participation of the poet to be sought, we come to the point on which we must attain full, conscious clearness, as light as day, if we would comprehend and retain, in its real, healthy naturalness, the relation between the musician and the poet. This relation must be one entirely different from that to which we have been accustomed, and so completely changed, that the musician, for his own advantage, will only feel at ease in it, when he gives up all remembrance of the old unnatural connection, the last bond of which would necessarily pull him back again into his old unfruitful madness.
In order to render this healthy and only beneficial relation, which must be adopted, perfectly clear, it is necessary that we should, above all things, once again describe,shortly but decidedly, the constitution of our music at the present day.
We shall arrive mo3t quickly at a clear view of the subject, by comprehending, curtly and concisely, the constitution of music under the idea of melody. .
As the Internal is the foundation and condition of the External, while however, the Internal is first plainly and decidedly manifested by means of the External, harmony and rhythm are indeed the organs of shape, but melody is the form of music itself. Harmony and rhythm are the blood, flesh, nerves, and bones, with all the inside, which, like the qualities in question, are out of the ken of the eye that contemplates the created, living man. Melody, on the other hand, is the man himself, as ho strikes our eye. On seeing him, wo merely look at the elegant figure, as expressed to us in the form-giving limits of the outer covering of skin; we sink into the contemplation of the most expressive means of utterance contained in the features, and at last stop at the eye, the most lively means of utterance, and that most capable of communicating sensations, in man, who manifests his most inward nature to us in the most convincing manner, by the aid of this organ which, again, obtains its power of communication only from the universal capability of receiving the impressions of the surrounding world. Thus is melody the most perfect expression of the inward being of music, and every true melody, conditional on this most inward being, speaks to us, also, through the eye, which communicates to us the inward being in the most
expressive manner, but so that we only perceive the ray of tho pupil, and not the inward organisation, as yet formless in itself.
When the people invented melody, it pursued the same course .as that adopted by an actual natural human being, who, by the involuntary act of sexual intercourse, procreates and brings forth man. The latter is complete when he sees the light, and is immediately manifested by his outward shape, but not by a display of his inward organisation. Greek art only looked at this man from the point of view of outward shape, and exerted itself to imitate him in as true and living a manner as possible— at last doing so in bronze and stone. Christianity, on the contrary, proceeded anatomically: it wished to discover the soul of man, and, therefore, opened and cut up the entiro body, exposing all the inward, shapeless organisation which disgusted the eye, simply because it never was, nor never will be, put there for it. In seeking the soul, however, we killed the body; in endeavouring to hit upon the source of life, wo destroyed the indication of it, and reached, therefore, the dead inside, which could only be a condition of life while in conjunction with the possibility of life's being indicated without. The soul sought, is, however, in truth, nothiug more than life; what, consequently, remained for Christian anatomy to contemplate was—death.
Christianity had smothered the organic, artistic vital power of the people—its natural power of procreation; it had cut into its flesh, and even disturbed the organisation of its artistic life with the dualistic dissecting knife. Association, in which alone the artistic generative power of the people could rise to the capability of a complete art-creation, belonged to Catholicism; only in solitude, where portions of the people—far distant from the great highway of common life—were alone with themselves and nature, the people's song, which had grown up in inseparable connection with poetry, maintained itself in childish simplicity and scanty narrowness.
If we turn our glance from this kind of song, we perceive, on the other, hand, within the sphere of the polito arts, music taking a new and unheard-of course of development; namely, that which proceeded from its organization—anatomically cut up, and inwardly dead—to a new display of life by means of a new airaugement and fresh growth of the separated organs. In the songs of the Christian church, harmony had developed itself independently. The natural exigence of its life drove it, of necessity, to utterance as melody; it required indispensably, however, for this utterance, to keep to the organ of rhythm which gave form and movement, and which it took, as an arbitrary standard, more imaginary than real, from the dance. The new union could only be an artificial one. As poetry was constructed according to the precepts which Aristotle had taken from the tragic authors, music had to be composed in obedience to certain scientific suppositions and rules. This was at the same period that even men were to be made from learned recipes and chemical decoctions. Learned music, too, endeavoured to construct a man of this description: mechanism was to produce organization, or, at least, supply its place. The restless impulse of all this mechanical invention was, however, in truth, directed only to the real man, who, produced over again by the idea, should thus at last awake to real organic life. We here touch on the whole monstrous course of development pursued by modern humanity!
The man that music wanted to produce was in truth naught else than melody, that is to say, the moment of the most decided, most convincing utterance of life, of the really living, inward organization of music. The more music developed itself in this necessary yearning to become man, the greater the' certainty with which we perceive the attempt to attain clearer melodic manifestation rise to the most painful aspiration, and in the works of no master do we behold this aspiration grow to such power and force as in the great instrumental works of Beethoven, where we admire the most monstrous efforts of mechanism striving to become man. These efforts tended to resolve all its component parts in blood and nerves of really living organisation, in order, through it, to attain infallible utterance as melody.
It is here that, in the case of Beethoven, the peculiar and decisive course of our entire system of artistic development is displayed much more surely than in the case of our operatic composers. The latter regarded melody as something readymade and lying beyond the limits of their artistic creation; having taken no share in its organic production, they detached it from the mouth of the people, thus tearing it out of its organisation, and employed it just as it suited their own caprice, without justifying what they did by aught but luxurious whim. If this melody of the people was the outward form of the man, the operatic composers stripped him, so to say, of his skin, with which they covered a lay figure, in order to give the latter a human appearance; the most they could effect was to deceive the civilized savages of our operatic public, that only half looks on while anything is going forward.
In Beethoven, on the contrary, we recognize the natural vital impulse to give birth to melody out of the inward organisation of music. In his most important works, he does not at all present melody as a something ready from the first, but has it brought forth from its organs before our eyes, as it were: he initiates us in this act of parturition, by presenting it to us in conformity with its organic necessity. But the most decisive fact that the master at last shows us in his great work is the necessity felt by him, as a musician, to throw himself into the arms of the poet, in order to accomplish the act of procreating true and infallibly real redeeming melody. In order to become a man, Beethoven was obliged to become an entire man, that is to say a gregarious man, subject to the sexual conditions of male and female. What serions, profound, and longing meditation was, at last, unveiled to the immeasurably rich musician by the simple melody with which he broke out into the words of the poet: "Freude, schoner Gdtterfuuken!" But this melody solves for us the secret of music: at present we know how to proceed, and have obtained the capability of being, with consciousness, organically creating artists.
Let us dwell, at present, upon the most important point of our investigation, aud be guided in it by Beethoven's "Freudemelodie."
The people's melody presented us, on its rediscovery by the musician of civilization, a double interest; that of delight in its natural beauty, when we met with it undistorted, among the people itself, and that of searching after its inte/nal organisation. The delight necessarily remained, strictly speaking, unfruitful for our artistic creations; we should have exerted ourselves, both for the form and purport, strictly and solely in a kind of art similar to the people's soug itself, in order to be enabled to imitate melody with any degree of success; in fact, wo should ourselves have been artists of tho people, in the strictest sense, if we would have attained tho capability of imitation; we ought, therefore, properly not to have imitated at all, but to have invented, in our tnrn^ as the people itself.
On the other hand, involved in quite another style of artistic creation, altogether differing from that of the people, we conld only employ-this melody in the coarsest sense, and that, too, with surrounding objects and under circumstances which must necessarily distort it. The history of operatic music is really and solely to be traced back to the history of this melody, in which, according to certain laws, like those of the ebb and flood, the periods of the adoption and re-adoption of the people's melody alternate with those of tho beginuing and contiuually increasing preponderance of its distortion and degeneration. Those musicians who became most painfully aware of this bad
quality in the people's melody, when changed into an operatic air, saw themselves, therefore, urged to the necessity, more or less distinctly experienced by them, of reflecting on the organic production of -melody itself. The operatic composer stood nearest to the discovery of the necessary mode of proceeding, but was precisely the person who could not succeed, because he occupied a fundamentally false relation with regard to poetry, the only element capable of fructifying, and because, in his unnatural and usurped position, he had to a certain degree deprived this element of its generative organs. In his preposterous attitude towards the poet, the composer might do what he chose, but whenever his feeling raised itself to the height of melodic utterance, he was obliged to bring his ready-made melody with him, because the poet had to accommodate himself to the entire form, in which the melody was to be displayed; and this form exercised so despotic an influence on the configuration of operatic melody, that it decided in reality its essential purport.
(To be continued.)
REVIEW OF THE HISTORY OF MUSIC
(Continued from page 458).
Tub first and obviously the simplest way is to bring the music to the mill of the national melody; then the opera becomes entirely national. Certainly, but then two little difficulties are in the way. There are countries which possess no proper national melody ; and then I scarcely know of any national melody, which is adapted to the various expressions of dramatic music, whether serious or comic. The cases, in which popular melodies are applicable to the lyric stage, are always among the exceptions. Such is the case when the song is given for what it really is in the opera, or when the nationality of a people or an individual forms the subject of the piece. Thus Weigl has with singular success employed Swiss airs in his opera, Die Schweizerfamilie (Tho Swiss Family), the subject of which is home-sickness. But such exceptions never can become the rule.
A second means of lending a smack of nationality to theatrical music consists in employing everywhere certain melodic turns, passages, rhythms, and forms in the accompaniment, which, without being drawn exactly ironi a national source, have kept their hold through a silent but not the less binding undertaking between composers, singers, and the public. Such is the conventional form which we remark in the old as well as the new Italian opera.
The third means consists in systematically destroying the balance between the elements of an opera, in favour of one of them. When, for example, the declamation is sacrificed to the melody, the orchestra to the vocal parts, truth to material effect, expressiou to the bravura, aud the contrary, any one who knows their exclusive tendencies, who knows in what parts of the same the composers of a nation have distinguished themselves, and what parts they are woUt to slight, can judge of the music and say, that is French, German, Italian music.
Finally, there is yet a fourth means, whose employment tends to make the national colouring most obvious. It consists in lending to the music a character corresponding to any peculiarity, or even to any particularly remarkable weakness, which distinguishes one people from another. We see, for example, that what to-day makes the Germans the first musicians, the poeticometaphysical geuius of the nation, so favourable to the sublime inspirations of pure music, does not always lead them so well in the most positive application of this art—I mean the musical drama. We recognize this predominant tendency to the ultraroraautic and the hyper-original in some of their most celebrated operas; in their frequently too much enveloped songs; in intentions, which from their very fiueness lose themselves in indetiniteuess ; in a certain mixture of repose and sentimental dreariness, which unstrings the very hottest passions of their nature: in a knowledge which is not always very clear, or very dramatic; but everywhere we meet the stamp of reflection, of tone, originality, and individuality, which marks all the artistic productions of tho laud.