[Frontispiece: The Tone Masters. Haydn, Mozart, Handel, Beethoven. From painting by Hans Temple.]
Among the Great
Masters of Music
Scenes in the Lives of Famous Musicians
Thirty-two Reproductions of Famous Paintings
with Text by
E. Grant Richards
Miss Jane Rowlands
ST. CECILIA PALESTRINA LULLI STRADIVARIUS TARTINI BACH HANDEL GLUCK MOZART LINLEY HAYDN WEBER BEETHOVEN SCHUBERT ROUGET DE LISLE PAGANINI MENDELSSOHN CHOPIN MEYERBEER WAGNER LISZT
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
THE TONE MASTERS . . . . . . . . . Frontispiece ST. CECILIA PALESTRINA THE YOUNG LULLI STRADIVARIUS TARTINI'S DREAM BACH'S PRELUDES MORNING DEVOTIONS IN THE FAMILY OF BACH FREDERICK THE GREAT AND BACH THE CHILD HANDEL HANDEL AND GEORGE I. GLUCK AT THE TRIANON MOZART AND HIS SISTER BEFORE MARIA THERESA MOZART AND MADAME DE POMPADOUR MOZART AT THE ORGAN THE LAST DAYS OF MOZART SHERIDAN AT THE LINLEYS' HAYDN CROSSING THE ENGLISH CHANNEL THE "LAST THOUGHTS" OF VON WEBER BEETHOVEN AT BONN BEETHOVEN IN HIS STUDY A SYMPHONY BY BEETHOVEN BEETHOVEN'S DREAM SCHUBERT AT THE PIANO ROUGET DE LISLE SINGING THE MARSEILLAISE PAGANINI IN PRISON SONG WITHOUT WORDS CHOPIN AT PRINCE RADZIWILL'S THE DEATH OF CHOPIN MEYERBEER WAGNER AT HOME A MORNING WITH LISZT
The compiler's thanks are due to Messrs. Houghton, Mifflin & Co., and to Mrs. Elizabeth Stuart Phelps Ward, for permission to use a selection from "The Silent Partner."
Music is the link between spiritual and sensual life.—Beethoven.
And while we hear The tides of Music's golden sea Setting toward eternity, Uplifted high in heart and hope are we. —Tennyson.
Music in the best sense has little need of novelty, on the contrary, the older it is, the more one is accustomed to it, the greater is the effect it produces.—Goethe.
Music is a kind of inarticulate, unfathomable speech, which leads us to the edge of the infinite, and lets us for moments gaze into that.—Carlyle.
AMONG THE GREAT MASTERS OF MUSIC.
One of the most ancient legends handed down to us by the early Church is that of St. Cecilia, the patroness of music and musicians. She is known to have been honoured by Christians as far back as the third century, in which she is supposed to have lived.
Doubtless much of fancy has been added, in all the ensuing years, to the facts of Cecilia's life and death. Let us, however, take the legend as it stands. It says that St. Cecilia was a noble Roman lady, who lived in the reign of the Emperor Alexander Severus. Her parents, who secretly professed Christianity, brought her up in their own faith, and from her earliest childhood she was remarkable for her enthusiastic piety: she carried night and day a copy of the Gospel concealed within the folds of her robe; and she made a secret but solemn vow to preserve her chastity, devoting herself to heavenly things, and shunning the pleasures and vanities of the world. As she excelled in music, she turned her good gift to the glory of God, and composed hymns, which she sang herself with such ravishing sweetness, that even the angels descended from heaven to listen to her, or to join their voices with hers. She played on all instruments, but none sufficed to breathe forth that flood of harmony with which her whole soul was filled; therefore she invented the organ, consecrating it to the service of God. When she was about sixteen, her parents married her to a young Roman, virtuous, rich, and of noble birth, named Valerian. He was, however, still in the darkness of the old religion. Cecilia, in obedience to her parents, accepted the husband they had ordained for her; but beneath her bridal robes she put on a coarse garment of penance, and, as she walked to the temple, renewed her vow of chastity, praying to God that she might have strength to keep it. And it so fell out; for, by her fervent eloquence, she not only persuaded her husband, Valerian, to respect her vow, but converted him to the true faith. She told him that she had a guardian angel who watched over her night and day, and would suffer no earthly lover to approach her. And when Valerian desired to see this angel, she sent him to seek the aged St. Urban, who, being persecuted by the heathen, had sought refuge in catacombs. After listening to the instructions of that holy man, the conversion of Valerian was perfected, and he was baptised. Returning then to his wife, he heard, as he entered, the most entrancing music; and, on reaching her chamber, beheld an angel, who was standing near her, and who held in his hand two crowns of roses gathered in Paradise, immortal in their freshness and perfume, but invisible to the eyes of unbelievers. With these he encircled the brows of Cecilia and Valerian, as they knelt before him; and he said to Valerian, "Because thou hast followed the chaste counsel of thy wife, and hast believed her words, ask what thou wilt, it shall be granted to thee." And Valerian replied, "I have a brother named Tiburtius, whom I love as my own soul; grant that his eyes, also, may be opened to the truth." And the angel replied, with a celestial smile, "Thy request, O Valerian, is pleasing to God, and ye shall both ascend to his presence, bearing the palm of martyrdom." And the angel, having spoken these words, vanished. Soon afterward Tiburtius entered the chamber, and perceiving the fragrance of the celestial roses, but not seeing them, and knowing that it was not the season for flowers, he was astonished. Then Cecilia, turning to him, explained to him the doctrines of the Gospel, and set before him all that Christ had done for us,—contrasting his divine mission, and all he had done and suffered for men, with the gross worship of idols made of wood and stone; and she spoke with such a convincing fervour, such heaven-inspired eloquence, that Tiburtius yielded at once, and hastened to Urban to be baptised and strengthened in the faith. And all three went about doing good, giving alms, and encouraging those who were put to death for Christ's sake, whose bodies were buried honourably.
Now there was in those days a wicked prefect of Rome, named Almachius, who governed in the emperor's absence; and he sent for Cecilia and her husband and brother, and commanded them to desist from the practice of Christian charity. And they said, "How can we desist from that which is our duty, for fear of anything that man can do unto us?" The two brothers were then thrown into a dungeon, and committed to the charge of a centurion named Maximus, whom they converted, and all three, refusing to join in the sacrifice to Jupiter, were put to death. And Cecilia, having washed their bodies with her tears, and wrapped them in her robes, buried them together in the cemetery of Calixtus. Then the wicked Almachius, covetous of the wealth which Cecilia had inherited, sent for her, and commanded her to sacrifice to the gods, threatening her with horrible tortures in case of refusal. She only smiled in scorn, and those who stood by wept to see one so young and so beautiful persisting in what they termed obstinacy and rashness, and entreated her to yield; but she refused, and by her eloquent appeal so touched their hearts that forty persons declared themselves Christians, and ready to die with her. Then Almachius, struck with terror and rage, exclaimed, "What art thou, woman?" and she answered, "I am a Roman of noble race." He said, "I ask of thy religion;" and she said, "Thou blind one, thou art already answered!" Almachius, more and more enraged, commanded that they should carry her back to her own house, and fill her bath with boiling water, and cast her into it; but it had no more effect on her body than if she had bathed in a fresh spring. Then Almachius sent an executioner to put her to death with the sword; but his hand trembled, so that, after having given her three wounds in the neck and breast, he went his way, leaving her bleeding and half dead. She lived, however, for the space of three days, which she spent in prayers and exhortation to the converts, distributing to the poor all she possessed; and she called to her St. Urban, and desired that her house, in which she then lay dying, should be converted into a place of worship for the Christians. Thus, full of faith and charity, and singing with her sweet voice praises and hymns to the last moment, she died at the end of three days. The Christians embalmed her body, and she was buried by Urban in the same cemetery with her husband.
As the saint had wished, her house was consecrated as a church, and the chamber in which she had suffered martyrdom was regarded as a place especially sacred. In after years, the edifice fell into ruins, but was rebuilt by Pope Paschal I. in the ninth century. While this pious work was in progress, it is told that Paschal had a dream, in which St. Cecilia appeared to him and disclosed the spot where she had been buried. On a search being made, her body was found in the cemetery of St. Calixtus, together with the remains of Valerian, Tiburtius, and Maximus, and all were deposited in the same edifice, which has since been twice rebuilt and is now known as the church of St. Cecilia in Trastevere. At the end of the sixteenth century, the sarcophagus which held the remains of the saint was solemnly opened in the presence of several dignitaries of the Church, among whom was Cardinal Baronius, who left an account of the appearance of the body. "She was lying," says Baronius, "within a coffin of cypress-wood, enclosed in a marble sarcophagus; not in the manner of one dead and buried, that is, on her back, but on her right side, as one asleep, and in a very modest attitude; covered with a simple stuff of taffety, having her head bound with cloth, and at her feet the remains of the cloth of gold and silk which Pope Paschal had found in her tomb." The reigning Pope, Clement VIII., ordered that the relics should be kept inviolate, and the coffin was enclosed in a silver shrine and replaced under the high altar, with great solemnity. A talented sculptor, Stefano Maderno, was commissioned to execute a marble statue of the saint lying dead, and this celebrated work, which fully corresponds with the description of Baronius, is now beneath the high altar of the church, where ninety-six silver lamps burn constantly to the memory of Cecilia. The accompanying inscription reads, "Behold the image of the most holy virgin Cecilia, whom I myself saw lying incorruptible in her tomb. I have in this marble expressed for thee the same saint in the very same posture of body."
It seems hardly possible now to say when St. Cecilia came to be considered as music's patron saint,—probably it was not until centuries after her death. We know that in 1502 a musical society was instituted in Belgium, at Louvain, which was placed under the patronage of St. Cecilia. We know, also, that the custom of praising music by giving special musical performances on St. Cecilia's Day (November 22) is an old one. The earliest known celebration of this nature took place at Evreux, in Normandy, in 1571, when some of the best composers of the day, including Orlando Lasso, competed for the prizes which were offered. It is recorded that the first of these festivals to be held in England was in 1683. For these occasions odes were written by Dryden, Shadwell, Congreve, and other poets, and the music was supplied by such composers as Purcell and Blow. At the Church of St. Eustache, in Paris, on St. Cecilia's Day, masses by Adolphe Adam, Gounod, and Ambroise Thomas have been given their first performance. In Germany, Spohr and Moritz Hauptmann have composed works in honour of the day, and Haydn's great "Cecilia" mass must not be forgotten.
Mrs. Jameson says that, before the beginning of the fifteenth century, St. Cecilia was seldom represented in art with musical attributes, but carried the martyr's palm. Later, she appears in painting, either accompanied by various instruments of music, or playing on them. Domenichino, who was in Rome when the sarcophagus of St. Cecilia was opened, and painted numerous pictures of the saint, shows her in one of them as performing on the bass viol. This picture is in the Louvre, where also is Mignard's canvas, representing her accompanying her voice with a harp.
Many painters have depicted St. Cecilia playing upon the organ, often a small, portable instrument, such as she bears in the celebrated picture by Raphael, which we reproduce. For over six hundred years, from the time of Cimabue to our own day, artists of all countries have vied with each other in representations of St. Cecilia, but none have risen to the height of Raphael's treatment of the theme.
He shows us Cecilia, standing with enraptured face lifted to heaven, where the parted clouds display six angels prolonging the melody which the saint has ceased to draw forth from the organ she holds. On her right, the majestic figure of St. Paul appears as if in deep thought, leaning on his sword, and between him and St. Cecilia we see the beautiful young face of the beloved disciple, John the Evangelist. Upon the other side, the foremost figure is that of Mary Magdalen, carrying the jar of ointment in her hand, and behind her stands St. Augustine with a bishop's staff, looking toward John. At the feet of St. Cecilia are scattered various instruments of music, a viol, cymbals, the triangle, flute, and others. They are broken, and some of the pipes of the regal held by St. Cecilia are falling from their place,—all seeming to indicate the inferiority of earthly music to the celestial harmonies. Of the five saints depicted, only Cecilia looks upward, and it has been suggested that Raphael meant that she, alone, hears and understands the heavenly strains.
She is clothed in a garment of cloth of gold, St. Paul in crimson and green, and the Magdalen in violet.
Some writers claim that the face of the Magdalen is that of Raphael's love, the "Farnarina," whom he frequently used as a model. The baker's daughter was a girl of the Trastevere, and it is a coincidence that her home was near that church dedicated to Cecilia, where the saint's remains have rested for hundreds of years.
As Mrs. Jameson observed, Sir Joshua Reynolds has given us a paraphrase of Raphael's painting of music's patron saint in his fine picture of Mrs. Billington, the famous English singer of his last years, as St. Cecilia. She holds a music book in her hand, but is listening to the carolling of some cherubs hovering above her. The composer Haydn paid the singer a happy compliment suggested by this portrait when he said to Sir Joshua, "What have you done? you have made her listening to the angels, you should have represented the angels listening to her." Mrs. Billington was so delighted with this praise that she gave Haydn a hearty kiss. This splendid portrait of the charming young singer is in the Lenox Library in New York.
Raphael's "St. Cecilia" has, of course, a history. In October of the year 1513, a noble lady of Bologna, named Elena Duglioli dall Olio, imagined that she heard supernatural voices bidding her to dedicate a chapel to St. Cecilia in the Church of S. Giovanni in Monte. Upon telling this to a relative, Antonio Pucci of Florence, he offered to fit up the chapel at his own expense, and induced his uncle, Lorenzo Pucci, then newly created a cardinal, to commission Raphael to paint a picture for the altar. It was finished in 1516.
Tradition relates that Pucci had no ear for music, and was laughed at by his brother cardinals when chanting mass in the Sistine Chapel. He thereupon invoked the aid of St. Cecilia, who rewarded the donor of her picture by remedying his harmonic deficiency.
In 1796, Napoleon's conquering army carried the painting to Paris, where it remained until 1815, when it was returned to Bologna. It was at a later date transferred to the art gallery of that city, where it now hangs. About the middle of the eighteenth century, when the agent of Augustus III., the Elector of Saxony, was negotiating the purchase of Italian paintings for the royal gallery in Dresden, the "St. Cecilia" was offered to him for $18,000, but the price was thought too high, and a copy by Denis Calvaert sufficed. This still hangs in the Zwinger at Dresden, the home of the Sistine Madonna. According to Vasari, the organ and other musical instruments in this picture were painted by one of the master's pupils, Giovanni da Udine. Raphael again designed a St. Cecilia in the now ruined fresco of her martyrdom, which either the master or one of his pupils painted in the chapel of the Pope's hunting castle of La Magliana, near Rome. Fortunately, Marc Antonio's engraving has preserved for us the composition of this work.
Of the many tributes to this "St. Cecilia," we will select the one by Shelley.
"We saw besides one picture of Raphael—St. Cecilia; this is in another and higher style; you forget that it is a picture as you look at it; and yet it is most unlike any of those things which we call reality. It is of the inspired and ideal kind, and seems to have been conceived and executed in a similar state of feeling to that which produced among the ancients those perfect specimens of poetry and sculpture which are the baffling models of succeeding generations. There is a unity and a perfection in it of an incommunicable kind. The central figure, St. Cecilia, seems rapt in such inspiration as produced her image in the painter's mind; her deep, dark, eloquent eyes lifted up; her chestnut hair flung back from her forehead—she holds an organ in her hands—her countenance, as it were, calmed by the depth of its passion and rapture, and penetrated throughout with the warm and radiant light of life. She is listening to the music of heaven, and, as I imagine, has just ceased to sing, for the four figures that surround her evidently point, by their attitudes, toward her; particularly St. John, who, with a tender yet impassioned gesture, bends his countenance toward her, languid with the depth of his emotion. At her feet lie various instruments of music, broken and unstrung. Of the colouring I do not speak; it eclipses nature, yet has all her truth and softness."
Dryden's "Song for St. Cecilia's Day, 1687," set to music by Draghi, an Italian composer, ends with this verse, apposite to our picture:
"Orpheus could lead the savage race, And trees uprooted left their place, Sequacious of the lyre: But bright Cecilia raised the wonder higher; When to her organ vocal breath was given, An angel heard, and straight appeared,— Mistaking earth for heaven!"
Ten years later he wrote his noble ode, "Alexander's Feast," in honour of St. Cecilia's festival, at the close of which he again refers to the saint's wondrous powers:
"Thus long ago, Ere heaving bellows learn'd to blow, While organs yet were mute, Timotheus to his breathing flute And sounding lyre, Could swell the soul to rage, or kindle soft desire. At last divine Cecilia came, Inventress of the vocal frame; The sweet enthusiast, from her sacred store, Enlarged the former narrow bounds, And added length to solemn sounds, With Nature's mother-wit, and arts unknown before. Let old Timotheus yield the prize, Or both divide the crown; He raised a mortal to the skies, She drew an angel down."
Handel, in 1736, produced his oratorio of "Alexander's Feast." Pope's "Ode on St. Cecilia's Day," was written in 1708, and performed at Cambridge, in 1730, with music by Maurice Greene. In this composition the poet uses a similar image to Dryden. He sings:
"Music the fiercest grief can charm, And fate's severest rage disarm; Music can soften pain to ease, And make despair and madness please; Our joys below it can improve, And antedate the bliss above. This the divine Cecilia found, And to her Maker's praise confin'd the sound. When the full organ joins the tuneful quire, Th' immortal pow'rs incline their ear; Borne on the swelling notes our souls aspire, While solemn airs improve the sacred fire; And angels lean from Heav'n to hear. Of Orpheus now no more let poets tell, To bright Cecilia greater pow'r is given; His numbers rais'd a shade from Hell, Hers lift the soul to Heav'n."
Some twenty miles from Rome, the insignificant but picturesquely situated town of Palestrina, lies on the hillside. The Praeneste of antiquity, it was once an important colony of Rome, many of whose wealthy ones resorted thither in summer, for the sake of its bracing atmosphere, which Horace extolled. Excavations here have yielded a rich harvest, and the Eternal City holds among its ancient treasures few of more interest or value than those recovered from the soil of Palestrina.
Here, probably in 1524, was born Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, who received his last name from that of his native town. His parents were of humble station in life, but, beyond this fact, we know little that is reliable about his youth or early education. In 1540 he went to Rome, and became a pupil at the music school of Claudio Goudimel, a French composer, who turned Protestant, and perished in the massacre of St. Bartholomew's Day. Palestrina appears to have returned to his birthplace when he was about twenty years old, and to have been made organist and director of music in the cathedral. He married in 1546, and had several sons, but in 1551 was again in Rome, where he held the position of teacher of the boy singers in the Capella Giulia, in the Vatican. While holding this office, he composed a set of masses, which he dedicated to Julius III., and which were issued in 1554. Before that time, Flemish composers had supplied all the music of the Church, and these masses are the first important work by an Italian musician. The Pope recognised their value by appointing Palestrina one of the singers of the papal choir, which was against the rules of the Church, married singers being debarred. Nor was the composer's voice such as entitled him to a place in this splendid body of singers, and he conscientiously hesitated before accepting the position. He did not, however, hold it long, for Julius III. died within a few months, and his successor, Marcellus II., lived but twenty-three days after becoming Pope. Paul IV., who succeeded Marcellus, was a reformer, and dismissed Palestrina from the choir, which was a severe blow to the poor composer. But in October of the same year (1555) he was made director of the music at the Lateran Church, where he remained for over five years. During this time he produced several important works, among them being his volume of Improperia ("the Reproaches"), an eight-voiced "Crux Fidelis," and the set of "Lamentations" for four voices. These compositions gave him fame as the leader of a new school, the pure school of Italian church-music. In 1561 the composer became director of music at the Church of St. Maria Maggiore, where he remained ten years, during which period the event took place which gave him his greatest fame.
For years church music had been lacking in that dignity which should be its main characteristic, and this fault was largely due to the Flemish composers, who thought most of displaying their technical skill. They frequently selected some well-known secular tune around which to weave their counterpoint, many masses, for instance, having been written on the old Provencal song of "L' Homme Arme." Some of the melodies chosen as the basis for masses were nothing but drinking songs. At that time the tenor generally sang the melody, and, as in order to show on what foundation their work rested, the Flemings retained the original words in his part, it was not uncommon to hear the tenors singing some bacchanalian verses, while the rest of the choir were intoning the sacred words of a "Gloria" or an "Agnus Dei." These abuses lasted for an incredibly long time, but finally, in 1562, the cardinals were brought together for the purification of all churchly matters, and the Council of Trent took note of the evil. All were agreed upon abolishing secular words from the mass, and some even urged the banishment of counterpoint itself, and a return to the plain song or chant, but fortunately this sweeping reform met with a vigorous protest from others. At last the whole matter was referred to a committee of eight cardinals, who wisely sought the aid of an equal number of the papal singers, and the outcome of their debate was a commission given Palestrina to write a mass, which should employ counterpoint without irreverence, and prove that religion and music might be blended into one.
The composer, in response to this signal mark of confidence, wrote three masses, which he submitted in 1565. The third one was the celebrated "Mass of Pope Marcellus," of which the Pope ordered a special performance by the choir of the Apostolical Chapel. The rendition was followed by the complete acceptance of Palestrina's work.
A new office, that of "Composer to the Pontifical Choir," was created for him, and in 1571 he became leader of the choir of St. Peter's. Although highly honoured and rewarded with many offices, Palestrina received no great pecuniary recompense for his labours. His life was blessed, however, with the love of a devoted wife, and the friendship of many true admirers, especially Cardinal Carlo Borromeo and Filippo Neri, the founder of oratorio, both of whom were afterward canonised.
Palestrina died in 1594, and lies buried in St. Peter's, where his works are still performed. To the end of his life he never ceased to produce, and left behind him over ninety masses, one hundred and seventy-nine motettes, forty-five sets of hymns for the entire year, and an immense quantity of other compositions. No composer, it is said, has ever existed at once so prolific and so sustainedly powerful. Both the man and his work deserve our regard. Elson says: "If ever the Catholic Church desires to canonise a musical composer, it will find devoutness, humility, and many other saintly characteristics in Palestrina."
Palestrina, in reverend age, discoursing on his art to some pupils or friends, has been painted by Ferdinand Heilbuth (1826-1889), an artist who, born in Germany of Jewish parents, gained his greatest successes in France. He painted three classes of pictures,—those in which celebrated personages of other times are the central attraction, as in "Palestrina;" others which portray aged ecclesiastics of the Roman Church, conversing with the orphan boys of some religious foundation, or the like; and lastly, charming transcripts from field or wood, in whose foreground he placed some fair dame in fashionable attire.
That Amazon of princesses, granddaughter of Henry IV., and cousin of Louis XIV., the Duchesse de Montpensier (better known, perhaps, by the name of "La Grande Mademoiselle"), once asked the Chevalier de Guise to bring her from Italy "a young musician to enliven my house." The chevalier did not forget the great lady's whim, and noticing, one day in Florence, a bright-eyed boy of twelve singing to the music of his guitar, said to him, "Will you come with me to Paris?" The lad, a poor miller's son, without hesitation answered, "Yes;" and thus the young Lulli got his start in the world.
He soon gained experience of the uncertainty which attended the favour of royalty, for, after a few days, "La Grande Mademoiselle" grew tired of her new toy, and sent him to the kitchen, where he became a cook's boy. Here, in the intervals of his work, surrounded by pots and pans, and eatables of all kinds, he often played upon his violin, or sang to his guitar. He is credited with having set some verses to music, at this time; among them the popular "Au Clair de la Lune," which the numberless readers of "Trilby" will remember was sung by La Svengali, on that famous night at the Cirque des Bashibazoucks. Some couplets reflecting on his mistress were sent to the young musician, and, composing a pretty air to the words, he sang them to the frequenters of the kitchen. This disrespectful act reached the ears of the duchess, who thereupon expelled Lulli from her house.
His talent for the violin had, however, attracted the attention of some people of influence, and he was placed under tuition, and finally made one of the court musicians. At nineteen years old, he played for the first time before the king, who was much pleased, and appointed him Inspector of the Violins, and organised for him a band of young musicians, who were called Les Petits Violons, to distinguish them from the Grande Bande des Violons du Roi. Lulli was then chosen to compose dance-music for the ballets performed at court, and afterward the entire musical portion of these entertainments was entrusted to him. He became also a collaborator of Moliere, furnishing the music for many of the great dramatist's plays, and even acting in some of them.
His greatest fame was won in the composition of operas, for which the poet Quinault wrote the words, and he is justly considered to be the founder of French opera. Among Lulli's operas are "Armide," "Isis," "Atys," "Alceste," "Psyche," "Proserpine," and "Bellerophon." The composer did not reach old age, but died in 1687, about fifty-four years old, wealthy and honoured, and a great favourite of Louis XIV., who had made him "Superintendent of the King's Music," and treated him with much liberality. His death was caused, one might say, by an illness of the king. When Louis recovered from this sickness, Lulli was commanded to write a Te Deum in grateful celebration of the event. At the first performance, the composer himself conducted, and while beating time with his baton, accidentally struck it against his foot, causing a bruise, which developed into an abscess of such a malignant character that the entire foot, and then the leg were affected. Amputation was advised as the only hope of saving the patient's life, but Lulli hesitated in giving his consent, and it was soon too late. From all accounts, the closing scene of Lulli's life was not marked with that awe which generally attends a death-bed. He desired absolution, but his confessor would not absolve him, except on the condition that he would commit to flames the score of his latest opera. After many excuses, Lulli at length acquiesced, and pointing to a drawer, where was the rough score of "Achille et Polixene," it was burned, the absolution granted, and the priest went home satisfied.
Lulli grew better, and one of the young princes visited him.
"What, Baptiste," said he, "have you burnt your opera? You were a fool for giving such credit to a gloomy confessor, and burning such good music."
"Hush! hush!" whispered Lulli, "I knew well what I was about,—I have another copy of it!"
But this was not all. Unhappily, this joke was followed by a relapse, and the prospect of certain death caused him such dreadful remorse for his deceit to the priest, that he confessed all, and submitted to be laid on a heap of ashes, with a cord around his neck, which was the penance recommended him! He was then placed in bed, and expired singing, "Il faut mourir, pecheur, il faut mourir!" to one of his own airs.
Many anecdotes are told about Lulli, of which we will repeat one or two.
So fatal was the influence of success and its attendant fortune upon Lulli's career, that he entirely laid aside his violin, and refused to have such a thing in his house, nor could any one prevail upon him to play upon one. Marshal de Gramont, however, was his match. He determined not to be entirely deprived of his favourite treat, and devised the ingenious plan of making one of his servants, who could bring more noise than music out of the instrument, play upon the violin in Lulli's presence; whereupon the ex-violinist would rush to the unfortunate tormentor, snatch the fiddle from him, and seek to allay his disturbed equanimity (which, much to the delight of those within hearing, always took him a long time to accomplish) by playing himself.
At the first performance of "Armide," at Versailles, some delay prevented the raising of the curtain at the appointed hour. The king, thereupon, sent an officer of his guard, who said to Lulli, "The king is waiting," and was answered with the words, "The king is master here, and nobody has the right to prevent him waiting as long as he likes!"
Hippolyte de la Charlerie, who painted Lulli as a boy in the kitchen of "La Grande Mademoiselle," was a Belgian artist, who died young, in 1869, the same year that he sent this picture to the Paris Salon.
Crowest, the English writer on musical subjects, says: "Two hundred years ago, the finest violins that the world will probably ever have were being turned out from the Italian workshops; while at about the same time, and subsequently, there was issuing from the homes of music in Germany, the music for these superb instruments,—music not for any one age, 'but for all time.'"
"In the chain of this creative skill, however, a link was wanting. Nobody rose up who could marry the music to the instrument. For years and years the violin, and the music for it, marched steadily on, side by side, but not united. Bach was writing far in advance of his time, while Stradivarius and the Amatis were 'rounding' and 'varnishing' for a people yet to come. It was not till the beginning of the present century that executive skill, tone, and culture stepped in, and were brought to bear upon an instrument that is, perhaps, more than any other, amenable to such influences. Consequently, to us has fallen the happy fate to witness the very zenith of violin-playing. A future generation may equal, but can scarcely hope to surpass a Joachim, a Wilhelmj, or a Strauss,—players who combine the skill of Paganini with a purity of taste to which he was a stranger, and, moreover, with a freedom from those startling eccentricities which, more than anything else, have made the reputation of that strange performer."
The greatest violin-maker that ever lived, Antonio Stradivari, or Stradivarius, was born in Cremona, probably in 1644. No entry of his birth has been found in any church register at Cremona, but among the violins which once belonged to a certain Count Cozio di Salabue was one bearing a ticket in the handwriting of Stradivarius, in which his name, his age, and the date of the violin were given. He was then ninety-two years old, and the date of the violin was 1736. He was the pupil of another famous Cremonese violin-maker, Niccolo Amati, and his first works are said to bear the name of his master, but in 1670 he began to sign instruments with his own name. His early history is quite unknown, but a record exists showing that in 1667, when twenty-three years old, he married Francesca Ferraboschi. For about twenty years after his marriage, Stradivarius appears to have produced but few instruments, and it is supposed that during this time he employed himself chiefly in making those scientific experiments and researches which he carried into practice in his famous works. It was about the year 1700, when he was fifty-six years old, that Stradivarius attained that perfection which distinguishes his finest instruments. The first quarter of the eighteenth century witnessed the production of his best violins,—the quality of those made after 1725 is less satisfactory.
During his long life (he died in 1737), the great violin-maker worked industriously, and produced a large number of instruments, but a far greater number are attributed to him than he could possibly have made. His usual price for a violin was about twenty dollars, (Haweis says fifty dollars), but a fine specimen from his hand now sells in the auction room for hundreds of dollars. In 1888, a Stradivarius violin brought the large sum of five thousand dollars, and double this sum was paid a few years since for the celebrated "Messie" violin, made by Stradivarius in 1716, and still in perfect condition. Count Cozio di Salabue had bought it in 1760, but never allowed it to be played upon, and when he died (about 1824) it was purchased by that remarkable "violin hunter," Luigi Tarisio. Thirty years later, he, too, passed over to the majority, and his friend, the Parisian violin-maker Vuillaume, bought the "Messie" from Tarisio's heirs, along with about two hundred and fifty other fiddles, many of which were of the greatest rarity and value. Vuillaume kept the "Messie" in a glass case and never allowed any one to touch it, and many anxious days he passed during the Commune, fearing for his musical treasures. However, they luckily escaped the dangers of the time, and when, in 1875, Vuillaume died, the "Messie" became the property of his daughter, who was the wife of M. Alard, the celebrated teacher of the violin. From his executors it was bought in 1890 for 2,000 pounds, for the English gentleman who now possesses this most famous of all the works of Stradivarius. Charles Reade, the novelist, who was a lover of the violin and an expert in such matters, in 1872 had thought this instrument to be worth 600 pounds, so that its value had trebled in less than twenty years. The celebrated violinist, Ole Bull, owned a Stradivarius violin, dated 1687, and inlaid with ebony and ivory, which is said to have been made for a king of Spain. In the "Tales of a Wayside Inn" Longfellow speaks of it:
"The instrument on which he played Was in Cremona's workshop made, By a great master of the past Ere yet was lost the art divine;
* * * *
"Exquisite was it in design, Perfect in each minutest part, A marvel of the lutist's art; And in its hollow chamber, thus, The maker from whose hands it came Had written his unrivalled name,— 'Antonius Stradivarius.'"
Haweis, in his admirable book on "Old Violins," reproduces for us "the atmosphere in which Antonio Stradivari worked for more than half a century.
"I stood in the open loft at the top of his house, where still in the old beams stuck the rusty old nails upon which he hung up his violins. And I saw out upon the north the wide blue sky, just mellowing to rich purple, and flecked here and there with orange streaks prophetic of sunset. Whenever Stradivarius looked up from his work, if he looked north, his eye fell on the old towers of S. Marcellino and S. Antonio; if he looked west, the Cathedral, with its tall campanile, rose dark against the sky, and what a sky! full of clear sun in the morning, full of pure heat all day, and bathed with ineffable tints in the cool of the evening, when the light lay low upon vinery and hanging garden, or spangled with ruddy gold the eaves, the roofs, and frescoed walls of the houses.
"Here, up in the high air, with the sun, his helper, the light, his minister, the blessed soft airs, his journeymen, what time the workaday noise of the city rose and the sound of matins and vespers was in his ears, through the long warm days worked Antonio Stradivari."
Edouard Jean Conrad Hamman, who painted the picture of Stradivarius—deep in thought amid his violins—which accompanies this, was a Belgian. Born at Ostend in 1819, and a pupil of De Keyser, he lived a long time in Paris, won many medals and other honours, and died in 1888, leaving behind him numerous pictures, several of which are reproduced in this book. His "Erasmus Reading to the Young Charles V." is in the Luxembourg, and the Brussels museum has his "Dante at Ravenna," and the "Entry of Albert and Isabella into Ostend." Besides these he produced "The Mass of Adrien Willaert," "The Childhood of Montaigne," "Shakespeare and his Family," "Vesalius," "Hamlet," and "Murillo in his Studio." One of his paintings, entitled "The Women of Siena, 1553," shows the women of that city working on the fortifications intended to resist the besieging army of Charles V., and another depicts Columbus first sighting land on October 12, 1492.
A few years ago the Istrian town of Pirano unveiled a statue, not exactly to one of its illustrious sons, but to the only one of its children who ever became famous, so far as we know. The pedestal of the statue is inscribed.
Istria to Giuseppe Tartini, 1896.
The admirably conceived figure which surmounts the pedestal represents the master standing, violin and bow in hand, at the moment of his accidental discovery of the curious acoustic phenomenon known as the "third sound,"—i. e., the production of a third note in harmony when only two are struck with the bow. The statue was modelled by Dal Zotto, an able Italian sculptor, whose work found so much favour with those present at its inauguration that they enthusiastically carried him about the piazza on their shoulders,—a tribute we judge to have been well deserved.
The subject of Dal Zotto's statue was sent, while yet very young, from Pirano, (where he was born of a good family in 1692) to Capo d' Istria, to study at the college of the "Padri delle Scuole." It was here that he received his first instruction in violin playing, and in fencing,—two accomplishments that were to play an important part in his future life. In spite of the fact that Tartini's family had destined him to become a Franciscan, he had the strongest antipathy to an ecclesiastical career. His relatives fought in vain against his unbending resistance, and finally sent him to Pavia, to study law. Learning cost him little effort, and he still found plenty of spare time for fencing. Somewhat wild, and tired of serious study, he decided to take up his abode in Paris or Naples, and there establish himself as a fencing-master. A love-affair put an end to this project. Tartini having won the heart of a young and beautiful girl, a niece of the cardinal and Bishop of Padua, George Cornaro, the lovers were secretly married, but did not long succeed in keeping the knowledge of their union from their relatives. Tartini's family, enraged at his conduct, withdrew at once the support they had hitherto given him, and to cap the climax, the bishop accused him of seduction and theft. Warned in time, Tartini fled to Rome, leaving his young wife in Padua without confiding to her the direction of his travels.
Reaching Assisi, he ran across a monk in whom he recognised a near relation from his native city of Pirano. This good-natured brother, who was a sacristan in the monastery at Assisi, took pity on the refugee, and gave him an asylum in one of the cells. This is the time, and this is the cell in which the accompanying picture represents our hero. Two years he passed in this monastery, making use of his involuntary seclusion to carry on with great zeal his musical studies. The story of Tartini's dream, and his motive for writing the "Devil's Sonata" is told in various ways and with many additions. Tartini told the tale himself to the astronomer Lalande, who relates it in the following manner in his "Italian Travels." "One night in the year 1713," said Tartini, "I dreamed that I had made a compact with the Devil, and that he stood at my command. Everything thrived according to my wish, and whatever I desired or longed for was immediately realised through the officiousness of my new vassal. A fancy seized me to give him my violin to see if he could, perchance, play some beautiful melodies for me. How surprised I was to hear a sonata, so beautiful and singular, rendered in such an intelligent and masterly manner as I had never heard before. Astonishment and rapture overcame me so completely that I swooned away. On returning to consciousness, I hastily took up my violin, hoping to be able to play at least a part of what I had heard, but in vain. The sonata I composed at that time was certainly my best, and I still call it the 'Devil's Sonata,' but this composition is so far beneath the one I heard in my dream, that I would have broken my violin and given up music altogether, had I been able to live without it." The Paris Conservatory Library owns the manuscript of the "Devil's Sonata," which was published many years later (in 1805), under the title of "Il Trillo del Diavolo." This sonata has become one of the show-pieces of leading violinists, such as Joachim, Laub, and others. One writer speaks of it as a "piece in which a series of double shakes, and the satanic laugh with which it concludes, are so dear to lovers of descriptive music." Its title alone almost ensures its success beforehand. The listener is, however, less impressed by the hidden diabolical inspiration than by the wonderful technic.
Strange to say, this composition actually aided Tartini to obtain the position of director of the orchestra in the Church of St. Antony at Padua, in 1721. Before this time, however, he heard in Venice the famous violinist Veracini, whose achievements in bowing impressed Tartini so much, that he left Venice the next morning for Ancona, where he pursued the study of his art, unmolested, for seven years. It was here that he created a new method of playing, which, particularly as regards the bowing, was the one followed for half a century.
Let us, however, return to Tartini at Assisi, and tell how an unforeseen incident at last freed the young artist from his hiding-place and gave him back to his family. On a certain holiday, Tartini was playing a violin solo, during services, in the choir of the church, when a sudden gust of wind blew aside the curtains which had concealed him from the assembly. A man from Padua, who happened to be in the church at the time, recognised Tartini, and betrayed his hiding-place. Circumstances had fortunately changed in the course of two years, the anger of the bishop was pacified, and Tartini was allowed to return to his wife at Padua.
In the year 1723 he was called to Prague to perform during the festivities at the coronation of the Emperor Charles VI. He went with his friend, the violoncellist, Antonio Nardini, to Prague, where they both accepted a position in the orchestra of Count Kinsky. After three years in this service, they returned to Padua, which city Tartini never left again. Invitations flowed in from all the great capitals, but no terms tempted him to leave his native soil.
Among the first of these offers was one from Lord Middlesex, inviting Tartini to London, and hinting that a visit to England would probably bring him in at least three thousand pounds; but it was declined in the following disinterested language: "I have a wife with the same sentiments as myself, and no children. We are perfectly contented with our position, and if we wish for anything, it is, certainly, not to possess more than we have at present." The remainder of his long and famous career passed quietly, dedicated to study, composition, and teaching. The school founded by him in 1728 soon became famous all over Europe, and sent out some of the most noted violinists. Padua was then the place of pilgrimage for all violinists, and it was not without cause that Tartini's countrymen called him "il maestro delle nazioni."
This period of Tartini's labour is, above all, remarkable for his theoretic researches. Already, in 1714, he had discovered the combination tones (the so-called "third" or Tartini's tone). This discovery, a lasting and valuable acquisition to all later investigations into acoustics, led him further and further, but apart from the exact road of natural science into the nebulous regions of mystic philosophy. Tartini taught that with the problem of harmony would also be solved the mystery of creation, that divinity itself would be revealed in the mystical symbols of the tone relations. In these mystical investigations, the composer believed himself particularly favoured by the grace of God.
The German composer, Naumann, who became Tartini's pupil at an early age, and who enjoyed his favour as no other did, has written down many remarkable facts concerning the master. To be initiated into the last secrets of the art of tone and the universe was Naumann's most ardent wish, but he was always put off to some future time as not yet being quite mature and worthy enough. Naumann's illustrations of Tartini's teachings resemble more a mystic and ecstatic sermon than a musical theory. Tartini died without having spoken his last word. His character in this last period of his life appears to have been amiable, mild, and benevolent. The sharp and violent disposition of his wife did not make him happy, but he nevertheless always remained considerate and tender toward her. He died in Padua, at the age of seventy-eight, on the sixteenth of February, 1770, and lies buried in the Church of St. Catherine. He perfected the art of bowing, composed eighteen concertos for five instruments, as well as several trios and a number of sonatas, and left a treatise on music. Doctor Burney translated and published, in 1779, a long letter of instructions for playing the violin which Tartini wrote from Padua, in 1760, to "My very much Esteemed Signora Maddalena." It can also be found in the life of "Ole Bull," who had a very high opinion of what Tartini must have been as a teacher.
The splendid collection of modern German pictures owned by Count von Schack, at Munich, includes "Tartini's Dream," which was painted by James Marshall. He was born at Amsterdam in 1838, but studied in Antwerp and Paris, and at Weimar under Friedrich Preller. Most of Marshall's life has been spent in Germany.
Bach's position as one of a numerous family of musicians is unique, for it cannot be said of any other composer that his forefathers, his contemporary relations, and his descendants were all musicians, and not only musicians, but holders of important offices as such.
Johann Sebastian Bach, the greatest of all that bore that name, considered the founder of his family to be Veit Bach, a Thuringian musician who settled in Pressburg in Hungary as a baker and miller. Later, because of religious persecution, he returned to his native country, where he lived at the village of Wechmar near Gotha, dying in 1619. Of his numerous musical descendants, Johann (1604-1673) became organist at Schweinfurt, and afterward director of the town musicians at Erfurt. Here, though the town suffered much from the effects of war, he founded a family which quickly increased and soon filled all the town musicians' places, so that for about a hundred and fifty years, and even after no more of the family lived there, the town musicians were known as "The Bachs."
Heinrich Bach (1615-1692) was organist of the Franciscan Church at Arnstadt for fifty years, composed much, and had six children, three of whom were, in their day, noted musicians. Of the twin brothers, Johann Ambrosius and Johann Christoph, born in 1645, the first was town organist of Eisenach, and the second court musician at Arnstadt. These brothers were remarkably alike, not only in looks, but in character and temperament. They both played the violin in exactly the same way, they spoke alike, and it is said that their own wives could scarcely tell them apart. They suffered from the same illnesses, and died within a few months of one another. Johann Christoph once figured in an action for breach of promise of marriage brought before the Consistory at Arnstadt by Anna Cunigunda Wiener, with whom he had once "kept company." The court decided that Bach must marry her, but, with the independence of his family, he refused to do so, and he kept his word.
Another Johann Christoph, uncle of the great Sebastian, was organist at Eisenach for sixty years, and is, together with his brother Michael, distinguished as a composer. Maria Barbara, the youngest daughter of Michael, became Sebastian Bach's first wife. One Johann Jacob Bach was an oboe-player in the Swedish guard, and followed Charles XII. to his defeat at Pultowa, later becoming court-musician at Stockholm.
A vigorous, ambitious, and altogether remarkable family was this of the Bachs, and one of the most notable things about it is the uniformly high moral character of its members. Only one, of all those who flourished before Sebastian, is spoken of as being given to drink.
Wilhelm Friedemann, the oldest son of the greatest Bach, unfortunately had the same failing, and died in Berlin in 1789, poor and miserable through intemperance. His musical talent was exceptional, authorities calling him the greatest organist in Germany after his father. He is sometimes spoken of as the "Halle Bach," from having been music director of a church there.
The "father of modern piano music" was also the father of a large family, not less than twenty children having been born to him. The most celebrated of his twelve sons was Carl Philipp Emanuel, who is called the "Berlin Bach," having lived there in the court service for nearly thirty years. Emanuel was a prolific composer in all styles, and occupies an important place in the history of music. Another son, Johann Christoph Friedrich, was a composer and also chamber musician to Count von Lippe at Bueckeburg, from which circumstance he is called the "Bueckeburger Bach." Sebastian's youngest boy, Johann Christian (the Bach family evidently never wearied of the name of Johann), called the "Milanese" and afterward the "English" Bach, composed a large number of works,—songs, operas, oratorios, what not. He lived and worked at one time in Milan, where he was organist of the cathedral, and from there went to London, where he died in 1782. The daughters of Sebastian Bach—there were only eight of them—mostly died young, nor did they exhibit any special musical talent, and, after his sons' careers were ended, no one bearing the name has, we believe, won distinction in the art.
The Bach family were as a rule both sincerely pious and fond of innocent pleasure. Their tribal feeling was strong, and it was a custom to meet together once a year at Erfurt, Eisenach, or Arnstadt, and spend a day in friendly intercourse, exchanging news and relating experiences. Of course on these occasions they devoted some of the happy hours to music, and a favourite pastime was the singing of "quodlibets"—a kind of musical medley—wherein portions of several well-known songs would be dovetailed together.
Bach's home life was a happy one. Both his marriage ventures turned out well, and he was beloved by children and pupils alike. His large family circle was often added to by friends and visitors, who enjoyed his never failing hospitality, especially toward musicians. In the midst of all his occupations, he found time for music in the family circle, and a German-American artist has produced a charming work showing the great composer seated at the clavichord and surrounded by his children, who are singing their morning hymn. This painting, which belongs to the Museum of Leipsic, the city where Bach laboured so long and where he died, is by Toby E. Rosenthal, who was born in Germany in 1848, but was brought to the United States by his parents when but a few years old. He grew up here, but, at the age of seventeen returned to study art in the land of his birth, where he became a pupil of Professor Raupp and also of the celebrated Piloty. Most of his life since then has been spent in Germany.
The dead Elaine, passing to Lancelot on her funeral barge, and Constance de Beverley, before her judges in the Vault of Penitence, have been finely pictured by Rosenthal, who has also treated lighter topics in "Grandmother's Dancing-lesson," "The Alarmed Boarding-school," and "The Cardinal's Portrait."
The last visit which Bach ever made was to the court of Frederick the Great at Potsdam, in 1747.
His son Emanuel had been capellmeister to Frederick since 1740, and the king had frequently, and always with more insistence, thrown out hints that he would like to hear the great artist. Bach, being much occupied, and disinclined for travelling, did not accede to the king's wishes until they amounted to a positive command. Then, taking Friedemann with him, he started for Potsdam, which he reached early in May. The story of the meeting with Frederick is variously told. We will tell it in Friedemann's own words: "When Frederick II. had just prepared his flute, in the presence of the whole orchestra, for the evening's concert, the list of strangers who had arrived was brought him. Holding his flute in his hand, he glanced through the list. Then he turned around with excitement to the assembled musicians, and, laying down his flute, said, 'Gentlemen, old Bach is come.' Bach, who was at his son's house, was immediately invited to the castle. He had not even time allowed him to take off his travelling clothes and put on his black court dress. He appeared, with many apologies for the state of his dress, before the great prince, who received him with marked attention, and threw a deprecating look toward the court gentlemen, who were laughing at the discomposure and numerous compliments of the old man. The flute concerto was given up for this evening; and the king led his famous visitor into all the rooms of the castle, and begged him to try the Silbermann pianos, which he (the king) thought very highly of, and of which he possessed seven. The musicians accompanied the king and Bach from one room to another; and after the latter had tried all the pianos, he begged the king to give him a fugue subject, that he could at once extemporise upon. Frederick thereupon wrote out the subject, and Bach developed this in the most learned and interesting manner, to the great astonishment of the king, who, on his side, asked to hear a fugue in six parts. But since every subject is not adapted for so full a working out, Bach chose one for himself, and astounded those present by his performance. The king, who was not easily astonished, was completely taken by surprise at the unapproachable mastery of the old cantor. Several times he cried, 'There is only one Bach!' On the following day Bach played on all the organs in the churches of Potsdam."
Rosenthal portrayed the composer making music among his family; Hermann Kaulbach has depicted him playing before Frederick. The artist has given such a look of naturalness to the scene, that we are quite satisfied to accept his presentment and believe that thus the king and his court listened
"While the majestic organ rolled Contrition from its mouths of gold."
Hermann Kaulbach is a son of the renowned painter, Wilhelm von Kaulbach. A pupil of Piloty, he was born at Munich in 1846, and has produced some works of a historic character, such as "Lucrezia Borgia," "Voltaire at Paris," "Louis XI. and His Barber," and "The Last Days of Mozart," but is perhaps still more successful with his admirable pictures of childhood. We must not forget to mention his "Madonna," a work which should add much to his fame.
Like many other children who grew up to fame, Handel was not intended by his parents to follow the art in which he is renowned. His father, who was body surgeon to the Prince of Saxony, wished him to become a lawyer.
All accounts of Handel's childhood "agree in representing him as bright, clever, energetic, and singularly tenacious of purpose. These qualities he inherited; the special genius on which they were brought to bear was all his own. Unlike Bach, the flower and crown of a race of born musicians, there seems no record in Handel's case of his having a single musical or artistic progenitor. From infancy, however, he lived in music, its attraction for him was irresistible, and he began to 'musicise' for himself (to quote Chrysander's expression) almost as soon as he could walk, and before he could speak. This inspired all the family and friends with wonder and admiration, in which his parents at first shared; but, as time went on, the thing began to wear a different aspect, and the father grew alarmed. The boy was a curiosity, no doubt, and music as a pastime was all very well, but it had never occurred to the worthy surgeon to look on it as a serious profession for a child of his, least of all for this, his last, most promising and favourite son. For the others he had been contented with situations in his own station of life; for this one he nourished more ambitious designs. He was to be a doctor of laws, a learned man, and the child's intelligence and thirst for knowledge favoured the hope.
"The father set to work to stifle his son's musical proclivities in every possible way, to separate him from musical society, to banish all music from the house, to prevent him even from going to school, for fear he should learn notes as well as letters there. He had set himself a difficult task, for the boy's inclination was obstinate, and among his doting admirers were some who conspired in his behalf so successfully as to convey into the house, undiscovered, a little clavichord, or dumb spinet. This instrument, much used at that time in convent cells, is so tiny that a man can carry it under his arm, and as the strings are muffled with strips of cloth, the tone is diminutive in proportion. It was safely established in a garret under the roof, and here, while the household slept, the boy taught himself to play. If the master of the house ever suspected what was going on, he connived at it, thinking that probably no very dangerous amount of art-poison could be imbibed under such difficulties. It proved, however, but the thin edge of the wedge, and resulted before long in a collision between the wills of father and son, in which the former sustained his first real defeat. He had occasion to visit Weissenfels, where a grandson of his first marriage was chamberlain to the reigning duke. George, who was seven or eight years old, and was very fond of this grown-up nephew of his, begged to be taken, too; but his father refused, turned a deaf ear to all his entreaties, and set off alone. Not to be baffled, the pertinacious boy followed the carriage on foot, and after a considerable time overtook it. The father's vexation and wrath were extreme, but futile; scolding and threats were thrown away on this child. He owned his fault, cried bitterly, promised endless good behaviour in the future, but stuck all the time to his original point, which was that this time he must go. The end was that the father had to give in and take him, and this journey practically decided Handel's career.
"Music at Weissenfels was held in high esteem. The duke, a generous and enlightened prince, was a friend to musicians. And though Heinrich Schuetz had been twenty years dead, his long life and noble labours were fresh in the memory of his fellow townsmen, who were justly proud of their burgomaster's son. He, too, had been educated for the law, and not till after long doubts and severe struggles did he abandon it to follow his true vocation.
"Little Handel soon found allies. The choir of the ducal chapel admitted him to their practices, and encouraged him to try his hand at the organ. Finding him soon quite able to manage it, they lifted him up to the organ-stool, one Sunday afternoon at the conclusion of the service, and let him play away as best he could. This attracted the notice of the duke, who listened with astonishment to the performance, and, at its close, inquired who the brave little organist might be. On hearing the whole story from his chamberlain, he summoned father and son to his presence. With the former he expostulated on the folly of coercing a child in the choice of a profession, and assured him, with all due respect for his conscientious scruples, that to restrain the activity of a heaven-born genius like this was to sin against nature and the public good. As to the boy, he filled his pockets with gold pieces, and exhorted him to be industrious. Here was a change! Music was to be not only suffered, but furthered; his father was to lose no time in finding him a good teacher. Often as old Handel must have stopped his ears to these very same arguments before, he could not choose but listen, now that they fell from ducal lips. He did not change his mind,—a doctorship of law remained the goal of his ambition,—but he practically acquiesced, and, on his return to Halle, sent his son to study music with Zachau, organist of the Frauenkirche."
The legend that accompanied, in the catalogue of the Royal Academy of 1893, Miss Dicksee's picture of the boy Handel, varied somewhat from the version just quoted. It says that the father forbade the child following his bent, and banished all the musical instruments in the house to the attic, where, however, the little musician discovered them, and, under cover of night, resumed his beloved pursuit. The sounds thus produced, and the flitting of the little white-clad figure over the stairs, started the story that the house was haunted, which was believed until the truth was revealed, as shown in the picture.
Miss Dicksee, an Englishwoman, and the sister of Frank Dicksee, R. A., has painted several deservedly popular pictures, having for their subjects episodes in the lives of those who have reared themselves above the common mass of humanity. Such are her "Swift and Stella," "The First Audience—Goldsmith and the Misses Horenck," and "Sheridan at the Linleys."
Handel, whom the Elector of Hanover had made his capellmeister, first came to England in the autumn of 1710, having been granted a year's leave of absence by his royal patron. In the following February his opera of "Rinaldo" was produced in London with great success, and at once established the composer's reputation with the English public. At the close of the season he returned to Hanover, where he remained over a year, but was back in England again toward the end of 1712. In July of the following year, his Te Deum and Jubilate, for the service of thanksgiving held in celebration of the Peace of Utrecht, was performed in St. Paul's, and Queen Anne bestowed a life pension of 200 pounds a year upon him. In August, 1714, the queen died, and Handel, who had long out-stayed his leave of absence from Hanover, felt some qualms of conscience while awaiting the coming of his master, who arrived within six weeks after Anne's death to be crowned as George I. George had some reason to be vexed with both "his principal musicians: with the capellmeister for neglect, with Farinelli, the concert-master at Hanover, for obtrusiveness. In the thick of all the bustle consequent on the court's leaving Hanover, this gentleman wrote and thrust into the elector's notice a composition to the words, 'Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.' Handel was somewhat afraid to go near his injured master, who, however, could not help hearing of him. The new royal family cared for music, and for no other form of art. They were not edified by entertainments in a language they did not understand, and the English drama drooped while the Italian opera revived, the Prince and Princess of Wales being present nearly every night.
"'Rinaldo' was remounted, with Nicolini, who had returned, in the principal part. 'Amadigi,' by Handel, was produced toward the end of the season, and repeated four times. At the second performance the concerto now known as the 'Fourth Hautboy Concerto' was played between the acts. A great deal of the opera is adapted from 'Silla;' the whole stands high among the series to which it belongs. It may be an indirect testimony to its popularity that parodies and burlesques in imitation of it drew crowded audiences to other theatres. Meanwhile, the awkwardness of the situation between the king and Handel increased every day. The account of the manner in which a reconciliation was at last brought about has been repeated and believed by every biographer since Mainwaring, including Chrysander, in his first volume, who, however, by the time he wrote his third volume had discovered some evidence tending to throw doubt on its veracity. The story goes that Baron Kielmansegge, the common friend of both king and capellmeister, took occasion of a grand water-party, attended by the whole court, to engage Handel to compose some music expressly for this festivity, the result being the celebrated 'Water Music,' of which Handel secretly conducted the performance in a boat that followed the royal barge. The king, as delighted as he was surprised by this concert, inquired at once as to the author of the music, and then heard all about it from Kielmansegge, who took upon himself to apologise most humbly for Handel's bad behaviour, and to beg in his name for condonation of his offence. Whereupon his Majesty made no difficulties, but at once restored him to favour, and 'honoured his compositions with the most flattering marks of royal approbation.'
"A water-party did take place in August, 1715, but the brilliant occasion when a concert of music was given, for which special music was written 'by Mr. Handel,' and when Kielmansegge was present, and when probably, therefore, the 'Water Music' was produced, only happened in 1717, when peace had long been made, and pardon sealed with a grant to Handel of 200 pounds a year. The ice was, perhaps, broken by Geminiani, the great violinist, who, when he was to play his concertos at court, requested to be accompanied on the harpsichord by Handel, as he considered no one else capable of doing it. The petition was powerfully seconded by Kielmansegge, and acceded to by George I."
Handel was not only honoured by those who were kings by birth, but also by the rulers in his own art. Beethoven always declared that Handel was "the monarch of the musical kingdom;" Haydn said of him, "He is the father of us all," and at another time, "There is not a note of him but draws blood." Scarlatti followed Handel all over Italy, and in after years, when speaking of the great master, would cross himself in token of admiration; and Mozart said, "Handel knows better than any of us what will produce a grand effect."
Marie Antoinette, married at fourteen and Queen of France at eighteen, found herself wearied and annoyed by the excessive etiquette of the French court, so different from the comparatively simple life she had led at Vienna. While dauphiness, she often expressed a wish for a country-house of her own where she could find freedom at times from the pomp and intrigues of the court, and very soon after his accession Louis XVI. offered her Little Trianon, which she joyfully accepted.
Built by Louis XV. for Madame du Barry, this charming residence lay in the midst of a park which was intended to serve both as a school of gardening and as a botanical garden, and united the various kinds of gardens then known,—French, Italian, and English. Marie Antoinette sacrificed the botanical garden, for which she did not much care, in order to improve and extend the English gardens, which she most admired, and which were then becoming the fashion on the Continent.
The world was taxed to furnish specimens of trees and plants for her garden. From North America alone came two hundred and thirty-nine kinds of trees and shrubs. Besides these, there were everywhere and always flowers; in the spring, lilacs, then syringas, snowballs, tuberoses, irises, tulips, hyacinths, and so through the floral calendar. In addition to these beauties, the park of Trianon was enhanced by all that the art of the landscape gardener could devise. Architecture added its gifts in the theatre, the Temple of Love, the Belvedere, and the palace, where the art of Lagrenee, of Gouthiere, Houdon, and Clodion found expression. And there still remained the queen's favourite creation, the little hamlet of eight cottages, where she and her ladies played at farming, with its dairy, its mill, and its poultry yard.
"At Trianon there was no ceremony, no etiquette, no household, only friends. When the queen entered the salon, the ladies did not quit their work nor the men interrupt their game of billiards or of trictrac. It was the life of the chateau, with all its agreeable liberty, such as Marie Antoinette had always dreamed, such as was practised in that patriarchal family of the Hapsburgs, which was, as Goethe has said, 'Only the first bourgeoise family of the empire.'"
In spite of Marie Antoinette's many kindnesses to authors, it seems doubtful if she really cared for literature, but of music she was a constant lover. As a child she had played with Mozart and had received lessons from Gluck, and when she became queen she still took lessons both in music and singing.
Gluck was to her not only a great composer, he was one of the dear memories of her youth, her home, and her country, and also a hope for reform in French music, which she found monotonous. It was to please her that the directors of the Grand Opera invited Gluck to come to Paris and produce some of his works. The great reformer of opera had long wished for this opportunity, which he seized with alacrity, and set out from Vienna for Paris in the autumn of 1773. He was received with every kindness and encouragement by Marie Antoinette and the court, and proceeded to rehearse his "Iphigenia in Aulis"—not without difficulties, as he found the French singers and musicians even less inclined to reforms than those of Vienna. Gluck, however, supported by the protection of the dauphiness, made short work of those who held back. To the lady who sang the music of "Iphigenia," and who refused to obey him at rehearsal, he said, "Mademoiselle, I am here to bring out 'Iphigenia.' If you will sing, nothing can be better; if not, very well, I will go the queen and say, 'It is impossible to have my opera performed;' then I will take my seat in my carriage and return to Vienna." Doubtless this result would have been much to the prima donna's liking, but she had to submit.
"Iphigenia" was produced on April 19, 1774, and Marie Antoinette applauded from the royal box without ceasing. On the first representation, opinions were divided, but at the second performance the approval was unanimous. When Marie Antoinette became queen shortly afterward, she gave the composer a pension of six thousand francs, with the entree to her morning receptions. He often visited her at Trianon, where the daughter of Maria Theresa was always gracious to the forester's gifted son. The next work of Gluck to be given in Paris was his "Orpheus and Eurydice," whose success was greater than that of the "Iphigenia," and caused Rousseau to publicly acknowledge that he was mistaken in asserting that the French language was unsuitable to set to music. He also said that the music of "Orpheus" had reconciled him to existence, and met the reproach that Gluck's work was lacking in melody with the words, "I believe that melody proceeds from every pore."
When the composer's next opera, "Alcestis," was produced, in 1776, the queen gave it her decided approbation, and loyally supported Gluck against the king's preference for the older form of opera, and the partisans of the Italian composer Piccini, who was Gluck's rival for the favour of the Parisians. Great was the battle between the warring factions, the "Gluckists" and the "Piccinists," whose differences of opinion sometimes even resulted in personal encounters in the theatre. Between the two composers themselves, matters were more pleasant. When Piccini's "Roland" was being studied, the composer, unused to conducting and unfamiliar with the French language, became confused at a rehearsal. Gluck happened to be present, and, rushing into the orchestra, threw off his wig and coat, and led the performance with such energy and skill that all went smooth again. On the other hand, Piccini, when he learned of the death of his whilom rival, expressed his respect for Gluck by starting a subscription for the establishment of an annual concert to be given upon the anniversary of the composer's death, at which nothing but his music should be performed.
Gluck's "Armida" was given its first presentation in 1777, and increased his fame so much that his bust was placed in the Grand Opera beside those of Lulli, Rameau, and Quinault. "Iphigenia in Tauris" was produced in 1779, with great success, but "Echo and Narcissus," the last opera which Gluck gave in Paris, was a failure. He left France for Vienna in the same year, never to return, though his royal pupil pressed him to do so in the most flattering manner.
Before taking leave of Gluck, let us read the eloquent words with which Ernest Newman closes his book on "Gluck and the Opera." "The musician speaks a language that is in its very essence more impermanent than the speech of any other art. Painting, sculpture, architecture, and poetry know no other foe than external nature, which may, indeed, destroy their creations and blot out the memory of the artist. But the musician's material is such that, however permanent may be the written record of his work, it depends not upon this, but upon the permanency in other men of the spirit that gave his music birth, whether it shall live in the minds of future generations. Year after year the language of the art grows richer and more complex, and work after work sinks into ever-deepening oblivion, until music that once thrilled men with delirious ecstasy becomes a dead thing, which here and there a student looks back upon in a mood of scarcely tolerant antiquarianism. In the temple of the art a hundred statues of the gods are overthrown; and a hundred others stand with arrested lips and inarticulate tongues, pale symbols of a vanished dominion which men no longer own. Yet here and there, through the ghostly twilight, comes the sound of some clear voice that has defied the courses of the years and the mutations of taste; and we hear the rich canorous tones of Gluck, not, perhaps, with all the vigour and the passion that once was theirs, but with the mellowed splendour given by the touch of time. Alone among his fellows he speaks our modern tongue, and chants the eternal passions of the race. He was, indeed, as Sophie Arnould called him, 'The musician of the soul;' and if we have added new strings to our lyre, and wrung from them a more poignant eloquence than ever stirred within the heart of Gluck, none the less do we perceive that music such as his comes to us from the days when there were giants in the land."
It was in 1762 that Leopold Mozart, father of the two musical prodigies, Maria Anna and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, first began to turn to account his children's talent. Wolfgang was then six years old, and his sister between four and five years older. By easy stages the family journeyed to Vienna in the month of September, and it is told that upon their arrival the wonderful boy-musician saved his father the payment of customs duties. He made friends with the custom-house officer, showed him his harpsichord, played him a minuet on his little fiddle, and the thing was done,—"Pass—free of duty."
The imperial family were sincere lovers of music. Charles VI., the father of Maria Theresa, had two passions, hunting and music, and was an accomplished musician. He used to accompany operatic or other performances at court upon the clavier, and also composed pieces. At one time he wrote an opera, which was performed with great splendour in the theatre of his palace. On this occasion the emperor led the orchestra, and his two daughters, Maria Theresa and Maria Anne, danced in the ballet. Lady Mary Wortley Montagu speaks of an opera which she saw at Vienna in 1716, the decorations and dresses of which cost the emperor thirty thousand pounds. He called Metastasio from Italy to compose the operas for his court. Maria Theresa inherited this love of music, and in 1725, when only seven years old, sang in an opera by Fux, at a fete given in honour of her mother, the Empress Elizabeth. Alluding to this, she once said in a joking way to the celebrated singer, Faustina Hasse, that she believed herself to be the first of living vocalists. In 1739 she sang a duet with Senesino so beautifully that the famous old singer was melted to tears. Her husband, Francis I., was also a lover of music, and her daughters were carefully instructed in singing, and often appeared in operatic performances at court. Maria Theresa's son, afterward the Emperor Joseph, also sang well, and played both the harpsichord and the violoncello.
"With a court so favourably disposed toward music, it is not surprising that Leopold, a few days only after his arrival, should have received a command to bring his children on the 13th of October to Schoenbrunn, an imperial palace near Vienna, and this without any solicitation on his part. The children remained three hours with the court, and were then obliged to repeat their performance. The Emperor Francis I., the husband of Maria Theresa, took a peculiar interest in the little 'sorcerer.'
"He made the little fellow play with only one finger, in which he perfectly succeeded. An attempt which little Mozart made at the special request of the emperor, to play with the keys covered by a piece of cloth, was also a brilliant success. It was, perhaps, owing to the imperial fancy that this species of artistic trick obtained considerable celebrity, and played a not unimportant part in the little 'sorcerer's' repertoire on all his long journeys. Wolfgang entered readily into any joke that was made with him, but sometimes he could be very serious, as, for instance, when he called for the court composer, Georg Christoph Wagenseil, a thorough connoisseur of the harpsichord, and himself a performer. The emperor stepped back and made Wagenseil come forward, to whom Mozart said, quite seriously, 'I play a concerto by you: you must turn over the pages for me.' The emperor ordered a hundred ducats to be paid to his father. The empress was very kind to the Mozarts, and sent them costly dresses. 'Would you like to know,' writes Leopold to Hagenauer, his host at Salzburg, 'what Wolferl's (a pet name for Wolfgang) dress is like? It is of the finest cloth, lilac-coloured, the vest of moire of the same colour. Coat and top-coat with a double broad border of gold. It was made for the Hereditary Duke Maximilian Franz.' In the picture which is preserved in the Mozart collection at Salzburg, Mozart is painted in this dress. Wolfgang never showed the least embarrassment in the society of the great."
"At court, as elsewhere, Mozart was a bright, happy child. He would spring on the empress's lap, throw his arms around her neck, and kiss her, and play with the princesses on a footing of equality. He was especially devoted to the Archduchess Marie Antoinette. Once, when he fell on the polished floor, she lifted him from the ground and consoled him, while one of her sisters stood by. 'You are good,' said Wolfgang, I will marry you.' The empress asked him why. 'From gratitude,' answered he; 'she was good to me, but her sister stood by and did nothing.'"
Nor was he shy with the Crown Prince Joseph, who, in after years, when emperor, reminded him of his playing duets with Wagenseil, and of Mozart's standing in the audience and calling out, "Fie!" or "That was false!" or "Bravo!" as the case might be.
As was to be expected, the children became the rage in society, and all the ladies fell in love with little Mozart. No musical entertainments could be given without him and Maria Anna, and they appeared in company with the most celebrated performers, being everywhere petted, feasted, and flattered, and receiving many costly gifts.
Their successes induced Leopold Mozart to plan a more extended tour, and in the summer of the next year he and his children set out on a journey which was intended to include visits to Paris and London. The trio arrived in Paris in November, and were greatly befriended by their countryman, Grimm, the encyclopaedist, secretary to the Duke of Orleans. Leopold wrote home thus, about the help this powerful friend had been to them: "He has done everything; he has introduced the matter at court, and arranged the first concert. He, alone, paid me eighty louis-d'ors, then sold three hundred and twenty tickets, and, moreover, bore the expense of lighting with wax. We burnt more than sixty candles. It was he who obtained permission for the concert, and now he is getting up a second, for which a hundred tickets have already been distributed. You see what one man can do, who possesses sense and a kind heart. He is a native of Ratisbon, but has been more than fifteen years in Paris, and knows how to guide everything in the right direction, so that all must happen as he intends."
Little Wolfgang had played before Maria Theresa; now he performed before her ally, Madame de Pompadour, then within a few months of her end, for the all-powerful favourite of Louis XV. died in the following April. Leopold Mozart, writing home to Salzburg, speaks thus of the Pompadour; "She must have been very beautiful, for she is still comely. She is tall and stately; stout, but well proportioned, with some likeness to her Imperial Majesty about the eyes. She is proud, and has a remarkable mind." Mozart's sister remembered in after days how she placed little Wolfgang on the table before her, but pushed him aside when he bent forward to kiss her, on which he indignantly asked: "Who is this that does not want to kiss me? The empress kissed me." The king's daughters were much more friendly, and, contrary to all etiquette, kissed and played with the children, both in their own apartments and in the public corridors.
As before at Vienna and afterward in London, the little Mozarts made a great hit in Paris, and performed before the most distinguished audiences. Grimm relates in his correspondence "a truly astonishing instance of the boy's genius." Wolfgang accompanied a lady in an Italian air without seeing the music, supplying the harmony for the passage which was to follow from that which he had just heard. This could not be done without some mistakes, but when the song was ended he begged the lady to sing it again, played the accompaniment and the melody itself with perfect correctness, and repeated it ten times, altering the character of the accompaniment for each. On a melody being dictated to him, he supplied the bass and the parts without using the clavier at all; he showed himself in all ways so accomplished that his father was convinced he would obtain service at court on his return home. Leopold Mozart now thought the time was come for introducing the boy as a composer, and he printed four sonatas for the piano and violin, rejoicing at the idea of the noise which they would make in the world, appearing with the announcement on the title-page that they were the work of a child of seven years old. He thought well of these sonatas, independently of their childish authorship; one andante especially "shows remarkable taste." When it happened that, in the last trio of Opus 2, a mistake of the young master, which his father had corrected (consisting of three consecutive fifths for the violin), was printed, he consoled himself by reflecting that "they can serve as a proof that Wolfgangerlf wrote the sonatas himself, which, naturally, not everyone would believe."
Less than thirty years had passed since these triumphant days in the life of the child Mozart, when there came the end of that wonderful career. In the summer of Mozart's last year,—1791,—he was at work on the concluding portions of "The Magic Flute," when one day he received a visit from a stranger. This man, tall, gaunt, and solemn in manner, clad all in gray, handed the composer an anonymous letter, sealed in black, requesting him to write a "Requiem" as quickly as possible, and asking the price. Mozart agreed to do the work and received from the messenger fifty (some say a hundred) ducats, with a promise of more upon completion of the piece, he agreeing to make no effort to discover who his patron was. The unknown messenger then went away, saying, "I shall return when it is time."
It is known now that this mysterious go-between was Leutgeb, the steward of Count Franz von Walsegg of Stuppach, who often obtained musical compositions in this way, copied them, and had them performed as his own. The count desired the "Requiem" for his wife, who had died in the preceding February, and it was sung as his own production and under his direction on the 15th of December, 1793.
But Mozart knew nothing of patron or steward; his spirits were depressed by trouble, and he grew superstitious over the strange affair. Near the end of August, he was about to set out for Prague to attend the coronation of Leopold II., upon which occasion the composer's music to Metastasio's festival opera was to be performed. Just as he was stepping into the carriage the mysterious messenger appeared suddenly and inquired as to the "Requiem," to which Mozart answered by excuses. "When will it be ready?" "I will work on it without ceasing on my return." "Good," said the stranger, "I shall rely on your promise." True to his word, upon again reaching home, Mozart, though feeling melancholy and far from well, worked steadily upon the "Requiem." Always cheerful until now, his low spirits increased, and he imagined that he was writing his own death-mass. In November, his illness grew alarming, and a consultation of physicians was held. "Mozart's only consolation during his suffering was to hear of the repeated performances of 'Die Zauberfloete.' He would follow the representations in spirit, laying his watch beside him, and saying, 'Now the first act is over. Now they are come to the place, "The great Queen of Night,"' etc. Only the day before his death he expressed a wish that he might hear 'Die Zauberfloete' once more. He hummed to himself the song, 'Der Vogelfaenger bin ich ja.' Capellmeister Roser, who happened to be with him, went to the harpsichord and played and sang the song, which appeared greatly to cheer Mozart. Nevertheless, the 'Requiem' occupied him continually. As soon as he had finished a piece, he had it rehearsed by the friends who happened to be present. At two o'clock in the afternoon of the day before his death, Schack, who was the first 'Tamino,' sang soprano, Mozart himself contralto, Hofer, his brother-in-law, tenor, and Geri, who was the first 'Sarastro,' bass. At the 'Lacrymosa' Mozart began to weep violently, and laid down the score. Toward evening, when his sister-in-law, Sophie Haibl, came in, Mozart begged her to remain and help Constance, as he felt death approaching. She went out again just to tell her mother and to fetch a priest. When she returned she found Mozart in lively conversation with Suessmayer. 'Did I not say that I was writing the "Requiem" for myself?' he said; and then, with a sure presentiment of approaching death, he charged his wife instantly to inform Albrechtsberger, on whom his post at St. Stephen's would devolve. Late in the evening he lost consciousness. But the 'Requiem' still seemed to occupy him, and he puffed out his cheeks as if he would imitate a wind instrument, the 'Tuba mirum spar gens sonum.' Toward midnight his eyes became fixed. Then he appeared to fall into slumber, and about one o'clock in the morning of the 5th of December he died."
The "Requiem" was left incomplete, and Mozart's widow entrusted to Suessmayer the task of finishing the imperfect portions. But the greatest part of it is the work of Mozart.
While making a tour of Italy with his father in 1770, Mozart stayed a few days in Florence, and there formed a warm friendship with Thomas Linley, an English boy of about his own age, who was studying under Nardini, the celebrated violinist, and played so finely as almost to surpass his teacher. The two boys met at the house of Signora Maddelena Morelli, who was famed as an improvisatrice under the name of Corilla, and had been crowned as a poetess on the Capitol in 1776, and when they parted, Tommasino, as Linley was called in Italy, gave the young Mozart, for a souvenir, a poem which Corilla had written for him. Linley was unfortunately drowned a few years after his return to England, but not before he had given proof of the possession of talent as composer as well as musician.
His father, Thomas Linley the elder, was born at Wells in 1732, and was by trade a carpenter. But being one day at work at Badminton, the seat of the Duke of Beaufort, he heard Thomas Chilcot, the organist of Bath Abbey Church, play and sing, and, feeling that he had now found his true vocation in life, determined to become a musician. At first he received instruction from Chilcot at Bath, and then proceeded to Italy and studied under Paradies. Upon his return to England, he set up in Bath as a singing-master, and he became a leader in his profession. With the aid of his children, he carried on a series of concerts at the Bath assembly rooms, paying special attention to the rendition of the works of Handel. Linley removed to London in 1775, and was manager with Doctor Arnold of the Drury Lane Oratorios. With his son Thomas, he composed the music for his son-in-law Sheridan's comic opera of "The Duenna," and his other works include the music for "The Camp," and other pieces by Tickell, another son-in-law, for a version of Allan Ramsay's "Gentle Shepherd," and for "Selima and Azor," and "Richard Coeur de Lion," two adaptions from Gretry. He wrote new accompaniments to the airs in the "Beggar's Opera," also various elegies, ballads, anthems, glees, and madrigals. Doctor Burney praised him as a masterly performer on the harpsichord, and his music, which is distinguished by admirable taste and simplicity of design, gained for him a high place among English composers. During his last years his health was undermined by money difficulties and grief at the loss of his children,—of whom he had twelve, only three surviving him,—especially Thomas. He died suddenly, in London in 1795, and was buried in Wells Cathedral, where a monument was erected to him and his two daughters.
Several of his children made their mark in music, especially his youngest son, William Linley. A younger daughter, Maria, a favourite at the Bath concerts, died at an early age from brain fever. After one severe paroxysm, she rose up in bed and began to sing the air, "I know that my Redeemer liveth," in as full and clear a tone as when in perfect health.
Mary, the second daughter, who was also an excellent vocalist, married Sheridan's friend, Richard Tickell, a wit, author, and man of pleasure, and, after her older sister's retirement, filled her place in concert and oratorio. The sisters were very fond of each other, and one of Gainsborough's finest paintings is that in the Dulwich gallery, which shows them together. In the same collection are the same artist's portraits of the father and the son Thomas.
Little Elizabeth Ann Linley, the composer's eldest daughter, used to stand at the Pump-room door, in Bath, with a basket, selling tickets, when only a girl of nine. She was very lovely, gentle, and good, and came to be known as the "Maid of Bath." After she sang before the king and queen at Buckingham House in 1773, George III. told her father that he never in his life heard so fine a voice as his daughter's, nor one so well instructed. Her beauty was praised in high terms by John Wilkes, Horace Walpole, and Miss Burney, and the Bishop of Meath styled her "the connecting link between woman and angel." Of course she had many admirers. The Duke of Clarence persecuted her with his attentions, and her parents wished her to marry Mr. Long, an old gentleman of considerable fortune. The latter, when Elizabeth told him she could not love him, had the magnanimity to take upon himself the burden of breaking the engagement, and settled 3,000 pounds on her as an indemnity for his supposed breach of covenant.
A certain rascally Captain Mathews, a married rake, and a so-called friend of her father, had the effrontery to follow her with his solicitations, from which she was rescued by the young Sheridan, who fell in love with Elizabeth and persuaded her to fly with him to France. There, at Calais, they went through a formal ceremony of marriage, separating immediately afterward, the lady entering a convent, and Sheridan returning to England. Here he fought two duels with Captain Mathews, in the second of which he was quite seriously wounded. Mr. Linley went to France and brought his daughter home, and finally, about a year from the time of the Calais episode, the young couple were married again, this time in full sight of the world.
The future author of "The Rivals" and "The School for Scandal," addressed to his Eliza, among other early productions, this pretty snatch of song:
"Dry be that tear, my gentlest love, Be hush'd that struggling sigh; Nor seasons, day, nor fate shall prove More fix'd, more true than I. Hush'd be that sigh, be dry that tear; Cease boding doubt, cease anxious fear; Dry be that tear.
"Ask'st thou how long my love will stay, When all that's new is past? How long, ah! Delia, can I say How long my life will last? Dry be that tear, be hush'd that sigh; At least I'll love thee till I die. Hush'd be that sigh.
"And does that thought affect thee too, The thought of Sylvio's death, That he who only breath'd for you Must yield his faithful breath? Hush'd be that sigh, be dry that tear, Nor let us lose our heaven here. Dry be that tear."
For some eighteen years the Sheridans lived together,—Elizabeth never sang in public again after her marriage,—and then their union was broken by death. The devoted wife to this brilliant, but selfish, unreliable, and extravagant genius died in 1792, of consumption.
"Music, when soft voices die, Vibrates in the memory,"
and surely during the years of life left to Richard Brinsley Sheridan, he must often have recalled the happy days when he listened in delight to the music of his loved one's voice.
Sir Joshua Reynolds painted her as St. Cecilia in a lovely picture which he sent to the Royal Academy exhibition in 1775,—the year of "The Rivals." It remained in the artist's possession till 1790, when Sheridan bought it for one hundred and fifty guineas. It is now owned by the Marquis of Lansdowne.
In 1790 Haydn had been capellmeister at Esterhaz, the magnificent palace which Prince Nicolaus Esterhazy had created in imitation of Versailles. For nearly a quarter of a century, Esterhaz, though built on an unhealthy site, was the favourite residence of the prince, who never tired of altering, extending, and improving the palace and grounds, and whose greatest ambition was to make the musical and theatrical entertainments given there the best of their kind. In many ways Haydn was most happily situated at Esterhaz, and though his isolated position there became more irksome to him as time went on, he would not, though frequently approached with flattering offers from abroad, leave his well-beloved master, of whom he wrote, in 1776, "My dearest wish is to live and die with him."