[Frontispiece: W. S. B. MATHEWS.]
MASTERS AND THEIR MUSIC
A SERIES OF ILLUSTRATIVE PROGRAMS, WITH BIOGRAPHICAL, ESTHETICAL, AND CRITICAL ANNOTATIONS
DESIGNED AS AN INTRODUCTION TO MUSIC AS LITERATURE
FOR THE USE OF CLUBS, CLASSES, AND PRIVATE STUDY
W. S. B. MATHEWS
Author of "How to Understand Music," "A Popular History of Music," "Music: Its Ideals and Methods," "Studies in Phrasing," "Standard Grades," Etc., Etc.
1708 Chestnut Str.
COPYRIGHT, 1898, BY THEO. PRESSER
When a musical student begins to think of music as a literature and to inquire about individualities of style and musical expression, it is necessary for him to come as soon as possible to the fountainheads of this literature in the works of a few great masters who have set the pace and established the limits for all the rest. In the line of purely instrumental music this has been done by Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Schumann, Chopin, Liszt, and Wagner. The latter, who exercised a vast influence upon the manner of developing a musical thought and in the selection of the orchestral colors in which it can be expressed advantageously, powerfully stimulated all composers later than himself, nevertheless exerted this influence at second-hand, so to say, never having written purely instrumental movements, but merely dramatic accompaniments of one intensity or another. Hence, for our present purposes we may leave Wagner out altogether. Practically, down to about the year 1875, everything in instrumental music is original with the masters already mentioned, or was derived from them or suggested by them. Hence, in order to understand instrumental music we have, first of all, to make a beginning with the peculiarities, individualities, beauty, and mastership of these great writers. Such is the design of the following programs and explanatory matter.
My first intention has been to provide for the regular study of a musical club, in which the playing is to be contributed by active members designated in advance, the accessory explanations to be read from these pages. I have thought that the playing might be divided between several members, through which means the labor for each would be reduced, and, on the whole, an intimate familiarity with the music be more widely extended in the club. This method will have the disadvantage of leaving a part of every program less well interpreted than the others, whereby it will sometimes happen that valuable parts will not be properly appreciated. The advantages of this method, however, will outweigh the defects, since the awakening influence of a course of study of this character will greatly depend upon having as many members as possible practically interested in it.
While designed primarily for the use of a club, this course is equally well adapted to serve as a manual for individual study, in which case the individual himself will necessarily study every composition upon the list, and advance to a new program only after having completely mastered each and understood its relation to the remainder of the course. The only exception to this rule will be in the case where several programs of increasing difficulty are given. In this case the player should take the easiest; after mastering this, let him go on to the next most difficult, and, having succeeded with this, if possible let him attack the most difficult given. In case the latter should be impracticable for his technical resources, let him at least familiarize himself with the general features of all of the pieces mentioned, and get into their meaning and beauty as much as he can.
The course is also well adapted for use as a text-book in female seminaries and the like. In this case the forms of a musical club or definite musical organization had better be observed, and the meetings conducted weekly or bi-weekly. The teacher should remember that all the most important works, in which the maturity and mastership of the composer come to their fullest expression, should be studied by the most advanced members of the class, according to their ability, and afterward played by the teacher himself, should he happen to possess the necessary technical qualifications. When the maturity of the teacher comes in to supplement the immaturity of the pupil, after the latter has done his best, the best results will be produced.
It will be noticed, and with disappointment to some, that the analyses and comments are free from so-called "poetry," and gush of every kind. Particularly are they free from attempts to connect each piece with a story or poetic idea. In the opinion of the writer, the first step toward musical growth lies in learning to appreciate music, as music. In instrumental music the development of a musical idea, the creation of musical symmetries, figures, and arabesques, and the legitimate building up of musical climaxes upon purely harmonic and rhythmic grounds are the phases of thought which interested the composer and gave rise to the composition. And while we may not attempt to assign limits to the inspiration and uplifting effects of great tone-poetry, it is quite certain that effects and influences of this kind are arrived at in the consciousness of the listener only when purely musical appreciation is active and deep. Without the background of living musical appreciation of this kind, the highest flights of the composer will pass as mere noise and fury, the hearer being in no whit uplifted or inspired. The uplifting which comes from the supposed assistance of a "story" or a poetic idea attached to the composition by some outside person is quite likely to fail of being the same in quality as that intended by the composer. Music is one thing, poetry another. While aiming at like ends,—the expression of spiritual beauty,—they move in different planes, which in the more highly organized minds are not proximate. The hearer specially gifted in music does not need the story or the poem; he finds it a hindrance. The hearer specially gifted in poetic sensibility does not care very much for the music; to him it is merely a foreign speech, trying to say vaguely and imperfectly what the poetry has said definitely and well. To put the immature and unspecialized hearer upon the poetic track as an aid to understanding a piece of music is, therefore, to place him at a disadvantage, leading him to expect phenomena which he will find only in literature; just the same as it would be a mistake to intrude pieces of music as explanations in a course in poetry or imaginative literature.
There is a time in both cases when these accessory or related provinces of mind can be called into friendly activity to the advantage of each other. In a poetic training this might be at the point where the motive of the poem is of that vague, mystical character—a mere soul-mood—which words express so imperfectly; or, in a course of music, when it is a question of a piece in which the composer has definitely attempted to express a poetical idea—as happens often in dramatic music, occasionally in symphonic poems and elsewhere. Here the outside help is needed not so much in order to explain the music as to supplement its shortcomings. But in the earlier stages of musical training in this higher sense, purely musical observation (not so much technical as esthetic) comes first, since without this all our rhapsodies upon the greater works signify nothing.
In the course of the book there are two essays embodied which are very important to the true mastery of the material. They are the essay upon "Moving Forces in Music," the first chapter, and that upon "The Typical Forms of Music," at the end of Part I. The first should be taken up where it occurs. The other may be left to the end or introduced at any stage of the discussion preferred by the student or by the conductor of the class or club.
TABLE OF CONTENTS.
THE MASTERS AND THEIR MUSIC.
MOVING FORCES IN MUSIC
BACH AND HAeNDEL
The importance of Bach in the world of music. Pleasing and representative compositions.
HAYDN AND MOZART
The importance of Haydn as the creator of the sonata.
CHARACTERISTIC MOODS OF BEETHOVEN
BACH, MOZART, AND BEETHOVEN COMPARED
SCHUBERT AND MENDELSSOHN
BACH, BEETHOVEN, SCHUMANN, AND CHOPIN IN THE DIFFERENT PHASES OF THEIR ART
BACH, BEETHOVEN, CHOPIN, SCHUMANN, LISZT
CONCERNING THE TYPICAL MUSICAL FORMS
MODERN MASTERS AND AMERICAN COMPOSERS.
NATIONALITY IN MUSIC
RUBINSTEIN AND TSCHAIKOWSKY
THE LATER ROMANTICISTS
GOTTSCHALK AND MASON
E. A. MACDOWELL
ARTHUR FOOTE AND MRS. H. H. A. BEACH
MISCELLANEOUS PROGRAM BY AMERICAN COMPOSERS
W. S. G. Mathews . . . . . . . . . Frontispiece
Joh. Sebastian Bach, Geo. Fred. Handel
Joseph Haydn, Wolfgang A. Mozart
Ludwig van Beethoven
Franz Schubert, Felix Mendelssohn
Frederic Francois Chopin
THE MASTERS AND THEIR MUSIC.
MOVING FORCES IN MUSIC
The art of music shows the operation of several moving forces, or motives, which have presented themselves to the composer with sufficient force to inspire the creation of the works we have. The most important of these motives is the Musical Sense itself, since it is to this we owe the creation of the folk-song, with its pleasing symmetries, and the greater part of the vast literature of instrumental music.
Aside from the expression of the musical consciousness as such, the composer has been moved at times by the motive of Dramatic Expression. In opera, for example, a great deal of the music has for its object to intensify the feeling of the scene. Accordingly, the composer carefully selects those combinations and sequences of tones which in his opinion best correspond with the dramatic moment they are intended to accompany. And since many of these moments are of extreme intensity, even tragic in character, very strong and intense combinations of tones are sometimes employed, such as could not be justified in an instrumental composition to be played independently of any illustrative scenery or story.
There is a third motive of composition which also has had a large place in the development of instrumental music—viz., the Expression of the Individual Mood of the Composer; and the further we come down in the history of music, the more unrestricted we find the operation of this motive.
In the order of development, the purely musical is entitled to the first place; and it has also been the principal moving cause in the development of the art of music, from its universality—its power to act upon all grades of musical consciousness according to the ability of the individual musician. For example, the desire to realize in tones agreeable symmetries of rhythm and strong antitheses of melodic sequence has given rise to the folk songs, all of which operate upon what are now very elementary lines, since they never exceed very simple and obvious rhythmic proportions and the most common chords of the key.
Recent investigations of the music of barbarous and half-civilized tribes show that the attainment of symmetry in the folk-song is a somewhat late experience. In many of the songs of the American Indians, for example, the first phrase moves practically along the track of the common chord; the second phrase frequently repeats the first, and in some instances the repetition goes on indefinitely without any answer or conclusion. In other cases a second phrase follows along the track of a closely related chord, but I have never noticed a case in which a third phrase appeared, corresponding to the first, after a digression of the second phrase into another chord. Generally the rhythm runs out with a series of what might be called inarticulate drum-beats, as if an impulse existed still unsatisfied, blindly making itself felt in these insignificant pulsations; an impulse which a finer melodic sense would have satisfied by the proper antithesis in relation to the first phrase, thus leaving the melody and the rhythm to complete themselves together, as always takes place in civilized music.
The art of music seems to be an evolution from the sense of number and the feeling for the common chord, combined with a certain fondness for reverie, which in the earlier stages of the art was perhaps semi-religious in character, and in the later stages is more nearly related to the dance, until finally, in the highest stage, it is a reverie of the beautiful or the pathetic, pure and simple. The existence of the harmonic sense in rude natures, where music has not been heard, seems very difficult to account for, since, while it is true that any resonant tone contains the partial tones constituting the common chord, a resonant tone is very seldom heard among rude surroundings; and the discovery of the instinct of barbarous melodies to work themselves along the track of the chord is one of those unexpected finds of modern investigation which, while at first seeming to explain many things, are themselves excessively difficult to account for.
In a sense, there is no difference in kind between the folk-song and the most complete and highly organized art-music; that is to say, both alike are primarily due to the operation of simple musical instincts working off along the track of rhythmic proportion and harmonic relation. The vast difference in the grade of the results attained is due to the capacity of the composers. The simple man giving himself up to reverie and being gifted with a certain amount of musical feeling, produces a commonplace melody of serious import or of lively rhythm according to the nature of the reverie in which he indulges. This is to him a complete expression of his mood, and it is received as such by others in like state.
A Bach, a Beethoven, or a Schumann, giving himself up to tonal reverie, will also arrive at more or less symmetrical melodic forms proportionate to the mood of the composer and the idea which he is seeking to bring to expression; but instead of his reverie terminating at the end of one or two periods, as is invariably the case with the simple man (an additional idea having to be sought with much diligence and imperfect success), he goes on for a series of periods, and perhaps develops a quite long discourse, all having relation to the simple conception with which he started and to a fundamental mood. It is evident that, owing to the time consumed in writing out a musical discourse, the high composer will not have been able to complete his composition, or at least the written expression of it, at a single sitting; and upon examining it we do, in fact, find it to consist of successive chapters or paragraphs, each one of which might be taken as the expression of a mood, and all having reference to the central mood underlying the beginning, which by the arrangement of material necessarily becomes the characteristic mood of the entire work.
Moreover, Bach, Beethoven, or Schumann, in bringing their tonal mood to expression, will permit themselves all sorts of freedom in bringing together unexpected motives, rhythms, or chords, and the result, consequently, will be of a very different character from that attained by the composer of simple pieces, and will, therefore, be intelligible to those only who have the musical capacity to realize these more remote and less obvious relations.
Our composer also will have embraced in his tonal reverie, or at least in the extreme moments of it, all those extraordinary means of intense musical expression which the dramatic composer may have found out in his effort to represent the tragic and extreme moments of dramatic complication. And thus the tendency of the musical art is constantly toward the complex, and toward the bringing together of relations so subtle as to have been unintelligible to earlier musicians, and unintelligible now, at first hearing, to common ears, lacking in these finer perceptions of advanced musical endowment. It is to be noticed, however, that these extraordinary combinations and relations of the advanced composer occur only at remote intervals in the works of any of the great masters. The extremely intense or dramatic or tragic is not the staple of human life. They are incidents in a checkered and tempest-tossed existence, and the music representing these moods is also a little outside the range of the purely beautiful.
In one department of the higher art of music—viz., that of symphony—there has been a working-out of the taste for the symmetric, the well proportioned, and the agreeable sounding; in other words, the beautiful as to proportion, charm of melody, and the satisfactory in harmony. In symphony the tragic and the extremely dramatic have had but a limited realization, while the purely beautiful in tonal relation has been the main creative motive. This we find in Mozart and Beethoven to a remarkable degree.
The general color of instrumental music, or its increasing complexity and high flavor, has been very much influenced by the writers of songs, as well as by the dramatic composers writing for the stage. There have been a few great geniuses in the art of music who, while gifted with a wide musical fantasy of their own, have taken pleasure in deriving their inspiration from poetry, and have occupied a large part of their time as creative composers in setting to music such lyric texts as interested them. In this way Schubert, for example, wrote something like 700 songs, Schumann a considerable number, and there have been various other composers who have written extensively in this line. The experience of the song-writer has, on the whole, been of great use to instrumental music, since it has tended not alone to diversify the music by encouraging a freer and more graphic employment of tonal forms, but also to retain the melody within the compass suitable to the voice and to preserve the agreeable proportions of phrases, such as we already find in poetic meters. Still, the fact remains that for intensification and for the extravagant element in the higher art of music, the dramatic composer is the influence mainly to be thanked, since in opera all these things are done upon so much larger a scale and with so much greater intensity.
It is not easy in words to point out how extremely large a factor in art-music is the operation of the unconscious. Instinct governed the operation of Bach and Beethoven almost as much as it does the swimming of the swan or the flying of the pigeon. For although the instinct of tonal relations is not one of those universal endowments shared by every individual to the same degree, there have appeared in the art of music a series of remarkable geniuses who seem to have had within themselves the power to turn all kinds of moods and experiences into musical expression. What part of this was due to fortunate heredity, and what to environment, and how much to original genius, pure and simple, it is impossible to say. The nature of genius always remains a mystery. At the same time, the currency which the music of these masters has gained in the world, and still maintains, goes to show that the instinct which governed them in putting together tonal forms for expressing delight, and for operating upon the feelings of the hearer, is not different in essence from that of the common listener; since experience shows that all this music affords gratification to the great majority of individuals who can be brought to listen to it a few times. Of course, it is not to be expected that a casual hearer, inattentive, it may be, and unaccustomed to remembering what he has heard, will be impressed by a long instrumental composition to the same degree as a practised hearer, and especially a hearer who has already followed the composition through several times before; but the longest symphony or sonata always contains a variety of moments which are intensely pleasing to the ordinary hearer listening seriously to them for the first time. The difference between the casual hearer and the more cultivated one is that with practice will come a perception of a larger number of these attractive moments, and finally, at last, the realization of the entire discourse as a one, having a central idea; in the same way as in a sermon a casual hearer notices here and there an idea which strikes him; then he goes off into reverie, and is only recalled by some other striking idea which attracts his attention, while the trained hearer may have followed the discourse entirely, and found it interesting from first to last.
Moreover, the repeated experience of hearing brings out in ordinary listeners a capacity which they had not previously realized—viz., the experience of feeling in connection with the music. We are still very far from understanding the relation between music and feeling. The most that is known about it as yet is that to a listener of even a very slight amount of experience the minor chord suggests unhappiness, while the major chord sounds brighter and more agreeable; a pleasant rhythm, somewhat lively, betokens cheerfulness; a slow and heavy rhythm betokens seriousness, perhaps sadness; but beyond this elementary beginning of musical feeling, which is common to the most insignificantly endowed individuality, there is a vast world of finer sensibilities connected with music. A certain chord, or succession of chords, or especially a certain melo-harmonic phrase, touches the sensitive ear with a peculiar thrill, and this happens over and over again, and continually in the more fortunate works of all the great masters, when followed by sympathetic hearers. The point in this connection which we have to notice is that the capacity of feeling to be touched and awakened by tonal incitations is practically universal as regards civilized man. The extent of the influence which music will exert varies enormously in individual cases, but from the fact that every normal hearer will be touched more and more by music with a little practice in hearing it; that the number of those who are extremely sensitive to this form of spiritual suggestion is much larger than is ordinarily supposed; and from the fact of this capacity in the average individual, and the universality of the admiration awakened by the works of the great geniuses in music, it is a fair conclusion that the future is destined to throw more light upon this obscure part of the psycho-musical capacity of mankind; and it is obvious, as said before, that the great geniuses whose works are demonstrated to contain this power to touch hearers had this endowment in an extraordinary degree, but not to such a degree as need place any bar upon the popular appreciation of their music, if a comparatively small amount of education has been given in hearing.
To sum up, then, the results arrived at in this discussion. The programs and discussions now about to be undertaken have been arranged for the purpose of assisting the listener to a recognition of the peculiarities and individual charms of the works of the masters represented, and also, incidentally, to afford the listener a certain education in the art of hearing, and, by bringing together strongly contrasted musical moments, to afford the musical feeling a strong incitation, in the hope of awakening in every listener this capacity of musical delight, when the sense of the beautiful and of the expressive is appealed to through exquisite tonal incitation.
All the music in these chapters, without exception, has been created upon musical grounds, since it is the instinctive following out of musical ideas which has operated through the greater part of them, while the pursuit of the highly dramatic and strongly marked has had but a small influence.
The higher musical fancy has many ways of expressing itself or of elaborating musical ideas, but there are two of its characteristic modes which the student will do well to observe at the start. These are what I call the "thematic" and the "lyric." The ordinary folk-song, which starts off with a melodic phrase, this phrase being partly answered, followed by a third phrase like the first, and then a final answer, is the general type of the lyric moment. The thematic is generally based upon a short phrase or melodic figure, and this figure is repeated over and over in a variety of ways and different chords and the like until a complete idea is formed from it. These two modes of construction are traced at greater length in the concluding essay in this work on "The Typical Musical Forms," and the student will do well to fortify himself from time to time by reference to that chapter.
In all the programs of this course there is one caution which the student will do well to observe: All kinds of technical analysis of art-works put the hearer in a mood essentially different from that necessary for properly enjoying the works as art. Every art work is intended to awaken an artistic delight after its kind. In painting, a delight in form and color, and in some a kind of suggestion or story by means of them. In music, a delight in tone and tonal relations and rhythm, and always a sense of tonal beauty, with a strong flavor of feeling awakened by means of them. This entire expression of musical masterworks belongs to the unconscious operation of mind, and the hearer who occupies himself with the effort to recognize all the various devices and artifices of the composer, and to follow the form as such, or who occupies himself mainly with the idea of the story which the composer is trying to tell, puts himself in a wrong attitude for deriving the most complete gratification from the work. In a cultivated realization of the beauty of a great musical masterwork, these perceptions of technical skill on the part of the composer no doubt enter to some degree, but they are always more or less in the background, and form a part of the actual pleasure of hearing the symphony or the sonata scarcely more than the capital initials and punctuation marks enter into the enjoyment of a poem. All the incidents of punctuation and typography we take instinctively, and are conscious of them only when some one of them is missing and an error exists in the work. This is the case with music. Symmetry and flow of imagination are presupposed. Hence, whatever analyses may be made in the class as a part of the operation of studying these different master-works, the end to be sought by the student is the enjoyment of the work as music; to take an active and lively pleasure in the melody; to feel the harmony and the rhythm; to enjoy the contrast of the different moods, and so on. Every piece in the entire list is a voice in which the composer speaks to us, and the question is not the How, but the What.
BACH AND HAeNDEL.
JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH.
Born March 21, 1685, at Eisenach. Died July 28, 1750, in Leipsic.
Johann Sebastian Bach was the son of the city musician of Eisenach, and a descendant of about ten generations of musical Bachs. His father having died when the boy was young, the latter's brother, Johann Christoph, gave him lessons for some time, after which he studied with other masters of considerable celebrity, and at the age of seventeen he was engaged as violinist in the private orchestra of Prince John Ernst, of Saxe-Weimar. He held this place, however, for but a few months, leaving it to accept a more desirable one as organist in the new church at Arnstadt. During the time he held this position he made several journeys on foot to Luebeck to hear the famous Buxtehude play, and later paid the same compliment to another eminent organist. The most important of the early positions which Bach held was that of director of chamber music, and organist to the Duke of Saxe-Weimar, and here, after seven years' service, he was made chief concertmeister. In 1717 he left Weimar to accept a position as musical director at Koethen, where he had a better opportunity to express himself with orchestra. In 1723 be became cantor of the St. Thomas School at Leipsic and music director of the university, as the successor of Johannes Kuhnau. In this position he had the direction of the music in the St. Thomas Church, where he had at his disposal an orchestra, organ, and two choirs, besides which he trained the school-children. He here wrote an enormous amount of church music, consisting of a very large number of cantatas for church service, of which first and last he seems to have produced five entire series for every festival Sunday in the year. These cantatas were short oratorios consisting of choruses, solos, recitatives, instrumental movements, and were frequently of considerable elaboration. Many of them are now lost, but a very considerable number remain. He also composed five oratorios for the Good Friday season—Passion music—of which three yet remain, the most famous one being the "St. Matthew's Passion."
Bach was married twice, and had, in all, eleven sons and nine daughters, of whom six sons and four daughters survived him. As a practical musician Bach excelled upon the violin, the organ, and the clavier, and he left a very large number of works in all three of these departments, works which still remain the admiration of musicians the world over. His genius was unquestioned in his own lifetime, and the memory of it remained lively even during the fifty years following his death when very few of his works were accessible.
The most complete biography of Bach is the large work by Spitta, in three volumes, in which the entire life-history of this great master, and all the circumstances amid which he worked, his discouragements, and what he accomplished, have been traced with most patient and loving care.
The list of Bach's compositions includes three sonatas and three partitas (generally classed as six sonatas) for violin alone; six sonatas for violin and piano, a large quantity of chamber music of one sort and another, a few orchestral suites, and about ten large volumes of music for the clavier and for the organ.
GEORG FRIEDRICH HAeNDEL.
Born February 23, 1685, at Halle. Died April 14, 1759, in London.
Haendel was the son of a surgeon and it was the wish of his father to educate him to his own profession, but the inclination to music was so strong that it was impossible to prevent him from following it, and, accordingly, he had the best training it was possible to get in the vicinity. When the boy was eleven years old he was taken to Berlin and placed under the instruction of Bononcini and Ariosti, Italian music being then the style at the Prussian court. At the age of sixteen young Haendel had obtained a position as organist, and he was also a fine clavecin player and a good violinist. A few years later we find him at Hamburg, where he played the clavecin in the orchestra and was sometimes conductor. Here he produced several operas—"Nero," "Daphne," "Florindo," "Almira"—with so much success that in 1707 he made a journey to Italy for further perfecting himself in the Italian style. Accordingly he spent some months in Florence, three months in Rome, thence back to Florence to produce a new opera, and by the new year of 1708 he was in Venice, where his second Italian opera, "Agrippina," was produced. From Venice he went again to Rome, where he wrote two short oratorios for Cardinal Ottoboni.
He had already made the acquaintance in Venice of Scarlatti, Corelli, and of Antonio Lotti. He accompanied the Scarlattis to Naples and remained with them about a year, and there was great rivalry in regard to the harpsichord playing of Haendel and Domenico Scarlatti. This success made Haendel's name so celebrated that it led to his being invited to London, where he went in 1712 to bring out some operas. He liked London so well that he remained there all the rest of his life. During a part of this time he was himself the manager of the opera, importing his principal singers from Italy, producing his own operas as well, occasionally, as those by other composers, and experiencing in the vocation of manager the vicissitudes well known to attend it. He made and lost several fortunes; but finally, at his death, had paid up all claims against him and left to charity a very handsome estate.
In London he produced a large number of operas, and then, about 1733, he began to compose oratorios, and in 1741 produced the "Messiah," which had a great success. He also composed a large amount of instrumental music, and was very famous as an organist. He composed a large number of concertos for organ with orchestra, and he was in the habit of playing a new organ concerto in the intermission of an oratorio.
The number of Haendel's works is extremely large. All his operas are now forgotten. Nevertheless individual fragments remain, such as the famous alto air, "Lascio Pianga," and many others. From his instrumental works also many charming bits have survived and still please the public, such, for instance, as the famous "Largo." Of the oratorios, his greatest are the "Messiah" and "Israel in Egypt." The most complete biography of Haendel is that by Chrysander.
* * * * *
In order to appreciate the importance of Bach and Haendel in the history of music, it is necessary to know something of the condition of the world of music when they commenced to work in it. The music-making of the world at that time had come from three original sources, and, in spite of the vast increase in the number of composers and in the volume of musical production, these streams had been kept, and still remained, almost entirely distinct from each other.
At the foundation of all the art of music lies the folk-song—simple melodies which spring up in every country and are easily learned, and pass from one to another until they become current over large extents of territory. The folk-song had its origin, most likely, in the dance; and the dance, in turn, was an artistic evolution from the cadenced chant, accompanied by a measured march, with which the early religious services were performed. The folk-song of the nation naturally disposed itself in the tonality most esteemed by the people, and, accordingly, we find in some countries that most of the folk-songs are in major tonality, while in others minor tonality prevails; the rhythm being determined by the favorite dancing step of the people. Thus, in Germany, many of the folk-songs are waltzes; in Spain, seguidillas; and in Italy, tarantellas. The making of folk-songs must have gone on continually through the spontaneous creation of new melodies by gifted but untaught musicians in all parts of the musical world. These melodies were seldom written down, but were passed from one to another orally; and down to the time of Haendel and Bach very little recognition of the folk-song as a possible element in art had been accorded by any trained musician. This is not the place to trace the evolution of the folk-song into more and more symmetrically disposed phrases and agreeable relations of tonality. Enough to say that from the rather slow and minor songs of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, folk-song had blossomed out until, in the time of Bach, it had come to express very much of the simple delights and sorrows of the natural people.
At the opposite extreme from the folk-song were the operations of the thoroughly trained composer. While the folk-song developed itself entirely by ear,—and the ear and feeling of the untaught musician were his sole guide in the production of an agreeable melody,—the trained composer for many centuries entirely disregarded the testimony of the ear, or admitted it in only a slight degree. His principal care was to carry out the rules which he had been taught; and in following this tradition,—the operation of which was almost entirely unchecked by the musical sense properly so called,—the tendency was constantly toward greater and greater elaboration, since only in elaboration could the mastery of the composer be shown. The art of combining tones had been handed down for some centuries almost entirely in the form of what is known as counterpoint, in which the relation of each voice melody to the others was more considered than the chords resulting as the voices moved from one tone to another. This art had its origin apparently in France, and the most promising of the early compositions we know were those produced at the Sorbonne about the eleventh century. By the thirteenth or fourteenth century the pre-eminence had been transferred to the Low Countries, and the Netherlands became the great hothouse of contrapuntal development.
This tendency to extravagant display of learning manifested itself in the Netherlanders in almost every department; and whoever will read the accounts of their receptions and festivals, with the elaborate Latin poems and processions which attended the ceremonies, will find in the music of those times the same qualities brought to expression. Nevertheless, the ear could not be entirely ignored, and now and then a master arose with genius and musical intuition necessitating his pruning his compositions more or less in accordance with the dictates of the ear; and thus there were such masters as Adrian Willaert, who founded a school in Venice somewhere about 1500, and Orlando di Lasso, who founded that in Munich at about the same time. Among the multitudinous works of these men are many which are simple, or at least musical in the proper sense. Nevertheless, as yet, simplicity in this so-called high art was accidental and momentary, and complication was the rule of its being and the measure of its power.
The complication of the works of the contrapuntal school almost passes belief. All kinds of imitations, canons, and fugal devices; inversions of motives, so that an ascending melody was transformed into a descending melody and vice versa; the enlargement or augmentation of a motive by doubling or quadrupling the length of each one of its tones; the diminution of a motive by shortening its tones to a quarter of their original value; modification by repeating its rhythm in the chromatic scale in place of the melodic intervals of the original figure, and even to the extent of reversing motives, so that the melodic steps were made in reversed order from the end to the beginning;—and in the midst of all this elaboration the composer or the trained listener of the time was supposed to enjoy not alone the music as such, but all these complicated devices of the composer.
When these things had been carried out in movements having as many as sixteen voice parts, which was not a phenomenally large number at that time, two results unexpected by the composer almost necessarily came about. The first of these was the production of chord successions which could be felt by the hearer only as such, since sixteen real parts moving within the three octaves of choral compass were necessarily obliged to cross each other continually, whereby the contour of the different voice melodies became lost in the mixture, and only the chords and chord successions came to realization. In this way, perhaps, the perception of harmonic good and evil was very much forwarded where nothing of the kind had been intended. The other result was the practical exhaustion of all these artificial resources for conveying an impression of power in a composer. When everything had been done that could be done, the new composer necessarily had to take a different path and arrive in some other way; otherwise he became merely a repeater of what had been done before.
All the scientific composition up to about the middle of the sixteenth century had been designed for voices, and the great bulk of it for the service of the Church. Presently, however, a distinctly secular music began to be developed, in which, very naturally, lighter principles of composition prevailed. Thus arose a great literature of madrigals, which generally were love-songs or glees, containing many of the devices of the extremely well-taught composer already mentioned, but also having in them a lively rhythm and a pleasant quality which, even after the lapse of three centuries and more, still has power to impress and please our ears. A little later an instrumental music of the cultivated kind began to be developed. The two Gabriellis, in Venice, wrote various kinds of organ pieces of a semi-secular flavor; the violin found its form, and, by the beginning of the sixteenth century, had become an instrument somewhat highly esteemed. The principal instrument still in use among the people, however, was the lute, which had taken the place of the harp, and both these instruments naturally tended to develop a taste for chords, since chords were what might be called their "natural product."
About the year 1600 a new department of musical creation was opened in the discovery of opera. This great form of art, which has now attained so much importance, was an accidental evolution from the effort to recover the Greek drama, in which, owing to the size of the theaters, the lines were chanted or intoned rather than spoken, in order that the voice might carry farther. The first operatic composers sought only a clear expression of the declamation, and intended to give their written notes similar effects to those which a speaker's voice would produce in the emphatic delivery of the sentiments and words of the text. Accordingly, the first opera had no melody, properly so called; but almost immediately, in 1608, there appeared a genius in this new form of composition, Monteverde, who not only introduced melodies, but also made a very intelligent use of harmony, and, above all, showed himself the founder of modern instrumentation by placing the violin at the head of the orchestra. Then ensued in Italy a century of the most animated musical productivity the world has ever seen. Operas followed each other from a great variety of composers, and opera-houses were erected in all the principal cities; opera was played everywhere, sometimes by the support of princes and sometimes by the support of the people themselves.
The development of opera was the most important creative inspiration which had ever come into the art of music, since, in the nature of the case, everything was new. What the music sought to do almost immediately, beginning with Monteverde himself in his opera "Tancred," was to represent the feeling of the dramatic moment. Almost at the very first they began to use music in the melodramatic way for accompanying the critical moments of the action, when the performers were not singing, and the forms of the singing utterance differentiated themselves into recitatives for the explanatory parts and arias for the more impassioned moments; and then, very soon, there came ensemble pieces, in which several performers sang together.
Thus all kinds of emotional situations were presented to music for representation and comment, and thus, upon the expressive side, music received the highest possible stimulation. At the same time, through the competition of composers for pleasing the ear, there was an ever increasing tendency toward symmetry and graceful forms. And so the aria became, after a little, a piece of vocal display, often entirely opposed to the action, and sometimes foreign to the genius of the scene; still, it was heard for the sake of the pleasure which people have in a skilfully managed voice. Toward the end of this century, somebody, whose name I do not at this moment recall, began to introduce into opera occasional moments of which the people's song was the type; short movements which did not aim at display or at immense dramatic expression, but sought to please by simplicity alone. In this way, through the desire of the operatic composers to avail themselves as far as possible of the technical resources of composition acquired by the learned musicians of the contrapuntal schools, and to please their hearers and to astonish them in various ways, all the different forces in music began to exercise themselves and come to expression in opera; but as yet nothing of the sort had made any great progress in instrumental music.
Thus we come to the period of Bach and Haendel, both of whom began to write shortly after 1700. In the working out of their respective talents, both these composers show their well-schooled musicianship, according to all the learning of the contrapuntal schools—but with very important differences. Haendel had all his life a predilection for diatonic tonality, and it is very rarely indeed that he deals with the chromatic at all, and never with the enharmonic. All the music in which he best expressed himself was written for voices, and as a master of vocal effect he still holds a distinguished position, particularly in the creation of compositions in which a large number of voices can be effectively massed. He also had a distinct flavor of the folk-song in many of his melodies, and in some instances the folk-song is the entire work. Such, for instance, is the case in "See, the Conquering Hero Comes," in "Joshua," and in several of the short instrumental movements in "Joshua," "Solomon," and his other oratorios.
Bach, on the other hand, was of a much more intensely organized musical temperament. His genius was of the greatest possible character. As a virtuoso he not only played upon the organ, the clavecin, and the violin better than most of his contemporaries, and upon the organ probably better than any; he also created works in these three departments which held the attention of his own time to an astonishing degree, considering the meager means of communication among men, works which still remain, in our time, the indispensable corner-stones of the literature of these three instruments. The violinist gets a large part of his mastery through the sonatas of Bach for violin solo, the organist learns his art from Bach, and the pianist finds "The Well-tempered Clavier," and many other works of Bach written for the clavecin of indispensable importance for the development of intelligent playing.
The peculiar importance of Bach to modern music lies in the delicacy of his sense upon the harmonic side and upon his intuition of the emotional value of musical combinations. In the form of his work he always more or less resembled his predecessors, the fugue underlying, probably, something more than half of all the music he wrote. But he also showed a strong tendency to impart to his work the vivacity of the folk-song and the expressive melodic quality which he had already found in the violin. Owing to his intensely sensitive harmonic perceptions, he was never able to confine himself for long to the more obvious chords of the key. The diatonic chords and combinations in which Haendel found an ever complete satisfaction are not sufficient for Bach, and we find continually new chords, evasive cadences, and a flowing continuity of thought belonging to the master mind.
Hence to the ordinary student there are two difficulties in the way of appreciating and enjoying Bach. The first one is the somewhat antique flavor of much that he wrote, for it is now almost two hundred years since many of Bach's compositions were completed; and the second is this sensitive and evasive harmonic fancy, which surpasses the capacity of untrained hearers. Hence, such works as the recitatives in the "Chromatic Fantasia," the beautiful modulations and changes in the organ Fantasia in G minor, and scores of other passages that might be mentioned in the larger works of Bach, are the legitimate pleasure of advanced musicians or of those especially gifted; but there is a whole world of Bach which lies nearer, within our reach, and it is this more accessible part of the land of Beulah that the present program will approach.
The importance of Bach in the world of art is further attested by the inspiration which he has been to all great composers since his time. In this respect he is the musician's musician par excellence. There has never yet appeared a master so advanced as not to find delight in the works of Bach, and in the opinion of many, all things considered, he was the most richly endowed genius who has ever adorned the art of music.
Invention in C major. From the Two-part Inventions. No. 1. Invention in F major. From the Two-part Inventions. No. 8. Saraband in D minor. Fifth English Suite. Loure in G major. Heinze. Third 'Cello Suite. Song, "My Heart Ever Faithful." Preamble in E major. Sixth Violin Sonata. Heinze. Saraband in E minor. Fifth English Suite. Gavotte in E major. Tours. Sixth Violin Sonata. Cradle song, from the Christmas Oratorio. Prelude and Fugue in C minor. Clavier. Book I, No. 2. "Hope in the Lord." Arranged by William Mason from the celebrated Largo. Haendel. Menuet in D major. First 'Cello Suite. Heinze. Gavotte in B minor. Saint-Saens.
(All the instrumental pieces of this program except the two inventions and the Tours arrangement of the Gavotte in E are in the "Bach Album," Peters edition, No. 1820, fifty cents. The inventions are in the Peters edition, fifty cents. The prelude and fugue in C minor may be had separately, as also the two songs.)
The conditions of being pleased with this program are that it be played in a melodious and expressive manner upon a good-toned piano, and that the songs are reasonably well done.
The selections from Bach in this program are intended to illustrate the lighter and, so to say, more superficial characteristics of Bach's music. Accordingly, the inventions are taken to show his manner of developing a piece from a single motive, which by many repetitions remains as a text all through the movement. The same principle carried much farther will be found later in Schumann.
The sarabands illustrate Bach's method in slow movements. These being written for the clavier, which in Bach's time had little tonal value, are rather meager in their development, but when played with a very sincere, melodic quality of tone, and treated exactly like expressive singing, with the necessary rise and fall of the phrase (varying intensity, as the idea advances or retrogrades), will always please. Moreover, while very short, such is the cleverness of their construction that they interest a musician very much.
The gavottes, being arranged from pieces which Bach wrote for clavier with other instruments, are naturally more free; both because Bach had the benefit of a stringed instrument—violin or 'cello—for intensifying the melody, and because they have been recently arranged for piano solo, and hence manifest more of the modern treatment of the piano.
The song, "My Heart Ever Faithful," is really instrumental in its character. In the second part the melody lies very badly for the voice. It is practically an instrumental piece in which the voice is the sole instrument.
Owing to the length of the program and the relatively greater importance of Bach in the development of music, only one selection is given from Haendel—Dr. William Mason's adaptation of the words, "Hope in the Lord," to the Haendel largo. This melody is so well known as not to require further comment. In later programs other selections from Bach will be given which will illustrate the larger aspects of his style, and, above all, his intense emotionality. This quality, which was once popularly denied concerning Bach, is now recognized by all musical hearers, and it should be brought out in the playing. Another essential characteristic of a successful Bach interpretation is the due observance of the rhythm, which is always admirably organized in Bach's works. Rubato must be introduced in a very sparing manner, and always in such a way as not to destroy the rhythm of the period as a whole.
If the student is disposed to undertake this work seriously, it will be advantageous to enter into an analysis of one or more of the Bach selections (or better, perhaps, assign each selection to one member for study and report), in order to ascertain exactly in what manner he uses motives to answer each other, when he continues upon the same motive, and when he branches off with other material. The inventions will be easiest for this purpose. It would be an advantageous exercise to play the inventions while the hearers note the number of times the leading idea occurs in each one. The object of this exercise is to lead unaccustomed hearers to note the actual musical idea—motive—instead of remaining passively attentive, taking in the music by contemplation. The latter attitude of hearing is the one best adapted for receiving whatever emotional movement there may be in the music; but since the larger works depend upon the development of musical ideas as such, it is desirable to acquire the habit of attending to them. The passive contemplation may be applied later to more emotional works. With Bach the purely musical is the first object of his work.
HAYDN AND MOZART.
FRANZ JOSEPH HAYDN.
Born April 1, 1732, at Rohrau. Died May 31, 1809, in Vienna.
Haydn came of peasant stock, his father being a wheelwright, and the little Franz Joseph the second of twelve children. At the age of eight his beautiful voice attracted the attention of the director of the choir of St. Stephen's Church in Vienna and he was entered as a choir boy. Here he received a thorough training in singing, in clavier, and violin playing, and also a good education. When his voice broke he managed to sustain himself in an honorable way by various subordinate positions as organist and violinist, playing the organ at an early mass in one church, the violin at a mass an hour or two later in another church, and finally, at eleven o'clock perhaps, reaching his principal position. Thus for several years he passed an extremely industrious and fruitful, but unrecognized, existence.
As early as 1750 he had written his first string quintette, and soon after he was twenty years of age he held various positions as musical director in noblemen's houses. In 1761—Haydn being now twenty-nine years of age—he was appointed assistant musical conductor of the private orchestra of Prince Esterhazy. The orchestra consisted of sixteen men. Five years later the senior director died, and Haydn became the chief director and remained in this position until 1790, when, in consequence of the death of the old Prince Esterhazy, his son discontinued the private orchestra and dismissed Haydn upon a pension of 1000 florins a year. He was now invited by a professional manager to make a visit to England, which he did in 1790-92 and again in 1794-95, conducting many concerts there, and composing for the English market a series of twelve symphonies for full orchestra, which are now considered to represent his best work in this line. Still later he turned his attention to oratorios and produced his "Seasons" and the "Creation."
During his long service in the Esterhazy establishment, where he had to produce a constant succession of new and pleasing music, he had the opportunity of trying all sorts of combinations and devices, and in this way he turned out an enormous amount of music, including 125 symphonies, more than 100 compositions for viol da gamba, an instrument of which the old Prince Esterhazy was very fond, and a variety of music of almost every kind then practiced. All of this music reflects Haydn's character, which was simple, unassuming, kindly, and sincere. As a composer he must be considered as the first of what we might call the homophonic writers,—that is to say, he was the father of the modern free style in which the normal form of the musical idea is that of a melody and an accompaniment, as distinguished from the style of Bach, in which the ground form is that of independently moving voices. The following list will give a better idea of the astonishing range of Haydn's activity as composer: One hundred and twenty-five symphonies; 20 clavier concertos and divertisements with clavier; 9 violin concertos; 6 concertos for 'cello, and 16 concertos for other instruments (contra-bass, baritone, lyra, flute, horn, etc.); 77 string quartets; 68 trios; 4 violin sonatas; 175 pieces for baritone; 6 duets for solo violin and viola; 53 works for piano; 7 nocturnes for lyra, and various other pieces for the same instrument; 14 masses; 2 Te Deums; 13 offertoriums; 24 operas.
WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART.
Born January 27, 1756, at Salzburg. Died December 5, 1791, in Vienna.
Mozart was the son of an excellent musician, and as soon as the boy began to show his astonishing sensitiveness of ear and bias for music in every direction, his father commenced to give him instruction. His activity as a composer commenced when he could scarcely read, for before he was five years old he showed his father a manuscript of a violin concerto which at first the father took to be mere meaningless marks, but on having them explained by the boy he found there was indeed a musical idea and, of course, a composition.
When he was about six years old his father decided to take the boy and his older sister upon a concert tour, which accordingly he did, visiting the principal courts of Germany, and finally reached Paris November 18, 1763. Here his first compositions were printed—four concertos for violin. In Paris he was very successful, and the tour was continued to London, where he published six additional concertos for violin. By the time he was ten years of age he had written his first oratorio, and now when he was upon a concert tour he was met with skepticism and misrepresentations, the claim being put forward that the compositions being published under his name had really been written for him by his father, since it was evident from the face of them that no boy of his age could have composed so well. To counteract these charges poems were brought to him upon which he had to improvise and fit the music to the words in the presence of the audience. In 1769 he went to Italy, where, being now thirteen years of age and correspondingly mature as compared with his early appearances, he made a most astonishing success. In Bologna and in Rome as well as in Venice he was examined by the most eminent theorists in Italy, and received memberships in the societies of artists, and the Pope made him a Knight of the Golden Spur. His first opera, "Mitridate," was composed in 1770, Mozart being then fourteen years of age. The opera was played twenty times. In Milan, two years later, he composed his opera "Lucio Silla," and the same year his opera "Idomeneo," for Munich. His other celebrated operas followed in fairly rapid succession: "Figaro," 1785; "Don Giovanni," 1787; "Cosi fan Tutte," 1790, and the "Magic Flute" in 1791. His last was his "Requiem." The works of Mozart included thirteen operas, thirty-four songs, forty-one sonatas, thirty-one divertisements for orchestra. The best biography is that by Otto Jahn.
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The epoch of Haydn is a very important one in art, since it was in his time, and almost entirely by his own work, that the sonata and symphony, the two most important forms in modern music, were invented or discovered and brought to something like definite form. Practically speaking, a symphony is merely a sonata written for orchestra; but the possibilities of orchestral contrasts and changes in the working out of the part known as "free fantasia" permits the symphonic composer to conduct his work in larger lines and carry it to a greater length than is advisable for the composer of sonatas for a single instrument, in which monotony of tone-color is an element which must not be forgotten.
The "sonata-piece," as the principal movement of the sonata has been called, is one of the great typical forms in music. Its greatness lies in the latitude it permits the composer and the practically unlimited field it gives for the illustration of musical beauty, contrast, sweetness, and musical strength in a single composition. In this respect it binds up in itself some of the most valuable possibilities of the entire art of modern composition. In order to understand what we are to have in the sonatas of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven, some of the peculiarities of the form need first to be noticed.
The sonata-piece consists practically of three chapters, of which the third is substantially a repetition of the first, with a few not very important modifications. The first chapter contains from two to four different melodic subjects, of which one comes as principal, and is substantially of a thematic character. The second is almost invariably a lyric subject. In the sonatas of Mozart and Beethoven some very lovely melodies will be found in this position. Between the first and second subjects modulating periods may appear; and after the second there is a concluding subject, which brings up to a close at the double bar, upon the dominant of the principal key. In the older practice there is a repeat sign at this point, and the whole of the first part is gone over again. In modern practice this repeat is often disregarded, since the memory of musical ideas appears more lasting in our day than formerly. After the double bar comes the great characteristic opportunity of this form of art-music, in what the Germans call a working out (Durchfuehrungssatz), in which the composer makes a free fantasia upon any or all of the material introduced in the first division of the work, already described. This working out is often mere play, rarely rising to a seriousness at all approaching that of fugue; still, a clever composer manages to afford many attractive features in this part of a sonata, and still more in the larger opportunities of symphony.
Haydn is entitled to the credit of having given the sonata-piece its main characteristics of form. In this respect it follows the suggestion of the older "binary form," in which sarabands, gavottes, and the like were written by Bach. All of these, being composed upon a single melodic idea, necessarily had to develop this idea by means of sequences, imitations, transpositions, and transformations of one sort and another, employing in this treatment much of the art which fugue had supplied. All the pieces in this old binary form come to a half close at the double bar upon the dominant of the principal key, or upon the relative major if the principal key be minor. After the double bar the development is taken up in the dominant, or in whatever key the preceding part had ended in. Later the principal key is resumed and the work concluded.
Haydn enlarged this form by completing his leading periods generally to a symmetrical length of eight measures, and by adding a second subject and a different melodic material for conclusion, both before the double bar and at the end of the movement.
The style of the Haydn sonata-piece is generally light and pleasing. Only in a very few cases, and in those for a few measures only, does he attempt pathos. Thus the principal movement of the Haydn sonata seems to have been developed from a dance motive, and the carrying out is generally done in regular period forms—the form being substantially verse throughout, the meter regular and not capricious. Haydn arrived at this treatment through his natural fondness for symmetry and order, and through having had for thirty years to produce a constant succession of interesting pieces, mainly orchestral, primarily designed to interest and please his princely patron, the old Prince Esterhazy. The best symphonies of Haydn were written late in life, after he had been called to London to conduct some new works of his. The glance into the outer world, and perhaps the availability of a larger body of players, gave his ideas a freer scope; and these twelve London symphonies belong to a higher type than those of his earlier time.
As yet we have not spoken of the lyric melody, which in the Beethoven sonata forms almost invariably a second subject. This idea appears to have been due to Mozart, whose second subjects not only are sweet and song-like melodies, but many of his first ones as well. Thus the Mozart sonata, while excelling that of Haydn in melodiousness and sweetness, is almost invariably of less musical interest, the development of a musical thought being rarely considered. In the few cases in which Mozart takes a serious mood he succeeds well, notably so in the famous sonata in C minor, the last one in the volume of his works. But in general, particularly in the sonatas, Mozart is melodious in pure lyric pattern. These melodies of Mozart, while of great sweetness and beauty, do not, as a rule, have much depth; they do not sing from the soul. The soul has not "seen trouble," as folks say; it sings with the instinctive sweetness of childhood, and thus fails to touch the feelings of adults. The selections following illustrate these points:
Sonata in E-flat (entire). No. 3, Schirmer edition. Haydn. "My Mother Bids Me Bind My Hair." Canzonetta. Haydn. Sonata in C-sharp minor (entire). No. 6, Schirmer edition. Haydn. Trio from "The Creation," "Most Beautiful Appear." Haydn. Soprano, tenor, and bass. Sonata in F major. No. 6, Peters edition (first movement). Mozart. Air of Cherubino in "The Marriage of Figaro," "Voi Che Sapete." Mozart. Sonata in E-flat (first and second movements only). Schirmer edition, No. 1. Haydn. Quintette, "Magic Flute," Mozart. Scene X, Act I, Andante. "Drei Knaben, Knaebchen jung." Aria of Countess from "The Marriage of Figaro," "Dove sono," Mozart. Fantasia and Sonata in C minor. Mozart. Trio from "The Creation," "On Thee Each Living Soul Awaits." Haydn.
(The copies for this program are as follows: Haydn sonatas, Schirmer edition, first volume, paper, seventy-five cents. This is a very elegant and in every way satisfactory edition for study or for the library. Mozart sonatas, Peters edition, $1.50 (retail). The songs are to be had separately. Copies of "The Creation" and "The Magic Flute" will be necessary.)
The selections above are made for the purpose of illustrating the more prominent characteristics of the two composers mentioned. Haydn is now beginning to be undervalued, and, in fact, his works are used mainly for purposes of instruction, and comparatively little for that. This is unjust, for while Haydn does not belong to the class of composers whose music is conceived by them as a message to mankind, but rather is conceived as an intelligent and refined form of delight, he is as musical as Bach himself, and consequently his music remains fresh and interesting despite the comparatively small forms. This will be noticed in every one of the sonatas selected here. The Sonata in E-flat, No. 3, is the one oftenest selected and studied, because it shows Haydn in his most genial mood. The spirit is bright, pleasing, fresh, and not a little vigorous. Practically, every single movement of a Haydn sonata is developed mainly out of one leading motive. In the present instance there is a second idea, of a quasi-lyric importance, introduced in the thirteenth measure—counting each measure from the first bar. In the forty-third measure a closing theme is introduced. The places are marked in the Schirmer copies, so there will be no difficulty in finding them. The second movement, if played in a very singing but not dragging manner, will be found enjoyable, although by no means sensational. The ideas are musical and the spirit earnest. The finale, in the tempo of a minuet, is very pleasing indeed. Here, also, the purely musical idea rules everything. The problem with the composer is to treat an idea which pleased him, and to carry it through all the changes and modifications which occurred to him as attractive.
The Sonata in C-sharp minor (No. 6, Schirmer) is more significant, and approximates the spirit of later works in the same key. The principal subject has a great deal of vigor, and the musical treatment is very fresh and original. The scherzando which follows is a very light movement, and needs to be played with great delicacy and spirit. The whole concludes with a menuetto, moderate in movement, song-like.
To my mind the strongest of the Haydn sonatas is the one which stands first in the Schirmer edition, also in E-flat, a favorite key with Haydn. The principal subject is very forcible, and the treatment varied to a degree. The whole work is one which a musician can play many times through, and always with enjoyment.
The second movement has the remarkable peculiarity of being in the key of E major—a violent modulatory relation to that of the first movement. I should say that this fact indicated that Haydn did not conceive of the three movements of the sonata as constituting a single whole, because if he had he could not have followed a close in E-flat major with an opening in E major, exactly a semitone higher, without the slightest modulation. This proceeding is inexplicable to me, if he expected the sonata to be played through entire at a single hearing. The slow movement, however, is a very strong one, the subject full of musical feeling, and the treatment clever and interesting. All the melodic passages in this movement need to be sung with great feeling. Then the contrast with the lighter portions will produce their proper effect. The finale, presto, is a very light and, one might almost say, insignificant movement, relieved only by a few moments of something better.
The Mozart collections are calculated to show the peculiar and womanly sweetness which Mozart introduced into music. In Haydn, moments of sweetness do indeed occur, and in his "Creation" they are frequent; but in his instrumental works they are not so frequent. The Sonata in F, of Mozart, is full of pleasing melodic ideas, and the first and second periods and the first episode are all very attractive melodies. Note that each of these ideas comes in the form of a fully completed melody, and not in the form of a musical motive of one, or at most two, phrases. Each of the Mozart subjects is eight measures long. The characteristic tone of the Mozart sonatas is this melodic sweetness, and the stronger parts only intensify this fundamental tone. The slow movement is rather meager, but it is also pleasing and well made. The so-called "Alberti" bass should be played in such a manner as to minimize the motion of the sixteenths, and to intensify the chord feeling. This will be done by playing softly with the left hand, bearing down a little, and using the pedal with every chord, except where it will mix up the melody.
The Fantasia and Sonata of Mozart, which concludes the program, is a work which is well worth studying. The fantasia opens with a very serious subject, which is carried through a variety of delightful changes, in a manner indicating a poetic intention. The expression must be carefully observed in the playing, and in the elaboration, where the subject occurs in several keys in connection, the first tone is taken rather strong and with a slight dwelling upon it. The slow melody in D major, as well as the adagio in E-flat, illustrate Mozart's faculty with sweet and rather deep melodies which, while perfectly simple in structure, nevertheless have in them the soul of the artist. The tone has to be full, round, singing, and never loud. There are parts of the fantasia which do not come up to the level of the others; particularly the allegro in G minor, which is inconvenient to play, and almost never played in a musical manner. It has, however, to be gotten over the best one can.
The vocal selections are of peculiar attractiveness. The canzonetta of Haydn, "My Mother Bids Me Bind My Hair," is a fresh, girlish affair, which can not fail to please. The trio, "Most Beautiful Appear," is so sweet that Mozart might have written it.
Then in the Mozart selections, the "Dove sono" is an aria requiring to be sung with a very pure tone and good style. All of Mozart's operatic arias were intended for well-trained Italian singers having a refined and high-bred style of singing. When so done, they are always delightful. The Cherubino air is very fresh, and full of the charm of youth and love. The trio of girls from "The Magic Flute" is given because it is so taking, while involving a succession of implied consecutive fifths. And the great trio, "On Thee Each Living Soul Awaits," concludes the concert in a noble manner. If the resources of the local society should happen to make it easy, it will afford an admirable close to give along with this trio the two choruses, "Achieved is the Glorious Work."
It is to be understood that the selections here offered from these two great masters illustrate but a small part of their individualities. The selection has been determined by the convenience of copies and the likelihood of the resources in every place being equal to their acceptable performance.
CHARACTERISTIC MOODS OF BEETHOVEN.
LUDVIG VAN BEETHOVEN.
Born December 16, 1770, at Bonn. Died March 26, 1827, in Vienna.
Beethoven was the son of a very dissipated tenor singer of the chapel of the Elector of Cologne, and the family had been musical for several generations. The boy learned to play the viola and violin as well as the piano while he was still very young indeed, and by the age of eleven was regularly engaged as viola player in the orchestra and had gained such proficiency upon the piano that it was popularly said of him that he could have played a good part of Bach's "Well-tempered Clavier" by heart. While still but a lad he succeeded informally to the post of assistant conductor of the orchestra, and it was his duty to prepare the music for the men, making the abridgments, emendations, and rearrangements that might be advisable to adapt old music to the then modern orchestra. In this way he gained, no doubt, much of his marvelous acquaintance with orchestral effect. When he was fifteen he was regularly appointed organist to the private chapel of the Elector, and he was left in charge of the orchestra for months together in the absence of the head director, Neefe.
He began to compose by the time he was ten, but he did not manifest any especial precocity in this direction: his published compositions with opus number contain only one movement, it is believed, which he wrote before he was twenty or twenty-one years of age. After the death of his father he was left, as he had been practically for some years before, the responsible head of the family, with the care of his mother and his younger brothers. He remained in Bonn, with one visit to Vienna in 1787, until he was about twenty-two years of age, when he left Bonn definitely and took up his abode in Vienna. Here he studied with the best masters attainable—Haydn, then in his prime, Salieri, and others. His first published compositions with opus numbers—three trios—date from the Vienna time.
In Vienna he lived all the remainder of his life—about thirty-five years. In the earlier part of this period he was considered one of the great pianoforte virtuosi of his time; his playing was distinguished for force, strong contrasts, musical quality, and, above all, pathetic expression. Czerny states that it was not unusual for a company of the Viennese aristocracy to be affected to tears by the playing of this master. His published works were generally criticized as being too bold and unconventional.
As Beethoven had the fortune to live to quite a good age, he gradually established his position with regard to the earlier compositions, inasmuch as by repeated hearings they sooner or later commended themselves to the critics as well as to the public; but by the time this had come to pass with the works of a certain period, he had advanced and composed others, which now in turn succeeded to the charge of being too advanced and forced. These in turn were later on accepted, only to leave a still later stratum of his compositions under the same condemnation which had been the portion of the earlier works.
Nevertheless, the want of recognition of Beethoven by his contemporaries has been greatly overrated. He enjoyed a fairly comfortable income, as such things went among the middle-class Viennese of his time, and during most of his career he was esteemed to be probably the most eminent composer living.
As compared with the works of Haendel or Bach, those of Beethoven do not make a great display in volume. Nevertheless, there are thirty-two piano sonatas, ten violin sonatas, nine symphonies for full orchestra, five pianoforte concertos, twenty-one sets of variations for piano alone, sixteen string quartets, and a very large mass of chamber music of other sorts. There are two masses, one opera, and above one hundred songs.
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As generally stated, the characteristic point of difference between what we call the classical and the romantic in the art of music lies in the feeling actuating the composer, and consequently embodied more or less successfully in his music. In the older practice, especially that of the Netherlandish contrapuntal composers of the sixteenth century, the motive of composition was that of producing a musical piece more elaborate, more imposing, or more sonorous than previous works; or, perhaps, the more commonplace conception of producing a piece as good as previous works. The purely musical (conceived from a technical standpoint) remained the moving principle with the composer. With the invention of opera, about 1597, A. D., and the active development which followed for a century after, a new principle came into operation, namely, the expression of dramatic contrasts and situations, and so at length the expression of intense individuality—the working of strong individualities under the clash of tragic situations.
Along with the invention and development of opera, during the period here mentioned, the mastery of the violin was carried forward with great results to the art of music. About 1685, Archangelo Corelli published his first collection of pieces for the violin, and in these are found what are practically about the first examples of a well-developed lyric melody, of the kind we now mean when we speak of "bel canto"—the type of melody made the very crux of the art of Italian singing. This impassioned, sustained, and expressive melody took with wonderful rapidity and was almost immediately adopted into opera, the ideal of which in the beginning had been that of an artistic and dramatically expressive delivery of the text. Now, melody as such has little to do with the dramatic delivery of the text. In a sustained melody—as in "Home, Sweet Home," to quote a simple type—it is first of all a question of sustained sentiment; whereas in a well-determined declamation it is first of all a matter of effective delivery of the words and phrases from an elocutionary standpoint, allowing the voice all the stops, interruptions, shocks, and variations of intensity requisite for effective delivery. But by the time this sustained melody had been introduced into high art (it seems to have made a beginning earlier in folk-song, although we have no precise indications upon the subject) the mere delivery of a text, somewhat after the manner of a liturgical intoning, no longer satisfied the demands of opera.
Music grew by what it fed upon. The violin, which Monteverde had placed in the position of honor at the head of the orchestra in 1608, had grown upon the ears of the people; and there was a need felt for something more impassioned, but at the same time more distinctively musical, than the mere declamation of the first opera, no matter how sing-song that delivery might be made. Hence arose the aria, which practically is a prolongation of a single moment of the dramatic situation. The Arias, at first and for quite a long time later, had very few words, and these were repeated over and over, as we find still in the well-known arias from Haendel's "Messiah." Thus opera came into possession of a simple and sustained melody, patterned after the cantilena of the violin; and it was employed for marking the successive points of the dramatic action. That is to say, as the drama unfolded, one new situation after another developed itself. Each new entrance of a dramatic person made a new complication and a new situation, brought to the attention of the hearer by means of the lines and then enforced by the aria, which the singer of greatest momentary importance had to sing. That these arias very soon degenerated into show pieces for virtuoso singers was an accident due to the popularity of the operatic stage, the development of the new art of singing, and a delight in the human voice as a musical instrument. It has no concern with our present subject.
Moreover, it inevitably happened that as composers multiplied and competed for the favor of the public, they tried more and more to bring out in their music the very innermost passions and passing feelings of the leading individuals in the play; hence the art of expressive music was greatly developed, and the ears of the public learned gradually to feel after and enjoy the human heart-beat in the music. Thus music passed beyond the stage of working for itself as a development of musical forms or science of construction, and became more and more, in opera, the expression of individualities and moods. At the same time that this tendency was working for making the music more expressive, the necessity of pleasing the public tended also in the opposite direction of pleasing the hearer by means of agreeable combinations of tone-colors, delightful symmetries of tone-forms, and the like. So at the very time when composers of one class were laboring in opera for the development of deep expression, those of another class were working no less effectually for making the music merely shallow and pleasing. Light operas dealing with shallow situations—comedy, farce, expressed by means of light and pleasing music—came to occupy more and more the operatic stage, where, after all, the question of amusement will always prevail.
All of these different tendencies came later on to their expression in music purely instrumental. We have seen already how Bach managed to compose truly expressive music which, nevertheless, is first of all strong music, yet highly humoristic and fanciful. Then Haydn and Mozart introduced various types of pleasing and simply expressive melody, but it is only in occasional moments that their music touches the deeper feelings of the heart. It is music to admire for its cleverness, to enjoy at times for its sweetness and tenderness, and its fresh melodic symmetry; but it is only in very rare moments that the accent of emotional individuality is given.
In Beethoven we find this quality for the first time illustrated in instrumental music; and, along with this occasional accent of intensity, we have also a great and inexhaustible variety of moods and manners appertaining to the different sides of the mighty individuality of this great tone-poet. Along with this variety of moods, which in their inner nature must be regarded as representing different facets of individuality, we have also in Beethoven a certain comprehensive element. Everything that he says to us belongs somehow to a larger whole, and that larger whole is the entire man of the composer. It is like the conversation of some highly gifted person, which, while lasting perhaps for only a few minutes, nevertheless affords us a glimpse into a remarkable personality, and appears in our memory as a chapter accidentally revealed out of the entire soul of the talker.
Hence in trying to form an idea of the individuality of Beethoven and of the range and peculiar beauty of his music, we have to learn his most characteristic moods in order to get the range of his genius; and then to see how he combines these widely different moods into a whole—as he does in his sonatas and symphonies. Accordingly, this first program begins with several pieces, comparatively small in compass, but directly illustrating the variety of his humoristic tendencies. All of these little pieces, moreover, have that accent of intense individuality mentioned above—an accent very much more observable in Beethoven than in any of his predecessors, and surpassed only by Schubert and Schumann later. The latter, it may be anticipated, is the most humoristic of all composers of instrumental music.
There are certain conditions of largeness in a piece of music intended to say something without words, and to work up to an imposing climax, which give it a different form from what is practicable in pieces having a text for doing a part of the talking. In order to reach a great effect, an instrumental music piece has to last for some time, and to continue quite a while in the same movement, as to rate of pulsation and frequency of measure accent. It has to work within a single tonality—remain in one key or revolve around one key in such a manner as to preserve its own unity as a single being. Hence arise the long movements of the sonata and symphony. It is not possible to arrive at similar impressions upon hearers by the use of shorter, disjointed movements. Only by carrying a movement on for some time, and so developing it as to impress some one idea as central, and at the same time to arrive eventually at some kind of a climax or goal, can a serious instrumental movement become expressive and effective.
In Mozart these long movements have nothing like the unity of those of Beethoven. A beautiful variety prevails, and the main ideas are repeated a sufficient number of times; but it is for beauty rather than for completing a cycle of moods or a cycle of soul-experiences. Or if a cycle, then a cycle of pleasant and youthful experiences. In Beethoven this is not the case. When he is much in earnest he takes plenty of time for saying his say, and says it so thoroughly that you are quite sure of what he is at. This will be shown in the present program by means of the Sonate Pathetique, and phases of the manner will appear in all the selections.
Selections of a quasi-lyric character: Menuetto in E-flat. Opus 31, No. 3. Menuetto in D major. Opus 10, No. 3. Subject from Allegretto from Sonata, opus 90. Thirty-two measures. Andante from Sonata, opus 27, No. 1. Formal Variations: Andante and Variations. Sonata in G major. Opus 14, No. 2. Andante, from Sonata Appassionata. Opus 57. Humoristic Variations and Moods; Theme and Variations. Opus 26. Scherzo in C, Sonata in C. Opus 2, No. 3. Allegretto from "Moonlight Sonata." Opus 27, No. 2. Scherzo in A-flat, Sonata. Opus 31, No. 2. Sonata-piece: Allegro (first movement), from Sonata in G. Opus 14, No. 2. Allegro (first movement), Sonata in F minor. Opus 2, No. 1. Sonata-piece, Impassioned; Introduction and Allegro (first movement), Sonate Pathetique. Opus 13.
The minuet proper, in the first selection, is a simply expressive folk-song throughout its first period. It is only at the beginning of the second period, with the dissonant C-flat, that something different comes to illustration. The distinction of the mood is further illustrated in the trio which follows, where the chords by their skips and their delightful changes afford a most agreeable and charming contrast with the main subject. (It is upon this trio that Saint-Saens has written his lovely variations for two pianos, four hands.)
The minuet in D, from the very strong Sonata in D major, opus 10, affords very strong contrasts before we pass beyond the minuet proper. The first period (eight measures repeated) is purely lyric and very lovely. The second period starts out with an imitative bit, quite in the manner of fugue, one voice after another responding in a vigorous and spirited manner. When this is completed by the delightful return of the principal subject, we are led to a trio in the related key of G major, which is in a totally different style. It goes like a scherzo, and when it in turn has been completed the main minuet returns with most agreeable effect. At the end, a short coda. Both these selections contain much which is not purely lyric, but rather thematic. This occurs always in the trios, and in the second period of the minuet in D.