ITS ORIGIN AND DEVELOPMENT
J.S. SHEDLOCK, B.A.
METHUEN & CO. 36 ESSEX STREET, W.C. LONDON
I. INTRODUCTORY 1
II. JOHANN KUHNAU 38
III. BERNARDO PASQUINI: A CONTEMPORARY OF J. KUHNAU 71
IV. EMANUEL BACH AND SOME OF HIS CONTEMPORARIES 82
V. HAYDN AND MOZART 111
VI. PREDECESSORS OF BEETHOVEN 130
VII. LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN 160
VIII. TWO CONTEMPORARIES OF BEETHOVEN 192
IX. SCHUMANN, CHOPIN, BRAHMS, AND LISZT 207
X. THE SONATA IN ENGLAND 221
XI. MODERN SONATAS, DUET SONATAS, SONATINAS, ETC. 235
This little volume is entitled "The Pianoforte Sonata: its Origin and Development." Some of the early sonatas mentioned in it were, however, written for instruments of the jack or tangent kind. Even Beethoven's sonatas up to Op. 27, inclusive, were published for "Clavicembalo o Pianoforte." The Germans have the convenient generic term "Clavier," which includes the old and the new instruments with hammer action; hence, they speak of a Clavier Sonate written, say, by Kuhnau, in the seventeenth, or of one by Brahms in the nineteenth, century.
The term "Piano e Forte" is, however, to be found in letters of a musical instrument maker named Paliarino, written, as we learn from the valuable article "Pianoforte," contributed by Mr. Hipkins to Sir George Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians, already in the year 1598, and addressed to Alfonso II., Duke of Modena. The earliest sonata for a keyed instrument mentioned in this volume was published in 1695; and to avoid what seems an unnecessary distinction, I have used the term "Pianoforte Sonata" for that sonata and for some other works which followed, and which are usually and properly termed "Harpsichord Sonatas."
I have to acknowledge kind assistance received from Mr. A.W. Hutton, Mr. F.G. Edwards, and Mr. E. Van der Straeten. And I also beg to thank Mr. W. Barclay Squire and Mr. A. Hughes-Hughes for courteous help at the British Museum; likewise Dr. Kopfermann, chief librarian of the musical section of the Berlin Royal Library.
THE PIANOFORTE SONATA
In history we find certain names associated with great movements: Luther with the Reformation, or Garibaldi with the liberation of Italy. Luther certainly posted on the door of the church at Wittenberg his famous Theses, and burnt the Papal Bull at the gates of that city; yet before Luther there lived men, such as the scholar Erasmus, who have been appropriately named Reformers before the Reformation. So, too, Cavour's cautious policy paved the way for Garibaldi's brilliant victories. Once again, Leonardo da Vinci is named as the inventor of chiaroscuro, yet he was preceded by Fra Filippo Lippi. And in similar manner, in music, certain men are associated with certain forms. Haydn, for example, is called the father of the quartet; close investigation, however, would show that he was only a link, and certainly not the first one in a long evolution. So, too, with the sonata. The present volume is, however, specially concerned with the clavier or pianoforte sonata; and for that we have a convenient starting-point—the Sonata in B flat of Kuhnau, published in 1695. The date is easy to remember, for in that same year died England's greatest musician, Henry Purcell.
Before studying the history of the pianoforte sonata, even in outline, it is essential that something should be said about the early history of the sonata. That term appears first to have been used in contradistinction to cantata: the one was a piece sounded (suonata, from sonando) by instruments; the other, one sung by voices. The form of these early sonatas (as they appear in Giovanni Gabrieli's works towards the close of the sixteenth century) was vague; yet, in spite of light imitations, the basis was harmonic, rather than contrapuntal. They were among the first fruits of the Renaissance in Italy. But soon there came about a process of differentiation. Praetorius, in his Syntagma musicum, published at Wolfenbuettel in 1619, distinguishes between the sonata and the canzona. Speaking generally, from the one seems to have come the sonata proper; from the other, the suite. During the whole of the eighteenth century there was a continual intercrossing of these two species; it is no easy matter, therefore, to trace the early stages of development of each separately.
Marpurg, in his description of various kinds of pieces in his Clavierstuecke, published at Berlin in 1762, says: "Sonatas are pieces in three or four movements, marked merely Allegro, Adagio, Presto, etc., although in character they may be really an Allemande, Courante, and Gigue." Corelli, as will be mentioned later on, gave dance titles in addition to Allegro, Adagio, etc. Marpurg also states that "when the middle movement is in slow time it is not always in the key of the first and last movements." This, again, shows intercrossing. The genuine suite consisted of several dance movements (Allemande, Courante, Sarabande, Gigue) all in the same key. But we find occasionally in suites, a Fugue or Fuguetta, or even an Aria or Adagio; and in name, at any rate, one dance movement has formed part of the sonata since the time of Emanuel Bach.
In 1611, Banchieri, an Olivetan monk, published at Venice his L'Organo suonarino, a work "useful and necessary to organists,"—thus runs the title-page. At the end of the volume there are some pieces, vocal and instrumental (a Concerto for soprano or tenor, with organ, a Fantasia, Ricercata, etc.), among which are to be found two sonatas, the one entitled, "Prima Sonata, doppio soggietto," the other "Seconda Sonata, soggietto triplicato." They are written out in open score of four staves, with mezzo-soprano, alto, tenor, and bass clefs. To show how the sonatas of those days differed both in form and contents from the sonata of our century, the first of the above-mentioned is given in short score. It will, probably, remind readers of "the first (i.e. sonatas) that my (i.e. Dr. Burney) musical inquiries have discovered, viz., some sonatas by Francesco Turini, which consisted of only a single movement, in fugue and imitation throughout."
Turini was organist of Brescia Cathedral, and in 1624 published Madrigali a una, due, tre voci, con alcune Sonate e a tre, Ven. 1624. Between Turini, also Carlo Farina, who published violin sonatas at Dresden in 1628, and Corelli (b. 1653), who brought out his first work in 1683, one name of great importance is Giovanni Legrenzi.
In the eighth volume of Dr. Burney's musical extracts there are two sonatas, a tre, a due violini e violone, by Legrenzi (opera ottava, 1677). The first is in B flat. It commences with a movement in common time entitled La Benivoglia.
An Adagio in G minor (only six bars) is followed by an Allegro in D minor, six-eight time, closing on a major chord; then eight bars common time in B flat (no heading); and, finally, a Presto (three-four) commencing in G minor and closing in B flat. None of the movements is in binary form.
The 2nd Sonata, in D, has five short movements. No. 1 has an opening of thirty-seven bars in common time, fugato. There is a modulation in the ninth bar to the dominant, and, later on, a return to the opening theme and key; in the intervening space, however, in spite of modulation, the principal key is not altogether avoided.
Sonatas of various kinds by Legrenzi appeared between 1655 and 1677. Then there were the "Varii Fiori del Giardino Musicale ouero Sonate da Camera, etc.," of Gio. Maria Bononcini, father of Battista Bononcini, the famous rival of Handel, published at Bologna in 1669, and the sonatas of Gio. Battista Vitali (Bologna, 1677). Giambatista Bassani of Bologna, although his junior by birth, was the violin master of the great Corelli. His sonatas only appeared after those of his illustrious pupil, yet may have been composed before. Of the twelve in Op. 5, most have many short movements; some, indeed, are so short as to be scarcely deserving of the name.
By the time of Arcangelo Corelli, who, as mentioned, published his first work (Op. 1, twelve sonatas for two violins and a bass) in 1683, sonatas answered to the definition given by Mattheson in his Das neu eroeffnete Orchester (1713), in which they are said to consist of alternate Adagio and Allegro. J.G. Walther, again, in his dictionary of music, which appeared at Leipzig in 1732, describes a sonata as a "grave artistic composition for instruments, especially violins." The idea of grouping movements was already in vogue in the sixteenth century. Morley in his Plain and Easy Introduction to Practical Music, printed in 1597, speaks of the desirableness of alternating Pavans and Galliards, the one being "a kind of staid musick ordained for grave dancing," and the other "a lighter and more stirring kind of dancing." Contrast was obtained, too, not only by difference in the character, but also, in the measure of the music; the former was in common, the latter in triple time.
With regard to the grouping of movements, Corelli's sonatas show several varieties. The usual number, however, was four, and the order generally—slow, fast, slow, fast. Among the forty-eight (Op. 1, 2, 3, and 4, published 1685, 1690, 1694, and 1700 respectively) we find the majority in four movements, in the order given above; of the twelve in Op. 3, no less than eleven have four movements, but—
No. 1 (in F) has Grave, Allegro, Vivace, Allegro. No. 6 (in G), Vivace, Grave, Allegro, Allegro. No. 10 (in A minor), Vivace, Allegro, Adagio, Allegro.
There are, however, eight sonatas consisting of three movements; and as this, a century later, became the normal number, we will give the list:—
Op. 1, No. 7 (in C) Allegro, Grave, Allegro. (Middle movement begins in A minor, but ends in C.)
Op. 2, No. 2 (in D minor) Allemanda (Adagio) Corrente (Allegro), Giga (Allegro).
Op. 2, No. 6 (in G minor) Allemanda (Largo), Corrente, Giga.
Op. 2, No. 9 (F sharp minor) Allemanda (Largo). Tempo di Sarabanda (Largo). Giga (Allegro).
Op. 4, No. 8 (D minor) Preludio (Grave). Allemanda (Allegro). Sarabanda (Allegro).
Op. 4, No. 10 (G) Preludio (Adagio) and Allegro. Adagio and Grave (E minor). Tempo di Gavotta (Allegro).
Op. 4, No. 11 (C minor) Preludio (Largo). Corrente (Allegro). Allemanda (Allegro).
Op. 4, No. 12 (B minor) Preludio (Largo). Allemanda (Presto). Giga (Allegro).
It is interesting to note that each of the two sonatas (Op. 1, No. 7, and Op. 4, No. 10), most in keeping with its title of sonata, has the middle movement in a relative key. Op. 1, No. 7, begins with an Allegro in common time; and the short Grave is followed by a light Allegro in six-eight time. The first movement, with its marked return to the principal key, is very interesting in the matter of form. The other sonatas with suite titles have all their movements in the same key. Locatelli in his XII Sonate for flute, published early in the eighteenth century, has in the first: Andante, Adagio, Presto; also Nos. 3, 5, etc. So, too, in Tartini's Sonatas (Op. 1) there are also some in three (No. 3, etc.). But Emanuel Bach commenced with that number, to which, with few and unimportant exceptions, he remained faithful; likewise to the slow movement dividing the two quick ones. The three-movement form used by J.S. Bach for his concertos and sonatas no doubt considerably influenced his son. But already, in 1668, Diderich Becker, in his Musikalische Fruelings-Fruechte, wrote sonatas for violins, etc. and continuo, in three movements. (No. 10, Allegro, Adagio, Allegro. Again, Sonata No. 19 opens with a movement in common time, most probably an Allegro; then comes an Adagio, and, lastly, a movement in six-four, most probably quick tempo.) These sonatas of Becker a 3, 4 or 5, with basso continuo, are unfortunately only printed in parts. As a connecting link between the Gabrielis and Corelli, and more particularly as a forerunner of Kuhnau, Becker is of immense importance. We are concerned with the clavier sonata, otherwise we should certainly devote more space to this composer. We have been able to trace back sonatas by German composers to Becker (1668), and by Italian composers to Legrenzi (1655); those of Gabrieli and Banchieri, as short pieces, not a group of movements, are not taken into account. Now, of earlier history, we do know that Hans Leo. von Hasler, said to have been born at Nuremberg in 1564, studied first with his father, but afterwards at Venice, and for a whole year under A. Gabrieli. Italian and German art are thus intimately connected; but what each gave to, or received from, the other with regard to the sonata seems impossible to determine. The Becker sonatas appeared at Hamburg, and surely E. Bach must have been acquainted with them. Becker in his preface mentions another Hamburg musician—a certain Johann Schop—who did much for the cause of instrumental music. Schop, it appears, published concertos for various instruments already in the year 1644. And there was still another work of importance published at Amsterdam, very early in the eighteenth century, by the famous violinist and composer G. Torelli, which must have been known to E. Bach. It is entitled "Six Sonates ou Concerts a 4, 5, e 6 Parties," and of these, five have three movements (Allegro, Adagio, and Allegro).
Corelli was the founder of a school of violin composers, of which Geminiani, Locatelli, Veracini, and Tartini were the most distinguished representatives; the first two were actually pupils of the master. In the sonatas of these men there is an advance in two directions: sonata-form is in process of evolution from binary form, i.e. the second half of the first section is filled with subject-matter of more definite character; the bars of modulation and development are growing in number and importance; and the principal theme appears as the commencement of a recapitulation. We should like to say that binary is changing into ternary form; unfortunately, however, the latter term is used for a different kind of movement. To speak of a movement in sonata-form, containing three sections (exposition, development, and recapitulation) as in binary form, seems a decided misnomer.
The violinists just mentioned were the last great writers of sonatas in Italy. Emanuel Bach arose during the first half of the eighteenth century, and, henceforth, Germany took the lead; Bach was followed by Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven. The influence of the Corelli school was felt in Germany and also in England. Sonatas were published by Veracini at Dresden in 1721, and by Tartini and Locatelli at Amsterdam before 1740. Again Veracini was for a time solo violinist to the Elector of Dresden (1720-23); Tartini lived for three years at Prague (1723-26), while Locatelli, during the first half of the eighteenth century, made frequent journeys throughout Germany. Emanuel Bach, the real founder of the modern pianoforte sonata, must have been influenced by their works.
In a history of the development of the sonata generally, those of Corelli would occupy an important place, for in them we find not only fugal and dance forms, but also hints of sonata-form.
Dr. Parry, in his article on "Sonata" in Sir G. Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians, has named the Corrente of Corelli's 5th Sonata in Op. 4 as offering "nearly a miniature of modern binary form." The well-known Giga Allegro of the 9th Sonata (Op. 5), and the Allemanda Allegro of the 10th Concerto in C, also present remarkable foreshadowings.
Handel, however, furnishes a very striking illustration—
In the six "Sonatas or Trios for two Hoboys with a thorough bass for the harpsichord," said to have been composed already in 1696, we find quick movements in binary form. In some, the first section offers both a first and a second subject, while in the second section, after modulation, there is a return to the opening theme, though quite at the close of that section. A brief description of one will make the form clearer. The second Allegro of No. 4 (in F) has two sections. The first, which ends in the dominant key (C), contains forty-six bars. The opening theme begins thus:—
[Music illustration: a]
At the twenty-ninth bar, a passage leads to the second theme—
[Music illustration: b]
This second theme is, in a measure, evolved from the first. In any case, it is of subordinate character; and it differs slightly as given by first or second oboe, whereas the principal theme appears in exactly the same manner for both instruments.
The second section opens with developments of b, and modulation from C major to D minor; a also is developed, the music passing from the last-named key back to the opening one. There is a full close in that key, and then modulation to F. The remaining twenty-two bars give the first section in condensed form: first and second subjects and coda.
It would be interesting to trace the influences acting on the youth Handel at the time when he wrote these sonatas. Most probably they were Johann Philipp Krieger's sonatas for violins and bass; N.A. Strungk's sonatas published at Dresden in 1691; and more especially Agostino Steffani's "Sonate da Camera" for two violins, alto, and bass, published in 1683. An opera by the last-named, which appeared at Hanover in 1699, has an "Air de Ballet," which contains the first notes of "Let the bright Seraphim"; besides, it is known that Handel culled ideas and "conveyed" notes from works of other composers; also, that he turned them to the best account.
In the same year in which Corelli published his Op. 1 (1683), Domenico Scarlatti, the famous harpsichord player, was probably born; in the history of development his name is the principal one of importance between Corelli and Emanuel Bach. In the matter of technique he rendered signal service, but, for the moment, we are concerned with his contribution towards development. Scarlatti does not seem to have ever considered the sonata in the sense of a work consisting of several contrasting movements; all of his are of only one movement. The title "sonata" as applied to his pieces is, therefore, misleading. Whether the term was actually used by the composer himself seems doubtful. The first thirty of the sixty Scarlatti sonatas published by Breitkopf & Haertel appeared during the lifetime of the composer at Madrid. They are dedicated to John the Just, King of Portugal, and are merely entitled
Essercizi per Gravicembalo.
In editions of the eighteenth century the composer's pieces are styled Lessons or Suites. However, twelve published by J. Johnson, London, are described on the title-page as Sonatas modernas.
From the earliest days of instrumental music dance tunes were divided into two sections. The process of evolution is interesting. In the earliest specimens, such as the Branle given in the Orchesographie of Thoinot Arbeau, we find both sections in the same key, and there is only one theme. The movement towards the dominant note in this Branle may be regarded as a latent modulation. In time the first section was developed, and the latent modulation became real; then, after certain intermediate stages, the custom was established of passing from the principal to the dominant key (or, in a minor piece, to the relative major or dominant minor), in which the first section closed. But in Corelli, and even in Scarlatti, we find, occasionally, a return to an earlier stage (i.e. a first section ending in the same key in which it commenced). In most of his pieces Scarlatti modulates to the dominant; in minor, to the relative major. Some exceptions deserve mention. In the Breitkopf & Haertel collection, No. 26, in A major, passes to the minor key of the dominant; and No. 11, in C minor, modulates to the minor key of the dominant, but the section closes in the major key of the dominant.
Scarlatti's sonatas consist, then, of one movement in binary form of the early type. Only in a few of these pieces is there a definite second subject; in none, a return to the opening theme. [Music illustration] In No. 26 there is just a return to the first bar (see second section, bar 11), but the previous ten bars show no modulation, and one can scarcely speak of thematic development. After the few bars of development and modulation, in some cases, the second section is found to consist merely of a repetition of some part of the first section, the key being tonic instead of dominant. This is, practically, embryonic sonata-form. The tonic and dominant portions of the first section are becoming differentiated; but the landmark, i.e. the return to the opening theme in the second section which divides binary from sonata form, is, in Scarlatti, non-existent. His first sections often consist of a principal theme and passages, also phrases indirectly connected with the opening one; sometimes of a chain of short phrases more or less evolved from the opening thought (see Nos. 1, 21, 29). (These and the numbers which follow refer to the Breitkopf & Haertel edition of sixty Scarlatti sonatas.) The composer often passes through the minor key of the dominant (in the first section) before arriving at the major; sometimes the major is introduced only late in the section (Nos. 7, 17, etc.), or minor remains (No. 26). We meet with a similar proceeding in Beethoven. Minor pieces often pass to the dominant minor, but end in major (i.e., first section). In Scarlatti there is, for the most part, no second subject, but frequently (Nos. 5, 7, 9, etc.) a concluding phrase which can, at times, be traced to the opening theme. Sonata 6, in F, shows a second subject of a certain independence. The best examples are to be found in Nos. 24 and 29 (in A and E); in these the character of the second subject differs from that of the first, and it is also in a minor key, which offers still another contrast.
And now a word or two respecting Scarlatti's method of development. He alters figures (Nos. 12 and 54), extends them (Nos. 9 and 54), but often merely repeats passages on the same degrees as those of the first section, or on different ones. He makes use of imitation (Nos. 7 and 36). Sometimes he evolves a phrase from a motive (No. 11). In No. 19 the development assumes a certain importance. It commences, not, as in most cases, with the opening theme or figure of the first section, but with a group of semiquaver notes which appears later in that section. In No. 20 Scarlatti preserves the rhythm, but with total change of notes (No. 20)—
The same number gives another interesting specimen of change of rhythm. In No. 48 he picks out an unimportant group of notes, and works it by imitation and sequence. There are some interesting specimens of development in the thirty sonatas printed from manuscripts in the possession of Lord Viscount Fitzwilliam by Robert Birchall. Scarlatti's development bars are seldom many in number.
After modulation and development, the music slides, as it were, into some phrase from the first section, and allowance being made on account of difference of key (there the music was passing, or had passed from tonic; here it is returning to that key), the rest is more or less a repetition of the first section. More or less: sometimes the repetition is literal; at other times there is considerable deviation; and shortenings are frequent. With regard to style of writing for the clavier—a few canonic imitations excepted—there is no real polyphony. Most of the sonatas are in only two parts. The composer revels in rapid passages (runs, broken chords, simple and compound), wide leaps, difficult octaves, crossing of hands, and, of course, short shakes innumerable. Domenico Scarlatti was indeed one of the most renowned virtuosi on the clavier. Handel met him at Rome in 1708, and Cardinal Ottoboni persuaded them to compete with each other. We are told that upon the harpsichord the victory was doubtful, but upon the organ, Scarlatti himself confessed the superiority of his rival.
Johann Kuhnau published a sonata for clavier in 1695, and this was followed up by a set of seven sonatas ("Frische Fruechte") in 1696, and a few years later (1700) by the seven "Bible" Sonatas. That he was the first composer who wrote a sonata for the clavier is a point which cannot be overlooked, and in the evolution of the sonata he occupies an interesting position. In the "Frische Fruechte" there is, as Dr. C.H. Parry truly remarks in his excellent article "Sonata" in Sir G. Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians, an awakening sense of the relation and balance of keys; but in the "Bible" Sonatas the form and order of the movements is entirely determined by the Bible stories. As specimens of programme-music they are altogether remarkable, and will, later on, be described in detail; they do not, however, come within the regular line of development. It was, of course, natural that such a new departure should attract the notice of John Sebastian Bach, who was Kuhnau's immediate successor as cantor of St. Thomas' School, Leipzig, and Spitta, in his life of Bach, refers to that composer's Capriccio sopra la lontananza del suo fratello dilettissimo, and reminds us that "Kuhnau as well as so many others had some influence on Bach." Of course, among the "so many others," Froberger's name—as we shall see later on from Kuhnau's preface—deserves a prominent place. In addition to what Kuhnau says, Mattheson has recorded that "Froberger could depict whole histories on the clavier, giving a representation of the persons present and taking part in them, with all their natural characters." When writing the Capriccio above named, Spitta believes that Bach was specially influenced by the last of the "Bible" Sonatas (we may perhaps add that Spitta tells us that Bach was intimately acquainted with Kuhnau). He indeed says: "We might doubt the early origin of the Capriccio if its evident 'dependence' on Kuhnau did not solve the mystery." Then, again, in a Sonata in D by Bach, published in the Bach Gesellschaft edition, Spitta calls attention to the opening subject in D, and does not hesitate to declare that "it is constructed on the pattern of a particular part of the story of Jacob's marriage" (the 3rd of the "Bible" Sonatas). His description of the Bach sonata would, doubtless, have attracted more notice but for the fact that copies of the Kuhnau sonatas were extremely rare; they were, we believe, never reprinted since the commencement of the eighteenth century. The first two have now been published by Messrs Novello & Co. The Kuhnau influence on Bach seems, however, to have been of short duration; for, after these juvenile attempts, as Spitta observes, "he never again returned to this branch of music in the whole course of a long artistic career extending over nearly fifty years." The fugue form absorbed nearly the whole attention of that master; and the idea of programme-music remained in abeyance until Beethoven revived it a century later. Emanuel Bach inherited some of his father's genius, and he may instinctively have felt the utter hopelessness of following directly in his footsteps. J.S. Bach had exhausted the possibilities of the fugue form. It was perhaps fortunate for Emanuel Bach that, while still young, he left his father's house. After residing for a few years at Frankfort-on-the-Oder, he entered the service of Frederick the Great; and at the court of that monarch he came, at any rate, directly under Italian influence.
An interesting link between Kuhnau and E. Bach is Mattheson, who published at Hamburg in 1713 a sonata dedicated to the one who can best play it (derjenigen Persohn gewidmet, die sie am besten spielen wird). The work itself not being available, the following description of it by J. Faisst (Caecilia, vol. 25, p. 157) may prove interesting:—"It (i.e. the sonata) consists of only one movement, which, considering its evidently intentional wealth of technique, might be named a Toccata. But in form this one movement clearly belongs to the sonata order, and, in fact, holds a middle place between the tendencies towards sonata-form (the term taken in the narrower sense of form of one single movement) noticeable in Kuhnau, and the more developed shape which this form has assumed within recent times. We have here three sections. In the opening one, the theme, after its first exposition in the key of G, forms the basis of various passages, and then appears in the key of the dominant, followed again by passages of larger extent and richer contents; finally, in abbreviated form, it reappears in the tonic. The second section commences in the parallel key, E minor, with passages which recall those of the first section, and continues with the theme in the same key; afterwards theme and passages are developed through the keys of A minor, C major, G major, D major and B minor; in the last, in which the theme occurs, there is a full close. As third section the first is taken Da Capo." It is evident from a remark made by Mattheson in his Der volkommene Capellmeister, which appeared at Hamburg in 1739, that some of the sonatas written during the transition period, between Corelli and E. Bach, are lost, or, at any rate, have not been discovered. Mattheson says: "During the last years successful attempts have been made to write sonatas for the clavier (formerly they were for violins or instruments of that kind); still, up to now, they have not the right form, and are capable of being touched (i.e. played) rather than of touching: they aim at the movement of fingers rather than of hearts."
A little later than Mattheson (i.e. in 1721), Pier Giuseppo Sandoni, husband of the famous vocalist Cuzzoni, published at London "Sonate per il Cembalo," dedicated to the Duchess of Pembroke. No. 1, in D minor, has three movements, an Allemande, Largo, and Giga Presto; they are all short, and in two sections; and, as a rule, the writing is in two parts. No. 2, in F, opens with an Allegro of peculiar form. It has four sections, each of which is repeated; the first (seven bars) modulates to the key of C, closing thus—
The second section (also consisting of seven bars) soon modulates to D minor, closing in that key in a manner similar to the first. The third section (ten bars) consists of modulation and slight development, and closes in A minor. The fourth section (fifteen bars) passes by means of broken chords (in imitation of the last bar of the previous section) through various keys, ending in the same fashion as the first section, only, by way probably of intensification at the end, there are seven instead of four quaver chords; the section, of course, ends in F. This movement in the matter of form offers an interesting link between Kuhnau and E. Bach. The second movement is a minuet, with variations; it certainly has a beginning, but seems endless. The 3rd Sonata, in A, resembles No. 1 in form, also in grouping of movements.
And in addition to the sonata of Mattheson, the Sei Sonatine per Violino e Cembalo, di Georgio Philippo Telemann, published at Amsterdam in 1721, will give us an approximate idea of the clavier sonata between Kuhnau and Emanuel Bach. Each number, by the way, is headed—title-page notwithstanding—a sonata. No. 1, in A major, consists of four movements, Adagio, Allegro, Largo, Allegro, and all the four are in binary form. The second is naturally the most important; the others are very short and simple. In this Allegro, besides the allusion in the dominant key to the theme at the opening of the second section there is a return to it, after modulation, in the principal key. Some of the other sonatas are longer, but No. 1 represents, roughly, the other five as to form and contents. No. 6, in F, by the way, has only three movements: Vivace, Cantabile, and Presto.
The "Sonate per Gravicembalo, novamente composte," published by Giovanni Battista Pescetti in 1739, deserve notice, since they appeared three years before the six sonatas dedicated by Emanuel Bach to Frederick the Great. They are nine in number. In style of writing, order, and character of movements, they bear the stamp of the period in which they were written. Most of the movements in binary form are of the intermediate type, i.e. they have the principal theme in the dominant at the beginning of the exposition section, and again, later on, in the principal key. There is considerable variety in the order and number of movements. No. 1, for instance, has an Adagio, an Allegro, and a Menuett with variations. No. 2, in D, has four movements: Andante, Adagio, Allegro, Giga; the short Adagio is in D minor. No. 3, in G minor: Presto and A Tempo Giusto (a dignified fugue). The influence of Handel is strong, also that of Scarlatti. Bars such as the following—
foreshadow, in a curious manner, the Alberti bass.
A great number of clavier sonatas were written about the time during which Emanuel Bach flourished: his first sonatas appeared in 1742, his last in 1787. An interesting collection of no less than seventy-two sonatas (sixty-seven by various composers; five anonymous), issued in twelve parts, under the title Oeuvres melees (twelve books, each containing six sonatas), was published by Haffner at Wuerzburg, somewhere between 1760 and 1767. And another collection of symphonies and sonatas, principally by Saxon composers, was published at Leipzig in 1762 under the title Musikalisches Magazin. We will give the names of some of the chief composers, with titles of their works, adding a few other details. It is difficult in some cases to ascertain the year of publication; and it is practically impossible to say when the sonatas were actually composed:—
BACH, Wilh. Friedemann. Sei sonate, No. 1, D major (Dresden, 1745). Sonata in C (published in Litolff's Maitres du Clavecin), and others in D and G (autographs), and in F, A, and B flat (manuscripts).
BACH, Joh. Ernst. Two sonatas (in Oeuvres melees).
NICHELMANN, Christoph. Sei brevi sonate, etc., Op. 2; Nuremberg (between 1745-1756).
HASSE. Two sonatas in E flat and B flat (manuscript; on one is the date of 1754). Two sonatas, one in D minor (only one Lento movement); the other in D major (only one Allegro movement in old binary form). These are both in the Leipzig collection named above.
BENDA, Georg. Sei sonate (Berlin, 1757). Sonatas in G, C minor, and G, also seven sonatinas (Vermischte Clavierstuecke, Gotha, 1780).
WAGENSEIL, Georg. Sonata (Oeuvres melees). Six sonatas for the harpsichord (with accompaniment for a violin). Opera prima. (A. Hummel, London.)
SCHAFFRATH, Christoph. Six sonates, Op. 2 (published by Haffner, Nuremberg, 1754).
MOZART, Leopold. Three sonatas (Oeuvres melees).
MUeTHEL, Joh. Gottfr. Three sonatas, etc. (Haffner, Nuremberg, about 1753); three sonatas (autograph).
UMSTATT, Joseph. One sonata (Oeuvres melees). Sonata consisting of only a Minuetto, Trio, and Gigue (Leipzig collection). And the two Italians—
GALUPPI. Sonate per cembalo (London); and
PARADIES, P. Domenico. Twelve sonate di gravicembalo (London).
GRETRY, Belgian composer (1741-1813), wrote "Six sonates pour le clavecin" (1768), to which, unfortunately, we have not been able to gain access.
From the two collections, etc., may be gathered many facts of interest. First, as regards the number and character of movements in a sonata. Emanuel Bach kept, for the most part, to three: two fast movements, divided by a slow one. In the second of his Leipzig collections (1780), there are two with only two movements (Nos. 2 and 3; a few bars connecting the two movements of No. 3). But among other composers there are many examples; in some sonatas, the first movement is a slow one; in others, both movements are quick, in which case the second one is frequently a minuet. All twelve sonatas of Paradies have only two movements.
Of sonatas in three movements, some commence with a slow movement followed by two quick movements. (In one instance, in E. Bach's sonatas, the 1st Collection, No. 2, in F, we even find two slow movements followed by a quick one, Andante, Larghetto, Allegro assai.) But the greater number had the usual order:—Allegro or Allegretto, Andante or Adagio, and Allegro or Presto. Thus Hasse, Nichelmann, Benda, and other composers. Now in E. Bach's Wuertemberg sonatas we found all three movements were in the same key, and there are similar cases in Hasse, Fried. Bach, Joh. Ernst Bach, etc.; but for the most part, the middle (slow) movement was in some nearly related key; in a sonata commencing in major—in the relative, or tonic minor, or minor under-dominant; and even (as in a sonata by Adlgasser) in the upper-dominant. Joh. C.F. Bach, in one instance, selected the minor key of the upper-dominant, and there are examples of more remote keys (E. Bach, Coll. of 1780, No. 1). With sonatas commencing in minor, the key selected for the middle movement was generally the relative major of the under-dominant, or that of the tonic; sometimes even tonic major. A very extraordinary example of a remote key is to be met with in Bach's Collection of 1779, No. 3: his opening movement is B minor, but his middle one, G minor.
It should be mentioned with regard to sonatas in three movements commencing in a minor key, that the last generally (in works of this period) remains and ends in minor. In modern sonatas the major is often found, at any rate before the close (see Beethoven, Op. 10, No. 1, etc.).
Baldassare Galuppi, born in 1706 on the island of Burano, near Venice, was a pupil of Lotti's. Two sets of six "Sonate per il cembalo" of his were published in London. We cannot give the date, but may state that a sonata of his in manuscript bears the date 1754 (whether of copy or composition is uncertain; anyhow, the year given acts as limit). The variety in the number of the movements of the published sonatas (one has four, some have three, some two, while No. 2 of the first set has only one) points to a period of transition. This alone, apart from the freshness and charm of the music, entitles them to notice. Much of the writing is thin (only two parts), and, technically, the music far less interesting than the Scarlatti pieces. Some of the phrases and figures, and the occasional employment of the Alberti bass, tell, however, of the new era soon about to be inaugurated by Haydn. There is one little feature in the 1st Sonata of the first set which may be mentioned. In the second section of the Adagio (a movement in binary form) of that sonata, the theme appears, as usual then, at the beginning of the second section, and, later on, reappears in the principal key, but it starts on the fourth, instead of the eighth quaver of the bar.
There was great variety in the order of movements. Sometimes a slow movement was followed by two quick movements; and the third movement was frequently a minuet. The quick movement sometimes came in the middle (Galuppi, Sonata in B flat), sometimes at the beginning (E. Bach, Coll. 1781, No. 3), sometimes at the end (E. Bach, Coll. 1779, No. 2). Then, again, sometimes all, but frequently two of the three movements, were connected, i.e. the one passed to the other without break.
So much for sonatas in two or three movements. But among the Oeuvres melees there are no less than twenty which have four movements—some in the old order: slow, fast, slow, fast; others in a new order: Allegro, Andante or Adagio, Minuet, and Allegro or Presto. Thus Wagenseil, Houpfeld, J.E. Bach, Hengsberger, and Kehl. Sometimes (as in Seyfert and Goldberg) the Minuet came immediately after the Allegro (see Beethoven chapter with regard to position of Minuet or Scherzo in his sonatas). In a sonata by Schaffrath, the opening Allegro is followed by a Fugue. Again (in Spitz, Zach, and Fischer) the following order is found: Allegro, Andante, Allegro, Minuet. In Fischer all the movements are in one key; only the Trio of the Minuet is in the tonic minor. In Spitz the Andante is in the under-dominant, the other movements being in the principal key. In Zach the Andante is in the minor tonic, and the third movement in the upper-dominant. It is well to notice that in none of these four-movement sonatas are the movements connected. The same thing is to be observed in Beethoven, with exception, perhaps, of Op. 110. In the Oeuvres melees there is only one instance of a sonata in five movements by Umstatt. It consists of an Allegro, Adagio (in the dominant), Fugue Allegro (in the relative of dominant), a Minuet in the principal key, with Trio in relative minor; and, finally, a Presto. By way of contrast, we may recall the two sonatas of Hasse, in one movement, already mentioned, and also the last of Emanuel Bach's six sonatas of 1760.
The works of many of the composers named in connection with differences in the number and order of movements are forgotten; and, in some cases, indeed, their names are not even thought worthy of a place in musical dictionaries. Yet these variations are of great moment in the history of development. And this for a double reason. First, many of the works must have been known to E. Bach, and yet he seems to have remained, up to the last, faithful to the three-movement plan. One or two of his sonatas have only two movements, none, however, has four. Secondly, the experiment of extending the number to more than three, practically passed unheeded by Dussek, Clementi, Mozart, Haydn, and by all the composers of importance until Beethoven. The last-named commenced with sonatas in four movements; but, as will be seen in a later chapter, he afterwards became partial to the scheme of three movements.
Let us now consider, and quite briefly, movements in binary form; again, in this matter, some instructive facts will be gathered from the works of Bach's contemporaries. As in Scarlatti, so here we find the first of the two sections into which such a movement is divided, ending in one case in the tonic, but, as a rule, in the dominant. There is, however, an instance of the close in the under-dominant (Muethel, No. 2 of the Sonatas of 1780), and in E. Bach, in the relative minor of the under-dominant (Sonatas of 1780, No. 3, Finale). In a minor key, the first section closed either in the key of the relative major, or that of the dominant minor—much more frequently the former.
Now, in proportion as the second part of the first section grew more definite, so also did the approach to it. Everyone knows the pause so frequently to be found in Haydn and Mozart, on the dominant of the dominant, i.e. if the key of the piece were C—
It is instructive to compare the less formal methods of approaching the new key in E. Bach and his contemporary Paradies; with them it was generally by means of a half-close. It must be remembered that E. Bach frequently has a movement quite on Scarlatti lines, i.e. without a definite second subject; also that the second subject in Bach's time was, as a rule, of secondary importance. But, curiously, in the Finale of a sonata written by Leopold Mozart (father of the great genius), after a half cadence on the dominant of the dominant, tempo and measure change (from Presto two-four, to Andante three-four, the latter remaining until the end of the first section), and the same occurs in the recapitulation section; by this means the second theme was made specially prominent. In a sonata of Scarlatti's, in D, commencing
there is a definite second subject in, by the way, the minor key of the dominant, and it is divided from the first by two bars in common time (a descending scale and a shake on a semibreve). And then again, in No. 12 of the "Libro de XII. Sonatas Modernas para Clavicordio," the second subject is divided from the first by two bars of common time (the piece is in Scarlatti's favourite measure, three-eight), an ascending scale and a shake. There are clear examples of a second subject, besides E. Bach, in Eberlin, Fleischer, J.C. Bach, and J.C.F. Bach. Yet even in Haydn's sonatas one cannot always speak of a second subject. The further history of the development of the contents of the second half of the first section shows, as it were, a struggle between two ideals. One was kinship, i.e. the endeavour to present the secondary matter in strong relationship to the opening one (the opening notes or bars of a real second subject were, indeed, frequently the same, allowance being made, of course, for difference of key); the other was contrast, i.e. the endeavour to obtain variety. Haydn was more affected by the first; Mozart by the second. In Beethoven the two are happily combined. It is important to notice the closing bars of many first sections of the period of which we are speaking. For instance, in E. Bach, the first movement of the sonata in each of the Collections of 1781 and 1783 has a concluding theme (as in the sonata of Scarlatti, and frequently evolved from the opening theme). Though in the complementary key, it cannot count as "the second subject." It appears after the complementary key has been ushered in by one cadence, and after having apparently run its course, it has been wound up by another. Then, again, the portion between the cadences just mentioned is at times filled with a true theme, so that the concluding one, like the cave of Abraham's field of Machpelah, is in reality an appendency. Sometimes there are several: the enlargement of the exposition section by Beethoven, and still more modern composers, so that it contains sometimes three, and even more themes, is practically an exposition section on Scarlatti lines, only on a larger scale: the figure has become a phrase, mere connecting passages have acquired organic meaning. The second section of Scarlatti's movement in binary form contained a few bars of development and modulation. Then a return was made to the opening key of the piece, but never to the opening theme; and in that key a portion more or less great, more or less varied, according to circumstances, was repeated. That return to the opening theme is, as we have already said, the landmark which divides binary from sonata form.
In sonatas of the middle of the eighteenth century the modulation section (in a major key) ended in various ways,—on the dominant chord (of the principal key), on the tonic chord of the relative minor, the under-dominant, or even on the tonic itself of the principal key. Later on, Haydn and Mozart kept, for the most part, to the dominant chord. Beethoven, on account of the distant, and often abrupt, modulations of his middle sections, generally marked the approach to the recapitulation by clear, and often prolonged, dominant harmony; sometimes, however, the return of the principal theme comes as a surprise. The recapitulation always remained more or less faithful to the exposition. It is interesting to note how little the character and contents of the recapitulation section have been affected in modern times by the growth of the development section. In the matter of balance the two sections of movements in binary form are more satisfactory than the two sections (two, so far as outward division is concerned) of modern sonatas. The grain of mustard-seed in the parable grew into a tree, and so, likewise, have the few bars of modulation of early days grown into an important section. However difficult to determine the exact moment at which a movement in sonata-form really ceased to be binary, there seems no doubt that that moment has now passed. We have already noted when the change commenced.
This remarkable musician was born, April 1660, at Geysing, where his grandfather, who, on account of his religious opinions, had been forced to leave Bohemia, had settled. Already in his ninth year young Kuhnau showed gifts for science and art. He had a pleasing voice, and first studied under Salomon Kruegner, and afterwards under Christian Kittel, organist of the Elector at Dresden. His next teachers were his brother Andreas Kuhnau, Alexander Hering, and Vincenzo Albrici. In 1680 the plague broke out at Dresden, and Kuhnau returned to his parents. He then went to Zittau with a certain Erhard Titius, who had been Praefectus at the Kreuzschule, Dresden, and received help from the court organist, Moritz Edelmann, also from the "celebrated" Weise. A motet of Kuhnau's was given at Zittau under his direction. After the death of Titius, Kuhnau resided for a time in the house of J.J. von Hartig, judge at Zittau. In 1682 he went to Leipzig, where D. Scherzer endeavoured to obtain for him the post of organist at St. Thomas'; Kuehnel, however, was appointed. The latter died in 1684, and was succeeded by Kuhnau, who in 1700 also became cantor of St. Thomas'. He devoted much of his time to jurisprudence. Among other things, he wrote a curious satire, entitled Der musikalische Quacksalber, published in 1700. There remain in manuscript, Tractatus de tetrachordo and Introductio ad compositionem musicalem. Kuhnau had many pupils; we know of two who afterwards became distinguished men. The one was Christoph Graupner (1683-1760), who in 1710 became capellmeister at Darmstadt. In 1722, on the death of Kuhnau, Graupner, who had been prize scholar under him, presented his testimonials, was examined, and seemed likely to become cantor as his teacher's successor. Meanwhile, however, John Sebastian Bach offered himself as candidate, and as Dr. Pepusch before Handel at Cannons in 1710, so did Graupner retire before his great rival. Mattheson, in his Ehren-Pforte (p. 410), tells us that "as a composer for the clavier, Graupner may rank as one of the best of his time." He wrote suites and sonatas for clavier. Johann Friedrich Fasch (1688-1758 or 9), the second pupil, soon after leaving Leipzig, where he had enjoyed Kuhnau's instruction from 1701-7, went to Italy, and on his return studied for a short time with Graupner. Fasch then filled various posts, until in 1722 (the very year indeed of Kuhnau's death) he became capellmeister at Anhalt Zerbst, where he remained until his death. His son, Carl Friedrich Christian, was the founder of the Berlin Singakademie. In 1756 Emanuel Bach had something to do with Fasch's appointment as clavecinist to Frederick the Great. The father, who was then seventy years of age, and who, like old Sebastian Bach, lived with the fear of God before his eyes, opposed the wish of his son to enter the service of the infidel king. Emanuel, who wished the younger Fasch to come to Berlin, wrote to the father to say "that in the land over which Frederick the Great ruled, one could believe what one liked; that the king himself was certainly not religious, but on that very account esteemed everyone alike." Bach offered to take young Fasch into his house, and to preserve him as much as possible from temptation. With regard to Graupner, it would be interesting to know whether in any of his sonatas (the autographs of which are, we believe, at Darmstadt) he worked at all on Kuhnau's lines. And with regard to Fasch, one would like to know whether he ever conversed with Emanuel Bach about his father, who taught him theory, and about Johann Kuhnau, his father's renowned teacher. It is from such by-paths of history that one sometimes learns more than from statements showing how son descended from sire, and how pupils were directly influenced by their teachers.
But it is as a musician that we are now concerned with Kuhnau, and, in the first place, as the composer of the earliest known sonata for the clavier. In 1695 he published at Leipzig—
"Sieben Partien aus dem Re, Mi, Fa, oder Terzia minore eines jedweden Toni, benebenst einer Sonata aus dem B. Denen Liebhabern dieses Instrumenten zu gar besondern Vergnuegen aufgesetzet." That is—
Seven Partitas based on the Re, Mi, Fa, or minor third of each mode, together with a Sonata in B flat, for the especial gratification of lovers of this instrument.
With respect to this sonata, Kuhnau remarks in his preface: "I have added at the end a Sonata in B flat, which will please amateurs; for why should not such things be attempted on the clavier as well as on other instruments?" In such modest fashion was ushered into the world the first sonata for clavier, or, at any rate, the earliest with which we are acquainted.
Mattheson, in Das neu eroeffnete Orchester (1713), speaks about the revival of clavier sonatas, so that it is not quite certain whether that B flat Sonata was actually the first. During the seventeenth century, sonatas were written for various instruments, with a figured bass for the cembalo.
It will, of course, be interesting to trace the influences acting upon Kuhnau. They were of two kinds: the one, Italian; the other, German. Corelli deserves first mention; and next, the Italian organist and composer, Vincenzo Albrici, capellmeister to the Elector of Saxony from 1664-88, and afterwards organist of St. Thomas', Leipzig, who is known to have encouraged Kuhnau when young, and to have helped him to learn the Italian language. But German influence must also have been strong. Of Froberger special mention will be made later on. There was one man, Diderich Becker, who published sonatas for violins and bass already in 1668, and these, if we mistake not, must have been well known to Kuhnau. Apart from the character of the music, the title of the work, Musikalische Fruelings Fruechte, and the religious style of the preface, remind one of Kuhnau's "Frische Fruechte," also of his preface to the "Bible" Sonatas. It is curious to find the quaint expression "unintelligent birds" used first by Becker, and afterwards by Kuhnau.
Let us describe briefly the above-mentioned B flat Sonata. The first movement is in common time, but the composer gave it no heading. It is generally supposed (Becker, Rimbault, Pauer) to be an Allegro; moderato might well be added, for the stately, Handelian-like (the anachronism must be excused) music will scarcely bear a rapid tempo. The movement opens with an eight-bar phrase, closing on the dominant. Then the music, evolved from previous material, passes rapidly through various related keys. After this modulation section there is a cadence to F major, and in this, the dominant key, something like a new subject appears, though it is closely allied to the first. A return is soon made to the principal key, but there is no repetition of the opening theme. After a cadence ending on the tonic (B flat), and two coda-like bars, comes a fugal movement, still in the same key. The vigorous subject, the well-contrasted counterpoint, the interesting episodes, and many attractive details help one to forget the monotony of key so prevalent in the days in which this sonata was written. This, and indeed other fugues of Kuhnau show strong foreshadowings of Handel and Bach; of this matter, however, more anon. The counterpoint to the third entry of the subject is evolved from the opening subject of the sonata. The third movement consists of a fine Adagio in E flat, in the key of the subdominant and in three-four time. Then follows a short Allegro in three-four time, of polyphonic character. At the close of the movement Kuhnau has written the opening chords of the first movement with the words Da Capo. A similar indication is to be found in one of the "Frische Fruechte" Sonatas. This repetition, also the third movement leading directly to the fourth, and the thematic connection mentioned above, would seem to show that the composer regarded the various sections of his sonata as parts of a whole.
In addition, Kuhnau wrote thirteen sonatas. The "Frische Clavier Fruechte," or "Sieben Suonaten von guter Invention u. Manier auf dem Clavier zu spielen," were published in 1696, and later editions in 1710 and 1724. In a quaint preface the composer tells us that in naming his "Fresh Fruits" "sonatas," he kept in mind all kinds of inventiones and changes (Veraenderungen) by which so-called sonatas are superior to mere partitas. Already a century before this preface was written, Praetorius had distinguished between two classes of instrumental music: the one, grave; the other, gay. The composer has also a word to say about the graces or ornaments, the "sugar which sweetens the fruits." In modern reprints of Kuhnau the sugar is sometimes forgotten. These "Frische Fruechte" were followed by six "Bible" Sonatas in 1700. The former, both as regards form and contents, are remarkable. Kuhnau was a man of deeper thought and loftier conception than Emanuel Bach, but he was fettered by fugal forms, and was fighting against them much in the same spirit in which Beethoven, a century later, fought against sonata-form, in the most general sense of that term. Beethoven was not only the more gifted, but he profited by the experiments of his predecessors, and he enjoyed the advantage of a vastly improved technique; Haydn, Mozart, Clementi, and others were the stepping-stones by which he rose to higher things. Kuhnau's attempts at sonata writing were bold, often rugged; and his experiments in programme-music, extraordinary. The latter were soon forgotten, while the clever, clear-formed sonatas of Emanuel Bach served as a gratification to the age in which he lived, and as guides to the composers who followed him. The "Frische Fruechte," standing between Corelli and Emanuel Bach, are of interest. The fugal element is still strong; and we find, not so much the smooth style of Corelli as the vigorous style of Froberger and other composers of North Germany. In character of subject-matter and in form there is decided advance as compared with the B flat Sonata. Kuhnau still seems rather limited in figures, and therefore repeats himself; then again his movements do not always show gradation of interest. Their order and number are, indeed, perplexing, and not always satisfactory. The 2nd Sonata, in D, for instance, commences with a fine Allegro, followed first by a short Adagio, commencing in the relative minor, and intermixed with short presto passages, and then by a lively movement in six-eight time. These three would form an admirable sonata, yet the composer does not end here. There is still another short Adagio, and a concluding movement; and in spite of some fine passages, these appendages form a decided anti-climax. Similar instances are to be found in the other sonatas.
Now for a few words concerning their form. Some of the opening movements (for instance, those of Nos. 1, 2) are practically based on fugue-form, with which, by the way, sonata-form is allied.
The first movement of No. 4, in C minor, is of interest, both in its resemblances to, and differences from, modern sonata-form. It has four sections:—
a. Eleven bars, beginning and ending in C minor, and containing a characteristic theme.
b. Eleven bars, beginning in E flat (i.e. relative major of opening key) and closing in G minor (i.e. key of minor dominant). It contains a theme rhythmically allied to the principal theme. This section is repeated.
c. Nine-and-a-half bars, opening in C minor, and passing to, and closing in E flat. It contains imitative passages evolved from the principal theme.
d. Exact repetition of first section, only with a close on the major chord.
The last movement of the 6th Sonata, in B flat, offers a still more striking resemblance to sonata-form; the various sections are better balanced; the middle or development section (with its close strettos) is particularly noticeable; also the recapitulation, which is not literal, as in the above example. The slow movements—occasionally very short—follow no particular plan. The fugal element is always more or less present, but some of the other movements have somewhat of a suite character; No. 6, indeed, opens with a Ciaccona. There is a certain formality about Kuhnau's music, and, for reasons already mentioned, he is occasionally monotonous. But there is an independent spirit running through his sonatas, and a desire to escape from the trammels of tradition which are quite refreshing. And there is a nobility in the style and skill in the workmanship which remind us of the great Bach. There are, indeed, resemblances to Bach, also to Handel. Scheibe, in his Critischer Musikus, mentions Kuhnau, in conjunction with Keiser, Telemann, and Handel, as one of the greatest composers of the eighteenth century. The mention of Kuhnau together with Handel deserves note. The constant discoveries which are being made of Handel's indebtedness to other composers suggest the thought that perhaps Kuhnau was also laid under contribution. No one, we think, can hear the "Bible" Sonatas without coming to the conclusion that Handel was acquainted with the works of his illustrious predecessor. We will just place side by side three passages from the "Bible" Sonatas of Kuhnau with three from a harpsichord suite of Handel—
[Music illustration: "Bible" Sonata, No. 2. KUHNAU.]
[Music illustration: Collection I., Suite 7, Ouverture. HANDEL.]
[Music illustration: "Bible" Sonata, No. 6. KUHNAU.]
[Music illustration: Collection I., Suite 7, Passacaille. HANDEL.]
[Music illustration: "Bible" Sonata, No. 6. KUHNAU.]
[Music illustration: Collection I., Suite 7, Passacaille. HANDEL.]
It should be noticed that the three Handel quotations are all from the same suite. We do not mean to infer that the above passages from Handel are plagiarisms, but merely that the Kuhnau music was, unconsciously, in his mind when he wrote them.
C.F. Becker, in his Hausmusik in Deutschland, has suggested that these sonatas were known also to Mozart, and begs us to look on this picture, the opening of a Vivace movement in Kuhnau's 6th Sonata:—
and on this, from The Magic Flute:—
Faisst, however, justly observes that though the harmonic basis is the same in both, with Kuhnau the under-part is melody, whereas with Mozart it is the reverse. He also accuses Becker—and justly, as readers may see by turning to the passage in the Zauberfloete—of not having represented the passage quite honestly. Reminiscence hunters need to be very careful.
In these sonatas, as compared with the one in B flat, the thematic material is of greater importance; and so, too, in the slow movements the writing is simpler and more melodious.
The rapid rate at which they were composed deserves mention. Kuhnau seems to have had the ready pen of a Schubert. In the preface to these "Frische Fruechte" he says: "I wrote these seven sonatas straight off, though attending at the same time to my duties (he was juris practicus, also organist of St. Thomas'), so that each day one was completed. Thus, this work, which I commenced on the Monday of one week, was brought to an end by the Monday of the following week."
Kuhnau's second (and, so far as we know, last) set of sonatas bears the following title:—
Musikalische Vorstellung Einiger Biblischer Historien In 6 Sonaten Auf dem Klavier zu spielen Allen Liebhabern zum Vergnuegen Verfueget von Johann Kuhnauen.
Musical Representation of some Bible Stories In 6 Sonatas To be performed on the Clavier For the gratification of amateurs Arranged by Johann Kuhnau.
Kuhnau was not the originator of programme-music. In the so-called Queen Elizabeth Virginal Book, in the Fitzwilliam Library, there is a Fantasia by John Munday, who died 1630, in which there is given a description of weather both fair and foul. Again, Froberger, who died in 1667, is said to have been able, on the clavier, to describe incidents, ideas, and feelings; there is, indeed, in existence a battle-piece of his. And then Buxtehude (d. 1707) wrote a set of seven Suites for clavier, in which he is said to have represented the nature and characteristics of the planets; these are, unfortunately, lost. With Froberger's music, at any rate, Kuhnau was familiar. In a long preface to these Bible stories, the composer refers to the subject of programme-music. He reminds us how from ancient times musicians have tried to rival the masters of rhetoric, sculpture, and painting in terms of their own art. And he expressly refers to programme pieces, and even to sonatas by the "distinguished Froberger and other excellent composers." The essence of his long, elaborate, and, at times, somewhat confused argument (it must be remembered that he was discussing a very difficult subject; and, also, that he was the first to write about it) is as follows:—He believes music capable by itself of producing wonderful effects, but in special cases, requiring the assistance of words. Music, he tells us, can express sadness or joy; for that no words are necessary. When, however, some individual—as in his sonatas—is referred to, words become essential, i.e. if one is to distinguish between the lamentation of a sad Hezekiah, a weeping Peter, or a mourning Jeremiah. In other language, words are necessary to render the emotion definite. Kuhnau gives a quaint illustration of the absolute necessity of words in certain cases; and that illustration is of particular interest, inasmuch as it points to still earlier, and possibly, clavier sonatas. "I remember," says our author, "hearing a few years ago a sonata composed by a celebrated Chur-Fuerst capellmeister, to which he had given the title, 'La Medica.' After—so far as I can recall—describing the whines of the patient and of his relations, the running of the latter to the doctor, the pouring forth of their sorrow, there came, finally, a Gigue, under which stood the words, 'The patient is progressing favourably, but has not quite recovered his health.' At this some mocked, and were of opinion that, had it been in his power, the author might well have depicted the joy at a perfect recovery. So far, however, as I could judge, there was good reason for adding words to the music. The sonata commenced in D minor; in the Gigue there was constant modulation towards G minor. At the final close, in D, the ear was not satisfied, and expected the closing cadence in G." In this wise was the partial recovery expressed in tones, and explained in words.
Except for the unmistakable seriousness of the author, this description might be taken as a joke, just as in one of the "Bible" Sonatas the deceit of Jacob is expressed by a deceptive cadence; but such extreme examples serve to emphasise the author's declaration that, at times, words are indispensable. Before noticing the sonatas themselves, one more quotation in reference to the same subject must be made from this interesting preface. The humblest scholar, Kuhnau tells us, knows the rule forbidding consecutive perfect consonances, and he speaks of certain strict censores who expose the clumsiness of musical poets who have refused to be bound by that rule. "But," says Kuhnau, in lawyer-like language: "Cessante ratione prohibitionis cessat ipsa prohibitio." The term musical poets (the italics are ours) is a remarkable one; Kuhnau himself, of course, was one of them.
Philipp Spitta, in his Life of J.S. Bach, devotes one short paragraph to the Bible stories, and gives one or two brief quotations from the second; but they certainly deserve a longer notice.
The 1st Sonata is entitled "The Fight between David and Goliath." It opens with a bold section, intended, as we learn from a superscription, to represent the bravado of Goliath. The giant's characteristic theme, on which the whole section is built, is as follows:—
Then follows a section in A minor. A Chorale represents the prayer to God of the terrified Israelites, while the palpitating quaver accompaniment stands for the terror which seized them at sight of the giant; the harmonies are very striking. This Chorale setting should be compared with one by Bach (Spitta's Life of Bach, English edition, vol. i. p. 216), said to owe its existence to the influence of Georg Boehm, organist at Lueneburg at the commencement of the eighteenth century. Next comes a little pastoral movement (C major, three-four time) expressive of David's courage and of his confidence in God. Then a tone-picture is given of the encounter; the heavy tread of the Philistine is heard in the bass, while semiquaver passages, evolved from a figure in the preceding movement, evidently portray the spirited youth. One realistic bar scarcely needs the explanation given by Kuhnau that it is the slinging of the stone which smote the Philistine in his forehead; and the same may be said of the "Goliath falls" in the following bar:—
[Music illustration: Il combattere fra l'uno e l'altro, e la loro contesa. Vien tirata la selce colla frombola nella fronte del gigante. Casca Goliath.]
This section, limited to sixteen bars, is not only an early, but a notable specimen of programme-music; it is realistic, but not in the least ridiculous. Rapid passages with points of imitation tell of the flight of the Philistines. A bright movement (still in C) bears the superscription, "The joy of the Israelites at their victory"; in it there is an allusion to the pastoral movement. Maidens then advance, with timbrels and instruments of music, to meet the victor, and the sonata concludes with a stately Minuet, similar in character to the Minuet in the Overture to Handel's Samson; the people are dancing and singing for joy.
The 2nd Sonata presents to us a very different picture. Here we have the melancholy of Saul driven away by means of music. There are a few realistic effects, such as the paroxysms of madness of Saul, and the casting of the javelin; but the subject is one which readily lends itself to real musical treatment. The music of the 1st Sonata was principally objective; here, however, it is principally subjective. In the first part of the work the music depicts, now the sadness, now the rage of the monarch. The opening is worthy of Bach, and presents, indeed, a foreshadowing of the opening of the 16th Prelude of the "Well-tempered Clavier." Spitta mentions the fine fugue, with the subject standing for the melancholy, the counter-subject for the madness of the king; and he justly remarks that these two images of Saul "contain the poetical germ of a truly musical development." The "dimly brooding" theme of the fugue brings to one's mind the "Kyrie eleison" fugue of Mozart's Requiem; also the theme of the Allegro of Beethoven's Sonata in C minor (Op. 111), notwithstanding the fact that Kuhnau's is slow and sad, but Beethoven's, fast and fiery. Here is the first half of the former—
Let not our readers be deceived by the word "fugue." The movement is no mere formal scholastic piece of writing such as one might expect; the preluding of David on his harp, the "javelin" episode, the paroxysms of rage give to it rather the character of a free fantasia. One word with regard to the paroxysm passages. We quoted above a sentence from the preface respecting the violation of the rule respecting consecutive consonances by certain "poet musicians." Kuhnau, under this plural mask, was, as we have mentioned, certainly referring to himself, for in another part of the preface he specially calls attention to the consecutive fifths by which he depicts the disordered mind of King Saul. This first movement, opening in G minor, ends on the chord of G major. We now come to a movement (B flat) entitled "The Refreshing Melody from David's Harp." The following is part of David's soothing theme:—
At first it is not heard in its entirety. The sweet singer of Israel plays it, or sometimes only the first two bars, in various keys, and with varied harmonisation, as if watching the king and trying the effect on him of different modulations. Besides in the principal key, it appears several times, and in succession, in the relative minor, then in the minor key of the supertonic. The key of the subdominant enters with refreshing effect; after that, a return is made to the principal key, which continues until the close of the movement. Between each delivery of the theme, occur passages similar to the following:—
as if to denote the restlessness of the king. And as the character of the music, especially towards the close, suggests piano and pianissimo, it would seem as though intended to express the gradual healing power of the music. As a piece of abstract music, the movement appears long, but not if the dramatic situation be kept well in mind. At length the sounds of the harp cease, and a closing, peaceful, and dignified movement in G minor tells of Saul's now tranquil state of mind.
The 3rd Sonata, entitled "The Marriage of Jacob," opens with a delightful Gigue; over it stands the superscription, "The joy of the family of Laban at the arrival of their relation Jacob." The beginning of the second section has, as usual, the subject inverted. The music is gay and sparkling. Then comes a section illustrative of Jacob's seven years' service for a wife. The music expresses effort and fatigue, but by way of musical contrast sprightly bars intervene from time to time, to represent happy moments when the lovers meet. Further on we have the bridal-song of the companions of Rachel: a short, quaint, and delicate movement in minor and in triple time. It commences thus:—
A short section follows, full of rapid semiquaver passages and points of imitation (such a mode of procedure is frequently adopted by the composer); and then comes a sudden change in the character of the music. No tempo is marked, but, evidently, it must not be rapid. It is a tone-picture of the deception practised by Laban upon Jacob when he substituted Leah in place of Rachel. At first, it is a free recitative. A quotation of a few bars will give a good idea of the extraordinary harmonies and rhythmical figures:—
The Fugue, short and vigorous, has a characteristic theme:—
A new section expresses Jacob's happiness until he discovers the deceit practised on him. The exact moment of displeasure is indicated by a superscription; the latter, however, was scarcely necessary—the notes speak for themselves. For there are reminiscences of the Laban recitative, of the fugue theme, and also (in augmentation) of the counter-subject. This is, indeed, an early instance of the employment of representative themes. The composer then naively orders the section descriptive of the wedding festivities to be repeated, to illustrate the second marriage of Jacob with the beloved Rachel.
The 4th Sonata deals with Hezekiah's mortal sickness and recovery. It is shorter than the preceding ones, and of simpler structure. It opens with slow, sad music: the prophet of God has summoned the king to prepare for death. His ardent prayer to heaven is naturally expressed by a well-known Chorale, supported by most effective polyphonic harmony. After a short thematic working of a figure from the Chorale, the latter is submitted to fresh treatment: the movement (in six-four time) somewhat resembles the old Corrente. The sonata concludes with a lively movement in binary form. It is intended to depict the king's joy at his recovery. There are a few bars adagio in each section: Hezekiah recalls the past. This is the only one of the sonatas which, as abstract music, would be satisfactory without any programme.
No. 5 is entitled "Gideon, the Saviour of Israel." From a musical point of view it is the least interesting of the set, yet it contains some curious programme effects. It will be remembered that a sign from heaven was given to Gideon: the fleece was to be covered with dew, but the ground to remain dry; the next night, however, the order of things was reversed. Kuhnau expresses the latter by giving a theme in contrary motion. This may almost be described as punning in music. The composer, however, meant it seriously; from the tone of his preface, and the narration, with comments, which he has prefixed to each sonata, in addition to the explanatory words over the music itself, it is clear that his aim was to elucidate and intensify the Bible stories by means of his art. He was a man, apparently, of deep religious belief.
The battle-picture is a curiosity, but, as music, of little value. The flight of the Midianites is depicted in the following primitive manner:—
The 6th (and last) Sonata bears the title, "The Tomb of Jacob." We have, at first, mournful music: the sons of the Patriarch are standing round the deathbed. At length Jacob dies, and they "ponder over the consequences of the sad event." A quiet, expressive theme
is then treated fugally, and with marked effect. Then comes the journey from Egypt to the land of Canaan. The bass, progressing in quavers, expresses motion. From time to time a curious syncopated semiquaver figure is heard in the upper part: it may be intended to represent sobbing. The following quotation, including one of these "sobbing" passages, will give a good idea of the character of this section—
A short, solemn phrase is headed, "The Burial of Israel." Then a finely worked-out fugal section depicts the great grief of the bystanders. It is in four parts, but in one place the addition of a fifth part and stretto treatment render the feeling of grief more intense. A peaceful closing section in the major key and in triple time expresses the consoled minds of the survivors.
From this resume of these "Bible" Sonatas, it will be seen that they have nothing in common with the ordinary sonata of the time in which they were written. They were bold attempts at programme-music; and, as we have already said, the form is entirely determined by the subject-matter.
In the old edition of these "Bible" Sonatas, in addition to the preface of which we have made mention, Kuhnau has related the Bible stories in his own characteristic language. We give a translation of the first two, as specimens.
I. The Combat between David and Goliath
The portrait given in Scripture of great Goliath is something quite uncommon: a monster of nature appears, a giant, tall as a tree. Six ells will not suffice to measure his length; the high helmet of brass which he wears on his head makes him appear still taller; and the scaly coat of mail, the greaves of brass placed about his legs, together with the enormously heavy shield which he carries, also his strong spear, tipped with iron, like unto a weaver's beam, sufficiently show that he is of mighty strength, and that all these exceedingly heavy loads do not inconvenience him in the slightest. If the mere description of this man creates fear, how much greater will not the terror of the poor Israelites be when the living image of this their enemy appears before them. For he stands before them in his brazen armour, rivalling the sun in brilliancy, makes with the rustling of his armour a terrible din, and snorts and bellows as if he would devour them at one mouthful; his words sound in their ears like dreadful thunder. He holds in contempt his enemies and their equipage, and demands that a hero be sent out to him from their camp; this combat is to show whose shoulders shall bear the yoke of bondage. By this means he imagines that the sceptre will soon pass from the Israelites to the Philistines. But a miracle is about to happen! When courage fails all the heroes of Israel, when the giant has only to show himself, to cause them to flee, when, also, the terrible warrior continues, according to his custom, to pour contempt on the enemy, David, a slim, courageous stripling, a simple shepherd-boy, then appears, and offers to fight the bully. He is accused of rashness. This, however, troubles David but little; he adheres firmly to his heroic resolution, and seeks audience of King Saul. By God's help, he had fought with a bear and a lion who had taken from him a lamb, had snatched the prey from the jaws of these cruel beasts, and, further, had slain them. Thus he hoped would end the struggle with this bear and lion of a Philistine. Strongly relying upon God, he advances towards the powerful giant, with a sling, and with some specially selected pebbles. Then the Philistines think to themselves, "Now will the great hero blow away the enemy like a speck of dust, or kill him as he would a fly." All at once Goliath becomes terrible in his rage, and raves, uttering frightful oaths at David, declaring that he is treated as if he were a dog, and that David comes to him with shepherd's staff, and not with weapons worthy of a warrior. David, however, is fearless. He relies on his God, and prophesies to the enemy that, though without sword, spear, or shield, he will cast Goliath to the ground; that he will cut off his head, and leave his carcase as food for birds and wild beasts. Hereupon David rushes at the Philistine, wounds him in the forehead with a sharp stone cast from his sling, so that Goliath falls to the ground. Before he has time to rise, David, making use of his opportunity, slays him with his own sword, and bears away from the field of battle, the hewn-off head as a trophy of victory. As formerly the Israelites fled before the snorting and stamping of the great Goliath, so now flee the Philistines in consequence of the victory of young David. Thus they give opportunity to the Israelites to pursue them, and to fill the roads with the corpses of the slain fugitives. It is easy to imagine how great must have been the joy of the victorious Hebrews. In proof of it, we learn how women came forth from the cities of Judea, with drum, fiddle, and other musical instruments, to meet the victors, and sang alternately: "Saul hath slain his thousands, but David his ten thousands."
Thus the sonata expresses—
1. The stamping and defying of Goliath.
2. The terror of the Israelites, and their prayer to God at sight of the terrible enemy.
3. The courage of David, his desire to humble the pride of the giant, and his childlike trust in God.
4. The contest of words between David and Goliath, and the contest itself, in which Goliath is wounded in the forehead by a stone, so that he falls to the ground and is slain.
5. The flight of the Philistines, and how they are pursued by the Israelites, and slain by the sword.
6. The exultation of the Israelites over their victory.
7. The praise of David, sung by the women in alternate choirs.
8. And, finally, the general joy, expressing itself in hearty dancing and leaping.
II. David curing Saul by means of Music
Among the heavy blows dealt to us at times by God, for holy reasons, are to be counted bodily sicknesses. Of these one can in a real sense say that they cause pain. Hence the invention of that physician of Padua was by no means ridiculous, who thus represented in picture-form, over his house-door, the various sicknesses: a man attacked by many dogs and gesticulating wildly, through pain. To each of these dogs was given a name, and each acted accordingly. The dog, Gout, was biting the man's foot; the dog, Pleurisy, his loins; Stone, his kidneys; Colic, his belly, and so on. Finally, a great sheep-dog, representing daily fever, had thrown the man to the ground. The inventor could easily have known (for that he did not require any special experience) that sicknesses act upon men in a manner not less gentle. By the exercise of patience, pain can at length be conquered, although the soul, so intimately combined with the body, must feel it not a little. But when the soul is attacked by sickness, patience always gives way; for bodily, cannot in any way be compared with mental, suffering. Inner anguish shows itself in restless gestures. Scripture takes us into a lazaretto of such afflicted persons. Among others, we meet with a royal and singular patient. Saul is his name. Of him we read: "The spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and he was vexed by an evil spirit from the Lord." Where God is absent, and the Evil One present, there must dwell all manner of evil. The hateful aspect of this man in his paroxysms of pain can readily be imagined. His eyes turn the wrong way, and sparks of fire, so to speak, dart out one after the other; his face is so disfigured, that human features can scarce be recognised; his heart casts forth, as it were, a wild, stormy sea of foam. Distrust, jealousy, envy, hatred, and fear burst forth from him. Especially does the javelin, constantly flying from his hand, show that his heart rages fiercely with anger. To sum up: his soul-sickness is so great that the marks of hellish tortures can be clearly traced. At lucid intervals (lucidis intervallis) or quiet hours, the tortured king realises his indescribable evil; and he therefore seeks after a man who can cure him. But under such extraordinary circumstances can help be hoped for? From human arts, Saul could not expect any salvation. But God sometimes works wonders among men. So he sends to him a noble musician, the excellent David, and puts uncommon power into his harp-playing. For when Saul, so to speak, is sweating in the hot bath of sadness, and David plays only one little piece, the king is at once refreshed, and brought into a state of repose.
Thus the sonata represents—
1. Saul's sadness and madness.
2. David's refreshing harp-playing, and
3. Tranquillity restored to the king's mind.
BERNARDO PASQUINI: A CONTEMPORARY OF J. KUHNAU
In the year 1637 was born at Massa de Valnevola (Tuscany) Bernardo Pasquini, who is said to have been one of the most distinguished performers on the organ and also the harpsichord. He studied under Loreto Vittori and Antonio Cesti, but his real master was evidently Palestrina, whose scores young Bernardo studied with fervent zeal. He was appointed organist of Santa Maria Maggiore, Rome, and, according to the monument erected to his memory by his nephew, Bernardo Ricordati, and his pupil, Bernardo Gaffi, in the church of San Lorenzo in Lucina of that city, the composer was for a time in the service of Battista, Prince Borghese. The inscription runs thus:—
"Bernardo Pasquino Hetrusco e Massa Vallis Nevolae Liberianae Basilicae S.P.Q.R. Organedo viro probitate vitae et moris lepore laudatissimo qui Excell. Jo. Bap. Burghesii Sulmonensium Principis clientela et munificentia honestatus musicis modulis apud omnes fere Europae Principes nominis gloriam adeptus anno sal. MDCCX. die XXII. Novembris S. Ceciliae sacro ab Humanis excessit ut cujus virtutes et studia prosecutus fuerat in terris felicius imitaretur in coelis. Bernardus Gaffi discipulus et Bernardus Ricordati ex sorore nepos praeceptori et avunculo amantissimo moerentes monumentum posuere. Vixit annos LXXII. menses XI. dies XIV."
Pasquini enjoyed reputation as a dramatic composer, and the success of an opera of his performed at the Teatro Capranica, Rome, during the festivities in honour of Queen Christina of Sweden (1679), is specially noted; or, according to Mendel, he wrote two successful operas, one for the opening of the Teatro Capranica, and a second for the festivals. He also wrote an oratorio: La Sete di Christo. Pasquini died in the year 1710.
But, it will be asked, Why is he mentioned in a book which is concerned with the sonata? It is known that he was a skilful performer on the harpsichord, and some Toccatas and Suites of his appear to have been published in a collection of clavier music at Amsterdam in 1704. Fetis, in his Biographie Universelle des Musiciens, even states that he wrote sonatas for gravicembalo. Here are his words:—
"Landsberg possedait un recueil manuscrit original de pieces d'orgue de Pasquini, dont j'ai extrait deux toccates, composees en 1697. Ce manuscrit est indique d'une maniere inexacte dans le catalogue de la bibliotheque de ce professeur (Berlin, 1859) de cette maniere: Pasquini (Bernardo) Sonate pei Gravicembalo (libro prezioso). Volume grosso E scritto di suo (sua) mano in questo libro. Ce meme catalogue indique aussi de Bernard Pasquini: Saggi di contrapunto—Anno 1695. Volume forte. E scritto di suo (sua) mano in questo libro. Malheureusement ces precieux ouvrages sont passes en Amerique avec toute la bibliotheque musicale du professeur Landsberg."
Whether these precious volumes actually went to America seems doubtful. Anyhow both volumes are now safely housed in the Berlin Royal Library. It may be mentioned that the first contains no real sonata: its contents consist principally of suites, toccatas, variations, and fugues.
In the story of Italian instrumental music, Pasquini is little more than a name. The fourth volume of A.W. Ambros' History of Music concludes thus:—"So ist uns von dem geruehmten Meister nichts geblieben, als seine Name u. seine stolze Grabschrift in San Lorenzo in Lucina." (Thus of the famous master (i.e. Pasquini) nothing remains except his name and his proud monument in San Lorenzo in Lucina). The writer of the article "D. Scarlatti," in Sir George Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians, remarks that the famous harpsichord player and composer "has been called a pupil of Bernardo Pasquini." But he considers this "most improbable, seeing that Pasquini was of the school of Palestrina, and wrote entirely in the contrapuntal style, whereas Domenico Scarlatti's chief interest is that he was the first composer who studied the peculiar characteristics of the free style of the harpsichord."
Of Pasquini as a performer on the harpsichord, Mattheson relates "how on his visit to Rome he found Corelli playing the violin, Pasquini the harpsichord, and Gattani the lute, all in the orchestra of the Opera-house." And, once more, in the notice of Pasquini in the same dictionary, we are informed that the composer "exercised a certain influence on German musicians." In C.F. Weitzmann's Geschichte des Clavierspiels there is an interesting reference to some Toccatas of Pasquini published in "Toccates et suites pour le clavecin de MM. Pasquini, Paglietti et Gaspard Kerle, Amsterdam, Roger, 1704." A Toccata was published (most probably one of those in the above work) by I. Walsh in his
Second Collection of Toccates, Vollentarys and Fugues made on purpose for the Organ and Harpsichord Compos'd by Pasquini, Polietti and others The most Eminent Foreign Authors.
Of Polietti, court organist at Vienna before J.S. Bach was born, Emil Naumann has, by the way, given an interesting account in an article "Ein bisher unbekannt gebliebener Vorgaenger Seb. Bach's unter den Italienern" (Neue Berl. Mus.-Ztg. Jahrgang 29). The Toccatas of Pasquini, published by Roger, and a so-called "Sonata," printed by Weitzmann in the work just referred to, constitute, we believe, all that has hitherto appeared in print of this composer.
And yet surely Pasquini may lay claim to a place in the history of instrumental music and the sonata, for he not only wrote suites, but also sonatas for the harpsichord, or, to be quite exact, for two harpsichords. Some, at any rate, of his music is to be found in the British Museum. There are three volumes (Add. MSS. 31,501-3). On the fly-leaf of the first is written:—
"Ad Usum Bernardi Felicij Ricordati de Baggiano in Etruria."
Then comes in pencil a note probably made when the volumes came into the possession of the British Museum:—
"These are original MSS. by the hand of Bernardo Pasquini, 1637-1710, the greatest organist of Italy in the second half of the 17th century, and written for his nephew B. Ricordati. They are the only MSS. of Pasquini known to be in Europe. This vol. is dated at the end, Dec. 3, 1704; at the beginning, May 6, 1703."
And now for its contents. The first piece is a short suite, consisting of a Tastata (the old term for Prelude), a Corrente and an Aria; and it shows that Pasquini could write homophonic as well as polyphonic music. Then follows a piece in the key of D major, headed
"A due Cembali, 1704, Bernardo Pasquini,"
which consists of three movements. First one commencing with chords, after which, fugal imitation. Next we have a fugal movement, like the preceding one, in common time; lastly, one in six-eight time. All three movements are in the same key. The part for each cembalo is written on a separate stave, the one below the other. Only the bass notes are written, and the upper parts are indicated by figures. But this will be clearer presently, for we shall give one or more illustrations. At the close of the six-eight movement is written fine, and on the following page another piece begins in C major, marked merely 2a, commencing thus:—
This theme reminds one of Bach's Adagio from the 2nd Organ Concerto—
or even Handel's "Along the Monster Atheist strode." The movements of this second piece are similar in structure and character to those of the first. Next we have a piece of lighter character in two movements, and, apparently, for one cembalo: there is, of course, only one bass part (figured). At the commencement is merely marked Basso continuo. The following piece is headed 3a Sonata (3rd Sonata). It is in the key of D minor, and it has three movements, all in the same key. Now, as all the pieces for two cembali in the volume after this are marked as sonatas, coupled with the fact that before this 3rd Sonata there are two pieces for two cembali, the latter of which is marked 2a (second), we may conclude that these two are also sonatas. The piece for one cembalo between the 2nd and 3rd Sonatas is, as we have remarked, of lighter character, and was possibly considered a suite. After the 3rd Sonata comes a fourth, then a Basso continuo (containing, however, by exception, more than one suite), and so on, alternately, until the 14th Sonata is reached. Then follows the last piece in the volume. The superscription, "For one or two cembali," leads us to believe that the preceding Basso continuo numbers were intended for one cembalo. It should be stated that movements in binary form are rare among the sonatas, frequent among the Basso continuo pieces,—another reason for considering the latter suites.
The structure of the 3rd Sonata is extremely simple. The first, probably an Allegro moderato, opens with a bold characteristic phrase, which is repeated in the second bar by the second cembalo; points of imitation, in fact, continue throughout the movement. At the seventh bar there is modulation to the dominant, and at the ninth, to the subdominant, in which the opening theme recurs. A stately antiphonal passage leads back to the principal key, and the movement concludes with a cadence such as we find in many a work of Bach's or Handel's. The Adagio opens with short phrases for each instrument alternately. A new subject in the relative major is treated in imitative fashion. After a return to the opening theme, also an allusion to the second theme, a new figure is introduced, but the movement soon comes to a close. This slow movement brings to one's mind "The Lord is a Man of War," and the major section of the duet, "Thou in Thy Mercy," in Handel's Israel in Egypt. The third movement, in structure, much resembles the first; the music is broad and vigorous. The closing bars suggest the stringendo passage and presto bars in the coda of the Scherzo of the "Choral Symphony." Of course it is disappointing to have only the bass parts for each instrument. The volume, as we have already stated, was for the use of Ricordati, and probably the uncle and nephew performed these sonatas together. Musicians will be able to write out the figured basses, and thus form some idea of the music. The figures are an outline of what was in the composer's mind; but these basses, like those of Bach and Handel, so simple, so clear to the composers who penned them, will always remain more or less a crux criticorum. It will be noticed that the three movements, as in some of Corelli's sonatas, are all in the same key.
We now give the opening bars of the three movements of the piece for one or two cembali:—
All the other sonatas are more or less after the pattern of the one given. The other two volumes contain suites, airs with variations, arias, and a quantity of short figured basses, apparently as studies.
Before closing this short chapter we will add a word or two about Italian music for the harpsichord at the beginning of the eighteenth century. A recent writer remarks that "Domenico Scarlatti seems to spring full-armed into the view of history." But his father, the renowned opera-writer, Alessandro Scarlatti, wrote music for the harpsichord, also his pupil, Gaetano Grieco, who succeeded him as Professor at the Conservatorio dei poveri di Gesu Cristo (Naples) in 1717. The influence of the master can be clearly traced in the music of the pupil; and, if one may judge from the simpler character of Grieco's music as compared with that of D. Scarlatti, he, too, was a predecessor. Grieco is said to have been born about 1680; D. Scarlatti was born in 1683; but this, of course, decides nothing as to the dates of their compositions. The harpsichord music of G. Grieco has both character and charm, and it is indeed strange that none of his pieces have been included either in the Tresor des Pianistes, the Maitres du Clavecin, or Pauer's Collections of old music.
This chapter is headed: "A Contemporary of Kuhnau." The latter published all his known sonatas by the year 1700, while the dates assigned to the Pasquini sonata volume are, as we have seen, 1703-4. But at that time Pasquini was over sixty years of age; it is therefore more than probable that he was really the predecessor of the German master as a writer of clavier sonatas.