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Title: A Complete History of Music
       for Schools, Clubs, and Private Readings

Author: Winton James Baltzell

Release Date: March 20, 2017 [EBook #54392]

Language: English

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Title Page.




Contributions by

With Portraits,
Reproductions of Instruments
and Musical Examples


Copyright, 1905, by THEO. PRESSER.

British Copyright Secured.

[Pg v]


The plan of arrangement used in this book has in view a combination of the recitation and lecture systems, and affords an opportunity for teachers to apply the best principles of both. The paragraph headings should be thoroughly fixed in mind and close attention should be given to the words in heavy type and Italics that occur in the body of a paragraph; together they form a convenient outline for the lesson. The questions at the end of each lesson are to be used to test the pupils’ mastery of the lesson material; all available works of reference should be consulted for fuller information than the limited space of one book will admit of, each member of the class preparing one or more abstracts to be read before the class. The review outlines and suggestions are to be used in the same way, special attention being given to written answers such as would be required in an examination.

With a view of furnishing the reader a considerable amount of material on the growth of music as an art, biographical sketches have been made short, especially since so many excellent works of that description are available at a small price. Emphasis has been laid on the work of the men who developed music, on the influences which shaped their careers and the permanent value of their contributions to music. A clear knowledge of how music reached its present state is not to be had by studying books, biographical and critical; the works of the composers must be examined, played and sung, compared, analyzed as to methods of construction (Form) and expression (Melody, Harmony and Rhythm), so that the student may appreciate the change from simple, elementary processes to the free, polyphonic style found in the complex modern piano and orchestral scores. Reference is made to representative [Pg vi] compositions by classical and modern composers, which are part of the average teaching repertoire. The works of the earlier composers are not, however, readily accessible, although good examples of the style of the 16th and 17th centuries are in the cheap editions of Peters, Litolff, Augener, Breitkopf and Härtel, and Ricordi.

The plan of this book provides for two lessons a week for thirty weeks. This will occupy a school year and allow time for quizzes, reviews and examinations. If more time is available, the work may be divided into four, five or six terms and stress laid on the study of representative compositions, the preparation of short papers on the suggested topics, adding, as a feature to interest friends and music lovers generally, public programs including music.

Musical clubs will find in this book material for several years’ programs, special attention having been given to the lessons on modern composers and their music, the suggestions as to class-work applying with equal force to the study classes of clubs. The individual reader should follow out the suggested historical and biographical parallels which help so strongly to fix in the mind the periods in which composers lived.

Lessons III to VI were prepared by Dr. H. A. Clarke, of the University of Pennsylvania; Lessons VIII to XIV by Mr. Arthur L. Judson, of Denison University; Lessons XV and XVI by Mr. Preston Ware Orem, Mus. Bac., of Philadelphia; Lessons XVII to XIX, XXI to XXIII, XXXVII to XL by Mr. Frederic S. Law, of Philadelphia; Lessons XXV to XXXIII by Mr. Clarence G. Hamilton, A. M., of Wellesley College; Lessons XLI to XLVIII by Mr. Edward Burlingame Hill, A. B., of Boston; Lessons L to LVI by Mr. Arthur Elson, of Boston.

W. J. B.

November 1, 1905.

September 1, 1906.

[Pg vii]


Preface v
Introduction 17
Lesson I. Music of the Chinese, Japanese and Hindoos 24
Lesson II. Music of the Babylonians, Egyptians and Hebrews 35
Lesson III. Music of the Greeks: Scales 46
Lesson IV. Music of the Greeks (Concluded) 54
Lesson V. Ecclesiastical System 61
Lesson VI. Notation 70
Lesson VII. Music Outside the Church 77
Lesson VIII. The Causes of Polyphonic Development  
    and the Importance of the Polyphonic Era 88
Lesson IX. The Paris School 99
Lesson X. The Gallo-Belgic School 107
Lesson XI. The English School 115
Lesson XII. The School of the Netherlands 123
Lesson XIII. The Italian School 131
Lesson XIV. Palestrina and His Influence on the  
    Music of the Italian School. The Madrigal 139
Lesson XV. Musical Instruments 147
Lesson XVI. The Organ, Organ Playing and Organ Music 156
Lesson XVII. The Beginning of the Opera 171
Lesson XVIII. The Oratorio. Development of the Opera 179
Lesson XIX. Alessandro Scarlatti and the Neapolitan School 187
Lesson XX. Singing and Singers 195
Lesson XXI. Opera in France and England 203
Lesson XXII. The Opera in Germany. Handel and Gluck 211
Lesson XXIII. Mozart to Rossini 219
Lesson XXIV. The Oratorio 226
Lesson XXV. The Evolution of the Pianoforte 236
Lesson XXVI. The Early Italian Clavier Composers 246
Lesson XXVII.[Pg viii] The Early English and French Clavier Schools 255
Lesson XXVIII. The German Polyphonic Clavier Schools 263
Lesson XXIX. The German Sonata Composers to Haydn 274
Lesson XXX. Franz Joseph Haydn 283
Lesson XXXI. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart 291
Lesson XXXII. Ludwig van Beethoven 299
Lesson XXXIII. Beethoven and the Sonata 307
Lesson XXXIV. The Violin and its Makers 315
Lesson XXXV. Violin Playing and Violin Music 322
Lesson XXXVI. The Orchestra and Absolute Music 334
Lesson XXXVII. The Romantic Opera. Weber, Spohr, Marschner 345
Lesson  XXXVIII. The French School of the 19th Century 353
Lesson XXXIX. The Italian School of the 19th Century 361
Lesson XL. Richard Wagner’s Music Dramas. Other Schools 369
Lesson XLI. Piano Playing and Composition: Clementi to Field 380
Lesson XLII. Franz Peter Schubert 391
Lesson XLIII. Weber. Mendelssohn 397
Lesson XLIV. Robert Schumann 407
Lesson XLV. Frederic Chopin 417
Lesson XLVI. Franz Liszt 425
Lesson XLVII. Pianists and Teachers Since Liszt. I 436
Lesson XLVIII. Pianists and Teachers Since Liszt. II 446
Lesson XLIX. The Art Song. Oratorio after Mendelssohn 454
Lesson L. The Symphonic Poem in Germany 463
Lesson LI. German Opera Since Wagner 472
Lesson LII. Old and New Schools in France 481
Lesson LIII. Musical Regeneration in Italy 491
Lesson LIV. England and the Netherlands 499
Lesson LV. National Schools: Bohemia and Scandinavia 507
Lesson LVI. The Russian School 515
Lesson LVII. Music in the United States 525
Lesson LVIII. American Composers:  
    Works in Large Instrumental Forms 535
Lesson LIX. American Composers: Vocal Forms;  
    Piano and Organ.—Musical Literature 543
Lesson LX. Musical Education 552
Index 561

[Pg 17]


Purpose of the Study of the History of Music.—The purpose of the study of the history of music is to trace the development of the many phases which make up modern music which we cannot but regard as a great social force, an intellectual, an uplifting force. If we consider it from the material side, it is one of magnitude; we need but think of the money invested in buildings, opera houses, schools, concert halls, publishing plants, factories, the sums spent on musical instruments, instruction, concerts, opera, etc., to recognize the commercial side. When we think of the great army of persons whose livelihood is conditioned upon musical work, upon the great audiences that support musical enterprises, we recognize the magnitude of music in a social sense, and that it offers a large field for study. These conditions, interesting as they are, represent only phases of musical work, not Music itself, and serve to show the place which Music occupies in the life of today. Our investigation is, then, a consideration of the origin and development of Music, and the means by which it took shape.

The Place of Intellect in Music.—When we think of Music we have in mind an organization of musical sounds into something definite, something by design, not by chance, the product of the working of the human mind with musical sounds and their effects upon the human sensibilities. So long as man accepted the various phenomena of musical sounds as isolated facts, there could be no art. But when he began to use them to minister to his pleasure and to study them and their effects, he began to form an art of music. The story of music is the record of a series of attempts on the part of man to make artistic use of the material which the ear accepts as capable of affording pleasure [Pg 18] and as useful in expressing the innermost feelings. The raw material of music consists of the sounds considered musical, the human voice, various musical instruments and the use of this material in such ways as to affect the human sensibilities; that is, to make an impression upon the hearer which shall coincide with that of the original maker of the music who gives to his feelings expression in music. We find in music, as in other branches, that man tries to reduce phenomena to order and to definite form. The mass of musical material is vague, incoherent, disorganized. Man seeks to devise ways to use it intelligibly, and to promote esthetic pleasure. If musical sounds are to be combined simultaneously or successively, this combination should be in accordance with design, not haphazard, just as the builder of the house or the temple puts together his material according to a regular plan. Those who have been leaders in the Art of Music have labored in two ways: to extend the limits of expression in music, and to find the means to contain that expression. At one period stress is laid on making music expressive, at another on the medium for conveying expression to others, the latter being comprehended in the term Form. In connection with this statement, the student will do well to remember that every period of great intellectual activity, social or political, reacted upon music and the other arts; to illustrate, we need but refer to the formal, even artificial character of the music of the period preceding the French Revolution and the freedom and vigor imparted by the spirit of Romanticism which followed in the wake of that great political movement, a difference strikingly illustrated in the music of Haydn and Beethoven, Clementi and Schumann. There is also a constant action and reaction of the various racial streams of power such as the Aryan on the Semitic, East upon the West, Latin upon the Teuton, Folk-music upon the Scholastic.

The Principles in Music.—The leading principles in music are: Rhythm, Melody, Harmony, Color or Tone Quality, and in the execution of works of music, Dynamic Contrast, an essential factor in Expression. [Pg 19] For ages after the birth of Music, Rhythm and Melody were the only real elements, Rhythm being first recognized. The potency of Rhythm, strong and irresistible in the early days of the race and with primitive man, is still acknowledged. Music that lacks a clearly-defined rhythm does not move the masses. Witness martial music, the dance airs and the “popular song.” All primitive languages were characterized by concise, figurative and picturesque qualities; they easily changed from the ordinary into the lofty and the impassioned. Intonation and changing inflection had much to do with meaning, as is the case with the Chinese language of today. Historians ascribe the origin of Melody to this principle of vocal expression. For years prior to the Christian Era, and long after, Rhythm and Melody were the only accepted elements of Music, and the art remained in a low grade of development. It was not until Harmony appeared, clear and unmistakable, that Music was able to claim a position equal to that accorded to the sister-arts, Poetry, Painting, Sculpture and Architecture. These principles, Rhythm, Melody and Harmony, became, when couched in the forms of expression adopted by the great masters, what we call Modern Music, and the story is one of a development from extreme simplicity to the complexity illustrated in modern orchestral scores.

Means of Expression.—One more phase must be mentioned here, the means used to present to others the thoughts or feelings of the composer, that is, the human voice and its artistic use, instruments of various kinds, their primitive forms and gradual development, their use singly and in combination with other instruments. This phase is peculiarly associated with modern music; for it was not until the art had freed itself from the fetters imposed by vocal music, that absolute music, availing itself of perfected instruments, came into its own. From that time development was unprecedentedly rapid.

What is to be Brought Forward.—The history of Music is, then, a recital of facts bearing upon the development of modern music and we [Pg 20] shall lay stress on such facts as show a permanent impress and a solid contribution to progress in one or more of the lines marked out: Form, Expression, Melody, Rhythm, Harmony and Instrumental Color. In the study of a composer, the facts essential to the history of music are critical rather than biographical; not a life chronicle so much as a clear statement of what he specially contributed to forward the art. To gain an educational value, the facts of the history of music are to be studied so as to glean from them their significance, and an understanding of the causes and conditions which made them possible; then we go on to discern the consequences to which they in turn gave rise. No man works for himself and out of himself. He builds upon what others have done, and he builds for others. The student should discern the lesson in the past, and receive guidance for the future.

What We Learn from Archæology.—The history of an art such as Music must give the historical data in connection with the development of art and artists, free of all questionable and false features, and give as trustworthy, as accurate a picture of the various stages as possible. If we go backward in our research we reach a point at which ordinary records fail. If we make an inquiry into the beginnings of music we must have recourse to the findings and interpretations of Archæology. The results are by no means satisfactory. In all the digging in the ruins of the once great cities of Egypt, and Western Asia, and of Greece and Etruria as well, with perhaps one exception, no music has been brought to light, and but a few instruments, and these can scarcely be considered perfect. However, the pictorial representations on tombs, monuments, temples and houses give valuable aid, enabling scholars to reconstruct the story of music among the older civilizations. We must not forget, however, that conjecture plays a more or less prominent part in all the translations of the old hieroglyphic and cuneiform writings. We have no direct knowledge of the scales used or how the instruments were played together, what was the nature of the science and system in use. What we have is mere inference [Pg 21] from the nature of the instruments and the representations of musicians playing their instruments, together with fragments from contemporary or later writings.

What We Learn from Ethnology.—Another source open to students of the beginnings of music is the material gathered by Ethnology. Those who place stress on this means of research lay down the proposition that the primitive people of the world of today occupy a mental and social stage similar to that of the primitive races from which the civilized folk of today have sprung. Therefore, they study the music, the rude chants, the dances, the instruments, etc., of various primitive tribes, and then by comparison try to indicate the various stages through which music came to have the art germ, from which the great product we know has developed.

Some Theories.—We can give in this lesson only a few of the theories offered by those who have discussed the matter of the origin of music: The Dance, Poetry and Music form a group which cannot readily be separated; they are not independent of each other, but most intimately connected. This view fails to take account of the fact that Music which is, externally, so closely connected with the Dance and with Poetry, is, in its essence, absolutely distinct. Schopenhauer, the philosopher from whom Richard Wagner drew inspiration, holds this view very strongly. He says: “Music is quite independent of the visible world, is absolutely ignorant of it, and could exist in a certain way if there were no world; which cannot be said of the other arts.” The other arts are essentially imitative and representative; they are based upon Nature. Some writers, the Frenchman Dubos and the English philosopher Herbert Spencer among them, claim that Music does represent Nature. They say that as the painter imitates the forms and colors he sees in nature, so the musician follows the various modulations of the voice, finding there the basic conceptions of Rhythm, Melody and Color. Singing, which Spencer considers the original music, is the emphasizing and intensifying of the properties of speech. Gurney says, per contra, [Pg 22] that “Music creates audible forms, successions and combinations of tones which have no prototype in Nature and do not exist outside of Music.” Those who believe that Music is a separate entity therefore seek to trace it to a completely independent beginning.[1] Darwin offered another theory as to the way in which man arrived at Music. His idea is that the faculty of producing musical tones and rhythm was first acquired by our animal ancestors as a means of attracting the opposite sex, the faculty being developed and improved by the process of selection.

The Conception of Fixed Scales.—The question is sometimes raised: How did man reach the conception of fixed scales? Here again opinions differ. Some consider that the extreme notes were fixed by the average compass of the human voice in impassioned speech, the interval being variously divided. Others claim that along with the vocal phase of music there was an instrumental side, and that the mechanical conditions in connection with instruments had bearing in the matter of organizing sounds into a scale; the rude, primitive trumpet of wood or bark, still found among forest tribes in South America and Africa, gives a series of harmonic notes. Whistles or flutes made in prehistoric times with a series of several tones, examples of combinations of little pipes, such as those known by the name of “Pan’s Pipes,” also bear on this question. Yet the facts are few and we are compelled to satisfy ourselves with mere conjecture.

[Pg 23]

Questions and Suggestions.

Why do we consider music a force in civilization?

What do we mean by Expression in music?

The teacher will cite periods when “Expression” was the chief aim, when Form was.

Cite periods when intense political and intellectual upheaval reacted on music.

Give examples of the leading principles of Music.

What kind of facts are of importance to the history of Music?

What is the value of Archæology to the history of music?

Why is Ethnology valuable to the history of music?

Give several theories as to the origin of music.

Is the scale used by us the scale of all nations?

In preparing for recitation, students should get an outline of each lesson by the use of the paragraph headings and then work out the lesson by the use of the questions that follow. If the reference books suggested are available, additional reading should be done. A good plan is for the teacher to assign one or two paragraphs to a pupil and have the latter bring in such other information of interest as can be secured. Some questions may be grouped and pupils directed to prepare a short essay to be read before the class. In regard to dates, the suggestion is that pupils take turns, lesson by lesson, in presenting a plan by which to memorize them. When the period is one that can be related to some well-known event in general history, as the life of Charlemagne, the Norman Conquest of England, the Crusades, the Wars of the Roses, discovery of America, invention of printing, etc., it is well to do so; or make a well-known musician a contemporary of some artist, statesman, king, scientist, man of letters, etc. The teacher should be prepared in this manner for each lesson. Events before the Christian Era may be related to some event or character in Biblical history. [Pg 24]

Music of the Chinese, Japanese and Hindoos.

Sources of Our Knowledge.—When we study the music of the early period of the human race, we find no records such as we are storing today in our libraries. We must depend upon the discoveries of archæologists in the buried cities of early civilizations. Of contemporaneous books, properly speaking, tablets of music explaining the construction and methods of playing the musical instruments then in use we have few; if they exist they are in dead languages to which scholars are but slowly finding the key. It is true that some instruments have been found, but we can have no certainty that they are in perfect condition. The principal sources of the information we possess have been the paintings, decorations and sculptures on monuments and on the walls of buildings and tombs that have been unearthed. Early languages were largely pictorial, and records kept in this manner furnish us representations of the religious, martial, and social life of the early races.

Countries with a Musical Past.—The lands that offer the greatest field for the study of the music of the past are Chaldea or Babylonia and Egypt. Some of the old Greek cities, as well as cities in the western part of Asia Minor and Palestine, have been the subject of explorations. Still another country abounding in interest to the student of the music of the past is China, living, yet dead! What a contrast to Chaldea and Egypt! The civilization of the latter is dead; China, the older, is still living. These races had a common home, yet the former, having developed a high civilization and fulfilled its mission, disappeared from the face of the earth, while China, having also reached a high state of culture, has remained stagnant, all energies toward a higher level being arrested. [Pg 25]

The Common Home of the Race.—Scientists place the cradle of the human race in the high plateau of Asia, extending from Persia eastward through Thibet and including part of Manchuria. The yellow race, according to some ethnologists, is the more akin to the primitive race; the other two, the white and the black, being derived from it by emigration, change of climate and mode of living. Van Aalst, the leading writer on Chinese Music, says that “the first invaders of China were a band of immigrants fighting their way among the aborigines and supposed to have come from the country south of the Caspian Sea.” It is outside the province of this work to detail the arguments that serve to show the connection of the Chinese with the other races mentioned. Berosus, the old Babylonian historian, writes: “There was originally in the land of Babylon a multitude of men of foreign race who had settled in Chaldea.” These men are known in history by the name of Akkads or Akkadians, “from the northern mountains,” Sumerians, from the “southern mountains”; that is, the highland ranges lying to the north and east of the Euphrates Valley. There were two main types among these tribes: a yellow, black-haired people, and a red type. The records show that migrations from this central home came about by reason of famines, plagues or floods. When did the black-haired, yellow people swarm off? When did the “red” people, from which Egyptian tradition claimed ancestry, go away? Probably the Chinese were the first to leave the central home, taking with them the elements of a considerable civilization, which also formed the basis of the later Chaldean, Babylonian, Assyrian and Egyptian cultures, and through various channels, of the Etrurian and Greek.

High Place of Music Among the Chinese.—The science of music had a high place in Chinese philosophy; the sages alone comprehend the canons, and the mandarins in music are considered superior to those in mathematics. Some most interesting dates are given, showing how early the Chinese had developed a science of music. We are told that in 2277 [Pg 26] B. C., there were twenty-two writers on the dance and music, twenty-three on ancient music, twenty-four on playing the Kin and the Che, and twenty-five on construction of scales. These facts imply many years of previous development before the time when works treating of the science of music would be prepared. Confucius, the chief Chinese philosopher, wrote about ancient music in 551 B. C. Unfortunately, ancient records and books were almost entirely destroyed, 246 B. C., by order of the Emperor then on the throne; he excepted from this destruction only works on medicine, agriculture and divination. A comparison of recorded dates shows that the Chinese were writing learned works on the science of music when the Pharaohs were building the pyramids.

Sonorous Bodies.—The Chinese have always shown a fondness for instituting likenesses between things in heaven and earth, and things intellectual and material. According to their theory, there are eight sound-giving bodies: Stone, Metal, Silk, Bamboo, Wood, Skin, Gourd and Clay.

The Sheng.—One of the most important musical instruments in use among the Chinese, one that is indispensable to their temple ritual, is the Sheng. This instrument is the representative of the gourd principle; originally the bowl was formed from a portion of a gourd or a calabash, the top being covered by a circular piece of wood with holes around the margin in which the pipes, seventeen in number, are fixed; in the side of the gourd is placed a mouthpiece or tube covered with ivory, through which the player draws his breath. Each pipe is fitted with a small free reed of copper. A small hole is made in each pipe just above the bowl, which prevents a pipe from speaking when the air is drawn in by the player, unless the hole is closed by a finger. The instrument is placed to the mouth with the pipes slanting toward the right shoulder. The notes sounded by the pipes of the Sheng as they are arranged are:



giving the following scale or series of sounds: [Pg 27]



four of the seventeen pipes are mutes, placed there doubtless for purposes of symmetry.


The Kin.—The principle of the sound of silk is exemplified in the Kin or Ch’in, the strings, “made of twisted silk, being stretched over a wooden frame.” This instrument was the favorite of Confucius, the great law-giver, and in his time was of great antiquity. The number of strings was five, to agree with the five elements; the upper part was rounded, to represent the heavens; the bottom was flat, to represent the ground. The number of strings was later increased to seven, which is the favored form, tuned to G, A, C, D, E, G, A, a pentatonic scale. [Pg 28]

The Se.—Another stringed instrument is the , (also written Che), which had originally fifty strings. As now used, it has only twenty-five strings. Four kinds are in use, differing in size and in number of strings; it is customary that they should give the sound of two notes simultaneously, generally octaves. Some of these, used by the most skilful performers, have only thirteen or fourteen strings. The strings are plucked by two small ivory picks.

Flutes.—The sound of bamboo is exemplified in certain instruments of the flute family. The bamboo plant is used by the Chinese in very many ways; it is natural that they should use it for making musical instruments. There are two types of pipes or flutes: those blown at the end, as a whistle, and those blown across a hole near one end, as is our modern flute; the Chinese flutes are of the latter class. They varied in size and in the number of holes, from three to six, the little finger of each hand not being used. A popular flute, called the Ti-Tzu, has, in addition to the six finger holes, one for blowing and one covered with a thin membrane, to vary the sound. Another kind, very ancient, and much in use, according to Chinese writers during the period 2205-1122 B. C., may be called, shortly, the Tche. It has six finger holes, three near each end, and is pierced with another hole at the middle, across which the player blows. The scale is said to consist of six semitones, beginning with F, fifth line treble clef. The peculiar construction of this flute presents some acoustical problems.



Other sonorous bodies are, metal from which the Chinese make gongs, bells and trumpets—they seem to have known the principle of the slide, as in the trombone, but never developed it; stone, certain varieties, in the shape of the letter L, pierced with a hole at the angle, suspended in a frame and struck by a hammer; skin, from which drums were made; clay, from which instruments were made in shape resembling the ocarina, familiar to us. [Pg 29]

Chinese Scales.—The vocal and the instrumental music have different scales, the former diatonic—with two notes of the seven omitted, forming a pentatonic (five-tone scale), the letters of which, since F is a favorite tonic, may be represented by F, G, A, C, D. The instrumental scales are chromatic in character. When the voice is accompanied by instruments, the vocal scale is used. Singing is in unison, modified by fourths, occasionally. The singing tone is a sort of nasal sing-song, the favorite method a nasal falsetto, the mouth being nearly closed.



This represents the concluding strophes of the Hymn to Confucius. The time is very slow; each measure represents a line of four syllables; between the lines one of the instruments gives a sort of interlude.

So much space has been taken with Chinese music because the conservatism of that race has preserved instruments and music that date back to the early history of our race.



Japanese Music.—In the Japanese system we find a pentatonic scale and a semitonal division of the octave. Japanese music does not proceed in semitones, the chromatic scale being demanded by the custom of transposing a melody from one starting point to another, not more than fourteen sounds for a melody. A favorite Japanese instrument is of the clarinet type; it is called the Hichi-riki; in length it varies from a little less than nine inches to a little more. The scale as set forth by the Institute of Tokio is from G, second line, treble staff to the A above, F, fifth line, being sharped. This instrument is played by drawing in the breath. The Japanese have an instrument called the [Pg 30] Sho, similar to the Chinese Sheng. The national instrument is the Koto, which has thirteen strings, tuned thus: the first, middle C sharp, the second, F sharp a fifth lower; subsequent strings ascend in order, G sharp, A, C sharp, D, F sharp, G sharp, A, C sharp, D, F sharp, G sharp; between the fourth and fifth sounds is a third, which interval, in practice, was filled by pressing the string behind the bridge, thus increasing the tension; each string can be raised a semitone or even a tone by increasing the pressure. By this means additional notes can be secured, giving a scale identical with the Greek Dorian or ecclesiastical Aeolian. Much of the popular Japanese music is written without the extra notes, and the series of tones can be characterized as a pentatonic scale based on the natural minor. Thus:



[Pg 31] The Hindoos.—Among the Asiatic races that still retain national, although not a separate political existence, and have a musical system peculiar to themselves, the Hindoos are prominent. The Hindoos belong to the Aryan race, (from which we also sprang), and had their home originally in Central Asia, probably north of the Hindoo Koosh range. When they swarmed off from the old home they made their way down through the mountains along the river valleys to the great fertile plains of India, and conquering the aboriginal races, developed the system of caste, which has had so great an influence on their religion, literature, science and art. The old Hindoo literature shows clearly the high regard in which the art of song was held. Celebrated minstrels were maintained in the royal courts whose duty it was to chant songs in praise of their patrons. Music, or song, was just as indispensable in the religious ceremonies. One of the holy books makes the statement that “Indra rejects the offering made without music.” In time the singer became a member of the priestly caste.


The Vina.—From antiquity to the present time among the Hindoos pure instrumental music held almost equal place with song or [Pg 32] accompanied vocal music. The Hindoo instruments belong to the percussion types, trumpets and trombones, nose flute, and especially to the stringed class. It is noteworthy that the simpler kinds, in which each string gives but one tone, do not exist, whereas there are many varieties of those which have fingerboards. The oldest and most important is the Vina, which consists of a wooden pipe about four feet long attached to two gourds or resonators. The seven metal strings are stretched over nineteen bridges or frets, becoming gradually higher, and touch only the last and highest one. The other eighteen serve to fix the pitch of the tone desired, as in our guitar or mandolin, the strings being set in vibration by being plucked with a metal thimble or ring like that used by zither players. Another Hindoo instrument, considered by some as the prototype of stringed instruments played with a bow, is the Ravanastron.

Hindoo Musical Philosophy.—Hindoo myths ascribe a divine origin to music. A close connection was established between the scale and their religious ideas. Each single tone was under the protection of a nymph, and the first syllables of the names of these nymphs, according to Clement, the French historian, were given to the tones, thus: Sa, Ri, Ga, Ma, Pa, Da, Ni, seven in all, differing in that respect from the pentatonic form usually found among the early races. In their endeavor to satisfy the melody of speech, the inflections of the voice in speaking, the Hindoos divided the interval of the octave into small parts, and transposed the scale freely up and down; so it is easily conceivable that their complete system recognized 960 scales, their sacred writings speaking of 16,000. In practice they contented themselves with 36, some writers say 72. The following is given as the scale:



[Pg 33] The principal feature of Hindoo music is the melody and rhythm, the latter being very complicated. Of harmony in our sense of the word there is no sign. In accompanying the voice the Hindoos used only the pure fifth, which they considered a perfect consonance, the fourth, an imperfect consonance, and the octave.

High Esteem of Music Among the Hindoos.—Music had a high place among the Hindoos, all festivities made use of it, and the private and social life demanded it. It was used freely in the Hindoo drama, the latter calling for the dance, spoken and sung dialogue and instrumental music and songs. The main reason why Hindoo music did not develop in the past centuries doubtless lies in the fact that, as in Egypt, the ruling power was vested in the priesthood, which controlled all the arts and sciences. Music was so interwoven with their religious rites and observances, and so hedged around with irrevocable and sacred laws that the slightest alteration was considered a sacrilege. In closing this section it may be added that investigators refer the gipsies, particularly those of Hungary, who are noted for their musical temperament, to Hindoo origin, probably the pariah caste. Their music, with its wild, free rhythm and elaborate melodic embellishment, has a marked resemblance to the music of the Hindoos.


What is the source of our information as to the beginnings of music?

What countries are being explored by archæologists?

Where was the cradle of the human race?

Which branch was probably the first to “swarm off”?

How ancient are some Chinese records concerning music? [Pg 34]

What are the sound-giving bodies according to Chinese theories?

Give an example of each kind.

Describe the Sheng, Kin, Che and Tche.

What kind of scale is used in Chinese vocal music?

What is the Japanese national instrument?

What kinds of instruments did the Hindoos have? Their favorite instrument? Describe the latter.

Tell about the Hindoo scale.

Why did music among the Hindoos fail to develop? [Pg 35]

Music of the Babylonians, Egyptians and Hebrews.

History a Record of Change.—History is a record of changing conditions. Nations rise into prominence and fall again; cities are built to be torn down by conquerors; even the face of the earth has changed since the days when the scions of the Aryan race began to leave their home in Central Asia. Arms of the sea have shrunk to rivers, rivers to shallow streams, the desert sands have encroached on the once fertile valleys, and choked the springs and brooks of the meadows. Geologists tell us that the great valleys were made by the alluvial deposit washed down from the hills and mountains by the streams. The Chinese followed the course of the great rivers that made toward the eastern seas, the Hindoos toward the southern ocean, and still another “swarm” followed the great rivers Euphrates and Tigris, which came from the mountains of Western Asia. The great valley lying between the desert and the mountains, a scene of waste and ruin as far back as the time of ancient Greece and Rome, was once a most important centre of population and wealth, the home for centuries of races that had reached a high degree of culture in the arts and sciences, and the seat of what may be considered the oldest of extinct civilizations. The valley was wonderfully fertile, was brought to a high degree of cultivation and supported an enormous population. As an instance of the physical changes that have taken place in this region, it may be mentioned that about 4000 B. C., the Tigris and the Euphrates entered the sea by different mouths, instead of joining as now and in the days of Abraham, [Pg 36] the patriarch, who came from this region, and the town identified by modern scholars as “Ur of the Chaldees,” which is now 150 miles up the Euphrates, was an important seaport.

The Chaldeans.—When the Aryans came down into this valley they found already established there a people whose records are now being unearthed, called Akkads, belonging to the Mongolian family, who had reached a high degree of cultivation in art and science. The records found show that music was an important branch of study; at a very early date the harp, pipe and cymbals are mentioned, and we infer that the people were fond of singing, since many sacred hymns have been recorded in tablets. This race, joined to others, founded the Chaldean kingdom, the capital being Babylon. In the 12th century B. C., a king of Assyria, in the northern part of the Tigris valley, conquered Babylon and thus gained the ascendancy.

The Practice of Music Among the Babylonians.—In the great ruins now being excavated, tablets of clay have been found which give a vivid idea of the social and religious esteem in which music was held by the Babylonians. One of these tablets, said to date back more than three thousand years B. C., contains a representation of musicians. One strikes with a hammer upon a metal plate, another carries a reed pipe, a third plays upon a harp of eleven strings, while two others beat time or give the accent by clapping their hands. Especially rich in sculpture is the palace of Sennacherib. One of the relief decorations shows a festival procession in honor of the returning conqueror. In front walk five men, three with harps, a fourth with a kind of lyre, whose strings were struck with a plectrum; the fifth bears a double flute. Two of the harpers and the lyre player dance. Then follow six women, of whom four carry harps, one blows a double flute, while the last beats a sort of drum. Following the instrumentalists come six women and six children singing, who indicate the rhythm by clapping their hands. From the fact that in these sculptures a few soldiers indicate an army, we infer that the Babylonians made use of large [Pg 37] bodies of players and singers in their great ceremonies. These tablets indicate that the Babylonians made much use of trumpets to give signals to the armies and when great masses of the people were gathered together. That musicians were highly esteemed we judge from the fact that on one occasion Sennacherib spared the lives of musicians among his captives, all others being put to death. Since the Chaldeans, especially, were famous as astronomers and mathematicians, it is thought that they, like the Egyptian sages, had knowledge of the mathematical relations of the various intervals.


Chaldean Instruments.—Two instruments seem to be especially noticeable: the Symphonia and Sambuca. The former was carried to Palestine by the Hebrews, at the end of their captivity, and, according to their accounts, seems to have been a sort of bagpipe, an instrument particularly suited to a pastoral people like the early Chaldeans. As to the Sambuca we have no authentic knowledge; it seems, however, to [Pg 38] have been an instrument of the zither type, held horizontally and played with a plectrum.[2] A stringed instrument, struck with a hammer, called the Santir is credited to the Assyrians.

Egyptian Music.—When the great Alexandrian Library of 495,000 works of Persian, Chaldean, Hebrew, Egyptian, Greek and Roman literature was partly destroyed during Julius Cæsar’s battles with the native Egyptians, in 47 B. C., and finally, A. D. 391, by Christian fanatics, history suffered an irreparable loss. Treasures of learning in all branches, the records of early civilizations perished, never to be replaced. Today we are dependent upon the discoveries of explorers in the ruins of the great Egyptian cities, temples, tombs and pyramids. The Egyptians believed that articles of necessity to the living being were necessary to the individual in a future existence. If certain things could not, in reality, be placed in the tomb, a pictorial representation would have almost equal value in the invisible world. In Egyptian tombs pipes or “flutes” have been found, and in one instance, in the tomb of a musician, the bronze cymbals he played when alive. In the various tombs and ruins that have been examined by explorers, pictorial representations of practically every phase of Egyptian life have been found. The sources for our knowledge, almost wholly inferential, are, then, the various pictorial and sculptured representations of the Egyptian musical instruments and the manner in which they were used, and a few fragments of their sacred books, which were forty-two in number, two being devoted to music, although but one fragment has been found. It must be noted, further, that the Egyptian Government, although nominally a monarchy, limited, not absolute, was in reality theocratic. The priestly caste had final power, and the rules and regulations drawn up by them prescribed the minutest detail of life, crushing all possibility of independent thought and freedom of action, a condition fatal to high artistic development. [Pg 39]

Place of Music in Egyptian Life.—To show the place of music in Egyptian life, the following from Ambros’ history will serve admirably: “From these decorations [on the walls of tombs] we perceive that the Egyptians made great use of music. We find harps of many sizes and shapes, small and easily portable, to others beyond the height of a man, crude and of the utmost simplicity, to others elaborate and extremely rich in decoration. We note an almost endless variety of lyres, guitars and mandolins [that is, similar in type to the instruments we know by these names], single and double flutes, played by hands of numerous musicians, together with male and female singers. Music was used to accompany the dance, the funeral cortège,[3] the banquet and other social functions. Inscriptions show that there were musicians of high social position at the court.”

Egyptian Instruments.—The records show a development of music from a crude simplicity in early days to a brilliant and complex system alongside of the changes in other arts and the sciences, some of the discoveries going as far back as 1625 B. C. We give illustrations of several forms of the Egyptian harps. The number of strings varied from three or four to twenty-one. Mr. J. F. Rowbotham, the English historian of music, says that “taking B below the bass staff as the lowest note of the Egyptian scale, (since it likely followed the Assyrian in this respect) the compass of the great harp would extend to E, first line, treble staff. The small harps of various sizes had a compass from D, third line, bass staff, to D or E above the treble staff. Another series of stringed instruments, known under the general name, lyres, had the same compass as the small harps; the lutes had a [Pg 40] low G, (bass) string, and the highest note was C or D on the treble staff; various forms of the flutes had about the same compass; pipes, [which may be represented by the flageolet of today] had a compass of about one octave upward from E, fourth space, treble clef. Other instruments were of the percussion character, tambourines, drums, cymbals, etc. Although the Egyptians used their instruments in combination, there is reason to believe their practice was the alternation of groups, only occasionally using all simultaneously, to secure fulness and power of tone.”


[Pg 41] Philosophy and Practice of Egyptian Music.—The consensus of opinion is that Egyptian music was melodic in character, the instruments or voices playing or singing in different octaves, rejecting other intervals. As the Greeks seem to have drawn from the Egyptians much of their practice in music, it is reasonable to suppose that they would have used harmony if the Egyptians had been accustomed to make use of it. As to the Egyptian theory of music we have no information. Since, however, Pythagoras, the Greek philosopher, was a student of the Egyptian school for priests, we infer that his teachings were founded on the science he acquired there; hence it is probable that the Egyptians were familiar with a seven-fold division of the octave and the mathematical relations of the fourth and fifth, as well as other intervals of the scale. Of the old Egyptian hymns we have no remains unless it be, as some assert, that fragments still exist among the Coptic Christians.


The Hebrews.—What a wonderful history is that of the Hebrews! It has seen nation after nation rise to power and go down. It has been enslaved, seemingly beyond all possibility of recovering a national existence, yet regained place. Egypt, Assyria, Persia, Rome, held the Hebrews, yet the latter are still with us, as a distinct race, while their conquerors have but pages of history. A glance at the history of [Pg 42] the race will show that they touched the sources of early civilization. Abraham was a resident, according to the Bible story, of Ur in the land of the Chaldees, where a considerable civilization had been attained. From here he went to Canaan, thence to Egypt, and back again to the country east of the Red Sea. When his descendants went to Egypt they must have carried with them Syrian music and instruments, doubtless preserving a trace of Chaldean influence. It was during the four centuries’ sojourn in Egypt that the Hebrews, though for a time enslaved, gained the proportions of a nation. As their duties placed them in close relations to their masters, they gained considerable of the Egyptian science, literature, customs, etc. At that time, musicians were slaves, and tradition says that Miriam, the sister of Moses, was a slave dancing-girl and singer. We know that Moses was instructed in the learning of the Egyptian priesthood, and in that capacity officiated in some of the functions of the temple services. Such facts as these go far to justify the idea that the Hebrews gained their fundamental notions of music and musical instruments during their long sojourn in Egypt. Some writers claim that the songs of the Hebrews were adapted to Egyptian chants. The pastoral life led by the descendants of Abraham, the period of slavery which the Hebrews suffered in Egypt, and the subsequent migratory life in the wilderness were not adapted to develop a people’s song. The life in Palestine for many years was a strenuous one; and then came another period of slavery among the Assyrians, by which the Hebrew ideas were again modified.

A Religious People.—The Hebrews were an intensely religious people, the code delivered to them by Moses fixing the status of music up to the time of the pleasure-loving Solomon. Their music, in distinction from that of the nations around them, was not sensuous but a true musica sacra, in this respect more a matter of religion than of art. During the reign of David, the Levites were organized as the singers for the Temple services. Music and poetry were the chief subjects of instruction. David himself composed many of the tunes to which his Psalms were sung. [Pg 43]

Hebrew Poetry and Its Relation to Their Music.—The key to the music of the Hebrews is their poetry. They grew to numbers under the most adverse circumstances, and developed a temperament indifferent to environment and elevated to high spiritual aspiration, making them an intensely religious people, whose life was little softened by artistic practice. The effect of the injunction against the making of “graven images,” as given them in the code of Moses, was to cut them off from the exercise of the esthetic faculty in sculpture or painting; their unsettled mode of life prevented outlet in architecture. So they poured out the whole strength of their passionate, powerful natures in poetry and song. The most striking characteristic of the Hebrew poetry is the parallelism of the phrases, each sentence or complete thought being made up of two similar or contrasted thoughts, and the accompanying music must have had the same character. The following from the Psalms shows this feature:

“Lord, hear my voice: let thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplication.” “I will not give sleep to my eyes, or slumber to mine eyelids.”

When the great choirs of men singers were organized for the Temple services, this parallelism brought about the division into two bodies, who sang alternately, a practice in use today in certain churches with ritualistic services, and known as antiphonal singing.

Hebrew Music.—It is unfortunate that we have no reason to believe that the hymns in use in the Jewish synagogues today are sung to the tunes of thousands of years ago, even if modified. In the various countries of Europe, Spain, Italy, Germany, Russia, the airs are quite different, suggesting that tradition has failed to deliver anything that can traced to the days of the poet-king of Israel. Some authorities find in the Gregorian chants traces of Hebrew melodies which came down from the early Christians of Jewish birth and training. Clement of Alexandria says that their songs were earnest and dignified; [Pg 44] there must have been some special character in them as shown by the command of the Babylonians, “Sing us the songs of Zion.” The principal relation that the Hebrews have to the history of music arises from the enduring impress the works of the Psalmist and other portions of the Scriptures have made upon the music of the Christian Church.

Hebrew Instruments.—The Hebrews borrowed their instruments from other nations, principally from the Egyptians, the one most favored being a form of the harp, small enough to be portable, used to give effect to the chanting of the prophets. “To prophesy meant to sing,” and it is quite likely that Isaiah, Jeremiah and the other inspired poets uttered their thoughts in verse and song, both being extemporized.

The student should bear in mind that the various musical instruments mentioned in the Bible must be understood as types. The harp of David was not the same as our harp, the organ was not like our great church instruments, viols, sackbuts, cornets, pipes, psalteries, etc., are names given by the translators to the Hebrew terms used in the Bible. They used words with which they were familiar, and which they thought corresponded in type to the instruments used by the Hebrews.


What great river valley was the home of the Chaldeans?

What do we know of music among the Akkads?

What evidence have we to show that the Assyrians held music in high esteem? [Pg 45]

What instruments did they use?

How do we learn of the ideas of the Egyptians in regard to music?

Who controlled the knowledge of music and other sciences and arts? Was this beneficial to music?

What instruments did the Egyptians use?

What was the character of Egyptian music?

What was the origin of the Hebrew race?

What influences did they come under in Egypt?

What difference was there between the music of the Hebrews and that of the nations around them?

Why did they express themselves in poetry and music?

What was a leading characteristic of their poetry?

Have any ancient Hebrew melodies been preserved?

What musical instruments did the Hebrews have? What was the origin of these instruments? [Pg 46]

Music of the Greeks: Scales.

When we think of Greece, it is Athens, the centre of Greek art and culture, that comes to mind. An ancient city, Athens, as history teaches us. The record is that it was founded by Cecrops, who brought a colony from Egypt, in 1556 B. C., a period when Egypt was a centre of power, wealth, education and science. Therefore we infer that these colonists brought with them to Greece the ordinary, popular music and instruments to which they had become accustomed in their home. But there was an older Greece; for late discoveries show that there were five cities, each built upon the ruins of an older city, the first one going back to 2500 B. C. These earlier inhabitants, themselves an offshoot of the great Aryan race, were absorbed by the colonists.

Music and Myth in Greece.—The beginnings of music in Greece are mingled with myths: Pan, Apollo, Mercury, Athene and others appear as the patrons and exemplars of the musical art. Aside from the names of the mythical gods and goddesses, there are names of human beings that stand out with clearness. These early musicians were singers or bards who chanted the songs composed in honor of chiefs and tribal heroes. Such were Hyagnis, 1506 B. C., Marsyas, his son, and Olympus the elder, Orpheus, Musæus (1426 B. C.), chief of the Eleusinian mysteries, Linus, Amphion, Thaletes, whose songs were favorites of Pythagoras; the greatest of these bards was the blind Homer, to whom the date 900 B. C. is assigned. “By the Greeks, music as an art was considered an aid in regulating by rule the inflections of the voice, to mark the places of emphasis, and to define the pauses in the recitation of their epic [Pg 47] poetry; and the rhythm of their songs followed strictly laws that had been laid down; innovation was reprehended, and even prohibited.”[4]

Early Greek Musicians and Writers.—The earliest musician’s name met with in the annals of music is that of Terpander (676 B. C), who is said to have increased the number of strings on the lyre from four to seven. Next in order was Pythagoras (585-505 B. C.), who added an eighth string to the lyre. He was called the discoverer of the Tetrachord, which is still known by this name, the inventor or discoverer of the Octave Scale, also the discoverer of the ratios of the consonances; but there is no doubt that he learned all these things during his sojourn in Egypt. He is also credited with the invention of the Canon or Monochord with movable bridges, a contrivance still in use for investigating the ratios of intervals. Unfortunately none of the writings—if any ever existed—of Pythagoras have come down to us. Our knowledge of his theories is second-hand, gathered from the writings of his disciples. Pythagoras seems to have studied sound more in the manner of the acoustician than of the musician; hence his followers, or rather those who called themselves by his name, were more concerned with the ratios of sounds than with their musical effects.

Among the great philosophers who treated on music, Aristotle (384 B. C.) holds an important place. We find his theories expressed in one of his works called “Problems.” A pupil of his—Aristoxenus (350-320 B. C.), has left the most valuable treatise on music, of any of the ancients, the oldest musical work known at the present time; it is, unfortunately, not complete. Aristoxenus was a practical, in addition to being a theoretical musician; he thought that the ear was the final court of appeal in matters musical. Hence the musical world was divided into two factions: the Pythagoreans, who held that music was purely a matter for arithmetical investigation, and the [Pg 48] Aristoxenians, who claimed that the chief end of music was to be listened to. This dispute lasted for many centuries. Boethius, the Roman philosopher, in his writings takes sides with the Pythagoreans and pours contempt on the mere musician. The successors of the Pythagoreans are even yet not extinct, as every now and again some wiseacre turns up with a scheme to secure just intonation, at the price of losing all that music has gained under our present system. Plato (430 B. C.), the greatest of philosophers, has much to say about music; but these sayings are largely incomprehensible to modern understandings. Euclid (323 B. C.), the great mathematician, treated largely of music.[5] Aristides Quintilianus was another author of great weight. Plutarch, in his Symposia, has one devoted to music, but unfortunately the meaning of these authors is often so obscure that it cannot now be discovered. Alexandria, in Egypt, came into prominence in music when the great library was founded there by Alexander the Great, in 332 B. C. Eratosthenes (276-196 B. C.), the librarian, figures in the mathematics of music. When we reach the Christian Era, we meet with two more writers, Didymus (A. D. 60), who introduced the “minor”[6] tone into the scale, and Claudius Ptolemy (A. D. 130).

The Music of Ancient Greece the Foundation of Modern European Music.—Although the history of European music properly begins with the music of Ancient Greece, we are still very ignorant of the subject, owing to the fact that there is not in existence a note of music anterior to the Christian Era. But lately, in the ancient treasure house at Delphi, a hymn was found inscribed in marble on the inner wall. Mr. J. P. Mahaffy, an authority in matters pertaining to Greek [Pg 49] literature, says: “The time is given by the metre, a long syllable and three short, variously placed, or two long and a short between them, in every case 5-8 in a measure.... As regards the accompaniment or harmonizing of the air, there is none extant. [As to the melody] although there is rhythm and even a recurrence of phrases to mark the close of the period, nothing worthy of being called melody in any modern sense is to be found.” The inscription dates from the third century before Christ, is a hymn to Apollo and the Muses, and consists of phrases equal to eighty measures in our modern reckoning. The blank spaces in the measure were filled in by an instrument, probably the cithara. Our knowledge is confined to the treatises of mathematicians and musicians, previously mentioned, and these works are often so obscure that there is much uncertainty as to their meaning. Besides, these writings are scattered over a period of about 800 years; that is, from 585 B. C., the date of Pythagoras, to 130 A. D., the date of Claudius Ptolemy. Numberless changes took place in the art in the course of this long period; hence the attempt to elucidate a homogeneous system by comparing these writings is about as hopeless as would be the attempt to deduce the modern system of music from the collocation of the works of Guido and Hucbald of the 10th century with those of Richter and Prout in the 19th.


Hymn to Apollo and the Muses.


We owe much to the labors of these bygone writers; in fact, the Greek system of music is the foundation upon which the modern system is the superstructure. No attempt will be made here to settle the many disputed points that have puzzled the learned for ten or more centuries, but a clear and concise account of all that is necessary to an understanding of the place of this system in the historical development of music will be given. [Pg 50]

Formation of the Greek Scale.—The Greek Scale was founded on a tetrachord or succession of four sounds, arranged as follows:

E (half tone) F (whole tone) G (whole tone) A

It is commonly believed that these letters written on the bass staff, thus:



represent the exact pitch, as near as may be, of this tetrachord. In early times the lyre was tuned to these four sounds, and was called the Tetrachordon; that is, four strings. This gracefully shaped instrument has remained to this day the symbol of music. This limited scale was extended by adding another tetrachord, which began with the last note of the first tetrachord, thus:

A—B♭ C D

making a scale of seven sounds, called the scale of Conjunct or Joined Tetrachords; also from its seven strings, the Heptachord scale. The next step was to take in the limit of the octave. The first way adopted was to raise the highest string a whole tone, thus making it the octave of the lowest; the sixth string was also raised a whole tone to make it a whole tone below the seventh. The result was a scale of seven sounds with one degree omitted, thus:

A—B♭ (C) D E

The next form was:

E—F G A B (C) D E

[Pg 51] It will be seen that in this scale the second tetrachord begins a whole tone above the first, instead of beginning with the final of the first. It is therefore called the scale of Disjunct or Separated Tetrachords. The missing sound (C) is here added and the octave scale is complete. When the lyre had seven strings, the middle string, that is, the fourth, counting from either end, was called Mese, which means “middle”; but this word soon gained a secondary meaning which, in time, became the most important, viz.: Keynote.

The Lesser Perfect System.—There was in use at the same time a scale called the Lesser Perfect System, which was made from the conjunct seven-note scale by adding another conjunct tetrachord below, thus:

A—B♭ C D
(A) B—C D E

Then A was added below the first tetrachord to make an octave with the note Mese. This A was the lowest sound admitted in the Greek System. It was the Romans who gave to this series of sounds the first seven letters of the alphabet, which they still retain. This octave (A to A) is also the origin of our natural minor scale. This Lesser System was the scale used in the Temple rites. It continued to be used for this purpose long after the system about to be described was invented.

The Greater Perfect System.—This was made from the disjunct octave by adding a conjunct tetrachord below and one above, thus:

(A) B—C D E

The A below was also added, thus making a scale two octaves in extent. In later times the disjunct tetrachord, B—C—D—E, was added at the top. This E was the highest note admitted in the Greek System; consequently, their music never exceeded the limits of two octaves and a fifth, and the sounds included in these systems were as follows: [Pg 52]


[Listen -  Bass Scale]

[Listen - Treble Scale]

Peculiar interest attaches to this series of sounds, because in the Middle Ages they were supposed to be the only sounds admitted by the Greeks. This accounts for the fact that B was the first note that it was considered right to use in two forms.

The Greek Scales.—The Greeks did not by any means confine themselves to these sounds, but changed the pitch of the starting note just as we do with our scales; in other words, both of these systems might be transposed. Therefore they not only had all the sounds at command that we have, but as their scales were (theoretically, at least) tuned acoustically true, they had a great many more. But their scales were all diatonic (the scales they called Chromatic and Enharmonic will be explained later), they were all like our natural minor. When they said “Dorian Scale” they meant just what we mean when we say scale of D minor; Phrygian Scale meant E minor; Lydian Scale, F-sharp minor; Mixo-Lydian, G minor. In addition to these four scales there were three that began a fourth below, one a fourth below the Dorian, called the Hypo-Dorian, A minor; a fourth below the Phrygian, called the Hypo-Phrygian, B minor; and a fourth below the Lydian, called Hypo-Lydian, C-sharp minor; these were the standard scales of Greek music. These names, Dorian, etc., were retained in the Ecclesiastical System, but the mistake was made of supposing that the Greeks used only the fixed sounds given by the untransposed Greater System. Hence the Church Dorian has B natural, not B-flat; the Church Phrygian, F natural, not F sharp; and the Church Lydian begins on F natural, instead of on F sharp. Hence, no two church scales are alike in the positions of the halftones. [Pg 53]

Questions and Suggestions.

Name some of the myths connected with music among the Greeks. Consult a work on mythology.

Name the musicians and philosophers connected with Greek music; arrange them in chronological order, with dates.

State the successive points of development.

Why do we consider that the history of music as we know it today begins with Greek music?

Have we music that belongs to the Greek period?

On what was the Greek Scale founded?

How was this extended? What name did this form receive?

In what respect did the Disjunct form differ from the Conjunct?

What was the Mese?

What was the Lesser Perfect System?

What was the Greater Perfect System?

What was the highest note used by the Greeks? What was the lowest?

Were these systems transposable?

What is the meaning of the prefix “Hypo”? [Pg 54]

Music of the Greeks (Concluded).

The Greek Octave System.—So far, everything is clear enough; but the next step is not quite so sure. The Greeks spoke of the Dorian Octave, the Phrygian Octave, and so on; and the word Octave, used in this way, has been thought to be synonymous with Scale, which is doubtful, for the following reasons:

The standard instrument of the Greeks was the octave lyre. The lowest and highest strings were tuned respectively A, fifth line bass staff, and A, second space, treble.


[Dorian Octave. Signature B♭][Phrygian Octave. Signature F♯]


[Lydian Octave. Signature F♯, C♯ & G♯.][Mizo-Lydian Octave. Signature B♭ & E♭.]


[Hypo-Dorian Octave.]     [Hypo-Phrygian Octave. Signature F♯ & C♯.]


[Hypo-Lydian Octave. Signature F♯, C♯, G♯ & D♯.]

These were fixed sounds, but the tuning of the remaining six strings might be changed at will; therefore, a series of sounds belonging to any one of these scales could be made; and it will be seen, on examining the following table, that all the seven scales may be represented without changing the extreme notes, A to A. Suppose we make the B flat. Now B-flat is the characteristic note of the Dorian Scale, in our term, its signature. Therefore this octave would be called [Pg 55] the Dorian Octave, not Dorian Scale. We speak of a scale as beginning and ending on its keynote; if it does not, we call it a scale passage in such and such a key.

The notes marked + are the keynotes (Mese). It will be seen at once that the positions of the halftones differ in each of these octaves. One cannot help feeling a slight suspicion that some confusion between scale and octave had a great deal to do with the growth of the Ecclesiastical Scales.

One of the latest of the ancient writers on music, Claudius Ptolemy (about 130 A. D.), proposed that all these octaves should be transposed a fourth lower; this made the Dorian Octave E to E (all naturals). One result of this change is that many authorities at the present time call this the Dorian Scale, whereas it is evident that it is simply the Dorian Octave, as given above, transposed a fourth lower. Other scales were added from time to time, called Hyper-Dorian, Hyper-Phrygian, etc., a fourth above the standard scales; but it is very uncertain whether they were in practical use; they were probably purely matters of theory.

Characteristics Attributed to the Different Greek Scales.—The Greeks attributed many fanciful characteristics to the various modes or scales, much as some modern musicians, Berlioz, for example, do to the different keys. But all seem to have agreed as to the Dorian. This was considered the true Greek mode, and was called severe, firm and manly, suitable for martial songs. The Lydian mode was esteemed to be effeminate, suited to love songs, possibly because the Lydian Octave corresponds with the scale of A major, and a major scale was not relished by the Greeks, any more than it was by the early ecclesiastical musicians. A more probable explanation of this attribution of different characters to the different scales is, that it was customary to use certain modes for songs on certain subjects, and the character of the poetry was transferred to the music.

The Greek Chromatic Scale differed altogether from what we call a chromatic scale. It was made by lowering the pitch of the fourth and seventh strings above the keynote a halftone. Supposing the octave lyre to be tuned to the Hypo-Dorian Mode or Scale, it would begin and end on the Keynote (Mese), thus: [Pg 56]



Now, by lowering D and G we get the following scale:



This is the scale that was called Chromatic. It is said to have been at one time the most popular of all the scales, a statement we can easily credit, since it contains in itself the two world-wide five-note or Pentatonic Scales, commonly known as the Scotch or Irish Scales, the most widely distributed of all scales in Europe, Asia and America.


[Major pentatonic scale]   [Minor pentatonic scale]

The Greek Enharmonic Scale.—The scale called Enharmonic was made thus: The fourth and seventh strings were lowered a whole tone; that is, to the pitch of the second and sixth, the second and sixth were lowered a quartertone, thus:


[Pg 57] C-flat is supposed to be halfway between B and C; F-flat halfway between E and F. Our modern system does not provide for the notation of quartertones.


Lyre.       Cithara.       Lydian Magadis.

Greek Instruments.—The standard instrument of the Greeks was the Lyre. It bore many names, as Lyre, Tetrachordon, Chelys, Phorminx, Cithara, etc. There may have been slight differences in the size and the number of the strings, but great uncertainty prevails on this point. Under the name of Flute (Aulos) they seem to have included both Flutes proper and instruments of the hautboy or clarinet family. These instruments bore a bewildering number of names, the exact meaning of which is lost. Judging from the pictorial representations that remain, the Greek instruments were inferior both in variety and extent to those of the Egyptians. They seem to have made little use of the Harp, of which instrument the Egyptians had a great variety. The Greeks seem to have used instruments chiefly, if not solely, to accompany the voice; and they appear never to have combined large numbers of instruments for any purpose. Even in their tragedies, which were performed in immense theatres open to the sky, the Chorus was limited to fifteen men, accompanied by two flutes. When accompanying the voice with the lyre they may have occasionally struck [Pg 58] the fourth, fifth or octave of the vocal melody; but, in general, they played the voice part. Their most highly developed instrument was a variety of lyre, the strings of which passed over a bridge placed one-third of the strings’ length from the lower end of the lyre, thus causing the lower part of the string to sound the octave of the upper part. The shorter part of the string was played with a plectrum in the right hand, the longer part by the fingers of the left hand. This instrument was called Magadis—from Magas, a bridge. The term Magadize was eventually used to signify playing or singing in octaves, and was synonymous with Antiphony.


Greek Musical Notation.—Our knowledge of Greek musical notation is very defective, being derived from only four or five specimens of ancient music, and a few small fragments. They appear to have used a separate notation for each mode, and these four hymns are apparently all in the same mode, but authorities differ as to the mode. They used the letters of their alphabet, both capital and small, written in various positions, sometimes upright, sometimes lying on one side. The notation for the lyre differed from that used for the voice. The letters representing the vocal part were written above the words, those representing the instrumental part, below the words. These letters represented the pitch of the sounds, but not their duration. The duration was regulated by the meter of the poetry. Instead of a portion of one of these hymns, the first three lines of our National Hymn are given as a sample of this notation:

R R  Φ  Γ  R  Φ  σ  σ P σ Φ R  Φ R Γ R

My country ’tis of thee, Sweet land of liberty,  Of thee I sing.

These letters have been interpreted as indicating the following sounds, the transposed Hypo-Lydian Scale in its old form; that is, the Lesser Perfect System with G sharp as its keynote.



[Pg 59] Greek View of Harmony.—The question has been much debated as to whether or not the Greeks practiced harmony. It seems hardly possible with such a defective notation; but the best argument against it is, that there is not a word in any of the extant treatises as to combinations and successions of these combinations, and it is impossible that any art of harmony should have existed unless some rules for its employment should have been evolved.

Greek Terms in Music.—The modern terminology of music is largely indebted to the Greek system, although many of the words have entirely changed their significance. The word Music itself, to the Greek, meant the whole circle of the sciences, especially Astronomy and Mathematics. Melody meant the rising and falling of the voice in either speaking or singing. Harmonia meant rather what we call Melody than our Harmony. This latter, namely, the sounding together of different sounds, was called Symphony. Antiphony originally meant singing in octaves, that is, men with women or boys. Chromatic and Enharmonic have already been explained. Diapason, now applied chiefly to organ stops, originally meant the octave; that is, “through all.” Diatonic has nearly retained its original meaning. Tone, Semitone and Tetrachord have retained their meaning, with the exception that in the modern tetrachord the halftone is at the other end.

Questions and Suggestions.

What was the Greek use of the term Octave; “Dorian Octave,” for example?

What change did Claudius Ptolemy suggest? What confusion resulted?

What is the meaning of the prefix “Hyper”?

Explain the Greek Chromatic Scale. [Pg 60]

Explain the Greek Enharmonic Scale.

What was the standard Greek musical instrument? What names were given to modifications of it?

What instruments were comprehended under the term Aulos?

How were the instruments used in accompanying the voice?

What is meant by “magadizing”?

Give an account of Greek musical notation.

Did the Greeks use “Harmony” as we understand that term?

Name some musical terms that come from the Greek. Berlioz gives the characters of different keys in his book on Instrumentation. “Auld Lang Syne” is a pentatonic melody, scale of F, with fourth and seventh omitted. Any series of five notes on the black keys of the piano will make a pentatonic scale, major character. The language of music was determined by scholars, hence the use of so many terms with Greek and Latin roots. [Pg 61]

Ecclesiastical System.

Rome the New Centre.—The Power that rules in the affairs of men seems to have made provision for the elevation of the whole race by diffusing at intervals of centuries, the treasures of art, science and thought accumulated by a nation of unusual power and energy. Egypt dominated the northern part of Africa, the shores of the Mediterranean and the western slopes of Asia Minor, and in course of time yielded to the advance of the Greeks, but leaving behind, as a legacy, much that has had enduring value. What had once been centred in one nation, under the control of one caste, the priests, was spread through much of the known world. Greece, in turn, shaped the destinies of expanding civilization. In the Greek social life free art played a great part; wherever the Greeks went as merchants and colonists, they carried with them the principles of Greek art, including music. Greek musicians were accounted stars of the first magnitude in Egypt, in the Greek colonies of Italy, and later in Rome, which, after the fall of Greece as a political factor, became the political, social and artistic centre of the world; through her conquests and subsequent colonizing diffusing throughout a larger world than Egypt and Greece knew, an increased wealth of thought and action which greatly influenced later generations.

Rome Dependent Upon Greece.—The Romans did not show a native instinct for art. Their national qualities were essentially warlike, and were developed by years of struggle for existence. A people whose organized life was political and martial, and for so long found expression first in defence, later in conquest, would not develop a [Pg 62] true art life. As they grew stronger they built up their collections by pillage and by purchase; they were taught music, oratory, architecture, sculpture by Greeks who sought the capital of the world. Roman nobles imitated Greek customs, learned the Greek language and literature, cultivated music according to Greek methods, used Greek instruments, such as the cithara, lyre and flute, sang Greek songs and formed companies of singers and players to furnish entertainment at their feasts and at the public spectacles. The Roman drama was modified by Greek principles, and Greek actors replaced Roman artists; the pantomime was borrowed from Egypt. Music was a favorite distraction in the high ranks of Roman society, and men known to history were skilful players or singers—Sylla, Flaccus, Calpurnius Piso, Titus, Caligula, Hadrian, and, best known of all, Nero.


Growth of Christianity.—While the Roman Empire, in its turn, had served the purpose of the Ruling Power in the affairs of men, in secret a new force was gaining strength, one that was soon to drive pagan arts and pleasures from open cultivation. In the Catacombs, in remote sections of the great city, pursued, hunted like beasts, martyrized, the Christians clung to their faith with its simple rites of worship, in which the singing of songs was a marked feature. [Pg 63] Whence these songs came is by no means certain, the prevailing opinion being that they were of Greek origin, modified by Hebrew influence.[7] In the course of years songs were introduced in the Christian service with no other warrant than that of tradition. During the years of persecution no systematic cultivation of music was possible. Later, when Constantine accepted the Cross, 325 A. D., and Christianity had triumphed over Paganism, the abuses became such that the ecclesiastical authorities set themselves to the task of reform and of establishing a system of song for the use of the Church.

Tonus Peregrinus as a chant



Origin of the Church Scales.—It is absolutely unknown when or by whom the system of scales, known as the Church Scales, was invented. The latest writer on the Greek System was Claudius Ptolemy (about 130 A. D.). In 330, Pope Sylvester established a school for training church singers, but we have no information as to the system he employed. The name of Ambrose, Bishop of Milan (333-397), has for centuries been associated with what are called the Authentic Scales, but there is no valid evidence whatever that he had anything to do with their adoption. The name of Pope Gregory (540-604) has also been associated with another set of scales called Plagal, with as little authority as in the previous case. There does not appear to have existed any system of notation in the time of Ambrose or Gregory. The Greek notation by letters was forgotten, and the very insufficient system of notation by Neumes had not been invented. The only writer of any authority after Ptolemy was Boethius, and he did more to confuse the subject of music than to explain it.

[Pg 64]

Foundation of the Church Scales.—But if we know nothing of the inventor of the Church Scales, or of the way in which they grew into their final form, we are, nevertheless, perfectly well informed of the fully-developed system which, it must be remarked, grew out of a misunderstanding of the Greek Scales. The Church Scales were founded on the Greater Perfect System of the Greeks, with this restriction, namely, that it was not transposable; whereas, we have seen that the various Greek modes were transpositions of either the Lesser or Greater Systems.



This is the series of sounds from which the Church Scales were made. None of them might be altered by sharp or flat, except the B in the second octave (and this was a later addition which was probably owing to a remembrance of the Lesser Perfect System in which the B was flat.) The Greek names were retained for the Church Scales, but as not one of the notes was inflected, it follows that the halftones occur in different places in every scale. The scales to which these names were given were called Authentic, those with the prefix Hypo were called Plagal. In the table on the next page, the Greek and Church Scales, also the Greek octaves are given side by side.

Confusion Between the Systems.—We may gather from this table how the confusion between Dorian and Phrygian has arisen. The Phrygian Octave is identical with the Church Dorian, and the Dorian Octave with the Church Phrygian. A proof that the Church Scales originated in the way indicated may be found in the fact that the Church and Greek Hypo-Dorian Scales are identical, this being the only Greek Scale without a sharp or flat. The Church Hypo-Lydian was also called the Ionian Scale; its arrangement of tones and semitones is the same as that of the modern major scale. It was not considered appropriate for church music, being looked upon as soft, effeminate and lascivious, by both Greeks and mediæval churchmen. [Pg 65]


At the pitch as transposed by Ptolemy


[Listen: Phrygian Octave] [Listen: Dorian] [Listen: Dorian]
[Listen: Dorian Octave] [Listen: Phrygian] [Listen: Phrygian]
[Listen: Hypo-Lydian Octave] [Listen: Lydian] [Listen: Lydian]
[Listen: Hypo-Phrygian Octave]  [Listen: Mixo-Lydian] [Listen: Mixo-Lydian]
[Listen: Hypo-Dorian Octave] [Listen: Hypo-Dorian] [Listen: Hypo-Dorian]
[Listen: Mixo-Lydian Octave] [Listen: Hypo-Phrygian] [Listen: Hypo-Phrygian]
[Listen: Lydian Octave] [Listen: Hypo-Lydian] [Listen: Hypo-Lydian]
[Listen: Phrygian Octave] [Listen: Hypo-Mixo-Lydian]   

Eight Modes in Use.—The Church Scales were numbered from one to eight; the Authentic Scales were given the odd, and the Plagal Scales the even numbers, thus:

1. Dorian   2. Hypo-Dorian
related scales.
3. Phrygian   4. Hypo-Phrygian
related scales.
5. Lydian   6. Hypo-Lydian
related scales.
7. Mixo-Lydian      8. Hypo-Mixo-Lydian
related scales.

[Pg 66] A melody in an Authentic Scale had to end on its Keynote, but a melody in a Plagal Scale ended on the Keynote of its related Authentic Scale. Observe that the Dorian and Hypo-Mixo-Lydian Scales are identical; but while the former had to end on the Keynote, D, the latter ended on G, which is the fourth of its scale, and Keynote of its related Authentic Scale.

Traces of these Authentic and Plagal Scales may be found in many old folk-songs. Thus, the melody of the “Last Rose of Summer” begins on the Keynote, rises in the course of the melody to the octave, but ends by falling to the Keynote; it is therefore Authentic. On the other hand, the melody of “Robin Adair” begins on the fourth below the Keynote, rises to its octave, but ends on the fourth above its initial note and is Plagal; thus:



The term Hyper (above) was sometimes applied to the Authentic Scales. In the Greek System the Hyper Scales were the same distance above the standard scales that the Hypo Scales were below. Although twelve modes were theoretically admitted in church music, it was for the most part confined to the eight modes given above.

The Dominant.—In addition to the keynote there was another note in every scale of almost equal importance, called the Dominant. This name has been retained in the modern system, but with a total change of meaning. In the Church Scales it meant the Reciting Note, that is, the note on which the principal part of the words was chanted. In all the Authentic Scales but the Phrygian, the fifth of the scale is the Dominant; in the Phrygian the sixth is the Dominant, because the B was a changeable note, that is, might be natural or flat. The Dominants of the Plagal Scales are a third below the [Pg 67] Dominants of the related Authentic Scales, except in the Hypo-Mixo-Lydian, in which the Dominant is a second below that of its related Authentic Scale. Therefore the Dominant is the sixth of all the Hypo Scales, but the Hypo-Phrygian and Hypo-Mixo-Lydian, in which it is the seventh.

Hucbald’s Scale.—Two attempts were made in the 10th century to construct new scales, first by Hucbald, who founded his series of sounds on a tetrachord, in which the halftone was between the second and third, thus: A B C D. His object seems to have been to obtain a series in which a succession of perfect fourths and fifths might be secured, for which purpose he made use of the following series of sounds:



In the first tetrachord B was flat, in the third natural; in the fourth, F was sharp. As to the use made of this scale, little or nothing is known.

Guido’s Scale.—The other attempt, usually attributed to Guido, a contemporary of Hucbald, resulted in the Hexachord Scale (six-note scale). This scale was formed by adding a whole tone above and below the Hucbald tetrachord, thus: G, A, B, C, D, E. To complete the series of Hexachord Scales, another sound was added, namely: the G below the A on which the Greek scales and their derivatives, the Church scales, began. The first seven letters of the Roman alphabet were used to name the sounds already in use, hence to indicate this sound the Greek letter, Gamma, was adopted. At the same time the syllables utremifasolla were used to name the sounds of every hexachord (precisely as the movable Do is used now); hence this lowest sound was called Gamma-ut, corrupted into Gamut. The sounds in the series were indicated by placing after the letter the syllables that indicated its position in all the hexachords in which it was found, thus:


[Pg 68] 1. Gamma—ut. 2. A—re. 3. B—mi. 4. C—Fa—ut, because C is fa in the first, and ut in the second hexachord. Consequently, to a mediæval musician, C—fa—ut meant what we would call C, second space bass clef.

The following table gives all the Hexachord Scales with the names of the sounds. It is of interest because this system of nomenclature persisted long after the one which gave rise to it was obsolete.


The Hexachords in which the B was flat were called Soft (Mollis); those in which B was natural, Hard (Dura); the term mollis has been retained in the French word Bemol, a flat, and in the German name for a minor key, Moll. The word dura (hard) is also retained in the German as a name for the major key Dur. When the letters were used as [Pg 69] a means of notation, the sound B-flat was indicated by the old form of the letter b, which has been retained as the sign for a flat. This was called B rotundum (round B); when B natural was wanted, a stroke was put on the right side of the ♭, called B quadratum (squared B), the sign to this day for a natural.

Questions and Suggestions.

What city became the centre of life after Athens and Greece fell?

What new influence was shaping in the Roman Empire?

When did music receive official attention and reform?

What names are associated with the early history of Church Music?

On which Greek system were the Church Scales founded?

What difference exists between the Greek and the Church Scales as to the positions of the halftones?

What is meant by Authentic and Plagal?

What were the rules in regard to a melody in the Authentic forms? What Plagal? Give an example of each.

What is meant by Dominant? Was the position of the Dominant the same in each scale? Name some variations.

What attempts were made to construct new scales?

What is meant by “Gamut”?

What is meant by C—fa—ut?

What names were given to the different forms of the Hexachord? What are the modern meanings of the terms?

What is the origin of the flat and natural signs?

Note the points of similarity and difference in the three scale forms on page 65 in this lesson. As an exercise take well-known airs to see if they are Authentic or Plagal. In the “Taming of the Shrew,” by Shakespeare, is a passage in which reference is made to the names of the notes as found in this lesson. Read this passage in class. [Pg 70]


System of Notation by Letters.—The earliest system of Notation, attributed to Boethius, the Roman philosopher, seems to have been the placing of letters over the syllables, thus:

C  C  D    B  C  D

My country ’tis  of  thee.

Boethius’ Notation



During the period of history dominated by Pope Gregory the Great, a change was made in this system by which capital letters, small letters and double letters were used, an improvement, since only the first seven letters of the alphabet were employed, thus:



This system seems to have been used chiefly for theoretic demonstration. These two methods indicated the pitch sufficiently, but not the duration of the sounds.

Neumes.—The next attempt was somewhat of a retrogression instead of an improvement. Signs called Neumes were placed over the words. These signs consisted of points, lines, accents, hooks, curves, angles and a number of other characters placed more or less exactly over the syllables to which they were intended to be sung, in such manner as to show, relatively, by the distance above the text, how much the voice was to rise or fall. They did not indicate duration. [Pg 71] absolute pitch or The number of characters in use, according to manuscripts still preserved, varied from seven to forty. In later forms they appear in the notation used for the old Plain Song melodies (Gregorian) which were recalled into general use by Pope Pius X, in 1904.


[Listen: Notation moderne.]

Parallel Lines.—Another plan was to use a variable number of lines, writing the syllables in the spaces, thus:


[Pg 72] This clumsy contrivance indicated relative pitch well enough, but not the key—or the duration. The next step was to use lines—which varied in number—upon or between which the Neumes, which gradually changed to square notes, were written. The pitch was indicated by using a red line for F, and a yellow or green line for C. A further improvement was, to put the letters F or C and later G on one of the lines at the beginning; the modern clefs are simply modifications of these letters.

Characters to Indicate Duration.—The honor of suggesting characters to indicate duration is usually attributed to Franco of Cologne, an ecclesiastic who lived in the latter part of the 12th century; but as in the case of Gregory and Guido, we must believe that his name simply stands as representative of a period. A system is rarely the work of one man, rather a development from the labor of many. Franco’s treatise on the subject marked an epoch. Up to the end of the 13th century the notes in use were the Longa, Brevis, and Semibrevis, as well as the Duplex Longa, or Maxima. The smaller values, the Minima, and the Semiminima first occur about 1300. About the middle of the 15th century white notes were introduced in place of certain of the black, the latter color being reserved only for the smaller note values. The signs underwent some change at this time. Maxima, Longa, Brevis, Semibrevis (our whole note), Minima (half note), Semiminima (quarter), Fusa (eighth), Semifusa (sixteenth).



The Beginnings of Harmony.—Our information as to the beginning of Harmony is very vague and uncertain. As early as the Saxon times in England some rude kind of part singing, without written rules [Pg 73] apparently, seems to have existed. The first intimations we have of any scientific attempts are Faburden or Falsoborden and Diaphony or Organum. Faburden consisted of singing a melody while another voice sang a drone accompaniment below it; thus:



Diaphony or Organum consisted of a succession of fourths or fifths and octaves, thus:

Two Parts      Three Parts


[Listen: 2 PARTS]

[Listen: 3 PARTS]

It has been denied by some authorities that such a barbarous manner of singing ever existed; but two considerations have been lost sight of, in making this denial: First, the fourth, fifth and octave were esteemed the only consonances. Secondly, the undisputed fact that as late as the time of Chaucer, if not later, what was called “discanting quatible” or “quinable” existed; this discanting was done as follows: The performer while singing a melody accompanied himself on the lute, playing the same melody a fourth or fifth above. It can hardly be doubted that a style of performance that was esteemed in the 15th, was perfectly satisfactory to the ears of the 10th century.

Discant.—Another early attempt at harmonic effect was the singing of an extemporaneous part or parts with the melody, called Discanting. In course of time the Discant or Organum gradually crystallized into rules, and other intervals were accepted. Strangely enough, dissonances seem to have been admitted with great freedom, and thirds and especially sixths, were avoided. The only dissonance that was not allowed was the minor second.

The New Organum.—In the 11th century, a method of combining sounds, called the New Organum, was developed. This kind of Organum admitted thirds and sixths. The following example will sufficiently illustrate this:



[Pg 74] Measured Music.—The next step in advance, and one that proved very important and far-reaching in its results on the development of music, was the invention of a notation that indicated, although not very conveniently, the relative duration of sounds. Thus it became possible to express two or more parts in a permanent form. The plan of this first attempt at a notation by means of which relative duration of notes might be expressed was very complicated. Music written with these signs was called Measured Music (Cantus Mensurabilis).

The Record of Early Harmony.—There are references to the manner of using voices in combination in the writings of several men associated with the Christian Church in its early days. Censorinus, who lived in the 3d century, makes mention of a practice of using a melody in octaves accompanied by the fifth to the lower note of the octave, which is also the fourth to the upper. Cassiodorus, in the 6th century, mentions various ways of accompanying the chant with consecutive fourths and fifths. In a work called “Sentences About Music,” written by Bishop Isidore of Seville, who lived in the 7th century, we read that “harmony is a modulation of the voice, the concordance of many sounds and their agreement.” In the 9th century we meet with the names of several writers: Remi d’Auxerre who defines harmony as “a consonance of voices, and their union in one group”; Jean Scot Erigene who recognized that the succession of chords composed of octaves, fifths and fourths is a rational one; Odo or Otger, a churchman of the south of France, whose work was the first to mark an epoch in the development of the art of music. Also another monk, the Fleming Hucbald, who lived in the 10th century. They defined consonance and dissonance, and appear to have been the first to give rules for the construction of Diaphony. Hucbald says in his “Musica Enchiriadis”: “Certain dissimilar sounds sung together make an agreeable effect, and this mingling of voices is sweet to the ear.” [Pg 75]

Their immediate successor, Guido, has been credited, unjustly, with being the inventor of nearly every improvement in the art up to his time. The old organum closed with his. The earliest writer who treats of the new organum is John Cotton, in the 11th century. He was the first to promulgate the rule that contrary motion is always to be preferred to similar or oblique. He says: “At least two singers are required in diaphony formed from different sounds. While one voice sings a melody, the other surrounds it with different tones, and at the end of the phrases the two voices unite at the unison or octave.” The fullest development of the new organum was attained in the works of Guy de Chalis, about the close of the 12th century. He gives examples in which we find intervals of the eleventh and twelfth, a demonstration of the existence of a system differing from the Gregorian, which does not exceed the octave. In the same epoch, Denis Lewts, of Liége, a Carthusian monk, gives rules to fix the use of accidental signs, a flat to lower B, a sharp to raise F. He speaks of these as if they had been in use for a long time, and indicated that the idea was to avoid the occurrence of the diminished fifth or the augmented fourth, known in harmony as the tritone. This process is called Musica Ficta, and formed a part of the instruction of singers. The examples cited by Lewts conform to this theory, and show that although in the songs, motets and other compositions of the period the sharps and flats are not found, it is because musicians knew the principles and made the application for themselves. Instruction in those days was chiefly oral, a method which placed a premium on a retentive memory. By the time that the 13th century was reached, musical forms and melodies were widely spread, and as we look back to the 9th century it is possible to note the gradual development. Harmony always existed, in a limited sense; but it did not take on a scientific development until the Middle Ages. It is to the musicians of this latter period, from the 13th to the 15th centuries, that we must give the honor of having taken the germ of a science of harmony and of having brought it forward to mature development. [Pg 76]


Explain the earliest system of notation used for the Church scales. What was the next improvement?

State the defects.

What was the system of Notation by Neumes? Did they indicate absolute or relative pitch?

Give the successive steps making use of lines.

What was the origin of our Clef signs?

Who is credited with introducing signs to indicate Duration?

Name the signs adopted. Compare them to the notes now in use.

Explain Faburden; Diaphony; Organum; Discant; Measured Music.

Who were the early writers on the subject of music? [Pg 77]

Music Outside the Church.

Up to this, our study of music in the Christian Era has traced the development of the art as fostered by the Christian Church, and mainly among the people of Southern Europe, in whom there was a strong admixture of the Latin blood and spirit. Before going farther on this line we will look into the record of music among the races of Northern Europe.

Music of the Gauls.—Roman writers give us some account of the character of the music of the Gauls, which differed much from the Greco-Latin songs. Roman historians make mention of the songs of the Gallic bards, who were poets and musicians as well, composing both religious hymns and songs in honor of their heroes. According to Diodorus of Sicily, the Gauls practiced the musical art long before the Christian Era, having regular schools for the instruction of the younger bards. The instrument used in accompanying their songs was a sort of lyre, judging from representations on some gold medals made in the time of Julius Cæsar. Charlemagne ordered a collection of the early Gallic songs to be made, but the work has not survived.

The Celtic Bards.—The Breton bards made use of an instrument the name of which is variously spelled Crouth, Crowd, Chrotta, Crwth, played with a bow, with an opening in the upper part through which the performer placed the left hand in order to press the strings, the number of which varied from three to six. The crouth of the Welsh bards differed in some respects from those that were made use of by the Breton bards. With them, however, a form of the harp became the national instrument. The early history of Celtic music in Wales in [Pg 78] particular, is mingled with myth. We have only the names of bards, Fingal, Fergus and Ossian, no authentic music. What is of importance to us is the secular organization of the bards. One class included poets, historians and those skilled in the science of heraldry; another class comprehended musical bards, harp players bearing the title of doctors of music, players of the six stringed crouth and singers, who must have been skilled men, since nine years’ study was exacted of them.


[Pg 79] Ireland.—The traditionary bard of Ireland is Fergus, whose songs were of war and heroes. When St. Patrick introduced Christianity into Ireland in the 5th century, learning and skill in the arts of poetry and music grew to be cultivated as extensively as in more favored lands. In the 10th century, the famous musician was the King O’Brien Boru, whose harp is still shown in the Dublin Museum. This has twenty-eight strings, and the sounding board, in which there are four holes, is very large at the base. After Ireland was conquered by the English its culture declined, owing to continuous wars and internal strife.

Scotland.—The music of the Scotch, like the other Celtic races just mentioned, is characteristic. Their harp was similar in form to the Irish; their favorite instrument was the bagpipe. King James I is credited with having done much to stimulate an interest in music among his subjects. Having been a captive in England for a period of eighteen years, he had acquired great skill in music, which was the solace of his weary hours. According to a contemporary historian, the king played a great many of the instruments in use in his day: the bagpipe, psaltery, organ, harp, lute, flute and dulcimer. The music of Scotland makes great use of the pentatonic scales, and it is likely that the original form of many of the old Scottish folk-melodies was pentatonic. A characteristic feature of Scottish music is the so-called “Scotch snap,” illustrated in the short notes in the familiar air “Comin’ Thro’ the Rye,” and in the following dance tune:




An instrument of so marked characteristics as those displayed by the bagpipe will naturally develop a characteristic style of music. The pipers gave extraordinary study to the mastery of their instrument and noted players acquired wonderful skill.[8]

[Pg 80] England.—Until the time of the conquest of England by William of Normandy (1066), music among the Anglo-Saxons was practiced by the scalds or bards, minstrels (also called gleemen), and the monks in the monasteries. Poetry and music were much encouraged by some of the kings and Alfred the Great (849-901) was widely famed for his skill in playing the harp and as a singer. In the manuscripts belonging to these early days in England we read of such instruments as the psaltery, the rota, little harps of eleven strings, viols, called fiddles, citharas, cornets, trumpets, etc.


Scandinavian Ludr.

Scandinavia.—The Runic style of writing,—which has numerous analogies to the neumes,—used by the northern people, presents many difficulties in the matter of translation, so that we have little chance to form an opinion as to the early music of the Scandinavian races. They have their national poems, a presentation of their myths in the Edda, and the deeds of their great heroes in the Sagas, songs which inspired both poets and musicians, an office most generally found united in one person, called a scald, (equivalent to the Saxon bard). The sagas were sung or chanted by the scalds to the accompaniment of a small harp. In 1639 and again in 1734, in the duchy of Schleswig, horns of pure gold were found which had been used in the worship of Odin, covered with Runic inscriptions, which have not yet been satisfactorily deciphered. Other instruments belonging to this period that have been discovered and preserved in museums are bronze horns somewhat curious in [Pg 81] shape, called lüdr. These instruments have been tested by experienced horn players and give forth a fine, resonant tone. Up to the present nothing has been discovered to indicate that the northern races had a system of musical notation; melodies were undoubtedly transmitted by oral communication.

Finland.—The people of Finland are intensely musical and have many beautiful folk-songs. Their national epic is called the “Kalevala,” and gives the history of the hero, Wainœmonien, god of music, who by the exercise of his art, became the master of the universe, analogous to the Greek myth of Orpheus. The Finnish bards used an instrument called Kantèle or Harpu, a sort of psaltery with five strings forming the first five notes of the minor scale, G fourth space, bass staff, to D above.

Progress in Southern Europe.—As may be gathered from the hasty survey of music among the nations in the west and north of Europe, they did not contribute to its growth during the centuries under consideration. It was in the south of Europe that the forces were forming, and not in the Church as heretofore, but outside, among the people. We cannot say who composed the songs of the people, so different in character from the songs of the Church; they seemed to spring up spontaneously and were passed from one to another orally. The music of the Church lacked measure or rhythm, as we may say, while the music of the people, closely associated with dancing, was rhythmic. In fact, the scholarly musicians of that period condemned the music of the people because of its marked rhythmic character. On account of the crudeness of the early instruments, often the lack of them and of competent players, the people were accustomed to sing to their dancing, a custom still followed in certain places. The next step was an easy one, that of making new verses to familiar airs. Another factor in spreading music among the people appears in the traveling minstrels. Without a fixed residence, owing allegiance to no lord, by law, in many cases, out of the pale of society, these free sons of art, [Pg 82] who began to come into prominence in the 11th century, roved from place to place, resting for the night in castle, monastery, inn or wayside camp. In return for the hospitality freely given, they sang the songs they learned from each other and in the various lands they visited. Their accomplishments in the music line were varied. One, Robert le Mains, said: “I can play the lute, the violin, the pipe, the bagpipe, the syrinx, the harp, the gigue, the gittern, the symphony, the psaltery, the organistrum, the regals, the tabor and the rote. I can sing a song well and make tales and fables.”

Trouvères.—Another influence was also at work, one that was greatly to affect music, raising it from the level of common entertainment to an art patronized by the highest social circles. The Crusades left a permanent influence upon the people of Europe and upon the institution of Chivalry, the knightly singers (trouvères) vying with each other in verse and song, as well as in arms. Education took a higher place and schools became more numerous (12th and 13th centuries), and music was given recognition; this was the case not only in schools connected with monasteries, but also in the newly established universities, such as that at Paris. Secular music also had schools, so to speak, for, during Lent, when all gay songs were forbidden, the trouvères and minstrels would stop at some convenient point and teach their songs to all who would learn; hither the great lords would send the minstrels in their pay to renew their repertoires and learn the songs that were most favored by the polite world. It was not possible that much advance could be made in musical education, from a scientific side, for there was no general system of convenient notation. Airs were taught by playing them over, the singer with the ready ear having the advantage. Still the efforts and studies made in the monasteries and schools were not fruitless, although the systems evolved were very complicated, making the reading of music a difficult matter.

The Music of the Period.—It is a fortunate thing for the investigator of the history of music that, at the present time, a [Pg 83] number of collections of the airs of the 12th and 13th centuries are still in existence; for example, in the National Library, Paris, which possesses a number of magnificent manuscripts, containing songs noted down by the French trouvères; also in the Library of the Medical School of Montpelier there is a collection of nearly four hundred songs, secular and religious, for two, three or four voices. The melodic ideas of this period, as indicated by these manuscripts, were vague and the rhythms uncertain. Yet this music, barbarous as it appears to us, was not the product of chance, as we may think; it had its rules, just like the music of today, the art of composing being called Discant, referred to in Lesson VI. Sometimes these singers of the 12th and 13th centuries tried to invent original airs, very frequently they would take several familiar airs, two, three or four and combine them in what seems to us a crude way, yet in a manner that was pleasing to the hearers of their time. The style of the songs in use varied greatly, in spite of the poverty of musical resources. In general, a song for one voice was used only in setting the Chansons des Gestes, Romances, Pastourelles, Serventois, Lais and Jeux Partis. The discant style was used in Motets, Rondeaux, Conduits; according as these latter compositions were for two, three, four or five voices, they were called duplum, triplum, quadruplum, and quintuplum.

Troubadours.—The cradle of the French troubadours was in Provence, the south of France. They usually belonged to the nobility, and, instead of performing their own pieces, had them performed by the jongleurs, only occasionally consenting to sing for some company of high-born nobles and ladies. We mention a few of those who were counted among the troubadours: Richard the Lion-Hearted, of England, Count William of Poitiers, Rambout, Count of Orange, Pierre d’Auvergne, Pierre Ramon de Toulouse, Pierre Vidal, Pons de Capdueil, poet, singer and violinist, Aimeric de Pequilain, Blagobres, a virtuoso on all instruments, Blondel de Nesle, the Chatelain de Coucy, Thibault, King of Navarre. Clement, the French historian, gives a list of 28 trouvères [Pg 84] of the 13th century, less prominent socially than those already mentioned. The most celebrated of them and the most important from the historian’s standpoint is Adam de La Hale or Halle, born 1240. He wrote many pieces, of which we have thirty-three songs, some rondeaux, six motets, some Jeux Partis, among the latter being a work which is regarded as a sort of comic opera, sometimes called the “first opera”: “Robin and Marion”; it consists of dialogue and airs.


Air from Robin and Marion.



Instruments of the Minnesingers.

Minnesingers.—While the trouvères and troubadours were singing in Provence and in France, an analogous association was forming in Germany, to which the name Minnesingers (Minne, old German, “love”) was given. A list of names belonging to the 13th century includes 162 men, among whom are several occupying thrones. Names that have interest for us are Klingsor, Wolfram von Eschenbach (author of a poem on “Parcival”), Gottfried of Strassburg (author of a poem “Tristan and Isolde”), Walter von der Vogelweide, the Chevalier Tannhaeuser and Heinrich Meissen, called Frauenlob. Richard Wagner [Pg 85] has introduced some of these men in his operas. The versification of the Minnesingers has been much admired by critics; it was filled with art as well as beauty. Their love themes differed from those of the Provençal singers in that while the poetry of the latter declared love as a gallant sentiment, the Germans gave it a loftier tone by mingling it with the Madonna sentiment.

Folk-Song.—While the German nobles were employing themselves in the service of art, the people were not idle. They had their tunes and their verses. The Locheimer Liederbuch (1452), contains a number of songs, some of which are undoubtedly very old; they are melodious, varied in rhythm and full of naïve simplicity. Some of them are arranged in the popular three-voice style, and show correct part leading, the inclination being toward our major and minor modes instead of the Church Modes.


Hans Sachs.

Mastersingers.—The most noted musical organization among the people was that of the Mastersingers (celebrated in Richard Wagner’s opera); Nuremberg, Mayence, Strassburg and Frankfort were their centres. The members were organized into a Guild, just as was the case [Pg 86] in trade affairs; they had a charter from the Emperor Charles IV. Their poetry and music were not elevated, for the members of the Guild were not of a standing and an education to give them real skill in the fine arts. The records of the Mastersingers show that the members were principally tradesmen, such as farriers, armorers, locksmiths, tailors, cobblers; yet there were some members who could lay claims to culture and higher standing, as engravers, physicians and a few gentlemen of leisure. The most conspicuous of them all was Hans Sachs, the cobbler-poet of Nuremberg. Their works were marked by monotonous melody, (for the pitch is but little varied) and a heavy, clumsy rhythm. To make up for the lack of real artistic idea they were pedantic to an extreme; composition was hedged about by a multitude of rules, to which composers must give exact obedience. These rules were given in a code called Tablatura. They held contests in which the members vied in producing works exemplifying the principles of the organization.

Questions and Suggestions.

What country in Europe was inhabited by the Gauls?

Where did the Celts live?

What countries did the Scandinavians inhabit?

Give an account of their music.

Describe the work of minstrels, jongleurs, trouvères, troubadours.

Where did the Minnesingers live?

Tell about the Mastersingers.

Give the names of minstrels or other singers famous in history.

What was the condition of the artisan classes and guilds in the larger German cities at this time?

If possible, get the stories of the operas, “Tannhäuser” and the “Mastersingers of Nuremberg” and read them privately or in the class. [Pg 87]

Suggestions for a Review of Previous Lessons.

Give an idea of the process by which music becomes an art and what the principles of music are.

What sciences are drawn upon, and how, in the study of the beginnings of music?

What countries offer interest to the student of musical beginnings? How are these races related?

Give a summary of music among the Chinese. The Japanese. The Hindoos.

Give a summary of music among the Chaldeans. The Egyptians. The Hebrews. What points in common did these races show?

Give an account of the writers on music among the Greeks, and their works.

Describe the Scale of Conjunct Tetrachords. Disjunct Tetrachords. The Lesser Perfect System. The Greater Perfect System.

Give the names of the various Greek Scales.

Give a summary of the Greek Octave System. Describe the Chromatic and Enharmonic Scales.

Describe the Greek musical instruments; notation.

Tell the story of music among the Romans. How did the Church Scales originate? State the differences between the Greek and the Church Scales.

What is the function of the Dominant in the Church Scales? Describe the Hexachord Scales and the names of the sounds.

Describe early systems of notation in music. Describe early attempts at Harmony. What was Discant? Give a summary of the statements of the early writers on the subject of Harmony.

Give an account of music among the Gauls and Celts, the Saxons, Scandinavians, etc.

Tell about the great song movement outside the church, minstrels, etc.; the Minnesingers; the Mastersingers.

Each of these questions or several together may be made the subject of a written paper, giving a summary. Students should be encouraged to make critical examination of a subject, to institute comparisons showing progress, and the steps that mark that progress, wherein one man has drawn from a predecessor, wherein new things have been done. [Pg 88]

The Causes of Polyphonic Development and the
Importance of the Polyphonic Era

In the Introduction attention was called to the fact that the labors of musicians to develop an art of music varied between the effort to make artistic use of the material of music, that is, to give it definite form, and to make it express the feelings of mankind; the first is in the line of construction, the second, content. The period we now take up was concerned most deeply, in its earlier stages, as we shall see, with finding adequate and logical principles of construction by which a musical composition of more or less length could be made from a simple musical idea and in which more than one voice could be used.

This period should be studied with the greatest thoroughness, and all possible examples of music of the composers representative of the period should be examined that one may gather a clear idea of the beginnings of composition and the development that shows from one generation to the next. These first gropings after the principles are matters of extreme interest to the musician when he compares the results in the music of the twentieth century.

The Polyphonic and Monophonic Styles.—Students frequently express surprise that the complicated polyphonic or contrapuntal system, which began to take shape in the 11th century, should appear first, historically. The pupil in composition begins his studies with the harmonic or monophonic style and is afterwards inducted into the polyphonic style. Why did the musical art develop along polyphonic and not on the simpler lines? It is intended that this lesson and those [Pg 89] that follow shall show some of the influences that caused the line of development to move in a polyphonic and not in a monophonic direction. One thought is important to note. The elements of the simple, monophonic style were present in the music of the early centuries, in the people’s song, principally; since, however, it was the Church that determined the direction of artistic composition, the simple, natural principles of melody-making yielded precedence to a more highly organized, intellectual process. Before taking up the consideration of these matters it is well to get an understanding of the terms Monophony and Polyphony.

There are two methods of giving harmonic support to a melody: by adding an accompaniment of chords, in simple or elaborated form, or by dividing the notes of the chords among three or more voices, which notes are sung or played simultaneously with the melody (an example is furnished by any simple air with accompaniment or a hymn-tune in four parts, in which the “air” or melody is in the soprano); this is Monophony, (monos—Greek for “one,” phone—“sound”); a second method is to add to the given melody other melodies, each independent in its movement up and down and in the duration of its successive sounds so far as concerns the movement and duration of the sounds in the given melody. This is Polyphony (polus, Greek for “many”).

Relation of Polyphonic to Modern Music.—The exact relation of the Polyphonic Era to modern music has rarely been correctly estimated. Writers on this phase of the development of music are apt to lose themselves in wonder on noting the scientific growth of the art, and to express their great surprise that so peculiar an evolution should occur. This view of the question is totally inadequate. In order truly to estimate the value and influence of the period, it is necessary to inquire into the properties of the materials of musical construction which were developed, and the value of those materials as a foundation for the modern structure of music, apparently so different from the early forms, but yet so intimately related to these forms. [Pg 90]

Polyphonic music presents to the student so complex a form as to require the aid of material imagery in order to help the mind to a proper conception of it. Perhaps no more misleading idea has been advanced than that which makes use of the Gothic cathedral as an illustration of polyphonic form. It is true that in its multiplicity and yet inter-relation of details the cathedral expresses one of the dominant ideas of polyphonic music; but here the likeness fails. A nicer perception of the subject may be gained by comparing polyphonic music to the foundation of a Gothic cathedral, strong and massive in construction, of utmost need to the permanence of the building, but entirely lost sight of in a general view of the whole structure; the importance of the comparison being the likeness of the complex and highly-developed superstructure to monophonic or modern music, seemingly so independent of what lies beneath, but in reality, dependent upon, and intimately connected with the established basis. Only in this way can we apprehend the real value of the polyphonic foundation to our superstructure of modern music; but for that foundation our modern music must have remained in its infancy for centuries to come. No freedom of artistic expression can be gained until absolute command of the material to be used has been obtained, and the principles thoroughly assimilated by the artist.

Polyphony and Monophony Contrasted.—In the concrete, polyphonic music may be represented by a series of lines representing separate and distinct melodies; though a principal melody is always used, it is not supported by chords of harmonic structure but by other melodies, or transpositions of the same melody, so used as to contrast with and support each other. Polyphonic music was essentially melodic, and, as has been very aptly stated, is to be thought of horizontally. Monophonic music might best be represented by one horizontal line supported at intervals by short, perpendicular lines. In this case the horizontal line represents the only distinct melody, and the perpendicular lines the subordinate or harmonic support or [Pg 91] accompaniment. The following example illustrates the process of using the same melody to furnish the principal idea and also the accompanying support, the latter being at the same time simply a transposition of the original melody.



Polyphonic Style. Bach Fugue. Subject (or melody) enters in measure one; again, transposed to the fourth below in measure three, and one octave below in measure ten. Enough is cited to show the horizontal structure of polyphonic music.

To present the idea more clearly and for the sake of contrast, a melody with accompaniment is shown in the next illustration, giving a single melody with the subordinate chord accompaniment, the chords in whole notes indicating the harmonic structure or basis.



Beethoven, Op. 24, Monophonic Style. Sonata for Violin and Piano. Melody enters in measure one with subordinate accompaniment. [Pg 92]

Search for Structural Principles.—While this question of the relation of polyphonic music to modern music may not apply to the first step in the development of the polyphonic style, yet it furnishes a preface to a discussion of the earliest stages of polyphonic evolution. The period preceding the year 1000 A. D. was truly a period of fundamental research into the underlying principles of melodic and harmonic structure; but so crude and hesitating was the use of what was found that it is certain that polyphonic material was entirely misused until the birth of “measured music” dispelled this darkness by the enlightening influence of Proportion and Form. So many forms of musical growth, such as came in later years, were impossible without the mensural proportion, that is, music written so as to indicate duration, that this initial period gathered but a chaotic mass of musical material which was left undigested and unassimilated until the epoch of the Paris school.

Beginning of Polyphony in Greek Magadizing.—The music of the Middle Ages has great interest for the historian and the student. It stands between our music and the music of the ancients; it drove its roots deep into the ancient time and extended its branches far into the contemporaneous epoch. It is the struggle between the two elements, the changes foreshadowed and apparent that give such interest to the history of music in the Middle Ages.

Polyphonic music was long in growing. To understand clearly, one must examine it from its very beginning in Greek magadizing, referred to in Lesson V. Music for many centuries was, in all its most important phases, entirely vocal. The ancients, probably because of the crude forms of their instruments, valued the human voice as the most suitable means of expressing the feelings through music, thus causing the peculiar phenomenon of the extremely late development of dissonances. While instruments can easily perform even the harshest of the dissonances, it is almost impossible for untrained voices to sing other than the more simple consonances. For this reason, the dependence [Pg 93] on the voice as practically the only medium for the expression of musical ideas forced the cultivators of music to use the simple consonances of the octave, fourth and fifth. In its earliest stages music was entirely melodic and was limited to the use of one distinct melody, so that, no matter how many were singing, but one melody was employed. Soon arose the problem of accommodating the voices of boys and men to the same melody. It was manifestly impossible to have men and boys sing in unison, because of the difference in the compass of their voices; so the Greeks hit upon the plan of causing them to sing in octaves, a plan which science sanctioned, for had not Pythagoras proven that the octave, after the unison, was the most perfect consonance? This the Greeks called Magadizing. Why the Greeks, knowing as they did the other consonances, did not magadize in the fourth and fifth cannot be explained; the only argument that can be advanced is, that their melodies were so limited in range that the voice of any man, whether tenor or bass, could without difficulty reach the highest or lowest tones of a melody in unison. While magadizing among the Greeks cannot be counted as a great advance toward the realm of polyphony and harmony, yet it was the first important step in the evolution, and as such, is important. So far, the voices singing simultaneously, though at a different pitch, and moving together in similar time values, followed monophonic methods.

Organum the Next Step.—Further development did not take place until the destruction of Greek civilization had occurred and a sufficient lapse of time had allowed the Christian Church to establish itself: in a religious sense, in the hearts of the people, and in a permanent sense, by building churches and monasteries. In these monasteries we find the next great advance in magadizing, though now under the name of Diaphony or Organum. The musical learning of the time was painfully inadequate for the uses to which it was put. There remained in existence only a few of the Greek scientific scales, and those woefully distorted in form; no simple notation or musical literature; and in all probability, only a tradition in regard to the [Pg 94] melodic construction and magadizing. Perhaps this was just as well, however, for the problem confronting these monks differed greatly from that solved by the Greeks. In the monasteries only men’s voices were used, and these without special regard to the compass. The problem was this: Given a melody to sing, using men’s voices of every range, from high tenor to low bass, without using independent parts. The difficulties were two in number: they had no conception of independent parts, and their melodies were of greater range than those of the Greeks, thus forbidding the practice of singing entirely in the octave or unison. The solution was reached in the following way, as indicated in the preceding lesson: If the octave, unison, fourth and fifth were consonances, why not sing in the fourth and fifth as well as in the unison and octave? They had as yet no idea of singing two distinct melodies at the same time, but thought only of singing the same melody in the most consonant or agreeable manner. The result was music which sounded like the following example; while it was crude and harsh, it gave every monk opportunity to sing simultaneously the same melody, no matter what the range of his voice:



About the close of the ninth century, as we learned in Lesson VI, at the time of Otger or Odo, an abbot of Provence, in France, organizing had so developed as to be written for as many as four parts, using, however, only the perfect consonances, as the next example will show. In reality there are but two parts, as the two lower voices double the upper.



[Pg 95] Secular Organum.—The most remarkable advance is shown in a form called Secular Organum, probably because of some relation to the Folk-song and the common people. This form showed the use not only of perfect consonances but of the imperfect consonance of the third; and, wonderful to relate, of a second, though only in a passing sense. That such a discord should be used is a remarkable commentary on the inherent sense of harmony which seemed to exist naturally, even at that early day. This form may have had its germ in the drone bass supplied by the bagpipe, which figured in the music of the people.



Example of Secular Organum showing use of third and second.

The Workers.—Two men, as was shown in the preceding lesson, were instrumental in remarkably furthering this growth of music. Hucbald, of St. Amand, in Flanders, was born in 840 A. D. and died in 930. He was a friend of Otger of Provence, and it is through the latter that some of Hucbald’s work is preserved. Hucbald probably never wrote in organum of more than two parts, though mention is made of an organum credited to him and having in addition to the two voices, a third singing a pedal-point, or a bass on one single tone. His principal work is a manuscript on organum, a work of great reference value. Guido of Arezzo, born 990, died 1050, is of even more importance. Unlike Hucbald and Otger, he seems to have been more than a secluded monk, for he visited Rome and was a well-known figure in the church. He was a most active teacher, and while his chief work was in developing notation, he nevertheless contributed important material in the form of organum, writing in as many as four parts, though in respect to the use of the less perfect consonances he was very little freer than Hucbald.

A short example, extracted from an 11th century three-part composition, is given here as a specimen of the combinations and successions that were tolerated by the ears of the Middle Ages, and to [Pg 96] show the tendency toward greater freedom in the direction of the motion of the parts, pointing toward those principles which later formed the science of Counterpoint.



Several interesting points may be seen in this barbarous composition: First, the imitation by the second tenor of the phrase given by the first tenor. This is evidently intentional, as this phrase occurs three times in the course of the composition and is imitated in the same way every time. This same phrase occurs near the end of the bass part (which is the theme or Cantus) and it may have been chosen for this very reason for use in the Discant parts. Secondly, the initial and final chords, viz.: root, fifth and octave—are familiar to all students of Strict Counterpoint. Writers as late as Cherubini call this combination the best for beginning and ending Three Part Counterpoint.

Development Determined by the Church.—The Church and its beliefs were responsible for this singular yet not illogical development. Considering the peculiar monastic conditions, the evolution could not be expected to occur along lines which it would have taken had it been developed among the people and under the influence of the Folk-song. The learning of these monks was largely in church lore, and this, with a desire for a peculiar church music, led to the discarding of the natural and vivacious melodies and rhythms of the people, for the scientific and ascetic music and discipline of monastic religion. The one great advantage of this period to modern music was the constant association with the principal [Pg 97] intervals of the scale; an association which may be partially responsible for our modern Tonic and Dominant harmonies. On the whole, this period represents the marking out of the lines of musical development for the eight centuries following, though the men responsible for this beginning could hardly have known or appreciated the impetus which was to be given polyphonic music by the invention of their simple devices to accommodate voices of different compass and to secure concerted singing.

Questions and Suggestions.

What is meant by Monophony? Polyphony?

Make an analogy between Polyphonic music and Architecture.

Contrast Polyphony and Monophony by the use of lines.

What was the nature of the researches in music before 1000 A. D.?

How did the Greek magadizing influence musical development?

What is Organum? Secular Organum?

Who were the prominent musicians of this period?

How did the Church influence musical development? [Pg 98]

The teacher or one of the pupils may give a summary of the Gothic style of architecture. Another pupil may give the most noted historical events coinciding with this period; also historical characters. Scholarship was cherished principally in the Church and in the monasteries, hence the predominance of Churchmen in the early history of music. Hucbald lived during the time of Alfred the Great; Guido died 16 years before the battle of Hastings (1066). A useful device in fixing the details of a lesson is for the teacher to arrange that the pupils shall question him, the questions to be of such a nature as to show that they know the lesson thoroughly. [Pg 99]

The Paris School.

Influence of Art on Music.—All of the fine arts, with the exception of Music had, by the year 1100, reached a fairly high stage of development due, no doubt, to the fact that they are to a great extent composed of concrete materials. Music, owing to its lack of the concrete and the inability of men literally to place their hands upon its material, had lagged behind, so that in 1100 we find only a small amount of material, and that in a most chaotic condition. This material was, however, sufficient to produce definite musical forms if united into a homogeneous whole; such a state, however, could be produced only as the result of some great influence which would galvanize the component parts into action. Fortunately, there was just such an influence, one which had passed through an evolution similar to that needed in music, though because of its more concrete form and its necessity to man, this evolution had occurred at a proportionately earlier date. This influence was an art form, a phase of architecture known as the Gothic. Gothic architecture was a form built up by the unifying of the principal styles of architecture into one uniform whole, and composed of a multiplicity of details, but of such evident relation to each other as to make a distinct art form. This form was first used in Paris about the year 1000 A. D. Music was, approximately, in the same condition as Architecture before the birth of the Gothic principle, and needed a stimulus, a comrade art undergoing much the same evolution, to start it on its path of polyphonic development. In the year 1100 musical chaos became united into one uniform art by means of Measured Music or Proportion, thus [Pg 100] allowing the systematizing of the mass of then existing material, and the construction of definite art forms. Since Architecture had undergone just such a change one century before, it is more than probable that the effect of this change was the starting of a similar one in Music, though the result was not to show until one hundred years after its occurrence in the kindred art.

Paris the Centre of Europe.—It was natural that these two great changes should take place in Paris, at that time the centre of wealth and learning for all Europe. Paris, in addition to its many other advantages, had long possessed a great university which had produced many scholars and theologians. The influence of the Church in all art was then paramount, for all art was employed in the service of the Church; Architecture gave to the Church its Gothic cathedrals; Painting and Frescoing its marvelous interior decorations; while Music made possible the richer forms of the service or liturgy. In that sense the Church, in its centre of theological study, would undoubtedly react on the practice of music and produce more beautiful forms for the service. In this period it is worthy of note that all the famous musicians, as before, were monks, or men employed in the Church, and the reason for this condition is plain: there was no art of music outside of the Church.

Measured Music.—Just as the use of many voices produced singing in parts, so did it produce Measured Music. To make it possible to use more than two parts at the same time it was necessary to have some definite agreement as to the value of the notes, in order to have certain uniform times for beginning, ending and performing the different portions of a composition agreeably; and so Measured Music was born. It may be said here that the different metrical divisions were not shown by means of bar lines as we now use them, but by different groupings of the notes, the time value of each depending on its relative position to the others. Perhaps of all forms produced by this system, the Organum Purum was the earliest and most peculiar. [Pg 101] It consisted of a Cantus Firmus set to words, and metrical in form; a second voice freely extemporized a higher part, evidently the only rule being that the two finish together. At a late date, strict Discant sometimes alternated with the old Organum, making it much less free in character.

The Important Forms.—In reality, the important forms produced were entirely in strict metrical divisions. Of these, the most important were the so-called strict Organum, the Conductus, the Roundel and the Motet. Of the strict Organum very little is known, excepting that it was a strictly metrical form, differing, in that sense only, from the Organum Purum; it had also words for all parts and not only for the Cantus Firmus, as had the older forms. The Conductus, from the Latin conducere, to conduct, was important, and was a secular form having as its basis a popular melody or a newly invented one, secular words and much freer intervals than church compositions. Each part was expected to be melodious; and it varied from two to four in the number of voices used. It was sung during a march, a funeral cortège or procession.



Conductus for three voices showing that each part is a distinct melody. Oxford History of Music, Vol. I.

The Roundel, from an historical view-point, was the most important form, for in it much use was made of Imitation. It can best be explained in the words of Walter Odington, a theorist of the time: “Let a melody, with or without a text, in one of the regular modes of rhythm, and as beautiful as possible, be devised, and let each voice sing this in turn. And at the same time let other melodies be devised [Pg 102] to accompany it in the second and (if there be three voices) in the third voice; let them proceed in consonances, and so that when one voice ascends another descends, and let the third not follow too closely the movement of either of the others, except perhaps for the sake of greater beauty. And let all of these melodies be sung by each voice in turn.” While the use of Imitation is important in that it recognizes the repetition of a set phrase as an aid to Unity, its importance is detracted from, at least at this period, because it was not used in any of the other forms then in vogue.



Roundel for three voices showing Imitation. There are six distinct melodic phrases, and by numbering these wherever they appear, the Imitation can readily be observed.

Imitation a Means of Securing Unity.—An art form must submit to the laws of the human mind, which demand that a work of art shall show [Pg 103] three principles: Unity, Variety or Contrast and Proportion or Symmetry. The problem set before the old composers was to produce musical works which should exhibit obedience to the canons of art as determined in the sister arts which had already reached great perfection. Unity in a musical work means that it is a development of one central thought, in elaborate works, of several leading ideas. The germ of a musical composition is in the Theme. The composer’s problem is to elaborate a piece of some length from this Theme, in that way to secure Unity of idea. If he were limited to writing in one part, he would be compelled to repeat the Theme a number of times, either on the same or on a different degree. When he must write for three or more voices the problem becomes more complicated. Let us imagine a composer of the 12th-century at his work. He has a theme to use, like the one in the example at the end of the preceding paragraph, which he is to use in three parts. From the composers of the preceding centuries he received the principle of transposing the theme a fourth or fifth or octave higher or lower, thus singing the same melody simultaneously at different pitches; but this he rejects as crude; he has passed that stage and wishes to use a newer, more advanced method. Obviously his recourse will be to let each of the other two voices sing the opening theme successively at the same pitch. To stop with this change would result only in three successive repetitions of the opening theme; so he makes the second and third voices sing the phrases used by the first voice after the first theme has been given, which serve as an accompaniment to the second and third entries of the first theme; thus all the voices sing the various phrases, at different times and in different successions, as shown by the numbering of the phrases. In later times the principal phrases were sung successively and transposed at the same time. This principle of Imitation is the very foundation of the later complicated polyphonic system.

The Motet.—In the form of the Motet we note many peculiarities. Each voice had different words, though the Tenor or foundation of the [Pg 104] composition used but one single word throughout; also, the Tenor was composed of a certain metrical and melodic figure closely adhered to and built up out of some popular song. The words and the form were sacred in that they were used in worship.

The Men of the Time.—There are many men who wrote in these forms but it is only necessary to examine those of importance. Franco of Cologne (1150-1220), (dates disputed), an organist, was probably the pioneer in the adoption of Measured Music. He first advocated the use of triple meter and classified the dissonances of major and minor thirds and sixths. He used his influence against the use of consecutive fourths and fifths, and for the use of contrary motion. The result is in many ways shown in the following example:



Leonin (about 1140) and Perotin (his pupil) were organists at Notre Dame in Paris. The former was noteworthy in the reform of notation, while the latter is known principally for his use of crude Imitation, and a tendency not to use consecutive fourths and fifths, though he never entirely succeeded in eradicating them. Franco of Paris (1150———), often confused with his namesake of Cologne, was a theoretician, improved notation, and wrote a treatise on Mensural Music. Jean de Garlande (1170-125—) not only wrote a very valuable treatise on Mensural Music, but was also a composer of note; his writings contained specimens of Double Counterpoint, though probably used without the intention of producing them. Jerome de Moravie (1260) wrote a scholarly treatise on Discant, and such was his ability that he illustrated it with his own compositions, making it one of the most valuable reference works in existence. It is worthy of mention that all of these men were churchmen in the sense that their [Pg 105] work was all done in, or with the approval of, the Church, and was therefore influenced by the peculiar beliefs and customs then obtaining in that institution. This point must ever be kept in mind, for any prolonged contact with Folk-music must have changed the entire development of the art; therefore we must regard the Church as the dominant influence of early music.

Summary.—The work of this period can hardly be over-estimated. First we see the influence of the Gothic in architecture, producing a corresponding unity in music; a unity which was concomitant with Measured or Mensural Music. We next see the attempt to combine metrical with unmetrical forms in the Organum Purum, and the final result in the strict form of Organum. Then we note the freedom shown in the Conductus, Roundel and Motet, as well as freedom in the use of more pleasing intervals, with the tendency to eradicate consecutive fourths and fifths; the use of contrary motion instead of parallel, and the consequent melodic freedom of the voices, and finally the use of Imitation, though perhaps unintentionally, except in the Roundel. This period then marks the acquisition not only of new intervals, new forms, new styles of melodic writing, imitation, measured music and simple counterpoint of note against note, but also forms the foundation for a rapid development by bequeathing to the Gallo-Belgic School a wealth of material, bound up with rules and only half-suspected as to its value, it is true, but broad and firm enough to sustain a mighty structure of true Polyphonic Music.

[Pg 106]

Questions and Suggestions.

How did art influence music?

What made Paris the centre of Europe?

What was Measured Music?

What forms of music were developed in this period? Explain them.

Why is Imitation a logical process toward securing Unity in musical construction?

Who are leading composers of this period?

What are the successive steps of development as shown in this period?

The historical period corresponding with this lesson extends from the death of William Rufus, son of William the Conqueror, to the death of Richard the Lion-Hearted, and includes the Crusade in which that hero was the principal figure. It will be remembered that Richard was a great patron of minstrelsy. [Pg 107]

The Gallo-Belgic School.

A New Art Centre.—The development of any art, and more especially Music, requires the dominance of wealth, learning and general civilizing forces, to form an epoch-marking school. Paris for a time satisfactorily filled these conditions, and then gave place to a school, stronger and better equipped: that of the Netherlands. There were several reasons for this change in the centre of musical activity. So long as Paris was dominant in wealth and civilization, and so long as she maintained her supremacy in the intellectual fields of the Church and university, so long did she retain the centre of culture; but when her wealth became such as to produce degeneracy in the taste for pure art, and love of show rather than real worth became predominant, then her native pupils began to lose their intellectual strength, and the pupils from foreign countries began to furnish the real culture. The establishment of the Papal See at Avignon in the south of France doubtless contributed to the supremacy of France in music and the liberal arts. When the See was restored to Rome, in 1377, Paris and her school of music were relegated to the background. From this period on it was but a matter of time for these pupils to carry the centre of musical culture from Paris to a place possessing a foundation for musical growth, and a greater number of strong minded scholars, and where political conditions were favorable. The Netherlands surpassed Paris in all of these important particulars, though not at the time when the Paris School ceased to be of importance. There was a school of transition which filled the space [Pg 108] left between the important work of Paris and the supremacy of the Netherlands; that school was the Gallo-Belgic, located northeast from Paris on the borderline between France and Belgium, Tournay being the centre. The school at Paris was occupied in acquiring material for use; the school of the Netherlands developed polyphonic music emotionally; the step from acquisition to arrangement of material was necessary before emotional development could occur, and that was the work of the Gallo-Belgic School. This school was located in the country of Hucbald and Odo, who had built up there, a little while before, a system of music which was the foundation of the polyphonic style, and which had prepared the people for a culture of greater value and importance. Thus we see that musical development followed the line of greatest preparation, and utilized the preparatory work furnished by these two men. And finally, it was a direct step toward the Netherlands which were even then beginning the struggle in which they were victorious, for supremacy in commerce, art, and music.

Contribution of the Paris School.—When the Paris school ceased to be of utmost importance to the world of music it had bequeathed to the later schools Measured Music, and its forms of Organum, Motet, Conductus and Roundel, and the use of certain not unpleasing intervals, though occasional consecutive fourths, fifths, and octaves appeared. It was, then, the business of the Gallo-Belgic school to refine these intervals, develop measured music, and so improve and develop these old primary forms, eliminating some and evolving others, as to give the school of the Netherlands, one century later, forms pleasing in intervals and of sufficient unity and design to afford opportunity for the infusion of the emotional. In the matter of intervals much was done to develop and use the old ones, excepting the consecutive fourths and fifths which were abolished never to appear again, and many new, or previously unused intervals, were made use of. In the matter of forms, we hear no more of the crude Organum and Conductus, but a little about the Motet, and nothing at all in regard to the Roundel, as such. It is, [Pg 109] however, due entirely to this last form that polyphonic music developed; though we hear no more of the Roundel, we do hear much in regard to the Canon, and the Canon was but a highly developed species of the Roundel.

Imitation and the Canon.—The use of Imitation, as we have seen, gradually became more and more important. The old monks, in the very beginning, imitated melody in the fourth and fifth; at the time of the Paris school these melodies were combined with new ones making Imitation with more than one melody, though the melody underwent no real organic development. Now we see in the inception of the Canon a development of real Imitation of only one melody, but given Variety by use of the devices of Inversion, Augmentation, Diminution, etc. And not only did this occur in the Canon, but we find it also in the other forms, in a freer style, adding materially to the Unity. Imitation is the foundation principle of polyphonic music, and this principle was present in the crude efforts of the old monks, in the more intelligent efforts of the Paris school, and now for the first time, receives, in the Gallo-Belgic school, a partial recognition of its real value, and a commensurate use.



Naumann, History of Music, Vol. I, page 315, extract from a chanson by Dufay. Figure 1 shows the principal melody, figure 2 shows the same at the fifth below. The entire chanson is quoted in Naumann with the various imitations fairly well marked; the student should refer to it.

The Value of Imitation.—We must understand, however, that mere Imitation is in itself not a remarkable phenomenon. We imitate, more or [Pg 110] less unconsciously, in all arts, and even in our daily habits; but this would be of no lasting importance did we not take that imitation as a foundation for future development, as did the composers of this school. And in these polyphonic schools the imitation was unintentional, as a definite aid to the structure of a musical idea, until it was seen that the imitation must be confined to one definite idea or melody. It was then that the original treatment of melodic development began, and the various devices for developing a melody, without changing its organic structure, inaugurated. This marked the beginning of a school of musical art, a school of definite, and not chance evolution; or in other words, arrangement and development of the earlier acquired ideas.

A Technical Principle.—A little consideration will show how the principle of Imitation was developed. The first step was to imitate a melody at a lower or higher pitch and sing the two or more versions simultaneously; the next step was to bring in the second and other imitating voices successively, at the same or different pitch; thus making the imitation more prominent. So long as composers confined their efforts to using fixed melodies, they could not go far. When they began to adapt well-known melodies and later to invent their own it became possible to make a lengthy work, this leading to a composition in which each of the accompanying voices imitated the first; sometimes only two voices used imitation, the other having a somewhat free part. A next step was to vary the imitation, by changing the motion of the imitating part; if the melody moved up, the imitating part moved downward and vice versa; sometimes the movement was reversed, the imitation beginning with the last note of the phrase and proceeding to the first; sometimes it was made in notes of smaller value (diminution), sometimes in larger (augmentation). These and other devices were experimented with and worked out by the Gallo-Belgic composers. One readily sees that this is intellectual work, that it puts a premium on cleverness and lays expression aside. Yet the technic [Pg 111] of an art must first be acquired and the composers of this period were doing this in working out a system of technic in composition with Imitation as the foundation.



Illustration from Naumann, “History of Music,” page 321, Vol. I, showing at 1 and 2 the principal melody and its imitation, and at 3, imitation and inversion. The student should examine the entire example in Naumann.

The Work of the Gallo-Belgic School.—We note that many of the new ideas came into being at this time, all of them, however, tending toward the arranging of material or the preparing of it for the emotional style. The Canon, and the principle of Imitation, developed a set of strict rules which tended to produce more adequate command of material and assisted in shaping the Fugue; though we, in our own day, regard these rules as positively detrimental to the real expression of emotion, yet they were necessary adjuncts to the real command of technic. With Imitation came Counterpoint of a more highly developed form; an inevitable step toward the fugal style of the later polyphonic periods. And lastly came a use of Folk-music melodies and the Leading Tone, important because they foreshadow the abandonment of the old Church Modes, and the adoption of the Natural Scale. This marks the important point in the Gallo-Belgic school; for with the introduction of the Natural Scale there came increasing tendency for emotional expression, which could never have occurred had the Church Modes retained their former position in music. The idea of this preparation of material for emotional development cannot be emphasized too strongly. Upon the Gallo-Belgic school rested the burden of [Pg 112] preparing this material for the later schools, so that these could demonstrate to the world that while polyphonic music could not be surpassed as a means of expressing certain impersonal, almost religious emotions, it could not express to the fullest, the intimate, personal, emotional ideas of the romantic composers.

The Men.—The men of this period are more important than any that have yet been mentioned, and for that reason require more detailed study. H. de Zeelandia (13—-1370), a native of Flanders, was a teacher and composer, and author of a theoretical treatise with musical examples, “De Musica”; with him the use of consecutive fourths, fifths and octaves almost disappears, though it remained for a later composer to abolish these entirely. Guillaume Dufay (1355-1435) was the one to whom this reform must be finally accredited. He used in place of the old church form of Cantus Firmus, the popular melodies of the people with their tendency toward the Natural Scale and the use of the Leading Tone and its decisive tonality; it may be said that these melodies were not used in their entirety, or even in their original form, the rhythm and meter oftentimes being altered so that the airs were hardly recognizable, though the essential parts were there. It is Dufay who is responsible for the first intelligent use of Imitation as a basis for the Canon. Gilles (Ægidius) Binchois (1400-1465) was a noted composer and, with Dufay, a joint founder of the Gallo-Belgic school. He is said to have been a soldier before he entered the Church, and must have been of a light-hearted disposition, as he was called “the father of joyousness.” He was the teacher of Okeghem, Firmin Caron and of Busnois. Antoine de Busnois (1440-1481) was the last famous master of this school before it was merged into the school of the Netherlands. In his works one can note a further progress in smoothness of style and examples of well managed imitation. The character of the latter is so scholarly and so clearly not a matter of improvisation that we must consider him a man given to study and reflection, just the kind of character to give scientific study to the principle of Imitation. [Pg 113]

The Importance of this School.—This school occupied only a short period of time (1360-1460), as compared to some of the other schools; but in that time much was done. The material taken from the Paris school was great and capable of being developed, though it was encumbered by unusual intervals and a prejudice against the more euphonious ones, and by a number of obsolete forms; so obsolete, in fact, that with perhaps one exception, the Motet, none lasted until the time of Bach. But the use of Imitation and Measured Music was sufficient for the men of the Gallo-Belgic school, and with this as a foundation, and the constantly-increasing tendency to use the Folk-music and the Natural Scale, they succeeded in so arranging their material that the men of the Netherlands had but to infuse emotion to make it produce great music. Dufay and his contemporaries had done this much: to create organically well-ordered tone combinations agreeable both in melodic and harmonic relations. Both artists and public found pleasure in the many transitions, the free use of suspensions, the altered tones and chords borrowed from other scales, in the ensemble of these methods which did not give rise in reality to chord-relations as we understand them, yet suggested something of the kind, and particularly were they pleased with the use of the variety-giving changing notes. Because the Gallo-Belgic school did not invent new forms, or develop old forms to a high degree of perfection, is no reason why it should not be given a high rank among polyphonic schools, for the process of refining and transition is often more difficult than that of inventing.

[Pg 114]

Questions and Suggestions.

Why did Paris lose her position as the centre of culture in art?

What did the Paris school contribute?

In what way was Imitation to be valuable to musical composition?

What new methods of Imitation now appear?

What are the important points in the work of the Gallo-Belgic school?

Who were the prominent musicians in this school?

What advance is marked over the work of the Paris school?

The teacher should place on the board an outline of the leading countries of Europe, Italy, France, Germany and the Netherlands, showing the cities concerned in the development of music up to the time of Bach and Handel.

The reader can appreciate that the condition of France and Paris was not favorable to the growth of art at this period, which was one of wars between England and France in the territories of the latter. In 1346, Edward III of England won the battle of Crécy; the struggle was continued for the next hundred years at intervals, when the appearance of Joan of Arc (1412-1431) assisted the French. Monasteries were left unmolested, hence the monks near the Belgian border were able to work in comparative peace and quiet. [Pg 115]

The English School.

The English Polyphonic School is at once the least important and the most peculiar of all the schools of the Polyphonic Period. It is usually ignored by the writers on early music, not because there was no musical culture, but because there was not continuous and original development. English writers on this phase of musical development are too apt, through a pardonable pride of nationality, to exaggerate the value of British music, and in consulting such authorities, one should be careful to examine thoroughly all proofs of a dominant national school and discard such statements as are not perfectly authenticated. It is hardly the Englishman’s fault that he has had no definite culture which he may call genuinely English, for native composers have had more encouragement in England than usually falls to the lot of a creative musician. Indeed, England has always been a patron of the best in music, native or foreign, and no one nation has, as a whole, been more generous in appreciation; her treatment of Beethoven on his death-bed is a notable example of disinterested generosity. But in real, original, creative art England has had no great past; and especially is this true of the Polyphonic Period.

A Warlike People.—This is almost entirely due to her geographical position; there are many other reasons but they are almost all dependent on this one, and so must be treated in a subordinate sense. In her early days, England’s position served as a protection and kept intact her wealth of native Folk-music; but with the advent of the Romans and the spread of the knowledge of her natural wealth, came invasion after invasion. Since the first invasion, England has never [Pg 116] been at peace; she has either been busily engaged in repelling the enemy from her own shores, or aiding in a conquest of some less fortunate foe. These wars and conquests not only served to cultivate a militant and restless spirit, but also produced a race of fighters from natural inclination. Look at the warlike Angles and Saxons, note the mixture of Romans, Normans, Dutch and Huguenots, all at the zenith of their fighting powers, and then cease to wonder that England’s greatness has been in the power to fight, to govern, to make conquests, rather than to cultivate art. England, when she reached the stage of conquering rather than defending, began to give, more than to acquire, and never reached the acquisitive stage until the present time with Elgar and the lesser lights of the new school, unless we except Shakespeare and his contemporaries in the realm of literature. England’s cathedrals are but the results of European cathedral building and the unity of Government and Church; had the Church and State always been separate, it is safe to say that England would have waited much longer for her cathedrals.

The Kindred Arts.—Literature was the only exception; and it is not necessary to seek for a further reason than the fact that Literature, as an art, always developed before Music. Art, in painting, was in the early days borrowed from other countries, and not until modern times did England acquire a national school of Painting; a noteworthy fact, for like Literature, such an art almost always precedes a national culture of Music. But these examples of the evolution of the kindred arts of Literature and Painting are encouraging rather than discouraging, for, having attained a high standard in these, England may now hope to develop a national culture of Music. In Music much the same conditions obtained as in Literature and Painting. With the exception of one or two isolated composers, and these trained in foreign schools, England always borrowed her music; note for example, Handel, Buononcini, Mendelssohn, to quote just a few noteworthy foreign composers. Each race as it conquered England brought its own music. St. Augustine sang a Gregorian chant as he entered [Pg 117] Canterbury; the Normans and the Dutch had their own music; and Italian and German music long held the boards in England. Thus little time was spent in developing a native music, because the frequent wars and political troubles directed the strength into other channels than those of art; the proximity of a higher culture in Europe, and the tendencies of England’s foreign rulers, enabled them to import and subsist on foreign music when they should have been developing a native style. And finally, the isolation of England in the early days, later became an actual help to the acquirement of an alien style, because of the absolute necessity for students to live abroad to acquire musical learning.

Native Musical Life.—There was a certain amount of native musical life, but this did not tend to produce music along the conventional lines. Of Folk-music there was much, and the development, as a general rule, was aided rather than retarded by the conquests, though the combination of Folk-music of different nationalities does not usually tend to aid its unified evolution. The only real example of noteworthy writing, in the early polyphonic school, is the canon “Sumer is icumen in,” dated 1228, and attributed to an early English writer. There is no proof excepting the fact that the manuscript is in English, that the canon is of English origin; neither is there proof to the contrary. Single instances, however, do not prove the existence of an original school; and especially is this the case when that school, in its writings, far surpasses any other school of that period of which we know. In spite of the fact of the English text, and that this canon may be but one of many surviving the destruction of the English monasteries, impartial historians believe most strongly that the canon is of French origin, reset to English words and carried to England by a student of the Paris school. The Paris school was at its height at this time, and was the only school of such writing in the world; and while we have no other example of that school equal to this canon, yet it is easier to believe it to be French than English, for England had no such [Pg 118] school at all. She had musicians (like Odington), but they were all pupils of the Paris school; and even had this work been produced in England, it would be safer to credit it to the Paris school, for the man who wrote it would, almost of necessity, have studied there. The only other way of accounting for it is to presume the date to be too early.

It is but fair to say that while this canon may owe its origin to the principles of the Gallo-Belgic school, it stands alone as an article of historical interest to the musician. Nowhere on the Continent has a work of equal importance of so early a date been brought to view. Mr. Wm. Chappell, the English antiquarian, brought to light several other productions of early English composers, including a hymn in English, scored for two voices, and another in Latin, for three voices. The manuscript has been definitely attributed to the middle of the 13th century. There can be little doubt that when so many monasteries, with their treasures of learning, were suppressed and their inmates scattered, in the time of Henry VIII, owing to the national change from the Romish faith, many valuable manuscripts that would today have the utmost interest to the musical historian were destroyed.

Old English Canon “Sumer Is Icumen In.”


[Pg 119]



[Pg 120] Whether this is purely English or not matters little, for it is a fine specimen and exemplifies Walter Odington’s rule for the construction of a Roundel, cited in a former lesson. This is more than a mere roundel, having not only a little Inversion and much Imitation, managed in a most ingenious manner, but also the whole canon is founded on a ground bass in two parts, themselves in canonic form. This bass consists of the regulation metrical form as seen at A and the following two measures, has one measure forming a connecting passage, thus bringing in the portion marked B which is the same as A only a fifth higher; the whole forms a remarkable evidence of an early conception of the relation of the Tonic and Dominant, hardly to be believed. This metrical form is introduced, slightly changed and inverted, in the upper voices at A and B. The first voice states in all five melodies and the other voices follow at intervals of 4, 8, and 12 measures; in ending voice number two omits part of theme V, voice number three all of it and voice number four all of V and the imitation of the metrical bass.

Outside this one example, England produced little but moderately good polyphonic music in the form of motets and madrigals, and in the time of Gibbons and Purcell, sonatas and operas. There were also anthems, the old plain chant and much Folk-music, but nothing that can be considered as important. The Folk-music is all that can claim originality, and that ranks favorably with the best examples of other nations and is, indeed, in advance of that of other nations considered more musical.

The Men of the Time.—While English music was not, at this period, very important, there were many composers whose names at least should be familiar. After the passing of the bards and minstrels, the monks controlled the composing of music until the dissolution of the monasteries, when it passed into the hands of the schoolmen of Cambridge and Oxford, where it remains today, though there are, at present, signs of an important awakening, presaging the passing of musical power from the hands of the conservative doctors of Oxford and [Pg 121] Cambridge, to the present generation of younger and more talented writers. Walter Odington (1180-1250) was a pupil of the Paris school and a theorist of note, writing on the Mensural System as exploited in the French school. Robert DeHandlo (1326) was another theoretician who wrote on the same subject. John Dunstable (1400-1458) was contemporaneous with the men of the Gallo-Belgic school and did the same for English music in reforming it as the latter did for the foreign school. In recent years examples of his writings have been unearthed in the cathedral libraries of Trent and Bologna, as well as elsewhere, making it clear that in his lifetime he was regarded as one of the foremost composers of Europe. The theorist, Tinctoris, of the Netherlands school, considered in the next lesson, speaks of the “source and origin of the new art [Counterpoint] being among the English, the foremost of whom is John Dunstable.” A contemporary who was also well-known in Italy was John Hothby, who wrote several treatises on music. There were other musicians of prominence prior to the Reformation under Henry VIII, but we know little about them save their names. John Merbecke (1515-1585) adapted the Gregorian chant to the English prayer book, which was published in 1550. Christopher Tye (1515-1580) was a teacher and wrote much church music; so also was Thomas Tallis (1515-1585), one of the most learned composers of his time, who set the choral portions in the service to music. He is noted for a celebrated canon in forty parts and for a hymn-tune, known as “Tallis” or “Evening Hymn,” which contains a canon between the soprano and tenor parts. William Byrd (1538-1623) was another noted composer of this school, being also famous as a writer of instrumental music. Queen Elizabeth granted to Tallis and Byrd the exclusive right to print music and to rule music paper. Orlando Gibbons (1583-1625) wrote motets and madrigals and is known as a writer of both polyphonic and monophonic music. Henry Purcell (1658-1695) was the greatest composer of the English Polyphonic school, writing operas in the English and Italian [Pg 122] style, songs, sonatas, motets and anthems. He seems to have been in many respects a very able writer and musician, but died too young to make any decided impression on his times.

Summary.—From this it will be seen that while England had a musical people composed of a mixture of the most musical peoples of Europe, yet because of geographical position, political disturbances, religious troubles and wars, she was never able to produce a great and commanding school. She did not lack force, but it was directed into other, and for the time being, more important channels. Almost everything of an artistic nature was borrowed, or was a transplanted culture; and while the art of music never lacked men to cultivate it, yet these men were not of the calibre of the men employed in the other works of the nation, so that so far as the Polyphonic period is concerned, England is not important, and but for such men as Dunstable and Purcell and the canon “Sumer Is Icumen In,” England might be completely ignored in respect to her influence on polyphonic development.


Why did Music have so uncertain a growth in England?

What is the earliest English composition of value?

What were the causes for the loss of early English music manuscripts?

What principles are shown in this old Canon?

Who were the leading composers in England in the period considered in this lesson? [Pg 123]

The School of the Netherlands.

The Dominance of the Netherlands.—The most important asset of a nation is its commercial activity, for upon that depends its art life. The fine arts are to an extent luxuries, and until a nation has, by commercial activity, acquired wealth, they cannot be earnestly cultivated, for all arts require from the artist his entire time and life, and until there is money and inclination enough among the people to support an artist in his commercially non-productive state, there can be no art; hence we see a shifting of art centres in the Middle Ages, just as the commercial centres changed.

The Netherlands were preëminently fitted to carry on great commercial pursuits by virtue of their geographical situation and long combat and association with the sea. Possessing the natural outlet to a great part of Europe, it was reasonable that the Netherlands should play an important part in the Hanseatic League, and that her fleets should trade on every sea and her coffers be enriched by barter in the produce of every clime. It was a golden age for the Lowlands, from 1350 to 1625, for their trade made them one of the wealthiest and most important nations in the world. Their situation between the trading countries of the South and the North made them, as it were, the commercial exchange of Europe. The consequent wealth could not lie dormant, therefore much of it was used in building notable architectural structures, encouraging Painting, and developing the then infant art of Music. It is unnecessary to mention the famous structures which were the result of this period, and it is but necessary to name Hubert Van Eyck, Rubens, Van Dyck, to understand the prominence given [Pg 124] to the art of Painting by the acquisition of this enormous wealth. And it is largely due to this commercial activity that the school of the Netherlands attained such an undying fame.

One other influence, and that dependent on commercial activity, produced great results. Art is not sectional, it is universal; and great art works are produced not by local influences but by association, or contact, with the world. For this reason, the intercourse with the entire world generated by the great commercial activity of the times produced the first great world School of Music. Intercourse developed emotion and produced broader and less localized view-points of life: it brought into close association the art life of different nations and infused a unity of emotion wherever it occurred. In short, Music, by being brought into contact with the ideas of the world instead of a local association, took on a universal form and feeling never before felt and never to be relinquished. For this reason, Music unconsciously advanced from Paris to the Netherlands, toward the greater sphere of influence, stopping for only a short period with the Gallo-Belgic school, where it was prepared technically for its new growth as a world form.

The Gallo-Belgic and the Netherlands Schools Compared.—The Gallo-Belgic school, in the control of churchmen, was isolated from any influence tending to develop a broad emotional scheme. And it is doubtful whether it could have caused any change in musical evolution, for the technical forms were not ready. And so the Gallo-Belgic school, in its retirement from the great world activities, confined itself to attaining the power to manipulate notes, for the sake of mere technical effects, leaving emotional development entirely out of consideration. With such a school, while its work was important, no real art feeling could be gained; and so the school of the Netherlands marks the departure into a new romantic school governed, to a great extent, by the emotional. The Netherlands, because of their more comprehensive [Pg 125] view of the musical activities of the past and their constant intercourse, commercially and artistically, with all nations, acquired a more human sense of the beauty of music, and ceased to manipulate musical material for technical ends, producing instead of cold, lifeless forms, music pulsing with vigor, life and emotion. With this primary change of view-point came a direct growth of form, the Canon being perfected and immediately giving birth to the Fugue; the Madrigal and Canzona and many other lesser forms sprang into being, all capable of emotional development, and almost immediately producing great results. For the first time music was free from consecutive fourths, fifths and octaves because composers created from the standpoint of emotional beauty and not that of technical utility. The result was a musical technic capable of development, and refined beyond need of further reformation.

The Organ and its Influence.—The organ was the third great reformative power in this epoch. All music was vocal and no other conception could be had, for effective instruments and instrumental music were not yet in existence. The organ, because its tones were suited to accompanying the human voice and because its tone color was closely identical with that of the voice, was readily adapted to the vocal forms then in use. This gave a greater resource, for what was often technically impossible with the human voice became easy with the organ. The mechanical improvement of this instrument immediately gave greater freedom and range of technic, and it proved so well suited to polyphonic development that it aided the evolution more than any other one agency. The use of the organ must not be accounted as the beginning of instrumental music, for the organ used only adapted voice-forms, such as the Canon, Fugue, Madrigal, etc.; for this reason it is to be doubted if it aided in emotional development except by making technical resources much less restricted. In this sense, then, the technic of this school was freed from most of its former rules, and Music, previously cramped by narrow vocal restrictions, passed into the comparative freedom of the polyphonic style of the organ. [Pg 126]

The Men of this School are hardly to be separated from the men of the Gallo-Belgic school. The work passes from one school to the next with little or no perceptible pause, and the first men of the later school are pupils or disciples of the last men of the Gallo-Belgic period. Another noteworthy fact is, that so great was the musical growth, of this school and the skill and learning of its followers that the composers of the Netherlands expatriated themselves and settled in all parts of Europe, founding famous schools in Paris, Madrid, Naples, Venice, Munich and Rome; the celebrated Italian school is really an offshoot of that of the Netherlands. It is this overflow which marks this school as the greatest of the early polyphonic schools and shows why and how it acquired its emotional supremacy. Jean de Okeghem (1430-1512), pupil of Binchois, was the first prominent worker. It is difficult to class him as a composer of the Belgian or Netherlands school, for he has the earmarks of both. He lived during the supremacy of the Netherlands, but worked with the material of the Belgians. He developed the Canon to its highest technical point and took the first step toward the originating of the Fugue. To him is due the credit of introducing the use of retrograde, inverted, diminished and augmented imitation in the Canon. Much of his work was done in France. The tendency of his teaching was toward artificiality, as he delighted in puzzle canons and other exhibitions of ingenuity.

Antonius Brumel (1460-1520), a pupil of Okeghem, is noteworthy because of a foreshadowing of the use of chords in real harmonic progressions.



Part of a motet by Brumel, Naumann, History of Music, Vol. I, page 333, used to illustrate the idea of the harmonic feeling of some of the polyphonic writers. The rest of the composition is strictly in the polyphonic style. [Pg 127]

Jakob Hobrecht (1430-1506) was the first real Dutch composer, and is noted, in his use of technical forms, for their emotional beauty rather than mechanical excellence.



Part of a composition by Hobrecht, cited by Naumann, “History of Music,” Vol. I, page 331. Excerpt shows how strictly even this fragment is written and yet how musical it is. At 1 is shown a figure in the bass repeated in imitation a step higher at 2. At A is shown a melody imitated at B in augmentation and with altered rhythm. The student should refer to Naumann.

This is truly a remarkable work for that period, and shows that even then composers were beginning to observe the emotional power of chord relationship.

Johann Tinctor (1446-1511), a disciple of Okeghem, worked in Rome and Naples, and will be considered with the Italian school. Josquin de Pres (1450-1521), also a disciple of Okeghem, worked in Rome and Paris, and must also be considered as one of the Italian school. It may be here mentioned that he was one of the first to use [Pg 128] music as a vehicle for expressing human emotions rather than technical power. He summed up in himself all the harmonic science of the 15th century. He was renowned through all Europe as a composer, and if his music seems to us somewhat dry and pedantic there is abundant testimony to the deep impression it made upon his contemporaries, which is a test of its power to excite and to express emotion. Compared with the works of his predecessors and even the majority of his contemporaries, Josquin’s writings show freedom from the bonds of the old scholasticism, greater simplicity and esthetic beauty. Among those of his works that have come to us is a Miserere for five voices, and an Ave Maria that cannot be considered other than lovely music. Nicholas Gombert (1495-1570), a pupil of Josquin de Pres, had a natural, tuneful and flowing style similar to that afterwards shown by Palestrina. His work was done in Madrid, and to him Spain and Portugal owe all they have of the ancient polyphonic music. Jacob Arkadelt (1492-1570) and Claude Goudimel (1510-1572) worked in Rome, Adrian Willaert (1480-1562) and Cyprian de Rore (1516-1565) in Venice, and will be considered with the Italian school. Orlando di Lasso (1520-1594) worked some in Italy, but mostly in Munich, where his influence was great. His style was broad, flowing and especially emotional, and as a writer of the Netherlands school his name stands as one of the very highest. J. P. Sweelinck (1562-1621) is the last, and while of the Netherlands, studied in Venice, but did his work at home. He was a great organist and the last great master of the school, and had the honor of being the link between it and the German school, serving as an example for Sebastian Bach. His works have recently been published in Germany. Of all these men it may be said that they developed music steadily toward the goal of emotional freedom.

Summary.—The great work of this school was to make technic subservient to thought. In all preceding schools, the material and the forms were so new and the methods of handling them so crude, that technic always dominated thought. And it was naturally so, for [Pg 129] expression cannot come until the power to master the material has been attained; it was by this power that the Netherlands developed emotional music. But the student invariably objects and says he does not see any emotion in the polyphonic music of this period! The student must place himself in the position of these old masters, supported by the church and constantly imbibing the religious atmosphere of the institution they served, until they unconsciously expressed, in their music, the grandeur and power of their religion rather than the intimate personal feeling of modern musicians; and then the student will understand what is meant by polyphonic emotion. We must always remember that polyphonic emotion is not monophonic emotion, and that its tremendous technic and complexity of device were but the means of expressing its peculiar form of emotion, which to understand, one must study diligently, and then approach with a reverent feeling.

Questions and Suggestions.

Why did the Netherlands become the musical centre?

How did geographical situation favor the Netherlands in the struggle for commercial supremacy?

What circumstances gave their art a general rather than sectional character?

Compare the Gallo-Belgic and the Netherlands schools.

How did the Organ aid in development?

Who are the most famous members of this school of composition?

What are the special characteristics of each? [Pg 130]

What is a Miserere?

What is an Ave Maria?

What was the Hanseatic League?

What was the contribution of the Netherlands school?

Consult a general history for the events which made the Netherlands so important at this time.

In selecting a historical epoch to accompany the period of the Netherlands school and its successor, the Italian school, the central figure that will be most familiar is Christopher Columbus, whose life and work covered the early period, the close of the old polyphonic school dating with Palestrina’s death in 1594, 100 years after the discovery of America. This hundred years represents the flowering time of polyphony as an art. [Pg 131]

The Italian School.

Italy the New Centre.—Music developed in the Netherlands because of commercial supremacy and the consequent world association. We shall now see it pass to Italy, but because of a very different reason. From the earliest Christian days Italy was the centre of religious influence; it is only necessary to examine history to observe the ramifications of that power in England, France, Germany, the Netherlands and other countries. This influence, often more political than religious in character, gave to the Italian Church (then the Italian State), a predominance of authority, which was a great power in religious and secular thought. This influence spread to music for various reasons. We must remember that the school at Paris was controlled by the Church, that the Gallo-Belgic school owed its foundation to the same cause, and that the men of all three schools were employed as organists by the Church. It is true that in Italy the Church had not the broadening influence of commercial intercourse, but was more than compensated for that lack by what we may call artistic intercourse. The Church was the one stable institution in these times of war in which painters could find a refuge for their works, and from which patronage flowed in a steady stream to the ever-needy artists. Thus was caused and maintained the artistic atmosphere necessary to the cultivation of Music. As an art, the Church was the only support of artistic music. When Music originated it needed an institution to protect and foster it and safeguard its growth, and this it found in the Church; it repaid this protection by evolving a style eminently suited to the needs of the Church, but absolutely useless for the [Pg 132] expression of secular and natural emotion. To this patronage of its peculiar art is due the importation into Italy of the best in music wherever found, to aid in these services. And so we find singers from the Netherlands engaged for the Church in Italy. This, and the fame of Italy as the home of superior singers, undoubtedly led the majority of those numerous Netherlandish masters to seek their homes abroad, and preferably in Italy. The fact that all music was vocal in style and that the Church was the only institution capable of supporting such a style, cannot be too strongly stated; for upon that depended not only the evolution of Music, but also the very life of the Polyphonic emotional style.

Emotion in Polyphony.—This style is worthy of examination. As a preface we must remember that we have to deal with the Church and human voices only, for instruments had not been perfected sufficiently for church use, excepting the organ, and that we must consider a voice because of its peculiar tonal qualities and the adaptation of vocal forms and styles to its use. This vocal style had developed gradually, through a long course of reforms, until it reached its perfection in the later polyphonic schools, and expressed the peculiar emotion suited for the services. Lack of rhythm was a pointed characteristic; for, in the first place, it had been discarded as profane, and in the next place, a long course of treatment in the management of voices to avoid anything like concerted and accentuated dissonances had produced a peculiar flowing movement which, however smooth it might be, certainly possessed no rhythmic force. Then, too, the old scale forms caused anything written in their idioms to sound grave, severe and dignified, if not harsh. The transition to the modern major and minor in the Monophonic school of 1600 and the immediate cultivation of music by the people may be taken as an example of the musical qualities of the two modes. All of these causes tended to produce a suitable form of music and an emotional expression peculiarly suited to the Roman services. In this style there was little storm and stress, little of the personal appeal to God; on the other [Pg 133] hand, it was grave, severe and immovable, or in a better sense, impersonal in its expression. Music of the polyphonic period, even until the time of Sebastian Bach, in whose works it is well exemplified, does not show us the appeal to God from the heart of the active Christian worker, but rather the appeal to a vast impersonal and majestic God far removed from the needs and supplications of the mere individual. It was this kind of emotion that developed in the Italian Polyphonic schools. The human and more expressive emotion of the schools of the Netherlands was transmitted, in the schools of the Italian, into the high, contemplative moods of religious expression; and it was well that it should be so, for polyphonic music could never have expressed the emotion of a Beethoven; and it was not only best that it should express its own peculiar style of emotion, but inevitable that it should do so.


Orlando di Lasso.

[Pg 134] Schools Outside Italy.—The overflow from the Netherlands concentrated its efforts on certain points or school centres. In Italy, these were Naples, Venice and Rome. There were others throughout Europe, such as Madrid, Paris and Munich, which we must consider first because of their relation to Italy. Nicholas Gombert (1495-1570) influenced the polyphonic development in Madrid, but so isolated was the work that nothing great resulted. Okeghem (1430-1512) worked longer in Paris than other masters, though several lived there for short intervals, such as Arkadelt and Goudimel. Orlando di Lasso (1520-1594) did almost all his work in Munich and established the most important school outside of Italy. He was a most prolific writer and can be compared in ability and style to Palestrina. His style was broad and bold and contained much of that serious and earnest character now attributed to his Teutonic associations. He wrote in all known forms and was well nigh universal in his knowledge of form, technic and expression. His facility in the art of writing was very great and was fully equalled by his love for work. Although his work has somewhat less perfection than that of his great contemporary, Palestrina, it has astonishing power of expression. It shows the force of his genius that he was able to make his works in the strict contrapuntal forms full of real feeling. He was a man of interesting personal character. The most famous of his works is his setting of seven “Penitential Psalms,” containing a number of most curious effects for unaccompanied voices, with much that is singularly characteristic and beautiful, and showing well the character of his genius.

We give part of a composition by di Lasso showing his broad style and the increasing use of what sounds suspiciously like our modern chord progressions. The lack of rhythmic effect and the holding over of notes past the accented beat is shown in this exercise. The whole example, with words, may be found in Naumann, History of Music, Vol. I, page 387. [Pg 135]



The Italian School.—But it is with the Italian schools that we are most concerned. The school at Naples had as its principal master Johannes Tinctoris (1446-1511) a Fleming by birth, a doctor of laws and a mathematician, one of those peculiar combinations seldom noticed after the Paris school, and almost sure to mark the theoretician. His work was principally theoretical and his treatises are of great value. Adrian Willaert (1480-1562), born at Bruges, was a pupil of Jean Mouton, at Paris. After visiting Rome and Ferrara, he settled in Venice and, as organist of St. Mark’s, founded an important school. He introduced the use of large double choruses which caused him to write harmonically rather than polyphonically. This influence caused him to relegate the imitative polyphonic part writing to smaller forms (motets, etc.) and to write plain chord progressions [Pg 136] in his larger works; and before long he began to observe and to use the relationship between the Tonic and the Dominant. This tendency and the invention of the Madrigal furnished the basis for a new instrumental school at a later date. His best-known pupil, Cipriano di Rore (1516-1565), was short-lived, and worked in both Venice and Parma. He made some investigation into the use of chromatics, thus showing the growing tendency to abandon the Church modes for the natural scales. Following these Dutch masters came the two Gabrieli’s, who were native Italians. Andrea Gabrieli (1510-1586) was a great organist and wrote in the style of Willaert, his famous master. Giovanni Gabrieli (1557-1613) was a pupil of his uncle Andrea, and carried the latter’s methods further toward perfection. He also wrote for instruments in conjunction with voices, abandoning to a certain extent the a capella style, and opening that epoch of instrumental music foreshadowed by Willaert in his madrigals. Rome was the centre of church government, of church art and also of church music, and as such, had the largest and greatest of Italian music schools. Jacob Arkadelt (1492-1570), a Netherlander, lived nineteen years in Rome and did most of his work there; he wrote both secular and sacred compositions in the strict polyphonic style, and in that of Willaert. Claude Goudimel (1510-1572), though a prominent master in Paris, worked much in Rome and was the teacher of Palestrina. He set to music in four parts metrical versions of the Psalms, published in 1565. In him is to be observed that clearness of expression and beauty of melodic flow with which Palestrina attained such a high point of expression.

Palestrina.—It remained for his pupil Palestrina, (Giovanni Pierlugi Sante, 1514-1594) an Italian, to reach the highest point of emotional expression and technical freedom; we must, however, rank Orlando di Lasso with him. He carried to the highest fruition the teachings of the Netherlands, tempered by the romantic and melodic tendency of the Italian nature. His writings were so free technically that they have been called simple in form; this they are, but the [Pg 137] simplicity is the simplicity of genius. His style is melodic, and has a clearness never attained by any writer before his time, and yet his music is written in the most severe forms. He founded a school of music in Rome which, however, never produced any great masters, for it was the time when the reformation of Opera began and carried the development of music into other channels.



The end of a composition by Palestrina, showing the melody in the upper voice instead of the tenor, as was usually the case in polyphonic compositions, and the use of our modern Minor mode. This composition, at least this last part of it taken alone, might be by a modern writer, so familiar do its progressions sound; indeed, the melody of the first two measures is strikingly similar to a progression used by Beethoven in one of his string quartets. The entire example with words may be seen in Naumann, History of Music, Vol. I, page 510.

Summary.—The Polyphonic Era has many important characteristics and results which make it worth while to sum it up. Its development is largely the history of the development of vocal music to its highest point, and the consequent failure of it to provide accurate expression for human needs. It marks the development of scales, intervals, forms, instruments and emotion. In scales we find the trend to be always toward the natural; in intervals, toward freedom, using only the ear as a criterion; in instruments we note the development of the organ, but [Pg 138] the lack of others which would have changed music entirely; in emotion, we note the evolution from crudeness to the highest and most polished forms of impersonal expression. The lack of the Polyphonic school was not in the intrinsic value of the music, nor in any lack of the desire to express emotion; the failure to provide a suitable means of musical expression was due to the idea of church relation to God rather than to the personal individualistic relations established by Luther. After the Reformation music takes up this new idea and immediately a secular music, vocal and instrumental, begins to develop, culminating in an emotional school of a totally different and truer style than the Polyphonic. Polyphonic music expressed the old monkish ideas of religion perfectly, but monophonic music expresses the emotion of the people, a universal emotion. Polyphonic music must always be appreciated for its value, but it must be examined for its fundamental principles and reasons for being, before it can be understood. Then we may know its value as a foundation for our modern music.

Questions and Suggestions.

Why did the centre of music shift to Italy?

What kind of emotion is present in the polyphonic style of music?

What composers were prominent outside of Italy?

Name the prominent composers of the Italian school.

Sum up the Polyphonic Era.

Consult a history of art and give an account of the great painters, sculptors, architects and their greatest works during the century preceding the development of the Italian school. [Pg 139]

Palestrina and His Influence on the Music
of the Italian School. The Madrigal



A Church Composer.—But one master of the Italian Polyphonic schools is worthy of lengthy notice, more because of his influence on the music of the Church than his contribution to the new instrumental school then only in its infancy. Palestrina, while acquainted with Galilei, the reformer of Opera, and Neri, the originator of Oratorio, and with many of the men identified with the new style of vocal and instrumental music, gave his entire life to the composing of Church music, though in his poverty-stricken condition musical work under wealthy patronage must have often appealed to him. At any rate, the farthest he ever strayed from the Church was in the composing of many [Pg 140] madrigals, in which he excelled; it is almost certain that in these he unintentionally influenced the development of instrumental music. For the present, however, a consideration of his life and influence on Church music is more important. But for him, Church music would have lacked for at least a century that simple and individual note so often struck by himself and Bach. Palestrina, by the enormous number of his masses and by the fertility of his invention, placed the music of the Latin Church on so high a plane that no composers, at least until the time of Bach, even approached him, much less equalled him.

Giovanni Pierluigi Sante, known as Palestrina, after his birthplace, was born in 1514 at Palestrina, a small town southeast of Rome. His parents were peasants and the boy received but the ordinary education of his class. While very young he seems to have become a choir-boy at Rome, though it is recorded that his voice was anything but pleasing. Upon this supposition rests the statement that he was, for a short time, a pupil of Arkadelt; this is unimportant because eventually (1540) he became a pupil of Goudimel, whose influence far overshadowed that of any former teacher. In 1548 he married and four sons were the result of the union, three, however, dying at an early age and the fourth proving, in after-life, a worthless fellow. In 1551 he succeeded Arkadelt as choir-master of St. Peter’s; later the dedication of three masses to Pope Julian III won him a position as singer in the Papal Choir. Owing to the jealousy of the other singers he finally lost his position, but received an appointment at the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore where he stayed for ten years. Naumann says that in 1565 he received the appointment of master of the Sistine Chapel, but never occupied the position because of the opposition among the choir. Grove, however, says that in 1565 he was made composer to the Pontifical Choir and did not become master until 1585, holding the position from that time on. In 1571 he was again connected with St. Peter’s; this also marks his acquaintance with Neri, for whom he wrote some music, and the founding of a music school, though it cannot have [Pg 141] amounted to much since most authorities give no particulars in regard to it. Indeed, it is certain that he cannot have had much influence in that line, for his pupils, outside of his own family, did not amount to more than a scant half-dozen. In 1576 he was given the task of revising the Gradual and Antiphonary of the Latin Church but, with the assistance of a pupil, finished only a little more than one-half of the work. He died in 1594 and was buried in the Vatican. His life is marked by the usual jealousies and quarrels of musicians, though Palestrina himself seems to have been nobleminded and more than reasonably free from all such faults. He was in poor circumstances during his life, and his only living son was a bitter disappointment. Altogether, as we examine his life we are impressed by many things; first, his apparent failure from a worldly point of view; secondly, the enormous amount of composing which he did; and, finally, his devotion to the Church and her music, and because of it, his glorious success as a musician, and his undying fame.

Reform of Church Music.—The year marking the climax of his life was 1565. The Council of Trent, by a unanimous vote, decided to prohibit the use of music in the Church unless some means could be devised to make it more devotional and suited to its purpose. Naumann says that it was the desire of the Council of Trent to simplify the music so that the people might take part in the services; but Grove claims that it was because of the use of secular music in the composition of the masses. It seems that it was customary, for part of the singers at least, to sing in services not only the melodies of the popular songs, but also the words, thus producing confusion and defeating the very purpose of the music. In all probability, both of these reasons had something to do with the edict. It is plain that the fundamental principle at stake was the lack of the personal devotional note (which caused this action by the Council of Trent), and it was the supplying of this want that made Palestrina the saviour of music in the Church. A committee of Cardinals was appointed to see if [Pg 142] proper music for the service could be found. They commissioned Palestrina to write a mass and submit it for trial. When the trial came, at the home of Cardinal Vitellozzi, Palestrina submitted three masses, the last of which was the best; this he afterwards called the “Missa Papæ Marcelli.”

Palestrina’s Style.—In these masses Palestrina had succeeded so well in subordinating technic to expression, and in eliminating all extraneous matter, that he was hailed as the greatest musician of the Church, and honors were showered upon him. From this it would be supposed that Palestrina had shown an entire change in style, yet this was not the case. Goudimel, his master, shows traces of the so-called Palestrina style, and Palestrina himself was gradually growing into that simplicity which marked the music of his later days. This simplicity was not only simplicity of emotion but also simplicity of technic; only a man with a most consummate skill could have written such great music with such little use of showy technic. Palestrina wrote in all of the polyphonic forms, complex and simple, but he reached his highest point in his most simple works; and those works were written for his Church.

Secular Art Song.—The secular life of the 15th and 16th centuries, as well as the Church, had an art music, which, like the other music of the period was vocal, not solos with accompaniments, but choral, consisting of three or more parts; this we may call a species of vocal chamber music. We can trace the development of this form of musical composition to an application of the principle of Discant to secular or Folk-melodies. The minstrels, as mentioned in a previous lesson, were accustomed to improvise accompanying parts to a familiar song—a favorite custom was that of adding two parts—for the entertainment of their hearers. This process was not a haphazard one, but followed fixed rules. The absence of a simple system of notation, however, prevented the accumulation of musical records. And when minstrelsy ceased to exist as a calling, only the memory of the crude attempts of the minstrels remained. But the principle was not lost. [Pg 143] Fortunately for the good of the art, the trained musicians of the Church took it up, and, calling to their aid the resources of their art as used in the music of the Church, applied them all to secular melodies, the songs of the people.

The Predecessors of the Madrigal.—Several of the forms of secular music found in Italy, the Frottole (song of the mass or crowd), and the Vilanelle (village or peasant songs), were used in a crude way by the musicians of the people as airs to which to add accompanying parts. Both Germans and English made similar use of their folk melodies. But since the text was usually of a humorous, or a witty character, the accompanying melodies or “counterpoints” were simple in style. The work of the trained composers along this line resulted in the Madrigal, which shows a union of the musical spirit of the people with the finest poetic art; the melodies had the style of the popular music, but they were used with technical skill.

The Madrigal.—The text of the madrigal was erotic in character, representing the emotions of a heart filled with noble, often hopeless love. The Italian poets Tasso and Petrarch were masters in this style of writing. The name Madrigal was first applied to this kind of lyric, and afterward became identified with the music itself. There is disagreement as to the origin of the name, the common explanation being that it comes from the word mandra, a sheepfold, mandriale, shepherd, in allusion to the frequent pastoral character of the text. The Madrigal undoubtedly owes its origin to the composers of the Flemish school. The musicians of the Netherlands, in the middle of the 15th century, had a polyphonic song, elaborate in construction, in the old Church modes, modeled doubtless on the plan of the Motet, but using the melody of some popular song as a Cantus Firmus. When the centre of musical power was transferred to Italy, the madrigal principle came into new hands, those of the composers of the Venetian school, who gave it the character which made it so popular. [Pg 144]

The Italian School.—The first great composer in this style was Adrian Willaert. After him came Arkadelt, who published several books of madrigals. The most famous composer of madrigals was Luca Marenzio (1560-1599), called by his contemporaries “the sweetest swan of Italy,” whose works attained extraordinary vogue. They are extremely melodious. A composer who made considerable use of the chromatic element was Gesualdo, Prince of Venusia (1560-1614). Other Italian composers of madrigals are Festa, Palestrina, Anerio, Waelrant, Orlando di Lasso, Cipriano di Rore, Vecchi and Gastoldi, the latter being credited with the introduction of the “Fa, la.”

The English School.—The Madrigal never displaced the Folk-song in Germany or the Chanson in France, but it found a home in England, in which country a number of composers were developed whose best work is considered to be superior to that of their Italian predecessors. The period of fifty years, beginning with 1588, when the first collection of madrigals was published in London, is called the Madrigalian Era. The composers of prominence are: William Byrd, Thomas Morley, Thomas Weelkes, John Dowland, John Wilbye, Orlando Gibbons and Richard Edwardes. So great was the interest in this class of music that it was considered a necessary part of the education of a gentleman that he should be able to sing, when requested, a part in a madrigal, as we learn from a work or music study published by Thomas Morley in 1597.

Characteristics of the Madrigal.—The best means of securing an understanding of the Madrigal style is to study good examples, and, if possible, to hear them sung by a good choral organization. They are written in three, four, five and six parts, the five part being the one most favored. The principle of construction is polyphonic, imitation being freely used, cross accents being frequent on account of the syncopated style, each part being conceived as melody, not as the result of the movement of successive chords.

Influence of the Madrigal.—The great number of madrigals written by so many composers may be taken as an indication of the growth of musical sensibility. The creative side developed. The [Pg 145] composer was no longer contented with taking a melody or some theme ready made, and elaborating it or accompanying it; he invented his own themes, thus opening the way to the idea that each text should have a theme to suit its special character, a principle which rules in modern music. Since the themes thus took on greater significance, it became important that accompanying parts should not obscure them by over-elaboration; hence the counterpoint used became clearer and simpler, and therefore more artistic. Another fact of great significance is that frequently the madrigals were played by viols, instead of being sung by voices. Composers marked the pieces as “Apt for viols or voices.” It was also customary to sing one part and play the others on instruments, the design being to cause the melody to stand out more clearly; this aided in developing a feeling for the solo with instrumental accompaniment, a fact of great significance in preparing the way for the opera.

Petrucci.—Music owes a great debt to Ottaviano Petrucci, who is credited with devising a method for printing music from movable type. He was born in 1466, died in 1523 or shortly after that date. Before he began his great work all music was written out by hand, a fact which necessarily interfered with its circulation; the works of the great writers were jealously guarded and students had small chance to profit by the work of experienced composers. Petrucci and his successors changed this. In 1501, he printed a collection of ninety-six pieces in three and four parts by Isaac, Josquin, Hobrecht, Okeghem and others; in 1504, a collection of eighty-three motets for four, five and six voices. By the time the composers of the Venetian Madrigal school appeared on the scene, printing processes had been improved and spread more widely; thus their works could be circulated freely and made popular. We who know the tremendous power of the printing press can appreciate the new force in the development of music inaugurated by Petrucci in the early part of the 16th century. [Pg 146]

Questions and Suggestions.

Who was the most important of the earlier composers for the Church?

Give a sketch of his life.

What did he do for the music of the Church?

What peculiarities marked his style?

Give a brief résumé of the Council of Trent. (Consult a general history or church history.)

What attempts at part music did the Minstrels make?

Who took up this work later?

What is the origin of the word Madrigal?

Name some composers of Madrigals in Italy.

In what other country did the Madrigal take hold?

Name some of the composers in that country who cultivated the Madrigal style.

Name some characteristics of the Madrigal.

What influence did the Madrigal exert?

Who invented printing music from movable types?

If the members of the class cannot sing a madrigal or there is no choral society at hand that sings them, a string quartet can play the parts, or any combination of instruments that can represent the necessary four, five or six parts; two or four players at two pianos can give some idea. Novello & Co. publish in cheap octavo form many of the finest madrigals by the Italian and English composers. The members of the class should sing or follow the playing of each part of at least one madrigal and note its essentially melodic character. This class of compositions will also give an idea of the character of the old Church motet and the methods used in the masses. [Pg 147]

Musical Instruments.

Classification of Instruments.—The means for the production of musical sound are few in number, and of such universality and antiquity that we cannot say when, how, or by whom they were invented. Modern skill has not added one new means, but has simply improved the contrivances by which musical sound is produced. We can, however, trace the evolution and growth of the various instruments with considerable accuracy, and to this end it is of the utmost importance to have a clear understanding of the principles upon which musical instruments are constructed, in order to avoid bewilderment among the endless variety that have been and are yet made. All instruments may be divided into three general classes: Percussion Instruments, Wind Instruments, Stringed Instruments.

The Percussion Instruments are the instruments of rhythm. In this class are included all instruments used for this purpose. It is universally admitted that rhythm is the very basis of music, without which it is vague and meaningless. Possibly the physical fact that lies behind rhythm is the tendency of all repeated muscular action to become regular; witness the blows of the hammer on the anvil, or the carpenter driving in a nail. The psychologic reason is that when the will has set a certain muscular action in motion, it leaves the carrying out of the command to some subordinate function, so long as it is continuous; but if the continuity is to be interrupted, the will must again exert itself; hence, drumbeating and rattle shaking must of necessity be rhythmic. Nearly all savages have dances of various kinds. Varieties of drum rhythms arise from the almost universal custom of accompanying dances with drums and rattles. [Pg 148]

Varieties of Percussion Instruments.—Percussion instruments are almost endless in variety. The most primitive example is that of a hollow log beaten with a war-club by some prehistoric savage. The next step leads to the hollow gourd or other hollow body, across the open end of which is stretched the dried membrane of some wild animal. From these descend all the long line of drums of all sorts, ending with the modern orchestral kettle-drums (tympani) which, by means of a mechanism for changing the tension of their parchment heads, may be tuned in various keys. Percussion instruments of metal are of very ancient origin. In this category are included cymbals of various sizes and shapes, gongs of all sorts, and later, bells and triangles. Comparatively few of the percussion instruments emit sounds of any definite pitch. They were and are to a great extent noise-producing, used for the purpose of marking rhythms.

Wind Instruments: Vibrating Column of Air in a Tube.—The next step in advance of noise-producing instruments is the discovery of means for the production of musical sound, which differs from noise in the possession of definite pitch. This leads to a consideration of the wind instruments that produce sound by means of a vibrating column of air enclosed in a tube. This is an important class and has several subdivisions, as will be seen. The simplest form of the wind instrument is the plain tube, producing a single sound when blown across the top. A series of such tubes fastened together side by side constitutes the Syrinx or Pan’s pipe, an instrument known over all the world from the remotest ages. This is thought to be the instrument mentioned in Genesis with the Hebrew name Ugab—translated organ, in the verse: “Jubal was the father of all such as handle the harp or the organ.” It is generally believed by scholars that the Pandean Pipe or Syrinx is the oldest of musical instruments; but long before a sufficient advance had been made to bind together several reeds giving different sounds, the discovery was made that sound might be produced [Pg 149] in this way. Some prehistoric man found it out, perhaps by blowing across the top of a hollow bone. A whistle of this kind, of prehistoric make, bored from one of the bones of a reindeer’s foot, was found in a bone cave in France. It may have been used as a signal, and we may imagine that it may have guided a troop of palæolithic hunters in the chase of the mammoth or rhinoceros, when these animals still roamed over the plains of Europe.

A Tube Pierced with Holes.—The next advance was the discovery that one tube could be made to give several sounds by piercing holes in it. The effect of piercing is equivalent to shortening the tube; thus the Flute came into existence. There are three forms of the flute; the simplest is the old Japanese flute, blown at the end and pierced with a few holes. Next, the endless variety of flutes blown at a hole in the side, hence called the cross flute, or Flauto Traverso, in German, Querflöte. A perfect series of these flutes may be made. From the piece of bamboo with three or four holes, up to the exquisite workmanship and musical possibilities of the orchestral Boehm flute, all these flutes are identical in principle. The third kind of flute is blown at the end and is furnished with a diaphragm, which directs the air in a thin stream against the edge of the opening. Flutes of this kind were once used under the names of flageolet and recorder. Their chief interest lies in the fact that they have served as the model for the flue pipes of the organ, from the ponderous thirty-two foot Diapason to the half-inch extreme of the Mixture.

The Tube with a Reed.—The next subdivision is: The tube in conjunction with a tongue or slip of cane, called a reed. Reed instruments are further divided into single and double reed instruments. The double reed instrument is of great antiquity and widely known. This is the instrument generally meant by the term “flute” in the ancient Greek authors. It is known in China and Thibet, and in its modern form as Hautboy (oboe), English Horn or Bassoon, is an important member of the modern orchestra. The beating or single reed is so-called because it is made a little larger[Pg 150] than the orifice over which it is fixed, and therefore beats against this orifice at every vibration, closing it and causing the air to be emitted in puffs. This form of reed instrument is also widely distributed. By the Greeks it was called the Berecynthian pipe; in modern Egypt Arghool, in early England the Shawm, which is a corruption of an older French name—Chalumeau. Under the name Clarinet it is another important member of the orchestra. The beating reed also furnishes the model after which the reed stops of the organ are constructed.

The Tube with the Lips of the Player.—The last subdivision is the tube in conjunction with the lip of the performer, the lips assuming the rôle of the reed. Countless varieties of trumpets have been used from time immemorial, made at first from that natural tube that has given them their generic name, the “horn” of the ox or goat or antelope. The forms of the horn are endless, but from the conch shell of the Japanese or the ram’s horn Shofar of the Hebrews to the perfectly tuned and mechanically perfect instruments of our bands and orchestras the series is complete, and the acoustic principle in all respects identical.

Stringed Instruments Played by Plucking.—The stringed instruments are those which depend for their sound upon the vibration of stretched strings. This class of instruments is of very ancient origin. As in the case of the wind instruments, the discovery of the principle of the vibration of a stretched string was probably accidental. The twanging of a bow-string suggests a possible clue, or the membranes of animals used for any purpose in which tension is required. Earliest among stringed instruments are the various forms of Harp or Lyre, in which each string gives a single sound, and is put in motion by being plucked by the finger or struck by a rod or flat strip of wood, ivory, etc., called a plectrum. In the next class are included those instruments that are furnished with a neck or fingerboard, with or without frets. In this class the strings are comparatively few in number, as many sounds may be obtained from [Pg 151] each string by altering its length by the pressure of the fingers on the neck. These instruments are also played either with the fingers or the plectrum; to this class belong the Guitar, Lute, Mandolin, etc.

The Lute Family.—For many years, until displaced by instruments of the violin family, the Lute occupied the foremost position among instruments. It was a favorite instrument in the East, whence it reached Spain and lower Italy. During the 14th century, it spread over all Europe, retaining its popularity from the 15th to the 17th centuries. In shape it was similar to the mandolin of the present day. It had, however, a far greater number of strings. Five pairs of these and a single melody string lay over the keyboard, while the bass strings (finally five in number and used only as open strings) lay at the side. More elaborate forms of the lute, owing to improvements in the arrangement of the bass strings, were the Theorbo and the Archilute. For the various forms of the lute the ordinary measured notation was not used, but special letters or figures were given to indicate, not the pitch of the sound, but the proper fret on the fingerboard of the instrument to be used by the player. This method of notation was called Tablature; it differed somewhat in the various countries. Until displaced by the violin, the lute was in use as an orchestral instrument. In addition, transcriptions of all sorts of vocal and instrumental pieces were made for the lute, for home use, much in the same manner as they are at the present day made for the pianoforte.

Stringed Instruments Played with a Bow.—The next and most important class resembles the last in being furnished with a neck or fingerboard, but with strings put in vibration by a bow, the familiar Violin family. A German writer on the stringed instruments played with a bow gives the following as the successive steps in the evolution of the violin: Rebec, Tromba Marina, Hurdy Gurdy, Fidel (Fidula), Chrotta, Viole, and Violin. The early history of instruments is shrouded in darkness, which existed up to the 16th century. Before that time, although writers on music made reference to the instruments in use, [Pg 152] they did not give detailed descriptions. Virdung, who published a work in 1511; Agricola, in 1528; and Gerle, in 1546, were among the first writers. Yet much confusion has arisen from the fact that these writers used different terms for the same instruments, a difficulty that confronts the student of musical history who consults German, French, or Italian works.

1. The Rebec was of Oriental origin and consisted of a wooden frame, which formed the side walls, the top and the bottom being spanned with skin, like a drum. The instrument had only two strings, and was used in accompanying singing. Later the number of strings was increased to three. In the 8th or 9th century an instrument called the Lyra (Lyre) was in use. Its shape shows a change toward the pear-shaped body and narrow neck of the lute.


2. The Tromba Marina (Eng., literally, “Marine Trumpet”), which the Germans call Trumscheit, had a long, sonorous body, over which a strong string, like that of the ’cello D, was stretched. This string, when sounded with the bow, gave forth a harsh, somewhat nasal tone, [Pg 153] similar to that of the 8-foot wooden organ reed-pipe. But the proper way to play it was by lightly touching the string with the finger, as in making harmonics on the violin. This gave a series of tones, according to the pitch of the open string, the same as the so-called overtones. If the string were tuned to low C, the sounds were middle C, then in succession E, G, C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C. This instrument was a favorite with choirs of nuns to accompany their singing. Another name given to this instrument from its single string is Monochord.

3. The Hurdy Gurdy, also called Vielle, Radleier (“wheel lyre”), Bettlerleier (“mendicants’ lyre”), Organistrum and Chiffonie, was a great favorite in the period from the 10th to the 12th century. This peculiar instrument consisted of a resonant body, over which four strings were stretched. It has analogies to bowed and keyed instruments. Its shape was somewhat like that of the lute or the viola d’amore or guitar. Two of the strings were tuned in unison, were stopped by an arrangement of keys, directed by the player’s left hand shortening the string, thus making it possible to play melodies of a limited compass. The other two strings were usually tuned as Tonic and Dominant, thus giving a drone like the bagpipe. The strings are set in vibration by a wooden wheel, which, being well rosined, has the function of a violin bow; this wheel is turned by a handle at the tail end of the instrument, the player using his right hand for the purpose.

4. The Chrotta (Welsh Crwth—“crooth”) is one of the oldest of string instruments played with a bow. The original home was possibly India, but in its European use it was limited to England, and especially to Wales. It was a favorite instrument of the Welsh bards. The oldest form had three strings. In its later form it was mounted with six strings, four stretched over the fingerboard and played with the bow, and two lying at the side of the fingerboard, and pinched with the thumb of the left hand. [Pg 154]

5. Fidula (Fidel, Fiddle), equivalent to “viol,” is the comprehensive term for the string instruments of the 8th to the 14th century. Its resonant body was arched and pear-shaped. The French flattened it more and called it Gigue, the Italians Giga, the Germans Geige, the latter term still being used. Two varieties were in use—the small and the large. The former had three strings tuned in fifths, the latter four to six, usually tuned in fourths and one third. The “large” species was made in four sizes for Discant (soprano), Alto, Tenor, and Bass. The “large” instrument had no bridge such as the violin of today has, and in its rounded form was difficult to play. Later it was cut out at the sides, thus approaching the shape of our violin.

6. The Viol, which first appears in the 15th century, had a resonant body which came almost to a point back of the neck, and the upper part of the body of the instrument was smaller than the lower; the fingerboard had frets like our guitar; the edges were higher, the f holes were sickle-shaped, the top was flat, and the number of strings was six. Viols were divided into two groups—those held with the arm (like our violin), those played between the knees (like our ’cello). They were named the soprano or discant viol (violetta), the alto and tenor viols, and the bass viol (gamba). The contra-bass or double bass has the viol form in certain respects.

From the viol family comes our violin through a diminution and beautifying of the form, through lessening the number of strings and doing away with the frets.

Questions and Suggestions.

What are the general classes into which musical instruments are grouped?

Name the percussion instruments. [Pg 155]

Name the principles of classification for wind instruments.

Give examples of each class.

What is a reed? How many kinds are in use?

What methods of producing sound are used in playing stringed instruments?

Give examples of each class.

Give a description of the lute.

Name the steps in the evolution of the violin.

The catalogues of the instruments contained in the Metropolitan Museum (Crosby-Brown Collection), New York City, will be found very useful for reference. This collection is one of the most complete in the world, and is arranged so as to show the development of instruments of the various types. They can be secured at slight expense by addressing the Museum. [Pg 156]

The Organ, Organ Playing and Organ Music.

In the book of Genesis it is written: “Jubal, he was the father of all such as handle the harp and organ.” It is not to be understood that the word organ in this passage meant an instrument anything like that heard in our churches at the present day. In fact, as St. Augustine tells us, there was a time when all musical instruments were called organs.

The Germ of the Organ.—The invention of the organ is veiled in deepest darkness. Its development from its earliest forms to its present state has occupied a period of almost two thousand years. Doubtless, the first idea of a wind instrument was suggested by the breeze blowing across the open ends of broken reeds, the discovery naturally following that reeds of different lengths gave forth sounds of varying pitch. In course of time, reeds or pipes, differing in length, began to be joined together, conveniently arranged so as to produce a succession of musical sounds, the players blowing them with the mouth. These instruments were called Pan’s Pipes, the Syrinx of the ancient Greeks.

The First Stage of Development.—As the number of pipes was increased, the moving of the head back and forth in order to blow them became difficult. The pipes were then placed in a sort of box or wind chest, a tube being added through which the player could blow, the pipes not intended to sound being closed by the fingers. Furthermore, as the pipes were increased in number and in size, it became necessary to employ various mechanical accessories to furnish adequate wind supply, and to open and close the pipes at will, the breath and fingers of the player proving insufficient. A device was invented in the form of a slide, rule or tongue of wood, which was placed beneath the [Pg 157] aperture of the pipe, and perforated so as to shut off or admit wind to the pipe as it was drawn back or forth. The earliest form of bellows might be suggested by the leathern bag of the bagpipe. In this the wind pressure was unsteady and the tone necessarily disconnected.


The Hydraulic Organ.—The first attempts to secure regular or steady wind pressure were made by Ctesibus, who lived at Alexandria, about 180 B. C. To him is ascribed the invention of the so-called “Hydraulic Organ.” This term seems somewhat of a misnomer, since the water was used merely to give the necessary pressure to the bellows, and to regulate the wind supply. This method was never developed, since the device did not seem applicable to instruments of any considerable size. The trend was rather toward a wind supply from a bellows operated on the same principle as that of the blacksmith’s. In the Hydraulic Organ the water was thus applied: An inverted air receiver, into which the wind was forced by a bellows, was immersed in a tank of water, the pressure of the water around and above the receiver forcing the air through an aperture at the top into the pipes, the pressure being regulated by the volume of water in the tank. The hydraulic organ continued more or less in use up to the early part of the 14th century. [Pg 158]

The Earliest Organs.—The organ developed little as to size or mechanical improvements during the first ten centuries of the Christian Era, and it is difficult to trace the progressive stages in point of time, place or mechanical invention. The first organ known to the people of Western Europe was a present from the Byzantine emperor, Constantine, to Pepin the Short, Major-Domo of the Frankish Kingdom, in 742. It had brass pipes and the “keys” were struck by hands and feet. Eastern organs also came into France in the time of Charlemagne, son of Pepin. The first organ used in Germany was made in 812, modelled after the one just mentioned. In 880, the Pope ordered an organ and an organ builder from Germany, which seems to indicate that the art had found support there at an early date. Although not considered absolutely indispensable, the organ from that time on seems to have been generally adopted for use in churches. Its many imperfections gave ground for criticism, yet today it is considered, par excellence, the ecclesiastical instrument.

Increase in the Size of Organs.—The organ builders of these early days were mostly monks, Pope Sylvester II (1003) being eminent, under the name of Gerbert, prior to his election to the papacy. They built small organs called “Portative,” and large organs called “Positive.” The old hydraulic organ, owing to its excessive weight, was called “Positive” to distinguish it from the “Portative” or portable organ, and these terms have been perpetuated to the present time. An organ built for the Cathedral at Winchester, England, had ten keys, four hundred pipes and twenty-six bellows, which were operated by seventy men, “in the sweat of their brows.” Since forty pipes were attached to a single key, it may be readily understood why its tone was compared to thunder. The keys were very large, having a deep fall, and required the whole force of the hand to press down a single one. [Pg 159]

Mechanical Improvements.—The pipes in the early organs were made of copper, lead, tin, silver, glass, ivory and various woods, but experiments finally showed tin or wood to be best suited for the purpose. The earliest organs had about twelve pipes, and the larger instruments three octaves, but without the chromatic intervals. The pipes were arranged according to the sequence of tones in the old Church modes, the octave containing but three semitones: between E-F, A-B flat and B-C. The chromatic tones were added gradually, the breadth of the keys being correspondingly reduced as the increased number of keys occupied the same space as before. Heretofore, the wind had usually been forced from the bellows by the weight of men standing upon them, but in the 10th century use began to be made of a lever, the bellows presumably being weighted.

The Keyboard is Adopted.—In the 11th century, the keyboard appeared, supplanting the levers and slides, previously in use. The first organ containing this marked improvement was made for the Cathedral at Magdeburg, Germany. It had sixteen keys. In 1350, a monk at Thorn built an organ with twenty-two keys, and in 1361 an organ was built for the Cathedral at Halberstadt with fourteen diatonic and eight chromatic tones in a compass extending from B, second line, bass staff, to A, second space, treble. This organ had three keyboards, now termed manuals.

The Pedals.—The invention of pedals is variously ascribed to Albert Van Os (about 1120), to Van Valbeke, of Brabant, and to a German named Bernhard (1470), an organist of Venice. The latter probably improved, but did not invent the pedals. The pedals at first did not exceed the compass of an octave, and were used only for sustaining prolonged tones. They were fastened to the broad manual keys by stout cords, thus enabling the performer to draw down the desired key with the foot. About the year 1418 the pedals began to be attached to independent pedal-pipes, thus imparting to the organ a certain dignity and sonority, still a chief characteristic of the instrument. After 1475, all important organs were built with pedal keyboard. [Pg 160]

The Introduction of Stops.—Up to the 14th century, the different registers (set of pipes with uniform tone quality) could not be sounded separately, that is to say: all the pipes belonging to any one key sounded when that key was depressed. At the close of the 14th century it was found possible to add valves to the pipes in such a manner as to cause the wind to pass through or be cut off from any series of pipes at will. The opening and closing was managed through a spring. The next improvement was to introduce a slide to open or close the passage of wind into the pipes. With these improvements it became possible for builders to set themselves to the improvement of the various “stops” or registers.

Improvements in Stops.—In the 15th century, pipes of sixteen and thirty-two feet in length began to be used, necessitating a greatly enlarged bellows. Pipes were closed at the top, thereby lowering the pitch an octave. They were given smaller diameters, producing a softer tone quality. The shapes of the pipes were varied, giving additional variety in tone quality.

Thus began the broad classifications of “Open” and “Stopped” pipes in all their varieties. The “Reeds” (pipes containing a vibrator or tongue to set the column of air in motion) were familiar to the earliest performers, but were not introduced into the organ until as late as the 14th century. Further improvements were made in the bellows at the beginning of the 16th century.

St. Mary’s, Lübeck.—In 1561, a three-manual organ was in use in St. Mary’s, Lübeck, Germany. To this organ all the important improvements were successively added at various intervals until it had, at the beginning of the 18th century, in the three manuals, respectively, thirteen, fourteen and fifteen stops, and in the pedal, fifteen stops. It was to hear the famous Buxtehude play upon this organ that Sebastian Bach walked fifty miles in 1705. [Pg 161]

Design of Improvements.—Great improvements have been made in organ building since the time of Bach, all designed to give the player greater resources, and increased facility in the handling and control of the resources, which in the present day are simply enormous.

The Organ in the American Colonies.—Although the first organs heard in America were probably introduced by the Spaniards, of these there are no authentic records. According to reliable historic data, the famous old “Brattle” organ was “the first organ that ever pealed to the glory of God in this country.” It was imported from London, in 1713, by Mr. Thomas Brattle, who bequeathed it to the Brattle Street Church, Boston, directing that the parish “procure a sober person that can play skilfully thereon with a loud noise.” This organ became the property of King’s Chapel, Boston, and was used until 1756.

No Art in Early Organ Playing.—The organs of the early Christian period were of such a character that playing, in the sense in which we now understand the word, was out of the question. For some time the span of the hand possible to players did not exceed the distance of a fifth. If an octave was to be struck, a second player was necessary. Only with the narrowing of the keys did artistic playing become possible. In fact, organ playing has invariably reflected the style and development of contemporary musical art.

Early Organists.—The credit of being “father of organists” is given to Francesco Landino, of Florence (1325-1390), and after him to Bernhard, mentioned as the inventor of the organ pedals. The oldest organ compositions are some works by Konrad Paumann (1410-1473), who was born blind, yet, like many others since, became a thoroughly trained musician in spite of his affliction. He also played other instruments and was a fine contrapuntist. Another of the early organists is Benedictus Ducis (or Hertoghs), born at Bruges, about 1480. He was a pupil of Josquin des Pres. From Ducis, representing the second Flemish school, as founded by Okeghem, there is a chain almost of master and pupil, between the early masters of organ playing and polyphonic writing and Bach, who in these arts became the [Pg 162] master of all. Paumann’s pieces show the style of composing for the instrument that was considered appropriate. They are essentially transcribed, but elaborated, vocal works. The compositions of the next organists of fame, Willaert, of Venice (1490-1562), and Cyprian di Rore (1516-1565), pupil of the former, have distinct names. Ricercari, Intonationi, Contrapunti, Toccati, Praeambula, and Canzoni, but the character remains the same, vocal pieces, elaborated and freely embellished with runs and other passage work. Later the term Ricercari came to mean a sort of fantasia in fugal form, often on a popular air; Toccata became a free fantasia with brilliantly figurated passages, and a Praeambulo a prelude to a larger piece. Other famous organists of this period were Bernhard Schmidt (1520-?), German; Claudio Merulo (1532-1604), organist at Venice, and his successors, the two Gabrieli’s.

Frescobaldi and His Successors.—The greatest of all the organists of the earlier days, to whom the title of “Father of true organ playing” has been given, was Girolamo Frescobaldi, born in 1583 at Ferrara, in Italy, educated in Flanders, and from 1608 to his death in 1644 organist at St. Peter’s, Rome. His fame was so great that the spacious cathedral was often filled when he gave an organ recital. His compositions, many of which have been preserved, have a very decided contrapuntal character, whence some have called him the inventor of the organ fugue. Two prominent German organists, whose compositions were studied by Bach, were Caspar Kerl (1627-1693), and Jacob Froberger (———1667), both of whom lived in Vienna. The most eminent organist of the 17th century was Johann Peter Sweelinck (1562-1621), pupil of Zarlino, the famous Italian theorist, and of Andreas Gabrieli, organist of Venice. Sweelinck occupied the position of organist at the Cathedral in Amsterdam, and gave much attention to the development of the fugal style of composition. His compositions are of the highest importance historically, since they exhibit the first known examples of the independent use of the pedals in a real fugal part. He was the most eminent organist of his time (being called the organist maker), and [Pg 163] was the teacher of the following noted players: Jacob Praetorius (died at Hamburg in 1651); Heinrich Scheidemann (1596-1663), also located at Hamburg; Jan Adams Reinken (1623-1722), from 1663 organist and successor to Scheidemann at the Catherine Church, Hamburg (Bach came to Hamburg several times to hear Reinken play and to learn his style); Samuel Scheidt (1587-1654), organist at Halle. Some of their compositions are accessible.


Johann Peter Sweelinck.

Other famous organists of this period were Johann Pachelbel (1653-1706), located at Nuremberg (Bach studied his works as a lad); Dietrich Buxtehude (1637-1707), organist at Lübeck for thirty-nine years. One of the most important names of this period of development is that of Johann Joseph Fux (1660-1741). His “Gradus ad Parnassum,” published in 1725, a treatise on counterpoint based on the practice of the great masters, played an important part in the training of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven. [Pg 164]

English Organists.—In the history of English organ playing, the first great name to engage our attention is that of Thomas Tallys, born about 1520. He is called the “Father of English church music.” He served under Henry VIII, Edward VI, Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth, as organist of the Chapel Royal. English organists of distinction contemporary with and succeeding Tallys were John Merbecke, Richard Farrant, William Byrd, John Bull, Thomas Morley, Orlando Gibbons (a contemporary of Frescobaldi), Matthew Lock, John Blow and Henry Purcell. The last mentioned, born in 1658, became organist of Westminster Abbey in 1680. The name of Purcell is one of the strongest in the history of English music. It was his ambition to found a distinctive school of English composition. Although not successful in this, he made a lasting impression on English church music and produced many charming secular works. It is on record that he stood high in the estimation of his European contemporaries.

Culmination in Bach and Handel.—The Polyphonic Period culminated in Bach and Handel, both born in 1685. These two, who never met, and who worked upon dissimilar lines, were the most famous organists of their day, in addition to their greatness in composition.

The Organ and Polyphonic Music.—Bach must be regarded as the source of modern organ composition and playing. In him polyphonic composition attained its highest perfection and the organ stands as the centre of the Polyphonic school. The development of the Opera and its influence towards a freer style in vocal and instrumental composition and the tendency of instrumental music to develop along harmonic lines had the effect of relegating polyphonic music to the Church with the organ as its chief vehicle. It is only of comparatively recent years that the organ has become a concert instrument. Bach’s treatment of the instrument serves as a model for the composers of all time and the study of his works is indispensable to the development of technical command of the organ and the cultivation of the true organ style. [Pg 165] Handel’s permanent contribution to organ literature consists of sets of Concertos. These concertos, a number of which are still played and admired, excited the enthusiasm of Sir John Hawkins, who gives a glowing account of them in his history. Bach was appointed Cantor at the St. Thomas Schule, Leipzig, in 1723, and it was here that much of his greatest work was accomplished. In addition to his duties at the school, he directed the music in the Churches of St. Thomas and St. Nicholas. As to the relative superiority of Bach and Handel as organists, contemporary opinion seems to have differed widely. Each undoubtedly had a style of his own as shown in his published compositions. Each excelled in improvisation.

The Chorale in Protestant Organ Music.—In addition to his incomparable preludes and fugues, toccatas, fantasias and pieces in the larger forms, Bach made the polyphonic treatment of the chorale an art peculiarly his own. In fact, the German style of organ playing may be said to have developed from the chorale and from the music of the Reformation. This furnished a fresher and very different source of inspiration from the Gregorian chant which had been handled so effectively by Frescobaldi and his Italian successors.

Marchand.—One of the most renowned of early French organists was Louis Marchand (1671-1732). In 1717, while living under banishment in Dresden, he was to have entered into a trial of skill with Bach, but lost courage and departed on the morning of the appointed day. A certain triviality has at times characterized the French school of organ music, undoubtedly a reflection of the prevailing style and taste in other branches of musical composition. Of later years, however, a more serious and exalted style has developed.

The German School.—To return to the German organists. A name familiar to all students of the organ is that of Rinck. Johann C. H. Rinck (1770-1846) was a pupil of Kittel, who in turn was a pupil of J. S. Bach. Rinck’s reputation is based largely on his “Practical Organ [Pg 166] School,” a work still in use. Another name of importance is that of Johann Gottlob Schneider (1789-1864). He has had the reputation of being one of the greatest German organists since the time of Bach. Of the great composers since Bach, Mendelssohn stands conspicuous as an organist and composer of organ music. Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven, although occasionally using the organ in their scores, did not compose for the instrument. Mendelssohn developed a decided fondness for the organ, which he played admirably. His six sonatas and three preludes and fugues are masterpieces. Among the representative German organists and composers should be mentioned: Adolph Hesse (1809-1863), author of the “Practical Organist” and a prolific composer; Karl August Haupt (1810-1891), a celebrated teacher, numbering among his many pupils from all countries such prominent American organists as Eugene Thayer, Clarence Eddy and J. K. Paine; Carl Ludwig Thiele (1816-1848) composer of some of the most difficult known works for the organ; Gustav Merkel (1827-1885), a prolific composer, whose sonatas are numbered among the standard works for the instrument; J. G. Rheinberger (1837-1901), one of the finest organists and best teachers of his time and a composer of great ability, whose twenty sonatas form a permanent addition to the best organ literature. A number of American organists were among his pupils.

The French School.—Prominent among organists of the French school in the 19th century may be mentioned: L. J. A. Lefébure-Wély (1817-1869) and Antoine Eduard Batiste (1820-1876). The works of both these organists are still widely played and have won much popularity. Wely has been called the “Auber of the organ.” His works display fertility of melodic invention and a piquancy of harmonic treatment, but are entirely lacking in the polyphonic element. Much the same may be said of Batiste, who was a fine player and teacher, and who equalled Wely in tunefulness but not in musicianship. Nicholas Jacques Lemmens (1823-81), a great player (especially of Bach) and author of the celebrated “Ecole d’Orgue” may[Pg 167] be said to have laid the foundation of the modern French school. Conspicuous among his successors have been: Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-——), a most versatile musician and a noted organist; Théodore Dubois (1837-——), Théodore Salome (1834-——) and Felix Alexandre Guilmant (1837-——). Guilmant, one of the most noted organists and composers of the present day, was a favorite pupil of Lemmens. He has been one of the most prolific composers since the time of Bach, is a master of all the resources of the modern organ, and has a fertility of invention and a fluent command of contrapuntal resources. Another eminent French organist is C. M. Widor (1845- ——), also a composer of distinction. A powerful influence was exerted on modern organ music, as well as general composition, by the eminent organist and composer, César Franck, who was, for a number of years, in charge of the organ class at the Paris Conservatoire.

The Italian School.—Among recent Italian organists Filippo Capocci (1840-——) and Enrico Bossi (1861-——) are worthy of mention. Both are splendid organists and prolific composers. They are leaders in the revival of good organ playing in Italy, where a determined effort is being made to restore the art to its former supremacy.

The English School.—England has furnished a long line of 19th century organists of ability, prominent among whom are: Sir John Goss (1800-1880), Henry Smart (1813-1879), E. J. Hopkins (1818-1901), S. S. Wesley (1810-1876), Dr. Wm. Spark (1825-1897). Foremost among English organists stands the name of Wm. T. Best (1826-1897). He was one of the most famous concert organists of his time, but is best known to organ students by his “Arrangements from the Scores of the Great Masters,” in which he demonstrated that the organ is in itself capable of reproducing certain orchestral effects without transcending its proper functions or descending to trickery. “The Organ,” by Sir John Stainer (1840-1901), is one of the most widely used elementary works for instruction in organ playing. Dr. Stainer was the successor of Sir John [Pg 168] Goss, at St. Paul’s, London, and was appointed Professor of Music at Oxford University in 1889. Frederic Archer (1838-1901) has been considered one of the greatest of organ players. After a successful career in England, he came to America in 1880. He did much towards popularizing and elevating the art of organ playing in this country. Prominent among contemporary English organists stands Edwin H. Lemare (1865-——), who succeeded Frederic Archer as organist of Carnegie Hall, Pittsburg, in 1902. He is a skilful virtuoso, a composer of originality, and a leading representative of the modern English school.

Modern Organ Music.—Organ playing and composition have kept pace with the mechanical and artistic evolution of the instrument, and the lines between the various schools are becoming less closely drawn. The tendency of builders to imitate orchestral tone and effects has had influence on composers and players alike. This tendency is less noticeable in the works of the German school, where a modified polyphony still flourishes, based on the principle of the classic treatment of the chorale and growing out of the music of the Lutheran Church. The organ compositions of the modern French school are characterized by grace, refinement and originality, coupled with a certain dignity and elegance. They combine free harmonic treatment and modern polyphony, together with certain ornate characteristics, growing out of the elaborate ceremonial music of the Latin Church, and bringing into play all the resources of tone color and expressive treatment of the modern instrument. Much the same may be said of the modern English school, which nevertheless still shows traces of the early English style, based on the dignity and purity of cathedral use and tradition. The orchestral tendency, both in composition for the organ and in the transcription of orchestral works for the instrument, shows itself more or less in all schools, and the organ, in addition to its position in the church, is becoming more and more a concert instrument. The compositions of the American organists reflect, in a measure, the characteristics of the schools in which they have been trained, and in particular show traces of the styles of the masters with whom they have chiefly studied.[9] [Pg 169]


In what early instrument is the germ of the organ found? Describe its gradual development.

Describe the general character of the early organs.

Describe the various mechanical improvements.

When and by whom were pedals introduced?

Mention some of the early organists.

In whom did the Polyphonic Period culminate? Who is the source of modern organ composition and playing?

Mention some German organists since the time of Bach.

Mention some prominent French and English organists of the 19th century.

Describe the modern tendencies in organ composition.

Suggestions for a Review of Lessons VIII to XVI.

Get a clear idea of the period, which includes the years between 1100 and the death of Palestrina in 1594, almost 500 years. The lesson on the organ and organ playing belongs to this period, chronologically, in part only.

The difference between the monophonic and polyphonic styles must be clearly appreciated in order to get a clear grasp of the two fundamental styles in music. Illustrations from the masters are to be placed in contrast. Polyphony developed from melodic principles, the simultaneous sounding of several melodies. Monophony depends upon a harmonic basis. [Pg 170]

Indicate the steps in the growth of Polyphony.

How did the Church contribute?

What political and other conditions made Paris the centre of Europe in the 12th century?

What is the force of Imitation as a principle to secure Unity in musical composition? How was it used by the composers of the Paris school?

What advances in the use of Imitation did the men of the Gallo-Belgic school make?

Indicate certain historical events and name prominent personages of the periods included in this section.

Why did the early English school exercise so little influence on music?

What noted musical composition is credited to the English school? What kind of work is it?

What historical periods coincide with the English school as described in this section?

Compare the Gallo-Belgic and the Netherlands schools. What did the former contribute to the latter?

What is the musical value of the principle of the Canon?

Why did the musical centre shift respectively from Paris to Belgium, to the Netherlands and then to Italy?

Make a list of the composers of the different schools of this period and trace the connection between them.

Give a sketch of Palestrina and show his contribution to church music.

Describe the madrigal. Compare a madrigal with a modern part-song and note the difference in style.

Give the classification of musical instruments. Examples in each class.

Give a sketch of the development of the viol.

What is the germ of the principle of the organ?

What is the necessity for the use of a bellows?

What are the successive steps in improving the organ?

Mention the important players in chronological order.

Classify them in the proper schools.

Compare the German, French and English schools. [Pg 171]

The Beginning of the Opera.

The Renaissance.—The Opera, in its inception, was literary rather than musical in nature. It was a result of what is known as the Renaissance, so-called because its most prominent manifestation in Italy was a revival of the learning of the ancients. This phase of the movement was initiated by Petrarch (1304-1370), who devoted his life to the study of the classical past of Italy. The Latin classics had never been entirely lost, but those of the Greeks had become practically extinct during the dark ages which followed the conquest of the Roman Empire by the barbarians of the North, in the 5th century. The arts had been kept alive only through the fostering care of the Church, and all had taken on a conventionally ecclesiastical character. Education had declined; it was practically confined to churchmen—even kings and rulers could barely sign their names, while the people at large were sunk in gross ignorance. The revival of Latin literature through the influence of Petrarch led to an interest in the Greek classics which soon became the engrossing study of the learned. Diligent search was made for lost and forgotten manuscripts; academies of learning were founded; lectures were given on Greek philosophy. In the enthusiasm thus created it was even thought that not only the arts and literature of the ancient world might be restored, but its governmental, social and political structure as well.

Scope of the Renaissance.—The Renaissance, however, was not merely literary in nature. It was in reality the awakening of man from the spiritual and intellectual slumber which had bound him for nearly a thousand years. Long before it was defined it had been perceptible in [Pg 172] many ways. First, materially, in a spirit of exploration, of adventure and enterprise. Traders and travelers startled Europe with glowing accounts of the far East; missionaries took long and dangerous voyages in the hope of converting its heathen inhabitants. An eager desire for increased commercial facilities with these favored countries by means of a westward passage brought about the discovery of America, with which modern history may be said to have opened.

With this extension of the world’s boundaries, the mind of man began to expand as well. As he looked forward with eager anticipation to the future, he studied the past with an eye newly alive to the treasures of its buried culture. Instead of his former acquiescence in being one of a dull, inert mass, serving without question those in authority over him, he began to feel and to assert his own individuality, to resist the crushing weight of feudalism which had hitherto oppressed him. Freedom of intellect, of conscience, of science, of art, was in the air.

The effect of this transition from medievalism toward modern liberty of thought and action varied with different nationalities. In northern nations it took the direction of rebellion against prevailing religious and political conditions, for example, in Germany and England. Italy, however, remained steadfast in religion and government; the revolt was against traditions in matters of art and literature. Roman law and Greek philosophy were exhumed; the classics were zealously studied for standards of taste and culture.

Music of the Ancients.—Notwithstanding this research, no trace was found of the music actually in use among the ancients. From the evanescent nature of the art and the total lack of examples, the elaborate descriptions of its complicated system of scales and modes given by Greek philosophers failed to yield a trustworthy clue to its real character. [Pg 173]

It was known, however, that the drama, owing to the enormous proportions of the amphitheatre in which it was performed, was musically declaimed, and that the voices of the actors and chorus were sustained by lyres and flutes. Thus, in the Greek tragedy we find the principal features of the modern opera—scenery, dramatic action, solo and choral singing, the orchestra. It was also known that in the music of the Greeks the word was the governing principle; that there was no independent instrumental music—nor was there elsewhere for many centuries afterward. The tone was regarded only as a means of heightening the effect of the poetry; the succession of long and short syllables dictated both rhythm and melody. Of harmony in the modern sense of the term, there was none; instruments and voices alike were in unison.

Music Chiefly Choral.—In the 16th century, Florence was the centre of the enthusiasm for Greek culture. She and her sister-cities in the north of Italy were the arbiters in matters of taste, of learning and erudition. There, toward the end of the century, a small group of scholars and musicians, known as the Camerata (Chamber), meeting at the house of Count Bardi, discussed the possibility of reproducing the musical declamation of Greek tragedy. The time was ripe for such an experiment. The polyphonic school had reached its climax in the intricate works of di Lasso (1520-1594) and Palestrina (1514-1594). Though admirably suited to the Church, the contrapuntal style of these great composers was manifestly unfit for dramatic purposes; it could voice the aspirations of a body of worshipers swayed by a common belief, but could not express individual feeling. No voice was more important than another, all progressed according to canonic law, their complex intertwining practically destroying the essentially secular elements of accent and rhythm. It was, in short, the embodiment in music of the medievalism which had so long controlled Church and State.

Thus far the spirit of emancipation which had produced such great results in the other arts and in politics elsewhere had touched music but lightly. Attempts had been made to break the restraints of [Pg 174] contrapuntalism, but there was a total ignorance as to what steps would prove most effective in reaching that end, and nothing definite had been accomplished. Aside from the Folk-song, which was ignored by musicians save only as it served as Cantus Firmus for their counterpoint, there was no music for the solo voice; it was conceived solely from a choral standpoint.

The Recitative.—Their dissatisfaction with the school of music then in vogue and the impossibility of adapting it to their purpose led to various experiments by this band of enthusiasts to discover the principles upon which the Greeks had founded the musical declamation employed in their tragedies. They argued that it must have followed as closely as possible the inflections of the voice in speaking; therefore they made this their study. Thus originated the Recitative, the distinguishing feature of the lyric drama, which, though using the definite pitches of the musical scale, reproduces in its progressions and cadences the characteristic but intensified effect of an oratorical delivery of the text. It was the exact contrary of the music of the age in which the word counted for almost nothing, the art of combining independent voices and of playing them off one against the other for everything.

The Cantata.—The first result of their efforts was the Cantata (from cantare, to sing), meaning a composition for the voice in contradistinction to the Sonata (from sonare, to sound), which was applied to one for instruments. The Cantata had but little in common with what is now understood by the term. It was a recitation on musical intervals for a single voice accompanied by but one instrument. Anything like a formal melody was carefully avoided, and the accompaniment, generally played on the lute, was of the most unpretending character. The first of these cantatas was composed by Vincenzo Galilei, the father of the celebrated astronomer, on the tragic fate of Count Ugolino, as related by Dante in the Inferno. This, therefore, was the first art-song ever composed. Unfortunately, it has been lost; but contemporary accounts tell of the profound [Pg 175] impression it created. Other cantatas were written and sung by Giulio Caccini (1550-1618), a skilled and an admirable lutist as well, and all awakened the utmost enthusiasm among the little company.

These works were known as Nuove Musiche (new music) and such as have survived are, in general, painfully thin and crude to modern ears. When compared with the rich polyphony of the prevailing Church style they seem at the first blush to indicate retrogression. Progress, however, seldom advances in a direct line; it generally moves by spirals which at times apparently retreat only to mount the higher at the succeeding curve. These dull recitatives bore the germ of emancipation from the scholastic laws which had heretofore prevented music from expressing individual emotion; they typify the spirit of the Renaissance and are the foundation of the art as we now know it.

The First Opera.—Another of the number, Jacopo Peri (1561-1633), also a musician, took the next step by composing music of the same style to a drama, the Dafne (Daphne) of the poet Rinuccini, who was the life and soul of this attempt to revive the lost declamation of the Greeks. This was performed privately in 1595 at the Corsi Palace, and produced so strong an impression that it was repeated a number of times at the Carnival seasons of the succeeding years. In 1600, Peri was invited to compose a similar work for the marriage festivities of Henry IV of France and Maria di Medici. This was Euridice, also written by Rinuccini, which bears the distinction of being the first opera to receive public performance, and thus introducing the new art-form to the world at large. The score of Dafne has been lost, but that of Euridice still exists.

It was then known as a music drama (melo dramma or dramma per la musica); the term opera (abbreviation for opera in musica, that is, musical work) did not come into use until the middle of the century. The orchestra, which was played behind the scenes, consisted of a harpsichord, two lutes and a bass-viol. In addition, three lutes played a short ritornello (interlude) in one scene. With this exception, the [Pg 176] instruments were used merely to support the voice; the tonality was almost exclusively minor, and the harmony of the simplest. It is thought that Peri sang the part of Orpheus and that Francesca Caccini, daughter of the composer and one of the most gifted singers of the day, sang Euridice.


Part of an Air by Caccini.


Caccini claimed the new style as his invention, and it is certain that parts of Euridice were composed by him, though Peri’s name alone appears on the title page of the published work. Emulating the success of his colleague, the former soon set the same drama to music.

Characteristics of the Early Opera.—The two settings are so similar that one might almost be taken for the other. Both display the same characteristics. Of dramatic feeling or characterization as understood at the present day there is no sign; development of musical thought, none whatever; a dreary waste of recitatives is but slightly relieved by the occasional flourishes (giri e gruppi, that is, runs and turns) allowed the singers by the taste of the times. The choruses, however, which are introduced freely, serve to vary the monotony somewhat. They exhibit a singular mingling of the old and new styles, natural under the circumstances. The voices sing either in a recitative-like unison, or begin in fugato, and later move in simple harmonic progression. Their distaste for the contrapuntal style led [Pg 177] these reformers to reject it so far as they could. Its appearance at all is due to the fact that no other mode of writing for a number of voices had as yet been devised—a strictly harmonic treatment had not been thought of. Since, then, they were at a loss as to the management of choral masses, they were obliged to have recourse in part to old methods.

Another name associated with the Florentine school deserving mention is that of Marco da Gagliano, a priest who soon took the lead in the new movement. His first opera was Dafne (1607), composed to Rinuccini’s drama which had already served Peri; it was a common practice in those days for composers to use the same text. As a scholar and musician, Gagliano was superior to his predecessors. He shows a greater warmth of feeling and a tendency toward melody which they considered as a lowering of their ideals.

The Florentine School.—One particular characteristic of the Florentine school was a sedulous avoidance of anything like extended melody or definite form. To the composers of this school, music was not an end in itself; it was subordinate to the distinct, impassioned declamation of the poet’s verses. They held that any independent development of musical thought was a weakness; that it tended to distract the attention of the hearer from the drama, and to interfere with its logical continuity. The predominant influence was that of the scholar, not of the musician. This was to be expected from the character of the little coterie interested in the new art-form. The majority were wealthy amateurs, zealous students of the classics and aflame with the desire for the actual revival of the Greek tragedy. Peri and Caccini were the only musicians and they were strongly averse to the contrapuntal music of the day. Its persistently ecclesiastical effect debarred it from expressing the personal feeling which was the object of their research. In the effort to escape its ban, they unwittingly emancipated their art from the control of the Church, and made it accessible to mankind in general. This, therefore, is the great service of the Florentine reformers: the establishment of a purely secular school of music susceptible of indefinite development. [Pg 178]

Making allowance for the vast difference in means due to the practical creation of independent instrumental music since the 17th century, their practice was precisely the same as that of the modern composer who writes a music drama and uses the same term to define his work. When Dafne and Euridice first saw the light, however, there was neither knowledge nor experience to point the way; it was found only after a slow and laborious process of experimentation, involving the acceptance of much that was rejected after having served its turn. Though Peri and Caccini with their confrères did not succeed in the end they had in view, they accomplished far more by originating the Opera, the point of departure for the whole modern art of music.

Questions and Suggestions.

What was the Renaissance?

What was the effect of this idea on music?

What was the origin of Recitative?

What was understood by Nuove Musiche?

Who wrote the first opera? What term was applied to this kind of musical work?

Give a description of the early opera.

Give an account of the Florentine school and their fundamental ideas.

Since the beginning of the Opera is practically the beginning of a century, the 17th, it should not be a difficult matter to keep this date in mind. It therefore antedates the settlement at Jamestown, Va., by a few years, making the beginning of American history under English auspices and the Opera coincide. [Pg 179]

The Oratorio. Development of the Opera.

The First Oratorio.—The novelty of the new style, which was called the stilo rappresentativo (representative style), the vigor and freedom it gave to an impressive delivery of the text, aroused universal attention. Among the composers who essayed it was Emilio del Cavaliere (1550-1599). By applying it to a sacred subject, he originated the Oratorio. Roman by birth, he had passed part of his life in Florence, and though not a member of the Camerata, was familiar with its aims and practice.

The germ both of the Opera and Oratorio is to be found in the Miracle Plays or so-called Mysteries of the Middle Ages. These were dramatic representations of Bible scenes or religious allegories by means of which a populace unable to read was taught the great truths of sacred history. Cavaliere’s oratorio, La Rappresentazione di Anima e di Corpo (The Representation of Soul and Body), was given in 1600 in Rome, at the Oratory of the Church of Santa Maria in Vallicella—hence its name.


Passage from Cavaliere’s Oratorio.


Its Characteristics.—Save for the nature of the subject, there was no apparent difference between it and an opera. The allegorical characters taking part appeared in costume and in action. The score even gives directions by which it may be concluded with a dance if so desired. By this, however, dignified and stately movements are understood, in nowise resembling the rapid dance of modern times. [Pg 180] The composer in his instructions for performance, which are unusually full and complete, lays great stress upon an expressive delivery of the text, and the swelling and diminishing of the tones by the singers. In vigor and characterization it far surpasses Peri’s and Caccini’s operas. Cavaliere’s death, which occurred ten months before the production of his work, and the great popularity of the Opera, put a stop to the immediate development of the Oratorio; that was reserved for Carissimi a generation later.

Monteverde.—The task of taking the opera from the experimental stage and of placing it on the artistic foundation which it now occupies was accomplished by Claudio Monteverde (1568-1643), a man of extraordinary genius and originality. A harmonist of surpassing force and boldness, he had always rebelled against the restraints of the contrapuntal school, though, unlike Peri and Caccini, he was skilled in its intricacies. He was viol player in the band of the Duke of Mantua, and had composed masses and madrigals, many of which were severely criticised by the pedants of the day. He joined definite issue with them in his freedom of treating dissonances, the distinguishing feature of modern harmony. Heretofore, sevenths, ninths, augmented fourths and the like had never been heard without preparation. Monteverde, however, introduced them without regard to this restriction, little heeding the anathemas heaped upon his head by those who considered his infractions of established rules unpardonable. His ardent, restless temperament, seeking novel modes of expression, often led to wild and extravagant combinations which even today appear harsh and forced. At that time they must have seemed wilful attempts at outraging the ear and the sense of harmonic propriety. These innovations, however, are the cornerstone of modern harmony; of this as well as of the opera, Monteverde is the real founder. What are defects in his church music are excellences in his operas. The discords which disturb the serenity of a religious atmosphere are admirably fitted to produce dramatic effects and powerful climaxes. Monteverde belonged to the stage as his great contemporary, Palestrina, belonged to the church. [Pg 181]

Position of Music in the 17th Century.—The interest which the success of the Florentine composers would have for a man thus gifted can be readily imagined. Yet he was obliged to wait a number of years for an opportunity to emulate their achievements. Music then was the especial pastime of the great; it was part of the state with which they surrounded themselves. Almost all titled and wealthy families had their own bands of musicians and choirs of singers. These assisted in their private chapels and lent additional eclat to seasons of festivity. Concerts and operas were given only at court or in the palaces of noblemen; public halls for any kind of musical occasion were unknown. A musician or composer could make his way only by attaching himself to a noble house or by securing a patron in court circles. Dafne and Euridice were made possible through the interest and protection of Count Bardi and Count Corsi. The opera was also attended with great expense. The taste of the times demanded an enormous outlay for mounting—costumes, scenery, decorations; only the extremely wealthy could afford it, and they reserved it for occasions of especial importance.


Ariadne’s Lament.


Monteverde’s First Opera.—In 1607, the marriage of Margaret of Savoy to Francesco Gonzaga, son of the Duke of Mantua, opened the way for Monteverde’s first opera, Arianna (Ariadne), which was received with the utmost enthusiasm. Unfortunately, but a fragment of it remains, Ariadne’s lament after her desertion by Theseus, the most [Pg 182] celebrated opera air ever written. In its unprepared discords of the harshest nature, in the poignant expression of grief and despair so at variance with the placid art of the day, this shows how, by a single stroke, Monteverde cut loose from all the traditions of the past. In its less than a score of measures it also anticipates principles of artistic structure which were not formulated for nearly a century later and which hold good to the present day. It is said that it brought tears to every eye.


Ritornello by Monteverde.


His Second Opera.—The following year he produced his second opera, Orfeo (Orpheus), so called to distinguish it from Peri’s Euridice on the same subject. Though most of Monteverde’s works have been lost, the score of Orfeo has been preserved. It shows a surprising advance over the simplicity of the Florentine operas. First of all, in the great expansion of the orchestra. This numbers thirty-seven instruments which throughout are combined in groups and as a whole with an art prefiguring certain effects of orchestration supposed to be purely modern. Like harmony, instrumentation dates from Monteverde. Instead of the customary vocal prologue, it begins with a Toccata (instrumental prelude). The composer’s keen dramatic instinct is shown by the masterly way in which he avoids the monotony of his predecessors; the recitatives are varied by the introduction of ritornelli, and each act ends with a chorus and a stately passage for the orchestra. Five years later, the most famous composer of the day, he left Mantua for Venice, where until his death he was director of music at St. Mark’s. [Pg 183]

Monteverde’s Characteristics.—Monteverde’s greatest service to the opera lay in enlarging the sphere of the orchestra, and in the initiation of a thoroughly instrumental style adapted to the character of each instrument. He increased the number of players and released the orchestra from the subordinate position of being a mere support for the voice by employing it to heighten the dramatic situation. He originated many previously unknown effects, among them the pizzicato and the tremolo of the violins in precisely the same form as used at present. The latter so astounded the players that at first they refused to attempt it, saying that it was impossible. He endowed the Recitative with far greater freedom and depth of expression; under his hand it lost much of the dryness of the Florentine school. His manner of writing for the voice was declamatory rather than melodious; what traces of definite melody occur in his works are generally confined to the instruments, in which he curiously anticipates the practice of latter-day dramatic composers.

Popularization of the Opera.—Until 1637 the opera was restricted to royalty and the nobility. In that year the first public opera house was opened in Venice, and such was the popularity of the new amusement that before the end of the century there were no fewer than eleven in that city alone, then with a population of about 140,000. It spread through Italy with almost like rapidity, bearing in its wake an unparalleled development of the art of song.

Change of Character.—With its introduction to the people, it was manifestly impossible for the opera to retain its original character. So long as it was confined to the cultivated, the classical ideals of its founders met with intelligent appreciation, but when confronted with audiences drawn from the masses desirous only of being amused, a change was inevitable. Mythological and classical subjects were gradually discarded in favor of those involving intrigue and disguise; comic personages were introduced to enliven the scene. As the dramatic action was thus brought nearer the comprehension of the [Pg 184] unlearned, so the music departed from the oratorical standards of the early school, and showed a frank tendency toward melody and regularity of form. What was lost in elevation of theme, however, was made up by the human interest imparted to the play and the consequent endeavor of the composer to express, by his music, the varying vicissitudes of life. Thus it gained in warmth of feeling and flexibility in means of expression, while the evolution of rhythmic melody and definite musical structure laid the foundation of the art as we now have it.

The Venetian School.—Venice naturally became the centre of an important development of the opera. Of the numerous composers forming the Venetian school, Francesco Cavalli (1600-1676) and Marco Cesti (1620-1669) are second only in importance to Monteverde. The first was Monteverde’s pupil, and had much of his broad dramatic style modified by the influences of which we have just spoken. Cesti came to Venice from Rome, where he had been the pupil of Carissimi, and brought with him the smoothness and melodic flow of his master, albeit lacking in essential power. Other names of a later date are Giovanni Legrenzi (1625-1690), especially noted for spirit and vivacity, and Antonio Lotti (1667-1740), his pupil, known by one or two charming airs which still survive.

Carissimi and the Oratorio.—Giovanni Carissimi (1604-1674), though he never wrote for the stage, was the strongest musical influence of his day. He was an ardent admirer of the new school, and adapted it in the form of oratorios and cantatas to the Church. In such works the necessity for form as regards definite tonality, distinct rhythm and melodic sequence is naturally much greater than in the Opera where music is used to illustrate the dramatic situation, and is furthermore elucidated by the action of the play. When the ear alone is obliged to pass judgment there must be evidence of design in these particulars, else the effect is confused and bewildering. Carissimi’s musical instinct grasped this truth. His oratorios and cantatas show a logical arrangement of choruses and ensembles, recitatives and arias combined with a unity of effect and a [Pg 185] clearness of characterization heretofore unknown. The choruses in particular are strongly rhythmic and far more dramatic than those which were commonly heard on the stage.


From “Jephtha” by Carissimi.


Secularization of Church Music.—This introduction of the new style into the Church marked the passing of the old school and strongly affected methods of dramatic composition. The public had never been in sympathy with the austere standards of the Florentine school and welcomed the appearance of intelligible melody and the spirited rhythms to which Carissimi gave the first direct impulse. Not only this; he fixed the form that the music of the Church was to bear for a century to come. This secularization of church music had its good and bad sides; good by reason of the greater freedom and variety of expression thus gained; bad because of the bold and mechanical imitation of Carissimi’s purely formal details by his successors, which in the end led to a tiresome monotony of style.

Characteristics of the Venetian School.—Thus was taken the first step toward the complete reversal of the conditions under which the early Opera had arisen. Instead of the music’s being subordinate to the drama, the drama was soon to serve merely as an excuse for the music; the opera was destined to sink to the level of a concert sung in costume; the dramatic action reduced to a minimum. The Venetian school marks the turning-point in this direction. The high ideals of Monteverde and his predecessors were gradually thrust into the background; the singer began to assume precedence over the actor; truth of expression yielded to the fascinations of time and tune, which even the musically uncultivated could enjoy without bothering [Pg 186] their heads as to real dramatic fitness. Closely connected with these tendencies was the establishment of a school of singing which, if we may believe contemporary accounts, surpassed in technical facility and brilliancy any vocal art heard either before or since that time. The result was that singers finally regarded the opera only as a field for the display of their dazzling accomplishments and in this they were willingly supported by a public eager to be entertained and amused.

Questions and Suggestions.

Who wrote the first oratorio? In what respects did an opera and an oratorio differ?

Give an account of Monteverde and his innovations in Opera.

What was the state of music in the 17th century?

Describe Monteverde’s first opera.

Describe Monteverde’s second opera.

What was understood by the terms Toccata, Ritornello?

What were Monteverde’s contributions to the Opera?

What change took place in the character of the Opera in the latter half of the 17th century?

Who were the prominent members of the Venetian school?

Give an account of Carissimi and his work.

Give a characterization of the Venetian school.

A short account of the Mysteries or Miracle Plays of the Middle Ages may be assigned to a pupil as special work. The Passion Play, still given today at Oberammergau, Germany, is a relic of the old-time religious plays. [Pg 187]

Alessandro Scarlatti and the Neapolitan School.

The Neapolitan School.—What in the Venetian school had been a reaction in favor of form and melody became the established practice of the Neapolitan school. Political disturbances had hindered the spread of the Opera in southern Italy, particularly in Naples, but at the end of the 17th century it assumed the position formerly occupied by Florence and Venice. Before this, however, a strong influence had been exerted by certain composers in Rome, of whom Carissimi was first in importance. Had it not been for the disapproval of the Church, a definite Roman school might have arisen. Such a school would doubtless have been advantageous to the artistic growth of the Opera, since the public taste at Rome in matters of art was more serious in nature than at Naples. In 1697, public performances of opera were forbidden by the ecclesiastical authorities, and thus the seat of further development was transferred to Naples through the removal thither from Rome of Alessandro Scarlatti (1659-1725), the founder of the Neapolitan school. As a lad, he had been a pupil of Carissimi and also probably of Legrenzi, whose influence is clearly seen in his early works.

Alessandro Scarlatti.—Scarlatti invested his operas with a melodic charm and a symmetrical form which thus far had appeared only sporadically. Fascinated by the freedom of the new style, the early composers had neglected the severe study which had been indispensable to mastery in the Contrapuntal School, and had in the main relied on natural gifts. Following the ideal of Peri and his associates, their [Pg 188] operas were largely a succession of recitatives which in the end grew monotonous and wearisome; of form, of structure, of purely musical effect they bore but slight traces. Scarlatti saw that the time had come for a change in style—one that should combine the musical interest of the old with the dramatic spirit of the new. The foremost musician of his time, he perceived the weakness of the exclusively declamatory opera—its lack of variety and want of appeal to the public in general.


Alessandro Scarlatti.

His Characteristics.—He was not a reformer. He lacked the strong and rugged dramatic fibre of his predecessor, Monteverde. Scholarship; an inexhaustible fund of melody, pure, polished, refined; a gift of characterization—general, not particular, and always subordinate to a keen sense of beauty—are his distinguishing [Pg 189] characteristics. He fell in with the taste of the day and devoted his gifts to the production of works which should satisfy the musician and please the public. The solidity of his early schooling had made him a master of counterpoint, and this he applied in the construction of logically worked-out accompaniments, fuller, richer and more expressive than had been attempted by his less learned contemporaries. In nobility of conception and skill in solving contrapuntal problems he often shows that he is not unworthy the name of the “Italian Bach,” as he is sometimes called. Like Bach, also, he was one of the most prolific composers of all times. He left one hundred and fifteen operas, sixty-six of which are still extant, more than two hundred masses, besides many miscellaneous works for church and concert, both vocal and instrumental.

His Services to the Opera.—To the simple recitative (recitativo secco), invented by Peri, he added the important form known as the recitativo stromentato (accompanied recitative). This was not strictly original with Scarlatti, since it had been introduced by Purcell in his Dido and Eneas ten years before the Italian had first used it in his opera Rosaura (1690). There is no probability, however, that Scarlatti was acquainted with the Englishman’s works; it is a not uncommon matter for two minds to arrive independently at the same result. In the accompanied recitative, the voice, instead of being supported by detached (secco) chords on the harpsichord, sometimes with the addition of a single stringed instrument, as in the simple recitative, was accompanied by the entire orchestra, which had grown to proportions undreamed-of in Peri’s day. Vastly developed by the growth of orchestral resources, it is the distinguishing feature of the modern music drama. As a rule, however, it was but little used in Scarlatti’s operas or in those of his contemporaries. Interest in the drama, as such, was fast sinking to a negligible quantity; audiences assembled to hear their favorite singers, not to follow the course of a more or less involved dramatic action. The simple recitative was, therefore, more [Pg 190] frequently employed in order to hurry through the necessary details of the play and reach the moment when the singer could delight by his art in the aria.


Air from Scarlatti’s Opera “Turno Aricino”.


The Aria.—Scarlatti was not the inventor of the aria or air for the single voice in the meaning of the term as applied to a certain fixed form. Other composers had used it before him in its essential principles, but he was the first to formulate it into a persistent type, which it retained for nearly a century, despite its undramatic character. The Scarlatti aria consisted of three parts: two contrasting sections, concluding with a Da Capo or repetition of the first, expressed by the formula A B A. The principle of Repetition as an element of form is now a commonplace, but at the time it was a novelty, and the emphasis given to it by the aria fascinated the public and made it the principal feature of the opera. More than anything else, it led to its degeneration. Singers found in the aria a means of displaying [Pg 191] their technical skill; it became the canvas on which they embroidered the most astonishing tours de force. The art of acting almost disappeared from the operatic stage; the poise of body and voice required for such vocal efforts banished all but a few conventional gestures.

The Overture.—Scarlatti’s powers were by no means confined to writing for the voice; the instrumental portions of his works give evidence of equal mastery, though the popular taste for singing allowed him but little scope for extension in this direction. His overtures in particular show a great advance over the simple preludes of the early Italian operas. He perfected what is known as the Italian Overture in contradistinction to the earlier form invented by Lully, and called the French Overture. It consisted of three movements, the first and last quick, the middle movement slow. In its arrangement, this was the direct precursor of the modern symphony. At first the two terms were interchangeable; an overture when played before an opera was called a Sinfonia, and curiously enough, when played independently as a concert number it was frequently called an overture. Some of the early symphonies were even printed with one title outside and the other inside.

The Typical Italian Opera.—Thus at the beginning of the 18th century we find the Opera on an overwhelmingly musical basis instead of the oratorical foundation which it had in its inception. Scarlatti fixed its form for a century. He left it consisting principally of recitatives and arias, each opera containing from fifty to sixty of the latter. Aside from these there was but little formal music—only an occasional march or dance besides the overture. The simple recitative was used for ordinary dialogue; hence it was peculiarly applicable to the Opera Buffa (comic opera). The accompanied recitative was reserved for situations of dramatic importance, and the aria served to express individual emotion. The chorus was employed but sparingly, generally appearing only at the end of the act to give greater eclat to the finale. The dance, which in the early Opera had played a part of some importance, was finally banished entirely from the scene, though [Pg 192] not from the stage. It was given between the acts as an intermezzo (interlude), and thus developed into the formal ballet. Spectacular features, too, assumed great prominence.

The Intermezzo.—The Intermezzo has a close connection with the opera. It arose from the custom of introducing something between the acts of a play or opera to entertain the audience during the necessary period of waiting. At first, songs or madrigals were sung, then by degrees the entertainment took on a dramatic form, until at last a drama was given totally independent of the principal play. Singularly enough, the acts of the two plays were performed alternately, neither having any connection with the other. The Intermezzo was always of a gayer, lighter character; thus when the incongruity of the practice became apparent, it naturally evolved into the Opera Buffa. This was brought about by the success of the most celebrated comic opera ever written, La Serva Padrona (The Maid as Mistress), by Giovanni Pergolesi (1710-1736). This was originally produced (1734) as an Intermezzo between the acts of another play, and afterward made a triumphant progress through all the opera houses in Europe as an independent work.

The Opera Buffa.—Though for the sake of contrast, comic characters had been introduced into the opera during the early Venetian period, the Opera Buffa did not reach its full development until the following century. Owing to the absence of certain conventions which had grown around the Opera Seria (serious opera) it became a more characteristic mode of expression than the latter. Its melodies were fresher, its dramatic action was less restrained and truer to life, while it performed a valuable service by doing away with the strange mingling of comic and serious styles which had previously disfigured many otherwise impressive works. To it we owe the concerted Finale which is such a feature of modern grand opera. It is attributed to Niccolo Logroscino (1700-1763), who instead of the customary conclusion of an act by a simple duet, trio, or quartet, brought all [Pg 193] the Dramatis Personæ on the stage to take part in a characteristic ensemble. Greatly developed by later composers, such finales were for a long time confined to Opera Buffa, until Paisiello finally introduced them into serious opera.

Prominent Composers of the Neapolitan School.—It is hardly possible to mention more than a few of the numerous composers belonging to the Neapolitan school. Besides Pergolesi, the most important works of this school were composed by Niccolo Porpora (1685-1767), Niccolo Jommelli (1714-1774), Niccolo Piccini (1728-1800), Giovanni Paisiello (1741-1816) and Domenico Cimarosa (1749-1801). Most of these were equally at home in the Opera Seria and the Opera Buffa, but their works in the latter style have proved the more enduring.

Porpora is more noteworthy for the singers he formed than for his forty-six operas, all of which have sunk into oblivion. He was the greatest of the many masters of singing who through their pupils made the Opera of the 18th century the field of display for the most remarkable singers the world has ever heard. Jommelli was one of the most gifted composers of his day. He spent fifteen years in Germany as capellmeister to the Duke of Wurtemburg, but the influence of this long residence in a country where musical ideals were of a more austere type than in Italy, though it added dignity and solidity to his art, was fatal to his popularity when he returned to his native land; his countrymen found his operas heavy in style and deficient in melody. Piccini was the composer of the most popular Opera Buffa of the century, Cecchina, but is now remembered principally by the bitter feud which arose in Paris in 1787 between his admirers and those of Gluck. Paisiello’s most celebrated work was Il Barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville), which held the stage for thirty years until the success of Rossini’s masterpiece on the same subject forced it into retirement. Cimarosa’s Il Matrimonio Segreto (The Secret Marriage) was an equal favorite; one of its numbers, the trio for women’s voices, Ti Faccio un Inchino (I make thee a reverence), sometimes appears on modern programs. [Pg 194]

Influence of the Neapolitan School.—Notwithstanding the formalism of the Neapolitan school, which led to a regrettable neglect of the dramatic signification of the Opera by an over-emphasis of its musical element, it was of no small importance in the development of music in general. By fixing the principles of form and melody at a time when both were vague and undetermined, Scarlatti laid the foundation of the great classical period, beginning with Haydn and Mozart and ending with Beethoven. This was his contribution to absolute music, which cannot exist without form, though its influence was disastrous to purity of form in the branch of the art which he particularly cultivated.

Questions and Suggestions.

Which Italian city now became the centre of operatic development?

Who was the founder of this new school?

Tell about his style and training.

What did he contribute to the development of the Opera?

Describe the Aria.

Describe the Overture.

Describe a typical Italian Opera.

Describe the Intermezzo.

Describe the Opera Buffa.

Who were the prominent composers of the Neapolitan school?

What was the influence of this school?

The period of Scarlatti’s work extends approximately from the English Revolution of 1688, which drove James II from the throne, to the end of the reign of George I. In American Colonial history this period is one of gathering strength in the various provinces on the Atlantic Coast. [Pg 195]

Singing and Singers.

Early Methods of Singing.—As has been noted by the reader, music, up to this time, developed principally along vocal lines. We have no details as to the character of the training of singers among the Chaldeans, Egyptians and Greeks except such as indicate that their idea of singing was a sort of musical declamation. Such seems also to have been the idea of the nations in the north of Europe.

We have seen that the Welsh bards were required to undergo a very thorough and exacting course of study, but the practical side of singing and the rules laid down for the training of the young minstrels is not a part of our knowledge. The songs of the early Church, sung by masses of worshipers, were of necessity simple in every way, requiring no art. It was not until the use of Discant became popular, and the Polyphonic school began to use florid writing that we can infer that there must have been some methods of training vocalists for artistic work. Although we have little or no details as to the course of training which the early singers received, we are justified in assuming that they must have possessed skill in execution of no mean order. It must not be forgotten that practically all the composers of the early Polyphonic school were singers, able to execute their own works. Hence, studies in singing must have gone hand in hand with composition. The voice parts of the masses, motets and madrigals of the composers of the 13th to the 16th centuries have absolute independence of progression, syncopations, embellishments, etc., to such an extent that it taxes [Pg 196] the musicianship of the chorus singer of the present day to sing them; they are not only exacting in intonation, rhythm and other musical matters but also in mechanical points, such as flexibility and freedom of voice and thorough breath control.

Influence of the Opera on Singing.—When the Opera was established, after the declamatory style offered by the first composers had proven unsuccessful in holding the public, the florid style of the old discanters was revived and modified, which, as the Opera developed, gave a great impetus to a systematic and thorough study of singing. The new style of melody introduced by the opera composers of the 17th century demanded purity of voice, wide range, flexibility, expressive shading and a marvelous breath control, as well as great physical endurance. Singers were expected to execute the most intricate passages, abounding in diatonic and chromatic scales, arpeggios, turns, gruppettos, trills, etc., of the most elaborate nature, passages such as are considered purely instrumental today. Alessandro Scarlatti, the composer, and himself a singer, is credited with having had much to do with the great development in the art of singing. He trained a number of singers and pupils, and thus founded the “old Italian” school of singing. It was natural that the art side of singing should thus develop in Italy for several reasons, notably, because Italy had a great number of highly-trained composers, the character of the language is such as to lend itself to the requirements of artistic singing, broad full vowels, soft consonants, absence of final consonants, etc., and the enthusiastic, essentially lyric temperament of the race.

The Training of a 17th Century Singer.—We are given an idea of the course of training which singers of the 17th century were obliged to observe in a work Historia Musica, published by G. A. A. Buontempi, in 1695. This contains an account of the regulations of a school for singers in Rome, directed by Virgilio Mazzocchi, in which Buontempi was a pupil: The pupils were obliged to devote one hour each day to the singing of difficult passages with the idea of acquiring [Pg 197] experience; one hour to the practice of the trill, one to passages in agility, one to literary studies, one to vocalises and to various other technical exercises under the direction of a teacher and before a mirror to acquire the certainty that the singer did not make a faulty movement of the face, the forehead, the eyes or the mouth. This was the morning’s work. In the afternoon, a half-hour was given to theory study, the same amount to writing counterpoint on plain-song melodies, then to learning and applying the rules of composition (writing on an erasable sheet); then followed a half-hour of study of a literary nature, and the rest of the day was given to practice on the clavichord, to the composition of a psalm, motet, canzonetta, or any other kind of piece according to the pupil’s choice. Such were the common exercises of those days when the pupils were kept on duty at the school. On other days, they would go outside the Angelica Gate to sing against the famous echo that was found there, listening to the response in order to criticise their work. Other duties were to sing in nearly all the musical solemnities of the various churches, to study attentively the style of the great singers of the day, to make a report of their observations to their master, who, the better to impress the result of their studies upon the minds of his pupils, added remarks and [Pg 198] advice as he deemed necessary. Under such discipline it is not astonishing that the Italian singers attained a high degree of excellence, and became not only distinguished singers but skilful composers as well. That the reader may gather an idea of the character of passages executed by these singers an example is given on the previous page.



From a “Miserere” by Dentice, end of 16th Century.


Growth of the Florid Style.—As the art of singing developed, the singers increased their capricious embellishments. With the idea of securing brilliancy as well as the hope of winning success for their works, composers yielded to the exactions of singers and the depraved taste of the dilettanti. This explains the seemingly endless vocalizing and those passages of pure agility which crowd the scores of the best Italian masters of the 17th and 18th centuries. Before giving some account of the famous singers of the old Italian school it will be interesting to have a few notes upon a work on vocal music which bears upon the matter of execution.

A Work on Singing.—In 1725, Pier Francesco Tosi, a renowned singer (born about 1650, died 1730), published a work, translated into English, and published in 1742 under the title “Observations on the Florid Song, or Sentiments of the Ancient and Modern Singers,” which contains some interesting and valuable statements for the student of the history of the art of singing. The most minute principles are set forth with much grace and spirit, in all cases showing enthusiasm on the part of the author for his art and a high sense of the dignity of the profession of singing. When the discussion is in regard to certain kinds of passages in which the singer was accustomed to improvise ornaments, Tosi demands the union of five qualities: intelligence, invention, meter (rhythm), mechanism (technic) and taste; and in addition, other qualities which he calls “secondary and auxiliary graces”: the appoggiatura, the trill, the portamento di voce, phrasing. This work by Tosi and one by Marcello entitled Le Theatre à la Mode throw much light on the execution of the vocal music of the 18th century. [Pg 199]

Seventeenth Century Singers.—Baldassare Ferri (1610-1680) was one of the most renowned of the male sopranos of the old school. His voice had the greatest agility and facility, perfect intonation, a brilliant shake or trill and his breath supply seemed to be inexhaustible. In regard to his intonation, it is said that he was able to ascend and descend in one breath a two-octave scale with a continuous trill without accompaniment with such perfection of intonation that when he finished he had not varied a shade from the pitch of his starting-note. He was in high favor in the courts of Poland, Germany, Sweden and England. A medal was struck in his honor. Antonio Bernacchi (1690-1756) was a pupil of Pistocchi (1659-1720), the most celebrated teacher in Italy at this time, whose principles are represented in Tosi’s book. He commenced his career early and appeared in opera in Italy, later in England and Germany. After some years of experience with the public taste he altered his style, making great use of the florid style, a veritable embroidery of roulades, an innovation that was so successful as to be immediately followed by other singers in spite of the protests of the older school of singers. It is related that when Pistocchi heard his former pupil, he said: “Ah! woe is me! I taught thee to sing and now thou wilt play!” He sang in Handel’s opera company in London, 1729-30. He then returned to Italy to take up the career of a teacher and brought out a number of fine singers. Francesco Bernardi Senesino (1680-1750) was a great favorite in England, where he sang in Handel’s operas. His voice was exceptionally fine in quality, clear, penetrating and flexible, his technic remarkable; his style was marked by purity, simplicity and expressiveness, and his delivery of recitative was famous over all Europe. The name of Niccolo Porpora was mentioned in connection with the opera as a celebrated singing master as well as composer. No singers before or since have sung like his pupils, notably Caffarelli and Farinelli. [Pg 200]

Gaetano Majorano Caffarelli (1703-1783)—the reader will note that many of the old school of musicians lived to a ripe old age—was the son of a Neapolitan peasant, who tried to repress the boy’s evident musical inclinations. Cafaro, director of the Chapel Royal, at Naples, chanced to hear him sing and succeeded in getting charge of him and gave him his elementary instruction, which was followed by instruction from Porpora, who was then living in Naples. Porpora was a most exacting teacher, requiring implicit obedience and unceasing practice. The story is told that Porpora kept Caffarelli for five or six years to the unvaried study of a single page of exercises despite the pupil’s most strenuous objections. At the end of the time, when Caffarelli declared he would submit no longer, the old teacher said: “Go, my son. I have nothing more to teach you. You are the greatest singer in Europe.” When he first appeared in opera he sang female parts, for which his beautiful face was well-suited. Some years later he took men’s parts. He gained great popularity in the leading cities of Europe and amassed an enormous fortune. He excelled in slow and pathetic airs, yet he was most admirable in the bravura style, and his technic in the trill and chromatic scales was unapproached by any other singer of his time. He was fond of introducing chromatic passages in quick movements.

Farinelli (1705-1782), whose real name was Carlo Broschi, was a pupil of Porpora. He made his first public appearance in Rome when he was seventeen years old. It was on this occasion that he sang the famous aria with trumpet obligato, written by his master, a piece which became so associated with him as to be demanded at all his concerts. In this piece, trumpet and voice vie with each other in holding and swelling a note of extraordinary length and volume; when the trumpeter had exhausted his breath Farinelli kept on with increased power and ended with a great vocal display. This aria called for wonderful vocal technic owing to the novelty and difficulty of the trills and variations introduced. In 1727, he engaged in a musical duel with Bernacchi, previously referred to, in which he was conquered. As a [Pg 201] result of this he placed himself under Bernacchi’s instruction, and thus perfected his wonderful talent. In 1731, at the suggestion of the Emperor Charles VI, he modified his style and devoted study to the mastery of pathos and simplicity. During his public career he won the greatest possible success in the European capitals and passed the last years of his life in wealth. Mancini, a fellow-pupil of Farinelli and later a famous singing master, says of Farinelli’s voice: “It was so perfect, so powerful, so sonorous and so rich in its extent, both in the high and the low parts of the register, that its equal has never been heard in our time.... The art of taking and keeping the breath so softly and easily that no one could perceive it began and ended with him. The qualities in which he excelled were the evenness of his voice, the art of swelling its sound, the portamento, the union of the registers, a surprising agility, a graceful and pathetic style and a shake as admirable as it was rare.”

A few other singers of this class may be mentioned: Giacchino Conti, called Gizziello (1714-1761), Giovanni Carestini (1705-1758?) a contralto, Giuseppe Boschi, the most celebrated basso of the 18th century, one of Handel’s singers, and Girolamo Crescentini (1766-1846). So much space has been given to these singers because their work laid the principles for vocal training that have ever since been the foundation upon which the great masters and singers of later times have built their art; to these principles has been given the name of the old Italian School of Singing.

Ill-effect of Virtuosity.—The student who goes fully into the subject of the relation of singers to the opera will find that the great development of virtuosity among singers exerted an ill-effect and called forth a very pronounced reform in which Gluck was the leader. Singers were capable of such great vocal display, and the public showed so much enthusiasm for the brilliant feats of vocalism, and so great was the rivalry between singers and their partisans that composers vied with each other in their efforts to introduce the most difficult and florid passages possible. The text of an aria had no real value and [Pg 202] became merely a vehicle upon which to place the dazzling vocalization of the singer. Dramatic truth was ruthlessly sacrificed. A singer, supposed to be in the very throes of death, would give a virtuosic display that would tax the lung power of a man in the most perfect physical condition. Gluck’s reform consisted in requiring that the arias should express the emotions suited to the situation, thus calling for expressive singing, not mere vocal display. The history of the opera and singing since then shows periods of change toward one idea or the other until the principles of Richard Wagner as to dramatic truth were generally accepted.


What circumstances show that the church singers of the 13th to 16th centuries must have had considerable skill in singing?

What was the influence of the opera on singing?

What was the course of training required of young singers in the 17th century?

What important work on singing dates from the early part of the 18th century? Give some of its principles.

Describe the celebrated singers of this period and their work.

What was the influence of vocal virtuosity on music? [Pg 203]

Opera in France and England.

Spread of Italian Opera.—The fame of Italian opera soon spread to other countries. Princes and kings, eager to hear the new style of music, held out golden inducements to Italian composers and singers to come to their courts; it was generally thought that none but an Italian could compose an opera or sing an aria. The consequence was that in almost all countries during the 18th century the prevailing musical influence was Italian; native composers and singers were obliged to study Italian models if they wished to attain to popular favor. In France, however, this influence was only sufficient to modify without obscuring the features of an essentially national school. Independence in matters of art has always been a marked characteristic of the French; they have led rather than followed. The most distinguished names in the history of French opera have been those of foreign birth, but whatever their nationalities, all give evidence of the effect exerted upon them by the definite form, the clearness of dramatic intention demanded by the canons of French taste.

Origin of French Opera.—As the Italian opera was derived from the classical tragedy, so the French opera had its origin in the Ballet, the favorite form of amusement in France. The French Ballet of the 17th century was by no means confined to the dance; it was a heterogeneous mingling of dances and dialogues, songs and choruses, corresponding to the English Masque. Like the early operas in Italy, their spectacular features were on a large and expensive scale, which confined them to occasions of especial festivity at court or among the [Pg 204] nobility. The taste for dancing had much to do with the direction taken by the opera in France; it is still characteristic of the French school, as is shown by the prominent place given to the ballet in the Grand Opera.

Lully.—The founder of the French school, Jean Baptiste Lully (1633-1687), was Italian by birth, but at the age of thirteen he was taken from his native city, Florence, to France, as a page in the service of the Chevalier de Guise. His musical gifts soon won him a place in the royal band and finally the post of court composer. He first wrote ballets in which the King (Louis XIV) himself danced, and later turned his attention to the opera.

Italian Opera in France.—Italian opera had already been heard in France. Through Cardinal Mazarin, an opera company from Venice had visited Paris in 1645, and two years later Peri’s Euridice had been given also by a Venetian troupe; but these and later performances had aroused no attempts at imitation by French composers. They contented themselves with writing ballets which were performed as intermezzos between the acts of Italian operas in order to bring them nearer the French standards of taste. The superior vocal ability of the Italians was acknowledged, but the lack of rhythmic form in their music made an unfavorable impression. The king was passionately fond of dancing; he and his courtiers frequently took part in the ballets produced at court, hence the interest lay in the drama as illustrated by the dance rather than by song.

Beginning of French Opera.—The first French opera to receive public performance was Pomone (Pomona), in 1671, by Robert Cambert (1628-1677), who had previously written several others which had been performed only in private. It awakened much more interest than the Italian operas which thus far had been heard in Paris, and incited Lully to the composition of his first opera, Les Fêtes de l’Amour et Bacchus (The Feasts of Love and Bacchus), which was produced the following year. From that time until his death he composed fifteen operas, which determined the form of French opera for practically a century. [Pg 205]

Characteristics of Lully’s Operas.—Lully’s operas, like those of the Florentine school, were on the whole declamatory in style, and like them their subjects were generally taken from classical mythology. They are destitute of the sustained melody which appeared somewhat later in the Neapolitan school; but the recitatives are so skilfully varied in rhythm and show such intimate knowledge of the genius of the French language that in dramatic effect they are far superior to those of the earlier school. To the overture, the ballet, the chorus, he assigned music of a different type, rhythmic and formal in nature, thus relieving the monotony of an exclusively declamatory style. A master of stagecraft, his operas abounded in cunningly-devised spectacles and original scenic effects which excited wonder and held the attention. In short, so far as the means of the times allowed, we find in the Lully operas the well-considered balance between the musical and dramatic elements still characteristic of the French school.

The French Overture.—One of Lully’s greatest services was the elaboration of the Overture into a larger and more dignified form. The Italians had never paid much attention to the overture. At first it appeared only as a brief instrumental prelude, sometimes but a few measures in length. The introduction to Monteverde’s Orfeo, for example, consists of only nine measures which the composer directs to be played over three times to serve as overture. Later it was somewhat extended in length and provided with some regularity of design, but the Overture as a fixed form dates from Lully. It began with an impressive slow movement, followed by an Allegro in fugue style. Sometimes this was all; but it generally concluded with another slow movement, often one of the stately, dignified dance tunes of the day, and often merely a repetition of the Introduction. This form was known as the French Overture, and was soon adopted by composers of all nationalities. About the middle of the 18th century it was supplanted by the Italian Overture, perfected by Scarlatti, and described in Lesson XIX. [Pg 206]

The Prologue.—The overture was commonly followed by a Prologue. This had nothing to do with the action of the drama; it introduced mythological and allegorical characters who danced and sang, often paying the most fulsome adulation to the king, who was compared to the most celebrated heroes of mythology and antiquity. After the prologue, either the overture was repeated, or another and a shorter one was played. This pseudo-classical type of opera naturally flourished in the artificial atmosphere of the court on which it was dependent for favor. It lasted until the time of Gluck, when the influences which led to the great uprising of the people in the latter part of the 18th century swept it away with other traditions and conventions.

Rameau.—Until we come to Jean Philippe Rameau (1683-1764), none of Lully’s successors succeeded in definitely extending the limits he had fixed. Rameau had won the name of the first theoretician of the day, and was a man of fifty when his first opera, Hippolyte et Aricie, was produced. Even he made no essential change in the scheme established by Lully beyond greatly enlarging the sphere of the orchestra, originating novel rhythms and bolder harmonies. This was, however, a long step in advance, since it saved the opera from sinking to the level of a dull, mechanical imitation of Lully’s methods, into which contemporary composers had fallen.

The English School.—Italian music, in the form of the Madrigal, had been popular in England since the time of its introduction in 1598, by Thomas Morley (1557-1604). Native composers immediately took it into favor, a favor it has never lost; madrigals are still composed and sung in England, though elsewhere the form has been dead for nearly two centuries. The declamatory opera of the early Italian school, however, never took root. It was, as we have seen, primarily a drama in which music played a secondary part, and as such it was far too crude and lacking in human interest to appeal to a public accustomed to the plays of Shakespeare and his contemporaries, and whose taste in music, [Pg 207] moreover, was rather for melody than for recitative. Then, during the Protectorate, the Puritanical spirit which led to the destruction of church organs and for a time forbade all theatrical performances proved an insuperable obstacle to any development of dramatic music.

The First English Operas.—In 1656, Sir William Davenant, the playwright and theatrical manager, evaded this prohibition by introducing music into his plays and calling them operas. Much of this music, which was in the form of incidental songs, choruses and instrumental interludes, was written by Henry Lawes (1595-1662) and Matthew Lock (——d. 1677). The latter is well known for his music to “Macbeth,” which up to within a few years was not infrequently heard in performances of the tragedy. These so-called operas had little or no effect on the development of a native school. They are principally noteworthy in being the first English operas and the first theatrical performances in England in which women appeared on the stage. Previously the parts of women had been played by boys.

Influence of the French School.—At the Restoration in 1660, Charles II found the prevailing style of music in England but little to his taste. Fond of the gay measures and lively dances of the French opera, in 1664 he sent Pelham Humfrey (1647-1674), the most talented of the boys forming the choir in the Chapel Royal, to Paris to study with Lully. Three years later he returned, and became the teacher of England’s greatest composer.

Henry Purcell.—This was Henry Purcell (1658-1695), one of a family of musicians of whom he stands first. As a child he is said to have composed anthems while a chorister in the Chapel Royal, and at the age of twenty-two he composed his first opera, Dido and Eneas, a most remarkable work for a youth of his years. It is the only one of his dramatic works in which there is no spoken dialogue, its place being supplied by recitative, and therefore, strictly speaking, it was his only opera. He can never have seen an opera of this type; his acquaintance with the new style must have been largely based on what [Pg 208] Humfrey had told him of such performances in Paris, though it is possible that he had the opportunity of studying Lully’s scores. In its union of dramatic feeling and characterization with depth of musical resource, Dido and Eneas was far in advance of anything that had yet appeared in France or Italy. Though it shows the influence of the French school, the sturdy English character which distinguishes all of Purcell’s music is plainly apparent.


Henry Purcell.

Purcell’s Dramatic Works.—It was followed by a large number of works for the stage, but these were in the main merely incidental music for dramas; among them Shakespeare’s “Tempest,” “Midsummer Night’s Dream” (known as The Fairy Queen), Dryden’s “King Arthur,” the last being the most important and extended in form. Unfortunately, many of them have been lost; but enough remain to show that in Purcell’s early death England lost the most original musical genius she ever possessed. He founded a distinctly national school which, for the lack of a successor of equal gifts, was destined to succumb to foreign influences. [Pg 209]

Their Characteristics.—His melodies bear the freshness and spontaneity of the English Folk-song at a period when music was generally cultivated, before civil wars and religious bigotry had crushed the art spirit which, during the 16th century, had made the English people the leaders in musical progress. His recitatives show a vigor and an intuitive perception of dramatic effect unsurpassed by any of his contemporaries on the Continent. He was an accomplished contrapuntist and applied his knowledge of counterpoint with admirable results to sacred music, yet never allowed it to become obtrusive in his dramatic works. In these clear, expressive melody and vigorous declamation were the distinguishing features; his learning served only to secure a natural flow of the one and an appropriate setting for the other.

The Masque.—The precursor of the English opera was the Masque. Like the French Ballet, this was a dramatic entertainment consisting of dialogues, dances, songs, and choruses. The subject was allegorical or mythical in nature and the mounting of the most elaborate description. The leading poets and dramatists of the day wrote many masques. The most famous was Milton’s “Masque of Comus,” the music by Lawes, which was performed at Ludlow Castle in 1634. The music in these masques was at first designed merely to give variety to what was in the main a pleasure to the eye, but Purcell relieved it of this subordinate character by investing it with a weight and authority which made it an integral factor in the dramatic expression.

Typical English Opera.—He thus fixed the form of the English opera as a play with songs, choruses, ensembles, etc., connected by spoken dialogue instead of recitatives. The music, therefore, instead of carrying on the action, is confined to the more quiet situations of the drama, such as are naturally adapted to lyrical expression. The inflexibility of this form has doubtless had much to do with the lack of development in the English School of Opera compared with the remarkable growth of other schools which have abandoned the union of the spoken with the sung word in the serious opera. [Pg 210]

The Ballad Opera.—The only characteristic creation of the English school is the Ballad Opera. This had its origin in “The Beggar’s Opera,” produced in 1728. Slight in texture, it was simply a play with songs set to the most popular ballad tunes of the day. Its extraordinary success in the face of the financial failure of Italian opera left no doubt as to the real taste of the English people, and was decisive as to the direction taken by later composers, such as Sir Henry Bishop (1786-1855), Michael Balfe (1808-1870), Arthur Sullivan (1842-1901).

Questions and Suggestions.

What circumstances attended the spread of the Italian Opera?

Which European country was the next to take up Opera?

Who was the founder of this new school?

What efforts had been made prior to his appearance?

Describe Lully’s opera form.

Describe the French Overture.

Describe the Prologue.

Who was Lully’s successor?

What prevented the spread of the principles of the early Italian Opera in England?

Give names of men connected with the early history of Opera in England.

Give an account of Purcell and his works.

What was the Masque?

Describe the typical English Opera. The Ballad Opera.

The pupil will note that the development of French Opera took place in the reign of Louis XIV, and that it was after the restoration of Charles II in England that opera began there, Purcell’s work ending with the close of the 17th century. [Pg 211]

The Opera in Germany. Handel and Gluck.

Opera in Germany.—The introduction of the opera into Germany dates from 1627. In that year a German translation of Rinuccini’s Dafne, which, it will be remembered, was the text of Peri’s first opera, was set to music by Heinrich Schuetz (1585-1672) and performed on the occasion of the wedding of the Landgraf of Hesse. Schütz, who also composed the first German oratorio, Die Auferstehung Christi (The Resurrection of Christ), had been sent by the Landgraf to study in Italy in 1609, only two years after the production of Monteverde’s Orfeo. The score of his Dafne has been lost, but it was doubtless in accordance with the principles of the Florentine [Pg 212] school. The Thirty Years’ War and its lamentable consequences prevented any immediate development of the new form. Occasional productions of Italian opera were given in several German cities, but it was not until the establishment of the Hamburg opera late in the century that the new musical movement gained a permanent footing in Germany. Even then its popularization proceeded but slowly.


Heinrich Schuetz.

German Composers Barred.—It is true that not long after the beginning of the 18th century, great interest was manifested in Italian opera at a number of courts, Berlin and Dresden in particular, but this had no influence in the formation of a national school. Its effect indeed was the exact contrary. Singers and composers were brought from Italy; among the cultivated classes opera in German was considered a barbarism, so that native musicians met with little or no encouragement in this field. They were obliged to write their operas to an Italian text if they wished a hearing for them; the Church alone was freely open to German composers. The Church, too, was the only place where the people could hear music; public concerts were unknown and, save at Hamburg, the opera could be heard only by invitation to those who had entrée to court circles. This led to the remarkable activity in the production of sacred music which is such a feature of that period. This also, as shown by the early history of the Hamburg opera, was more in consonance with German character than the light, ephemeral operas which ruled the Italian stage.

Characteristics of the Early German Opera.—The Hamburg opera house was opened in 1678 with a Biblical Singspiel (literally song-play) of an allegorical nature, Adam und Eva; oder der erschaffene, gefallene und wieder aufgerichtete Mensch (Adam and Eve; or the Created, Fallen and Redeemed Man) by Johann Theile (1646-1724) a noted organist of the day and a pupil of Schütz. This was the first performance of a German opera on a public stage. The Singspiel corresponds to the English ballad opera in being a series of songs, ensembles, etc., mainly of a simple nature, connected by [Pg 213] spoken dialogue. The curious taste of the time is shown by the choice of subject; the work itself was a survival of the Miracle Plays and Mysteries of the Middle Ages. It begins with the creation of the earth, which is formed out of chaos by characters representing the four elements; the Almighty descends by means of a flying machine and calls man into being; Lucifer succeeds in his temptation of Eve to the great joy of demons who sing an exulting chorus, etc. As the Italians took the subjects for their early operas from classical mythology, so the Germans took theirs from Bible history. Adam and Eve was followed by a series of similar Singspiele: Michal and David, The Maccabean Mother, Esther, Cain and Abel, and many others.

Change of Character.—In time, however, these gave way to operas in the Italian style. The chief agent in this change was Reinhard Keiser (1674-1739) who, as composer and manager, brought the Hamburg opera to its highest point. Associated with him was Johannes Mattheson (1681-1764), a man of many and varied gifts as singer, composer, conductor, scholar and diplomat, now chiefly remembered by his close relations with George Frederic Handel (1685-1759). The latter at the age of eighteen came from his native city, Halle, to Hamburg, then the musical centre of Germany, to continue his studies. Mattheson recognized the youth’s genius and opened the way for the performance of his first opera, Almira.

Handel and the Hamburg Opera.—This, with Nero, was given in 1705 with such success that Keiser, jealous of the young composer, set them both to music himself and banished his rival’s works from the stage. Handel thereupon withdrew and the year following went to Italy, where he spent several years. His connection with the Hamburg opera was too slight for him to have exercised any influence upon it; then, too, he had not yet reached artistic independence himself, and it is doubtful whether he would have made any change in the direction it was taking toward conventionalized Italian opera. At that time the Hamburg [Pg 214] opera was rapidly losing its national character; the style mainly cultivated was that of the Neapolitan school; a tasteless mingling of languages was even allowed in one and the same opera—the recitatives were often sung in German and the arias in Italian. This decadence continued, with a consequent loss of popular favor, until in 1738 opera in German was given up entirely, and Italian opera reigned triumphant in Germany.

The Conventionalized Italian Opera.—Handel, on his return from Italy, finally found his way to England, where he made his home for the rest of his life. The series of operas he produced there form the climax of the type originated by Scarlatti, which by this time flourished on all stages to the exclusion of all others, save in France, where the ideals of Lully and his school still prevailed. Its chief aim was to afford singers an opportunity to display their accomplishments. To this end the composer directed his attention principally to the production of arias which should correspond to this demand. Exquisitely beautiful as these often were, their preponderance completely obscured the dramatic significance of the opera, and led the singers to entertain grossly exaggerated ideas of their importance. They dictated to composers, refused to sing what in their opinion failed to suit their voices, and in many ways kept the opera from rising above the low artistic level to which it had fallen. To please them, a highly artificial scheme of arrangement was adopted to which the drama was totally subservient. Only six characters were allowed, three men and three women; the arias were strictly classified according to style and assigned to the singers in a certain fixed order; no ensemble beyond a duet was permitted, and the chorus sang only in the closing finale. No matter what the dramatic exigencies might be, adherence to these formulæ was rigidly exacted.

Handel’s Operas.—Though Handel infused a vigor of spirit and a wealth of characteristic melody into this form of opera, he made no definite attempt to escape its restrictions. Many of his most beautiful creations are buried in operas which are dead beyond possibility of resurrection on account of his acquiescence in the sentiment of his times. That this is not due to lack of innate power is shown by his oratorios. [Pg 215]


Christoph Willibald Gluck.

Gluck and His Reform of the Opera.—This so-called concert opera reigned with almost undisputed sway until the influence of Christoph Willibald Gluck (1714-1787) wrought a momentous change. Persuaded of the low estate to which the opera had been reduced, Gluck stood for a return to first principles; he advocated a ruthless sacrifice of the conventionalities which through the vanity of singers and the love of sensation on the part of the public had grown up around the opera and the placing of it upon its original foundation of the drama. He was a man of mature years when in 1762 he put his theories into practice by the production of Orfeo in Vienna. He had composed many operas in the prevailing Italian style, but his judgment, formed by extensive study and travel, convinced him of the essential weakness of that school: its concentration upon the purely musical element. This he saw made of the opera a puppet-show for the display of vocal art which, great as it was from a technical point of view, was mechanical and meretricious in [Pg 216] character. He was not alone in his condemnation; critics and thinkers such as Addison and Steele in England, Diderot in France, Marcello and Algarotti in Italy had employed the varied resources of wit, satire and reason to expose the follies and inconsistencies of the opera. From the nature of the case, however, they could work no change; most of them were literary men who could criticise but not create.

Gluck’s Travels and their Influence.—Gluck had traveled much. There was hardly an art-centre in Europe from Copenhagen to Naples which he had not visited for the purpose of bringing out his works. In England, he had heard Handel’s oratorios, which profoundly impressed him; in Paris, he had made acquaintance with Rameau’s operas. Both of these masters exercised a strong influence over his change of style; the former by his powerful handling of the chorus which had been practically banished from the Italian stage, the latter by his consistent adherence to dramatic truth of expression. He was in addition a zealous student of art and literature in all their phases; he brought to his problem not only the ear of the musician but the intellect of the scholar.

Orfeo.”—In Orfeo, Gluck took the same stand which Peri had taken in his opera on the same myth a century and a half before: the illustration of the drama through music which should give it a poignancy of expression denied to the spoken word. The later composer had the immense advantage of musical resources undreamed-of at the time of the Florentine opera, but both stand upon the same artistic platform. It was a daring task that Gluck had attempted. Orpheus, robbed by death of Euridice, seeks to regain her by forcing entrance to the place of departed spirits. On his descent to the nether world he is confronted by a band of demons who bar his way, but finally melted to tears by the pathos of his song, they allow him to pass. The composer must make this appeal adequate to the effect; anything less would result in an anti-climax totally disastrous to dramatic illusion. Gluck passed this test triumphantly. Even today this scene remains one of the [Pg 217] most powerful known to the operatic stage. Orfeo, in its strength and simplicity, was so opposed to the taste of the day that its victory was by no means unquestioned, but it soon won universal recognition and with its successor, Alceste (1767), is the oldest opera heard at the present day.

Gluck in Paris.—Alceste was followed by Paride ed Elena (Paris and Helen), but the severity of the new style aroused such a storm of hostile criticism that the discouraged composer turned to Paris with his Iphigenie en Aulide (Iphigenia in Aulis) to a French text after Racine’s tragedy. Marie Antoinette, then the wife of the Dauphin, had been his pupil in Vienna, and through her influence the opera was produced, though not without arousing one of the most bitter wars in musical annals. Twelve years before, Italian Opera Buffa had gained a footing in Paris. Its lightness, melodic grace, and witty dramatic situations captivated many who immediately attacked the prevailing type of French opera, of which Rameau was the head, as heavy and unmusical. This opinion was strenuously combated by others who upheld native art. Thus there were two strongly-opposed parties, one defending the Italian, the other the French school of opera. After Rameau’s death, the Italian party was in the ascendency, but on Gluck’s arrival with a French opera he was taken as the representative of the national school. Piccini, the most popular Italian composer of the day, was pitted against him, but it needed only the production of Gluck’s Iphigenie en Tauride (Iphigenia in Tauris) to crush his rival’s claims. This was his last great work. He retired to Vienna, which was his home until his death.

Influence of Gluck.—The influence exerted by Gluck was far-reaching and permanent. The reform he initiated did not create a school—it did far more; it profoundly affected all schools. With no immediate followers among the composers of his time he stood alone, as he stands today, one of the most commanding figures in musical history. His Orfeo marks the beginning of a new era by rescuing a great and [Pg 218] important form of art from a decadence which had robbed it of legitimate power and effect. The opera more than any other form of music is dependent upon popular favor for existence. It is therefore peculiarly susceptible to influences which tend to lower artistic standards. Gluck, however, made it impossible that it should ever again sink to the level of the mass of crudities and puerilities from which he lifted it.

Questions and Suggestions.

Give an account of the introduction of opera into Germany.

Why did German composers develop slowly?

Describe the early German opera forms.

Who was the chief agent in a change?

Give an account of Handel’s work in connection with German opera.

What had been the influence of singers?

What were the influences to cause Gluck to set about opera reform?

Give an account of “Orfeo.”

Why did Gluck go to Paris and what success did he have there?

What was the influence of Gluck upon the future of the opera?

It will be noted that the Thirty Years’ War in Germany interfered with the development of the Opera. Frederick the Great’s grandfather and father laid the foundations of the Prussian kingdom. In France, Gluck’s works carry us up to the period of social and political agitation preceding the French Revolution. In England, the House of Hanover is becoming more firmly established on the throne; in America, the period is that of the struggles between the French and English colonists. [Pg 219]

Mozart to Rossini.

The Opera after Gluck.—After Gluck the first great name is that of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791). Haydn had indeed written a number of operas, but they were, in the main, light in character and exercised no influence whatever on the development of the form. At the age of twelve, Mozart had composed two operas, but the first to receive public performance was Mitridate, Re di Ponto (Mithridates, King of Pontus), which was produced at Milan two years later under his own direction. This was followed by others, but these early works do not call for any extended mention. Though they abound in melody and show a maturity remarkable in so young a composer, they were frankly written to please the taste of the time and do not in any essentials depart from the accepted Italian style then in favor, as fixed by Scarlatti and his contemporaries.

Gluck and Mozart Compared.—It was not until Idomeneo, Re di Creta (Idomeneus, King of Crete) was brought out during the Carnival season of 1781, that he demonstrated fully the gifts which made him the first dramatic composer of his time. In this he shows a great advance over the conventional opera of the period and an approach to the ideals of Gluck, though neither in Idomeneo nor in any of his later operas did he attempt to embody these ideals in the uncompromising form chosen by the older master. Though contemporaries, no two composers could well be more unlike in character, temperament and methods than Gluck and Mozart. The one, a man of years, ripened through travel and study, conditioned his music according to the requirements of the drama; the other, a youth of no great intellectual endowments aside from his art, [Pg 220] but aflame with the fire of genius, felt the drama in terms of music. Thus they approached the task from opposite sides. Not that Gluck was without feeling or Mozart without intellect; it was simply a case of the dramatist and the musician solving the problem each in his own way. At the same time it was impossible that Gluck’s theories should be entirely without influence on Mozart. Even a genius must learn from his environment, and Gluck’s position, though sharply disputed by the Italian school to which Mozart belonged, could not be ignored by the younger man. Then, too, Mozart had been in Paris during the height of the Gluck-Piccini controversy, and it is known that he had made a close study of Alceste, to which Gluck, in the form of a dedication to the Grand Duke of Tuscany, had given a preface containing a clear exposition of his principles of dramatic composition. It is hard to say, however, what direction Mozart’s dramatic course might have taken had his life not been cut so pitilessly short and if his outward circumstances had been less constrained. He was obliged to adapt himself to Italian influences which at that time were all powerful.

The Singspiel.—As already mentioned, the first attempts at German opera took the form of the Singspiel, but it gradually died out during the invasion of Italian opera in Germany. Its revival and development to a higher standard was due to Johann Adam Hiller (1728-1804), who received his first impulse through an English ballad opera of a farcical nature, “The Devil to Pay.” This was translated into German and given (1743) at Berlin with the original English melodies taken from popular ballads. Hiller set this translation to music and followed it with many others which soon acquired great vogue; one or two, for example, Der Dorfbarbier (The Village Barber), are still heard in Germany. Hiller, though one of the most learned musicians of the day, the founder of the celebrated Gewandhaus Concerts in Leipzig and editor of the first musical periodical ever published, adopted a simple, natural Folk-style in these operettas, as they were also called. Goethe was particularly interested in this revival of a [Pg 221] national form of opera; it stimulated him to the writing of the ballads which in turn acted so powerfully in developing the German song under the hands of Loewe, Schubert, Schumann and others.

Mozart’s First German Opera.—Emperor Joseph II, wishing to establish the Singspiel in Vienna, commissioned Mozart to write a German opera of a similar style. This resulted in Die Entführung aus dem Serail (The Elopement from the Seraglio), and the composer’s hopes of founding a national school of opera were high. Unfortunately, he was doomed to disappointment. Though Die Entführung was received with enthusiasm, popular favor was averse to opera in any other tongue than Italian; the German theatre was open only a few years and with the exception of Die Zauberflöte, his future operas were composed to Italian texts.

His Later Operas.—Le Nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro—1786), Don Giovanni (Don Juan—1788), Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute—1791) rank as Mozart’s greatest operas. Considered as music alone, the last reaches a height which gives an idea of what he might have done in nationalizing the opera if he had been spared a score of years longer; but its confused, irrational plot stands in the way of its popularization. The same objection holds good of Così fan Tutte (Women are All Alike—1790), which contains some of his most exquisite music.

Characteristics of Mozart’s Operas.—Mozart’s conception of the opera is that of the musician, not of the dramatist. This is plain from the indifferent texts he willingly accepted, yet so universal was his genius that he fused the two elements into a complete and consistent whole. Such a union of clearly-cut characterization and musical beauty is unknown in the opera. He made his characters eternal types by means of music so apposite to their individuality that it seems in each case to spring from inward necessity, yet which as music has never been surpassed for intrinsic grace and charm. Italian melody in its best estate on a foundation of German depth and solidity is its distinguishing characteristic. This characterization is confined, however, to details and personages; of the development of the drama as [Pg 222] a whole he apparently had but little idea. This, however, was not called for by the taste of the times; the opera was not considered from a dramatic standpoint, save by Gluck and the composers of the French school; the libretto furnished a series of situations suitable for musical illustration, not a consistent and logical dramatic action.

Their Significance to German Art.—Mozart marks the highest point reached by the opera of the 18th century; he also marks the passing of Italian supremacy in Germany. The Germans were already masters of the other great forms, the Oratorio and the Symphony; Gluck and Mozart captured the Opera also for Germany, though it was not for several decades after Mozart’s death that German opera rose from its discredited position at the close of the century.

Beethoven’s Fidelio.—A mighty impulse was given to the development of a national school by the production of Fidelio (1805), Beethoven’s only opera. His two great predecessors had been obliged for the most part to write their operas to French and Italian texts. Beethoven (1770-1827), however, showed his independence and sturdy national character by choosing a subject totally alien to the frivolous intrigues which at that time ruled the Viennese stage—a story of heroic, wifely devotion—and composed it to German words and in the German style; that is, with dialogue instead of recitative. Essentially symphonic in character, Fidelio shows the same disregard of vocal limitations which characterizes the Ninth Symphony and the Mass in D. Difficult for the singers, it was still more difficult for the public. In subject and treatment it was above their heads; they turned it the cold shoulder and it soon disappeared from the boards. An appreciation of its greatness was reserved for a later day.

Italian Composers in France and Germany.—The popularity of Italian opera outside of Italy led to the expatriation of many Italian composers who exercised a powerful influence in France and Germany. Among these Antonio Salieri (1750-1825) deserves mention for his [Pg 223] career in Vienna, where he was the successful rival of Mozart in court favor and later the teacher of Beethoven. More important was Luigi Cherubini (1760-1842), who found his way to Paris just before the Revolution. A master of the severe contrapuntal school, which was then passing away, Beethoven considered him the first composer of the day for the stage and studied his works zealously. Cherubini was present at the first performance of Fidelio, which shows strong traces of the influence exerted upon Beethoven by Les Deux Journées (The Two Days, known in Germany and England as The Water Carrier), Cherubini’s greatest opera. The two were on intimate terms during the stay of the latter in Vienna for the purpose of bringing out several of his operas. There was much in common between them; the Italian had the solidity, dignity and nobility of treatment generally associated with the German character. Beethoven’s choice of a subject for his opera was doubtless influenced by Les Deux Journées; the themes of both are much the same, involving devotion and self-sacrifice of the highest order.

Spontini and Rossini.—Another Italian composer who went first to France and afterward to Germany was Gasparo Spontini (1774-1851), who with La Vestale (The Vestal) enlarged the sphere of the opera in Paris. Spectacular and pompous in character, sonorous and powerful in instrumentation, it pointed directly to the type of grand opera originated by Meyerbeer nearly a generation later. In 1820, he was summoned to Berlin, where he remained as court composer and conductor for twenty-two years, a period coincident with the most significant development of the German school of opera. Spontini was the last of the many Italians who had for a century and a half borne almost uninterrupted sway in Germany.

The most brilliant and gifted of all these wandering sons of Italy was Gioacchino Rossini (1792-1868). As rich in melody as Mozart, though of a less refined type, he owed more to nature than to study. His first successful opera, Tancredi (1813), set all Italy agog with the freshness and vivacity of its airs, and it was not long before he [Pg 224] was the most popular composer in Europe. Gifted with prodigious facility—in one period of eight years he wrote twenty operas—his operas ruled all stages and fixed the standard by which all others were judged.


Gioacchino Rossini.

Characteristics of Rossini’s Operas.—They are, on the whole, a reversion to the conventionalized opera of Handel’s time in being written for the singer to exhibit his art and not to express the significance of the drama; this notwithstanding their undoubted charm, the many piquant and original touches in rhythm and harmony, the occasional suggestive instrumentation. An intensely florid style is used not only in the buffa school where it can readily be justified, [Pg 225] but in operas of a tragic nature where it is manifestly out of place. In Semiramide, for instance, a story of battle, murder and sudden death is told in the same rippling rhythms and highly ornamented melodies that illustrate the intrigues of his Barbiere di Siviglia (Barber of Seville), where they are eminently appropriate.

His Change of Style.—This is true, however, only of his works composed for the Italian stage. His Guillaume Tell (William Tell), produced in 1829, five years after his arrival in Paris, showed the influence of his new environment by an almost startling change of style. Elevated and dramatic in treatment, shorn of redundant ornament as befits the character of the subject—taken from Schiller’s play of the same name—it remains his greatest achievement; at least in serious opera. It was also his last work for the stage. It is not known by what strange caprice he practically closed his career as composer at the age of thirty-nine.

Questions and Suggestions.

Name the most prominent successor of Gluck in opera.

Compare the two.

Describe the Singspiel.

Name some of Mozart’s operas.

Mention their characteristics and influence.

Give an account of Beethoven’s work in Opera.

Tell about Salieri, Cherubini, Spontini, Rossini.

Give the characteristics of Rossini’s operas.

What change in his style is evident in “William Tell”?

We now approach the period preceding the American and the French Revolutions which so greatly affected the masses of Europe, an influence extended by the wars of Napoleon. Music shows traces of the powerful forces at work, losing the former artificiality and becoming more and more, in the hands of Beethoven, an expression of dramatic and personal feeling. [Pg 226]

The Oratorio.

Oratorio in Italy after Carissimi.—After the beginning made by Carissimi, the next work of importance in Oratorio is that of Alessandro Scarlatti, who established the Aria form as explained in the study of the Opera. The composers of the Italian school of the last part of the 17th and the early part of the 18th century used practically the same methods in Opera and Oratorio, the difference being mainly in the character of the text, and in the earnestness or religious feeling of the composer. Scarlatti is also signalized by his improvements in the Recitative, which resulted in several forms made use of by his successors, Recitativo Secco and Accompanied Recitative. He wrote ten oratorios. Contemporaries whose work should be mentioned are Antonio Caldara (1678-1763) and Leonardo Leo (1694-1746), a pupil of Scarlatti, who wrote nearly a hundred works for the church, the chief one being the oratorio, Santa Elena al Calvario and a Miserere for a double choir. He was strong in his writing for chorus, making splendid use of the fugal style. Another contemporary of the first rank was Alessandro Stradella (1645-1681), whose oratorio, San Giovanni Battista (St. John the Baptist) is a most beautiful work. It contains a free treatment of the accompanying instruments, the arias are clear and well-designed, the chorus writing for five parts is effective as well as ingenious, and the work as a whole shows considerable power of dramatic expression, forming a sort of transition between Scarlatti and Handel. Stradella is said to have been a pupil of Carissimi. [Pg 227]

Oratorio in Germany.—In Oratorio as in Opera, the style spread to other countries, there, in the case of the Oratorio, ultimately to find a more congenial home; for the Oratorio, in Italy after the time of Stradella, seemed to lose hold on composers and public. The latter did not grasp the fact that the Oratorio had within it one element, the chorus, to give to it a definite individuality. They submitted to the public’s preference for solo singing and made up their oratorios largely of conventional arias—thus inviting comparison with the Opera, and reserved their writing in choral form for their works for the Church service, such as psalms, magnificats, masses and motets. In Germany, the attitude of the people toward religious music, doubtless owing to the Reformation as well as to the serious nature of the people, was much more favorable than in Italy. This temperament is shown by the fact that when German composers cast about for themes for their oratorios they seemed to choose the story of the Passion. The oldest example of the German Oratorio is “The Resurrection of Christ,” written by Heinrich Schuetz (1585-1672), a pupil of Giovanni Gabrieli, which was produced at Dresden in 1623. The narrative portions were committed almost entirely to the chorus. We mention also a setting of the Passion, by Johann Sebastiani, published in 1672, which contains interspersed chorales, sung as arias by one voice with violin accompaniment, and by Reinhard Keiser (1674-1739).

Use of the Chorale.—A step in advance was taken when German composers began to use the chorale of the German Protestant Church as the subject for contrapuntal elaboration, a tendency shown in the work of Sebastiani referred to in the preceding paragraph. The Chorale had absorbed into itself the spirit of the Volkslied, and its use supplied the medium for the public to enter fully into the spirit of the oratorio. Two composers who developed the “Passion Music” idea to its height, Karl Heinrich Graun (1701-1759) and Johann Sebastian Bach, made the Chorale an integral part of their works. The greatest work in oratorio form written by Graun was called Der Tod Jesu [Pg 228] (The Death of Jesus), which was first produced in the Cathedral at Berlin in 1755. This work consists of recitatives, airs and choruses, the fugal treatment of the latter being admirable in point of clearness of design and breadth of form. Graun used in this oratorio six chorales. Der Tod Jesu, owing to a bequest, is still given in Berlin.

Bach.—The greatest of all the settings of the Passion are those by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750). The first work in this style by Bach was the one according to “St. John,” in 1723, first performed on Good Friday, 1724, at Leipzig. This work, fine as it is, must yield to the second setting, according to “St. Matthew,” first produced on Good Friday, 1729, afterward revised and given again in 1740. A few notes on the “Passion according to St. Matthew” will serve for both works. The characters introduced are Jesus, Judas, Peter, Pilate, the Apostles and the People. Certain reflections on the narrative are interpreted by a chorus. The text which furnishes the narrative is assigned to the principal tenor. Fifteen chorales of the Lutheran Church are introduced, and in the singing of these the general congregation was expected to join. The choruses contain powerful and dramatic vocal effects, and though not strictly fugal are intricate in their part-writing. A double chorus is used, each chorus having a separate orchestra and organ accompaniment. The performance of this work (St. Matthew Passion) was restricted to Leipzig in the 18th century, and was discontinued altogether in the 19th until Mendelssohn revived it in 1829. It is given very frequently at the present day during the Lenten season, in part or in full. The “Christmas Oratorio” (1734) is really a series of cantatas for each of the first days of the Christmas week, and contains no new ideas so far as form is concerned.

Stabat Mater.—In connection with the “Passion” reference should be made to the Latin hymn, “Stabat Mater,” which has been made the subject of treatment in oratorio form, by Palestrina, Giovanni Battista Pergolesi (1710-1736) for soprano and [Pg 229] contralto accompanied by strings and organ, Emanuele d’Astorga (1681-1736) for four voices with instrumental accompaniment, the more modern work, in large form, by Gioacchino Rossini (1792-1868), most beautiful as music if partaking too much, as critics say, of the sensuous, and the magnificent setting of Antonin Dvořák (1841-1904). This work has been placed, by musicians and the public, in the category of the world’s masterpieces of choral writing.

George Friedrich Handel (1685-1759).—We now come to Bach’s contemporary, the greatest name in the history of the Oratorio, to the composer who brought to his work a musical learning equal to that of Bach, German earnestness and mastery of contrapuntal science, tempered by knowledge of and experience in Italian vocal methods, producing simple, clear melody supported by rich, firm harmonies, a complete mastery of the orchestra of the day, a clear understanding of the value of the chorus in working out dramatic effects; and this combination was offered a congenial field for labor in England, one of the great Protestant countries of Europe, with a deep reverence for religion and for the narratives of the Bible and the truths and lessons they enforce. This latter point is strikingly present in the texts of Handel’s oratorios; the symbolic meaning of the narrative is clearly indicated and made the central thought of the work, producing a remarkable effect of Unity. As a writer has said: “Handel preaches through the voices of his chorus.” The orchestra for which Handel wrote was smaller than the full orchestra to which we are accustomed today. The proportion of string players to the whole number of players was smaller, but on the other side, more than two oboes and bassoons were used; flutes were most frequently used as solo instruments or to double the part of the oboes; the clarinet Handel never used, doubtless because of its imperfections, which were not remedied until later; the brass instruments used were trumpets with kettle drums for their natural bass, horns and the three trombones, alto, tenor and bass; other instruments of a soft-voiced quality, like the harp, viola da gamba, were occasionally used for obligato accompaniments. The organ was [Pg 230] always used, the part being written according to the figured bass system, and the harpsichord was used by the conductor. The reader who is able to analyze one of Handel’s oratorio scores will be surprised to note the superb effects he makes with comparatively small resources. Compared with the polyphonic writing of his predecessors and his great contemporary, Bach, his fugues seem light and simple, but that very thing gives them their admirable clearness and purity; compared with later works, his diatonic progressions and harmonies based on common chords seem colorless, especially so in contrast with the kaleidoscopic chromatic figures and strongly dissonant harmonies of the newer school; yet in this point is the strength of Handel’s works with the public; simplicity is valued more highly than complexity, naturalness rather than the indications of science.

Handel wrote seventeen works that can be classed as oratorios. The first of these was “Esther,” in 1720, revised and brought out anew in 1732. In 1733 “Deborah,” perhaps best-known for a powerful double chorus, was offered to the public; “Athaliah” in the same year. In 1739 came “Saul” and “Israel in Egypt,” the former best-known today for its famous “Dead March,” the latter for the music descriptive of the plagues. In 1741, he wrote his greatest oratorio “The Messiah,” which was first performed publicly, April 13, 1742, in Dublin. In this we find a certain reflective character which recalls the Passion music of the German school. The only other oratorio which is still given in anything like entirety is “Judas Maccabæus” (1747); other works from which certain portions are still in use are “Samson” (1743), “Solomon” (1749), “Theodora” (1750), a work which Handel considered his best, and “Jephtha” (1752). Great as was Handel’s fame in England, the character of his works and the forms he used made little or no impression upon German and Italian composers. Johann Adolph Hasse (1699-1783), Niccolo Porpora (1686-1767), Antonio Sacchini (1734-1786), Giovanni Paisiello (1741-1816), Niccolo Jommelli (1714-1774) and Pietro Guglielmi (1727-1804) wrote in the Italian style, and their works are, properly speaking, concert oratorios, scarcely distinguishable from the opera save by the text. [Pg 231]

Franz Joseph Haydn.—The next name of importance is that of Haydn (1732-1809), who wrote “The Creation” and “The Seasons” toward the end of a long life, after his work as a composer had given him a command of musical resources excelled only by Beethoven, who did not equal him in skill in writing effectively and suitably for voices. It was in 1798 that “The Creation” was first given in Vienna. The score abounds in effective writing for the solo voices, in the florid style and in the conventional aria form, and in brilliant choruses which, however, cannot compare in dignity and breadth with those of Handel. The orchestral accompaniments are much more elaborate than those used by Handel, as can naturally be expected from a composer who had given his greatest efforts to the development of instrumental music. “The Seasons” was first performed in Vienna in 1801. It proved as successful as “The Creation.” Haydn’s simple, genial nature is apparent in this beautiful work, really too light to bear the name of oratorio, which has such close association with works of a deep, religious character.

Mozart and Beethoven.—As the orchestra developed under the masters of tone and dramatic effects, Mozart, Gluck and Beethoven, so the works in oratorio form took on a different texture. In the earlier periods, the accompaniments were subordinate, the interest was centred in the voices. But as composers realized the possibilities of the constantly-improving orchestra and the opportunities for effective combinations of voices and instruments, the tendency became more and more marked to elaborate the instrumental parts and to create an ensemble more complicated and gorgeous, based upon the orchestra and its tone-color scheme rather than on pure vocal effects. Mozart’s “Requiem” (1791), written just before the composer’s death, brings into use the most powerful dramatic resources of orchestra and voices to portray the spirit of the “mass for the dead. [Pg 232]” In oratorio, as in opera, Beethoven wrote but one work, “The Mount of Olives” (1803). The style is florid and operatic, somewhat in the style of the Italian composers; the resources of the orchestra are drawn upon more extensively than marked the methods of Haydn. The chorus is freely used, the “Hallelujah” being the strongest movement. The choral movements in the Ninth Symphony suggest what Beethoven might have done had he set himself to writing an oratorio in greater submission to the capacity of the human voice.

Spohr.—From now on, oratorio composition is associated with the masters of instrumental music, the orchestra is drawn upon for its richest and most powerful resources to work out the emotional and dramatic qualities of the texts; it is now no longer a mere accompanying instrument; it is in the highest degree essential to the effects designed by the composer. Ludwig Spohr (1784-1859), a great violinist, wrote his first oratorio, “Das Jüngste Gericht” (The Last Judgment), when he was but twenty-eight years old. A later work produced in 1826, goes by the English name “The Last Judgment,” although that is not the literal translation of the German title Die Letzten Dinge. In this work we find the romantic idea clearly in evidence. The composer’s style had been developed and individualized by his long experience as player and conductor; he was a master of the resources of instrumentation, conversant both as composer and conductor with the limitations of voices—he wrote a number of operas—so that he was prepared for the creation of a work which has a character of its own. A striking feature of this oratorio is the frequent use of chromatic progressions, which is indeed a characteristic of Spohr’s writing.

Mendelssohn.—The next great composer in Oratorio was a German; like him also his works had their greatest reception in England, Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy (1809-1847). His first work, “St. Paul,” was given at Düsseldorf in 1836. His greatest oratorio, one that ranks with Handel’s “Messiah” in public favor, is “Elijah,” which was written for the Birmingham, England, Festival. It was first produced in [Pg 233] 1846. As a diligent and enthusiastic student of Bach, it seems natural that Mendelssohn should have adopted the great master’s methods. In style “St. Paul” and “Elijah” show leanings toward Bach and the German oratorio rather than toward Handel. Mendelssohn, who produced Bach’s “Passion according to St. Matthew” in Berlin, in 1827, was thoroughly familiar with the plan of the German oratorio, a mingling of narrative, dramatic and meditative or reflective elements, and especially the Chorale to represent the Church, the chorus being, properly speaking, a part of the dramatis personæ, representing masses of people who share in the action, while the congregation represents the reflective element. He uses a fugal style quite freely in his choruses, but a strict fugue, in the style of Handel, is rare, as the composer’s feeling for emotional effects demands a freer style; the accompaniments are elaborate, partaking of the dramatic element and drawing upon the fullest resources of the orchestra. Mendelssohn had started the composition of another oratorio, “Christus,” on the lines of the “Passion” music of Bach, but died before the work was completed. His “Hymn of Praise” (1840), a large choral work that is occasionally sung, well represents Mendelssohn’s skill in combining vocal and orchestral effect. Riemann calls it a symphony-cantata, Parry says it “combines the qualities of a symphony and of an oratorio.”

Questions and Suggestions.

Give the names of the Italian composers who followed Carissimi in the Oratorio.

What contributed to make Germany a congenial field for Oratorio?

Who are the early composers of the “Passion” music?

Give an account of Bach’s work in Oratorio. [Pg 234]

Give the names of the leading composers of the “Stabat Mater.”

Describe Handel’s orchestra.

Mention Handel’s most important works in Oratorio form.

Give an account of Haydn’s work in Oratorio.

What works did Mozart and Beethoven write in Oratorio form?

Describe Spohr’s work in Oratorio.

Where did Mendelssohn’s work become most popular? Give an account of his compositions in Oratorio form.

The class should, if the works are at hand, read through the text of Bach’s, Handel’s, Haydn’s, Spohr’s and Mendelssohn’s oratorios, all or as many as can be secured. Each pupil may be asked to write an account of one work.

Suggestions for a Review of Lessons XVII to XXIV.

The teacher or a pupil should study the subject of the Renaissance in a history of literature and also of art, and then present to the class an abstract of the study, to show the spirit of the movement and its influence on art, especially music.

Use the paragraph heads in each chapter with the important sentences in the paragraphs to make an outline of each lesson. This is a great help in fixing the lessons in the mind in preparing for examination.

Sum up Monteverde and his work, his relations to predecessors and successors.

Why did the centre shift from Florence to Venice?

Give a sketch of Scarlatti, his life and contributions to music.

If time will permit, some pupil should prepare a short account of such composers as Pergolesi, Porpora, Piccini and Paisiello.

Give a summary of the development of the art of Singing.

A pupil should consult Grove’s “Dictionary” and make a paper on the great singers of the olden times, their personality; also interesting anecdotes. [Pg 235]

Compare the Italian Opera with the form developed by Lully and Rameau.

In what respects did the English Opera differ from the Italian and French form?

State the characteristics of the German Opera.

Handel’s work in Opera, especially in England, will make an interesting study for a short paper to be read before the class by some member of it.

Gluck’s career is full of interest and incident and his growth is clearly a matter of experience. A pupil can, to advantage, study his life in some biography or in Grove’s Dictionary and present an abstract to the class.

In what respects did Mozart’s and Beethoven’s operas show differences from the conventional Italian form?

A study of Rossini’s life and works is full of interest, on account of his strong personality and striking characteristics.

What is “Passion Music”? Why is it specially suited to the German Protestant Church?

Compare Handel’s, Haydn’s, Spohr’s and Mendelssohn’s work in Oratorio.

Excellent results will be obtained by having pupils prepare charts which are filled up from lesson to lesson. Take a large sheet of paper, divide it into columns, each column into quarter sections, each column representing a century, each section, twenty-five years. Add dates of birth and death of the great musicians, marking each name I, F, G, to show nationality (Italian, French, German, etc.). Another chart should show the various national schools, France, Germany, Italy, etc., by centuries and quarter centuries; another the development of such phases as opera, oratorio, singing, sonata, etc.

A very valuable chart is one showing contemporaries, in musical and general history, also parallel events, for example, the musicians who lived in a certain century, famous kings, statesmen, explorers, poets, scientists, discoveries (such as America, printing, etc.), famous battles, events in Biblical and American history, and other political events of the same century. Credit should be given in class standing for these charts. [Pg 236]

The Evolution of the Pianoforte.

While the violin, on account of the simplicity of its construction, arrived early at a stage of perfection, the complicated mechanism of the pianoforte required many generations and many scores of more or less successful experiments to attain anything like a corresponding plane. Indeed, such experiments are still constantly in progress; so that the pianoforte of the future may conceivably realize possibilities as far ahead of the present piano as that is ahead of its predecessors. The first attempts at piano manufacture, however, had little in common with our modern pianos, save the principle of the combination of the keyboard with strings; since in construction and resulting tone few points of similarity exist.

Clavier a Substitute for the Organ.—We are probably indebted to the extensive use of the organ for the earliest combinations of keys and strings. As the demand arose for a more conveniently-keyed instrument than the large church organs, for practice or private houses, small portable organs were invented; yet even these did not satisfy the want entirely, owing to the difficulties in their wind supply, which required an assistant as blower. Thus the organ keyboard came to be applied, as early as the 11th century, to already existing stringed instruments which were adapted to the purpose.

Two Classes.—There were two classes of these, each made on the principle of the zither: namely, by stretching strings over a flat surface or box, generally across bridges, this box serving as a resonator, to reinforce the weak tone of the strings. One such [Pg 237] instrument, in which the strings were struck by little wooden hammers, was called the Dulcimer; another, in which the strings were sounded by plucking with the fingers or by a quill, was called the Psaltery; and from these two were developed the earliest instruments of the piano class, called by the general name of “Claviers,” from Clavis, a key. The dulcimer type resulted in the Clavichord; the psaltery type in the Harpsichord, and, although many other names were given to varieties of these instruments, all may be placed in one of the two classes of which they are the chief representatives.


Cymbalum or Dulcimer.



This instrument
also came in square
and other forms;
strings varied
from 6 to 38.

Principle of the Clavichord.—The first of the Clavichord instruments had the name of Monochord, or one-stringed instrument—a name of great antiquity, first given by the Grecian Pythagoras to an instrument of one string used by him in determining the relations of tones. Similar experiments were made in the Middle Ages, in which the [Pg 238] various tones resulting from the vibrations of parts of a string were studied by means of movable bridges; facility was gained by increasing the number of strings to four or five, tuned in unison. Next, keys were applied to these in place of the bridges, which keys struck the strings at various definite points by means of upright pins or tangents, as they were called, producing varying pitches, according to the length of the part of the string allowed to sound, the remaining segment being silenced by a piece of cloth. Thus several tangents struck the same string at different points, producing different degrees of pitch. At first, when only the scales corresponding to the white keys were employed, four or five strings sufficed to sound the necessary tones, not over twenty-two in number. Later, however, when chromatic notes were adopted, the number of strings and keys was increased, so that, by the beginning of the 16th century, the keyboard had a range of three or four full octaves. From this time on, this instrument, now generally known as the Clavichord, won a popularity which extended to the beginning of the 19th century, when the Pianoforte gradually displaced it. A familiar instrument in England and Germany, it was especially cultivated by musicians of note in the latter country, even the renowned Bach preferring it to all other forms of its class.

The Clavichord.—In shape, the Clavichord was an oblong box, the strings of brass extending lengthwise. The fact that one string served for several keys made it impossible to sound certain intervals together; yet the device of giving a separate string to each key seems not to have come in till about the year 1725, and even then not to have been generally adopted. Without legs, the Clavichord was supported on a table when in use. Its tone was exceedingly weak and tremulous, audible only within the distance of a few feet; yet the fact that this tone could be given different degrees of intensity, and could be varied to some extent even while sounding, by a peculiar pressure on the keys (bebung), imbued its tone with a sympathetic quality which helps to account for the tenacity with which musicians clung to it, notwithstanding all its imperfections. [Pg 239]


The Clavichord.

Principle of the Harpsichord.—Instruments of the Harpsichord class were especially numerous in Italy, France and England. They differed from the Clavichord chiefly in the method of setting the string in vibration. This was done by plucking the string with a quill set in a jack at the end of the key, the action so arranged that, after the key was released, the jack fell back to its place, while a damper came against the string, preventing its further vibration. Since these strings could not be used as bridges, like the tangents of the Clavichord, it was necessary from the first that each key should have a separate string. Moreover, as these strings were thus made of varying lengths and thicknesses, the Harpsichords were more often made in a triangular shape, or one like our modern grand pianos, than in the rectangular Clavichord shape. The chief defect, and the one which makers tried in vain to remedy, lay in the fact that the plucking of the strings, while producing greater brilliancy, admitted of no variation in its degrees of loudness or softness.

Virginal and Spinet.—Several small instruments of this kind preceded its full development, differing mainly in shape and choice of materials. In England these received the name of Virginal; in France, that of Spinet. Both of these were introduced into polite society, chiefly as small house instruments of limited compass, varied sizes, and frequently with elaborate decoration. The difference between them [Pg 240] was principally one of shape, the Virginal taking the oblong form of the Clavichord, while the Spinet was more often triangular. They appeared both with and without supports; and in some cases the strings were placed in a vertical position, as in our upright pianofortes.


The Virginal or Spinet.

The Harpsichord.—The Harpsichord proper was simply a larger form of the Spinet and Virginal, and was made in the form of the grand pianoforte. On account of its added brilliancy of tone, it was admirably adapted for use in the orchestra, in which it became the conductor’s instrument in connection with the opera. In Italy, the terms Clavicembalo and Gravicembalo were given to it, while in Germany it was called Flügel, or wing, from its wing-shaped cover. As it became popular as a concert instrument, many inventions were added to increase the brilliancy and variety of its tone: an extra keyboard was placed above the first, as in the organ, and three or four strings were given each note, which could be used to reinforce the single-string tone, by means of the second keyboard. Moreover, various kinds of quills were invented, giving different tone qualities; and such effects were controlled by stops or pedals. These experiments were especially numerous in the 18th century, in which the rapid growth of musical resources demanded constantly more tonal possibilities. Large [Pg 241] manufacturers, such as the Ruckers family of Antwerp, and Tabel in England, vied with each other in producing novel devices, such as the imitation of other instruments, the tuning of an extra string for each note an octave above its normal pitch, and the addition of a keyboard connected with an organ. Attempts to produce a sustained tone resulted in the Piano-Violin, in which a revolving rosined wheel was pressed by the key against the string, to continue the tone; but all such were abandoned finally as unsuccessful.


Two-Manual Harpsichord.

Invention of the Pianoforte.—To this exceptional activity in keyed instruments, and the final failure to produce a singing tone capable of variation in the Harpsichord, we owe the invention of the Pianoforte. In 1711, Bartolomeo Cristofori, a noted harpsichord [Pg 242] maker of Tuscany, exhibited several “forte-pianos” in which the action was so constructed that the keys, when depressed, threw little leather-headed hammers, affixed to a bar above them, against the strings, thus making it possible to modulate the strength of tone by the degree of force with which the keys were struck. When the key was released, a damper came against the string from beneath, stopping further vibration.

Early Makers.—Although this invention did not at first attract widespread attention, it undoubtedly formed the basis of the others which quickly followed it, and really asserted the principle afterwards adopted for the piano action. In 1716, Marius, a French manufacturer, submitted four models for piano actions, which, however, were never developed. Also, Schroeter, a German, constructed two models of piano actions, in 1717, in one of which the hammers struck on top of the strings; but neither of these was put to practical use. Finally, Gottfried Silbermann, of Saxony, distinguished as an organ and harpsichord maker, made two pianofortes, the action of which was evidently based on that of Cristofori, and which he exhibited to J. S. Bach. While praising them in many respects, Bach criticised them as too weak in the upper notes, and too hard to play. Silbermann was exceedingly painstaking as a workman, having the reputation of breaking to pieces with an axe even a finished product which showed any imperfection. He therefore set to work to remedy these defects, and, in 1737, produced several pianofortes which won Bach’s unqualified approval.

Superiority of the Piano.—The Pianoforte was now placed upon a firm basis; and although many years elapsed before its resources were developed sufficiently to cause its universal adoption by musicians, the final victory over its predecessors was complete. And this victory was natural, since the Pianoforte was found capable of combining the best qualities of the Clavichord and the Harpsichord, with the addition of a tone capacity infinitely superior to either. [Pg 243]

Improvements.—The story of succeeding piano manufacture and the manifold inventions and improvements relative to it is one of infinite details. Among these we notice that while Silbermann pianos were in “grand” form, Frederici of Gera (died 1779) constructed them in oblong or “square” shape; that the pianos of Spaeth (died 1796) and of J. Andreas Stein (died 1792), whose pianos were adopted for use by Mozart, showed considerable advancement. The Stein family became allied with Andreas Streicher, an inventive genius, and founded a manufactory in Vienna which has maintained a high standard to the present time. The action invented by them, known as the Viennese action, differs from that of Cristofori in having the hammers annexed to the keys themselves, instead of on a bar above them; thus giving a light touch and tone. In England, the principle of the Cristofori action was developed by the renowned house of Broadwood, their action becoming known as the English action; while in France, Sebastian Erhard, or Erard, a Strasburg inventor, founded the Erard action, which has a double hammer movement, allowing the hammers to fall either entirely, or only partially into place after the key is struck, at the will of the performer. The “cottage” action, introduced by William Southwell, about 1800, was the beginning of the “upright” form, which has now entirely superseded that of the square piano. Thus, by continued experiments, the piano has gained in compass, brilliancy, sustaining power and strength of construction, to meet the constantly-increasing demands placed upon it, until the modern piano seems to possess unlimited resources, and until the unending supply of instruments of all grades from hundreds of factories is sufficient to place one of these “household orchestras” within the reach of rich and poor alike.

Equal Temperament.—An early difficulty in the case of keyed instruments was the matter of tuning, caused by the fact that it was found scientifically impossible to tune all the intervals of the scale at the same time to the true pitch; that is, the pitch demanded by the natural overtones of the fundamental note of the scale. At the outset, for instance, it was found that if the fifths were tuned true, the [Pg 244] octaves would be a trifle sharp; and, conversely, if the octaves were true, the fifths would be a trifle flat. In the case of stringed instruments, where the tone was made by the performer, it could be so modified as not to conflict seriously; but with keyed instruments this was impossible. Thus, many systems of tuning or “temperaments” were tried, such as having two keys for two notes nearly in unison, like F-sharp and G-flat, most of these resulting in the possibility of playing in a few nearly related keys, to the exclusion of the others. Finally, through the influence of J. S. Bach (1685-1750) and the Frenchman Rameau (1683-1764), the simple expedient was definitely adopted of tuning the octaves true, and dividing each octave into twelve equal parts, thus uniting such notes as F-sharp and G-flat in one tone slightly out of tune with either, but not enough seriously to offend the ear. This, called “equal temperament,” was a great gain to music, since it not only removed a radical defect in keyed instruments, but also opened the door to that free interchange of keys which has done so much toward enriching the coloring and scope of succeeding compositions.


What principle did the first attempts at piano-making recognize?

To what circumstance are we indebted for the attempt to make an instrument of the Clavier type? [Pg 245]

What are the two classes of stringed instruments with keyboard as known in the 11th century?

State the steps in the development of the Clavichord principle.

Describe the Clavichord.

Describe the Harpsichord principle.

Describe the Virginal and Spinet.

Describe the Harpsichord.

Who was the inventor of the Pianoforte? When did he exhibit the first instrument?

Who were the early makers?

What points of superiority did the Piano have over the Clavichord and the Harpsichord?

What successive improvements were made by various makers?

What is meant by Equal Temperament? [Pg 246]

The Early Italian Clavier Composers.

Early Instrumental Music.—The history of pianoforte composition and playing really begins with that of the preceding keyed instruments with strings, to all of which the convenient name of “Claviers” will be given. As these early instruments were at first merely substitutes for the organ, which in turn was used simply to reduplicate voice parts, the music first played on them was in no wise different from the vocal and organ music of the day. When, moreover, music written for the organ had some features distinct from purely vocal music, it was frequently inscribed to be played on the organ or clavier, without discrimination.

Influence of the Renaissance.—As most of the patterns of musical form have proceeded from Italy, so it was there, in Venice, that instrumental music seems to have emerged from its union with vocal music, and to have assumed the elements of a style of its own. This was directly the result of the general awakening of thought after the Dark Ages, known as the Renaissance, which, leading to independent investigation in the domains of science and art, brought in the once unheard-of inventions and the discovery of new worlds, and in the other a freedom of treatment fitted to express the new ideas surging throughout the civilized world. Thus, in the first part of the 16th century, while Raphael and Michael Angelo were voicing these thoughts in their immortal creations, in Venice, a school of musicians was turning its attention toward instrumental music, and striving to produce in music a richness of color, just as the great Venetian [Pg 247] painters, like Titian and Giorgione, were producing similar effects upon canvas. Teachers and students were congregating there, enthusiastic over the new ideas in music; and the focal point of all this activity was the Church of St. Mark’s, whose magnificent double organ furnished an incentive to genius.

The First Sonata.—Among these musicians were a number of apostles of the Netherlands school, of whom Adrian Willaert (1480-1562) was especially honored and beloved. He and his successors, as organists at St. Mark’s, wrote compositions for organ or clavier, which they taught to young ladies in the convents. Such compositions were made the more possible by the fact that into the old Church Modes, formed by using only the tones represented by the white keys of our piano, “chromatic” or colored tones came to be inserted; so that, in the course of the 16th century, the modern scales, with their characteristic keynotes, or tonalities, came to vie with the old modes, and ultimately nearly to displace them, thus giving a chance for a variety and grouping of harmonies necessary in the elaboration of instrumental music. The name Sonata, or “sound” piece, was at first given indiscriminately to such instrumental works, in distinction from the Cantata, or vocal work.

Willaert and His Pupils.—Willaert was especially successful as a teacher, and thus left a number of accomplished pupils to carry on his labors. Of these, Girolamo Parabosco (1593-1609) was noted for his free fantasias, and his improvisations of sonatas on the harpsichord; while Claudio Merulo of Correggio (1533-1604) wrote a number of toccatas, in which the old church chorale style was relieved by contrasting passages consisting of brilliant runs. The Toccata, or touch piece, had, as its characteristics, such quick running passages, probably first suggested by the light tone and action of the Clavier. While these runs had at first very little relevancy to one another, they were much delighted in by these early pioneers, who sported with them as a child plays with a new toy. [Pg 248]

The Gabrieli’s.—Two other organists of St. Mark’s, Andreas Gabrieli (1510-1586), and his nephew and pupil, Giovanni Gabrieli (1557-1613), added to the resources of instrumental music. The first of these, a pupil of Willaert, himself became a famous teacher; and both contributed many canzone and sonatas to organ and clavier literature. In all these the subjects were distinct, and, in the canzone especially, the many quick passages and changing rhythms were used in a manner that contributed to unity.

The Harpsichord in Opera.—A new factor now appeared in Florence, destined greatly to further the cause of clavier music: namely, the Opera. Taking the position of the conductor’s instrument, the harpsichord became the most useful member of the orchestra, and was employed constantly to fill in vague harmonies, and to strike chords as a support to the musical declamation of the singers. Such chords were not generally written out, but were suggested by their bass note, over which figures were written to show their positions. To this shorthand system the name of Thorough-bass was given. In this way the value of chord combinations came to be recognized, and the relationships of such chords studied entirely apart from the voice writing; so the idea of a single melody, supported by occasional chords, was transplanted from the Opera, and the modern harmonic style of music came into being.

Dance Tunes.—But, in this new style, the old basis for Unity in the composition, furnished by the imitation of one part by another, had to be abandoned, since only one melodic part existed at a time; hence a new basis had to be found in the manner in which harmonies succeeded each other. In determining such chord relationships, composers were obliged to look elsewhere than to the old Church music; and so turned their attention to the forms of Dance Tunes which had already been in use for a long time among the people in their Folk-songs, and in the performances of the wandering minstrels. Most of these dance tunes were formed in a very simple two-part design of harmony, consisting in a transition from the initial key to a contrasting key, for the first part, and a return from the contrasting key to the first key, in the second part. [Pg 249]

Origin of the Suite.—A book of such dances, based, however, on the clumsy church modes, was published in 1551. Later, however, such dances came to be written in the new harmonic style; and by putting together a set of dances all in the same key but differing in rhythm and mode of expression, a larger form of composition was devised, combining Variety with Unity. To this form the name of Suite was given.


Girolamo Frescobaldi.

Frescobaldi.—Another element tending to give Unity to the composition was developed when composers learned to work out a single subject, or melodic phrase representing a definite musical idea, by introducing it a number of times in the course of the composition, sometimes with slight variation, but always recognizable and used in such a way as to bind the various parts the more closely together by their similarity of conception. Several organists at Rome wrote music which possessed such unity of idea. One of these was Girolamo Frescobaldi (1583-1644), a man who was a close student of the best Italian music of his time, and who had, moreover, been brought into [Pg 250] contact with Netherlands ideas through travel in Belgium. On his first appearance as organist of St. Peter’s in Rome, in 1615, so great fame had preceded him that over 30,000 people are said to have attended the performance. His skill on the clavier was no less than that on the organ; and for both of these instruments he wrote Ricercari, Canzone and Capricci, which showed considerable unity of subject, together with fluency in the treatment of chromatic progressions, and a wealth of invention, which displayed itself in novel themes and unusual harmonies; his compositions are well worth study.

Pasquini.—In the second half of the 17th century, Bernardo Pasquini (1637-1710), a pupil of the opera composer Cesti, carried on the work at Rome. In his toccati he shows great freedom in departing from the strict vocal style, and his clavier works have features, like the sustained trill, which distinguish them decidedly from organ works.

Method of Playing the Clavier.—The method of playing the clavier used by these old masters was peculiar. In a work on the subject published by Di Ruta, about the year 1600, the rules given include holding the fingers out flat on the keys, and scarcely using the thumb at all, allowing it to hang below the level of the keyboard. The scales were played each with two fingers, according to fixed rules; so that smoothness combined with rapidity seems to have been made impossible.

The Sonata and Overture.—Starting with the harmonic form of the old dance tunes, composers now began to elaborate this to a form capable of expressing more serious ideas, by giving more definiteness to the musical subject treated, and by introducing material derived from the old vocal forms. Corelli, the violinist (1653-1713), and the violinists of his school, restricted the name Sonata to combinations of such movements, in distinction from the lighter forms of the Suite; and the celebrated opera composer, Alessandro Scarlatti (1659-1725), applied similar methods to the composition of his operatic overtures, writing them in three parts: first, a moderately fast movement, which was followed by a slow movement, the whole closing with a movement in quick tempo. [Pg 251]

Domenico Scarlatti.—Clavier music lagged somewhat behind violin music, owing to the greater perfection of the violin as an instrument, and also to the popularity of the lute, which was much affected in fashionable circles. Finally, however, a man appeared who possessed the genius to develop the peculiar resources of the harpsichord to a remarkable extent. This was Domenico Scarlatti, the son and pupil of Alessandro Scarlatti. The latter was himself a skilful clavier player and composer; but his son attained a proficiency so far eclipsing that of any of his predecessors as to place him entirely without the pale of comparison with any of them. Domenico Scarlatti, who was born at Naples in 1683, two years before Handel and Bach, first attracted attention when about twenty-one years old, as an opera composer; but achieved his greatest successes as a virtuoso on the harpsichord, winning a world-wide reputation for his wonderful playing, which was a revelation of what could be done with this hitherto undeveloped instrument. In one of Handel’s Italian journeys a contest of skill was instituted between these two musical giants; and the result was a drawn battle so far as the harpsichord was concerned, although Handel triumphed at the organ. Scarlatti traveled about somewhat, spending most of his later life in the position of court music master at Madrid. He finally returned to his birthplace, where he died in 1757.

Scarlatti’s Use of Form.—In the matter of form, Scarlatti developed still further the work of his predecessors, applying to the harpsichord the principles asserted by Corelli and his school. His Sonatas were written in one movement only, and have very definite subjects, which are carried out along recognized lines. His Capriccii—short pieces written in a rhythmic and delicately staccato style—are some of his best works, and undoubtedly paved the way for the Scherzi, written by Beethoven and Mendelssohn. His compositions are short, but concise and definite. [Pg 252]

Scarlatti’s Style of Playing.—But his chief addition to musical material lies in the new style of playing which he invented. Novel effects, like crossing the hands, long leaps, broken chords in contrary motion, rapidly repeated notes, and runs in thirds and sixths—effects which were in many cases far ahead of his time, since they were not used by succeeding composers until a much later period—were employed by him with the utmost fluency, so that he has been aptly called the father of modern pianoforte technic.







Examples of Scarlatti’s Style.

Durante.—The Neapolitan school boasted several other worthy clavier composers, who contributed in various ways to the composition of the Sonata. One of these was Francesco Durante (1684-1755), who wrote sonatas in two movements of different character but in the same key. The first, called a Studio, was written as a free fugue with running passages; the second, or Divertimento, was more animated and less scholastic. Domenico Alberti (1707-1740) composed sonatas similar in general form, but of less artistic worth, consisting as they did simply of a single-voiced melody, supported by an harmonic [Pg 253] accompaniment having no independence of style. Much of this was in the form of broken chords, a mannerism which was afterwards used to excess, and became dubbed the “Alberti bass.” This accompaniment form doubtless suited the clavichord and harpsichord, but is not so well adapted to the more sonorous modern piano. It is still used by composers for very simple accompaniments.



Pier Domenico Paradies (1710-1792) deserves special mention as the writer of elegant and well-balanced clavier music. He first won success as a composer of operas, which were given in Italy, and afterwards in London, where he finally settled as clavier teacher. His sonatas have two movements, like Durante’s, and contain brilliant allegros, besides attractive melodies. His two-part rapid contrapuntal work is excellent, both for musical merit and for technical study.

Summary.—We have seen, then, that in the 16th century, in Italy, instrumental music began to break from its union with vocal music; that the Opera brought the harpsichord especially into notice in the 17th century, on account of its availability for accompaniments, and that finally, in the 18th century, the Neapolitan composers developed for it a style which took advantage of its peculiar resources, and applied them to the enrichment of the harmonic forms which were coming into vogue.

[Pg 254] Musical Illustrations.

Weitzmann’s History, pages 291-313.

Rimbault, “The Pianoforte,” pages 257, 306, 310.

Litolff edition, No. 397, second volume of “Music by Old Masters.”

Augener edition, No. 8298, Old Italian Compositions.

The Breitkopf Edition, Nos. 111, 112, 411, have reference to music for the clavier, written during the 17th and 18th centuries.

Biblioteca d’Oro, Ricordi, contains examples of the compositions of the leading composers of the 17th to 19th centuries.


What influence did the Renaissance have on early instrumental music?

Give an account of the “sonatas” written by Willaert.

What other kinds of composition were written during this period?

What were the contributions of the Gabrieli’s?

How did the Opera influence harpsichord music?

What principles were used in making dance tunes?

What was the origin of the Suite?

How did these early composers attempt to give Unity to a composition?

Tell about the work of Frescobaldi and Pasquini.

What peculiarities of fingering were used by the early players?

What distinction did Corelli and his successors make between the Sonata and the Suite?

Describe the career of Domenico Scarlatti.

What forms did he use in his compositions?

What characteristics did he show in his playing?

Tell about the work of Durante, Alberti and Paradies.

Give the successive stages of development from the 16th to the 18th century. [Pg 255]

The Early English and French Clavier Schools.

English Schools to Henry VIII.—Popular music, both vocal and instrumental, was an early English institution. The many Folk-songs which have come down from a very early period bear witness to the English love of conviviality. Dance tunes, sometimes based on these Folk-songs, were played on the instruments of the minstrels, which, as early as 1484, included the clavichord; and the fact that such instruments were cultivated by people of higher rank is shown by the record that James IV of Scotland and his queen purchased clavichords to play upon, in 1503, while the queen of Henry VII of England bought a clavichord for her private use in 1502. The virginal is spoken of in the reign of Henry VII; Henry VIII (reigned 1509-1547), who was an accomplished musician, played upon both these instruments, and also wrote music for them.

To Queen Elizabeth’s Time.—Edward VI (r. 1547-1553) had three duly appointed virginal players among his court musicians; and after Elizabeth (r. 1558-1603) ascended the throne, the virginal increased in popularity; indeed, its name was formerly thought to have been derived from her as the virgin queen; although the fact that the instrument was spoken of as the virginal before her reign makes its derivation from its popularity among young ladies the more probable. Queen Elizabeth, as well as her sister Mary, received instruction in virginal playing during her early youth, and became an accomplished performer; and instances are shown of the former’s great pride in this accomplishment. [Pg 256] In the course of her illustrious reign, when all the arts flourished to a remarkable degree, and when great wits and litterateurs vied with each other in the genius of their productions, the art of music received its share of attention also. The fact that musical degrees were early given at the great universities, Oxford and Cambridge, tended to raise the standard of musical knowledge, and to produce a number of composers who were especially gifted in the more serious Church forms of writing. Many such, connected with the Royal Chapel and the court, wrote excellent anthems and secular part-songs; and now, attracted by the popularity of the instrument, they began to give a more worthy setting to the folk and dance tunes played on the clavier.

Dance Tunes.—A clavier composition is extant, dated 1555, by William Blitheman, an English church composer, consisting of a chorale-like melody in whole notes, accompanied first by a flowing eighth-note figure, and next by triplet quarter notes, with a third voice added later. Such a serious style prefigured the variations upon dance tunes, which were especially cultivated by William Byrd (1538-1623). In such variations the melody was first harmonized in simple fashion, and was afterwards played several times in the same part, with slight changes, while the accompanying parts were varied in rhythm and style, becoming generally quicker in tempo. To modern ears the result is monotonous, as the same key and time signature is maintained throughout; but the variety in presentation must have been grateful after the simplicity of the dance tunes.

The Virginal Book.—Other popular forms were the Fancie, in which several melodic subjects were imitated in the various voices; and the Pavane, a dance in common time, whose theme was repeated in the following Galliarde, a dance in triple time. These and other forms are used in a curious collection of clavier pieces now preserved at Cambridge, and known as Queen Elizabeth’s Virginal Book. This collection, consisting of four hundred and eighteen manuscript pages, written on a six-lined staff, contains seventy compositions by Byrd, besides others by most of the composers of the Elizabethan era, like Tallis, Dr. Bull, Giles, Farnaby and many others. [Pg 257]

Leading Elizabethan Composers.—Byrd was a pupil of Thomas Tallis (d. 1585), the renowned church composer, and together they were made organists of Queen Elizabeth’s Chapel, in 1575, receiving also the sole right to print music. Another musician who deserves special mention is Dr. John Bull (1563-1628), who won world-wide fame as organist and clavier player, finally becoming organist at Antwerp Cathedral, which post he held until his death. His clavier compositions show great technical fluency. Orlando Gibbons (1583-1625), a Doctor of Music at Oxford, and organist at Westminster Abbey, wrote excellently in the prevailing style. Shakespeare testifies to the popularity of clavier playing at this time in one of his sonnets, where he speaks of the keys as

“O’er whom thy fingers walk with gentle gait.”

Although these early English composers wrote with musical solidity, their compositions can scarcely be said to have added much to the development of the instrumental style, or to clavier technic; and, in fact, they amounted to little more than a side issue in music, withdrawn from the general advancement, and valuable chiefly as curiosities. The melodies were apt to be wearisome, through monotonous repetitions, the rhythms to lack variety, and the modulations to appear chiefly in the form of unsuccessful attempts.

The Parthenia.—During the first half of the 17th century the virginal retained its popularity, although political turmoils prevented much positive advancement in music. The “Parthenia,” a volume containing the first printed collection of virginal music, appeared in 1611, composed of twenty-one pieces by Byrd, Bull and Gibbons; and a similar volume followed, with compositions for virginal and bass viol, by Robert Hole.

Purcell.—In the reign of Charles II (1660-1685) music again came to the fore, and was ably promoted by Henry Purcell, who [Pg 258] was born in the year when Cromwell died, 1658, and died in 1695. Purcell is a shining figure in English musical history, through his ability as an opera composer, in which capacity he produced bright and pithy works, thoroughly English in spirit, and healthy in tone. He published a volume of twelve clavier sonatas in 1683, with parts also for two violins and a bass viol, founded on the model of the Italian violin sonatas, each having an Adagio, a Canzona, a slow movement and an Air. Later he published other sonatas, besides suites and separate pieces for the clavier. Upon the advent of Handel, however, the English composers became, for the most part, mere imitators of his style, which had so caught the national ear as to well-nigh eclipse all other kinds of music. The early English school, therefore, can be said to have had its last exponent in the person of Purcell.

Rise of the French School.—In France a school of clavier compositions developed during the brilliant reign of Louis XIV (1643-1715), which did much toward imparting elegance and polish, besides characteristic rhythms and technical figures, to clavier music. The head of this school and the personal teacher of many succeeding clavier composers and players was Andre Champion de Chambonnières (d. 1670), who became court clavier player to the king. He is said to have been master of a full tone on the harpsichord attained by none other than himself; he also published two books of clavier compositions, written in the pure harmonic style, and showing the tendency toward brilliant embellishments which became a characteristic of his successors. Of his pupils, Jean Henry d’Anglebert (d. 1691), was clavier player at court, and published in 1689 a book containing clavier arrangements of airs and dances from the operas of Lully, with rules for their execution.

The Couperin Family.—Two, at least, of the famous musical family of Couperin also came under the instruction of Champion. These were Louis Couperin (1630-1665), and François Couperin (1631-1701), who, with their brother Charles Couperin (1638-1669), and his son François Couperin, called “le Grand [Pg 259]” (1668-1733), were all at various times organists of the church of St. Gervais, at Paris. The Couperins may be considered as classic composers for the clavier, as their style, though having an harmonic basis, was mostly in the line of instrumental voice writing. The first-named published three suites of dances for clavier; and the second was eminently popular as a teacher.

François Couperin.—François Couperin, “le Grand,” deserves special attention, and has been called the first great composer distinctively for the clavier. He was a pupil of the organist Thomelin, and rose quickly to so commanding a position as player of the organ and clavier that, in 1701, he was appointed court clavier player and organist at the Royal Chapel. He was very accurate as a composer; and in the four books of clavier pieces which he published successively, he gave minute directions for interpreting the wealth of ornamentation with which his melodies are surrounded. Most of these pieces are written in two voices, with the upper melody most prominent; and they reflect the artificial show and glitter of the French court in their endless turns and embellishments. Yet for this very reason they have amplified the resources of clavier compositions, preparing the way for composers like Scarlatti, Bach and Handel. Many of them show the French taste toward attaching definite meaning to music, by their fanciful titles, like “La tendre Nanette,” “La Flatteuse”—a custom followed by others of this school. Couperin wrote also a treatise on clavier touch, and was one of the first to make use of the thumb in playing.

Louis Marchand (1669-1732) was a brilliant though dissipated figure in clavier playing. Becoming organist at the court of Versailles, he lost the post through his reckless habits, and, going to Dresden, he was somewhat subdued in his conceit by the evident superiority of Bach. On his return to Paris, he became exceedingly popular as a teacher, although his extravagant style of living brought him finally to poverty. His pupil, Louis Claude Daquin (1694-1772), received through him an appointment as organist at the church of St. Paul, in preference to Rameau, of whose superiority Marchand became jealous. Daquin published a number of rather superficial clavier pieces. [Pg 260]


Jean-Phillippe Rameau.

Jean-Phillippe Rameau, the last and greatest light of this school, has even greater fame as an opera composer. He was born at Dijon in 1683, and displayed so great musical talent when a mere child that, although his parents had intended him for another profession, he was finally sent to Italy to study music. After spending some time there, he joined the orchestra of an opera troupe, traveling about France and gaining an insight into dramatic composition. Upon going to Paris he studied with Marchand, who recognized and feared his talent, [Pg 261] and who finally was the means of his leaving Paris. Later, however, he obtained an organ position outside of Paris, and soon attracted attention not only by his playing, but also by the publication, in 1726, of a treatise on Harmony. In this he reduced the study of chords to a scientific foundation, and won his title of the name of creator of the modern science of Harmony. Returning to Paris, he now secured an organ position there, and set to work upon the series of dramatic productions which made him the foremost opera composer of his day, superior even to the popular Lully. In 1737, he published another theoretical work, in which the principles of Equal Temperament, which J. S. Bach had adopted fifteen years before, were so clearly stated as to make their establishment permanent for future composers. Rameau’s theories were the subject of much controversy in his day; but many distinguished contemporaries, like Rousseau and Voltaire, were his warm partisans. He died in 1764.

Rameau’s Clavier Works.—His numerous clavier compositions show great advance in freedom of expression, and are written mostly in three parts, with an occasional succession of full chords. Many of these have descriptive titles, such as “La Poule,” in which the cackling of a hen is cleverly imitated. Others are in the form of dance suites. The order of Prelude, Allemande, Courante, Sarabande, Gigue was made the basis of these suites as well as those of Couperin, although this order admitted of considerable variation; and no other principle of Unity appears in them, with the exception of a common key.

End of the Early French School.—The growing importance of the German school now came to be felt in France so strongly that the French school came to lose its individuality. We therefore turn our attention to the important developments in instrumental music which were effected in Germany.

[Pg 262] Musical Illustrations.

Weitzmann’s History, pages 314-329.

Rimbault.—“The Pianoforte,” pages 237, 240, 245, 248, 253, 262-283, 316.

Litolff Ed., No. 397, 2nd vol. of “Music by Old Masters.”

Augener Ed., Nos. 8300, 8299.

Breitkopf Ed., as for Chapter II.

Questions and Suggestions.

Tell about early English instrumental music.

Tell about music in Queen Elizabeth’s time.

Describe the Variation form used by Byrd.

What was the Virginal Book?

What was the style of the Elizabethan composers?

What was the “Parthenia”?

Give an account of Purcell and his work.

Who was the founder of the French school?

What family figures prominently in the French school?

Who was the greatest member of this family? Tell about his work.

Tell about Marchand and Daquin.

What great theorist is prominent in French clavier music? Tell about his work.

Note that the English school was at its height in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, Purcell, in the reign of Charles II, being the greatest light of the school. The strength of the French school was during the reign of Louis XIV. [Pg 263]

The German Polyphonic Clavier School.

German Mastery of Polyphonic Music.—The Italians, with their quick perception of structural beauty, have been the pioneers in the invention and use of most art forms. So it happened, in the history of instrumental music, that they were the ones to invent and give to other nations the vehicle of expression, while it remained for their pupils, notably, in this case, the composers of Germany, to fill these forms out with the expression of real and deep feeling. The German tendency toward serious and philosophical thought found the intricacies of polyphonic music, or the simultaneous flow of independent melodies, admirably adapted to their need of expression; and when this style of voice writing was applied to instrumental compositions, German musicians found a branch of art in which they were admirably qualified to excel. So, from being mere pupils of the Italians, they advanced to the production of works of much more distinguished character and deeper, richer content than was possible to mere beauty of form and melody.

Hasler.—In the second half of the 16th century, the clavier was popular in Germany, disputing the place of the lute as a social instrument, although organ and clavier compositions were identical, as in Italy. There is a record of the publication of two books of pieces for organ and “instrument”—by which is meant the clavier—in 1575-77, in which there were dance tunes with accompanying chords. Hans Leo Hasler (1564-1612), a pupil of A. Gabrieli, and fellow-student with G. Gabrieli, was especially prominent as organ and clavier player and composer during this epoch, publishing a number of such dances written for the organ or the clavier. [Pg 264]

Froberger.—The devastating Thirty Years’ War (1618-48) put an end to artistic ambition during its progress. However, art quickly recovered at its close, and a number of worthy musicians appeared. An interesting figure among them, and a man who has been called the first German clavier virtuoso, was Johann Jacob Froberger (1605-1667). Showing great promise as a boy, he was brought to the notice of the Austrian Kaiser, Ferdinand III, who sent him to Rome, where he studied with Frescobaldi for three years. After this we hear of him as a successful performer at Paris, and, on his return to Vienna, as court organist, in which position he won widespread fame. A remarkable story is told of a perilous journey to England, where he arrived penniless, and of his subsequent recognition and his cordial reception by Charles II, who was delighted with his improvisation upon the harpsichord. Afterwards returning to Vienna, he resigned his post there, through some disagreement, and lived afterwards in retirement. In a number of Caprices, Toccatas and the like, written in the contrapuntal style, he definitely adopted the five-lined staff, and introduced many embellishments, after the French fashion. He possessed much charming melodic invention, and, in his Toccatas employed a treatment of his subject in definite sections, which afterwards appeared in the fugue form. Froberger anticipates the program style of music, as he is said to have improvised descriptions of events, like that of the Count von Thurn’s crossing of the Rhine, which he depicted in twenty-six pieces.

Johann Kaspar Kerl (1625-90), also sent by Ferdinand III to Rome, studied there with Carissimi, the oratorio writer, becoming accomplished as an extemporizer. He occupied a number of organ positions in Vienna and Munich, also teaching the clavier, and wrote compositions which show a tendency toward the modern scale systems. Johann Pachelbel (1653-1706), celebrated as organ and clavier [Pg 265] player, wrote pleasing works for the clavier, in which he tried to follow out the characteristics of the instrument. Many of these were in the form of variations. Georg Muffat (d. 1704) showed in his compositions a tendency toward French ornamentation, and his son Gottlieb (1683-1770), a pupil of the contrapuntist J. J. Fux, was organist to the Kaiser Charles VI, in Vienna, and clavier teacher to the Imperial family. His clavier compositions were in the form of Versettes and Toccatas.

Eighteenth Century Clavier Composers.—The Thirty Years’ War exercised a demoralizing influence upon music trades, and many excellent musicians were unable to have their compositions published in consequence. The result is, that comparatively few specimens of the works of the composers mentioned have come down to us in available form. Approaching the 18th century, we now come to a group of composers who represent the most brilliant epoch of early clavier work. Their productions, while retaining the dignity and complexity of the contrapuntal school, yet use its material with a freedom of modulation and of dissonant chords sufficient to express genuine emotional ideas through their medium.

Reinken and Buxtehude.—The Hamburg organist Johann Adam Reinken (1623-1722), a native of Holland, wrote a number of clavier compositions, publishing in 1704, pieces for two violins and harpsichord. Dietrich Buxtehude (1637-1707), organist at St. Mary’s Church, Lübeck, from 1668, excelled in free style of writing for clavier. The latter gave a series of Sunday evening concerts at his church which gained renown through all the surrounding country; and J. S. Bach himself is said to have walked to these concerts, a distance of fifty miles.

Instrumental Polyphonic Forms.—These men have been mentioned largely because their work made possible the results which Bach afterwards attained from an elaboration of what they had already accomplished. It was among such eminent German organists that the instrumental Fugue, the highest instrumental type of polyphonic music, took definite shape, consisting of an Exposition, in which the Subject, [Pg 266] Answer and Countersubject were announced by the various voices; and a subsequent Development, in which, according to certain laws more or less strict, the material presented was carried through a variety of phases and brought finally to a triumphant close. Of other forms, like the Toccata and Canzona, the tendency came to be toward more freedom of treatment on the one hand, and an increasing definiteness and consistency on the other.

Handel’s Early Life.—A composer must now be mentioned whose work lay chiefly in other fields than the clavier, but who nevertheless drew much of his inspiration from the strings of the harpsichord. This was George Frederick Handel (1685-1759), who was born at Halle, and whose musical genius asserted itself so strenuously that, although his father was strongly opposed, he learned the harpsichord as a mere child, and became so proficient a performer that the reigning Duke of Saxe-Weissenfels, hearing him play, insisted on his receiving a thorough musical education. So he was placed under Zachau, a competent organist and musician, at his native place, with whom he studied diligently. After his father’s death he went to Hamburg, entering the orchestra of the Opera house and rising to the post of harpsichordist. Launching out as an opera composer, he began to acquire a reputation, and in 1706 went to Italy, meeting many distinguished musicians there, among them Domenico Scarlatti, with whom he had a contest as to ability as clavichordist and organist, and winning fresh laurels.

Handel in England.—In 1707, he became music director to the Elector of Hanover, but quickly left the post for England, where, with the exception of short intervals, he passed the remainder of his life, becoming a naturalized English subject. It was no wonder that he was so warmly attached to his adopted country, since he became the popular idol, even winning over the king, George I, formerly Elector of Hanover, who, on his accession to the throne, was at first angry with Handel for his desertion of the post in his service at Hanover. [Pg 267]


George Friedrich Handel.

[Pg 268] Handel’s Operas and Oratorios.—Handel was of an irascible disposition, and, living in the artificial atmosphere of London, among wits and satirists like Dr. Johnson, Addison and Pope, he was constantly embroiled with the cabals of his rivals, and the fickleness of the public. He produced a great number of operas, most of them successful; but as theatrical manager he met with severe losses, and finally gave up opera writing in despair, and turned to the composition of oratorios. The result was that in this form he has left his most enduring and elevated compositions; for while his operas were sometimes written down to the popular taste for empty Italian melody, the lofty themes of his oratorios inspired him to his grandest and most sincere style, which, moreover, was rendered the more dramatic and intelligible by his knowledge of the requirements of his audiences.

Handel’s Clavier Works.—Handel was an expert performer on the harpsichord, for which he wrote two sets of Suites, besides a number of single pieces. The Suites, of which the first set is by far the better, are written mostly in the dance forms, but with the interpolation of more serious forms, such as Airs, Variations and Fugues. The contrapuntal style is here most prominent, although with harmonic basis, and with a laxity in the strictness of the voice writing, caused by the occasional use of extra notes to complete chords. Some of the variations are worked up to effective climaxes, and have running passages and broken chords, in which the resources of the clavier are cleverly drawn upon.

Handel’s Last Years.—Handel became blind in 1752, but continued to take part in the performances of his works till the year of his death. Choleric as was his temperament, the known generosity of his nature and his devotion to the ideals of his art made him the idol of the English people. He was buried in Westminster Abbey. [Pg 269]

Mattheson.—A close associate of Handel, when he was in the Hamburg orchestra, was Johann Mattheson (1681-1764), famed for his literary writings on musical subjects no less than for his musical ability. He wrote suites, a sonata and fugues in two parts, for clavier, which were of excellent workmanship.

Bach’s Early Life.—But all other names in the domain of polyphonic instrumental music pale before that of Johann Sebastian Bach, the culmination of the school of voice writing, and the musician who put the stamp of greatness on all former styles, while at the same time acting as guide to future fields of composition. Born at Eisenach in 1685, as a scion of a family the members of which had been musical leaders for generations, he seems to have embodied in himself the sum of the genius of his forefathers. The story of his life is a prosaic one, as he filled it with unflagging industry, carrying out his unswerving ideals of his art, caring little for mere popularity, and rearing a large family of sons and daughters, some of whom proved worthy to continue his work. As a boy, he lost both parents at the age of ten, and was taught clavier playing by his elder brother, Johann Christian, who took him in charge. He seized with avidity every opportunity to study his beloved music, copying hundreds of pages of manuscript, listening to every musical performance possible, drinking in and assimilating the ideas thus gained, to reproduce them later on, stamped with his genius.

Later Life.—At his brother’s death he went to Lüneburg as choir boy, where he became acquainted with Reinken’s work. At eighteen he was violinist in the court band at Weimar, shortly afterward becoming organist at a church at Arnstadt. His next position was as court organist at Weimar, in 1708, where many of his most important organ compositions were written. This post he left in 1717 for that of court chapel-master at Anhalt-Köthen, where he remained six years, after which he went to Leipzig, as Cantor of the Thomasschule, staying there till his death, in 1750. [Pg 270]

Incidents of Bach’s Career.—Bach’s life was not altogether a happy one, as he was much annoyed at the persecutions of his rivals; and, like Handel, he was afflicted with blindness in his last years. Never considering the element of mere popularity in his work, his greatness was little appreciated in his lifetime; and it was fifty years after his death before it began to receive recognition. A pleasant incident of his declining years was his cordial reception by Frederick the Great at his court, in 1747, where Bach’s son was in favor as harpsichord player, and where Bach was shown a number of excellent new Silbermann pianofortes. It is a curious circumstance that he and Handel, although born in the same year, were destined never to meet.

The Well-Tempered Clavichord.—It has been stated that Bach adopted the principle of Equal Temperament for clavier tuning. In support of this he wrote twenty-four preludes and fugues, one in each major and minor key, requiring, therefore, equal temperament for their performance; and later added a second similar volume. The whole forty-eight make up the monumental work called the “Well-Tempered Clavichord”; and this work, written originally for the clavichord, has remained the bulwark of piano playing to the present day. Its fugues, written with consummate mastery of the technic of instrumental polyphony, are not only models of skill in voice writing, but also are made the vehicles of genuine moods and emotions; while each preceding prelude gives the keynote of expression to its following fugue, although written in a much freer style, frequently closely allied with the works of the purely harmonic school. [Pg 271]


Johann Sebastian Bach.

[Pg 272] Bach’s Other Clavier Works.—Bach wrote also sonatas and concertos, the latter for one, two or three claviers, sometimes with string accompaniment. These works, although comprising several movements, do not otherwise coincide with the harmonic sonata form, since their style is more polyphonic, and since they are occupied mainly with the development of a single subject. His suites, of which he wrote two sets, called respectively English and French, are no less important, since in them the dance forms are invested with a seriousness and an artistic finish hitherto unattained. Of other clavier works, his famous “Chromatic Fantasie” has a wealth of harmonic combinations, fiery runs and arpeggios, and dramatic recitative which give it a worthy place in the Romantic school developed much later, and of whose style it was the forerunner. His “Inventions,” studies written originally for his children, in two or three parts, are an excellent introduction to the study of his larger works.

Reforms in Fingering.—Another gift of Bach’s to coming generations was his thorough revision of clavier playing. Raising the hand above the keys from its former flat position, he brought the thumb into use, and by inventing the scale fingering, afterwards universally adopted, he opened the way to the style of brilliant and smoothly running passages which was afterwards so highly developed. Thus Bach, while putting the final touch to the old forms, gave an impetus to the harmonic style, which was then in its infancy, and of which we shall now trace the course.

Musical Illustrations.

Weitzmann’s History, pages 330, 336.

Rimbault.—The Pianoforte, pages 299, 332, 340.

Litolff ed., No. 396, 1st volume of Music by Old Masters.

Augener ed., No. 8297.

Breitkopf Ed., as before.

Works of Handel and Bach, published in all the cheap editions. [Pg 273]


Compare the Italian and the German tendencies.

Give an account of Hasler.

Tell about Froberger. In what styles did he write?

Tell about Kerl, Pachelbel and the Muffats.

What advances do we find in the works of the composers of the early part of the 18th century?

What forms now begin to take definite shape?

Give a sketch of Handel’s early life.

Give a sketch of Handel’s work in England.

State the characteristics of Handel’s clavier works.

What affliction befell him during the last years of his life?

What associate of Handel’s was famous as writer and composer?

Tell about Bach’s early life.

Tell about Bach’s later life.

What great king invited Bach to visit his court?

Describe the “Well-Tempered Clavichord.”

Mention other clavier works by Bach.

What improvements in technic did Bach introduce? [Pg 274]

The German Sonata Composers, to Haydn.

Formation of Harmonic Design.—Side by side with the ultimate development of polyphonic music in its perfected instrumental form, the forms of the new harmonic style were being worked out, by long processes of development. Finally, just as the Fugue came to be adopted as the highest form of the old school, so the Sonata was chosen as the most dignified exponent of the new art. But, while the old school arrived at a high state of perfection at the hands of Handel and Bach, the necessity for inventing and experimenting with the possibilities of the new forms made the first attempts in this direction seem childish and crude beside Bach’s work; so that it was several generations after him before the harmonic style was brought to the stage at which it could be made to express ideas of equal magnitude, and do it successfully.

Development of the Sonata.—The original plan associated with the Sonata was that of combining several movements in such a way as to appeal, in the completed product, to all kinds of emotion, intellectual, spiritual and physical. In the hands of its founders, the Italian violinists, the exposition of this thought had been mainly contrapuntal. We have seen how Domenico Scarlatti arrived at a style in which a single part, supported by an accompaniment, was applied to the clavier, in a manner which brought out its striking characteristics; and we have now to trace the progress of this style in Germany, up to the point where the various contributions of different composers could be united into a systematic and fixed form, sufficient for the free expression of the highest musical inspiration, and adapted to all the varied demands of instrumental music. [Pg 275]

Essential Elements of a Sonata.—Certain points seem to have been generally agreed upon as necessary components of the Sonata. The first was its union of several movements, from two up to five, or occasionally even more. The second was that the first movement should display the most ingenuity and elaboration. This movement thus came to receive the most attention, and showed a process of evolution from the simple dance form consisting of a modulation from a principal key to a contrasting key and back again, to a highly organised and conventional art-form—a form, moreover, of such a capacity that it could be used as the mould for the principal movement of a wide range of compositions, from a short pianoforte sonata to a grand symphony.

Changes in the Old Dance Form.—In this evolution, the first half of the dance form was made to consist of a Subject, either thematic or melodic, clearly defining the key, and then a modulating passage, generally freer in its runs and arpeggios, leading up to the point of contrast; and the first section was then repeated. The greatest changes took place in the second half. At first, this consisted in the repeat of the Principal Theme in the contrasting key, and a return to the first key through modulations similar to those in the first section; later, however, since this design gave little opportunity for a display of the composer’s originality, the enunciation of the Subject in the contrasting key was followed by a free passage, which gave ample scope to the composer’s fancy; after which the subject again appeared in the principal key, with a concluding passage in the same key.

Establishment of the Cyclic Form.—The form as a whole was now practically divided into three sections, and a better balance was given to this division by the omission of the second appearance of the Subject in the contrasting key, and the substitution of other material, either relevant or contrasting. The movement now assumed a cyclic form—a statement, leading to a point of contrast, a free fantasia, and [Pg 276] finally the statement, leading to a close. This was practically the course of development of what has been named the Sonata Form, up to the time of Haydn. We are now prepared to consider the especial contributions of composers to this form.

First Printed Clavier Sonata.—The first printed clavier sonata seems to have been published by Johann Kuhnau (1660?-1722). This was in the key of B-flat, and was the last of several pieces in the same volume. In the preface, the author gives a semi-apology for its introduction, saying that he sees no reason why sonatas should not be written for the clavier as well as for any other instrument. This sonata begins with an Allegro, followed by a fugal movement; and in the following Adagio movement, the tendency to put the slow movement into a contrasting key is illustrated, as this is in D-flat major. After another Allegro, there is a Da Capo to the first part.

Other Sonatas by Kuhnau.—It was difficult for the early sonata writers to break away entirely from the old polyphonic style; and when a part appeared in the nature of a Free Fantasia, they generally had recourse to fugal work, having no precedent in harmonic music to fall back upon. Thus, in his seven sonatas published in 1696, entitled “Fresh Fruits for the Clavier,” which show more individuality in melodic invention, Kuhnau uses the fugal style whenever the harmonic forms fail him. These sonatas show a prevalence of ornaments, which, he says, are “sugar to sweeten the fruits.” A remarkable collection of clavier pieces are his six Bible sonatas, in which the form is entirely outside of the development traced above, since the various movements of each sonata simply follow the lines of a Bible story, like that of the “Combat between David and Goliath,” which they illustrate. As samples of program music, they proceed in the steps of Pachelbel, and others on record. Kuhnau studied law, and was from 1682 organist at St. Thomas’ Church, at Leipzig, where he preceded J. S. Bach.

Frederick the Great’s Influence.—A great impetus was given to German clavier music by the interest with which, like all other forms [Pg 277] of instrumental music, it was viewed by Frederick the Great of Prussia (r. 1740-86). This warlike but thoroughly Teutonic monarch gathered at his court a brilliant coterie of instrumentalists, delighting to perform with them on his favorite instrument, the flute. Although this musical inspiration was disturbed by the wars in which he engaged, and especially by the Seven Years’ War (1756-63), the growth of clavier music was nevertheless steady.

Musical Journals.—A number of musical journals which appeared from 1760 on, contributed also to this enthusiasm, in giving clavier composers a medium for bringing their works before the public, and also in giving them the chance to profit by one another’s experiments. Many writers thus came to the fore, who aided materially in the elaboration of harmonic music material.

Other Early Composers.—Of these, Gottfried Heinrich Stoelzel (1690-1749), chapel-master at Saxe-Gotha, wrote an “enharmonic” clavier sonata in three parts, a Largo in C minor, in 4/4 time; a short fugue; and a 3/8 movement, in harmonic form, in which experiments in modulation were tried. His successor at Saxe-Gotha was Georg Benda (1721-95), who published a number of clavier pieces and sonatas, besides two concertos for clavier and string quartet, all of which show a desire for genuine expression in the harmonic form. The first four-hand sonatas seem to have been published by Charles Heinrich Müller, of Halberstadt, in 1783, and another appeared in 1784, by Ernst Wilhelm Wolf (1735-92), court chapel-master in Saxe-Weimar, the writer of numerous other clavier sonatas and concertos showing great purity and originality of style. At the court of Frederick the Great, at Berlin, Christoph Nichelmann (1717-62), a pupil of Bach, and Carl Fasch (1736-1800) were successively second harpsichordists. Both wrote sonatas, those of the former in two movements, while those of the latter had generally three, of a brilliant and attractive style. Friedrich Wilhelm Marpurg (1718-95), the distinguished Berlin theoretician, was more successful in contrapuntal work than in his sonatas, written in freer style. [Pg 278]

Georg Christoph Wagenseil (1715-77), pupil of J. J. Fux, court music teacher and celebrated clavier virtuoso, wrote sonatas for clavier and violin and a number for clavier alone.

Wilhelm Friedemann Bach.—Perhaps the most striking developments, however, were at the hands of the sons of J. S. Bach, who were all, having come under his direct instruction, of refined musical judgment, while some of them possessed marks of his genius. Of these, Wilhelm Friedemann Bach (1710-84), the eldest, called the Bach of Halle, from his long residence there, studied at the University of Leipzig, distinguishing himself in mathematics; was organist at Dresden and Halle successively, and finally came to Frederick the Great’s court, at Berlin, through the influence of his brother Carl. Although he possessed great gifts as a player and composer, his dissipated habits brought him to disgrace, and he died in poverty. He wrote many clavier compositions, showing a bold use of harmonies, and including sonatas which have decidedly instrumental themes and development. A large number of his father’s manuscripts known to have been in his possession have been irretrievably lost.

Johann Christian Bach, the London Bach, youngest of J. S. Bach’s sons, was born at Leipzig in 1735, and died at London in 1782. He studied with his brother, Carl, after his father’s death, and, afterwards going to Italy, became organist at the Milan Cathedral. Gaining great favor in this capacity, he was appointed concert-director at London in 1759, and there he became a popular favorite, producing several operas and receiving the appointment of music master to the royal family. His Italian experiences influenced his sonata writing, as his subjects are in the style of the popular, though somewhat trivial Italian melody. Yet he introduced some striking improvements, notably that of employing a second contrasting subject, instead of a mere modulating or closing passage, at the end of the first and third sections of the sonata form. His graceful and melodious works were fashionable in London society. [Pg 279]


C. P. E. Bach.

C. P. E. Bach.—The third and greatest of Bach’s sons was Carl Philip Emanuel Bach, the Berlin Bach. Inheriting his father’s love of genuine and forceful expression, he had no less lofty ideals of his art, though recognizing his inferiority in talent. Also, perceiving that the harmonic school was in the line of progression, he devoted himself to it, thus producing purely harmonic works, which were only limited by the lack of resources thus far discovered. He was born at Weimar, in 1714, and, though a student of law and philosophy at Leipzig, he finally decided to give rein to his natural bent toward the musical profession. Conducting and composing for a musical society at Frankfort, he was appointed first clavier player at the court of Frederick the Great, at Berlin, where he stayed from 1740 to 1767, in high favor on account of his sterling musicianship, and enjoying the society of many distinguished musicians of the day. In 1767, he became musical director of the principal church in Hamburg, where he remained [Pg 280] till his death, in 1788. A vigorous worker throughout his life, he left a large number of compositions, including two hundred and ten clavier pieces and fifty-two concertos for clavier and orchestra, besides much chamber music, eighteen symphonies, oratorios and cantatas.

C. P. E. Bach’s Sonatas.—His most enduring and important work was in connection with the pianoforte sonata, since under his hands it began to assume definite shape. In the six sets of sonatas published, the number of movements is generally fixed at three, of which the third is frequently in the harmonic form of the Rondo, which consists in the recurrence of a principal theme, with modulatory episodes between its appearances. Hence the order of movements, which, in the earlier writers, took all sorts of forms from fugue to dance form, becomes Allegro, Adagio, Rondo. Bach’s themes are also made very characteristic, founded upon some easily-recognized instrumental figure. In the development portion of the sonata form he does not resort to the polyphonic style, but uses phrases or sections from the first part in new combinations and keys. Sometimes, also, the direction is given in the repeat of the first section, to introduce variations of the text at will.

His Theoretical Works.—Bach published at Berlin, in 1753, an essay on “The True Method of Playing the Clavier,” in which he gives a definite exposition of his father’s reforms in playing, treating the position of the hand, embellishments and artistic rendering, which he says should touch the hearts of the hearers. A second part, published in 1762, discusses the science of accompaniment and improvisation.

Adoption of the Piano.—The clavichord, notwithstanding its feeble tone, remained his favorite instrument on account of its powers of expression, in which he delighted. His brother, Johann Christian, was one of the first definitely to adopt the new pianoforte. J. G. Müthel published in 1771 what were probably the first compositions mentioning the pianoforte for their performance, a duet for two pianofortes or harpsichords; after the time of C. P. E. Bach, clavier compositions were written in general distinctively for the pianoforte and not for the clavier. [Pg 281]

Musical Illustrations.

Weitzmann, pages 338, 340, 342-355.

Rimbault.—“The Pianoforte,” pages 357-368.

Edition Litollf, Augener, Breitkopf, as for Chapter IV.

Works of C. P. E. Bach, in Peters’ edition.

Questions and Suggestions.

What forms of composition were being worked out while the polyphonic style was reaching a culmination?

What style had been most prominent in the early sonata?

What points had been agreed upon as necessary in the construction of the sonata?

What changes were made from the simple dance form?

In what part of the sonata did the greatest change occur?

What was the course of development in sonata form up to Haydn?

Tell about Kuhnau and his work.

Tell about other early composers.

Tell about Wilhelm Friedemann Bach.

Tell about Johann Christoph Bach.

Tell about Carl Philip Emanuel Bach.

Tell about Carl Philip Emanuel Bach’s contribution to the development of the sonata.

What other works did C. P. E. Bach write?

A comparison of the dates from Kuhnau’s published work in Sonatas to that of C. P. E. Bach, the immediate predecessor and model for Haydn, shows that the form took definite shape in the course of about fifty years. [Pg 282]


Franz Joseph Haydn.

[Pg 283]

Franz Joseph Haydn.

The Three Great Sonata Writers.—In the year of C. P. E. Bach’s death, 1788, three men had already entered the arena as champions of that Sonata Form to which he contributed so much. Haydn was then fifty-six, Mozart thirty-two and Beethoven eighteen years of age. All three added to the glory of Vienna by making it their dwelling-place in their later years; and the three formed a triumvirate which not only gave to the Sonata a permanent and complete form, but also brought this form into absolute subservience to the expression of every variety of emotional thought.

Haydn’s Childhood.—Franz Joseph Haydn, a native of Rohrau, in lower Austria, was born on March 31, 1732, the second of a family of twelve children. His father, an humble wheelwright, was accustomed to bring his family together in the evenings and holidays, as was the German custom, to unite in song; and the true ear and feeling for rhythm of little “Sepperl,” as Joseph was called, was quickly noticeable. So a cousin of his father, who was a schoolmaster at Hainburg, was allowed to take the boy home with him, placing him in the school choir, and directing his studies, which included singing, and the playing of the violin and other instruments.

St. Stephen’s Choir, Vienna.—George Reutter, precentor of St. Stephen’s Cathedral, at Vienna, paid a visit to the school and was attracted by the child’s “sweet, weak voice,” as he expressed it, and offered him a position in his choir. As this was considered a rare opportunity, he was allowed to go, and at the age of eight we find him [Pg 284] installed in the choir school at Vienna, attending the daily service and choir practice, besides the regular school studies. But Reutter seems to have lost his personal interest in the lad, neglecting him in various ways, doing nothing with his work in musical theory, and finally dropping all his tuition. Haydn was fond of mischief; and when his voice began to break and his brother Michael became soloist in his place, his cruel master took the pretext of some trifling prank to turn him adrift, penniless, into the street.

Hardships in Vienna.—At the age of seventeen, therefore, he wandered the streets all of one rainy November night, with no friend to whom to turn. Finally, in the morning, he met an acquaintance formerly at the school, Spangler, a tenor singer, himself nearly as poor as Haydn. Nevertheless, he took the outcast home to his garret, where he was eking out an existence with his family; and thus temporarily provided for, Haydn set about finding work to do. Small jobs, like playing in bands, or at weddings and baptisms, and singing in choirs, he eagerly sought; his spare moments he occupied in writing music for serenades or garden-parties. While undergoing these hardships, however, he was becoming familiar with the music dear to the people’s heart, and also with the varied effects of instrumental combinations.

Studies and New Friends.—In 1750, he rented a garret in a house in Vienna, and, having secured a dilapidated spinet, set himself diligently to work to study all available musical compositions, notably those of the new sonata order, and especially the sonatas of C. P. E. Bach. Theoretical works, also, like the “Gradus ad Parnassum” of J. J. Fux, and Mattheson’s work on conducting, were eagerly devoured by the youthful enthusiast. By a piece of good fortune, Metastasio, the popular opera librettist, roomed in the same house, and learning of the talent hidden away in the garret, sought Haydn out, gave him Italian lessons, and ultimately started him on the road to success by recommending him as clavier teacher to a Spanish lady, to whose daughter he gave lessons. [Pg 285]

Connection with Porpora.—Her singing master was the renowned opera composer, Porpora, who recognized Haydn’s talent as accompanist, and proceeded to make him useful to himself, giving him instruction in composition in return for his services, which were frequently of even a menial nature. Accompanying Porpora on his journeys, he met musicians like Wagenseil and Gluck; and at the age of twenty had written many compositions, including a mass in F, an opera and many works of the sonata order, founded on the style of C. P. E. Bach.

Better Times.—Better times now opened before Haydn. Gaining influential friends, he won, through them, the post of music director and composer to Count Morzin, a position which he held only a short time, since the Count gave up his musical establishment soon. But he was immediately engaged by the wealthy and cultivated Prince Paul Esterhazy, who had been charmed at hearing a symphony of Haydn’s, as assistant director of music at his estate at Eisenstadt. The same year Haydn made an unhappy marriage with the daughter of Keller, a wigmaker, which he had cause to regret for the remainder of his life.

Orchestras in Germany.—To understand Haydn’s work with the Esterhazy family, it will be necessary to review the state of music in Germany at this time. When the orchestral overtures of the Italian operas had become used as concert pieces, a great stimulus was given to this kind of music. Concertos, string quartets, trios, and, most important of all, symphonies, came to be written in great numbers; and throughout Germany a mania for orchestral music arose. Wealthy families vied with each other in the size and prestige of their musical establishments, which included instrumentalists and vocalists; and the smaller gentry even pressed their domestic servants into the service, inducing them to study instruments, and to perform string quartets and the like on occasions. Inasmuch as a great part of the music written for these was not published, and exchange of music in manuscript between different establishments was attended with some difficulty, it was necessary that the music director should have the ability to write his own music, as well as to direct it. [Pg 286]

Haydn’s Work at Esterhazy.—A rare opportunity therefore opened to Haydn, with his exceptional gifts as a composer, when he was placed at the head of an establishment like that of the Esterhazys’, which was perhaps the most brilliant and competent in Europe. He remained in active service with this family for thirty-three years, during which Prince Nicolas Esterhazy succeeded his brother Paul, upon the death of the latter, in 1762. Nicolas, called the “Great,” on account of his love of magnificence and his lavish style of living, built a sumptuous summer palace near Süttor, in Bohemia; and here he spent most of his time, with his troup of retainers, entertaining royalty, in a style comparable with that of Versailles. Werner, his head director, who had never appreciated Haydn’s gifts on account of his old-school principles, died in 1766, and Haydn, who had made a firm friend of Prince Nicolas, was given his place. The orchestra and singers were now entirely under his command; the former was increased from the original number of sixteen to thirty, all capable performers; so that his life was spent in a round of rehearsals, dramatic performances and concerts for the numerous entertainments constantly in progress. Two well-equipped theatres, one for operas and dramas, and the other for marionette plays, gave him an opportunity for adequate performances; he thus had an exceptional chance to study the effects in his numerous quartets, trios, symphonies and operas, at first hand.

Journeys to Vienna.—On several occasions, Prince Nicolas took his entire troupe of musicians to Vienna, where Haydn conducted the performances, meeting also the distinguished musicians of the day. It was on one of these journeys, in 1785, that he met Mozart, whose genius he was quick to appreciate, and who, from being his pupil, finally gave to Haydn the added inspiration of his own brilliant thoughts. Haydn’s reputation had now spread abroad, and his compositions were eagerly looked for throughout the musical world. [Pg 287]

Haydn in London.—On Prince Nicolas’ death, in 1790, Prince Anton, his brother, succeeded, who, however, dismissed the orchestra, providing for Haydn by a liberal pension. Haydn’s time was now his own; and he decided to settle in Vienna; but an English impresario and publisher named Salomon now offered him such exceptional inducements to come to London that he accepted the offer. He was received with great honor, being granted the degree of Doctor of Music from Oxford University. He also conducted twelve grand symphonies, especially written for this visit, which were, moreover, some of his finest productions. On a second visit, in 1794-5, he excited even greater enthusiasm; and he returned to Vienna supplied with money sufficient to insure an old age free from pecuniary want. Some of his latest works were the Austrian National Hymn, and his oratorios of “The Creation” and “The Seasons,” which immediately attained a popularity that has even yet hardly diminished.

Honors.—Haydn, in his old age, was showered with honors both at home and abroad; a culminating point was reached when, on his seventy-sixth birthday, at a performance of “The Creation,” his friends, including many representatives of royalty, united to do him honor. His genial, child-like disposition won him the sobriquet of “Papa Haydn”; and this brightness and simplicity of thought he so transmitted to his compositions that they carry his atmosphere of sunshine wherever they are performed. He died in Vienna, soon after its capture by the French, in the Napoleonic wars, May 31, 1809.

Importance of His Work.—Haydn has been called the father of the Symphony and the String Quartet. In neither case is this strictly true, since he had predecessors in both fields; but his work was none the less important, since he collected the scattered threads of their attempts, and wound them into a concise and definite art form, stamped with the hallmarks of his own genius. The seal of artistic completeness which he placed on the form of the Sonata was his greatest achievement; [Pg 288] and, written in this form, his symphonies and quartets were simply an enlargement of his clavier works, the symphonies having an added Minuet movement between the second and last movements of the clavier form of sonata, thus extending the piece to larger proportions.

Sonata-Form as Fixed by Haydn.—In these clavier sonatas, Haydn fixed the form which had been the subject of so many experiments, once and for all. The number of movements with him is almost invariably three, of which the first, at least, is in the sonata-form. This consists of a first section, the Exposition, in which the first subject, a distinct melody having the Teutonic individuality, is stated, defining the principal key; and a second subject, more lengthy and diverse in character, brings on a close in the contrasting key. In the second section, or Development, phrases or motives from the first section are cleverly intertwined in modulating keys, with running scales or arpeggios as connecting links. These, however, lead naturally into the first subject, in its original key, which opens the third section, or Reprise. This section is practically like the first, save that the second subject and the close are transferred into the principal key, in which the movement ends.

The Second Movement.—The second, or slow movement, is cast sometimes in the same form, abbreviated, and sometimes in a simpler form. The lack of sustaining power in Haydn’s pianoforte, and his attempt to atone for this by trills and ornaments, make this less successful than the other movements; a result which is also caused by the fact that intensity and depth of emotion had not yet been developed in the harmonic school of music. In key, this movement was contrasted with the first, sometimes quite sharply, as in one of the sonatas in E-flat, in which the slow movement is in E major.

Third Movement.—The lively third movement is frequently in the lighter form of the Rondo, or it may be a set of Variations, or a Minuet. This movement, though sprightly, is apt to be somewhat thin in [Pg 289] its harmonies, and trivial in development. Nevertheless, these last two movements show an expansion of the forms of the older writers, and a definiteness of character which insured their future development.

Definiteness and Unity.—This element of absolute definiteness is the most striking feature of Haydn’s work—definiteness none the less in the general form than in each individual component. Each part of each section ends with a cadence, giving it absolute finality, and making the whole a combination of small entities, which, though distinct, are yet relevant and nicely balanced.

Humor and Freshness.—Another quality which he introduced was that of humor, which is prominent not only in the general tone of geniality, but in little unexpected twists of harmony, melody or rhythm, which give an irresistibly comic effect. Especially is this true in his symphonies, where the various tone colors are used for such results. Especial mention should also be made of his Masses, in which tunefulness of melody and sprightly rhythms combine to give an enduring popularity. Altogether, Haydn’s work is redolent of the spring of musical activity, where the novelty of each harmonic effect is employed with an outburst of joy, and where one travels, as it were, through a sunny garden, filled with the flowers of musical thoughts.

[Pg 290] Questions.

Who are the three great sonata writers?

Tell about Haydn’s childhood.

Tell about Haydn’s life in Vienna.

Give an account of Haydn as a student.

What great singing master did he meet?

What patrons did Haydn gain? What was the value to the musical art of the patronage of the great nobles and princes?

Describe Haydn’s duties and opportunities in Prince Esterhazy’s service.

What great composer did Haydn meet in Vienna in 1785?

When Haydn’s service ceased, to what city did he go? What works did he bring out there?

What was the importance of his work to the Sonata and the Symphony?

Describe the first movement-form as fixed by Haydn.

Describe the second movement as fixed by Haydn.

Describe the third movement as fixed by Haydn.

Name certain qualities characteristic of Haydn’s music.

What great American was born in the same year as Haydn?

Name men and women of prominence who were contemporaries of Haydn. [Pg 291]

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

While Haydn’s genius was shining steadily as a fixed star, Mozart flashed across the musical heaven, meteorlike, throwing a flood of light over the music world. The knowledge which others spent years in acquiring seemed his by birthright; and thus, although the years of his life were few, the period of his artistic activity was proportionately long.

Mozart’s Early Musical Training.—Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born at Salzburg, January 27, 1756. His father, himself of some reputation as a composer and as the author of the first German violin method, was quick to perceive the child’s sensitiveness toward music; and began instruction in clavier playing when Wolfgang was but four years old, teaching also his daughter, Maria Anna, five years older. Wolfgang was an exceedingly delicate and receptive child; and at the age of six he had not only acquired remarkable proficiency on the instrument, but had composed a number of little pieces, and a clavier sonata.

First Concert Tours.—Realizing the remarkable talent of his children, Mozart, the father, in 1762, ventured on a concert trip with them to Munich, and later to Vienna, where their playing became the sensation of the hour, and where they were received by the Emperor, Franz Josef I, at his palace. Having been presented with a small violin, Mozart acquired facility in its technic with extraordinary quickness, as also was the case when he attempted the use of organ pedals. The brilliant French court was then the Mecca of artists; and in 1763, the children were taken to Paris, where their successes were redoubled, and where they gave two brilliant concerts, after having [Pg 292] played before the royal family at Versailles. At Paris, moreover, the opus 1 and opus 2 of the little Mozart were published, each comprising two sonatas for harpsichord, with accompaniment of violin or flute.

England.—Proceeding now to England, the children won fresh laurels, remaining there fifteen months; during which time Wolfgang excited the admiration of the king, George III, by his sight-reading of works by Handel, Bach and others. He also wrote other sonatas, and his first symphonies. Returning to Salzburg, after a three years’ absence, Mozart applied himself to serious study, composing his first oratorio and opera, which latter was not performed in public, and also appearing as conductor at a concert in which his “Solemn Mass” was performed.

Honors in Italy.—Renewed triumphs awaited him in Italy, where his father took him in 1769, and where his genius was immediately recognized in the leading cities. At Rome he was honored by the Order of the Golden Spur, conferred by the Pope; and in Bologna was admitted to membership in the exclusive Philharmonic Academy, passing with ease an examination which would have appalled many mature musicians; in Milan his opera “Mitridate” was received enthusiastically, and given twenty consecutive performances, under his own direction.

Journey to Paris.—Returning to Salzburg, Mozart took up the post previously given him of music director to the Archbishop; but his emolument, at first wholly wanting, was insignificant, and the Archbishop, having little appreciation of his abilities, proved a thankless taskmaster. During this time he made several journeys to Milan, producing new dramatic works there; and in 1777, as his Salzburg position had become intolerable, he resolved to give it up, and to repair to Paris. Starting on this journey with his mother, he stopped at Munich, and then at Augsburg, where he became interested in the Stein pianofortes, henceforth adopting them for his concert work. At Mannheim he heard the famous orchestra, of which Stamitz was the founder, whose command of instrumental brilliancy and color made so powerful an impression upon him that he transmitted it to his succeeding orchestral compositions. [Pg 293]


Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

[Pg 294] “Idomeneo” and “Il Seraglio.”—At Paris, he found society divided into two warring operatic factions, led by Gluck and Piccini, and averse to anything else in music. Saddened also by the death of his mother, he returned to Salzburg, and resumed his former post with the Archbishop. Receiving an order to write an opera for the Carnival at Munich, he produced his “Idomeneo” there in 1781. Shortly after, he was compelled, through ill-treatment, to break finally with the Archbishop, and he resolved to settle in Vienna. In the same year, 1782, in which he produced there his opera, “Entführung aus dem Serail,” composed by command of the Emperor, he married Constance Weber.

Financial Troubles.—His life from this time was a constant struggle against poverty; for notwithstanding his wonderful genius, he received only scant recognition from his patron, the Emperor, although loyal to him to the end. His existence was eked out chiefly by the sale of his compositions, which publishers purchased at a low price, by giving lessons and by playing at concerts; while the jealousy of rivals furnished a constant source of annoyance.

“Figaro,” “Don Giovanni” and Symphonies.—His comic opera, “The Marriage of Figaro,” produced in Vienna in 1786, came near failing through these enemies, but was an unqualified success in Prague, where, in the following year, his masterpiece, “Don Giovanni,” was produced. On a concert tour in 1786 he was offered an excellent post in the service of King Frederic Wilhelm II, of Prussia, which he refused, through loyalty to his Emperor—a devotion which received no reward save an order to write another opera. In the same year, 1789, his three most important symphonies were completed—the “Jupiter,” in C, and those in G minor and E-flat major.

Other OperasDeath.—His succeeding operas were “Così fan Tutte,” performed at Vienna in 1790; “The Clemency of Titus,” given at Prague in 1791, for the coronation festivities of King Leopold II of [Pg 295] Bohemia, and “The Magic Flute,” produced at Vienna in 1791, which, through its German subject and style, was a signal success, especially in his own country. Discouragements and hard work now told upon him; and in the midst of his labors upon a grand Requiem, he was stricken down, and died December 5, 1791.

Relations with Haydn.—No one admired Mozart’s genius more than Haydn; and a proof of the latter’s freedom from the petty jealousies of lesser men is found in the fact that, while he was at first Mozart’s teacher, he was afterward glad to adopt many of the innovations which were the result of Mozart’s genius. The labors of the two men admirably supplemented each other; for Mozart assimilated and blended what Haydn had definitely stated, adorning the rugged outlines with the graceful draperies which his skill as a performer and his artistic nature dictated.

Italian Influences.—Thus, while Mozart adopted the form of the Sonata practically as enunciated by Haydn, he was able to impart new elements to it, drawn from his own experience and individuality. His Italian journeys, for instance, had brought him into close touch with the highly-adorned Italian opera style, then everywhere popular; and this he introduced into his instrumental themes, making them at once singing and graceful in tone. In the Sonata Form, he made the second theme more definite, contrasting it with the first, and frequently casting it in the form of an Italian style of melody, in distinction from a more terse and thematic principal subject.

Mozart as Piano Virtuoso.—As a virtuoso, Mozart immensely developed the resources of the piano. After the Bachs, J. S. and his son C. P. E., had established a rational scale fingering, and it was found possible to introduce passages at once quickly running and smooth upon the clavier, such scale passages became very frequent in the compositions of the time, and they were, moreover, well adapted to the light Viennese action found in the Stein pianos, which Mozart used. Hence we find scale-runs as the cornerstone of his virtuosity, constantly employed in florid and transitional passages. [Pg 296]

Classic Finish.—But Mozart’s compositions were not simply an advance in brilliancy, since his slow movements and themes are full of much genuine sentiment, and give opportunity for that expressive song-style which he emphasized so strongly. Moreover, his feeling for artistic finish caused him, by rounding off every detail, to avoid abruptness, replacing them by little delicate turns of musical expression and graceful embellishments, which give an atmosphere of classic repose and finish to the whole.

Variations.—Embellishments of this kind are introduced invariably with such naturalness and fitness as to make them seem perfectly adapted to the subject in hand, and growing unconsciously out of it. So Mozart throws a network of embroidery about his themes at their recurrence which shows their beauties to ever greater advantage. The ability to do this makes him a specially felicitous composer in the Variation form, in which some of his most attractive movements and salon pieces are written.

Piano with Other Instruments.—His sense of fitness is shown also in the vivid contrasts which occur, especially in his Fantasias, in which brilliant passages are relieved by bits of exquisite melody, in artistic proportion. All these qualities are manifested in his pianoforte concertos, which, while replete with flights of virtuosity, yet always subordinate, cause him to bring this into equal prominence with the piano, so that the one ably seconds the other in the attempt to produce a well-rounded and thoroughly genuine musical effect. The same qualities are exhibited in his sonatas for violin and piano, and in his piano trios.

Especial Characteristics.—Mozart considered three elements necessary for the true interpretation of piano music, namely, an expressive legato touch, moderation in the rate of speed of performance, and strictness in adhering to the time adopted. With an unfeeling touch or a breakneck velocity he had no patience, and so had no sympathy with many noted pianists of his day, and notably Clementi. It has been said that Mozart, almost from his infancy, [Pg 297] thought in music as others do in words; and this thought in music was regulated by a sense of artistic combination and proportion which permeated all his works. As samples of virtuosity his piano works have long been surpassed by the astonishing developments since his time, and particularly by the added resources of the instrument itself; but as samples of pure and unaffected music their worth can never be diminished.

Musical Illustrations.

Works of Mozart, especially the Sonatas.


Give a sketch of Mozart’s childhood.

Give an account of Mozart’s first concert tour.

Tell about the first trip to Italy.

What drawbacks did he suffer from his connection with the Archbishop of Salzburg?

Where did he come into contact with the piano? With a first-class orchestra?

Why was his life full of financial trouble?

Summarize his work in opera.

What additions did Mozart make to the form of the sonata as developed by Haydn?

Give an account of Mozart’s work as a virtuoso.

What qualities besides brilliancy are shown in his works?

In what form are some of his most delightful pieces written?

Tell about Mozart’s compositions for orchestra.

What three elements did Mozart consider necessary for the interpretation of piano music? [Pg 298]


Ludwig van Beethoven.

[Pg 299]

Ludwig van Beethoven.

Formalism of Haydn and Mozart.—It has been seen that the forms of harmonic music, growing out of numerous and sometimes crude experiments, were brought to a high state of perfection through the genius of Haydn and Mozart; and that they left a definite structure, nicely balanced, capable of expressing definite thoughts in a unified form, and at the same time of allowing free rein to the composer’s fancy. Of their instrumental works, the definition of the musician-philosopher J. J. Rousseau (d. 1778), that “music is the art of combining sounds in a manner agreeable to the ear,” gave a fitting characterization; for while a tinge of melancholy is occasionally perceptible, and there are passages of some dramatic intensity, nevertheless such elements are introduced mainly to give a pleasing contrast from the even flow of polished and idealized sound.

Their Gift to Beethoven.—In other words, neither Haydn nor Mozart ever sacrifices his sense of artistic finish to the expression of the heights and depths of human emotion. Putting the seal of genius upon instrumental forms, they transmitted these forms to another more colossal mind, which should make use of them, to be sure, but should absolutely subordinate them to the expression of the burning thoughts and passions of a great individuality; a mind which, like that of Shakespeare, was able to look fearlessly upon universal truths, and to bring these to the light, in this instance through the medium of tone. While their predecessors, by unwearying attempts, made possible this [Pg 300] determination of a capable art form, so Haydn and Mozart, in their turn, paved the way for the fuller expression which Beethoven gave to music, and which would otherwise not have been possible, since the vehicle for his thoughts would have been wanting. Thus the opportunity had arrived for broadening the definition which Rousseau gave, and announcing the fact that music is the art of the expression of every emotion, whether pleasurable or painful, through the medium of highly organized sound.

Beethoven’s Early Life.—Ludwig van Beethoven, the last and greatest of this triumvirate of sonata writers, was a native of Bonn-on-the-Rhine, where he was born December 16, 1770. His parents were lowly people, his father a tenor singer in the Elector of Cologne’s chapel, and his mother a cook; and, moreover, Beethoven’s early life was an unhappy one, through his father’s irascible disposition and tendency toward dissipation. Beethoven, of an acutely sensitive nature, inherited his father’s quick temper and annoyances at trifles, so that all through his troubled life he was constantly in a state of irritation against something or someone. Like Mozart, he showed early and unmistakable signs of a musical susceptibility; unlike him, however, the unfolding of his genius was ultimately slow, since he attained to his greatest powers much later in life than his phenomenal predecessor. His early instruction was begun with his father; but soon he was placed in the care of several local musicians: Pfeiffer, music director and oboist; Van der Eeden, the court organist; and especially the successor to the latter, Neefe (1748-1798), a man of reputation as organist and composer for the pianoforte. As a result, Beethoven played the violin well at eight, and at twelve had mastered the works of Handel and the “Well-Tempered Clavichord” of J. S. Bach. This intimate study of the best works of the old polyphonic school was of great advantage later in solidifying his gifts as a musician.

First Compositions.—In 1782, were published his first attempts at composition—a set of variations, and three sonatas; and these, together with his remarkable extempore playing, began to attract the [Pg 301] attention of persons of influence. He was appointed organist at Bonn, and at sixteen was sent by the Elector Max Franz, brother of the Emperor Joseph II, to Vienna, where he received praise from Mozart, who predicted a brilliant future for him.

The Breuning Family.—In 1787, his mother died; and this loss, together with his father’s intemperate habits, made his home extremely unpleasant. Fortunately for Beethoven, however, the enthusiasm for music which was rife in Germany at this time among people of culture and position was the cause of attracting to his side many true friends, who, appreciating his sterling qualities, were able to pardon his rough exterior and manners. Thus he was received as teacher and friend into the home of the cultivated von Breuning family, under whose refining influence he came into touch with the masterpieces of English and German literature. Here he first met his staunch friend, Count Waldstein; and here he had leisure for long walks amid the rural retreats which he heartily loved, and for meditation upon those musical ideas which he was accustomed to jot down in rough sketches, and which should later be translated into his immortal creations.

In Vienna.—Haydn, passing through Bonn, warmly praised a cantata of Beethoven’s; and the Elector, moved by such marks of approbation, sent him again to Vienna, in 1792, for serious study. Here he was instructed by Haydn till the latter’s departure for England, in 1794, when he went to Albrechtsberger, the celebrated contrapuntist, and others; but these exponents of an earlier school looked somewhat askance at the bold innovations which Beethoven introduced into recognized principles, and failed to understand the irrepressible genius which prompted them. Nothing daunted, he launched zealously into composition, supported by a growing circle of admirers to which the Elector’s patronage had introduced him; and soon became a favorite at the private soirées of the nobility, where, on account of his eccentric manners, he was known as an “original,” but where his wonderful extemporizing was received with ecstasy. [Pg 302]

Successes as a Pianist.—Beethoven’s first public performance in Vienna occurred in 1795, when he performed his pianoforte concerto in C major at a concert. During a journey soon after, he played before King Friedrich Wilhelm II, at Berlin, who distinguished him with marks of favor, and to whom Beethoven dedicated two sonatas written for pianoforte with ’cello. Here also he met the conductor, Friedrich Himmel (1765-1814), a pianist and composer of high rank. We hear next of his trial of pianistic skill with Steibelt, a popular virtuoso, in which Beethoven won an overwhelming victory. With Wölfl, another distinguished rival, his relations were those of mutual esteem, and the two masters delighted to extemporize dashing capriccios on two pianofortes.

First Period.—The thirteen years, from 1790 to 1803, are usually considered to embrace his first period of activity as a composer, comprising his works to opus 50. His opus 1, three trios for piano, violin and ’cello, appeared in 1795, and soon after three piano sonatas, opus 2, dedicated to Haydn, were published. Among the other noteworthy works of this period were his first two symphonies, in C and D, three piano concertos, the piano sonatas including opus 27, the Kreutzer sonata for piano and violin, and his famous Septet for strings and wind instruments. In general, these compositions follow closely the lines laid down by Haydn and Mozart, although there is, notably in the piano sonatas, a gradual tendency toward freedom of expression, and the assertion of individuality.

Troubles now began to gather about him. About 1800 his hearing became defective, and the malady grew steadily from bad to worse, so that by 1816 he was obliged to use an ear-trumpet, and by 1822 he was stone-deaf. To add to his discomforts, his brothers Karl and Johann treated him shamefully, and a son of the former, to whom he was left guardian at the father’s death, and upon whom he lavished a father’s care, turned out a scapegrace, repaying his affection with the basest ingratitude. Weighed down by these misfortunes, Beethoven became [Pg 303] irritable and morbid, distrusting his most faithful friends, and constantly imagining plots against himself. His utter ignorance of worldly matters, too, brought him into financial troubles, and involved his domestic affairs in a state of continual confusion.

Second Period.—Yet, as if to prove man’s ability to rise superior to every affliction, during this very time he was writing compositions which, for joyous freshness and spiritual elevation, have been scarcely, if ever, equalled. During his second period, extending to 1815, and including his compositions to about opus 90, he adopted a freedom of expression entirely untrammelled by formal limitations, enlarging and vivifying the Sonata Form, and varying it to suit his changing moods. The joy of living, with its intensity of passion and depths of emotion, is reflected in these works, which assert a character strong in its struggle against adverse fate, confidently looking toward the goal of ultimate good.

Compositions of this Period.—His most popular symphonies were written during this period, which embraces those from the third to the eighth, inclusive. The “Eroica,” number three, was originally written in homage to Napoleon, whom Beethoven honored as the guide of the French nation toward that assertion of independence and individuality which he dearly loved; but when the news arrived that Napoleon was declared Dictator, in 1804, he tore up the dedicatory page in a fit of anger. Another of his greatest compositions was his opera of “Fidelio,” upon which Beethoven spent an amazing amount of time and pains, whose overture he rewrote twice. Produced in Vienna, in 1805, soon after the occupation of the city by the French, it was received coldly; and only after several revisions did it score a success at all in keeping with its grand and inspiring conception. Several orchestral overtures; his violin concerto; an oratorio; a mass in C; some of his best chamber music, including the celebrated Rasumovsky string quartets; and his piano concertos in G and E-flat, were other fruits of about this time. Of fourteen piano sonatas, we find several which have continued in unbroken popularity, notably the two in opus 27, the “Pastorale,” opus 28, the “Waldstein,” opus 53, and the “Appassionata.” [Pg 304]

Latter Years of His Life.—The latter part of Beethoven’s life, after 1815, was spent in Vienna, in a state of despondency from his troubles which his general recognition as the foremost musician of his day could scarcely alleviate. His many friends placed him, by their efforts, in comfortable pecuniary circumstances; yet he constantly imagined himself struggling with poverty. Sensitive to his affliction, he made himself exceedingly inaccessible, and passed his days in unceasing labor upon those works which eclipsed, in profundity and individuality, all of his former compositions, and which were an index to the conflicting struggles in his mind. Stone-deaf, he yet revelled in a spiritual world of tone, hearing his greatest compositions only in the realms of his imagination. An attack of pneumonia in 1826 left effects which proved lasting, and which caused his death on March 26, 1827. In his last illness he was surrounded by his circle of unfailing friends, among whom the modest Schubert was admitted; and a proof of his hold upon his countrymen is shown in the fact that 20,000 persons are said to have attended his funeral.

Last Great Works.—The greatest fruit of these later years was his last symphony, the Ninth, or “Choral,” in which, for the first time, he introduced voices as an aid to the instrumental climax. The free vent which he gave to his radical tendencies in this symphony, its unheard-of boldness of harmonic progressions, and its defiance of all conventional rules, aroused a storm of protest from his critics which was only lulled after succeeding generations had placed the stamp of unmistakable approval upon the work, and had recognized it as a monument of genius. Near to this in importance stands his “Solemn Mass” in D, a work imbued with all the religious fervor of his declining years.

Sonatas of Third Period.—Other notable achievements, in the line of chamber music, mark this period; and the last five piano sonatas, extending from opus 101 to opus 111, exhibit the same [Pg 305] undaunted freedom that is found in the Ninth symphony. Enormous in their demands upon the pianist, they are food for none but virtuosi; but analyzed, they show a compendium of all known musical resources, from the choral fugue to the most daring flights of harmonic expression.

Beethoven’s Dual Personality.—Beethoven furnishes an example of a personality whose dual nature is remarkably apparent. Often unkempt, and rude in his outward bearing, he seemed at times absolutely oblivious to his surroundings and to chafe at his bodily limitations; yet his apparent rudeness toward his friends was as often humbly atoned for by his confession of his haste in judging them. His independence of spirit could brook no submission to authority other than his own conscience; and that conscience prompted him to stand firm in support of the genuine, the pure and the ideal; firm, thus, in its abhorrence of artificiality and deceit. In his ignorance of worldly wiles he was on a par with a little child; finding his true sphere when buried in the lofty problems of his art, giving to the world the fruits of his innermost spirit, which were ever animated by nobility and truth of expression.

Beethoven Stood Alone.—Detesting the fetters of teaching work, he left few pupils. Among these Ferdinand Ries (1784-1838) enjoyed an intimate association with him, and afterwards became prominent as piano virtuoso and composer. With the great men of his day he affiliated but little. Goethe (1749-1832) he met but once, on one of his journeys; but the meeting had no further results. Like other great minds, his original ideas had to make their way amid a shower of abuse from more conventional contemporaries, who lauded as his equal or superior others whose works have long since passed into oblivion; but, fortunate in finding staunch defenders, he made steady progress against his enemies, until his position in the music world became unique and unassailable. [Pg 306]


What did Haydn and Mozart give to Beethoven?

Give a sketch of Beethoven’s early life.

What works did he particularly study?

What were his first compositions?

What intimate friends did he make in early life?

What city did he select as his home?

What years embrace his first period?

What are the leading works of this period?

What affliction developed in 1800?

What years compose the second period?

What changes came into his style?

Name the leading works of the second period.

Tell about Beethoven’s later life, from 1815 on.

What are the leading works of this last period?

Describe the personality of Beethoven. [Pg 307]

Beethoven and the Sonata.

Bach and Beethoven Contrasted.—We now consider the exact nature of the work which Beethoven did, in distinction from that of Haydn and Mozart. It has been said that Bach gave the Old Testament in music, while Beethoven gave the New; that is, that Bach consummated the old polyphonic school, while Beethoven did an equal work for the new harmonic school. Yet this is only a half truth; for Bach, besides perfecting former styles, gave glimpses of modern chromatic modulation and free expression; while Beethoven, a student of the old masters, employed polyphonic forms as well as harmonic, making all work together to translate his thought, and so moulding them into a means of portraying every emotion as to open the door forever to the untrammelled presentment of thought, through the medium of music.

Beethoven’s Gradual Development.—But Beethoven did not arrive at this result in an instant. It is true that, even in his early works, a distinction of style is shown which removes them from a mere imitation, but, as has been shown, he began practically at the point where Haydn and Mozart left off, with compositions which can hardly be placed on a higher level than theirs; and, in the course of a life full of strenuous experiences, he gradually unfolded the resources which he had received from his predecessors, until he made them adequate to give vent to the mighty ideas which welled from his soul. Thus we find in his works a period in which form is rigidly observed; and we pass thence through an era of expansion, during which form becomes more elastic, through the added requirements placed upon it, [Pg 308] until the thought and emotion become so paramount that the formal lines have entirely disappeared, and are only to be traced by careful analysis.

Beethoven and the Orchestra.—As the great exponent of instrumental music, Beethoven found the orchestra his best and fullest vehicle of expression. So his massive mind, grasping with ease the effects of manifold combinations of instruments, was able to mould his thoughts into terms of tone color in which each instrument should be employed to bring out the exact shade of feeling required. So the orchestra becomes with him a great individual instrument, responding to the slightest change of mood.

Use of the Piano.—But as a preparation for such orchestral work, Beethoven realized the value of the pianoforte. Attaining a marvelous degree of virtuosity in the use of the keyboard at an early age, he later found this of the greatest advantage in working out his ideas, and, further, in actually trying their effects upon auditors. Thus we find in his first pianoforte sonatas effects which appeared much later in the greater elaboration of his symphonies; thus also is shown the necessary imperfection of any division of his works into distinct periods, since his pianoforte style was so greatly in advance of his orchestral.

Improvement in the Piano.—In this connection, it is important to note that Beethoven’s resources were greatly increased by the improvements which had been made in piano manufacture. The demand for instruments, created by the growing popularity of the pianoforte, stimulated manufacturers to redoubled energy in perfecting them; and, conversely, the added resources thus developed were an instigation to composers to test their abilities in the invention of new effects. Thus Beethoven was placed in command of a piano of much greater power than Mozart’s; and the work of technicians, like Clementi, for whom he had great respect, was already hinting at new and marvelous possibilities. [Pg 309]

Added Sonority and Sustaining Power.—This strength of construction resulted in greater sonority. Hence we find full chord progressions and rich floods of tone in Beethoven’s works, in place of the dainty harmonic accompaniment of former writers. Moreover, the increase in sustaining force, enhanced by the use of the pedal, made possible a sustained legato tone for singing passages, which had formerly to be merely hinted at through shakes and other embellishments. A consequent tone variety made it possible to emphasize a single voice in this way, while the accompanying harmonies could be kept well in the background. Again, this range of tone proved an incentive for long crescendos, from the softest suspicion of sound to an overwhelming tonal climax.

Increased Compass.—The added range which the keyboard developed also enhanced such effects, by the chance for brilliancy in the treble, and for profundity in the bass; moreover, Beethoven was quick to make use of the variety of effects caused by playing in the different registers; sometimes suggesting in this way the contrast in the orchestra between different groups of instruments, such as the strings and woodwind.

Structure of Beethoven’s Sonatas.—With such resources at his command, Beethoven was able to give a fuller scope to the Sonata than was formerly possible, filling out each movement, and perfecting it for the expression of an integral part of the general idea, and finally placing it in its proper relationship to the whole. The Sonata Form, as settled by Haydn, was made the point of departure, serving almost invariably as the basis of the first movement, and frequently, in shortened form, for the second, generally slow, movement. For the third movement, Beethoven at first employed the Minuet, following the custom in the symphonies of Haydn and Mozart; but later this was generally omitted in the pianoforte sonatas, while in the symphonies its time was quickened into that of the dainty, sparkling Scherzo. For the finale, the Rondo form was most frequent; though, in order to give a fuller compass to the thought, a combination of the Rondo and Sonata forms was invented by Beethoven, and used even in his first sonatas. The Rondo [Pg 310] form also appeared occasionally in the slow movement. Add that other forms, notably that of the Variation, sometimes supplanted one or the other of these, and we have the structure generally followed by Beethoven.

Unity of Conception.—All these movements were associated in an organic unity of conception which made one grow out of another with perfect naturalness. Sometimes, indeed, as in opus 27, a continuity of performance was indicated; always, however, the feeling of dependence of one movement upon another is present; so that the criticism made upon Haydn’s symphonies, that a movement of one could be interchanged with a similar movement of any other without perceptible difference, could never be made with regard to Beethoven’s works.

Key Relationship.—In key relationship, Beethoven struck out from stereotyped paths, frequently using contrasting keys related to the third of the initial chord; thus a movement or passage in C major might be followed by any key related to E, the third of the chord of C, such as E or A major or minor. The original key was most widely departed from in the slow movement, where the beauty of contrast was exceptionally noticeable.

Number of Movements.—The number of movements which he adopted was at first four, but this afterwards varied considerably, two or three movements prevailing; while in the fantasie-sonatas, and especially in the last five sonatas, an indefinite number of movements, some of them very short, appeared. He explained this discrepancy on the ground that he adapted the number of movements to his thought; and when he felt that he had given complete expression to this, the sonata was brought to a close.

Development of First Movement Form.—Of Beethoven’s first movements, it may be said that no one has ever spoken with the perfect freedom and naturalness which he displays. Each part of the movement he strengthened and developed; the first section announced two themes, contrasting, but still closely identified; sometimes with a slow [Pg 311] introduction to usher them in; the Development was given a contrapuntal treatment, solidified by rich harmonies; the third section was varied by rhythmic or tonal devices, tending to broaden its effect; and, finally, the Coda was sometimes developed to the length of a fourth section, in which reminiscences of material used previously were worked up to a fitting climax.

Devices for Giving Unity.—But the most evident characteristic which Beethoven put into this form was that of Unity, or Continuity of idea. This he accomplished by several means. Of these, the first was by separating the most striking parts of his subjects into short, definite phrases or motives, and by introducing these in every variety of manner throughout the movement, sometimes in a sequence on different degrees of the scale, sometimes by imitation in different voices, again by varying the length of the component notes, and finally by dropping off portions, while the portions remaining keep the idea still before the auditor. Or, some casual phrase, in an unimportant section, will strike his fancy and he will develop it with a wealth of imagery astonishing in its inventiveness.[10]

Continuity of Various Parts.—This constant presentment of a thematic idea also serves to bind passages closely together which, in the sonatas of Haydn and Mozart, were separated by definite pauses. Indeed, Beethoven sedulously avoids a complete cadence, seeking, by leading the listener eagerly on from one connecting phrase to another, to retain the interest and make it mount up higher and higher, as the effects grow in intensity. So phrases are made to overlap one another, with their boundaries practically eliminated. It has been said that Beethoven tore down the fences which Haydn and Mozart had erected between the various parts of the Sonata Form; and this is proven by the fact that, in the Beethoven sonatas, authorities frequently differ as to where one part ends and another begins, so close and continuous is the bond between them. [Pg 312]

Dramatic Effects in Climaxes.—This close connection is made a ready element toward the dramatic expression which finds vent in the climaxes, made from culminating tonal effects, where the thematic phrase mounts up step by step, higher and higher, growing breathless by shortened rhythm, until the hearer is brought to the summit of dramatic intensity; and here thunderous arpeggios, mingled together by the use of the pedal, hold him spellbound with their sonorous waves of sound. The supreme passion which Beethoven does not wholly conceal even in his quieter moods appears frequently in strange, agitated rhythms and startling accents thrown upon unexpected notes or in unexpected places. He also used many more marks of expression than his predecessors.

Freedom in Modulations.—The boldness of his modulations has already been mentioned; and these appear with the most freedom in the development sections, where tonalities pile upon one another, until the auditor is apparently inextricably involved in a maze of harmonies; from which, naturally as the awakening from a dream, he finds himself transported back to the original key, in which the first theme is taking its course. Beethoven’s sense of proportion, however, sees to it that this intricacy of keys is well prepared by the definite tonality of his original subjects, and by the final complete restatement of the original key. His harmonies frequently shocked his contemporaries by their violations of conventional rules; but they have long since been justified by succeeding musicians, who have departed from them to much bolder flights.

Program Music.—It has been said that Beethoven furnishes examples of the program style—that is, the depicting of definite ideas through music. We have already found a tendency of this sort among the early French clavier composers—Rameau, the Couperins and others of their school; also in some of the German writers, like Pachelbel and Kuhnau. Viewed in relation to these early composers, Beethoven’s work seems to have little in common, since his nearest approach to program [Pg 313] music was in attaching to some of his works certain moods, inspired by events or scenes. Thus he gives the name “Pathétique” to the sonata, opus 13, “Appassionata” to opus 57, “Les Adieux” to opus 81; while we have the “Pastoral” symphony, depicting the mood inspired by country scenes, and the “Eroica,” showing the mood arising from the contemplation of a hero’s career.

Pianoforte Concertos.—The same characteristics which are noted in his pianoforte sonatas appeared, developed still further, in his larger works, such as his symphonies and piano concertos. The latter, five in number, display the resources of the virtuosity of Beethoven’s day, and yet keep this always subordinated to the inspired musical sentiment, with which the orchestra nobly accords. The last two of these, belonging to the maturity of his genius, amply display the powers of genuine expression.

Variations.—Of numerous other piano compositions, the sets of Variations are prominent. He was fond of taking some short and simply constructed musical thought, sometimes from some song or opera, and treating it in every variety of manner that his fertile genius could suggest. Such compositions, while generally playful in mood, have the finish which Beethoven never failed to give to his work.

Beethoven’s Accuracy in Writing.—It is this seriousness toward his art which most fully accentuates the real underlying drift of his nature. In the midst of his untidy ménage, when confusion of material goods reigned about him, Beethoven nevertheless treated each work which flowed from his pen with the most careful and critical revision, never allowing it to go out until he had absolutely fixed each note in its proper place. Where his art was involved, his usually irritable nature acquired a fund of patience; so that sometimes whole scores were rewritten, until he arrived at accurate expression; and, when that point was reached, his fiat was irrevocable. It is thus a satisfaction to note that he has not left us the erratic wanderings of an eccentric mind; but the completed and matured product of a genius, speaking with authority and precision. [Pg 314]


Contrast Bach and Beethoven.

Characterize Beethoven’s three periods.

What was the greatest means of expression in Beethoven?

What was the value of his work for the piano in relation to the orchestra?

What was the effect of the improvements in the piano of Beethoven’s time over that of Mozart?

Give a statement of the Sonata as constructed by Beethoven.

What changes did he introduce: Key relationship? Number of movements?

What qualities are found in his first movement form?

How does he secure great unity and continuity of idea?

How does he secure dramatic expression?

Where does he introduce bold modulations? With what effect?

What use did Beethoven make of the program idea?

Tell about his Concertos. His Variations. [Pg 315]

The Violin and its Makers.

Change from the Viol to the Violin.—The reader who has studied the principles of construction and playing of the old string instruments, as explained in Lesson XV, or examined them in museums, will not have failed to note that they were complicated and limited in technic. The members of this family were large and cumbersome, troublesome to handle and not particularly graceful or pleasing to the eye; the position in which the player was forced to hold them was difficult to maintain and not conducive to a rapid, facile technic. Now, the direction of a perfected art is always toward simplicity; the various members of the viol family were to yield place to a new instrument, a modification of the original type, and one that possessed some striking and valuable advantages over the viol. Another element that aided in the change from the viol was the efforts of composers to produce a distinctive instrumental music, a style which demanded an instrument with a higher range than the viols, corresponding to the highest female voice. Still another element to be considered was the stir in intellectual, social, political and commercial life which was evident everywhere, the product of the Renaissance. Music was influenced by this spirit; composers were seeking new forms in which to express their thoughts and were calling for new and better media for presenting them to others. As composers gained in breadth and power of conception, instruments were improved even beyond their demands; the increase in resources stimulated, in turn, the composers. At this period music was on the threshold of a splendid activity in instrumental lines, the reign of the old choral music and the contrapuntal composer was being challenged, and the way prepared for Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven. [Pg 316]

Beginning of the Violin.—With regard to the violin, as in other beginnings, there is disagreement; the strongest claims are set forth for France and Italy, with German historians by no means lax in attributing the first instruments to one of their own countrymen. We give the following facts which seem to divide the honors: In the scores of Italian works of the 16th century, a part may be found for what is called the piccolo violino alla francese (little French viol), a fact which would argue that an instrument of this kind, perhaps most commonly used in France, had been known for some time. The oldest known instrument of the violin type is one which bears the date 1449, and is signed Jean Kerlin, a Breton luthier (lute maker, a term applied also to violin makers), whose name is also given as Kerlino, living in Brescia, Italy, in the middle of the 15th century. About the same time there lived in Bologna, Padua and Venice, members of a celebrated lute-making family, named Duiffoprugcar, Italian equivalent for the German name, Tieffenbrucker, for the family came from the Italian Tyrol. The most celebrated member of this family was Gasparo Duiffoprugcar (Casper Tieffenbrucker), who was born about 1469, lived in Bologna until 1515, when he went to Paris. Later he removed to Lyons, where he spent the rest of his life. Six instruments having violin characteristics (high, not sloping shoulders, deeper curves in the waist and better-defined  f  holes) are attributed to him, bearing dates of 1510, 1511, 1515 and 1517.

Early Italian Makers.—The next name is that of Gasparo di Salo, founder of the Brescian school of violin-making, who was born at a little village called Salo, on Lake Garda; hence his name. His model varied, sometimes it was high, at other times flat; as his instruments produced a full, sonorous tone, the model was revived in later years by Joseph Guarnerius. His tenors and double-basses are considered his finest work, his violins being a trifle small. The favorite double bass [Pg 317] of Dragonetti, the famous contrabassist, was by di Salo; Ole Bull frequently played on a di Salo violin in his concerts. The greatest successor of di Salo was his pupil, Giovanni Paolo Maggini (1590-1640), whose violins are highly prized. They are characterized by a brown varnish and a double purfling.

The Cremona School.—With the public the name Cremona is indissolubly connected with violin-making. In the 16th century this city was a famous art centre, rivaling Bologna in music and painting. The first great maker and founder of the Cremona school was Andrea (Andrew) Amati, born about 1520 and died 1577 or 1580.[11] He used mostly a small pattern, top and back high, the varnish amber in color. A number of his instruments furnished for the Chapel Royal of Charles IX were known to have been in Versailles prior to the French Revolution. The Amati style was continued by Andrea’s two sons, Antonio (Anthony) and Hieronymus (Geronimo or Jerome) Amati. The former is said to have lived 1550-1638, the latter 1551-1635. They worked conjointly, although the latter made some experiments with a larger model than the usual Amati.

Nicolo Amati.—The greatest of the Amati family and the one whose instruments are still highly prized was Nicolo (Nicolaus) Amati (1596-1684), the son of Geronimo. He forms one of the great triumvirate of violin-making, Amati, Guarnerius and Stradivarius. At first he followed the small form adopted by his father and his uncle, although he improved on the workmanship. But about 1625, no doubt as the result of an experiment, he began to use a slightly larger pattern which is known to connoisseurs as the “Grand Amati.” These instruments represent his best work and command a high price. The Amati tone is sweet, mellow yet somewhat delicate, although remarkable in purity; the instruments are unsuited to orchestral work, although admirable in chamber music, particularly of the old style. The varnish is yellowish or amber colored. [Pg 318]

Joseph Guarnerius.—In our study of the piano we noted how the small, weak tone of the clavichord and harpsichord gave way before the fuller toned, sonorous pianoforte, which, with its greater possibilities, came into use at a time when composers were seeking for means to give increased breadth and power to the reproduction of their music. It would have been unfortunate for instrumental music if the small though sweet tone of the Amati violin had been accepted as the ideal. We could not have had the surging tumult of Beethoven’s “Eroica” symphony, the great dramatic pictures of Wagner with the Amati to lay on the colors. More tone, more sonorousness, more virile singing was needed. One of the men to place in the hands of executants the instrument to work out the conceptions of the great composers was Giuseppe Guarneri or, as he is generally called, Joseph Guarnerius del Gesu. He was born at Cremona, 1683, and belonged to a family of lute and violin makers. He has been credited with having been a pupil of Stradivari, yet his instruments show no trace of that maker’s influence. He seems to have been impressed with the tone-producing qualities of the di Salo violins, for his best instruments have something of their bold, vigorous style. He was an experimenter, ever seeking, it would seem, for the means of producing big, sonorous tone, and changed his model frequently, for which reason his instruments vary much in value. His work was not so highly favored by connoisseurs until Paganini showed the value of a Guarnerius from the standpoint of tone. His best instruments are now greatly admired and, because so few in good condition are known, command a high price. The date of Guarnerius’ death is not known. Others of the Guarnerius family who lived and worked at Cremona were Andreas Guarnerius, uncle to Giuseppe, his son also called Joseph and known as “filius Andreæ” (Son of Andreas) to distinguish him from his cousin, Joseph del Gesu, another son Peter, “of Cremona,” and a son of Joseph filius Andreæ, known as Peter of Venice. [Pg 319]

Antonius Stradivarius.—The greatest of violin-makers who united in his instruments the brilliant and powerful tone of di Salo and the Brescian school and the purity and finish of the Amati was Antonius Stradivarius (Antonio Stradivari is the Italian form), born in 1644, one year after the death of Monteverde, and died in 1737, five years after the birth of Haydn, a period of nearly a century in which a most significant development took place in music. He was apprenticed to Nicolo Amati, and the instruments of his early years are faithful copies of that master’s work; but as he grew in years and experience he improved on the Amati model, every change tending to produce a more powerful and resonant tone. The differences that strike the eye most strongly are the larger proportions, the flatter arch of the top, and the shape of the sound holes. In his earlier instruments he used a yellowish varnish; after 1684, one of a reddish tint. Stradivarius also fixed the form and adjustment of the bridge. He left two sons, Francesco and Omoboni, who finished some of their father’s instruments after his death. They both died five or six years later. Pupils of Stradivarius who made excellent instruments were Carlo Bergonzi (1712-1750), Lorenzo Guadagnini (1695-1740) and his son Johannes Baptista Guadagnini (1750-1785) and Alessandro Gagliano.

Other Makers.—Germany’s contribution to violin-making dates from Jakob Stainer, of Absam in Tyrol (1621-1683). Tradition has it that he learned his art at Cremona; if so, his work shows no influence of the Amati; his model is different, somewhat broader and shorter, the arch of the belly is greater, and the sound holes are set differently; the varnish varies from a brown to an amber color; the tone is sweet and quick to respond, but lacks intensity. A follower of Stainer was Ægidius Klotz (1653-1743), many of whose instruments were sold as of Stainer’s make. France contributed no makers of great renown. The names of importance are Nicholas Lupot (1758-1824), a follower of Stradivarius, and J. B. Vuillaume (1799-1875). In England the most distinguished names are Richard Duke and Benjamin Banks (1727-1795). [Pg 320]

The Violin Bow.—A few words must be said in regard to the bow, the means for producing tone from the violin strings. In its earliest form it was simply a bow with a stretched string. Hair came into use, to replace the string, about the 13th century, and the bow lost its original shape, becoming straight for nearly its entire length, curving downward at the point. Corelli used a bow of this shape. Tartini’s bow had the same shape, but was made longer. At the end of the 18th century, François Tourte (1747-1835), a Paris bow-maker, lengthened the bow still more, and bent it slightly inward, giving it the form familiar to us today. Viotti was the first great player to use this style of bow, and is credited with a share in perfecting it. It is no exaggeration to say that upon Tourte’s improvements to the bow rests the whole fabric of modern violin-playing, with its wonderful variety of execution and consequent nuances in expression.

The Viola and the Violoncello.—Two other instruments of the violin type are in use, the Viola, the tenor violin, and the Violoncello, the bass violin; both these instruments shared in the development of the violin, and were made by the great makers, Amati, Guarnerius and Stradivarius. The Contra-bass, the bass-viol, as it is often called, while it is used to furnish the bass to the string orchestra, is a member of the viol family, having the special characteristics, sloping shoulders and flat back. Instruments were made on the violin pattern, but given up as less satisfactory than the viol type.

The impetus given to instrumental composition by the perfecting of the instruments of the string group stimulated makers to work for improvement in those belonging to the family of wind instruments, flutes, oboes, clarinets, horns, harps, etc., thus offering the means to reproduce for hearers the great conceptions of the tone-masters.

[Pg 321] Questions.

Why did the Viol type yield to the Violin?

Who is credited with being the originator of the Violin type?

Give the names of the early Italian makers.

What noted family of violin makers started the fame of Cremona?

What was the model used by the Amati family?

What improvements did Joseph Guarnerius make?

What was Stradivarius’ contribution?

Who was the greatest German maker? Name French and English makers.

Compare the great makers of violins and their work.

The author suggests that a violin, viola, ’cello and double bass and the respective bows be exhibited to the class and examined, the descriptions as given in the reference works to be compared with the instruments. The catalogue of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, contains some fine illustrations for the use of students, as well as descriptions. A copy of this should be in every teacher’s library. It can be secured for a small amount by addressing the Museum as above. [Pg 322]

Violin Playing and Violin Music.

Reciprocal Influences of Instruments and Composition.—The development of the violin, of violin playing and violin music, in a certain sense shows reciprocal influences, and went hand in hand. This was the more certain because the composers who wrote for the instrument were also players, in almost every instance the virtuosi of their times. During the polyphonic period, composers were singers or organists; during the period when the violin dominated instrumental composition, composers in that form were usually violinists. In the next period, when the pianoforte was coming to the front, the representative composers were clavier composers. And since then with but few exceptions the great composers have also been pianists.

Earliest Violin Compositions.—In the music of the viol period no demands were made upon the instrumental player except that he should double the voice part, which was simple, viewed from the standpoint of modern violin playing. Even later when music was written for quartets of viols the parts were vocal in character and did not exceed voices in range. The earliest known solo composition was published in 1620, by Marini. It demands but little from the executant. The next work of importance was in 1627, when Carlo Farina, an Italian living at Dresden, published a collection of pieces which show quite an advance technically, including variety of bowing, double stopping and chords. The names applied to violin compositions were: Sonate, Canzone and Sinfonia, the principle of the first named being an alternation of [Pg 323] slow and quick movements. About 1650 the term Sonata comes into general use, and a further distinction is made between Sonata da Chiesa (church sonata) and Sonata da Camera (chamber sonata), the former consisting of three or four movements varying in tempo, the latter being really a suite of dances, with slow and quick movements in alternation. The Church, always ready to make use of the fine arts, soon discovered the capabilities of the violin and its music, and adopted it as one of its musical forces, not merely for assisting in accompaniments but for independent performances. As a result of this patronage, the violin sonata, the only form of serious composition for the instrument, took on the severer character of the church sonata, giving an impulse toward the establishment of sonata form.

Composers of the 17th Century.—Among those who prepared the way for the great ones to follow was Giovanni Battista Vitali (1644-1692), who shows in his chamber sonatas the tendency to adopt the form of the church sonata. His name is best known in violin literature by a Chaconne with variations, which makes no inconsiderable demands on the technic of a player, and must have marked him out as a conspicuous player in his own time. This is a worthy forerunner of Bach’s great work in a similar form. In Germany the significant name is Heinrich Biber (1644-1704), who had a highly developed technic for that period, for his works carry the player up to the sixth position and introduce difficult double stopping and arpeggios. The next name to be noticed is Giuseppe Torelli (1660-1708), who lived many years in Bologna as leader of a church orchestra. He is credited with having been the first to apply the principles of construction as shown in the church sonata to concerted music, which later developed into the Concerto. [Pg 324]


Arcangelo Corelli.

Corelli.—In any great movement one man seems to sum up the best of the work of his predecessors. The name associated with putting violin music and playing on a firm foundation is that of Arcangelo Corelli (1653-1713), eminent both as composer and player. He was a contemporary of Guarnerius and Stradivarius, who brought the instrument to perfection. Of Corelli’s early life little is known. He traveled in France and was also in Munich for some years. In 1681 he returned to Italy, making his home at Rome. As a teacher, he acquired great fame and pupils came to him from all parts of Europe. The most eminent violinists who were under his instruction were Geminiani, Locatelli, Somis, Baptiste, and Castrucci. Corelli did not invent new forms of composition or of technic—in the latter respect he did not equal certain of his contemporaries—he was a reformer rather than an innovator. He had, however, a keen sense for effects that were specially suited to the instrument, and his conservatism put the art of playing the violin on a solid basis upon which others were able to add newer and more difficult technic. His works included forty-eight three-part sonatas for various combinations, twelve two-part sonatas [Pg 325] for violin and cembalo, nine for two violins and cembalo, and six concertos for two violins and ’cello with a quartet accompaniment. The violin being so preëminently a singing, a melody instrument, it is singular that Corelli and his contemporaries did not grasp the principle of using clearly defined melodic themes. This fact shows that the influence of the church sonata and its rejection of a formal tune as unsuited to serious art was still strong. Therefore, while Corelli’s works do not show themes such as are characteristic of the next period of the sonata, his construction is logical and his handling of his form-material is concise and clear. The student of Form in music will find the germs of sonata-form in Corelli’s works.

Corelli’s Pupils.—Among Corelli’s pupils must be mentioned Francesco Geminiani (1680-1762), who spent part of his life in England. He published the first work of a pedagogic character, a “Method for Violin Playing,” in London, in 1740. He also recommended holding the violin on the left side instead of on the right, as was customary in his time. Pietro Locatelli (1693-1764) greatly influenced the development of violin technic. Giovanni Battista Somis (1676-1763) lived at Turin, was the teacher of Pugnani, the instructor of Viotti. Antonio Vivaldi (1675-1743) devoted himself to virtuosity and influenced the Concerto from this point. He was fertile and ingenious in making new combinations and devising new effects. J. S. Bach arranged his works, sixteen for the clavier, four for the organ, and one as a concerto for four claviers and a quartet of stringed instruments. Still another name is to be mentioned, that of Francesco Maria Veracini (1685-1750), who greatly influenced Tartini by his playing. He was a player full of temperament, which made his playing powerfully expressive. His sonatas are bold in harmonic and melodic treatment, and well constructed. Their technical difficulty is considerable. (His lifetime coincides with Bach.) [Pg 326]


Giuseppe Tartini.

Giuseppe Tartini (1692-1770) is one of the commanding figures of musical history. He was intended for the profession of law by his parents but, fortunately for music, did not fall in with the plan. A hasty marriage with the niece of an archbishop brought him into trouble, and he fled to a monastery, where he spent two years, devoting the greater part of his time to musical studies. At the end of this time he was allowed to rejoin his wife, and went to Venice, where he learned to know Veracini, with whom he studied to correct the faults he had acquired through pursuing his studies undirected. Again he went into retirement and gave himself up to the study of violin technic. Among other things he made some improvements in the bow, increasing the range of effects. His contemporaries ascribe to him “a fine tone, unlimited command of fingerboard and bow, perfect intonation in double stops, a most brilliant trill and double trill as well, which he could execute equally well with all fingers.” His celebrated composition “Il Trillo del Diavolo” (“The Devil’s Trill”) shows his skill in embellishments. A technical work “Arte dell’ Arco” (“The Art of [Pg 327] Bowing”) gives a clear idea of his method in that branch of the violinist’s art. In his compositions he shows advance on Corelli and Vivaldi, for his melody is broader, his phrases more developed and clearer, his harmonies richer and better contrasted, with many passages of a strongly emotional character. He wrote a great number of pieces, sonatas and concertos. In addition to his work as player and composer, Tartini devoted himself to teaching. His school at Padua was the Mecca of violinists from all Europe. In those days there were no instruction books; Tartini’s pupils looked to him for everything, and his character as a teacher can be learned in a letter addressed by him to a pupil.[12] Tartini’s contribution to music also includes work of a theoretical character. He discovered the so-called combinational sound, by which is meant the sounding of a third sound when two tones are sounded together.[13] He published a treatise on the subject. Two pupils of Tartini’s who deserve mention are Pietro Nardini (1722-1793) and Gaetano Pugnani (1726-1803), who was also a pupil of Somis, thus uniting in himself the teachings of the two great masters, Tartini and Corelli, which he transmitted to later generations through his great pupil, Viotti.

With Tartini the violin sonata of the old type lost its place, being succeeded by the sonata for the piano which was being developed by composers, giving rise to a form that was later to be the basis of a new sonata for violin and piano in which each instrument filled an equal place. In the earlier days the tone of the clavichord and harpsichord, weak and thin, was not suited save for accompanying the full-toned brilliantly effective violin; but after Tartini’s time the instrument gained in power and sonorousness and formed a worthy helpmeet for the violin. [Pg 328]


Giovanni Battista Viotti.

Violin playing in France was largely influenced by Italian players. Lully, the opera composer, was a violinist, but the Italian school had not developed when, as a lad, he left his native country. The Corelli principles were carried to France by Leclair (1687-1764), who received his training from Somis, a pupil of Corelli. His treatment of the bow showed the lightness and agility that later became distinctive of the French school. Pierre Gaviniés (1726-1800) lent strength to the establishment of an independent French school of playing. He is best known today by a set of difficult studies. Giovanni Battista Viotti (1753-1824), an Italian by birth, greatly influenced violin playing in his day. As a lad of seventeen he traveled through Europe with Pugnani, his teacher, winning great success. Later he located in Paris, teaching and composing, giving regularly private performances at which he brought out his concertos. His themes have a marked singing character, and all his writing is eminently suited to the instrument. In his concertos he used the elaborated sonata-form as developed by Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven, and in his accompaniments draws fully on the resources of the orchestra. His works include a fine set of duets for two violins. His most eminent pupils were Pierre Rode (1774-1830) and [Pg 329] Pierre Marie François de Sales Baillot (1771-1842) who with Rodolphe Kreutzer (1766-1831) were teachers in the Paris Conservatoire, for which they prepared the famous “Méthode de Violin.” Rode and Kreutzer are famous in violin literature for their studies for advanced players. Beethoven dedicated his great sonata for piano and violin, Op. 47, to Kreutzer, for which reason it is known by the latter’s name. In connection with the educational writers just mentioned, Federigo Fiorillo, born 1753, in Germany, of Italian parents, is to be noted. His thirty-six etudes or caprices rank with the works of Rode and Kreutzer. Antonio Lolli (1730-1802) was a virtuoso and nothing else. His execution was marvelous, and he was, in many respects, a forerunner of Paganini.

Violin playing in Germany had its source and inspiration in the concert tours made in that country by the great Italian virtuosi, a number of whom lived for periods of some length at the courts of Berlin, Dresden, Mannheim and other capitals, where they trained pupils for the various ducal orchestras. The orchestra at Mannheim was the most famous for its work and sent out a number of fine players and musicians. Space does not permit the mention of these men. The first great name in the violin world of Germany is Ludwig Spohr (1784-1859), who was also one of the great composers of his time, his activity leading him into the domain of the oratorio and opera as well as orchestra and instrumental music. (His principal teacher was Franz Eck (1774-1804), who belonged to the Mannheim school.) Later he had opportunity to hear Rode, by whose playing he was much impressed. He spent some years in concertizing, and in 1822 located at Cassel as the director of the orchestra there. Here he taught many noted pupils, the best known being Ferdinand David. While Spohr was a great player and a great teacher, he influenced modern violin playing more by his compositions. Some of his concertos still figure in the violinist’s repertoire and his duos and concertantes for two violins and for violin and viola are unsurpassed by any compositions in that style. In 1831, he published his “Violin School,” which was a standard [Pg 330] work for many years. The direct successor of Spohr was Ferdinand David (1810-1873), a great player and a great teacher who was associated with Mendelssohn in the founding of the famous Leipzig Conservatorium. From this institution David’s pupils went over all Europe into positions of responsibility and reputation. His greatest pupil was August Wilhelmj (b. 1845). After David’s death supremacy in the field of violin playing gradually fell away from Leipzig and centred in Berlin around Joseph Joachim, the Nestor of the present-day[14] violin world.


Ludwig Spohr.

The Vienna School.—The southern Germans had certain characteristics wherein they differed from their northern kin; they were in closer touch with Italy and were also influenced by their Hungarian neighbors. In Beethoven’s time considerable attention was given by Viennese violinists to chamber-music. Four names are prominent: Karl Dittersdorf (1739-1799), Anton Wranitzky [Pg 331] (1756-1808), Joseph Mayseder (1789-1863) and Joseph Bœhm (1795-1876), the latter being the teacher of a number of famous violinists, Hellmesberger, Dont, Remenyi, Ernst and Joseph Joachim (b. 1831), the latter, representing the solid, classical style of his teacher, joined to a mastery of the technic of his instrument that enabled him to win and maintain the highest rank as virtuoso, quartet player and composer for his instrument. Up to the time of his death, August 15, 1907, he was director of the Royal High School of Music in Berlin. He was the teacher of hundreds of players, including many celebrated artists of the present day.


Joseph Joachim.

[Pg 332]


Nicolo Paganini.

Paganini.—The most unique, most startling figure in music belongs to the violin, a law unto himself in his playing, one for whom the violin seemed to have been perfected long years before by Guarnerius and Stradivarius and one who seemed to have been made for the violin, the hero of fictions innumerable, to whom was attributed in his day all manner of occult power. This mysterious king of the violin was Nicolo Paganini, born in Genoa, February 18, 1782, died May 27, 1840. Never strong in body, in his early youth he gave himself up to dissipation to such an extent that he undermined his constitution, and passed through the world as a spectre rather than as a man. Paganini was self-developed, he belonged to no school and he founded none, yet so great was his command of the technic of the violin and the bow, that no other player so profoundly influenced contemporaries and successors on the matter of virtuosity. He taught but one pupil, Camille Sivori (1815-1894). Paganini greatly influenced the younger French violinists of his day, among whom may be mentioned Alard and Dancla. After these men come Charles de Bériot (1802-1870), who represents the Belgian School, his pupil [Pg 333] Henri Vieuxtemps (1820-1881) and third generation in the line of pupilage, Eugen Ysaye (b. 1858). Others who belong to the Belgian School are Massart (teacher of Wieniawski, Kreisler and others), Léonard (teacher of César Thomson, Marsick, Musin, Marteau, etc.). At the present time the centre of interest in the violin world has shifted to Prague, where Ottokar Ševčík has sent out young violinists of the Slav race who display the most astonishing technical mastery.


What was the form of early violin music?

What difference was there in sonatas?

What were Corelli’s contributions to music?

What were Tartini’s contributions to music?

Trace the connection between the French and Italian schools.

Trace the connection between the German and the Italian schools.

Trace the connection between the Vienna and the Italian schools.

What composers contributed most largely to the educational side of violin music?

Prepare a short sketch of Paganini. [Pg 334]

The Orchestra and Absolute Music.

The Orchestra as a Means of Expression.—The most perfect means for expression in music is presented by the orchestra, which, in its complete form as shown today, is the result of a long development in many directions. To give us this magnificent mass-instrument required a sifting of the various instruments and the choice of those that offered the best possibilities, a perfecting of these instruments, a shaping of systems of playing them, of technic that should draw out all possible effects, and an understanding, on the part of composers, of the nature and demands of absolute music and how best to shape their conceptions in accordance with these demands. The orchestra and its music, therefore, represents the extreme height of man’s work in music, for even when choral forces are joined to the orchestra, the instrumental idea dominates, as, for example, in the Ninth Symphony of Beethoven, in which the chorus is simply a vocal band added to the other groups. The orchestra is a great means for musical expression because it offers to the composer the maximum of resources. In modern days, when the esthetic principle of Unity in Variety receives the most elastic interpretation due to the demand for the greatest possible contrasts in tone-color, power and in nuances, all, however, intended to exhibit and illumine the themes invented by the composer in their various transformations, in these days the orchestra is truly the most complete art-means known. [Pg 335]

Groups in the Orchestra.—The orchestra is composed of groups of instruments allied by similarity of construction. The usual classification is into three main groups, strings, (bowed instruments), wind and percussion instruments. In the former are included the violins, viola, violoncello and double or contra-bass; wind instruments subordinate into wood wind and brass, the former include instruments of the flute, oboe, bassoon and clarinet families, the latter horns, trumpets, trombones, tuba or other bass instruments; the percussion includes kettle drums, other drums, triangles, cymbals, etc.; the harp, while a stringed instrument, is not included in that class. These instruments offer a great variety of effects, singly and in many possible combinations, in the peculiar effects possible by variety in playing, which in bowed instruments is considerable, and particularly by contrast with each other. While the orchestra today is in a highly developed condition, composers are seeking to extend the limits of their art by the use of more elaborate and subtle forms; so that we cannot in any wise predict the course and limits of absolute music with the almost unlimited resources at its disposal in the modern orchestra.

Purpose in Combination.—When we consider the orchestra as a combination of instruments we must bear in mind that this combination is the result of a definite purpose to produce music independent of restrictions such as were shown to have existed in the days of the domination of the Church. The composers of the early polyphonic period and up to the 17th century bent their efforts to the composition of choral music which was sung for many years without instrumental support. When later the organ, and still later, viols and other instruments were drafted into the service of church music, the accompaniments were not independent of the voice, but merely doubled the various parts. Composers thought in terms of voices and their limitations, not in the greater range and endurance of instruments. Then, too, the instruments were crude and their tone lacked distinctiveness as well as the comparative sweetness and purity of the vocal music of that day. Combinations of instruments existed in the Middle Ages, but not according to a system, and were due to the [Pg 336] executants who assembled them rather than to the demand for them in the works of composers. It was in the attempts at light dramatic music that preceded the establishment of the opera that instruments were grouped together, showing a great weakness, from our point of view, in stringed instruments played with the bow, and a corresponding preponderance of brass.

Influence of the Opera.—The first composers of opera and oratorio gave instrumental support to the singers, although it was very meager. Yet the opera gave the help of that great principle of invention, necessity, and composers began to experiment with various combinations of instruments to secure a more adequate accompaniment for the voice as well as to heighten the effects demanded by the drama. Monteverde, an independent thinker and innovator, marked out lines in which efforts should be made by successors. He studied the characteristic effects of the various groups and made use of them as he felt them. His orchestra for “Orfeo” (1608) was made up of two harpsichords, ten tenor viols, two bass viols, two “little French violins,” one double harp, two organs of wood, one regal, two viole de gamba, two large guitars, two cornets, two trombones, three trumpets with mutes, one octave flute, one clarion. The most significant item is found in the “little French violins,” which presages the appearance of the instrument which was, a century later, to be recognized as the backbone of the orchestra. Among the distinctive instrumental effects which Monteverde introduced was the tremolo for bowed string instruments as well as the pizzicato. In looking over the instruments of Monteverde’s orchestra we will note but one wood wind, the flute. This shows that composers, doubtless through the military use of brass and drums, had accepted the latter as means for special effects. Instruments of the wood wind type were still too crude to be admitted. Alessandro Scarlatti, who did so much for the opera from the side of form and content, also contributed to the development of orchestral music. He evidently perceived the importance of having a [Pg 337] nucleus around which to build his harmonies, a group of instruments which should furnish a firm support and which could blend the various tone qualities. With the intuition of genius he selected the string tone for this purpose, and in this he was greatly aided by the fact that the Amati family, and their successors, Guarnerius and Stradivarius, had already perfected the violin, although the great players were yet to come. Scarlatti wrote in four parts for the string instruments, the treble part to the first violin, the alto to the second, the tenor part to the viola, which previously had often played in unison with the double bass, while the bass part was taken by ’cellos and basses. He also added oboes and bassoons to the strings and brass. Lully in France used an orchestra similar to that adopted by Scarlatti. The kettle-drums now come into use. The works of Corelli and his violinist successors, which showed the possibility of writing for strings, undoubtedly influenced orchestral writing.

Bach and Handel.—We now come to the period of Bach and Handel, each distinct in methods, the latter the more immediately influential in the development of the orchestra, the former’s principles of writing in the polyphonic style not being taken up until after years by Wagner and more recently by the extreme modern composers with their free polyphony. In a Bach score each instrument had an independent part to sing, and was treated from a musical standpoint, whereas the tendency of other composers was to seek figures and passages which should be characteristic of the instrument, the standpoint of effect. This particularly applies to the wind instruments. Handel’s idea seemed to be the building up of great mass effects, his style partook of the harmonic rather than the polyphonic. He used all the important instruments found in the modern orchestra except the clarinet, although the proportion of the wind instruments to the strings is greater, due to the relatively inferior power of these instruments in Handel’s time. [Pg 338]

Haydn and Mozart.—From Handel we pass to the first of his three great successors, Haydn, who has been called the “father of the symphony,” who determined, in fact, the course of orchestral development. And we should not overlook the fact before-mentioned, namely, that the professional violinists, most of whom were also directors of orchestras in the pay of great princes, were testing the capacities and resources of the instruments used. In the period which Haydn represents, the proportions of the instruments in the orchestra were definitely fixed and the size of the string band became relatively greater, the ’cello coming in to greater prominence in its use as a melody instrument. Haydn’s last symphony, written in 1795, calls for two flutes, two oboes, two clarinets, two bassoons, two kettle drums, and the usual string band. This was the combination which Haydn selected as the most useful and effective, as the result of his experience as a conductor for many years. It was to Mozart that the introduction of the clarinet into the orchestra is due, for Haydn did not employ this instrument in his earlier works. The clarinet began to take an effective form about the end of the 17th century, yet it was not until the 19th century that it received the improvements that now make it one of the most useful instruments in the orchestra, with a wonderfully facile technic and correct intonation. The greatest of these changes was the application, to the clarinet, of the system of keys and fingering invented by Theobald Boehm (1794-1881) for the flute. In addition to showing the value of the clarinet as an instrument, Mozart pointed the way to some uses of the trombone. His E-flat Symphony is scored for one flute, two clarinets, two bassoons, two horns, two trumpets, tympani and strings; in the score of the “Jupiter” symphony, the clarinet does not appear.

Beethoven established the orchestra as “the composer’s instrument.” He added but little to the instruments used but he took the resources established by his predecessors and demonstrated what could be done with them. Every group of instruments was used with more detail and to produce characteristic effects both separately and in combination. In his first and second symphonies he uses the same [Pg 339] orchestra: two flutes, two oboes, two clarinets, two bassoons, two horns, two trumpets, tympani and strings; in the “Eroica,” a third horn part is added; the fourth has the same orchestra as the first two, except that one flute is dropped; the fifth calls for piccolo, two flutes, two oboes, two clarinets, two bassoons, contra-bassoon, two horns, two trumpets, three trombones, tympani and strings; in the sixth he uses the same orchestra as in the fifth, except that he drops the contra-bassoon and one trombone; in the seventh and eighth the orchestra is the same as in his first and second symphonies. In the ninth (Choral Symphony) he calls for a larger orchestra: piccolo, two flutes, two oboes, two clarinets, two bassoons, contra-bassoon, four horns, two trumpets, three trombones, tympani, triangle, cymbals, bass drum and strings. It will be noted that Beethoven does not use the harp. It was not until 1820, seven years before Beethoven’s death, that Erard invented the double-action harp, an effective and a playable instrument.

Berlioz, Wagner and Richard Strauss.—The composer who first made an exhaustive study of orchestral instruments, their distinctive qualities, separately and in combinations, was Berlioz, who gave to the world his knowledge in his “Treatise on Instrumentation,” published in 1844. Berlioz gave to every one of his works a more or less distinctive quality by varying the composition of his orchestra instead of using the conventional combinations. He made frequent use of the harp, bass clarinet, English horn, bass tuba, besides other less frequently used instruments. He very much enlarged the scope of orchestral music by the new effects he devised. Richard Wagner, in his great music dramas, makes use of many new means of dramatic musical effects, introducing new instruments, enlarging the various families, dividing the strings into eight parts, increasing the number of brass instruments, giving to his scores a richness of power and a sonorous quality unknown before his time. Richard Strauss is, today, the greatest master of the technic of orchestral writing. His tone-poems make greater demands on the resources of the instruments and contain effects beyond those of Wagner. [Pg 340]


Hector Berlioz.

Hector Berlioz (1803-1869) was the son of a French physician, who designed him for his own profession. But the lad’s bent for music was so strong that when sent to Paris to prepare for a medical degree, he spent most of his time in going to the opera and in studying the scores of the masters. Much against the will of his parents, he determined to give up medicine and entered the Conservatoire. His early musical training had been far from thorough and his career was at first not successful. This added to his father’s displeasure, and he finally withdrew all support from his son, who, rather than abandon his art, struggled with the most crushing poverty until a violent illness brought on by privation reconciled his parents to his choice of a profession. After several unsuccessful attempts, he gained the great [Pg 341] Roman Prize, which entitled him to a period of study in Italy and Germany at the cost of the State, but throughout his life he battled at home with adverse and discouraging conditions, artistic and domestic. Until after his death his works never received the recognition gladly paid them in foreign countries, where he made frequent tours for the purpose of producing them. His demand for exceptional means of performance, based upon their large scope and previously unheard-of effects, was ridiculed in France, where they were also considered dissonant and bombastic; he encountered jealousy and intrigue at every turn and bore them, too, in no patient spirit.

His Important Works.—As a winner of the Roman Prize, however, he had a claim on the State. Thus his great “Te Deum,” written for three choruses, soli, and orchestra, was one of several commissions from the Government and was composed for the opening of the Exposition of 1855. Another similar colossal work is his “Requiem,” with its four small orchestras of brass stationed at the corners of the principal orchestra. These cross and re-cross with thrilling effect, simulating the blowing of the last trump. His most popular and widely-known work, “The Damnation of Faust,” a dramatic cantata now frequently heard in this country and in Europe, failed to awaken the slightest interest at its first performance in 1846 and involved the composer heavily in debt. His enthusiasm for Shakespeare led to the composition of what some consider his most important work, “Romeo and Juliet,” a symphony for orchestra, solo voices and chorus. Berlioz’ genius was essentially instrumental and symphonic in character; hence, though he composed a number of operas, none was successful. Indeed, the failure of “Les Troyens” (The Trojans), the subject of which was taken from the “Æneid” and which he intended to be his masterpiece, was his death-blow.

His Genius as an Orchestral Composer.—Berlioz was the founder of the modern school of orchestration, as well as the pioneer in the art of expressing a definite program in terms of absolute music. Like his great contemporary, Wagner, he was no executant; he played but [Pg 342] little and, curiously enough, only such insignificant instruments as the flute, flageolet, and guitar. The orchestra was his instrument and no one has ever had a more unerring instinct for its capabilities either as a whole or in its component parts. In the origination of weird, unearthly effects he had been anticipated by Weber, whom he greatly admired; but he went beyond him in devising bold and daring combinations, which he justified by the end in view, though it cannot be said that a refined taste always finds this end in itself justifiable. For example, in the last movement of his “Fantastic Symphony,” he pictures an execution by the guillotine. A company of witches and demons dance around the headless body and perform a burlesque requiem—the whole supposed to be a nightmare suffered by an artist under the influence of opium. Color rather than outline, thrilling and novel effects of sonority, rhythmical variety and animation, intensity of expression and dramatic climax are the principal characteristics of Berlioz’ music. Yet delicacy and charm are by no means lacking in his works. Irregular in proportion and unequal in inspiration as they frequently are, they undoubtedly entitle him to the distinction of being the greatest composer that France has yet produced.

The Music of the Orchestra includes Symphonies, Overtures, Symphonic Poems, Tone-Poems and Suites and the Concerto for a solo instrument with orchestral support. The symphony is an elaborated sonata, and the first movement is usually constructed on the principles recognized under the term Sonata-form; the same principles are used in the Overture, which consists of but a single movement. Liszt, in his efforts in the program music style, devised the Symphonic Poem, which aims to present a series of emotional pictures in the Symphonic style, but with the various movements continuous. He advocated deriving all themes from a common source, transforming them rhythmically as needed to work out his conception. His successors in this style of music still use the thematic methods devised by the writers in the true symphonic style, but are free in their methods of construction and elaboration. [Pg 343]


Why is the orchestra the greatest means for musical expression?

Classify the instruments used in the orchestra.

What difference is there in the combination of instruments in the modern orchestra and in the first attempts?

How did the opera influence the development of the orchestra and orchestral music?

Contrast Bach and Handel. Whose methods are used today to the greater extent?

What did Haydn and Mozart contribute?

What did Beethoven contribute?

Contrast the orchestra used by the composers mentioned.

Give an account of the work of Berlioz in the orchestral field.

Give an account of the great writers of modern times.

What form is the basis of writing for the orchestra?

Suggestions for a Review of Lessons XVII to XXIV.

Independent research on the part of pupils is essential to real mastery of a subject. The following topics can be used as subjects for short essays to be prepared by pupils. The material will be found in this book and in the reference works mentioned in connection with the various lessons.

Lesson XXV.—1. The Pianoforte in America. 2. Pianoforte Makers in the 19th Century. 3. Points of difference between the early Claviers and the Modern Piano.

Lesson XXVI.—1. Comparison between the Early Venetian schools of Painting and Music. 2. The composers of the Early Venetian school. 3. The composers of the Later Venetian school. 4. The development of the Science of Thorough-Bass. [Pg 344]

Lesson XXVII.—1. Queen Elizabeth as a Patron of Art. 2. Characteristics of the Early French Clavier school. 3. Influence of the Early English and French Clavier schools on subsequent Writings.

Lesson XXVIII.—1. German character as reflected in early music. 2. Comparison of Bach and Handel’s Clavier Works. 3. Influence exerted by the Well-Tempered Clavichord.

Lesson XXIX.—1. Comparison between the Polyphonic and Harmonic styles. 2. Musical influence of J. S. Bach’s Children. 3. The First Sonatas compared with Modern Music.

Lesson XXX.—1. German appreciation of music in Haydn’s time. 2. Haydn as a man. 3. Haydn’s connection with Mozart.

Lesson XXXI.—1. Mozart’s character. 2. Mozart’s struggles with poverty. 3. Mozart’s contributions to form. 4. The Viennese school of this period.

Lesson XXXII.—1. Beethoven’s character as shown in his letters. 2. Beethoven’s peculiarities. 3. Beethoven and his contemporaries.

Lesson XXXIII.—1. Beethoven’s manner of composing. 2. Beethoven’s love of nature. 3. Effect of Beethoven upon succeeding composers.

Lesson XXXIV.—1. The points of superiority of the Violin over the Viol. 2. The three great makers of violins. 3. Why the violin is called the King of Instruments.

Lesson XXXV.—1. The character of early violin music. 2. The development of violin playing and composition. 3. Arrange the great players in their respective schools.

Lesson XXXVI.—1. Classify the instruments of the orchestra. 2. Give a sketch of the development of the orchestra, instruments added, etc. 3. Contrast Beethoven’s work with that of his predecessors and successors. 4. What is the form of a Symphony? In what respects does the form used by modern composers differ from that of the classical symphony? [Pg 345]

The Romantic Opera. Weber, Spohr, Marschner.

The Romantic Movement.—The revolutionary spirit which arose in Europe toward the end of the 18th century had its counterpart in a similar intellectual and artistic reaction, commonly known as the Romantic Movement. In Literature, this movement was led by France; in Music, by Germany. Briefly described, it consisted in casting aside the classical traditions which the Renaissance had imposed upon art in general and in a substitution of themes and a treatment more in consonance with the atmosphere of freedom which had inspired such momentous social and political changes.

Its Effect on Music.—The musician also felt the influence of the general unrest. In seeking new modes of expression, he rose to a consciousness of independence both as man and artist; he refused longer to occupy the position of an upper servant which had been decreed him by court and nobility. Mozart marked the passing of the old order of things by his indignant rejection of the humiliating conditions of service under the haughty Archbishop of Salzburg, only remembered by later generations through his connection with the musician he treated so contemptuously. Heretofore music had been the privileged entertainment of the great and wealthy. Like other privileges, it was to pass into the possession of the people, hitherto shut out from its enjoyment save in the Church. It was to draw inspiration from a rich store of Folk-lore and poetry heretofore disregarded by the scholar and the musician, but soon to be recognized as a national heritage of high import; it was to create new forms instead of being dependent on time-worn formulæ which were repressing growth and development. [Pg 346]

The Romantic Opera.—The Romantic Movement had the effect of finally banishing from the stage the characters of classical mythology, the heroes and personages of antiquity who had been thought alone worthy of representation by the poets and savants who had thus far prepared the texts for operas. In the romantic opera their places were taken by figures of legend or chivalry, elves and spirits of earth or air; the action paid no regard to the unities of time and place; it was brisk and animated and the supernatural played an important part in it. The music, instead of being governed by the restraints of definite forms, adapted itself to the varying exigencies of the drama; the sharp division between the recitative and the aria was softened by the introduction of the Scena, a peculiarly effective mingling of the features of both; the overture became an integral part of the whole by the use of themes associated with leading dramatic situations. The orchestra not only supplied an harmonic and a rhythmically interesting accompaniment but its power of independent expression was enormously enlarged; it became, so to speak, one of the Dramatis Personæ and vied with the singers in indicating psychological and dramatic crises. This was largely due to the development of a new phase of instrumentation, perhaps the most striking detail of the Romantic school—that of novel and original combinations of instruments to produce varying and expressive shades of tone color. Heretofore the orchestra had been considered in the main in its more obvious divisions; sonority and beauty of tone had been the chief aim of the classical composers. Carl Maria von Weber (1786-1826) was the first to utilize the individual timbres of orchestral instruments to secure effects of a weird, unearthly character. [Pg 347]


Carl Maria von Weber.

[Pg 348] Weber and the Romantic Opera.—In his Der Freischütz (The Freeshooter) we first find the union of all these characteristics. Hence Weber is rightfully considered the founder of the romantic opera; but it would be a mistake to assume that he was the originator of all its features. These had been long in the air. In Haydn, the works of Mozart and Beethoven, in the ballads of Loewe, the songs of Schubert, unmistakable romantic traits can often be found, but they are embodied in established forms. Weber, however, brought together the qualities now associated with the term romantic in music, and in applying them to the drama freed them from the restrictions of a fixed musical structure.

Influence of “Der Freischütz.”—The effect of Der Freischütz on its production in Berlin in 1821 was instantaneous. The story of the hunter’s recourse to unholy arts in order to win success in the chase, of his rescue from Satanic power and the final triumph of good over evil; the music, fresh, vivid, essentially national in color, appealed to the people to whom the legend was well known. It meant the birth of German opera, German alike in drama and music; it gave the final blow to the supremacy of foreign influences in Germany. This success at first, however, was confined almost entirely to the people. Critics and musicians generally could not reconcile themselves to its mingling of styles; the supernatural element seemed to them exaggerated, the introduction of the Folk-song wanting in dignity. Only the greatest of them all, Beethoven, deaf and cynical as he was, realized the signification of Der Freischütz as the beginning of a new era for German art. He said to Rochlitz: “Weber should now write operas—one after the other without hesitation.”

Euryanthe.—Weber’s next opera was Euryanthe, produced in 1823 in Vienna. In this he was hampered by a text of more than doubtful merit and lacking the national element which had been so strong a factor in Der Freischütz. The story is laid in the medieval chivalric epoch and strongly resembles Shakespeare’s Cymbeline. He also ventured upon an innovation which was not in favor with the German public: he set it to music throughout, the place of the dialogue customary in German opera being taken by accompanied recitative. Euryanthe and Spohr’s Jessonda, which appeared several months before the former, were the first German operas in this style since [Pg 349] Schütz’s Dafne. This and its confused plot kept Euryanthe from the popular success achieved by Der Freischütz, yet it contains some of Weber’s most thrilling inspirations, and is the direct prototype of the modern music drama.

Oberon.—In Oberon (1826), composed for London to an English text, Weber returned to his former manner, though somewhat against his will. He found the English opera much the same as in Purcell’s time, practically a play with music as an incidental feature rather than as an integral part of the drama. He intended casting Oberon into a larger mould, reducing the dialogue and adding to the music, but this was prevented by his premature death in London two months after its production.

Recitative and Dialogue.—The chilling effect of alternating speech and song has already been spoken of in connection with the English opera. At that time, both English and German taste was against the use of recitative in the narrative parts of an opera. The recitativo secco, which it will be remembered is a recitative supported only by chords on the harpsichord or piano, sometimes accompanied with a single stringed instrument, has never met with favor outside of Italy, where its intonations nearly approach the half-singing inflections of Italian speech. The exclusive use of accompanied recitative—that is, the recitative accompanied by the full orchestra, however, delays the action and moreover appears weighty and overwrought unless applied to subjects of an elevated or heroic character. In Germany and England the desire to understand clearly the dramatic movement led to the retention of dialogue in all operas. In France a distinction was made between operas with dialogue and operas with recitative only. The first is called Opéra Comique, originally an offshoot from the Italian Opera Buffa, in which the recitativo secco was replaced by dialogue. Later the term assumed a technical meaning by which it was applied to all operas containing spoken dialogue whether their subjects were comic or tragic, in contradistinction to what is known as Grand Opéra, in which the accompanied recitative is used exclusively. [Pg 350]

The Melodrama.—The so-called melodrama is a compromise between the dialogue and the recitative. In this the performer recites in the speaking voice while the orchestra supplies an accompaniment which seeks to intensify the dramatic situation. This device originated in Germany and has found the most favor from German composers. It was first employed by Georg Benda (1721-1795) in a recitation, Ariadne in Naxos (1744), which created much interest. Two of the most striking instances of the melodrama are to be found in the grave-digging scene in Fidelio and in the incantation scene in Der Freischütz. But however effective its occasional use may be, the ear suffers from the inevitable dissonance between the fixed pitches of the musical scale and the natural inflections of the speaking voice. This is now so generally recognized that it has been practically ignored by modern composers in their works for the stage.

Spohr and the Romantic Opera.—Ludwig Spohr (1784-1859), Germany’s greatest violinist and a composer of eminence in many fields, wrote a number of operas. Of these, Faust and Jessonda stand first in showing a vein of genuine romanticism, albeit they lack the Folk-element which brought Weber’s music so close to the hearts of the people. Full of beauty as they undoubtedly are, like all of Spohr’s music they are weakened by the constant recurrence of certain mannerisms, such as chromatic progressions of a persistent type, enharmonic modulations, the over-frequent use of diminished intervals. Spohr exercised a strong influence in favor of the new direction on account of his high position as the most esteemed composer and performer of the day. His significance in the romantic movement consists in his being, as it were, an intermediary between the late classical period represented by Beethoven and the modern music drama. He knew Beethoven in Vienna, and in his latter days, when director of the opera in Cassel, did his utmost to introduce Wagner’s early operas to the German public. [Pg 351]

Marschner, Weber’s Successor.—Weber’s legitimate successor in the romantic opera was Heinrich Marschner (1795-1861). He had been associated with Weber as assistant conductor at the opera in Dresden, and a strong friendship existed between them. Weber’s influence, however, was wide and far-reaching; it extended beyond the opera. Marschner’s sphere was practically confined to the stage, which he enriched with a series of strongly characterized works mainly of a gloomy, uncanny nature. He shows but little of the genial art with which Weber avails himself of the supernatural merely as a background for the doing and striving of his characters, and thus never compromises the human interest they have for us. Marschner makes it the salient characteristic of his strongest works. In these his principal Dramatis Personæ are demons and evil spirits who tempt and torment the innocent and loving. His first romantic opera was Der Vampyr (1825) composed to a text prepared from Byron’s poem, “Lord Ruthven,” which is founded upon a Scotch legend. Notwithstanding the repulsive nature of the subject, its powerful treatment brought it immediate success in Germany and a little later in England. It was followed by Der Templar und die Jüdin (The Templar and the Jewess), a version of Scott’s “Ivanhoe.” This, however, met with less success than Der Vampyr or its successor, Hans Heiling, Marschner’s masterpiece.

The Spieloper.—The Romantic school had a strong influence in the development of a form known as the Spieloper (literally play-opera), which occupies a place between the works we have been considering and the Singspiel. As thoroughly German as the latter, it shows more finish and greater elaboration of musical effect. Though essentially romantic in the freedom of its scope and choice of means, its real sphere is neither the heroic nor the mystic; it concerns itself rather with the lighter aspects of life, those which require no exalted powers of imagination or wide culture to appreciate—humor, good cheer, the merriment and mirth of the people in holiday mood. Albert Lortzing (1803-1851) is accepted as the creator of this type, of which his most popular opera, Zar und Zimmermann (Czar and the Carpenter), is the best known example. [Pg 352]

Influence of the Romantic Opera.—The value of the application of all the resources of music to the unfettered delineation of feeling and emotion in all their phases inaugurated by the romantic opera can hardly be over-estimated. From the opera it has won its way into absolute music, creating new and original forms. The change it has wrought in the progress and development of the art in general is only second to the revolution occasioned by the birth of the opera itself, three centuries ago. The impulse of the romantic movement in music is far from being exhausted at the present day. On the contrary, it seems to have gathered strength and if it has reached its culmination, as some would have us believe, the signs are not yet apparent to an unprejudiced observer.


What was the Romantic Movement? Its effect on music?

Tell about the Romantic Opera.

Who was the founder of the Romantic Opera?

Give an account of Weber’s operas.

Contrast the use of Recitative and Dialogue in opera.

What is the Melodrama?

Give an account of Spohr and his work.

Give an account of Marschner and his work.

What is the Spieloper?

What was the influence of the Romantic Opera? [Pg 353]

The French School of the XIXth Century.

French Schools of Opéra.—As already explained, French opera is divided into two styles, known as Opéra Comique and Grand Opéra, according to the use of dialogue or recitative. Not that this is the only difference. The Grand Opéra is naturally adapted to subjects of a large or heroic scope; the Opéra Comique, like the Spieloper in Germany, to lighter episodes of a romantic or humorous nature. As will be seen, however, it not infrequently happens that the latter form is adopted for serious subjects, owing to the fact that it is generally easier for a composer to find acceptance at the Opéra Comique than at the Grand Opéra. The youthful composer or the one who has not yet acquired a name for himself is expected to win his spurs in the former before attempting to enter the latter. Hence, even if his work is somber or tragic in character he often finds it advisable to cast it into the lighter form for the sake of having it produced.

The Opéra Comique.—The Opéra Comique had its origin in the introduction of the Opéra Buffa in Paris by an Italian company about the middle of the 18th century, which led to the Gluck-Piccini controversy. Pergolesi’s La Serva Padrona in particular awakened great admiration and brought about the creation of a similar type of French opera. It was at first hardly more than an elaboration of the already existing vaudeville, or play with songs. François Philidor (1726-1795) and Andre Grétry (1741-1813) were its founders. Grace and simplicity, scrupulous adaptation of the music to the clearness of diction always demanded by French taste were its distinguishing characteristics. [Pg 354]

Its Development.—Étienne Méhul (1763-1817), a pupil of Gluck, gave it a larger musical development and a greater depth of dramatic feeling. His Joseph (1807), founded on Biblical history, is a classic of this school. Its dignity, its severe and noble style won less cordial recognition in France than in Germany; a generation later it was to exercise a decisive influence on the future creator of the music drama. It was through a performance of Joseph that Richard Wagner, then director of the opera in Riga, first felt inspired to battle against the empty conventionalities of the operatic stage. Méhul’s enlargement of the Opéra Comique was carried on by Cherubini, who through the ill-will of Napoleon found the doors of the Académie de Musique, the technical title of the Grand Opéra, closed against him. Even his greatest tragic opera, Medée (Medea), was produced (1797) as an opéra comique without recitative and ballet, the latter being also reserved exclusively for Grand Opéra. Thus it often happened that there was little, in many cases no intrinsic difference between the music of the two schools.

The Typical Opéra Comique.—There was, on the other hand, a development of a type more closely corresponding to the original scheme of the Opéra Comique. Strongly influenced by the romantic tendencies of the day, its romanticism by no means resembles that of the German school as represented by Weber and his followers. This, in its appeal to the deeper emotions by the idealization of nature and recourse to the supernatural, is thoroughly alien to the Gallic temperament, and had no appreciable effect on French composers. Gaiety and humor, freshness of invention, lightness of touch, elegance and finish characterize the true Opéra Comique. Its pathos never sinks below a certain sentiment which is skilfully used rather for the sake of contrast than from any persistent attempt at awakening the more somber feelings. The singer and the actor both meet with consideration; the former by sparkling melodies, expressive and grateful to sing, not over-burdened with the technical difficulties in which the Italian school abounds; the latter by a drama furnishing piquant situations, seasoned with wit and interesting in itself as a play. [Pg 355]

Boieldieu, its Founder.—As Méhul gave the impulse to the graver, more dignified style, so François Boieldieu (1775-1834) laid the foundation of the typical Opéra Comique, the most original and essentially national French operatic form. His Jean de Paris (John of Paris) and La Dame Blanche (The White Lady) placed him at the head of this school. The latter in particular, based on a curious combination of situations taken from two of Scott’s novels, “The Monastery” and “Guy Mannering,” has been sung the world over and still remains an unsurpassed example of the Opéra Comique in its best estate.

Auber.—The most prolific composer in this style was Daniel Auber (1782-1871). Though he began as an amateur and after years spent in other pursuits, he outlived all his early contemporaries and became its most widely known representative. With one exception, to be noticed later, his works reveal the salient characteristics of the school—freshness and melodic charm, finesse of rhythm and instrumentation, delicacy and refinement rather than power and depth. His most popular opera, Fra Diavolo (1830), has been sung on all stages and in almost all languages. Others less known but equally meritorious are Le Maçon (The Mason and the Locksmith), Le Domino Noir (The Black Domino) and Les Diamants de la Couronne (The Crown Diamonds.)

Hérold and Adam.—Louis Hérold (1791-1833), as a pupil of Méhul, inclines to a more serious style. His Zampa contains strongly romantic features which made it more successful in Germany than the melodious Le Pré aux Clercs (The Clerks’ Meadow—a noted duelling ground in Paris during the 17th century), though in France this vies with La Dame Blanche in the distinction of being the most popular Opéra Comique in the repertory. Though less significant than any of the foregoing, Adolphe Adam (1803-1856), the composer of Le Postillon de Longjumeau (The Postilion of Longjumeau), deserves [Pg 356] mention for the grace and fluency of his melodies, albeit they show a decline in character and style which prefigures the decadent school of the Opéra Bouffe (burlesque opera).

Opéra Bouffe.—The attentive observer can hardly fail to perceive that the opera as appealing to the people at large more than any other form of music is peculiarly susceptible to social and political influences. The Opéra Bouffe being a degenerate offshoot from the Opéra Comique, it is no mere accident that the period of its most extended popularity coincided with the extravagance and folly of the Second Empire. As a distinct type it is due to Jacques Offenbach (1819-1880), a German by birth, who took advantage of the taste of the time by turning his attention to the parody of the classical and mythological subjects which had furnished material for the early operas. Frivolous and mocking in text, sprightly and vivacious in melody and rhythm, his operettas possess undoubted piquancy and an effervescent style which for a time intoxicated the public. Their vogue was happily broken by a series of light operas of much more worth. Of these, Les Cloches de Corneville, known to Americans as “The Chimes of Normandy,” by Robert Planquette (1840-1903) is the best example.

The Influence of the Opéra Comique.—The Opéra Comique, as founded by Boieldieu and continued by Auber and Hérold, bears a distinctively national character to a much greater degree than the more cosmopolitan Grand Opéra. Unlike this, its development was entirely due to native composers who gave it the thoroughly Gallic impress of spirit, vivacity, and truth to nature which carried it triumphantly through all the theatres of Europe. Thus it served to counteract in part the reactionary tendency of Italian opera. In Paris, as elsewhere, during the first quarter of the 19th century Italian influences were very powerful; Rossini’s works and those of his imitators had the undesirable effect of reviving in a modernized form the conventionalized opera of the 18th century, the chief object of which was the display of the singer. The Opéra Comique, though limited to the [Pg 357] lighter phases of the drama, performed a service of no small value in upholding a standard of legitimate musical expression at a time when the allurements of florid song were obscuring the dramatic ideals which Gluck had established at the cost of so much labor and effort.

Grand Opéra.—About the same time, important changes were impending in Grand Opéra, though these were more in the nature of a development from the type founded by Lully and afterward enlarged by Rameau, Gluck and Spontini than a revolution such as Weber and his followers had effected in Germany. They were, however, the outcome of the same romantic influences modified by the characteristic French adherence to established form. A grand opera according to tradition must have five acts, consisting of arias, ensembles, choruses, etc., connected by recitatives, with a ballet in one or two of the middle acts, generally the second and fourth.

Its Change of Style.—Auber’s La Muette de Portici (The Dumb Girl of Portici—known also as Masaniello), produced at the Académie de Musique in 1828, formed the point of departure for the new style. Though it held to the traditional form of Grand Opéra, it was in spirit, theme and treatment a startling change from the ordinarily genial works of this composer, characterized as it was by a force and fire, a vigor and decision which he had never shown before and was never to show again. It marks the beginning of the modern historical opera, the complete abandonment of classical and ancient history as the only appropriate material for Grand Opéra. The people were brought upon the stage not as slaves or as meekly acquiescing in the will of those in authority, but as insurrectionists demanding rights of which they had been defrauded. The story of the Neapolitan fisherman leading his comrades into rebellion against their tyrannical rulers had a powerful effect in the agitated state of political affairs which culminated in the revolutions of 1830. It is significant that a performance of La Muette de Portici immediately preceded the riots in Brussels, which in that year resulted in the expulsion of the Dutch from Belgium. [Pg 358] Rossini’s William Tell, which followed in 1829, manifested precisely the same tendencies, musically as well as dramatically. Both were destined to be cast into the shade by the works of a third composer who gave the French grand opera a style which practically dictated conditions on all stages for half a century and is still not without influence.


Giacomo Meyerbeer.

Meyerbeer.—This composer was Giacomo Meyerbeer (1791-1864), German by birth and early education, Italian by training in more mature years, and finally French by adoption. A juvenile pianist of great promise, he studied with Clementi; he went through a severe course of fugue and counterpoint with Zelter, the teacher of Mendelssohn; in composition he was a fellow-student with Weber under [Pg 359] the famous Abbé Vogler. In Vienna he knew Beethoven and was advised by Salieri to study in Italy, where he wrote a number of Italian operas after the style of Rossini. In 1826, he went to Paris, the Mecca of all opera composers, with the design of making himself familiar with the conditions of Grand Opéra.

His First Grand Opera.—The result of his studies was Robert le Diable (Robert the Devil) produced in 1831. This created a veritable sensation. Nothing of so comprehensive a style had been seen or heard before. Meyerbeer’s cosmopolitan education, his receptive rather than original mind, enabled him to combine the outward characteristics at least of the three schools—French, German, Italian—as no one had ever attempted. The story of the arch-enemy of mankind seeking to ensnare a son by an earthly mother into sharing his lost condition, the struggle between the powers of good and evil for the mastery of the tempted soul gave full scope to such an amalgamation of styles. The ballet and spectacular effects of Lully, the supernaturalism of Weber, the roulades of Rossini were all brought together with an art that dazzled and intoxicated an admiring public.

His Other Grand Operas.—Five years later Robert was followed by Les Huguenots (The Huguenots), which achieved a still greater success, and is the one opera of Meyerbeer which continues to hold its own against the encroachments of time. In one or two episodes of Le Prophète (The Prophet), which was produced in 1849, the composer reached the highest level of his creative activity, notwithstanding the manifest artificiality of his scheme. His last work, L’Africaine (The African), was brought out the year after his death and like the others owed its success to a skilful mingling of all the elements, musical, spectacular, and dramatic, which go to make up this type of opera. His L’Étoile du Nord (Star of the North) and Le Pardon de Ploërmel (better known as Dinorah) were composed for the Opéra Comique. [Pg 360]

Influence of Meyerbeer.—Meyerbeer so held the public in his grip that other composers of Grand Opéra gained but slight attention during his lifetime. Only Jacques Halévy (1799-1862) was able to meet him on equal terms in this field with La Juive (The Jewess), in which he shows the earnest spirit of his master Cherubini. Though Meyerbeer’s watchword was success at any cost and his aim to assure it by the accumulation of cunningly devised sensations rather than through the innate power of his music, his works had a powerful and, on the whole, a beneficial influence on the course of modern dramatic music. They placed living, palpitating beings on the stage instead of the cold abstractions of mythology and antiquity; the singer was forced to impersonate as well as to sing. His insistence on all means of expression—vocal, instrumental, and scenic—though often exaggerated and fatal to purity of style, led to an extension of technical ability in all these directions, and prepared the way for a master of greater power and higher aims. It must not be overlooked that Richard Wagner frankly modeled his Rienzi (1842) after Les Huguenots, and that Meyerbeer in Le Prophète shows plainly the influence of this work by his German contemporary.


What two styles are found in French opera?

Tell about the origin of Opéra Comique.

Tell about the development of Opéra Comique.

Describe the typical opéra comique.

Mention the prominent composers in this form and their work.

Describe Opéra Bouffe.

What composers were prominent in this form?

What was the influence of the Opéra Comique?

What was the established form of Grand Opéra?

Who contributed to a change of style? What were the changes?

Give an account of Meyerbeer and his work in Opera.

What was his influence? [Pg 361]

The Italian School of the XIXth Century.

Later Italian School.—While Meyerbeer was dominating the French stage and through it exerting a powerful influence on serious opera in all countries, the Italian school was recovering in part from the impulse given it by Rossini. The highly ornamented style which he brought into vogue was modified in the works of several composers who also gave more consideration to truth of expression. With these, melody still reigned supreme, but it was shorn of the excessive ornamentation which overloaded Rossini’s music; in character and rhythm it was also more generally in accord with sentiment and situation. The florid element was by no means suppressed; it had been an integral factor in Italian music for two centuries and was too strongly entrenched in public favor to be banished so completely as it had been in the German romantic opera, but it was kept in subordination and in the main not allowed to dictate the melodic idea. This was a step in advance for the Italian school of that period, which through the fluent warblings of Rossini and his imitators, had approached dangerously near the Scarlatti-Handel type of the previous century.

Donizetti.—This reaction in the direction of greater simplicity and sincerity was led by Gaetano Donizetti (1797-1848). At first a follower of Rossini, he only attained success after the latter had ceased composing and he himself had acquired a style of his own. Donizetti was not without innate force, but his great melodic facility led him to rely upon melody rather than upon musical development or [Pg 362] dramatic characterization. Hence his tragic operas, though often admirable in detail, lack the sustained strength demanded by their subjects. Of these, Lucia (founded upon Scott’s “Bride of Lammermoor”) achieved the greatest popularity, while in La Favorita (composed for the Grand Opéra) he shows more dramatic power than in any of his more than three-score operas. In many of his lighter works he is particularly happy; for example, in Don Pasquale, which compares favorably with Rossini’s Il Barbiere, and in L’Elisire d’Amore (The Elixir of Love). La Fille du Régiment (The Daughter of the Regiment—written for the Opéra Comique) has made the tour of the world.

Bellini.—His younger contemporary, Vincenzo Bellini (1801-1835), on the contrary, displays no capacity for humor nor is he much better fitted to cope with the somber or the heroic. Essentially a lyrical temperament, neither broad nor deep but endowed with exquisite sensibility within certain limits, his sphere is the emotional, the tender and the elegiac. For this reason his charming opera, La Sonnambula (The Somnambulist), on account of its idyllic subject, is a more representative work than Norma or I Puritani (The Puritans), though both enjoyed high popularity until within recent years. Much of Bellini’s vogue was due to the admirable singing of a number of Italian artists who were identified with his works—Pasta, Grisi, sopranos; Mario, tenor; Tamburini, baritone; Lablache, basso, not to forget Jenny Lind, who was at her best in his operas. With their passing and the establishment of the modern school of dramatic composition, in which the voice is only one of many factors instead of being the chief element of expression, they have gradually dropped from the repertory.

Verdi.—A far more significant personality than either Donizetti or Bellini is Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901). Not merely a melodist but a dramatist as well, his long life gave him the opportunity of profiting by the many influences which brought about the mighty musical development of the last hundred years. The fact that he did so without compromising his artistic or national individuality shows the inherent [Pg 363] genius which gives to him the distinction of being the great Italian composer of the century. Strong and sturdy from the first, his early works, if somewhat coarse in fiber, seemed doubly powerful in contrast with those of his contemporaries, which were distinguished by sweetness and melody rather than by depth or vigor. From Ernani to Rigoletto, from the much sung Trovatore to Don Carlos, to mention only a few of his thirty operas, Verdi shows a steady growth in largeness of style and command of means which culminated in Aïda, written for the Khedive of Egypt to celebrate the opening of the Suez canal in 1871.


Giuseppe Verdi.

Aïda.—Aïda is the full fruition of the Romantic movement beyond the Alps, manifested, however, in a style and manner thoroughly Italian. Unmistakably influenced by the uncompromising stand taken in [Pg 364] Germany by Wagner, Verdi here shows the definite adoption of a new standard, yet by methods which make no decided break with what he had hitherto accomplished. In form, Aïda is closely allied to the Meyerbeer type of Grand Opéra through its succession of dramatic and spectacular features, but these develop naturally in the course of the action and are combined with a sincerity and unity of effect lacking in the more artificial creations of the German composer. The florid style is strictly avoided; without the continuous flow of the music drama, the different movements, recitatives, arias, ensembles, etc., are yet more closely connected and are sustained by a richer, more fluent orchestration than he had hitherto given to his operas, the local color called for by the Egyptian theme receiving adequate consideration.

Significance of Aïda.—Aïda marks the beginning of the new Italian school, one more in sympathy with the original conception of the opera as a drama, while retaining the characteristic Italian grace and charm of vocal treatment. This school was still further enlarged and developed by Verdi, but this extension belongs to a later period and will be considered in its logical connection.

Wagner and the Music Drama.—It is to Richard Wagner (1813-1883) that we owe the renaissance in modern form of the primitive ideal of the opera as embodied in the works of Peri and Caccini. Simple and formless as these now appear, they contain the germ of all that he has accomplished, apart from the question of means, even to the very name of music drama. This he revived because, in his opinion, the term opera had acquired a preponderantly musical signification which made it inappropriate for his later works in view of their dramatic character. An exception to the general rule of precocity among musicians, it was not until his sixteenth year that he resolved to devote himself to music. Like Weber, whom as a child he saw frequently and regarded with the utmost reverence, his early associations were with the theatre and the drama, a fact of no small significance in the careers of both. Der Freischütz was his favorite opera, a liking which bore abundant fruit in later years. [Pg 365]


Wagner in 1853.

His Early Operas.—The future master of the music drama, however, began by composing operas—operas, moreover, in which he shows originality in one feature only—that of writing their texts himself, and this remained his invariable practice. In other respects they gave no hint of the startling individuality he was to unfold so unexpectedly in his Flying Dutchman. His first opera was Die Feen (The Fairies). It was based on a fairy tale of but slight worth, and the music was strongly reminiscent of Weber and Marschner. As the work of a youth of twenty, without reputation or influence, it is hardly surprising that he found no manager willing to produce it. He was somewhat more fortunate with his second opera, Das Liebesverbot (The Love Veto), an adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Measure for Measure.” This was performed once, in 1836, at Magdeburg, where he was director of the opera, and had thus come under the influence of the French and Italian composers [Pg 366] then popular in Germany. The music is such a palpable imitation of Adam, Auber, Donizetti, and Bellini that it has never been given since. Die Feen was never produced during his lifetime, but a few years after his death received a number of representations in Munich.

His Sojourn in Paris.—In 1839, he determined to go to Paris. Many foreign composers had succeeded in entering the Grand Opéra, among them Meyerbeer, then in the full flush of the renown he had gained with Les Huguenots. What one German had done, another might attempt. Accordingly, with the utmost faith in his star and amid manifold discouragements, Wagner made his way to the French capital, where he hoped through the influence of Meyerbeer to secure the acceptance of his Rienzi at the Grand Opéra. He had prepared it from Bulwer’s novel of the same name with the express intention of utilizing it as a framework for the large spectacular style demanded by the Académie de Musique. His sojourn in Paris brought him nothing but disappointment. Neither Rienzi nor Der Fliegende Holländer (The Flying Dutchman), which he wrote during his stay of two and a half years, was successful in winning a hearing, while he lived the greater part of the time in the most painfully straitened circumstances.

Rienzi.—Before long, he realized the hopelessness of his endeavor and sent Rienzi to Dresden, where it was accepted and after a long delay performed in 1842. The result was a triumphant success and led to the speedy production of The Flying Dutchman. This, however, by no means made a similar impression. Rienzi was an opera of the type made familiar by Meyerbeer, in which effect was secured by the heaping together of every device known to stagecraft. The ballet, the march of the Messengers of Peace, the final catastrophe of the burning of Rome, had as much to do with its enthusiastic reception as the music, which was noisy, showy and brilliant, as befitted a work of such calibre.

The Flying Dutchman. Change of Style.—The Flying Dutchman, however, showed Wagner in an entirely different light. With it, instead of receiving his inspiration from without, as had been the case with [Pg 367] the preceding operas, it came from within. On his way to Paris he had made a stormy voyage of several weeks from a port on the Baltic to London. He was familiar with the myth of the Flying Dutchman, and found that the sailors on board his ship believed it implicitly. This in connection with Heine’s version of the legend, which represents the unhappy mariner as doomed to perpetual wandering on stormy seas until he finds a woman faithful unto death, made a strong impression on him, and while in Paris he wrote the poem and composed the music within seven weeks after finishing Rienzi. A more sudden metamorphosis of style is unknown in the history of music. The earlier work was an opera pure and simple, in the ordinary acceptation of the term, characterized by pomp, brilliancy, sonority. Its successor was conceived as a drama in which music served to emphasize the action and to intensify the emotional situations; instead of being master, it was servant; external effects were disregarded save only as they were in harmony with this conception. Not that the composer entirely achieved this ideal; The Flying Dutchman displays not a few lapses into operatic conventionalities, but as a whole it was a startling and radical change which puzzled and displeased the public. They had looked for something in the style of Rienzi and could make nothing of a work so contrary to the popular idea of what an opera should be. Accordingly, after a few performances, it was dropped from the repertory.

Tannhäuser.—Nothing daunted by the lack of favor shown his change of style, Wagner carried it to a still greater extent in his next opera, Tannhäuser (1845), founded on a medieval legend. The dramatic motive of this is much the same as that of The Flying Dutchman, one of which Wagner was particularly fond—the power of love to redeem and save from the consequences of sin and error. Tannhäuser brought about his head the full storm of hostile criticism which with The Flying Dutchman had only begun to lower. He was reproached for its difficulty, for its lack of pleasing melodies, for the audacious harmonies which many critics considered inexcusable dissonances. Singers objected to the broad declamation it required; they complained that it would eventually ruin their voices. [Pg 368]

Lohengrin.—This almost general dissatisfaction, however, led to no concessions by the composer in his next opera, Lohengrin, which marked a further advance in the unpopular direction taken by its predecessors, but it interfered with its performance. Though he was conductor of the Opéra at Dresden, he could not secure permission to produce it. Baffled and discouraged in his artistic schemes, a radical in politics, he joined the insurrectionists during the revolution of 1849. The failure of the rebellion necessitated a hasty flight from Germany. He took refuge in Switzerland and remained in exile until a proclamation of amnesty in 1861 allowed him to return. In the meantime he had sent the score of Lohengrin to Liszt, then conductor of the opera at Weimar, and there it was brought out in 1850.

Lohengrin proved the turning-point in his fortunes. The romance of the subject, its dramatic treatment and undeniable beauty gradually reconciled the public to the novelty of its style. Before Wagner was relieved from his sentence of banishment it had become one of the most popular operas in Germany—he once ruefully remarked that he would soon be the only German who had not heard it.


Who led in the changes in Italian Opera after Rossini?

Give an account of Donizetti and his work.

Give an account of Bellini and his work.

Give an account of Verdi and his earlier works.

What is the significance of Aïda in the history of Opera?

Tell about the changes that Wagner was to make.

Give an account of his early operas.

Why did he go to Paris?

Describe Rienzi, The Flying Dutchman, Tannhäuser, Lohengrin. [Pg 369]

Richard Wagner’s Music Dramas.
Other Schools

Wagner’s Theory of the Music Drama.—Lohengrin, like The Flying Dutchman, was transitional in character and led into Wagner’s third manner. It was his last opera; all his later works were known as music dramas. In these he pursued unhesitatingly the logical conclusions of the theories which he expounded at great length in his controversial writings, though he was far from being always consistent with himself. Thus he reasoned that since in the spoken drama but one speaker is heard at a time, the same practice should prevail in the music drama, which would naturally do away with all concerted music, choruses, etc. This rule he observed in The Ring of the Nibelungen, but he wisely abandoned it in his later works. In Die Meistersinger he also failed to follow his theory that mythical and legendary subjects were the only suitable material for the music drama. Briefly stated, his ultimate conclusion was as follows: that the art-work of the future, as he called it, should consist of a synthesis of all the arts. Music, poetry, painting, sculpture, architecture, he asserted, had exhausted all that was possible to them as separate arts; a higher plane could be reached hereafter only by a combination which should gain unity by subordination to a single principle. This principle he found in poetry. Beethoven, he argued, had felt the insufficiency of music alone to express his deepest inspiration, and for that reason had incorporated in his last and greatest symphony a choral movement to the words of Schiller’s “Ode to Joy.” In the music drama, therefore, the [Pg 370] scene painter replaces the artist and the architect, the actor by plastic poses the sculptor, while the musician must allow his music no form but that dictated by the poet in his verses. He ascribed the thrilling effect of the Greek drama to such a union of the arts and this it was his aim to revive through his own works.

The Leading Motive.—The part assigned by the Greek dramatists to the chorus who expounded and commented on the events of the play was in his scheme transferred to the orchestra. This he did by means of the Leitmotiv (leading motive). A leitmotiv is a characteristic theme or harmonic progression associated with each of the Dramatis Personæ and which appears with such modification of mode, rhythm, or any of its component parts as the dramatic situation demands. It is not confined to personages alone; in The Ring of the Nibelung, for instance, the stolen gold, the ring formed from it, the sword which plays such an important part in Die Walküre and in Siegfried all have their corresponding motives. It is through these motives that Wagner is able to give his orchestra an all but articulate speech and to weld the music drama into an organic whole. By their transformation and development he succeeds in indicating psychological states and changes as well as material conditions and objects. Reminiscent themes of a somewhat similar nature had been used as far back as Mozart and had been employed more freely by composers of the Romantic school, notably by Weber in Der Freischütz and Euryanthe, but they were undeveloped and elementary in character. Berlioz in his Fantastic Symphony was the first to conceive a typical theme and to alter it in logical accordance with the progression of his program, but he did not adopt the practice in his operas. [Pg 371]


Wilhelm Richard Wagner.

[Pg 372]

The Unending Melody.—Beginning with Lohengrin, Wagner abandoned fixed forms and substituted what he called unending melody, a practically continuous flow of tone divided alike between voices and instruments. For the most part he assigned the singer a declamation as far removed from the set aria on the one hand as it was from dry recitative of the early Italian opera on the other. Yet like the latter it was conditioned by principles of speech. Like the early composers, also, his subjects with but two exceptions were mythical or legendary. This, because the supernatural and the unreal correspond more closely with the ideal element introduced by the use of song for speech than material drawn from everyday experience or from the exact chronicles of history.

The Ring of the Nibelung.—In the old Teutonic folk-epic, the Nibelungen Lied (Lay of the Nibelung), Wagner found the inspiration for his next and most extended work. This is the great tetralogy, Der Ring des Nibelung (The Ring of the Nibelung), composed of four dramas designed for continuous representation: Das Rheingold (The Rhine Gold), Die Walküre (The Valkyrie), Siegfried, Die Götterdämmerung (The Twilight of the Gods). It was begun and partially finished during his stay in Switzerland, but his discouragement over what he felt to be the hopeless task of ever securing its performance led him to abandon it and to set to work on another drama which he decided should be lighter in character and less difficult to execute, in order the more readily to find acceptance.

Tristan and Isolde.—The result of this resolution was Tristan und Isolde, but far from being a return to his earlier style, as he had planned, it was and probably still is the most intricate operatic score in existence. It was accepted by the Opera in Vienna, but after fifty-seven rehearsals the singers declared themselves unable to learn it and it was given up as impossible of execution. Three years after his return to Germany an unlooked-for change took place in his fortunes. The young king of Bavaria, Ludwig II, who had just ascended the throne, had been an ardent admirer of Wagner since as a boy of fifteen he had heard Lohengrin. Hardly had he taken his seat before he summoned the discouraged composer to Munich and assured him support and protection. Tristan und Isolde was soon brought out (1865), and Wagner busied himself with the composition of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (The Master Singers of Nuremberg), produced in 1868. [Pg 373]

Die Meistersinger.—This is his only comic work, full of hitherto unsuspected humor and geniality. The story of the young poet endeavoring to gain admission to the jealously-guarded ranks of the master singers who, notwithstanding the beauty of his song, reject him because he has violated their hide-bound rules has a distinctly autobiographic value. Wagner had endured too much from similar pedants to be lenient with the picture he drew of their prototypes in medieval Nuremberg. As strikingly diatonic in style as Tristan und Isolde is chromatic, these two works are the strongest illustrations of his versatility.

Bayreuth and the Festival Theatre.—Wagner had long cherished the plan of a festival theatre for the performance of his Ring of the Nibelung. Jealousy of his favor with the king led to various intrigues which prevented the building of such a theatre in Munich. The quiet town of Bayreuth, therefore, as being a central point, was chosen, and there in 1876 the Festspielhaus was opened with the first complete performance of the Tetralogy. It made a profound impression, but the expense of the undertaking was so great that it resulted in a heavy loss and the theatre was closed for a number of years. In 1882, however, it reopened with Parsifal and since then its triumphant career has been part of musical history.

Parsifal.—Until 1903, when it was given in this country, Parsifal was heard only in Bayreuth. Its semi-sacred character, its mingling of religious mysticism and sorcery, its unrivaled stage effects, its overwhelming power of climax, the consummate art of its thematic construction have made it the most discussed of Wagner’s works. What place it may eventually hold in respect to the others can be decided only by time. As it is, it stands alone; a second Parsifal is hardly conceivable.

Influence of Wagner.—Unlike Weber, Wagner did not create a school—he belonged to the school which Weber founded. Like Gluck, his influence permeated all schools but to a much greater extent; none has succeeded in escaping it. Thus far in Germany it has been felt more in [Pg 374] the development of program music, the symphonic poem, etc., than in the music drama itself. Many have attempted to follow directly in his steps, among them August Bungert (1846———) with a cycle of music dramas, Die Homerische Welt (The World of Homer), founded upon the Iliad and the Odyssey, and Richard Strauss (1864———) with his Guntram, Feuersnoth (Fire Famine) and Salome, but none has yet shown the power to bend the bow of Achilles. Engelbert Humperdinck (1854———) is the only one of Wagner’s successors to develop a new phase of the music drama. This he did by applying it to the fairy tale in his Hänsel und Gretel (1893), which soon found its way to all stages, the first German opera to have such a success since the death of Wagner.

Wagner in France.—In France, Wagner acted at first not so much directly as indirectly, and more in his connection with the Romantic school of Weber than through his individual style as revealed in the music drama. The characteristic conservatism of the French school was shown in holding to forms which had been fixed for generations, but little by little these were filled with the new romantic spirit. This comes to the fore in Charles Gounod (1818-1893), whose Faust (1859) has exercised a strong and lasting influence on the lyric drama in France. Though set forms are not abandoned, they are closely joined by a melodious declamation which approaches the song-speech of Wagner; the orchestration, too, is unmistakably romantic in treatment. Georges Bizet (1838-1875) in Carmen (1875), an opéra comique notwithstanding its tragic denouement, produced a work of great individuality, which shows even more plainly the influence of modern romanticism. Had the composer’s career not been cut short by his untimely death, it is possible that the French school would have maintained a more commanding position. For Paris no longer holds her former preëminence as operatic centre; she has been distanced by Bayreuth. Of late years the works that have had the most pronounced success in the French capital have been Wagner’s music dramas. A little [Pg 375] more than a generation ago, in the palmy days of Auber and Meyerbeer, a success at the Grand Opéra or the Opéra Comique had an international import and meant a speedy transference to foreign stages. Now the interest is largely local; but few of the modern French operas are heard outside of France. The influence of Wagner is evident in a new French school, consisting in the main of young composers whose works manifest strongly transitional features. At present this school is in its storm and stress period; it is yet too early to forecast its ultimate effect.

Wagner in Italy.—Italy proved more responsive to Wagner’s influence than France. The performance of Lohengrin (1868), in Bologna, created much enthusiasm among the young musicians of northern Italy, but it was the septuagenarian Verdi who inaugurated the era of the music drama by his Otello (1887) and Falstaff (1893). Strictly speaking, he had been anticipated by Arrigo Boïto (1842———), who, thrown under Wagner’s influence in Germany, had followed his example in being the poet and composer alike of Mefistofele (1868), a version of the Faust legend. But this was Boïto’s only opera, and though he gave the initial impulse to the movement, it was Verdi who carried it to a triumphant issue.

Verdi’s Latest Style.—Aïda had been a grand opera with strong musico-dramatic tendencies. In Otello and Falstaff, Verdi made a definite entrance into the music drama. The latter in particular, founded on Shakespeare’s “Merry Wives of Windsor,” is an astonishing tour de force for a man of four-score years. Full of the sparkle and freshness of youth, yet in every measure revealing the ripeness of matured genius, it is one of an immortal trio of lyric comedies of which the others are Mozart’s Figaro and Wagner’s Meistersinger. The set and traditional forms of the opera here disappear entirely; the music is conditioned by the text and its dramatic requirements; the orchestra supports the voices in a full, melodious, and comprehensive flow, but never overpowers them. Hardly anything can be detached from [Pg 376] its context without losing significance and interest; and this, by the way, is one of the most distinctive peculiarities of the music drama and more than anything else points the radical difference between it and the opera. Yet though this change of manner is undoubtedly due to Wagner, Verdi is in no sense an imitator. The style remains his own and is essentially Italian in character—that is, it is based upon vocal rather than instrumental capabilities.

The New Italian School.—The latest development of the music drama in Italy has been in the direction of so-called naturalism. This consists in the choice of brutal phases of life for illustration, told in short, concise forms which concentrate and hasten the dramatic action. A greater contrast to the inordinately long and heroic operas of Meyerbeer and Wagner can hardly be imagined; it is more than probable, indeed, that the reaction against the excessive length of the music drama led to the great and sudden vogue of this school. The first impulse to naturalism was given by Pietro Mascagni (1863———) in his two-act opera, Cavalleria Rusticana (Rustic Chivalry), in 1890. This is a tale of love, jealousy, and revenge told in music admirably adapted to the vivid, crude representation of elemental passions. Two years later followed I Pagliacci (The Clowns) by Ruggiero Leoncavallo (1858———), a work of precisely the same character. Though many others have essayed the same style, these two thus far remain the most representative of their class. Their popularity has been approached only by Giacomo Puccini (1858———) in La Bohême (The Bohemians), produced in 1896. Four years later his Tosca appeared and did much to strengthen the impression given by its predecessor—that in Puccini Italy possesses her most promising dramatic composer.

Schools Compared.—Thus at the beginning of the 20th century we find the principles of the music drama as enunciated by Wagner influencing all the three great schools of dramatic composition. It is worthy of note, however, that these schools, though thus approaching in artistic ideals, still retain the characteristics which distinguished them from the very beginning: the Italian, melody and beauty of tone; the French, clearness of form and logical dramatic development; the German, elevation of subject and harmonic richness. [Pg 377]

Younger Schools.—Younger schools having a strongly national character exist in Russia and Bohemia, but as yet they possess only local signification and have produced no practical effect outside of their respective countries. Michael Glinka (1803-1857) with his patriotic opera, Life for the Czar, founded the Russian opera in 1836. The Bohemian opera is of more recent origin and is associated principally with the names of Friedrich Smetana (1824-1884) and Antonin Dvořák (1841-1904).

Resumé.—From its dual nature, the opera is necessarily a compromise. Composed of two elements, the musical and the dramatic, it is peculiarly susceptible to disintegration; its history is a record of almost continuous veering from one to the other of these two phases. We have seen how the immense proportions of the ancient amphitheatres led to the musical declamation on which the opera is founded, from the fact that the tones of the singing voice are far more reaching than those of the voice in speaking. The Florentine experimenters, in seeking to restore this declamation, soon discovered the capabilities for emotional expression latent in the varying timbres and vastly extended range of the former. As for its musical possibilities, these were entirely beyond their ken. The steps taken in that direction they regarded with disfavor as indicating a deviation from the oratorical standards which were their sole aim. After Carissimi and Scarlatti had developed the elements of symmetrical form and melody, music emerged from this dependent condition and dictated to the drama, which sank to an almost negligible factor. The reaction led by Gluck served to restore the balance for a time, but through Rossini and his followers the pendulum again swung in the other direction. The Romantic movement then brought the drama again to the fore; the spirit of the age was behind it and all schools felt its influence, though each manifested it in characteristic fashion. [Pg 378]

Influence of the Opera on Music in General.—These alternations have had a powerful effect on the development of music in general, an effect both technical and expressive in nature. From the harpsichord and the few viols used at first merely to support the voice and to give it pitch, the orchestra expanded into a large body of instruments capable in itself of dramatic utterance. From the tiny ritornello of eight measures played by three flutes in Peri’s Euridice, there has grown an independent instrumental art of vast significance. The opera also created a school of singing which though often unworthily used for purposes of purely personal display is the basis of the vocal art of today. In short, it is not too much to say that the little band of scholars and musicians who met three centuries ago with the aim of reviving a lost art practically originated a new one.


Give an account of Wagner’s theory of the Music Drama.

What is meant by the term Leading Motive? Unending melody?

What works compose the Ring series?

Tell about “Tristan und Isolde,” “Die Meistersinger.”

In what city was a theatre built for Wagner’s dramas?

Describe “Parsifal.”

What composers has Wagner influenced?

What was his influence on French composers and the names of those most prominent; their works?

What was his influence upon the Young Italian school?

Who are the prominent members of that school?

What changes did Verdi show in his latest works?

What are the characteristics of the various schools?

Give a résumé of the development of opera.

What has been the influence of opera upon music? [Pg 379]

Review Suggestions, Lessons XXXVII to XL.

What was the effect of the Romantic movement on the Opera?

Write a sketch of Weber and his work in Opera.

What differences are there between Opéra Comique and Grand Opéra?

Compare the works of Spohr and Marschner with those of Weber.

Describe the typical Opéra Comique and name some notable work in this style.

What changes took place in Grand Opéra through the influence of Auber and Meyerbeer?

State the differences between the German, French and Italian opera styles.

Write a sketch of Verdi and his works.

Give an account of Wagner and the works of his first period. His second period.

What was Wagner’s theory of the music drama?

Explain the two essential principles he used.

Describe Wagner’s later works: “Ring” series, “Tristan und Isolde,” “Die Meistersinger,” “Parsifal.” (Each one may be made the subject of an essay.)

How did Wagner influence opera in Italy and in France?

Give a sketch of the later schools of opera. [Pg 380]

Piano Playing and Composition: Clementi to Field.

During the period after Mozart to the beginning of the Romantic movement, one name alone attains the first rank—that of Beethoven. At the same time there are several epoch-making pianists, whose compositions display talent rather than genius, but who have each rendered indisputable service in accomplishing the transition from the classic to the romantic composers. The landmarks, so to speak, of this period are Clementi, Cramer, Hummel, Czerny, Moscheles and Field.

Muzio Clementi (1752-1832) was born at Rome. His father was quick to perceive his son’s gift for music, and strove to develop it by the best teaching available. While he was still a lad, an Englishman, Bedford or Beckford, took young Clementi with him to England where he lived with his benefactor until 1770, perfecting himself in piano playing and composition. At his first appearances in London he created a furore, and from 1777-1780 he conducted at the piano in the Italian opera there. In 1781, he began his travels as a virtuoso. At Vienna he made the acquaintance of Josef Haydn, and also had a sort of musical combat with Mozart. Each read at sight, played his own compositions and improvised. Opinion was divided as to the outcome. Clementi displayed more virtuosity, while Mozart charmed by his singing-tone, finished phrasing and expressive style. For the following twenty years, Clementi lived in London. He became interested in a piano manufactory and when the firm failed, he established another, which is still carried on. In 1802, Clementi went on a concert-tour with two favorite pupils, J. B. [Pg 381] Cramer and John Field. They visited Paris, Vienna and even St. Petersburg, arousing great enthusiasm everywhere. In 1810, he settled in London permanently, devoting himself to composition and business. In 1817, he published his Gradus ad Parnassum, a series of one hundred studies treating every branch of technic and every problem of piano playing then known.


Muzio Clementi.

Clementi as Composer and Pianist.—In addition to his early works, Clementi composed symphonies, more than one hundred sonatas for piano, preludes, toccatas, canons and other piano music and finally the Gradus. As Clementi was a true Italian by temperament, and German in his education, the sonatas show the influence of Domenico Scarlatti, as well as of Haydn and Mozart. They are technically in advance of their [Pg 382] day, though inclined to dryness musically. However, Beethoven admired them, and is said to have preferred them to those of Mozart. Clementi’s monumental work, the studies, treats every difficulty and style of piano playing so very comprehensively that it is still indispensable to the student. In his youth Clementi was a bravura-player, pure and simple. “Strong in runs of thirds, but without a pennyworth of feeling” was Mozart’s verdict. But later, when Clementi had become acquainted with the larger tone of the English pianos, he cultivated expressive playing. At his best, his brilliancy and facility were dazzling, and he invariably carried all before him. Considering the fundamental value of his studies, and his preëminent abilities as a pianist, it is just to give him the title of “The Father of Piano Playing.”

Johann Baptist Cramer (1771-1858) was born at Mannheim, Germany. When he was but a year old his father moved to London. As a boy he studied the violin and the piano, as well as the theory of music, but soon showed the greater aptitude for the piano. Later he became a pupil of Clementi. Handel, Bach, Scarlatti, Haydn and Mozart were the objects of his attention, thus establishing a taste for the classics. In 1788, Cramer began a series of tours on the Continent, living at London in the intervals. In 1828, he founded the music publishing firm of J. B. Cramer & Co. He lived in Paris from 1832 to 1845, but returned to London, where he remained until his death.

Cramer as Composer and Pianist.—Of Cramer’s numerous compositions, such as seven concertos and one hundred and five sonatas for the piano, besides variations, rondos, fantasias, etc., a quartet and quintet, little is worth survival. His representative work is a series of seventy-six studies, Op. 50, to which he afterwards added. These studies long enjoyed a reputation second only to those of Clementi. They do not aim primarily at virtuosity, but towards the cultivation of musical style; at the same time they exhibit novelty of technical invention, and demand a decided proficiency. Thus they tend to supplement the studies of Clementi which are chiefly concerned with [Pg 383] technic. As a performer, Cramer was greatly admired for his perfect legato, distinctness of phrasing and quiet singing tone. Beethoven is said to have preferred him to all other pianists of his time. While Cramer does not present a technical advance over Clementi, he undoubtedly did much for the cultivation of the more strictly musical qualities and thus stands for a definite progress.


J. B. Cramer.     J. N. Hummel.

Johann Nepomuk Hummel (1778-1837) was born at Presburg, Hungary. His father, who had been instructor in music at a military school in Wartburg, moved to Vienna in 1786 to become director at the theatre of Schikaneder, (the author of the libretto of Mozart’s opera “The Magic Flute”). Mozart soon took so deep an interest in young Hummel that he took him to live with him and taught him for two years. From 1788 to 1795, Hummel traveled as a virtuoso. On returning to Vienna he studied composition with Albrechtsberger, and received advice from Salieri and Haydn. From 1804 to 1811 he was music-director under Prince Esterhazy, Haydn’s patron. In 1816, he became conductor at Stuttgart, and in 1819 he occupied a similar position at Weimar. From here he went to Russia, [Pg 384] where he made a successful concert-tour, playing at Warsaw, where the youthful Chopin heard him. From 1825 to 1833 he traveled on concert-tours, returning to Weimar, where he passed the remainder of his life.

Hummel as Composer and Pianist.—Hummel’s compositions include operas, ballets, masses and other church music, a quintet, trios, rondos, studies and other music for the piano, but he is best known for the piano concertos in A-flat, A minor and B minor, the sonatas in F-sharp minor and D major, the Septet, Op. 74, and a voluminous instruction-book for the piano, chiefly remarkable for its pedantry and absence of practicality. As a pupil of Mozart, he followed his teacher’s form and style, without exhibiting marked creative genius. His technic is noticeable chiefly for its superficial glitter of brilliant passages, which constitute a certain development in themselves. His compositions were in great vogue at one time, and he was once even regarded as the equal of Beethoven. As a pianist, Hummel was unusual. His style was distinguished by precision, clearness, and command of brilliant effect. His influence as a concert pianist was very great, and in this direction his extension of the province of the virtuoso is considerable. He undoubtedly affected Chopin’s piano style for a time and for this reason alone should claim our attention.

Carl Czerny (1791-1857) was born at Vienna. His father, an excellent musician, taught his son piano playing at an early age. Beethoven became interested in him, and gave him lessons. He also learned much from Hummel and Clementi. Czerny soon became in great demand as a teacher. He made concert-tours to Leipzig, Paris, London and Lombardy. For the most part he lived quietly in Vienna, teaching and composing. In 1850, his health gave way from overwork. His most celebrated pupils were Franz Liszt and Theodore Leschetizky.

Czerny’s Compositions.—Czerny was an indefatigable and over-fluent composer who weakened his powers by over-productivity. Hence, of more than a thousand works, his masses, requiems, symphonies, [Pg 385] overtures, chamber-music, etc., are obsolete, but his educational works are destined to live. Of many valuable sets of studies, the most used are those for Velocity, Op. 299, and Finger Training, Op. 740. Musically, they are of slight importance, but they are invaluable to this day in acquiring facility. Czerny had an immense knowledge of the higher mechanism of piano playing, and a keen perception of practical methods. His fame as a pianist was overshadowed by his ceaseless work as teacher and composer.


Carl Czerny.

[Pg 386] Ignaz Moscheles (1794-1870), described as “the foremost pianist after Hummel and before Chopin,” was born at Prague. He studied the piano with Dionys Weber, director of the Prague Conservatory, and at fourteen played a concerto of his own in public. After the death of his father, he went to Vienna to make his way as a teacher, and to continue his studies in composition. He soon became in great demand as a pianist and teacher, and for ten years lived the life of a traveling virtuoso. In 1824, he gave lessons to Mendelssohn, then a boy of fifteen, at Berlin. Soon after his marriage at Hamburg, in 1826, he went to London, where he remained with some interruptions for nearly twenty years of activity as pianist, teacher and conductor. In 1845, he took the post of teacher of the piano at the Leipzig Conservatory, founded by Mendelssohn.


Ignaz Moscheles.

Moscheles as Composer and Pianist.—As a composer, Moscheles was divided between his classical training and his unmistakably romantic instincts. Hence, a long list of variations, fantasias, rondos, written to please publishers, in accordance with the fashion of the time, have not survived, but his best works, the concerto in G minor, the “Pathetic” concerto, the sonata, Op. 49, his duet for two pianos, “Hommage á Handel” and especially the studies, Op. 70 and 95, combine a [Pg 387] respect for classic form with the growing Romantic movement. The studies may be regarded as the legitimate successors to those of Cramer, and paved the way for the more romantic etudes of Chopin. Moscheles was a solidly trained pianist of great brilliancy. He had many characteristics of the classical school; he used the pedals sparingly, he played octaves with a stiff wrist, his phrasing was precise and his accents were sharply marked; but in the brilliant style he had no rivals. He was famous for his improvisations; his cadenzas to concertos and his extempore treatments of well-known themes were marked by spontaneity, brilliance and exquisite feeling.

John Field (1782-1837), one of the last connecting links between the Classical and Romantic schools, was born at Dublin. Early in life, he was taken to London and apprenticed to Clementi, who gave him lessons, and employed him to show off his pianos. In 1802, he went on a concert-tour with Clementi to Paris, Germany and Russia. Field lived for many years as pianist and teacher at St. Petersburg and Moscow. After returning to England, he made a long tour through Belgium, Switzerland, and finally, Italy, where his health gave way. Shortly after he returned to Moscow, where he died.

Field as Composer and Pianist.—Field’s compositions in classical forms include seven concertos, four sonatas, rondos, variations, etc. They are forgotten now, although Chopin had a partiality for his concerto in A-flat and gave it to his pupils; but his lyric pieces for piano, entitled nocturnes, are still played. They are the forerunners of the type so extended and developed by Chopin. He is thus one of the first of the romanticists in spite of his classical training. In 1802, Field astonished the Parisians by his masterly playing of Bach and Handel, but his individuality later took a more romantic turn. His tone was tender and melancholy, and his phrases gently expressive. Shortly before his death, though broken in health, he created a stir in Vienna by his interpretations of his own nocturnes. In some respects his playing was akin to Chopin’s highly individual style. [Pg 388]

To sum up, it will be seen that Clementi was the originator of a system of technic that has served as the foundation of modern piano playing; Cramer was the conserver of classic style and purity of standard; Hummel, as a brilliant pianist, had a decided influence on the piano playing of his time, but as a composer attempted to pass superficial brilliance for the true coin of musical substance; Czerny, one of the greatest educators in the history of piano playing, has had an immense influence through his invaluable educational works, and as the teacher of Franz Liszt, the epitome of modern piano playing, and also of Theodore Leschetizky, possibly the foremost teacher of the present day; Moscheles, the classic pianist, gave decided impetus to the cause of romanticism by his best compositions; Field, though the pupil of Clementi, prepared the way through his own individuality for the greatest piano composer of the Romantic period, Chopin, and thus became an important factor in the transition from the Classic to the Romantic period.


What composers form the transition from the Classic to the Romantic school?

Give a summary of this transition period.

Give a sketch of Clementi.

What was Clementi’s greatest work?

What were his contributions to piano playing?

Give a sketch of Cramer.

What work is most representative of Cramer as a composer?

Mention his contributions to piano playing.

Give an account of Hummel’s life. [Pg 389]

What classic pianist was a pupil of Mozart?

What was his influence on piano playing?

Give a sketch of Czerny’s career.

Who were Czerny’s most famous pupils?

What influence did he exert on piano playing?

Give a sketch of Moscheles’ life.

What composer was the intimate friend of Moscheles?

What is the value of his educational works?

Give a sketch of Field’s career and his influence on piano playing.

What form did Field originate? [Pg 390]


Franz Peter Schubert.

[Pg 391]

Franz Peter Schubert.

The rise of the Romantic school involves a greater freedom in form, a fuller play of poetry and imagination, a general artistic evolution and independence in comparison with the formality of the Classic period. The struggle to establish these principles was long and obstinate, but the outcome was as inevitable as the victory won by Beethoven’s sonata and symphonic forms over the more primitive types of Haydn and Mozart. The first departures from the classic attitude were made by Schubert, whose influence has been permanent in the development of romanticism.

Schubert’s Early Life (1797-1816).—Franz Peter Schubert was born in a suburb of Vienna, January 31, 1797. At an early age he had lessons on the violin from his father, who was a school teacher, and on the piano, from his elder brother. He so quickly outstripped both teachers that he was sent to Michael Holzer, choir-master of the parish, who taught him piano, organ, violin, singing and theory. In later years, Holzer disclaimed the value of his instruction, saying: “If I ever wished to teach him anything new, I found he had already mastered it.” After singing in the parish choir, he passed an examination for admission to the Imperial Convict or school for the Royal choristers. The training included general education as well as music; there was also an orchestra among the boys in which Schubert played the violin and sometimes conducted. There were privations connected with life at the Convict, the practice rooms were insufferably cold, and the food insufficient. In 1810, Schubert began to compose, dating his pieces carefully, and the only check to his [Pg 392] inspiration was the lack of music-paper, which he was too poor to buy. A generous friend made up the deficiency. In 1813, he left the Convict, although his general education was by no means complete, since he had neglected his studies on account of his increasing passion for composition. After leaving the Convict, Schubert taught elementary classes at his father’s school, but the drudgery became insupportable. An ardent friend and admirer, Franz von Schober, realizing that Schubert’s creative powers were greatly hampered by the conditions of his life, gave him a home. Already he had composed some of his most famous songs, including “The Erl-King.”

Later Years (1816-1828).—From 1816 on, Schubert appears to have lived in Schober’s apartments, except for two years shared with the poet Mayerhofer, and a period spent with a friend, Schwind. It is a mystery how Schubert managed to live, for he taught little, and his few publications could have brought him at best only small sums at irregular intervals. He had already failed to secure a position in a Government school of music, but in 1818 he passed the summer as music teacher to the household of Count Johann Esterhazy, in Zelescz, Hungary. The record of his life hereafter is one of incessant composition, with few interruptions or facts of interest. In 1823, he showed Weber his eighth work for the stage: “Alfonso and Estrella.” The only advice he received was that “first operas, like first puppies, should be drowned.” The summer of 1824 was spent again with the Esterhazys and many characteristic compositions, such as the quartet in A minor, the “Hungarian Divertissement,” the piano sonata in B-flat, etc., date from this time. In 1826, Schubert failed to obtain either of two positions, which would have placed him above need, the second because, like Beethoven, he refused to alter a trial aria to suit the voice of a capricious singer. Schubert was taken to see Beethoven during his last illness, in 1827. In 1828, he went to live with his brother Ferdinand in a new and damp house. His health, which had been troublesome before, now gave way, and he died of typhoid fever, November 28, 1828, in his thirty-second year. [Pg 393]

Personal Traits and Habits of Work.—Schubert was short of stature, thickset and rather heavy in features. His face in repose was rather devoid of expression, but when interested in anything, his eyes glowed with enthusiasm and his whole appearance changed. His disposition was even and good-tempered, he was simple and trusting by nature, and could rarely be induced to put himself forward. Although receiving many favors from friends, his generosity often led him to give to others when he could ill spare it. He began composing early in the morning and worked uninterruptedly for several hours; he walked much in the afternoon or paid visits to friends, spending his evenings with congenial spirits at various taverns. Composing was the mainspring of his existence, and he often wrote down his ideas while in the midst of conversation with others. Thus he wrote his immortal “Serenade” on the back of a bill-of-fare at a tavern; a piece for four-hands while waiting at a hospital for a friend, “and dinner missed in consequence”; a movement of a string quartet was begun about midnight and finished in the early morning. Although he set many poems by Goethe, Schiller and Heine, his inspiration was quite as effectively aroused by second-rate poems of his friends Mayerhofer, von Schober, or the artless poems of Müller. Schubert was shy and reserved in what might be called “good society”; he preferred the company of congenial friends in an humbler social station. He seems to have cared little for literature, and his love of poetry was limited to its availability as texts for songs. In early life he played the violin and the viola in a family string quartet. Schubert was no virtuoso on the piano, but he played exquisite accompaniments, and he read well at sight in spite of defective eyesight. His performance was marked by earnestness and attention to the inner sentiment of the music rather than by the superficial polish of the mere pianist. It was said that no one could forget the effect of Schubert’s songs as performed by himself and his friend Vogl; the two seemed absolutely united, the ideal condition for the rendering of vocal works. [Pg 394]

Schubert’s Compositions.—Schubert completed more than eleven hundred pieces in about eighteen years. Such fertility is unique in the history of composition, and is scarcely equalled even by Mozart, whose activity extended over nearly thirty years. Schubert’s powers of spontaneous invention have never been approached; he composed generally without making sketches; he seldom revised, for his ideas came faster than he could write them down. It is impossible to enumerate all Schubert’s works, but the following comprise the most important: Nine symphonies, eleven works for the stage, six masses, over seventy part-songs, choruses, etc., for various combinations, twenty-four sonatas for piano, fantasies, overtures, variations, marches and dances for piano duet, impromptus, moments musicals, fantasies, variations and over two hundred dances for piano solo, two trios for piano and strings, a quintet for strings and piano, a string quintet and several string trios, twenty-four string quartets, besides about six hundred songs with piano accompaniment and occasionally with obligatos for other instruments. It is obvious that such fertility is not consistent with evenness of quality; we must pick and choose to find the real Schubert. However, the symphonies in C and B minor (“Unfinished”), the string quartets in D minor and G major, several sonatas for piano, the impromptus, moments musicals, the fantasy in C for piano, the Hungarian Divertissement, several marches and other compositions for four hands, many charming two-hand waltzes, and, finally, such song-cycles as the “Miller-Songs,” the “Winter Journey,” those called “Swan-Songs” by the publishers, as well as about thirty separate songs “The Erl-King,” “The Wanderer,” “To Sylvia,” “The Omnipotent,” “The Young Nun,” the “Serenade,” “Hark! Hark! the Lark,” “Sei mir Gegrüsst,” “Du bist die Ruh,” “Ave Maria,” “Litany,” and others, are the works of Schubert which will live. Schubert at his best entrances us by his wonderful flow of melody, his spontaneity, his symmetrical form, which, however, is sometimes diffuse. His chief qualities lie in the simple [Pg 395] expressiveness of his music, a direct appeal to sincerity of emotion, and to the sense of the poetic. He began by imitating the form and style of Mozart and Beethoven; but from his eighteenth year onward he developed an individuality entirely apart. Despite the virtues of his instrumental music, his great achievement was the creation of the German song, in which department he stands unrivalled in the inexhaustibility of his melody, the variety of mood which they display, the subtlety and harmonic beauty of his accompaniments, as well as art in creating vocal effects.

Schubert’s Influence on Music.—In abundance of resource, poetic feeling and true imagination, Schubert has brought new forces into music. His influence on romantic composers was widespread and deep. Schumann was a thorough admirer of Schubert. Schumann’s songs could hardly have come into existence but for those of Schubert, and the latter’s short pieces for piano were undoubtedly as potent an inspiration for his piano works. Brahms, too, had a real reverence for Schubert, that is plainly exhibited in his works. Despite the differences of their artistic individuality, there are traces of Schubert in the former’s songs as well as in some of his short piano pieces. Liszt’s partiality to Schubert was untiring in its zeal. He played his piano music, transcribed the “Hungarian Divertissement,” arranged some of the marches for two hands and for orchestra; he made a version of the fantasy in C for piano and orchestra, which is still popular; and, finally (perhaps his greatest service to Schubert) he transcribed no less than fifty-seven of his songs for piano. In this form he created an interest in Schubert where the original versions were unknown, and did much to spread their renown. In spite of all shortcomings, Schubert’s genius was so remarkable, and his immediate effect upon the Romantic movement so apparent and his legacy to the musical world so imperishable that it is difficult not to agree with Sir George Grove when he wrote: “There has never been one like him and there never will be another.” [Pg 396]


From what rank in life did Schubert come?

Give the leading incidents in his life.

What kind of man was he physically, mentally and socially?

How did Schubert compose?

In what forms of composition did Schubert work?

What form of composition did he especially enrich?

Which of his productions have the greatest vogue today?

What influence did Schubert exert on music?

Who did much to spread a knowledge of his works?

Name some composers who have felt his force. [Pg 397]

Weber. Mendelssohn.

Schubert’s operas had no appreciable effect on the Romantic composers, for the simple reason that they were never heard on account of the absurdities of their librettos and the weakness of their stage situations. At about the same period, a slightly older composer was beginning a series of works destined to place German Opera on a firm basis, to exercise a decided influence on Wagner, besides contributing not a little to the development of piano technic.

Carl Maria Friedrich Ernst von Weber was born at Eutin, December 18, 1786. His father, a restless man of many talents, was a theatrical manager during Weber’s early years, when constant traveling was the rule, and music lessons the exception. His irregular early instruction under several teachers, of whom Michael Haydn was the most eminent, was supplemented by two years of solid study under the gifted and eccentric Abbé Vogler. From 1804 to 1806, Weber was music-director at the Breslau theatre, and soon made a name for himself as composer and pianist as well as conductor. After this he remained under the protection of the Duke of Wurtemburg, earning a living by giving lessons, and acting as secretary to the Duke’s brother. During this period he composed an opera “Silvana,” overtures, a cantata, piano music, etc. Three years of wandering, chiefly on concert tours, ensued after his banishment from Wurtemburg on account of unjustly suspected complicity in an intrigue for a position at court. To these years belong a comic opera, “Abu Hassan,” the piano concertos in C and E-flat, three concertos for clarinet, the piano sonata in C, etc. In 1814 and 1815, he composed the [Pg 398] choruses, “Lyre and Sword,” and a cantata, “Battle and Victory,” both the outcome of political events, and widely popular from their patriotic character. In 1816, he became music-director of the German opera at Dresden. He revived interest in German opera, stimulated public support and in the following years began the composition of “Der Freischütz,” an opera thoroughly German in its character and the keystone of Weber’s fame. It was not finished until 1820, for in the meantime he wrote much of his best piano music, songs and incidental music for a gipsy play “Preciosa.” Just after the completion of his popular Concert-piece for piano and orchestra, “Der Freischütz” was given for the first time at Berlin, June 18, 1821, and the result was one of the greatest triumphs ever bestowed on a German composer. It was soon given in all the principal theatres in Germany, including Dresden, and also in Vienna. In 1823, Weber’s most ambitious opera, “Euryanthe,” was given in Vienna and proved almost a failure. Weber’s health, which had not been satisfactory for some years, showed signs of being undermined. “Euryanthe” was performed with greater success during 1824 and 1825, at Dresden, Leipzig and Berlin, where Weber was almost too ill to conduct. In spite of his ill-health he agreed to write an opera for the Covent Garden Theatre, in London, beginning the music to “Oberon” early in 1825 and finishing the last number in the spring of 1826. The performances were more than satisfactory, and Weber was received everywhere with enthusiasm. His strength was now entirely overtaxed, and he hoped to return to his family, but he died suddenly from consumption, on June 4, 1826.

Weber’s personality was pleasing; of excellent birth, his experience of the world through his positions as opera-director and his frequent concert-tours, made him an agreeable companion and a favorite in society. He was cultivated, well read in philosophy and science; he possessed considerable literary and critical ability. In consequence of his intellectual and social gifts, he was a new type of musician, who did much to improve the social status of the composer. He was a remarkable pianist, with an immense command of technic, original in style and eloquent in expression; also a forceful conductor. [Pg 399]

Weber the Composer.—Weber is, first of all, the composer of the three operas, “Der Freischütz,” “Euryanthe” and “Oberon,” which are discussed in Lesson XXXVII. The overtures to his operas are his best orchestral works; his symphonies and chamber-music are unimportant. However, his three concertos for clarinet and orchestra are classics in the literature of that instrument. Weber’s songs are interesting for the sidelight they throw on the development of the Folk-song tendency, but in this line he was entirely overshadowed by Schubert and Schumann. However, Weber’s piano music is exceedingly important. The concertos for piano are seldom heard, but the “Concert-piece” is still amply worth study. The piano sonatas (especially those in C and A-flat) show great technical inventiveness, melodic charm and original effects, but they are less happy in point of form. Next to the sonatas in interest comes the delightful Op. 65, “Invitation to the Dance,” so well-known in Berlioz’ orchestral version. In addition are the “Momento Capriccioso,” Op. 12, the Rondo in E-flat, Op. 62, the “Polacca Brillante,” Op. 72, the Polonaise, Op. 21. Weber did much to develop the technic of the left hand; his piano compositions are thoroughly pianistic and rank high in the music of the Romantic period.

Weber’s Influence.—Weber’s position in the evolution of the Romantic school is extremely important. In Opera his exploration of the imaginative field in so many directions not only opened a new vein in dramatic music, but its influence was felt in every branch of composition. Thus several of Schumann’s choral works, Mendelssohn’s “Midsummer Night’s Dream” music, the “Walpurgis Night” cantata, the concert overtures, and pieces for piano and orchestra are direct musical descendants of Weber. Mendelssohn’s Concerto in G minor, the “Serenade” and “Allegro Giojoso,” his scherzos and “Songs Without Words” are the direct outcome of Weber’s example. In general, the technical style of Weber’s piano music was thoroughly absorbed by both [Pg 400] Mendelssohn and, to some extent, Liszt, who edited Weber’s sonatas and solo pieces with tempting additions; he transcribed for piano the overtures “Jubilee,” “Freischütz” and “Oberon,” and arranged the “Polacca Brillante,” Op. 72, for piano and orchestra. Liszt was very fond of Weber’s music, his piano style was sympathetic to him, his interpretation of the Concert-piece, Op. 79, never failed to produce an overwhelming effect. Finally, Weber’s influence on Wagner must be mentioned. Wagner greatly admired Weber’s dramatic insight, his picturesqueness, and especially the poetry and novel color of his orchestral style.


The influence which Mendelssohn exercised during two-thirds of the 19th century among the more conservative German musicians and in England was nothing short of extraordinary. He undoubtedly gave great impetus to the study of the classic masters, especially Bach, and his romantic tendencies were so balanced and controlled as to gain a speedy recognition for his music. Today, Mendelssohn the classicist is less admired, and his music will live chiefly for its romantic qualities.

Mendelssohn’s Life.—Jakob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy[15] was born at Hamburg, February 3, 1809. His father, a prosperous banker, moved to Berlin in 1811. His first lessons in music were given him by his mother, but he soon began to study the piano with Ludwig Berger, a pupil of Clementi, and composition with Zelter. In 1820, he began to compose systematically. In 1821, he made the acquaintance of Weber, and his enthusiasm for the romantic composer lasted all his life. In 1824, he formed a life-long friendship with Moscheles, who gave him piano lessons. Already he was remarkable for his improvisations and for playing from scores. In 1825, a trip to Paris brought him into contact [Pg 401] with the celebrated musicians there. In this year he composed his octet for strings, in which his individuality first asserted itself strongly. In the following summer he wrote the overture to “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” a precocious evidence of originality. In 1827, he made the first draft of his overture “A Calm Sea and a Prosperous Voyage,” a further step into the realm of imagination. In 1829, he organized the first performance of Bach’s “St. Matthew Passion” music since the composer’s death. In this year a visit to England, where some of his compositions were performed, was followed by a trip to Scotland, the Hebrides and Wales, of which his impressions are recorded in the “Hebrides” overture, the “Scotch” symphony and other works of later years. He traveled much during the following years. In 1833, after another visit to England, where his recently composed “Italian” symphony was played, he conducted a musical festival at Düsseldorf, the first of many similar engagements. During the next few years he was constantly employed in conducting, playing and composing, especially his oratorio “St. Paul.” In 1837, he married Miss Cécile Jeanrenaud. From this time dates his second piano concerto in D minor, in which are to be seen traces of Thalberg’s piano style. During the next few years Mendelssohn lived at Leipzig. In 1843, he established a conservatory at Leipzig, long the most celebrated in Europe. Schumann, and later Moscheles, were among the teachers as well as Mendelssohn himself. In 1846, Mendelssohn’s oratorio “Elijah” was given a triumphant first performance at Birmingham under the composer’s direction. In 1847, he made his tenth visit to England for performances of “Elijah,” of his completed “Midsummer Night’s Dream” music (composed in 1845), the “Scotch” symphony and other works. The death of his sister, Fanny, following soon after those of his parents, was so great a shock to him that he went to Switzerland for a rest. He returned improved in health, but could not consider commissions for new works from England, Frankfort and Cologne. He was considering a trip to Vienna to hear Jenny Lind sing in “Elijah” when he was taken suddenly ill and died, November 4, 1847.

[Pg 402] Personal Traits.—Mendelssohn is described as having an unusually animated, winning personality. He was immensely fond of society, which he could enjoy without detriment to his work. His letters describe in detail his innumerable professional engagements, his round of social festivities and his journeys with equal fidelity. Mendelssohn was fond of out-of-door life, walking, riding and swimming; he also greatly enjoyed dancing. One of his favorite relaxations was to sketch from nature or paint in water-colors. Mendelssohn was a remarkable pianist, of an unaffected type, not a virtuoso, yet his interpretations were full of vigor, charm and a thoroughly musical spirit. His improvisations were remarkable for their spontaneous invention, brilliance and science displayed, and his cadenzas to Beethoven’s 4th concerto and Mozart’s, in D minor, were striking examples of his skill. Mendelssohn was also a remarkable organist, if English testimony is to be credited. At all events, he did much to further the knowledge of Bach’s organ works. Mendelssohn’s incessant activity undoubtedly hastened his death; the amount that he compressed into his short life was incredible.

Compositions.—The works most representative of Mendelssohn are the “Scotch” and “Italian” symphonies, the overtures “A Calm Sea and a Prosperous Voyage,” “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “The Hebrides,” “Melusina,” “Ruy Blas”; the concertos and two smaller pieces for piano and orchestra; the concerto for violin; the octet for strings; two quintets and seven quartets; three quartets for piano and strings; two trios; two sonatas for piano and ’cello; for the piano, six preludes and fugues; three sonatas; the “Serious Variations”; six books of “Songs Without Words”; many smaller pieces, including the “Capriccio,” Op. 8; the “Rondo Capriccioso,” Op. 14; the Caprices, Op. 33; the Scherzo à Capriccio and others; sonatas, preludes and fugues for organ; the oratorios “St. Paul,” and “Elijah”; music to “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” to the dramas “Athalie,” “Antigone” and “Œdipus”; the cantata “Walpurgis Night.” He also wrote a great deal of church music, psalms, hymns, motets, and cantatas for various occasions, including the “Lobgesang,” a symphony-cantata; many part-songs, duets and songs for single voice with piano accompaniment. [Pg 403]


Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy.

[Pg 404] Mendelssohn’s Tendencies.—Although he wrote almost exclusively in the conventional forms, Mendelssohn cannot be regarded as a continuator of the classics. In form, thematic development, counterpoint, part-writing, etc., he imitated the letter of classic example closely, but could not attain the inner spirit. To some extent he followed Bach, Handel, Mozart and Beethoven, but the chief source of his individuality is the romanticism of Weber. His piano style is adapted from that of Weber with some extensions of his own. Showered with praise as he was during his lifetime, as the possessor of all the classic virtues, we now admire him chiefly for his romanticism, timid and fastidious though it appears by comparison with the genuine innovations of Berlioz, Liszt and Wagner. In the light of the sturdy qualities of Brahms, his classicism seems superficial. His style was too polished to admit of real vigor. Nevertheless, Mendelssohn of the two symphonies, the “Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “Melusina” and “Hebrides” overture, the violin concerto, the piano concerto in G minor, the sonata for piano and ’cello in D, the scherzo of the octet, the “Serious Variations,” the Scherzo à Capriccio and some half a dozen of the “Songs Without Words” shows us a delicate and charming individuality with the refinement and decided perceptions of the poet, who regarded the world with the eyes of a romanticist recording many impressions of picturesqueness and grace, if seldom of strength.

Mendelssohn’s Influence as an Artist.—For a time, Mendelssohn’s influence was unbounded. His symphonies and overtures were considered worthy successors to those of Beethoven; his chamber-music was equally valued; his oratorios were regarded as on a level with those of Handel; his piano music, especially the “Songs Without Words,” were in universal vogue. His orchestral style contained many novel features, it [Pg 405] is true, but his chamber-music was not written in the genuine manner and is far inferior to that of the later master, Brahms. His oratorios contain some notable choruses and airs, but on the whole are only faint imitations of the real oratorio style. Still they sufficed to form the foundation of an English school of composition in this form. His piano music contains much that is trivial, but at its best undoubtedly did something to prepare the way for the deeper romanticism of Schumann, Chopin and Liszt. His songs also have far less variety of mood and lyric inspiration than those of Schubert and Schumann, but they too acted as prophets of the more vital creations to follow.

That this reverence for Mendelssohn was no mere infatuation of the moment but a sober respect can best be judged from the diversity in nationality and temperament of those who came under his influence: Gade, the Norwegian; Sterndale Bennett, the English composer and pianist; Hiller and Reinecke among the Germans, and Rubinstein from Russia. These names constitute but a small proportion of Mendelssohn’s disciples, his personality dominated musical England in every branch of composition for many years; and English composers are only just beginning to throw off the yoke of adherence to the traditional oratorio form as exhibited in “St. Paul” and “Elijah.” Schumann admired Mendelssohn without reserve and without a suggestion of jealousy, although the tide of popular favor neglected him for his more easily understood contemporary. Today, criticism has swung possibly too far in the opposite direction, and Mendelssohn suffers from depreciation.

[Pg 406] Questions and Suggestions.

Mention the significant events in Weber’s life.

Describe Weber the man.

Sketch the work of Weber as a composer.

Show the influence of Weber upon music.

Name some of Weber’s best-known piano works.

What composers were greatly influenced by Weber?

Give an account of Mendelssohn’s boyhood, manhood.

What educational work in music did Mendelssohn originate?

In what lines of musical work did Mendelssohn excel?

Name representative compositions of Mendelssohn.

What composers did Mendelssohn follow?

What influence did Mendelssohn exert on music?

For students who wish to study Weber’s characteristics, the Momento Capriccioso, Op. 12, the “Invitation to the Dance,” Op. 65, the piano sonatas in C and A-flat are the most representative, while the overtures to “Der Freischütz,” “Euryanthe” and “Oberon” show his style as a dramatic composer.

The following suggestions may aid the student in his study of Mendelssohn’s works: The “Italian” and “Scotch” symphonies, the “Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “Hebrides” and “Melusina” overtures, the Nocturne and Scherzo from the “Midsummer Night’s Dream” music, the violin concerto, the concerto in G minor and the Capriccio Brillante for piano and orchestra, the pieces for piano, Op. 7, Nos. 3 and 7, the Rondo Capriccioso, Op. 14, the Caprice, Op. 16, No. 2, the Prelude and Fugue, Op. 35, No. 1, the Serious Variations, Op. 54, the Scherzo à Capriccio without opus number, and the following “Songs Without Words,” Op. 19, Nos. 1, 2, 3, 6; Op. 38, Nos. 2, 3, 5; Op. 62, Nos. 3, 6; Op. 67, No. 4, and Op. 102, No. 3. Liszt has made an exceedingly effective transcription of Mendelssohn’s song “On the Wings of Song,” which is a popular concert number today. [Pg 407]

Robert Schumann.

The Romantic Movement before Schumann.—Schubert gave a decided impetus to the Romantic movement through his spontaneous melody and deep fund of imagination. He infused poetry into the classic forms, his piano works in the small forms showed the way to future achievement in these lines, but especially he founded German song, which had scarcely been hinted at by Mozart and Beethoven. Although Weber extended the province of piano technic, and exhibited further possibilities of romantic feeling in combination with the rondo and sonata forms, his chief work was the realization of German opera, elsewhere described. But still another German was destined to contribute richly to romantic piano literature, to prove no mean successor to Schubert in the province of song, and to add further proofs of his genius in chamber-music, choral works and the symphony.

Schumann’s Early life.—Robert Alexander Schumann was born at Zwickau, in Saxony, June 8, 1810. His father was a bookseller with some attainments as an author. Schumann’s gift for music asserted itself early. He had piano lessons from a local organist at the age of six, and began to compose soon after. A taste for improvisation also developed. For several years his literary interests were as pronounced as those for music. He read assiduously, and was especially devoted to poetry. His general education was continued at the Zwickau Academy, where he studied until 1828. In 1827, he came under the joint influence of the writings of Jean Paul (Richter) the poet and novelist, and of Schubert’s music, both of which played an important part in his mental [Pg 408] and artistic growth. In 1828, he entered the University of Leipzig with the intention of studying law. He kept up his music, however, and not only became enthusiastic over the clavier works of Bach, but took piano lessons of Friedrich Wieck, a celebrated teacher in Leipzig. In 1829, Schumann went to Heidelberg. Here he continued his law studies in a desultory fashion, but worked with the greatest persistence at piano playing. In 1830, he resolved to study law with more seriousness, but it was intensely repugnant to him, and after some reflection, he determined, with Wieck’s advice, to adopt music as a profession. Accordingly, he returned to Leipzig to study the piano with Wieck, but having the misfortune to injure a finger in his zeal for speedy perfection, he was obliged to forego the career of a virtuoso, perhaps to the great gain of music.

Schumann’s Professional Career.—He now devoted his attention to thorough study of composition with Heinrich Dorn. In 1834, Schumann founded the “New Journal of Music” in the interests of a higher critical standard, and the furtherance of worthy compositions. During ten years of editorship, Schumann found abundant outlet for his literary interests, and his paper exerted a considerable force on public opinion. Two of his greatest piano works, the Carnival, Op. 9, and the Symphonic Studies, Op. 13, belong to the year 1834. During the years 1836 and 1837, he had some intimacy with Mendelssohn. From 1836-39 date most of Schumann’s important works for the piano. In 1840, Schumann married Wieck’s daughter, Clara, the celebrated pianist, after several years’ struggle to gain her father’s consent. Schumann’s marriage was the turning-point in his artistic career, and his wife’s sympathy was a great stimulus to his creative activity. In the year following his marriage, Schumann turned to song-composing, producing more than one hundred songs in this period. In 1841, he gave himself up wholly to orchestral composition, writing his symphony in B-flat, the first draft of his D minor symphony, a third work, afterwards published as Overture, Scherzo and Finale, as well as the first movement of his piano concerto. In 1842, he confined himself almost exclusively to chamber-music, composing three string quartets, the masterly quintet, Op. 44, the quartet, Op. 47, for piano and strings, and a trio. To 1845 belong the “Variations” for two pianos, and a large choral work, “Paradise and the Peri.” In 1844, Schumann began the music to Goethe’s “Faust,” but ill-health interrupted him for more than a year. However, in 1845 he completed the piano concerto, wrote several works for pedal piano, and in 1846 finished his second symphony. In 1847, he began his opera “Genoveva,” which was not given until 1850. Late in 1850 he went to Düsseldorf to take a position as director. While here he composed his third symphony. In the following years he wrote several overtures, works for solo instruments and orchestra, the overture and incidental music to Byron’s “Manfred,” “The Pilgrimage of the Rose” and many other choral works, including a Mass and a Requiem. Early in 1854, symptoms of a mental disorder, which had been increasing of late years, culminated in an attempt at suicide. He passed the remaining years of his life in an asylum near Bonn, where he died July 29, 1856. [Pg 409]


Robert Schumann.

[Pg 410] Schumann’s Personality.—By reason of his two-fold activity as critic and composer, Schumann was a new force in music. Highly cultivated in literature, philosophy and poetry, he possessed a keen and discerning critical taste, and a literary style that was picturesque and eloquent. Schumann was shy and reserved by nature, he talked little but observed and reflected abundantly. He was never fond of society, and as years went by he lived more and more like a hermit, absorbed in composition and family life. For ten years, however, he was in touch with the public by reason of his editorship of the “New Journal,” and by his championship therein of all that was good and progressive in the music of the day, did much for the encouragement of true art. His articles on Schubert, Mendelssohn, Gade, Chopin, Berlioz, Liszt, Brahms and others formed a new epoch in musical criticism, and helped the cause of Romanticism immeasurably. No estimate of Schumann’s [Pg 411] character is complete without taking into account these distinct tendencies as critic and composer. His collected writings give a graphic illustration of his views on music, and form a supplement to his personality as expressed in his music.

Schumann’s Compositions.—Schumann’s most representative works include four symphonies and the “Overture, Scherzo and Finale,” the overtures “Genoveva” and “Manfred”; three string quartets, a piano quintet, a piano quartet, three piano trios and two sonatas for piano and violin; the music to “Faust” and “Manfred”; “Paradise and the Peri,” “The Pilgrimage of the Rose” and other works for solos, chorus and orchestra; more than two hundred songs; the piano concerto and two smaller works for piano and orchestra, besides a monumental series of works for piano alone. In addition there are duets, part-songs, choruses, pieces for piano duet, a concert piece for four horns and orchestra, a concerto for ’cello and orchestra, a fantasy for violin and orchestra, besides short pieces for oboe, viola, clarinet and ’cello with piano accompaniment, the opera “Genoveva,” the overtures “The Bride of Messina,” “Julius Cæsar” and “Herman and Dorothea,” the Mass, Op. 147, and the Requiem, Op. 148.

It will be seen that Schumann wrote much in the sonata or symphonic form, yet his command of it was far from complete. In this respect and in instrumentation, Schumann was inferior to his romantic contemporary, Mendelssohn. On the other hand, he was far more original and his music has a much greater depth of sentiment, a higher sense of beauty and a noble human breadth that forms one of the highest points in the development of romanticism. What he lacked in technical attainment, he more than made up in beauty of themes, vigor and spontaneity of treatment, and thorough-going romanticism in moods. It is difficult to say which is his best symphony, they all have merits of their own; of the overtures, that to “Genoveva” (almost the only surviving portion of the opera) and “Manfred” are examples of Schumann’s ardent romanticism at its best. The string-quartets are not always in quartet style and [Pg 412] their structure is sometimes open to criticism, but they are individual and contain much that is beautiful. The piano-quartet is a genial work of great spontaneity that took Europe by storm. It was immediately hailed as the greatest work since Beethoven, although its position might now be assailed by the piano quintets by Brahms and César Franck. The piano quartet, as well as the quintet, is a pioneer in this form of chamber-music, but has not the same flow of melody as the former. The trios and sonatas for violin and piano, although not on a level with the other chamber-music, have nevertheless striking qualities to commend them. Schumann’s choral music is decidedly unequal, but the “Paradise and the Peri,” and portions of the “Faust” and “Manfred” music display the same breadth of human emotion so characteristic of his best music. In the field of song, Schumann is a worthy successor to Schubert. Schumann’s songs have not the inexhaustible melody of Schubert’s, but they are richer harmonically, the accompaniments more individual, and the character of the poems more subtly brought out.

Schumann’s Contribution to the Short Piece.—Perhaps Schumann’s most conspicuous service to music lies in his development of the short piece. In this direction he has cultivated a branch of expression, with an originality, a freedom and a richness that have no parallel in the Romantic movement except in Chopin. Mendelssohn undoubtedly did something for the short piece, but his “Songs Without Words” are limited to a few types, while Schumann made the short form serve every variety of expression. He undoubtedly owed much to the examples of Schubert with his waltzes and other dances, the impromptus and moments musicals, but in richness of resource and spontaneity of expression he went much beyond the older master. His piano style is highly distinctive; it does not offer much that is new in finger technic, but in polyphonic treatment of melodies, in striking rhythms and harmonic effects and in original use of the pedal it is remarkable. Both in the sets of small pieces, such as the “Papillons,” Op. 2, the “Davidsbund [Pg 413] Dances,” Op. 6, the “Carnival,” Op. 9, or the Flower pieces, Op. 19, and in the Novellettes, Op. 21, the Fantasie pieces, Op. 12, the Symphonic Studies, Op. 15, the Toccata, Op. 7, and the great Fantasy, Op. 17, Schumann displays a wealth of imaginative poetry that makes him one of the greatest romanticists in piano music. His piano works from Op. 2 to Op. 28 are matchless, although the sonatas, Op. 11 and 22, suffer from lack of coherence. The variations for two pianos, Op. 46, and the concerto, Op. 54, are models of their type. The “Album for the Young,” Op. 68, the “Forest Scenes,” Op. 82, the “Varied Leaves,” Op. 99, and the “Album Leaves,” Op. 124, are all admirable, and contain a great variety of short pieces, many of which were composed early in his career. Schumann’s songs and piano pieces are the best examples of his contribution to romanticism.

Schubert and Jean Paul Richter (the romantic novelist and poet) were the earliest influences in Schumann’s studies, nevertheless he admired Beethoven greatly, and shut himself up with his quartets as a preparation for his own chamber-music. As a student in Leipzig, he was devoted to Bach’s clavier works, and later in life he renewed his enthusiasm for Bach while writing the works for pedal piano and the piano fugues. Fugal form and romantic sentiment do not go well together, however, and Schumann’s compositions in this form are not his greatest. Schumann’s influence is strongest upon composers of songs and short piano pieces. It would be difficult to name even the most representative, but the most signal example is Brahms, whose songs and piano pieces could hardly exist but for Schumann. In many of the modern Russian composers we find distinct traces of Schumann, as well as among the Frenchmen Gabriel Fauré and Vincent d’Indy, the German Adolf Jensen, the Italian Sgambati, and many others.

Compositions Suggested for Study.—The symphonies, overtures, the chamber-music and the larger choral works are all characteristic of Schumann at his best, but for more detailed study of his piano music and songs the following are suggested. Of the piano works, the [Pg 414] “Papillons,” Op. 2; the “Paganini Caprice,” Op. 3, No. 2; the “Davidsbund” dances, Op. 6, Nos. 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 11, 12, 16, 17, 18; the “Toccata,” Op. 7; the “Carnival,” Op. 9; the Sonata, Op. 11, especially the “Aria” and “Scherzo”; the “Fantasy Pieces,” Op. 12, entire except the “Fable”; the “Symphonic Studies,” Op. 13; the “Scenes from Childhood,” Op. 15, Nos. 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 9 and 13; the “Kreisleriana,” Op. 16, Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 8; the “Arabesque,” Op. 18; the “Flower Pieces,” Op. 19; the “Humoreskes,” Op. 20; the “Novellettes,” Op. 21, Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7 and 8; the Sonata, Op. 22; the “Night Piece,” Op. 23, No. 4; the “Carnival Prank,” Op. 26, Nos. 1, 2, 3 and 4; the “Romance,” Op. 28, No. 2; the Variations for two pianos, Op. 46; the Concerto, Op. 54; the “Album for the Young,” Op. 68; “The Happy Farmer,” “May, Lovely May,” “First Loss,” “Small Romance,” “Remembrance,” November 4, 1847 (the date of Mendelssohn’s death); “Canonic Song,” “Theme,” two pieces without name, “Northern Song”; Op. 76, Nos. 1, 3 and 4; “Forest Scenes,” Op. 82; “Entrance,” “Lovely Flower,” “Inn,” “Bird as Prophet,” “Hunting Song,” “Elves”; Op. 99, Album Leaf, and Novellette; “Album Leaves,” Op. 124, Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, 10, 13, 15 and 17. Of the songs: “Dedication,” “The Nut Tree,” “The Lotus Flower,” “Highland Cradle Song,” “Two Venetian Songs,” “Thou Art like a Flower,” and “Conclusion,” “The Boy with the Magic Horn,” “To the Sunshine,” “Forest Dialogue,” “Moonlight,” “Spring Night,” “Woman’s Love and Life,” “Spring Journey,” “In the Wondrous Month of May,” “From My Tears,” “The Roses, the Lily,” “When I Look into Thine Eyes,” “I Grudge it Not,” “The Two Grenadiers,” “Folk-Song.”

[Pg 415] Questions.

Who represented the Romantic movement prior to Schumann?

Give the important events in Schumann’s early life.

Give the important events in Schumann’s professional career.

Give an account of Schumann as a man and as a critic.

How did Schumann help in musical progress?

What composers influenced him in his development?

In what forms did Schumann write?

Name representative works in the different forms.

What contribution did Schumann make to the development of the short piano piece?

What composers did Schumann influence? [Pg 416]


Frederic Chopin.

[Pg 417]

Frederic Chopin.

Schumann and Chopin.—Among Schumann’s many able reviews of new music, showing the keenest critical insight, none exhibit a more just appreciation of an original talent than his article on some variations by a young composer who was destined to exert so deep and widespread an influence on piano style and piano composition. Chopin’s romanticism, somewhat affected at first by both Hummel and Field, is one of the most individual developments of the entire period.

Chopin’s Early life.—Frederic Chopin was born at Zelazowa-Wola, near Warsaw, in Poland, on March 1, 1809. His father, who had served in various positions as a teacher, finally established a boarding-school in Warsaw. Chopin showed great sensitiveness towards music at an early age. His first lessons on the piano were given him by a Polish teacher of some celebrity, Adalbert Zwyny. He soon became famous as a pianist, and from the age of nine, played constantly at the houses of the nobility, and was eagerly received by them. In 1824, he entered the Warsaw Lyceum in order to pursue his general studies. About the same time he began lessons in composition with Elsner, who had a high reputation as a teacher. He had already composed pieces for the piano on his own account, and continued with such success that as early as 1825 his Op. 1, a Rondo, was published. In 1827, he left the Lyceum, and gave thereafter all his time to playing and composing. Soon after, he made great strides in composition, and many of his studies and smaller pieces, as well as his two concertos, belong to this period, or were begun then. Early in 1829, Hummel played in Warsaw, and the [Pg 418] influence of his piano style is evident in the works of Chopin for some time to come. Later in this year, Chopin went to Vienna, where he gave two concerts, winning instant recognition both as pianist and composer. After his return to Warsaw he continued to compose much.

Chopin’s Manhood.—A second visit to Vienna occurred toward the end of 1830. He gave concerts, came into contact with many musicians, and even found time to compose; but being dissatisfied with conditions in Vienna, determined to go to Paris. Early in 1831, after giving concerts on the way, he arrived at Paris, which was henceforth to be his home. Here he was soon thrown with many of the leading musicians, his playing caused an immediate sensation, and as at Warsaw, he was welcomed in the most exclusive society. In 1832, he began to acquire fame as a piano teacher, especially of pupils from the aristocracy. From 1833 to 1835, his compositions began to appear, and gained him much approval as a composer. In 1835, he went to Leipzig, where he saw Wieck and his daughter, afterwards Clara Schumann, Mendelssohn and Schumann. In 1837, he met Madame George Sand, the famous writer, whose influence on his life was so great. During this year the first sinister symptoms of ill-health made their appearance. With the idea of benefiting his health, Chopin passed the winter of 1838-39 on the island of Majorca, with Madame Sand and her two children. The climate had a bad effect upon him; he could compose but little, and the condition of his lungs obliged a return to France. He was so ill as to be obliged to spend several months at Marseilles, recuperating. After a summer at Nohant, Mme. Sand’s country home, he was again at Paris in the fall of 1839. From 1840 to 1848, he lived in Paris, with occasional visits to Nohant in the summer, teaching as much as his health would allow, passing much time in the most aristocratic society. He seldom played in public, and would only play for pupils, or when persuaded by devoted friends to display his extraordinary gifts as a pianist. During these years, however, his health grew more and more precarious. [Pg 419]

The Last Years of Chopin.—In 1847, the intimacy of Chopin and Madame Sand came to an end, for various causes, but largely because of a character caricatured from Chopin in one of Madame Sand’s novels, and because she was tired of taking care of him. Ill as he was, he went to England, after a farewell concert in Paris, arriving in the spring of 1848. He gave two concerts in London with some success, besides playing at friends’ houses. He went to Scotland at the instance of a pupil, Miss Stirling, gave concerts at Edinburgh and Glasgow, besides one in the interval at Manchester. During this entire tour he suffered greatly from ill-health and exhaustion, and after one more appearance in London, he returned to Paris, exceedingly ill, in January, 1849. He was not able to teach and was obliged to depend upon the generosity of friends; among them his pupil, Miss Stirling. After several months of hopeless struggle to regain his health, he died of consumption on October 17, 1849, surrounded by devoted friends.

Chopin’s Personality.—Chopin was extremely refined and delicate by nature. He was fastidious about the color and fit of his clothes, the furnishing and arrangement of his rooms, and other details of everyday life. He was always extremely fond of society and moved in the highest circles. As a rule, he was averse to seeing much of musicians, in spite of his friendship with Liszt, Hiller, Berlioz and Schumann. As a young man he was fond of dancing, acting and practical jokes; though sensitive, he was well and strong, and able to endure rough stage-journeys. He was a capital mimic all his life, and a witty companion who pleased by his gentle irony or sarcasm. He was extremely reserved in spite of his sociability, his intimate friends (either Polish or favorite pupils) even quarrelled as to which knew him best. He was genuinely confidential only in his music. Chopin was exceedingly patriotic; he was always ready to appear in concert in behalf of Polish refugees, he corresponded untiringly with his Polish friends, and gave many proofs of his devotion to Poland, which he never forgot in spite of years of absence. [Pg 420]

Chopin as Pianist.—Chopin was a pianist of extraordinary distinction, in spite of the preëminence of Liszt. His technic, founded in the school of Clementi and Cramer, with great attention to Bach, was influenced to some extent by Hummel and Field, but later became highly original, and expressive of great individuality. Although he possessed great brilliancy, the most prominent trait in his playing was its all-pervading and inexhaustible fund of poetry. It had nothing harsh, unmelodious or ungraceful. His sense of rhythm was unusually piquant, and one of its features was the skilful use of tempo rubato, a slight variance from strict time without disturbing it fundamentally. In later life, Chopin became disinclined to appear in public, his performances were limited to the drawing-rooms of aristocratic friends, where he would play or improvise for hours. He was never a robust pianist at his strongest, and the transparent delicacy of his playing during his last years was almost incredible.

Chopin’s Compositions.—Chopin’s music constitutes the true revelation of himself. His life, not full of action, was, however, rich in emotion and sentiment of great variety and subtlety. Its mainsprings were his patriotic love of Poland and everything connected with it, and the poetic impressionability of his temperament, which were all transferred to his music. Although Chopin composed a number of works in which he uses the orchestra, some chamber-music, and a set of Polish songs, he was first and last a composer for the piano. In addition to the works referred to, he wrote three sonatas, four ballades, four scherzos, ten polonaises, fourteen waltzes, twenty-eight studies, fifty-five mazurkas, twenty-five preludes, seventeen nocturnes, three impromptus and a fantasie-impromptu, three rondos, besides a superb fantasy, a concert allegro, a barcarolle, a berceuse, a tarantelle, a bolero, a rondo for two pianos, and a few trifles.

Of his two concertos, the second published (although the first composed) is the finer. It is riper and more poetic, the slow movement [Pg 421] reaches a high point of lyric style, and the treatment of form throughout the concerto is less awkward. Chopin is not at home in the sonata form, the concertos are interesting in spite of, rather than on account of, their treatment of form. The piano sonatas, Op. 35 and 58, have faults of structure, and occasional incoherence, but they are so full of poetry, romantic melody and dramatic mood that one almost overlooks their technical shortcomings.

Chopin Most Successful in Free Forms.—The most representative works of Chopin are those in which he adopts no conventional form, but follows his own instinct entirely. Thus, in his ballades, scherzos, and especially in the fantasy, Op. 49, one finds freedom of invention and variety of treatment combined with logical development and real coherence. The ballads are dramatic poems in which sentiment and virtuosity are happily united. The scherzos are original conceptions quite distinct from the accepted type; they have bold outlines, variety of mood and demand virtuosity in their performance. The fantasy is instructive in its logical structure, there is no sign of the constraint of the sonatas, and its contents are both dramatic on a large scale and lyric by contrast. The impromptus are shorter pieces of a lyric nature, although the element of virtuosity is not lacking. The nocturnes are lyric pieces of simple form but intimate style. Their general plan was at first copied from Field, but the imitator went so far ahead of his model as almost to eclipse it. Some of them portray idyllic moods, others are sentimental or even dramatic in their outlines. The studies, Op. 10 and 25, epitomize in a remarkable way Chopin’s technical innovations, and piano style. They are brilliant, poetic and highly dramatic by turns, and in their contents are the most musical studies composed up to their time.

National Spirit in Chopin’s Music.—Chopin, the patriot, was devoted to the dances and Folk-melodies of his own country. He was thoroughly national as a composer; hence in some respects his mazurkas and polonaises are the most characteristic of his compositions. The mazurkas with their vital rhythms and novel harmonies, contain much [Pg 422] poetry of mood and variety of expression within small limits. The polonaise, as treated by Chopin, was less a dance form, and more an independent form with characteristic rhythms. The polonaises, Op. 44 and 53, are virtually patriotic poems. The preludes are sketches of varying size; some are genuine lyrics; some frankly technical in their object; others have a distinct touch of the dramatic. Some of the waltzes suggest the salon, but in others Chopin has individualized the type until it has risen above its origin. Among the single pieces, the Concert Allegro is large in dimensions, very interesting technically and musically. The Barcarolle, in nocturne-form on a larger scale, is almost heroic in its outlines, and a superb example of his mature style. Another piece equally deserving of distinction is the Berceuse, an ingenious series of variations on a persistent bass. The Tarantelle and Bolero are merely fascinating salon pieces.

Of the youthful works with orchestra, the variations on a theme from Mozart’s “Don Juan” are more interesting from the novelty of their piano styles than as variations; the Fantasie on Polish themes attracts attention chiefly on account of its Folk-song character, while the “Krakowiak” rondo is remarkable for its spirited national-dance rhythms. The orchestral accompaniments to these pieces are not significant; in fact, Chopin’s use of the orchestra was his weakest point. The Polish songs are unequal, and at best add little to his fame. Liszt, however, has transcribed six, of which two are frequently heard in concert, while Sgambati has arranged one.

Originality and Freshness of Invention.—The most extraordinary trait of Chopin as a composer is that, in spite of the limitations imposed by repeating the same form over and over again, he is almost inexhaustible in variety of expression. As the poet of lyric mood he accomplished almost as much as Schumann for the development of the short piece, while in his longer pieces of dramatic mood and large contours he has shown that the sonata-form is not the only structure by which to convey heroic sentiment. His was the most subtle originality, [Pg 423] the most personal style which stamped itself indelibly on nearly every composition. He immeasurably broadened the technical treatment of the piano, not only as a virtuoso, but in the direction of variety of expression, delicate accentuation and exquisite tone. Among romantic composers he has done more for the advancement of piano style than anyone except Liszt. In spite of the latter’s gigantic achievement, the value of Chopin’s contribution is still unimpaired. From the point of view of expression, Chopin is more individual even than Schumann, but the honors as the most important composer for the piano during the Romantic period must be divided between them. Chopin’s influence has been immense not only on the composers and pianists of France and Germany but also markedly among living composers in Russia. Chopin is the preëminent poet of the piano.

Representative Compositions.—The following list for the student contains the works and pieces most thoroughly characteristic of his genius: The sonatas, Op. 35 and 38; the scherzos, Op. 20, 31 and 39; the ballades, Op. 23, 38, 47 and 52; the polonaises, Op. 22, 26, 40, 44 and 53; the waltzes, Op. 18, Op. 34, Nos. 1 and 2; Op. 42, Op. 64, Nos. 1, 2, and Op. 69, No. 1; the studies, Op. 10, Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 10 and 12; Op. 25, Nos. 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 9, 11 and 12; the mazurkas, Op. 6, Nos. 1, 2; Op. 7, Nos. 1, 2, 3; Op. 17, Nos. 2, 3, 4; Op. 24, Nos. 1, 3, 4; Op. 30, Nos. 2, 4; Op. 33, Nos. 1, 3, 4; Op. 41, Nos. 1, 2; Op. 56, No. 2; Op. 59, Nos. 2 and 3; Op. 63, No. 3; Op. 68, No. 2; the nocturnes, Op. 9, Op. 15, Nos, 2, 3; Op. 27, Op. 37, Op. 48, No. 1; Op. 55, Op. 62, No. 1; the preludes, Op. 28, Nos. 1, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 15, 16, 17, 18, 20, 21, 23 and 24; the prelude, Op. 45; the impromptus, Op. 29, Op. 35, Op. 51, and the Fantasie-Impromptu, Op. 66; the Fantasy, Op. 49; the Tarantelle, Op. 43; the Berceuse, Op. 57; the Barcarolle, Op. 60, and the Concert Allegro, Op. 46. [Pg 424]


Give an account of Chopin’s early life.

Name the important events in his manhood and later life.

What were the striking traits of Chopin as a man?

What were Chopin’s qualities as a pianist?

In what forms did Chopin compose?

In what form was Chopin most successful?

In which of his compositions is the national spirit strongly evident?

What characteristics do we note in Chopin as a composer?

Name some representative compositions.

What composer influenced Chopin’s piano style in his early life?

What celebrated musicians were friends of Chopin? [Pg 425]

Franz Liszt.

The piano music of Chopin and Schumann reached the highest level attained during the Romantic period, in subtle originality of style and deep human sentiment, respectively. Notwithstanding their preëminence in these particulars, a master was destined to come who summed up the entire development of piano technic in his achievements, the greatest virtuoso of the century, to whose influence all piano playing since has been obliged to acknowledge its indebtedness. In addition, his services in breaking away from symphonic tradition, in achieving propaganda for various composers of epoch-making works, including Wagner, in giving up himself as teacher without remuneration, are equally significant.

Liszt’s Early Life.—Franz Liszt was born October 22, 1811, at Raiding, Hungary. His mother was of Austrian birth; his father, a Hungarian, occupying an official position on the estates of Prince Esterhazy, was devoted to music. Liszt was a somewhat delicate child of acute sensibilities, especially in the direction of music. At the age of six he received piano lessons from his father. The intensity of his interest in music and his phenomenal progress soon showed the uncommon extent of his gifts. At the age of nine, he gave his first concert before an audience composed largely of Hungarian nobility. His performance was so extraordinary that some of those present agreed to give Liszt a pension for six years to insure his proper education. Accordingly, father and son went to Vienna, where the boy studied the piano with Carl Czerny and composition with Salieri. Czerny put Liszt through so thorough a course of discipline that at eleven years of age [Pg 426] Liszt was known for his playing from scores, and reading the most difficult compositions at sight. In 1823, he gave two successful concerts; Beethoven was present at the second, and publicly kissed the boy in token of his approval. Liszt’s father now took him to Paris to study at the Conservatory, but the director, Cherubini, refused to allow him to enter because he was a foreigner. Liszt studied composition, however, with Paer and afterwards with Reicha. In the meantime, letters of introduction from Liszt’s Hungarian patrons soon sufficed to make him known throughout the most aristocratic circles, where he created an absolute furore. A public concert produced the same results on a larger scale. Later, Liszt made two visits to England; he was received at the Court of George IV, played in private, and gave concerts. On returning to Paris, he completed an opera, which was performed in Paris. This opera and other compositions of this period have entirely disappeared. Tours through France and a third visit to England followed. In 1827, Liszt’s father died, and his mother came to Paris to live; he supported her by giving lessons, and was soon in great demand as a teacher. An unfortunate love-affair caused him to consider entering the church. He lost interest in music, fell ill, and was supposed to be dead. Liszt gradually recovered, however. He now underwent a remarkable series of formative influences; he read widely, formed the acquaintance of many celebrated personages, including Chateaubriand, Lamartine, Victor Hugo and George Sand, became interested in the principles of St. Simonians, a somewhat socialistic sect, dallied with free-thinking and revolutionary tendencies, formed a friendship with the Abbé Lamennais, and became intimate with Berlioz and Chopin. [Pg 427]


Franz Liszt.

[Pg 428] Period of Preparation.—Of far deeper result was the appearance of Paganini in Paris during 1831. Liszt bent all his energies towards devising a transcendent piano technic to reproduce Paganini’s caprices on the piano. It was at this time that he laid the foundations of his gigantic achievements in piano technic, not merely in the interest of virtuosity, but for extending the limits of expression. He was also much affected by Chopin’s poetic individuality. In 1834, Liszt entered into an intimacy with the Comtesse d’Agoult, which lasted for several years. Three children were born of this union, of whom two survived. One daughter married M. Ollivier, a French statesman, the other became successively Mme. von Bülow and Mme. Wagner. During this period Liszt composed much for piano, made many transcriptions, and began his literary activity on musical subjects. He gave concerts, chiefly for charity. In 1837, he made a trip to Paris to contest the supremacy of the piano with Thalberg. Among his compositions of this period may be mentioned the etudes, the Rossini transcriptions, many arrangements of Schubert’s songs, the piano scores of several Beethoven symphonies, besides opera-fantasies, original pieces for piano, etc.

Professional Activity.—In 1838, Liszt created an extraordinary sensation by his concerts in Vienna, and from 1839 to 1847 lived the life of a traveling virtuoso, giving an unparalleled series of recitals throughout the length and breadth of Europe, which were a series of triumphs such as no artist had ever before experienced. In 1832, he was made court music-director at Weimar, his duties only requiring his presence for three months in the year. In 1847, Liszt met the Princess von Sayn-Wittgenstein, who exercised a remarkable influence over him. She persuaded him to give up his career as a virtuoso, and turn to composition. From 1848 to 1861 Liszt passed the most significant period of his life at Weimar. From his position as conductor he was of inestimable service to the cause of romantic music through his performance of operas and orchestral works by Wagner, Berlioz, Schumann, Raff, Cornelius and others. He was equally active with his pen in deference to the new artistic principles. To this epoch belong Liszt’s most important orchestral works, the concertos and other compositions for piano and orchestra, many transcriptions and editions of the classics. [Pg 429]

Later Life.—In 1859, opposition to Liszt’s progressiveness became so pronounced that he resigned. He did not leave Weimar, however, until 1861. The rest of his life was somewhat irregularly divided between Rome, Weimar and Budapest. During the first few years at Rome he composed chiefly church music and oratorios; in 1865, he took minor orders in the Church of Rome. From 1869 on, persuaded by the Duke and Duchess of Saxe-Weimar, he passed portions of every year at Weimar in a beautiful house especially furnished for him by the Duke. Pupils flocked to him, he held a sort of musical court, and was treated with the respect due to royalty. His later years were full of activity, and generous sympathy to all that was worthy, and he was the constant object of homage and affection. In 1886, Liszt became overtaxed by a series of trips to hear his own works performed, including a reception in his honor at London. He also made exceptional effort to attend a performance of “Tristan and Isolde” at Bayreuth. A cold was speedily followed by pneumonia, from which he died on July 31, 1886.

Liszt’s Personality and Character.—Liszt’s character was remarkable for its conspicuous virtues and almost equally prominent faults. His was a large, noble nature, with deep humanitarian traits. His life was one long service to his art, accompanied in his later years by devotion to the church. Though not highly educated, except in experience of men and the world, he had an extremely keen mind, omnivorous in its tastes, and his interests were wide and penetrating. Perhaps his salient characteristics were generosity and unselfishness. Often during his career as a virtuoso he gave freely of the proceeds of his concerts to charity. After the close of his concert-tours he taught for years without remuneration. His help to younger artists was incalculable in its extent. As conductor at Weimar his motto was to help living composers first, and by his energy he did valiant work in helping Wagner’s cause. Largely endowed with wit, a fund of irony and charm of manner, men and women alike almost literally fell at his feet, and it is all the more admirable that in spite of the homage so unsparingly lavished upon him, he did not swerve from his artistic purposes. The strain of mysticism so marked in his youth, became later so pronounced that he felt compelled to give it expression by entering the church. [Pg 430]

Liszt as a Pianist.—Liszt was the most phenomenal pianist in the history of music. Other pianists have surpassed him in single qualities, but no one has united in so stupendous fashion as much as he. Beginning with a strictly classical education, Liszt evolved a new technic which completely summed up the difficulties of piano playing. In velocity, wide stretches, double-notes, octaves, and a whole system in itself of interlocking passages, he all but attained the impossible. He carried independence of fingers, especially in fugue playing, to a pitch hitherto unequalled. His performance of brilliant music represented the last word in bravura; in the classics his interpretation was, as Wagner says: “not reproduction, but production,” so vivid and glowing was it. His so-called “orchestral style” in its bold color and rich pedal effects was as distinct from the piano playing before him as the modern orchestra was from that of Mozart and Haydn. As he assimilated everything in the field of piano playing before him, so has everything since him been forced to take his method into account.

Liszt’s Compositions.—Among Liszt’s chief compositions are the “Faust” and “Dante” symphonies, with choral epilogues; twelve symphonic poems, a form which he invented, and which is epoch-making in the development of music; many shorter orchestral works; two concertos, the Hungarian fantasy, the “Dance of Death” for piano and orchestra, besides several compositions for the same combination on themes of other composers; the oratorios “St. Elizabeth” and “Christus,” a Solemn Mass, the Hungarian Coronation Mass, several other masses, twelve sacred hymns for chorus, five psalms, and many other pieces of church music, choruses for men’s voices, several compositions for solos, chorus and orchestra for various festival occasions; fifty-five songs for voice with piano accompaniment; three collections containing twenty-five pieces for piano, entitled “Years of Pilgrimage,” a collection of the piano pieces named “Poetic and Religious Harmonies, [Pg 431]” twelve “Etudes of Transcendent Technic,” three concert studies, a sonata, two ballades, two “Legends,” a concert solo, afterwards arranged as a “Pathetic” concerto, a Valse Impromptu, two polonaises, six Consolations, a Spanish Rhapsody, and nineteen Hungarian Rhapsodies are the best known of the piano music. There are five ballades for declamation with piano accompaniment. For organ, there is a fantasy and fugue on a choral from Meyerbeer’s “Prophet,” a fugue on B. A. C. H., and variations on a theme from a Bach cantata.

Liszt’s Arrangements.—Of almost equal importance with Liszt’s original compositions are his matchless transcriptions. Instead of a trivial and literal process of transcribing, he penetrated the intimate spirit of the piece, and translated it into his own piano idiom, often adding considerably but always with supreme artistic effect. What is lost in fidelity of transfer is more than gained in added charm, new harmonic significance and a subtle enhancing of individuality. Liszt started the evolution of his epoch-making technic while experimenting with his arrangement of Paganini’s caprices, and of Berlioz’ “Fantastic Symphony.” He made easy arrangements from operas of Rossini, Mercadante and Donizetti. Then he turned to setting Schubert’s matchless songs for the piano, arranging in all fifty-seven; he continued by making piano scores of Beethoven’s symphonies, of Rossini’s overture to “William Tell,” and to Weber’s overtures “Jubilee,” “Freischütz” and “Oberon.” He also made many transcriptions from Wagner’s operas, including “The Flying Dutchman,” “Tannhäuser,” “Lohengrin,” “Die Meistersinger,” “Tristan and Isolde” and “Parsifal,” besides a fantasy on themes from “Rienzi,” and an arrangement of the “Walhalla” motive from “The Ring of the Nibelungs.” Liszt’s arrangements of six preludes and fugues as well as the fantasy and fugue in G minor by Bach are not only remarkable for the extent to which they reproduce organ-effect, but as pioneers in the transfer of organ pieces to the piano, in which Liszt has been followed by Tausig, d’Albert and Busoni. In addition he [Pg 432] transcribed fourteen songs by Schumann, thirteen by Franz, eight by Mendelssohn, seven by Beethoven, six by Chopin and two by Weber, besides an arrangement from Mendelssohn’s music to “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” and “piano scores” of the septets by Beethoven and Hummel. Liszt arranged Weber’s “Polacca Brillante,” Op. 72, and Schubert’s Fantasy, Op. 15, for piano and orchestra. There are also many transcriptions of pieces by Palestrina, Di Lasso, Arcadelt, Mozart, Glinka, Dargomischky, Saint-Saëns, Verdi, Raff, Gounod, Rubinstein, Tchaikovsky, César Cui and others. Liszt scored the accompaniment of several Schubert songs for orchestra, he also orchestrated several of the Schubert four-hand marches. He also arranged many of his own songs, orchestral and choral works for piano and for organ. His transcriptions as a whole are monumental not only on account of their artistic merit, but because they served an educational purpose in spreading the works of little known composers. In this way Liszt cultivated the public taste for Schubert’s songs, and brought Wagner within the reach of the average concert-goer.

Liszt as Writer.—As a critic, Liszt must stand as a pioneer although in a different direction from Schumann. Liszt’s early essay on the position of the artist is extremely significant; his criticisms during the Weimar period, especially his analyses of Wagner’s operas were of great value; his “Life of Chopin,” while untrustworthy in detail and somewhat overdrawn, is nevertheless graphic; “The Gipsies and Their Music” is picturesque if not entirely accurate. Liszt’s letters contain glimpses of his high qualities as well as vital presentations of his musical views. The correspondence between Wagner and Liszt gives conclusive evidence of the latter’s unselfishness in Wagner’s behalf.

Liszt’s Position and Influence as a Composer.—Liszt’s rank as a composer was undoubtedly overshadowed by his fame as a pianist and teacher, and by his facility as an arranger. For many years neither critics nor public would acknowledge his creative gifts. Whatever our opinion of the symphonies, the symphonic poems and the concertos, there [Pg 433] is no doubt that Liszt rendered an inestimable service to the development of music in breaking away from the sonata form, and in demonstrating that form and substance can go hand-in-hand without detriment to organic unity and coherence. His forms are novel, his orchestration highly effective in spite of the achievements of Berlioz and Wagner in this direction. Liszt’s church music and his oratorios are worthy efforts towards a reform of ecclesiastic music. His songs are truly spontaneous lyrics, which are not appreciated at their true value. In spite of Liszt’s unquestioned attainments as a composer, there is a suggestion of skilful assimilation in his individuality rather than of unique and unquestioned personality. Nevertheless his influence has been vast. In his old age he encouraged Borodin and Glazounoff, he conducted works by Rimsky-Korsakoff, he made his pupils play Balakireff’s “Islamey.” In turn, the “new-Russian” school owes much to him. Tchaikovsky could hardly have written his symphonic poems without Liszt’s pioneer work to show the way. Saint-Saëns admits a similar influence. In fact, the entire development of the symphonic poem is directly due to Liszt; it is so considerable in extent that the details cannot be examined here, but while both Wagner and Berlioz contributed much to the growth of orchestral style and individuality of expression, the originality of the symphonic poem form belongs entirely to Liszt. Thus Liszt’s share in the evolution of ultra-modern orchestral music, as well as in the development of piano playing, is very important, and the greatest living composer, Richard Strauss, although also influenced by both Berlioz and Wagner, frankly avows himself to be a disciple of Liszt.

[Pg 434] Questions and Suggestions.

What was the nature and extent of Liszt’s early musical education?

What was the effect of his wide travels and meeting with notable persons on his character?

What set him to perfecting his technic?

Name the most important events in his career.

What educational work was the feature of his later years?

Sketch Liszt’s personality and character.

Give an account of Liszt’s contribution to piano technic.

In what styles and forms of composition did Liszt write?

What works did he transcribe for the piano?

What literary work did he do?

What composers did he influence?

What song composer was brought into greater prominence by Liszt?

Whose symphonies did he arrange for the piano?

What opera composer did he assist greatly?

What important form did Liszt originate?

What has been Liszt’s share in the development of the “modern school”?

The student who wishes to examine Liszt’s works for himself, should study the symphonies and symphonic poems in Liszt’s own arrangement for two pianos. They require, however, a technic beyond the average player. The same difficulty applies to his piano music, but the following may serve as guides to Liszt’s style: The “Lake of Wallenstadt,” and “Eclogue,” Nos. 2 and 7, in the Swiss “Years of Pilgrimage”; the “Gondoliera” and “Tarantelle” from “Venice and Naples,” the “Valse Impromptu,” “Ave Maria,” “Waldesrauschen” and “Gnomenreigen,” the pieces for Lebert and Stark’s Piano School, the Concert Studies in F minor and D-flat, the Love Dreams, the Consolations, Nos. 1, 2 and 4; the Legends, the “Benediction of God in the Solitude” and “Love Song” from “Poetic and Religious Harmonies,” and the Fantasie on “Rigoletto.” For the more advanced player may be suggested the Etudes, Nos. 3, 4, 5, [Pg 435] 7, 9, 11 and 12; the Mephisto Waltz, the Second Ballad, “Au Bord d’une Source” from the Swiss “Years of Pilgrimage,” the Second Polonaise, the “Funerailles” from “Poetic and Religious Harmonies,” the Sonata, the Hungarian Rhapsodies, Nos. 2, 4, 6, 10, 11, 12, 15, and the Spanish Rhapsody; the two concertos in E-flat and A, the Hungarian Fantasy, and the concert piece “The Dance of Death,” the Fantasy on “Don Juan.” Among the transcriptions, the Schubert songs, “Hark! Hark! the Lark,” “Du bist die Ruh,” “Frühlingsglaube,” “The Wanderer,” “By the Sea,” “Meeresstille,” “Barcarolle,” “Trockne Blumen,” “Wohin,” “Ungeduld,” “Erl-King”; the Mendelssohn song, “On Wings of Song”; the Schumann songs, “Dedication,” “To the Sunshine,” and “Spring Night”; the Weber “Slumber Song” may be suggested. Of the Wagner arrangements, “The Evening Star”, from Tannhäuser, the “Spinning Song,” from “The Flying Dutchman,” and “Isolde’s Love Death,” are the most characteristic. The Paganini Studies, Nos. 2, 3 and 5; the waltz from Gounod’s “Faust,” the Tarantelle after Auber, and the Overture to “Tannhäuser” are among the best. Of the songs, “Mignon’s Lied” and “Ueber allen Gipfeln,” “Comment disaient-ils,” “Angiolin dal biondo crin,” “Es muss ein wunderbares sein,” “Die drei Zigeuner,” and “Der du von dem Himmel bist” and “Die Lorelei” are the best. [Pg 436]

Pianists and Teachers Since Liszt. I.

Introduction.—The achievements of Liszt in developing piano technic, in enlarging the scope of piano playing through his masterly transcriptions, in variety and intensity of interpretation, have brought results that are enormous in extent and far-reaching in their developments to the generations that have succeeded him. When Liszt was in the height of his career as a virtuoso, few could master the difficulties which his epoch-making works presented. Gradually the secrets of his technic were revealed to the ambitious few; now they are almost common property. The great concert pianists of today possess a technic that would have been unique forty years ago. The repertory which all pianists worthy the name play from memory (a practice which Liszt initiated) is exceedingly extensive, while the endurance which they display and the facility with which they reproduce the masterpieces of piano literature is stupendous.

Pupils of Liszt.

Liszt was undoubtedly the greatest revealer of the secrets of piano playing in the 19th century, and his pupils and those who have assimilated his teachings occupy a large part of the pianistic activity of today. Among the first of Liszt’s pupils to become famous were Tausig and von Bülow. Carl Tausig, born in 1841, died in 1871, was trained by his father, and later studied with Liszt, under whose guidance he achieved a phenomenal accuracy of technic, and a commanding power of interpretation. His short life was spent mainly in concert [Pg 437] tours. He established a school of music in Berlin for advanced piano playing. His untimely death cut short a brilliant career. His edition of Clementi’s Gradus and a collection of finger exercises are invaluable to teachers and to students. Hans von Bülow, born in 1830, died 1894, was intended for the law, although he studied the piano as a boy under Friedrich Wieck. In 1850, he became so absorbed in Wagner’s music that he abandoned all idea of the law. He studied the piano with Liszt at Weimar, and soon acquired a remarkable technic. He was never a pianist of the virtuoso type; his strength lay in striving to reproduce the intention of the composer as faithfully as possible. His interpretations of Beethoven were especially famous, although he was progressive in his tastes. In 1876, he made a tour in the United States, where he did much to advance the cause of new music. As early as 1865 he conducted performances of Wagner’s operas, and later his association with orchestras at Meiningen and of the Berlin Philharmonic Society placed his reputation as a conductor in the front rank. He was extremely energetic in Wagner’s behalf and did much to bring his works to a public hearing. His editions of Cramer’s studies and Beethoven’s sonatas are of great value.

Among Liszt’s later pupils, one of the foremost is Eugen D’Albert, born in 1864. He received his early training in England, but in 1881, as a prize scholar, he studied with Liszt at Weimar. After brilliant concert tours through Europe, he came to America, in 1889, with Sarasate, where his ability was at once recognized. He has since largely renounced the career of virtuoso for that of composer, although he made a visit to the United States in 1905, giving a number of recitals.

Moritz Rosenthal, possibly the most fully equipped virtuoso technically now before the public, was born in 1862. At first a pupil of Mikuli, a disciple of Chopin, and later of Joseffy, he came ultimately to Liszt, with whom he studied for ten years. After numerous European tours he came to the United States in 1888, where he dazzled his audiences by his unusual command of technic. He reappeared in [Pg 438] America in 1896-97, and has since made triumphal progress through Europe. As an interpreter he is less successful than as a virtuoso. He is court pianist of Roumania. He has published a collection of technical exercises with Ludwig Schytté.

Bernhard Stavenhagen, born in 1862, is another noted Liszt pupil. He acted as Liszt’s secretary during his later years, and at the same time received lessons. In 1890, he became court pianist at Weimar. In 1894-95, he visited America. Since then he has acted as conductor at Dresden and Munich.

Emil Sauer, another phenomenal pupil of Liszt, was born in 1862. At first a pupil of Nicholas Rubinstein, he studied with Liszt from 1884 until the latter’s death. He possesses an extraordinary technic, and is almost unrivalled for the extreme brilliancy of his effects. He has received many decorations from various courts of Europe. In 1897-98, he visited the United States, where he made a sensation. Since 1901, he has been at the head of the piano department in the Vienna Conservatory, giving his attention to pupils in the artist department.

Among other talented pupils of Liszt may be mentioned Alfred Reisenauer, Arthur Friedheim and Richard Burmeister, all of whom have been heard in this country. The foregoing account does not begin to enumerate all, merely the celebrated pupils of Liszt. Others will be referred to in the course of this and the next lesson.

Belgian Pianists.—In piano playing, the Brussels Conservatory is far below the level of the Paris Conservatory, although the director Gevaërt has a world-wide reputation for his text-book on orchestration, and the symphony concerts at the conservatory, led by him, have a high place in orchestral standards. Nevertheless, in the piano department two names deserve mention: Brassin and Dupont. Louis Brassin (1840-1884) studied at the Leipzig Conservatory under Moscheles, where he remained five years, winning numerous prizes. In 1866, he became first piano teacher at the Stern Conservatory in [Pg 439] Berlin. Later he joined the Brussels Conservatory, as professor of piano playing, where he taught from 1869-1878. In 1879, he accepted a position at the St. Petersburg Conservatory, where he remained until his death, in 1884. Brassin was not only known as a fine pianist and teacher, but also by his transcriptions from “The Ring of the Nibelung.” He also composed piano pieces and even two operettas. Auguste Dupont (1828-1890) studied at the Liége Conservatory. After several years of wandering life, he became professor of piano at the Brussels Conservatory, a position which he held until his death, in 1890. He is known also as a composer of graceful piano pieces, a concerto and a concert-piece, in all of which the influence of Schumann is seen.

Johannes Brahms (1833-1897), famed both as composer and pianist, was the son of an orchestral musician in Hamburg, whose circumstances were of the humblest. As a child he developed remarkable ability as a pianist, but his first lessons in composition awakened an enthusiasm that absorbed his entire being. He was comparatively unknown when at the age of twenty Schumann brought him into public notice by hailing him as the successor of Beethoven.

Unlike most composers, Brahms was mature from the very beginning. His early works bear no trace of the uncertainty and imitation generally associated with youth, and it was this remarkable maturity that interested Schumann and gave point to his predictions for the future of the young musician. Unaffected by the pomp and glow of the ultra-romantic tendency initiated by Berlioz and culminating at present in the works of Richard Strauss, he remained true to the great classical school which rests on Bach and Palestrina. Unlike the modern impressionistic school, his art is based on essentially musical ideas and their contrapuntal treatment; it is architectural rather than pictorial. In such a scheme, color is subordinate to thematic interest, hence his instrumentation often appears heavy and austere to those who look for the brilliancy and tone painting of Liszt or Wagner. His music in general is founded on Bach and Beethoven. [Pg 440]


Johannes Brahms.

His works for the piano are large and orchestral in style, and demand a technic of their own, which was at first considered unsuited to the nature of the instrument. Von Bülow remarks that while in Bach we hear the organ, in Beethoven the orchestra, in Brahms we hear both organ and orchestra. Notwithstanding their dignity and nobility of conception, they won their way but slowly to favor. Their newness of style and difficulty of execution estranged both public and musicians. Though Brahms’ four symphonies have become reasonably familiar, his piano works have not even yet achieved widespread popularity. They comprise two concertos, three sonatas, many variations, and a host of smaller pieces—ballades, scherzos, intermezzos, capriccios, etc. Brahms never wrote for the stage but was active in all other departments of music. [Pg 441] His greatest choral work is the “German Requiem,” composed in memory of his mother, to texts selected by himself from the Scriptures and sung in German, instead of in Latin, hence its name. He drew no little inspiration from the Folk-song, which he uses not only in the form of harmonies and rhythms distinctly based on Folk melodies, but in literal quotations serving as themes in several of his instrumental compositions. This contact with the people through their songs gives particular freshness and vigor to much of Brahms’ music, as well as a sturdy Teutonic character that stamps it as distinctively national in spirit.

It is perhaps too soon to deliver an authoritative judgment as to the ultimate rank that Brahms will take among the great composers of the past. There is no doubt, however, that he is one of the commanding figures of the last century and that he has enriched the world with a mass of noble music, all of which deserves to be known for its elevation and consummate mastery of detail.

Russian Pianists.

Of a somewhat independent development from Liszt, although much influenced by his personality and his method, was Anton Rubinstein, born in 1829, died in 1894. He studied the piano at Moscow with Villoing, who gave him so thorough a training that he had no other teacher. From 1840, after concerts in Paris, he had universal recognition as a pianist. Further European tours increased his fame. He lived successively in Berlin and Vienna, and later returned to St. Petersburg. In 1872-73, he made a remarkable tour through America, arousing an enthusiasm only equalled in later years by Paderewski. Although he passed most of his life in constant activity as a composer, he directed the Russian Symphony Concerts in St. Petersburg. As early as 1862 he founded the St. Petersburg Conservatory, which has had a prominent place in Russian music. He was a complete master of the piano, his technic was gigantic, although his vitality of interpretation was so intense that details paled before it. His [Pg 442] historical recitals covering the entire literature of the piano were his most conspicuous achievements as a pianist. He may be regarded as second only to Liszt, and in some respects he even surpassed him. He was disappointed at not being accorded high rank as a composer, as well as a pianist.

His brother, Nicholas Rubinstein, born in 1835, died in 1881, although not so distinguished a pianist, and a composer of slight account, exerted almost as strong an influence on Russian music. A pupil of Kullak, he founded the Russian Musical Society at Moscow, in 1859, and in 1864 the Moscow Conservatory, which has been exceedingly active in Russian musical affairs. He directed the Moscow Conservatory until his death; he was an intimate adviser of Tchaikovsky, while his worth as a teacher may be guessed from the prominence of his pupils, Karl Klindworth, Emil Sauer and Alexander Siloti, possibly the foremost Russian pianist today.

Mili Balakireff, born in 1836, has been a considerable force in Russian music, besides being a capable pianist. After studying physics and mathematics at the University of Kazan, he turned to music. In 1862, he founded a Free School of Music in St. Petersburg. Among his associates were César Cui, Nicholas Rimsky-Korsakoff, Alexander Borodine and others. He has done much to aid the Neo-Russian school of composition. His piano music is effective and highly colored, especially his fantasy on Georgian themes, “Islamey.”

Alexander Siloti, undoubtedly the most widely-known of Russian pianists, born at Charcow, 1863, was a pupil in piano playing of Nicholas Rubinstein, at the Moscow Conservatory. From 1883-1886, he studied with Liszt. His technic is enormous; while not intensely magnetic, his intellectual grasp of music is remarkable. He made an American tour in 1898, when he introduced much Russian piano music that was new. Although Siloti has taught at the Moscow Conservatory, he has lived of late years at Leipzig and Paris.

Among other Russian pianists are Vassili Sapellnikoff, born 1868, a pupil of Kessler, Louis Brassin, Sophie Menter; [Pg 443] Vassili Safonoff, a pupil of Leschetizky and Zaremba in St. Petersburg, since 1887 director of the Moscow Conservatory, and more lately a conductor; Sergei Rachmaninoff, born 1873, a pupil of Siloti, not only a brilliant pianist but also a composer of originality; Alexander Scriabine, born 1872, a pupil of Safonoff, who has made successful European tours, and like Rachmaninoff, has composed much for his instrument.

Two German pianists, Henselt and Klindworth, were so associated with Russian music as to warrant their mention here. Adolph Henselt, born 1814, died 1889, at one time a pupil of Hummel, was for the most part self-taught. He passed most of his life in St. Petersburg, giving lessons and playing frequently in public. He also had an official position as music inspector. As a pianist, Henselt was exceedingly eminent, and may be ranked next to Rubinstein and von Bülow, although in later years nervousness prevented his playing in public. His etudes are distinct additions to the technical resources of the piano, his arrangements of Cramer etudes with second piano accompaniment are praiseworthy.

Karl Klindworth, born 1830, was a pupil of Nicholas Rubinstein and later, of Liszt. After living in London, he became professor of piano playing at the Moscow Conservatory, from 1868-1884. Later he settled in Berlin, became conductor of the Philharmonic Society, and opened a conservatory with von Bülow, which was merged with that of Scharwenka in 1893. Klindworth’s edition of Chopin is in some respects the best. He has also edited Beethoven’s sonatas, and he prepared the piano score of the entire “Ring of the Nibelung.”

French Pianists.

In presenting the famous French pianists, Charles Henri Valentine Alkan, born 1813, died 1888, must not be forgotten. A brilliant pianist, he claims our attention chiefly on account of his etudes, introducing novel and extremely difficult problems of technic. Musically his studies cannot be compared with those of Chopin or Liszt, but they merit attention, particularly in the modern editions. [Pg 444]

Although Camille Saint-Saëns is known chiefly as a composer, he was, during his early years, a remarkable pianist. His contributions to piano literature, five concertos, etudes and smaller pieces, are all valuable.

A group of Paris Conservatory professors constitute the most distinguishing teaching talent in France today. Further than that, Paris is one of the great centres of piano playing in Europe. Its teachers follow their own traditions, yet have assimilated from Liszt.

The oldest of these is Georges Mathias (b. 1826), pupil of Chopin, Kalkbrenner and the Paris Conservatory, who has been professor of piano playing since 1862. E. Delaborde, a pupil of Alkan, Moscheles and Liszt, has taught at the Paris Conservatory since 1873. One of the most successful teachers now living is Louis Dièmer, born 1843, a pupil of Marmontel. Winning the first piano prize at the age of thirteen, he succeeded his former teacher in 1888. Dièmer has turned out many first prizes; he has an impeccable technic; he has done much to foster interest in the harpsichord, the oboe d’amore and other obsolete instruments. He has published valuable collections of old French harpsichord music, besides original works. A Conservatory teacher well-known in America is Raoul Pugno, born 1852. A pupil of the Paris Conservatory, he obtained first prizes in piano playing, organ and harmony. He came to America in 1897-98 with Ysaye and others, and again in 1902. He has taught at the Paris Conservatory since 1897. He has a superb technic, and is versatile as an interpreter. He has also composed much. A teacher of unusual insight into technic is Isidor Philipp, born 1863, a pupil of Mathias, Saint-Saëns and others. He possesses a flawlessly accurate technic, and has appeared frequently in public, although he devotes the greater part of his energy to teaching. He has published many valuable sets of exercises, collections of difficult passages, some transcriptions and original pieces. He has been professor at the Conservatory since 1904. [Pg 445]

Louis Breitner, a pupil of the Milan Conservatory, Anton Rubinstein and Liszt, has lived for many years at Paris as pianist and teacher. He also has visited America. Among the younger French pianists are Leon Delafosse, Edouard Risler, an eclectic pianist, a pupil of Dièmer, D’Albert and Stavenhagen.


Who were the earliest of Liszt’s pupils?

Name some later pupils of Liszt.

Who are the leading exponents of the Belgian school?

Whose principles did Brahms follow?

What are the characteristics of his works?

What was Anton Rubinstein’s chief characteristic as a pianist?

Whom did Nicholas Rubinstein assist greatly?

By what piano piece is Balakireff best known?

What Russian pianist has visited America?

Name two young Russian composer pianists.

Give some account of Henselt.

Who made the piano score of Wagner’s “Ring of the Nibelung”?

Name some successful teachers of the piano at the Paris Conservatory. Which one has twice visited America? Which has published many valuable sets of exercises? [Pg 446]

Pianists and Teachers Since Liszt. II.

One of the greatest living teachers in authority and breadth of influence is Theodor Leschetizky, born in 1831. A pupil of Czerny, he began to teach at the age of fifteen, having played in public since 1842. He became a teacher in the St. Petersburg Conservatory, where he taught for many years. Soon after 1880 he settled in Vienna, where he has lived ever since. Since the success of his pupil Paderewski, Leschetizky has been the most sought-after teacher in the world. He has been obliged to have assistants to prepare pupils for him. Students have come to Vienna from all parts of the world. A brilliant pianist, he has written piano music and even an opera, but his merit as a teacher is due to the foundation given him by Czerny, who acquired his traditions from Beethoven, to the keenness of his ability to prescribe for the individual needs of the pupil and the simplicity and directness of his “method.” His pupils have met with great success, although he has not yet produced a second Paderewski.

Ignaz Paderewski, probably the greatest pianist since Liszt, although like him excelled in some respects by others, was born in 1859. A pupil of the Warsaw Conservatory, he also studied at Berlin. He taught piano at the Warsaw Conservatory from 1878-83, and also at Strassburg. Later he went to Leschetizky for a thorough course of study. After his début at Vienna, in 1887, he conquered by degrees Paris and London. His first visit to America was in 1891, when he carried all before him. Since then he has visited the United States [Pg 447] three times, he has traveled over all Europe, and has visited Australia with overwhelming success, financial and artistic. His most noticeable qualities are a magnetic personality, a virtuoso technic, the color and piquant rhythm of his playing, and the poetry and deep human intensity of his interpretations. He has written several sets of pieces for the piano, a concerto, and a fantasy with orchestra, and an opera. His generous gift of the endowment of triennial prizes to American composers is an admirable instance of his warm-heartedness.

Josef Slavinski, born 1865, who studied with Stroeble, Anton Rubinstein and finally Leschetizky, is a pianist of great ability who came to the United States in 1873, and again in 1901. Other Leschetizky pupils are Ossip Gabrilowitsch, born 1878, also a pupil of Anton Rubinstein and the St. Petersburg Conservatory, who came to America in 1900 and 1902; Mark Hambourg, born in 1879, who first studied with his father, and after a tour of the United States in 1900, has had brilliant successes in Europe and England; Martinus Sieveking, born 1867, a pupil of Röntgen at Leipzig, who visited America in 1895 and again in 1896-97 and afterwards went to Vienna. There are many other brilliant pupils of Leschetizky, but the foregoing are some of the best known.

Paderewski has not taught, as a rule, since his great triumphs as a virtuoso, but he has made exceptions. Sigismond Stojowski, born 1870, was a pupil of the Paris Conservatory, where he won first prizes in piano playing and composition. Later he studied with Paderewski, and lived as pianist, teacher and composer in Paris. In 1905, he accepted the position of head of the piano department at the Institute of Musical Art, New York City. Antoinette Szumowska-Adamowska was born in 1868. She studied at Warsaw, and later, for several years, with Paderewski. She has made successful appearances in Europe and America. Later she accepted a position at the New England Conservatory, in Boston, U. S. A. [Pg 448]

Another pianist of great ability who has profited by Paderewski’s suggestions is Harold Bauer, born in 1873. A student of the violin, as well as of the piano, he did not consider making a career as a piano virtuoso until encouraged by Paderewski. In 1892, he studied with Paderewski, although he is largely self-taught, for his individuality and musical style show slight effects of Paderewski’s influence. Bauer’s technic is superb, although he is not a virtuoso pure and simple. His interpretations are healthy and vigorous, and especially faithful to the composers’ intentions. His repertory is enormous. He has made several extremely successful tours to the United States. He has traveled also widely in Europe as well as to South America. Bauer is one of the most eminent of living artists.

Among Norwegians, Edvard Grieg, born 1843, is a remarkable interpreter of his own individual works. Christian Sinding and Wilhelm Stenhammar also deserve mention.

The Italians have not produced many remarkable pianists, nevertheless, several are well known. Chief among them is Giovanni Sgambati, born 1843, a pupil of Liszt. Sgambati has composed charming music for the piano, as well as chamber-music, a concerto and symphony. He is director of the Academy of St. Cecilia, at Rome. Giuseppe Buonamici, born 1846, a pupil of the Munich Conservatory and of von Bülow, has done much to promote music in Florence. He has been connected with several musical societies in that city, and has been active as a teacher. His editions of Beethoven’s sonatas, of Bertini’s etudes, and a treatise on scale playing are of great value to the student. The most prominent Italian pianist, who has lived a cosmopolitan life, is Feruccio Busoni, born in 1866. Early in life he became a member, as a pianist, of the Bologna Philharmonic Academy, after a severe test. In 1888, he accepted a position at the Helsingfors Conservatory. In 1890, he won the Rubinstein prize as composer and pianist. Subsequently he taught the piano in the Moscow Conservatory, and later he was connected with the New England Conservatory at Boston. Since then he has lived in Europe as a pianist and conductor of ultra-modern music. Busoni has one of the most formidable technics of any pianist living. He has edited Bach’s [Pg 449] “Well-Tempered Clavichord,” with many helpful technical suggestions, also the smaller preludes and inventions; he has made masterly transcriptions of Bach’s organ works for the piano, of a fantasy for organ by Liszt, the same composer’s “Mephisto Waltz,” etc. He re-visited America in 1904.

Stephen Heller, born 1814, died 1888, was much influenced by Chopin. He was a talented pianist, who will be remembered chiefly by his studies, and a few other pieces, which have decided educational value. [Pg 450]

Among other living pianists who escape classification for one reason or another are Moritz Moszkowski, born 1854, a pupil of the Dresden, Kullak and Stern Conservatories; while a successful pianist and teacher, he is known chiefly for his fluent and graceful piano music, although he has composed works in larger forms. Franz Rummel, born 1853, died 1901, a pupil of Brassin and the Brussels Conservatory, toured Europe and visited America several times; he taught at the Stern Conservatory in Berlin; Rafael Joseffy, born 1853, went to the Leipzig Conservatory, he then studied with Carl Tausig and later with Liszt; of late years he has taught at the National Conservatory at New York. His concert appearances have invariably been successful, although he has devoted himself largely to teaching. A pianist of especial distinction is Vladimir de Pachmann, born in 1848, a pupil of the Vienna Conservatory; in spite of a brilliant début he retired for many years’ study; on reappearing he gave concerts over all Europe, and has made several visits to America; his chief triumphs have been as the inimitable interpreter of Chopin; Leopold Godowsky, born 1870, appeared as a prodigy at the age of nine; he studied at the Hochschule in Berlin, made European tours, and studied with Saint-Saëns from 1887 to 1890; he taught at conservatories in Philadelphia and Chicago; in 1902, he returned to Europe, where he has given concerts constantly with phenomenal success. A composer of piano pieces, he has devised many extraordinary versions of Chopin’s studies.

Among English pianists, Frederic Lamond, a pupil of the Raff Conservatory, of von Bülow and Liszt, and Leonard Borwick, a pupil of Mme. Schumann, are the best known, although there are many pianists of rising reputation.

Two young pianists deserving of especial recognition are Ernst von Dohnanyi and Josef Hofmann. Dohnanyi, born 1877, is a pupil of Kessler and D’Albert. In 1898, he won a double success as pianist and composer with a piano concerto. In 1900, he made a brilliant tour in America. Since then he has devoted himself largely to composition. Josef Hofmann was a pupil of his father, and later, of Anton Rubinstein. He played the piano when six years old; in public at the age of nine. In the following year he gave fifty-two concerts in the United States. After retiring for study under Rubinstein, he reappeared a mature artist. He has since visited America several times. Hofmann has an unusual technic; his individuality is not striking, but he is an artist of conspicuous merit.

American Pianists.

The rapid progress of music in America renders it impossible to do justice to piano playing in this country. However, the pioneer work of William Mason, a pupil of Moscheles, Dreyschock and Liszt, active as pianist and teacher, the author of “Touch and Technic” and other technical treatises; of B. J. Lang, a pupil of his father, F. C. Hill, Salter and Alfred Jaell, an active pianist, teacher, and conductor, of W. S. B. Mathews, Otto Dresel, Ernst Perabo, and others, was of great importance. Later Carl Baermann, a Liszt pupil, Carl Faelten, William Sherwood, also a Liszt pupil, Carl Stasny, Arthur Whiting, Edward MacDowell and many others have continued the work so ably begun. Edward MacDowell is easily the most noted American composer-pianist. His technical equipment, personality, and interpretative gifts justly entitle him to this distinction. A pupil of Mme. Carreño, Marmontel and Carl Heymann, he has had thorough training. His pianistic career has been limited by his efforts as a composer, and [Pg 451] by his work as Professor of Music at Columbia, which position he resigned in 1904, as well as his activity as a teacher. His studies, concertos and smaller pieces show great individuality of technical style, besides being among the most valuable contributions to piano literature since Liszt. MacDowell has appeared with leading orchestras in this country; he has given many recitals, including a tour of the United States in 1904.

Women Pianists.

Of the many distinguished women pianists since Liszt, the most eminent was Mme. Clara Schumann, a pupil of her father, Friedrich Wieck. She played in public from the age of thirteen, winning instant recognition. Her marriage to Schumann diminished her public activity, but after his death in 1856, she resumed her career. She taught at the Hoch Conservatory at Frankfort, besides playing in public in Europe and England. Among other famous women pianists were Madame Clauss-Szavardy, Mme. Arabella Goddard Davidson, and Mme. Sophie Menter. Mme. Teresa Carreño, a pupil of L. M. Gottschalk and G. Mathias, has had a remarkable career as concert-pianist. Mme. Essipoff, a pupil of Wielhorski and Leschetizky, taught for many years at the St. Petersburg Conservatory, after brilliant concert tours. Miss Fanny Davies, a pupil of Reinecke and Mme. Schumann, Mme. Roger-Miclos and Mlle. Clotilde Kleeberg, pupils of the Paris Conservatory, are all pianists of distinction. In this country Miss Adele aus der Ohe, a pupil of Kullak and Liszt, Mme. Bloomfield-Zeisler, a pupil of von Wolfssohn and Leschetizky, and Mme. Helen Hopekirk, a pupil of the Leipzig Conservatory and of Leschetizky, now a teacher at the New England Conservatory, and Mme. Szumowska-Adamowska, before mentioned as a pupil of Paderewski, are all pianists of great ability.

In conclusion, it may be stated that while Liszt’s pupils have done much to carry on the traditions which he originated, much has also been accomplished for the advancement of pianistic art by Leschetizky and his pupils, a remarkable group of teachers at the Paris Conservatory, [Pg 452] and by such independent pianists as de Pachmann, Busoni, Siloti, Godowsky, Bauer and Hofmann, while many able conservatories and private teachers in America are enabling the American pianist to compete favorably with Europe.


Who is the best-known piano teacher of today?

Name some of his famous pupils. Which one instituted prizes for American composers?

Name some pianists who have profited by Paderewski’s advice. Which one has made successful tours of America?

Name the most famous Italian pianists. Which one has made masterly transcriptions of Bach and Liszt?

What pianist has made a specialty of Chopin?

What young pianist has made an especially brilliant impression in America?

Name the pioneer pianists of America.

Who is the most famous of American composer pianists?

Name some talented women pianists.

Suggestions for a Review of Lessons XLI to XLVIII.

This period is of great interest to the student, as the greater part of the piano literature in use today is the work of composers belonging to the Romantic and Post-Classical schools. It must not be forgotten that in studying the history of music the object is to learn to know the music of the best composers, not merely certain facts and dates in the lives of these composers. The works cited in the lessons give a wide latitude in the matter of choice and a clear idea of the contribution of the different composers.

Lesson XLI.—1. Take a composition by each of the composers mentioned and show its distinctive qualities. 2. Show the deeper, fuller, more poetic character of the compositions of Field as compared with Clementi.

Lesson XLII.—1. Give a sketch of Schubert the man. 2. Name the special qualities of Schubert’s music. Why does he belong to the Romantic school? [Pg 453]

Lesson XLIII.—1. What is the nature of Weber’s contribution to music? 2. What are the special qualities of Mendelssohn’s works?

Lesson XLIV.—1. Compare Schumann’s work in the short pieces and in the large forms. In which was he the more successful? 2. Give an analysis of some of his short pieces.

Lesson XLV.—1. In what forms did Chopin do his best work? Mention some pieces as illustrations. 2. In what ways did he show national spirit? Mention pieces.

Lesson XLVI.—1. Give a sketch of the important factors in the making of Liszt the pianist. 2. What influence did he exert on music?

Lesson XLVII.—1. Compare Rubinstein and Liszt. 2. What influence did Brahms exert on music?

Lesson XLVIII.—1. Make a list of the various pianists and classify them as to nationality and school. [Pg 454]

The Art-Song. Oratorio after Mendelssohn.

Development of the Art-Song Idea.—A most significant phase of musical activity is that centred around the art-song for solo voice. In the period before the opera, choral singing was the principal medium for vocal music. With the Opera came a style of composition from which was developed the principle of the Aria, the latter dominating both Opera and Oratorio for many years, as the form for an art-song for a solo voice. In this form, as we have seen, the production of vocal effects, the making of attractive melody, and the opportunity for virtuosic display were sought first of all. It was not until the beginning of the 19th century, when Schubert’s peculiar genius asserted itself, that we meet what can be truly called the art-song, a form of composition without the artificiality of the operatic aria and with higher musicianly and artistic qualities than those that mark the people’s song. Several tendencies contributed to bring this about. Gluck’s theories and practice led both composers and people to pay closer attention to the text and to its delivery. The development of instrumental music, particularly the principles of thematic treatment, led composers to the inventing of new melodic and rhythmic figures that should serve as the basis of accompaniments of higher artistic quality than those founded on some variation of the Alberti bass figure. Piano technic had greatly improved, and so had the instrument. And it may also be said that the verse of this period was better suited for a dramatic musical setting than the formal, often stilted and artificial lyrics of earlier days, with their shepherds and shepherdesses and constant reference to pastoral and classical life. [Pg 455]

Italian, French and English Forms.—A study of musical conditions in Italy, France, Germany and England shows a different style of the solo song in each country, each having some distinctive feature that maintains today, and one that may be said to characterize the song-idea of that people. The Italians were so taken with the opera and in the course of its development it so fully embodied the national love for sweet, graceful melody that a species of art-song apart from the opera had little or no chance to shape itself. The French Chanson has never yielded place to the methods which distinguish the modern art-song. The French language has certain qualities which seem to call for a treatment that centres the attention in the voice part rather than on the song as a whole, according to the German idea. Yet French composers have produced and still make most beautiful and charming songs which unmistakably embody the national characteristics, clearness, polish and an effective singing melody. The old English Ballads are pieces of narrative verse; but the term has been used so freely and for almost every kind of verse that it is not possible to give it a precise definition. Thomas Morley, in a work on music, which he published in 1597, mentions “songs which, being sung to a dittie may likewise be danced”; in 1636, in a book called “The Principles of Musicke,” the author, Butler, refers to “the infinite multitude of Ballads set to sundry pleasant and delightful tunes by cunning and witty composers, with country dances fitted to them.” The principles of musical construction and the character of the text are such that we do not find in the English ballad the true germ of the art-song.

The German “Lied”, a poem intended for singing, as it came from the hands of the great poets, such as Goethe and Heine, seems to have afforded to composers the inspiration to the making of a style of song that should have the value of a musical setting in full consonance with the character of the text. As instrumental music developed, the Volkslied, the people’s song, the natural medium for expression, [Pg 456] gradually disappeared. Yet composers made use of it as a medium, such masters as Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and Weber giving attention to it, although the demand for a simple, clear melody, due to the dominance of the Italian opera, and for an accompaniment that was always much subordinated, prevented the art-song (Kunstlied) from taking a high place. Since then the accompaniment has been given more and more prominence, less attention being paid to pure melody and more to the value of harmony and rhythm as the means for characteristic color and expression. Melody, which is made up of a succession of phrases, cannot furnish a sequence of sharp effects so readily as can well contrasted chords; hence the old idea of tune changed as harmony became better understood. The methods of song composers vary, and a classification is made by German writers: A song that has simple form and tune akin to that of the Folk-song is called “Volksthümlich”; one that has the same tune to the different stanzas is called strophic; one that is carefully worked out, the music illustrating every shade of meaning and emotion is called “Durchcomponirt”; a narrative song is called a “Ballad” or “Ballade.” The great masters in song composition are Schubert, Schumann, Franz and Brahms.

Schubert as a Song Writer.—A consideration of Schubert’s education and his general make-up shows clearly why he should seek outlet for self-expression in song rather than in the large instrumental forms. We find that he was not systematically educated in musical science, like Mozart, Beethoven or Weber, and that he was by nature very spontaneous and amenable to external influences. Such a composer is particularly open to the effect of a poem and will turn to the small song form rather than to the elaborate instrumental forms. Many of Schubert’s songs were written on the spur of the moment in response to an impulse from reading a chance bit of verse. The first reading of the poem usually gave the complete idea, both tune and accompaniment; whether it should have the simple folk-song character, a more declamatory style, strophic or the more elaborate form, depended [Pg 457] upon the character of the text. It is fortunate for music that he was brought into contact with some of the finest lyrics in the field of poetry, such as called forth his highest powers in melody, harmony, rhythm, modulation, declamation and recitative, for he aimed to the very fullest extent possible to heighten the thought of the text by the emotional power of music. It is a phase of Schubert’s genius that some of his finest songs were written before he had reached his majority.

Schumann and His Songs.—Schumann brought to song writing a different type of mind from that of Schubert, more poetic, more gloomy, more emotional, a fine literary training, a faculty for expression in word as well as in tone, a fund of new forms of expression in instrumental music, particularly the piano, so that we find in his songs certain elements that indicate development toward a more highly organized structure. Schumann was highly intellectual, hence we find in his songs a close union of voice and instrumental parts in working out the fundamental conception of the poet’s meaning; and so deeply does he carry out this plan that the accompanist must enter most thoroughly into the singer’s part, and vice versa, that the full effect be brought out; as compared with the songs of Schubert and Mendelssohn we can say that the latter are the “verses set to tunes, while Schumann’s songs are poems in music.” The piano part of a Schumann song contains the atmosphere of the poem, is an attempt to heighten the meaning by suggesting thoughts and feelings which the words, spoken or sung, cannot express; sometimes it is an entirely independent composition, and carries out to a final close the thought left unfinished by the voice, thus avoiding the conventional ending, by the singer, on the tonic chord. Schumann’s effort was to express his own reading of the poet’s lines by the musical means that seemed to him best suited to the purpose. To this end he refused to allow himself to be bound by conventional treatment, either of voice or instrument. [Pg 458]

Robert Franz (1815-1892) combined in his songs the romanticism and general methods of Schumann, with a polyphonic treatment inspired by his deep study of Bach. He wrote to various styles of verse, hymns, love-songs, lyrics of the field, the forest, the hunter, the soldier, and though his songs lack the tender, passionate, melodious quality of Schubert’s and the deep poetic feeling of Schumann’s, they are nevertheless models of perfect, even elaborate workmanship in which the composer follows with great faithfulness the mood of the poet; Schumann, on the contrary, seems to project his own interpretation of the poem into his music, while Schubert seems to grasp the emotion at its highest moment and the song pours out as the spontaneous expression of the singer.

Three Modern Writers.—Of modern writers, those who contributed most to the development of the art-song are Wagner, Brahms and Richard Strauss, the first-named by his style and treatment of the voice and the instrumental part rather than by his songs, which are few in number. Brahms wrote nearly two hundred songs, varying in character and quality, and using a highly-developed accompaniment, often intricate in its construction, complicated in rhythm and restless in harmonic support, employing all the resources which his mastery of chromatic harmony placed at his disposal. He frequently wrote in the style of the Folk-song, making use of its simple melodic quality, enriching it, however, by his great skill in elaboration in the accompaniment. Brahms’ songs are great favorites on concert programs. Richard Strauss (b. 1864) is the leading composer of today, and has used in his songs the principles that distinguish his large works. These songs are very difficult, both for voice and accompaniment, and are full of tonal coloring, for Strauss has adapted to the miniature form of the song the means of harmonic and rhythmic effects which he uses so powerfully in his orchestral scores. When well sung and well played, the hearer cannot but be absorbed by the wealth of musical effects of the highest emotional and picturesque quality displayed in Richard Strauss’ songs. In a full study of songs and song writers, many more names would be mentioned; those selected for consideration in this lesson represent those who have contributed most significantly to the development of the modern art-song. [Pg 459]

Oratorio Composers after Mendelssohn.—The later history of the Oratorio requires some consideration at this point. After Mendelssohn, many of the leading composers of Europe turned their attention to this form of composition, influenced, in many instances, by the splendid opportunities for production offered by the strong choral organizations and festival associations of Germany and England, as well as by the great advances made in orchestral playing, which gave to composers resources far beyond those at the hand of Mendelssohn and his predecessors. We may mention, among the Germans, Schumann, whose “Paradise and the Peri” was produced in 1843; Liszt, who was much attracted to sacred subjects, wrote two oratorios, “The Legend of St. Elizabeth” and “Christus”; Rubinstein, who used his great skill in tone painting with orchestral masses in “Paradise Lost” and in his sacred opera “The Tower of Babel”; Brahms, whose “German Requiem” is a standard work to be done well only by thoroughly disciplined vocal and instrumental forces; and Dvořák, who has shown great power in his “Stabat Mater.” Among the French writers most prominent in this form of composition are Berlioz, whose “Requiem” is a colossal work in which he drew upon all the resources of the orchestra to heighten the powerful, dramatic character of the text; Gounod, who wrote his remarkable works, “The Redemption” and “Mors et Vita” for English production; Saint-Saëns, whose “Noël,” a Christmas work, is oratorio in style and construction, although small in dimensions; and César Franck, the most modern of all, whose “Beatitudes” has been made the subject of much discussion. English composers, following the lead of Handel and Mendelssohn, have given great attention to this form. Bennett, the friend of Mendelssohn, produced a beautiful work, “The Woman of Samaria”; Costa, an Italian by birth, spent a great part of his professional life in England; hence his oratorio, “Eli,” may be classed [Pg 460] with English works; Sullivan wrote two oratorios, “The Prodigal Son” and “The Light of the World”; Macfarren’s “St. John the Baptist” and Mackenzie’s “Rose of Sharon” can be classed among oratorios. The most eminent in this form at the present day is Elgar, “The Dream of Gerontius” and “The Apostles.” Young Italy has lately shown interest in this form, the most noteworthy being the Abbé Perosi, who is under the patronage of the Pope. In the United States the leading representatives are J. K. Paine, of Harvard University, with the oratorio “St. Peter,” Dudley Buck, “Golden Legend,” and H. W. Parker, “Hora Novissima.”

The Cantata.—More popular even than the Oratorio with choral societies is the Cantata, both sacred and secular, and the great increase in strong choral organizations, particularly in England, Germany, France and the United States, has resulted in the production of a number of splendid works which show dramatic power and the highest skill in handling voices and instruments. These works contain opportunities for the use of the finest quality of melody, variety of rhythm, solid harmonic or the more fluent polyphonic style, richness of harmonic coloring and every accessory in the way of tone painting by the orchestra, which such masters as Berlioz and Wagner pointed out. The important works are too many to be mentioned here; only the composers’ names can be given. In Germany, Brahms, Bruch, Dvořák, Gade, Goetz, Hiller, Hofmann, Rheinberger; in France, Berlioz and Massenet; in England, Bennett, Corder, Cowen, Macfarren, Mackenzie, Smart, Sullivan, Coleridge-Taylor among the younger men; in the United States, Buck, Foote, Chadwick, Gilchrist, Paine, H. W. Parker, and Carl Busch.

[Pg 461] Questions.

Compare the Aria and the Song.

Mention the characteristics of the Italian, French and English people’s songs.

What are the characteristics of the German Lied?

Give a sketch of Schubert as a song writer.

Give a sketch of Schumann as a song writer.

Compare the two.

Give a sketch of Franz as a song writer.

Compare him with Schubert and Schumann.

Who are eminent among modern song writers?

Mention the special characteristics of each.

Name the leading composers of Oratorio after Mendelssohn, and their works.

What is the difference between an oratorio and a cantata?

What composers have done successful work in this line?

Songs of the leading composers, classic and modern, should be studied. The lessons on Schubert, Schumann, Liszt, etc., mention notable songs. Analyze an oratorio by one of the composers mentioned in this lesson, also one or more cantatas. [Pg 462]


Felix Weingartner.     Gustav Mahler.
Richard Strauss.     Siegmund Hausegger.

[Pg 463]

The Symphonic Poem in Germany.

Wagner’s Influence.—The genius of Wagner produced and applied to Opera a far richer and more complicated orchestration than had existed before his day. Since then, in many periods and in many countries, composers have tried to adopt his style, and apply it to the symphonic as well as to the operatic stage. In the field of purely orchestral music, Liszt and Berlioz had already formulated a free style, and their symphonic poems, departing from the set form of the symphony, have also served as models for later composers. Almost the only recent exponent of the strict form was Johannes Brahms, for Anton Bruckner, working on similar lines, did not achieve great success with the public.

Richard Strauss.—For many years it was thought that Wagner’s orchestration would remain unrivalled in the field of music. But Richard Strauss (born at Munich, Germany, 1864) has made a further advance in this respect, and handles the full modern orchestra with the utmost skill. Son of a court horn-player, his musical genius showed itself in his earliest years, and his studies with the court capellmeister, F. W. Meyer, resulted in the publication of several works. At first he followed Brahms and the stricter school, and his F-minor symphony is a worthy production in that form. A meeting with von Bülow led to his appointment as assistant-conductor at Meiningen. To show his ability, Strauss had to conduct, without rehearsal, his Serenade, Op. 7, for thirteen wind instruments; and the excellence of this work brought him the desired position. It was at this time that he [Pg 464] met Alexander Ritter, a man of broad intellect and radical ideas. Under the new influence, Strauss renounced his classical style, and began to compose the tone-pictures and symphonic poems that have made his name so important. As he is the chief modern representative of the new school, his works merit detailed examination.

His Early Symphonic Poems.—After an Italian trip in 1886, Strauss gave his impressions of that country in the form of the symphonic fantasie “Aus Italien,” his first work in the free style of subjective emotion-painting. It is in four movements, each a complete tone-picture. The first, “On the Campagna,” gives a vivid impression of spacious solitude, with a hint of the pageants and battles once witnessed by this great Roman field. The second movement, “Amid Rome’s Ruins,” aims also to give “fantastic pictures of vanished splendor, feelings of sadness in the midst of the sunlit present.” The third movement, “On the Shores of Sorrento,” resembles the symphonic scherzo, while the finale gives an animated picture of “Neapolitan Folk-Life,” introducing the air of “Funiculi” and other popular Italian tunes.

After four years of conducting at the Munich court theatre, Strauss settled in Weimar, where he produced three more important works. The first of these, “Macbeth,” showed that he had abandoned the old form in favor of the symphonic poem, in which the different movements are fused into one large whole, free in form. The picture of Macbeth, ambitious and cruel in spite of his timidity, is ably developed, but the portrayal of Lady Macbeth brings a still stronger climax of magnificent orchestral power.

“Don Juan,” the second of the three, is founded on Lenau’s poem. The hero is not a ruffian adventurer, as in Da Ponte’s libretto, but is depicted as an arch pessimist, hunting through the world for perfection in pleasure, but never finding it. There are restless and uncertain melodies at the opening, to illustrate the hero’s unsatisfied longing. A knightly theme follows, typical of Don Juan himself. Then come various episodes, full of attractive enthusiasm, but always ending with the same vague unrest. A wild carnival, followed by sudden silence and the cutting theme of a trumpet, announce the hero’s end. [Pg 465]

“Tod und Verklärung” (Death and Transfiguration) is a work of great power and beauty. It depicts an exhausted sufferer, asleep in the quiet sick-room, dreaming of the beauty of his lost youth. Then follows a more discordant episode, which may well picture a fierce contest with the powers of disease, ending in defeated exhaustion. A third portion brings renewed memories of the morning of life; passages of joyous enthusiasm and noble aspiration suggest the high hope of youth and the glorious achievement of manhood; but again comes the struggle with the powers of Fate, ending in despair and death. The fourth part is an apotheosis, representing the triumph of man’s upward striving over death. This section contains some of the most impressive orchestral beauties in the range of Strauss’ works.

Program Music.—In the older symphonic form, it was not necessary for the composer to suggest a title for his work. Many have done so—Beethoven in his “Pastoral Symphony,” Mendelssohn in the “Scotch,” for example; but the exquisite beauty of Schubert, or the romantic charm of Schumann will impress the hearer without the use of extraneous suggestions. In the modern school of program music, founded by Liszt, the composer gives the audience a more or less detailed account of the subject that inspired him, and tries to paint in tones the events or moods suggested by the title. Much, therefore, depends on the choice of the subject. If it is well-known, and gives definite suggestions of certain moods which can find expression in the orchestra, then it may receive legitimate treatment by being set to music. But if the subject is not one that lends itself to broad emotional treatment, or if the composer aims to picture definite events or objects, he is departing from the true function of his art. Music deals with expression of emotion, and should not attempt something that belongs rather to other arts, such as Literature or Painting. Many persons think that Strauss has gone too far in this direction, especially in his later works. [Pg 466]

His Later Symphonic Poems.—In “Till Eulenspiegel,” the hero is a mediæval rogue, whose adventures are found in an old German tale. He is a wandering mechanic, who does anything but tend to business. He is always indulging in madcap pranks, in which he manages to escape from his well-merited punishment. In the composition, Strauss has given free rein to his fancy, and portrayed, with rare orchestral skill, the fantastic jokes, the sly humor, and the rollicking disposition of the graceless rogue. The work is in rondo form, with definite themes to typify the hero. These themes form the basis of the music, and are varied and developed with infinite skill and remarkable orchestral irony.

“Also Sprach Zarathustra” (Thus Spake Zarathustra) is based on Nietzsche’s mystic philosophy. Zarathustra, or Zoroaster, alms to teach the doctrine of the “Over-Man,” by which man is to become a sort of demigod who rises above good and evil into realms of joy. A picture of the “Hinterweltlern,” or dwellers in the Rear-World of common humanity, portrays their yearnings, their joys, and passions, while their sorrows find voice in a tender “Grave-Song.” Science and its futility are represented by a fugue replete with chromatics. A passage entitled, “The Convalescent,” shows the defeat of the spirit of sorrow and evil, and the triumph of joy. Then follows the wild, chaotic, but strangely-effective “Dance-Song,” the exultation of the “Over-Man.” Yet his triumph is not lasting, for at the close, after a sudden stroke of the bell, comes the weird “Song of the Night-Wanderer,” and the piece ends mystically in two different keys, as if representing eternal doubt. Strange as this work may seem, its effect is one of vast sublimity, and Nietzsche’s wild philosophy is translated into orchestral effects of remarkable grandeur.

With “Don Quixote” Strauss enters the more definite field of program music, and aims to picture events. It is cast in the variation form, but is much more free in style than that title would imply. There is a theme for the Don, clear at first, but becoming obscure and illogical, [Pg 467] to show that he loses his sanity. He is represented by a solo ’cello, while his faithful squire Sancho, strange to say, appears mostly in viola passages. Each variation treats of one adventure. The windmills are attacked, with disastrous results. The flock of sheep are heard, bleating in full chorus until put to flight. The bands of pilgrims are dispersed as robbers. The blindfold ride through the air on the wooden horse is made realistic by the use of the theatrical wind-machine. Other adventures follow, and at the end the knightly theme recurs in a clarified form, to show Don Quixote’s return to reason and death. It will readily be seen that this work is more experimental than the earlier ones.

“Ein Heldenleben” represents the fight of Strauss with his adverse critics. There are six well-marked sections. First comes the hero himself, portrayed by definite themes that are woven into a strong climax. Then his enemies are depicted, with remarkable irony, by a medley of crackling, snarling figures for woodwind. The hero’s helpmate is represented by a solo violin, and in this section an instrumental love-duet is introduced. Then follows a picture of the hero’s battlefield, ending in a song of victory. The hero’s works of peace are then described, and the meaning of the composition is made clear by the introduction of themes from the earlier works of Strauss. The final section shows the hero’s departure from an ungrateful world. This piece is grandly planned, but like other orchestral works of Strauss, its themes are not melodic and lack musical charm.

The “Sinfonia Domestica” pictures a day in the composer’s family life. Here, again, the subject is one that the hearer cannot understand without an arbitrary explanation. Strauss has given no complete analysis, but has deigned to explain that the three themes in the early part represent father, mother and child, that the picture begins in the afternoon and lasts until the next morning, and that the final fugue represents the education of the child. The unmelodic style of Strauss is little suited to such a subject, and the effect is such as to make the work seem puzzling, at first, if not actually ridiculous. [Pg 468]

His Other Works.—Of the two early operas by Strauss, “Guntram” and “Feuersnoth,” neither has had real success; nor does his third production, “Salome,” seem important. Guntram is a fighter for love, a member of a mystic fraternity. He rescues Freihild from the tyranny of Duke Robert, who loves her, and in the struggle he kills Robert. Freihild falls in love with him, but he must renounce her, as he knows that he killed Robert out of rivalry in love, an unworthy motive. “Feuersnoth,” lighter in style, is based on the old legend of a scornful maiden, whose pride meets punishment. All fire in the town goes out, and no light can be rekindled, save by a touch of her body; so that she finds herself exposed to the multitude. In this work, as in “Heldenleben,” Strauss has introduced veiled attacks on his critics. The music to both operas shows the usual richness of coloring and orchestral intricacy, but their themes lack the direct power of the guiding motives in Wagner’s works.

The Songs of Strauss are many in number, and include some with orchestral accompaniment. They show a modulatory style, combined with a rare melodic beauty that seems strange in a composer who indulges in so much orchestral ugliness. Some of these songs, such as “Traum durch die Dämmerung” or “Allerseelen,” are gems of purest water. The songs are often involved in style, but always possess unity and directness of effect. Their beauty shows that the discords in the composer’s orchestral works are intentional, and not due to lack of melodic invention. Yet it would seem as if his great mastery of instrumental coloring could have been employed as effectively in scoring beautiful themes, instead of the commonplace passages so often found in his larger works.

Hausegger.—Siegmund von Hausegger (Graz, Austria, 1872) is another master of the modern orchestra. His father was a musician of broad experience and sound learning, so that it is not strange that his [Pg 469] son’s gifts developed quickly. After his regular studies at the gymnasium and the university, Siegmund took up music in earnest, under his father and Degener. His youthful works were now augmented by a piano quartet, a fantasia, the orchestral ballad “Odinsmeeresritt,” the one-act drama “Helfried,” and the opera “Zinnober,” based on a tale of Hofmann. These were followed by a number of songs and choruses, but Hausegger’s real greatness was first revealed by the “Dyonisiac Fantasie,” a symphonic poem for full orchestra. This was followed by a still greater work, “Barbarossa,” while in 1904, at the Frankfort festival, came “Wieland der Schmied.” “Barbarossa” is in three movements. The first shows the happiness of the people gradually fading into sorrow and pain, until the Barbarossa theme at last is heard; for tradition says that the great emperor is not dead, but sleeps in the mountain Kyffhäuser, waiting to arise when the need of his people is too great to be borne. The second movement is a weird, ghostly picture of the enchanted mountain and the sleeping emperor; while the last depicts his awakening, his coming forth at the head of his knights, their victory, and the rejoicing of the people. Wieland is the wonderful smith whose swords cut off a head so cleanly that it remains in place. The first movement shows his vision of the beautiful maid Schwanhilde, appearing from celestial regions; but when he would claim her, she retreats, terrified. A second part shows his sorrow and despair. In the third movement hope again triumphs, and he forges for himself a pair of wings. In the last movement the united lovers leave the dull world behind, and take their flight to regions of eternal sunlight.

Other Orchestral Composers.—Gustav Mahler (Kalisht, Bohemia, 1860) gained his musical experience as a director in some of the lesser theatres, and is largely self-taught. Besides two operas and a number of beautiful songs, he has composed five symphonies. He has tried to enlarge the symphonic form without departing from it. His symphonies all aim to express some definite thought, such as pessimism [Pg 470] finding its cure in simple faith, love of nature leading to a high idea of Pantheism, or doubt clearing in the joys of immortality. The movements are arranged in contrasting groups, and voices are introduced, at first solo, and then often in a final chorus of triumph. Mahler’s works are planned on a grand scale, but his music is often unclear and restless in effect. Paul Felix Weingartner (Zara, Dalmatia, 1863) is another musician who served his apprenticeship in the smaller theatres, and became one of the world’s great conductors. He is known by his two symphonic poems, “King Lear” and “The Elysian Fields,” as well as by two symphonies in strict form, and by several chamber works. His opera “Genesius” and his classical trilogy “Orestes” are other successful works. Jean Louis Nicodé (Jerczik, Posen, 1853) is somewhat older than the modern tone-poets, and if less important is still noteworthy as an exponent of the program tendency. His two greatest works are the “Symphonic Variations,” Op. 27, and “Das Meer,” for male chorus, soloists, orchestra, and organ. The latter is not a cantata, but rather a great suite, in which vocal movements are balanced against orchestral numbers. Among younger men, Hugo Kaun is familiar to Americans because of his long sojourn in Milwaukee. His symphonic poems based on Longfellow’s “Hiawatha” show much fluency and taste. Switzerland now has its set of young composers, with Hans Huber as their leader in the orchestral field.

The Present Situation.—The rich harmonies and free modulations of Wagner, combined with the setting aside of symphonic form by Liszt, have caused the more recent composers of Germany to give up almost wholly the writing of symphonies. The free style of tone-picturing has been widely adopted, in consequence of the example of Strauss. He has gone so far that some of his works seem merely colossal experiments in this direction, and it is not improbable that a revulsion from such extreme musical impressionism will take place some time in the future. [Pg 471]


What was the influence of Wagner’s style on symphonic music?

What was the nature of Richard Strauss’ training and the direction of his early compositions?

Describe his early symphonic poems.

What is program music?

Describe Richard Strauss’ later symphonic poems.

In what other styles of composition has he written?

Give a sketch of Hausegger.

Give an account of the work of Gustav Mahler.

Give an account of the work of Felix Weingartner.

Give an account of the work of other German writers of symphonic poems. [Pg 472]

German Opera Since Wagner.

Goldmark.—Among those opera composers who are not direct imitators of Wagner, Carl Goldmark (Keszthely, Hungary, 1830) is the most noted. Son of a cantor in a synagogue, he showed decided musical taste while still a child, and at twelve played the violin in public. After a few conservatory lessons at Vienna, he was forced to make his own way, and live on the small salary obtained in theatre orchestras. He taught himself piano and singing, and was soon able to teach others also. He trained himself by reading the scores of the great master-works. In purely orchestral composition, his first success came with the “Sakuntala” overture, inspired by the story of the Oriental nymph of that name, who is wooed, forgotten, and found again by the Indian king, Dushianta. Later overtures are “Penthesilea,” “Spring,” “Prometheus Bound,” and “Italy.” Goldmark wrote two symphonies, the first (“Rustic Wedding”) resembling a suite of tone-pictures, while the second is in stricter form. He has also published a violin concerto, some chamber works, and vocal pieces. His music is marked by richness of harmony and warmth of instrumental coloring.

Goldmark’s Operas.—His first opera was the “Queen of Sheba,” dealing with the infatuation of Assad for that queen, at the court of King Solomon. Its scenes of splendid festivity and dramatic power, and its delightful music, won it an immense success, and Goldmark was nicknamed “Court Composer to the Queen of Sheba.” “Merlin,” his next work, is based on that wizard’s love for Viviane, in the days of King Arthur. It contains much noble music, but the libretto is weak and confused. “Heimchen am Herd” is an example of the style of Folk-opera [Pg 473] introduced by Humperdinck. It is a setting of Dickens’ “Cricket on the Hearth,” and its music shows a most delightful freshness and charm. “Die Kriegsgefangene” treats the story of Achilles and Briseis with much expressive power, while “Götz von Berlichingen” is a setting of Goethe’s novel of that title. “Der Fremdling” (The Stranger) is a manuscript work.


Engelbert Humperdinck.

Humperdinck.—Engelbert Humperdinck (Bonn, Germany, 1854) won a remarkable success with his Folk-opera “Hänsel and Gretel,” a work which has almost founded a new school in Germany. Humperdinck studied architecture at first, but at Hiller’s advice took up music. “Hänsel and Gretel” is the story of two poor children who are left in the woods [Pg 474] by their stepmother. They find a gingerbread house, inhabited by a witch who wishes to eat them; but Gretel pushes her into her own oven, and frees all the children previously under her spells. The greatness of this work, like that of Weber’s operas, in their day, lies in its union of the popular Folk-song style with the richness of modern orchestration. The music is fresh and tuneful, with an appealing sincerity that carries it directly to the heart. At a period when other composers seemed able to produce nothing but weak imitations of Wagner’s operas, this work won universal recognition. Humperdinck has produced several other fairy operas, such as “Dornröschen,” “Die Königskinder,” “Saint-Cyr,” and “Die Sieben Geislein,” but none of them has gained any lasting success.

Kienzl.—Another composer of originality is Wilhelm Kienzl (Waizen-Kirchen, Austria, 1857). He studied at Graz, Prague, Leipzig, and, finally, with Liszt, at Weimar. He, too, served as conductor in small theatres. His first opera, “Urvasi,” is based on an East Indian subject. Its music is brilliant, but lacking in dramatic effect. “Heilmar der Narr” deals with the magic healing qualities of a seventh son, who forfeits his power if rewarded; he cures his sweetheart, but loses his gift because he wins her, whereupon she sacrifices herself to bring back his skill. Kienzl’s greatest work is “Der Evangelimann,” treating of a true story of two brothers in a small Austrian hamlet. Both love the same girl, Martha, but she prefers Mathias. Johannes, out of jealousy, sets fire to a house where the lovers are meeting, and denounces Mathias as the incendiary. Martha tries in vain to save him, and he is imprisoned for twenty years. At the end of this term, Johannes, who has been prosperous and respected, is confronted on his death-bed by Mathias, who forgives him. This opera has been given in many countries, and translated into several languages. Its music shows much dramatic force, and goes far to redeem those scenes in the libretto that are lacking in action. A fourth opera by Kienzl is the tragi-comedy “Don Quixote.” [Pg 475]

Schillings.—Among the composers who have modelled their works on those of Wagner is Max Schillings (Düren, Germany, 1868). He studied law at first, like Schumann, but soon turned to music, and became one of Wagner’s active assistants at Bayreuth. His “Ingwelde” is one of the many Viking operas that have followed in the lead of “Tristan and Isolde,” and aimed at effects of dramatic power. Ingwelde is forced by a careless oath to follow Klause, enemy of her husband, Gest. Bran, Klause’s brother, loves her also, and kills Klause. She returns to Gest, but Bran follows and kills him too, after which the pair die together. “Der Pfeifertag,” a later work, is evidently inspired by “Die Meistersinger.” It is a confused account of various adventures on “Pipers’ Day,” a mediæval festival. The chief episodes are the reduction of an excessive toll paid by the pipers, the pretended death of one of that Guild, who thus obtains a eulogy from a rival, and the union of two pairs of lovers. The music, though worthy, can hardly stand comparison with that of the great work upon which the opera was modelled.

Cyrill Kistler (Augsburg, Germany, 1848) was at one time thought to be Wagner’s real successor, but nearly all his works are now laid aside. They show an evident striving after musical grandeur, but are not wholly successful in attaining that effect. Kistler studied with Lachner and others at Munich, but became a Wagner enthusiast in spite of their formal training. In his first opera, “Kunihild,” the heroine is wooed by one of three brothers, who is successful in the magic ride necessary to win her. But there has been a feud between the houses, and another brother, to prevent the marriage, kills the bridegroom. A comic opera, “Eulenspiegel,” preceded by ten years the symphonic poem of Strauss. “Baldurs Tod” is based on the beautiful Norse Saga of the Sun-God. “Im Honigmond” is a smaller work, in romantic style. A more important production in the same vein is “Röslein im Hag,” which bids fair to be successful. “Der Vogt von Mühlstein” is a work of still more recent date. [Pg 476]

August Bungert (Mühlheim, Germany, 1846) studied at Cologne and Paris, taking up composition at Berlin under the renowned Fr. Kiel. He has produced a light opera, “Die Studenten von Salamanca,” a “Tasso” overture, and the symphonic poem “Auf der Wartburg.” But his life-work has been the composition of a Hexalogy, or set of six operas, on Homeric subjects. The first two, “Achilles” and “Klytemnestra,” are from the Iliad, while the Odyssey furnishes the material for “Kirke,” “Nausikaa,” “Odysseus Heimkehr,” and “Odysseus Tod.” The abiding beauty of the old Greek poems has been faithfully preserved in the librettos, and the music has reflected, to some degree, the noble dignity of these epics. The first three works of the Odyssey cycle have been given, and have produced an excellent impression on the critics.


Siegfried Wagner.

Siegfried Wagner (Triebschen, Switzerland, 1869), son of the immortal Richard, has an undoubted right to carry on the family traditions. He studied with Kniese and Humperdinck, and became a very energetic conductor. His first opera, “Der Bärenhäuter,” is the story of a mediæval soldier who sells himself to the devil, but is redeemed by [Pg 477] finding a sweetheart who will remain true during three years of absence. “Herzog Wildfang,” the next work, treats of a fiery duke who is made unpopular and supplanted by his crafty adviser, Mathias Blank. Mathias is afterward caught in trying to win the beautiful Osterlind by trickery, and his dishonesty in office is also exposed; whereupon the rightful duke comes to his own again, and Osterlind marries her real lover. “Der Kobold,” a third work, treats of the legend that the souls of murdered children wander about as kobolds until released by the sacrifice of the last of their race. “Bruder Lustig,” the fourth opera, is based on an Austrian subject.

D’Albert.—In Eugen d’Albert (Glasgow, Scotland, 1864), we find a man of real musical gifts. He studied under such men as Stainer and Prout in England, but he claims that his true musical education began only in later days, under Richter and Liszt. He has won international fame as a pianist, and has shown real musicianship in his purely orchestral works. These include two concertos for piano, one for violoncello, the “Esther” and “Hyperion” overtures, and a worthy symphony; all showing harmonic beauty and richness of color, without any inflation or exaggerated effects. His first opera, “The Ruby,” tells of a princess imprisoned in the form of that magic gem, but released by a poor young man who wins her. “Ghismonda” deals with the love of a princess for a young man of low degree, but noble character. On being surprised with the princess, he dies rather than reveal her love for him, but she proclaims his chivalry to the world. “Gernot” is an elfin opera, with much delicate music. “Die Abreise” shows the reconciliation of a married couple who have begun to drift apart, and the departure of the over-amorous cavalier who tried to widen the breach for his own purposes. “Kain” is a weirdly effective one-act drama, of the realistic school. “Der Improvisator” has for its libretto a rather weak arrangement of Hugo’s “Angelo, Tyrant of Padua,” while “Tiefland” is founded on a Spanish tale, in which true love triumphs over the schemes of a wicked Alcalde. [Pg 478]

Hugo Wolf (Vienna, Austria, 1860—Vienna, 1902) had a constant struggle with poverty, and enjoyed but a short period of fame before yielding to insanity and death. His opera, “Der Corregidor,” is a delightful work, in comic vein, and the humorous scenes on the stage are treated with remarkable animation and skill in the orchestra. The Corregidor is a Spanish magistrate, who is too much smitten with Frasquita, the beautiful wife of the miller, Tio Lucas. The pair play him many tricks, and the opera ends with his discomfiture before his own consort. Wolf’s fame is much increased by the rare power and beauty of his many songs. Especially worthy of note are the “Feuerreiter,” “Gebet,” “Gesang Weylas,” and the “Italienisches Liederbuch.” His symphonic poem, “Penthesilea,” is another important work. His style is sometimes bizarre and involved, but his themes are always effective and significant.

Other Composers.—Max Bruch (Cologne, Germany, 1838) studied under Hiller, Reinecke, and Breuning. His chief opera, “Hermione,” is not important, but he has won lasting fame by the breadth and nobility of his epic cantatas, such as “Frithjof,” “Odysseus,” “Arminius,” and others. His concertos and serenade for violin are favorite works with soloists. Ludwig Thuille, a friend of Strauss, is given high praise by musicians, and his new opera “Gugeline” has been well received. Heinrich Zollner has won a popular success by his setting of Hauptmann’s delicate play, “The Sunken Bell.” Hans Pfitzner has produced an excellent work in his romantic forest-opera, “Die Rose vom Liebesgarten.” Leo Blech’s “Alpenkönig und Menschenfeind” has received numerous performances, while E. Klose’s fairy opera, “Ilsebill,” is a worthy example of its school.

Opera in Germany.—Since Wagner’s time, there has been no striking development in German opera, and his works still remain by far the most important in that field. None can rival him in the power, variety, and expressive qualities of his music. Strauss surpasses him in intricacy and novelty of instrumental effects, but Wagner himself first cleared the path in which Strauss was to follow. The greatest [Pg 479] successes of Goldmark are those of twenty and thirty years ago. Humperdinck’s one chief work is frankly popular in style, and its attractiveness cannot fairly be compared with the grandeur of the music-dramas, even though it should found a school of its own. Bungert’s works, though well received, have not been given many performances, while many of those who have tried to imitate Wagner have echoed merely his outward mannerisms, and not the inward greatness of his works. It must be remembered, however, that a world-genius like that of Wagner does not appear in every country or every century, and that his importance prevents his successors from gaining their full meed of appreciation.


Give a sketch of Carl Goldmark and his works.

In what style of opera has Humperdinck been most successful?

Give an account of Kienzl and his most important works.

Whose works seem to have furnished models for Max Schillings’ operas?

Give an account of the works of Kistler.

What is the great work of August Bungert?

Give the stories of Siegfried Wagner’s operas.

Give an account of Eugen d’Albert and his works.

Give an account of Hugo Wolf’s works.

What other composers have done important work in this field?

Summarize the work of the leading composers mentioned in this lesson. [Pg 480]


Vincent D’Indy.      César Franck.
Camille Saint-Saëns.     Jules Massenet.

[Pg 481]

Old and New Schools in France.

Saint-Saëns.—The end of the 19th century in France has been marked by a decided contrast between the old and the new, Saint-Saëns and Massenet writing in the older style, while the pupils of Franck have striven after novelty in effect. Charles-Camille Saint-Saëns (Paris, France, 1835) witnessed the rise and fall of Meyerbeer, and the triumphs of Gounod, and was himself famous before the influence of Wagner reached France. His style is marked by great diversity, and displays equal skill in many different veins; but his music always shows the utmost facility of expression, a mastery of the technic of composing, and a remarkable ease and fluency. His has been a true musical development, founded on rational lines. He was always a warm admirer of Bach, Beethoven, and the Classical school, and while he appreciated Liszt, Wagner and other modern masters, he did not abandon the old ideas of form and melody. His works show the most exquisite symmetry of detail, like that of a finely-carved monument enriched by delicate tracery.

His Works.—Saint-Saëns studied at the Conservatoire, under Stamaty, Halévy, and Benoist. Though he failed in trying for the Prix de Rome, he produced a worthy symphony when only sixteen. In opera, his first success was the Biblical “Samson and Dalila,” a work of expressive power and vivid coloring. “Le Timbre d’Argent” and “La Princesse Jaune” are of earlier date. “Le Deluge,” is an operatic cantata. “Etienne-Marcel” won some success in Paris, while “Henry VIII” is a skilful blending of old and new styles. “Proserpine” and “Ascanio [Pg 482]” followed, while “Phryne” is a dainty example of opéra comique. “Parysatis,” “Déjanire,” and “Les Barbares” introduce grandiose effects for open-air performances. “Helène” is a shorter work, again on a Grecian subject. The composer’s versatility and smoothness of style prevent him from obtaining the highest dramatic intensity, but his music is always excellent. In the orchestral field, he has produced four later symphonies, five piano concertos (that in G minor being the favorite), and two suites. His symphonic poems include “Le Rouet d’Omphale,” a delicious orchestral spinning-song; “Phaeton” and “La Jeunesse d’Hercule,” also on mythical subjects; and the weird “Danse Macabre.” His violin concerto in B minor is a great favorite.

Massenet.—Jules Emile Frederic Massenet (Montreaux, France, 1842) is another Conservatoire pupil. Rejected at first by Bazin, as lacking talent, he worked steadily onward, and from a player in small cafés became one of the foremost figures in French music. His first great triumph came with “Marie Madeleine” and “Eve,” which are not strictly oratorios, but are more properly called sacred dramas. “La Vierge” and “La Terre Promise” are of later date. These works treat their subjects with modern spirit and passion, instead of the more classic oratorio style. Massenet is hardly the equal of Saint-Saëns in orchestral work, but his “Phedre” overture and his suites of tone-pictures are remarkably attractive. In opera, he won his spurs with “Le Roi de Lahore,” a spectacular Oriental subject. “Herodiade” is a sacred work, while “Manon” is a graceful setting of Prevost’s novel of that name. “Le Cid” is not so strong a work, for Massenet’s style is sentimental and passionate rather than heroic. “Esclairmonde,” with a romantic and legendary plot, displays remarkable beauty and richness of effect. “Werther,” based on Goethe’s novel, is another success. “Le Mage,” an Oriental subject, and “Thais,” with an Egyptian plot, were comparative failures. “La Navarraise,” with its love amid battles, is an echo of Italian realism. Massenet’s tender feeling and vivid emotion show at their best in his later works for the stage—“Le Portrait de [Pg 483] Manon,” a delightful love-idyl, “Cendrillon,” a fairy opera, “Griselidis,” an old legend of wifely constancy, and “Le Jongleur de Notre-Dame.” The last is a touching story of a despised minstrel who wins favor with the Holy Virgin by his earnest desire to do something in her name, even if it be only to amuse her with his juggling tricks.

French Opera.—Among other French composers for the stage, Meyerbeer, Gounod and Bizet belong to a previous generation. Delibes won some notice with “Le Roi l’a Dit” and “Sylvia,” but his best work is “Lakmé,” another example of rich Oriental warmth and color. Ambroise Thomas is known chiefly as the composer of “Mignon,” a remarkably graceful setting of a libretto from Goethe’s “Wilhelm Meister.” “Le Songe d’un Nuit d’Été,” an earlier work, has also met with deserved success, but “Hamlet” is a ridiculous perversion of Shakespeare, and “Françoise de Rimini” failed to attain real tragic grandeur. Guiraud is known by his comic opera “Piccolino”; Poise set many of Molière’s plays; Lalo’s only notable work is “Le Roi d’Ys”; Godard’s dainty “Vivandière” is frankly light in style; while Salvayre’s ambitious “Dame de Monsoreau” is not a great success. Reyer’s “Erostrate” and “La Statue” were praised in their day, but he is better known by two later works—“Sigurd,” on the subject of “Die Götterdämmerung,” and “Salammbô,” a setting of Flaubert’s story of Carthage.

Franck and His Influence.—The new French school is almost wholly due to the work of one man, César Auguste Franck (Liége, Belgium, 1822—Paris, 1890). He settled in Paris, and studied at the Conservatoire. Modest and retiring by nature, “le bon père Franck,” as he was called, divided his time between teaching, composing, and playing the organ of the Ste. Clotilde Church. His simple faith and earnest work recall the spirit of the old mediæval artists, who devoted their lives and their music to the glory of the Lord. Franck’s works show a mastery and power that his pupils are scarcely able to equal, and his compositions have fairly won the esteem that was denied to them during the composer’s lifetime. Among them are the great D minor [Pg 484] Symphony, the oratorios “Ruth,” “Rebecca,” and “The Redemption,” the opera “Hulda,” and the symphonic poems “Psyche” (with voices), “Les Djinns,” “Les Eolides,” and “Le Chasseur Maudit.” But Franck’s most notable work is “Les Beatitudes,” an eight-part oratorio treating the Sermon on the Mount. Franck’s style is radically different from that of Saint-Saëns or Massenet. It is harmonic rather than melodic, and extremely modulatory in effect. His progressions remind the hearer of Wagner; but they do not always possess the broad simplicity that underlies Wagner’s most intricate passages. Franck’s pupils have often fallen into the error of imitating his weakest points, and have brought about a style of harmonic vagueness that seems meaningless to many modern critics.

D’Indy.—Vincent d’Indy (Paris, France, 1852) is the greatest of Franck’s pupils, and the leader of the modern French school. As conductor, he has been an ardent champion of new and little-known works. His own compositions include many forms, and have all attracted attention. His first great work to reach the public was the “Piccolomini” overture, a part of his orchestral trilogy based on Schiller’s “Wallenstein.” Two important vocal compositions are “La Chevauchée du Cid,” for baritone, chorus, and orchestra, and “Le Chant de la Cloche,” a dramatic legend that won the prize given by the city of Paris. In the orchestral field, “Antony and Cleopatra” is an early work, as is also the “Jean Hunyadi” symphony. Of d’Indy’s two later symphonies, the first, based on a mountain air, contains many passages of sweetness and purity, while the second is more involved and modulatory in style. His earliest symphonic poem, “La Forêt Enchantée” is a delicate tone-picture based on a ballad of Uhland; “Saugefleurie” is founded on a story by de Bonnières; while “Istar” is inspired by parts of the old Assyrian epic “Idzubar.” D’Indy’s music is hardly popular in style, for its themes are not definitely melodic; but his skill in weaving them into an orchestral tissue is admired by all musicians. In opera, “Les Burgraves” and the lighter “Attendez-Moi Sous [Pg 485] l’Orme” are youthful works, while “Fervaal” is a music-drama (action musicale) on a Druidic subject, and “L’Etranger” is symbolic in style. He has written some important works in musical literature and theory.

Charpentier.—Gustave Charpentier (Dieuze, France, 1860) was a Conservatoire pupil. The Prix de Rome took him to Italy, and his life there resulted in the pleasing orchestral suite “Impressions d’Italie.” This consists of five tone-pictures, entitled, “Serenade,” “At the Fountain,” “On Muleback,” “On the Summits,” and “Naples.” On his return he lived among the working-people of Montmartre, and their life is reflected in his later works. “La Vie du Poète” is a symphony-drama, giving episodes in the life of an unsuccessful genius. In the beginning, all is aspiration and enthusiasm. Then doubt follows. At first the poet is consoled by the serene beauty of the summer night, but his fears gain the upper hand. Then comes a picture of impotent raging and vain anger against fate, after which the poet tries to blot out his sorrows in the cheap gayety of the city. “La Couronnement de la Muse” is a pantomime, written with the idea that a working girl in each town or city should annually be chosen and crowned amid festivities. The composer’s greatest work, however, is the opera “Louise.” This tells the story of a poor working girl, whose parents forbid her to marry the somewhat wayward Julien. At the latter’s persuasion, she finally flies with him. Her parents try to reclaim her, but again she is drawn away, and her father is left shaking his fist at the terrible city that entices young girls from their homes. The music of “Louise” is full of power and realism, and even the street cries of Paris are echoed in its measures.

Bruneau.—Operatic realism has found a more prolific, if less successful, champion in Alfred Bruneau (Paris, France, 1857), another Conservatoire pupil. He has confined himself to librettos drawn from the novels of Zola. “Le Rêve,” an early work, is a psychological study of love, in the person of the dreamy Angelique, who dies from excess of [Pg 486] happiness when her wedding is completed. “L’Attaque du Moulin” is a spirited story of the Franco-Prussian war, set in a more melodic and popular style. “Messidor” is again symbolic in style, the theme being a contrast between greed for gold and the simple pleasure of honest toil. “L’Ouragan” deals with the tempests of human passion and jealousy, as well as the hurricanes of nature. “L’Enfant Roi,” and the music to “La Faute de l’Abbé Mouret,” are more recent works. Bruneau is sincere and earnest in his efforts at realism, but his music is often heavy and uninspired. He has produced works in other fields, among them being a great “Requiem,” a “Heroic Overture,” and the symphonic poem “Penthesilée,” for voice and orchestra. His three books on French composers, and his many criticisms, have made him known in the domain of musical literature.

Debussy.—The new school of French music finds its most radical expression in the compositions of Achille Claude Debussy (Paris, France, 1862). A musician of great gifts, he chooses to imbue his music with a studied vagueness of effect, and wanders through a maze of changing keys and harmonies. Many persons find the result wholly incomprehensible at first, but on repeated hearing his works show a weird, elusive beauty that is worshipped by his adherents as the acme of musical expression. He, too, was a Conservatoire student, and won the Prix de Rome with the cantata “L’Enfant Prodigue.” Two lyric scenes, “La Demoiselle Élue,” and “Chimène,” first drew attention to the young artist. Then came the orchestral prelude to Mallarmé’s “L’Après-Midi d’un Faune,” a delicately-woven rhapsody, with much beauty and much weirdness in its harmonies. The Nocturnes, entitled, “Nuages” and “Fêtes,” are described by De Bréville as possessing the ethereal charm of a perfume that pervades the air, but defies analysis. A string quartet is in stricter form, but the “Proses Lyriques,” on subjects of Beaudelaire, also the “Chansons de Bilitis” and “Les Estampes” for piano, again show the free style. Debussy’s most ambitious work is “Pelleas et Mélisande,” an opera based on Maeterlinck’s play of that name. The poet’s words offer the same shadowy suggestions that the composer gives in music, and the harmonic effects of vague mystery are entirely in place here. [Pg 487]

Chausson.—Ernest Chausson (Paris, France, 1855—Limay, 1899) proved himself a composer of real greatness, and was still in the prime of life when he met with a fatal bicycle accident, in 1899. Trained for law, he turned to music from choice, as Schumann did before him. A pupil of Massenet and Franck, he combined the direct expression of the former with the harmonic style of the latter, and produced works of a most attractive orchestral coloring. Among his compositions are a worthy symphony, the beautiful symphonic poem “Viviane,” the orchestral pictures “Solitude dans les Bois” and “Soir de Fête,” a “Poëme” for violin and orchestra, some chamber-music, and many pleasing songs and choruses. His one great opera was “Le Roi Arthus.” His works are full of tenderness and charm, yet not lacking in vigor and breadth; they have the modern harmonic richness and orchestral color, and are growing steadily in favor.

Other Composers.—Alexis Emanuel Chabrier, wholly self-taught in music, produced the brilliant orchestral rhapsody “España,” an attractive “Suite Pastorale,” a lively “Marche Joyeuse,” and some effective cantatas. In opera, his “Le Roi Malgré Lui” is an excellent example in lighter vein, but his greatest work is “Gwendoline,” on a Viking subject. Of all the Frenchmen, he was the one best fitted to attempt the bold, virile style required by the libretto. The most prominent orchestral writer of the younger generation is Paul Dukas, whose “Apprenti Sorcier” treats a humorous subject with rare skill. Théodore Dubois, for many years head of the Conservatoire, is best known by his oratorios, such as “Paradise Lost,” and his “Frithjof” overture. Gabriel Fauré, the organist, who succeeded Dubois as director of the Conservatoire in 1905, has produced a symphony, two string quartets, and a number of songs whose intricacy cannot obscure their exquisite grace. Other organist-composers are Charles Marie Widor, who wrote the opera “Maître Ambros” and the ballet “La Korrigane,” and Alexandre [Pg 488] Guilmant, known by his great organ symphony and sonatas. Bourgault-Ducoudray has written many cantatas, and made a valuable collection of Breton Folk-songs. Pierné, Coquard, Erlanger and Hue won their fame in opera, while Duparc gained notice with his symphonic poem “Lenore.” Ropartz and de Bréville rank with the best of Franck’s pupils, while among women-composers, Augusta Holmés won renown by her mastery of broad orchestral effects, and Cécile Chaminade is known by her dainty songs and piano pieces.

The New French School.—When Wagner showed the harmonic resources of the modern orchestra, he led the way for a host of imitators, who have often done more harm than good. Such operas as “Fervaal” and “Gwendoline,” in large measure the result of “Tristan,” are proper applications of this style. But the idea of finding new harmonic effects has exerted its influence on orchestral writers also, and some modern composers, especially in France, have devoted all their energy to this, and have apparently sacrificed all thoughts of musical beauty. The French have even invented the term “cérébral,” which describes a composer who puts no emotion or feeling into his music, but works it out wholly from the brain. Thus many of the modern compositions must be regarded as great orchestral experiments, and the composer who combines this instrumental technic with real feeling and directness of utterance is the one who will meet with the greatest success.

[Pg 489] Questions.

Which French composers represent the older style; which the new?

Give a sketch of the works of Saint-Saëns.

Give a sketch of the works of Massenet.

Name other important opera composers in France.

Who was the leader of the new French school? Give an account of his works. Name some of his pupils.

Who is the leading representative of this school today (1905)? Give an account of his works.

Which is the most important work of Charpentier?

In what lines of musical work did Bruneau labor? Name some of his works.

Who is the most extreme representative of the new French school?

What are the distinguishing characteristics of Chausson’s works?

Name other important French composers.

What is the character of some of the works of the advanced school of composition? [Pg 490]


Pietro Mascagni.      Giacomo Puccini.
G. Sgambati.
Abbé Perosi.     Enrico Bossi.

[Pg 491]

Musical Regeneration in Italy.

Musical Decadence.—When a nation clings to its own musical ideas, and persistently disregards the growth and progress of other nations, it usually enters upon a period of decay. This is what took place in Italy during the 19th century, and the country that produced Palestrina and the Scarlattis seemed for a time to understand nothing but the trivial operatic melodies of Rossini’s successors. In 1850, there were scarcely any concert halls in the country, and even the churches were content with operatic airs set to sacred words. Soon after this, Pinelli tried to give an orchestral concert, with sixty musicians; and the box-office receipts left only fourteen francs with which to pay them. Sgambati produced a Beethoven symphony, but had to do it at his own expense. As late as 1879, Saint-Saëns, who gave an organ recital at Milan, found the organ scarcely fit for an artist to play upon. In opera, it was only the broad judgment of Verdi that was able to look beyond the borders of his native land, and his “Aïda,” as well as Boïto’s “Mefistofele,” was the beginning of a new order of things.

Mascagni.—In 1890, the publisher Sonzogno offered a prize for the best one-act opera submitted to him, and this prize was awarded to Pietro Mascagni (Leghorn, Italy, 1863), then an unimportant musical leader at Cerignola. Mascagni was the son of a baker, who wished him to study law, and locked him up because he practiced the piano in secret. The boy was rescued by his uncle, and under the protection of Count Florestan pursued his studies at the Milan Conservatory. The opera that brought him such fame, which has since become world-wide, was “Cavalleria Rusticana,” or “Rustic Chivalry,” based on a tale by Verga. The scene is a village square, before a church. The heroine, Santuzza, [Pg 492] is forsaken by Turiddu, who carries on an intrigue with Lola, wife of the carter Alfio. Santuzza, in despair, denounces him to Alfio, who challenges and kills him. The music is hardly of the highest standard; but it is popular and vigorous in style, and intensely powerful. The work is scarcely comparable to the music-dramas, yet every number is animated by the spirit of the words, and it is therefore dramatically true. Among the many favorite selections from its score are the “Siciliana” of Turiddu (sung as part of the overture, before the curtain rises), the broad and noble “Regina Coeli,” Lola’s serenely confident aria, “My King of Roses,” and the jolly “Brindisi,” or drinking chorus, to say nothing of the saccharine “Intermezzo.” The power and vividness of “Rustic Chivalry” made it an epoch-making work; but Mascagni’s later operas have not met with the same success. They include “L’Amico Fritz,” “William Ratcliff,” “Silvano,” “Iris,” “Le Maschere,” and the one-act “Amica.”

Leoncavallo.—The success of “Rustic Chivalry” aroused Ruggiero Leoncavallo (Naples, Italy, 1858) to try his hand in the same school. His early opera “Chatterton” was practically a failure, while his ambitious “Medici” trilogy (“I Medici,” “Savonarola,” and “Cesare Borgia”) met with no better reception. In “I Pagliacci,” however, he produced a work of the new school, that has taken its place beside Mascagni’s opera as an example of the new realism. The “Pagliacci” are strolling players. Canio, the leader, is aroused to madness by learning of the proposed elopement of his wife, Nedda, but she will not betray her lover’s name. They enact for the villagers a mimic tragedy of love and jealousy, but Canio makes it real by actually stabbing the faithless Nedda. Her lover then leaps from the audience to save her, only to meet a similar death at Canio’s hands. The music to this play is of a higher standard than Mascagni’s, though less directly popular in style. “Trilby” and “Zaza” are later works of little importance, while “Roland of Berlin,” composed by order for a libretto by the Emperor of Germany, aroused only passing interest. [Pg 493]

Puccini.—When the great Verdi retired from active life as a composer, he named as his probable successor, Giacomo Puccini (Lucca, Italy, 1858). Descended from a musical family, Puccini could devote himself to his art without parental opposition, and he completed his studies under Ponchielli, at the Milan Conservatory. His “Le Villi” was really the origin of the modern one-act plays. “Edgar” resembles “Carmen” somewhat, but has a weak libretto, and music that is not always effective. “Manon Lescaut” is rather a succession of detached scenes than a single whole, but at times it displays a mastery of dramatic contrast far beyond Massenet. “La Bohême” is a delightfully sympathetic setting of Murger’s well-known novel, and its scenes of rollicking defiance to poverty and hunger remind one of the composer’s early struggles. The note of haunting sweetness that pervades the score marks Puccini as a man of rare musical gifts. In “Tosca,” the heroine of that name loves the artist, Mario, who aids a political refugee, at the risk of his own life. The governor, Scarpia, who captures him, loves Tosca also, and tortures him to make her yield to his desires. To save Mario, she consents, but stabs Scarpia at the last moment. But Scarpia’s treachery survives him, for the pretended execution, which was to let Mario escape, turns out to be real, and Tosca takes her own life in despair. The music shows a ripe mastery of dramatic power. The climax of the first act, merging into the church service, and the tragic power of the second, well contrasted with the strains of a festival cantata that float in through the window, are scenes that win unqualified praise from all critics. “Madame Butterfly,” on a Japanese subject, lacked the necessary delicacy, but the two preceding works have made Puccini the foremost man in Italian opera today.

The Realistic School.—Many composers of the “Verismo” school adopt a realism that deals only with the more brutal side of life, and their plots, though strong, are not always pleasing. Giordano’s “Andrea Chenier” and “Fedora” show musical worth, but Spinelli’s “A Basso Porto,” Coronaro’s “Festa a Marina,” and Tasca’s [Pg 494] “A Santa Lucia” picture some of the coarsest phases of existence. Yet this defect may be condoned when we consider that the movement has infused new life and power into Italian music. Among those composers who have stood somewhat aloof from the new school, Franchetti is the most noteworthy. His operas include “Cristoforo Colombo,” “Germania,” and the later “Figlia di Jorio,” and he has written symphonies that place him among the best of the later Italian composers.

Perosi.—The revival in sacred music has been brought about wholly by one man, Don Lorenzo Perosi (Tortona, Italy, 1872). He studied faithfully, in spite of sickness—first at Milan, then under the learned Fr. Haberl at Ratisbon. He became a conductor at Imola, and afterwards at Venice, where he led his forces with decided vigor. Soon after this, he began to compose the oratorios that have made him so famous. His sacred trilogy, “The Passion of Christ,” included the “Last Supper,” the “Sermon on the Mount,” and the “Death of the Redeemer.” It made a sensation that reverberated through all Italy, and caused his appointment in the following year as honorary master of the Papal Choir. He has been untiring as a composer, producing no less than fifteen masses and nearly a dozen oratorios. Among the latter are “The Transfiguration,” “The Annunciation,” “The Raising of Lazarus,” “The Birth of the Redeemer,” and the two-part “Moses.” He writes with enthusiasm, and sees the actual picture before him while he works. His music does not possess the calm dignity shown by Palestrina, but its semi-popular style is well adapted to his hearers, and may lead the way to something better.

Sgambati.—The leading position among Italy’s new symphonic composers belongs to Giovanni Sgambati (Rome, Italy, 1843). Like many musicians, he was at first destined for a lawyer’s career, but began his musical studies in time to become known as a boy-prodigy. He settled in Rome, and soon grew famous as a pianist. He played Beethoven, Schumann and Chopin, and did much to introduce their works into Italy. He planned a trip to Germany, but when Liszt came to Rome [Pg 495] he remained there to study under that great master. At this time his earlier compositions, mostly chamber works, brought him into notice in a new field. These quartets and quintets were followed by a festival overture, a piano concerto, and three symphonies in succession. His compositions are somewhat lacking in spontaneity, but they display great learning, and undeniable skill. His works show the influence of Liszt and Berlioz, mingled with the stricter style of the old Italian contrapuntal writers.

Other Orchestral Composers.—With Sgambati, Martucci also deserves mention in the instrumental field. He became identified with the artistic life of Naples, where he fought a similar fight for the cause of good music. Among several others, Del Valle de Paz is noted for his valuable educational work in Florence, no less than for his compositions. Busoni, so well known as a pianist, has also tried his hand at orchestral writing in the most extreme modern vein. Eugenio di Pirani is another composer who has identified himself with the German instrumental school. The literary champion of the new order of things has been Luigi Torchi, whose work in the magazines deserves the highest praise.

Bossi.—The most prominent figure among the younger devotees of the German style is Marco Enrico Bossi (Salo, Italy, 1861). He studied organ at first, and for ten years held the post of organist in the Como Cathedral. Four years of teaching at Naples were followed by similar work in Venice, where he gained deserved prominence. His compositions show great originality, and include many different forms. An early overture was given at the Crystal Palace, in London, which he visited during a piano tour. The one-act opera “Paquita” was followed by “L’Angelo della Notte” and “Il Veggento,” also a large work for the Milan Exposition of 1905. He has composed many masses, and the oratorio “Christus.” A more recent triumph is “Paradise Lost,” with Milton’s words—a work suggested by Mme. Rubinstein. His organ concerto won a decided success at the Chicago Fair, and his symphonic poem, “Il Cieco,” has been well received. He aims to blend the old polyphonic style with the rich instrumentation of modern Germany. [Pg 496]

Buongiorno.—Among the adherents of German standards, Buongiorno (Bonito, Italy, 1864) is one who has devoted himself to opera. Studying at the Naples Conservatory, he became leader of an operetta troupe, for which he wrote many popular works. His first great opera was “Das Mädchenherz” (Il Cuor delle Fanciulle), which treats with admirable delicacy the love-story of Alba and Marino. She grows to be court singer, and defeats an older rival, but ambition makes her careless of love. Marino becomes a priest, and only when Alba is old and forsaken does his consolation show her what she has missed. The music displays much emotional beauty, and the “play within the play,” at the ducal court, allows the composer to imitate Bach, Handel, and other old masters with exquisite humor. “Michelangelo and Rolla” is a one-act play, again uniting a subject of real poetic worth with beautiful music. These two operas are far removed from the crudities of the “Verismo” school.

Wolf-Ferrari.—A composer who may fitly follow German ideals is Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari, son of a German father and an Italian mother. His “Cenerentola” (Cinderella) has a rather tedious first act, but the second act shows all the appealing beauty and sympathetic feeling that mark the new romanticism. “Le Donne Curiose” is an excellent example of sparkling comedy, and has won much success in Germany. It treats of the misadventures of some women, who try to investigate a mysterious club formed by their husbands. A work in a different vein is the composer’s “Vita Nuova,” a fresh and inspired setting of sonnets and other selections from Dante’s great work.

Music in Italy.—It is difficult for one nation to adopt the musical expression of another, but this is practically what Italy has done. Verdi first gave up the trivial melodies so dear to the Italian populace, and adopted a worthier style. Like Boïto, he denied being influenced by Wagner, but his works show that he felt the force of the German master’s orchestral power. The realistic school of opera has brought into Italian music a vividness and power that are not surpassed [Pg 497] by any other nation, while a still later generation has striven to cast off the crudities of this school and produce works of real orchestral value. Italy has already done much, and the progress of the last few decades seems to predict a bright future for her music.

Music in Spain.—During the last half-century, Spain, too, has developed some native composers. One of the best is Isaac Albeniz, whose “Pepita Ximenes” is a delightful comedy of love and intrigue. His Zarzuelas also have met with success. Felipe Pedrell, well known in European journalism, has written an ambitious trilogy on subjects illustrating the national motto, “Patria, Fides, Amor.” Larrocha, Vives, De Lara, and Antonio Noguerra are also worthy of mention. The Zarzuela is the peculiar Spanish form of light opera, resembling the Italian opera buffa, but possessing more brilliance and delicacy.


What circumstances contributed to Italy’s musical decadence?

Give an account of “Cavalleria Rusticana” and how it came to be written.

What composer was influenced by the success of Mascagni? Describe his works.

Who wrote “La Bohême”? Tell about his education and his works.

What composers are prominent in the “Realistic” school in Italy?

Give an account of the work of Perosi in Oratorio.

Give an account of the works of Sgambati and other composers for the orchestra.

What composers follow German methods? Describe their works.

Tell something about music in Spain. [Pg 498]


C. H. H. Parry.      A. C. Mackenzie.
Edward Elgar.
S. Coleridge-Taylor.     Granville Bantock.

[Pg 499]

England and the Netherlands.

Music in England.—In the Middle Ages, the much-used art of Counterpoint was developed by the people of England and the Netherlands. In the Elizabethan age, the music of England was scarcely less important than her literature. Under Charles II, she could boast of Henry Purcell, one of the few great names in music. But in the 19th century her musical glory had faded, and sentimental songs and popular ballad-operas seemed all that she could produce. Her musical leaders went bravely to work, importing such composers as Mendelssohn and Wagner, and building up great music schools. There was, however, no high standard of taste in the country, so the task proceeded slowly. A race that is gifted with real love of music, and possesses worthy Folk-songs, can easily develop great composers; but England, like the United States, is too commercial for the best results. Dvořák once said of the English people: “They do not love music; they respect it.”

Stanford.—For some years, a group of five men were the advance guard of England’s development. While none of them showed any remarkable inspiration, their work was learned and thorough, and prepared the way for men of more originality. The foremost of them was Charles Villiers Stanford (Dublin, Ireland, 1852). After studying under Reinecke and Kiel, he became organist and conductor at Cambridge University. His works include five symphonies (among them the “Irish”), two overtures, an “Irish Rhapsody,” a piano concerto, two oratorios, and several cantatas; but he is best known by his operas. Of these, “Shamus O’Brien” is most popular, because of its subject, while “Much [Pg 500] Ado about Nothing” shows much grace and elegance. “The Canterbury Pilgrims” aims to picture old England, as the “Meistersinger” did old Germany. Stanford’s work is always carefully planned, but not deeply inspired.

Parry.—Charles Hubert Hastings Parry (Bournemouth, England, 1848) fills a similar position at Oxford University. He has composed four symphonies, and two overtures, the “Tragic” and “Guillem de Cabestanh,” but his most important work has been in the field of oratorio. His sacred works include “Judith,” “De Profundis,” “Job,” and “King Saul,” also a great Magnificat and Te Deum. These, too, show excess of erudition, and are somewhat academic in character; but in all his choral work, Parry displays a breadth and power that deserve high praise. His incidental music to the “Frogs” and the “Birds” of Aristophanes is also worthy of mention. His contributions to musical literature are very important.

Other Musical Leaders.—Alexander Campbell Mackenzie (Edinburgh, Scotland, 1847) became teacher and conductor in his native city, afterwards joining the University forces. His “Colomba,” an early opera, displays much real dramatic worth; more, in fact, than his later productions. Among his other works are two oratorios, “The Rose of Sharon” and “Bethlehem,” while his entr’actes for “Manfred” and his powerful “Coriolanus” music also deserve notice. Frederic Hymen Cowen (Kingston, Jamaica, 1852) studied with Reinecke, Moscheles, and Kiel, and conducted in many cities, including Melbourne, Australia. He has written two oratorios, “Ruth” and “The Deluge,” four operas, including “Pauline” and “Harold,” and several cantatas, of which “The Sleeping Beauty” and “The Water Lily” are delightfully poetic. But his six symphonies are his most valuable works, the “Scandinavian,” “Idyllic,” and “Welsh” ranking in the order named. Arthur Goring Thomas (Eastbourne, England, 1850—London, 1892) devoted himself to the lighter style of romantic music, in which his opera “Esmeralda” and his posthumous cantata “The Swan and the Skylark” met with the most [Pg 501] success. With these five should be classed Sir J. Frederick Bridge, often called in jest “The Westminster Bridge” because of his post as organist in Westminster Abbey. His works include many cantatas, oratorios, and lesser sacred pieces. His teaching has been made delightful by his inimitable humor, which often appears in his compositions also. Other men of this school are Walter Cecil Macfarren, Sir Walter Parratt, and Charles Harford Lloyd, while the excellent work of Sir Arthur Sullivan in light opera must not be forgotten.

Elgar.—In Edward William Elgar (Broadheath, England, 1857) we find a man who is possessed of real originality, and takes rank with the world’s great composers. This is all the more remarkable when we consider that he is almost wholly self-taught. Son of an organist, he soon grew familiar with the instrument, and gained further musical experience by playing in a theatre orchestra at Worcester. Too poor to go to Germany, he lived by teaching violin at first. He went through various books on harmony and orchestration, gaining much from Mozart’s “Thorough-Bass School,” and Parry’s articles in Grove’s dictionary. He ruled a score for the same number of bars and instruments as in Mozart’s G-minor symphony, and wrote a work in this form—an exercise which he considers of the utmost value. When he obtained a new orchestral work, he would go into the fields to study it.

His Works.—Elgar first won attention by his cantata “The Black Knight,” given at a Worcester festival. Its success caused him to continue with “The Light of Life” and “King Olaf,” the latter displaying much direct power and orchestral mastery. His “Variations,” which won a London triumph, possess great intrinsic worth; but each one is intended to portray some friend of the composer’s, and the work thus has an added meaning for his acquaintances. “The Dream of Gerontius,” a setting of Cardinal Newman’s sacred poem, met with remarkable favor. It is not altogether unified in effect, but contains many passages of compelling beauty and sublimity. It has been heard in many countries, [Pg 502] and one German writer considers it the greatest sacred work of the last century, except the “Requiem” of Brahms. “The Apostles,” a later oratorio, is the first part of a proposed trilogy. It displays similar excellence, but at times is too mystic and psychological in effect. Other works by Elgar are three overtures: the attractive “Froissart,” the broadly-popular “Cockaigne” (typical of London), and the more recent “In the South.” The music to “Diarmid and Grania” is also worth mention, while the five songs, entitled, “Sea Pictures,” show remarkable breadth and nobility.

Coleridge-Taylor.—England boasts the first great negro composer in Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (London, England, 1875). Son of an educated African father and a white mother, he began violin lessons at six. At a more mature age, he studied piano with Ashton and composition with Stanford. His early works included a number of anthems, some chamber-music, and a symphony in A-minor. For his beloved violin he wrote the passionate “Southern Love-Songs” and “African Romances,” also the “Hiawatha” sketches. In 1898, he became world-famous by his cantata “Hiawatha’s Wedding-Feast,” which he followed with “The Death of Minnehaha” and “Hiawatha’s Departure.” These display a strength and profusion of passion that sway all hearers, and the glowing richness of the instrumentation forms an appropriate frame for Longfellow’s picture. Later vocal works are “The Atonement” and “The Blind Girl of Castel-Cuillé.” His other compositions include an orchestral ballade with violin, an Idyll, a Solemn Prelude, the music to “Herod,” and four waltzes. All show breadth of treatment, and effects of real beauty attained by simple means.

Bantock.—Some younger composers have headed a movement for greater originality, under the lead of Granville Bantock (London, England, 1868). His one-act operas “Caedmar” and “The Pearl of Iran” show much warmth of color, and his musical ideas are always worthy of the great literary conceptions in which he delights. His two overtures, “Eugene Aram” and “Saul,” the suite of “Russian Scenes,” and the more [Pg 503] recent rhapsody, “The Time Spirit,” are the work of a truly musical nature. His greatest effort, however, is a set of twenty-four symphonic poems, illustrating Southey’s “Curse of Kehama.”

Other Composers.—In the new movement are William Wallace, Erskine Allon, Reginald Steggall, Stanley Hawley, and Arthur Hinton. Clarence Lucas and Cyril Scott are two other young men of prominence.

Edward German is a composer of remarkable gifts, for he attains effects of the utmost grace and musical beauty by the simplest diatonic themes. His “Rival Poets” and “Merrie England” are worthy examples of light opera, while the “English Fantasia,” the symphonic poem “Hamlet,” the suite “The Seasons,” and the “Welsh Rhapsody” are all works of pleasing freshness and originality. German has also made a name in the special field of incidental music, his settings including “Romeo and Juliet,” “As You Like It,” “Much Ado about Nothing,” “The Tempest,” and several other plays. In a period when many composers are losing themselves in the intricacies of the modern orchestral style, the clear simplicity of German’s compositions is an example of the utmost value.

The Belgian School: Benoit.—The new school of Belgium, fostered by the Brussels Conservatory, owes its origin chiefly to Peter Benoit (Harelbeke, Flanders, 1834—Antwerp, 1901), who broadened its influence by his teaching at the Flemish School of Music, in Antwerp. His early opera, “Het Dorp in t’ Gebergte” (The Village in the Mountains), showed delightful local color. A second opera, a mass, a concerto, and a choral symphony increased his fame, but he is identified chiefly with the cantata. His great works in this field include “Oorlog” (War), “Lucifer,” “De Schelde,” “De Rhyn,” the Rubens cantata, and “Promethée.” They are modern in effect, and show breadth of conception and real inspiration, united with ripe technical mastery. They have been described as great decorative pictures in tone, suggesting vistas of grand palaces, armies in battle array, rich fields of grain, mystic visions of the spirit world, or gorgeous triumphal marches. [Pg 504]

Gilson.—Paul Gilson (Brussels, Belgium, 1865) has written for orchestra a Dramatic Overture, a Festival Overture, a Canadian and an Irish Fantasy, half a dozen suites, the “Bucolics” of Virgil, and other lesser works. But his best-known composition is the set of symphonic sketches entitled, “La Mer.” This illustrates a poem of Levis, frequently read before the performance. The different movements depict sunrise at sea, and the many-colored splendors of dawn; the rollicking songs and lively dances of the seaman; a love-duet and parting between a sailor and his sweetheart; and a fatal tempest, in which the themes of the sailors’ choruses are introduced in mocking irony as the ship goes down. Through it all runs a vein of poetic fancy, well suggesting the beauty and mystery of the sea. The oratorio “Francesca da Rimini” is another strong work, the best of Gilson’s productions in that form.

Lekeu.—Guillaume Lekeu (Verviers, Belgium, 1870-1894) was a composer whose early death cut short a career of great promise. His chief studies were pursued in Paris, where he came under the elevating influence of Franck. The subtle delicacy of his harmonic effects is a result of this teaching, and Lekeu seems like a member of the French school who strayed across the border by mistake. His early cantata “Andromède,” and his Fantasie on popular Angevin airs, gained him some notice. His works include two Symphonic Studies, an attractive “Poeme” for violin and orchestra, and an exquisite Adagio for violin, ’cello, and strings. His greatest vocal composition is the “Chant Lyrique,” for chorus and orchestra, but he has produced many songs of lofty melodic style. His music is marked by great originality and fertility of invention, but tinged with a spirit of melancholy and gloom.

Other Composers.—Edgar Tinel (Sinaai, Flanders, 1854) is another pupil of the Brussels Conservatory, where he studied with Fétis. His great work is the three-part oratorio “Franciscus,” treating the story of St. Francis of Assisi. Other works are “Sainte Godelieve” and the music to “Polyeucte.” [Pg 505]

Jan Blockx (Antwerp, Belgium, 1851) is the most popular opera composer of his country. His greatest success is the “Herbergprinses” (Princess of the Inn), a work with a strong dramatic plot and music of remarkable freshness and vigor. “Thyl Uylenspiegel,” in Blockx’s opera of that name, is no longer the graceless rogue of the old German story, but a popular hero who rescues Maestricht from the Spaniards. Other operas of this composer are “The Bride of the Sea,” and “Maître Martin,” an earlier work. Other composers prominent in the new movement are Keurvels, Wambach, Mortelmans, Vleeshouwer, and Mathieu. The first place among the women is occupied by Juliette Folville, the young violinist, who has written the opera “Attala,” a march, parts of a symphony, and many smaller works.

Music in Holland.—Richard Hol was for many years the Nestor of the Dutch composers. His fame was assured by the patriotic hymn, “Comme je t’aime, O mon pays,” and his long career of activity was of great service to the cause of music in Holland. He was a prolific composer, and an excellent critic and journalist. Julius Roentgen, who studied under Reinecke and Lachner, was better known as pianist than as composer, but produced an excellent concerto, also “Das Gebet,” for chorus and orchestra, and other works. The best of the younger men are Bernard Zweers and Alphonse Diepenbrock, while others deserving mention are Van t’Kruys, Gottfried Mann, Dirk Schaefer, and the Brandt-Buys brothers. Among the women-composers, Catherine van Rennes and Hendrika van Tussen-Broek have done excellently in small forms, while Cornelia van Oosterzee attempts ambitious orchestral work, and Cora Dopper has entered the field of opera. Amsterdam has become a great musical centre, and Holland, no less than Belgium, is reaping the result of the widespread educational movement.

[Pg 506] Questions.

What obstacles have hindered the English in developing composition?

Tell about the work of Stanford.

Tell about the work of Parry.

Name other important English composers.

Give an account of Elgar and his works.

What characteristics are strong in the works of Coleridge-Taylor?

Name other prominent composers of the new English school.

Give an account of the work of Benoit, of Gilson, Lekeu, and other Belgian composers.

Who composed the most popular Belgian opera? Tell about other works by this composer.

Name some leading composers of Holland. [Pg 507]

National Schools: Bohemia and Scandinavia.

The Influence of Folk-Music.—Some races are endowed with a better musical taste than others. Among these favored peoples the Folk-song, the music that appeals directly to the popular heart, needs only the touch of a gifted composer to fashion it into a great national school. In the case of England and Belgium, we have seen that even the most thorough musical education cannot wholly atone for a lack of real public taste in music. Scotland, possessing a wealth of beautiful Folk-songs, has not yet given birth to a composer who can employ its style in larger forms. But in Bohemia and the countries of Northern Europe, the Folk-music has not only been worthy in itself, but has been properly developed and amplified by gifted composers.

Smetana.—František Škroup (1801-1862) composed many popular Bohemian Volkslieder, and wrote the first national opera, but the real founder of the Bohemian school was Bedřich, or Frederick, Smetana (Leito mischl, Bohemia, 1824—Prague, 1884). Parental opposition could not prevent his studying music, and we find him at Prague, under Proksh, and, later on, taking lessons of Schumann. That master recommended a course with Mendelssohn, but as the pupil was too poor, he changed his advice and suggested a study of Bach. Smetana became an ardent admirer of Liszt, at whose house his own career was decided. Hearing Herbeck remark, while there, that the Czechs were merely reproductive, he made a solemn resolution to devote his life to the building up of a national school of music in Bohemia. [Pg 508]

His Works.—While conductor at Gothenburg, Sweden, he produced three worthy symphonic poems: “Richard III,” “Wallenstein’s Camp,” and “Hakon Jarl.” On his return, he wrote “The Brandenburgers in Bohemia,” the first of the eight operas that have made him so famous in his native land. This was Wagnerian in style, and at once the critics assailed him fiercely for trying to bring Bohemia under the musical domination of Germany. To show that he could write in a more popular vein, Smetana produced a second opera, “Prodaná Nevĕsta,” (The Bartered Bride), which proved a marvel of musical grace and delicacy, and was enough in itself to establish the reputation of any composer. “Dalibor” is a dramatic work in serious vein, while “Libuše” is based on a national subject. “The Two Widows” and “The Kiss” are light operas of marked success, the latter being often cited as a perfect model for this style. “The Secret” is in the same vein, while “The Devil’s Wall” is again on a national legend. Other notable works are the string quartet “Aus Meinem Leben,” and the “Carnival of Prague”; but Smetana’s greatest orchestral work is the set of six symphonic poems entitled “Ma Vlast” (My Fatherland). These depict “Vyšehrad,” a historic fortress; “Vltava,” the river Moldau; “Sarka,” a mythical Amazon; “Bohemia’s Groves and Meadows,” “Tabor,” the Hussite camp; and “Blanik,” the magic mountain where the warriors sleep. Smetana’s music shows an inspiration and depth of feeling that make him rank with the world’s great composers, and his struggles against poverty and disease form a story of the utmost pathos.

Dvořák.—The greatest of Smetana’s pupils was Antonin Dvořák (Mühlhausen, Bohemia, 1841—Prague, 1904). Son of a butcher, he persuaded the village schoolmaster to give him lessons. He began composition at Zlonitz, and soon sent home a polka to surprise his family; and as he had written it without considering the transposing instruments, thus causing three different keys to sound together, the resulting discords certainly accomplished that purpose. After further study at Prague, he was able to gain a Government pension, and to interest such men as Hanslick and Brahms. He spent his time in “hard study, occasional composition, much revision, a great deal of thinking, and little eating.” Being asked what teacher helped him most, he replied: “I studied with God, the birds, the trees, the rivers, myself.” [Pg 509]


Antonin Dvořák.      Christian Sinding.
Edvard Grieg.     Friedrich Smetana.

[Pg 510] His Works.—Dvořák’s many operas, including “Wanda,” “Dimitri,” “Armida,” and others, have been surpassed in importance by his orchestral works. His “Stabat Mater” and the cantata “The Spectre’s Bride” are important vocal compositions. His overtures include such well-known examples as the “Husitzká,” “Mein Heim,” “Othello,” “In der Natur,” and the “Carneval.” Other instrumental works are the famous “Slavic Dances,” the Slavonic Rhapsodies, the “Scherzo Capriccioso,” three Ballades, and a “Hero Song.” Before coming to New York, in 1892, he had written four great symphonies; but the fifth, “Aus der Neuen Welt,” is of the greatest interest to Americans, since Dvořák here adopted the plantation style in his themes, to show what could be done in building up an American school of music. He was eminently successful in handling his material, and he produced a greater and more truly national work than any resident composer has yet done. In general, Dvořák’s style is more cosmopolitan than that of Smetana, and his faculty of melodic invention makes his works attractive. He enriched the symphony by two Bohemian dance-movements—the Dumka, and the Furiant.

Other Bohemians.—Zdĕnek Fibich, though little known outside of his own country, was another famous opera-composer. He devoted some efforts to melodrama also, “Hippodamia” being his chief work in this field. He published two symphonies and several symphonic poems, the latter showing the influence of Liszt. Reznícĕk, who has recently identified himself with the musical life of Germany, has produced five operas, of which the sparkling comedy “Bonna Diana” and the later “Till Eulenspiegel” are the best. Josef Suk, son-in-law of Dvořák, has composed some attractive instrumental music, while Nápravník, of an earlier generation, won operatic successes in St. Petersburg. Hungary, too, has a national school of opera, founded by Franz Erkel. This school is carried on by such [Pg 511] men as Alexander Erkel, the Doppler brothers, Mihalovitch, Zichy, and Hubay, while Dohnanyi is better known as pianist than as composer. Poland is represented by Paderewski, while Soltys has won renown in symphony, and Stalkowsky in opera.

Norwegian Music.—Norway is preëminently a land of song. Its sombre fiords, dark forests, and smiling meadows have at all times inspired a school of Folk-music whose plaintive sweetness exerts the utmost charm on the musical auditor. In Edvard Hagerup Grieg (Bergen, 1843-1907) we find a composer of wonderful melodic gifts and expressive power, who has preserved admirably the flavor of the local Folk-songs and dances. Grieg owed much to the wise training of his mother, a woman of rare gifts. At Ole Bull’s advice, he took a course at Leipzig, after which he studied further with Gade, at Copenhagen. There he met Rikard Noordraak, who first aroused his enthusiasm for the songs and legends of his native land.

Grieg’s Works.—Grieg’s genius was essentially lyric and melodic, but this in no way detracts from the greatness of his orchestral works. The “Autumn” overture is clear and beautiful, with the simplicity of strength, not of weakness. The “Norwegian Dances” mark the beginning of the national style that is carried out in the melodrama “Bergliot,” the two “Peer Gynt” suites, and “Sigurd Jorsalfer.” The piano concerto, somewhat in the style of Schumann, is one of Grieg’s best works, and shows the utmost perfection of melodic and harmonic architecture. The “Elegiac Melodies,” the “Norwegian Themes,” and the “Holberg Suite,” all for strings, are further examples of his rich fulness of romantic utterance. His choral and chamber works show the same sympathetic treatment, while his piano works and songs include some of the most exquisite gems in the entire musical repertoire. His works show endless melodic invention, great power of expression, and a warmth of tender sentiment that seems never to lose its charm.

Christian Sinding (Kongsberg, Norway, 1856) studied at Leipzig also, and won a royal scholarship that took him to Munich and Berlin. [Pg 512] He belongs to an artistic family, for one brother, Otto, is a painter, and another, Stefan, a sculptor. Sinding’s music is melodic in character, and distinctively Norwegian in style, but less so than that of Grieg. His orchestral works include an excellent symphony, brought out under Weingartner and later by Thomas; an attractive concerto for piano, and two for violin; a “Rondo Infinito”; and the interesting suite, “Episodes Chevaleresques.” His chamber-music, violin sonatas, piano solos, and songs are made of the most attractive material.

Other Norwegians.—Johann Severin Svendsen, though prominent in Danish music, is really Norwegian by birth. Son of a military bandmaster, he soon obtained a position similar to his father’s. But he longed for higher things, and after a tour as violin virtuoso, he studied at Leipzig, under Reinecke. He traveled much, meeting in Paris an American woman whom he afterwards married in her own country. After some experience in Christiania, he became court conductor in Copenhagen, where he owns the baton used by von Weber and inscribed with that composer’s name. His orchestral works include two symphonies, four Norwegian Rhapsodies, the legend “Zorahayde,” and the “Carnival at Paris,” but they are too conventional to take foremost rank. A prominent composer among the younger Norwegians is Ole Olsen, of Hammerfest, whose symphonic poem “Asgardsreien” is but one of his many successes. Gerhard Schjelderup is one of the modern radicals, and shows all the complexity and dissonance of Strauss. Agathe Backer-Grohndahl is the leader of the Norwegian women-composers.

Music in Denmark.—In Denmark, the fame of Gade obscured that of other composers, and such a man as J. P. E. Hartmann could gain scarcely more than local reputation. The most important name in recent years is that of August Enna, who won a popular operatic triumph in 1892 with “Die Hexe.” He was almost wholly self-taught, for poverty prevented him from taking lessons, sometimes even from buying music paper. “Cleopatra” is a later work, while “The Little Match-Girl” was the beginning of a series of fairy operas. Enna handles his orchestra [Pg 513] with boldness and skill, and displays vocal fluency and thematic excellence. Eduard Lassen gained more renown by his melodious songs than by his operas or orchestral works. Otto Malling is known for his piano pieces, while Victor Bendix has attempted the symphonic poem. Ludwig Schytté, a friend of Liszt, has made Berlin his home, and is identified with light opera as well as piano music.

Music in Sweden.—The national opera of Sweden was brought into being by Ivar Hallstrom, soon after the middle of the 19th century. Since then, a new school has arisen, showing the influence of Liszt, Wagner, Schumann, and at times, Berlioz, with the plaintive sweetness of the native Folk-music pervading it all. Anders Hallen, the first of the new romanticists, has written four operas (of which “Hexfallen” is the best), several symphonic poems and Swedish Rhapsodies, a number of ambitious cantatas, and some beautiful Swedish and German songs. He unites the charm of his native music with strength of passion and richness of instrumentation. Emil Sjögren shows a harmonic feeling worthy of Grieg, but his boldness in modulation often produces bizarre effects. He excels in the smaller forms, such as his “Spanish Songs,” “Tannhäuser Lieder,” and several piano cycles. Wilhelm Stenhammar, pupil of these two, shows much enthusiasm and spirit in his music, but his operas are now laid aside. Wilhelm Peterson-Berger is the best of the new opera-composers, his music-drama “Ran” being a recent success. Hugo Alfven has attempted the symphony, with fair success. Tor Aulin, a famous violinist, has produced concertos and other works for his instrument, while Erik Akerberg has devoted his energy to choral works. Elfrida Andree is the most prominent of the Swedish women-composers.

Music in Finland.—The national epic of Finland is the Kalevala, a work of real poetic beauty. There is also a collection of shorter lyrics, called the Kanteletar. These have furnished inspiration for a large number of modern composers, of whom the most important is Jean Sibelius. He studied with Becker in Berlin and [Pg 514] Goldmark in Vienna. On his return to Helsingfors, the capital, he became the leader of the new Finnish school. His two symphonies are worthy if not absolutely great, but his symphonic poems, and the suite “King Christian IV,” show real musical beauty. He has been active in the smaller forms also, and holds the Government pension for musical excellence. Armas Jarnefelt is another good orchestral composer, while Ernest Mielck, who died at twenty-two, showed a lyric beauty not unworthy of Schubert. Richard Faltin is one of the older song-composers. Martin Wegelius, died 1906, did valuable work as director of the Musical Institute, while Robert Kajanus became prominent as the founder and leader of the Helsingfors Philharmonic Orchestra. Both are excellent composers, the former working chiefly in vocal forms, the latter in the orchestral field.


Who founded the Bohemian school of composers?

Who was his greatest pupil?

Name the most important works of these two composers.

What contribution did Dvořák make to the symphony?

Who is the leading Norwegian composer?

Name some of his best-known works.

Compare Grieg and Sinding.

What composers of Danish birth have won appreciation?

Name the leading Swedish composers.

Who is the most important Finnish composer? [Pg 515]

The Russian School.

Folk-Music in Russia.—The Slav nature differs greatly from that of the races of Western Europe, and this difference appears also in the Slavonic music. For a proper understanding of the Russian Folk-songs, the student should be familiar with the country and its history, its vast steppes, its lonely summers and dreary winters, and the patient poverty of its long-suffering peasants. It is rich in legendary lore, and the poetry of Pushkin and Gogol has wrought the wild beauty of these tales into permanent form. The popular melodies trace their origin back to pagan times, and show infinite variety. There are epic chants, songs of weddings and funerals, and weirdly beautiful cradle-songs, Their delicate, capricious rhythm, and their strangeness of harmony and cadence, possess the utmost attraction. At times the songs are strong and savage, at times tranquil and majestic, or brisk and graceful; but usually they are tinged with the profound melancholy of an oppressed race. The church music, too, with its old modes and deep-voiced choirs, flourishes in unusual purity.

The Rise of Russian Music.—In the middle of the 18th century, the Imperial Court began to import foreign composers, and St. Petersburg was enabled to hear and see such men as Paisiello, Cimarosa, and Boieldieu. Works in the native language soon followed, and the Venetian Cavos became so identified with Russian music that he might almost have passed for a native. The first Russian composer, however, was Glinka, whose “Life for the Czar” (1836) was received with profound enthusiasm by the entire nation. Other composers followed, the [Pg 516] best of whom were Dargomishky and Seroff. The former died only recently, and his later works show the Wagnerian influence. Instrumental music flourished also. The rich melodic beauty of Rubinstein charmed all Europe, and only the passionate power of Tchaikovsky placed it in the background. But now even he, the greatest of the Russians, is not considered truly national by his countrymen, who think him too German in style.

Balakireff.—Of the five men who strove to make Russian music distinctively national, Mily Alexejevitch Balakireff (Nijni-Novgorod, Russia, 1836) was not the greatest, but may justly be called the founder of the movement. After his university studies, he came under the influence of Alexander Oulibicheff, a retired diplomat who devoted himself to music. The young man soon settled in St. Petersburg, where he met Cui, and began with him the work of developing the new school. Balakireff has been active as pianist, teacher, and concert leader. The musical principles adopted by him and his four associates called for the use of Russian Folk-music in just the way that Dvořák employed the plantation style in his “New World” symphony. This idea is at least as old as the days of Weber, whose “Freischütz,” written in the popular vein, made such an overwhelming triumph in Germany. With the wealth of beautiful Folk-songs in Russia, it has been possible to produce an immense amount of interesting music, with which the Western world is as yet by no means fully acquainted. Balakireff himself was not prolific as a composer, but his works, though few in number, show real value. They include a symphony, three overtures (Russian, Czech, and Spanish), incidental music to “King Lear,” the symphonic poem “Russia,” and a second one, “Tamara,” based on the legend of a beautiful Caucasian princess who entertained the passing cavalier for a night, while in the morning the river Tarek bore away his corpse. Another Oriental subject is the difficult piano fantasie “Islamey.” His lesser works include mazurkas, some four-hand pieces, and a score of remarkable songs, masterly in their perfection of detail. [Pg 517]


Anton Arensky.      César Cui.
Alexander Glazounov.     Mily Balakireff.
Nicholas Rimsky-Korsakoff.     Sergei Rachmaninoff.

[Pg 518] César Antonovitch Cui (Vilna, Russia, 1835) has been the literary champion of the new school. Son of a French soldier, Cui studied engineering, and became professor of fortification. In his writings we may see that the new Russians seem unwilling to admit the greatness of Wagner, but they have none the less adopted nearly all his dramatic theories. Like him, they revolted against the inanities of the old Italian opera, which was merely a singing-concert. They admitted that after Beethoven and Schumann, the symphony could say little of new import, but reform was needed in opera; the plot should be worthy, and the music not only good in itself, but appropriate to the sentiment. Yet Russian opera has not followed Wagner, but has proceeded along its own lines; and Cui even writes: “I would like to preserve my compatriots from the dangerous influence of Wagner’s decadence. Whoever loves his music, ceases to appreciate real music; whoever admires his operas, holds Glinka as a writer of vaudevilles. The desire to find something deep where nothing exists can have only dangerous consequences.” These strictures are not unlike certain early German criticisms of Wagner, now happily forgotten. Cui’s own operas include “The Prisoner of the Caucasus,” “William Ratcliff,” “Angelo,” “Le Filibustier,” and “The Saracen,” but none has won any real success. His music is good, but even his own countrymen admit that it lacks novelty or individuality. “Angelo” is the composer’s favorite. He, too, has done much in the smaller forms.

Moussorgsky.—The strangest figure in the group of five was, by all odds, Modest Petrovitch Moussorgsky (Karevo, Russia, 1839—St. Petersburg, 1881). Like Cui, he received a military training, and became an officer, but his restiveness soon caused his resignation, and two later attempts at Government work were again failures. His fondness for drink, and his many excesses, soon marked him as a Bohemian whose dominating passions and savage independence could brook no restraint. The same qualities are shown in his music. He was a poet by nature, expressing in great thoughts the passion and misery of [Pg 519] humanity, but never taking the trouble to master the technic of his art. Thus his two operas, “Boris Godunoff” and “Chovanstchina,” did not meet with favor until smoothed and polished by his more learned friends. The same is true of his “Night on Calvary” and “Intermezzo” for orchestra. His “Defeat of Sennacherib” is one of many “Hebraic Choruses,” while the “Tableaux d’une Exposition” are among the best of his piano pieces. His songs include settings of Goethe and Heine, as well as the Russian poets.

Alexander Porphyrievitch Borodin (St. Petersburg, Russia, 1834-1887) could claim kinship with the old princes of Imeretia, the former Caucasian kingdom whose rulers boasted of their descent from King David. He studied medicine and surgery, and wrote several important works on chemistry. He was active in the cause of higher education for women, and founded a medical school for them. In music he owed his development chiefly to Balakireff, though he composed at an early age, almost by instinct. The success of his first symphony encouraged him to write two others, as well as an orchestral scherzo. His two string quartets are full of originality, and his choral and piano music shows the same quality. He is best known in America by the “Steppenskizze,” a tone-picture of the vast Russian plains traversed by Oriental caravans. His greatest work, however, is the opera “Prince Igor,” on an old Russian war-legend treated by Pushkin. Borodin is a master of sombre effects, and his dissonances are at times almost too striking; but there is real musical worth, also, in his compositions.

Rimsky-Korsakoff.—The best of the renowned group of five is decidedly Nicolai Andreievitch Rimsky-Korsakoff (Tikhvin, Russia, 1844). He, too, adopted a vocation other than music, graduating from a Government school and afterwards attaining the rank of admiral. His chief musical work has been in opera, and his dozen productions in this form are nearly all widely popular in his native land. “The Czar’s Betrothed” is the best known, but the “May Night,” “The Snow Maiden,” and “Sadko” are not far behind it in favor. “Mozart and Salieri” is a [Pg 520] one-act version of a poem by Pushkin, based on the suspicion that Mozart was really poisoned by his Italian rival. In the orchestral field, “Antar,” “Scheherezade,” and “Sadko” are three symphonic poems that show remarkable mastery of expression. Other orchestral works are an overture on popular melodies, another on church themes, a “Serb Fantasie,” a “Spanish Caprice,” and a “Fairy Legend.” He has written a noble and dignified concerto, dedicated to Liszt, and the usual number of lesser works. He shows the greatest skill in handling instrumental color, an art for which the Russians are noted. His music is descriptive, dramatic. His inspiration never flags, and his treatment of the thematic material is always interesting and skilful. His music may perhaps be criticised as lacking unity, but its breadth and originality are undoubted.

Glazounoff.—Among men of a later generation, Alexander Constantinovitch Glazounoff (St. Petersburg, Russia, 1865) is the most prominent, and the only one who may dispute with Rimsky-Korsakoff, his former teacher, the position of greatest of the living Russian composers. Son of a rich bookseller, he was able to devote all his energies to music, and produced at eighteen a symphony that won the congratulations of Liszt. Since then he has composed works as beautiful as they are numerous. His early creations show a tendency to fantastic and imaginative subjects. The haunting beauty of the forest, the inspiring charm of spring, the compelling magic of the sea, the gorgeousness of the Orient, the majesty of the historic Kremlin, all find an echo in his great orchestral rhapsodies. His seven symphonies are marvels of harmonic richness and melodic beauty. His “Triumphal March” for the Chicago Exposition, and a “Coronation Cantata” for the Czar, were both written to order. His early overtures are based on sacred themes, but the “Carnival” and the “Ouverture Solennelle” are again in the style of vivid coloring to which he has accustomed his hearers. His eighty or more published compositions include ballades, marches, suites, mazurkas, and other numbers for orchestra, to say [Pg 521] nothing of chamber works, songs, cantatas, and two piano sonatas. For a time, he renounced his early style, and wrote serious works in classical German vein, but he returned to it with a number of ballets, or pantomimes with real plot and full orchestral accompaniment.

Anton Stepanovitch Arensky (Nijni-Novgorod, Russia, 1861-1906) is another of a younger generation, and like Glazounoff, did not limit himself to the style of Russian Folk-music, but aims to be more cosmopolitan. Educated at St. Petersburg, Arensky soon became known by a symphony and a piano concerto, and was called to Moscow as professor of counterpoint. In that city he increased his reputation by a grand opera, “A Dream on the Volga.” “Raphael,” a one-act work, was followed by the ballet, “A Night in Egypt,” but Arensky’s greatest opera is “Nal and Damajanti,” on an East Indian subject. His other works include a second symphony, a fantasie with piano, a violin concerto, and a “Memorial March.” He displays real strength of feeling, and he shows the influence of Schumann and Tchaikovsky, especially in his piano music.

Other Composers.—Taneieff, one of those who held apart from the national movement, has written a symphony, some string quartets, and numerous choruses, but is best known by his “Oresteia,” an orchestral trilogy based on the tragedies of Aeschylus. This is a work of dignity and power, but at times lacking in inspiration. Rachmaninoff, a pupil of Arensky, is one of the younger men who won fame as a pianist and piano composer before attempting larger works. His more ambitious compositions include two concertos, a symphony, a symphonic poem, and the cantata “Spring,” also two operas “The Bohemians” and “The Avaricious Knight.” Another piano composer is Stcherbatcheff, a pupil of Liszt, who displays excessive boldness in his effects, though his “Fairy Scenes” are charming in style, and his “Fantasies Etudes” show the influence of Schumann. Liadoff is another composer of piano works, such as the “Arabesques” and the “Birioulki.” Scriabine is one of the more [Pg 522] recent piano writers who has won his spurs in the symphonic field also. Pachulski, too, has become known by his piano compositions. Wihtol has done much valuable work in collecting the Lett Folk-melodies. Solovieff has attempted opera, though not with any remarkable success. Ippolitoff-Ivanoff, active in the musical life of Moscow, has produced operas, suites, and the set of lyric scenes, entitled “Asia.” Michael Ivanoff is another opera composer, whose “Sabawa” has met with some favor. Among many others worthy of mention, Sokoloff has written chamber-works, Alpheraki is noted for his songs, Antipoff and Blumenfeld have produced excellent piano music, while Rebikoff, known for the same reason, has won new laurels with his so-called mimodrame, “Genius and Death.”

Tchaikovsky.—Although the new Russian school does not recognize Peter Iljitsch Tchaikovsky as an exponent of national musical ideas and although he represents a blending of Teutonic and Slavonic methods, yet his music partakes of the latter, rather than of the former temperament, and he is therefore included among the Russian composers in this lesson. He was born May 7, 1840; at ten he went to St. Petersburg. He was intended for the legal profession and was appointed to a place in the Ministry of Justice when only nineteen years old. Shortly after, he entered the harmony classes at the Conservatory, resigned his Government position, and entered the musical profession. In 1866 he became professor of harmony at the Moscow Conservatory; in 1867, brought out his first symphony and his first opera. In 1877 he resigned his post at the Conservatory and gave himself up to composition. In 1891 he visited the United States. He died, October 12, 1893, in St. Petersburg.

His compositions include eight operas, six symphonies, eight overtures and fantasias for orchestra, seven works for special occasions, eight orchestral suites, three string quartets, a trio and sextet, three concertos and two other pieces for piano and orchestra, three works for violin and orchestra, and two for ’cello and orchestra, a large number of piano pieces and vocal works. [Pg 523]

An English critic sums up Tchaikovsky’s orchestral works thus: Good points, beauty of melody, brilliancy of workmanship, beauty of color; weak points, undue pursuit of the morbid, extravagance of idea, noisiness of orchestration.

Conclusion.—At the beginning of the 20th century, the chief characteristic of music seems to be a development of national schools. As already explained, in those countries that have worthy Folk-music, composers find the material ready for them to fashion. Such has been the case in Norway, Sweden, and Bohemia, as well as in Russia. Countries that have not this advantage, such as England, the Netherlands, or America, atone for it in part by study and education; but this seldom produces great musical geniuses. Italy, where the common people cared for nothing but the lighter style of tune, has had to build anew, upon foreign foundations. France is making a brave struggle after novelty, but seems to lack the needed inspiration; while Germany, for the moment, seems content with mastering the modern orchestra. The Russian school is today the most spontaneous, the least artificial; and it cannot fail to grow in appreciation during the next few years.


What is the character of the Slavonic Folk-music?

Who was the first Russian composer of prominence?

Give a sketch of the work of the composers, Balakireff, Moussorgsky, Cui, Borodin, Rimsky-Korsakoff and Glazounoff.

What composition and by whom is it considered one of the most difficult pieces written for the piano?

What composer’s influence is shown in the works of Arensky?

Name other prominent Russian composers. [Pg 524]


Theodore Thomas.
Lowell Mason.     Stephen C. Foster.

[Pg 525]

Music in the United States.

The Cavaliers and the Puritans.—The English settlers who came to this country and located at Jamestown, and their successors, brought with them from their home the songs they sang there—gay songs, cavalier songs, love-ditties and the countryside tunes; but they left them at this, making no attempt to adapt them to their new surroundings. Indeed, it was as much a matter of fashion to be able to play or to sing some new ballad just brought from London as it was to have the latest fashion in dress. The Cavaliers were not the people to give a distinctive tone to music in their adopted home. The stern, severe, religious atmosphere of the New England Colonies did more for the beginnings of American music, although the first efforts were unpromising enough, since the Puritans discountenanced all music except that of Psalm tunes, which were probably sung in unison, since at that time there could be little question of singing in parts. Owing probably to a scarcity of hymn-books, it was customary to read the hymn line by line, and to sing in alternation with the reading, a custom observed in some sections of the United States even in the latter part of the 19th century. It was inevitable that the more progressive among the clergy and the people should demand better singing of the Psalms; and from this came the first singing schools, the beginning of musical education in the Colonies. A singing school is noted in Boston in 1717. As this movement spread, choirs were organized, since those who had gained some skill in singing and in reading from notes would naturally draw together, at first informally, later in regular organizations. This occurred as early as the middle of the 18th century. [Pg 526]

Hymn-Tune Composers.—The prominence given to the singing of Psalms and hymns is doubtless due to the fact that the first composers developed in the Colonies confined their efforts to the production of hymn-tunes. The first to gain prominence was William Billings, born in Boston in 1746, died there, 1800. He was a tanner by trade and was, of course, self-taught. His efforts at harmonizing were rather crude, as is to be expected, since he had but few models in composition. He introduced a somewhat florid style, although without training in counterpoint. Yet the critic can see in the work of the early composers such as Billings, a rough vigor and a striving for a more distinctive melodic and rhythmic character than is to be found in the tunes brought over from England, showing traces of the forces already at work to differentiate the American character from the English. Billings’ first collection of tunes was published in 1770. Other composers of this period were Oliver Holden, who wrote the widely-sung “Coronation,” Andrew Law, Jacob Kimball, Daniel Read and Timothy Swan. The two other important cities, Philadelphia and New York, had some musical activity during the Colonial period. In 1741, Benjamin Franklin published a collection of hymns, performances were given of operas, and concerts for charitable purposes were organized, yet nothing in the way of native composition developed.

Early Musical Organizations.—A musical atmosphere is essential to musical development and progress, and a musical atmosphere comes only from organized effort in musical work. The first efforts in this direction were vocal, following the same line of development as that we observed in the history of music as a whole, namely: first, vocal and choral music; secondly, instrumental and particularly orchestral. The earliest important society of this kind was the Stoughton (Mass.) Musical Society, which grew out of a singing class formed in that town, by Billings, in 1774. This organization still exists. The most famous and most significant body for musical development was the Handel and [Pg 527] Haydn Society, still in existence, which was organized in Boston, in 1815, with a chorus of nearly one hundred voices. Boston had at this time some well-trained musicians, and others came there from Europe in later years, making it the centre of American musical life for years.

Lowell Mason.—In 1826, a young man from the South, but born in Massachusetts, came to Boston to begin a musical career, which formed a link between the early singing school stage and the work of the present day. This was Lowell Mason, who was born in 1792, but spent his younger days in Savannah, Ga., where he studied music as an amateur. As the fruit of his efforts in composition, he published a collection of church music which was endorsed by the Handel and Haydn Society, and proved very successful, encouraging him, some years later, to take up music as a profession. He was essentially a man of the people among whom he lived and by nature an efficient teacher, to which he added a skill and training that ensured him the respect of those who came under his instruction. He traveled over New England and parts of New York State, holding musical conventions, and teaching the principles of music to hundreds of singers and teachers from far and near. His work thus closely touched the people, and in a day when music was not taught in the public schools, contributed greatly to spread a love for and a knowledge of vocal music. He died August 11, 1872.

Musical Instruments.—When instrumental music began to receive a share of public attention, a great step was taken toward development of music in the United States. In cities like Boston, New York, Philadelphia and some Southern homes, instruments of the spinet and virginal type could be found in the 17th and 18th centuries. The flute was a gentleman’s instrument in those days, following the English custom. The violin also received some attention. (Thomas Jefferson was very fond of this instrument.) Naturally, the first instruments were brought from England, yet the record shows that John Harris, of Boston, who had learned the trade in England, offered for sale spinets of his [Pg 528] own make, in 1769. Some church organs were built several years earlier. The harpsichord and piano followed in due course of time, as we can gather from advertisements and concert programs. There is controversy as to the making of the first pianos in the United States. Both Philadelphia and Boston seem to have had makers in a small way before the beginning of the 19th century. The pioneer in this industry was Jonas Chickering, who served his apprenticeship in Boston and started in business on his own account, in 1823. The growth of interest in music arising from the organization of choral societies and the labors of Lowell Mason, and the musicians of foreign birth who came to this country created a demand for music outside of that for the voice, organ and piano, for many of these musicians had been players in orchestras in Europe.

Early Orchestras.—The first permanent body of orchestral players, the Philharmonic Society, was formed in Boston. The chief promoter was a German, named Graupner, who came to the city named, in 1798. He gathered round him a few professionals and some amateurs, so that the nucleus of an orchestra existed before the Handel and Haydn Society was formed. Graupner also kept a music store and printed music. A large orchestra was established in 1840, which remained active for nearly a decade. New York had an organization of instrumentalists which was started about the same time as Graupner’s society in Boston, but its real work in this line did not occur until 1842, when the Philharmonic Society was founded, with a strength of from fifty to sixty players. This society still exists. The strongest musical force in Philadelphia was the Musical Fund Society, which came into existence in 1820, one object of which was to spread musical knowledge in the city. It built a hall, which still stands, and gave both vocal and instrumental concerts. Beethoven’s first symphony was given there, as early as 1821.

Permanent Orchestral Organizations.—The credit for raising the standard of orchestral work and of spreading a popular appreciation of the classics in absolute music belongs to Theodore Thomas, born in [Pg 529] Germany, in 1835, whose family came to this country in 1845. He became a proficient violinist while still a boy. His first efforts in the line of the higher music were in the domain of chamber-music; in these concerts he was associated with Dr. William Mason and others. In 1864, he began his work in the orchestral field, in New York, visiting other cities with his men and spreading a knowledge of the works of the masters. Mr. Thomas conducted a series of concerts in Philadelphia, but finished his labors in Chicago, as the conductor of the Chicago Orchestra, which was established for him. He died in 1905. Following the increased interest in orchestral music in New York City, due to the work of Thomas, the Boston musical public called for a higher standard and a more skilled set of players than the successors of the old Philharmonic Orchestra, the Germania and the Harvard Musical Association, which had kept up the work in a creditable manner. The outgrowth of this sentiment was the establishment of the celebrated Boston Symphony Orchestra, which gave its first concerts in the fall of 1881, under the direction of Mr. Georg Henschel. The financial needs of the organization were guaranteed by Mr. Henry L. Higginson. Mr. Henschel was succeeded, in 1884, by Wilhelm Gericke, who was followed five years later by Arthur Nikisch; in 1893, Mr. Emil Paur was made director, to be succeeded in 1898 by Wilhelm Gericke, who is still (1905) at the head of the organization. The work of the orchestras mentioned stimulated music lovers in other cities and at the present time, worthy rivals of the older bodies exist in Philadelphia, Mr. Fritz Scheel, director, the New York Symphony Orchestra, Mr. Walter Damrosch, director, and the Pittsburgh Orchestra, under the direction of Mr. Emil Paur. Baltimore has a good orchestra in connection with the Peabody Conservatory, Cincinnati has a permanent body with a guarantee fund, under the conductorship of Mr. Frank Van der Stucken. The orchestras mentioned give concerts in other cities, so that their work has more than a local significance. Other cities in which efforts are being made to develop orchestral music are New Haven, Buffalo, Washington, Cleveland, Atlanta, St. Louis, Kansas City, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Denver. [Pg 530]

Other Organized Bodies.—Other means for promoting musical progress in the United States were the societies in different parts of the country, which provided concerts, aided musical education, kept up public interest, the great German singing societies, music festival associations, lecture courses, etc. A prominent example of this kind was the Musical Fund Society of Philadelphia which, among its other activities, opened a music school that remained in existence for six years. The Harvard Musical Association, an organization of alumni who labored particularly for the advancement of music, formed the nucleus of a musical library and conducted orchestral concerts at its own expense or guarantee. In later years Pittsburgh had an active society to promote musical appreciation and the example is being followed by other cities. The greatest growth in this line, that of the formation of music festival associations and the development of the idea, was doubtless stimulated by the great festivals held in Boston in 1869 and 1872. Of these, the most important is the one held in Cincinnati, for a number of years under the direction of Theodore Thomas; after his death, under Mr. Van der Stucken. It is impossible to give here a list of such organizations; they are growing in numbers over all the country and form a hopeful sign of an increasing and healthy interest in music. In addition to the work of these societies must be mentioned the series of chamber-music concerts given by quartet organizations in all the important cities, a kind of music which demands a higher class of musical culture than any other and which is, therefore, a good index of the musical appreciation of a community. The great public libraries have collections of musical literature, as well as the printed works of the great masters. Notable among these is the Brown Collection, in the Boston Public Library; the Newberry Library of Chicago has a very fine collection of musical literature, including many rare works, and the [Pg 531] new public library in New York City will also have works of great value to musicians. The Crosby-Brown Collection of musical instruments in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, is one of the most valuable in the world; another collection of note is that which belongs to the University of Michigan. [Pg 532]

Folk-Music.—In a study of conditions connected with the development of music in the United States, we will not find the wealth of material in the direction of Folk-music that European countries possess. The American people being a composite one cannot have a true Folk-music as yet. There are but two types of music that can be classed in this category, the music of the Indians and that of the negro in his plantation life. The characteristics of both have been used by American composers in large works (Edward Mac Dowell: “Indian Suite,” for the orchestra; Frederic Burton, in a choral work), yet the Indian race forms no part of the dominant Caucasian people of the United States and can hardly have any claims to being considered American Folk-song. Among the negroes of the South, during the time of slavery, a type of song developed that possesses distinctive qualities, and is thoroughly pervaded with the emotional quality which characterizes the Folk-song of the musical races of Europe. It is not the song of the African in his native land, but the product of his new environment. Particularly is this the case with regard to the songs in which the religious element is the leading one. Many of them have the spontaneous character of the old minstrel poets, the leader improvising the verses, the chorus joining in the refrain. Several composers have used material based on negro musical idioms, notably Antonin Dvořák, in his “From the New World” symphony and G. W. Chadwick, in the scherzo of one of his symphonies, but the most famous examples of the Folk-song of the plantation type are found in the works of Stephen C. Foster (1826-1864), the one most widely-known being “The Old Folks at Home” or “Suwanee River,” incomparable in its sweet melancholy and tender pathos, yet of extreme simplicity in harmonic basis and diatonic progressions.

The Opera.—The development of the opera in the United States is a story of change from the simple style of the English ballad opera to the elaborate music dramas of Richard Wagner, in the North, with New York City as the leading centre, while New Orleans, in the South, with its large French population, furnishes a home for the French and Italian school of opera. The “Beggar’s Opera,” by Gay, which had won extraordinary popularity in England, was given in New York, in 1750, and as early as 1791 New Orleans had a company of French singers. Philadelphia also had performances before the end of the 18th century. It was not until after the wars with England, when the country was growing and becoming prosperous, that foreign managers and singers considered it an inviting field. The first company of real artistic worth was brought here in 1825, headed by Manuel Garcia, which included his daughter, afterward Mme. Malibran. In 1832, the poet Da Ponte, librettist of Mozart’s opera “Don Giovanni,” who was a resident of New York City, brought another strong company of singers to the United States. From that time on, for a number of years, opera was furnished by visiting companies of foreign singers, who gave performances in the leading cities of the country, New Orleans being the first to establish a permanent opera season with a resident company. It was in 1859 that Adelina Patti made her first appearance, in New York City. In 1878, Mapleson, the impresario, commenced the “all star” system that developed a taste for opera by giving the American public the chance to hear the best singers in the world, and set a standard which has made the people dissatisfied with a company well-balanced but lacking in great singers. More real work is done to develop a community by hearing a number of performances well done than one or two in a sensational style. In 1883, the Metropolitan Opera House, in New York City, was opened with a “star” company, managed by Henry E. Abbey. German opera (Wagner music dramas) gained a foothold in this country through the efforts of Dr. Leopold Damrosch, who directed the first artistic [Pg 53