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Title: Famous Composers and their Works, Vol. 1
Author: Various
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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    VOL. I

    Famous Composers and
    their Works

    Edited by

    John Knowles Paine
    Theodore Thomas and Karl Klauser



    J. B. Millet Company

    Copyright, 1891, by

    This book is dedicated by the Publishers to
    Henry L. Higginson
    who has advanced the culture of music in America.


List of Contributors


    Clarence J. Blake
    Mrs. Ole Bull
    Charles L. Capen
    John S. Dwight
    Louis C. Elson
    Henry T. Finck
    John Fiske
    Arthur Foote
    Philip Hale
    William J. Henderson
    Louis Kelterborn
    Henry E. Krehbiel
    Leo R. Lewis
    W. S. B. Mathews
    John K. Paine
    Martin Roeder
    Howard M. Ticknor
    John Towers
    George P. Upton
    Benj. E. Woolf


    Edward Dannreuther
    Mrs. Julian Marshall
    W. S. Rockstro


    Oscar Comettant
    Adolphe Jullien
    Arthur Pougin


    Wilhelm Langhans
    Philipp Spitta

The Illustrations

The originals of the illustrations reproduced for this work were
collected from museums, conservatories, antiquaries, public and private
libraries, and other authentic sources in England and on the Continent,
by Mr. Arthur J. Mundy, who spent several months in making a special

The authorities in London, Paris, Rome, Florence, Venice, Vienna,
Leipsic, Dresden, Berlin, and other places visited, gladly assisted in
making the collection as complete as possible.

This material was placed in the hands of Mr. Karl Klauser, who made
valuable additions to it from his private collection of authentic
portraits. A lifelong study of this subject enabled him to contribute
valuable notes and comments on the illustrations.

The ornamental half-titles, headpieces, and initials were designed by Mr.
E. B. Bird, of Boston.



    DEDICATION                                                III

    LIST OF CONTRIBUTORS                                        V

    LIST OF FULL-PAGE PLATES                                 VIII

    INDEX OF ILLUSTRATIONS                                 IX-XII

    GENERAL INDEX                                             961

           *       *       *       *       *

    ORLANDO DI LASSO                       _W. J. Henderson_    3

    THE NETHERLAND MASTERS                 _W. J. Henderson_   11

    GIOVANNI PIERLUIGI DA PALESTRINA        _Louis C. Elson_   25

    CLAUDIO MONTEVERDE                    _W. S. B. Mathews_   33

    ALESSANDRO SCARLATTI                  _W. S. B. Mathews_   37

    GIOVANNI BATTISTA PERGOLESE              _H. M. Ticknor_   43

    GIOACCHINO ROSSINI                       _Arthur Pougin_   51

    VINCENZO BELLINI                         _H. M. Ticknor_   67

    GAETANO DONIZETTI                        _H. M. Ticknor_   75

    GASPARO LUIGI PACIFICO SPONTINI        _Adolphe Jullien_   83

    LUIGI CHERUBINI                         _Philipp Spitta_   93

    ARRIGO BOITO                             _Arthur Pougin_  107

    GIOVANNI SGAMBATI                         _Arthur Foote_  111

    GUISEPPI VERDI                          _Benj. E. Woolf_  117

    MUSIC IN ITALY                           _Martin Roeder_  135

    JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH                   _Philipp Spitta_  163

    GEORGE FREDERICK HANDEL                 _Philipp Spitta_  195

    CHRISTOPH WILIBALD GLUCK                   _W. Langhans_  219

    FRANZ JOSEPH HAYDN                      _Benj. E. Woolf_  245

    WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART                    _Philip Hale_  269

    LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN (Biography)           _Philip Hale_  309

    THE DEAFNESS OF BEETHOVEN            _Clarence J. Blake_  333

    BEETHOVEN AS COMPOSER                    _John K. Paine_  337

    FRANZ PETER SCHUBERT                        _John Fiske_  351

    LUDWIG SPOHR                           _W. J. Henderson_  375

    CARL MARIA VON WEBER                    _H. E. Krehbiel_  389

    HEINRICH MARSCHNER                      _H. E. Krehbiel_  409

    FELIX MENDELSSOHN BARTHOLDY             _John S. Dwight_  417

    ROBERT SCHUMANN                       _Louis Kelterborn_  439

    ROBERT FRANZ                          _Louis Kelterborn_  463

    GIACOMO MEYERBEER                        _Arthur Pougin_   473

    STRAUSS                                 _Henry T. Finck_   487

    JOSEPH JOACHIM RAFF                    _W. J. Henderson_   497

    JOHANNES BRAHMS                       _Louis Kelterborn_   503

    CARL GOLDMARK                          _W. J. Henderson_   515

    MAX BRUCH                               _Louis C. Elson_   519

    JOSEPH GABRIEL RHEINBERGER            _Louis Kelterborn_   525

    RICHARD WAGNER                         _W. J. Henderson_   533

    MUSIC IN GERMANY        _John K. Paine and Leo R. Lewis_   569

    JEAN BAPTISTE LULLY                    _Oscar Comettant_   609

    JEAN PHILIPPE RAMEAU                   _Oscar Comettant_   615

    ANDRÉ ERNEST MODESTE GRÉTRY            _Oscar Comettant_   623

    FRANÇOIS ADRIEN BOIELDIEU               _Louis C. Elson_   633

    ETIENNE NICOLAS MÉHUL                    _Geo. P. Upton_   639

    LOUIS JOSEPH FERDINAND HÉROLD            _Geo. P. Upton_   645

    DANIEL FRANÇOIS ESPRIT AUBER           _Oscar Comettant_   653


    HECTOR BERLIOZ                         _Adolphe Jullien_   675

    AMBROISE THOMAS                         _Benj. E. Woolf_   691

    ALEXANDER CÉSAR LÉOPOLD BIZET              _Philip Hale_   697

    CAMILLE SAINT-SAËNS                    _Oscar Comettant_   703

    JULES EMILE FRÉDÉRIC MASSENET          _Oscar Comettant_   711

    CHARLES GOUNOD                           _Arthur Pougin_   719

    MUSIC IN FRANCE                          _Arthur Pougin_   735

    FREDERICK CHOPIN                    _Edward Dannreuther_   759

    ANTON DVOŘÁK                            _Henry T. Finck_   779

    MICHAEL IVANOVITCH GLINKA                  _Philip Hale_   785

    ANTON RUBINSTEIN                        _Henry T. Finck_   791

    PETER ILITSCH TSCHAÏKOWSKY             _W. J. Henderson_   803

    FRANZ LISZT                                _W. Langhans_   813

    EDUARD HAGERUP GRIEG      _Sara C. Bull and Philip Hale_   831

    NIELS WILLIAM GADE                      _Louis C. Elson_   837

    MUSIC IN RUSSIA, POLAND, NORWAY, ETC.   _Henry T. Finck_   845

    WILLIAM BYRD                            _W. S. Rockstro_   867

    HENRY PURCELL                              _John Towers_   871

    JOHN FIELD                              _Chas. L. Capen_   877

    WILLIAM STERNDALE BENNETT               _W. S. Rockstro_   881

    MICHAEL WILLIAM BALFE                   _Benj. E. Woolf_   885

    ARTHUR SEYMOUR SULLIVAN           _Florence A. Marshall_   891

    CHARLES HUBERT HASTINGS PARRY           _W. S. Rockstro_   899

    ALEXANDER CAMPBELL MACKENZIE      _Florence A. Marshall_   903

    CHARLES VILLIERS STANFORD               _W. S. Rockstro_   907

    MUSIC IN ENGLAND                        _W. S. Rockstro_   913

    MUSIC IN AMERICA                     _Henry E. Krehbiel_   933


    PLATE                                             PAGE

    41 AUBER                                  facing   653

    12 BACH, portrait                                  161

    13 BACH, statue                                    169

    60 BALFE                                           885

    18 BEETHOVEN                                       307

    5 BELLINI                                           67

    59 BENNETT                                         881

    43 BERLIOZ                                         673

    45 BIZET                                           697

    38 BOIELDIEU                                       633

    9 BOITO                                            107

    29 BRAHMS                                          503

    31 BRUCH                                           519

    8 CHERUBINI                                         91

    49 CHOPIN                                          757

    72 CONSERVATORY OF MUSIC IN LEIPSIC                593

    6 DONIZETTI                                         75

    50 DVOŘÁK                                          779

    58 FIELD                                           877

    25 FRANZ                                           463

    56 GADE                                            837

    70 GARDEN OF HARMONY                               737

    51 GLINKA                                          785

    15 GLUCK                                           217

    30 GOLDMARK                                        515

    48 GOUNOD                                          717

    37 GRÉTRY                                          623

    55 GRIEG                                           831

    42 HALÉVY                                          665

    14 HANDEL                                          193

    16 HAYDN                                           243

    40 HÉROLD                                          645

    1 LASSO                                              1

    54 LISZT                                           811

    35 LULLY                                           609

    63 MACKENZIE                                       903

    22 MARSCHNER                                       409

    47 MASSENET                                        711

    39 MÉHUL                                           639

    23 MENDELSSOHN                                     415

    26 MEYERBEER                                       471

    17 MOZART                                          267

    65 PAINE                                           931

    2 PALESTRINA                                        25

    71 PANTHEON OF GERMAN MUSICIANS                    567

    62 PARRY                                           899

    57 PURCELL                                         871

    28 RAFF                                            497

    36 RAMEAU                                          615

    32 RHEINBERGER                                     525

    4 ROSSINI                                           49

    52 RUBINSTEIN                                      791

    46 SAINT-SAËNS                                     703

    3 SCARLATTI                                         37

    19 SCHUBERT                                        349

    24 SCHUMANN                                        437

    10 SGAMBATI                                        111

    20 SPOHR                                           375

    7 SPONTINI                                          83

    64 STANFORD                                        907

    27 STRAUSS                                         487

    61 SULLIVAN                                        891

    44 THOMAS                                          691

    53 TSCHAÏKOWSKY                                    803

    11 VERDI                                           115

    33 WAGNER                                          531

    34 WAGNER                                          545

    21 WEBER                                           387


(Titles set in small capital letters indicate full-page illustrations.)



    Abt, Franz                                         602

    Adam, Adolphe                                      751

    Albrecht, V.                                         4

    Allegri, Gregorio                                  141

    AUBER                                              653

    Auber, medallion                                   664

    BACH, J. S.                                        161

    Bach, J. S.                                        175

    BACH, EMANUEL                                      583

    Balakireff                                         852

    BALFE                                              885

    BEETHOVEN                                          307

    Beethoven, silhouette                              311

    Beethoven, miniature                               312

    Beethoven, by Gatteux                              317

    Beethoven, pencil portrait                         318

    Beethoven, by Schimon                              319

    BEETHOVEN, by Stieler                              321

    BELLINI                                             67

    BENNETT                                            881

    BERLIOZ                                            673

    Berlioz, by Signol                                 681

    Berlioz in his later years                         683

    Berlioz, by Hüssener                               685

    Berton                                             745

    BIZET                                              697

    BOIELDIEU                                          633

    BOITO                                              107

    Borodin                                            853

    BRAHMS, by Brasch                                  503

    Brahms in early youth                              505

    Brahms, by Weger                                   509

    BRAHMS, by Luckhardt                               511

    BRUCH                                              519

    Bruch from wood-engraving                          520

    Bülow, Hans von                                    605

    CHERUBINI                                           91

    Cherubini, by Quenedey                              95

    CHERUBINI, by Ingres                               105

    CHOPIN                                             757

    Chopin, by Duval                                   761

    Chopin, by Winterhalter                            765

    CHOPIN, bas-relief                                 769

    Cimarosa, Domenico                                 148

    Colbran, Isabella Angela                            55

    Corelli, Arcangelo                                 152

    Cornelius, Peter                                   603

    Cramer, Johann Baptist                             590

    Cui, César                                         847

    D'Alayrac                                          741

    David, Félicien                                    753

    DONIZETTI                                           75

    Donizetti                                           77

    Dussek, Johann Ludwig                              588

    DVOŘÁK                                             779

    FIELD                                              877

    Flotow, Friedrich von                              600

    FRANZ                                              463

    FRANZ, by Weger                                    465

    Franz                                              469

    Frescobaldi, Girolamo                              151

    GADE                                               837

    Gade                                               839

    Geyer, Ludwig                                      535

    GLINKA                                             785

    Glinka in his 39th year                            787

    GLUCK, by Duplessis                                217

    Gluck, by Duplessis                                223

    Gluck, pencil portrait                             227

    Gluck, by Aug. de St. Aubin                        241

    GOLDMARK                                           515

    GOUNOD, by Nadar                                   717

    Gounod in his 41st year                            723

    GOUNOD IN HIS STUDY                                729

    Graun, Karl Heinrich                               579

    GRÉTRY                                             623

    Grétry, by Vigée Lebrun                            630

    GRIEG                                              831

    HALÉVY                                             665

    HANDEL                                             193

    HANDEL'S FATHER                                    199

    HANDEL, by Houbraken                               203

    Handel, by Mad. Clement                            207

    Hassler, Hans Leo                                  571

    Hauptmann, Moritz                                  598

    HAYDN                                              243

    Haydn, by Anton Graff                              249

    Haydn, silhouette                                  255

    Haydn, miniature                                   257

    Haydn in his 49th year                             263

    Hensel, William                                    423

    HÉROLD                                             645

    Hérold, medallion                                  652

    Hiller, Ferdinand                                  593

    Hummel, Johann N.                                  589

    Jadassohn, Salomon                                 597

    Joachim                                            863

    Lachner, Franz                                     596

    LASSO                                                1

    Lasso, in "Penitential Psalms"                       6

    Lasso                                                7

    Lesueur                                            743

    LISZT                                              811

    Liszt in his 13th year                             815

    Liszt in his 30th year                             821

    Liszt in his 75th year                             821

    Lortzing, Albert                                   599

    LULLY                                              609

    Lully, by Bonnart                                  611

    Lully                                              613

    MACKENZIE                                          903

    Marcello, Benedetto                                145

    MARSCHNER                                          409

    Martini, Padre                                     146

    Mascagni, Pietro                                   159

    MASSENET                                           711

    MASSENET IN HIS STUDY                              713

    MÉHUL                                              639

    Méhul                                              640

    Méhul                                              641

    MENDELSSOHN                                        415

    Mendelssohn's father                               419

    Mendelssohn's mother                               420

    Mendelssohn, Fanny                                 421

    Mendelssohn's wife                                 422

    Mendelssohn on his death-bed                       424

    Mendelssohn in his 12th year                       428

    Mendelssohn in his 26th year                       431

    MEYERBEER                                          471

    Meyerbeer in his eighth year                       475

    Meyerbeer, from wood-cut                           479

    Monte, Philip de                                    23

    Moszkowski                                         858

    MOZART                                             267

    Mozart in his sixth year                           272

    Mozart in his ninth year                           272

    Mozart in his tenth year                           273

    Mozart in his 14th year                            273

    Mozart, Maria Anna                                 277

    Mozart's wife                                      280

    MOZART FAMILY, by Carmontelle                      281

    Mozart family, by de la Croce                      283

    Mozart, last portrait of                           293

    Mozart, profile portrait                           297

    Offenbach                                          754

    Paderewski                                         859

    PAGANINI                                           679

    PAINE, JOHN KNOWLES                                931

    Paisiello, Giovanni                                147

    PALESTRINA, by Böttcher                             25

    Palestrina                                          27

    Palestrina, by Schnorr                              29

    PARRY                                              899

    Pergolese                                           44

    Philidor                                           739

    Piccini, Nicola                                    229

    Prés, Josquin des                                   17

    PURCELL                                            871

    RAFF                                               497

    RAMEAU                                             615

    Rameau, by Nesle                                   617

    Rameau, by Bellinger                               618

    Reber                                              752

    Reichardt, Johann F                                581

    Reinecke, Carl                                     594

    RHEINBERGER                                        525

    Rheinberger, by Lützel                             527

    Rimsky-Korsakoff                                   854

    Rore, Cyprian de                                    20

    ROSSINI                                             49

    ROSSINI IN MIDDLE LIFE                              53

    Rossini in his 36th year                            54

    ROSSINI, by Dupré                                   57

    ROSSINI ON HIS DEATH-BED                            59

    ROSSINI, medallion                                  65

    RUBINSTEIN                                         791

    Rubinstein, by Downey                              793

    Rubinstein, silhouette                             795

    SAINT-SAËNS                                        703

    SAINT-SAËNS, by Raschkow                           705

    SCARLATTI, A.                                       37

    Scarlatti, A., by Solimène                          38

    Scarlatti, Domenico                                150

    SCHUBERT                                           349

    Schütz, Heinrich                                   575

    Schulz, Johann Peter                               591

    SCHUMANN                                           437

    Schumann in his 21st year                          442

    SCHUMANN, CLARA, by Weger                          443

    Schumann, Robert and Clara                         445

    SCHUMANN, ROBERT AND CLARA, by Kaiser              453

    Schumann, Clara, by Hanfstängl                     457

    SCHUMANN, ROBERT AND CLARA, relief medallion       461

    Senfl, Ludwig                                      570

    Seroff                                             851

    SGAMBATI                                           111

    Smithson, Miss                                     677

    SPOHR, by Schlick                                  375

    SPOHR, by W. Pfaff                                 379

    SPONTINI                                            83

    Spontini, by Vincent                                84

    Spontini, by Jean Guérin                            85

    STANFORD                                           907

    STRAUSS, JOHANN (senior)                           489

    STRAUSS, JOHANN (junior)                           487

    STRAUSS, JOSEPH                                    491

    Strauss, Richard                                   604

    SULLIVAN                                           891

    SULLIVAN                                           893

    Suppé, Franz von                                   601

    Svendsen                                           862

    Swelinck                                            22

    Tartini, Guiseppe                                  153

    Tausig, Carl                                       857

    THOMAS, AMBROISE                                   691

    Thomas, Ambroise                                   695

    TSCHAÏKOWSKY, by Sarony                            803

    TSCHAÏKOWSKY, by Shapiro                           805

    VERDI                                              115

    Verdi, by Deblois                                  121

    Volkmann, Friedrich Robert                         595

    Wagner's gondolier, Trevisan                       544

    WAGNER, by Krauss                                  531

    Wagner's mother                                    536

    WAGNER, by Herkomer                                559

    WAGNER                                             545

    Wagner                                             551

    Wagner from family group                           555

    Weber, Aloysia, and Jos. Lange                     279

    Weber, Constanze                                   280

    WEBER                                              387

    Weber in his 24th year                             393

    WEBER, by T. Minasi                                395

    Willaert, Adrian                                    19

    Zelter, Carl Friedrich                             591


    Auber                                              655

    Beethoven                                          329

    Berlioz, by Benjamin                               687

    Berlioz, by Carjat                                 688

    Donizetti                                           76

    Halévy, by Dantan                                  667

    Halévy, by Carjat                                  671

    Handel                                             210

    Kreisler, Kapellmeister                            455

    LISZT                                              827

    Liszt, by Dantan                                   829

    Meyerbeer, bust                                    476

    Meyerbeer                                          478

    Rossini, by Carjat                                  56

    Rossini, bust                                       63

    Rossini from "Panthéon Charivarique"                64

    Strauss, Johann (senior)                           492

    Verdi                                              129


    AUBER, music                                       661

    AUBER, letter                                      662

    BACH, music                                        182

    Bach, poem                                         192

    Balfe, letter                                      889

    Balfe, music                                       890

    Beethoven's creed                                  329

    BEETHOVEN, music                                   336

    BELLINI, letter                                     73

    Bellini, music                                      74

    Bizet, music                                       702

    BOIELDIEU, music                                   637

    Brahms, music and letter                           506

    BRUCH, music                                       521

    Cherubini, music                                   106

    CHOPIN, music                                      775

    Donizetti, music                                   774

    Dvořák, music                                       81

    FRANZ, music and letter                            467

    GADE, music and letter                             841

    Gade, musical autograph                            842

    GLUCK, music and letter                            233

    GOUNOD, music                                      727

    GRÉTRY, music                                      629

    Grieg, music                                       836

    Halévy, music                                      669

    Handel, music                                      211

    HAYDN, music                                       261

    HÉROLD, music and letter                           651

    LISZT, music and letter                            825

    Marschner, letter                                  411

    MARSCHNER, music                                   413

    Massenet, music                                    716

    MÉHUL, music                                       643

    MENDELSSOHN, letter                                425

    MENDELSSOHN, music                                 426

    MEYERBEER, music and letter                        483

    Mozart, letter                                     290

    MOZART, music                                      292

    PERGOLESE, music                                    47

    Purcell, music                                     873

    Raff, letter                                       499

    Raff, music                                        501

    Rameau, music                                      621

    RHEINBERGER, music                                 529

    ROSSINI, music                                      61

    RUBINSTEIN, letter                                 797

    Rubinstein, music                                  800

    SAINT-SAËNS, music                                 707

    SCARLATTI, music                                    40

    SCHUBERT, music                                    361

    SCHUBERT, letter                                   371

    Schumann, Clara, letter                            449

    Schumann, letter                                   449

    SCHUMANN, music                                    450

    Schumann, music                                    462

    Sgambati, music and letter                         113

    SPOHR, letter                                      377

    SPOHR, music                                       383

    SPONTINI, music and letter                          87

    Strauss (junior), music                            493

    Strauss (senior), music                            493

    Sullivan, music                                    895

    THOMAS, AMBROISE, music                            693

    TSCHAÏKOWSKY, music                                807

    VERDI, music                                       125

    Verdi, letter                                      132

    WAGNER, letter                                     547

    WAGNER, music                                      548

    WAGNER, humorous composition                       561

    Weber, letter                                      401

    WEBER, music                                       407


    Auber's residence                                  658

    Bach's birthplace                                  167

    Beethoven's birthplace                             310

    Beethoven, house where he died                     323

    Gluck's birthplace                                 221

    Gounod's residence                                 725

    Grétry's Hermitage                                 627

    GRIEG'S country house                              833

    Handel's house                                     201

    Haydn's birthplace                                 247

    Mendelssohn's birthplace                           418

    Mendelssohn's residence                            435

    Mozart's birthplace                                274

    Mozart's residence in Vienna                       287

    Mozart, house where he died                        289

    Palestrina's birthplace                             32

    Schubert's birthplace                              353

    Schumann's birthplace                              441

    Verdi's birthplace                                 119

    Verdi's residence                                  123

    Wagner's birthplace                                534

    Wagner's residence, Villa Triebschen               537

    Wagner's residence at Bayreuth                     538

    Wagner's residence at Venice                       541

    Weber's birthplace                                 391


    Auber, bust                                        656

    Auber's tomb                                       659

    BACH, statue                                       169

    Bach, monument                                     185

    Balfe, tablet                                      887

    BEETHOVEN'S tomb                                   325

    BEETHOVEN, MONUMENT IN VIENNA                      332

    BEETHOVEN, MONUMENT IN VIENNA                      339

    Beethoven, bust                                    341

    Beethoven, monument in Bonn                        345

    Beethoven, Mozart, and Schubert, Tombs of          365

    BELLINI, monument                                   69

    Bellini, bust                                       70

    BELLINI'S tomb                                      71

    Bizet's tomb                                       699

    Boieldieu, bust                                    634

    Boieldieu's tomb                                   635

    CHERUBINI, monument                                 99

    Cherubini's tomb                                   101

    Cherubini, bust                                    103

    CHOPIN'S tomb                                      773

    DONIZETTI, monument                                 79

    Donizetti, bust                                     80

    Glinka, bust                                       789

    Gluck's grave                                      231

    GLUCK, statue                                      237

    GLUCK, MONUMENT                                    239

    Grétry's tomb                                      626

    Grétry's Memorial Chapel                           627

    HALÉVY'S TOMB                                      668

    Handel, monument in Halle                          197

    HANDEL, statue in Vauxhall Gardens                 205

    HANDEL, bust                                       209

    HANDEL, statue, Paris Opera House                  213

    HAYDN, bust                                        251

    HAYDN, monument                                    253

    Haydn's grave                                      259

    HÉROLD, bust                                       647

    HÉROLD'S TOMB                                      649

    Lasso, statue in Munich                              5

    Mendelssohn, bust                                  433

    MEYERBEER, bust                                    477

    Meyerbeer, family tomb                             481

    MOZART, statue                                     285

    MOZART, MONUMENT IN VIENNA                         291

    MOZART, MONUMENT IN SALZBURG                       299

    MOZART, MONUMENT IN VIENNA                         301

    Purcell, memorial tablet                           875

    RAMEAU, statue                                     619

    SCHUBERT, MONUMENT                                 363

    SCHUBERT'S TOMB                                    367

    SCHUMANN, monument                                 447

    Spontini, bust                                      88

    VERDI, bust                                        127

    WAGNER, bust                                       563

    WEBER, monument                                    399


    Animated Forge movement                            566

    Auber's Piano                                      657

    Bach and Family                                    171

    Bach before Frederick                              181

    Bayreuth Hill and Theatre                          540

    Beethoven and Mozart                               313

    Beethoven's Death Mask                             327

    Beethoven's Life Mask                              327

    Beethoven leading quartet                          315

    Beethoven's Studio                                 322

    BERLIN OPERA HOUSE                                 585

    CONSERVATORY OF MUSIC AT LEIPSIC                   593

    Frescos in Vienna Opera House.

    from "Armide"                                      242

      "  "Barber of Seville"                            66

      "  "Creation"                                    266

      "  "Fidelio"                                     348

      "  the "Huguenots"                               486

      "  "Jessonda"                                    386

      "  Mozart's operas                               306

      "  Schubert's "Domestic War"                     374

      "  the "Water Carrier"                            91

    GARDEN OF HARMONY                                  737

    Gewandhaus Concert Hall in Leipsic                 607

    Gounod directing                                   732

    GRÉTRY'S CLAVICHORD                                625

    Grétry crossing the Styx                           632

    Guidonian hand                                     137

    Handel Commemoration                               215

    Handel's harpsichord                               216

    Hannibal, Scene from                               576

    Huguenots, billboard                               484

    Liszt's library and music room                     818

    Liszt's organ room                                 819

    LISZT PLAYING TO HIS FRIENDS                       817

    Memorial Chapel, Grétry                            627

    Mendelssohn's hand                                 436

    Mozart's ear                                       295

    Mozart's first composition                         270

    Mozart's piano and spinet                          276

    Mozart, room where he was born                     275

    OLD MARKET SQUARE, Dresden                         397

    OPERA HOUSE, Paris                                 749

    Palazzo Vendramin                                  543

    PANTHÉON MUSICAL                                   755

    PANTHÉON OF GERMAN MUSICIANS                       567

    Pergolese medal by Mercandetti                      45

    Pergolese commemorative medal                       48

    Rossini's clay pipe                                 60

    SALZBURG                                           271

    SCHUBERT AND HIS FRIENDS                           357

    SPONTINI'S PIANO                                    90

    Strauss (junior) leading orchestra                 496

    St. Thomas's School                                177

    SYNTAGMA MUSICUM, Title-page of                    572

    Triumph of Rameau                                  622

    VIENNA OPERA HOUSE                                 606

    WAGNER AND FRIENDS AT BAYREUTH                     557

    Wagner's studio                                    539

    WEBER LEADING OPERA                                405

    Weber's coat-of-arms                               408

[Illustration: ORLANDO LASSO

_Reproduction of an engraving by C. Debluis, after an old German print in
the "Cabinet des estampes" in Paris. It bears the inscription, "Orlandus
Lassus, musicus excellens."_]

[Illustration: LASSO]



Roland Delattre is generally known by the Italian form of his name,
Orlando di Lasso. He was the last great light of the famous school of
Netherlands masters who were the real founders of modern musical art.
The history of Lasso's career is tolerably well known to us, owing to
the existence of Vinchant's "Annals of Hainault" and a sketch by Van
Quickelberg published in 1565 in a biographical dictionary called "Heroum
Prosopographia." Although the former author was born in 1580, and Lasso
died in 1594 or 1595, he places the date of the composer's birth ten
years earlier than Van Quickelberg. Fétis gives plausible reasons for
accepting Vinchant's date, yet it is probable that Van Quickelberg got
his data directly from the composer, of whom he was an intimate friend.

At any rate, he was born in Mons in 1520 or 1530 and at the age of seven
began his education. Like all musically gifted persons, he displayed his
inclination toward the tone art at an early age, and in his ninth year
he began the study of music. At that period music meant counterpoint
and church singing. Hence Lasso, being endowed with a fine voice, began
his career as a boy chorister in the church of St. Nicolas in his
native town. There he became celebrated for the beauty of his voice
and was twice stolen but recovered by his parents. The third time the
little song-bird was carried off, he consented to remain with Ferdinand
Gonzague, viceroy of Sicily and at that time commander of the army of
Charles V. When the war was over the lad went with Ferdinand to Sicily
and afterward to Milan. Van Quickelberg says that after six years his
voice broke and at the age of eighteen he was sent by his patron under
charge of Constantin Castriotto to Naples with letters of recommendation
to the Marquis of Terza. He became a member of that nobleman's household
and remained with him three years. At the end of that time he went
to Rome, where he stayed six months as the guest of the archbishop of
Florence. He was then appointed chapel-master of the famous church of St.
John Lateran. While serving there he was informed of the sickness of his
parents, and, probably being somewhat conscience stricken, set out for
Mons, where he arrived after his father and mother were dead.

He returned to Rome and soon afterward paid a visit to France and England
in company with a noble amateur of music called Julius Caeser Brancaccio.
From France he went to Antwerp, where he stayed until he went to Munich
in 1557 to enter the service of Albert of Bavaria. The doubt as to the
date of his birth makes the length of his residence in Rome uncertain. He
was there either two years or twelve, according as he was born in 1520
or 1530. The invitation to Munich seems to show that Lasso had acquired
a European reputation as a composer. Such a reputation would naturally
have been acquired during a long period of service in the Lateran church.
If, however, Lasso did remain in Rome twelve years and produce works
which gave him European celebrity, they are lost. Nevertheless even Van
Quickelberg's testimony goes to show that Lasso's fame as a composer and
as a man had preceded him to Munich. The Duke Albert directed him to
engage a number of singers for the ducal choir and take them with him
to Munich. Albert V. was a lover of art, and he is credited with being
highly pleased at the engagement of Lasso. Quickelberg says that report
in the Bavarian capital "was busy as to the character and disposition
of the man. He was credited with being a great artist and a high-minded
gentleman, and the Munich folk were not to be disappointed. The brilliant
wit of the master, his amiability of temper, the cheerfulness of his
disposition, and the universality of his knowledge, combined to make him
a favorite with all. With the duke and the duchess he was especially
intimate, and owing to their favor was admitted to the highest social
gatherings. His introduction to the court nobility resulted in his
marriage in 1558 with Regina Welkinger, a maid of honor attendant on the
duchess." [Naumann, History of Music, p. 376.]

[Illustration: ALBRECHT V.

Reproduced from an ancient prayer book.]

It may be as well to add here that Lasso and his wife had six children,
four sons and two daughters. Ferdinand and Rudolph, the eldest sons,
became composers of some note. It was in 1562 that Lasso was made
chapel-master to the Duke of Bavaria, thus attaining what was then
esteemed as the highest prize in the musical world. He now had under his
direction a fine body of singers and instrumentalists, for which a modern
composer would have written not only masses, but cantatas and oratorios.
We must bear in mind, however, that in Lasso's day church composers
preferred the _a capella_ style, and the art of orchestral accompaniment,
as we understand it now, was unknown. When instruments were used in
conjunction with voices they simply doubled the voice parts. Hence
Lasso's great compositions are all written for an unaccompanied choir.
It appears that Lasso served for five years as chamber musician before
being made chapel-master, because Ludwig Daser was not quite old enough
to be retired from the higher post and because the Duke wished Lasso to
learn the language before assuming the responsibility of the mastership.
In 1562, as stated, Daser was retired, and, as Van Quickelberg tells
us, "the Duke, seeing that Master Orlando had by this time learnt the
language and gained the good will of all by the propriety and gentleness
of his behavior, and that his compositions (in number infinite) were
universally liked, without loss of time elected him master of the chapel,
to the evident pleasure of all."

From this time forward for several years Lasso was engaged in composing
his most noted church works, among them being the famous "Penitential
Psalms," which are still held in the highest esteem among lovers of pure
old church music. He wrote also some of his finest Magnificats, as well
as many pieces of secular music. His fame spread through Europe, and
though Palestrina was his contemporary, it was Lasso who was spoken of
as the "Prince of Musicians." He was also much praised as a conductor,
and contemporary writers bear testimony to the fine precision and spirit
with which the ducal choir sang under his direction. In 1570 the Emperor
Maximilian honored the composer by making him a knight. The following
year Pope Gregory XIII. conferred upon him the order of the Golden
Spurs. The ceremony was performed with much pomp in the papal chapel at
Munich by the chevaliers Cajetan and Mezzacosta. In the same year the
composer made a visit to Paris, where he was received with every mark
of distinction by Charles IX. This visit and the favor of the monarch
have given rise to one of those pretty stories with which the history
of music is dotted, but which unfortunately will not bear scrutiny. The
story is that Charles IX., tormented by remorse for the massacre of St.
Bartholomew, asked Lasso to write his Penitential Psalms as an expression
of the kingly repentance. But dates, which are stubborn things, refuse
to be reconciled with this story. These psalms were undoubtedly written
at the request of Duke Albert. The first volume of them in manuscript is
preserved in the Royal State Library at Munich, and it bears the date
1565. The massacre of St. Bartholomew took place in 1572. The value
which Duke Albert set upon these compositions is shown by the manner
in which he treated them. They were bound in the most costly manner,
in morocco, with silver ornaments which alone cost seven hundred and
sixty-four florins. The court painter, Hans Mielich, painted for them
portraits of the Duke, Orlando, and of the persons who made the books.
J. Sterndale Bennett, in his excellent article on Lasso in Grove's
"Dictionary of Music," makes the suggestion that the production of these
noble psalms so early in the composer's life at Munich points to the
probability that his Roman sojourn was twelve years instead of two, and
that he was, therefore, born in 1520 instead of 1530. The inference is
hardly avoidable.

To return to the Paris visit, it may be deemed probable that one result
of it was the erection of a new Academy of Music, authorized by the
king in 1570. The only composition known to have been produced by Lasso
in Paris was sent to Duke Albert as "some proof of my gratitude." In
1574 Lasso set out for Paris once more, but when he had gone as far as
Frankfort he learned that King Charles IX. was dead; so he returned
to Munich, where he resumed the work of composition with undiminished
activity. Lasso never left Munich again and a detailed record of his life
subsequent to 1575 would consist chiefly of a chronological catalogue of
the works which he published. It may be said that he did not produce any
large compositions in the years 1578-80. The Duke, who had confirmed him
for life in his appointment on his return from Munich, had become ill,
and in October, 1579, this generous and high-minded patron of the arts
breathed his last.

This was a sad blow to Lasso, whose affection for his princely friend
was surely sincere. It was fortunate for the composer's material
welfare that Duke Albert's successor was a hearty admirer of his works.
The substantial nature of his regard was shown in 1587, when, Lasso
having begun to show signs of failing health, the new potentate gave
him a country house at Geising on the Ammer. There the composer sought
seclusion for a time from the bustle of court life. On April 15, he
dedicated twenty-three new madrigals to Dr. Mermann, the court physician,
and J. Sterndale Bennett sees in this an evidence of restored health
and renewed activity. Near the end of the year, however, he asked to be
relieved of some of his numerous duties. The Duke gave him permission
to retire from his post and pass a part of each year at Geising with
his family, but his salary was to be reduced to two hundred florins
per annum. His son Ferdinand, however, was to be appointed a member of
the choir at two hundred florins, and Rudolph was to be made organist
at the same salary. For some reason Lasso was not satisfied with this
arrangement, and so he resumed his labors.


Erected by Ludwig II.]

It would be gratifying to be able to picture this great master
approaching his end along the green pathway of a serene old age.
Unfortunately this cannot be done. His declining years were marked by
gloom and morbidity. He talked constantly of death, and became so peevish
as to write to Duke William complaining that he had not done all for the
composer that Duke Albert had promised. The devoted wife, Regina, united
her efforts with those of Princess Maximiliana to remove the evil effects
of this letter. The composer sank gradually and died at Munich on June
14, 1594. He was buried in the cemetery of the Franciscans, and his
widow erected a fine monument to his memory in their church. According to
Fétis this stone was two feet four inches high and four feet eight inches
long. It had ornamental bas-reliefs representing the holy sepulchre,
Lassus and his family at prayer, and the coat-of-arms conferred upon them
by the Emperor Maximilian. The inscription on the base was as follows:

    "Hic ille est Lassus, lassum qui recreat orbem,
    Discordemque sua copulat harmonia."

    Here lies he weary who a weary world refreshed,
    And discord with his harmony enmeshed.

The reader will note the play on the word _lassus_, weary. The monument
was removed when the Franciscan churchyard was dismantled in 1800, and
in 1830 the stone disappeared from view. The world of art has to thank
the "mad king" Ludwig, of Bavaria (to whom it owes debts of gratitude in
connection with Wagner's career), for the erection of a life-size statue
in bronze of Orlando Lasso. It stood originally next to the statue of
Gluck near the Theatiner Church, but was afterward removed to the public
promenade. There is another statue of Lasso at Mons, where he was born.

[Illustration: From portrait in the "Penitential Psalms," set by Lasso,
in the Royal State Library at Munich.]

Lasso was one of the most prolific composers that ever lived. He is said
to have written no less than two thousand five hundred original works. A
great number of these have been preserved, but the reader who is not able
to decipher antique scores will undoubtedly be most interested in those
which have been republished in modern form. These are as follows: his
famous seven Penitential Psalms, edited by S. W. Dehn and published in
Berlin in 1835; a "Regina coeli," "Salve Regina," "Angelus ad pastores,"
and "Miserere," Rochlitz's "Sammlung vorzüglicher Gesangstücke," Vol. I.,
published by Schott in 1838; a setting of the twenty-third Psalm as a
motet for five voices, a "Quo properas" for ten voices, and a Magnificat
for five, published at Berlin by Schlesinger; "Confirma hoc deus" for
six voices, Berlin, Guttentag; six German chansons (four voices) and one
dialogue (eight voices) in Dehn's "Sammlung alter Musik," Berlin, Crantz;
twelve motets (four to eight voices) in Commer's collection published
by Schott of Mainz; twenty motets in Proske's "Musica Divina"; the mass
"Qual donna attende" (five voices) in Proske's selection of masses
published at Ratisbon, 1856; the mass "Or sus à coup" (four voices),
edited by Ferrenberg and published by Heberle at Cologne in 1847. Many
more of his works have been edited and are ready for publication, but
remain in MS. The above list is taken from Scribner's "Cyclopedia of
Music and Musicians," and appears to be correct, as far as it goes.
Naumann's "History of Music" contains a very beautiful "Adoramus te
Christe," a chorale for four male voices. Lest the reader should fall
into the error of supposing that the great bulk of Lasso's works were
ecclesiastical, it should be mentioned that he wrote many German songs,
fifty-nine canzonets, three hundred and seventy-one French songs,
thirty-four Latin songs, and two hundred and thirty-three madrigals. Of
these last, at least one--"Matrona, mia cara"--holds its own among the
glees of to-day; and its quaint refrain of "Dong, dong, dong, derry,
derry, dong, dong," haunts every ear that once has heard it.

To rightly appreciate the value of Lasso's music one must bear in mind
the history of the great Netherlands school as a whole. Lasso was the
perfect blossom of a plant of long growth. His earliest predecessors
had been occupied in manufacturing musical materials, systematizing
the old chaotic practice of the mere improvisers and establishing
fundamental forms on which the superstructure of modern music was to be
reared. In their efforts at perfecting these forms they had fallen into
extravagances, often losing sight of the nature and purpose of music, of
which at the best they had a very imperfect comprehension. Occasionally,
at least once in each period of the existence of the school, a composer
arose who urged forward the march of development. A host of imitators
would follow, and in imitating the new forms and touches of a creative
mind these men could fall back into mere formal ingenuity again, and stay
there till another original thinker arose. The progress of musical art,
therefore, might be likened to the rising of the ocean tide on the beach,
moving forward in a series of waves, each followed by receding water.

[Illustration: ORLANDO DI LASSO.]

From a very early period in the rise of the Netherlands school a
movement toward beauty and simplicity of form and expression can be
traced. This movement came to its destination in Lasso. He did not, it
is true, abandon the contrapuntal forms of his predecessors; but he
wholly subordinated them to his purpose, and his purpose was plainly the
expression of those feelings which belong to man's religious nature. He
succeeded in keeping this purpose uppermost, no matter in what style he
chose to write. Sometimes he composed simple chorales in which the voices
moved simultaneously, and again he wrote hymns in four parts, adding a
popular melody as a discant. He moved from either of these styles to
the most complicated polyphonic manner of the Des Prés period without
sacrifice of dignity, musical beauty or religious fervor. He wrote works
for two and three choirs, and he wrote others for only two voices. In
the Penitential Psalms he clearly demonstrated that a mass of voices
and parts was not necessary to an attainment of impressive effect, for
he showed that he could be most powerfully expressive and influential
while employing the simplest of means. Some of his writing is extremely
old-fashioned even for his time. It might have been handed down from
the days of Ockeghem. Again he plunges boldly into the labyrinth of
chromatics and makes one think he hears the voice of Cyprian de Rore. In
short, we must concede that Lasso displayed in his constructive skill the
versatility of a complete master, while through all his work there runs
the never-failing current of personal influence that flows only from the
masterful individuality of a real genius.

Interesting comparisons have been drawn between the style of Lasso and
that of Palestrina. The fact is that in formal arrangement Palestrina's
masses bear a close assemblance to the most modern of Lasso's works.
It is only when the Flemish master is writing in the style of his
predecessors that his construction ceases to bear resemblance to that of
the Italian. Both excelled in one style--that in which the profundity
of contrapuntal skill results in an appearance of simplicity and in a
real conveyance of emotion. The difference between the men lies in the
character of their musical thought, and that difference has been most
excellently expressed by Ambros, who says: "The one (Palestrina) brings
the angelic host to earth; the other raises man to eternal regions, both
meeting in the realm of the ideal." Fétis, in his prize essay of 1828,
says: "Too many writers in their eulogies of Lasso have called him the
Prince of musicians of his age. Whatever be the respect which I have
for that great man, I declare that I am not able to acquiesce in this
exaggerated admiration. It is sufficient for the glory of Lasso that
he equalled the reputation of a musician like Palestrina; it would be
unjust to accord him the superiority. In examining the works of these
two celebrated artists, one remarks the different qualities which they
possess and which gives to them an individual physiognomy. The music
of the former is graceful and elegant (for the time in which it was
composed); but that of Palestrina has more force and seriousness. That
of Lasso is more singable and shows greater imagination, but that of his
rival is much more learned. In the motets and madrigals of Palestrina are
effects of mass which are admirable; but the French songs of Lasso are
full of most interesting details. In fine they deserve to be compared
with one another; that is a eulogy of both."

Fétis's assertion that the music of Palestrina is the more learned is
a trifle vague. The fact is that the learning of Palestrina's music is
greater than that of Lasso's only because the former more successfully
conceals itself. Nothing could be more lovely in its simplicity than
Lasso's "Adoramus te" given by Naumann, but its simplicity is that of the
chorale style. The "Regina Coeli" given by Rochlitz is a fine specimen
of double counterpoint. The "Salve Regina," given by the same author, is
in free chorale style and is written for solo quartet and chorus. The
"Angelus ad pastores," while not strict in its counterpoint, is full of
learned work, yet withal is not involved in style. The "Principal Parts
of the 51st Psalm," also printed in Rochlitz's work, looks very much like
a modern anthem, especially the "Gloria patri." The madrigals of Lasso
are charming in their native humor and in the piquancy of their part

The influence of Lasso upon later composers cannot well be separated
from the general influence of his time, for the contrapuntal church
style was the prevailing manner of composition throughout Europe.
The Belgian, Italian, and German music of the time is all built on
the model established by the Netherlands masters. But Lasso must be
credited with having done almost as much as Palestrina toward showing
how ecclesiastical music could be written in an artistic but wholly
intelligible manner. The German writers who imitated him (Ludwig Senfl,
Paul Gerhardt and others) in their Protestant chorals and motets led
the way directly to the motets, cantatas and passion music of the Bach
period, and Lasso through his influence on them contributed toward the
development of the genius of the immortal Sebastian.

[Illustration: W. J. Henderson]




The improvisatore nursed the infancy of both poetry and music. The latter
did not grow to the stature of an art until the rude improvisations
of its early guardians gave way to the systematic compositions of the
Netherland masters. Systematic composition, however, presupposes the
existence of three fundamental elements, none of which had assumed
tangible form in the earliest days recorded in musical history. These
elements are harmony, notation and measure. Huckbald, a Benedictine Monk
of St. Armand in Flanders, is credited with being the first to formulate
rules for harmony about 895 A. D. His ideas were crude and their results
disagreeable to the modern ear. He used chiefly parallel fourths and
fifths, but he employed another freer style in which a melody moved
flexibly above a fixed bass--the earliest form of pedal point. Harmony
was not invented by Huckbald, but he must be honored as the writer of the
first treatise on the subject. The field once opened up was industriously
cultivated, and by the time the era of the Netherland school began,
had been productive of a rich harvest. Notation was also a plant of
slow growth, but the employment of four lines in a staff, together with
the spaces, was introduced by Guido of Arezzo, who died in 1050. The
formulation of rules for measure was the work of Franco of Cologne, who
flourished 1200 A. D. He adopted four characters to represent sounds of
different lengths. These notes were the _longa_, [Illustration]; the
_brevis_, [Illustration]; the _duplex longa_, [Illustration] and the
_semi brevis_, [Illustration]. He also distinguished common from triple
time, calling the latter "perfect." Fétis quotes from the introduction
to Franco's "Ars Cantus Mensurabilis" the following words: "We propose,
therefore, to set forth in this volume this same measured music. We shall
not refuse to make known the good ideas of others, nor to expose their
mistakes; and if we have invented anything good, we shall support it
with good arguments." Fétis, however, makes this significant remark:
"Néanmoins le profond savoir qu'on remarque dans l'ouvrage de Francon,
et l'obscurité dans laquelle sont ensevelis et les noms et les œuvres de
ceux, auxquels il attribue la première invention de la musique mesurée,
le feront à jamais regarder comme le premier auteure de cette importante
découverte." [Fétis, Mémoire sur cette Question: "Quels out été les
mérites des Neerlandais dans la musique," etc.--Question mise au concours
pour l'année 1828 par la quatrieme classe de l'Institut des Sciences, de
Litterature et des Beaux Arts du Royaume des Pays-Bas.]

With harmony and measure governed by rules and the written page at hand
as a conserving power, systematic composition became a possibility. The
study of this art was the work of monks, who were the repositories of
polite learning in the middle ages, and they naturally sought for their
thematic material in the plain chant of the church. Their treatment of
this chant was a natural outgrowth of the impromptu production of music
which had preceded systematic composition and which clung to existence
with great pertinacity. Guido of Arezzo had taught choristers the art
of singing with such success that they began the long-honored custom of
adding ornaments to their melodies. They carried this practice to such
an extent that it became necessary for one singer to intone the melody
while another sang the ornamental part. This adding of ornamental parts
was called the art of discant; and when the monks took up scientific
composition they simply added discants to the liturgical chants of the
church. This was the beginning of counterpoint, the art of writing two
or more melodies which shall proceed simultaneously without breaking the
rules of harmony. The name "counterpoint" was early applied to it by
Johannes de Muris, doctor of theology at the University of Paris in the
beginning of the fourteenth century. This indicates that by his time the
scientific setting of note against note had fully superseded discant, the
fanciful elaboration of the singers.

It was in the hands of the great masters of the Netherland school that
this counterpoint, the first species of scientific composition, was
developed to its highest perfection. In the main the differences between
their counterpoint and ours are due to the cramped harmony of their
time, which was fettered by the employment of the Gregorian scales. The
superiority of Bach's counterpoint over theirs from a technical point of
view is the result of his mastery of chromatics and his perfection of the
system of equal temperament. With the aesthetic superiority of his work
we need not concern ourselves, for we must bear in mind the fact that
most of the Netherland masters were absorbed in developing the technical
construction of music, and had little to do with the exploration of its
emotional possibility.

Systems are not completed in a day. Those writers on musical history who
pass immediately from the labors of Franco to the Netherland masters
ignore the long series of tentative works of the French composers who
flourished between 1100 and 1370 A. D., and of the English composers
who flourished between the same years. It is a well established fact
that in England there were many writers who showed skill in the early
contrapuntal forms. Johannes Tinctoris, a Netherlander, writing in
1460 A. D., went so far as to say that the source of counterpoint was
among the English, of whom Dunstable was in his opinion the greatest
light. Walter Odington, an Englishman, wrote a learned treatise on
counterpoint in 1217, and some authorities accept him as the composer
of the notable canonic composition, "Sumer is icumen in." It is pretty
clearly established, however, that Odington was a disciple of the French
school, while Dunstable, being a contemporary of Binchois, was of later
birth than the early French composers. The writer of this paper is of
the opinion that the line of contrapuntal development appears to join
Flanders with France rather than with England, and he, therefore, prefers
to consider chiefly the French school.

The Frenchman, Jean Perotin, then, about 1130 A. D., employed imitation,
and one of his immediate successors, Jean de Garlande, says in his
treatise on music that double counterpoint was known before his time.
He says it is the repetition of the same phrase by different voices
at different times. It is impracticable in this article to review in
detail the achievements of the French school, but a summary of its work
is necessary to a comprehension of the Netherland school. The Frenchmen
possessed three kinds of harmonic combinations: the Déchant (discant) or
double, the triple and the quadruple, or in other words, contrapuntal
compositions in two, three and four parts. Discants were of two kinds.
In the first the cantus firmus, or fixed chant of the liturgy, was sung
by one voice (called tenor--Latin, _teneo_, I hold--because it held the
tune) while the other added a discant above it. In the second the discant
was freely composed, and a lower part, or bass added.

Three-part compositions were of four kinds: fauxbourdon, motet, rondeau
and conduit, the last three being written also in four parts. Fauxbourdon
was simply a three-voiced chant, the parts having similar motion, the
upper and lower being parallel sixths and the middle in fourths with
the discant. In the motet each voice had a text of its own. The rondo
was secular and was developed from the folk-music of the day. The
conduit was uncertain in form, secular in character, and, like the
rondo, was written for either voices or instruments. The early French
masters made extensive use of the parallel movement of voices, yet had
plainly no conception of harmony founded on chords. They show a much
clearer purpose in their contrapuntal writings wherein the imitations
are plainly devised according to rules. But the entire musical product
of France between 1100 and 1250 was the cold, mathematical work of
academicians, who nevertheless served the cause of the tone art by
laying down indispensable laws. The last great master of this school,
William of Machaut, who wrote the celebrated Coronation Mass for the
crowning of Charles V., flourished between 1284 and 1369. Naturally
enough the teachings of the French spread into the provinces of Belgium,
and there grew up a school from which the Netherland masters rose.
The most prominent early Belgian composer was Dufay (1350-1432). This
writer introduced secular melodies into his masses, forbade the use of
consecutive fifths, and freely used interrupted canonic part writing,
in which the imitation appears only at occasional effective places. His
works show evidences of a vague groping after euphonic beauty. Antoine
de Busnois, who died in 1482, was the last of these early masters. His
works abound in clever use of the devices of imitation and inversion. His
canonic writing is more finished and his harmony bolder than Dufay's. The
character of the music produced at this time has been well described by
Mr. Rockstro. He says: "At this period, representing the infancy of art,
the subject, or canto fermo, was almost invariably placed in the tenor
and sung in long sustained notes, while two or more supplementary voices
accompanied it with an elaborate counterpoint, written like the canto
fermo itself in one or other of the ancient ecclesiastical modes, and
consisting of fugal passages, points of imitation, or even canons, all
suggested by the primary idea, and all working together for a common end."

Dufay was the connecting link between the French School and the great
Netherland masters. At this time the Dutch led the world in painting, in
the liberal arts and in commercial enterprise. Their skill in mechanics
was unequalled, and we naturally expect to see their musicians further
the development of musical technique. We must bear in mind facts to
which the writer has had to refer elsewhere ("Story of Music," p.
21). "The general tendency of European thought at this time also had
its bearing on the tone art. Scholasticism was in full sway, and such
philosophers as Albertus Magnus, John Duns Scotus and William of Ockham
were engaged in wondrous metaphysical hair-splitting, endeavoring to
reduce Aristotelianism to a Christian basis by the application of
the most vigorous logic. This spirit of scholasticism entered music,
and contrapuntal science by too much learning was made mad." Yet the
essential nature of music could not be wholly suppressed, and as the
writers of the time acquired that marvellous mastery of musical material
which came from their practice of counterpoint, they began to use their
science as a means and not an end; and finally the masters of the
Netherland school attained the loftiest heights of church composition.
Various divisions of the periods of development of this school have been
made. That adopted by the writer is Emil Naumann's with some alterations.
It does not appear to be necessary to set the Dutch members of the
school apart from the Belgians; and the writer, in his estimate of the
comparative importance of the masters, agrees with Kiesewetter and Fétis
rather than with Naumann. The division of the school into four periods,
as follows, seems to be a fair one:


    First Period, 1425-1512.

    Chief masters: Ockeghem, Hobrecht, Brumel.

    Second Period, 1455-1526.

    Chief masters: Josquin des Près, Jean Mouton.

    Third Period, 1495-1572.

    Chief masters: Gombert, Willaert, Goudimel, De Rore, Jannequin,

    Fourth Period, 1520-1625.

    Chief masters: Orlando Lasso, Swelinck, De Monte.

Johannes Ockeghem, the most accomplished writer of the first period, was
born between 1415 and 1430, probably at Termonde in East Flanders. It is
likely that he studied music under Binchois, a contemporary of Dufay. At
any rate an Ockeghem was one of the college of singers at the Antwerp
cathedral in 1443, when Binchois was choir master. About 1444 the youth
entered the service of Charles VII. of France, as a singer. He stood
high in the favor of Louis XI., who made him treasurer of the church of
St. Martin's at Tours. There Ockeghem passed the remainder of his life,
retiring from active service about 1490. He died about 1513.

Octavio dei Petrucci, of Fossombrone, invented movable types for printing
music in 1502, and obtained a patent for the exclusive use of the process
for fifteen years in 1513. By that time the advance in the mastery of
counterpoint had left Ockeghem somewhat out of fashion; and it is,
therefore, not remarkable that Petrucci's earliest collections contain
nothing by this master. Not till years after his death was any mass or
motet of his given to the world. Then only one was printed entire. This
was his "Missa cujusvis toni," which was plainly selected because of its
science. Extracts from his "Missa Prolationum" were used in theoretical
treatises; and, indeed, Ockeghem's music seems generally to have been
cherished wholly on account of the technical instruction which might
be derived from it. The list of his extant compositions, as given in
Scribner's "Cyclopedia of Music," is as follows:

"Missa cujusvis toni," in Liber XV., missarum (Petreius, Louvain, 1538);
six motets and a sequence (Petrucci, Venice, 1503); an enigmatic canon in
S. Heyden's "Ars Canendi" and in Glarean's "Dodekachordon"; fragments of
"Missa prolationum" in Heyden's book and in Bellermann's "Kontrapunkt";
mass "De plus en plus," MS. in Pontifical Chapel, Rome; two masses,
"Pour quelque peine" and "Ecce ancilla Domini," in the Brussels Library;
motets in MS. in Rome, Florence and Dijon; six masses, an Ave and some
motets in Van der Straeten; Kyrie and Christe, from "Missa cujusvis toni"
in Rochlitz.

This list is probably correct except the six motets and a sequence set
down as published by Petrucci in 1503. Ambros, who is always trustworthy
and who mentions all these works and also three songs ("D'ung aultre
mer," "Aultre Venus" and "Rondo Royal") and a motet ("Alma redemptoris")
in MS. at Florence, did not discover any publications by Petrucci. The
enigmatical canon was solved by Kiesewetter, Burney, Hawkins and other
historians; but the solution believed to be most nearly correct is that
of the profound contrapuntist and excellent historian, Fétis. Glareanus
(Dodekachordon, p. 454) speaks also of a motet for thirty-six voices.
This was, no doubt, originally written for six or nine voices, the other
parts being derived from them by canons. It is not certain, however,
that Ockeghem ever wrote such a work. The "Missa cujusvis toni" ("A mass
in any tone," or scale, as we should say now) may have been written as
an exercise for the master's pupils, as some historians conjecture,
but it seems more probable that it was a natural outgrowth of the
puzzle-building spirit of the time and of Ockeghem's especial fondness
for displays of musical ingenuity. The peculiarity of the mass is that
it employs in a remarkable manner all the church modes or scales. It was
sung in Munich many years after Ockeghem's death and a corrected copy of
it is still preserved in the chapel.

Fétis says: "As a professor, Ockeghem was also very remarkable, for all
the most celebrated musicians at the close of the fifteenth and beginning
of the sixteenth century were his pupils." In the "Complaint" written
after his death by William Grespel, appear the following lines:

    "Argicola, Verbonnet, Prioris,
    Josquin des Près, Gaspard, Brumel, Compère,
    Ne parlez plus de Joyeul chants, ne ris,
    Mais composez un ne recorderis,
    Pour lamentir nostre maîstre et bon père."

Antoine Brumel achieved the greatest distinction among these pupils. He
was born about 1460 and died about 1520. His personal history is lost.
The present age possesses, however, a fuller record of his work than it
has of his master's. In one volume printed by Petrucci in 1503 and to
be found in the Royal Library at Berlin, there are five of his masses.
Another mass by this composer is in a volume of works by various writers,
printed also by Petrucci. A copy of this composition is in the British
Museum. A number of masses and motets of his are scattered through other
collections of Petrucci's. Others exist in MS. in Munich. Brumel's motet,
"O Domine Jesu Christe, pastor bone," quoted by Naumann, is written in
a clear and dignified style, abounds in full chords, and contains only
such passages of imitation as would readily suggest themselves. A better
example of the style of the period is his canonic, "Laudate Dominum,"
given by Foskel and Kiesewetter.

Jacob Hobrecht, the principal Dutch master of the first Netherland
period, was born about 1430, at Utrecht, where he subsequently became
chapel-master. It does not appear on record anywhere that he was a pupil
of Ockeghem, but he was unquestionably a disciple of that composer.
He achieved celebrity in his life time and was honored with many
distinctions. He wrote a mass for the choir of the Bruges Cathedral,
and the whole body journeyed to Antwerp to pay him homage. It is stated
that he also received a visit from Bishop Borbone of Cortona, leader of
the papal choir. Hobrecht became chapel-master at Utrecht, about 1465,
and had there a choir of seventy voices. A part of his life was spent in
Florence at the court of Lorenzo the Magnificent, where he met Josquin
des Près.

The indefatigable Ambros goes into a careful discussion of eight masses
of Hobrecht's, published in the Petrucci collections. Of these the best,
known as the "Fortuna desperata," was published in modern notation at
Amsterdam in 1870. Examples of Hobrecht's writing are also to be found in
the works of Burney, Forkel, Kiesewetter, and Naumann. One of Hobrecht's
musical feats was the composition of a mass in a single night. His works
contain all the canonic inventions employed by Ockeghem, and are a mine
of contrapuntal learning. Doubtless when sung by the trained cathedral
choirs of their period, they were impressive to ears not attuned to
modern tonality.

So much for the personal history of the most brilliant lights of the
time. More instructive will be a review of the musical character of their

It is the prevailing influence of one or two masters in each period
that marks its extent. Its character was formed by that influence,
and salient features of the style of each period may be fairly
distinguished. The first period was marked by the extreme development
of the canon. Perhaps for the benefit of the reader who may not have
studied counterpoint it would be well to give here one or two elementary
definitions. Imitation, in the words of Sir Frederick A. Gore-Ouseley, is
"a repetition, more or less exact, by one voice of a phrase or passage
previously enunciated by another. If the imitation is absolutely exact
as to intervals it becomes a canon." Canon is the most rigorous species
of imitation. Naturally then, as imitation is the foundation of fugal
writing, the first occupation of musicians was its perfection. Thus we
see that the composers of the first period of the Netherland school were
almost wholly engaged in exploring the resources of canonic composition,
and the most celebrated of their number, Ockeghem, was he who displayed
the greatest ingenuity in this style. To describe the various forms of
canonic jugglery invented by Ockeghem and his contemporaries would weary
the reader; but a few may be mentioned as examples of the craft exercised
at that time.

First, there was the "cancriza," or backward movement of the cantus
firmus, in which the melody was repeated interval by interval, beginning
at the last note and moving toward the first. Second, there was the
inverted canon, in which the inversion consisted of beginning at the
original first note and proceeding with each interval reversed, so that a
melody which had ascended would, in the inversion, descend. In the canon
by augmentation the subject reappears in one of the subsidiary parts
in notes twice as long as those in which it was originally announced.
Conversely in the canon by diminution the subject is repeated in notes
of smaller duration than those first used. These four forms are still
extant and have been employed by most great composers of modern music
from Bach to the present time. The canon by augmentation is often used in
choral music, especially in the bass, with superb effect. Indeed all the
varieties described are to be found in the music of Handel and Bach, the
latter being a complete master of their use in instrumental as well as
choral composition.

But the composers of the first Netherland period employed kinds of
canonic writing which are now looked upon as mere curiosities. Among
these were the repetition of the cantus firmus beginning with the second
note and ending with the first; the repetition with the omission of all
the rests; the perfect repetition of the whole melody; a repetition half
forward and half backward; and another with the omission of all the
shortest notes. Naumann is of the opinion that these forms "arose from
an earnest desire to consolidate a system of part-writing which could
only exist after a complete mastery had been obtained over all kinds of
musical contrivances." Kiesewetter, also generous in his views, says that
these writers excel their predecessors in possessing "a greater facility
in counterpoint and fertility in invention; their compositions, moreover,
being no longer mere premeditated submissions to the contrapuntal
operation, but for the most part being indicative of thought and sketched
out with manifest design, being also full of ingenious contrivances
of an obligato counterpoint, at that time just discovered, such as
augmentation, diminution, inversion, imitation; together with canons and
fugues of the most manifold description."

Of Ockeghem in particular, Rochlitz ("Sammlung vorzüglicher
Gesangstücke," Vol. I., p. 22) says: "His style was distinguished from
that of his predecessors, especially Dufay, principally in two ways: it
was more artistic and was not founded on well-known melodies, but in part
on freely made melodic movements contrapuntally developed, which rendered
the style richer and more varied."

This statement is undoubtedly true, and may be taken for all it is
worth. But the prima facie evidence of the works of these masters is
that the writers were bent on exhausting the resources of canonic
ingenuity, that their private study was all devoted to the exploration
of academic counterpoint, that they worked in slavish obedience to the
contrapuntal formulas which they themselves had contrived, and that their
most ambitious compositions were nothing more or less than brilliant
specimens of technical skill. To this estimate of their work excellent
support is given by the significant criticism of Martin Luther on the
writing of Josquin des Près, chief master of the second period. The great
reformer said: "Josquin is a master of the notes; they have to do as he
wills, other composers must do as the notes will." Furthermore the Latin
formulas used in noting canons in Ockeghem's day go far toward proving
that it was the mechanical ingenuity of the form which appealed to the
masters of that time. They were in the habit of putting forth a canonic
subject with the general indication "Ex una plures," signifying that
several parts were to be evolved from one, and a special direction, such
as "Ad medium referas, pausas relinque priores," darkly hinting at the
manner of the working out. These riddle canons date back to Dufay's time,
but they were the special delight of Ockeghem and his contemporaries.
The results of such practice could only be musical mathematics, yet the
masters of this period performed a lasting service to art; for they laid
down rules for this kind of composition and in their own works indicated
the path by which artistic results might be reached by their successors.
The highest praise that can be awarded to their works is that they are
profound in their scholarship, not without evidences of taste in the
selection of the formulas to be employed, and certainly imbued with a
good deal of the dignity which would inevitably result from a skilful
contrapuntal treatment of the church chant. Ambros finds evidences of
design in one of Ockeghem's motets, from which he quotes, but the design
is certainly not of the kind which would call for praise if discovered
in contemporaneous music. Naumann, who is quite carried away by the
improvement of the first Netherlands compositions over those of the
French contrapuntists, is warm in his praise of these early canonists. He

"Almost at the beginning of the Netherland school, mechanical invention
was made subservient to idea. It was no longer contrapuntal writing
for counterpoint's sake. Excesses were toned down, and the desire
unquestionable was that the contrapuntist's art should occupy its proper
position as a means to an end. Euphony and beauty of expression were the
objects of the composer. In part writing each voice was made to relate
to the other in a manner totally unknown to the Paris masters. Such were
the first beginnings of the 'canonic' form, and fugato system of writing,
the herald of that scholarly class of compositions known as fugues, the
end and aim of which it is to connect in the closest possible manner the
various component parts. It was this complete mastery over counterpoint
in all its varying details that gave to the tone-masters such unbounded
artistic liberty. No longer was it necessary that they should, like the
organists, cantors, and magisters of Paris and Tournay, exhibit their
power over newly-acquired contrivances, but, as inheritors of a system
of inventive skill, the devices and contrivances fell into their proper
and natural channel, and were regarded as merely subordinate to a purer
tonal expression of feelings than had hitherto been attempted. Henceforth
counterpoint was but a means to an end, and art-music began to assume
for the first time the characteristics of folk-music, i. e., the free,
pure and natural outflow of heart and mind, with the invaluable addition,
however, of intellectual manipulation."

Naumann's comments are the result of his overvaluation of the purely
tentative labors of the early French school and his manifest eagerness to
find grounds for laudation of the writers of the first Netherland period.
It is a plain fact, to which all evidence points, that the man looked up
to as the chief master of the period was a profound academician and that
he was greater as a teacher than as a composer. That his successors did
achieve something in the way of euphonic beauty and freedom of style is
certainly true, as can be demonstrated by an examination of the works
of Josquin des Près. Even the Dutchmen Hobrecht and Brumel sometimes
struggled toward a simpler and purer musical expression than was to be
attained through Ockeghem's canonic labyrinths, but the famous teacher's
influence prevailed over the spirit of his time, and the musicians were,
for the most part, like the Mastersingers, slaves of the contemporaneous
_leges tabulaturae_. The unbounded delight which they took in the
solution of riddle canons is a proof of the view they took of their art.
Dr. Langhans, who is too calm a critic to be led into special pleading,

"The origin of the methods of notation which were in favor with the
Netherlandic composers is to be sought in the fact that the newly
acquired art of counterpoint was regarded preëminently as a means of
exercising the sagacity of the composer as well as of the performer."
The author continues pointing out that "at last there existed so many
signs, not strictly belonging to notation, that a composition for many
voices, even when these entered together, could be written down with but
one series of notes, it being left to the sagacity of the performers to
divine the composer's intention by means of the annexed signs."

Thus we see that the first period of the Netherland school was
characterized by a search after ingenious forms, and this search was
carried to such an extent that the composer, having found a new form,
gave a hint at it and then invited the executant to do a little searching
on his own account. The writer believes that his assertion that this was
an era of pure mechanics in music is sound and is supported by sufficient

[Illustration: JOSQUIN DES PRÈS.

From Van der Straeten's "Musique aux pay bas," loaned by the Newberry
Library, Chicago.]

But it was an era of short duration. Although Ockeghem and his closest
imitators carried the mechanical period up to 1512, it overlapped the
beginning of the second period, in which euphony sought and found
recognition in music. The chief master of the period, Josquin des Près
(his name appears in different places as Jodocus a Prato and a Pratis),
was the first real genius in the history of modern music.

Like Fétis, "I should never finish if I undertook to cite all the
authorities who show the high esteem which Josquin des Près enjoyed in
his day and after his death." Nothing more admirable has been written
in regard to this master than that portion of Fétis's prize essay of
1828 which treats of him, and it would be a pleasure to give a full
translation of it; but that is impracticable. On the authority of
Duverdier, Ronsard, the poet, and others, Fétis shows that Josquin was
born about 1450 in the province of Hainault, probably at Condé. His
correct name, as shown by his epitaph, was Josse. Josquin comes from
the Latinized form of Jossekin, a diminutive of his name. His early
instruction in music he obtained as a choir boy in St. Quentin, where in
his young manhood he became chapel master. St. Quentin is not far from
Tours, and at the latter place lived Ockeghem. Thither went Josquin to
study under the most famous master of the day. It is impossible to be
sure at this time whether Josquin became chapel-master immediately after
finishing his studies or first went to Italy. It is probable that his
term of study under Ockeghem was a long one, for he became a perfect
master of all his teacher's wonderful contrapuntal knowledge. Adam de
Bolensa, author of a work dealing with the history of the choir of the
papal chapel, says that Josquin was a singer there during the pontificate
of Sixtus IV., which lasted from 1471 till 1484. While there he wrote
several of his finest masses, of which the MSS. are still carefully
preserved in the library of the Sistine chapel. Josquin had already
achieved great distinction and was rapidly rising to the position of
first composer of his day.

On the death of Sixtus IV. he betook himself to the court of Hercules
d'Est, duke of Ferrara. Under the patronage of this nobleman he wrote
his mass "Hercules dux Ferrariae" and his Miserere. In spite of the
magnificence of the court of Ferrara and the opportunity of a permanent
settlement, Josquin remained only a short time, and departed into France,
where he at once obtained the favor of Louis XII. and became his _premier
chanteur_. This, however, was not a post of such importance as the
master deserved and he again sought a new patron. This time he entered
the service of Maximilian I., the emperor of the Netherlands. This
potentate made him provost in the cathedral of Condé, where he passed
the remainder of his life, dying, as the epitaph in the choir of the
cathedral shows, on August 27, 1521.

The most noted of Josquin's disciples was Jean Mouton, who died in 1522.
He was so faithful a scholar that a motet of his was for a long time
supposed to be the work of Josquin. He also wrote several psalms, but his
masses and motets are his best works.

Josquin des Près attained greater celebrity in his lifetime than any
other composer in the early centuries of modern music except Orlando
di Lasso. Baini, the biographer of Palestrina, says there was "only
Josquin in Italy, only Josquin in France, only Josquin in Germany; in
Flanders, in Bohemia, in Hungaria, in Spain, only Josquin." Fétis says,
"His superiority over his rivals, his fecundity and the great number
of ingenious inventions which he spread through his works placed him
far beyond comparison with other composers, who could do no better than
become his imitators." A large number of Josquin's works exists yet
and bears evidence to the justice of the esteem in which he was held
by his contemporaries. His printed compositions are nineteen masses,
fifty secular pieces, and over one hundred and fifty motets. His finest
masses are the "La sol fa re mi," "Ad fugam," "De Beata Virgine" and "Da
Pacem." The Incarnatus of the last, in Naumann's judgment, has never been
surpassed by any master of modern times.

Josquin, as already intimated, was the first composer who strove to make
contrapuntal ingenuity a means and not an end, and he is, therefore,
to be credited with the introduction of a new era in music. It must
not be supposed that he was always wise, for he twice set to music the
genealogy of Christ, a subject in which no romantic composer would seek
for inspiration. Again he continued the practice of writing masses on
the melodies of popular songs such as "L'Homme Armé," mingling the text
of the song with the solemn words of the liturgy in a way which showed a
lack of perfect artistic taste. Fétis's estimate of Josquin's genius is
worthy of reproduction here. He says:

"If one examines the works of this composer, he is struck with the
appearance of freedom which prevails in them in spite of the dry
combinations which he was obliged to make in obedience to the taste
of the time. He is credited with being the inventor of most of the
scientific refinements which were at once adopted by the composers of
all nations, and perfected by Palestrina and other Italian musicians.
Canonic art is especially indebted to him, if not for its invention, at
least for considerable development and perfection. He is the first who
wrote regularly in more than two parts. Finally he introduced into music
an air of elegance unknown before his time and which his successors did
not always happily imitate. Moreover, he became the model which each one
set for himself in the first half of the sixteenth century as the _ne
plus ultra_ of composition."

Ambros says: "In Josquin we have the first musician who creates a genial
impression," and he calls attention to his employment of the dissonance
to express emotion.

To summarize the whole matter, it appears, in spite of the hints of Fétis
that Josquin was possibly the inventor of canonic art, that this composer
was the first gifted musician who found the formal material of his art
sufficiently developed to admit of his approaching self-expression
through music. The earlier masters had given their time and study to the
foundation of contrapuntal science. Josquin, having learned all that
Ockeghem could teach him, was ready to begin in the vigor of his young
manhood to use his science as a means and not an end. This accounts for
the air of freedom, which, as Fétis notes, is a conspicuous merit of his
work. Luther's comment, previously quoted, shows that this freedom must
have been noticeable even to his contemporaries, though they could not
perceive its reason nor estimate its value. Josquin, like all other great
geniuses, was in advance of the ordinary minds of his time, and most of
his contemporaries continued to work out the old contrapuntal puzzles in
the old spirit. But the influence of Josquin made itself felt among the
more gifted musicians of the day, and paved the way for the third period
of the Netherland school, which, while boasting of no such genius as
Josquin, was richer in results than the second.

The third period, extending from 1495 to 1572, was particularly rich
in masters who advanced the development of musical art and whose names
deserve to be remembered. Nicolas Gombert was born at Bruges and was
in some capacity, not definitely known, in the service of Charles V.
Herman Finck tells us ("Novi sunt inventores, in quibus est Nicolaus
Gombert, Jusquini piae memoriae discipulus") that he was a pupil of
Josquin, and he set to music a poem by Avidius on the death of Josquin.
Burney deciphered this music and found that it was a servile imitation
of the composer's master. Gombert was educated for the church, and he
was a priest till the end of his life, though he acted as chapel-master.
The records of his career are very scanty and it is probable that his
life was uneventful. The latter part of his existence was passed in the
enjoyment of a sinecure office under the king of the Netherlands.

[Illustration: ADRIAN WILLAERT.

From Van der Straeten's "Musique aux pay bas," loaned by the Newberry
Library, Chicago.]

Adrian Willaert, the most brilliant light of the third period, was born
in Bruges in 1480. He was sent to Paris to study law, but his gift for
music soon turned his mind to the study of counterpoint. It is uncertain
whether he was a pupil of Josquin or of Mouton. On the completion of his
studies he returned to Flanders, but soon departed to Rome. There he
heard one of his own motets, "Verbum dulce et suave," performed as the
work of Josquin. He promptly claimed it as his work, whereupon the papal
choir refused to sing it again. Disgusted with such treatment, he shook
the dust of the holy city from his feet, and went to Ferrara. He did not
remain there long, however, and we soon afterward find him serving as
cantor to King Lewis, of Bohemia and Hungary. In 1526 he went to Venice,
and on Dec. 12, 1527, the doge Andrea Gritti appointed him chapel-master
of St. Mark's. In Venice he remained till his death, Dec. 7, 1562. He
became the head of a great vocal school, was the teacher of some of
the most famous organists of his time, and wrote compositions which
materially changed the character of all subsequent music, both religious
and secular.

Claude Goudimel was born at Vaison, near Avignon, in 1510. His teacher
is unknown. Between 1535 and 1540 he went to Rome, where he founded a
music school, subsequently the most celebrated conservatory in Italy. He
had many gifted pupils, among whom Palestrina has until recently been
erroneously included. In 1555, Goudimel was settled in Paris as partner
of the publisher Nicolaus du Chemin. The firm published Goudimel's
setting of the odes of Horace, treated according to their metre, under
the title "Horatii Flacci, poetae lyricae, odae omnes, quotquot carminum
generibus differunt, ad rythmos musicos redactae." Goudimel's scholarly
treatment of these odes shows that he was a man of classical education.
In 1558 he wrote his last mass, and afterward became a Protestant.
He became a marked man, and it is almost certain, despite Ambros's
contention to the contrary, that he was one of the victims of the
Huguenot massacre on the eve of St. Bartholomew, Aug. 24, 1572.

[Illustration: CYPRIAN DE RORE.

From Van der Straeten's "Musique aux pays bas," loaned by the Newberry
Library, Chicago.]

Cyprian de Rore was born at Malines, Brabant, in 1516. At an early age
he went to Venice to study under Willaert, and became a chorister at St.
Mark's. He soon rose to notice, and Willaert recommended him to the Duke
of Ferrara, who took him into his service. In 1563 he succeeded Willaert
as chapel-master of St. Mark's, but he remained in that post only a short
time. In 1564 he was prefect of the choir of Ottaviano Farnese at Parma.
He died in 1565.

Clement Jannequin was a native of Flanders, and probably a
pupil--certainly a disciple--of Josquin. Of his life almost nothing is
known, but fortunately many of his works are extant. Jacob Arcadelt was
another distinguished master of this period. He was singing master of the
boys at St. Peter's in 1539, and became one of the papal singers in 1540.
In 1555 he entered the service of Cardinal Charles of Lorraine. With him
he went to Paris where he probably remained till the end of his life.

The compositions of the masters of this period have been preserved in
large numbers. So many of them are extant that it is hardly necessary to
give a list of them. The most important are Gombert's "Pater Noster," his
motet "Vita Dulcedo" and "Miserere," his "Bird Cantata" and "Le Berger et
la Bergère"; Willaert's "Magnificat" for three choirs and his madrigals;
Jannequin's "Cris de Paris" and "La Bataille"; Goudimel's masses--"Audi
filia," "Le bien que j'ai" and "Sous le pont d'Avignon"; Cyprian de
Rore's "Chromatic Madrigals," Arcadelt's "Pater Noster" for eight voices,
his "Missa de Beata Virgine," and his madrigals.

The special features of this period were the development of secular
music and the entrance of ecclesiastical music upon a transition from
the dry canonic style of Ockeghem to the true emotional religious
style of Palestrina. The change in church music should first engage our
attention. In the Church of St. Mark there were, and still are, two
organs facing each other. It is probable that this suggested to Willaert
the advisability of dividing his choir into two parts. Having done this,
it was natural that he should hit upon the plan of writing antiphonal
music. Choruses in eight parts had been written before, but he was the
first to construct them as two separate choruses of four parts each.
Secondly, he began the practice of seeking for broad and grand effects
of harmony instead of working out his voice parts according to strict
canonic law. His chorals open with canonic progressions, but these are
speedily interrupted by the entrance of common chords. The result is that
in Willaert's compositions we find the foundations of modern polyphonic
style. He had a fine feeling for harmonies and employed rich chords
to excellent advantage. The earlier writers treated their voice parts
independently; Willaert made special efforts to constitute harmony the
foundation of his counterpoint. The development of each part was shaped
so that it became one of the elements of the general harmonic effect. In
order to accomplish this Willaert was obliged to adopt the modern chord
forms and the fundamental chord relations of modern music--the tonic,
dominant and subdominant. Claude Goudimel's church compositions show the
influence of Willaert in an unmistakable manner, and through them the
line of development to Palestrina is clearly marked. Palestrina was a
great genius, an original thinker; but the clay which was ready for his
moulding was a contrapuntal style in which chord harmonies were a vital
part. This style was prepared for him by his master Goudimel under the
influence of Willaert. The possibilities of modern style were revealed
in another direction by De Rore's study of chromatics. His "Chromatic
Madrigals," published in 1544 (eleven years before Palestrina's first
masses), were very influential in drawing the attention of composers to
the flexibility of style to be attained by throwing off the shackles of
the old Gregorian scales.

It can hardly be doubted that two intellectual and spiritual movements
influenced the development of religious music in the period of Willaert
and his contemporaries. The first of these was the reawakening of
interest in classical antiquity brought about by the influx of scholars
from Constantinople after the fall of Rome's eastern empire in 1453.
This reawakening is commonly known as the Renaissance, and its effects
were felt in music much later than in other branches of art. "The reason
of this," as Dr. Langhans with fine discernment points out, "is to be
found proximately in the lack of a musical antique. While the poet, as
also the painter, the sculptor and the architect, met at every step
the masterpieces of their predecessors in antiquity, and found in them
the stimulus and the pattern for their own creations, to the musician
the direct connection with the past was denied." Nevertheless the
proclamation by the eastern scholars of the chaste and simple beauty
of antique art was bound to have an influence upon music, especially
when the search for a new and purer style was urged by motives of
ecclesiastical expediency. This impetus came from the second movement,
the spiritual, namely, the Lutheran reformation.

Through the influence of Luther the rule of the church that the singing
should be exclusively in the hands of a choir was abolished, and the
practice of congregational singing arose. The elaborate contrapuntal
music of the day was obviously impracticable for this kind of singing.
Luther, therefore, "selected from the ancient Latin church songs such
melodies as were rhythmically like the folk-song and hence especially
likely to be caught up by the popular ear." Here we find the origin of
the glorious German chorale, of our contemporaneous hymn. The first
Lutheran hymn-book was published in 1524, and it is impossible to escape
the conviction that the advent of this new and influential form of church
music powerfully affected the style of all subsequent composers.

The development of secular music at this time is even more interesting
and instructive than that of religious music, but it would require a
chapter for its proper treatment; and as it was not long in abandoning
the basis of counterpoint and entering: upon the free arioso style of the
opera (in 1600), it may be dismissed briefly. The reader must understand
that popular music in the form of folk-songs has existed from time
immemorial. The Netherlands masters frequently employed the melodies
of these songs (and the words, too) in their masses, which gave rise
to abuses removed by the Council of Trent in 1565. In the third period
of the Netherlands school, however, the masters of scientific music
began to compose music for the general public, and the result was the
madrigal form, which has survived till to-day. This was a natural result
of Josquin's aiming at beauty in music. The next step after euphony was
naturally toward expression, and the first attempts at expression were,
of course, imitative. In other words the secular composers turned to
nature and tried to imitate her sounds in music. These men were the first
who practised what we may call tone-photography in contradistinction to
tone-coloring, which goes deeper. When Beethoven introduced the cuckoo
in the pastoral symphony he practised tone-photography. The works of
Gombert and Jannequin abound in skilful writing of this kind. Gombert's
"Bird Cantata" is a clever and humorous composition. Jannequin's "Cris
de Paris" is a musical imitation of the street cries of a great city,
and his "Le Battaille" is a picture of a battle. When we remember that
these works were written for voices in four parts, we are astounded at
the technical accomplishments of these old masters. This ambition to tell
some kind of a story in music affected even the religious compositions of
the day, and one of Willaert's motets tells the history of Susannah. This
work was plainly the precursor of the oratorio form, which first took
recognizable shape in Cavaliere's "L'Anima è Corpo," produced in 1600.


The fourth and last period of the Netherlands school was distinguished
by two features: the production of a master whose genius eclipsed the
brilliancy of all his predecessors and whose music was a logical outcome
of their labors, and secondly, the completion of the mediæval development
of counterpoint. The mission of the Netherland masters was ended, and new
art-forms came to supersede the ecclesiastical canon. This now descended
from its leadership of the musical army and took that place in the ranks
which it maintained till the supremacy of Haydn and the sonata form.

As Orlando di Lasso, the mightiest of all the Netherland masters, is to
be treated separately in this work, no outline of his life need be given
here and his music will be discussed only in its general relation to the
progress of his time. Jan Pieters Swelinck (born at Deventer in 1540,
died at Amsterdam, 1621) was a pupil of Cyprian de Rore. Swelinck had
already displayed ability as an organist when he set out for Venice to
engage in advanced studies. He became one of the most famous organists
of his day, but his vocal compositions show that he stood directly in
the line of development of the school to which he belonged by birth. His
settings of the psalms in four, five, six, seven and eight parts are
written in strict _a capella_ style. Swelinck is particularly interesting
as being one of the founders of the polyphonic instrumental style, which
succeeded the choral counterpoint, and a forerunner of Bach.

Philip de Monte was born either at Mons or at Mechlin about 1521. He
was treasurer and canon of the cathedral at Cambrai, and in 1594 he
was prefect of the choir in the Court Chapel at Prague. He passed the
remainder of his life there, and was held in high esteem. He was a
prolific writer and besides masses and motets, nineteen books of his
madrigals for five voices and eight books of French songs for six voices
are extant. His works show the usual Netherlandic skill in counterpoint,
some of them being extremely intricate.

We have seen how influences had begun work which was to destroy the
empire of _a capella_ counterpoint, but its reign was to go out in a
blaze of glory lit by the torches of genius in the hands of Lasso and
Palestrina. The despotism of ecclesiastical counterpoint over all
art-music was indeed at the close of its career, yet the writer must
not be understood as asserting that the development of counterpoint
ended, for in the German fugue it found its highest and most perfect
form. But it ceased to be the controlling power in music, giving way to
modern melody built on scale and arpeggio passages and to the song-and
dance-forms of the people. It may as well be said here that the technical
possibilities of counterpoint were exhausted by the Netherland masters,
and not even Johann Sebastian Bach, the most profound and original
musical thinker the world has ever known, could invent a form of canonic
writing which they had not practised. What he was chiefly instrumental in
accomplishing (in a technical way) was the extension of canon into the
perfect fugue, and the application of the polyphony of the Netherland
masters to the organ, the clavichord and the orchestra, thus laying the
foundations upon which rest the whole structure of the modern symphony
and string quartet.

[Illustration: PHILIP DE MONTE.

From Van der Straeten's "Musique aux pay bas," loaned by the Newberry
Library, Chicago.]

The music of the other composers of the fourth period is but a reflection
of that of Lasso, who was fully as great a genius as Palestrina. He had
a perfect mastery of the whole science of counterpoint as it had been
developed by the masters of the first two periods. He was equally a
master of the simpler style which had gradually been asserting itself. He
used these styles and their combinations according to the character of
the text to which he was writing music. Some of his masses are Gothic in
their wonderful tracery of intertwining parts. His famous "Penitential
Psalms" surprise, move and conquer us by their beautiful, pathetic
simplicity. The notable fact about all his music, and about that of his
contemporaries, is the plain manifestation through it all of an absolute
mastery of contrapuntal science and a settled employment of it for their
own purposes of expression. And here arises the question, what kind of

The music of Lasso, and some of that written by other composers of this
period, shows that musicians had at last begun to lay hold of the real
purpose of their art. Their music shows that they aimed at expression
of themselves. They began to praise God personally, and musical science
became in truth what it had been only in appearance so far as the
composers were concerned--a real, earnest _Gloria Tibi_. It is this which
vitalizes Lasso's music and makes it acceptable to-day.

We have now reached the time after which the brilliancy of the
Netherlands school speedily disappeared. The march of musical progress
was transferred to Italy, where the seed sown by Willaert and De Rore
in Venice was producing splendid fruit. Indeed the mission of the
Netherlands school was at an end. It had given its life blood to the
perfection of musical science and had completed its labors and achieved
its loftiest glory by indicating the emotional power of music. We
have seen that each of the four periods was marked by a step in the
advancement of art, thus:

    First period: Perfection of Contrapuntal Technics.
    Second period: Attempts at Euphony.
    Third period: Development of Tone-painting.
    Fourth period: Counterpoint made subservient to emotional expression.

In those four steps you have the history of music up to the close of the
sixteenth century. Away back in the twelfth century we saw as through
a glass darkly a horde of students thronging the streets of Paris and
swallowing, in wild eagerness, all kinds of learning in scraps and lumps,
with little order and less system. The Cathedral of Notre Dame and the
University of Paris, the former glorified throughout Europe as the rose
of Christendom, the latter celebrated even by Pope Alexander I., as "a
tree of life in an earthly paradise," were their cloister and their
shrine. Out of this motley multitude there breaks upon our vision one
sober, industrious musician, Jean Perotin, striving to find the secret
of law and order for tones. Evidently a man of method, an orderly,
peaceable, mechanical, plodding sort of person was this Perotin, and
he left us "imitation." This his successors took up and in a few short
years developed double counterpoint. Five more centuries rolled away and
counterpoint had passed the period of mechanical development and reached
the loftiest heights of ecclesiastical expression. Orlando Lasso and
Palestrina built great Gothic temples of music that will stand longer
than Westminster Abbey. But still counterpoint meant canon and fugue.
Then came the birth of opera. The labors of the Netherlanders ended,
and music saw that her mission was to sing not alone man's love of God,
but his love of woman, his fear, his joy, his despair--in short the
unspeakable emotions of his boundless soul.

So the old mathematical canon grew into a new kind of counterpoint,
undreamed of by Ockeghem and Josquin, a free untrammeled counterpoint,
which breaks upon us to-day in all varieties of works from the humblest
to the greatest. Listen to Delibes' "Naila" waltz. There never was a
truer piece of counterpoint written in the days of Josquin than that
violoncello melody that glides in beneath the principal theme of the
first strings, like a new dancer come upon the ball room floor. Turn to
the wonderful prelude to "Die Meistersinger." Hear the melody that voices
the love of Walter and Eva surging through the strings against the stiff
and stately proclamation of the Masters' dignity by the bass. The two
melodies proceed together. It is not canon, it is not fugue; but it is
counterpoint--even Dr. Johannes de Muris, of the Paris University, would
have passed it as _contrapunctus a penna_. But it is modern counterpoint,
not for itself, but for an ulterior purpose, the one glorious purpose
of modern music, to reveal the soul of man. The music of to-day could
not sustain its existence through twenty consecutive measures had it not
been for the labors of those cloistered scholiasts of the middle ages,
building note against note, like ants heaping up sand. Like the artist
that rounded St. Peter's dome, they builded better than they knew, and
left an inheritance which grew to fabulous wealth in the hands of their
giant heirs Bach, Handel, Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven. The very body of
Wagner's music is counterpoint, free counterpoint, not canon and fugue.
And it is counterpoint with a soul in it, for every time two or more
themes sound simultaneously the orchestra becomes so eloquent with rich
meanings that its utterance throbs through the air like the magnetism of
love. It was a happy time for the tone art when in the Autumn days of the
fifteenth century the folk-song wooed and won the fugue.

[Illustration: W. J. Henderson.]


Imago secundum prototypum in Archivo musico

Basilicae Vaticanae conservatum.

_Principis musicae sacrae saec. XVI. autographum_


_Reproduction of a vigorous etching by F. Böttcher from portrait
preserved in the Vatican library. Authentic portraits of Palestrina are
extremely rare. This is doubtless the best._]



Giovanni Pierluigi Da Palestrina received his last name from the town of
Palestrina, the ancient Praeneste, where he was born in the early part
of the sixteenth century, the precise year being a matter of conjecture.
1514, 1524, 1528, and 1529, are the years variously ascribed to his birth
by various biographers, but the most recently discovered evidence seems
to point to 1524 as the most probable date. He was of humble parentage,
which partially accounts for the lack of definite information about his
earliest years, and as the public registers of the city of Palestrina
were destroyed by the soldiery of the Duke of Alva, it is not likely
that any reliable information regarding his ancestry or birth will ever
be obtained. In accordance with the habit of the time, as the composer
grew famous his name was latinized and became Johannes Petrus Aloysius
Praenestinus. The lack of early biographical material regarding the man
who became at once the culmination of the Flemish and the founder of the
pure Italian school has led to the invention of many a doubtful tale
regarding his beginnings in the art of music. He came to Rome (but four
hours' travel from his native city) in 1540, and different anecdotes are
told of the manner in which he began his musical studies. Many of these
have been proved false by the researches of the learned Dr. Haberl, who
has shown that Goudimel was not the teacher of Palestrina, although all
previous authorities have stated this as a fact. The data concerning
Palestrina, recently published by Dr. Haberl, will probably supersede the
statements of Baini which have hitherto been accepted. It is probable
that Palestrina returned to the city of his birth in 1544, and, at least
temporarily, became organist and director in the cathedral there, and at
this time (June 12th, 1547), married Lucrezia de Goris. Of this lady very
little is known; she is said to have been in fairly good circumstances,
and to have been a devoted wife to the master; she bore him four sons,
three of whom died after having given some proof that they had inherited
Palestrina's musical genius; she herself died in 1580. Some of the recent
historians maintain that Palestrina had but three sons, of whom two died.
In 1551 we find Palestrina in Rome as _Maestro de' Putti_ (teacher of the
boy singers) in the Capella Giulia in the Vatican, and in considerable
repute, for he was allowed the title of "Maestro della Capella della
Basilica Vaticana." While employed at this post he composed a set of four
and five-voiced masses which were published in 1544 and dedicated to
Pope Julius III. The work marks an epoch, for it was the first important
one by any Italian composer, the Church having up to this time relied
almost wholly upon the Flemish composers for her musical works. The Pope
proved himself immediately grateful by appointing the composer one of
the singers of the papal choir; this appointment was in violation of the
rules of the church, for the singers were supposed to be celibates, and
not only was Palestrina married, but his voice was not such as would
have been chosen for the finest ecclesiastic choir of the world. To the
credit of the composer, who was one of the most devout of Catholics, it
must be said that he hesitated long before accepting a position to which
he knew that he had no right, but finally, believing that the Pope knew
better than he, Palestrina entered on his new duties, which brought with
them a welcome increase of income. But Julius III. died six months after,
and his successor, Marcellus II., died twenty-three days after becoming
Pope. Marcellus was very well disposed towards Palestrina, and his death
was a great blow to the composer. Paul IV. became sovereign pontiff in
1555. John Peter Caraffa (Paul IV.) was of different mould from his
predecessors; haughty and imperious, he was active in promoting the power
of the church over all nations and thrones, but equally so in reforming
it within; he would permit no married singers in his choir, and in less
than a year after his appointment, Palestrina found himself dismissed
from what promised to be a life position. The dismissal was tempered
by the allowance of a pension of six scudi per month, but Palestrina,
with a family dependent on his work, thought that it meant irretrievable
ruin, and, almost broken-hearted, took to his bed with a severe attack
of nervous fever. The sensitive character and innate modesty of the man
were never better proven, for his reputation was even then far too great
for the loss of any situation to ruin him. Already in October of the
same year (1555) Palestrina was appointed director of the music of the
Lateran Church, a position which, although less remunerative than that
from which he had been dismissed, allowed him to retain the small annuity
granted by the Pope. He remained here five and a half years (from October
1st, 1555, until February 1st, 1561) and during this epoch produced many
important sacred works, among which were his volume of _Improperia_
and a wonderful eight-voiced "Crux Fidelis" which he produced on Good
Fridays with his choir. His set of four-voiced "Lamentations" also aided
in spreading his fame as the leader of a new school, the pure school of
Italian church-music. On March 1st, 1561, he entered upon the position of
director of the music of the Church of St. Maria Maggiore, a post which
he retained for ten years. It was while he was director here that the
event occurred that spread his fame through all the Catholic nations of
the earth. Church music had for a long time lapsed from the dignity which
should have been its chief characteristic. The Flemish composers were
in a large degree responsible for this; they had placed their ingenuity
above religious earnestness, and in order to show their contrapuntal
skill would frequently choose some well-known secular song as the _cantus
firmus_ of their masses, and weave their counterpoint around this as a
core. Dozens of masses were written on the old Provençal song of "L'Homme
Armé," Palestrina himself furnishing one, and it seemed to be a point
of honor among the composers to see who could wreath the most brilliant
counterpoint around this popular tune. Many of the melodies chosen were
not even so dignified as this, and at times the Flemish composer would
choose as his _cantus firmus_ some drinking song of his native land. In
those days the melody was generally committed to the tenor part (the
word comes from "teneo" and means "the holding part," that is the part
that held the tune) and in order the better to show on what foundation
they had built, the Flemings retained the original words in this part,
whence it came to be no uncommon thing to hear the tenors roar out a
bacchanalian song while the rest of the choir were intoning a "Kyrie," a
"Gloria," a "Credo," or an "Agnus Dei." It is almost incredible that the
custom lasted as long as it did, but at last, in 1562, the Cardinals were
summoned together for the purification of all ecclesiastical matters,
and the famous Council of Trent began to cut at the root of the evil.
As is generally the case in all reactions, the reform seemed likely to
go too far, for while all were united upon the abolition of secular
words in the Mass, some maintained that the evil lay deeper yet, and
attacked counterpoint itself as worldly and unfit for true religious
music. These advocated nothing less than a return to the plain song or
chant, a turning back of the hands of musical progress that might have
been very serious in its results. Fortunately, however, the ablegates,
and the envoys of the Emperor Ferdinand I., protested vigorously, and
the whole matter was finally referred to a committee of eight cardinals,
who very wisely chose eight of the papal singers to assist them in their
deliberations. The sittings of this committee were held chiefly in
1563, and fortunately two of the number, Cardinals Vitellozo Vitellozzi
and Carlo Borromeo (afterwards canonized) were men of especial musical
culture. The works of Palestrina had been frequently cited during the
debates, and now it was determined to commission him to write a mass
which should prove to the world that the employment of counterpoint was
consistent with the expression of the most earnest religious thought.
Right nobly did Palestrina respond to the call. Too diffident of his own
powers to trust the issue to a single work, he sent the cardinals three,
of which the first two were dignified and effective, while the third
was the celebrated "Mass of Pope Marcellus." He sent the works on their
completion, in 1565, to Cardinal Borromeo, and the _Missa Papae Marcelli_
was soon after performed at the house of Cardinal Vitellozzi. It made
its effect immediately, and soon after the Pope ordered an especial
performance of it by the choir at the Apostolical chapel. It is odd to
read of the honors which followed in its track; they took every shape but
the one which Palestrina most needed--a pecuniary result. The copyist of
the papal chapel wrote out the parts in larger notes than were employed
in other works, the Pope (Pius IV.) exclaimed on hearing the mass for
the first time, that such must be the music that the angels chanted in
the new Jerusalem, and when, a few years after (in 1567), Palestrina
published this mass with some others and dedicated the volume to Philip
II. of Spain, that eminent bigot sent the composer--his thanks!

[Illustration: PALESTRINA.

From a portrait in Naumann's History of Music.]

It was probably on account of this mass, however, that Palestrina came
back to the papal choir. He did not come as a singer this time, but a
new office was created for him, that of "Composer to the Pontifical
Choir." It may be mentioned here that none of the different positions
which Palestrina occupied took him out of the reach of pecuniary cares,
and he never received an adequate recompense for his labors; yet one may
doubt whether he ever suffered absolute poverty; his wife is said by some
historians, to have been well-to-do, and the friendship of different
cardinals could not have been without some pecuniary results. Palestrina
was blessed with many true and steadfast admirers who must have atoned
in some degree for the jealousies of his brother-musicians. His wife was
devoted to him, the cardinal D'Este was a friend, in addition to the two
cardinals already mentioned; but the great solace of his career was the
close companionship of the most musical and devout of priests, Filippo
Neri, who has since been made saint by the church. As this priest was the
founder of the oratorio it is not too much to imagine that Palestrina
may have helped him with advice and music and thus have assisted at the
birth of the loftiest religious form of later times. Yet in the midst of
all his work, and in the enjoyment of all his companionships, the life of
Palestrina is in startling contrast with the brilliant and well-rewarded
career of his contemporary, Orlando di Lasso. If ever the Catholic
church desires to canonize a musical composer, it will find devoutness,
humility, and many other saintly characteristics in Palestrina. The
great pang of his life was the loss of his promising boys just as they
began to prove to him that his musical instruction had planted seeds in
fertile soil. The one son who outlived him seems to have been a sordid
and heartless wretch in vivid contrast to the character of his father,
whose compositions he recklessly scattered from mercenary motives. Yet
the life of Palestrina must have had its moments of sunshine. Probably
the most striking of these occurred in 1575, the jubilee year, when, as
a compliment to their distinguished townsman, 1500 singers from the city
of Palestrina entered Rome, divided into three companies, singing the
works of the composer, while he, marching at the head of the vocal army,
directed the musical proceedings. In 1571, after the death of Animuccia
(a pupil of Claudio Goudimel), Palestrina became leader of the choir of
St. Peter's and soon after he became a teacher in the music school which
his friend Giovanni Maria Nanini opened in Rome, a school which gave rise
to many composers, and which established the early Italian composition
on a firmer basis than ever before. In 1593 Palestrina became musical
director to Cardinal Aldobrandini, but he was now an old man and his
death ensued soon after; but his activity continued unabated almost up to
his decease; even to his very last days he produced works which remain
monuments of his energy. In January, 1594, he published thirty "Spiritual
Madrigals" for five voices, in praise of the Holy Virgin, and this was
his last work, for he died less than a month later. He had already begun
another work, a volume of masses to be dedicated to Clement VIII., when
he was attacked by pleurisy; the disease hastened to a fatal ending, for
he was ill but a week, receiving extreme unction January 29th and dying
February 2d, 1594, in the arms of his friend Philip Neri; his most famous
contemporary, Orlando di Lasso, died just four months later, so that the
end of the Flemish school, and the brilliant beginning of the Italian
church school come very close together.

Of the character of Palestrina's music we shall speak below, but it
may be stated here that there has never existed a composer at once so
prolific and so sustainedly powerful. The mere list of his compositions
would take considerable space, for he composed 93 masses for from four
to eight voices, 179 motettes, 45 sets of hymns for the entire year, 3
books of "Lamentations," 3 books of Litanies, 2 books of Magnificats, 4
books of Madrigals, a wonderful Stabat Mater, and very much more that is
unclassified. A list that is absolutely stupendous when the character of
the works is remembered. Through the enterprise of Messrs. Breitkopf &
Härtel all of these works will soon have appeared in print.

Palestrina is buried in St Peter's in the chapel of Sts. Simon and Judas.
The simple inscription on his tomb runs:

    _Johannes Petrus Aloysius Praenestinus,
               Musicæ Princeps._

It is but natural to find the old Italian writers showering down
laudatory adjectives on Palestrina. Undoubtedly Palestrina and Di
Lasso, whose careers are almost exactly contemporaneous, were the two
chief composers of the 16th century, and it is equally undoubted that
of these two Palestrina was much the more earnest and serious; but one
may receive with some degree of caution such phrases as "the light and
glory of music," "the Prince of Music," and "the Father of Music," all
of which may be found in the early commentaries on his works. It must
be borne in mind that Palestrina lived at a time when music was still
largely a mathematical science, when the art (so far as it was an art)
tended almost wholly towards the intellectual, and when the emotional
side, which is so important an element with the moderns, was scarcely
recognized. It is an odd coincidence that the very year in which the
two great composers of intellectual polyphony died (1594) saw the birth
of the emotional school in the shape of the first opera, "Dafne." We
must not search for great emotional display in the modern sense, even
in the "Lamentations" or the "Stabat Mater" of Palestrina, but if we
judge his works from the standard of dignity and a pure leading of the
voices even in the most intricate passages, we shall find them to be most
perfect models, and it was through the complex progressions of the old
counterpoint that our modern style was evolved; Palestrina and Di Lasso
were the ploughmen who made the harvest of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven,
Bach and Wagner, possible. The lack of definite rhythm (for the ancient
counterpoint was the least rhythmic expression of music) is sometimes a
stumbling-block in the way of modern appreciation of some of Palestrina's
work, but the devout student of Bach will soon find himself an admirer of
the pure and lofty vein of the older master. Krause, the historian, says:
"I am convinced that this school possesses a permanent value for all
time. The greatest art connoisseurs of the new school pay the greatest
homage to the Palestrina style." Thibaut describes Palestrina as deeper
than Di Lasso, and as such a master of the old church modes and of the
pure school (in which the triad was the foundation of everything and
the seventh chords were not admitted) that calmness and repose are to
be found in a greater degree in his works than in the compositions of
any other composer. Palestrina has been called the "Homer of Music," and
there is something in his stately style that makes the phrase a fitting

[Illustration: PALESTRINA.

From a portrait by Schnorr, engraved by Amsler and re-engraved by
Deblois. This portrait has evidently been suggested by the Vatican
portrait. (See frontispiece.) Authentic portraits of Palestrina are
extremely rare.]

Baini, who in the early part of this century was the successor in
office of the great composer, being musical director of the papal choir
at Rome, was probably the ablest and most enthusiastic student of the
works of Palestrina that ever existed, and his great work, "_Memorie
storicho-critiche della vita e delle opere di Giovanni Pierluigi da
Palestrina_" (Rome, 1828. Two volumes), spite of a degree of partisanship
and consequent lack of appreciation of the work of some of the Flemish
composers, will probably always remain the bucket through which the
waters of the well of Palestrina are best attainable. No man ever had as
good opportunities of access to the master's works, and no one could
have employed those opportunities better. He, with extreme exactness,
classifies the works of the master into ten groups or styles. It would
be both unnecessary and prolix to follow him through all of these; more
practical for the general musician is the summing up of Hauptmann (whose
essay is founded on Baini), who says, "Baini's ten styles may become
bewildering to many, but three styles of composition may be readily
recognized on close acquaintance with his works. In the first style he
approaches the school of his predecessors the Netherlanders (the Flemish
school), and this is shown to our ears by a lack of harmony; the melodies
go on their course beside each other, without blending into harmonious
unity; harmonically judged they are dry, heavy, and inflexible, and
they are continuously canonic or fugated. The second style is, on the
contrary, in simultaneous progressions, like our chorales. Here the
voices are, as a matter of course, always singable, but the conditions
of the melody are, as the harmonies of the preceding, rather negative,
and the composer is not turned aside by any ill-sounding effects. The
third style is the uniting of the foregoing two in the best and most
beautiful manner that can be achieved in this sphere, and it is this
school that has placed Palestrina in so high a rank for all time; in
this style is the Mass of Pope Marcellus composed. There are however,
beautiful specimens of the second style in existence, as, for example,
the _Improperia_, which always refreshes me by its simplicity."

In the use of chorale-like simplicity, Palestrina causes the commentator
involuntarily to draw a comparison between him and John Sebastian Bach.
The parallel could be drawn more closely than many of the ancient ones of
Plutarch, for not only were both composers polyphonic in their musical
vein, but both were actuated by the sincerest religious feeling in their
largest compositions. Palestrina may stand as the typical Catholic, as
Bach represents the earnest Protestant, in music.

Unquestionably the earliest vein of Palestrina's composition was
influenced by his Flemish training, and he returned to this florid and
ingenious style in later time when he set the old melody of "_L'Homme
Armé_" as a Mass. This was a very natural proceeding. We have alluded
above to the custom of setting masses around a secular core, using some
popular melody as _cantus firmus_, as practised by the Netherlanders.
When Palestrina chose the above-named melody, he entered deliberately
into the lists with them; so many of his predecessors had used the
self-same _cantus_ that "_L'Homme Armé_" became in some degree a
challenge and a specimen of competitive composition; skill and complexity
were to rule in such a mass, and it is sufficient to say that Palestrina
overtopped his competitors in these, and therefore the object of this
work was attained. It may stand as the best example of the first school.

The _Improperia_ are a series of antiphons and responses which, on the
morning of Good Friday, take the place of the daily Mass of the Catholic
church. They represent the remonstrances of the suffering Savior with
the people for their ingratitude for his benefits, whence the title
"_Improperia_," i. e. "the Reproaches." We have stated that the old pure
school did not portray emotion in the modern style; one may not find in
these "Reproaches" of Palestrina the entirely human style of a Luzzi's
"Ave Maria" or the operatic manner of a Rossini's "Stabat Mater," but
the simple combination of dignity with sorrow is nevertheless far more
effective and suitable to the religious service; it is therefore not
surprising to find these _Improperia_ (the first revelation of the genius
of Palestrina) still retained in annual use in the Papal Chapel, and we
may class them as Hauptmann did, as the best example of Palestrina's
second manner. Mendelssohn held them to be Palestrina's most beautiful
work, and the poet Goethe was also greatly moved by them.

The Mass of Pope Marcellus has been cited as the best example of the
master's third style, and at the same time the culmination of his powers.
This Mass is in the so-called Hypo-Ionian mode (although the "Crucifixus"
and "Benedictus" are Mixo-Lydian), and is probably the noblest example of
the employment of the church modes in the pure style. Although the work
is most intricate, Palestrina has here achieved that most difficult feat,
the art of concealing art. It presents all the old fugal artifices, and
the "Agnus Dei" is a close and ingenious canon. It is written for six
voices, soprano, alto, two tenors, and two basses. This in itself was an
unusual combination of voices and gave opportunities for great antiphonal
effect, between the lower voices, and these opportunities are so well
used that the effect of a double choir is frequently attained.

Baini calls the "Kyrie" devout; the "Gloria" animated; the "Credo"
majestic; the "Sanctus" angelic; and the "Agnus Dei" prayerful; but it
is doubtful if the modern auditor will perceive all these distinctions
in listening to the work. Of its dignity and loftiness, however, there
can be no question. One can observe readily how close to the composer's
heart was the injunction that the words should be clearly understood; in
the most important phrases we find counterpoint of the first order (note
against note), while in passages where the same words are often repeated
Palestrina employed the most beautiful contrapuntal imitations. The
voices are so interwoven that wonderful chords greet us in almost every
phrase, yet so free from unnecessary dissonance are these, and so clearly
founded on the progressions of the triads, that the effect of simplicity
is attained even in the midst of the displays of greatest musical skill.
It is true that one can find effective chords in the works of the Flemish
school, but on examining these closely it will be seen that they have
been "filled in," and do not arise spontaneously from the contrapuntal
progressions, while with Palestrina the leading of the voices is never
disturbed in the slightest degree for the sake of the chord-formation,
but all the harmonic effects grow out of the melodic construction of
the various parts, or of the musical imitations introduced between
the voices. It remains to be stated that the great musical historian
Ambros has thrown doubt upon the origin of the Mass just described, and
asseverates that not only was it not written as a model at the request
of the committee of cardinals, but that there was really no occasion for
any especial reform in the matter of church music at the time that it was
produced. The weight of authority and the consensus of opinion, however,
are here entirely against the eminent German scholar, and the facts as
above stated are now almost universally conceded.

In all of Palestrina's church music one cannot fail to notice that
he discards the chromatic progressions which his predecessors and
contemporaries used so freely; he did this from a devout desire to keep
the church modes intact, and if at times, because of this self-denial, he
lost some effects of emotional display, on the whole his works gain much
in purity and dignity in consequence.

If in Palestrina's Masses we find the beginning of chord-effect, the true
principles of harmonic beauty, in his motettes and madrigals one can
discern the first masterly touches of the employment of rhythm. Rhythm
could only reach its true culmination in the homophony which came at a
later epoch, but one can trace a distinct effort in this direction in the
shorter and lighter works of the master, who thus may be regarded as a
connecting link between the old and the new schools.

In the matter of the old triad-construction of his chords, however, he
was inflexible; Des Prés and Di Lasso might use dissonances to express
passion, but he held this kind of passion as too human to enter into his
pure church-music. Monteverde soon after brought in the free use of the
seventh-chords, yet the careful student will find these slyly introduced
in many a work of the 16th century; he will however, find few such
attempts in Palestrina.

How earnestly this composer regarded his art, and how deeply he felt its
responsibilities may be gathered from his own words:--

"Music exerts a great influence upon the minds of mankind, and is
intended not only to cheer these, but also to guide and to control them,
a statement which has not only been made by the ancients, but which is
found equally true to-day. The sharper blame, therefore, do those deserve
who misemploy so great and splendid a gift of God in light or unworthy
things, and thereby excite men, who of themselves are inclined to all
evil, to sin and misdoing. As regards myself, I have from youth been
affrighted at such misuse, and anxiously have I avoided giving forth
anything which could lead anyone to become more wicked or godless. All
the more should I, now that I have attained to riper years, and am not
far removed from old age, place my entire thoughts on lofty, earnest
things such as are worthy of a Christian."

With these words does Palestrina dedicate his first book of Motettes to
Cardinal d'Este, Duke of Ferrara, and no historian or reviewer could give
a truer summing up of Palestrina's character and its influence on his
music than he has here done for himself.

[Illustration: Louis C. Elson]


Birthplace of Palestrina, who received his surname from this place.]



In Claudio Monteverde we have to do with one of those composers who mark
an epoch in art. Starting apparently in full touch with the ideas of
the generation into which they happen to be born, such masters acquire
originality as they proceed, and, guided entirely by the depth and
reliability of their own intuitions, almost imperceptibly digress from
the methods in vogue, and at the end leave the world a rich heritage
of thoroughly original and enjoyable works. Such a genius adorned the
beginning of the sixteenth century in Josquin des Près, another was the
richly gifted Orlando Lasso, and in later times many such have appeared;
the epoch of modern romantic music being peculiarly rich in them.

Claudio Monteverde was born at Cremona, in Lombardy, in the year 1568. He
was the son of poor parents. From earliest childhood he manifested a love
of music, and very soon became proficient upon the viola, which even then
had become perfected, through the work of Andrea Amati and Gaspar da Salo.

While still a boy, Monteverde was engaged as viola player in the private
orchestra of the Duke of Mantua, and there his talent became so evident
that the ducal music director, Messer Marc Antonio Ingeneri, taught him
counterpoint and the art of composition as it was then practised. Under
this stimulation, Monteverde published his first composition at the age
of sixteen, in the year 1584. They were called "Canzonettas for three
voices," and were printed at Venice. Quite naturally, considering the
youth of the composer, these compositions do not show the originality
which later rendered his works famous. Their more noticeable peculiarity,
judging them from the standpoint of their own day, was a degree of
laxity, at times approaching carelessness, in counterpoint. It is
evident even thus early that Monteverde's ear for melody enabled him
to tolerate harmonic faults between the voices which, without this
appreciation of melodious flow, would have been highly disagreeable.

His position in the service of the prince was by no means a sinecure.
A letter of his brother, Giulio Cæsar Monteverde, declares that he
was incessantly occupied, not alone with the music of the church,
but also with that for chamber concerts, ballets, and all sorts of
divertissements, making constant demands upon the fertility of the
overflowing invention of the young musician. He seems to have been in a
somewhat personal relation to the Duke, and all through life he evinced
his attachment to members of the Gonzaga family.

His first book of madrigals was published in 1587, when the young
composer had reached the age of eighteen. Five other books followed them,
dated 1593, 1594, 1597, 1599, and finally 1614. All these were printed at
Venice, which was then the chief book-making city of Europe. In a later
portion of this discourse the innovations characterizing the third book
of madrigals will be more fully considered. Meanwhile Monteverde appears
to have steadily advanced in his art, and in the favor of the prince. The
brother's letter, already mentioned, is authority for the statement that
in 1599 he spent some months at the baths of Spa, and brought back from
thence certain traits of the French style.

Very soon after the publication of the third book of madrigals,
Monteverde found a critic. A certain Canon Artusi, of St. Saviour, in
Bologna, published a brochure upon "The Imperfection of Modern Music,"
taking for his text one of the madrigals in Monteverde's third book.

This led to further communications from Monteverde himself, prefixed
to one of his later volumes, in which he declares that "harmony is the
lady of the words" (_signora della orazione_), meaning thereby that the
composer must first consider the dramatic needs of his text, and only
thereafter permit himself to be governed by those of music as such.

Upon the death of the ducal music director, Ingeneri, Monteverde
succeeded to the place. This appears to have been in 1603, according to
the preface to the sixth set of his madrigals (in 1614), in which he
speaks of having been in the service of the Duke of Mantua ten years.

The famous "representative style," in other words, dramatic music, had
already been discovered, as recounted at greater length in the essay
upon Italy. It is sufficient for our present purpose to compare the
dates. It was about 1595 that Vincenzo Gallilei intoned at Count Bardi's
his epoch-making monologue upon "Ugolino," and in 1597 the first opera,
"Dafne," was privately performed at the house of Count Corsi. In 1600
the first opera, "Eurydice," the poem by Rinuccini and music by Jacopo
Peri, was publicly performed upon the occasion of the marriage of Henry
IV., of France, to Catherine de Medici. This work has the double honor
of having been the first opera ever publicly performed and the first
opera ever printed. A copy of the original edition of A. D. 1600 is
now in the Newberry Library of Chicago. The fundamental problem of the
new style was that of furnishing appropriate musical cadences for the
impressive utterance of the words of the text. Hence the musical handling
of "Eurydice" is very meagre. There is only one short instrumental
ritornello, and only one short aria, of sixteen measures. Almost the
entire remainder of the work is in a rather stiff and formal recitative.
No attempt is made at instrumental coloring. The accompaniment is simply
intended to support the voices and assure the singers of their pitch,
quite after the ideas advanced by Artistoxenos, and applied universally
in Greek tragedy. The tonality in "Eurydice" is almost wholly minor.

Whether Monteverde had opportunity of seeing any of these performances
we have no means of knowing. At all events he may well have possessed a
copy of the published "Eurydice." And so it was no doubt with pleasure
that in 1607, upon the occasion of the marriage of Francesco Gonzeaga
with Margherita, Infanta of Savoy, he received a commission to prepare
a "dramma per musica" for the festivities. The subject chosen was
"Arianna" (Ariadne), the text prepared by Rinuccini. In this work for the
first time Monteverde had opportunity to give free rein to his powers. No
doubt he realized that he had to present his work before hearers who had
attended upon the performances of "Eurydice," and were full of its novel
effects. One of his own singers, Rasi, had been engaged in the Florentine
performances. The effect of "Arianna" was extraordinary, even prodigious.
The aria of the deserted Ariadne, _Lasciatemi morir_, melted the hearers
to tears. Monteverde's rival, Marco da Gagliano, who had also been
commissioned to prepare a new setting of "Dafne" for the same occasion,
was astonished like all the rest. G. B. Doni, in his treatise upon
"Scenic Music," holds Monteverde's aria for a master-work indeed. Such
was the entrance of the master into the new style. "Arianna" had a long
life. As late as 1640 it was played in the theatre of S. Mose, in Venice.
The success of this work naturally led to others in the new style. Hence,
one year later, another opera, "Orfeo," the text by a writer not now
known, and a "Ballo del Ingrate," in which, Ambros says, the music, "in
spite of the ancient gods, who figure in the text, stands for the first
time in the magic glow of the romantic."

Monteverde was now in the fullness of his powers. He had reached the
age of forty-six. He was at once the most original of all Italian
musicians of the time, and the most distinguished. Hence upon the
death, in 1614, of Giulo Cæsare Martinengo, the musical director of St.
Mark's, in Venice, Monteverde was called to the place, which both by
reason of its celebrity as already the appurtenance of great composers
for two centuries, and on account of its relation to the official life
of Venice, was perhaps the most desirable one in the whole world. The
salary paid the deceased conductor had been two hundred ducats yearly;
that of Monteverde was made three hundred at the start, and in addition
a sum of fifty ducats for expenses of removing from Mantua. In 1616 the
salary was raised again to four hundred ducats, and later he was awarded
the free use of a house in the canon's close. Valuable gratuities were
voted him upon several occasions, as one hundred ducats, Dec. 14, 1642,
one hundred and fifty in 1629, etc. Honors came fast upon him. When he
was invited to Bologna, in order to direct the music for some festivity,
a delegation of distinguished citizens met him a long way out upon the
route, and orations and formal recognitions of the honor done the city by
his accepting the invitation had full place, according to the imposing
forms of the time.

In spite of the distinction which Monteverde had gained in the musical
dramas already mentioned, it was not for several years after entering
upon his duties at St. Mark's that he found opportunity to pursue his
ideal. Between 1614 and 1624 he appeared only as church composer,
excepting now and then when he produced music for a state _fête_, for
as yet there was no public opera house in the world. In the year 1637
the first one was erected at Venice, in the parish of S. Cassiano. But
previously, in 1624, the senator Girolamo Moncenigo invited Monteverde to
compose a new work in the representative style, which accordingly he did,
and it was privately performed in the Moncenigo palace. It was called "Il
Combatimento di Tancredi e Clorinda," an intermezzo. The story was taken
from Tasso's "Jerusalem Delivered," and represented Clorinda going in
search of her lover, Tancred, in disguise of a young knight. Through some
misunderstanding a duel between them was unavoidable, and at the moment
when the swords flash and the strokes make grim accents in the pretty
love story, Monteverde had the happy thought of introducing the pizzicato
effect with the strings; and later when Clorinda falls, mortally wounded,
the suspense is indicated by the still usual orchestral means, the
tremolo. These striking effects, however, were by no means Monteverde's
chief claim to memory for this work, for throughout, if we may believe
the hearers (the music having disappeared), the music accurately
reproduced and interpreted the feeling of the story, and the hearers were
intensely absorbed, and at the critical moment moved to tears.

Another celebrated work of Monteverde was a solemn requiem which he
composed in 1621, for the funeral services in honor of Cosmos II., in the
church S. Giovanni e S. Paulo. Concerning this, the opera librettist,
Giuol Strozzi, writes complimentarily if not clearly, that the music
"depicted grief in the Mixolydian tone, the happy discovery of Sappho;
and the _Dies Iræ_ and the well intoned _De Profundis_, by their novelty
and mastery, awakened in the hearers the greatest wonder."

From this time onward, Monteverde composed often in the new style. In
1627 he composed for the court of Parma five intermezzi; in 1629, for the
birthday of Vito Morisini, a cantata, "Il Rosajo fiorito"; and in 1630,
for the marriage of the daughter of his patron, the senator Moncenigo, to
Lorenzo Giustiniani, he wrote to a poem by Strozzi, "Proserpina Rapita."
Here again the enthusiasm of the hearers was unbounded. The magic
combination of drama and song in choruses, dances, and orchestration was
magical. Unfortunately almost all the operatic and church compositions
of Monteverde have been lost. But his continual progress in the art
of orchestration is shown now and then in the chance allusions of his
contemporaries. Thus we are told that in 1631, upon the day when the
votive church S. Maria della Salute was opened by the Doge (in memory
of the stay of the plague), a solemn service was also held in St.
Mark's, when a great effect was made in the _Gloria_ and _Credo_ by the
resounding trombones.

As soon as a public opera house was opened in Venice, the demands upon
Monteverde's talent as opera composer became more frequent. Thus followed
one important work after another, until almost the end of his long and
honored life. In 1642, at the age of seventy-four, he produced his last
opera, "L'Incoronazione di Poppea," which had the customary effect of
novelty and nobility.

Monteverde had been happily married while still living in Mantua. He had
two sons, one of whom became a priest, the other a physician. Upon the
death of his wife he entered the church, and took holy orders, so that
from the age of sixty-five to the close of his life he was priest as well
as composer and musical director. In person he seems to have been tall,
rather meagre in figure, and the few existing portraits represent him as
serious, perhaps even ascetic, in face. After a short illness, Monteverde
died, in 1643. His funeral was held in St. Mark's, under the musical
direction of his pupil, Giovanni Rovetta. But a second and more formal
service was held on the 15th of December, 1643, in the Frari church,
under the direction of another of his pupils, Giambattista Marinoni,
musical director at the cathedral of Padua. The great master was buried
in the Frari church, in a chapel at the left of the choir. No stone bears
his name to mark the spot.

Monteverde's position in the world of art might almost be designated as
that of "father of the opera." For, while it is true that he did not
himself directly discover this great form of applied music, he certainly
was the first to produce dramatic works characterized by the same general
ideas as those which prevail at the present day. The connection of Jacopo
Peri with opera was altogether fleeting and temporary, having been
limited to the two works already mentioned. Monteverde, who was already
a vigorous and fully established musician and composer at the time of
Peri's first attempt, took hold of the new art form with such vigor and
readiness, and with such truth of insight, that he must always stand in
the place of honor. Peri's conception of the musical part of opera was
rather small and limited. What he sought was a truthful declamation of
the text in the matter of cadence and emphasis. To this Monteverde added
a deeper insight into the feeling pervading the dramatic situation. This
gave the key-note to his music, whether that of the voices, or of voices
and instruments together.

This honor belongs still more incontestably to Monteverde when it is
remembered what innovations he made in the general points of musical
structure and instrumentation, both of which place his fame in the
strongest possible light as that of a master. In his earliest canzonettas
the defects are those of a half-taught composer, rather than of one
deliberately marking out a new path. But in the third book of madrigals
there are innovations which have been pointed out by all critical writers
upon the history of harmony, especially by Choron and Fétis. In the
madrigal "Stracciami pur il côre" (the music of which is given entire in
Burney's "History of Music," Vol. III.), the rhythm has more movement,
the metrical form is better, there are natural cadences, and prolonged
dissonances of a materially different character to anything preceding
them. Fétis mentions, at the words _non puo morir d'amore_, double
dissonances, arising by suspension of 9--4, 9--7--4, 6--5--4, the latter
having an extremely disagreeable effect. Modern tonality is anticipated
by the use of the leading tone. In his fifth book of madrigals he gives
free rein to his ideas, and introduces dissonances without preparation,
especially the seventh and ninth on the dominant. There is also a
diminished seventh. He thus possessed the means of a rational harmonic
accentuation and dramatic characterization.

In the department of orchestration, Monteverde may properly be considered
the originator of the art, and here again we come upon one of those
accidental connections, or harmonies, between the man and his environment
which impart to art-history so much the character of a chapter in
development. It was Monteverde who first placed the violin in its place
of honor in the orchestra. Peri's orchestra contained two tenor-viols,
but no violin. While still retaining the chittarone, or large guitars,
cembali, or harpsichord, Monteverde had two bass-viols, ten tenor-viols
(his own instrument, with whose possibilities he was acquainted), two
violi da gamba (a tenor-viol with frets), one double harp, two small
French violins, four trombones, a regal or small reed organ (for
sustaining tones), one small octave flute, one clarion, and three
trumpets with mutes. From the complete loss of anything like orchestral
scores or individual parts, it has been surmised that these players
exercised their own judgment as to what and when to play. This, however,
appears impossible. Otherwise the peculiar effects graphically employed
for dramatic coloration would not have been produced. Such effects as
the pizzicati and tremolo of violins in "Tancred", and the trombone
effects in the mass, mentioned above, do not come by the happy chance of
players putting in notes at their unregulated wills. The characteristic
difference between the orchestra of Monteverde and Peri was in the
possession of means of prolonging tones, and thereby rendering the music
impressive and pathetic. Without the stringed instruments this would
forever have remained impossible.

[Illustration: W. S. B. Mathews]

[Illustration: A. SCARLATTI

_From a rare print loaned for reproduction by Mr. C. Weikert of New



There has never been in the musical history of the world such another
blossoming into song as took place in Italy after the invention of
the representative style. The great master, Monteverde, lived to see
the opening of the first public opera houses, and by the end of the
century there were theatres devoted to the musical drama in almost
every city of Italy. Monteverde was succeeded by several composers, in
part contemporaries of each other, among whom the most eminent names
were those of Cesti, Lotti, and Legrenzi. All the tuneful instincts of
the Italian nation came to expression in the new form of art, and the
theatres vied with each other in obtaining the composition of new works
by the best masters available. In these there were two national instincts
operative: that for the drama, and that for tune. Hence we begin to find,
very early in the development, the merely declamatory consideration which
ruled Peri, and the additional element of musical characterization which
led Monteverde into many new paths, giving place to the merely tuneful,
and delaying the drama until an aria had time to fully complete itself.

In its earliest forms the aria gained in symmetry and tunefulness,
without seriously hampering the dramatic movement. Soon, however, the
voice began to attract attention to itself, and in the illustration
of its previously forgotten talents the action of the drama was still
further delayed.

Many illustrations of these generalized statements might be cited, but
those following later are perhaps sufficient for showing the point which
had been reached in the development when the great genius Alessandro
Scarlatti appeared.

Born in Trajano, Sicily, and gifted with the music-loving organization of
the Sicilians, Alessandro Scarlatti seems to have made his way to Rome
at an early age. It is uncertain where he obtained his musical education.
Some writers credit him to Pavian masters, others to Carissimi at Rome.
It is quite likely that he may have received instruction at both places,
while the greater part of his equipment as composer he may have acquired
by his own exertions. Nothing at all is known of his first thirty years.
But from the assertion of the Marquis of Villerosa (in his work upon the
Neapolitan composers) that Scarlatti was a fine singer, a virtuoso upon
the harp, and an excellent composer when he first came to Naples, we are
at liberty to suppose that he gained a musical livelihood by exercising
the first two of these talents. He must have made very thorough studies
as composer, for there are several of his works (hereafter cited) which
show that he was proficient in all the learning of the ecclesiastical

At length, in 1680, he emerges from the obscurity through the performance
of his first opera, "L'Onesta del' Amore," at the palace of the ex-queen
of Sweden, Christina, in Rome. The work pleased, and the young composer
seems to have been taken into the service of the queen, where he remained
until her death, which took place in 1688. Nothing is known of this
opera beyond the fact of its performance. Even the influence it may have
had on the fortunes of the young composer is inferential, for there is
no evidence that he may not have been in her employ previously. The
next reliable glimpse we have of him is in the performance of his opera
"Pompeo" in January, 1684.

Then for nine years we lose sight of him again until January, 1693, when
an oratorio of his, "I Dolore di Maria, sempre Virgine," was written
for the congregation of the "seven griefs," at San Luigi di Palazzo. In
the same year, also, his opera of "Teodora" was played at Rome. Other
indications combine to show that Scarlatti must have rapidly gained in
popular estimation during these years, whose record for the present, at
least, seems so hopelessly lost.


From an engraving of a portrait by Solimène, published in Naples, 1819.]

One year later, namely, on Jan. 6, 1694, Scarlatti was appointed
musical director of the royal chapel at Naples, where his first work
seems to have been the production of Legrenzi's "Odoacre," with certain
adaptations and additions of his own. In a prefatory note to the
published edition, Scarlatti says: "The airs rewritten by the editor are
distinguished by an asterisk, to the end that their faults should not
prejudice the reputation of Legrenzi, whose immortal glory is an object
of the editor's unlimited respect." Nevertheless, it may be remarked in
passing, this respect did not prevent him from making important changes
in the work,--changes which he must have believed improvements, and
likely to render the performances more successful. Apparently the modesty
of the young composer was technical and verbal rather than anything

There is every indication that Scarlatti found the Neapolitan position
very much to his taste. As yet we are without a carefully prepared
biography, and little is known of this part of his career beyond the
names and times of performance of the operas, which followed each
other rapidly, at the rate of at least three a year during his entire
productive career. Among those of the first ten years at Naples, the
following are to be mentioned: "Pirro e Demetri," 1697; "Il Prigionero
Fortunato," 1698; and "Laodicea e Berenice," 1701. During this period he
was director of the conservatory of San Onofrio.

Here, moreover, he at least inspired the teaching of the voice, for
it was at this school, under Scarlatti's direction, that many of the
most eminent singers of the first quarter of the eighteenth century
were educated. Among the names mentioned in this connection are those
of Farinelli, Senesimo, and Mme. Faustina Hasse. It is probable that
Scarlatti himself taught singing, in support of which reasons will be
mentioned later.

At this time Naples was in considerable disturbance of a political
kind, and in 1703 the situation became insupportable to Scarlatti, who
thereupon turned his steps once more towards Rome, where he was appointed
assistant musical director of Santa Maria Maggiore, in 1703. Four years
later, upon the death of the musical director, Antoine Foggia, he was
made full director. He was also made the musical director at the palace
of the distinguished and magnificent Cardinal Ottoboni.

He had now come to the full measure of his powers and popularity. One
of his celebrated works, "Il Caduta de Decemviri," was played in 1706;
another, "Il Trionfo della Liberta," was played at Venice in 1707. He
composed with the greatest spontaneity. Burney, the musical historian,
mentions seeing the manuscripts of thirty-five cantatas by Scarlatti,
which he composed at Tivoli, in the month of October, 1704, while on
a visit to his friend, André Adami, chaplain singer in the pontifical
chapel. These works were dated, and the dates show that they were written
at the rate of one a day. Quanz, the celebrated flute player, visited
Naples in 1725, when Scarlatti was a very old man, and met him several
times. He mentions a certain wealthy amateur who had collected four
hundred manuscript compositions of Scarlatti.

It was during the Roman residence that the young Handel formed the
acquaintance of the two Scarlattis, for the son Domenico was by this time
the very first clavier virtuoso in Italy. Handel was so much interested
that he accompanied the Scarlattis upon their return to Naples, where the
master resumed his position as court musical director, in 1709. Handel
remained in Naples, studying the cantata style of Scarlatti, until the
spring of the following year.

In his later residence at Naples his activity continued, but the very
names of many of his works are now lost. Among the most important of
these may be mentioned the opera of "Tigrane," which was played in 1715.
Another, "Griselda," was produced in 1721. In addition to the direction
of the conservatory of San Onofrio, he appears to have taught musical
composition at the two other conservatories, of Dei Poveri and Di Loreto.
His activity as composer continued almost to the end of his long and
honored life. He died Oct. 24, 1725.

       *       *       *       *       *

The total number of Scarlatti's secular operas was more than one hundred
and fifteen. He composed many oratorios, among which may be mentioned
"I Dolore di Maria," "Il Sacrafizio d'Abramo," "Il Martirio di S.
Teodosia," "La Concezzione della Beata Virgine," "La Sposa di Sacra
Cantici," "S. Fillipo Neri," "La Virgine Addolorata," etc. There were
about two hundred masses, and more than four hundred secular cantatas.
The latter are semi-dramatic settings of short texts for a single voice,
with accompaniments for clavier, or combinations of instruments for
chamber use. The vast number of pieces of the latter class, together
with many other compositions nearly allied to them (chamber duets for
voice and light accompaniment, etc.), can only be regarded as having
been occasioned by special circumstances in the way of facilities for
performance. For it must be remembered that nearly all of these works
demand of the singer a degree of virtuosity which was then extremely
rare, and to be found perhaps scarcely at all outside the pupils of
Scarlatti himself. The solution is to be found in the fact already
mentioned that the master himself was a fine singer. Furthermore he had
a daughter, La Flaminia, who seems to have been a singularly gifted
creature. Bernardo de Domenice, in Vol. IV. of his "Vite d'Pittori,
Scultori, ed Archetetti napolitain" (Lives of the Painters, Sculptors,
and Architects of Naples), is quoted by Florimo, in his "La Scuola
Musicale di Napoli" (Marano, 1880), as saying of Francesco Solimene, that
he was a lover of music, and in the habit of spending much time at the
house of Scarlatti, whose daughter La Flaminia was a wonderful singer,
full of dramatic fervor and gifted with a magnificent voice. It would
seem, therefore, that these works may have been composed primarily for
his own satisfaction and for the pleasure of his own family circle.

In respect to the facility with which he composed, as well as in the
agreeable manner of writing for the voice, Scarlatti was the true founder
of later Italian opera, his principles of composition having been almost
universally followed until past the middle of the present century. But
unlike some of the modern Italians, Scarlatti's ease of production rested
upon most thorough attainments in counterpoint and the technical mastery
of material. His great masses are monuments of learning, and by good
judges are counted worthy of being placed beside those most honored in
the annals of ecclesiastical music. Among the most celebrated of these
works are a four-voice requiem, an "Ave Regina Cælorum" for two voices
and organ, a great four-voice canon, a five-voice mass with orchestra,
a great pastoral mass for two choirs, eleven voices, with orchestra and
organ, and a famous motette, "Tu es Petrus," for two choirs. This was
sung at the coronation of Napoleon I. by a choir of thirty papal singers,
specially imported for the purpose.

The greater part of the works of Scarlatti are lost, or lie concealed
in the archives of the religious houses for which many of them were
composed. The archives of the Royal College of Music at Naples contain
fifty works of his, among which there are seven of his operas.

[Illustration: Fac-simile autograph manuscript written by Scarlatti.
Original is in the British Museum.]

It is by no means easy at the present day to discriminate between the
musical reforms which Scarlatti actually invented himself, and those
which tradition has somewhat generously attributed to him, but which were
in fact the fortunate discoveries of earlier composers soon forgotten.
Speaking in general terms, between Scarlatti and Monteverde a full
century intervened, a century of such feverish musical activity as the
world has scarcely ever seen equalled. Many gifted men took up the
representative style where Monteverde left it, and small reforms were
continually introduced. Scarlatti is credited with having made the aria
more symmetrical by introducing the _da capo_ after the middle part. He
is also held by some to have invented, or greatly perfected, the Italian
art of singing, and to have introduced running divisions for the display
of the technique of the singers. In this point he is the forerunner of
the later Italian composers. It is not at all easy to define the precise
limitations between Scarlatti's work and that of the other composers,
famous in their times, but now almost forgotten. Few of their works are
now accessible, and the extracts in such collections as Gevaert's "Les
Gloires de l'Italie" may have been edited with the additions required for
modern ideas. But so far as I feel justified in drawing conclusions from
the evidence accessible, the following are among the more important facts
in the case:--

In Peri's "Eurydice" the aria occupies the smallest possible place.
Giulio Caccini, his amateur co-worker, has an aria published in 1600
from "Nymphes des Ondes," called _Fere selvagge che per monti errato_,
which is in the key of G, moderato, two periods, eight and six measures.
The air by Peri, already mentioned, was sixteen measures, in sustained
tones, symmetrical, and fulfilling the proper place of aria, which is
that of emphasizing and idealizing an important moment in the drama.
Gavaert's collection contains one by Marco Gagliano, a duet for two
voices, _Alma mea dove ten vai_, which is in the key of D minor, and
runs in thirds in the regulation Italian style. It is evident that here
we have not to do with the representative style, but with a folks song
more or less idealized. A cantata for solo voice, by Luigi Rossi, 1640,
printed in Gevaert's collection, had the theme resumed after the middle
part, in a manner quite equivalent to the _da capo_. This song also
is notable for the amount of vocal running work which it contains (an
interesting circumstance, considering the comparatively early period of
its production after the discovery of the representative style); in this
there are from eight to sixteen notes to a syllable, sixteenths in common
time. Even the recitative in the dramatic part of this cantata has the
pyrotechnic divisions. Cavalli, an aria from whose "Giasone" appears in
Gevaert's collection (1649), seems to have held rather a meagre idea of
the possibility of the aria. One of the more interesting of these early
specimens is the aria or canzone, _Farci pazzo da caterna_, which is
practically a duet with its own accompaniment, the voice answering the
leading motive in the bass. It is somewhat defective in symmetry, but its
general effect is admirable.

Scarlatti was far more richly endowed than these composers, both by
nature and by art. In the Newberry Library, Chicago, there is one opera
of Scarlatti's complete, "La Rosaura" (Edition of the German Society for
Musical Research), which was probably produced between 1689 and 1692. As
compared with the operas by Monteverde, the melody of this work is much
more free. There is a _largo_ prelude and aria of Climene in the second
scene, with a string introduction, beautifully done. The violin part is
very noble and effective. The second part of the aria is in A minor and
other keys, ending in C minor, after which there is a _da capo_, bringing
back the main aria. I know not whether this _da capo_ was written by
Scarlatti, or was an addition by the later editor; but inasmuch as the
date of this opera so closely coincides with that of "Teodora" (1693),
generally regarded as the first example of the _da capo_, this may well
enough be an earlier case, unknown to the former writers. In the fifth
scene there are some running divisions which are extended to considerable
length, the word "spasso," for instance, having seven beats of common
time, sixteenths. Throughout this work minor tonality preponderates
very much, all the airs being in minor, and only one or two of the
_ritournelli_ being in major. Rosaura has a good air in the second act,
and there is a remarkably fine piece of work for violin solo, lute, and
'cello, the cembale being silent.

M. Fétis says that in "Il Cadute de' Decemviri," played in 1705, "All
the airs have a sentiment corresponding with the words, and a taking
originality. Many have a solo violin with two other violin parts. In the
second act an air of touching expression is accompanied by violin solo,
with obbligati 'celli, and bass alone. The piece is full of strange
harmonies and bold modulations, and is of exquisite beauty."

It was Scarlatti's good fortune to be active as a composer at the very
time when the violin had received its finishing touches at the hands
of the later Amati and Antonio Stradivarius. The first great violin
virtuoso, Archangelo Corelli, had published his epoch-marking works
during the last quarter of the seventeenth century. Scarlatti appears
to have entered into the new musical world thus opened with ever fresh
enjoyment and a rare intelligence. Fétis says that in "Laodicea e
Berenice" (1701) he wrote an air with obbligato for violin and 'cello,
the former having been intended for Corelli; but upon its proving
impossible to secure Corelli, the air had to be given up because there
was no violinist sufficiently skilled to play it.

In "Tigrane" (1715) the orchestra consisted of violins, violas, 'celli,
basses, two horns, two oboes, which was an unprecedented number at that
time. In "La Caduta de Decemviri" (1706) the air _Ma, il ben mio che
fa_ was accompanied by violins in four parts, with admirable effect.
Obbligato solos are also frequent.

Scarlatti also made a mark as teacher of singing. By many he is regarded
as the founder of the Italian art of singing. This may well enough have
been the case. A great singer himself, a fine musician in every respect,
and fully imbued with the concept of _cantabile_ melody, as shown in the
violin effects already mentioned as frequent in his operas, nothing
could be more natural than that he should put the two ideas together, and
seek to discover a method of training through which the human voice would
be capable of similarly noble effects, with the added element of inherent
vitality. According to tradition, he accomplished his task. At all events
it was his pupil, Nicolo Porpora, who brought the art of sustained song
to its highest perfection. Besides Porpora, who was perhaps his greatest
pupil (and his eminent son, Domenico Scarlatti, who was great composer as
well as virtuoso upon the clavier), the most celebrated of Scarlatti's
pupils were Logroscino, Durante, and Hasse.

Considering the importance of the period when Scarlatti flourished,
and his own prominence both in the eyes of his contemporaries and in
the history of art, it is surprising that his biography has never been
exhaustively written. Such a work, carried out in the spirit of Spitta's
"Bach," would amount to a history of the creation and growth of Italian
opera, and would be of vast interest.

[Illustration: W. S. B. Mathews]



The measure of a life is not its length, but its productiveness, and the
best of a life's work is in its quality, not its quantity. The history
of the fine arts is rich in the names of those who ended a great career
before they had rounded out two score years, and many of the world's
triumphs in the open conflicts of battle on land or sea and of labor in
the struggles of peaceful times were won by men who had not long left
their boyhood behind them.

Eminent among these young men, whose work and fame are to be permanently
preserved and esteemed, is Giovanni Battista Pergolese, the span of whose
life hardly exceeded a quarter of a century, and the number of whose
compositions appears small in proportion to the influence he exerted and
the new impulse he imparted to the musical world a hundred and fifty
years ago.

Yet during his lifetime he was unappreciated and unsuccessful, and was
a person of so little consequence that many details of his history are
difficult to discover, while others which might now be interesting and
instructive, are absolutely unknown. The very year and place of his birth
are disputed. Some authorities claim that he was born in 1704 at Casoria,
in the immediate vicinity of Naples; but the best are agreed upon the
date of January 3, 1710, and name Jesi, a small town near Ancona, as the
place. On the other hand, Fétis, after much examination, comes to the
conclusion that he was born at Pergola, a town near Urbino,--whence his
surname of Pergolese, his family name being Jesi--and sets down that the
year was 1707. On this point he is evidently wrong, as he would thus make
the composer older by three years at the time of his death than he is
generally stated to have been.

Of his boyhood nothing is known, but he must have shown in an unusual
degree the musical talent so common in Italy, because he is found at
about ten years of age as a charity student in Naples, and under the
protection of the Duke of Maddaloni and Prince of Stigliano, the latter
being first equerry to to the King of Naples. Here again accounts
differ. On the one hand it is claimed that the boy was received into
the Conservatory Dei Poveri di Gesú Cristo, while on the other it is
argued with much probability that he was taught at San Onofrio. If the
latter be accepted as the truth, the contradiction can be explained by
the fact that his teacher, Gaetano Greco, was originally at the former
institution, but spent his later years in connection with the latter.

As the lad showed small aptitude for vocal music, he was first set to
learn the violin of Domenico Mattei, who soon discovering the nature
of his talent, sent him to Greco. This eminent master, himself a
distinguished pupil of the great Alessandro Scarlatti, found Pergolese
to be well worth cultivating and devoted himself to him with loving
care. But in about two years Greco died, and Pergolese then received
instruction from Durante, the famous master of counterpoint, whose
methods are still followed in the royal conservatory at Naples, and
from Feo. During this period his attention was concentrated upon the
science of music and composition, and it is recorded that by the time
he was fourteen years old, he had written some things of considerable

The effect of his training in the reserved, scholastic and almost
conventional Neapolitan methods and of the influence about him was
naturally such as to render his style severe, classic and almost formal;
but no such limitation could be set to the expansion of his spirit, and
no sooner was he free from academic constraint and ready to choose his
own way in the world, than he began to express himself more vividly and
to turn toward the theatre as his true field. His first composition was,
so to speak, a compromise between the lessoning of the past and his
ambitions for the future, for it was a drama with a flavor of oratorio.
It was called "San Guglielmo d' Aquitania," and was produced at the
Fiorentini, which stood in the second rank of Neapolitan theatres, and
was not then, as subsequently, confined to the representation of comedy.
The opera had only a qualified success with the public, being judged to
have too much science and too little melody; but it sufficed to make his
talent evident to his noble patrons, who then exerted their influence
to get him hearings at other theatres. Thus encouraged, he wrote
"Sallustia," an opera-buffa; "Amor fa l'Uomo Cieco," an _intermezzo_, at
the suggestion of the Prince of Stigliano; and "Ricimero," a grand opera.
These were performed at San Bartolomeo and other secondary theatres, and
were all failures.

[Illustration: PERGOLESE.

Reproduction of a rare print from the British Museum.]

Disappointed and almost disheartened, Pergolese decided to give up the
stage, and for two years he devoted himself to instrumental music,
composing about thirty trios for strings, chiefly for the Prince of
Stigliano and other friends. But his disposition was not to be longer
controlled, and in 1731 he produced "La Serva Padrona," a light opera
which made an instant success and has attained a justly high reputation
all the world over. Being in the vein again, he followed this with
"Il Maestro di Musica," "Il Geloso Schernito," "Lo Frate Innamorato,"
"Livietta e Tracolo," "Il Prigioniero Superbo" and "La Contadina Astuta."
These were mostly composed upon Neapolitan texts, were full of gaiety
and brightness, and had temporary success in the San Bartolomeo, the
Nuovo and other theatres; but their local dialect and the fact that
they belonged to the less important classes of opera, prevented their
obtaining any wide currency.

In May, 1734, Pergolese was called to Rome to become the chapel-master
of the church of Santa Maria di Loreto. Regarding this nomination as a
promotion in his art as well as a recognition of his ability, he set
himself seriously to work upon something which should at once confirm any
good opinion of his powers and demonstrate his gratitude. Putting aside
the trivial Neapolitan _libretti_, he turned to Metastasio and drew from
his poetry the text for his "Olimpiade," a grand opera which was brought
out in 1735 at the Tordinona. At this time the composer Duni--of whom
little more than the name now remains--was a composer much in favor,
and was about to bring out a new work of his own, "Nero." He had no
small fear of what Pergolese might do and withheld his score until he
could make acquaintance with that of the new comer. His opinion, written
directly to Pergolese, with many expressions of admiration, included
these words: "There are here too many details beyond the reach of the
average public; they will pass unperceived, and you will not succeed.
My opera will not have the value of yours; but, being more simple, it
will be more fortunate." Duni was right; the "Olimpiade" was a failure;
some parts of it were hissed,--although it was admitted that two airs
and one duet were "deeply expressive,"--and one chronicler records that
some irate auditor went so far as to throw an orange at the head of the
composer as he sat at the harpsichord in the orchestra. The generous
spirited Duni afterwards said that he was "in a fury" against the Roman
public for its behavior toward his contemporary.

This defeat was a decisive one, and Pergolese turned back to his duties
as a composer and director of religious music. The ensuing period was
signalized by his writing, among other things, of a mass, a _Dixit_ and a
_Laudate_, all upon a commission from the Duke of Maddaloni, who desired
them for the annual festival at the church of San Lorenzo in Lucina, at
Rome, where they were sung with great éclat.

[Illustration: Reproduction of a fine medal by T. Mercandetti, struck
in 1806 (after the death of Pergolese), in commemoration of his "Stabat

The end of Pergolese's career was now approaching. For about four years
he had had frequent hemorrhages and had shown other signs of pulmonary
consumption. Beside having within it the germs of this fatal disease, his
constitution had been sapped and weakened by dissipation, and what one of
his biographers calls squarely his "_passion effrénée pour les femmes_."
To save what strength and life he still had, it was necessary that he
should leave Rome for a less trying climate, and he determined to return
to the softer and more salubrious air of Naples. One writer says that he
betook himself to a property belonging to the Duke of Maddaloni, at Torre
del Greco, just at the foot of Mount Vesuvius, where the sunny exposure
and the protection of the volcano from the winds of the north are thought
to be extremely propitious to such invalids as he. But this stay can have
been only temporary, because his final residence is known to have been in
a villa at Pozzuoli, which is quite on the other side of Naples and is to
be accounted a no less salubrious place of sojourn, having been sought
for sanitary reasons by the old Romans.

Pergolese was hardly fit to do any work in these days, but he had
accepted a commission from the confraternity of San Luigi di Palazzo,
in Rome, and was determined to execute it. The subject was a "Salve
Regina," and he was to receive for it the munificent sum of ten
ducats--equivalent, perhaps, to about eight dollars of the present
currency. Like Mozart, laboring over this "Requiem," Pergolese gave
his last thought and his last strength to this anthem, and had hardly
completed it when, on the 16th of March, 1736. he died. There were
rumors at the time, which even had some currency years later, that he
had been poisoned, the isolation of his retreat and the peculiarity of
some of his symptoms suggesting the possibility of this. But, apart from
the fact that his physical condition and his known habits explained his
maladies and their inevitable termination, Pergolese was not a figure of
sufficient importance to excite jealousy or animosity. His life had not
been a public one in the full sense of the word, and in the lyric drama,
where he desired most to shine, he had made but one real success--that of
"La Serva Padrona."

Hardly had the young composer's body been buried--in the little cathedral
at Pozzuoli--when a sudden and extreme admiration for his music broke
out in Italy, and soon spread to other countries. Naples, in her tardy
enthusiasm, justified the reproach of Dr. Burney, who wrote, "Had she
known her own happiness, Naples might have boasted of possessing one
of the greatest geniuses she or the world had ever produced. The first
opera of Giovanni Battista Pergolese was performed at her second theatre!
The young composer found not among his countrymen minds sensible of his
extraordinary talents or that acknowledged the natural maxim of Horace,
'_Bonus sis felixque tuis_.' His native land was the last to discover, or
to confess, his superior powers."

Two years after its author's death the "Olimpiade" was reproduced in
splendid fashion at Rome and received with honor. The "Serva Padrona"
was translated into other languages and heard in many European cities.
It reached Paris about 1750, and although performed by inferior singers,
it created so deep an impression,--subsequently increased by "Il Maestro
di Musica,"--that some French authorities have not hesitated to say
that this music almost revolutionized theatrical art and led to the
establishment of comic opera as it has been since understood in France.
His sacred music was also introduced in the Concerts Spirituels and
greatly applauded as among the chief sensations of the time. Pergolese
is judged to have had his first adequate hearing in England in 1724.
The poet Gray had brought home from Italy fine reports of the new
music, and in that year the "Olimpiade" was put upon the stage of the
King's Theatre, then directed by the Duke of Middlesex. It had not a
distinguished success, but one air, "_Tremende oscure atroci_," became an
established favorite in concerts with the principal Italian tenors for
ten years after.

       *       *       *       *       *

For a good many years after Pergolese's death his music, both dramatic
and sacred, was in the highest esteem throughout Italy, and received the
tribute of much imitation. His "Stabat Mater," which may be regarded as
the best of his ecclesiastical compositions--unless some should prefer
the "Salve Regina"--even held its own, and not in Italy alone, by any
means, until it was superseded by the larger and more popularly written
work of Rossini.

The rush of modern music and the modifications in taste have pushed the
scores of Pergolese from the theatre and the concert room, and no later
performances of his operas are to be noted as of consequence since the
double revival of "La Serva Padrona" in Paris, in 1863, when the original
version was given at the Italiens and the French translation at the Opéra
Comique, Mesdames Galli-Marié and Penco carrying off the honors. The
instrumental trios are never heard nowadays, and although Catholic choirs
throughout the world still keep his church music in use, it is only
upon rare occasions that the "Stabat Mater" is produced for Protestant
auditors by some serious-minded choral society.

Pergolese was a quite industrious writer, if allowance be made for the
diversions caused by his personal indulgences, and for the discouragement
which was naturally produced upon a temperament like his by the lack of
appreciation, sympathy and material support, individual patronage having
undoubtedly contributed at least as much to his material and spiritual
comfort and development as public applause and sustenance. He was not a
rapid writer, however, and the record of his compositions, so far as they
are known, includes besides the operas which have been already named, a
large cantata entitled "Orfeo;" five minor cantatas; an oratorio having
for its subject the Nativity; the thirty trios already alluded to; five
masses, and a dozen or so of religious pieces. A considerable number of
the vocal scores were published and twenty-four of the trios were printed
in London or Amsterdam, but the minor religious works and some of the
operas remained in manuscript and are practically inaccessible except to
studious inquirers in Italian libraries.

It is not difficult to establish now a just estimate of the genius of
Pergolese, which was undervalued during his lifetime, then suddenly
exalted above its worth and then again depreciated below its true
plane. It was seldom that the external form of his compositions gave an
adequate idea of the spiritual qualities which dwelt within them. Wise
and careful observers often remarked that they heard with surprise and
delight much which they had not anticipated from an examination of the
scores. Educated strictly in the severe and learned Neapolitan school,
he was of course a master of counterpoint and of all the devices and
figures of musical effect, which, as has been said, constituted the
staple of his first pieces. But he had an intuitive sense of the dramatic
element in man and in music, and he made this felt, alike in the humorous
sprightliness of "La Serva Padrona," the emotional piety of the "Salve
Regina," and the pathetic strophes of the "Stabat Mater."

Except in his grand operas and his ecclesiastical pieces, he asked for
no large forces of singers or players. In his masses he wrote as usual
for four voices, although he seems to have preferred five, and he not
infrequently required in them two choirs, each in five parts. The "Stabat
Mater" is for two voices only, and its accompaniment is so simple and so
thin that Paisiello subsequently wrote additional instrumentation for
it. The "Serva Padrona" has only two characters and the accompaniment
requires only the string quartet; yet so ingenious, so bright, so gay and
so apposite is all the music, that the hearer never finds it monotonous
or tedious.

That Pergolese should have began his musical life as a violinist and
yet should have written for the voice with perfect expressiveness and
exact adaptation, has sometimes been thought strange. But his is by no
means an isolated case, for many of the best writers of vocal music
have begun their studies as instrumentalists and have even excelled as
performers; besides which, he put aside the violin as soon as the larger
scope of his gifts was discovered and further improved his feeling for
the voice by association with Vinci and Hasse when he was once free of
the Conservatory.

[Illustration: Reproduction of original title-page and a portion of
musical manuscript of the celebrated "Salve Regina," by Pergolesi, now in
the possession of the British Museum. The added note on title-page made
by Mr. Venna is probably incorrect, for the best authorities agree that
he died in 1736, aged 26.]

Pergolese's limitations sprang from the same source whence flowed his
power--his understanding of the natural adaptation of the means of
expression to the ideas and emotions to be conveyed. He could not or
would not pass into the theatrical, the meretricious and the exaggerated,
and hence it is that his music sometimes fell short of the effect which
he had hoped for it or lacked the variety of color and manner without
which a large and extended work must weary the ear, or at least fail to
keep it alert and interested.

He excelled in grace, simplicity and purity of style, although his music,
written for singers who had been trained to depend upon themselves and
not to lean upon accompaniments, may appear abstruse and difficult to
present readers. He brought to his time the vitality, movement, spring
and sincerity of life which it had not, and he used his means with
tact and directness in appealing to sentiment, mirth, pathos and piety
according as he wished to evoke them. If he cannot be accorded the honor
of having created a new manner of musical composition, he must be awarded
that of having beautified and enlivened the art as he found it, and of
having done the world a lasting benefit, greater perhaps in the impulse
given to contemporary and subsequent thought, than in the impression
directly made by him upon his time and his people.


[Illustration: Outline sketch of commemorative medal. See page 45.]


_Reproduction of a lithograph made by A. Lemoine, after a photograph from
life taken by Erwin of Paris, in 1861._]

[Illustration: ROSSINI]



Rossini is one of the last and most glorious representatives of that
admirable Italian school which for three centuries cast such a brilliant
radiance over the art of its country, and which seems unhappily, to
have come to a close with the illustrious Verdi. A genius, fertile and
luminous, gifted with an inspiration warm and generous, an imagination
ardent and active, he astonished the world for twenty years by his
creative power, and after having enchanted his native land by a long
series of works which were distinguished, now by the grace, now by the
grandeur, now by the novelty of their forms, he prematurely terminated
his dramatic career at the age of thirty-seven, by a marvellous
masterpiece written expressly for the French stage. This was the _William
Tell_ which radiated from France over the entire world, and which to-day,
after an existence of sixty years, is still young, fresh and powerful,
like a colossus which nothing can harm. The history of this immortal
artist, whose name should be inscribed in letters of gold in the annals
of the art, is certainly one of the most interesting which the history of
music can furnish us.

Gioacchino Rossini was born at Pesaro, a little town of the Romagne,
Feb. 29, 1792. His father, who was a musician and played very well on
the horn, was employed in this little town in the double capacity of
_tubatore_ (town-trumpeter) and inspector of the slaughter houses. His
mother, whose name was Anna Guidarini, was very beautiful and gifted with
an exceptionally fine voice. At the time of the passage through Pesaro in
1796 of the victorious French army, Rossini's father, it is said, in a
burst of enthusiasm for republican ideas, let fall some imprudent remarks
which the reaction soon afterwards judged worthy of punishment. They
began by dismissing him from the post of _tubatore_, after which it was
not long before he was thrown into prison. Left alone with her child,
his wife joined a travelling opera troupe, and when the prisoner was set
at liberty he followed her in her peregrinations, playing the horn in the
orchestra of the theatres at which she performed.

During this time the child learned from his father the first elements
of music, and even reached the dignity of playing second horn in the
orchestra. But the lad gave such unusual promise that his parents soon
determined to give him a regular musical education. He was sent to
Bologna and placed under the instruction of a professor named Angelo
Tesei, with whom he studied singing and the piano, and as he had a very
sweet soprano voice he was able to earn something by singing in the
churches. Notwithstanding his tender age he rapidly became an excellent
reader and clever accompanist, so that his father thought it best to take
the boy with him on his tours and to obtain for him the post of _maestro
al cembalo_ at the theatres. This was only for a short time, however,
and early in 1807 the young Rossini returned to Bologna and entered the
famous musical lyceum of that city, where he studied counterpoint with P.
Stanislas Mattei, and the violoncello with Cavedagni. The following year
he was charged with the composition of the annual cantata, which it was
the custom to confide to the best pupil of the institution. This cantata,
which was entitled _Pianto d'armonia per la Morte d'Orfeo_, was performed
on Aug. 8, 1808. Rossini was sixteen years old, and already six of his
compositions had been performed, one of which was an opera, _Demetrio e

But he was impatient of the yoke of his master Mattei, who dismayed him
with numberless rules of counterpoint for which he could give no reason,
and who, when questioned on these points by his pupil would simply
respond that such was the tradition. Dissatisfied with such insufficient
explanation, Rossini thought out a more practical and certainly excellent
means of familiarizing himself with the forms of harmony and modulation;
he applied himself to the study of the quartets and symphonies of Haydn
and Mozart, and also to the task of scoring them. Thus, by an attentive
analysis, he learned more in a few months than he had learned in several
years through the empirical teaching of Mattei. Then when he felt pretty
sure of himself, he left the school, determined to start out on the
career of composer. He had just passed his eighteenth year.

He returned to Pesaro, his native town, and there found friends and
advocates who facilitated his entrance upon that career by obtaining
for him an engagement with the San Mosê theatre of Venice, to write
an opera entitled _la Cambiale di matrimonio_, which was performed
at that theatre in the autumn of 1810. This little work was a happy
beginning for him. The following year he gave to the Corso theatre of
Bologna, _l'Equivoco stravagante_, and in 1812 he brought out no less
than six operas: _l'Inganno felice_ (San Mosê theatre, Venice), _Ciro
in Babilonia_ (Communal theatre, Ferrare), _la Scala di seta_ (San Mosê
theatre, Venice), _Demetrio e Polibio_ (Valle theatre, Rome), _la Pietra
del paragone_ (Scala theatre, Milan), and _l'Occasione fa il ladro, o
il Cambio della valigia_ San Mosê theatre, Venice. These works were not
all equally successful, but most of them were very well received as was
proved by the eagerness with which the different theatres already strove
for the works of so young a composer. Moreover, one could point out in
these different scores many remarkable fragments which gave some idea
of the precocious genius of the artist, and of the freshness, grace and
originality of his inspiration; in _l'Inganno felice_, a very beautiful
trio; in _la Pietra del paragone_, a charming cavatina and the finale of
the first act; in _Ciro in Babilonia_, two airs and a fine chorus, the
principal motive of which became later the theme of the adorable cavatina
of the _Barber of Seville_ (Ecco ridente il cielo); finally, in _Demetrio
e Polibio_, an exquisite quartet which was afterwards interpolated by the
singers into several of the master's works.

In 1813, after a _farsa_ entitled _il Signor Bruschino o il Figlio per
azzardo_, Rossini again wrote two very important works, one in the
serious _genre_, _Tancredi_, the other in the _genre bouffe, l'Italiana
in Algeri_. These two works, the first of which was performed at the
Fenice theatre, Venice, and the second at the San Benedetto, of the same
city, was a double triumph for the author, and placed Rossini once for
all in the first rank of the composers of his time. Moreover, they proved
that the young master was as much at home in the dramatic _genre_, where
he worked with a remarkable grandeur and power, as in light opera, in
which he displayed an unequalled verve, gaiety, warmth and originality.

Rossini's artistic successes led to another kind of success, no less
important. Italy was then under French rule, and Napoleon, emperor of
the French people, had taken the title of king of Italy. But Napoleon,
whose very life it was to fight, was a terrible devourer of men and his
constant cry was for more soldiers. Rossini had reached the age when he
must draw lots for the conscription. Was it possible to enroll a young
artist whose genius announced itself in so brilliant a fashion, and could
they force this artist, who promised to win distinction for his country,
to take the chances of combat? All Italy was as one voice which demanded
that Rossini be exempt from military service. Prince Eugène, who bore
the title and fulfilled the functions of viceroy, took it upon himself
to pronounce this exemption, and the future author of _William Tell_ was
able to pursue in peace the career in which he was to find honor and
glory. In 1814 Rossini gave in quick succession to the Scala theatre of
Milan two great works, one of them serious, _Aureliano in Palmira_, which
was not very successful, the other light, _il Turco in Italia_, which
was more fortunate; then in the following year he brought out at Venice
_Sigismondo_. It was from this time forth that he found a place worthy of


Reproduction of an excellent lithograph portrait of Rossini in middle

There was at that time at the San Carlo theatre of Naples a man who
had made himself famous throughout all Italy, a remarkable impresario,
whose cleverness and fortune were matters of surprise even to those best
acquainted with the mysteries of the green-room, and the difficulties
attending all enterprises of this kind. A Milanese by birth, this man,
whose name was Domenico Barbaja, was born of very poor parents, who
had given him no education whatever. But he was naturally intelligent,
astute, audacious, consumed with ambition, and to all this he joined a
very sagacious mind and a remarkable artistic instinct, coupled with
an indefatigable activity. Ascended from the lowest round in the social
ladder, apt at everything he undertook, having been in turn commissioner,
horse-jockey, waiter at the café, petty usurer and contractor for the
public gaming tables, he had ended by becoming quite at home in public
affairs, which he managed with a consummate cleverness. He had installed
himself at Naples in 1808, and it was there that he had obtained the
license for keeping a gambling house. The following year he took the
direction of the two royal theatres, San Carlo and Fondo, to which
he soon added the other two theatres, the Fiorentini and the Nuovo.
Then, as if this did not suffice to satisfy his ardor, he undertook
in a short time, without abandoning any of his other projects, the
management of the two great stages of the Scala and the Canobbiana at
Milan, and the Italian opera at Vienna. And under his inspired direction
all these enterprises prospered so well that the Italians surnamed
Barbaja il _Napoleone degl' impresari_. It is certain that for twenty
years he succeeded in uniting at the theatres which he directed, all
the most celebrated composers, poets, singers and dancers, and that his
liberality, good taste and artistic sense contributed very considerably
to the surprising development of dramatic art in Italy during this period.

[Illustration: ROSSINI.

Reproduction of a lithograph portrait of Rossini in his thirty-sixth
year, drawn by H. Grévédon, Paris]

Like the rest of the world Barbaja was acquainted with Rossini's
precocious success, and with his remarkable perception he quickly
understood that the composer might become an important source of his
prosperity. He resolved to ally himself to him, and as he was at once
equitable and generous, he desired to pay a fair compensation for the
services which he expected. Rossini had just given in Venice his last
opera, _Sigismondo_, and had returned to Bologna. It was there that
Barbaja went to find him and to offer him an engagement. Hitherto
Rossini's experience with impresari had been confined almost solely to
the poor unfortunate specimens who were in a chronic state of collapse.
Imagine then his surprise when Barbaja, whose reputation was well known
to him, came to propose an engagement of several years, assuring him,
besides a fixed sum of about 11,000 francs, an annual interest of about
4,000 francs in his gambling business. It is true that in return Rossini
was to agree to write two new works each year, and to arrange and adapt
all the ancient works which it might please Barbaja to mount at the
San Carlo and Fondo theatres. It was, in fact, besides the composition
of his operas the whole musical direction of these two theatres, which
Rossini was thus assuming, a charge which was simply enormous and which
had dismayed all others. But what was that for an artist such as he, in
exchange for the fortune which Barbaja held before his eyes, and the
influence upon his future of the brilliant situation offered him on one
of the first lyric stages of Italy?

So the contract was quickly signed, and Rossini went immediately to
Naples to assume his new functions. No sooner did he arrive at that city,
in the beginning of the year 1815, than Barbaja gave him the libretto of
_Elisabetta, regina d'Inghilterra_, to set to music. It was with this
work that he was to make his debut at the San Carlo, having for principal
interpreter an artist of Spanish origin, Isabella Colbran, then in the
zenith of her talent and her beauty, and who was one of the most esteemed
cantatrices of that period in all Italy. (Isabella Colbran, then the
mistress of Barbaja, soon became that of Rossini, who afterwards married
her, only to be separated at the end of a few years). The composer and
the cantatrice obtained a wonderful success and the _Elisabetta_ won a
veritable triumph at Naples.


Rossini's first wife. From an original contemporary drawing in chalks and

Rossini profited by this success to leave Naples for a time. His
engagement with Barbaja was not exclusive, and a certain liberty of
action was reserved to him. He took himself to Rome, whither he was
called to write two operas for two different theatres; one, _Torvaldo e
Dorliska_, for the Valle theatre, the others _il Barbiere di Siviglia_
for the Argentina.

We know that Paisiello had already treated the subject of the Barber of
Seville, and that the opera conceived by him on Beaumarchais's comedy
had been performed in 1789 at St. Petersburg, where he was imperial
capellmeister; from there the work of the Neapolitan master had spread
over all Europe, and had met, particularly in Italy, with a very
flattering reception. Therefore it happened that Rossini was charged with
presumption for daring to put _il Barbiere_ to music, and that he was
accused of trying to eclipse the glory of Paisiello, who was the first to
use this idea. The reproach was all the more singular since such things
were of very frequent occurrence in Italy, where, for nearly a century,
composers had been setting to music, one after another, all the lyric
poems of Apostolo, Zeno and Metastasio, such as _Nerone_, _Alessandro
nell'Indie_, _Artaserse_, _l'Olimpiade_, etc., etc. Why then should
Rossini, who in this case had only done what so many others had done
before him, become thus an object of criticism and anger? It is difficult
to say. Possibly it was Paisiello himself, whose jealousy and faults of
character are sufficiently well known, who from Naples, where he had
retired, started the hostile sentiments against his rival, and secretly
planned the fall of the new work. At least, so it has been said, and the
idea does not seem wholly unlikely.

Rossini, however, out of respect for the old master, had courteously
written to him on the subject, declaring that it was not his intention
to enter into competition with him, but simply to treat a subject which
pleased him. Furthermore, and in order to avoid even the appearance of a
desire for competition on his part, he had taken the precaution to have
a new libretto made on the subject, and even to change the title of the
work to _Almaviva, ossia l'inutile precauzione_ (it was not until later
that the title of _il Barbiere di Siviglia_ was definitely adopted).
Finally, in order that the wishes and intentions of the poet and composer
might not be misunderstood, and that the public might not be mistaken in
the matter, the following preface was placed at the head of the libretto.

"Notice to the public. The comedy by Beaumarchais entitled _le Barbier
de Séville_ or _la Prècaution inutile_, is presented to Rome under the
form of a comic drama, with the title of _Almaviva, ossia l'inutile
precauzione_, with the object of fully convincing the public of the
sentiments of respect and veneration which the author of the music of the
present drama entertains toward the celebrated Paisiello, who has already
treated this subject under its original title.

"Impelled to undertake this same difficult task the master, Gioacchino
Rossini, that he might not incur the reproach of a daring vanity with
the immortal author who has preceded him, has expressly required that
the _Barber of Seville_ be entirely versified anew, and that there shall
be added several new situations, demanded, moreover, by the modern
theatrical taste which has changed so much since the renowned Paisiello
wrote his music.

[Illustration: Caricature of Rossini by Carjat reproduced from a print at
the Paris Opera.]

"Some other differences between the contexture of the present drama
and that of the French comedy above mentioned, have been required by
the necessity of introducing choruses, partly to conform to modern
customs, partly because they are indispensable in a theatre of such vast
proportions. The courteous public is informed of this fact in order
that it may excuse the author of the present drama, who, except for the
concurrence of circumstances so imperative, would not have dared to
introduce the slightest change in the French work consecrated by the
applause of all Europe."

All these precautions and the artistic uprightness which Rossini
exhibited in this delicate matter, could not avail to still the storm
which hurled itself about him. No matter what he might have done to
appease them, the Romans were exasperated in advance against his work and
against himself, and the first performance of _il Barbiere_, outrageously
hissed, was the most complete scandal of which the annals of the theatre
can offer example. An account of it has been given by one of the Italian
biographers of the master, Zanolini, from whom I borrow the following
details: "The Romans went to the theatre, persuaded that they were going
to hear detestable music, and disposed to punish an ignorant upstart.
The overture was executed in the midst of a confused hub-bub, the
precursor of the tempest. Garcia attempted to accompany with his guitar
the first air of the count Almaviva; all the strings broke at once, and
then commenced the laughs, jeers and hisses. A little while after, Don
Basilio, an old singer of the Sistine chapel, stumbled, on entering the
stage, and fell and bumped his nose. This was enough; laughs and hisses
burst from all sides, and people would not and could not listen any
longer. One person applauded, one only, and that was the composer; and
the more he clapped, the louder grew the hisses, until, when the fury of
the crowd had reached its climax, he mounted upon his chair, so that he
might be seen by all, and with head, hands and voice testified to the
actors his approbation. He remained intrepid until the orchestra had all
left, waiting to receive the very last insult. He was to be present at
the second performance, but he found some pretext for being excused, and
the directors were delighted, because they feared him at the same time
that they had confidence in his music. During the second evening, Rossini
was conversing at his home with some friends, when cries were heard in
the street in front of the house and the lights of many torches were seen
through the window. When they distinguished among the cries the name of
Rossini, his guests were alarmed but afterwards, the voices of friends
having been recognized, the doors were all opened wide to the messengers
sent by the spectators assembled at the Argentina, and who, carried away
by their enthusiasm were clamoring for the maestro to show himself.
Rossini was carried thither in triumph, and was covered with applause."
So we see that this happy _Barbiere_ which for eighty years has been the
delight of the whole world, was badly enough received on its entrance
into that world.


Reproduction of a lithograph by A. de Bayalos, made from a portrait by
Dupré. Rossini in middle life. Portraits in spandrel are,



    Garcia Viardot.

Meanwhile, when the bad humor of the Romans was fairly over, and the
_Barber_ established in public favor, Rossini prepared to go to Naples
in response to a call from Barbaja. Immediately on his return he set to
work, giving first to the Fiorentini theatre a little work entitled _la
Gazzetta_, then writing for the San Carlo his _Otello_, which achieved a
considerable success and was played by the great artists Nozzari, David,
Garcia, Benedetti and Colbran. He afterwards returned to Rome where
he gave that gem of comic verve, _la Cenerentola_, then went to Milan
where he wrote for the Scala, _la Gazza ladra_, a work little remembered
to-day. He then went back to Naples to give _Armida_, and again returned
to Rome where he brought out _Adelaide di Borgogna_, which met with very
meagre success. But he soon made up for this failure by giving at Naples
_Moses in Egypt_, one of his best works, which was followed by _Ricciardo
e Zoraide_ and _Hermione_, the libretto of which was taken from Racine's
_Andromaque_. At the same time he sent to Lisbon the score of a little
comic work which was requested of him by the royal theatre of that city;
_Adina, o il Califfo di Bagdad_, on the subject of a French comic opera
by Boieldieu, bearing the same title. After having given at Venice
_Edoardo e Cristina_ he again won great success at Naples with _la Donna
del Lago_, a work full of poetry and originality.

It was at this point that Rossini had reached the fulness of his glory.
Scarcely twenty-seven years of age, he had already written twenty-nine
operas, several of which had achieved a brilliant success, and his name,
popular throughout Italy, was famous in all Europe, which applauded his
works with frenzy. And yet, the success of _la Donna del Lago_ could
not sustain a mediocre work like _Bianca e Falerio_, which was coldly
received at the Scala, Milan. But the master regained public favor with
his _Maometto II._ which was received with enthusiasm at Naples. He went
to Rome shortly after to give _Matilde di Shabran_, one of the feeblest
of his works, and then rose to the top again with _Zelmira_, which was
very successful, not only at Naples, but at Vienna where Rossini was
invited to direct the performance of the opera, accompanied by Colbran,
then his wife, who sung the leading part. Finally, he wrote and brought
out at Venice, _Semiramide_, one of the most remarkable of his works,
in spite of its faults. Rossini counted much, and with reason, on
this score which the Venetians received with a cold reserve. Neither
the richness of the inspiration, nor the variety of the forms, nor the
grandeur of the style which distinguished this noble and superb work,
could overcome the indifference of the public. After a reception so
unjust, a result so contrary to his legitimate hopes, Rossini, who at
that moment was solicited on all sides, did not hesitate to leave Italy.
An engagement was offered him in England; he accepted it immediately and
went to London, passing through Paris where he formed relations which
were soon to bring him back to that city.

Rossini was to write for the Italian theatre at London an opera entitled
_la Figlia dell'aria_; he had composed the first act, when the direction
of the theatre failed, and the project was abandoned. However, his trip
to England was far from being unfruitful of results. Sought after by the
highest society, encouraged in every way, received at court, Rossini,
during his five months stay at London where he excited the liveliest
enthusiasm, was able to realize from the concerts and lessons which he
gave with his wife, about 200,000 francs, which was the basis of his
future fortune. At the same time, through the intervention of the French
ambassador in England, he signed an engagement with the minister of the
royal house, by which he accepted the direction of the Théâtre-Italien
of Paris at a salary of 20,000 francs per year, without prejudice to
the author's rights in the works which he might wish to write for that
theatre or for the Opéra.

Rossini found in France the same enthusiastic welcome which had been
given him in England. He composed first a little Italian opera called
_il Viaggio a Reims_, which was performed on the occasion of the fêtes
given in that city for the coronation of King Charles X. He next occupied
himself with transforming for the French stage two of his best Italian
works, _Maometto II._ which became at the Opéra _le Siège de Corinthe_,
and _Mosé in Egitto_, which was performed at that theatre under the title
of _Moïse_. In passing from one tongue to the other, these two works were
subject to much remodelling from the hand of the composer. He changed
parts of them, added to them, strove to render the declamation more
clear and precise, finally forced himself to adapt his inspiration to
the necessities of the French stage and of the musical genius of that
country. Success crowned his efforts, and in the face of that success,
Rossini dreamed of writing a great new work expressly for the Opéra. But
first he brought out at that theatre a pretty little opera in two acts,
_le Comte Ory_, which was received with great applause, and in which he
had embodied some fragments of the _Viaggio a Reims_.


Reproduction of Gustave Doré's celebrated picture, from photograph at the
Paris Opera.]

At last came the great work which the public were awaiting with
impatience, _William Tell_, which was performed Aug. 3, 1829, with
Nourrit, Dabadie, Levasseur, Prévost, Mmes. Cinti-Damoreau, Mori
and Dabadie for the principal interpreters. In writing the score of
_William Tell_, Rossini had applied his genius to the exigencies of the
French stage, as Gluck had done fifty years before. He had given to
his declamation a breadth hitherto unknown, to his instrumentation a
superb color and _éclat_, while the dramatic action had acquired with
him a marvellous power, and the wealth and freshness of his inspiration
surpassed all that could be desired. It cannot be denied that the
appearance of _William Tell_ is a luminous date in the history of music
in France, that the success of this masterpiece has never diminished, and
that after more than sixty years it is still as touching, as pathetic, as
grand, as much respected as in the first days of its existence.

How comes it then that after so complete, so brilliant, so incontestable
a triumph, Rossini should have renounced the theatre forever, that he
should never have wished to repeat so happy an attempt? That is a mystery
which as yet it has been impossible to solve, and it is certainly a
great misfortune for the art, which has thereby been deprived of untold
masterpieces. But the fact remains that from the 3rd of August, 1829,
date of the first performance of _William Tell_ until the 13th of
November, 1868, date of the master's death, Rossini wrote nothing more
for the stage. This does not mean that he stopped composing; far from
it. His compositions on the contrary are numerous, and some of them
very important, but none are for the theatre. First should be mentioned
his religious music: a _Stabat Mater_, a _Petite Messe solennelle_,
and a _Tantum ergo_; then three choruses for female voices, _la Foi_,
_l'Espèrance_, _la Charitè_; _le Chant des Titans_ for four bass
voices; _Soirées musicales_, comprising eight ariettes and four duets;
and finally a great number of songs and piano pieces. Earlier, and in
the course of his Italian career, Rossini had written, for different
occasions, a number of cantatas and lyric scenes, the titles of which
are: _il Pianto d'Armonia per la morte d'Orfeo_; _Didone abbandonata_;
_Egle ed Irene_; _Teti e Peleo_; _Igea_; _Ad onore di S. M. il re de
Napoli_; _Ad onore di S. M. l'emperatore d'Austria_; _la Riconoscenza_;
_il Vero Omaggio_; _i Pastori_; etc.


Now in the library of the Paris Conservatory. Sketched by special

[Illustration: Fac-simile autograph musical manuscript written by

Rossini, whom Weber did not understand, and whom Beethoven did not wish
to know, belongs nevertheless to the race of those grand creators, and
in his veins coursed the blood of a man of genius. At the period of
his birth three great musicians represented principally that beautiful
Italian school so justly celebrated in the last century in spite of its
characteristic defects. These three great musicians were Guglielmi,
Cimarosa and Paisiello; Guglielmi, forgotten to-day even in his own
country, and whom artists themselves no longer know; Cimarosa, the verve
and gaiety of whose genius seemed to reserve him to a less tragic end;
finally Paisiello, whom Rossini was called to down with his own weapons,
in successfully making after him another _il Barbiere di Siviglia_, and
whose glory was to be somewhat obscured by the glory of his brilliant
rival. As for the others, Niccolini, Sarti, Portogallo, Gazzaniga,
Nasolini, etc., they were undoubtedly artists of real talent, but devoid
of originality and who confined themselves to following in the path which
these great leaders traced out for them.

Some years later, and after a sort of interregnum, three more great
artists were coming to fill the vacant place, and to govern in their
turn the Italian musical world. Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti--three
geniuses quite distinct from each other, not only from the standpoint
of the nature of their personal inspiration, but also as regards the
form with which they clothe their ideas, were coming to throw a new
lustre, unhappily the last, over that Italian school so glorious for two
centuries, and of which the author of _Rigoletto_ and _Aïda_ remains
to-day the venerable and last representative. Rossini, a brilliant
and luminous genius, Bellini, of a pensive, poetic and tender nature,
Donizetti, nervous and expansive in temperament, all were called to take
place in the first rank, with this distinction, that the first always
preserved an evident advantage, and that he alone brought into the art a
new and characteristic note.

And yet for years past Rossini has been spoken of slightingly, his genius
has not been understood, his worth has been denied and these wrongs
are carried on at the present hour. Certain adepts of a new school,
who affect to disparage all that was done before them, are ready to
drag him to the gibbet without even giving him credit for what they owe
him,--directly or indirectly. They do not seem to have the least idea
that it is Rossini who has emancipated musical art as applied to the
theatre; that it is Rossini who has given freedom to melodic form; that
it is Rossini who has substituted for the majestic and uniform solemnity
of the ancient lyric declamation, a rational diction, with an expression
more vivacious, more intense and more vigorous; that it is Rossini who,
by the movement and variety communicated to the rhythm, has given to the
musical phrase the natural sentiment and warmth of action which it too
often lacked; that it is Rossini to whom we owe the richness and the
splendors of the modern dramatic orchestra. Who knows if that admirable
orchestra of Wagner, to which unhappily everything is sacrificed, would
exist to-day had it not been for Rossini? Whatever may be his faults--and
assuredly he has them--we can afford to pardon them all in consideration
of the incomparable qualities of this great man.

During nearly half a century Rossini has reigned supreme on all the
stages of the world. Wherever there existed an Italian theatre, there
were played and sung the works of Rossini: _Otello_, _Semiramide_,
_Mosé_, _il Barbiere_, _la Gazza ladra_, _Cenerentola_, _l'Italiana
in Algeri_, _la Donna del Lago_, _Maometto_. If all his serious works
are not complete and perfect, at least all of them contain superb
parts. Witness _Mosé_, what grandeur, what power and what majesty!
Witness _Otello_, what spirit, what vigor and what boldness! Witness
_Semiramide_, what color, what brilliancy and what splendor! However,
there are grave faults to be found with Rossini's serious operas; in the
first place a lack of unity, and also certain weaknesses which by their
proximity, militate against some really admirable pages; then the abuse
of vocalization and of the ornate style, absolutely incompatible with the
purely dramatic element; finally, the occasional lack of real emotion and
the frequent absence of pathos, an absence so complete that it may justly
be said of Rossini that he never knew how to sing of love. And yet, by
the side of these grave faults are qualities so grand, an inspiration so
rich, a style so noble, a phrase so elegant, an orchestra so vigorous
and always so full of interest, that the works though imperfect in their
_ensemble_, have been able through certain sublime portions to win very
great success.

But the place where Rossini is complete and inimitable is in opera
bouffe. _Il Barbiere_ is certainly a masterpiece, and _Cenerentola_
comes very near being one. A wonderful imagination, gaiety carried
sometimes to the point of folly, an ardor and quickness of inspiration
that was simply prodigious, together with an instrumentation always new,
always piquant, always of an extreme elegance; such are the qualities
which characterized Rossini's light music, and which make it still as
young and fresh as when it first appeared, eighty years ago.

[Illustration: ROSSINI.

Caricature bust by Dantan in the Carnavalet Museum. Paris.]

In regard to his dramatic music, I must not forget, after having pointed
out its shortcomings, to make an important statement, giving him credit
for the progress which is unquestionably due him. I refer to the
transformation which he has brought about in the recitative, beginning
with his _Elisabetta_. Until then he had not risen above _Tancredi_, a
charming score, but one in which his methods scarcely differed from those
employed by the musicians of his time, Mayr, Generali, Paër and others.
Undoubtedly his harmony was fuller, his instrumentation richer, more
varied and more brilliant than that of these artists, but the progress
stopped there. With _Elisabetta_, his first work given at Naples, Rossini
started an important reform. Up to that time the Italian composers had
employed almost exclusively the _recitativo secco_, that is to say,
a recitative accompanied solely by the clavichord, with a continuous
bass by the violoncello in the orchestra. Now these thin and meagre
recitatives, often much developed, weakened the scenic effect, killed
all musical interest, and formed too violent a contrast with the general
style of the work. It was only in exceptional cases that the composers
allowed themselves some measures of _recitativo strumentato_, to serve as
an introduction to an important piece.

Rossini, in his _Elisabetta_, was the first to treat all the recitative
part as a grand lyric declamation, and to sustain that precise, vigorous,
very rhythmic declamation with a melodic accompaniment, arranged for the
full orchestra. Thanks to this means, the scenic action was considerably
developed, the musical interest was sustained from beginning to end,
without break or sign of weakness, the work gained a homogeneity and
a general color hitherto unknown; finally, the composer experienced
the advantage of being able to bind together, as strongly as need be,
incidents, situations, episodes which otherwise would have been chilled
by the untimely presence of those _recitativi secchi_, the crying evil of
the serious operas. Certainly this is a trait of genius, which classes
Rossini in the rank of the happiest of innovators.

When, fifteen years after having given his _Elisabetta_ at Naples, he
wrote _William Tell_ for the Paris Opéra, people were able to judge
of the incomparable grandeur of his dramatic genius. Here were no
concessions to a perverted taste, no ill-timed vocal effects, no weakness
of style, no negligence in the form; but a grand inspiration, a bold and
noble accent, heroic outbursts, a color marvellously appropriate to the
subject, and above all the sincerity of an artist of genius desiring to
create a masterpiece.

A study of Rossini would be incomplete, which did not consider the
influence which that great man exercised over the artists of his time.
It is with some reflections on this subject that I am going to close the
present work.

[Illustration: ROSSINI.

Caricature from Paris "Panthéon Charivarique" designed to express popular
disapproval at his retirement from the Opera to live upon his means.]

An abundance of melody, precision of rhythm, richness of instrumentation,
untiring verve, movement, color and life, such are the distinctive signs
of Rossini's musical personality. Moreover, this personality was so
powerful, so exuberant, so magnetic, that it not only effaced that of his
contemporaries, who were unable to struggle against this colossus, but it
soon absorbed that of all the young composers who were coming after him,
and who, gifted by nature with less generosity, were appropriating his
methods, as far as possible, and making themselves his servile imitators.
With the exception of Bellini and Donizetti, whose natural temperament
and personal gifts were safeguards against this rage of imitation,
one may say that for half a century all the Italian composers applied
themselves to writing music _a la Rossini_, and seemed preoccupied solely
with reproducing effects and combinations originated by the young master.
Pacini, for example, wrote eighty operas in the Rossinian style, not one
of which was worthy to pass down to posterity; and the Ricci brothers,
though more gifted than Pacini as regards a freshness of inspiration,
also imitated Rossini too closely, and allowed some little of their own
personality to appear only in the pleasant, merry score of _Crispino e la
Comare_, their one work which has gained recognition outside of Italy.
Furthermore, these Italian imitators of Rossini, not knowing how to
separate the tares from the wheat, followed exactly in his footsteps, and
reproduced his faults as conscientiously as his virtues, mistaking noise
for sonority, sadly abusing the flowery style, even in the most pathetic
moments, to the great detriment of dramatic truth (Mercadante himself
has not escaped this fault), and unhappily not having, like their model,
that wonderful gift of melody for which certain of his faults could be
pardoned, and which constituted a good part of his power.

The flagrant imitation of Rossinian forms by the fellow-artists of
the master clearly indicated their inferiority, at the same time that
it demonstrated his absorbing influence. In France also where the
Théâtre-Italien, brilliant with its splendid array of illustrious
singers, had early made known the most important of Rossini's works, this
influence made itself felt to a considerable extent, but less completely,
and with more discernment, our musicians merely drawing profit from the
progress made by the author of _il Barbiere_ and _Semiramide_, without
permitting themselves to abandon in his favor their own personality.
It was easy to recognize the trace of this influence in certain of
Boieldieu's scores, in Auber's manner, nay, even in that of Herold, an
artist of strong and eclectic temperament, whose own originality never
failed him for an instant, while accepting up to a certain point a
reflection from Weber on the one hand, on the other Rossini, whom he had
been able to study for a long time in his own country. But the French
musicians had as a safeguard against servility to the latter artist,
that innate sentiment of dramatic truth which formed part of the genius
of their country and which did not permit them to sacrifice anything
to the exact expression of that truth. Besides, the great artists of
whom I speak here had a personal worth which put them quite beyond the
thought of slavery or of too great submission to any artist whatever.
Nevertheless, I repeat that Rossini's influence over the French artists
was very considerable, and I add that it was happy and beneficial because
it was limited to making them profit by methods and discoveries, the use
of which, joined to their natural gifts and qualifications, could only
enrich the latter and increase the domain of art.


Made by order of the Minister of Fine Arts for the Foyer of the Paris
Opera House. Exhibited at the Paris Salon of 1865.]

In closing I would say briefly that for half a century Rossini's genius
has shed its radiance over entire Europe, and that that radiance seemed
to eclipse everything around him. After having reigned master of the art
in his own country for fifteen years, he increased his influence still
more by his contact with France, and it was in France, whose temperament,
full of taste, eclecticism and reason, he knew so marvellously, that he
wrote his most magnificent masterpiece, _William Tell_, before which all
his former works pale, with the exception of _The Barber of Seville_. If
_The Barber_ is the imperishable and prodigious model of opera bouffe,
_William Tell_ is the most touching, the most striking dramatic poem
which ever flowed from his pen. Either would suffice for his glory, and
both assign to him a unique and quite exceptional place in the history of
musical art in the nineteenth century.

[Illustration: Arthur Pougin]


Representing scene from the "Barber of Seville."]


_Reproduction of a portrait in the possession of Francesco Florimo, a
fellow-student with Bellini in Naples. Engraved by C. Deblois._]



Toward the end of the last century there came to the pleasant and
prosperous city of Catania, in Sicily, a musician named Vincenzo Bellini.
He had a large family, and his eldest son, Rosario, followed the family
profession as a teacher and church organist. Rosario married young, and
on the 1st of November, 1801, his first child was born and was named
Vincenzo, for his grandfather. The usual stories of precocious talent
are attributed to this boy, but the fact remains that he showed from
his childhood a strongly musical disposition, and that his talent was
so well cultivated by his father and grandfather that he could play the
piano passably when five years old, and at six wrote some small religious
settings. As he grew the artistic temperament manifested itself strongly,
both in efforts to follow professional lines, and in the fitful moodiness
characteristic of such natures.

It was soon evident that the boy had obtained all that Catania could
give him. His father had not the means to provide properly for him, and
consequently he petitioned the municipality to send Vincenzo to Naples.
The royal intendant received the petition favorably, and an annual
allowance was granted in May, 1819.

On leaving Sicily, Bellini took excellent letters of recommendation to
persons of consequence in Naples, and particularly to Nicolo Zingarelli,
who was the director of the Conservatory. For two years he was taught by
Giacomo di Tritto, then an old man, but still famous not only for his
own able compositions, but also for his training of his students. Then
he passed on to Zingarelli, under whom his progress was so notable that
he was promoted to the honorable position of first assistant master.
Yet, as his after life proved, this progress was due more to the natural
expansion of his powers than to any steady and systematic use of them.

During this period, Bellini wrote a good many things, of which nothing
is now heard, because they were done perfunctorily, and belonged to such
classes of composition as did not suit his genius.

Nevertheless, his individuality and its peculiar bent could not be
altogether hidden, and he more than once provoked the angry censure of
Zingarelli, who could not abide innovations, and who went so far as to
say that if this rebelliously independent pupil persisted in writing the
opera which he purposed, he must do it unaided. The youth kept on, and
soon finished his music for "Adelson e Salvini," the text being an old
libretto of Fioravanti. This opera, performed by fellow-pupils on the
Conservatory stage, gave some hints of original talent, but as a whole it
left such an impression that its author indorsed it, "A poor mess." This
was in 1825, and the failure was balanced by the success of a cantata
entitled "Ismene," which Bellini wrote for a royal festival in San Carlo.

From that night dates his course of almost unbroken success. The famous
Barbaja was managing San Carlo, and, moved by his own faith and the
urgency of patrons, he gave Bellini a commission. Desirous to complete
this in another atmosphere, and to fly from scenes which were painfully
associated with his affection for a girl who had been refused to him by
her parents, Bellini went to Catania, and returning, brought "Bianca e
Gernando," which was performed in May, 1826, by a splendid cast. The
writing was unequal, and some of the critical thought they felt the hand
of Zingarelli in its best pages. It had a fair success, nevertheless, and
Bellini received the handsome amount of three hundred ducats, besides the
bright assurance of a prosperous future.

Barbaja was the _impresario_ of La Scala, at Milan, also, and with his
accustomed shrewdness he promptly engaged Bellini to write an opera
for that stage. To Milan accordingly the young composer went. Here
he associated himself with Felice Romani, the most famous Italian
librettist, who, whatever may be said of his style, understood dramatic
and lyrical effects, and was now at the height of his ability and

The first result of this union was "Il Pirata," produced at La Scala,
Oct. 27, 1827, with a cast including Rubini, Tamburini, and Mme.
Méric-Lalande. Bellini bore his new honors modestly, and with more of
hope than triumph. Soon Vienna had indorsed the verdict of Milan, and the
composer's fame was now not Italian, but European.

Competition for Bellini's services soon began. The Carlo Felice, at
Genoa, was about to open, and its manager asked for Bellini's next opera.
This--"La Straniera"--was already bespoken, and the Genoese therefore
offered eight thousand francs to reproduce "Bianca e Gernando," provided
the author would revise it. The sum was tempting, and in April, 1828, the
public applauded this reformed edition.

"La Straniera" cost its authors much trouble, for there were situations
which poet and musician could not see and feel alike; but at last their
spirits harmonized, and on Feb. 14, 1829, this opera met a magnificent
reception at La Scala. A richer, more varied, and deeper talent was there
shown than in any preceding work, and the proud Catanians caused an
honorary medal to be struck in commemoration of it.

Now Parma offered Bellini a remunerative commission, which he accepted,
and went thither to prepare his work. He began badly, for he declined
the collaboration of a favorite local writer, in order not to separate
himself from Romani. The latter's libretto, "Zaira," was poor, and
Bellini was not in good vein. All things worked together for ill; so the
opera, produced in 1829, was a failure, and only a couple of extracts
from it remain.

The other operas were doing so well as to console him for this
mortification, and he went from city to city to prepare them for
presentation. Venice begged something new for La Fenice; and Bellini,
reverting to an early admiration for the story of "Romeo and Juliet,"
accepted from Romani, "I Capuletti ed i Montecchi," which was given in
March, 1830, Grisi making one of the cast, and such parts of "Zaira" as
were worth saving being wrought into the score. Success attained the
height of a popular ovation, and Francis I., of Naples, sent Bellini the
medal of Civil Merit, while he, in turn, dedicated his work in grateful
terms to his fellow-citizens of Catania.

But Milan, jealous of the attentions heaped by other cities upon her
favorite composer, insisted on his return. Scarcely had he arrived when
he was seized with an intestinal disorder which brought him to death's
door. But youth, care, and skill saved him, and he began at once his new
score, destined for the Carcano, which had a fine company and repertory,
and was fairly rivalling La Scala. This score was "La Sonnambula," the
libretto of which Romani had founded on a comedietta by Scribe. Bellini
was anxious to excel himself, for the leading singers were none other
than Pasta and Rubini. The conditions were favorable, for the fascinating
and profitable society of these artists and especially of la Pasta,
influenced and stimulated his genius. On March 6, 1831, "La Sonnambula"
was produced and began that triumphant success which shows small sign of

The management of La Scala at once made Bellini an offer for his next
work, among the tempting conditions being the payment of three thousand
ducats, and for his interpreters, Pasta, Grisi, Donzelli, and Negrini.
The libretto was just after Bellini's own heart, the writing was rapidly
accomplished, and on Dec. 26, 1831, only some nine months after the
production of "La Sonnambula," "Norma" was sung for the first time on
the stage of La Scala. Strangely as it seems now, the opera was almost
a failure. The theme was larger and nobler than any which Bellini had
treated, and he had risen to its height, leaving behind his light,
familiar style, and assuming a breadth and strength of diction in
which his admirers did not recognize him. Bellini was astonished and
disappointed, but after a few performances a great and deep enthusiasm
succeeded the indifference and half-hostility of the early nights.


A brief leisure now intervened, which was employed in visits to Naples,
and to Catania, where still were the family whom he had not seen for
several years. He received ovations everywhere; his operas were sung,
in part or entire, in the principal theatres along his route, he was
made a member of the Bourbon Academy in Naples, and at Catania the royal
intendant conducted him in a state carriage, drawn by four horses, to his
home. At Naples also Barbaja was waiting for him with offers for three
new works to be written for San Carlo; but Bellini could not gratify him.


From the Carnavalet Museum, Paris.]

His stay in Sicily was short. In about a month he returned, and after
pausing in several cities to direct productions of his works, he came
again to Venice, in August, 1832, preparing an opera for the Fenice.
Various trivial causes had raised up jealousies against him, and his
libretto was unsatisfactory, because Romani had neglected work for
pleasure. So when the new opera, which was "Beatrice di Tenda," was
produced, on March 16, 1833, it fell flat and never afterward recovered
any prominence, although it contained some excellent scenes.

But the ill success of this opera was as nothing to the triumphs of its
predecessors, and it began to be apparent that Bellini must follow his
music to Paris and London, where his scores were established favorites.
Contracts from both had been tendered him early in 1833, and he went
directly to London to produce "La Sonnambula" and "Norma." His stay there
was a social as well as an artistic success, but he could not protract
it, because his engagements with the Italian Opera in Paris called him
thither early in 1834. His reception was most flattering, and his friends
hoped that good influences would induce him to study the important
department of orchestration, which he had always neglected. But Parisian
fascinations and pleasures had more power over him, and he could not
forget them even in the quiet residence which he had found at Puteaux,
on the Seine. He set himself to work resolutely, however, and toward the
end of the year it was evident that "I Puritani" would be ready early
in 1835. In fact, on Jan. 25 it was given, the whole house having been
bespoken long in advance. The audience was distinguished, and the triumph
unqualified. A distinct advance--due perhaps more to observation than
to toil--was apparent all through the work, and the French critics and
connoisseurs promptly gave him credit for it.

Honors poured in upon Bellini. He was made a chevalier of the Legion
of Honor, the king of Naples decorated him, and offers from managers
were numerous, including one from San Carlo, naming the sum (almost
preposterous for Italy) of nine thousand ducats for two operas, which was
more than rich Milan would promise.

But the composer's career was to be as brief as it had been splendid. He
had burned his candle at both ends. He had been unremitting in labor and
unrestrained in pleasure. His constitution, not too strong, had also been
shaken by the illness previously mentioned, symptoms of which reappeared
early in September. No effort which care, prudence, and ability could
make was spared; but on the 23d of that month, in the year 1835, he died,
being a little less than thirty-four years old.

Every tribute was paid to his name and memory. A commission, including
some of the greatest composers and vocalists, was appointed to arrange
his obsequies, which took place in the Chapel of the Invalides, Oct. 4.
The music was superb, and in spite of a furious rain, an immense crowd
attended the interment at Père-la-Chaise, where memorial addresses were
spoken by eminent men. Subscription raised a noble monument for him,
and regret and condolence were general in the musical world. Thirty
years later, the Catanians asked leave to remove his body, but it was
not until September, 1876, that they were ready. Then an Italian war
vessel received it, and on its arrival at Catania it was placed in
the very carriage which had borne Bellini on his triumphal return. The
commemoration lasted three days, and the coffin was finally deposited in
the Cathedral.


Bellini was of an attractive, though not handsome, person, his face
lacking strength. He belonged to the blond Italian type, and his
portraits suggest almost any other European nationality as much as his
own; his figure was slender and elastic; his general effect was rather
that of an idealist than a practical man. His temper was generally even,
his love of humor and word-play easily stirred, and his movements easy
and elegant. He had his moods of despondency, and his friends remembered
after his death how some sombre incidents had apparently impressed him
gloomily in the last year of his life. His characteristics made him
especially welcome in female society, but it may be doubted whether any
woman ever really loved him well, or whether he was ever much attracted
by any after his unsuccessful affair at Naples. In his profession he made
friends always, and almost no enemies, for he neither felt nor provoked
comparisons or jealousies. The regard he inspired was well founded, and
the mourning his death caused was sincere.

       *       *       *       *       *

The genius of Bellini was original and decided. Although he was
impressionable, he was independent, and this was the source of his
weakness as well as of his strength. For while not blind to the faults
and deficiencies of his compositions, he was so firm in his knowledge
of their peculiar merits that the criticisms he accepted as just could
not move him to alter his methods, so that, as has already been said,
his growth in art was rather a natural progression than the result of

He entered the Conservatory at a fortunate moment, and he fell into good
hands. From Tritto, Bellini got the conventional part of his education,
while from Zingarelli, who was both enthusiastic and classical, a noble
composer and a strong scientist, he received, on the one hand, sharp,
wholesome criticism, and on the other, an ardent impulse. Most of his
fellow-pupils were mediocrities, and none have been eminent except the
brothers Ricci, best known by their "Crispino e la Comare," and Carlo
Conti, whose many operas have had great currency in Italy.

The disposition of Bellini was primarily toward what could be musically
expressed by the human voice, and all who heard his compositions were
convinced that the world had received a rich new gift. Rossini was now
great in fame and influence, and the brilliant vocalists of the time
were revelling in his florid airs. Bellini, realizing that even the
theatre demanded melody more than anything else, and feeling sure that
a source of it was waking up within him, was either astute or ingenious
enough not to attempt to follow the example of Rossini. He gave his
melodies no less extension, but he first simplified them, and then
broadened and fortified them in some situations, while in others he
softened and sweetened them. He could not command pathos, profound grief,
terror, menace, or tragic grandeur. Sentiment, not emotion, was his
chief characteristic; but in "Norma" he rose to dignity and maintained
calmness, while in "I Puritani" he became noble and strenuous. In "Il
Pirata" and in "I Capuletti ed i Montecchi" there were not infrequently
boldness and vigor, as the excerpts which are still heard occasionally
show. In "Beatrice di Tenda" his weakest airs are found, and in "La
Sonnambula" his suavity, tenderness, and appealing purity are most felt.

He had a sufficient perception of character to distinguish his personages
in song, and he appreciated the capacity of each voice for which he
wrote, so that his music is singable by vocalists of moderate ability,
and yet is advantageous for consummate artists. The best of executants
will find scope in "La Sonnambula," while the dramatically strong can
have full range in "Norma" and "I Puritani." Yet his melodies sometimes
are almost mawkishly sweet, and his recitatives are generally fragmentary
and inexpressive, while it is only in the last two or three operas, and
in "I Puritani" especially, that the vocal harmony has much variety or
ingenuity. Oddly enough, while studied for human voices, many of his best
melodies flow as easily and effectively from instruments, especially
those of wood or brass, and the effect of the best of them depends mostly
upon the enthusiasm, the emphasis, or the _bel canto_ of the singers.


The instrumental portions of his operas betray in every page his
ignorance, his weakness, and his indifference. His overtures are
generally such only in name, a superficial arrangement of two or three
principal themes, and his accompaniments rarely are more than bald and
formal supports to the voice. The same general manner pervades them; the
upper strings play broken arpeggios while the lower ones give a sustained
harmony, to which the wind instruments contribute some color of tone, but
which they seldom diversify with figure or comment of their own. It is to
be observed that the score of "I Puritani," written under the influence
of music in Paris, is richer and more expressive than any which preceded
it, and gave the promise which was never to be fulfilled.

Bellini had the advantage of early acceptance in theatres difficult of
access, of the friendship of great contemporary musicians, handsome
pecuniary emolument, and the co-operation of some of the greatest
vocalists the world has known.

[Illustration: H. M. Ticknor]

[Illustration: Music. Billini]


_Reproduction of a lithograph portrait by V. Roscioni of Vincenzo._]



Genius is no less remarkable for the manner of its appearance in the
world than for the subsequent manifestations of the power. At times it
seems to be the natural result of a cumulation of influences, and yet
again it can be traced to no source or cause. Bellini descended from
at least two generations of musicians; but his contemporary, Gaetano
Donizetti, the subject of this sketch, had no family prototype and left
no heritage in art to any child.

His father, Andrea Donizetti, is not known to have been born in Bergamo,
but in that small city of North Italy he was occupied at first as a
weaver. Desirous of bettering himself sufficiently to marry Domenica
Nava, he obtained a modest position in the local _Monte di Pietà_,
settled down to his routine employment and became the father of four
sons. One of these, Gaetano,--born November 29, 1797,--was so bright,
so alert and so evidently talented that the father began to hope and
plan that he might be able to educate him for a lawyer, so that his
professional position might give the family a higher social standing and
perhaps add something to its narrow income. But so soon as the child
was far enough advanced beyond elementary studies to have intelligent
preferences, he began to show a predilection for the arts, which was
so far indulged as to allow him to study drawing, architecture and
literature. This did not satisfy the boy's cravings, however, and he
plucked up courage to ask his father to have him taught music. He was so
earnest and so confident that, in spite of the disappointment which this
strong disposition caused, his father consented and cast about him to see
how he could best provide the instruction.

The conditions could not have been more propitious. There had come
to Bergamo in 1788 a young Bavarian named Johann Simon Mayer, for
the purpose of studying music under the eminent guidance of Lenzi
and Bertoni. When his own studies were completed he opened a school
for twelve pupils, eight of whom were to be trained as sopranos and
contraltos, to replace in the churches the men who had sung those
parts hitherto, while the other four were to be taught the violin and
the violoncello. All were obliged to study harmony and the art of
accompanying, other capable teachers--among them Capuzzi, who had learned
the violin under the famous Tartini--adding their instruction to Mayer's.

Into this little conservatory Donizetti entered in 1806. He was so
fortunate as to enlist at once the interest of Mayer, who was already
beginning to get a European fame because of his wisdom, solidity and
learning. The lad's talent seemed so remarkable, his elasticity of
disposition and his earnest determination so unusual for his years, that
the master took special pains in developing him. Even at this early
age, Donizetti showed marked imitative and dramatic ability, and such
clearness of insight and exposition as made him at once an example and an
aid to his slower or duller companions. By the time he was ten years old
he had advanced so much in the right direction as to have made his mark
in solo contralto music and to be appointed _repetitore_--or preparatory
teacher--in the classes both of singing and of the violin, as well as to
be taken by Mayer as his special pupil in harmony.

Naturally enough, the boy tried his hand at composition, but his master
wisely made no account of these efforts until they had brought forth
something really commendable for its ideas and their treatment. All the
while new branches of study were suggested, in all of which Donizetti
made commendable progress, learning to appreciate the classic masters
of Italy and Germany, to play passing well upon the pianoforte, the
organ, the flute and the double-bass, beside making constant progress
as a singer, although it is said that his exactitude and grace
were more noticeable than any fulness or strength of tone. Besides
those professional studies, he was taught history, mythology, Latin
and rhetoric, so that when in time he devoted himself to theatrical
composition, he was well equipped. His special bent was shown, not only
in his arranging a little stage for juvenile performances in which his
part was always well done, but also in his attempting a tenor part in a
real theatre; but failing in this, he gave up any hopes of becoming a
professional vocalist and decided to devote himself to composition.


From the Paris "Panthéon Charivarique."]

By 1815 Mayer concluded that Donizetti ought to have other training
than Bergamo could give and therefore sent him to Bologna, a city still
prominent for its understanding and love of the arts, in order that
he might study fugue and counterpoint under Mattei, who had recently
brought out Rossini and other worthy pupils and could strengthen this
youth where he was weak. Thither Donizetti went, furnished with letters
and introductions, one of the most profitable of which was to Giovanni
Ricordi of Milan, founder of the famous music-publishing house of that

It appears that Donizetti remained as a member of the Philharmonic Lyceum
of Bologna until sometime in 1818, and that he made such good use of his
opportunities as to obtain extra lessons from Mattei and to write things
which the library of the school still preserves with respect. They are
mostly for full orchestra and solo voices and several of them had public

His formal studies ended, Donizetti returned to Bergamo, where he
kept at work training his memory and his quickness of mind and hand,
and writing string quartets after the style of such masters as Haydn,
Mozart and Beethoven. A variety of compositions for the voice, mostly
ecclesiastical, and for the piano were published by him, but no request
was yet made to him for any theatrical music, at which he was much
disappointed. It was indeed a difficult period for a new writer; the
stage was not yet weary of the operas of Cimarosa, Paisiello, Zingarelli,
Paër and Mayer, while the few opportunities of which a new comer might
hope to avail himself were scarcely more than sufficed for the genius of
Rossini and of Bellini. Any attempt to rival in his own field either of
these would necessarily have been fatal, and Donizetti was prudent enough
to create an independent style for himself while maintaining, like them,
that the melody of human voices was of the first value in the lyric drama.

At last his moment came and he began his course with "Enrico di
Borgogna," described as a "semi-serious" opera and successfully produced
at Venice in the autumn of 1818. Being asked to supply something for the
next season, he provided for the winter of 1819-20 a comic opera called
"Il Faleogname di Livonia," which was also well received. After getting
this well under way he went to Mantua with "Le Nozze in Villa," which he
had finished about the same time but which made a failure.

Long and serious schooling had wrought their proper effect on Donizetti,
and he set himself to analyze the causes of his success and unsuccess,
and allowed two years to pass before he was ready to try again. He
indeed went to Rome in the autumn of 1821, but it was not until winter
that he produced "Zoraide di Granata," which was immediately and
greatly successful, demonstrating that his life and talent ought to be
consecrated to operatic composition.


Reproduction of a portrait in Clément's "Les Musiciens Célèbres."]

One danger threatened him, however. Bergamo was under the Austrian
domination and he was liable to do military duty. Unless the fear of this
could be conjured away, he could not write with a free spirit, nor could
he marry the woman he loved, Virginia Vasselli, because her father would
not consent so long as his future was in doubt. Strong protestations
were addressed to the Austrian ambassador in Rome, Mayer used his best
efforts, an additional pretext was found in some slight physical defect,
and Donizetti was relieved from the anxious peril. He could now pursue
his art untrammeled, could form his domestic life as he desired and could
unite himself with sympathetic friends. This independence, added to his
natural activity, soon showed its effects in the further production of
three operas in that same year, of which two were given in Naples--"La
Zingara," a comic opera at the Nuovo, and "La Lettera Anonima," really a
musical farce, at the Fondo--and "Chiara e Serafina" or "I Pirati," at
the Scala, in Milan.

No sooner was it understood that Donizetti was free and ready to write,
than commissions were sent him from all the chief theatres of Italy.
Rossini, Bellini, Pacini and Mercadante were all in a certain sense
his rivals, and their names were often bulletined with his in the
prospectuses of one or another season. But his genius preserved its
individuality, and the charm of his music was so great that from this
time forward the years were few in which only one or two operas were
written by him, while during many twelvemonths he completed four and
even five operas. Some of these were short, it is true, limited even
to a single act, while others again are chronicled as mere farces in
the records of the time; so, too, several seasons passed before he rose
beyond the humorous disposition which had showed itself in mimicry and
simple buffoonery during his school years and attempted a strictly
serious or even a romantic subject.

Therefore, although he was constantly writing for such important houses
as the San Carlo, the Nuovo and the Fondo, in Naples; the Valle, in Rome;
the Carlo Felice, in Genoa; and later for the Scala and the Carcano,
in Milan; the catalogue of these works presents an array of names
unfamiliar to any but systematic students of musical literature. There
are indications, here and there, that his reading of books was wider than
that of some of his contemporaries and that there was springing up in him
a preference for historical subjects, as well as that interest in the
novels of Walter Scott which ultimately became almost a passion with him.
"La Regina de Golconda," "Jeanne di Calais," "Il Castello di Kenilworth,"
"Francesca di Foix," "Imelda dei Lambertazzi" and "Anna Bolena" are
titles which appear between 1828 and 1831, while it is recorded that he
composed in 1830 an oratorio about the deluge.

Returning for a moment, it is to be noted that in 1822 he was in Naples,
making studies in the Conservatory whose librarian, Sigismondi, objected
intensely to the new style which had come in with Rossini, and it was
only by some ingenious device that Donizetti obtained the scores he
was so anxious to peruse. Wherever he went he was handsomely received
and greatly applauded. In 1826 he had special honor from the Queen of
Naples, and the celebrated manager Barbaja ordered a number of operas for
his various theatres and made him director of the Nuovo for two years.
During this period he wrote various isolated airs, eminent among which
is a setting of Dante's "Count Ugolino's Lament," written for the basso
Lablache. Like other composers of the time, Donizetti may be said to
have had no fixed residence. If he had a commission from any city, he
established himself there temporarily, to be in close and intelligent
relationship with the manager, the artists and the public whom he was to
please. It was near the close of 1830 that the first work of his which
holds a present place, "Anna Bolena," was sung at the Carcano, having
been put in rehearsal within four weeks after its beginning. This was
adjudged so great a work that Mayer wrote concerning it that "at last the
French had to confess that Italy had another composer beside Rossini."
Close upon this serious opera came "L'Elisire d'Amore," which still
stands beside Rossini's "Cenerentola," a splendidly gay illustration of
the best Italian _buffo_ writing.

In 1833 "Parisina" introduced him to the Pergola, in Florence, and in
the autumn of that year Rome received with great satisfaction "Torquato
Tasso," which the author dedicated to Bergamo, Sorrento and Rome.

In spite of its fecundity, the genius of Donizetti strengthened with
its exercise, and after comparatively brief intervals, occupied with
less important works, there appeared those great compositions which will
always remain magnificent examplars of Italian opera in the nineteenth
century. In 1834, the Scala, despairing because Mercadante, smitten with
opthalmia, could not fulfil his engagement, turned to Donizetti, who
taking the libretto which Romani had prepared for his friend, completed
upon it in twenty-five days, "Lucrezia Borgia," a lyric tragedy which
the musicians of all the world know. In 1834 came "Maria Stuarda;" in
1835, "Gemma di Vergy," "Marino Faliero," and the perennially interesting
"Lucia di Lammermoor;" in 1836, "Belisario," "Betly" and "L'Assedio di

In the meantime Donizetti had been going up and down the peninsula,
visiting particularly Naples because he had hopes of becoming
Zingarelli's successor as professor of counterpoint, for which post
his education, severer, and his taste, simpler than Rossini's, seemed
to fit him. He had visited Paris in 1833, where "Marino Faliero" had a
splendid reception. It was in May, 1837, that the anticipated death of
the venerable Zingarelli took place, and Donizetti was named director
_pro tem_. of the Conservatory. In July of this same year his wife died
suddenly after fourteen years of happy wedlock. This was a heavy blow
for him, and his sorrowing heart found some relief in that pathetic and
sombre melody, "_Ella è Morta_," which he dedicated to her memory. But
his engagements left him no time for pure grief and he continued to
write, though less frequently, for a couple of years.


Executed by the sculptor Vincenzo Vela. Erected in 1855 by his brothers
Giuseppe and Francesco]

But Paris was constantly reclaiming him, and in 1840 "La Fille du
Régiment"--"created" to a French text--made its brilliant entrance at
the Opéra Comique, and public, press and court bestowed upon its author
all their honors. Already resident in Paris for some two years, Donizetti
saw that it was best for him to remain there, not only because there
was more money to be made, but also because there was more to learn and
to be inspired by. He began to modify his native fun according to the
lighter humor of France, and during the next three years he composed "La
Favorite," "Linda di Chamounix" and "Don Pasquale," besides such graver
things as "Les Martyrs," (known in Italian as "Il Poliuto"), "Maria di
Rohan," "Dom Sebastien," "Maria Padilla" and "Adelia," even the few which
were written to Italian texts for Milan, Rome and Vienna, being sent out
from Paris.

[Illustration: DONIZETTI.

Bust by Dantan in the Carnavalet Museum, Paris.]

In 1840 he visited Switzerland for his health and crossed the frontier
to Milan and Bergamo, where his townsfolk drew his carriage home after a
festival performance at the theatre. But if he had hoped to be called on
to Naples for the position which had been virtually promised him, he was
disappointed, for Mercadante about this time received the appointment,
and Donizetti soon returned to Paris and his work. Other brief visits
to Italy and to Germany were made during this epoch, and among many
honorary tributes came some from the Sultan of Turkey and Pope Gregory
XVI. In Vienna, whither he went early in 1842 to direct his "Linda," he
had also great honor, and was named royal _Kapellmeister_ and director of
the opera, with an _honorarium_ of four thousand florins and without the
obligation of permanent residence.

The next few years were divided between Paris and Vienna, and his operas
passed out of Europe across the Atlantic and even reached Constantinople
and Calcutta. Men distinguished in art, science and letters became his
friends, and his income was constantly augmenting. But early in 1845 he
was found one morning senseless upon his bedroom floor in Paris, and
from that hour dated the dreadful decay of mind and body which ended at
last in death on April 8, 1848, after several years passed in private
lunatic asylums. His sensitive and susceptible nature, excited and worn
by his eager and exhausting industry, and perhaps by some irregularities
of life, had given warnings in intense headaches, and bewildering
depressions, against which he had nerved himself with a destructive
strain. The dreary imbecility of these later years made death welcome,
when at last it came to him in Bergamo, whither he had been removed in
the care of a nephew and his physician in the autumn of 1847. Bergamo
gave him a noble funeral and assigned him a tomb in the cathedral beside
that of his master, Mayer, who had died three years before, and in 1855
his brothers Giuseppe and Francesco erected a stately monument made by
Vincenzo Vela.

[Illustration: Fac-simile musical manuscript written by Donizetti.]

Donizetti's life fell all within the most brilliant and inspiring
period of Italian opera, touching the earlier great at its beginning,
running parallel with other distinguished men and overlapping the rise
of Verdi, Ricci and the elder writers of the present time. All things
considered, it does not seem as if his talent could have been turned to
better account, although his astonishing facility made him often take the
quickest rather than the best way to reach his ends. But he had been so
well grounded in the departments which Bellini avoided, and had pursued
so much serious study, that although he was sometimes superficial he was
never trivial, and the outlines of his scoring were correct even when
they were badly filled. His own skill with instruments and his knowledge
of vocalism were of immense advantage; because, being above all things a
melodist, he could adapt his airs perfectly to their singers or to the
instruments which were to carry them in accompaniment. His reading and
his taste led him to select strong, sympathetic subjects, preferably
historical or romantic, and his dramatic disposition enabled him to make
his scenes expressive and captivating. He was fortunate and unusual in
his ability to treat appropriately both humorous and serious subjects,
and his melodies are eminent for their true sentiment no less than for
their variety and the purely musical quality which makes them interesting
and beautiful whether they be sung or played. His accompaniments are
often thin and conventional arrays of simple chords, but when he is at
his best they are full, rich in harmony and tone-color and enlightened by
significant figures. Yet he understood so well the purpose of the lyric
drama that his scores are never heavy with ostentatious counterpoint or
intricate polyphony. That he was capable of dignity and forcefulness, his
graver and less familiar works illustrate, and the praise bestowed upon
his string quartets when they were played in Paris, in 1856, proved that
he was equal to composition upon classic lines had it been demanded of

Besides his sixty-six operas, most of which have been named above, he
wrote many overtures, some large church pieces, many albums of songs in
various languages, of which none are unworthy of preservation, beside a
multitude of ephemeral things of which none remain but few and scattered

All the greatest vocalists of the first half of the century sang for
him, and the rosters of the opera-houses for which he wrote, repeat the
names of Catalani, Cecconi, Méric-Lalande, Tosi, Pasta, Grisi, Ungher,
Borghesi, Dorus-Gras and Stolz among the women, and of Fioravanti,
Donzelli, Busti, Rubini, Tamburini, Lablache, Verger, Winter, Donzelli,
Negrini, Salvi, Duprez, Derivis, Levasseur, Wartel, Coletti, Baroilhet,
Ronconi and Rovere among the men. His life, therefore, was active,
honorable, prosperous and happy; and in reviewing it one finds little to
regret except that it was not ended by a sudden, instead of a gradual,

[Illustration: H. M. Ticknor]


_Reproduction of a lithograph portrait by Maurin._]



Although Italian by birth, the author of "La Vestale" was, in his life
work, almost a Frenchman, and, like other celebrated composers, reflected
a share of his glory upon his adopted country.

Gasparo Luigi Pacifico Spontini was born at Majolati, Nov. 14, 1774;
he was intended by his parents for the priesthood, and was accordingly
placed under the care of a paternal uncle, dean of the Church of Santa
Maria del Piano at Jesi. He had much trouble in overcoming the opposition
of his family, and particularly of his uncle, to his musical education,
but the dean was obliged to yield at last, and consented to the little
Gasparo studying music in his spare moments, first with the singer
Ciaffolati and the organist Menghini, then with Bartoli, director of
music at Jesi, and Bonnami, director of music at Masaccio. In 1791,
Spontini was ready to enter the conservatory _la Pietà dei Turchini_ at
Naples, where he made such rapid progress under the direction of Sala and
Tritta, that he soon received the title of _maestrino_, or tutor. One
fine day (he was then twenty-two years old) he fled from the conservatory
and hastened to Rome, where he brought out a very pleasing little opera,
"Le Puntigli delle donne." Between that time and 1802 he brought out at
Rome, Naples, and Venice fifteen operas, which established his early
fame. The best known of those early operas is "Gli amanti in cimento,"
sung at Rome in 1801. But the young musician dreamed of greater triumphs,
and in 1803 he left Italy for France, where his genius was destined to be
developed in a very marked fashion.

Spontini began his Paris career by giving singing lessons, and in order
to bring himself before the public he produced at the _Italien_ (Feb.
11, 1804) his opera "La Finta Filosofa." This performance, which was
honored by the presence of the First Consul and Josephine, was a great
success for the young composer, whom the newspapers announced as a pupil
of Cimarosa. Afterwards he succeeded in forcing the doors of the _Opéra
Comique_ with "La Petite maison," which was very badly received by reason
of the poem, and was played only three times. It must be said that the
new-comer had against him not only the French musicians, professors and
pupils of the Conservatoire, opposed to the invasion of Italian music,
but also the Italian composers who had succeeded in making a place
for themselves in France, like Della Maria and Nicolo, and who had no
intention of giving up the place to this unexpected rival. The failure
of "La Petite maison" did not prevent Spontini from being chosen by Jouy
to set to music a poem entitled "La Vestale," and about the same time he
received from the hands of Dieulafoi a new libretto in one act, "Milton."
This work was played at the _Opéra Comique_, Nov. 27, 1804, and brought
Spontini into notice, for the breadth of certain motives, the touching
simplicity of some of the melodies, fixed upon him the serious attention
of the public, and gave a foretaste of the transformation which was to
take place in the young composer.

He afterwards experienced another failure at the _Opéra Comique_ with
"Le Pot de fleurs" (March 12, 1805), but this failure did not make much
impression, for people remembered only "Milton."

Moreover, Spontini was engaged upon the work which was to gain for him
immortality. He had found in Jouy's poem the opportunity for developing
all his qualities of breadth, boldness, and dramatic sentiment, which he
had vainly sought to bring out in his Italian operas, or in his little
French operettas. But it was not enough to have written a masterpiece
like "La Vestale," it must also be performed. Spontini, favored with the
protection of Josephine, had composed a cantata in honor of the conqueror
of Austerlitz, "l'Eccelsa Gara," sung at the Imperial Theatre on Feb. 8,
1806. The Emperor in return had signed the order for the preparation and
_mise en scène_ of "La Vestale," and the rehearsals were begun. But the
new opera was withdrawn in favor of a certain ballet, "Ulysses," by Milon
and Persuis; then the decorations which had been painted for "La Vestale"
were destroyed by a storm. Finally Napoleon, who never encouraged
Spontini, although he was credited with remarks complimentary to the
latter, decided to bring out first the "Triomphe de Trajan," a grand
opera written in his honor by Esménard, with music by Lesueur, Persuis,
and Kreutzer, and though this opera had proved a great success, thanks to
its rich _mise en scène_, and had left a free field to Spontini, there
was talk of again postponing "La Vestale" in favor of Lesueur's opera,
"La Mort d'Adam." Jouy and Spontini probably would have expostulated
in vain, but that Lesueur's music, happily for them, was not ready at
the necessary moment. Then they were obliged to make all haste with the
rehearsals and bring out "La Vestale," Dec. 15, 1807. The composer was
only thirty-seven years old, when at this auspicious moment he stepped
into the position left vacant by the death of Gluck and the departure of
his successor Salieri.

[Illustration: G. SPONTINI.

Reproduction of a portrait by Vincent.]

This work gave to the ancient lyric tragedy an unexpected life, warmth,
and elevation, and made Spontini absolute master of the theatre. One
of the decennial prizes instituted by Napoleon was awarded to him,
notwithstanding the redoubtable competition of Lesueur's "Bardes," the
opera preferred by the Emperor. Méhul, Gossec, and Grétry, the three
members of the Académie des Beaux Arts who rendered this verdict, gave
evidence of a commendable independence. Spontini, having dedicated his
score to the Empress Josephine, immediately set about composing a new
work on a poem which Jouy had just sent him, "Ferdinand Cortez," and
this was performed at the _Opéra_, Nov. 28, 1809. This work was fairly
successful, thanks to the music, and in spite of the weakness of the
poem, which was so badly put together that subsequently Jouy was obliged
to reverse the order of the acts, in order to improve them dramatically.
Yet the general feeling was that this score, notwithstanding its striking
beauties, had not the inspiration, the unity of effect, which had been
appreciated so much in "La Vestale," and it always remained a work of
secondary importance in the opinion of the musical public. These two
successes singularly developed the natural importance and vanity of
Spontini, who never doubted his own genius, and who even at the opening
of his career showed an extraordinary confidence and spirit; but a less
favorable period was in store for him. He married the daughter of the
celebrated piano manufacturer, Jean Baptiste Erard, and in 1810 the
privilege of the direction of the _Théâtre Italien_ was given to him,
but in consequence of administrative dissensions he was soon supplanted,
after having made known to the Parisians, in 1811, Mozart's "Don
Giovanni." Three years later he wanted his privilege returned to him by
the royal government, but it was refused, being granted to Mme. Catalani
associated with Paër.

[Illustration: SPONTINI.

Reproduced from a portrait engraved after a painting by Jean Guérin, made
shortly after the first representation of "La Vestale."]

The ancient _protégé_ of the Empress was a little neglected under the
Restoration. Nevertheless he composed an "occasional" opera, "Pélage ou
le Roi et la Paix" (April 23, 1814); June 21, he brought out a mediocre
opera ballet, "Les Dieux Rivaux," on the occasion of the marriage of
the Duc de Berry (Persuis, Berton, and Kreutzer had also collaborated
for one); he brought about in 1817 a brilliant revival of "Ferdinand
Cortez," remodelled throughout; finally he gave, on the 20th of December,
1819, his opera of "Olympia," which showed here and there the hand of
the great composer, but which was in every respect inferior to "La
Vestale" and "Cortez." It was a complete failure in Paris, but in 1821
the work, having been rewritten to a great extent, was given in Berlin
with great _éclat_. This was a double triumph for Spontini, it being
his revenge on Paris and his crowning success in the German states. For
a long time, indeed, the king of Prussia, Frederick William III., had
cherished the most sincere admiration for him. In 1814 he demanded of
him several pieces for the music of his guard, and after hearing, in
1818, the remodelled "Ferdinand Cortez," he desired to attach this great
musician to his court. Spontini was not satisfied with the title of
royal capellmeister, and notwithstanding the opposition of the Count of
Brühl, intendant of the royal theatre, he obtained, by contract signed in
August, 1819, the position of general director of music, at a salary of
10,000 Prussian thalers (about $7,000). He went to Berlin, therefore, and
occupied this important post from 1820 to 1840, exercising a considerable
influence on all that pertained to musical art in Prussia, elevating the
standard of education for the artists, and composing numerous cantatas
or works for special occasions which his court duties required him to
write. He also brought out two new works at the Berlin Opera House: in
1821, the opera ballet "Nurmahal," taken from Moore's poem "Lalla Rookh";
in 1825, "Alcidor"; and in 1827 he wrote the grand romantic opera "Agnes
von Hohenstaufen," the first act of which had been played ten years
before at a royal _fête_. All these productions added nothing to his
glory, and have fallen into oblivion.

The performance of "Agnes" called forth a very violent criticism from
Rellstab, the representative of all Spontini's enemies in Germany, and
who had just been made editor of the "Vossische Zeitung." Indeed, when
Spontini arrived in Berlin to assume his duties, he soon saw in league
against him all the German musicians and composers, over whose heads he
had stepped.

Though generous and obliging, his pride was deeply hurt by these
hostilities, and he could not conceal deep irritation at the cavillings
of his enemies, to which he gave a sharp retort. He had caused to be
suppressed a pamphlet in which Rellstab had accused him of withholding
from the stage, or else playing with an evident intention of ruining
them, the works of composers whom he had reason to fear; he had
brought about Rellstab's arrest and detention for several months for a
spiteful article in which the critic expressed doubt that the composer
of "Nurmahal," "Alcidor," and "Agnes" was the same as the composer of
"La Vestale" and "Cortez." But Rellstab responded with violent satires
published at Mayence, in which Spontini, without being named, was easily
recognizable by his personal peculiarities of manner and speech, which
were cleverly depicted. Finally, as the natural result of Rellstab's
imprisonment, the entire party of which he was the mouthpiece redoubled
its spiteful attacks against Spontini.

Thenceforth the latter, feeling himself more and more an object of
attack, began to cherish the project of returning to France. His absence
had calmed all the jealousies which his colossal self-love had excited
against him, and in one of the long vacations which he spent in Italy or
France during his twenty years' service in Prussia, there had been talk
of his writing for the Paris _Opéra_ a grand work, "Les Athéniennes,"
in place of the opera "Louis IX.," which Louis XVIII. had previously
wished him to compose, and the first ideas of which he had put on
paper. At length, in 1838, the Académie des Beaux Arts nominated him,
unhesitatingly, in Paër's place, provided he would return and settle
in Paris. His protector, King Frederick William III., died in August,
1840; but even if this event had not taken place, Spontini would not
have accepted a third engagement of ten years with the royal house of
Prussia. The new king would have preferred to retain him, but the disgust
which Spontini felt at the open hostility of the intendant of the royal
theatre, and also the promise which he had made to his colleagues of
the Institute of France, decided him to refuse these overtures. He left
Berlin in July, 1842, under conditions very painful to his self-love, but
advantageous to his purse, since the king provided that he should retain
all his honorary titles and receive an annual pension of about $3,200.

On his return to Paris, after a certain time passed in Italy, he sought
to have his old operas revived, but he, who had dubbed as barbarous all
the music which had taken root at the _Opèra_ in his absence, encountered
only animosity, and was unable to carry out his plans. On the other hand,
his "Vestale" had achieved great success in Denmark; some fragments of it
were sung and much applauded at Cologne in 1847; and Spontini, ennobled
by the king of Denmark, made Conte de San Andrea by the Pope, was
gloriously received by the king of Prussia when he returned as a visitor
to the capital. Such were the last gratifications of self-love which this
great composer experienced; and although France had not much more to
offer him, he always returned to that country, and chose Paris above all
other places for his home.

At last, when his memory and hearing began to fail, he felt that the
beautiful climate of his native country might restore his health, and he
left Paris in 1850 to return to the Roman States. He was received at Jesi
with honors which are by custom reserved for sovereigns. Then he wished
to visit once more his native town, Majolati. He had been there several
months, when one day, while suffering from a very bad cold, he insisted
on going to mass, in spite of the earnest remonstrances of his wife.
There he took more cold, fever set in, and the illustrious composer died
on the 24th of January, 1851, at the age of seventy-seven.

[Illustration: Fac-simile autograph letter and musical manuscript written
by Spontini.]

Spontini's operas no longer hold an important rank, and yet his name
always commands respect, thanks to the beautiful bits which are
still admired in "Ferdinand Cortez" and in "La Vestale." Assuredly,
Spontini was no innovator such as was Gluck. He was content, without
revolutionizing lyric tragedy, to give it more dramatic animation and
masters as bold and as little mindful of conventionalities as were
Berlioz and Wagner have professed a real admiration for Spontini.


From the Carnavalet Museum, Paris.]

This artist, in spite of the changes which music underwent during
his lifetime, was so thoroughly convinced of the superiority of his
conceptions of the noble art, that one could not but feel a respect for
him and for his best qualities. The march and the prayer in "Olympia,"
the scene of the revolt in "Ferdinand Cortez," best of all, the grand
_finale_ of "La Vestale," rest upon motives so expressive, and appeal so
strongly to the emotions, that one cannot do otherwise than admire them.
It was Spontini's misfortune never to find another poem which suited his
genius so well as "La Vestale." "Olympia" bears evidence of a singular
indecision and of repeated modifications, in the midst of which the
composer's idea and intention vaguely float. In fact, Spontini constantly
made changes in his scores, pasting alteration over alteration until
almost every page resembled a patchwork or mosaic. "Ferdinand Cortez"
contains some rare beauties as regards melody, expression, and dramatic
effect, but these beauties are exceptional; "La Vestale" alone was a true

In this opera we must consider especially the high inspiration which
breathes through it, the powerful emotions which it reveals, and not
pause at Spontini's somewhat embarrassed formulas and mediocre methods.
What tenderness in the first duo of Licinius and Cinna, _Unis par
l'amitiè_; what anguish in the supplication of Julia, _Oh! des infortunès
dèesse tutèlaire_; what passion in the air _Impitoyable dieux_, and
what sweet resignation in the cavatina, _Les Dieux prendront pitiè_..!
The last song, _Adieu mes tendres sœurs_, is as sadly expressive as the
hymn _Fille du ciel_ is full of religious sentiment, and this series of
magnificent pages is crowned by that imposing _finale_ of the second act,
which was at that time a work of genius. And yet, when "La Vestale" was
revived at the _Opéra_ in 1854, three years after Spontini's death, it
was played only eight times, making a total of 213 performances in Paris.
When "Ferdinand Cortez" was played again in 1840, it lived through only
six performances, making a total of 248 in Paris. After all, Spontini,
with his great melodic qualities and rare dramatic instinct, only
continued in the path which Gluck had laid out, and was in no sense an
innovator. Thus he exercised no influence on musicians who followed him,
while he stood by and saw powerful rivals revolutionize musical art and
reform the public taste.

He raged and stormed when people talked to him of the "fashion"; but here
he was helpless, for musical taste had totally changed in twenty years.
While he was still in Prussia, he proposed to the administration of
the _Opéra_ to go to Paris and direct a revival of "Ferdinand Cortez,"
with the denouement as he had arranged it for Berlin, and, after a
suit gained at first, then lost, against the director of the _Opéra_,
Duponchel, to prevent him from playing that opera again in its original
form, he was obliged to submit to the pitiful and fatal revival of 1840.
But if he had gained his point, he would have found himself confronted
with entirely new preferences on the part of the public, for since his
departure there had been a complete revolution at the _Opéra_, under the
influence of Rossini and Meyerbeer. "William Tell," "Robert le Diable,"
and "The Huguenots," not to mention "La Muette de Portici," coming one
year before "William Tell," had struck a fatal blow at ancient lyric
tragedy. The public, weary of antique heroes, of Greeks and of Romans,
desired something a little less formal, more animated and real. They
wanted dramas concerning times more nearly approaching their own, and
therefore more interesting to them. The music also had completely changed
in character; it allowed of a much richer instrumentation, a search after
picturesque or historic color, a variety in the melody and dramatic
expression which had never occurred to Spontini.

And yet, after this revolution was an accepted fact, Spontini, quite
blinded by his phenomenal self-love, delivered himself of the following
sentiments to Richard Wagner, when the two composers met at Dresden in
1844: "After Gluck, it is I who have made a grand revolution with 'La
Vestale'; I have introduced the augmentation of the sixth in harmony, and
the big drum in the orchestra. With 'Cortez' I have taken a step forward;
I have taken three steps with 'Olympia,' and a hundred with 'Agnes von
Hohenstaufen.' After that I might have composed 'The Athenians,' an
excellent poem, but I have renounced it, despairing of excelling myself.
Now how do you imagine that it is possible for anybody to invent anything
new when I, Spontini, realize that I am unable to surpass my greater
works? And furthermore it is very evident that since 'La Vestale,' not
a note of music has been written that has not been stolen from me." Was
it possible to show a greater blindness in the face of such works as
"William Tell" and "The Huguenots," or to give a more erroneous estimate
of himself, ranging his works in the exact inverse order of their worth?
Poor Spontini, who was so unfortunate as to outlive his glory, and see
"unworthy rivals" all about him, bearing off the laurels!

[Illustration: Al. Jullien]


From a photograph made specially for this work.]

[Illustration: LUIGI CHERUBINI

_Reproduction of an excellent lithograph portrait._]

[Illustration: CHERUBINI]



The full name of this illustrious master is Luigi Carlo Zanobi Salvatore
Maria Cherubini. He was born in Florence, on the 14th of September, 1760.
From his earliest youth it was intended that he should follow the musical
profession, and the first instruction he received was imparted to him by
his father, Bartolomeo, who filled the position of musical accompanist
at the Teatra della Pergola. Under his direction, the boy soon became
proficient in playing from figured bass, and with the help of Bartolomeo
Felici, the best teacher of counterpoint in all Tuscany at that time,
he acquired a knowledge of the principles of composition. He received
lessons in singing and in organ and piano playing; in short, all his
musical gifts were developed with such surprising rapidity that at the
age of thirteen he composed his first mass, which was performed in church
and very favorably received. Cantatas, short dramatic compositions, two
more masses, and an oratorio followed in swift succession. It now became
Cherubini's ardent wish to visit the important musical centres in Italy,
and to enjoy the instruction of the most famous masters. His father's
very limited resources being insufficient for the gratification of this
desire, a stipend was granted him for the purpose by the Grand Duke
Leopold. In 1778, Cherubini betook himself to Giuseppi Sarti, in Bologna,
and, on the master's removal to Milan, a year afterward, followed him
to that city. Sarti's methods of teaching were those of the old school;
that is to say, he regarded the contrapuntal style of composition of
the sixteenth century as the foundation of all true art, and exacted
complete mastery of its principles from all his pupils. Yet it argued no
inconsistency on Sarti's part that he also devoted himself zealously to
dramatic composition, a field in which his success was not less marked
than in that of church music. To these two forms of art the Italians
confined themselves in Sarti's time; for their instrumental music, which
served as a model for all Europe until the first half of the eighteenth
century, was in a state of almost complete decay. It was chiefly owing to
the teaching of Sarti, that Cherubini became the greatest contrapuntist
of his time, and excelled even Mozart in purity and severity of style.
His famous _Credo_ for eight voices, _a cappella_, one of the most
marvellous artistic achievements of any age, was worked out in part
under Sarti's eye. In connection with this style of composition,
Cherubini continued to labor diligently in the line of operatic music.
Sarti adopted the commendable practice of inserting in his own operas
certain airs composed by his most talented pupils, thus affording his
young disciples an opportunity of becoming practically acquainted with
operatic effects, yet shielding them from the discouraging severity
of public criticism. After completing his preparatory studies in this
way, Cherubini ventured for the first time to step forward with an
entire opera of his own composition. It was called "Quinto Fabio," and
was brought out in Alexandria, through Sarti's influence. "Armida" and
"Messenzio," performed in Florence, also "Adriano in Siria," produced
at Livorno, followed in 1782, but these works seem to have made no
permanent impression upon the public. Nevertheless Cherubini's earnest,
profound, and eminently artistic nature was revealed in them to an
extent that astonished his countrymen, who were accustomed to music of a
lighter and more pleasing character, such as the operatic compositions
of the Neapolitan and Venetian school. A certain degree of admiration
was accorded him, and he was occasionally honored with flattering
appellations, as for example "Il Cherubino" (the cherub); but none the
less the fact remains that neither the earlier nor the later works of
the musician found true appreciation in his native land.

Sarti, meantime, strove without ceasing to secure the advancement of
his pupil, and procured for him in 1784 the position of composer at the
Haymarket Theatre in London. After Handel's death, Italian music had
quickly regained its old place in the popular esteem in England. During
the three years of Cherubini's residence in London, he wrote the operas
"La Finta Principessa" and "Giulio Sabino," the first of which was
received with much applause, while the latter proved a complete failure.
Wounded by this want of success, Cherubini repaired to Paris in 1786,
and, after one more visit to London in 1787, he took up his permanent
residence in the French metropolis. He had found there a true friend
in Viotti, the famous violin virtuoso, and with his assistance gained
admission to the upper circles of society, even receiving the honor of
an introduction to Queen Marie Antoinette. An event of great importance
in deciding the direction of his artistic faculties was his attendance
at the so-called _Concert de la Loge Olympique_, where he heard for
the first time a symphony of Haydn's, probably one of a series of six,
composed in 1786, by especial command of the society. A new world was
suddenly opened to Cherubini by this magnificently rendered work. From
this hour he began to feel the influence of German instrumental music,
and Haydn, in particular, remained to the end of his life the object of
his highest veneration.

While on the way from Italy to England the musician promised, when he had
discharged his obligations in London, to compose an opera for the Royal
Theatre in Turin. In 1788 he fulfilled his promise by the production of
"Iphigenia in Aulis." This opera was given during the carnival season in
Turin, where it was enthusiastically received, and was also performed
in other Italian theatres. It was the last work which he wrote for the
stage of his fatherland. The impressions produced upon him by the French
opera, the works of Gluck, and Haydn's orchestral music had filled his
mind with new ideals. Before his visit to Turin, he had already begun
to compose the music of "Démophon," an operatic poem by Marmontel, and
he now proceeded with the work. This, his first French opera, was
performed in the _Academie royale de musique_ on the 2d of September,
1788, but proved only a partial success,--a fact which was due partly to
the character of the piece, partly to unfavorable external influences.
Before Cherubini was commissioned to undertake the composition for the
poem, it had been intrusted to Johann Christoph Vogel of Nuremberg, an
imitator of Gluck, but he advanced so slowly with his task that Marmontel
became impatient. Vogel had resided in Paris since 1776 and had won many
friends for himself through his opera "La Toison d'Or," which appeared
in the year 1786. On the 26th of June, 1788, he died, while still in
the prime of life, and, as the completed score of "Démophon" was found
among his papers, the wish was expressed by many that his composition
should be performed before Cherubini's. This, however, did not happen,
and a feeling of dissatisfaction existed in consequence. The overture,
which was played in February, 1789, at a concert of the _Loge Olympique_,
was received with unusual favor, and gave rise to disparaging comments
upon Cherubini's work. But Vogel's opera, taken as a whole, could lay as
little claim to permanent success as that of his rival, though it was
more frequently put upon the stage.

In this same year of 1789, Cherubini first found definite employment
in Paris. Here Léonard, the _coiffeur_ of the queen, had obtained
permission, through the good offices of her Majesty, to organize an
Italian opera. Viotti collected in Italy a number of superior singers,
who at first gave their performances in the Tuileries and afterwards in
a newly erected theatre in the Rue Feydeau. Cherubini was invited to
become musical director of the enterprise, and entered upon the work with
youthful ardor. His extraordinary talents, his exactness and inexorable
firmness, accomplished the desired result, that of securing performances
uniformly of the highest order. The works presented to a delighted public
were those of the most famous Italian composers of the day, Guglielmi,
Gazzaniga, Paisiello, Cimarosa, and others. Cherubini himself composed
a considerable number of detached arias, which were inserted in the
operas of the before-mentioned masters, and served to heighten their
charm. For the concerts of the _Loge Olympique_, in which the queen
showed the liveliest interest, he wrote in the course of the first year
the cantatas "Amphion" and "Circe." He also began an opera, "Marguerite
d'Anjou," which was to be brought out at the Tuileries theatre, but
its completion was hindered by the progress of the French Revolution,
the terrors of which, in 1792, entirely put an end to Italian opera in
Paris. Viotti fled to England, and his singers were dispersed. Cherubini
sought to escape the incalculable dangers to which every one who had
been connected with the royal court was then exposed, by living in the
greatest seclusion, and associating only with a very small circle of
intimate friends. In addition to his musical studies, he began to occupy
himself with the natural sciences, botany in particular possessing great
attractions for him. Yet he could not wholly avoid coming in contact
with the forces at work in the Revolution, and was obliged to enter the
National Guard, in whose service he guarded the prisons and escorted
the condemned to the scaffold. On one occasion his own life stood in
danger. A troop of _sansculottes_ marched roaring through the streets,
looking for musicians to accompany their songs, and among others, they
pounced upon Cherubini, who refused to assist them. The crowd assumed a
threatening attitude, whereupon a friend pressed a violin into his hand
and took position with him at the head of the procession. In his youth
Cherubini had learned a little violin playing for his own pleasure, and
this slight knowledge now proved his salvation. He was obliged to wander
about all day with the rioters, and when they halted in a desolate spot,
the musicians took their places upon some barrels and played down to
their vile audience. It was amid all the terrors and excitement of this
wild period that Cherubini composed his opera "Lodoiska," the work which
decided his position in the artistic world. Within a short time a company
of French singers had been performing in alternation with an Italian
troupe at the _Théâtre Feydeau_, and here the opera was produced for
the first time. Its success was so pronounced that during the following
year no less than two hundred repetitions of the work were demanded in
Paris, and its fame soon spread in every direction. In this composition
the new ideal which Cherubini had cherished for so many years was happily

[Illustration: LUIGI CHERUBINI

Reproduction of a portrait by Quenedey, Paris, 1809.]

A second opera, "Koukourgi," had been nearly completed in the year
1793. But the overthrow of the monarchy on the 10th of August, 1792,
and the confused condition of public affairs at this juncture, took
away all prospect of its immediate production. In the mean time the
composer had left Paris and was residing in Normandy with a family of
his acquaintance. When he returned, in 1794, he brought with him the
completed score of the opera "Elisa." It was brought out on the 13th of
December, 1794, in the _Théâtre Feydeau_, but was less successful than
"Lodoiska." During the next few years there was a considerable falling
off in Cherubini's activity as a composer, owing to his appointment
as teacher of counterpoint in the _Conservatoire de Musique_, just
established, in which he became also one of the inspectors of the
institution. Exact and conscientious by nature even to the point of
pedantry, the musician devoted himself with unflagging energy to the
duties of his office, yet occasionally returned with fresh ardor to
operatic composition. In 1737 appeared "Medée," his most powerful
dramatic work; in 1800, "Les Deux Journées" (Water-Carrier), the most
admired and effective of all. Between the two stand the lesser operas,
"L'Hôtellerie Portugaise" (1798) and "La Punition" (1799). A number
of short vocal compositions belonging to this same period show that
Cherubini was obliged to contribute his quota to the French Revolution.
Among them are "Hymne à la Fraternité" (22d September, 1793), "Hymne du
Panthéon," "Chant pour le dix Août," the ode on the 18th Fructidor and
others. The most important and almost the last work of this kind was the
beautiful music composed in memoriam of the noble Gen. Hoche, which was
performed in public on the 1st of October, 1797.

There was an element of harshness and defiance in Cherubini's character,
which rendered it impossible for him to bend to the will of others,
and he never modified his severe criticisms of art and artists in
conversing with the loftiest personages. In the presence of Napoleon,
whether as First Consul or as the all-powerful Emperor of France, it was
impossible for him to dissimulate, and he excited the displeasure of the
potentate by speaking disparagingly of Zingarelli, one of his favorite
composers. Paisiello, on the other hand, who was equally a favorite of
Napoleon, Cherubini was willing to tolerate. Yet on one occasion, when
the Emperor, who had no comprehension of the earnestness and refinement
of Cherubini's style, was, as usual, extolling the two much-admired
artists, and characterized our musician's orchestral accompaniments as
overladen with ornament, he is said to have received the reply, "You
love the music which does not prevent you from thinking of the affairs
of state." This remark was probably never forgiven; certain it is that
during Napoleon's reign, Cherubini never attained the eminence which
he so richly deserved, but for twenty years was obliged to content
himself with his position at the Conservatory which afforded him barely
sufficient means for his own support and that of his family. Paisiello,
meantime, obtained a remunerative appointment as director of a musical
organization established by Napoleon, in 1802. When the jealousy of the
Paris musicians caused him to forsake his post in disgust, the Emperor
wished that Zingarelli should be his successor. The latter declining,
the choice now fell upon Méhul, who, out of regard for Cherubini, also
refused to accept. The place, however, was eventually given to Lesueur.
This proved a trying experience to Cherubini, and had an injurious effect
upon his mental and physical condition. The failure of his musically
charming but dramatically uninteresting opera "Anacréon" could only
increase the bitterness of his disappointment. It was therefore with
pleasure that he accepted an invitation to Vienna, for the sake of
producing there some of his earlier operas, and of composing a new one
exclusively for the Austrian capital. He reached the city in July, and
the warmth of his reception, the love and admiration shown him by Haydn
and Beethoven, both of whom he held in the highest veneration, made up to
him for much that he had previously suffered. Before the production of
his new opera, "Faniska," on the 25th of February, 1806, he listened to a
performance of "Fidelio." Cherubini admired the greatness of Beethoven,
but was less powerfully attracted by him than by Haydn, a fact for which
the former's peculiar personality might very well account. With respect
to the opera he criticised in it, as was very natural for an Italian, the
lack of vocal style, and also found fault with the great C major overture
on account of its abrupt modulations. Beethoven, on his part, had great
respect for Cherubini as an artist, as is not only attested by many of
his utterances, but distinctly seen in his compositions. If "Fidelio"
shows a resemblance to any other operas whatever, it is to those of
Cherubini, and this master's influence is also perceptible here and there
in Beethoven's Fourth Symphony in B flat major, written in 1806.

Meantime, during the composer's absence from Paris, the war between
France and Austria had broken out, but was speedily terminated by
Napoleon's victory at Austerlitz on the 2d of December, 1805. After this
event, the conqueror took up his residence at Schönbrunn, near Vienna,
and, learning that Cherubini was at that time living in the capital,
commanded him to direct his musical _soirées_, twelve in number, paid
him a considerable sum of money for his services, and manifested unusual
friendliness in every way. On one occasion, however, the conversation
unfortunately fell upon "Faniska," which Napoleon had not yet heard.
"It would not please you, sire," said Cherubini, remembering his former
discussions with the Emperor. "Why not?" the latter inquired. "The
orchestral accompaniment is too overladen," was Cherubini's curt reply.
It will be seen that if Napoleon forgot nothing, Cherubini was not behind
him in this respect. But the power was in the hands of the Emperor, and
this the master was made to realize afresh after his return to Paris
on the first of April. A recurrence of his old feelings of discontent,
and an affection of the nervous system which often excited the gravest
apprehensions of his family and friends, now ensued. The number of
compositions belonging to the next few years is very small. In 1806 he
finished the _Credo_ for eight voices which he began in Bologna, while
under Sarti's instruction. An unproductive season followed, continuing
till the autumn of 1808, during which nothing of importance came from
his pen. Other stars rose in the firmament, and he lost the place he had
occupied for fifteen years as the greatest living operatic composer.
In Spontini, whose "Vestale" appeared in 1807, was seen a composer who
understood better than Cherubini the art of reflecting the splendors of
imperialism in musical strains. The latter now seemed ready to abandon
composition altogether, and devoted himself more zealously than ever to
his botanical studies or beguiled the time with the singular occupation
of making all sorts of strange drawings by combining in various way
the figures found upon playing cards. Ferdinand Hiller, who saw these
drawings, describes them as fantastic groups or scenes,--dancers with red
jerkins, wrestlers in scarlet caps, buildings, and miniature landscapes
with all sorts of wonderful foliage. The cards were laid lengthwise or
sidewise, used separately or united, and larger or smaller portions of
the spots were erased, the whole thing being a remarkable mixture of
invention and calculation. These pictures the artist had framed and hung
upon the walls of his room.

In Paris, at this period, there lived a Monsieur de Caraman, Prince of
Chimay, a great lover of music and very friendly to Cherubini, whom he
invited to spend the summer of 1808 on his estate in Belgium, hoping that
the quiet of rural life might restore the musician's failing strength.
Cherubini accepted the invitation, and Auber, at that time his pupil,
accompanied him to Chimay. The inhabitants of the place, having heard
of the celebrated composer's arrival at the castle, sent a deputation
to entreat him to compose them an ode to be sung on St. Cecilia's day.
Cherubini, with harsh abruptness, refused to comply with the request.
But soon afterwards the occupants of the castle saw him going about in
a meditative mood, and then to set himself quietly and industriously to
work. After another brief interval he called Auber to the piano, and
showed him a recently completed _Kyrie_. When this had been sung through
in the presence of his astonished and delighted friends, Cherubini wrote
the _Gloria_, and presented both compositions to the highly elated
townspeople, who gave them as satisfactory a public performance as
possible, considering the very limited amount of talent at their command.
This was the beginning of the celebrated F major mass for three-part
chorus and orchestra. On his return to Paris, Cherubini completed the
work, and in March, 1809, it was performed for the first time in the
Prince's _salon_ by a select chorus and orchestra, before an audience of
invited guests. In thus returning, a mature artist, to the field of his
youthful endeavors, the composer was destined to exhibit his genius in
its finest and most permanent qualities. The F major mass inaugurated
a new order of church music, just as a new operatic style was created
by "Lodoiska"; and if other opera composers came after him who followed
different ideals and obscured his fame, it is an undeniable fact that
the Catholic Church music of the nineteenth century can show us nothing
worthy to stand by the side of Cherubini's works. He has here remained
the unequalled master.

In running over the list of his compositions it is easy to see that from
this time on he produced less and less of the dramatic order. In the year
1809 appeared the charming one-act Italian opera, "Pimmalione," which was
performed at the Tuileries in the presence of Napoleon and the art-loving
Empress Josephine. The name of the composer had not been communicated to
the Emperor, who was profoundly stirred by the music; but when he learned
that it was written by Cherubini, he manifested more astonishment than
pleasure. Notwithstanding this, he sent the musician a handsome sum of
money, and commissioned him to compose a festal ode on the occasion of
his marriage to the Archduchess Marie Louise of Austria. Another one-act
opera, with a French text, "Le Crescendo," was brought out in the Feydeau
Theatre on the 1st of September, 1810. In 1813 there followed a work for
the Grand Opera, where Cherubini had first presented his "Démophon" and
"Anacréon" twenty-five years before. The new opera, however, was not well
received, and a period of twenty years now elapsed before the production
of another. In 1833 a remodelling of the old "Koukourgi," under the title
of "Ali Baba," was given to the public. It deserves our admiration as
the work of a septuagenarian, but is wholly ineffective from an artistic
point of view.

The last period in the long life of the master is that of his great
sacred compositions, and begins in the year 1808. No less than eight
masses, two requiems, and a very large number of minor pieces make up
the rich array. The great D minor mass appeared in 1811, the C major in
1816, the coronation masses in G major and A major in 1819 and 1825.
The celebrated C minor requiem was composed in 1816, and rendered for
the first time in the Church of St. Denis on the anniversary of the
death of Louis XVI. The second requiem attracts special attention for
the following reasons: It is written in D minor, for male voices only.
Cherubini wrote it in 1836, being then seventy-six years old. On the
occasion of the funeral of Boieldieu in 1834, the C minor requiem had
been sung; but as female voices were here called into requisition, the
Archbishop of Paris requested that the work should not be used again for
a similar purpose, the singing of women being prohibited by the church.
It was Cherubini's wish that no controversy on this point should arise
at the time of his own decease, and he therefore wrote a work in which
alto and soprano voices were entirely omitted. In this connection another
composition should be mentioned, which does not strictly belong to the
sacred music, but is more nearly related to the eleven secular cantatas
in Italian style produced by Cherubini. It was, however, employed for
a funeral service, and is the well-known "Chant pour la mort de Joseph
Haydn," written for three solo voices and orchestra. This work is full
of deep feeling and of wonderful beauties of tone. One of its leading
ideas accords with a melody from the "Creation," and the whole work is
certainly to be regarded as a heartfelt tribute of admiration offered
by Cherubini to the great German master. The work was performed at the
Paris _Conservatoire_ in the winter of 1810, the death of Haydn having
occurred in the preceding year. Cherubini, however, inscribed it in the
list of his works under the date 1805, and it is not yet known whether
it was composed in consequence of a false report of Haydn's death or was
originally a song of praise dedicated to the Viennese composer in the
year when the two musicians first met, and subsequently converted into a

While Cherubini had shown in his youth a certain interest in the
composition of church music, and in mature years had turned his attention
for a long time in other directions, he had not thus far occupied himself
with German chamber music and the symphony. But in his last creative
period he entered upon this domain. In 1814 he composed his first, and,
for a considerable interval, only string quartet. In the following year
he wrote for the Philharmonic Society in London a concert overture in G
major and a symphony in D major, the latter being the sole work of its
class he ever gave to the world. In 1829 he finished a second string
quartet in C major, for which he made a rearrangement of his symphony,
including a new _adagio_. The third quartet in D minor, a very spirited
production, was completed on the 31st of July, 1834, and three more works
of the same kind followed it before the autumn of 1837, as also another
string quintet.

The musician's financial affairs now began to take a more favorable turn.
After the restoration of the Bourbons the _Conservatoire_ was temporarily
closed but reopened somewhat later, under the title "École royale de
chant et de déclamation," when Cherubini resumed his old place as teacher
of counterpoint. Moreover, in 1816 the king made him director of the
royal band, an office which he magnanimously shared with Lesueur. It was
for this organization, to which were attached the most distinguished
singers and instrumentalists, whose performances were extolled as
unsurpassed, that Cherubini wrote the most of his greater and lesser
sacred compositions. The brevity of the service at which the chapel
choir was required to assist is seen in the character of the compositions
themselves. The music, like the service, being necessarily short, masses
such as those in F major and D minor were not available. Cherubini was
obliged to condense his ideas as much as possible, but the external
pressure at this time, far from injuring his style, served only to
increase its effectiveness. It was often the case, moreover, that only a
single portion of the mass was celebrated in musical form, which accounts
for the great number of _Kyrie_ and other fragmentary compositions found
among his works.


From a photograph of monument by Fantacchiotti in San Croce Church,
Florence, Italy.]

A position of more importance than any he had yet occupied awaited our
artist in the year 1822. The management of the _École Royale_ (after 1830
it was again called the _Conservatoire_) had been intrusted in 1816 to
the highly esteemed writer upon musical history, François Louis Perne,
who did not prove equal to the undertaking, and Cherubini was now called
upon to fill his place. So great was his success as director of the
institution that it not only rose at once to its former level, but became
a model of completeness. Nor is it too much to say that the prestige
still attached to the name of the Paris _Conservatoire_ owes its origin
to Cherubini, who united in himself all the qualities necessary for the
proper fulfilment of the responsibilities which rested upon him. The
influence and authority which a world-wide reputation bestows belonged
to him by right. As a composer, the bent of his mind was serious and
earnest, and had always led him to profit by the accumulated experience
of centuries in laying the foundation for his own life-work. In addition,
he possessed that talent for organization and direction which is so
rare with artists. Extreme punctuality and love of order, untiring
industry and severity towards himself and others, were among his most
prominent characteristics, which perhaps were developed to an unnecessary
extent, causing him to demand complete submission to his will on the
part of others, and discouraging the expression of any individuality
or independence, often denying even that degree of personal freedom to
which all mankind are entitled. Both by teachers and pupils he was more
feared than beloved. His taciturnity, the harsh and frequently sarcastic
enunciation of his decisions, his obstinacy and pedantry, increased
with years and rendered co-operation with him no easy task. Talent of
an extravagant order found no favor in his eyes, and the dislike which
Berlioz felt for him during his student days was reciprocated by the most
open depreciation on Cherubini's part. But with all that may be said,
it is impossible to detract from the inestimable service rendered by
him as director of the _Conservatoire_, both to the institution itself
and to the French music in general. The publication of his celebrated
instruction book, "Cours de Contrepoint et de Fugue," which was
introduced into the classes of the Conservatory, took place in the later
years of his life. The text of this book was not written by Cherubini
himself but by one of his pupils; Fétis thinks by Halévy. In the matter
of oral explanations, the master was exceedingly chary. He pointed out
in the clearest manner what must be done, but no reasons were given as
to why it should be thus, and not otherwise; he never liked to talk much
about his art. Taking his method as a whole, too much cannot be said in
its praise. In the matter of counterpoint he did not confine himself
to the rules laid down in the sixteenth century, but embraced with his
comprehensive glance the whole domain of modern music.

Although the greater part of Cherubini's life was passed in straitened
circumstances, and his worth as an artist received at most only a partial
recognition, yet in his old age the world delighted to do him honor,
and his authority was undisputed. In the year 1795 the musician married
Cécile Tourette, the daughter of a member of the old royal chapel, who
bore him a son and two daughters. To this earnest, industrious man
the highest pleasures that life could offer were those of his happy
home, where, in his later years free from care, he gladly dispensed an
unpretentious hospitality such as had been impossible when he was obliged
to struggle for the necessities of existence. Ferdinand Hiller, who
resided in Paris between the years of 1828 and 1835, paid frequent visits
to Cherubini, and was once conducted by the artist's oldest daughter to
the dwelling occupied by the family in 1800. A single apartment then
served both as the musician's study and the children's sitting-room.
Here he sat at a little table by the window and composed the opera "Les
Deux Journées," while the children played in the background. A line of
demarcation was drawn through the middle of the room; beyond this the
children could amuse themselves as noisily as they pleased, but they
were forbidden to cross the line. So long as this regulation was obeyed,
and no one came too near him, he did not feel disturbed, and here we see
revealed the mental constitution of the man.


From a photograph made specially for this work.]

Cherubini died at Paris on the 15th of March, 1842, in the eighty-second
year of his life. As Commander of the Legion of Honor, a distinction
from the king never before conferred upon any musician, he was buried
with military honors. Over three thousand persons were in the funeral
procession, which conducted the remains of the composer to the cemetery
of Père Lachaise, where they still repose. Within a short time after his
death, several memoirs of Cherubini were issued. A fellow-countryman,
Luigi Picchianti, published a work called "Notizie sulla vita e sulle
opere di Luigi Cherubini," which even to-day is of substantial value, so
far as the principal facts of his life are concerned. Miel, a Frenchman,
wrote "Notices sur la vie et les ouvrages de Cherubini" (1842), while
Fétis in the "Biographie Universelle des Musiciens," and Ferdinand Hiller
in "Musikalisches und Persönliches," made important contributions drawn
from their personal knowledge of the artist. A careful compilation,
entitled "Cherubini; Memorials illustrative of his Life" (London, 1874),
was made by Edward Bellasis. The fullest revelations concerning his life
history were, however, made by the musician himself in the catalogue of
his works, illustrated with autobiographical notes and published with
the consent of the writer's relatives by Bottée de Toulman, librarian of
the _Conservatoire_. The precious collection of manuscript compositions
left behind by Cherubini remained for a long time in the hands of the
family, who, though willing to dispose of them, could find neither in
Italy nor France a state institution, a society, or a private individual
ready to purchase this inestimable treasure and preserve it to posterity.
At length, however, the writer of these lines had the honor of being
permitted to assist the Prussian government in securing the manuscripts,
which are now in the possession of the Royal Library in Berlin.

Many circumstances have thus far combined to prevent the forming of a
decisive judgment in the public mind as to the position which should be
assigned to Cherubini in the musical world. The path which leads to the
proper understanding of an artist's personality, through a study of the
character of the nation to which he belongs, seems in this instance to
be effectually blocked, for in the subject of our essay we behold the
phenomenon especially rare among the Italians--an international musician.
Though Cherubini was trained in the forms of old Italian church music
under the severe and thorough tuition of Sarti, pupil of Padre Martini,
the learned Bolognese contrapuntist, and though familiar from childhood
with the light and artistic opera-melodies of his fatherland, yet this
native of Florence was destined to achieve his life work in a foreign
land. Cherubini composed the greater number and most important of his
works for the _Conservatoire_ in Paris, the city which became his second
home. And, finally, it was through the study of a world-renowned German
master, belonging to his own time, that the whole nature of the man was
first stirred to its foundation. From all this it follows readily enough
that while Cherubini reveals alike to the Italians, the French, and the
Germans certain traits which are characteristic of each nationality,
he awakens for the most part in one and all a certain feeling of
strangeness. The different elements which make up his musical personality
are not welded together externally, nor was anything further from the
master's thought than to offer something to every nation in a vain
struggle to win for himself the applause of the world. Let it rather be
regarded as the strongest impulse of his earnest, reflective nature to
appropriate for his development everything that could be acquired from
the collective artistic culture of the race. These acquisitions he was
able to fuse together into a musical language of peculiar significance,
incapable of comparison with any other; but in so doing he was obliged to
renounce the sort of sympathy which, resting upon a national foundation,
draws souls together as by an irresistible force.

Unlike the greater number of Italian composers, whose highest aim was a
cheerful, agreeably stimulating artistic enjoyment, there is in Cherubini
an element of severity, an aristocratic elegance of expression, which
often border on coldness. Strains such as enchant the multitude are of
infrequent occurrence in his music. It is, therefore, not to be wondered
at that the multitude kept itself aloof from him. Only one of all his
operas, "Les Deux Journées," now known in Germany under the name of
"Der Wasserträger" (The Water Carrier), was able to attain a lasting
popularity. For a variety of reasons, also, his sacred compositions
have failed to become widely known. The masses and requiems are, first
of all, too grand and earnest, too difficult and full of meaning, to
adapt themselves to the vapid style of Catholic Church music, and, when
performed in the concert room, they do not often produce their full
effect. Nor is the three-part writing, which Cherubini has repeatedly
employed with reference to the needs of the French church choirs,
at all suited to the requirements of our choral societies. It is,
unfortunately, too often the case that trifling obstacles of a similar
character interfere with a proper appreciation of the finest productions
of genius. The fact that the name of Cherubini does not stand inscribed
in the temple of fame with those of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven must be
attributed in some degree to unfamiliarity with his works on the part
of the public, but is still further owing to the peculiarity of the
artist's musical nature, and to the remarkable place which he has created
for himself in and beyond the musical life of the nations. To estimate
him at his full value should be the distinctive office of the German
people; and it is indeed true that, while he is everywhere spoken of with
respect, there exists to-day, in the select circle of German musicians
and musical critics, as little doubt as existed five-and-twenty years ago
that a place should be accorded to Cherubini among the greatest composers
whom the world has known. He mastered musical forms and resources to
an extent that has been rarely equalled. In the severe contrapuntal
style of composition, which has gone more and more out of fashion since
Beethoven, he surpassed all his contemporaries, whatever might be
their relations to him in other respects. With the single exception of
Sebastian Bach, no composer has ever employed the contrapuntal forms so
freely, intelligently, and profoundly as Cherubini; while as regards
harmony and transparent clearness, he stands even before Bach in the most
complicated of his works. A thorough mastery of counterpoint is of more
especial importance in vocal church music, although dramatic composition
also affords it sufficient opportunity, and it can nowhere be entirely
dispensed with. In addition to his skill in this direction, Cherubini had
complete control over the technique and the forms of modern instrumental
music, a domain from which his French and Italian contemporaries were
excluded, he having followed in Haydn's footsteps; and in artistic
elaboration of motives, and in masterly handling of orchestra and string
quartet, he scarcely yields the palm to his German master. But it is,
first of all, in works formed by an agreeable combination of vocal and
instrumental music that his diversified talents found their centre of
activity. In respect to the association of vocal music in one or more
parts with the play of the instruments, Cherubini's operas, cantatas, and
church compositions are masterpieces of the highest order, and entirely
worthy to stand by the side of similar works by Haydn and Mozart.

A highly developed sense of form and unusual mastery of artistic methods
would certainly not suffice of themselves to place Cherubini in the
front rank of composers, if he had not been able at the same time to
impress the stamp of individual genius upon his manifold productions. He
has sometimes been called an eclectic, and always, of course, with the
implication that he was less original, and less fertile in invention,
than the great German masters of his time. This estimate of him would
seem, however, to confound the strength of the musician's creative power
with its quality. No artist can do more than develop to a higher degree
what he finds already existent. For this purpose, he fills his mind
with a greater or lesser number of artistic thoughts, and transforms
them into the elements of his own creations. The fulness and variety of
these formative elements will generally be in proportion to the power of
the composer. It can truly be said of Sebastian Bach that not a single
species of art was known in his time which he did not make use of for
his own purposes. Whatever Handel and Mozart could draw from Italian
music for the realization of their artistic ideals they unhesitatingly
appropriated, employing it partly as the foundation of their productions,
partly as supplementary material. In all such instances, the point to be
considered is whether the strength of the artist is sufficient to vivify
and renew the foreign elements. That this was the case with Cherubini,
I have already remarked. His style of musical expression is a thoroughly
characteristic one, entirely different from that of other composers; its
cold and reserved elegance not being due to the eclectic character of
his cultivation, but to the idiosyncrasy of his artistic nature. Granted
that the mission of art is to animate and cheer, and that this is not
accomplished through the medium of reflection, but by the direct, artless
outpouring of the artist's thoughts, it must none the less be permitted
to the artist to sacrifice the immediately transporting effect of his
music in favor of profoundness, and the unusual order of charm intended
to be conveyed. Those compositions of Cherubini which fail to electrify
at the first hearing attract us when we have studied them, through their
grandeur of outline, the deep earnestness which pervades them, their
artistic finish, and the exceptional brilliancy of particular passages.
Of course there are included among his works, as is the case with all
artists, some unimportant productions in which certain peculiarities of
his nature are too plainly revealed. Such are especially to be found
among the compositions of his latest years, and the last three of his
string quartets can afford unmixed pleasure to no one. But whoever wishes
to form a just judgment of Cherubini should turn to the rich array of
great works belonging to his most productive period, in which one cannot
fail to perceive a harmonious blending of the universally intelligible
with a pure and characteristically peculiar beauty which appeals to every
appreciative listener.

[Illustration: CHERUBINI.

From a bust by Dantan in the Carnavalet Museum, Paris.]

Cherubini is not included among the composers whose originality is
clearly shown in their earliest productions, and who are much more
commonly found among the Germans than the Italians, since the latter
write with great rapidity and spontaneity, making free use of resources
already proved to be effective. The works belonging to his Italian
period are after the manner of that day, and many things in his operas
remind one especially of Piccini. With Cherubini, however, the execution
is always more careful, the melody more noble and earnest, so that the
careful observer finds in his compositions sufficient indication of
an independent mind to understand why it was that from the beginning
the Italian public was more startled than pleased with his music. The
transition to a new style was not gradual, but sudden and surprising; in
this respect he reminds one very strikingly of his younger compatriot,
Spontini, in whose opera, "La Vestale," is seen an equally violent
change of manner. The year 1786 marks the turning-point in the case of
Cherubini, and the transitional work was a cantata called "Amphion."
It was in this year that the musician made his first acquaintance with
Haydn's symphonies, and the effect they produced upon him must have
been positively electrifying. The orchestral treatment in "Amphion,"
the solo accompaniments, the interweaving of the instrumental playing
with the chorus singing, everything in the whole work wears an aspect
so entirely new that one may say, here the real Cherubini steps forward
a finished artist. This will become evident to all from the fact that
the _allegro_ of the overture to "Anacréon," that enchanting and truly
incomparable production of Cherubini's pen, is essentially composed of
the orchestral introduction to "Amphion." The cantata was intended for
the _Loge Olympique_, but was never performed either there or elsewhere.
The composer therefore thought he must employ some portions of it for the
opera referred to, which appeared seventeen years later. "Iphigenia in
Aulis," belonging to the year 1788, shows us the new style transferred to
the domain of the _opera seria_. This work, which has no equal among all
Italian operas, had the good fortune to meet the approval of Cherubini's
countrymen, who were able to take no pleasure in the music of Mozart.
While in the form of the different pieces, the nature of the cadenzas,
and certain other firmly established mediums of expression, the opera
proclaims its relationship to the Italian school, yet in the series of
beautiful melodies it contains it rises as far above Italian opera as
Mozart's "Idomeneo." But how different is Cherubini's manner here from
that of Mozart, of whose operas at this period he most certainly had
no knowledge, having been borne wholly on the wings of his own genius
in attaining the lofty height occupied by "Iphigenia." In "Démophon,"
his first French opera, it seems as if the composer had overtasked his
strength, although the magnificent ensemble movements of the work are
far superior in form to anything in the same line attempted by Gluck,
with whom, in this instance, Cherubini had entered into competition. The
opera is full of pathos and rich in original invention, but is not cast
in the great tragic mould, and lacks the simplicity which is necessary
for the production of a striking effect. "Lodoiska" is characterized by
greater restraint, and is generally considered to be the musician's first
dramatic masterpiece. My own preference would be for the "Iphigenia," if
the libretto of that work were not so inferior. In writing "Lodoiska,"
Cherubini entered upon the domain of the French _opéra comique_, which,
through its simplicity of action and its direct appeal to human emotions,
affords great opportunities for dramatic effect in the hands of a skilful
artist. The composer's activity in the operatic line was henceforth
almost wholly confined to works of this class, among which three of the
most prominent are "Elisa," "Les Deux Journées," and "Faniska." Even
"Medée," that powerful musical tragedy was obliged, through pressure of
circumstances, to adapt itself to the same form.

[Illustration: LUIGI CHERUBINI

_Reproduction of lithograph by Léveille made from a painting by Ingres,
1842, now in possession of the Louvre in Paris._]

In all these works the style of the master is unchanged; but inasmuch as
it would exceed the limits of this article to enter upon the interesting
task of analyzing the operas in detail, there is but little more to be
said. That all are theatrically effective is a matter of course, since
they are the work of an Italian, but they possess less of the dramatic
quality in a narrower sense than the operas of Spontini, and many other
less gifted composers. As a dramatic composer Cherubini was too fond of
music for its own sake, and indulges too freely in elaborations of his
musical themes, such as enchant his hearers in the masses in F major
and D minor, but which interfere with the action in a work intended for
the stage. He does not excel in portraying the more violent emotions,
but surpasses all his predecessors in the representation of an intense,
trembling excitement, while no more recent composer has gone beyond him
in the power of awakening dramatic suspense.

If the importance of an artist's personality is to be estimated by the
influence he has exercised upon his contemporaries and upon posterity,
then Cherubini towers immeasurably above all the musicians of his day.
The French opera of the nineteenth century would not be worthy of mention
without him, and he has given to the country of his adoption in every
way far more than he ever received from it. His position with respect to
Germany is an analogous one, and Italy alone has remained almost entirely
unaffected by his music. If he received instruction from Haydn, Beethoven
in his turn was a pupil of Cherubini. "Fidelio" could not have existed
without the "Water Carrier," or the first movement of the B flat major
Symphony without Cherubini's overtures. In many portions of Beethoven's
masses, also, he followed the lead of Cherubini, whose C minor requiem he
greatly admired.

The influence of our composer upon the exponents of the romantic opera
in Germany was also very powerful. Spohr himself confessed that there
were times when he ranked Cherubini above all others, Mozart not
excepted. Weber found the form of his overture already prepared for him
in "Anacréon"; the wonderful volume of sound in Cherubini's orchestral
music, and the manner in which the color of the instruments is made to
contribute to the dramatic effect, have been studied by no one in a more
docile spirit than by Weber. With the lapse of time, indeed, it has
almost gone so far that the Germans look upon the Italian as one of their
own race. But the honor which is his due will never be fully paid to
Cherubini till the whole musical world bows down in admiration before his
artistic greatness.

[Illustration: Philipp Spitta]

[Illustration: Music. L. Cherubini]

[Illustration: ARRIGO BOITO

_Reproduction of a photograph from life by Fratelli Vianelli, Venice._]



Arrigo Boito presents the peculiar example of a musician high in
distinction in his own country, with a fair measure of fame in other
lands, who, though past the age of fifty years has thus far produced but
a single work, his _Mephistopheles_. This work, having at first met with
a sad repulse in Italy, recovered itself in a brilliant fashion some
years afterwards, and has since run successfully on almost all the large
stages of Europe. He is perhaps the only known example of a composer who
owes his reputation to a single work, and the uniqueness of the case
makes it worthy of mention. It is true that Arrigo Boito is poet as
well as musician, that he is more productive as poet than as musician,
and that his fame in his own country addresses itself perhaps even more
to the writer than to the composer. Another peculiarity of Boito's is
that, like Wagner, he claims that a musician cannot write a good score
unless he has also conceived and executed the poem of his opera, and he
puts this theory in practice by writing the words and the music of his
_Mephistopheles_. But he has belied himself by outlining the librettos
of half a score of operas, of which he has confided to other artists the
task of composing the music; so that, between his principles and his
conduct there is an evident contradiction.

Boito was born at Padua on the 24th of February, 1842. His father, who
was a Venetian, was a distinguished painter. His mother, Polish by birth
and education, was a woman of remarkable intellect, high birth and great
culture. The eminently artistic conditions which surrounded his early
childhood, and that of his elder brother Camillo, seemed to push them
irresistibly towards the cultivation of the fine arts. Indeed, Camillo
became an architect and distinguished art critic, whereas Arrigo devoted
himself to letters and to music.

Arrigo was only eleven years of age when he was admitted, in 1853, to
the Milan Conservatory, where he formed a very strong and fraternal
attachment for one of his fellow-students, poor Franco Faccio, an artist
of great promise, who became conductor of the orchestra at the Scala
theatre, Milan, and who died insane, cut off in the full vigor of youth
and the full maturity of his talent in less than a year after. Both had
for their masters at the Conservatory, Ronchetti and Mazzucato, and both
finished their studies in the same year, 1861. Boito had written the
words of a "mystery" in one act, entitled _le Sorelle d'Italia_, for
which he and his friend Faccio wrote the music, and this little work
was performed according to custom, by the pupils of the Conservatory in
one of the exercises at the close of the year. It was so well received
by the special audience gathered to hear it that the minister of public
instruction granted to each of the young composers a premium of 2,000
francs to enable them to study abroad for one year.

I believe that Boito then made a trip to France. At all events, he had
returned to Italy in 1862, and was already proving his poetic talent by
writing the verse of the _Inno delle Nazioni_, of which Verdi wrote the
music, and which was performed at Her Majesty's Theatre, London, on the
occasion of the opening of the Universal Exposition in that city. Soon
afterward he again became poet collaborator, furnishing his friend Franco
Faccio with the libretto of an opera entitled _Amleto_, which was given
with some success at the Carlo Felice theatre, Genoa, in 1865, but which,
given some years later, in 1871, at the Scala of Milan, suffered a
signal and memorable defeat. In 1866, when Italy was at war with Austria,
Boito, who is an ardent patriot, enlisted as a volunteer and served the
campaign in the ranks of Garibaldi's army.

The 5th of March, 1868, was the important date in Arrigo Boito's artistic
career; it was the date of the first performance, at the Scala theatre,
Milan, of his _Mephistopheles_, an opera in five acts with prologue,
the complete failure of which formed an epoch in the history of the
theatre in Italy. He had already spent several years of labor on this
important work, for which, as the title implies, he had been inspired by
Goethe's _Faust_, and which he had counted on giving this title, when the
unexpected appearance at the Scala of Gounod's _Faust_, and the success
which it obtained there, came to cause him considerable disquietude,
and obliged him, that he might not be accused of servile imitation, to
modify the plan of his work, and to change even its title. He called it
_Mephistopheles_, and proceeded with as much persistence as ever to have
it performed at the theatre which had just seen Gounod's masterpiece

The fiasco of _Mephistopheles_ was tremendous and rarely had a storm
burst with such fury under the roof of the Scala. The author had given
such free scope to his fancy both in the music and the poem, that the
Milanese public was quite upset by his ultra romantic methods and
indignant at a work which diverged so widely from the beaten track. Yet,
although they cried out at the sacrilege and hissed furiously, those of
the spectators whose minds were not warped by prejudice, recognized in
this work, in spite of its faults, the breath of an intelligent, earnest
and inspired artist. Here is what an Italian biographer of Boito says on
the subject:

"Boito staged Goethe's poem with true spirit, making the Evil One
his protagonist and giving to the drama an absolutely new form, even
attempting to bring back the use of the Latin metres in his verses,
an attempt which he was the first to make. The first performance of
_Mephistopheles_ at the Scala was a veritable battle, in which the work
was sustained by passionate admirers and combatted by bitter adversaries.
The composer, with rare intrepidity, directed the orchestra as if he
were wholly oblivious of the uproar which surged about him. In short
_Mephistopheles_ fell, but in so doing left a lasting impression on
the minds of the public. Perhaps its failure was chiefly due to the
excessive length of certain episodes, and the little or no dramatic
element in some places, as for instance the symphonic interlude between
the fourth and fifth acts. But Boito was not discouraged, and he was
right. Apart from a certain eccentricity which even the intelligent,
unprejudiced public did not relish and which it wished to see disappear
from the prologue of the libretto, his opera contained many real
beauties. Boito had the rare virtue of submitting partially to the wishes
of this public, and the patience to wait till his time should arrive:
and it did arrive. In 1875, _Mephistopheles_ was performed at Bologna
and applauded there. In 1881, it reappeared at the Scala, reduced to
four acts and considerably modified, and this time it was received with
enthusiasm. The author was feted by numerous artists, critics and men of
letters assembled at Milan on the occasion of the national Exposition,
and from there his work began to make the tour of the theatres of the two
worlds, being everywhere received with equal favor."

More productive as poet, I have already said, than as musician, it
was in this capacity that Boito appeared before the public during
the interval that elapsed between the first and second editions of
his _Mephistopheles_. He first published a little humorous poem, _Re
Orso_, which had great success. Then he soon set to work to write opera
librettos for various composers. He wrote, by order of Mazzucato,
director of the Milan Conservatory, the poem of a little opera in one
act, _un Tramonto_, the music of which was written by a pupil of the
establishment, Gaetano Coronaro, become since then second conductor at
the Scala. This opera was written for representation on the little stage
of the Conservatory at the closing exercises of the academic year. It was
to this work, which was afterwards played at several Italian theatres,
that Coronaro owed his diploma on leaving the Conservatory. A little
later Boito wrote the libretto of _la Falce_ for Alfredo Catalini, an
opera which also appeared first at the Conservatory; then he gave to
Amilcare Ponchielli the libretto of _Gioconda_, which was very successful
in Italy and abroad. The subject of _Gioconda_ he had borrowed from one
of the most beautiful of Victor Hugo's dramas, _Angelo tyran de Padone_,
but he had reduced it for the lyric stage with great skill, preserving
the principal situations, and those best calculated to excite the
inspiration of the composer. Boito signed these various works with the
pseudonym _Tobia Gorrio_, which forms an anagram of his name, Arrigo

It was about this time that Boito wrote the words and the music of an
opera entitled _Ero e Leandro_. The verses are exquisite, it is said, and
worthy of a true poet, but the music did not satisfy him and he declined
to make it known. He then confided the poem of _Ero e Leandro_ to the
celebrated double-bass player, Bottesini, who was also a distinguished
composer, and the opera with the latter's music was performed in 1879
at the royal theatre of Turin. Boito had not entirely condemned his
own score, however, and he embodied several fragments of it in his new
edition of _Mephistopheles_, among others, the duet _Lontano, lontano_.
He wrote librettos for other composers, particularly _Alessandro Farnese_
and _le Maschere_, and he published a volume of poems, _il Libro dei
versi_ (Turin, Casanova, 1877,) which was very well received by the
public, and parts of which deserve the honor of being included by Paolo
Heyse in his _Antologia dei poeti italiani_.

Boito, whose ideas and principles are very advanced in music, as in
literature, put himself at the head of the Wagnerian party in Italy. He
was one of the most ardent in sustaining and spreading in his country
the doctrines of the German master, being aided at Milan by the musical
critic of the _Perseveranza_, Filippo Filippi, who died some years ago,
and at Rome by Sgambati, a remarkable pianist and composer, and one of
the most distinguished artists of his country. In order to accelerate
as much as possible the movement which was manifesting itself in Italy
in favor of Wagner, Boito did not hesitate to make a translation of his
works. To him is due the Italian adaptation of _Rienzi_, performed at
Turin in 1882, and that of _Tristan and Isolde_.

He had not given up, however, appearing again himself as a composer,
and he had written the libretto of a lyric drama entitled _Nerone_, for
which he also wished to compose the score. But at least ten years have
slipped by since this work was first spoken of, the newspapers announcing
each year that it is about ready for representation, and nothing has
been seen of it yet. So the Italian critics make much sport of Boito
and his long promised work. However, while waiting for _Nerone_ to be
finished, Boito has written for Verdi, who has a very deep affection for
him, the librettos of two great works, one of them dramatic, the other
comic, the subjects of which he has borrowed from Shakespeare. The first
is _Otello_, which has been so successful for a number of years, and
which Verdi did not hesitate to attempt after Rossini; the second is
_Falstaff_, of which the master has finished the score, and which is to
be performed in the near future at the Scala, Milan.

And this is where we find Boito to-day. But we would hardly know how to
pass over one incident of his life which is greatly to his honor, and
which suffices to show the deep and true brotherly affection which united
him to his unhappy friend Franco Faccio. In 1890, when the death of
Bottesini made it necessary to select a successor to this great artist as
Director of the Conservatory at Parma, Verdi was extremely anxious that
Boito should accept the office, which he persisted in declining. Then
Franco Faccio was proposed and accepted. But Faccio, whose health had
begun to fail, was, before he could go and take possession of his post,
seized with a mental aberration at Graetz, where he had gone for rest.
At the first news of the event, Boito left for Graetz, lavished upon his
friend the most devoted care, and with some members of his family, took
him back to Milan, then to Monza, where the unfortunate man died at the
end of about eighteen months. Until the last they were hoping against
hope for a recovery; but meantime the Parma Conservatory was without
a director, a thing prejudicial to the labors and the studies of the
pupils. At this juncture Boito generously volunteered to go to Parma as
a substitute for his friend at the Conservatory until his health should
permit him to fulfill its functions. He was named "honorary" director,
as is stated in the following despatch addressed from Rome at that time
by Dr. Giovanni Mariotti, syndic of Parma, to the Vice-director of the
Conservatory of that city:--"Arrigo Boito, to whom, before all others,
and on several occasions, Verdi has vainly offered the directorship of
our Conservatory, consents to day, through a very noble sentiment, to
become our director in place of his afflicted friend. Yesterday was
signed the royal decree which names Boito honorary director of our
Conservatory, confiding to him the supreme authority during the absence
of the real director. He is a precious acquisition, of which Parma will,
no doubt, be proud." Boito, indeed, went to Parma and assumed temporary
charge of the Conservatory. Then, when poor Faccio died, he resigned the
duties which he had accepted only as a service to his friend, and resumed
the simple course of his private occupation and labors. Is it not very
true that this fact does honor to Boito's character?

Boito is certainly a distinguished artist, but one who carries boldness
almost to the point of temerity, and the desire to be original to the
point of eccentricity; and this applies to the poet as well as to
the musician. Thus his own countrymen find fault with certain daring
peculiarities in his _Mephistopheles_, for instance, from a scenic point
of view, his prologue with the chorus of angels, which has nothing to
do with the subject; and from a poetic point of view, the use of odd
and affected metres, as well as the use he makes from time to time of
verse written in Milanese dialect, which has nothing to do with the
true Italian language. As a musician also, he is criticised for having
broken so radically with the ancient Italian melodic forms, without
daring, however, to accept frankly the Wagnerian theories, but permitting
whimsicalities and eccentricities which seem useless and appear only
calculated to offend sensitive ears. Notwithstanding all that, he is
very talented and remarkably clever. In a letter which Rossini wrote
to Tito Ricordi, the famous music publisher of Milan, on the 21st of
April, 1868, that is to say some weeks after the appearance and fall of
_Mephistopheles_ at the Scala theatre, I find these interesting lines:
"I desire to be remembered to Boito, whose great talent I appreciate
infinitely; he has sent me his libretto of _Mephistopheles_, by which
I see that he is too precocious in desiring to be an innovator. Do not
fancy that I would make war on innovators! I simply prefer that people
should not claim to do in a day that which can only be accomplished in
several years. Let the dear Giulio (Tito Ricordi's son, an excellent
musician and composer) read _benignly_ my first work, _Demetrio e
Polibio_, and _William Tell_; he will see that I was not a crab! * * * *
*" Rossini meant by this to indicate the artistic progress which he had
made between his first and his last opera; he had gone steadily forward.
Boito had wished to go too quickly, and had broken too openly with all
the traditions. Hence the sad reception which the public gave to his
_Mephistopheles_ in its first form. Profiting by this warning of the
public, Boito took his work in hand, modified it without destroying its
character, by smoothing the rough places, made the desirable concessions
and saw himself recompensed for his pains by a success as complete as had
been its previous failure.

It is very difficult, however, to judge an artist and estimate fairly his
talent on the strength of a single work. The score of _Mephistopheles_
can only give an idea of the author's tendencies, only serve to indicate
his temperament and his artistic nature. It is insufficient to permit of
classifying him, and of fixing his place among contemporary composers. If
Boito continues to preserve the obstinate silence which he has preserved
now for quarter of a century, his fugitive dramatic passage can only
be regarded as an accident in the musical history of this century.
If he decides at length to shake off his idle inclination and break
that silence by offering to the public that _Nerone_ which has been so
long talked about, and at which he works so slowly, perhaps it will be
possible to form a rational opinion of his worth and of his personality.
Until then, criticism will be very difficult and will run a great risk of
going astray.

[Illustration: Arthur Pougin]


_Reproduction of a photograph from life by A. Manfredi & Co., Turin._]



For what he has done as composer, pianist, and conductor, and because of
the strong and wholesome influence that he has exerted upon the musical
life of his countrymen, the name of Giovanni Sgambati will be an honored
one in the history of Italy for the last half of this century. His
influence has been not less potent from the fact that his writings and
concert performances have been unconnected with the stage. Italy is no
longer what it was, essentially the greatest land of opera; its glory
has largely departed, the mighty music-dramas of Richard Wagner and,
in a lesser degree, the works of Meyerbeer, Gounod, Bizet, Massenet,
Tschaïkowsky, Goldmark and others, having over-shadowed all of the
Italian operas excepting one or two by Bellini and Rossini, the later
and greater works of Verdi, and the "Mefistofele" of Boito, and it is
to-day much more natural than formerly for an Italian who is called
to high musical work to turn to that kind of composition in which the
fame of the greatest masters has been made. While a strong liking, and
even preference, for opera will always characterize the Italians, it
is certain that a taste for symphonic and chamber-music is gradually
being acquired, as the knowledge of these forms becomes more common. As
forwarding this work, the names of Bazzini and Martucci should also be

Sgambati has been obliged in a fashion to make his public, but it is
at any rate a very different one from that of years gone by, to which
the Herz variations and the Thalberg and early Liszt operatic fantasias
represented the highest form of pianoforte music, and for which the
Mercadante, Bellini, Donizetti and the first Verdi operas were composed.
In his success in accomplishing this educational result is to be found a
lesson for all artists who, from lack of conviction or of courage, are
tempted to let mediocrity have its way, and not to strive for the higher
cultivation of music, wherever their lot may place them.

Giovanni Sgambati was born in Rome, May 28th, 1843, his mother being
English, the daughter of Joseph Gott, a sculptor who had for many years
lived in Rome, and his father an advocate. It was intended that he should
pursue his father's profession, but his strong and evident talent for
music determined it otherwise. He studied, as a boy, pianoforte playing
and harmony with Natalucci, a pupil of Zingarelli, and from an early
age we find him singing in church, playing in public, conducting small
orchestras and composing to a certain extent. In 1860 he settled in Rome,
quickly becoming known for his pianoforte playing, and especially for
the solid and classical character of his programmes; for Italian taste
and music had not at that time begun to show their later divergence from
the old ideals. Rossini was still living and productive; Bellini and
Donizetti had so far shown no signs of becoming old-fashioned.

Beethoven, Chopin, Schumann and, best of all, Bach and Handel were
Sgambati's favorite authors, by means of whom he sought to purify and
educate the taste of his audiences. Shortly afterwards, just when he was
on the point of going to Germany to continue his studies, Liszt came to
Rome. His plans were changed, for from this time Liszt was his teacher,
and he was able to work long and well under that wise, authoritative and
suggestive guidance, to which, doubtless, is owing much of the consummate
mastery in pianoforte playing for which he is famous, although his style
of composition seems to have been little affected by Liszt's influence.
Sgambati is well-known to be one of the greatest exponents of the Liszt
school, and from all accounts, in his playing there is also present that
same feeling for formal and sensuous beauty which is to be found in his
compositions; a most interesting account of him as a pianist and teacher
is to be found in Bettina Walker's "My musical experiences"; the story
is told in such a charming and personal way as to give a capital idea,
both of the man and the musician.

Besides his other concerts, we find him also at this time giving
orchestral ones, at which some of the great symphonies were heard for
the first time in Rome. In 1869 he and Liszt made a visit to Germany
together, Sgambati making his first acquaintance with Wagner's music
at Munich: it was some years later, in 1877, that through Wagner's
recommendation his pianoforte quintets were published by Schott of
Mayence. It is interesting to read, in this connection, a part of a
letter which Wagner wrote in November, 1876, to Dr. Strecker, the head of
the firm of Schott. It has been published, with Sgambati's permission, in
Miss Walker's book, and is here taken from it.

"But, to say the truth, my letter of to-day has another end in view,
namely, to commend to you most earnestly for publication two quintets
(pianoforte and stringed instruments) composed by Signor Sgambati, of
Rome. Liszt had already, and in a most especial and emphatic manner,
called my attention to this distinguished composer and pianist. I
recently had the genuine and extreme pleasure of, for once, coming into
contact with the possessor of a truly great and original talent--a talent
which, as he is in Rome [?!], and therefore possibly a little out of
place, I would gladly be the means of introducing to the wider musical
circle of the world at large."

In 1886 he was made one of the five corresponding members of the French
Institute to fill the place vacated by the death of Liszt.

As a pianoforte teacher, he has been from the first one of the leading
men, being a professor at the Academy of St. Cecilia at Rome, and has
had a multitude of pupils, among them not a few Americans. To show the
high standard that is maintained at the Academy, the requirements for a
diploma are here quoted. The pupil must be prepared with the twenty-four
preludes and fugues of the first book of the "Well-tempered Clavichord,"
with twenty-four studies from Clementi's "Gradus ad Parnassum," and must
play some large modern piece by heart, read a manuscript composition at
sight, and answer _vivâ voce_ questions in harmony and composition.

       *       *       *       *       *

In his pianoforte compositions two features are salient: a remarkable
feeling for melodic and harmonic refinement, with a clear and beautiful
formal structure, and as a complement to these, an abhorrence of
everything trite and common; this last trait, however, does not
degenerate into affectation and ugliness.

Sgambati has published but little, probably partly on account of the
severe self-criticism that is evident in his work, the result of which is
seen in the qualities above mentioned. But this is not by any means to
imply that his music is lacking in freshness or force; on the contrary,
his best work has, which is not too common, a distinction of its own,
and there is great vigor and strength in the pianoforte concerto and the
symphony, his two works written in the largest form. As every musician,
however, in thinking of Dvořák, Brahms, Tschaïkowsky, St. Saëns, etc.,
has always unconsciously in his mind certain characteristics that he
associates with their music, without which it would not be theirs, so
in Sgambati are we attracted by his great polish and refinement, as well
as by a certain personal charm of manner that is always present (perhaps
that is the Italian side of him).

Of vocal music, there have been published three sets of songs (Op. 1, 2,
19) and a cantata for one voice with orchestral accompaniment; of chamber
music, there are two quintets for piano and strings (Op. 4 and 5) and a
quartet for strings in the unusual key of D-flat major. Of these last,
the first quintet, in F minor, is generally considered the most striking,
but although it and its companion and the string quartet have made their
way, it is by his pianoforte works that he is best known. They are: a
Notturno (Op. 3); a strong and characteristic Prelude and Fugue (Op. 6);
two Etudes (Op. 10); the "Fogli volanti" (Op. 12), several of which are
peculiarly charming; the well-known and truly original Gavotte (Op. 14);
four pieces; "Preludio," "Vecchio Minuetto," "Nenia," "Toccata" (Op. 18);
"Three Nocturnes" (Op. 20); Suite (Op. 21); "Pièces Lyriques" (Op. 23),
and the Concerto in G minor (Op. 15).

[Illustration: Fac-simile autograph and musical manuscript written by

These pianoforte pieces do not cover a great number of pages, but in
them we often feel something that is none too common, and that it is to
be highly prized: we find a personality. It is easy now-a-days to be
personal by being vulgar and obtrusive, but it is not so usual to find
that quality combined with the reticence and knowledge that mark the
finest work, and it is perhaps Sgambati's best trait that we do find that
in his music. Most of the pieces are under the disadvantage of being less
easy to play than they sound, and the opposite feature is so much liked
by players that it is surprising that they have obtained popularity. The
Gavotte is not run in the common mould, which has been so much employed
for the turning out of numberless pieces of the old dance forms, but is
piquant and interesting, and with its appropriate drone-like Musette,
is as well-known as any; the "Fogli Volanti" has made many admirers for
its author, while the "Vecchio Minuetto" and the "Toccata" from Op. 18,
and the first of the Nocturnes (Op. 20) in especial are much played.
The first study of Op. 10, in F-sharp minor, has especial interest to
pianists in that a clever application is made in it of the system of
pedal notation proposed by Hans Schmitt; in this desire to set down
exactly what he wishes to express at the pianoforte, Sgambati exhibits a
certain likeness to Sterndale Bennett, and indeed the two are somewhat
akin in their musical way of thought.

The pianoforte concerto is written in a large style, especially the
first movement, and has several portions that are striking and unusual;
it is grateful for the player, and sure of success. The fact that three
trombones are in the score would lead one to fear a certain over-doing
of effect, but the brass is so judiciously used as to justify its
presence; and in the symphony also the orchestration is skilful and well
contrasted, good effects being often obtained by the use of but few
instruments. The symphony has had varying fortunes, being received with
great warmth in Italy and in London, but having the opposite fate when
performed in New York; it was produced at a concert in the Quirinal,
March 28, 1881, the King and Queen of Italy being in the audience, and
the King conferred upon the composer the order of the Crown of Italy upon
that occasion.

To sum up the characteristics of Sgambati's work: in him is found all the
old respect for form and style that was once supreme, but that now is not
so universally accepted; he is not fond of making dabs of contrasting
colors and calling the result a picture, but everything with him must
be well-drawn, and the values must be right. His melodies are clearly
cut, their harmonization interesting, and with all his adherence to the
classic models, there is so much individuality that his music is his own.
It is interesting to find a leading composer of Italy so distinguished
for sobriety and reticence, while for extravagance of expression we look
to the new men of Germany, France and Russia. And, as Sgambati is still
in the prime of life, with ripened powers, even more is to be hoped and
expected from him than in the past.

Here follows a list of his published compositions:

    Op.  1. Album of songs.
    Op.  2. Album of songs.
    Op.  3. Notturno for piano.
    Op.  4. Quintet for piano and strings in F minor.
    Op.  5. Quintet for piano and strings in G minor.
    Op.  6. Prelude and Fugue for piano in E flat minor.
    Op. 10. Two Etudes for piano.
    Op. 12. "Fogli Volanti" (pieces for piano).
    Op. 14. Gavotte for piano in A flat minor.
    Op. 15. Concerto for piano and orchestra in G minor.
    Op. 16. Symphony for orchestra in D major.
    Op. 17. String quartet in D flat major.
    Op. 18. Four pieces for piano: Preludio; Vecchio Minuetto;
               Nenia; Toccata.
    Op. 19. Songs.
    Op. 20. Three Nocturnes for piano.
    Op. 21. Suite for piano.
    Op. 23. Pièces Lyriques.

    A second symphony is written, but not yet published.

[Illustration: Arthur Foote]

[Illustration: GIUSEPPE VERDI

_Reproduction of a photograph from life, by Bengue & Co., Paris._]

[Illustration: VERDI]



Giuseppe Verdi, the last representative of the long line of Italian opera
composers of the old school, was born Oct. 10, 1813, at Roncole, a little
group of dwellings about three miles distant from Busseto, and occupied
by some two hundred impoverished and ignorant laborers. His origin was
very humble, his parents being poor and the keepers of an insignificant
inn and also of a small shop where were dispensed sugar, coffee, pipes,
tobacco and liquor. Of Verdi's earliest infancy little is known. His
surroundings were miserable enough, and the atmosphere in which he lived
was not of a nature to foster art aspirations. As a child he was sad and
taciturn, and showed no inclination to indulge in those amusements that
are so eagerly enjoyed by youngsters generally. He manifested at a tender
age that fondness for music which has been so often chronicled in this
work of the youth of those who afterwards became famous as composers. His
only enthusiasm was when an organ-grinder passed through the village,
for then he could not be kept at home, but would follow the ambulant
music-maker from place to place. This is almost all that is current
regarding his earliest musical taste, and it is by no means an evidence
of any abnormal partiality for music, since it is not rare in children
to be attracted by street music even when the player is not a pied piper
of Hamelin to draw them after him by a magic spell. However, the child
Verdi must have borne other testimony to his instinctive love of music,
for when we next hear of him it is as the owner of a spinet, which, by
the way, is still in the composer's possession. He was then seven years
old. That a poor innkeeper should have squeezed from his scanty earnings
sufficient to buy his son such an instrument must be received, in absence
of other proof, as evidence that his musical gifts were of a precocious
order that caused them to be considered worthy encouragement. An old
friend of Verdi's father has placed on record the earnestness with which
the lad practised on this spinet. We are told that he was at first
content with his ability to play the first five notes of the scale, and
then busied himself in trying to combine the notes in chords, falling
into a rapture of delight when he by chance sounded the major third and
the fifth of C. We read, furthermore, that when he could not find the
same chord again the next day he lost his temper, and seizing a hammer
began to break the spinet to pieces, for which foreshadowing of a certain
school of pianoforte playing that has since then come into vogue, he
received an exemplary blow on the ear from his angry father. The next we
hear of him is as a pupil of one Baistrocchi, the organist of the little
church of Roncole, who had been engaged by Verdi's father to give the
boy music lessons. At the end of a year the old story so often told of
the youth of great artists was repeated. Baistrocchi confessed that the
pupil had learned all that the teacher had to impart, and therefore young
Verdi's connection with him ceased. As the boy was then only eight years
old, the question is rather one regarding the extent of the pedagogue's
knowledge than of the pupil's capacity. Be this as it may, two years
later Verdi, at the age of ten, replaced Baistrocchi as organist of the
church. His salary the first year was about $7.20 of our money. The
second year it was increased by eighty cents and consequently amounted to
$8.00, or a trifle over two cents a day!--certainly far from munificent.
In the mean while Verdi had received no schooling, and his father
thought it time to look after the lad's education. A cobbler who lived
at Busseto and by name Pugnatta, agreed to give young Verdi board and
lodging and to send him to the principal school in the town, in return
for six cents a day to be paid by the elder Verdi. Extortionate charges
were not the rule in and about the birthplace of the future composer of
"Aïda," the "Manzoni Requiem" and "Falstaff." At school the boy studied
industriously, and walked the three miles between Busseto and Roncole
twice every Sunday and feast-day to play the organ at his church in the
latter place. His wretched income was increased annually by some ten or
twelve dollars, received from christenings, weddings and funerals; and at
the annual harvest festival, when it was customary for the organist of
the place to go about from door to door with a sack over his shoulder to
make a collection for himself, he added a trifle to his finances. Such
experiences were severe for a sensitive boy.

In two years at Busseto, while under the protection of the cobbler, whose
lodger and ward he was, Verdi learned to read, write and cipher. About
this time he made the acquaintance of a Signor Barezzi, who took a deep
interest in him, gave him employment, and aided him in enlarging his
musical knowledge. In the house of Barezzi the rehearsals and concerts
of the Philharmonic Society of Busseto took place. Here, for the first
time, Verdi had an opportunity to study music seriously. He attended
all the rehearsals, and seemed so absorbed in his love for the art that
Signor Ferdinando Provesi, who was the conductor of the concerts as
well as chapel master and organist of the cathedral, took a fancy to
him, and under his excellent guidance Verdi was led into a more serious
course of study. Under Provesi, who was a good contrapuntist, a composer
of numerous operas of which he was the author of both words and music,
and who was, in addition, a man of wide reading, Verdi studied until
he was sixteen years old. In the mean while he had improved rapidly,
and he frequently replaced his master as organist at the cathedral and
as conductor of the Philharmonic concerts. He likewise wrote numerous
works, which he copied, taught and conducted himself. Nevertheless, as a
composer he manifested no very brilliant precocity and no special genius.
His talent for music was clearly indicated, but nothing has appeared to
show that his early artistic development was akin to that of a Mozart, a
Schubert, or a Mendelssohn.

At the age of sixteen it was thought advisable that he should go to
Milan in order to study in the conservatory there. His own means did
not encourage any hope of realizing this step forward. However, Signor
Barezzi came to the front again and induced the Monte di Pietà, an
institution with a fund to assist promising young men without means in
the study of art or science, to award Verdi six hundred francs a year
for two years. To this Barezzi added the funds for music lessons, and
for board and lodging in Milan. Under these encouraging conditions
Verdi went on his way to Milan, where he arrived in due season, full of
hope and enthusiasm; and with this incident ended the least interesting
and the most painful period of the young composer's life: not that he
did not suffer afterward, for his first experience in Milan was a very
discouraging one; but he was never again to know the extreme misery of
poverty and obscurity that had colored his life up to that time.

When the young artist presented himself at the Milan conservatory to
pass the examination which was to test his fitness for entrance to that
institution, he was refused admission because, as was claimed, he gave
so little evidence of musical talent. This was a severe blow, and for
a moment caused the applicant to doubt his capacity for the art he had
adopted through the promptings of his instinct: but he soon recovered
from the shock, and on the advice of Signor Alessandro Rolla, conductor
of La Scala, offered himself as a pupil to the then celebrated composer
Lavigna, who, after due consideration, consented to give him lessons
in composition and orchestration; and it was from Lavigna that Verdi
received his first valuable and practical instruction in music. Verdi
was now eighteen, and for two years he devoted himself to the earnest
study of harmony, counterpoint, fugue and composition. In 1833, Provesi,
his earlier teacher in Busseto, died, and Verdi fulfilling a promise
he had made before leaving for Milan returned to Busseto to take the
place of Provesi. He went unwillingly, for he had higher aspirations
than to become an organist in a small town; but such were the conditions
that were made when his friends there subscribed money for his musical
education, and Verdi felt that it would be dishonorable to break his
word. It happened, however, that there was another candidate for the
place, a certain Giovanni Ferrari, an indifferent organist and a still
more indifferent musician, who, having influential friends in the church
was warmly supported by them. The result was that Verdi was defeated
and his rival elected. Verdi plodded along as best he could, and soon
fell in love with the oldest daughter of his patron, Barezzi. The young
composer was poor; the father of his beloved was rich: but Barezzi made
no opposition to the betrothal of the young people, and in 1836 the
lovers were made man and wife. Two years later Verdi again turned his
back on Busseto, where he was little appreciated and where an art career
was impossible. He went again to Milan with his wife and two children,
carrying with him the score of his first opera, "Oberto, Conte di San
Bonifacio," in the hope of having it performed. On reaching Milan he
found that his former teacher and devoted friend, Lavigna, was dead. He
experienced the usual difficulties in placing his earliest opera on the
stage. At one moment he was full of hope, and then he was cast down by
despair. He was bandied to and fro with his score under his arm, until
at last his opera was accepted for La Scala and was put into rehearsal.
Then, one of the principal artists was taken suddenly ill, and all chance
of a performance vanished. The anxieties, the alternations of feeling
he had experienced, caused the young composer to lose heart completely,
until one morning he was summoned to the theatre by the _impresario_,
who, informing him that having heard Ronconi speak very favorably of
"Oberto," he was willing to produce it under certain conditions. These
were agreed to eagerly, and on the evening of Nov. 17, 1839, "Oberto"
was performed for the first time. The work, which is little else than a
reflection of Bellini, was well received and was performed several times.
Among the changes he had been called on to make in the score before it
was finally accepted by the _impresario_, Signor Bartolomeo Merelli,
was the introduction of a quartet which was one of the most successful
pieces in the opera. Later, the composer achieved other and still greater
successes with opera quartets.


The favor with which "Oberto" had been received induced Merelli to
engage Verdi to write three operas, to be played either in Milan or
Vienna. Eight months' time was given in which to compose each opera, and
the price that Verdi was to receive for each was 4,000 livres ($670.00),
the profits of the copyright to be divided between composer and manager.
Verdi agreed to everything, and Merelli commissioned the poet Rossi to
write a libretto for the composer, "Il Proscritto" being the result.
Verdi did not like the book, and had scarcely reconciled himself to
set it to music when Merelli suddenly demanded a comic opera from him,
whereupon Verdi began to compose "Un Giorno di Regno." Then disaster
after disaster crowded on him. His two children died suddenly within a
few days of each other, and his wife also died after of inflammation of
the brain. Three coffins passed out of his house in three months, and
he was left without a family. In the midst of this appalling affliction
he was obliged to finish his comic opera. It was completed and was a
dead failure, only one performance having been accorded it. What could
be expected from a comic opera written under such terribly tragic
conditions? Naturally, Verdi lost heart, and for the moment discouraged
by the failure of his opera, resolved to compose no more. Merelli
remonstrated with him, but Verdi was inexorable; and, therefore, the
manager cancelled their contract. Later, Verdi and Merelli met again
by chance, and the latter, after vainly urging the composer to resume
his art, thrust a libretto on him and hastened away. It was the book
of "Nabucco." On reaching home Verdi angrily threw the libretto on his
writing-table, determined to have nothing to do with it; but his eye,
falling on the open page, was attracted by a certain line which he read,
and then he was impelled to read page after page and was much impressed
by the poem. The result was, that after many struggles with himself the
score was completed, and taken to the now triumphant Merelli. The parts
were copied out, and at the end of February, 1842, the first rehearsal
took place; and on March 9, twelve days later, the first performance was
given. The work was an overwhelming success. With this opera, and when he
was twenty-nine years old, Verdi's career as a composer began in earnest.

About one year later, or, to be more exact, on the evening of Feb.
11, 1843, "I Lombardi" was produced, and again success crowned the
composer's efforts. It was a great advance on its predecessor in point
of style and individuality, and is still performed. Commissions now began
to pour in on Verdi, and his name was becoming known beyond the borders
of his native land. Managers sought eagerly for scores from him, and the
_impresario_ of the Fenice Theatre in Venice obtained his next work,
which was "Ernani." It was first performed March 9, 1844, and excited
immense enthusiasm; and within the nine months after it appeared it was
performed in no less than fifteen opera houses, making later a tour
of the world, and remaining for many years one of the most popular of
modern operas. In November of the same year "I Due Foscari" was brought
out at the Argentina Theatre in Rome, and though it had a fair success,
it did not increase Verdi's reputation. He was now writing with great
rapidity, and in three months "Giovanna d'Arco" was played at La Scala.
It did not become popular and has fallen into oblivion, its overture
alone surviving. Six months after "Alzira" was produced at La Scala, and
again the composer failed to repeat the triumph he had won in "Ernani."
His next opera, "Attila," was written for the Fenice, and on the evening
of March 17, 1846, it excited a furore equal to that which attended his
"Ernani" at the same house. Then came "Macbeth" one year later, which was
a failure owing to the absence of a part for a tenor singer.

"Ernani" and "Attila" had given Verdi a European fame, and it was not
long before he received offers from managers from abroad. The first came
from Lumley, then lessee of Her Majesty's Theatre; and Verdi at once
accepted a proposition to compose an opera for England. "King Lear" was
suggested as a subject, but was rejected because its plot did not turn
on love. Schiller's "The Robbers" was at last decided on, and it was
performed under the title, "I Masnadieri," in London, July 22, 1847,
with Jenny Lind, Lablache and Gardoni in the cast. It was not a success
there, and met with no more favorable reception elsewhere. As Costa,
after the production of this opera, left Her Majesty's Theatre to join
Covent Garden, Lumley made Verdi a proposition to become his conductor
for three years at a very handsome salary. The offer was favorably
entertained by the composer, but there stood in the way a contract with
the publisher, Lucca, of Milan, by which Verdi had agreed to write two
operas for him. Efforts were made to buy Lucca off, but he held to his
bargain, and the result was that Verdi did not remain in London. He went
to Passy, and there composed "Il Corsaro" and "La Battaglia di Legnano"
for Lucca. The former was brought out at Trieste, Oct. 25, 1848, and was
a complete failure. The other opera was produced in Rome, Jan. 27, 1849,
with no more gratifying results. The composer, however, was not dismayed
by these disasters, but set to work at once on "Luisa Miller" for the
San Carlo of Naples, where, on Dec. 8, 1849, it was given for the first
time with a success that was as merited as it was overwhelming. His next
work, "Stifellio," first performed at Trieste, Nov. 16, 1850, culminated
in failure, and even when rewritten and revived as "Aroldo" seven years
later, achieved no very encouraging popularity. Verdi had now written
sixteen operas, all of which have fallen into oblivion except "Ernani,"
"I Lombardi" and, perhaps, "Luisa Miller." Despite the failure of most
of them, their composer had become a great favorite with the public,
owing to the appeal that much in the texts of his operas made to the
patriotism of his fellow-countrymen, then fretting under Austrian rule.
For example, the chorus in "I Lombardi," beginning _O Signore dal tetto
natio_, excited great enthusiasm because of the application the public
fastened on the words. It was the same with the chorus, _Si videsti
I Leon di Castiglia_, in "Ernani." The censorship was very severe in
that day, and so easily excited were the people by anything that bore
even the most remote reference to the spirit of revolution prevailing,
that the authorities would not allow a conspiracy to be acted on the
stage; and hence "Ernani" had to be changed before the police would give
consent to its performance. In "Attila," the aria, _Cara Patria già
madre e Regina_, afforded the people an opportunity to testify violently
to their animosity toward the Austrian government. The house was in an
uproar; the audience shouted and screamed; hats, canes, umbrellas, fans,
bonnets and flowers were hurled to and fro; the roaring of the public
drowned the tones of the singers and the orchestra, and the police found
the greatest difficulty in reducing the noise-makers to order. This all
reflected favorably on Verdi as far as the public was concerned, and he
became a popular idol of the time. With "Luisa Miller" ended what may be
considered the first period of his musical development.

In 1851 he began that series of operas which established his fame as
the greatest of living Italian opera composers. A libretto founded on
Victor Hugo's "Le Roi s'amuse" was prepared for Verdi, with the title
"La Maledizione." The censorship objected to a king being presented in
the light in which Francis I. is made to appear in the original story,
especially when cursed by a court fool.

[Illustration: GIUSEPPE VERDI.

From a portrait engraved by Deblois.]

After much anger and much debating, the monarch was turned into a duke
of Mantua and the title into "Rigoletto." Verdi retired to Busseto and
labored vigorously at his score. It was completed in forty days, and was
performed at La Fenice, March 11, 1851. Its success was enormous. The
work was soon given in every opera house in Europe with the same results
that attended it in Venice. The composer rested on his laurels for two
years. Then "Il Trovatore" appeared at the Teatro Apollo, Rome, Jan. 19,
1853. Its triumph was immediate and brilliant, and this opera also made
an instant tour of the civilized world. It was only some five weeks later
when "La Traviata" was produced at the Fenice. This opera, however, fell
flat and was an utter failure. The composer, who rated the work very
highly, was in despair. The fault was not with his score but with the
singers, especially with Signora Donatelli who sang and acted Violetta.
She was an exceedingly fleshy woman, and when the doctor, in the third
act, announced that the heroine was emaciated by consumption and had only
a few hours to live, the audience burst into roars of laughter. The opera
was damned for Venice. Nevertheless, elsewhere it experienced a better
fate and met with an enthusiastic reception. These three operas may be
pronounced the best as well as the last of the Italian opera school as
developed through Rossini, Bellini and Donizetti.

Verdi's next work was "Les Vêpres Sicilliennes," written for the Paris
Grand Opéra, and given for the first time there June 13, 1855. It is
a brilliant work, but made no advance on its immediate predecessors
from the same source. Then came "Simon Boccanegra," for La Fenice,
produced March 12, 1857. It was an irretrievable failure, despite its
fine and intensely dramatic last act. This was followed by "Un Ballo in
Maschera," brought out at the Teatro Apollo, Rome, Feb. 17, 1859. There
was again trouble with the police, who objected to the original title,
"Gustavo III.," a monarch who was assassinated. The text was also deemed
objectionable, and the composer was commanded to choose other words for
his music. Verdi indignantly refused, and the manager of the San Carlo
at Naples, for whom the work was written, brought an action against
Verdi for damages to the extent of two hundred thousand francs. This
affair almost excited a revolution in Naples. The populace assembled
outside Verdi's house and cheered him and followed him through the
streets, shouting "Viva Verdi!" his name, read acrostically, signifying
"_V_ittorio _E_mmanuele _R_e _D_i _I_talia"; the cry, though apparently
honoring the composer, carrying with it a revolutionary significance.
However, the title was changed; a governor of Boston replaced Gustavo
III., and the opera was one of Verdi's most decided popular successes.
His next opera was composed for St. Petersburg, and was "La Forza del
Destino." It was brought out with mild success Nov. 10, 1862. Then
succeeded "Don Carlos," for the Grand Opéra in Paris, produced March 11,
1867, and enthusiastically received; but it added nothing to Verdi's
fame. He was now fifty-four years old, and had written twenty-six operas.
His fame was world-wide, and he was the greatest living Italian opera
composer. Wealth and honors had followed glory, and the son of the poor
innkeeper of Roncole was now one of whom his native land was proud.

In the mean while Verdi was elected a foreign member of the Académie des
Beaux Arts in Paris, to take the place vacated by the death of Meyerbeer.
More than this; for, when the duchy of Parma resolved to annex itself
to the new kingdom of Italy and formed its first legislative assembly,
Verdi was elected deputy to this body by the district of Busseto. He
became a member of the Italian parliament upon the urgent solicitation
of Count Cavour, but at the end of two or three years sent in his
resignation. This, however, did not prevent King Victor Emmanuel making
him a senator in 1875; he had no taste for politics, and after having
taken the oath, he never again sat in that body. The honors that were
showered on him did not turn his head, and he was never more pleased than
when his friends, forgetting his titles, addressed him simply as Signor
Verdi. In 1862 he composed a cantata expressly for the inauguration of
the World's Fair in London. Four great musicians had been called on to
represent their country musically at this exposition. They were Auber for
France, Meyerbeer for Germany, Verdi for Italy, and Sterndale Bennett
for England. Verdi is the only one of these masters still living. His
work was an "Inno delle Nazioni," which was performed at Her Majesty's
Theatre, May 24, 1862. The hymn comprised an introduction, a chorus, and
a soprano solo sung by Mme. Tietjens. The _finale_, which is on a vast
scale, skilfully combined the English, French and Italian national airs.

After "Don Carlos," Verdi did not produce a new opera for four years,
and then appeared "Aïda," written for the opening of the Italian Theatre
in Cairo, in December, 1871, the most brilliant and most original work
he had composed up to that time, and, on the whole, the most impressive
evidence of his musical genius. His next achievement was his splendid
Requiem, written to commemorate the anniversary of the death of Manzoni
and produced at Milan, May 24, 1874, in the church of San Marco.
Its success in the church was immense, and elsewhere it was no less
enthusiastically received and admired. In April, 1881, a revised version
of "Simon Boccanegra" was given at Milan. The work was more successful
than it was in its original form, but it did not become popular. His
other works up to this time were a string quartet, written at Naples and
performed in the composer's own house, in April, 1873; a "Pater Noster"
for two sopranos, contralto, tenor and bass; and an "Ave Maria" for
soprano and strings. Both these last-named works were given for the first
time at La Scala, April 18, 1880. Verdi was now sixty years of age, and
could well afford to rest on his laurels. He had worked industriously
and had reached a time of life when the inventive faculties begin to
show signs of exhaustion. His growth in his art had been constant, and
his latest works were his masterpieces. His fecundity, however, was
not yet exhausted; for, after a silence of sixteen years, he produced
"Otello," another magnificent opera, at La Scala, Feb. 6, 1887; and
still later, when eighty years of age, he brought out "Falstaff," a work
full of youth, inspiration and beauty, and marvellous as the invention
of a composer who had reached fourscore years, though the opera calls
for no excuse for shortcomings on account of its writer's advanced age.
It is his latest effort, up to date, though there are reports that this
wonderful old man is busy in the composition of an opera founded on
Shakespeare's "King Lear."

[Illustration: VILLA SANT' AGATA.

The residence of Verdi near Busseto.]

In addition to the immense mass of music already mentioned, Verdi has
published for the voice six _romanzas_, two bass songs, a nocturne
for soprano, tenor, and bass, with flute obligato; an album of six
_romanzas_, and other lighter compositions. His youthful works that
remain unpublished include marches, symphonies, concertos and variations
for the pianoforte, duets, trios, church compositions, including a
"Stabat Mater," and cantatas. He also wrote choruses to Manzoni's
tragedies, and set music to many of the same author's poems. In 1862
he was one of the thirteen Italian composers who combined to write a
requiem as a tribute to the memory of Rossini. For this Verdi composed a
"Libera me," which so impressed Signor Mazzucato that he urged Verdi to
compose the whole work. Manzoni dying soon after, Verdi offered to write
a requiem in the poet's honor, and the last movement is the same "Libera
me" that was written for the Rossini memorial.

After mourning deeply the loss of the wife and children that had been
taken from him with such agonizing rapidity, Verdi married Signora
Strapponi, by whom, however, he has had no children. He resides on his
handsome estate near Busseto, except during the winter months which he
passes in Genoa. He has a beautiful garden and a large farm, to whose
cultivation he devotes himself with enthusiasm. He is very fond of his
animals, especially his horses. To young musicians he is especially
kind. His modesty is excessive, and he objects strongly to talk of
himself and his art triumphs. He lives quietly the life of a well-to-do
country gentleman, and is delighted to see his friends, if they are not
over-prone to discuss music. His disposition is charitable, and he gives
freely but unostentatiously to the needy. Some of the splendors of his
garden, which appear to be the mere caprice of a rich man with a taste
for the luxuries of life, were conceived and carried out for the purpose
of giving to poor working people out of employ, the means of earning a
livelihood. He gave ten thousand francs toward building a theatre at
Busseto, because the inhabitants desired one. It is a small but handsome
and elegant building, on the front of which is inscribed, in letters of
gold, the name of the great master, who years before, when a poor boy,
played the organ in the church of the neighboring village of Roncole for
the yearly pay of $7.20.

Verdi is described as "tall, agile, vigorous, endowed with an iron
constitution and an energy of character that promise lifelong virility."
His friend and _collaborateur_, Signor Ghislanzoni, says of him: "I have
known artists who, after having been recklessly prodigal of good humor
and affability in their youth, have become gloomy and almost irritable
under the burden of glory and honors. Verdi, on the contrary, seems to
have left behind him at each upward step in his career a part of that
hard, rough exterior that belonged to his earlier years." At eighty he is
still young, still vivacious.

       *       *       *       *       *

That Verdi is one of the most popular opera composers of his time must be
freely conceded. That he is a great musician in any exacting sense of the
word cannot be so readily granted. He has been in no sense an innovator,
and as far as his influence on opera is concerned, he leaves it where he
found it, except inasmuch as he has followed the changes that the musical
development of his time has made in every branch of the art. He has not
been an epoch-maker in opera, as was Rossini, and in nothing that he has
written has he made such an impression on his contemporaries in opera
as was made by the "La Sonnambula" and the "Norma" of Bellini, and the
"Lucia di Lammermoor" and the "La Favorita" of Donizetti. As it seems
to us, he was the logical outgrowth of the latter, as Donizetti was of
Bellini, as Bellini was of Rossini, and as Rossini was of the _finales_
of "Il Nozze di Figaro." Gifted with an inexhaustive fund of melody, and
a strong feeling for dramatic effect, he trusted to these gifts without
paying especial heed to any philosophical principle on which operas
should be composed, and appealed to the nerves and the ephemeral emotions
of his public, rather than to its heart or its intelligence, for its
plaudits. The immense vogue he has won, not only in his own country but
in every land where a taste for opera is cultivated, shows that this form
of appeal was not made in vain. Nevertheless, the twenty-seven operas
which form the great bulk of his musical life-work, in spite of their
wealth and variety of melody, the extraordinary resources of invention
they exemplify in their composer, and the fluent skill exhibited by him
in saying the same thing in an infinite number of ways, do not present
anything of the highest order, even in their kind. Not one of these
operas is great in the sense that Rossini's "Il Barbiere di Seviglia"
is great, or in the sense that the first act and the meeting of the
cantons in the same master's "William Tell" are great. There are beauties
innumerable in them, but they do not lie deeper than the surface. They
are affluent in inspiration of a certain order, but it is the inspiration
of a prolific tune-maker, with an instinct for opera writing, and without
any very high musicianship or any very sincere artistic feeling. More
spontaneous, perhaps, than Meyerbeer, in the invention of melody, he
has never risen to the height of the magnificent duet between Raoul and
Valentine, in the fourth act of "Les Huguenots," and the fine trio in the
last act of "Robert le Diable."

[Illustration: _Rigoletto_ (1851) Quartetto Atto III

Fac-simile musical manuscript written by Verdi.]

We have said that Verdi was the logical outgrowth of Donizetti. It
would be more exact to say that, up to the time that "Aïda" appeared,
he continued to follow in the same path as that trodden by the composer
of "Lucia." The latter, after all, had a certain originality, inasmuch
as his operas were, in many distinctive ways, different from those of
any of his predecessors; though it may, with some show of justice, be
claimed that the "I Puritani" of Bellini provided him with his model.
The difference between Bellini and Donizetti, however, is far greater
than is that between Donizetti and Verdi, though there is a marked
family resemblance between all three, as far as conventional forms are
concerned. Until quite recently, however, these forms were the monotonous
characteristics of Italian opera. In saying this we do not mean that
the operas of this school are not in harmony with the views that have
of late prevailed regarding the absurdity of this form or the propriety
of that form of opera: in other words, that Italian opera, with its
_cabballettas_, duets, quartets, and its _scenas_, consisting of a
recitative, an andante, and a brilliant allegro, its adherence to flowing
melody and to tunefulness generally is wrong in principle, as opposed to
that form of opera or music-drama advocated by Wagner and his followers,
which, it is claimed, is more natural and more logical. When the
characters in a drama, instead of speaking, resort to singing in order to
express themselves, whether they do it according to the methods of Wagner
or the methods of Verdi, the absurdity is equally great. Ortrud giving
vent to her hate in song is no less untrue to nature than is Azucena.
There is no more truth, no more logic, in the "endless melodies" of
Wagner than there is in the regularly formed and terminable melodies of
Verdi. The opera music of Wagner, when performed by an orchestra without
the assistance of voices, says no more than does the music of Verdi given
under the same conditions, except that the latter is more intelligible as
music pure and simple. We do not intend to draw any comparison between
the respective qualities of the music of these composers, but we insist
that no one who hears the music of either master for the first time,
as mere instrumental music, can tell what it is intended to express on
the stage. Hence it is folly to urge that the opera music of any school
expresses more than that of another. It is folly to speak of nature in
connection with the emotions of love, hate, hope, despair, joy and woe,
when sung by actors to the accompaniment of an orchestra. The only logic
that can enter into so illogical a process is that which, having conceded
that song may take the place of speech, concedes all the rest. The opera
composer should not be judged by any other canon of art than that which
he has followed in writing his work; and when Wagner's Tristan sings his
love according to the composer's idea of musical and dramatic propriety,
he is no less ridiculous, _per se_, than is Verdi's Ernani in the like
situation. The composer who creates the precise impression that he
strives to create by the music he places in the mouths of his characters
is the composer who has made all that can be made of his art, whether
he be Wagner or Verdi. It is not the way in which it is done, but it is
the result achieved, that is to be considered. That the two masters will
express the same sentiment by methods directly contrary is nothing to the
point. The effect is all that is of importance, and it is in the power
of nobody to prove that the one method is right and the other wrong,
or to impress greater propriety on the one than on the other, except
arbitrarily and irresponsibly.

Verdi's reputation began to spread after "Nabucco"; it increased with
"I Lombardi" and was established firmly by "Ernani." In all these
works, affluence of melody and rhythmical variety are conspicuous. In
none of them is there any profound musicianship. They suggest brilliant
improvisation rather than deep thought. In certain portions of the scores
of "I Lombardi" and "Ernani" there is vigorous dramatic color, but it is
of the perfunctory type made familiar by Donizetti. The orchestration is
conventional, and orchestral color is rarely sought except by violent
contrasts. The overture to "Nabucco" is one of the few works in this
kind that the composer has attempted. It is made up of melodies from the
opera, put together with no special skill, and, though effective after a
noisy fashion, is of no musical value. It is the best of his overtures,
but in common with the others, is wholly barren of thematic development.
In this purely instrumental branch of his art he has written nothing
as good as Donizetti's overture to "La Fille du Regiment," in respect
to form, instrumentation, and musicianship generally. His overtures to
"Giovanna d'Arco," "Les Vêpres Sicilliennes," "Aroldo" and "La Forza del
Destino," though tuneful and effective in their way, are without any
merit on which we need dwell.

[Illustration: BUST OF VERDI.

From a photograph at the Paris Opera Library.]

Verdi did not attain to fame without meeting with opposition. It was
claimed that he was over-noisy, a charge not wholly without foundation,
notably in his "I Due Foscari" which succeeded "Ernani," and in which the
predominance of the brass wind instruments, a novelty then, was almost
overpowering. Then, too, it was charged that his music, if it should be
sung much, would ruin the voices of the singers, so addicted was he to
write for them in their highest register. It was not until "Rigoletto"
appeared that his instrumentation showed any marked care, or that he
seemed to be impressed by the variety of effects that could be produced
by a judicious use of the wood wind. In Gilda's air, _Caro nomo_, the
scoring is delightful in its grace, delicacy and charmingly contrasted
coloring. In the last act of this opera, too, is the famous quartet, in
which are so felicitously mingled impassioned love, mirth, suspense and
vengefulness,--the best thing in its kind that had appeared since the
sextet in "Lucia" and the trio in "Lucrezia Borgia," and which was soon
to be followed by the more popular but less artistic _Miserere_ in "Il
Trovatore." It is true that he had written the stirring and effective
_Carlo Magno_ finale to one of the acts of his "Ernani," and that it
attained to immense popular favor; but the "Rigoletto" quartet is the
most brilliant and most musicianly of all his efforts in its kind.
"Rigoletto," which was composed in forty days, has outlived the sixteen
operas that preceded it, and its wealth of melody and its powerful
dramatic effects, cause it to be listened to still with much of the
pleasure and interest that attended its first production forty-two years
ago. It is one of the works in which the composer will live.

In "Il Trovatore" Verdi made another stride in advance. During the
two years that passed between the production of "Rigoletto" and that
of "Il Trovatore," a great change had taken place in his style. There
is observable in the score of the later opera a larger variety in his
harmonies, and the basses move more independently and more fluently.
The accompaniments are less perfunctory, and are given a more artistic
taste than that of merely emphasizing the rhythms in a conventional way.
The instrumentation is richer, the parts often move more freely, and
the general effect is more serious and impressive; while the varieties
of tone-color are more affluent than in any of the composer's earlier
scores. In other respects, notwithstanding the popularity of the opera,
we do not think it is superior to "Rigoletto." On the contrary, it seems
to us to lack something of the artistic dignity that pertains to its
immediate predecessor. It is overfull of mere tune-making that does
not fairly echo the dramatic sentiment of the situations on which it
is expended. In "Rigoletto," Verdi seems to have escaped wholly from
the influence of Donizetti. In "Il Trovatore" the methods of Donizetti
are constantly recalled, and the opera seems cast in the same mould as
"Lucrezia Borgia." The music given to Azucena, graceful and ear-pleasing
as it is, for the most part appears trivial and frivolous when it is
considered in relation to the passion it is intended to emphasize. Still,
forty years after its birth it remains one of the most popular operas
on the stage, even in Germany. "La Traviata" overflows with exquisite
melodies, but here the composer has been more successful in wedding
sound to sense. His theme was sentimental rather than dramatic, and the
sensuous tunes harmonized well with the spirit of the text. Elegance,
refinement and warmth of style characterize the score throughout, and the
proprieties are not violated except in the vulgar air, _Di provenza_,
the music of which, to say nothing of its reiteration of the same
rhythmical phrase bar after bar, is ridiculously inappropriate to the
sentiment of the situation. "Les Vêpres Sicilliennes" showed no further
change in the composer's methods, and the same may be said of "Un ballo
in Maschera," "La Forza del Destino" and "Don Carlos." There are fine
dramatic and instrumental moments in all these works, but in none of
them is there any advance beyond "Rigoletto." Moreover, there are many
lapses back to the composer's "Ernani" period. He was not yet able or
willing to break wholly with the past. It is true that he continued
to give more and more care to those portions of his score that dealt
with the action of the drama, instead of bestowing attention on the
composition of catching melodies and _ensembles_, to the neglect of the
intermediate parts. In his "Simon Boccanegra," however, which succeeded
"Les Vêpres Sicilliennes," he gave the first impressive indication of
his sympathy with the more modern school of opera that existed outside
of Italy; and in this work he essayed a more declamatory recitative, a
deeper regard for tone-color, and a more serious devotion to the dramatic
sentiment of the scene and action, and less to the mere formal aria. In
other words, Verdi became, to some extent, a revolutionist in his art,
and was the first Italian master to recognize what was going on in the
world of opera beyond the confines of his own country. The work in which
this cry of progress was sounded met with complete failure, and for a
time he returned to the old order of things, or else approached the new
with faint-heartedness. When, after four years' silence, he was heard
again, he was boldly and unequivocally an advocate of the new movement,
as "Aïda" amply testifies. Here he abandons, for good and all, the
conventional forms to which he had so long adhered. He has considered his
libretto as a whole, and not as so many opportunities for tune-making;
he has attempted to maintain a proper and uniform local color--has tried
to create the impression of an unbroken and self-consistent dramatic
entirety; he has essayed to impart as much interest to the recitatives,
and to the more declamatory aspects of his score, as to the more purely
melodious. The melody flows on with the familiar fluency, but it is
tempered by dignity. The orchestra looms into primary importance as
part of a logical whole, instead of remaining the mere accompaniment,
more or less artistic, that it is in the composer's other scores. It is
Verdi still, but a Verdi matured in style and fully ripened in artistic
judgment,--a Verdi thoroughly awake, for the first time, to the fact that
the horizon of art is bounded only by the height from which it is viewed.


From the Carnavalet Museum, Paris.]

In "Aïda" there is little that can be detached from its stage
surroundings without loss of effect. That Verdi was satisfied with the
results achieved by him in this opera is evidenced by his revision and
rewriting of "Simon Boccanegra," in which the earlier melodies are
retained, but in which the dramatic portions of the score are deepened
and intensified, and made even more impressive than were the like
features in the score of "Aïda." His "Othello," if not a still further
step in advance, maintains to the full the position now assumed by the
master. It is interesting to compare his treatment of the tragedy with
that of his predecessor, Rossini. In all that pertains to dignity,
sympathy with the spirit of the poem, seriousness of style and sincerity
of art, the advantage lies wholly with the modern composer. Rossini's
"Othello," however, emphasized an epoch in serious opera, for it is the
first opera written throughout in _recitativo strumento_ to the exclusion
of the customary _recitativo secco_.

"Othello" exemplified that Verdi's conversion to the methods of modern
musical thought was complete. The spectacle of a composer whose fame
is established, whose labors have met with a substantial return that
has placed him beyond the need of further toil, who has reached an age
at which most artistic careers have closed, beginning as it were, _de
novo_, is a rare one. That he said anything in his more recent operas
that he had not already said is doubtful; his methods of thought remained
unchanged, but the language in which he uttered them was more refined
and more dignified. He was, however, to make a still greater departure
from his past; and it was accomplished in his "Falstaff," in which at
fourscore he was to show himself a modern of moderns. The progress was
astonishing: but after all, it only emphasized one of the composer's
familiar sayings, "If you want the new in art, you must return to the
old"; for he has gone back to the fundamental principles of opera as
enunciated by Gluck. There is here a wholesale abandoning of the formal
divisions in opera. Complexity has given way to simplicity. The music
harmonizes with the characteristic spirit of the text; the melodies are
brief; recitative is sparingly used, and musical declamation makes up the
greater portion of the score. The orchestra no longer follows, but has
risen to equal importance with the voice, and lends its own appropriate
color and accent to the illustration and enforcement of the sentiment
of the text. Graceful and exquisite tunefulness is maintained, but it
falls into its proper place and continues no longer than it justly
expresses the sentiment of the situation. There is a beautiful balance
between the voices and the orchestra, and though the instrumentation is
strikingly modern, it is free from the restless and wearying Wagnerian
polyphony and excess of tone-color. Part-writing, an essential to which
little attention has been paid by Italian composers of opera, comes into
unusual though not brilliant prominence, and always with delightful
effect. The scoring is never overloaded; the right touch always comes in
the right place; and every change of color has its special meaning as a
strengthening of the emotion of the moment, as indicated by the stage
action. In brief, the latest work of the composer is his most masterly,
musically considered; and what is most astonishing is, that it suggests
nothing of its creator's age, except the experience, the mellowness,
and the enlarged art feeling that have come with it. And yet it is more
important as a manifestation of the composer's capacity to receive and
to adopt new impressions in his extreme old age, than it is as a work of
art. In other words, its value is of a personal rather than of a general
nature, and Verdi remains to the end a great opera composer of world-wide
popularity, who has exercised no influence and made no impression on the
art of which he is so brilliant a representative.

In closing this estimate of Verdi as a composer of opera, we may add
that even in his most absolute departure from the traditions of Italian
opera, as he found them, he has remained essentially Italian. It has
been argued that in his later works he falls under the sway of Wagner;
but this, we think, would be difficult to demonstrate. He may not have
remained uninfluenced by the German master's theories regarding the
character of opera librettos, but musically, he is always a true son of
his native land. His younger Italian contemporaries have far outrun him
as reformers. From present indications it would appear that Verdi is
destined to be the last of the long line of Italian opera composers whose
theories were those of the old school, more or less modified in respect
to style or fashion, as time passed. He has had no imitators and he will
leave no disciples. In this he will also be singular, for from the dawn
of opera to the present time every great composer of Italian opera has
left behind him a survivor who has followed in his footsteps--at least
until he has found out an individual path for himself. From the era
when Nicolo Logroscino invented the concerted _finale_ for comic opera,
and it was first extended to serious opera by Pasiello, Italian serious
opera began to break away from its earlier rigid form and to congeal into
that which prevailed down to the period when the reform, with which we
have just dealt, gave to it a death blow. From Pasiello and Piccinni,
composer after composer appeared, each succeeding one overlapping his
immediate predecessor and carrying the development of the school a step
farther. Cimarosa followed Piccinni in this way, and was in turn followed
by Rossini, who was succeeded by Mercadante, Pacini, Bellini, Donizetti
and Verdi. Here, as we have already observed, the line abruptly ends,
and not with the greatest of the brilliant group. Which, if any, of
Verdi's operas will survive it is difficult to predict, but we think
that "Rigoletto" has the best chance; but none of them is destined to
the immortality of "La Serva Padrona," "Il Matrimonio Segreto," "La
Sonnambula" and "Il Barbiere di Siviglia."

It only remains for us to consider Verdi's Requiem, a work that has been
praised with as much enthusiasm as it has been condemned with acrimony.
Dr. Hans von Bülow, speaking for one school of criticism, and with no
very great discretion, asserted this composition to be a "monstrosity"
that would do no credit to an ordinary pupil of any music school in
Germany. It is possible that Dr. von Bülow viewed the work from a purely
pedagogic standpoint and with special reference to transgressions of
musical grammar. In matters of this kind much depends on the esteem in
which the composer holds arbitrary rules, and on his right to heed or to
disobey them as he may see fit. Much, too, depends on the standpoint,
prejudiced or otherwise, from which the critic considers the work. An
ordinary pupil of any music school in Germany may or may not be able to
write more correctly than Verdi has written in numerous places in this
Requiem, but there is more in music than a strict observance of the
rules of musical grammar; and it is in no need of demonstration that it
is beyond the power of any ordinary pupil in any music school to write
music of so high an order. In fact, be the work what it may, it has not
been equalled in its kind by any contemporary graduates of one of the
schools to which Dr. von Bülow refers. Another fault that has been found
with this work is that it is not sacred in character. Reduced to its
simplest terms this charge means that Verdi's Requiem is not conceived in
the same spirit that Bach conceived his "Matthew-Passion" and Handel his
"Messiah." This, in turn, indicates a belief that it is compulsory on a
warm-blooded and highly emotional Italian to appeal to God in the mood
that is favored of the more stolid and less impulsive German. The mere
matter of difference in temperament makes it impossible to institute a
comparison between the sacred music of Verdi and that of Bach and Handel.
Then, too, there is overmuch of cant in perfunctory discussion of what is
and what is not sacred in music; and after all, the words to which the
music is composed would seem to have more to do with the matter than does
the music itself. Considered in the abstract, it is no more reasonable
to argue that Bach's music is essentially religious than it would be to
argue that Verdi's is not. The argument must be decided, in either case,
on arbitrary principles and according to the prejudices of those who
participate in it. It would not be easy to define exactly in what the
religious element of so-called sacred music is apparent, whether such
music be of German or of Italian origin. It is beyond all contradiction
that Handel utilized many of his Italian opera airs for his oratorios,
and that what began by being profane ended by becoming serious. These
airs were none the more profane for their operatic origin, and none the
more sacred for their transferences to oratorio. The English and German
speaking races have accepted Bach and Handel as the noblest exponents of
what is understood by them as the religious sentiment in music; but that
acceptance does not make a law for the Latin races,--for the Italians,
the Spaniards and the French. Of the unequalled genius of Bach and of
Handel, and of the large nobility of their music, there cannot be two
opinions; but they wrote after the fashion of their day, and the musical
style they adopted was not chosen because it was abstractly religious
in character, but because it was the only style they knew, and it was
the style common to the stage and the church, save that when adapted to
the latter it was more contrapuntal in treatment. That choral fugues,
single or double, strict or free, are radically or essentially religious
in feeling, still remains to be proved. No man and no body of men are
entitled to decide dogmatically that this or that style is the only one
appropriate for sacred music. If Handel can be permitted to take airs
written for purely dramatic works, and in what was then considered a
purely dramatic spirit, by the most dramatic composer of his time, and
use them for sacred works, why shall Verdi be condemned for composing
his Requiem in a dramatic spirit, at first hand? It may be argued
that Palestrina, among Italians, set the pattern for a dignified and
undramatic style of church music; but it can also be urged, and with
justice, that the music which Palestrina set to solemn words differed
in no wise from the madrigals he composed to words of far other import.
In judging Verdi's Requiem, as in judging other works of art ably and
conscientiously made, we should try to look at it from the composer's
point of view. In the abstract, there is nothing more suggestively sacred
in the music of _I know that my Redeemer liveth_, than there is in that
of _Home, Sweet Home_. The text makes the only difference. The foundation
of the art and science of music is wholly arbitrary, but the laws of the
school stop at the point at which the individuality and the imagination
of the master composer begin to manifest themselves.

Verdi's Requiem is conceived in a spirit wholly antipodal to that in
which Bach and Handel conceived their works. His, however, is the spirit
of his time and nation, as was also theirs. Those who have accepted
the "Matthew-Passion" as the culmination of what music can achieve in
religion, condemn this Requiem as theatrical, maintaining that its
melodies are constantly suggestive of opera and its more vigorously
dramatic moments of stage effect; but the composer does not view it in
the same way. He has written as an Italian Roman Catholic of to-day felt
inspired to write, and has made no pretence of attempting to write as
a German Lutheran wrote over one hundred and fifty years ago. That the
work is one of great power in its way, and often reaches a high point
of impressiveness, has never been denied. Whether it is religious music
or not cannot be determined except according to the prejudices of those
who believe, on the one hand, that it is, and of those who believe, on
the other, that it is not. Verdi and the majority of his countrymen are
of the former opinion, and there is no universally received principle
of musical art that can be brought forward to prove that they are in
error. It is an argument that must be settled on either side by race
partialities. Moreover, at what point a composer shall be checked in
interpreting his text as he best understands it, cannot be easily
decided. The Requiem was written to do honor to the memory of Verdi's
friend, Manzoni, and that the composer acquitted himself of his task in
a spirit of sincerity, both devotional and artistic, admits of no doubt.
It is an Italian Requiem, and was so intended to be; and, therefore, it
is useless, and something more, to find fault with it because it is not
German. Its ultimate fate will not be decided by the critics, but will
rest on the success or the failure of the appeal it makes to posterity.
Verdi, though he has left no permanent mark on his art, has been the
most popular opera composer of his time, and his extraordinary musical
growth toward the close of his career indicates that there was in him
a capacity for far higher work than he achieved. It is to be regretted
that he did not sooner fall into line with the musical spirit of the age;
nevertheless, he has made an honorable and dignified name in his art, and
one that must always be mentioned with veneration.

[Illustration: B. E. Woolf.]


[Illustration: MUSIC IN ITALY]



Toward the end of the Middle Ages, the morning of a new and powerful
intellectual life began to dawn. Renewed industry and commerce created
wealth. In large and flourishing cities, the sense of liberty and of
independence from the pressure of feudal rule united citizens in powerful

With wealth and liberty, literature, art and science found a favorable
field in which to fructify.

From Italy the new light spread over the other European countries. The
Italians, everywhere surrounded by the sublime remains of Greek and Roman
art, recovered first from the lethargy and confusion, caused by the great
immigration of Northern nations. In Bologna, Pisa, Padua, Parma, Naples
and other cities, universities and high schools were founded, where it
is said, thousands of students from all countries flocked to listen to
the teaching of great masters; and in this rich, inspiring and varied
spectacle, Dante was the noble central figure.

The development of music, in Italy, kept pace with that of literature,
and its first emanations were based on the music of ancient Greece, so
far as its few surviving musical hymns could be deciphered.

Greece disappeared as a nation after the Roman conquest, and its music
vanished at the same time. The musical revival was an entirely new
departure which dated from the appearance of the early Christian converts
at Rome, during the time of the Apostles. These neophytes tried to
introduce the old tunes which they had heard in the holy city. But such
strange melodies could not, of course, find ready adoption, and they were
suppressed during the general persecutions. They were, it is true, used
in the worship which was secretly carried on in the catacombs. Here they
survived, transmitted from generation to generation by oral communication
only, during the three centuries that preceded the formal recognition of
Christianity by the state.

As text and music were greatly corrupted through such transmission, Saint
Ambrose, bishop of Milan, made, about the year 384, a collection of the
sacred tunes then in use, trying to restore them to their original form;
and he appended to the collection a code of technical laws, in order to
prevent future corruptions of the music. Saint Gregory the Great made
many additions (590 A. D.) to the work of Saint Ambrose, and at the same
time tried to establish more comprehensive musical laws. He was the first
to revive, in their completeness, the eight modes used by the Greeks,
and which supplanted the four used in the time of Saint Ambrose. The
collection of Gregory included, also, many new tunes and hymns, together
with music to the antiphones for the entire ecclesiastical year. All this
he gave in an improved mode of musical notation (Semiography), and he
called this new collection "Antiphonar."

The next stage in musical development was the important work of Guido of
Arezzo (1030), a Benedictine monk of Pomposa, who wrote voluminously on
musical theory and on the condition of the music of his time. It has been
the rule with historians of music to attribute to Guido many discoveries
which were doubtless made by other monks. Thus, he is credited with the
invention of counterpoint, solmisation, the staff, the hexachord, the
harmonic or Guidonian hand (see page 137), and the monochord. It is
doubtful if research will ever be able to establish with accuracy exactly
what we owe to Guido, but it is certain that he invented solmisation,
by applying to the diatonic scale certain syllables of a hymn dedicated
to John the Baptist, and they introduced new light and greater facility
into the study of music. The modification of Guido's solmisation by the
substitution of the more vocal syllable "do" for "ut," has been generally
adopted; but the French, whose u is, by nature, sufficiently vocal, have
not felt the need of this change.

In the early middle ages the entire study and teaching of science and
art, so far as it is known, was in the hands of the monks. They did their
utmost to maintain a clear distinction between learned and popular music.
Thus it happened that the folk-song, the utterance of the people, had its
own line of development. The earliest attempts in writing learned music
date from the time of Hucbald, a Benedictine monk of Flanders (840-930
A. D.) and of the staunchest of his followers, Jean Perotin; but Hucbald
was not the inventor of counterpoint. The principle of imitation and
the foundations of canon and fugue, were laid in Northern Europe; the
first great school of composition was established in the Netherlands.
Elsewhere in this work will be found a systematic and full treatment of
this period. We need therefore only direct attention to that essay on the
subject, which establishes the chronological connection of the Netherland
masters with the great era of ecclesiastical music at Rome.

The first Roman school owes its salient characteristics to the marked
preference accorded Flemish singers in the choir of the Sistine Chapel,
at Rome. The founder of the school was the Belgian, Constanzo Festa,
who obtained a place in the choir, in 1516. His compositions and those
of his pupils show distinct traces of the influence of the successors
of Josquin des Près, but they possess sufficient individuality to prove
the existence of innate genius of a very high order. Festa is believed
to have been the first Italian composer who became a thorough master
in counterpoint. But his Netherland tendencies did not prevent his
foreshadowing that tenderness, purity and simplicity which distinguished
the works of the great Italian masters who followed him.

The golden age of ecclesiastical music begins to dawn with the second
Roman school and the appearance of Giovanni Pierluigi Sante Palestrina,
one of the greatest and most original geniuses the world of art ever

Numerous changes had taken place in musical style up to the time of
Palestrina's appearance. When the rude forms of discant and organum,
practiced by Hucbald and Guido of Arezzo, had been abandoned in
consequence of the invention of counterpoint, the composers of the time,
following the course of development already indicated, struck out in an
entirely new art-form, called fugue. There were two kinds of fugue,--the
free or unlimited, and the strict or limited. Both kinds still exist,
but not under the same names. The former is now called real fugue, to
distinguish it from modern deviations from the classical model. The
latter kind we now call canon.

In earlier times the polyphonic styles, as well as the secular and
ecclesiastic, had each enjoyed a separate existence and undergone a
separate development; but the work of the Flemish masters did much to
counteract these natural tendencies, and to bring, as it were, all
musical grist to one mill. These writers not only made use of secular
tunes, in order, as they thought, to give more variety to their music,
but they often gave these tunes undue prominence, and thus rendered
impossible a really artistic performance. We meet with innumerable masses
based on secular themes, such as the first line of a well-known romance.
"L'homme armé," for instance, a very popular song of the period, was
thus used. It would be wrong, however, to attribute any irreverence to
these composers. They were merely following the promptings of laudable
and genuine artistic feelings, in employing that which should readily
appeal to the musical sense of their listeners. Nor are we without
examples of similar practices in other arts. In the works of the old
Flemish painters, for instance, not only do we see anachronisms in their
"Nativities," their "Marriages at Cana" or their "Festivals of Simon of
Bethany," but the scene is laid in some well known inn; we find in the
background a faithful copy of kitchen utensils of every description; and
through an open door we descry the familiar face of a tradesman, or the
portrait of the stout and coarse-looking innkeeper. It was a sign of
the times, and no one dreamed of censuring the artist who thus worked.
Those great painters threw on their canvas what they saw in every day
life, never thinking that it should be otherwise; and the composers did
likewise in their art. They used in an elaborate way the melodies most
frequently heard; but in the course of time this manner of writing had
disgraceful consequences. Musical degeneracy became so great and so
general that it could only be termed musical debauchery. It was against
absurdities such as these that the Council of Trent protested.

Pope Pius IV., having made thorough investigation, came to the conclusion
that the style of music generally cultivated was open to serious
objections. It was in 1564 that he convened a commission of cardinals to
consider the evil and to prescribe a remedy. This commission was inclined
to banish from the church all music except unisons and unaccompanied
plain chant; but it was decided, before issuing such a far-reaching
decree, to canvass the possibilities of introducing "modern" music which
should be free from frivolity. After much deliberation, they commissioned
Palestrina to write a mass in the purest attainable church style. The
result of their bidding was the composition of the Missa Papæ Marcelli.
The success of this remarkable work far exceeded the high expectations
that it had aroused. The Pope himself was present at the first
performance in the Sistine Chapel, June 19, 1565. So moved was he by the
work that, on leaving the church, he exclaimed: "This certainly must
have been the harmony of the New Song which the apostle John heard sung
in the heavenly Jerusalem, and of which this other John (Palestrina) has
given us a foretaste in the Jerusalem on earth." And so it was formally
determined that this mass should stand as a model for all church music
thereafter to be composed.

[Illustration: GUIDONIAN HAND.]

This composition by Palestrina, as well as very many others, not only
displays a complete mastery of counterpoint and vocal style, but also
deep religious feeling and a rare ability in writing for the human voice.
The sterling value of his works cannot be overestimated. Their influence
upon later periods has been immeasurable. Indeed, we may say without
exaggeration, that never in art has such a mighty change taken place as
that caused by the immortal Palestrina's reformatory efforts.

The earlier contrapuntists collected, stone by stone, the materials
which served their successors as foundations for further work. Ockeghem
was the first to use these fragments in a symmetrical way and to
bequeath a systematic style of music-writing to his followers. Among
these was Josquin des Près, who attempted to vivify and to infuse blood
into the hitherto lifeless counterpoint. But although his success was
considerable, it was reserved for Palestrina to free his art from
fetters, and to bestow upon it, as far as was possible, individuality.
The most noteworthy of Palestrina's Roman contemporaries were Vittoria,
Giovanni Maria and Bernar Nannini, Felice and Francesco Anerio, and the
famous composer of madrigals Luca Marenzio. But other cities of Italy had
also their schools, all, however, more or less under the influence of
Palestrina. The most prominent was the Venetian school, founded by Adrian

Adrian Willaert, born at Bruges in Flanders, in the year 1490, is said
to have been a pupil of Jean Mouton, possibly also of Josquin des Près
himself. He first studied law at the university of Paris, which, however,
he soon abandoned for music. As a young man of twenty-six he had already
made a name in his own country with his compositions. It seems, however,
that he was not successful in obtaining a position in Rome; he went,
therefore, to try his fortune in Venice. He succeeded so well there that
in 1527 he had already obtained the position of chapel-master in the
church of St. Mark. Under Willaert's direction the music at St. Mark's
became famous, and the office of chapel-master at that church reached a
high point of eminence; and thence until the eighteenth century the place
was occupied only by masters of the first rank. Willaert's influence as
a composer and as a teacher of musical art and science was great and
beneficial. He was the founder of the Venetian school of music from which
sprang so many distinguished composers, theorists and singers. He was
the first to introduce the double chorus in the antiphonal form. Up to
his death (1562) he kept his position at St. Mark's. He was a pioneer in
the broadest sense, for though his style was founded on that of Josquin
and his disciples, he began almost where they left off. Willaert's
introduction of double choruses in combination, at church service, led
afterward to a style of music which his followers developed to its
utmost limits, and which resulted in such monstrosities as masses for
forty-eight voices. They, of course, were no more than cold, mathematical
calculations, barren of intrinsic musical value.

Willaert, with his countrymen Arcadelt and Verdelot, was also the founder
or promoter of the madrigal, as a highly refined style of music. Hitherto
it had been a kind of wild-flower, a simple pastoral. But now it assumed
more importance. The so-called "sacred madrigal" was an offshoot of this
new style, and does not differ essentially from contemporary motets. At
a later period the comic madrigal came into vogue, through Vecchi and
others; and finally, the madrigal was introduced on the dramatic stage
in the earliest beginnings of opera, and gave rise to the modern opera
chorus. The most celebrated of Willaert's pupils were Cyprian de Rore,
also Flemish by birth, Zarlino, the great theorist, Costanzo Porta,
Nicolo Vincento (or Vincentino) and Delia Viola.

Cyprian de Rore was born at Mecheln. He was Willaert's successor at St.
Mark's in 1563, and died at Parma two years later. His originality was
manifested in his madrigals, which became so popular that the Italians
called him "Il divino." De Rore did not hesitate to use chromatic
intervals, and boldly entered upon the new path which his teacher had
merely pointed out. Considerable opposition was made to this innovation
at first; but soon other bold masters, such as Orlando Lasso and Luca
Marenzio, adopted chromatic intervals in their writings. These masters
deserve the honor of having prepared the way for the modern system of
major and minor keys and the chromatic scale. They did more toward the
attainment of a newer and higher type of music than all the speculations
of learned theorists and scholars had been able to accomplish.

De Rore's successor at St. Mark's was Giuseppe Zarlino, the greatest
musical theorist of the sixteenth century. Zarlino's specialty was the
theory of music rather than composition; hence, it is rather difficult
to form any idea of his talent as a composer, from the few compositions
that are at hand. His great work on the principles of music entitled
"Istituzioni harmoniche" holds a very high place in musical literature.
Before his day, musicians avoided the third in the last chord of the
final cadence of a composition; all pieces ending either with the simple
octave, or the octave with the fifth. Orlando Lasso was the first to
adopt this innovation in practical music, but he did not extend it to the
minor third, which was not used at the close of a piece until far into
the eighteenth century.

Zarlino justified the use of major and minor thirds and sixths as
concords, by his so-called diatonic system of "tempered intervals," which
was an improvement on the pure-fifth system of Pythagoras. This new
system recognized large and small whole tones in the series of intervals
comprising the diatonic scale.

The foundation of modern organ-playing was laid at Venice. The most
celebrated organ-players of the sixteenth century were offshoots of the
Venetian school. With regard to organ music of the Venetian masters,
it consisted of short pieces, the form resembling that of the modern
prelude. Free running passages and broken chords, with now and then some
hints of stricter counterpoint, were the characteristics of this music.
The titles indicated greater variety than the contents. Some of them were
named: Ricercari, Symphonia, Praeambula, Toccata, Capriccio, Intermezzo,
Canzone, and so on.

Von Winterfeld, a celebrated German author, gives, in his masterly
work, "Giovanni Gabrieli and his Age," the following complete list of
the organists of St. Mark's: De Berghem, Parrabosco, Claudio Merulo and
Andrea and Giovanni Gabrieli. These two last, Andrea and his nephew
Giovanni, were the two greatest masters of the Venetian school.

Andrea Gabrieli was born in 1510, at Venice. He was appointed organist
of the second organ at St. Mark's and held this position till his death
(1586). He was a productive composer, and enriched church music by the
accompaniments of various instruments. He was a remarkable organist, and
was the teacher of Merulo, who was very famous as a composer and player
on the organ.

Giovanni Gabrieli was born in 1540 and was appointed, in 1584, first
organist at St. Mark's in place of Merulo. His genius was manifested in
all branches of musical composition. His church music is as solemn and as
elevated as that of Palestrina. Although he employed the church modes, he
seemed to mould their rigid forms into a more modern expression than had
hitherto been imparted to them. Ambros, another great musical historian
says: "He prays and we pray with him." If we compare the same text with
Palestrina, whose style is not less glorious, nor less elevating to the
soul, we feel an immense difference; for Palestrina is the last purest
sound of the older direction in music, while Gabrieli announces, in a
wonderful manner, the coming musical emancipation of the individual. In
unaccompanied vocal music he has never been equalled in the production
of rich effects of musical coloring; in separating and massing together
"choral harmonies." His compositions for two, three and four choruses are
wonderful exhibitions of skill and judgment.

Giovanni della Croce was the last representative of the Venetian school,
which died with him in 1609.

Florence, Naples, Bologna and Milan had also distinct polyphonic schools,
all of which exercised a decided influence upon foreign schools, not only
in their beginning but in their later development. Thus, the Venetian
school had a great influence upon the schools of Nuremberg and Munich,
the former founded by Hans Leo Hassler, a German, and the latter by the
famous Netherlander, Orlando di Lasso (Roland de Lattre.) The influence
extended even to Spain.

But these great workers were not destined long to enjoy that public favor
which they so richly merited. New forms of composition and new means of
expression were being carefully considered.

The rise in popularity of the monodic, the "one melody" style, involved
a sudden decline of interest in the polyphonic school. It is impossible
to give with exactness the date of the total disappearance of this later
style of writing in Italy. With the gradual introduction of madrigals
and through the influence of dramatic music, the hitherto accepted
rules of musical construction were subjected to a great change. In the
compositions in the old church modes we note, as distinctive traits,
an unrelaxing adherence to diatonic scale progressions and a strict
preservation of half-tone interval (mi-fa) in all the modes. By this
usage each key required, of course, its own special harmonic treatment,
and each of the cadences, or endings, differed in character from all
the others. The distinctions between the various mediæval keys were,
indeed, far more strongly marked than are those which exist between the
modern major and minor scales. These great differences led the older
church composers to attribute to each of the modes distinct powers of
expression; but just as no modern theorist has been able satisfactorily
to explain the nature and character of the major and minor keys, so the
mediæval composers had widely diverging ideas concerning the modes, and
employed them variously, according to their personal preferences.

Toward the end of the sixteenth century less strict laws came to be
applied to the use of the old church modes, and gradually their peculiar
diatonic was wholly lost. Through the efforts of the madrigalists, and
especially through the agency of the masters of the Venetian school,
the chromatic element became established in music, and the severity and
harshness of the church modes greatly lessened.

The most common forms of secular music in Italy during the fourteenth
and fifteenth centuries were the Frottola, the Villotta or Villanella,
and the Madrial or Madrigal. They were all part songs, more or less
elaborate, according to the sentiment of the poetry. The Frottole were
four-part songs, of a gay and trivial nature, generally popular street
songs; but some of them were more earnest and sentimental, being set to
good poetry (arcadica).

The Villotte or Villanelle were originally peasants' songs, as the
name implies. They resembled the frottole, but were more extended and
musicianly. The Villotte alla Napoletana were the most artistic songs
of this class, but were often sung to frivolous words. The Madrigal
was known as early as the fourteenth century, but it did not rise into
universal prominence as the representative form of secular music before
Willaert's day.

The word madrigal is derived from mandra, a flock, and denoted,
originally, a shepherd's song (Pastorale). As formerly stated, early
composers often selected for their masses Gregorian chants, or secular
melodies. In the madrigal, however, the composition rested upon original
invention, thus allowing more variety in form and contrapuntal treatment.
In the madrigal, the composer's endeavor was to express through adequate
music, the meaning of the poem: he followed closely, with appropriate
motives, the sentiment of the different verses. Strict and elaborate
canons and fugues were therefore out of place in the madrigal, in which,
though seemingly simple in its construction, the composer found ample
opportunity to display his mastery in contrapuntal writing. Great variety
in rhythm, poetical expression, characteristic melodies, new and striking
harmonies, were considered the necessary qualities of the madrigal. It
was generally written in three, four, five, six and even more parts,
though writing in five parts seems to have been most in favor and use.

The words of a madrigal generally consisted of twelve or fifteen lines,
which had no fixed metre, so that the poem appeared more like a free,
than a versified recitation. The closing lines often expressed some witty
or happy thought like an epigram. The music was governed more strictly by
the meaning of the words than it was in the mass, and the counterpoint
was more simple and expressive. In some madrigals the voices were treated
with exquisite refinement, in a delicate web of counterpoint. Others
were composed in simple harmony, note against note. This latter style
possessed a diatonic character, out of which the chromatic element of
modern music could gradually be developed. The first hints of this new
method we owe to Willaert.

Adrian Willaert is considered, if not as the inventor of the madrigal,
at least as the composer by whom it was given its first artistic form.
It may be regarded as the highest form of chamber-music of those days,
written and composed for the refined and appreciative amateurs of the
best social circles, principally in Venice and Rome. All composers of
repute produced works in this favorite form; among others (beside the two
most prominent, Willaert and Cyprian de Rore) Constanzo Porta, Constanzo
Festa, Verdelot, Arcadelt, Orlandus Lassus, Orazio Vechi and Luca
Marenzio, the last named being the best madrigalist of his time.

There were other favorite vocal forms of a more general character,
which were composed according to a chosen metre, to which the poem was
afterward set. The name given to this species of composition was _modus_
(still to be found in the Portuguese term for folk-song, _modinha_) or
_aer_, and from this source was derived the modern name, air or aria,
which signifies the manner of singing (as we say a person has a certain
air or manner), and does not refer, as many suppose it does, to the
medium of song; that is, the sound of vibrating air.

These forms of secular song were inspired, undoubtedly, by the beautiful
poetry which enriched Italian literature at that period,--the age of
Dante, Petrarch, Torquato Tasso and Bocaccio.

Petrucci published (1504-1508) as many as eight books of Frottole, some
nine hundred numbers in all. These are characteristic, though primitive
examples of Italian music, and mark the essential difference between
that and Flemish music. The latter, like the Gothic architecture of
the North, was developed organically from germs or motives, while the
former corresponds to simpler forms, the grand curves and arches of
Roman churches, within whose walls the pure and elevated harmonies of
Palestrina have resounded through the centuries. The innovations which
resulted from these new ideas rapidly became popular, and in the course
of time, old church modes fell permanently into disuse.

The last noteworthy representatives of the polyphonic school of the
sixteenth century were Orlando di Lasso (Munich), Giovanni della Croce
(Venice) and, chiefly, Gregorio Allegri.

Allegri, a beneficed priest attached to the cathedral at Fermo, and a
member of the same family which produced the painter Coreggio, was a
composer of much distinction. He was born at Rome about 1580, and died in
1652. He was instructed in music by G. M. Nannini. During his residence
at Fermo he acted as chorister and composer for the cathedral. Certain
motetti and concerti, published at this time, attracted the notice of
Pope Urban VIII., and Allegri received from him, in 1629, the appointment
to a vacancy among the cantori of the Apostolic Chapel. Allegri's name is
chiefly associated with a Miserere in nine parts for two choirs, which
has been sung annually in the Pontifical Chapel, during Holy Week. This
is held to be one of the most beautiful compositions ever dedicated to
the service of the Roman church. There was a time when it was so much
treasured that to copy it was a crime punished by excommunication. But in
various ways it came to be known outside the Sistine Chapel. Dr. Burney
(1726-1814), the famous English historian of music, obtained a copy of
it. Mozart, when a boy of fifteen, took down the notes while the choir
sang it. Choron, the well known French musician, managed to insert it in
his collection of pieces used in Rome during the Holy Week.

In the Sistine Chapel this Miserere has always excited the enthusiasm
of musicians owing to a certain indescribable intensity of sadness that
characterizes it, and to its perfect rhythmical adaptation to the words
to which it is wedded.

We have now to deal with an epoch in the history of music which saw the
culminations of a great reform. New artistic ideas manifested themselves,
and thrust into the background the achievements of polyphonic science.
The movement had its beginnings in Florence. There, at the palace of
the Count Bardi, was formed a society of art connoisseurs, composed
principally of men of noble birth. The fundamental purpose of this
coterie was to reëstablish the Greek drama on a basis at once artistic
and modern; but the final result of their experiments and discussions
was the invention of the opera and the oratorio. Curiously enough,
through the fact that only few musicians belonged to the Bardi circle,
their ideas were able to make greater progress than they would otherwise
have done; for professional musicians in that age were not willing to
grant, even for purposes of dramatic expression, the smallest freedom
in harmonic or contrapuntal treatment. Here, for the first time in the
history of music, we may justly pay high tribute to dilettantism, since
it was owing to the efforts of these ardent Florentine amateurs that two
of the noblest and most popular branches of musical art were originated.

[Illustration: GREGORIO ALLEGRI.

From an engraving by C. Deblois. 1867.]

We find among the friends of Count Bardi the foremost men of the
time. The count himself was a gifted poet and composer. Corsi, who
afterward became president of the society, was a man of great learning.
Ottavio Rinuccini, a highly accomplished poet, supplied the libretti
for the first two operas ever performed. Pietro Strozzi was also a
poet and composer with advanced ideas. Emilio del Cavalieri, the
creator and inventor of the oratorio, was "ducal superintendent of
fine arts." Prominent in the society was also Vincenzo Galilei, father
of the immortal astronomer, and himself a distinguished composer and
clever mathematician. He and Battista Doni were the society's chief
representatives in the literary war carried on with the celebrated
Zarlino, who furiously condemned the new ideas, and prophesied the ruin
of musical art if such innovations should be permanently adopted.

The credit of having introduced a new, fresh and enlivening element into
the artistic attempts of the Bardi society is to be attributed chiefly
to Giulio Caccini and Vincenzo Galilei. The former was a composer, a
singer, and a writer on musical matters. He was generally considered to
be the staunchest defender of the new art. In his much discussed work
"Nuove Musiche," he places himself in the front rank of the battle and
urgently demands the recognition of solo song, so heartily despised
by the professional musicians of the time. Caccini, whose own singing
gave his hearers intense delight, felt that this department of the art
could never reach individual development while the Palestrina style of
composition prevailed. He had little theoretical knowledge of music; but,
following the example of Galilei, who was the first to use recitative
in his musical productions, Caccini enlarged and improved this form,
and sung his compositions to the Bardi society. His only accompaniment
was the theorbo, a species of lute, but his efforts gained enthusiastic
approval. From the small beginnings thus made he passed, in company with
Galilei, to the composition of long dramatic scenes, the text being
furnished by Count Bardi. This gave to the effort in the direction of
reform a new and unexpected significance. Galilei's chief endeavor in
his artistic experiments was to introduce the popular element into
composition; for, as he insisted, music was not simply the scientific
occupation of a few learned men, but belonged to the whole world. Hence,
almost all his music is homophonous. No doubt unison vocal music, with
little or no accompaniment, had been heard in the canzonetta, villanella,
and other forms of popular melody, ages before the birth of Galilei. That
the recognition of what we call now the "leading-note" as an essential
element of melody was no new thing, may be gathered from the words of
Zarlino, who, writing in 1558, says: "Even Nature herself has provided
for these things; for not only those skilled in music, but also the
contadini (peasants), who sing without any art at all, proceed by the
interval of the semitone in forming their closes." The germs of this
new element, destined to work one of the most sweeping revolutions
known in the history of art, are evidently in all the early attempts
of the monodists. In exchange for the contrapuntal glories of the
sixteenth century, the composers of the seventeenth offered the graces
of symmetrical form, hitherto unknown. The idea was not thrown away on
their successors. It was not long before symmetrical form was cultivated
in association with a new system, not of counterpoint, as it is sometimes
erroneously called, but of part-writings based on the principles of
modern harmony, and eminently adapted to the requirements of instrumental
music. Thus, in such slight indications of regular phrasing, reiterated
figures and prearranged plan as are shown in Caccini's unpretending
little arias, we may recognize the origin of much that delights us in the
grandest creations of modern musical genius.

The Bardi society wholly failed to attain that for which it struggled,--a
revival of the Hellenic drama; but, in the same way that their
contemporaries, the alchemists, failed to find a formula for making gold
and yet discovered a new science, so these connoisseurs, while failing to
impart Greek character to their productions, gave new individuality to
music, and introduced into it many important things.

The first embodiment, in large form, of the new ideas was accomplished
by Jacopo Peri in his opera, "Daphne," privately performed at the
Palazzo Corsi, in 1597. Later works were the "Conte Ugolino" of Galilei,
and three operas by Emilio del Cavalieri, entitled "Il Satiro," "La
Disperazione di Fileno," and "Il Giuoco della Cieca." The musical style
of these compositions was called "lo stile representativo" or "musica
parlante." The first publicly performed outcome of this little society's
activity was Peri's opera, "Euridice." The text was by Ottavio Rinuccini,
the renowned poet of the Bardi coterie. Both Caccini and Peri wrote music
to it; but the work of the latter was preferred, and it was given for the
first time on the occasion of the marriage of Henry IV. of France and
Maria di Medici, in December, 1600.

It was, however, as a result of Monteverde's great genius that the opera,
as such, was definitely established. The name "opera" was first used
in 1650. Before that time a musical drama of this kind had been known
as "melodramma" or "dramma per musica." Monteverde determined certain
laws and rules which have ever since served to determine the outlines
of the opera form. This great artist was born in 1586 in Cremona, and
pursued his first musical studies under the Cremonese theoretician,
Ingegneri. It was, perhaps, the too strict discipline of this master that
caused Monteverde to throw off the fetters which scholastic pedagogy was
accustomed to impose on rising genius. His first published compositions
were two madrigals, which gave evidence of revolutionary tendencies.
In the works of similar form which followed, however, he wholly cast
aside the many cherished traditions of the Palestrina style, and drew
on himself the condemnation of all the orthodox musicians of his time.
The great theorist, Artusi, author of "Delle Imperfezione della Musica
Moderna" (Venice, 1600) was, at first, a spirited advocate of the ideas
of Galilei and the Florentine school. Later, on the publication of
Monteverde's six volumes of madrigals, he declared himself as decidedly
opposed to the plan of renewing the Greek drama, and wrote biting
articles against Monteverde in particular. He condemned this composer's
violations of the laws of harmony and counterpoint, and, indeed, went
so far as to deny him all musical talent. Monteverde was unmoved and
uninfluenced by this adverse criticism. He felt himself irresistibly
drawn to the composition of homophonic and dramatic music, and felt
that artistic ideals could be realized only by a total disregard of the
existing canons of musical art.

Another ducal marriage, that of Francesco Gonzaga, son of the Duke of
Mantua, brought to Rinuccini the command to write a new libretto. The
poet, full of inspiration, produced two texts, one of which, "Arianna,"
was composed by Monteverde and achieved great success. The Duke of Mantua
then proved to be the general protector of the new art, for we note
that he commanded Monteverde to write operas for different occasions.
"Orfeo" (1608), "Combattimento di Tancredi" (1613), "Le nozze d' Enea,"
"Il Ritorno d' Ulisse" are all occasional works of the great reformer.
Monteverde died in 1643, and was buried in the Chiesa dei Frari.

The great success of Monteverde's works turned the tide of composition
towards the creation of operas, and the popularity of these productions
soon suggested the desirability of erecting theatres which should be
chiefly devoted to the presentation of opera. The first opera house
was built in Venice in 1637, and was called the Teatro di San Cassiano.
The owners of it were Benedetto Ferrari and Francesco Mannelli, who
wrote respectively the libretti and the music to the first two operas
represented there. Francesco Cavalli, Monteverde's favorite pupil, also
composed operas for this theatre. Two other opera houses were built
at Venice within a short space of time. For these theatres operatic
novelties were supplied in rapid succession. The names of the composers
were Carlo Pallavicini, D. Giovanni Legrenzi, Antonio Sartorio, and
Marc Antonio Cesti. Cavalli was a very prolific writer, having composed
between 1639 and 1665 not less than thirty-four operas. The best among
them were "Il Giasone" (1649) and "L' Erismera" (1665), of which the
manuscripts are preserved in the library of St. Mark at Venice. Legrenzi
wrote seventeen operas, the most successful being "Achille in Scyro"
(1664) and "I due Cesari" (1683). Opera became more and more fashionable;
and, as Venice was one of the greatest musical centres as well as one
of the most popular pleasure resorts, the city of the laguna possessed,
before the end of the seventeenth century, no less than eleven opera
houses, all of which were filled to overflowing whenever performances
were given. In Rome, the first opera house, known as the "Torre di Nona,"
was opened in 1671 with Cavalli's "Giasone"; the second, "La scala dei
Signori Capranica," was inaugurated in 1679. A third theatre was that of
the Palazzo Alberti (1696.)

From these musical centres, the love for opera soon spread to Naples, to
Bologna, to Padua, and other places. The courts at Vienna, Dresden and
Paris sought to cultivate a taste for Italian opera, and huge theatres
were built for this purpose. Ottavio Rinuccini, the poet, went to France
in the suite of Maria di Medici, and made an unsuccessful attempt to
introduce Italian opera. It was not until the time of Jean Baptiste
Lully, an Italian by birth, that the new art-form attained a firm
foothold in France.

Meanwhile, the oratorio, which, as has already been said, came into
existence almost as early as the opera, was also becoming very popular.
This species of sacred composition was the direct descendant of the
mysteries and miracle-plays of the middle ages. These mysteries were
primarily intended for the instruction of the masses in biblical
history. The dramatic facts and occurrences of the Scriptures were
treated, it is true, in a rather coarse manner, but the rugged poetry
which many of these works contain has not been justly appreciated by
either moralists or historians. A remnant of these ancient works is still
to be found in the periodical representations at Oberammergau, and some
prominent composers of the present epoch have tried to revive this old
form of art. We transcribe from the preface of the miracle-play, "Maria
Magdalena," produced with great success at Berlin and several important
English centres, the following sentences: Mysteries, or miracle-plays,
were representations of dramatic scenes borrowed from the Bible, and
were performed in the Middle Ages, chiefly by roving Franciscans. This
brotherhood, wandering from hamlet to hamlet, from place to place, saw
in these shows, performed often with great pomp in churches or public
squares, the most effectual means of spreading abroad the principles
of the Christian religion. At first, the dramas rested upon a purely
declamatory basis, but at the end of the fifteenth century choral songs
with incidental solos, accompanied by the organ and other instruments,
became incorporated in the representations. We find the embryos of
musical mysteries in 1289 at Friuli and at 1343 at Padua. In France,
too, these performances were called mysteries, and in Spain "autos
sacramentales." Lope de Vega wrote a great number of these holy dramas.
It was the universal custom at that epoch for the spectators, previous to
the beginning of the drama, to recite some antiphons having connection
with the action of the play.

We may regard it as a very striking coincidence, that in the same year
which witnessed the production of Peri's "Euridice" at Florence, the
first oratorio was performed at Rome, in the church of S. Maria in
Valicella, then recently built by St. Philip Neri, the founder of the
congregation of the Oratorians. St. Philip, a friend of Palestrina, was
a firm believer in the power of sacred music, and its utility as a means
of exciting healthy devotional feeling. For the purpose of encouraging a
general love for it, he warmly supported the guild or brotherhood called
the Laudisti. On certain solemn occasions this order paraded the streets
singing hymns of a melodious character, called "laudi spirituali,"
one of which--"Alia trinità beata"--is still to be heard as a popular
hymn-tune. It was probably in the oratory attached to the new church,
that the first oratorio was performed, in the month of February, 1600;
and it is certain that it was from the name of the edifice that this form
of composition derived its name.

The title of the first oratorio was "La Rappresentazione dell' Anima
e del Corpo" (The representation of the Soul and the Body). The words
were by Laura Guidiccioni and the music by Emilio del Cavalieri. The
subject was allegorical, and the style of the music was that of the
monodic school, a style wholly declamatory and recognizing no distinction
whatever between recitative and air. The inventor and the early masters
of the oratorio treated this "sacred drama" more in the manner of the
miracle-plays than in that of classical tragedy.

The broad distinction between the mediæval miracle play--which, for
a long time, had been popular in Italy, France, Spain, England and
Germany--and the oratorio, was that while in the former the dialogue was
spoken, in the latter it was recited to musical notes. The oratorio, in
fact, as invented by Emilio del Cavalieri was neither more nor less than
an opera, based on a sacred subject; and in Italy it never assumed any
other form. Other attempts of the same epoch were made by Kapsberger,
a German living in Rome: also by Loreto Michelangiolo Capellina, "Il
lamento di S. Maria Vergine" (1627); by Stefano Landi, "S. Alessio"
(1634); and by Michelangiolo Rossi "Erminio sul Giordano" (1637). The
most successful, however, was Domenico Mazzocchi's "Repentimento di S.
Maria Maddalena."

Another important composer in this epoch, and connected chiefly with
the early evolution of oratorio style, was Ludovico Viadana (Mantua)
who wrote concerti da chiesa (church-concertos), pieces for one or
more voices with an organ-bass, and thus introduced into chamber music
the newly invented monody of Caccini. He is also the first prominent
writer who used the basso continuo, so called because it continues with
the upper chief melody and gives it a steadfast, harmonic basis. The
long-cherished belief that Viadana was the inventor of this device is

The early efforts of Monteverde and Cavalli prepared the way for a
later generation of composers, whose works are even now regarded as
masterpieces of a style of composition none the less beautiful because no
longer cultivated. The most prominent composers of the brilliant period
which followed the inauguration of the monodic school were Carissimi,
Colonna, Alessandro Stradella, Francesco and Luigi de Rossi, and,
greatest of all, Alessandro Scarlatti, of whom a special biographical
account is included in the present work. Giacomo Carissimi (born in
1604 at Monino, died in 1674 at Rome) devoted himself chiefly to the
composition of sacred music. His works are characterized by sweetness and
grace, combined with a richness of instrumental accompaniment very much
in advance of the age. His chief compositions are the oratorios "Jefte"
and "Iona." Giovanni Paolo Colonna (born in 1640 at Brescia, died in
1695 at Bologna) wrote sacred music of a massive, dignified character,
and in every way worthy the school to which it belongs. The manuscript
of an "offertorium defunctorum," by Colonna, for eight voices, is in the
library of the Royal College of Music in London. This master trained a
large number of talented pupils (the Bolognese school), among others,
Clari, the composer of many fine works and especially of a collection of
charming vocal duets and trios; Giovanni Bononcini, a rival of Handel, in
London; and Perti, Aldovrandini, Passarini, Pasquale, and the celebrated
composer and historian, Padre Martini.

Alessandro Stradella, whose name has been so frequently mentioned in
connection with a fatal love-adventure, wrote many operas and oratorios.
The aria "Pietà, signore," attributed to him, is not of his composition.
For a long time it was thought to have been written by Alessandro
Scarlatti; but it is evidently in the style of Francesco di Rossi, a
canon of Bari, who died in 1688.

Rossi wrote the operas "Il Sejano," "Clorilda," "Mitrane." The beautiful
aria "Ah! rendimi," well known to all singers, is from his opera
"Mitrane." Luigi Rossi, of whose presence in Rome we hear as early
as the year 1620, was also a very talented composer. His only known
opera is "Il palazzo incantato." But none of these composers rivalled,
either in talent or reputation, their great contemporary, Alessandro
Scarlatti, who was born in 1659 at Trapani in Sicily and died in 1725
at Naples. He was a pupil of Carissimi. The secret of his great power
lay in his recognition of the true value of counterpoint. He was wise
enough to see that the art for which Peri and Monteverde had expressed
their undisguised contempt, formed the technical basis of all true
greatness in music. Scarlatti was considered the most learned musician,
as well as the greatest genius of the age. His power of production was
almost incredible. His first opera, "L'Onesta nell Amore" (1680), was
followed by no less than a hundred and fourteen other operas. He is
known to have written two hundred masses, and far more than that number
of cantatas. Very few of these were printed, and the majority have been
consequently lost. Signs of rapid progress are everywhere apparent in
these operas,--most of all in the recitative and the form of the aria.
Scarlatti is supposed to be the inventor of the recitative obligato (with
accompaniment) and the da capo (repetition of a musical movement). His
son, Domenico Scarlatti, of whom we shall have later to speak, became
one of the greatest harpsicord players on record. Alessandro's greatest
contemporaries in Germany were the older members of the Bach family, who
steadily made advances in musical art, more especially in the higher
branches of sacred music, culminating in the great Sebastian Bach.


Reproduction of a lithograph portrait.]

The followers of Scarlatti during the earlier years of the eighteenth
century, claim our admiration, not so much on account of their inventive
power, as on the ground that they made progress in matters of technical
perfection. Nevertheless, the century gave birth to some composers whose
genius was not merely great in comparison with the talent displayed
by contemporary writers, but so truly great in itself that it seems
impossible they should ever be forgotten.

Among the Italian followers of Scarlatti was the favorite pupil of
Legrenzi, Antonio Lotti (1667-1740). He invested the form left by
Scarlatti with a melodious grace so modern in character that some of his
arias, e. g. "Pur dicesti," are still regarded as standard compositions.
He wrote more than twenty operas. In 1756 he was elected maestro di
capella at St. Mark's, and in the same year he was commissioned by
the Venetian Republic to compose, in honor of the Doge's wedding the
Adriatic, the famous "Madrigale per il Bucintoro," entitled "Spirito di

Antonio Caldara (1678-1736) was also a pupil of Legrenzi, at the time
when Lotti studied with him. In 1714 he went to Mantua as maestro di
capella, and later in the same capacity to Vienna. He wrote ninety-six
operas, of which the most successful was "Temistocle." His finest
composition is a Crucifixus for sixteen voices, still very often
sung in prominent churches. Among Lotti's pupils was Baldassare
Galuppi(1706-1786), who wrote fifty-four operas, and a great deal of
delightful chamber-music.

Another pupil of Caldara, and a prominent figure in musical history, was
Benedetto Marcello (1686-1739). He was a Venetian nobleman and musical
amateur who, though possessing the musical ability of neither Lotti or
Caldara, nevertheless succeeded, by hard work, by keen artistic zeal and
by literary mastery, in winning fame for himself even outside his native
country. His masterpiece, the paraphrases of fifty psalms set to music,
at once brought him to the attention of all the prominent musicians of
his time, and established his reputation. The library of St. Mark in
Venice has a manuscript "Teoria musicale" by him; the court library has
many autographs and other works of Marcello, including the cantatas
"Addio di Ettone," "Clorie Daliso" and "La Stravaganza." Marcello's
satirical pamphlet, "Il teatro alla moda," is a valuable source of
information concerning society life in Venice toward the middle of the
eighteenth century. Rossini borrowed one of the principal themes of his
overture to the "Siege of Corinth" from Marcello's twenty-first psalm.

While the Palestrina epoch was called the "Golden age of ecclesiastical
music," the Neapolitan dramatic school, founded by Alessandro Scarlatti,
covers a period in the eighteenth century which is called the "Second
golden age of Italian music." Almost all of these prominent composers
were pupils of Alessandro Scarlatti. Francesco Durante (1684-1755) was a
highly accomplished musician, and one of the best writers of the age. His
sacred compositions, which are numberless, are as graceful as they are
tempered with true dignity of style.

[Illustration: PADRE J. B. MARTINI.

Reproduction of a lithograph portrait.]

Emanuele d' Astorga (1688-1736) was celebrated as a singer and as a
composer, and also for his romantic and rather melancholy life. His
"Stabat mater," is a composition full of religious fervor and sweet
pathos, as well as original in form and melodic invention. Leonardo Leo
(1694-1741), who was superior to Astorga, wrote about fifty operas (one
for the debut of the soprano Caffarelli), many masses, and a famous
Miserere for eight voices. Francesco Feo (1699-1750) was a noble and
learned master, who wrote the operas "Ipermestra" and "Andromache."

Lionardo da Vinci (1690-1732), who is sometimes confounded with the great
painter of the same name, wrote the operas "Silla" and "Siface." A love
quarrel caused his untimely death by assassination.

Giovanni Battista Pergolesi (1710-1737) was a pupil of Greco, Durante,
and Feo. As an opera composer his only success was "La Serva Padrona," an
intermezzo which was performed in nearly every theatre in Europe. Among
Pergolesi's productions as a church composer, the "Stabat Mater," for two
female voices with a string-quartet accompaniment, enjoyed for a while
extraordinary popularity.

Nicolo Jomelli's (1714-1774) tender and pathetic style rendered him
exceedingly popular, both in Italy and in Germany. He wrote sacred and
dramatic music. Mozart said of Jomelli: "He is so brilliant in his own
particular way that none of us will be able to put him aside: but he
should not have attempted to compose church-music in the old style."
Nothwithstanding this judgment by Mozart, it is an undeniable fact that
Jomelli was the only composer of his time who treated the ecclesiastical
style in an almost perfect manner.

Giovanni Paisiello (1741-1815) showed his true greatness most clearly on
the stage, and attained a reputation so enduring that his best opera, "Il
barbiere di Siviglia," produced at St. Petersburg in 1777, was only after
great opposition displaced to make room for Rossini's masterpiece of the
same name.

Nicolo Porpora (1686-1766) was very celebrated as a teacher of singing,
but also enjoyed, for some time, great popularity as an opera composer.

One of the most important scientific musicians of the eighteenth century
was Padre Martini, who was born at Bologna in 1706. He was first taught
music by his father, Antonio Maria. He learned singing and violin playing
in his youth, and had lessons in counterpoint from Antonio Riccieri, a
castrato of Vincenzo and a composer of merit. In 1725, after having been
ordained, he became maestro di capella of the church of San Francesco in
Bologna. He thus gradually acquired an extraordinary and comprehensive
mass of knowledge, with an amount of literary information far in advance
of his musical contemporaries. His library was unusually complete for the
time. He possessed, for instance, ten copies of Guido of Arezzo's very
rare Micrologos. Scientific men of all countries took pleasure in sending
him books.

It was chiefly in the development of means and details of expression
that music was advancing during this period. The art of singing, too,
was receiving much attention. The head of the Neapolitan school, Aless.
Scarlatti, in addition to his mastery of counterpoint and fugue, was also
a great vocal artist, and all his successors tried to cultivate the art
of _bel canto_. This art of purified and unsophisticated singing was the
foundation-stone in the career of all dramatic composers, and hence their
great ability to write in a wholly singable style.


From an engraving in Clément's "Musiciens Célèbres."]

The climax of _bel canto_ was reached when the celebrated vocal artist,
Pistocchi, founded at Bologna his training school for vocalists. Many of
his earlier pupils were the celebrities and stars of the London Italian
opera, during the brilliant epoch in which Handel wrote for that stage.
Among them were the male soprano Senesino, and Sgra. Cuzzoni and Faustina
Hasse, wife of the opera composer. But the medal had also its reverse.
Haughtiness and boundless conceit were prominent characteristics of these
artists. Everybody knows how Handel, not always sweet of temper, treated
Cuzzoni, who whimsically refused to take a part in a new opera unless
the composer would rewrite it for her. As if endowed with superhuman
strength, he seized her, held her out of a window, and threatened to drop
her if she did not consent to sing the part as written. But those who had
not at their command such violent means to subdue singers, had repeatedly
to suffer from their tyrannies.

Indeed, as vocal art came to be more and more the central point of
interest in the opera, consideration for the composer grew less and less;
and, finally, he became simply the slave of the almost musically-ignorant
vocalists. He was obliged to modify his compositions to their
satisfaction, whether the changes were in accord with good taste or not.
In the operas of the eighteenth century the musical work was esteemed
valuable only in proportion as it offered opportunities for vocal
display. The composer, in many cases, gave no more than a skeleton of
the aria, and the singers were left free to add any embellishments that
would display their vocal abilities to the best advantage. Nevertheless
names like those of Cuzzoni, Faustina, Durastanti, Frasi, Strada, La
Francesina, Nicolini, Senesino, Bernacchi and Carestini lent brilliancy
to the epoch. They were all favorite singers in Handel's day. They were
great singers when he engaged them, and he no doubt made them greater.
In like manner, Porpora, notwithstanding the weakness of his operas,
created the school which produced Caffarelli and Farinelli. The Italians
may, with just pride, dwell on the fact that the great majority of the
prominent singers of the nineteenth century were pupils of Italian
masters, such singers, for instance, as Mesdames Mara, Catalani, Pasta,
Malibran, Sontag, Grisi and Persiani; the great tenors Manuel Garcia,
Rubini and Mario, and the incomparable bassi Lablache and Tamburini, all
of whom owed their faultless method to the purely vocal style of the
music in which it was their ambition to excel.

But, in spite of its grace and its richly melodious flow, there were
serious faults in the older opera of Italy. There was, in the first
place, insincerity in dramatic expression.

As eminent representatives of the closing days of this brilliant period
of Italian opera, we may mention Nicola Piccinni, Domenico Cimarosa, and
Nicolo Zingarelli. Piccinni (1728-1810) gained greater fame than any
of his precursors. It was at Rome in 1760 that he produced "Cecchina
la buona figluola," perhaps the most popular buffo opera that was ever
written, and which for years had an extraordinary vogue. Among many
improvements Piccinni introduced in his operas, were the extension of the
duet, hitherto treated in a conventional undramatic way, and the variety
and importance given to the finale in many movements, the invention
of which, however, is due to Logroscino. His fame was equalled by his
industry. In the year 1761, alone, he wrote six operas, three serious and
three comic. Through the appearance of a rival and former pupil of his,
Anfossi, who also won great success with comic operas, he fell seriously
ill, and after his recovery he was induced by his friends to leave Italy
and go to Paris, which he did in 1776. After this, a surprising change of
style took place when he wrote the French operas, "Roland" and "Atys,"
both of which were successful. Then followed the famous contests between
Gluckists and Piccinnists, an episode which has been treated in detail in
the special article on Gluck.


From an engraving by C. Deblois, 1867.]

Logroscino, another celebrated opera-composer, built his finale upon
only one subject or theme; Piccinni, on the contrary, chose several
contrasting movements in different keys, and thus gave more dramatic
motion and effect to his finales.

Domenico Cimarosa, born at Naples about the year 1749, is said to have
been educated under Sacchini, Piccinni and Fenaroli, an eminent Italian
theorist at the conservatorio di S. Maria di Loreto. The influence of
his genius upon modern Italian opera was so great and so long-continued,
that he must be considered as one of the foremost of Italian operatic
composers. Up to 1780 he had written about fourteen operas. He then
became the acknowledged rival of Paisiello, although their merits were of
a different order. Cimarosa's flow of melody was already more genial and
infinitely less restrained than Paisiello's, and the concerted movements
of the latter bear no comparison with those of his younger rival. By
invitation of the Empress Catherine II., Cimarosa went to St. Petersburg
in 1787. He remained until 1791, and he produced about six operas in
the Russian metropolis. His greatest triumph, however, was achieved in
Vienna, where he became court conductor, with the "Matrimonio segreto,"
one of the finest masterpieces of Italian opera. Subsequently he returned
to Naples, and was accorded every possible honor by king Fernando. But
he was imprudent enough to join the French terrorists at the outbreak of
the revolution, and accordingly he fell into disgrace and was condemned
to death. Escaping, he fled to Venice, where he died in 1801. Cimarosa
was a prominent genius in the opera buffa, so excellent a master, indeed,
that it is scarcely possible to class his works with any others than
the masterpieces of Mozart and Rossini's "Barbiere." Beside his operas,
seventy-six in all, Cimarosa composed several oratorios, cantatas and
masses, which were much admired in their day. His real talent lay in
comedy, in his sparkling wit and unfailing good humor. His invention was
inexhaustible in the representation of that overflowing and yet naïve
liveliness, that merry, teasing loquacity, which is the distinguishing
feature of the genuine Italian buffo style. His chief musical excellence
lay in the vocal parts, but the orchestra is delicately and effectually
handled, and some of his ensembles are real masterpieces.

Nicolo Zingarelli (1752-1837), whose "Romeo e Giulietta" was so much
admired, was unsurpassed in purity of style and refinement of detail.
Zingarelli was director of the Conservatory at Naples, and later
held a similar position in Milan. Among his numerous pupils the most
celebrated was the "swan of Catania," Vincenzo Bellini. All these masters
contributed something towards the perfection of outward form, which
Italian opera was gradually assuming.

Vincenzo Bellini (1802-1835) was undoubtedly one of the most gifted as
well as one of the most popular Italian composers of this century. He
studied with Zingarelli at Naples, Mercadante being his class-mate. After
some more or less fortunate attempts in opera-writing, he scored a full
success with the "Montecchi e Capuletti" in 1830, Pasta appearing. His
two greatest successes, however, were "La Sonnambula" (1831, Milan) and
"Norma" (1832), with Pasta as heroine. Each of these creations found
its way in an incredibly short space of time to every opera house in
Europe. Bellini later went to Paris, where he produced "I Puritani" in
1835, with Mme. Grisi and MM. Rubini, Tamburini and Lablache. This was
no less a success than the popular works which had preceded it. The
excitement attendant upon the production of the latter work was more than
Bellini's delicate constitution could endure, and eight months after its
performance he died, at Puteaux, near Paris.

Gaetano Donizetti (1798-1848), one of the most prolific writers of the
school of the first half of this century, also studied at Naples with
Zingarelli. In 1830 he scored his first triumph with "Anna Bolena"
(Pasta, Lablache). Rubini sang in it, and a large number of comic and
serious operas followed; among them being "L' elisir d' amore" (1832),
"Lucrezia Borgia" (1824), "Lucia di Lammermoor" (1835), the last written
expressly for the celebrated Madame Persiani and the French tenor Duprez.
These are his best operas, and none of his later works were able to win
the great popularity attained by them. His last work, "Catarina Cornaro,"
was produced at Naples in 1844. Soon after, his health broke down
completely, and in 1848 he died of paralysis at Bergamo, his native place.

But the glory of the two last mentioned composers was far surpassed by
that of their great rival Gioacchino Rossini (born at Pesaro, 1792,
died at Passy, near Paris, 1868.) Son of roaming musicians, he became
early acquainted with stage-life, and after some incomplete studies, he
ventured to write an opera, "La Cambiale di Matrimonio" (1810, Venice).
Two others followed, and with the fourth, "La Pietra di Paragone,"
he scored a great success at Milan. In 1813 "Tancredi" was given and
created a furore, making for him a world-wide reputation. "Il Barbiere di
Siviglia," the greatest masterpiece of opera buffa, was a fiasco at Rome
(1816). "La Cenerentola" (1817), "La Gazza ladra" (1817) and "Moise in
Egitto" (1818) were his greatest successful operas. He went afterwards to
Vienna, where he was received with enthusiasm, and succeeded in making
the Viennese quite forget that they had Beethoven living among them.
In 1825 he settled in Paris and produced "Guillaume Tell." After this
he wrote no more for the stage, but in 1842 he completed his exquisite
"Stabat Mater," and in 1864 "La Messe Solennelle." To the end of his life
he possessed the art not only of attaining popularity, but of gaining the
affections of all with whom he came in contact.

It may not be without interest to quote some sentences of the celebrated
French writer Eugène de Mirecourt (in "Les Contemporains") to show in
what quite different ways French people of the time gave their opinion
about Rossini. Mirecourt says: "In spite of his immense musical genius
we do not accord him the _feu sacré_. He never cared for any dignity in
his talent, nor had he any pride in his art. God gave him melody, and he
might have sung like the nightingale, which warbles among the branches of
the tree, but Gioacchino did not care for that sort of thing. He aspired
only to become a millionaire as quickly as possible. At the top of every
sixteenth note he saw a gold coin, and hence he wrote as many semiquavers
as he was able." Another characteristic incident may be mentioned, which
will show Rossini in another light. Nourrit, the celebrated French tenor,
who created the part of "Arnold" in William Tell, suggested that Rossini
should make an addition to the score, writing a new duet between Matilda
and Arnold, and trying to emulate in it the celebrated duo from "The
Huguenots." Rossini, as he had finished the full score of the opera, did
not see his way clear to comply with Nourrit's wish, and his letter to
the great tenor is significant. He writes: "I have finished completely
my 'William Tell.' And it was a very hard work, I may say, not because
of the many notes with which I filled the staves, but for the emotion,
for the continuous keeping up of a high-pitched excitement during the
composition. There are many who firmly believe in my _fa presto_ way,
in my careless writing, because they have seen me, over and over again,
laughing, joking, perhaps also attending to the cooking of a dish of
savory maccaroni with tomato sauce; and they think I could write serious
music, while talking and gossiping with my friends; but they are all
sadly mistaken. When the heart's fibre is touched, I am moved, I suffer
agony, I weep." And I think whoever listens with unbiassed feeling, to
the strains of Arnold's aria, or to the many other musical inspirations,
must be capable of distinguishing the composer of the "Barbiere" from
that other one who wrote "Guglielmo Tell."


Reproduction of a lithograph portrait.]

Although we of the nineteenth century think of Italy chiefly as an
opera-producing country, we must not forget that she was, in earlier
days, identified with important phases in the development of instrumental
music. Not only were the piano and violin invented in Italy, but the
latter instrument was brought in that country to the highest possible
degree of perfection; and the achievements of Italian organists are of
primary importance in the history of music. The art of harpsichord, or
pianoforte, playing could claim, at the end of the seventeenth century,
worthy and ingenious performers and composers. The greatest among all
was Domenico Scarlatti, born in 1683. He was a pupil of his father and
of Gasparrini, at Naples. He was the first composer who studied the
peculiar characteristics of the free style of harpsichord music. His
bold innovations were by no means appreciated in Italy, for Dr. Burney
remarks in his "State of Music in France and Italy," that the harpsichord
was so little cultivated that it had not affected the organ, which was
still played in the grand old traditional style. After having composed
many operas for Naples, Scarlatti went to Venice, where he made the
acquaintance of Handel. Later, in Rome, Cardinal Ottoboni held a kind of
competition between the two masters which was undecided in respect to the
harpsichord; but when it came to the organ, Scarlatti was the first to
acknowledge his rival's superiority, and to declare that he had no idea
that such playing as Handel's existed. The two became fast friends from
that day. They remained together till Handel left Italy, and met again
in London in 1720. Though the technique of pianoforte playing owes so
much to Domenico Scarlatti, he did little toward the development of the
sonata. Other distinguished performers and composers at the same time,
were Durante, Paradies, Porpora, Gasparrini and Alberti.

Gerolamo Frescobaldi was the greatest and most important of all Italian
organists. He was born, 1587, at Ferrara, and studied under Alessandro
Milleville, also a native of Ferrara. Quadrio tells us that he possessed
a singularly beautiful voice, and it is certain that while still a
youth, he enjoyed a great reputation both as singer and organist. In
1516 he went to Rome, and before long was appointed regular organist at
St. Peter's. His first performance there, according to Baini, attracted
an audience of thirty thousand persons. Frohberger, the great German
organist and composer, was Frescobaldi's pupil from 1637 to 1641, and
thus the noble style of Italian organ playing was handed on to other
schools. His compositions are important and give us a high idea of his
powers. He was the first to play fugues on the organ. His works consist
chiefly of organ-compositions, which even to-day are considered worthy
the attention of students of that instrument. Other great Italian masters
of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, distinguished and gifted
composers for the organ, were Girolamo, Parabosco, Andrea and Giovanni
Gabrieli, and Merulo.


Reproduction of a lithograph portrait.]

The early history of the stringed instruments in Italy is one of the
most important episodes in the general history of the art. The famous
Italian makers have earned a well deserved immortality, and never were
their instruments as highly prized as now. The parent of the violin was
the rebec, specimens of which may still be seen in numerous museums. We
find indications of the use of the rebec in the twelfth and thirteenth
centuries. In manuscripts of that period it is represented as not unlike
the mandolin in form, with trefoil sound-holes, and a carved head in the
place of the modern scroll. It was fitted with three strings and was
played with a bow of somewhat rounded form.

The leading-spirit of the Amati family was Andrea Amati (1520-1577),
whose improvements upon the stringed instruments made at Brescia by
Maggini and Gasparo da Salo, the most celebrated artists of the still
older Brescian school, prepared the way for that perfection that was so
soon to be attained. Andrea's brother, the elder Nicolo, confined his
attention chiefly to the bass viol. Antonio (1565-1670) and Geronimo,
Andrea's two sons, carried out their father's ideas with intelligence
and zeal; but the greatest genius of all was Geronimo's son, the second
Nicolo (1596-1648), whose best works are simply priceless. Under his son,
another Geronimo, the celebrity of the house declined, never to rise

Another famous family of Cremonese artists was that of the Guarneri.
The founder of the house, Andreas Guarnerius, whose instruments bear
dates from 1650 to 1695, was a pupil of Nicolo Amati. The greatest of
the family was Joseph, surnamed del Gesù (1683-1745), a nephew of the
venerable Andreas, and so excellent a maker that one of his violins can
scarcely be bought at the present day for less than twenty-five hundred
dollars. We may add, as a matter of interest, that Joachim, when in
London, received the present of a Guarnerius valued at more than six
thousand dollars; that Sarasate uses an instrument, granted him for life,
but belonging to the Spanish crown, worth fifteen thousand dollars; and
that a similar price was paid by Mr. Crawford Leith, of Scotland, for the
celebrated "Messiah Stradivarius." This violin is the product of another
famous Cremonese maker, the last and greatest artist of the school,
Antonio Stradivarius (1649-1737), whose instruments have equal value with
those of his fellow townsmen Nicolo Amati and Joseph Guarnerius.

The first famous Italian violin virtuoso was Arcangelo Corelli
(1653-1713). He settled permanently in Rome in 1683, and found there
a happy home in the palace of Cardinal Ottoboni, whose concerts
he conducted up to the time of his death. His violin playing was
characterized by a refinement of taste which no other performer of the
day was able to equal, and the same quality embodied in his compositions
render them still delightful, although the technique demanded for their
performance would now be regarded as infantile. Among his numerous
pupils the most eminent were Geminiani, Locatelli, Somis, Baptiste and


From Naumann's History of Music.]

Of equal significance was Giuseppe Tartini (1692-1745). His fame rests
on various grounds. He was one of the greatest violinists of all times,
an eminent composer, and a scientific writer on musical physics. His
contemporaries agree in crediting him with all the qualities that make
a great player, a fine tone, unlimited command of fingerboard and bow,
perfect intonation in double stops, a brilliant trill and double-trill,
which he executed equally well with all the fingers. He was also a
remarkably good teacher, as is evidenced by the large number of excellent
pupils he sent forth and of which the most eminent are, Nardini, Bini,
Manfredi, Ferrari, Graun and Lahoussaye. Some of these have borne
enthusiastic testimony to Tartini's rare merits and powers as a teacher,
to his unremitting zeal and personal devotion to his scholars, many of
whom were linked to him by bonds of intimate friendship to the close of
his life.

The importance of the influence of Italy on the earlier forms of
composition was not less important than that which she wielded in other
branches. The sonata, as its name indicates, is of Italian origin. For a
long time the composition of sonatas was cultivated almost exclusively
by the violinists. Corelli and Tartini are its principal inventors and
representatives. Although they looked upon it mainly as an opportunity
to display their technical accomplishments, nevertheless, the musical
ability of these two violinists was so great that they constantly sought
a noble classical form for their thoughts, and gave to the composition a
harmonic construction which corresponds to the most advanced ideas of the

As has already been said, the chief remarkable phenomenon in the
development of the sonata among the masters of the violin, was the
rapidity with which a firm structure in respect to harmony and the
relation of keys was produced. The delicate instinct of Corelli and
of some of those who followed him, divined and grasped the effect and
importance of the effects of certain keys in connection with others
distantly or closely related, and the extended and consistent working
out of this principle produced those very works which have made their
composers renowned far and wide.

The Italian violinist cultivated principally the "intermediate type"
which joins the earlier and later sonata style, and in which the first or
principal theme appears at the beginning of the first half and reappears
near the end, quite in accordance with the custom of our own day. As a
noteworthy example of this style, the tempo di gavotta of the eighth
sonata, in Corelli's opera seconda, may be named. Among other good
examples are the last movement in Tartini's fourth sonata (Op. 1) and the
last movement of that in D minor; also the last movement of Geminiani's
sonata in C minor, some parts of Vivaldi's sonata in A major, and some
sections also of Nardini's sonatas.

Pietro Locatelli (born in 1693 at Bergamo, died in 1764 at Amsterdam)
became, at the most tender age, a pupil of Corelli, at Rome. He travelled
and settled finally in Amsterdam. He was a very original virtuoso, and
the first who introduced extremely difficult violin passages into his
compositions. He is therefore generally called the forerunner of Paganini.

Francesco Geminiani (born in 1680 at Lucca, died in 1761 at Dublin),
a pupil of Corelli at Rome, also studied composition there with no
less a master than Scarlatti. He possessed an extraordinarily lively
temperament, which, according to the testimony of contemporary writers,
showed itself strongly in his performances. In 1714 he went to England,
where he became very popular, and was received into the house of Lord
Essex, who became his pupil.

One of the great names among Italian violinists and composers of sonatas
is that of Antonio Vivaldi. He forms, so to speak, the connecting link
between the perfection of Italian sonata and the beginning of the
cultivation of the same form in Germany.

[Illustration: GIUSEPPE TARTINI.

From Naumann's History of Music.]

A brilliant comet appeared in the musical heavens, however, that most
celebrated and most eccentric of all Italian violinists, Nicolo Paganini
(1784-1839). The extraordinary power of this artist's playing could
have had its source only in genius of the first order. If genius, as
Michael Angelo justly said, is the power of taking infinite pains,
Paganini certainly possessed it in a very high degree; for his power
of concentration and perseverance were unexampled. Mere perfection of
technique, however, would never have thrown the whole of musical Europe
into such ecstasies. With the first notes his audience was spell-bound.
There was in him--though certainly not the evil spirit suspected by
the superstitious--a demoniac element, which irresistibly took hold
of those that came under the sway of his tone. Moscheles, the great
pianist, remarks: "His constant and daring flights, his newly discovered
flageolet-tones, his gift of fusing and beautifying subjects of wholly
opposite natures--all these phases of genius so completely bewildered
my musical perceptions that for days afterwards my head was on fire and
my brain reeled." He was no mere virtuoso. There was something in his
playing that defied description or imitation; and he certainly had,
in a high degree, originality and character, the two qualities which
distinguish the man of genius from the man of talent.

A star of second magnitude as a violinist, but nevertheless noteworthy,
was J. B. Viotti (1735-1824), who wrote many classical concertos for his
instrument, but afterward gave up playing altogether. Giardini, Pugnani,
Campagnoli and many others, living in various musical countries, made
names for themselves as performers and composers.

As has already been remarked, Scarlatti was the principal representative
in the development of the form of the clavier sonata. Scarlatti, but
a few years older than J. Sebastian Bach, has the same distinguishing
marks as his great contemporary. He holds himself firmly to a clearly
determined form, conditioned by musical laws. The principal difference
between the two composers is that Scarlatti was inclined to make the
brilliant technique which he possessed as virtuoso the real object of
the composition, while in the case of Bach, even in things of lesser
dimensions, introspection and artistic intensity manifested themselves.
Nevertheless, the flowing and dazzling manner of writing which Scarlatti
possessed and which was the result of his Italian temperament, must
have often served Sebastian Bach as a model. Scarlatti's form inclines
more toward that of the etude than of the true sonata. It was through
Baldassare Galuppi (1706-1785), a pupil of Lotti and a very talented
composer, that the piano sonata received characteristic expression.
In his works after the manner of Corelli and Tartini, the display and
passage work appeared only as a subordinate element. In comparing
Galuppi's celebrated sonata in D major with similar works of Scarlatti,
we perceive the great difference between the two masters.

The sonata's greatest companion-piece, the symphony, also came into
existence through the efforts of Italian musicians. The word sinfonia
first appears with a very uncertain meaning. In general, it was used
to mark the distinction between vocal and instrumental movements in
cantatas, in sacred music, and, later, in opera. At the beginning of
the seventeenth century we find the word used for the first time in
large vocal works, and applied to interludes, ritornelle and preludes.
This became the general custom when opera was introduced, and the short
instrumental prelude was always entitled symphony. This last species of
composition is, indeed, to be considered as the origin of our classical
symphonic form. Not all the early operas had instrumental introductions,
although Jacopo Peri himself made use of them. In his "Eurydice" there
is a symphony for three flutes! Monteverde considerably enlarged the
form, but seemed to find in it no characteristic expression of his
ideas. At that time the form consisted of three parts, a slow movement,
a quicker movement, and again a slow movement. This form of the symphony
had really no artistic connection with the opera which followed, but
was only a musical piece to inform the hearers that the performance was
about to begin. Later, however, came works with more marked and pertinent
character, which bore the names, overture and toccata. Finally, through
the introduction of ballet-melodies, the symphony became of a livelier
nature. At the same time, the word symphony gained more significance,
and, as its inner construction kept pace with the modest beginning of the
sonata form, it became visibly more artistic, more musical and of a more
clearly-defined form. We early come in contact, however, with a different
kind of sinfonia, invented by an Italian who had become identified with
the French school. This form corresponds more nearly to the overture of
the present day. Jean Baptiste Lully first used this form. It consisted
of a slow, dignified movement, followed by one of light, French style,
and closing with a slow movement, which, however, was of less serious
character than the first.

The next manifestation of the overture form resembled still more closely
our symphony of to-day, in that it began and ended with quick movements.
The middle movement was an andante. It is difficult to decide which
of the Italian composers first used this form. The details of the
development of the separate movements were, in comparison with earlier
works of similar character, more careful and more strict. Evidences of
the purely musical interest in the perfection of form thus manifested
themselves, and the artistic arrangement of ideas made the work much
more comprehensible to the public. From its earliest day, this species
of composition has borne a clearly defined resemblance to our modern
orchestral works, and, under the formative influence of the multitude of
composers who used it, the sinfonia italiana made rapid progress towards
perfection. By the beginning of the eighteenth century there was that
unanimity of ideas among composers which indicates that a musical form
exists as an independent thing. We find perhaps the best specimens of
these "symphonies" in the overtures to "Catone in Utica" by Lionardo
da Vinci and to "Il Mondo alla Riversa" by Galuppi, the latter of which
was given one year before Joseph Haydn wrote his first symphony. Another
excellent specimen is the overture to the "Bidone" of Piccinni; and,
indeed, we find the form in use by Mozart in his first attempt at opera,
"La Finta Semplice."

Contemporaneously with the sinfonia there were cultivated, especially in
Germany by Bach and Handel, two other art forms of orchestral character:
the suite and the concerto grosso. The former was a succession of loosely
connected dance movements, such as allemande, courante, gavotte, bourree,
passacaglia, passepied, sarabande, etc. The concerto grosso was a species
of enlarged sonata for orchestra, which, by means of incidental solos
for separate instruments, afforded the various players opportunity to
give evidence of their abilities as soloists. Handel wrote many such
concertos. These two forms, combined with the technical and musical
development of the sinfonia italiana, congealed finally into the form of
our classic symphony. The honor of having first given the stamp to this
form falls to Sammartini, a Milanese conductor. His symphonies had three
separate movements: allegro, andante, allegro. Haydn took Sammartini
as a model in everything. He perfected the symphony by bringing the
instrumental development to really artistic significance, and by
adding another movement, the minuet. Contemporaries of Haydn, Stamitz,
Wagenseil, Emanuel Bach, had also attempted the composition of symphonies
after the model of Sammartini; but none of them reached the degree of
excellence attained by Haydn, although their works, in certain technical
respects, were not without influence on Haydn's style.

With the exception of Boccherini and Cherubini, scarcely a single
prominent Italian composer gave any attention to the composition of
symphonies. This might naturally be expected in view of the enormous
popularity of operatic and vocal music. It was not until the later
decades of the nineteenth century that certain more or less successful
attempts were made by Italians in this field of composition. The two
composers who have gained greatest honor in this connection have been the
Roman Sgambati, a pupil of Liszt, and the excellent Neapolitan musician,
Martucci, at present director of the conservatory in Bologna. Both these
artists have composed symphonic works of a high order of merit. It is
hardly to be expected, however, that the Italians will ever make lasting
contributions to a species of composition so wholly foreign to the
natural tendencies of their national character.

But let us resume the record of things operatic in Italy. It will be
remembered that we traced the growth of the opera from its beginning
under the hand of Peri, through its development by Scarlatti, Legrenzi,
Logroscino, Jomelli, Pergolesi, Salieri and Piccinni, its ennoblement by
Gluck, on to its perfection as a purely Italian production, through the
genius of Cimarosa. The last-named composer invested his works with a
charm which has never been surpassed, and glorified its outward form with
a symmetrical grace which raises his compositions more nearly than those
of any other composer to the height of Mozart.

We have now to mention another great Italian master of the age, who,
though belonging chronologically to a group which we will discuss later,
may properly be mentioned here, as he forms the last link of the chain
of composers of the Neapolitan school. We refer to Luigi Carlo Z. S.
Cherubini. As he, however, passed so many of his active years in France,
it is impossible to think of him apart from the country of his adoption.
A special article concerning this great master by Dr. Philipp Spitta,
will be found on page ninety-three of this work.

Among the other Italian composers of the same period who devoted
themselves to the cultivation of French grand opera, and opera comique,
are the following: A. M. G. Sacchini (1734-1786) settled in Paris about
1784. Under the patronage of Queen Marie Antoinette, he brought out two
of his Italian operas, "Rinaldi" and "Il gran Cid."

Ferdinando Paër (1771-1839) lived in Italy, Dresden, Vienna and Paris. In
the last-named city he succeeded Spontini as the director of the Opera
Italien. His most popular work was "Agnese."

Michele Caraffa (1785-1864) studied at Paris under Cherubini. His best
operas are "Masaniello," not to be confounded with Auber's popular opera
of the same name, and "La prison d'Edimbourg."

Gasparo Luigi Pacifico Spontini (1774-1851), after having written some
unimportant operas in Italy, settled at Paris in 1803. In 1807 his
masterpiece, "La Vestale," with which he won the great state-prize of
10,000 francs, was produced at the Academie Nationale with brilliant and
well-merited success. His next opera, "Fernando Cortez" (1809), was
received with still greater enthusiasm. Bitterly disappointed by the
failure of his third opera, "Olympia" (1819), he accepted a permanent
engagement offered by King Frederic William III. of Prussia. At Berlin
his operas in a revised form were given at the Royal Opera with great
success, and "Olympia" thus had its artistic rehabilitation. Some
weeks later--the 18th of June, 1821--the first performance of Weber's
"Freischütz" took place at the same theatre, and its unheard-of success
was gall and bitterness to Spontini, whose jealous temper could brook
the presence of no possible rival. Accordingly he tried, by every means
that lay within his power, to crush the gifted composer, whom he chose
to regard as his personal enemy; but of course the "Freischütz" and
its author were unassailable. Spontini afterwards wrote "Nurmahal,"
"Alcidor," and, in 1827, "Agnes von Hohenstaufen." The performance of the
latter began a long series of personal attacks in which Spontini defended
himself ably, but which made his life in Berlin unpleasant. His second
term of ten years ended about the time of the king's death, in 1840, and
two years later he returned to Paris. He died in 1851, at his birthplace,
Majolati, in Italy, to whose poor, with that of Jesi, he left his money.

Several lesser lights of the same epoch are worthy of mention. Valentino
Fioravanti (1770-1837), who wrote "Le cantatrice villane," a delightful
opera buffa. This work was held for a long time in high esteem. Giovanni
Piccinni (1796-1867) wrote a large number of operas, among which the
best known are "Tasso" and "Nicolo de' Lapi." Saverio Mercadante
(1797-1870) was one of the best and most learned composers of the Italian
school, whom at the beginning of his musical career they used to call
"Il Beethoven italiano." His first work, a cantata for the Teatro del
Fondo (1818), was followed by another, "L'Apoteosi d'Ercole," produced
at San Carlo (1819) with extraordinary success. In the same year he
produced his first opera buffa, "Violenza e costanza," and after this
came several serious operas, of which "Elisa e Claudio" (Milan, 1822)
was the most successful. From this period Mercadante steadily maintained
his reputation as an operatic writer, and the verdict of Italy in his
favor was endorsed by Vienna in 1824. He passed the years 1827 and 1828
in Madrid, 1829 in Cadiz, and in 1831 returned to Naples. In 1833 he
became Generali's successor as chapel-master at the cathedral of Novara.
In 1836 he composed and superintended the production of "I Briganti" in
Paris. But the two operas with which he made a decided hit were: "Il
Giuramento" (Milan, 1837) and "Il Bravo" (Naples, 1838); both had long
and successful runs in the most important theatres. In the opera buffa,
"I due illustri rivali," he changed his style, working the accents
strongly with the brass instruments. In this respect he set an example
which unfortunately has been widely followed, for the continued and
injudicious use of the brass instruments in the orchestra led a great
many of Italian operatic composers to ruin. In 1840 he became director
of the conservatory at Naples, a position which he held up to his death
(1870). Though he lost an eye when at Novara, he continued to compose by
dictation; but he became totally blind in 1862. His influence with regard
to sensible musical development, especially in the dramatic scenes and
recitatives of opera, has been undoubtedly a great one, and we owe it to
him alone, if since his appearance Italian composers no longer adhere to
poor accompaniments and insignificant musical phrasing.

Of Luigi Ricci (1805-1859) and his brother Federigo (1809-1877) it is
scarcely necessary to speak, although their opera "Crispino e la Comare"
has been given in all the principal theatres of Europe and America.

The brilliant period of Bellini, Donizetti and Rossini is linked with
the present by the life-work of one who was their contemporary, and is
also still with us, Verdi, the Nestor of all living Italian musicians.
Born in 1814, the author of "Ernani," "Il Trovatore," "La Traviata,"
"Rigoletto," "Un ballo in maschera," "Aïda," "Otello" and "Falstaff" may
be regarded as the most successful and most talented of Italian composers
of the present time. The variety of styles in which he has written operas
shows the breadth of his genius, and his Requiem Mass, written in memory
of the great Italian poet, Alessandro Manzoni, is a sacred work of great
dramatic power. Full details concerning his life and work will be found
in the special article devoted to him.

Quite a number of second rate composers, whose names, however, have to be
mentioned for the sake of completeness, appear now on the horizon. Some
of these were able to please their contemporaries for a considerable
length of time. First of all, and to be thought of in intimate connection
with Mercadante, is Lauro Rossi. He was director of the conservatory at
Milan, and afterwards at Naples, and retired finally to his native place
Macerata. He wrote many opere buffe, among which, "Il Domino Nero" and
"La Figlia di Figaro" were very popular. His last work, of more ambitious
character, was "La Contessa di Mons" (libretto after Sardou), which met
with an uncertain success.

Besides him, Enrico Petrella and Antonio Cagnoni are to be placed. The
former, a genuine Neapolitan in the truest sense of the word, a musical
"lazzarone" without much refinement, but full of the "frase italiana,"
wrote a large number of operas, some of them winning the greatest
popularity. Cagnoni is on a higher level as a composer, but cannot be
numbered among the stars of first magnitude. He wrote most of his operas
for a great and popular Italian artist, the famous basso-cantante,
Alessandro Bottero. This singer's ability was quite unique, and it is
very probable that now when he is no more, Cagnoni's operas also will
soon be forgotten. Chief among his works are "Papa Martin," "Michele
Perrin," "Don Bucefalo," all of which enjoyed immense popularity. He also
composed "Claudia," "Francesco da Rimini." Some of his operas are in the
true buffo style, while the others are in the semi-serio.

Of the younger school of Italian operatic composers, we have to mention
three names particularly: Arrigo Boito, Amilcare Ponchielli and Carlos
Gomez. The last named is a Brazilian by birth, but he studied at the
conservatory at Milan, and his operas have been brought out at Italian
theatres. We may therefore include his name among Italian composers.
As there is a special article in this work dealing with Arrigo Boito,
we need only mention the great influence his appearance has had upon
the development of modern Italian opera. He has produced only one work,
"Mefistofele." His methods in dramatic music are striking and convincing.
In spite of his earnestness of purpose, his work does not lack in
popularity and power, and one is scarcely surprised at the fact of its
immense success wherever it has been performed.

Quite a clique of "avveniristi" (futurists, or followers of Wagner),
chiefly composed of the very best national talent, suddenly sprang up
and sought to introduce the new art and the ideas of the German prophet.
The nation at large did not sympathize with these proceedings. Many
thought that such a movement threatened detriment to Italian art. Hence,
they longed for a great national operatic composer and hailed with
delight and enthusiasm the appearance of Amilcare Ponchielli, who brought
with him everything which was demanded by the conservative party. The
peculiar story of this composer should be briefly told. Born at Cremona,
he became a pupil at the conservatory at Milan, together with Cagnoni
and Boito. He distinguished himself greatly by writing a beautiful
cantata for the graduation exercises, and everybody regarded him as
the pride of the institution. Of course, his chief aim was to write an
opera; and, lacking money to pay for a text by a well known author, he
found an obscure poet who willingly arranged a libretto out of Manzoni's
celebrated novel: "I promessi sposi" (The Betrothed). The opera when
produced was a complete failure, and poor Ponchielli was only too glad to
accept the position of band-master in a wretched village near Cremona,
where he had leisure to meditate on the fortunes of operatic composition.
Nothing was heard of him for many years. He was supposed to be writing
marches and transcriptions of operas for his own band. Suddenly, after
twenty years, an unknown benefactor offered him the means to give the
same opera again, but thoroughly revised and elaborated, at the Teatro
dal Verme in Milan. The success, of which the writer happened to be a
witness, was immense, and at the same time was not without spontaneity.
The Italianissimi found in this opera all they desired: a rich vein of
melody, strong dramatic accents, and the whole machinery of the Italian
stage action of former times. Ponchielli was at once placed beside Verdi.
Up to his untimely death in 1882, he produced several other operas,
which, however, with a single exception, did not meet with genuine
success. The titles were: "I Lituani," "Il figliuol prodigo," "Gioconda"
and "Marion Delorme." He also wrote some graceful and sparkling music to
a ballet, "Le due Gemelle" (The Twins).

Carlos A. Gomez is quite opposite in type and style. The late emperor of
Brazil took a special interest in the promising boy, and sent him in 1865
to Italy, that he might pursue his musical studies. He was a pupil of
Lauro Rossi and Mazzuccato, both directors of the conservatory at Milan.
This native of Brazil was full of ideas of exotic flavor, and he selected
for his opera a plot which gave him ample opportunity to display his
racy, national talent. His first opera, "Guarany," deals with a Peruvian
story, and the most happy numbers in it are those where Aimorè, king
of the Aztecs, and his followers appear on the stage. Gomez in these
fragments simply outdoes Meyerbeer in his "Africana," which hitherto
has been considered the acme of savage music. Although delightfully
successful in this respect the composer was not able to make the rest of
his opera of equal merit. The work had only a comparatively short run.
Gomez's succeeding operas, far better in musical workmanship, "Fosca"
and "Maria Tudor," were failures, but a third, lighter in character,
"Salvator Rosa," was a great success, and contains many sparkling and
bright numbers, among them the celebrated song, "Mia Piccerella." His
last opera, "Condor," given a short time ago at La Scala, did not fulfil
the expectations that were formed regarding it. Gomez went several times
to Brazil, where all his operas were given. He was a pensionnaire of the
late emperor Dom Pedro, who gave him annually, up to the time of his
dethronement, 10,000 francs out of his private purse.

Filippo Marchetti, another modern composer, was very fortunate with his
"Ruy Blas" (after Victor Hugo). This opera had one of the longest runs on
record, and by royalty from it alone Marchetti soon became a very wealthy
man. His other works, "Giulietta e Romeo," "Gustave Wasa" and "Don Juan
d'Austria," were dismal failures and of no special physiognomy whatever.
Marchetti, a favorite of the queen of Italy, is now president of the
Accademia di S. Cecilia in Rome.

Bottesini, the celebrated double bass virtuoso, belongs also to this
group of composers. His first opera, "Ali Baba," was very successful when
given, but did not maintain itself in public favor. "Ero e Leandro," a
second opera of his, did not prove a great success.

Of the younger generation we have to mention Coronaro, who wrote "La
creola," and who is now professor of composition at the conservatory in
Milan. His younger brother, living in Vicenza, was the winner in a late
competition for the Sonzogno prizes, which, as everybody knows, brought
Mascagni from obscurity to celebrity.

Alfredo Catalani is one of the most gifted and remarkable Italian
composers of this period. His musical and general culture is refined
in the highest degree. He was a pupil, first, of Bazin in Paris, and
afterward, strange coincidence of names, of Bazzini, in Milan. He gave
his operas chiefly at Milan (La Scala) or Turin (Teatro Regio). The best
among them are "Dejanice" and "Wally," which, however, were not very
popular with the public. But Catalani is by far the best musician among
all the living Italian opera composers.

Alfredo Smareglia, a Dalmatian by birth, and a pupil of the conservatory
at Milan, excited great expectations by the production at this
institution of a symphonic poem, "Leonora," founded upon Burger's ballad.
He subsequently wrote the operas "Preciosa" and "Il vassalo di Szigeth,"
the latter of which was given successfully at the opera house at Vienna,
and afterwards at the Metropolitan in New York. Smareglia, who is as
industrious as he is highly talented, is now writing a new opera to be
given at Vienna.

Alberto Franchetti, a grandson of the rich Jewish banker Rothschild,
is a composer of unusual talent and with daring, striking ideas, which
are not always successfully realized. His _curriculum vitæ_ reminds one
very much of that of Meyerbeer. Educated in music at the conservatory
at Dresden, under the celebrated Dræseke, he soon distinguished himself
by the production of a symphony in E, which has been performed in many
prominent orchestral concerts. After this he wrote the opera "Asrael,"
a curious mixture, an empirical Italian salad, composed of all that
has been and is. He shows, however, in this work a decided talent for
the stage, though the symphonic element is rather too prominent. This
opera, also, has been given at the Metropolitan opera house in New York.
Chiefly influenced by the mannerisms of Wagner, without fully catching
his spirit, and never forgetting his severe German musical education,
Franchetti is an original figure in the modern history of Italian music.
He received the honorable commission of the municipality of Genoa
to compose the music to the opera "Christopher Columbus," which was
performed at the Teatro Carlo Felice in connection with the Columbian
centennial festivities and won a great success.

The Wagnerian enthusiasm in Italy is, however, more of an outward
manifestation than an inner power in the life and feelings of the
inhabitants of the Apennine peninsula. Even if the fascinating and
intoxicating orchestral coloring of the great Bayreuth master is not
without effect on the sensuous Italian, his music cannot be fully
understood until a regular and thorough study of the classic composers,
including Schumann, shall have become a second nature with the Italians.
Meanwhile the realists, having invaded literary and artistic France,
found their way over the Alps, and many ardent emulators of their methods
are to be found among Italian artists. Cremona and Domenico Morelli among
the painters, and the two daring Sicilian authors, Giovanni Verga and
Luigi Capuana, have been the chief representatives of the movement. About
1878, Verga published a volume of Sicilian peasant sketches, powerful and
attractive, imbued with the warm and realistic coloring of his native
soil. Curiously enough, these clever little sketches, which bear in
themselves the germ of effective libretti, had never been made to serve
for operatic plots, probably on account of their small dimensions and too
realistic contents, until a strange contingency led many young composers
to make use of them. The music publisher, Sonzogno of Milan, a man of
great wealth and enterprise, having for a considerable time been aware
of the fruitless attempts of young national composers to produce their
operas, instituted a competition for short operas in one act. About ten
of the competitors went to Verga's rich novel-collection for the plot of
their musical compositions. As everybody knows, Pietro Mascagni was the
fortunate winner with his now world-famous "Cavalleria rusticana." The
subject is a happy one for a one-act opera. Within a very short space of
time a powerful dramatic action, with all the glowing and varied Southern
coloring, takes place. It is the old, old story, already a thousand
times told, of love's conquest and faithlessness, and the natural tragic
consequences. The scene is laid in a country of daggers and stiletti.
There is no practical use in applying the critical dissecting knife to
prove that the enormous success with which the "Cavalleria" met was
disproportionate to the real value of the work. We think that never
since the beginning of opera has a work by a youthful composer had such
a large and international popularity, bringing at the same time nearly
an independent fortune to the composer. Before Mascagni competed for
the Sonzogno prize his little family was actually starving, and he had
not money enough to hire the piano so necessary to the exercise of his

[Illustration: PIETRO MASCAGNI.

Reproduction of a lithograph portrait.]

The particular and very uncertain success of Mascagni's second opera,
"Amico Fritz," was a great disappointment to those who had looked upon
the young author as a coming king in the realm of opera. But the great
triumph of his third work, "I Rantzau," produced at Florence in November,
1892, has revived the hope that Mascagni is not merely a lucky child
of fortune, but that he possesses an out-spoken musical and dramatic
individuality. That he is only an opera composer is beyond a doubt. The
sudden changes in stage situation, the sharp contrasts, and, above all,
the musical scene-painting which he does with coarse but sure brush,
these are factors whose fitness to the genius of Mascagni stamps him as
wholly in the trend of his theatrical talent. The chief significance
of the new opera, "I Rantzau," lies, in our opinion, in the fact that
Mascagni has at last composed something which seems to be the product of
a personal and characteristic style.

There are two other composers whose reputations are still young, one of
whom, Giordano, has been brought to public attention through the Sonzogno
competition. The other, Leoncavallo, a man of literary as well as musical
gifts, was able to choose the most practical way of introducing himself
as an operatic composer, by paying the expenses of the performance of
his opera, "I Pagliacci," at the Teatro del Verme in Milan. The work
had an almost unparalleled success. We may well believe that this opera
will, in the course of time, enjoy even greater popularity than attended
its fortunate twin sister, "Cavalleria Rusticana." Leoncavallo himself
wrote the text of his opera. Giordano treated another sketch of the Verga
collection. In this work, "Malavita," he displays all the qualities
required by an operatic composer--rapid musical development, broadly
melodious phrasing, great variety of coloring, and vivid, sparkling
rhythm, both in vocal and instrumental writing. There is every hope
that Giordano, if his further artistic and musical development should
fully realize its brilliant promise, may one day rank among the most
prominent of Italian stage composers. But neither Mascagni nor Giordano
can reach the surprising and striking originality found in Leoncavallo's
"Pagliacci." W. von Sachs, a well-known New York critic, attended in
Vienna a performance of "Pagliacci," and we have from him the opinion
that Ruggero Leoncavallo may be called the head of the new Milanese
school of composers. The plot, founded partly on the "Drama Nuevo" of
Estibanez, and in its essential details not unlike the French play
"Tabarin," presents the oft tried experiment of a play within a play.
The hero is a mountebank who, deceived by his faithless wife, enacts in
earnest the mimic scenes of jealousy. The principal characters, five in
number, as in the "Cavalleria," belong, with one exception, to a company
of strolling players, who, in the typical roles of the old Italian
_comedia dell' arte_, tell in pantomime the familiar tale of deception,
jealousy and revenge. There is to be noted in the condensed, picturesque
action of this opera, an evident attempt to reproduce the more striking
characteristics of Mascagni's work. Many of the latter's distinguishing
musical methods are used, though without sacrifice of originality of
musical idea. Like Mascagni, Leoncavallo has more than a superficial
acquaintance with Wagner's works, and the great master's example can
surely be traced to the fact that he, too, is the author of his own
libretto. In each of these most modern operas of "Cavalleria," "Tilda,"
"Malavita" and "Pagliacci," a keen striving after the new realistic is to
be observed. Each work has met with unqualified success, and this success
has been certified by the approbation of such a critical body of judges
as gathered at Vienna on the occasion of the Theatrical Exhibition.

The secret of such phenomenal successes lies partly in the rapid advance
toward the denouement, in a frank and rich melodious flow of catching
phrases, but mainly in the fact that all these young composers belong to
the class of musical realists. Their works, then, are powerful because
they conform to the spirit of the age. Lastly, their authors have an
instinctive knowledge of stage effect, which enables them to use to the
best advantage the materials at their disposal.

We recognize in these products of the present time the possibilities of
a great musical advance for Italy. The younger composers, unlike their
predecessors, have zealously studied the technique of composition with
truly international breadth of interest. It is also to be noted that this
same generation has completely freed itself from the idolatrous worship
of Wagner. Those phases of Wagner's genius which should not be imitated
have been shunned, and the Italians have turned to the passionately
melodious song-phrase, which is truly characteristic of their nature.
They have returned, in a word, to their own feelings and their own
inspirations, as well as to their own belief in the power of rapid stage
action. Although elaborate musical workmanship has never been a prominent
feature of Italian composers, much has nevertheless been done in later
years to improve matters in this respect. There is therefore reason to
hope, that, if once the system of musical education can be founded on
a solid basis, the most gratifying results may follow in Italian music
of the future. The inhabitants of the Apennine peninsula, with their
sensuous nature, their musical language, and their overflowing love for
singing and music in general, must perforce continue to cultivate an art
without which their life as a nation would be incomplete.

[Illustration: Martin Roeder]


_Reproduction of a steel engraving by Sichling, after an oil portrait by
Haussmann, in 1746._]

[Illustration: BACH]



The question of physical and mental heredity is one which at the present
day not only challenges the investigation of the learned, but is actively
discussed in the wider circles of cultivated society. No better example
can be cited in support of the affirmative side of this question, than
the family of Johann Sebastian Bach, in which, for the space of not less
than two hundred and fifty years, musical talent of a high order was
transmitted from one generation to another. Displaying itself for the
first time in the sixteenth century, the gift grew more and more marked
until it reached its culminating point in the subject of this memoir, but
began to dwindle in his posterity and disappeared entirely in the last
descendant of the race, who died in Berlin in 1845.

For a long time the erroneous idea was almost universally accepted, that
the Bachs originated in Hungary and had emigrated to Thuringia in the
second half of the sixteenth century. In reality, however, the family
was of pure German extraction and had established itself before the time
of the Reformation on the northeastern slope of the Thuringian forest.
Wechmar, a village in the neighborhood of Gotha, was the residence of
the immediate progenitors of Sebastian Bach, and the first of these
concerning whose musical proclivities we have any information were Veit
and Caspar Bach. The former had learned the trade of a baker and miller,
and, while absent on his travels, he took occasion to visit Hungary, but
soon returned to his native village. Here, when the labors of the day
were ended, he devoted himself to playing on the zither for amusement.
Hans Bach, his son, born about 1580, adopted music as a profession,
after having received instruction from the town musician of Gotha,
Caspar Bach, presumably his uncle, and, by way of subsidiary occupation,
he plied the trade of a carpet-weaver. With his cherished violin for a
companion, it was his habit to roam far and wide throughout Thuringia,
making the strains of his instrument resound wherever a joyous company
was found assembled. A jovial fellow, full of merry jests, he soon became
universally popular in the region, and the musical importance of the Bach
family was perceptibly increased through the inherited ability of his
three sons, Johann, Christoph and Heinrich. Several musicians of note
are also to be counted among the descendants of a brother of Hans, of
whom Johann Ludwig Bach, who died in 1741 while occupying the position of
Capellmeister in Meiningen, deserves special mention.

But the gift for music which had impressed its stamp upon the race
was exhibited in a still greater degree by the three brothers already
referred to, Johann, Christoph and Heinrich Bach. Christoph, born in
1613, became _Stadt-Musikant_ in Erfurt, and later was transferred to
Arnstadt, where Heinrich, born in 1615, was established as organist.
Johann, born in 1604, discharged the double office of town-musician
and organist in Erfurt. All three, it will be seen, united in turning
their attention to instrumental music in general and to church music in
particular, cultivating more especially the science of organ-playing, and
it may here be remarked that no one of their descendants up to the time
of Sebastian Bach departed from this sphere of activity. It was in this
great man that true German art first sought expression, and therefore
the family in its totality must forever be regarded as an embodiment of
the artistic aspiration of the nation. Singularly enough, neither the
three brothers, nor their sons and grandchildren, were ever moved by
the desire to visit Italy, although so many of their comrades in art
were constantly repairing thither. The splendors of the royal courts of
Germany were equally powerless to attract; they perseveringly employed
their talents in the service of their fellow citizens, faithful alike in
their ecclesiastical and civil relations, and bearing with patience the
privations to which they were often subjected. During the lifetime of the
trio of brothers, three principal gathering-places for the continually
increasing branches of the family were appointed, at Erfurt, Arnstadt
and Eisenach respectively, and between these three towns there was a
constant interchange of visits. If a piece of good-fortune came to any
one in either place, he called upon the others to follow him, or, falling
into distress, he hastened away in order to try his fate anew under the
sheltering care of his kinsmen. In this way the bond of family union was
closely cemented between them. In Erfurt, the brothers and their children
were able to hold in exclusive possession for a century all musical
positions in the gift of the government, and even fifty years later, the
town musicians in the place continued to be called "the Bachs," although
there was no longer any one among them who bore the name. One branch of
the family was permanently established in Arnstadt until 1739, another
in Eisenach till 1777, where some of its descendants still remained only
twenty years ago, though no longer following the profession of their
ancestors. In summing up the qualities of this race of musicians, it
is not too much to say that they exhibited the most salient features
of the Thuringian type of character, and, with the exception of one of
the descendants of Christoph Bach, who settled on Frankish soil, no
disposition was ever shown to depart from the region which gave them
birth. Indeed, so strongly possessed were they by the necessity of
occasionally seeing one another face to face, that for a long time it
was their custom to appoint a day in every year, on which the masculine
members of the family should assemble in one of the chosen centers. The
many happy hours which they passed together on these occasions were
devoted to the narration of their respective experiences, interspersed
with music as a means of recreation. They generally began with the
singing of a choral, which was followed by livelier airs, often set to
words free and unconstrained. They were especially fond of "quodlibets,"
a kind of musical medley, more or less skillfully composed of every sort
of merry popular melody, or, as frequently happened, the singers depended
upon their own powers of improvisation. Taken as a whole, the Bachs were
characterized by a strong love of pleasure, which, however, was by no
means incompatible with their sincere and fervent piety.

If one takes into account the low order of cultivation prevailing in
Germany at that early period, the artistic excellence attained by this
family becomes all the more remarkable. Its musical promise was first
revealed in the time of the Thirty Years' War, and it was during the
second half of the seventeenth century, when the moral, intellectual
and material strength of the nation was at its lowest ebb, that the
promise was gloriously fulfilled. Simultaneously with the earliest
manifestations of activity in other provinces of intellectual life,
German music attained in Sebastian Bach a height so lofty that it has
never been surpassed, and from this fact two deductions may be drawn:
first, in spite of the sufferings consequent upon the Thirty Years' War,
there had remained implanted in the inmost hearts of the people a vital
germ of great productive power; and, second, the best of which the German
nation was capable in the first century after the war, found expression
through this family of artists. It is also noteworthy in respect to
the German people, that the first creative impulse by which they were
stirred was in the direction of music, and that, in the unsounded depths
of feeling from which this impulse springs, they found compensation for
the loss of those earthly possessions upon which unmerciful fate had
laid its destroying hand. Something like a law of nature is moreover to
be discovered in the fact that German musical art at that time, whether
ecclesiastical or secular in character, developed itself chiefly in the
instrumental line. The essential foundation of both these styles is
represented by the _Volkslied_, which must be regarded as the most direct
and unperverted utterance of the popular imagination. The _Tanzlied_, at
first sung by the people, but later always played, forms the fundamental
element of the instrumental music of that day. The ecclesiastical music
of the seventeenth century, however, that which alone has a right to the
name in the strictest sense, was developed in and through the science of
organ composition. Organ music, on the other hand, derived its greatest
inspiration from the religious form of the _Volkslied_, that is, from the
choral melodies of the Protestant church. If the ecclesiastical music of
the time reached a higher point of perfection than secular instrumental
music, it is because religion offers a broader field for art than any
other manifestation of civilized life. For it has everywhere aroused in
the heart that profound enthusiasm from which the creative artistic
impulse springs. Everywhere the great productions of ecclesiastical art
are animated by a freshness and spontaneity, which may be counterbalanced
by works of another class, but cannot be effaced by them. The end of
the Thirty Years' War was the beginning of a period in which, to such
of the German people as had retained in any degree the love of higher
things and the consciousness of a connection with the sheltering and
protecting power of God, religion must necessarily have appeared to be
the only secure possession in life. It was no joyous burst of gratitude
which stirred their souls, but from the depths of their misery they
looked upward, imploring help. The character of the church music which
originated at that time was at first tender and supplicating like the
prayer of an invalid, while later, under Sebastian Bach, it gained depth
and fervor, but retained its severity and earnestness, the outpouring of
a spirit strengthened by misfortune.

If the Bach family is to be regarded as a standard-bearer of culture
in the midst of a period of universal desolation, then it is not in
the least surprising that its members were greatly superior to their
environment, from a moral point of view. This may be explained in part
by the fact that many of them were in the service of the church; yet
even those who followed another calling revealed a wholesome soundness
of nature which stands out in sharp relief against the ruder manners
and moral laxity of their contemporaries. Repeated instances of their
unselfish devotion and conscientious discharge of duty under the most
trying circumstances have been handed down to us, and when we consider
the peculiar relation subsisting between members of their profession
and the passions of mankind, our admiration of virtues so rare and so
austere must necessarily increase. The musicians of that day followed the
fashion of all the industrial corporations by forming themselves into
a guild, and it was precisely as a guild that they became an object of
contempt on account of their extreme demoralization. The better sort, of
course, were aware of this, and in the year 1653 a society of musicians
was formed in Upper and Lower Saxony, for the purpose of protecting their
common interests and of promoting a higher order of morality. The Bachs,
however, did not find it necessary to join a union of this sort. With
them, the family traditions, so religiously respected, were more binding
than the most formal edict issued under the sanction of the Emperor
himself. It is surely not to be reckoned among the least of their merits
that they preserved their strong independence and integrity of purpose
in an age which had no conception of artistic dignity; furthermore, they
were citizens of petty states, at whose courts musicians were ranked
with lackeys, and for the most part treated as such when attached to the
service of the princely chapels.

Johann Bach had several sons, all of whom were musicians in Erfurt.
One of his grandchildren, Johann Bernhard Bach, became organist in
Eisenach and won a reputation as composer of organ and orchestral music,
but no other member of this branch of the family attained celebrity.
The descendants of Heinrich Bach, who himself was a fine organist and
excelled in composition, were however more prominent in the musical
world. His two sons, Johann Christoph and Johann Michael, took higher
rank as composers than any of the other ancestors of Sebastian Bach.
The former especially must certainly be pronounced the greatest motet
composer living at the close of the seventeenth century. Unfortunately
only eight of his motets are extant, but in these he shows himself worthy
to stand by the side of his predecessor, Heinrich Schütz, and his great
successor, Sebastian Bach. Johann Michael (born 1648, died 1694), while
inferior to his brother both as regards invention and execution, has
still much of the latter's fervency of feeling, and is distinguished by
a certain profundity of imagination. He confined himself to instrumental
composition more exclusively than Johann Christoph, and devoted himself
in addition to the manufacture of clavichords and violins. But few of
his instrumental compositions are now extant, and the twelve motets
which have been preserved give perhaps no just idea of his artistic
personality, taken as a whole.

In Christoph, the second of the three sons of Hans Bach, we behold the
grandfather of Sebastian. He also was the father of three sons, the
eldest of whom has been alluded to as having taken up his residence
in Franconia. The other two, Johann Ambrosius and Johann Christoph,
were twin brothers and resembled each other, both in appearance and
in character, to a degree which excited universal astonishment. Their
thoughts and modes of expression were identical; they played the same
instrument and in the same style. The sympathy between them is said to
have been so close that they shared each other's illnesses, and the elder
survived the death of the younger but a short time. Ambrosius Bach was
born in Erfurt in 1645, and there passed a portion of his youth, becoming
later a member of the public orchestra. In 1671 he removed to Eisenach,
where he acted as town-musician, his cousin, Johann Christoph Bach, the
before-mentioned important composer, being already established there as
organist. Here he died in January, 1694; and the youngest of his eight
children, consisting of six sons and two daughters, was to become the man
whose genius these lines commemorate. In order to afford a comprehensive
view of the connection between the different generations, a genealogical
tree of the Bach family is here inserted.

                                   VEIT BACH
           |                                                     |
        HANS BACH                                          (LIPS) BACH
           |                                                     |
        +--+----------+-----------------------+                  |
        |             |                       |                  |
      JOHANN     CHRISTOPH                 HEINRICH           WENDEL
                      |                       |                  |
       +----------+-----------+         +-----------+            |
       |          |           |         |           |            |
    GEORG       JOH.         JOH.          JOH.       JOH.         JACOB
                            |                                    |
             +--------------+-------------+                      |
             |              |             |                      |

Johann Sebastian Bach was born about one month later than Handel, in the
year 1685. Reckoning from the day of his baptism, originally asserted to
have been the 23d of March, we may assume his birthday to have fallen
on the 21st of March, O. S., a date corresponding to the 31st of that
month according to our present calendar. At the early age of ten, both
parents had been taken away by death, and it is probable that only
two of his brothers still survived. These were Johann Jakob, who was
then serving his musical apprenticeship, with a view to succeeding his
father, and Johann Christoph. The latter was already able to earn his own
living in the capacity of organist at Ohrdruf, a town in the vicinity
of Gotha, and took the little Sebastian under his personal charge, thus
separating him for years from the beautiful surroundings of his early
home. The necessary stimulus for developing the boy's talent was readily
supplied by the musical traditions of the family. His father, though
best known as a violinist, is reputed to have been a thoroughly educated
musician, and it is also certain that the influence exercised upon him
by his great-uncle, the Eisenach organist, was very strong. As was the
case in all places belonging to the protestant confession, where there
was no royal court, and no Italian singers were at hand, the principal
opportunity for the study of vocal music in Ohrdruf was afforded by
the _Schülerchor_, or pupil-choir. The youthful Bach possessed a very
beautiful soprano voice, and he assuredly belonged to this choir, then
composed of forty members, who, following an ancient custom, were in the
habit of marching through the town on certain appointed days, singing and
collecting money on the way.

Johann Christoph, the elder brother, was Sebastian's senior by fourteen
years. In 1686, he had been sent by his father to Erfurt, in order to
enjoy the instruction of Johann Pachelbel, one of the most eminent organ
composers of his time. Three years later he betook himself to Arnstadt,
where he discharged a portion of the duties belonging to the position of
his venerable great-uncle, Heinrich Bach. After the year 1690, he resided
in Ohrdruf, in which village he died in 1721. It was soon evident that a
higher order of ability than he could boast was required for the proper
unfolding of the youthful Sebastian's genius. The jealousy of Johann
Christoph was moreover excited by the fact that he saw himself in danger
of being cast in the shade by his younger brother, and notwithstanding
the burning desire of the boy to obtain them, he withheld from him a
collection of organ compositions by the most famous masters, copied
by himself. Sebastian thereupon managed to get possession of the
manuscripts, which he copied by moonlight--at least, so it is related. In
addition to the instruction received at home, he attended the gymnasium
in Ohrdruf. At Easter (1700) he left his brother's house and made his
way to Lüneburg, accompanied by a friend, Georg Erdmann by name, with
whom he continued to hold relations in after years. Both were entered as
matins scholars at St. Michael's School in Lüneburg. This institution was
especially devoted to the cultivation of music and attracted to itself
the youthful talent of Thuringia. Bach was at first enrolled among the
discantists, but soon manifested a capacity for so many branches of the
musical art that the remuneration received for his services enabled
him to remain in the school even after the loss of his soprano voice.
Before leaving Lüneburg, in the spring of 1703, he is said to have passed
successfully through every class, and to have improved to the utmost
every opportunity afforded him, even acquiring some proficiency in the
French language, a branch of instruction not yet generally introduced
into the German schools. All the more credit is due him for this, because
the musical duties of the pupils were manifold and often rendered
it impossible for them to pursue, with regularity, any literary or
scientific course of study. But Bach was not merely endowed with unusual
intellectual gifts; he devoted himself with unflagging perseverance to
the accomplishment of his ends.


From a photograph by G. Jagemann.]

In the seventeenth century, Lüneburg occupied a prominent position in
North Germany as a center of cultivation for church music, and in this
connection St. Michael's Cloister, with its school, deserves no small
degree of praise. It was here the custom to celebrate the eighteen
festival days of the church in each year by rendering, with full
orchestral accompaniment, the music adapted to the several occasions.
If we count with these performances the others which were often given
by especial command, they would reach at least an annual aggregate of
from thirty-four to forty. On all intervening Sundays a motet was sung,
if nothing more. The abundant resources of the cloister had provided a
choice collection of musical works, both printed and in manuscript, among
which were to be found compositions by Heinrich and the great Johann
Christoph Bach, so that the fame of his family had preceded the young
Sebastian. A native of Eisenach, Johann Jakob Löw, a pupil of Heinrich
Schütz, was, moreover, acting as organist in the Church of St. Nicholas,
at Lüneburg. Bach probably made the acquaintance of this countryman of
his, who, however, was a man advanced in years, and perhaps no longer
able to interest himself in the newer methods of the youthful genius.
But there was another Thuringian at work in Lüneburg, upon whom nature
had bestowed an original creative mind, and who was then in the prime of
life. This was Georg Böhm, at that time organist of St. John's Church,
and previously a resident of Hamburg, where he became interested in the
Northern school of organ music. The names of the many superior artists
belonging to this school have only recently been rescued from oblivion.
Their chief claim to distinction does not rest upon what they were able
to accomplish in the line of compositions for the organ, or their skill
as performers; it is mainly based upon their influence in the development
of the _suite_, which may be defined as a secular instrumental form.
Some of the most eminent of these artists were Johann Adam Reinken
and Vincentius Lübeck in Hamburg, Dietrich Buxtehude in Lübeck, and
Nikolaus Bruhns in Husum. Böhm had studied with great interest the
peculiarities of this school and showed himself able to combine with
them such knowledge of musical forms as he had managed to acquire in
his Thuringian home. At the same time, he did not remain insensible to
the piquant charm of the French school of pianoforte music, which rose
into prominence at the end of the seventeenth century. He had himself
made successful attempts at clavier music, and something of the French
manner had crept into his organ compositions. It was easy to account for
this, since he lived in the neighborhood of the town of Celle, where
clavier music was actively cultivated. At this time Duke Georg Wilhelm of
Lüneburg-Celle, the last descendant of the royal line of Guelph princes,
was a resident of the place and had provided for the exclusive adoption
of French music in all the services conducted in the royal chapel. From
these elements the highly gifted Böhm formed his extremely characteristic
style, and produced such an impression upon Bach that he wrote a number
of still-existing organ compositions, which might easily be mistaken for
the work of the older master. And not only this; he went directly to the
sources from which Böhm had drawn, making repeated pedestrian journeys to
Hamburg and Celle, where he acquired fresh artistic impressions, which he
turned over and over in his mind with unceasing energy.

After the brief course in the elements of music which had been given
him by his brother, Bach had, properly speaking, no second instructor,
nor did he require one. Herein is plainly seen the inestimable boon
conferred upon him by his ancestors, who had so definitely pre-determined
the sphere of his activity that any departure therefrom would have been
scarcely possible. But there must also be taken into account his own
great executive power, and the untiring industry with which he not only
developed his technical skill as clavier, organ and violin player, but
also continued to perfect himself in the art of composition. We learn
from his son that he often worked through the whole night in order to
satisfy his ardent desire for knowledge.

At Easter, 1703, Bach left St. Michael's in order to devote himself
entirely to the profession of music. Had his means permitted, he would
probably have been glad to enter a university, as was then customary
with rising musicians, and as many of his cousins had done before him.
But he was poor and obliged to earn his bread. Returning to Thuringia,
he obtained a situation as organist at the ducal Saxon Court of Weimar,
where, however, he only remained a few months. An organ had recently been
added to the New Church at Arnstadt, and just at this time the instrument
was completed. Notwithstanding his youth, Bach must have already acquired
great fame as an organ player, for he was summoned to try the instrument
and to play upon it on the occasion of its first employment in a church
service. This happened in July, 1703. His performance seems to have made
a profound impression on the citizens of the place and advantageous
offers were made with a view to securing his services as organist for
the New Church. He decided to accept them, severed his connection with
Weimar, and entered upon his new duties on the 14th of August. It was
thus that the boy of eighteen now became an inhabitant of the little
town so especially endeared to him through long family tradition. In
order to convey an idea of the style of living in which artists like
himself were able to indulge at that time, let it be here recorded that
his yearly salary amounted to about fifty-seven dollars. This sum was
so much more than sufficient for his needs, that after a few years he
not only had money enough to spare for a journey of some length, but was
also able to render aid to an indigent cousin. The outside obligations
imposed by his position were very few. He played the organ three times a
week and gave instruction in singing to a small pupil-choir, but here
his labors as a teacher ended. The New Church did not rank as the first
in Arnstadt, that position being maintained by the Franciscan Church,
where the principal choir of singers rendered the music for which Bach's
pupils were in process of preparation. The town was then the residence
of Count Anton Günther, of Schwarzburg, a man who interested himself in
music in many ways, and supported a small chapel, to which he gave as
leader an important musician, Adam Drese. For the court performances
it was customary to demand the aid of every inhabitant of the region
who possessed any skill as instrumentalist or singer, and it is quite
possible that Bach's services also may have been called into requisition.
Here, in any case, he found ample leisure for continuing his studies. The
only artists in the place were men of mediocre ability who could teach
him nothing; but he had brought with him from Lüneburg a rich experience,
together with a full supply of musical works, forming a treasure-house
from which he was able to draw for two whole years. A portion of his
own compositions for the clavier and organ, belonging to this period,
are of the highest importance. In the year 1704, he completed a work
for the clavier, which possesses a biographical interest from its
connection with his brother, Johann Jakob. The latter had enlisted as
oboist for the body-guard of his Swedish majesty, Charles XII., made
the Russian campaign in the king's service, and, after the battle of
Pultawa, accompanied him to Bender. From this point he afterwards went,
by way of Constantinople, to Stockholm, where he died in 1722, probably
in consequence of his superhuman exertions during the campaign. On
his departure from home, Sebastian composed a "_Capriccio sopra la
lontananza del suo fratello dilettisimo_," which is also known under its
somewhat more familiar German title: "Capriccio auf die Abreise eines
Freundes." It is divided into five parts, with explanatory programme, as
follows: I., "Persuasion of the friends, endeavoring to deter him (the
brother) from undertaking the journey"; II., "Various casualties which
might befall him in foreign lands"; III., "A general lamentation by his
friends"; IV., "The friends, because they see it cannot be otherwise,
come to take leave"; V., "The Postillion's Aria." At the end is a long
fugue, the theme of which is the call of the post-horn. The whole work
shows decided skill in composition and marked originality.


_Drawing by Sidney L. Smith, after the monument in Eisenach, by A.

In the autumn of 1705, Bach determined to give the finishing touch to
his musical culture by studying for a short time with Dietrich Buxtehude
in Lübeck. Buxtehude was a Dane, born in 1638 at Helsingförs, on the
island of Seeland, and consequently an old man at that time. Towards
the middle of the seventeenth century, he came to Lübeck and became
organist of Saint Mary's Church. The position was one of the finest in
Germany, not only on account of the very considerable income it afforded,
but also because of its magnificent organ and the favorable musical
conditions prevailing in the place. Buxtehude is to be regarded as the
founder of the "_Abendmusiken_," musical performances on a grand scale,
which took place in the church, between four and five o'clock in the
afternoon, on the five Sundays preceding Christmas. On these occasions
he distinguished himself as an organ virtuoso and often presented his
own vocal compositions. Bach had formed his travelling plans with direct
reference to spending the period of the Abendmusiken in Lübeck. Towards
the end of October, he asked for a few weeks' leave of absence, and
undertook, with the help of the money saved from his salary, to make the
long journey of fifty German miles on foot. Arrived in Lübeck, there
is no doubt that he at once entered into close personal relations with
Buxtehude. So completely, indeed, did he fall under the spell of the
artist, that he forgot all the duties of his office and trebled his leave
of absence, returning to Arnstadt on the 21st of February. Perhaps it lay
only with himself to decide upon settling permanently in Lübeck. It was
often the case with regard to the positions of organist, cantor and the
like, that the sons-in-law of the incumbents, in wooing their wives, had
at the same time sued for the office of the father. Buxtehude had himself
pursued this course, and, as his children were all daughters, he wished
to see the husband of the oldest in the person of his successor. In the
year 1703, Handel, who had then just come to Hamburg, paid a visit to
Buxtehude. He had probably wished to ascertain whether the place was a
desirable one for himself, since it was evident that the venerable artist
had not long to live. But the marriage which was made a condition of
the contract presented too few allurements. Bach may have held the same
opinion, or else, as is more likely, he was already bound to his native
province by ties of strong affection.

The church Consistory in charge of Bach's position were justly
indignant at his unduly protracted absence and called him to account.
After his extremely promising beginning, people had grown more and
more dissatisfied with the manner in which he discharged his duties
as organist. He was reproached with making his accompaniment for the
congregational singing so intricate and irregular that the singers often
completely lost the melody. Moreover, he at first made his preludes
immoderately long, and, when given a hint of this by the officiating
clergyman, he immediately fell into the opposite extreme, and cut them
much too short. It was also said that he had neglected the training
of his pupil-choir and was unable to exercise proper control over the
same. These complaints were certainly not unfounded; they accord with
Bach's artistic development and with his character. When he sat before
the organ, inspired by musical thoughts in rich profusion, he could not
have been the genius that he was, if he did not sometimes forget that
he must adapt himself to the comprehension of the congregation and the
arrangement of the service. That, after the exhortation to restraint, he
at once offered preludes of the most striking brevity, is an instance of
that defiant spirit which was one of his strongly marked characteristics.
The pupil-choir, after a time, began to seem insignificant in his eyes,
and the exercises with them monotonous. Considering his youth and the
irritability of his temperament, it is not surprising that he failed to
retain the respect of this band of untrained youths. Notwithstanding
their reproaches, the members of the Consistory showed themselves, on the
whole, sufficiently lenient, and allowed nearly a year to pass before
making further remonstrances, though he continued, in the interval, to
act as he pleased. Bach was no longer contented in Arnstadt, where, after
all, though perfectly capable of standing in the first rank, he filled a
position of secondary importance. It is credibly related, that favorable
offers were made him at this time, from many different places, and on
the 29th of June, 1707, he resigned his office in Arnstadt to accept an
appointment as organist at Mühlhausen, in Thuringia.

The Bachs, as a family, were accustomed to marry early in life. Among
the criticisms upon Sebastian's conduct made by the clergy of Arnstadt,
there was one to the effect that he had accompanied upon his organ,
the singing of a "strange maiden." This, however, could not well have
happened during the service, as female singers in that day were still
excluded from church music. The "maiden" was probably his cousin, Maria
Barbara Bach, daughter of Michael Bach, who might have been betrothed
to him at that time, since he married her on the 17th of October, 1707.
Four of the seven children of this marriage, three sons and a daughter,
reached maturity, and two of these sons, Wilhelm Friedemann, and Carl
Philipp Emanuel, born in 1710 and 1714 respectively, are well known to
have attained great musical renown.

In Mühlhausen there were two principal churches, the Blasius and the
Church of St Mary. The former, to which Bach was attached, took the
highest rank, its organist constituting the chief musical dignitary of
the city, and a certain additional lustre was shed upon the position,
through the fact that it had been filled by a number of brilliant
musicians. Among these were Joachim Moller, styled von Burck (1541-1610),
Johann Rudolf Ahle (1625-1673) and Johann Georg Ahle (1673-1706). The
prominent composer, Johann Eccard, a contemporary and friend of Moller,
was also a native of Mühlhausen. Bach recognized the honor conferred upon
him by the call, and it spurred him on to more important achievements.
In addition to his unwearied efforts to advance himself in the line of
his special branch of art, he zealously strove to elevate the standard
of vocal music in the churches of Mühlhausen, and procured at his own
expense a fine collection of the best church music, which was produced
by him from time to time. He caused the organ of the Blasiuskirche to
be repaired after a plan of his own, which bore witness to his great
practical knowledge, and also attached to it a _Glockenspiel_, or
peal of bells. He moreover composed several great pieces of church
music for chorus, solo voices, organ and other instruments. One of
these was performed on the 4th of February, 1708, at the time of the
so-called Changing of the Council, an annual ceremony which consisted
in transferring the administration of one of the three branches of the
municipal government to another. A second beautiful work of the same
order was founded on the words of the 130th psalm. But from various
causes Bach soon found his activity held in check. His grand and lofty
compositions, which surprised by their novelty, presented a striking
contrast to the light and pleasing style of the later Mühlhausen
masters. The inhabitants of the free and ancient imperial city were
possessed of a strongly developed local pride, extending far beyond
its proper limits. Affecting superiority, they were disposed to hold
themselves aloof from strangers, and that a youth of twenty-two, treading
in the footsteps of their once highly respected fellow-citizens, should
manifest such independence and love of innovation, aroused their
antagonism. These difficulties, however, were not insuperable; Bach,
on his side, was not wanting in friends, and the Council gave abundant
proof of its good-will. But other and more radical differences existed,
which could not be so easily put aside. Philipp Jakob Spener had recently
started a movement in the Lutheran Church, which, after the publication
of his book, entitled "Pia Desideria," received the name of pietism,
and this movement had spread to Mühlhausen. The first clergyman of the
town and leading preacher at the Blasiuskirche, J. A. Frohne, was an
ardent advocate of the principles and measures of Spener, which owed
their origin to the unsatisfactory status of the Lutheran clergy. This
body adhered obstinately to the forms which Luther had given it, while
departing all too widely from the spirit of the Protestant reformer. The
pietism of Spener, in the first decades of its existence, had brought
abundant blessing into the domain of spiritual and intellectual life,
while his opponents, who were styled orthodox, presented a sad picture of
moral torpor and arrogant narrow-mindedness. Unfortunately, the pietists
became by degrees very strongly tinctured with asceticism, which had the
effect of lessening their influence upon the popular heart, and rendering
impossible the genuine success of their cause. As a class, they conceived
of the earthly life only in the light of a contrast to the heavenly
one, which they dreamed of leading in a state of blessed communion with
God. Everything which did not directly promote this rapt, contemplative
condition they felt bound to reject, and in this way soon became hostile
to the arts, which the orthodox highly valued and encouraged, after the
example of Luther. Music seemed to the pietists seductive, unless made
to serve an edificatory purpose, and even then it could be employed only
for the accentuation of simple religious songs. These, at any rate, were
the views which Frohne now sought to establish; it was only natural
that Bach, whose genius was just beginning to spread its mighty wings,
whose highest aim was to introduce a lofty type of ecclesiastical music,
embracing everything the age had produced in the shape of artistic
forms and devices, should lift up his voice in protest at such a time.
If ever in his life he had been characterized by a yielding and pliant
disposition, it was not to be expected that he should manifest it now,
when his life-work was in question. We must therefore regard it as the
voice of destiny which, after the lapse of a single year, called him to
fill the post of organist at the ducal court of Weimar, one of the places
he had formerly visited in making a concert tour. He did not hesitate to
obey the call, though realizing to the full the extent of his obligation
to the friendly and appreciative Council of the city of Mühlhausen.
These men were well aware of the magnitude of their loss and consented
most unwillingly to his release, after imposing the condition that he
should continue to superintend from Weimar the organ repairs which he had


From a painting of an ideal scene.]

Among the most remarkable of the false impressions which have prevailed
concerning Bach's personality, must be accounted the idea that he was
himself a pietist. Attempts have been made to prove this on the one hand
from the nature of the poems composed by him, on the other, from the
character of his music. And indeed, it is not difficult to discover in
many of the poetical texts which he wrote for his own church music, the
pietistic forms of expression. But since these forms, notwithstanding
a certain bombastic quality, a rapturous, exaggerated sentiment and an
exuberant tenderness, still strike a note of genuine poetry, they were
habitually employed by all writers of that day.

Not a single pietist, however, was included in the number of the poets
who wrote for Bach. One of these, Erdmann Neumeister, was, on the
contrary, a zealous champion of orthodoxy. And concerning the sympathy
between Bach's music and pietism, it must also be said here that nothing
beyond a certain analogy exists. A strong intensity of feeling is common
to both, and the profound intelligence exhibited by the musician in
following the most hidden meanings of his text, resembles the fervid
devotion with which the pietists were wont to read the Bible. Moreover,
the lofty idealism which inspired his artistic creations, causing him
to regard everything _sub specie aeterni_, as it were, corresponds
in a certain way to the unworldly spirit of the apostles of Spener,
who, lost in ecstasy, directed their gaze towards the pictured glories
of the heavenly sphere. But, while these pious souls gave themselves
up unreservedly to this sort of subjective fanaticism, with Bach the
personal feeling is always controlled by the utmost conceivable severity
of the musical form. The pietists renounced the world and the forces at
work in it; Bach founded his activity upon what had been created before
him in his art, and rejoiced, after the manner of his ancestors, in a
hearty enjoyment of the world and its beauty. It is not merely because
pietism interfered with the free exercise of his art that Bach refused
it his support, but rather because this particular religious bent was
distasteful to him in every way. The old Lutheran form of Protestantism
was an inheritance of his race, and his education had been carried on
in places where orthodoxy flourished. In Arnstadt it had victoriously
trampled under foot, before his coming, some feeble germs of pietism,
which of itself is almost sufficient reason for the attitude of quiet
hostility towards Spener, assumed by him from the beginning. The second
clergyman of the town, Georg Christian Eilmar, was an orthodox of the
strictest kind, and soon after his installation had fallen into a
violent controversy with Frohne, which lasted for years and was still in
progress when Bach came to Mühlhausen. The musician espoused Eilmar's
cause with ardor and did not hesitate to express his opinions publicly,
thus affording another manifestation of the spirit of obstinate defiance
which formed one of his fundamental traits. For it was impossible that
he should be attracted by a prosaic, arrogant, and thoroughly unpleasing
personality like that of Eilmar, neither was he in any wise a fanatical
partisan of orthodoxy. He held firmly to the belief of his fathers, but
to inquire into the principles of their faith was an idea that never
occurred to him. Whatever needs his religion may have failed to satisfy
were more than filled by his art and the conscientious manner in which he
exercised it.

For the next nine years of his life Bach was established in Weimar as
court organist and chamber musician; after 1714 he also officiated as
concert-master of the ducal chapel and performed some of the duties of
capellmeister. Everything that had been lacking in Mühlhausen, he found
here at the court of Duke Wilhelm Ernst, a man whose strongly marked
personal character was reflected upon his surroundings, imparting to
them something of the genial Thuringian spirit. Differing from most
of his compeers in possessing a lively sense of his obligations as a
ruler, he failed to cherish the delusion that his subjects only existed
for the convenience of the reigning class. He was of an earnest nature,
this great-grand-uncle of Goethe's friend Karl August, and lived
without ostentation, almost as simply indeed as an ordinary citizen,
in his castle of Wilhelmsburg. Without children and separated from
his wife after a brief, unhappy union, all his interests were centred
in the welfare of the little province; above all, he occupied himself
with church and school affairs. Even as a child, he had displayed
the strong theological bias which always distinguished him, and had
afterwards studied for three years at the University of Jena. His
favorite associates were members of the clerical profession, and in
order to provide for the spiritual needs of the town of Weimar, which
numbered at that time about 5,000 inhabitants, he increased the number of
preachers, in whose conferences and theological discussions he took an
active part. Orthodox in belief, he hated and prohibited all sectarian
controversy, and without diminishing his zeal for the elevation of
ecclesiastical standards and the broadening of church organization, he
extended a protecting care over the arts and sciences. Weimar owes to
him not only its gymnasium, but also the foundation of its library, at
present so justly renowned. He took pains to support an excellent music
chapel and even tolerated an opera at his court. Chamber music was by
no means neglected, but the strongest interest manifested by the duke
was in ecclesiastical matters, and during his long reign of forty-five
years (1683-1728), his persevering efforts to awaken in the court and
the citizens of the town an interest in the works of a great composer of
sacred music were crowned with deserved success.

No musicians of eminence were to be found in the Weimar of that day. The
aged capellmeister, Johann Samuel Drese, was in feeble health, making
it necessary for Bach to relieve him of a portion of his work. Johann
Gottfried Walther of Erfurt, who was related to Bach on his mother's
side, filled the place of organist in the town-church and soon formed an
intimate friendship with his kinsman. Walther's name has continued to
be held in esteem up to the present time through his musical lexicon,
which was published in Leipsic in 1732 and is a valuable reference
book for students of scientific music. But only the spare moments of
its industrious author were devoted to the preparation of this work.
In addition to his duties as organist, he was active as a composer and
also gave instruction in music, his services as teacher being greatly in
demand. His strength lies chiefly in the domain of organ music, where he
has successfully followed in the footsteps of Johann Pachelbel. In this
connection should be mentioned an artist from a neighboring state, who,
however, was often seen in Weimar, and who found a degree of pleasure
in Bach's society which the latter fully reciprocated. Georg Philipp
Telemann, one of the most skilful musicians of his age, enjoyed at that
time a greater celebrity than Bach, and steadily maintained to the end of
his life the reputation of a high musical authority. His style is wanting
in depth and earnestness, but he was one of the most prolific writers
the world has seen, showing an incredible activity in every species of
composition, so that in the end he was himself unable to say precisely
what or how much had proceeded from his pen.

Bach did not restrict his acquaintance to the narrow limits of his
immediate surroundings, but was in the habit of undertaking frequent
journeys with the view of spreading his fame as organ virtuoso and
composer. On one occasion before the end of the year 1714, he went to
Cassel for the purpose of testing an organ which had been newly restored.
Prince Frederick, son of the reigning duke and afterwards King of Sweden,
summoned him to play in his presence and was enchanted by the unheard-of
virtuosity of his pedal-playing. In the autumn of 1713, he passed some
time in Halle, on his return from a professional tour, and very possibly
attracted by a fine new organ, erected by Christoph Cuncius in the
Church of the Holy Virgin. The post of organist at this church having
been vacant for a year, it seems to have been suggested that Bach should
make application for the place. The proposal must at first have been a
tempting one, since the organ furnished him in Weimar was very inferior,
containing in all only two manuals and twenty-four stops, while that in
Halle had sixty-three sounding stops. He soon expressed his willingness
to accept the appointment, and prolonged his stay sufficiently to enable
him to compose the cantata required of all candidates and to conduct
the performance of the same. The church elders were now very anxious
to secure his services, but Bach left the place without awaiting their
decision. There were many drawbacks connected with the position, and the
thought of his friend and patron the duke caused him to waver. When,
therefore, the formal "call" was sent to him before Christmas, in the
shape of a regularly attested document, just as though the matter had
already been settled between them, Bach expressed his wish to discuss the
matter further before deciding. The authorities took offence at this,
and, quite without reason, practically accused him of only pretending
to treat with them, in order to obtain an increase of salary from the
duke. The sole attraction for Bach in Halle was undoubtedly its beautiful
organ. Up to this time he had been using instruments of small or medium
size, and indeed, throughout his long career, an organ adequate to the
genius of this greatest master in the world was never placed at his
command. Meantime the bold and arrogant manner in which he was accused of
evading his promise could not fail to be resented with indignation by a
man like Bach. He returned a very sharp letter of protest, which plainly
showed the church authorities that they had made a mistake. Realizing
later their want of tact, they sought to make amends by inviting him to
attend the trial performance on the new organ, and Bach accepted the

In the course of a third journey known to have been made by Bach in the
autumn of 1714, he paid his first visit to Leipsic, the city in which
he was to spend the last twenty-seven years of his life. On the first
Sunday after Advent, he furnished all the organ music for the service
(conducted, probably, in the Thomas Church), and also produced a cantata
of his own composition. We are familiar with this cantata; it is one
of the most beautiful belonging to Bach's earlier period, and begins
with a chorus, based upon the old Ambrosian hymn, "Come, Saviour of
the people" ("_Veni, redemptor gentium_"). Not long afterwards, Bach
probably repaired to the ducal court at Meiningen, to which his cousin,
Johann Ludwig Bach, was attached as capellmeister. We have no knowledge
of any previous communication between the two branches of the family
descended from Veit Bach, and there is good ground for assuming that
it was Sebastian who made the advances in this instance. Johann Ludwig
had an especial gift for the composition of church music. Twenty-two
of his cantatas were copied out by Sebastian's own hand, and of still
greater importance than these are the motets by the same master, who, if
he does not equal Johann Christoph Bach of Eisenach, has yet introduced
into German music, with great success, the Italian method so brilliantly
exemplified by Leonardo Leo.

Another autumnal journey made by Sebastian Bach had for its goal
the Saxon electoral court at Dresden, where occurred one of the most
famous and memorable events of his life. He had always maintained the
most friendly relations with the German musicians attached to the
electoral chapel, who just now felt themselves unjustly thrust into the
background, owing to the preference of the court for the French and
Italian school of tonal art. It happened that precisely at this time
Jean Louis Marchand, an organist from Paris, was visiting in Dresden and
delighting the elector and his court by the elegance of his technique.
Bach had found as yet no opportunity of appearing before the court, but
so greatly distinguished himself in other musical circles as to create an
ardent interest in the question whether he or Marchand was the greater
artist. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries competitive musical
performances were in high favor. Bach, who was thoroughly acquainted with
the style of Marchand's playing and the character of his music, consented
to challenge the Frenchman to a trial of skill upon the clavier. Marchand
accepted and the tournament was arranged to take place, in the presence
of a select body of judges, at the house of a personage of high rank;
probably the minister, Graf von Flemming. When the appointed hour
arrived Bach was on the spot, but Marchand did not appear; in the sure
premonition of failure, he had abandoned the field without resistance.
Bach now played alone and enchanted his audience. The report of this
occurrence was rapidly spread abroad and served to add new lustre to the
fame of the master, who now stood forth a victorious champion of German
national art, as opposed to the theories and methods of the French.

These various professional journeys and the visit between the years
1715 and 1717 of Georg Erdmann, the friend of his youth, who, after
completing his study of the law, had entered the Russian service in 1715,
are the most important external events of Bach's stay in Weimar. If we
glance at his creative activity during that period, we see that the
principal emphasis falls upon his work as organ virtuoso and composer.
Duke Wilhelm took great pleasure in his playing, and this incited him
to use his utmost efforts in the art of handling his instrument. It was
in Weimar that he wrote the larger number of his very numerous organ
compositions, and he also made much progress here in the art of vocal
composition, besides becoming thoroughly acquainted for the first time
with Italian chamber music. The duke's nephew, Prince Johann Ernst, was
of a decidedly musical turn, and, with the aid of Walther, had even
made attempts at composition. In gratification of his tastes, frequent
concerts of chamber music were given at the castle, Bach acting as
leader. The violin concerto, which had just been revived in Italy through
the efforts of Torelli and Vivaldi, and the violin sonata in the form
established by Corelli, were favorite varieties of this sort of music,
in which Bach soon developed a strong interest, as is shown by the fact
that he arranged for the clavier and the organ about twenty of Vivaldi's
concertos. These works are not arrangements in the ordinary sense, but
are rather expansions of the original motives. By means of an animated
bass, a richly melodious baritone and artistic contrapuntal imitations,
Bach converted his material into something at once novel and charming.
He also took themes from the violin sonatas of Corelli and Albinoni,
while he richly elaborated and fashioned into an organ fugue, the leading
motive of a composition by the Venetian Legrenzi. That he entered very
heartily into the spirit of the Italian music of the day is evident from
his causing a copy to be made for himself of an important production
of Frescobaldi, the greatest Italian organ master. This work, entitled
"_Fiori Musicali_" appeared in 1635.


From an oil portrait owned by the Bach family until 1828. Now in
possession of A. Grenser, of Vienna.]

But the period of Bach's activity in the line of chamber music properly
began after he left Weimar in response to an invitation to become
capellmeister at the court of Prince Leopold of Anhalt-Cöthen. It was
probably on account of his not having been appointed to the same office
in Weimar, after the death of the venerable Samuel Drese, a preferment
which he had every reason to expect, that he gave up his post as organist
in the town. The love and protection always bestowed by the duke upon
old and trusty servants prevailed in this instance over his interest in
art, for he allowed Drese's very incompetent son to succeed his father.
The Prince of Cöthen was allied to the ducal family of Weimar through the
marriage of his sister to the heir apparent of the reigning house, and on
the occasion of his visit at the time of the wedding festivities, it is
very likely that Bach may have attracted his attention. He was just the
man to appreciate the importance of so great a musician. Clear-sighted
and enthusiastic, unmarried and still in the spring-time of life, he was
endowed with an unbiased judgment and the ability to rule, as well as
with an unusual talent for music. He played several instruments, was an
excellent bass singer, and Bach said of him in after years that he not
only loved music but understood it. And it was precisely chamber music
that was almost exclusively cultivated in Cöthen. The province professed
the Calvinistic faith and music therefore played an entirely subordinate
rôle in ecclesiastical and social life. Bach had no official connection
with the church organs in the place. The court never possessed an opera
and seems to have been only sparingly provided with singers. Bach's
labors were therefore limited to the concerts held at the castle, in
which the prince himself took part, and which were especially signalized
by the musician's own appearance as performer and composer. There was in
Cöthen no opportunity for stepping before the public, and it testifies
to the genuineness of Bach's nature and his devotion to instrumental art
that he could spend with enjoyment six of the best years of his life in
this position, so devoid of all external attraction. During this time he
wrote the greater part of his chamber works, including the first part
of the "Wohltemperirte Clavier," the "Inventionen und Sinfonien," the
sonatas and suites for violin and violoncello without accompaniment,
and also with the clavier; finally, the six great concertos dedicated
to Margrave Christian of Brandenburg. The prince manifested the warmest
attachment for Bach, treated him as a friend in every way, and at last
could so little dispense with his society that the two undertook frequent
journeys together, in the course of which they twice made a prolonged
stay at Carlsbad. Bach meantime did not relinquish his independent
professional tours and was often summoned in different directions for the
inspection of organs. In December, 1717, he tested the newly-constructed
instrument in the Pauliner-Kirche at Leipsic; in 1719 he was once more
in Halle and here very narrowly missed meeting Handel, who had travelled
thither from London in search of singers for his newly-organized
operatic academy and was spending a short time with his relatives before
returning. Bach had been informed of this and went to call upon Handel,
who, however, had already started on his return journey. Ten years later,
he again came to Germany, but Bach was prevented by illness from paying
his respects in person and therefore despatched his oldest son with an
invitation for Handel to visit him. Although this was declined with an
expression of regret, there is little, if any, ground for the assumption
that Handel purposely avoided an acquaintanceship with Bach. Yet it may
be said in favor of the latter that he always showed a lively interest in
Handel's compositions, which was by no means fully reciprocated, and that
it was not his fault if the two greatest musicians of their age never saw
each other face to face.

In November, 1720, Bach paid a visit to Hamburg, which city, so far as
we know, he had not seen since leaving Lüneburg, unless he stopped there
on his way from Lübeck in 1706. The celebrated Johann Adam Reinken,
almost a centenarian at this time, was still attached to St. Catharine's
Church in Hamburg, and Bach very naturally felt a desire to again meet
the master with whom he had studied as a boy. An appointment was made
for him to play before the assembled magistrates of the city and many
other illustrious personages, including Reinken. The venerable artist was
greatly moved at Bach's performance (which lasted nearly half an hour) of
the choral "By the waters of Babylon," which Reinken himself had long ago
arranged for the organ after the manner of the Northern composers. At the
close, he went up to Bach and said: "I thought this art was dead, but see
that it still lives in you." It is possible that Bach also produced in
Hamburg a church cantata of his own composition: "Whoso humbleth himself
shall be exalted." A longing for his favorite instrument, of which he
had been deprived in Cöthen, was certainly awakened in him by the great
number of fine organs here at hand. It chanced that the post of organist
at St. Jacob's Church was just then vacant, and a prize competition for
the same was to take place on the 28th of November, but Bach was called
home by his prince and could not delay so long. He departed on the 23d of
November, leaving behind him the assurance that he would gladly accept
the place, if offered him. The strongest desire to secure his services
was shown by many influential persons, but the church authorities decided
in favor of a native of Hamburg, a certain Joachim Heitmann, who, to be
sure, was a very insignificant performer, but who had promised to pay
into the church treasury a premium of 4000 Hamburg marks, in case of his
election. The leading clergyman of the church, Erdmann Neumeister, was
so enraged over this affair, that he soon after referred to it in his
Christmas sermon, and summed up the expression of his sentiments with the
pithy remark that if one of the angels of Bethlehem, divinely gifted as a
musician, should desire to become organist at St. Jacob's, but possessed
no money, he would be allowed to fly away again.

Not only was Bach awaited in Cöthen by his prince, but family affairs
of urgent importance demanded his attention. A heavy loss had befallen
him in the summer of this year--his wife had unexpectedly died while
he was absent in Carlsbad with the prince. No news of the event had
reached him and her remains had long since been committed to the earth
when he returned and learned what had happened. In the next year
another calamity followed hard upon the first: his oldest brother died
at Ohrdruf, and two years later still the second brother, Johann Jakob,
ended his eventful career. Sebastian Bach, meantime, was approaching
the period of his second marriage, an event which took place in 1721.
At the court in Cöthen, there lived a singer named Anna Magdalena
Wilke, twenty-one years of age, the daughter of the court trumpeter at
Weissenfels. Upon her Bach now fixed his choice, founded a new household
with her help, and in their twenty-eight years of wedded life thirteen
children were born to them. The unusual talent for music possessed by
Anna Magdalena was developed under her husband's direction to such a
degree that she was able to participate in his labors, and is known to
have written out the different parts of many of his church cantatas.
Two books of music still exist which Bach prepared for her, filled with
songs and clavier compositions, mostly of his own writing. Judging from
these books, he would seem to have composed his so-called "French Suites"
especially for her; she must therefore have distinguished herself highly
as a performer on the clavier. Notwithstanding the happy turn now given
to Bach's life, his position in Cöthen was becoming uncomfortable for
him. A week after his wedding the prince was also married. His bride had
no taste for music, and therefore the prince's own interest in it was
temporarily diminished. Bach could but clearly perceive that ultimately
he would not be able to endure existence in Cöthen--the field of his
usefulness was here too limited. Through the death of Johann Kuhnau, the
position of cantor at St. Thomas' school in Leipsic had recently become
vacant. Bach sought and obtained it, entering upon his duties on the 1st
of June, 1723. He continued, however, in the service of the prince as
capellmeister "von Haus aus," a title given to the incumbent of an office
when not required to reside in the town. Bach was only called upon to
appear at court occasionally in the capacity of musical conductor and
to furnish compositions for extra occasions. Of this character was the
festival cantata produced by him on the 2d of July, 1725, in celebration
of the prince's second marriage. But his appreciative friend and patron
was not destined to enjoy a long life; he died on the 14th of November,
1728. Bach composed for him a magnificent requiem, the performance of
which he conducted in person.


Regarded from an external point of view, the change now made by Bach was
a step downward, and he himself once wrote to Erdmann that he did not
relish the descent at first. But the office of cantor at the Leipsic
Thomas-Schule was by no means of the common order. It seldom happens
that a position is filled so uninterruptedly by men of the highest
importance, who, in many cases, were as eminent in science as in music,
thus imparting to their office a twofold distinction. In this instance,
the long list of especially famous names begins with Sethus Calvisius. He
was followed in 1615 by Johann Hermann Schein, and the latter in 1630 by
Tobias Michael. Sebastian Knüpfer succeeded to the office in 1657, Johann
Schelle in 1676, Johann Kuhnau in 1701. Kuhnau died in 1722, having come
into personal contact with Bach in the years 1714, 1716 and 1717.

The occupations of a cantor were not exclusively musical in character.
From time immemorial he had been required to give scientific instruction,
the third class in the school being allotted to him, while the conrector
assumed the charge of the second class and the rector of the first. The
city council of Leipsic, however, was fain to acknowledge that this
arrangement was a difficult one to maintain. Capable musicians, as a
rule, even if possessed of the requisite knowledge, took no pleasure in
scientific teaching, and this was very decidedly the case with Bach. He
soon confined himself wholly to the musical duties of his position and
the supervision of the alumni, a care which was exercised alternately by
the teachers. These alumni, fifty-five in number, who were supported and
educated, free of expense, from the surplus funds of the institution,
formed the vocal choir of the town. Bach attended to the daily training
of these singers and generally officiated as leader at their public
concerts. In the two principal churches of the city, the St. Thomas
and the St. Nicholas, sacred music with instrumental accompaniment was
given every other Sunday and, on great festival days, in both churches
together. Exceptions to this custom were made during Lent and at the
Advent season, when motets were sung, without accompaniment, and the
leadership of these could be entrusted to an especially gifted member of
the highest class in school, which was called the "praefectus chori."
As the cantor had nothing further to do with the church services beyond
conducting the music in the University Church on certain festal occasions
and when wedding or funeral music was commanded, it cannot be said that
Bach was overburdened with official duties. On the contrary, he was able
to devote a considerable amount of time to composition, and made frequent
journeys in the interest of his profession.

It would, however, be going too far to say that Bach's position at St.
Thomas's was in every way a congenial one. On the contrary many of its
duties were irksome to him, and he did not always find it agreeable to
be brought into close contact with pupils who, in part at least, were
wild and undisciplined. During the first part of his stay, under the
lenient rule of the rector, Johann Heinrich Ernesti, the situation was
very trying. We must remember that Bach was an artist, and, as such, of
an irritable and capricious disposition, hence little adapted to the
training of unruly youths. For the rest, although there was indeed no
lack of musical interest in Leipsic, the performers engaged by the town
authorities bore no comparison with those in the service of the princes'
courts, and the proximity of Dresden, where the most eminent singers and
instrumentalists were in active co-operation, was unfavorable, on account
of easily-instituted comparisons. The town council of Leipsic could not
and would not imitate the lavish generosity of the Saxon court in musical
matters, and there is no doubt that it often failed to supply what was
strictly necessary. A decided want of tact was also shown in dealing with
a great artist, revered by the whole musical world, in precisely the
same manner as with any other government official. That Bach was often
oppressed with discontent is not to be wondered at, and the feeling seems
to have reached its culminating point in the year 1730. After discharging
the duties of his office for seven years and composing works of such
magnitude as the St. John and St. Matthew Passions, numerous church and
jubilee cantatas, including three of the latter order in celebration
of the second centenary anniversary of the Augsburg Confession in
1730, it was nevertheless said in a council meeting held on the 2d of
August, that the cantor was lazy, did not give proper attention to the
singing lessons, and, had taken all sorts of unwarrantable liberties,
in punishment for which a diminution of his fees had been resolved
upon. The "liberties" consisted in his having once sent a member of the
choir into the country without previously informing the Burgomaster
and having himself made a journey without asking leave. So far as the
singing-lessons were concerned, it had for a hundred years been customary
for the cantor to give up the charge of them to the prefect of the
choir, except on unusually important occasions. By way of response to
this incredible proceeding on the part of the council, Bach drew up a
memorial with the following title: "A brief but necessary Statement of
what constitutes well appointed church music, with a few unprejudiced
observations on its present state of decay." In this document he makes a
statement of the amount of money he would require in order to organize
church music according to his wishes, and contrasts with this the very
insufficient sum actually at his command. Since the council did not
afford him what he considered necessary, he began to entertain the idea
of leaving Leipsic, and on the 28th of October, 1730, he wrote to Erdmann
in Dantsic upon the subject. But no action was taken in the matter; Bach
remained in Leipsic, and although vexations and annoyances were not
wanting in after years, there seems to have been no recurrence of such
a crisis. He always lived in friendly relations with the aged rector of
the school, Johann Heinrich Ernesti, and found a warm friend and admirer
in his successor, the distinguished philologist, Johann Matthias Gesner
(1730-1734), whom he had known ever since the Weimar days. With the third
incumbent of the office, however, Johann August Ernesti, he fell into
a violent controversy, on account of the removal of a chorus prefect.
This was fought out with much obstinacy by Bach because he knew he was
right in the principal point at issue. He seems, moreover, to have come
off victorious after a two years' struggle, but the consequence was an
enduring bitterness between cantor and rector, which tended neither to
the advantage of the school, nor of its music.

But if the drawbacks connected with Bach's stay in Leipsic are
undeniable and deserving of the conspicuous mention which they have
heretofore received, the question on the other hand might well be
raised in what locality of the Germany of that day he could have found
a position commensurate with his genius. He was not adapted by nature
for a brilliant princely court like that of Dresden; there the opera
and Italian singing were all in all; appreciation was lacking both
for his organ music and his church cantatas--at the very most he was
recognized as a virtuoso. And this would have been equally the case
if his compositions had been less profound and earnest. He belonged
in a place where he would come into constant communication with the
Protestant church, and where, in case of need, he had means at hand for
giving expression to his grand ideas. So far as such a place was to be
found at all, Leipsic offered him perhaps a better field than any other
of the larger German towns, and a wider sphere of action had become
imperatively necessary for him, after the limitations imposed upon him
at Weimar and Cöthen. The liturgy in the Leipsic churches, which even
at the present day is comparatively rich, was then characterized by a
fulness and variety scarcely inferior to that of the Catholics, and
music was called into requisition in corresponding measure. Here was
sufficient encouragement for the development of a many-sided activity.
Bach's compositions, to be sure, were far above the comprehension of the
Leipsic public. But a traditional respect for church music and their
strong love for the Thomas choir furnished him at least with willing
ears. As cantor of the institution, too, Bach was incontestably the first
musical authority of the town, and the proud consciousness of this fact
experienced by the artist, could not be even disturbed by the influence
of the opera, then already established in Leipsic.[1]

The position occupied by Leipsic as a centre of traffic, especially at
the time of the "Messen," or great fairs, heightened the importance of
his office, and the strangers who poured into the town at such seasons
bore away with them the fame of Bach. Few musicians came hither without
seeking the acquaintance of the master, playing before him and begging
the privilege of hearing him perform. If one reckons, in addition to
these advantages, the material benefits derived from the position, which
were sufficient to relieve a man of his simple habits from all wearing
anxieties, a very comfortable picture is presented, the darker side of
which is to be attributed rather to the deficiencies of the age than to
the condition of affairs in Leipsic.

The twenty-seven years passed by Bach in the famous university town
cover a period of prodigious activity in the composition of sacred
vocal music. Works for the organ became more rare, since his calling
brought him into no direct communication with that instrument. On the
other hand, a series of magnificent works in the department of chamber
music was written in Leipsic. For this his own home and the family
life presented the strongest inducements, but about the year 1736, he
also conducted a musical union composed of the university students,
who assembled twice a week for practice. Journeys were at this time of
frequent occurrence, especially to Dresden, where Bach had long possessed
a wealth of friends and continually added to the number. In 1736 he
received from the court in that city the title "Hof-Compositeur," and in
1733 his eldest son, Wilhelm Friedmann, secured his first position as
organist at the Church of St. Sophia, in that city. During his travels
in 1727, Bach was twice in Hamburg; his native province of Thuringia was
not forgotten, and his relations with Weimar were renewed through the
efforts of the successor of Duke Wilhelm Ernst. It is also certain that
he paid at least one visit to Erfurt, one of the old gathering-places of
the family. Between the years 1723 and 1726, he was frequently heard at
the Saxon ducal court of Weissenfels and received from this court the
title of Capellmeister, which he bore until his death. The last journey
of which we have knowledge was undertaken in May, 1747, and directed to
the court of King Frederick II. of Prussia, where, since the year 1740,
his son Carl Philipp Emanuel had been established as chamber musician.
The king resided in Potsdam and held here his regular "Musikabende," at
which he himself played the flute in the circle of his musical friends.
Hither Bach repaired on the 7th of May, accompanied by his son Wilhelm
Friedemann, and here, through his playing, he aroused the admiration of
the king, who himself gave a theme to work out on the clavier. The next
day he performed before a crowded audience in the Church of the Holy
Ghost, and on the same evening appeared again before the king at his
palace, where, at Frederick's request, he improvised a six-part fugue.
From Potsdam he went to Berlin and, among other objects of interest,
visited the opera-house, built in 1743. After his return to Leipsic he
employed the theme given him by the king as the basis of a series of
artistic compositions of varying length, which he caused to be engraved
and dedicated to Frederick, under the title: "_Musikalisches Opfer_."

During the last years of his life, Bach was several times drawn into
literary controversies. One of his adversaries was Johann Adolf Scheibe,
who, born in Leipsic in 1708, resided there as music-teacher till 1735
and then went to Hamburg, where he published a periodical to which he
gave the title of "Critische Musikus." In this he attacked Bach on
account of his confused and turgid style, which he characterized as
both painful and ineffective, because it was opposed to common sense.
Scheibe cherished a personal resentment against Bach, believing that
he had judged him unjustly on the occasion of his candidacy for the
position of organist at St. Thomas's Church in 1727. The attack caused
great excitement and called forth a polemical discussion between Scheibe
and Bach's friend, the university teacher, Johann Abraham Birnbaum, in
which the former was finally worsted. After the lapse of some years, he
seems to have realized that he had gone too far, and endeavored in his
later works to efface the unfavorable impression produced by his immature
criticism of the great artist. In 1749 the school rector, Biedermann,
of Freiburg in Saxony, published a Latin treatise containing a warning
to youth against an excessive devotion to music, as "easily leading to
a dissipated life." In illustration of his theory, he cites a number
of profligate characters, belonging to antiquity, and also dwells upon
the small esteem in which the musicians of those days were held. The
effect of this tirade was to excite the animosity of the whole musical
profession, and Bach, whose pupil, Johann Friedrich Doles, was cantor of
the Freiburg school, felt himself called upon to retaliate. He induced
the organist Schröter to write a reply, which, however, did not appear
in print until it had undergone a number of unwarrantable alterations,
falsely attributed by the author to Bach himself. As a result of this,
the latter was subjected to all sorts of annoyances, and though he did
not defend himself with his pen, he was driven to do so through the
medium of music. A Latin cantata, "Phöbus und Pan," which evidently
referred to Scheibe's hostility, was composed by him in 1731 and
performed by a society of musical students. At the time of the Birnbaum
controversy, he again brought it to light, inserted a few appropriate
allusions in the text, and produced it anew. He was not the man to suffer
insult or see his cherished art defamed.

Bach had been nearsighted from his childhood and was afflicted in later
years with a weakness of the eyes, which was doubtless occasioned by the
strain of his night labors as a youth. An English oculist named Taylor,
the same who afterwards treated Handel in London, came to Leipsic in
the winter of 1749, and, yielding to the advice of his friends, Bach
submitted to an operation, which proved unsuccessful and he became
totally blind. Nor was this the only sad result, for the medical
treatment prescribed at the same time completely undermined his hitherto
unfailing strength. On the eighteenth of July he suddenly found his sight
restored, but was, however, stricken with apoplexy immediately afterward,
and on the evening of the 28th of July, he died. His work was continued
until within a few days before the event, and a choral "Vor deinen
Thron tret ich hiermit" ("Before Thy throne herewith I come"), which
he dictated to his son-in-law, was his last composition. His funeral
took place on the morning of the 31st of July in St. John's Church. Of
the children left behind, two of the sons were taken in charge by their
brothers and sisters, the others were already established in independent
positions outside of Leipsic. The widow, who had three daughters to
support, fell into poverty and lived finally upon public benevolence. It
is an indelible stain upon the honor of the town of Leipsic that this was


From a painting of an ideal scene.]

Together with his wonderful gifts as an artist, Bach united great
clearness and acuteness of intellect, strength of will, a persistency
which often amounted to obstinacy, the love for order and a high sense of
duty. Like all artists, he possessed an irritable temperament, and was
liable to passionate outbreaks, but in the main his demeanor was grave
and dignified. Though conscious of his worth, he was free from arrogance.
He provided generously for his family and his home life was a happy one,
nothing affording him more pleasure than the little concerts which he
conducted with his wife and children, assisted occasionally by talented
pupils. If he sometimes manifested violent excitement when giving
instruction to large school classes, he exercised great patience with
individual pupils, and showed a happy faculty for teaching them. Instead
of oppressing them by the excess of his genius, he drew them up to
himself with words of friendly encouragement, and it is certain that he
could hold up to them no better example than his own unwearied industry.
Among the large number of distinguished artists trained by him are Johann
Ludwig Krebs, Gottfried August Homilius, Johann Friedrich Agricola,
Johann Philipp Kirnberger, Johann Theophilus Goldberg, Johann Gottfried
Müthel; also his own sons, Wilhelm Friedemann, Carl Philipp Emanuel,
and Johann Christoph Friedrich. The education of the last he was unable
to complete. His latest pupil was Johann Christian Kittel, afterwards
organist in Erfurt, who, through his great gifts as a teacher, kept alive
in Thuringia for several generations the art of Sebastian Bach. He died
in 1809.

The old inherited love of race was strongly characteristic of Johann
Sebastian. We owe to him a manuscript genealogy of the Bach family,
which is now preserved in the royal library at Berlin. The first number
is from the hand of Sebastian himself, while the remainder of the
work was performed by his son, Philipp Emanuel. The philanthropic and
self-sacrificing spirit manifested by Bach towards his pupils was still
more fully exemplified in the circle of his family. In the year 1707
he bestowed upon a cousin in needy circumstances a part of his slender
salary. While in Weimar, he took into his house a son of his eldest
brother, thus requiting the kindness which he had received from the
latter as a boy. In Cöthen he devoted himself energetically and with true
filial affection to the fulfilment of an honored relative's testamentary
bequests, against his own interests and in opposition to the grasping
demands of her next of kin. All that we know of Bach's life presents him
to us in the light of a strong and noble nature and confirms us in the
belief that the truly great artist must as a man always be profoundly
worthy of our veneration.

[Illustration: Fac-simile of the manuscript of the first page of the
first Prelude from Bach's "Well-tempered Clavichord."]

That in Bach we behold the highest degree of development attained by a
race of musicians who flourished through many generations, is due to his
wonderful and manifold musical gifts, rather than to his having followed
directly in the footsteps of any of the more important composers among
his ancestors. He was endowed with a talent for composition of the
very first order, has not been excelled as a performer upon the organ
and the clavier up to the present day, and was a violin player of the
profoundest intelligence, exhibiting complete mastery over the technique
of his instrument. At the same time he had a thorough knowledge of
organ-building and also distinguished himself by the invention of a new
stringed instrument, called the "viola pomposa", and a keyed instrument
which was an ingenious combination of the lute and the cembalo. He
devised the first perfectly satisfactory method of tuning a clavier
according to the tempered system, and introduced the style of fingering,
which, with a few modifications, is now in use. But the particular
musical form in which his uncle Johann Christoph Bach, of Eisenach,
became so great a master--the motet--while cultivated to some extent
by Sebastian Bach, was developed differently by him, and his immediate
predecessors in the art which made him especially great were not found
among the men of his own race.

Bach is first of all a composer of organ music as employed in the domain
of the church, and his work must be viewed from this standpoint, if
we are to judge him aright. The original foundation of organ music in
Germany had been the ecclesiastical Volkslied, or Protestant choral.
This does not mean that the melody of a choral was played from beginning
to end upon the organ, but that it was made the central point of an
independently constructed work, an arrangement possible to be effected
in three different ways. Firstly: the choral was played in direct
combination with the organ accompaniment, in a way to introduce the
congregational singing as the principal feature; in this case a few lines
only were worked out in free, contrapuntal style, so as to acquire the
character of an improvisation. We see here the choral prelude in its
most restricted form. In the second place, the choral was treated as an
independent piece of music and resolved into its elementary parts, each
one of which was worked out for itself, the composer being influenced
in a general way by the poetic sentiment of the text and allowing the
musical form to be determined by the relation which the separate lines
of the melody bore to each other. Thirdly: the choral, as it left the
composer's hands, seemed to him the expression of the poetical thoughts
and sensations embodied by the text, and, if played merely by one person,
he regarded it as the form in which the assembled congregation gave
utterance to its feelings; the choral melody then became the middle point
of an independent composition, one part of which moved majestically
and solemnly onward, while to the others was entrusted the office of
expressing the delicate and personal emotions awakened in the breast of
the composer.

By the side of these choral compositions, which, as we have seen, are
founded upon a given melody, stand other important forms of music in
the seventeenth century: the toccata, the praeludium, the fugue and the
passacaglio, or ciacone. While the two last-mentioned proceed from the
free invention of the composer, yet here also the Volkslied has exerted
its influence, as can easily be seen from the nature of the fugal
themes, which are much more expressive and definite than those employed
by the Catholics, because with the latter the strong attraction for the
Volkslied was wanting. The two greatest organ masters directly preceding
Bach were Dietrich Buxtehude and Johann Pachelbel. The latter was born in
Nuremberg in 1653 and died there in 1706, while holding the position of

He had been actively at work in Eisenach and Erfurt for thirteen years,
gave instruction to Bach's oldest brother and exercised a great influence
upon organ music in Thuringia and upon Bach himself in his earlier years.
That poetic treatment of the organ choral already described owes its
origin to Pachelbel, whose strength lay chiefly in this form of art.
Buxtehude's forte, on the other hand, is pre-eminently a free style
of composition for the organ and a brilliant artistic handling of the
instrument, in contrast to which the thorough, but unpretending technique
of Pachelbel falls into the background. All the creative power possessed
by these two masters, Bach combined in his own person.

Over one hundred organ chorals by Bach are still extant and a large
proportion of them are in his own handwriting. A fine collection of
forty-five shorter pieces is presented by his "Orgelbüchlein" (Little
Organ Book). The compilation of this was made in Cöthen, but the greater
part of its contents belongs to the Weimar period. The pieces are almost
wholly in Pachelbel's manner, but are more characteristic, richer and
of greater depth. The melody always moves on uninterruptedly and, with
few exceptions, in the simple style adapted to congregational singing.
The other parts are artistically interwoven and reflect the particular
sensations which the significance of the choral melody in the church
liturgy and the import of the poem to which it belongs awaken in the
mind. The musical thought from which the accompanying parts are developed
is usually brief; it takes its character from the poem, into the meaning
of which Bach penetrates very deeply. The effect is especially beautiful
when he reproduces in his music the idea of certain visions, which have
been called up by the poem. An example of this is furnished by the
choral: "Vom Himmel kam der Engel Schaar" ("From Heaven came the Angel
Host"), in which two of the accompanying parts with their ascending and
descending strains seem to personify the Christmas angels coming down
to the shepherds and again soaring upward. A favorite plan of Bach for
increasing in an artistic manner the importance of the choral melody, is
that of managing it after the fashion of a canon; that is to say, it is
heard not merely in a single part, but recurs in another, after a certain
interval, an arrangement from which surprisingly expressive harmonies

Besides the "Little Organ Book," we possess a second autograph collection
by Bach, containing sixteen organ chorals, interspersed with several
pieces of the same order written by his pupil Altnikol. In this volume
are included the most noteworthy of the more extended organ chorals
composed during the Weimar period; these however were not published
until they had undergone the careful revision of the artist and received
many changes from his hand. Here we find model compositions in all the
larger forms, which either came down to Bach from his predecessors, or
were acquired by his own continually increasing culture. His constant
and energetic efforts to attain the greatest possible organic unity in
his compositions naturally obliged him to place the strongest emphasis
upon the development of the polyphonic web of the melodic accompaniment
from a single musical thought. If this thought became expanded into a
longer and more expressive theme, worked out according to the rules of
art, the accompaniment was then likely to acquire an independence and
importance which interfered with the predominance of the choral melody.
The sole means therefore of strengthening this melody was to introduce a
vocal part, and that is precisely what was done by Bach. While he added
to the composition thus changed, other instruments besides the organ and
also other vocal parts, he transferred the organ chorus to the domain
of vocal music, in order that he might give it the grandest conceivable
form. Bach's choral choruses, which excite the astonished admiration of
all who know them, are the direct outgrowth of his organ chorals. The
piece from the "Little Organ Book" consisting of twenty-seven measures,
composed upon the melody, "O Lamm Gottes, unschuldig" ("O, Innocent Lamb
of God"), and the gigantic opening chorus of the St. Matthew Passion, in
which the same melody is accompanied and crowned by two vocal choruses,
two orchestras and two organs, rest upon exactly the same principle of

Buxtehude had paid no attention to the third method of developing the
choral, as previously described, but bestowed much thought and artistic
skill upon the second, and had succeeded in imparting to it an especial
charm, through tasteful ornamentation of the melody and the combination
of several different kinds of organ registers. His works in this line,
however, are not distinguished by any especial unity or by reserve of
form. Bach felt himself attracted by this free and more fantastic style
of composition, because it stimulated him to evolve from it something
which should satisfy his own lofty ideal. A number of highly remarkable
organ chorals, of the most dissimilar character, originated in this way;
among them are the elaborations of "Schmücke dich, o liebe Seele" ("Adorn
thyself, beloved Soul"), "An Wasserflüssen Babylon," two re-arrangements
of "Allein Gott in der Höh sei Ehr" ("Glory alone to God on High"), and
one of "Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland."

In the Leipsic period, few organ chorals were composed by Bach, but each
one of these is a master work of the musician. The forms are those of the
Weimar chorals, but are on a comparatively colossal scale and the art of
the composer has increased in corresponding measure. They were published
in the year 1739, together with several choral fugues in the third part
of his so-called "Clavier-Uebung"; in 1746 were issued five variations
in canonic form upon the Christmas song: "Vom Himmel hoch, da komm ich
her" ("From Heaven on high come I hither"). Bach's strong attachment for
this artistic form, over which he had gained entire mastery in his youth,
continued to the end. His last work, composed immediately before his
death and dictated to Altnikol, was an organ choral.


Reproduced from an old steel engraving.]

In Bach's organ music of a freer style, it is easier than in the chorals
to perceive the gradual approach to perfection. Here it is very evident
that Pachelbel was not his master; even the few preludes and fugues which
he wrote in his first years at Arnstadt betray a study of Buxtehude.
After the journey to Lübeck, what had before been imitation became free
creation after the manner of his model. In Weimar, where he rose to
eminence as an organ virtuoso, the striving after external brilliancy
and the desire of developing his skill as a performer in all directions,
bear evidence for a considerable period of his continued adherence to
the style of the Danish master. Although the compositions of this time
are in no wise superficial, they yet stand far below his later works
in solidity. By degrees, and evidently in consequence of close and
persevering labor with the choral, Bach's melodies become much richer and
more expressive. The study of Italian music, to which he devoted himself
in Weimar, had the effect of imparting to his work greater clearness
and finish, and his beautiful "_canzone_" for the organ is the direct
result of that study. The name itself bears witness to the fact, since
the Italians of the seventeenth century were accustomed to designate by
this word the musical form which afterwards was called the fugue. In a
group of organ compositions, which manifestly belong to the later Weimar
period, Bach shows himself to have reached that eminence as a composer of
fugues which only he was able to attain. The greatest skill in execution
is everywhere presupposed, but nothing is sacrificed to this; the fugal
themes are forms of a strongly accentuated type; in the management of the
parts great restraint and system are displayed; the preludes also lose
their extemporaneous character, are given a real theme and subjected to
the rules of the contrapuntal style. The only organ passacaglio by Bach
was composed at about this time. Well knowing that Buxtehude had excelled
in this form he resolved to make an attempt in that direction, summoned
all his powers and created one of the most lofty works of German tonal

At the time when Bach's playing excited the general admiration of the
Hamburg public in 1720, he probably performed there his great G-minor
fugue with prelude, one of his best known and most celebrated works.
A musician of the eighteenth century pronounced this to be "the very
best pedal piece of Herr Johann Sebastian Bach," and it is certainly
safe to assert that he never wrote one which surpassed it. Play of
imagination, inexhaustible invention, transparent clearness, unaffected
simplicity, lofty earnestness and deep inward joy are here combined
to form a whole of such unapproachable grandeur as to exclude every
thought of a comparison with other composers. Among the works of the
Leipsic period should be mentioned first of all the six sonatas for two
manuals and pedal. These were completed between the years 1727 and 1733
and, according to tradition, were intended for the education of the
musician's eldest son, Wilhelm Friedemann. The form of these pieces,
as is well known, is borrowed from the Italian chamber music. Properly
speaking, they are not intended for the organ, but for a pedal-clavier
with two manuals, yet they do not lose in effect, when played upon
the former instrument. They present the most difficult of tasks to
the organ-performer, not only because the most perfect independence
of movement is demanded of both hands, as well as the feet, but also
on account of the crystalline transparency of the three-part movement
which renders the smallest defect in execution extremely painful to the
ear. The six so-called "great preludes and fugues" (Edition of the Bach
Society, Vol. XV., p. 189-260) are also considered as belonging to the
Leipsic time, although no positive external evidence in favor of the
assumption can be produced. If we add to these the preludes and fugues in
G major, the toccata and fugue in F major, the "Doric" toccata and fugue
in D minor and the great prelude with fugue in E♭ major, we shall have
nearly exhausted the list of works composed by Bach during the latest
period of his life. Should this seem to any one a small amount for so
great an artist to accomplish in twenty-seven years, he must remember
that the principal object of Bach's activity throughout this period
was the vocal church music, which, as cantor of St. Thomas's, it was
his duty to provide each Sunday. The value of works of art, moreover,
is not to be estimated by their number or extent. Haydn wrote over one
hundred symphonies, Beethoven only nine, yet the composer of "Fidelio"
certainly does not rank below Haydn in importance. These later organ
pieces of Bach's are creations of a universal type. Into each one of
them the artist infused the whole of his giant intellect, animating
by the breath of his genius the masses of sound poured forth from the
organ in prodigious volume, yet governed in the smallest details by the
most rigorous rules of art. They are true and actual prototypes of the
divinely ordered processes of nature, and in listening to them one calls
to mind the profound saying of Goethe: "Bach's music produces in me the
feeling that the eternal harmonies are holding converse together as they
may have done in the bosom of God before the creation."

The term chamber music was borrowed by the Germans from the Italians,
with whom "_musica da camera_" was directly opposed to "_musica da
chiesa_." In German it might be more appropriate to say "society music."
We are accustomed in our day to think only of instrumental music in
this connection, but it was the original intention to include vocal
compositions as well. Works of both kinds were produced by Bach, but
however interesting his vocal chamber music may be, it is of only
secondary importance, relatively speaking. He must himself have been
of this opinion, for he frequently made re-arrangements of these
compositions (which were mostly written for particular occasions), and
thus converted them into church music. His instrumental works, on the
other hand, are of the highest importance, not only for their intrinsic
merit, but as a means of determining the permanent artistic standing of
the composer. In considering them, it is necessary to distinguish between
such as are especially derived from organ music, those which grew out
of Italian violin music, and the remaining portion, which found their
origin in the exclusive domain of the clavier. In a general way at least,
the style of organ music exercised great influence upon all three of the
varieties mentioned; Bach made it his point of departure and it formed
through his whole life the basis of his work.

To the first class of instrumental compositions belong the toccatos,
preludes, fugues and all works for the clavier written in fugal style.
It should here be observed that the modern clavier, or pianoforte, had
just been invented in Bach's time and was still in its crudest form.
Bach did not intend his clavier compositions for this instrument, but
for the clavichord and clavicembalo, which are of a different quality
of tone and much inferior in volume to the hammer clavier at present
in use. When this fact is taken into account, no false impressions need
prevail concerning the effect of those earlier clavier pieces, which
were so much in the style of organ music. We find among them many works
of marked originality and beauty, such as the three magnificent toccatas
in E minor, C minor and F major, written probably in the Weimar period
and offering, even in our own day, the most grateful task which can
be undertaken by an earnest and painstaking pianist. Bach's chamber
music compositions, however, reached their highest point of perfection
in Cöthen, as has been already stated. Here he created in 1723 that
collection of artistic and soulful melodies, in the form of two and
three-part clavier pieces, which received the name of "Inventionen
und Sinfonien "; here also in 1722 he finished the first part of the
"Wohltemperirte Clavier." This world-renowned work contains twenty-four
preludes and fugues in all the major and minor keys of the twelve
chromatic scales. Its title is due to the fact that the method of tuning
an instrument in such a way as to secure purity of tone in nearly every
key was first discovered in Bach's time. Until then, in the case of
the clavier, the clavichord, etc., such keys as had either very few
sharps or flats in the signature or none at all, had been tuned as
correctly as possible and the remainder with proportionate inexactness.
To distribute these unavoidable inaccuracies among the twelve keys of
the instrument in such a way that, while no one of them attained perfect
purity of interval, the deviations therefrom were too slight to offend
the ear, was the task of the so-called "equal temperament." Bach's fame
as an unsurpassed composer of fugues is founded especially upon the
"Wohltemperirte Clavier," the contents of which were not composed at one
time, but by degrees, many pieces dating from an early period of the
artist's activity. The second part of the "Wohltemperirte Clavier" was
completed in 1742. In this collection, the three-part fugue predominates
and throughout the whole work there breathes that freedom and repose
which are characteristic of the highest order of genius only. The first
part is still more artistic, and Bach's command over the technicalities
of the fugal style appears in it more plainly. Both parts have this
in common, that they contain nothing but musical character-pieces of
the first rank. The "Chromatische Fantasie und Fugue" may also have
been written in Cöthen; it was certainly completed before 1738. The
well-known C-minor fantasia was probably composed in 1738; of the fugue
which was to follow it, nothing but a fragment remains. In 1747 appeared
the "Musikalische Opfer" and in 1749 "Die Kunst der Fugue," these two
works forming the conclusion of the whole series of compositions. The
former is a collection of various fugues and canons, together with
a four-movement sonata for violin, flute and clavier. Ingenious and
important as the single pieces are, they cannot be said to form a
symmetrical whole, while with regard to "The Art of Fugue" the contrary
is true. In the original engraved edition of this work, which Bach was
able to revise only in part, much extraneous matter had crept in. After
this was excluded, there remained fifteen fugues and four canons, all
composed upon the same theme. The fugues belong together and seem to be
arranged in four groups in order to facilitate the hearer's comprehension
of them; strictly speaking, however, they form all together a single
gigantic fugue in fifteen divisions. Because Bach wished to show in this
work the utmost that could be accomplished with a single theme, it should
not be assumed that in writing it, his sole purpose was to instruct.
The same may also be said of the "Orgelbüchlein," the "Inventionen und
Sinfonien" and the "Wohltemperirte Clavier," which had also been composed
by him for the benefit of rising artists. Yet the practical purpose had
the effect of giving wings to his imagination; he strove to produce not
only the most artistic work of which he was capable, but also the most
beautiful, and in this he was successful. In fact the "Art of Fugue"
is one of the most sublime instrumental works of the composer. But its
deep and solemn earnestness, only rising to passionate emotion in the
central fugues, in order to sink back into itself again, as well as the
difficulty of understanding so great a number of complicated pieces, all
bearing a certain relation to each other, has thus far interfered with
the proper appreciation of this last great monument erected to himself by
the master. In a still later fugue, Bach wished to make use of his own
name, having perceived that its four letters, regarded as notes, formed
a characteristic melody. The intention was not carried out, but several
fugues upon the family name are still extant, one of which at least
is well known, has been frequently printed, and may very easily have
proceeded from the hand of Sebastian Bach.

The musician's numerous compositions for violin, gamba and flute, with
and without accompaniment, belong in the domain of Italian chamber
music, and take either the concerto or the sonata form, as established
by the Italians in 1700--forms everywhere available, although different
in many respects from those at present employed for the same class of
works. Bach's own violin playing must have been exceptionally artistic,
even though he may not have conquered the greatest difficulties of his
compositions as triumphantly as Joseph Joachim is able to do in our
day. The German violinists of the seventeenth century had a fondness
for double and more-stopping violin-playing, and surpassed the Italians
in this respect. Bach's three sonatas for violin without accompaniment
probably mark the utmost limit of development attainable by this kind
of technique. It cannot be proved with certainty that any one before
him ever attempted the composition of sonatas without accompaniment and
in these works a certain admixture of clavier music is perceptible,
especially in the fugue movements. The sonatas were arranged, either in
parts or as a whole, for the clavier or the organ, and appear to almost
better advantage in this way than in their original form. The preference
for clavier-music is a trait by which Bach, as a German, is distinguished
from the Italians. The latter contented themselves even in violin
sonatas with a simple form of thorough-bass, that is, in connection
with the violin part only one bass was written down for the clavier
player, who improvised with the right hand supplementary chords. Bach
composed very few works of this class and seldom left the accompaniment
to be extemporized, but preferred to write out in full an independent
part for the right hand. Of this description are the famous six sonatas
for violin and clavier, the three sonatas for gamba and for flute with
clavier. Among the latter the F-minor sonata takes rank as the most
beautiful piece of chamber music ever composed for the flute. Three of
Bach's violin concertos have been preserved, written in A minor, E major
and D minor respectively. In the latter, two violins are concerted with
the orchestra. It was not uncommon at that time to employ more than one
instrument in a concerto, and to such a composition the name _concerto
grosso_ was given. In 1721 Bach dedicated to the margrave Christian of
Brandenburg, six concertos for a full body of instruments; of these
numbers 2, 4 and 5 are concerti grossi. In the combining of solo
instruments Bach is much bolder than his contemporaries and sometimes
ventures upon the extraordinary. Thus in the second of this group of
concertos he opposes to the orchestra a trumpet, a flute, an oboe and a
violin, in the fifth a flute, a violin and a clavier. On the other hand,
there are concertos by him in which the external contrast between solo
and tutti has entirely vanished and nothing remains but the pure musical
form arising from this contrast. Of this nature is the Italian concerto
in F major, which Bach composed for the piano alone. Eight concertos for
clavier and orchestra (the latter consisting here, as was usual in that
day, of string instruments and cembalo) are still extant. The one in D
minor is considered the finest of all. Of still greater value are the
concertos for two and three pianos, in which the form of the _concerto
grosso_ is employed in a new manner. There even exists a concerto for
four claviers and orchestra; this, however, is only an elaboration of
a violin concerto by Vivaldi. It should be remarked in this connection
that Bach regarded the organ as an instrument for church use exclusively
and wrote no organ concertos, whereas Handel produced many works of that

The clavier variations and suites composed by Bach are most
characteristic and individual in style. We possess, to be sure, only two
sets of variations by him, but the aria with thirty variations is a work
which has marked out new paths for the variation form and exerted an
influence extending through and beyond Beethoven to Schumann and Brahms.
In the suite consisting of dance-forms, or the partita, the French had
distinguished themselves as also the German clavier masters, Johann
Jacob Froberger, Johann Krieger and Johann Kuhnau, from all of whom
Bach made zealous attempts to learn. His three principal works of this
sort are the so-styled French Suites, English Suites and the Partitas.
Each collection contains six suites, but in Bach's lifetime only the
Partitas were published in the engraved form. These compositions are
pervaded by the wholesome freshness and cheerfulness characteristic of
the German people, while they exhibit at the same time unusual firmness
and delicacy of structure; Bach indeed imparted to the clavier suite
the highest conceivable degree of finish. In the six violoncello suites
without accompaniment, the form is presented to us in a different
tone-material. This style of music was abandoned after the master's death
and was succeeded by the clavier sonata, to which Bach had never paid
any considerable attention. Another form in existence at this time was
the orchestra suite, which differed from the clavier suite in respect to
the arrangement of the dances and showed much greater freedom as to the
choice and number of the same; it was often the case, moreover, that an
overture served as introduction to the work. Bach left behind four such
orchestral suites or partitas; he also employed the same form in three
suites for violin without accompaniment, which were published in one
volume, together with the three unaccompanied violin sonatas, in one of
which occurs the famous D-minor violin chaconne. And, finally, this form
was transferred by Bach to the clavier, as in the case of the B-minor
partita, which he published in 1735 in second part of his clavier-Uebung.

As a composer of church music, Bach occupies a position in the
evangelical ranks analogous to that of Palestrina among the Catholics.
The difference in time, nationality and artistic gifts naturally
presupposes an equal degree of difference in musical forms and resources,
but aside from this, emphasis must be placed upon the infinitely greater
versatility of Bach, who was at home in every domain of art, with the
exception of the opera and the oratorio, and in each one created works
that have never been surpassed, while Palestrina confined himself almost
wholly within fixed ecclesiastical limits. The different varieties of
evangelical church music possible to be considered by Bach were the hymn,
the motet, the church cantata, the evangelical histories, the mass and
the magnificat. The hymn, or Protestant choral, received no increment
from him; he composed very beautiful religious songs, but nothing in the
style of the Volkslied. As regards the motet, that old ecclesiastical
form of song without accompaniment and composed of many parts, Bach
certainly paid some attention to it in his capacity as director of the
vocal choir at St. Thomas's. Four works of this class with double chorus
and one in five parts (Jesu, meine Freude) are ripe fruits of his genius,
but however beautiful and powerful as compositions, they are not properly
continuations of the motet in the form given it in the seventeenth
century by Schütz, Johann Christoph Bach and others. These composers
adhered closely to the severe style of the church motet of the sixteenth
century, into which, however, a certain secular element had been
introduced, while Bach's motets are rather to be regarded as a subsidiary
form of his church cantatas. We find in them the same resemblance to
organ music which characterizes his vocal compositions with instrumental
accompaniment, and among the latter are many pieces precisely after the
manner of the motet. It is now a tolerably well established fact that
Bach's motets were never performed without the aid of the organ or other
instruments; in fact remarkably well trained choruses would have been
necessary in order to dispense with such support. That they must have
been intended to serve as an occasional substitute for a cantata, is
shown by their unusual length, which would prevent them from filling the
regularly appointed place in the church liturgy.

According to excellent authority, Bach wrote five complete "year books"
of church cantatas. Reckoned according to the requirements of the Leipsic
church year, they would therefore reach a total of about four hundred,
but not more than half that number have been preserved. The name here
employed was given to the works in the present century; Bach himself
called them concertos, and thereby indicates their historical origin.
The sacred concerto was first introduced into Germany by Schütz, who
imported it from Italy. Originally a piece of one or more solo parts with
an instrumental accompaniment pervaded by intense passionate feeling, it
soon adopted the chorus as a means of attaining completeness and variety.
The choral, elaborated in various ways was then added and afterwards
the aria in its different forms, the text of this new style of concerto
being expanded to correspond. While in the beginning this text consisted
only of biblical passages or prayers, all kinds of devotional poetry
were later employed, in connection with the choral stanzas. After the
year 1700 the so-called "madrigal" form of poetry found its way into
the concerto and was also very commonly made use of in operatic music.
In this way the recitative became a part of the concerto, which had
gradually been made to include all the vocal forms then in vogue. The
church cantata of Bach is the sacred concerto, in its most perfect form.
As a means of blending into a harmonious whole the manifold elements
which composed it, Bach had recourse to the style of his organ music, as
carefully wrought out by him in the bosom of the church. In this way,
while implanting upon the work all the forms which have been enumerated,
he imparted to it the truly ecclesiastical character which it had never
before possessed. The choral now became the principal musical feature
of the concerto (or cantata) and the closest connection was established
between the text of the work and the Bible selection which formed the
subject of the sermon on the particular Sunday or festival day for
which it was composed. The regularly appointed place for the cantata in
the church service was just before the sermon, but, on very important
occasions, it was sometimes divided into two parts, the second of which
came after the sermon. The wealth of creative power revealed by Bach
in this musical form, which now unhappily has become unfamiliar to us,
transports one with astonishment; above all, his treatment of the choral
is simply amazing. Appearing in solo and chorus songs, artistically
elaborated or in simple popular form, resounding in a single instrument
or in a group of instruments, while the singing voices are occupied
with another text, which seems to receive its highest consecration from
this interpenetrating melody, it imparts strength and animation to the
entire work, and in proportion as Bach advanced in years, he gave greater
definiteness to this central feature of the cantata. The texts for such
compositions were furnished by Erdmann Neumeister of Hamburg, and after
him by Salomo Franck in Weimar, Christian Friedrich Henrici and Mariane
von Ziegler in Leipsic. They consisted, in their normal form, of passages
from the Bible and stanzas of hymns, which were held together by a free
style of versification. But in order that the chorals might acquire
still greater influence than was possible under these conditions, Bach
sometimes made compositions for each stanza of the poetic text, with
an ever-varying employment of his melody, as in Luther's Easter hymn:
"Christ lag in Todes Banden" ("Christ lay in bonds of darkness"). Again,
since the stanza was not adapted to every kind of music, he occasionally
substituted for it the madrigal, but in such a way that the original
theme, now approaching nearer and now retreating into the distance, was
easily recognized by those among the listeners who were familiar with the
hymn. About forty cantatas of this description are still in existence.

Among the evangelical histories should be included, besides Bach's
Passion Music, his Christmas and Ascension oratorios. It is probable
that this name was given to the works merely for the sake of brevity;
the works are not oratorios such as Handel's, but church music,
which was performed during the service, the Passions on Good Friday
afternoon, before and after the sermon, the others on the respective
festal days, before the morning sermon. The term "histories," however,
seems appropriate, because in these works the narration of events in
the words of the Bible constitutes as it were the thread which joins
together the manifold parts. The old church custom of intoning passages
from the Bible is the foundation upon which these works have been built
up, during successive centuries of development. Since the intoning of
long selections, such as the accounts of Christ's sufferings and death,
was too fatiguing for a single clergyman, it was usual to distribute
them among a number, and in such a way that one delivered the narrative
portion, another the words of Christ, a third the utterances of all
the other speaking persons introduced. From this custom proceeds the
peculiar distribution of the text among the different singers, which
is found in the Passion music of Bach. For the rest, their style is
precisely the same as that of the church cantatas. Of the five Passions
of Bach, only three are preserved. The St. Luke Passion, which has often
been considered spurious, but upon insufficient grounds, belongs to his
earliest youthful period, and may have been written in Arnstadt, perhaps
even in Lüneburg. It can claim nothing more than a historical interest,
in comparison with the other two. The St. John Passion was probably
produced for the first time on the 17th of April, 1724--the Matthew
Passion certainly on the 15th of April, 1729, both performances taking
place in the St. Thomas's Church at Leipsic. They are undoubtedly the
most comprehensive of the existing works of Bach. Represented without
abridgment, the St. Matthew Passion alone occupies about two hours and a
half, so that with the sermon and the remaining portions of the liturgy,
the afternoon service must have covered a space of four hours. The dress
in which these two works are clothed corresponds to their intrinsic
value; both belong to the richest, most powerfully conceived and most
affecting compositions of all people and all ages. The St. Matthew
Passion is smoother in form, more varied, and appeals more directly to
the hearer. For want of the assistance of a competent poet, Bach was
compelled to make many still perceptible alterations in the earlier
work: it is moreover pervaded by a certain severity and gloom. For this
reason it is somewhat less dear to the hearts of the German people than
the St. Matthew Passion, which has become with the process of time one
of the most popular of vocal compositions. Very nearly the same may be
said of the Christmas "history," composed in 1734, a bright, joyous and
charming production, offering a complete contrast to the Passion Music.
It is divided into six sections, from the fact that the twelve days
between the 25th of December and the 6th of January form a continuous
festival period, in which six days are especially celebrated, namely:
the three days of Christmas, New Year's Day, New Year's Sunday and the
Epiphany. One part of the work is devoted to each of these days. The
shortest of the histories was composed for Ascension Day and has only the
length of the ordinary church cantata. Singularly enough, there is no
Easter history by Bach; his little Easter "oratorio," which in this case
has more right than usual to the name, since it approaches in style the
Italian works thus designated, though far from resembling those written
by Handel, is not to be reckoned among his important achievements.

In Bach's day, it was the custom in Leipsic to render in Latin the
magnificat performed at the afternoon service on the three great festal
days. It is owing to this circumstance that Bach composed his splendid
composition, which was probably performed for the first time on Christmas
day in the year 1723. Certain portions of the Latin mass were moreover
still in general use, especially the "Kyrie" and the "Sanctus," the
employment of the "Gloria" being confined to Christmas Day. Since
the "Kyrie" was a regular part of the service on the first Sunday in
Advent, a certain connection was thus established between it and the
"Gloria," and this may be one of the reasons why Bach composed a number
of so-called short masses, consisting only of those two parts.[2] And as
the practice of performing the whole of a Latin mass was not yet entirely
given up in the Protestant church, more particularly in Leipsic, it is
easily explained how Bach could conceive the project of writing a work
of the kind in Latin. In the beginning, he only contemplated writing
a "Kyrie" and a "Gloria," and these, being completed on the 27th of
July, 1733, were presented to the Elector of Saxony in Dresden. One
after another, however, the remaining parts were added and the entire
work was finished as early as 1738. To produce it as a whole, under the
conditions existing in Leipsic at that time, was utterly impossible, and
it is probable that Bach never heard a full public performance of his
grandest work. So much the more admirable was the courage displayed by
him in undertaking a composition, which frees itself from the limitations
of the actual and exists only in the realm of the ideal. In this mass all
distinction between Protestant and Catholic is done away with and nothing
remains but a universal Christian church, the image of which appears
in the gigantic work, for whose creation Bach summoned all his powers
and which has no equal in the world. Its only rival is the "Messiah" of
Handel, and the difference between the two compositions is a consequence
of the difference in the men who produced them. Handel, the oratorio
composer, treated his subject historically, while Bach remained in the
domain of the church, which, however, he extended far beyond the limits
of a narrow belief, a matter of no concern to him when his genius took
its loftiest flight.

Bach's vocal church compositions, which, on account of their novelty
and difficulty, had seldom been employed in his lifetime, were almost
entirely forgotten for a considerable period after his death. The first
revival of interest in them took place in North Germany, towards the end
of the last century, when Bach was beginning to find proper recognition
and was even acknowledged to be Handel's equal in greatness. In 1800,
several publishers began an edition of his works, so strongly was the
tide turning in his favor. During the time of the Napoleonic campaigns
and the German war of independence, Handel was in the ascendancy, but
when the long period of political inactivity supervened and the people
found leisure for reflection and introspection, Bach's time had come. A
decisive manifestation of the popular appreciation of his standing as
an artist was afforded by the performance of the St. Matthew Passion,
under the auspices of Mendelssohn on the 11th of March, 1829. In 1850 the
Bach Society was founded in Leipsic, in commemoration of the hundredth
anniversary of his death. The object of this society is to promote the
publication of carefully revised editions of the master's works. Thus
far, forty-eight folio volumes have been issued, and in a few years the
task will be completed. A detailed description of the personality and the
works of Bach, considered in their relation to his time and the age which
preceded him, has been given to the public by the author of this essay.
Meantime the most surprising progress has been made in the direction of a
proper understanding of Bach's music. From year to year it has steadily
grown more familiar in both hemispheres, and the art of the composer has
already become so closely identified with the culture, not only of the
German people, but of the entire world, that there is no danger of its
ever again being forgotten.

[Illustration: Philipp Spitta]

[Illustration: Fac-simile autograph manuscript of a humorous Wedding
Carmen written by Bach, the words of which were probably his own and
addressed to his wife Anna Magdalena. Date about 1725.]


_Reproduction of a steel engraving by Sichling, after an oil portrait by
V. Hudson. This is considered as Handel's most satisfactory portrait.
It was first engraved by Faber in 1749, ten years before the master's


[Footnote 1: It was not until the last decade of his life that there was
formed in the circles of the well-to-do merchant class a musical union
which survives to-day as the "Institution of the Gewandhaus Concerts."
Bach was probably not a member of the society, at any rate, not an
influential one.]

[Footnote 2: Among these works the two in F major and A major are the
most beautiful.]

[Illustration: HANDEL]



George Frederick Handel was born at Halle on the Saale, on the 23d
of February, 1685, the same year that gave to the world his famous
contemporary, Sebastian Bach. Halle, formerly a Saxon city, belonged
after 1680 to the electorate of Brandenburg. Handel's father was
surgeon-barber and officially attached in this capacity to the ducal
court of Saxony at Weissenfels. A vigorous and active man, he acquired
in time both property and influence, and at the age of sixty-two he took
to himself a second wife, the daughter of the pastor at Giebichenstein,
near Halle. The second son of this branch of the family was the composer,
George Frederick.

The boy was intended for a jurist, and was sent to the grammar-school.
His talent for music showed itself early, but was repressed, rather
than encouraged by the father, who, however, had once allowed his son
to accompany him to the court at Weissenfels, where, at that time,
music was zealously cultivated and represented by able performers. The
boy's organ-playing and the universal talent for music which he already
manifested, created such astonishment that the duke not only dismissed
him with liberal presents but also impressed upon the father that it
was his duty not to allow such gifts to perish. In obedience to this
injunction, George was placed under the instruction of the organist
at the Marienkirche, Friedrick Wilhelm Zachau. This musician had
sufficient ability to be able to point out the way to the young genius,
who thenceforth pursued it alone. Handel's nature was of the kind which
matures early, and he was one of the few precocious musicians who have
reached old age and retained their creative power in later years. He was
about eleven years old when his lessons began under Zachau, and at this
time he composed six sonatas for two oboes and base, which have been
preserved, and cannot fail to excite admiration for the skill with which
they are written, as well as for their depth of feeling. He assisted his
teacher in the care of the organ services and, moreover, already wrote
church cantatas, completing one every Sunday for the space of three
years. His rapidity in composing, which later caused so much amazement,
showed itself from the first. He himself said, when one of his early
productions was laid before him: "I used to write like the Devil in those
days, but chiefly for the oboe, which was my favorite instrument." While
pursuing his studies in composition, he was at the same time diligent in
his practice of the clavichord and organ. Handel would have been no true
German if he had not possessed a special aptitude for this phase of the
art, in which Germany has surpassed all other nations. Among the more
renowned musicians, whose works were his models, are mentioned Froberger,
Johann Friedrich Alberti, Johann Krüger, that excellent composer for
the clavichord, and Delphin Strunck, the Brunswick organist and younger
friend of Heinrich Schutz; Kaspar Kerl, though born in Upper Saxony,
belongs nevertheless to the South German school of organists, so closely
allied to the Italian. Upon Bach no deeply penetrating influence was ever
exercised by this school, whereas Handel's strong affinity for it cannot
possibly be denied. He has himself referred to Johann Krüger's piano
music as furnishing him a superior model, and he held in honor all his
life that artist's "Anmuthige Clavier-Uebung," published in 1699. Handel
now developed with wonderful rapidity into a performer of surpassing
excellence, his favorite instrument being the organ, as adapting itself
better than the clavier to his love for the grand and majestic. He
was fond of improvising and especially great in that direction, his
inspiration being perhaps more direct than that of Bach, who, in deed,
was also powerful in extemporization, but whose profound imagination
was called into play less easily. It is worthy of note in regard to
Handel, that though he played the organ constantly up to extreme old
age, no veritable organ-compositions by him are extant. Those which now
pass for such were in part originally intended for the clavier, or, when
really for the organ, as in the case of his numerous organ concertos, the
instrument thus designated was nothing more than a finer sort of clavier.

The first journey of any consequence undertaken by Handel was directed
to the electoral court in Berlin and, as the visit was made in the
company of his father, it could not have been later than 1696, the
death of Handel senior having occurred on the 11th of February, 1697.
At that time, thanks to the refined cultivation of the electress Sophie
Charlotte, the Berlin Court was justly regarded as a fostering home of
the arts and sciences. In music, the Italians took the lead. Here Handel
first met Giovanni Bononcini and Atilio Ariosti, later his rivals in
England. The impression produced at Court by the youth's playing, his
maturity of mind and the skill he displayed in the execution of difficult
tasks, was so strong, that elector Frederick offered to defray the
expenses of his musical education in Italy. Fortunately for the boy, his
father refused this offer, the acceptance of which would have had the
effect of attaching Handel permanently to the imperial court, where,
from the beginning of the reign of Friedrich Wilhelm I. (1713) all arts
declined. Meantime the idea of a legal education had not been entirely
given up, and the son was dutiful enough to respect this cherished
project of his father, even after the latter's death, although he could
scarcely have felt the slightest inward doubt as to his true vocation in
life. After completing his course at the gymnasium, he studied at the
university in Halle during the years 1702 and 1703. At the same time
he filled the position of organist at the Calvanistic Cathedral in the
Moritzburg, and in that capacity received a salary of about fifty dollars
a year.


In the spring of 1703 he took the decisive step; he abandoned the law
forever, and left Halle, in order to ascertain through his own experience
the condition of musical matters in the world at large. Church cantatas
and motettes, organ and clavier playing could not continue, in the long
run, to be the sole objects of his activity. Bach was satisfied in such
a sphere; Handel was attracted by secular music and courted publicity.
The opera, established in Italy, had been cultivated in Germany in the
seventeenth century only at the royal courts. But since 1678 it had found
a home in the free city of Hamburg, where, in the year 1695, it had
entered upon its most brilliant period. Reinhard Keiser, born at Teuchern
near Weissenfels in 1674, a man of more genius than any German operatic
writer of his time, had composed for it and decided the direction it was
to follow. When Handel arrived in the city, Keiser had also undertaken to
conduct the business portion of the enterprise, for which he was by no
means adapted, and the value of his services was gradually diminishing.
But for an artist in the dawn of his career, stimulating influences
were here at work. What Handel especially wished to acquire--the art
of strong, beautiful, universally effective melody--Keiser's opera
offered him the best opportunity for acquiring, if he desired to remain
in the sphere of German music. He applied for admission to the theatre
orchestra, took his place very modestly as second violin, and kept in the
background as much as possible. But on one occasion, in the absence of
the accompanying pianist, Handel undertook to fill his place and excited
great admiration by his masterly performance. Through the friendship
of Johann Mattheson, a native Hamburger, some years older than Handel
and at that time principal tenor at the opera, he was introduced into
the society of the place. But he did not allow himself to be drawn into
the gay life of which Keiser was the leading spirit. In the company of
Mattheson he once rode over to Lübeck, and made the acquaintance of
Buxtehude, before whom he played. This happened only a little in advance
of Bach's journey from Arnstadt to Buxtehude. It was probably on the
return trip from Lübeck that Bach chose to pass through Hamburg, so that
the two greatest musicians of their day traveled thither almost at the
same time without any knowledge of each other, nor did they ever become
personally acquainted in after years. In 1704, probably for performance
in Holy Week, Handel composed his Passion music, having followed the
account given in the gospel of John. The poetic text was furnished by
Christian Postel, who formerly had written also for the operatic stage.
Handel's first attempt at an opera was in the following year. This work,
"Almira," was brought out in the carnival period of 1705 and excited
the jealousy of Keiser himself, through the extraordinary applause
which it received. After this followed "Nero" and "Florindo and Daphne,"
the latter an opera intended for two evenings. Meantime the operatic
enterprise was on the eve of failure, owing to the irregular business
methods of Keiser, who was obliged to resign his office of director and
leave Hamburg. At this time also, Handel's stay in the city came to an
end. He had learned what there was to learn and had moreover perceived
that the German opera in Hamburg was only an imitation of the Italian,
and that he must go to the fountain head in order to attain his end--a
thorough mastery of the science of vocal composition, _Solo Gesang_.
From the profits of his music-teaching in Hamburg he had managed to save
the sum of two hundred ducats, and with this, at the end of the year
1706, or the beginning of 1707, he started for Italy. Possibly he made
a short visit at Florence on his way to Rome; at any rate he was in the
latter city during the opera season of 1707 and remained there certainly
until July. Then he turned his face northward again, brought out in
Florence his first Italian opera, "Rodrigo," in which the afterwards
famous singer, Vittoria Tesi, assumed the leading role. In January,
1708, he went to Venice, which was still one of the principal homes of
the opera in Italy, though Naples was already beginning to dispute its
supremacy. The opera, "Agrippina," which Handel produced here, and in
which Tesi, having followed the composer from Florence to Venice, again
appeared in the leading role, spread his fame throughout the land and far
beyond its boundaries. From Venice, where he had made the acquaintance
of Antonio Lotti, he went back to Rome and found there a very cordial
welcome from the "Arcadia," a society formed for the promotion of the
arts and sciences, including among its members the most cultivated and
talented people of the city, and presided over by the Marchese Ruspoli.
Another society, in which music received still more attention than in
the "Arcadia," had been founded by the Cardinal Pietro Ottoboni. All
the more important works composed by Handel in Rome were performed in
this circle and conducted by the great violin virtuoso, Archangelo
Corelli. Two oratorios in the Italian style were produced at this time:
"_La Risurrezione_" and "_Il Trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno_." The
latter work underwent two revisions during Handel's London period, first
in 1737, then shortly before his death in 1757. The desire to perfect
himself more and more in his art, the enthusiastic recognition which
greeted him, his easy entrance into the most intellectual and brilliant
society in Italy, all this combined to make these months in Rome the
happiest period of his life. The best musicians became his friends. With
Domenico Scarlatti, the greatest clavier master of Italy, he engaged in
a grand competition, at the close of which it remained undecided which
was the greater performer; but when they went to the organ, Scarlatti
himself was the first to say that the prize belonged to his rival. Among
Handel's cantatas, there is one entitled "Partenza," the substance of
which is a lament that he must leave the beautiful banks of the Tiber. If
one does not wish to go so far as to read in this an affair of the heart,
it still reveals how hard the parting was for him. From Rome he went to
Naples, to Alessandro Scarlatti, the father of Domenico and the founder
of the Neapolitan School. His reputation had preceded him, and here also
he met with the warmest reception in the highest and most cultivated
circles, while surrounded by stimulating influences of every sort.
How strongly attracted he was by the society and the life of Southern
Italy, is shown by the fact that he remained a whole year in Naples
without accomplishing much that was characteristic in his art. The only
important work of which we have knowledge is the pastoral: "_Aci, Galatea
e Polifemo_," but this was already completed on the 16th of June, 1708.
It is related that the society world of Italy became so fond of Handel,
that it would gladly have retained him; it is even said that efforts were
made to convert him to the Catholic faith. Handel, however, would neither
abandon his belief, nor his German spirit; he had come to learn from the
Italians, but what they had taught him, it was his intention to use in
his own way.

By way of Rome and Florence, he now returned to Venice, where, in the
carnival season of 1710, he listened again to the performance of his
opera "Agrippina." Artists and illustrious friends of art from England
and from the electoral court of Hanover were present, also the Hanoverian
chapel-master, Abbé Agostine Steffani. In their company he traveled back
to Germany and became Steffani's successor in Hanover. He, however, soon
obtained leave of absence that he might go to England, whither he was
urgently invited. The journey was made by way of Düsseldorf, where one of
his patrons, Johann Wilhelm of the Palatinate, resided, and then through
Holland. A personality like Handel's seemed especially suited to aid in
elevating the musical standard of the English people. Allied with them in
race, and understanding therefore their peculiar characteristics, he had
acquired, through his residence in Italy, complete mastery of what the
English taste now demanded above all else--Italian art. But there was no
thought of simply importing this into England just as it grew on its own
soil. England could look back with pride upon her musical past. In the
sixteenth century she hardly ranked below the other countries of Europe
in respect to eminent composers, and in the seventeenth she could boast
of no less an artist than Henry Purcell. Since the death of this famous
man in the prime of life, there had, however, been a dearth of creative
power in the sphere of music. But there remained the persistent desire
to establish once more a national English art by appropriating whatever
the Germans, the French, and pre-eminently the Italians had created, and
Handel seemed the person best adapted to assist in this undertaking.
Since 1705 there had been an Italian opera in London, but it did not
flourish. For this Handel wrote in two weeks his opera "Rinaldo." This
was the first work with which he stepped before the English public. It
was produced for the first time at the Haymarket Theatre and proved so
successful that it was repeated fourteen times in the same season. The
text had been written in English verse by Aaron Hill, the director of the
opera-house. It was then translated into Italian and employed in this
form by Handel. His position in England was assured by this opera. He had
even been permitted to play before Queen Anne and gained her approval.
When he left in order to resume his duties in Hanover, the English were
loath to spare him, and constantly expressed the hope that he would soon

In former years, under the elector Ernst August, the Hanoverian court had
possessed an opera-house, and Steffani had written for it a number of
excellent works. The theatre indeed still remained in the princely palace
on the Leine, but there were no operatic performances in the reign of
elector Georg Ludwig. Handel's activity was restricted to the leadership
of the chamber music performed at Court, and that which was ordered on
the occasion of special festivities. For his model in composition he
took his predecessor, Steffani, whose strength and artistic importance
lie in his chamber duets ("_Duetti da Camera_"). The solo parts of the
chamber cantata originated by Carissimi are dramatic in character, while
the duets of Steffani are lyric. He did not aim to represent well-defined
musical characters in his duets, but to express lyric feeling in a
general way, in the development of which both voices are made to blend
artistically in polyphonic style. In Italy, Handel had occupied himself
especially with the solo cantata; in Hanover he devoted himself to the
duet, and a considerable number of these exquisite compositions are still
preserved. But with a mind full of grand conceptions and a constant
craving for publicity, it is easy to understand that he could not long
content himself at the Hanoverian court and was strongly attracted to
London. Wishing to visit that city in the autumn of 1712, he begged for
a new leave of absence and received it, but with the proviso that "he
should engage to return within a reasonable time." This condition he
did not fulfil, nor did he ever again return to Hanover. After having
confirmed himself in the good will of the English public by means of two
new operas, and found favor with the queen by writing an ode for her
birthday (Feb. 6, 1713), he was commissioned by the latter to compose
the music for the public celebration of the Peace of Utrecht. The queen
had won for herself so much credit through the speedy termination of the
war of the Spanish Succession that she was inclined for a celebration
and desired a brilliant festival. To this Handel contributed in fullest
measure, furnishing two works: the so-called "Utrecht Te Deum" and the
composition of the 100th Psalm ("Jubilate"). In return, the queen granted
him a yearly salary of £200, thus taking him completely into her service.
His leave of absence had expired without his being able to resolve upon
leaving England. He learned that the elector was angry with him, but
thought himself secure under the protection of the English queen. But now
ensued the sovereign's sudden death (1714), and her successor upon the
throne was the elector of Hanover. From the awkward predicament in which
Handel now found himself he contrived to escape through the power of his
art. Learning that the king proposed to make an excursion on the Thames,
Handel composed for the occasion a piece of music whose lofty beauty
won for him the royal pardon. Under the name of "Water Music," it grew
popular and familiar.

[Illustration: HANDEL'S FATHER.

GEORGE HANDEL,--valet and surgeon to the prince of Saxe Magdeburg. The
subjoined verse praises his skill, benevolence and fidelity.]

From this time it was decided that England should become Handel's second
home. Only as a visitor did he see his fatherland again, and it was
during his first prolonged sojourn in 1716 that he accomplished his last
great vocal composition in the German language. After the pattern of the
Italian oratorios, a prominent resident of Hamburg, Barthold Heinrich
Brockes, had written a rhymed poem on the Passion, which, because it was
in sympathy with the Italianizing spirit of the day, was eagerly seized
upon by the German composers. Keiser, Telemann, Mattheson and Stölzel
set it to music; even Sebastian Bach took some aria texts from it for
his "_Johannes Passion_." Its attraction for Handel lay no doubt in the
Italian form of the poem and the possibility of applying for once the
skill in composition acquired in Italy to a text in his mother tongue. He
was far from intending to come to the rescue of the evangelical church
music of Germany, for into this domain this Passion music cannot possibly
be drawn, although Brockes, by the introduction of a narrating evangelist
and the addition of chorals, had made some concessions in this direction.
It is, therefore, unjust to draw any sort of comparison between the
"Passion" of Handel and that of Bach. From the fact that he afterwards
made use of the most essential portions of his work in his oratorios,
Handel has distinctly shown the character of his music.

The opera in London had meantime entered upon a critical period, and
Handel, who had last furnished a work for it in 1715, did not for some
time turn his attention in that direction. In 1717 he accepted a position
as musical director for Duke James of Chandos, at Cannons, near London.
In his service, Handel wrote the greater number of his grand compositions
upon the Psalms, which were styled "Anthems," a word borrowed from
the English liturgy. These were not on the plan of a motette, for all
the resources known to the musical art of that time were here called
into requisition--chorus and solo singing, with rich instrumental
accompaniment, the text being drawn from the Bible. This kind of music
was not then to be found in either Italy or Germany, but was peculiar to
England. The ecclesiastical spirit in a narrow sense does not however
exist in the anthems of Handel; their music is characteristic, and
suggests the style of the oratorios. It was in Cannons also that he
wrote the first works to which the name of oratorio could properly be
given. If, before this time, the Italian oratorio had maintained a sort
of external relationship with the church, in so far as it was frequently
employed in the service, a sermon being inserted between the two parts,
Handel now showed that he would no longer tolerate even this connection.
The material of one of the two works is indeed taken from the Bible,
but that of the other is drawn from the mythological treasure-house of
classical antiquity. Moreover, he gave a new and independent character to
his oratorio by adapting it to English words, and in this he persisted
to the end of his life; whereas, for the imposing array of operas which
he afterwards composed, he employed from first to last the Italian
language only. If his three years' stay with the Duke of Chandos was
a period of great importance and laid the foundation of his future
activity, it is not less true that he also gained much which contributed
to his fame as a composer, through looking backward at this time. In the
art-loving circles of the English nobility, whose hospitality he enjoyed,
particularly at Burlington House, but certainly at the residence of the
Duke of Chandos as well, he had given much pleasure by his piano playing.
He had also composed many pieces for the piano, which, since he let
them escape from his hand, found their way to the public. These he now
collected, added new ones and issued them in his own name on the 11th of
November, 1720, under the title of "_Suites de Pièces pour le clavecin_."
They consist of eight series of melodies of the most varied character,
and Handel never furnished a more brilliant example of what he could
accomplish in the line of piano music than in this instance.

In order to procure for themselves more easily than had hitherto been
possible the enjoyment of a good Italian opera, a stock company was now
formed by the most illustrious and wealthiest art amateurs of London,
who, in 1720, founded an academy of music. For model they had in mind
the Paris _Academie de Musique_, and as the king took a box at the
opera-house, paying for it a very considerable sum, they were permitted
to call themselves the "Royal" Academy of Music. Before arrangements
were fully completed, Handel was sent to the continent for the purpose
of obtaining suitable Italian singers. The best talent possible to be
procured was in request for the Royal Academy. In search of singers
therefore he went again to Germany and visited Dresden, where the elector
had established an Italian opera under the direction of the great Antonio
Lotti; on this occasion he played at Court with great success, and
received a present of one hundred ducats. Bach, who, two years before,
had engaged in his famous competition with Marchand, had not been noticed
by the Court. It happened oddly in this year that Bach, passing through
Halle in the course of a journey, wished to seek out Handel, whom he
supposed to be visiting his relatives in the place; but he arrived too
late--Handel had already gone. In the spring of 1720, the opening of the
Academy took place. The composers engaged for this occasion were the
Italians, Bononcini and Ariosti, and the German Handel. The latter, who,
during the eight years' existence of the academy, wrote fourteen operas
for it, finally drove his Italian colleagues wholly out of the field.
Two of the most famous prima donnas of their day were secured: Francesca
Cuzzoni (1723) and Faustina Bordoni (1726). It is related of Cuzzoni,
that, because she refused to sing a certain aria in his opera, "Ottone,"
Handel seized her and threatened to throw her out of the window. After
this she was tractable through fear, and became devoted to the master
through her convictions as an artist. Between herself and Bordoni,
however, a rivalry existed from the beginning, which, intensified by
the adherents of each, finally led to an exchange of blows between the
singers on the public stage. In consequence of this and of other annoying
scenes, the standing of the institute was injured. From the beginning it
had encountered violent opposition from the native musicians, who saw
themselves thrown in the shade by foreigners, and, the financial basis of
the enterprise being insecure, it had to be abandoned in 1728.

[Illustration: HANDEL'S HOUSE. 1725.

57, Lower Brook Street, Hanover Square

    Here Handel lived for 34 years; from 1725 to his death in 1759.
    Here he composed The Messiah and other works
    See Callcott's HANDEL ALBUM.
    Published by C Lonsdale, 26 Old Bond Street.

In the meantime, King George I. had died on the eleventh of June, 1727,
and was succeeded by his son, George II., for whose coronation festival
Handel had composed four great anthems. The text of one of these is as
follows: "Zadok the Priest and Nathan the Prophet annointed Solomon king.
And all the people rejoiced and said: God save the King, long live the
King, may the King live forever! Amen, Alleluja." It soon became very
popular and was called, for brevity, the anthem, "God save the King."
From this arose the idea that Handel was the composer of the English
national hymn, the first strophe of which ends with these words and
which, for this reason, was also named from them. The idea is erroneous;
the poet and composer of the hymn was the Englishman, Henry Carey, who
wrote it in 1743. For the space of a year and a half, from the first of
June, 1728, to the second of December, 1729, there was no Italian opera,
but the public amused itself with the so-called "Beggar's Opera" of John
Gay, a coarse, popular vaudeville, the musical charm of which consists
in the interwoven national airs. Here was a reaction against foreign
influence which plainly showed the desire of the English to impress upon
their music the stamp of nationality, even though this was no longer
possible. Within the next twelve years more than a hundred vaudevilles
in the style of the Beggar's Opera were produced, a part of which spread
over to Germany and contributed in no small degree to the development of
the "_Singspiel_," which was to be moulded by Mozart and Weber into the
national German opera. During the interval above mentioned Handel was not
in England. He first went with Steffani to Italy, where he passed the
winter. A new Italian opera enterprise was already planned, which was to
be independently conducted by Heidegger and Handel, and its financial
soundness to be assured by means of subscriptions. In pursuance of this
plan Handel engaged singers in Italy, took up his abode for the summer
of 1729 in Halle (where Bach attempted for the second time to make his
personal acquaintance), and opened his theatre on the second of December
with "Lotario," an opera of his own composition, furnishing in all six
similar works during the four years' continuance of the enterprise.
The arrogance of the Italian singers and the political opposition of
all those who were angry because Handel enjoyed the favor of the royal
court, finally rendered the situation unendurable. When the directors
were obliged to suspend their performances, the same opposing faction,
who were contending against the foreigner in the person of Handel, called
into existence a rival Italian opera, for which they tried to collect
the most celebrated performers in Europe. Among the singers was Cuzzoni;
among the composers the husband of Faustina Bordoni, Johann Adolph Hasse,
who had occupied the position of chapel-master in Dresden since 1731.
When Hasse was invited to London, he is said to have asked if Handel was
dead, so improbable did it seem to him that there was a place for him,
great composer though he was, where his powerful compatriot was working.
Nor was the latter inclined to abandon the field to his opponents. Driven
by them from the Haymarket Theatre, he repaired to Covent Garden and
there resumed his operatic representations on the thirtieth of October,
1733. But, though he summoned all his energies and wrote no less than
nine new operas, he could not win for himself an enduring success in this
sphere of activity. Not only were all his earlier savings now swallowed
up, but debts were contracted, and in 1737 he was obliged to close the
theatre. The opposite party, however, derived no advantage from his
failure; their own undertaking was abandoned only eleven days later.
Handel had made superhuman exertions to hold his own during the last
few years; his strength now collapsed. A stroke of paralysis lamed one
of his hands--indications of insanity appeared. Yielding to the urgent
entreaties of his friends, he went to the hot baths at Aix-la-Chapelle,
the effect of which was so favorable that he came away after a few
months, completely cured. Returning to London, he found that Heidegger
had formed from the ruins of the two opera companies a new one, with
which he was giving performances at the Haymarket. Handel now wrote,
partly for this company, partly at the solicitation of outsiders, six
more operas, the last of which "Deidamia," was completed in 1741 and
seemed the dying echo of a life-period which had ended for him four years


Reproduced from a proof before letters of Houbraken's portrait of Handel,
engraved on copper.

After Hudson's portrait this may be regarded as most excellent.]

That the full greatness of a man is only revealed when misfortune
overtakes him was to be demonstrated by Handel at this trying time. His
latest operas he wrote for the sake of the money. One of them, "_Serse_"
(Xerxes), which was completed in the year 1738, marks what was very
nearly the saddest time in his life. In order to redeem his word of honor
and save himself from a debtor's prison, he worked with immoderate energy
and yet with meagre material results. When he now found himself in the
most pressing need, his friends advised him to give a benefit concert,
a thing which Handel had never wished to engage in; on the contrary, he
had often expressed himself with harshness against that sort of begging.
All the more bitter was it for him that he must after all resort to it
at last. On the twenty-eighth of March, 1738, in the week before Easter,
the concert took place at the Haymarket Theatre. No oratorio was given
by Handel on this occasion, but only a number of Italian and English
songs, to which he added an organ concerto of his own composition. The
interest excited was far beyond all expectation--the house so crowded
that places had to be provided on the stage itself for five hundred
illustrious auditors, and the receipts from the concert were estimated
at eight hundred pounds. But, while Handel was thus struggling with all
his might for his own existence, he had always time and strength to
spare for his suffering fellow men. The brilliant successes attained by
musicians within the last twenty years had allured many persons into
the paths of art, who expected to acquire therein honor and riches, yet
were not endowed by nature with the necessary gifts. They had therefore
soon suffered shipwreck and fallen into poverty. Two English musicians,
Festing and Greene, devised the plan of forming an aid society for
indigent musical artists. Handel immediately entered into the project
and rendered invaluable assistance to the society by performing for its
benefit, on the twentieth of March, 1739, his "Alexander's Feast" and a
newly composed organ concerto, on the twenty-eighth of March, 1740, "Acis
and Galatea," and on the fourteenth of March, 1741, a series of minor
compositions. And here let it be said that the inhabitants of London,
even if they had shown themselves for a time somewhat indifferent to his
music, still continued faithful in their veneration for the man. In 1738,
Tyers, the proprietor of Vauxhall Gardens, determined to erect in them
a statue of Handel, and the universal applause which this act excited
proved that it was an expression of the sentiment of the people.

The life of Handel may be resolved into three parts. The first extends
to the year 1720, and is preparatory in character. The second ends
in 1737, and belongs especially to the opera. The third and last is
devoted almost exclusively to the oratorio. Since the earliest English
oratorios which he wrote at Cannons, Handel had been long inactive
in this sphere of music. It may be said of the coronation anthems of
the year 1727 that they resemble the oratorio in style, but the first
really new oratorios were produced in 1733. This species of musical
composition was still almost unknown to the greater part of the London
public, for the performances given at Cannons did not reach a wide circle
of listeners. Bernard Gates, however, the director of the boy chorus
belonging to the royal chapel, had taken part in the first rendering
of "Esther," and the recollection of the work had never left him. He
brought it out before a company of invited guests and thereby incited
Handel to produce it publicly himself in May of the succeeding year. A
performance of "Acis and Galatea," under his own leadership, followed a
month later. It is worthy of note that the different singing societies
which occupied themselves at this time with the two oratorios of Handel,
attempted to put them on the stage with costumes and action, after the
manner of the opera. People evidently did not yet know how to deal with
this new departure in the musical line, and in Italy it was not at all
unusual to produce certain oratorios in theatrical fashion, as "_agioni
sacre_." Handel, meantime, disapproved of the custom and only allowed
the singers to be placed upon a stage, which was suitably decorated.
The two oratorios now composed as a result of the new impulse given
to his activity, were "Deborah" and "Athaliah," and the former was
first performed at the Haymarket on the seventeenth of March. But the
subscription tickets of the opera-goers were not good on this day and,
as the price of admission was fixed at one guinea, the house remained
empty. At this time, too, Handel's opponents tried to draw him into the
field of politics and to bring him into discredit through the accusation
that he had allied himself with Minister Walpole for the purpose of
draining the resources of the people in every possible way. That such
ridiculous assertions could gain credence only for the moment, shows
very plainly the high estimation in which Handel was then held by the
London public. On the twenty-seventh of March, and on two subsequent
occasions, "Deborah" was repeated, and now, for the first time received
proper recognition as a work of art. The other oratorio, "Athaliah,"
had also its vicissitudes. The hostility to the house of Hanover which
prevailed in many circles of English society had been shared up to
this time by the University of Oxford, and the rector of the same, Dr.
Holmes, wishing to promote more friendly relations, took advantage of
the annual commencement exercises of the institution for this purpose.
Handel, the favorite of the royal court, was invited to add lustre to
the celebration through his art; he was also included in the number
of eminent men who were to be invested with the title of Doctor at the
same time. This honor would have been declined by the musician on his
own personal account, but as an artist he accepted, using the title
rarely. The "Athaliah," written wholly in the interest of the occasion,
was performed in Oxford on the 10th of July. Singers and instrumental
performers were brought from London by Handel, and the festival, in the
course of which "Esther" and "Acis and Galatea," as well as the "Utrecht
Te Deum" and the "Jubilate" were given, was a brilliant success. The
next oratorio was "Alexander's Feast," or the "Power of Music." It was
finished in January, 1736, and brought out for the first time on the
19th of February. In writing this work, Handel had in mind the popular
custom of celebrating the day of St. Cecilia by means of the art of which
she was the patron. It was Purcell who inaugurated musical performances
of this festive character on St. Cecilia's day, and among the poets who
glorified it, Dryden stands pre-eminent with his two Cecilian odes. It
was the greater of these which Handel took for the foundation of his
work, employing the arrangement of Newburgh Hamilton. The impression
produced by the very first performance was extraordinary, and the work
was repeated four times in the same season, meeting with the speediest
and most widespread success of any of Handel's oratorios, although it
falls within the period when his best energies were devoted to operatic
works. With the production of "Saul," in 1738, commences the long,
uninterrupted series of oratorios in which Handel, who, instead of
becoming embittered by the hard experiences of his life, was only roused
by them to a more complete expression, poured out the fulness of his
genius. Immediately after the "Saul" ensued the creation, in something
less than a month, of his gigantic work: "Israel in Egypt." As now known,
this consists of only two parts; but as it came from the composer's
hands on the first of November, 1738, it was in three divisions. For the
lament over the death of Joseph with which it opened, Handel had used
the funeral anthem written after the death of the noble Queen Caroline
in 1737. He was probably reluctant to allow this beautiful work, which,
in its original form, was only available for the occasion which called
it forth, to sink into oblivion. At the same time we see that he himself
must have considered the style of his anthems as very closely related
to that of his oratorios. It was owing to a misunderstanding that, after
the death of Handel, the second and third parts of the "Israel" were
made to stand for the whole work, while the funeral anthem was printed
by itself. But neither on its first performance (April 4, 1739) nor on
its repetition in 1756, did "Israel in Egypt" make an impression on the
public. The reason for this lies in the fact that the solo portions of
the work are entirely subordinate to the chorus, which here maintains its
supremacy as in no other of Handel's oratorios and rises to the highest
conceivable degree of grandeur.

[Illustration: _For Dᴿ. ARNOLD'S Edition of HANDEL'S Works_

From the Statue in Vauxhall Gardens.

Engraved by Bartolozzi after a drawing by Rebecca.]

The contrast with the composer's operas, which are made up almost
entirely of solo numbers was too decided, and moreover there was at
this time in London a marked and deplorable falling off of musical
interest. After years of immoderate indulgence, there followed a period
of weariness and indifference. Handel, indeed, set to music in 1739
Dryden's lesser "Ode to St. Cecilia," and in 1740 Milton's beautiful poem
"_L'allegro ed il pensieroso_,"[3] thus showing how he identified himself
with the intellectual life of the English and the creations of their most
eminent men. But his efforts seemed no longer to bear fruit, and he was
already considering the project of leaving England forever, when offers
made to him from Dublin opened favorable prospects in a new quarter. He
was requested to give a performance in that city, for the benefit of
some of its benevolent institutions, and in return the best vocal and
instrumental talent of the place would be at his disposal for such other
concerts as he might give. The work composed by Handel for the desired
performance was the "Messiah." The text had been drawn from the Bible by
Charles Jennings (not by Handel himself, as has been falsely stated),
and the music was completed on the 14th of September, 1741. On the 18th
of November Handel arrived in Dublin, and on the 13th of April, 1742,
was produced for the first time the work in which the lofty aim of the
composer became perfectly clear. The new order of art created by him, the
oratorio as he conceived it, was now first comprehended by the world, and
began at once to enter into the life of the English people as an exponent
of the highest ideal good which had been vouchsafed them in their
generation. Many of Handel's other works were brought out in Dublin,
and he enjoyed there a period of unalloyed happiness, after the trials
of the past few years. When he returned to London in 1742, he found that
here also the tide had turned in his favor. The seed sown by him through
a quarter of a century was finally beginning to germinate. His music had
gradually cultivated the taste of the nation and he could henceforth
count upon a sure understanding of whatever he might create. From this
time Handel's authority in England was uncontested and his popularity
boundless. He stood forth before the eyes of the people as the embodied
essence of all music. It now became his habit to perform the "Messiah"
every year for the benefit of a foundling's home, and he employed the
resources of his art most freely and nobly in every direction in aid of
all charitable institutions. What he had already once attempted in 1735
in the Lenten season, when no operas could be performed, but had not been
able to carry out, became now a regularly organized arrangement. Twelve
concerts were given annually, in which he produced his own vocal works
and in addition delighted the audiences by his performances upon the
organ. In 1743 he began the series of concerts with his "Samson," which
was composed immediately after the "Messiah," and won scarcely less favor
than the latter. Of his later oratorios, "Judas Maccabæus" alone enjoyed
an equally great and lasting success. But the remaining thirteen, which
occupied the inexhaustible energies of the man until within two years of
his death, were listened to with sympathetic interest. They are: "Semele"
(1743), "Joseph" (also 1743), "Belshazzar" (1744), "Heracles" (1744),
Occasional Oratorios (1746), "Joshua" (1747), "Alexander Balus" (1747),
"Solomon" (1748), "Susannah" (1748), "Theodora" (1749), "The Choice of
Hercules" (1750), "Jephthah" (1751), "The Triumph of Time and Truth"
(1757). The last-named work is that final arrangement of the Italian
oratorio, which has been already mentioned. When Handel brought it out
again in 1737, much changed and amplified, he still retained the Italian
text, and it was now, for the first time, incorporated with the series of
his English oratorios. It is an allegorical drama: Beauty and Pleasure
stand upon one side, Time and Counsel on the other. Which of the two
pairs shall finally win the day, is to be shown. Deceit places herself
near the first, and tries to blind their eyes to the transitoriness of
all delights and the earnestness of life. But in the end, following the
warnings of Time and Counsel, Beauty and Pleasure turn after all to
Truth. The deep significance of Handel's closing his long career with
the same work which stands at its entrance, is readily perceived. Well
might it seem to him an image of his own life. He too had formed intimate
acquaintance with the beauty and pleasure of the world, but he could
truly say in the evening of his life that they had not succeeded in
averting his gaze from the serious and eternal things which "are not of
this world."


Engraved by Deblois from a portrait by Mad. Clement, evidently based upon
the Hudson portrait.]

Between the oratorios just mentioned fall a few other less important
works, among which the "Te Deum" for the victory at Dettingen in 1743
deserves special mention. The last of his oratorios written down wholly
in his own hand was "Jephthah," and this he could only accomplish with
difficulty. For when he had arrived at the closing chorus of the second
part, he was attacked with a disease of the eyes, from which, however, he
so far recovered as to be able to complete the work by degrees. But he
was engaged upon this oratorio from the 21st of January to the 30th of
August, whereas three or four weeks were usually sufficient for a task
of this sort. The oculist Taylor, whose want of skill was manifested so
clearly in the case of Sebastian Bach, treated Handel also, and performed
an operation; but here again the experiment was unsuccessful and total
blindness was the result. With Bach this condition lasted only a few
months, while Handel was obliged to support the affliction through all
the last years of his life. In spite of this, he continued his musical
performances under the direction of his pupil, John Christian Smith, and
even in his blindness, regularly played an organ solo between the second
and third parts of an oratorio. He chose for the purpose one or another
of his organ concertos, but when obliged to play without instrumental
accompaniment, did not confine himself to the music as written, trusting
instead to his great gift for improvisation and joining in with the other
performers at a given signal. It was an impressive sight for the audience
when the blind old man was conducted to the organ bench and then, after
he had enchanted them through his wonderful playing, was led forward to
make his bow. During the singing of the oratorio, he was accustomed to
sit still near the organ, and on the performance of "Samson," when the
blind hero of the piece reached the aria: "Total eclipse! no sun, no
moon," tears were often seen to flow from the sightless eyes. Even as
late as 1759 he still gave his oratorio concerts. But before the series
was ended, on the 6th of April, he fell ill, never to recover. On the
14th of April, at eight o'clock in the morning, he died. It was the
Saturday between Good Friday and Easter. He was buried in Westminster
Abbey, where stands the monument erected to his memory.

Of his not inconsiderable property, he bequeathed about £20,000 to his
relatives in Germany. He went through life unmarried, and posterity has
not learned whether the prospect of founding a family of his own ever
opened itself before him. In figure he was tall and robust; his movements
were clumsy, but his features were animated and dignified. He was easily
moved to anger, but a certain element of humor served to break the force
of his stormy outbreaks. The broken English in which he spoke had often
a comical effect, especially in moments of excitement. Burney relates
that he had a natural turn for wit and the gift of treating the most
commonplace matters in an interesting manner. His ordinary expression
was somewhat stern, (that he seldom laughed in his younger days is also
related by Mattheson) but when he smiled it was like a sunbeam piercing
a dark cloud. Unyielding determination, strong independence, sincere
devoutness, a high sense of honor, fidelity and a noble philanthropy,
which was always ready to offer help, were among the most marked traits
of this man, whose greatness did not consist in his art alone.

       *       *       *       *       *

In Handel and Bach the inborn talent for music of the German people finds
a fuller expression than at any earlier or later period, nor have other
nations furnished an instance so phenomenal. The reason lies partly in
the fact that the two men, equally endowed by nature, differed from each
other as widely as possible, and accordingly exercised their powers in
the most opposite domains of art. Precisely in these two departments
of music from which Bach held himself entirely aloof, the opera and
the oratorio, Handel labored with untiring and exclusive energy. Organ
and piano playing, to be sure, formed for him the starting-point of
his development, but while Bach went on through his whole life in the
path marked out from the beginning, Handel left it at the early age of
eighteen and entered upon a wholly different career. Of Bach it can be
said that he was an instrumental composer, and remained such to the
end of his life. The medium through which Handel wished to express
himself was that of song. Instruments which can be associated with the
voice and form a setting for it he considered, and therefore treated as
subordinate. And even where he allows them to work independently--in
his piano compositions, in his concertos and sonatas of the most-varied
arrangement--there is awakened in the hearer the feeling that he is
being amused by a sweet, beautiful, thought-inspiring play, but still a
_play_, in the truest meaning of the word. Handel first becomes entirely
serious in his cantatas, operas and oratorios, and for this reason it
is difficult to provide a place for him in the history of instrumental
music. He stands by himself and not in the ranks.


From an accurate cast of the head and shoulders of Roubillac's statue of
Handel, in Westminster-Abbey.]


This caricature is said to have been drawn by the scene-painter at the
theatre, in spiteful retaliation for some reprimand received from the

The most beautiful of his piano compositions are the eight suites of
1720. "_Suite_" does not signify here a definite form of piano music,
as with Bach and his German predecessors. The word indeed can only be
translated by _series_, or _succession_. In this collection there is
not one actual suite, but a number of different pieces for the piano
are arranged in pleasing alternation. There are dances and variations,
but also preludes and fugues, and finally pieces more in the manner of
the Italian chamber music, which preferred the violin to the piano as
a medium of expression. The caprice of the master here held sovereign
sway. Even his manner of writing for the piano is different from that of
Bach. He had learned more than the latter from Krieger and Kuhnau, and
a certain relationship with the South German piano music is also shown;
it is very significant that he interested himself in the "_Componimenti
Musicali_," by Gottlieb Muffat of Vienna, which appeared in 1735, while,
so far as we know, he took no notice of Bach's piano compositions. It
is, however, certain that he allowed himself to be strongly influenced
by the two Scarlattis; this is plainly shown by the style of his piano
technique, but more especially in his manner of writing piano fugues. In
regard to this, one should examine, by the side of the first collection,
the fourth, published in 1735, which only contains six fugues. The
contents of the second and third are less important. Handel at one time
gave instruction to the royal princesses, and may have written down for
their use much that is included in this collection.

As is readily conceivable, when we consider the school in which his taste
was formed, Handel wrote from preference chamber music in the Italian
style. He has given us solo sonatas with bass, trios for two violins and
bass, _concerti grossi_, and concertos for the organ. But here, also,
he shows an inclination to depart from the forms which, after a gradual
process of development, had become established in 1700, not for the
purpose of making organic improvement in them, but through pure caprice.
Like that of his piano compositions, the music has something of an
improvisatorial and accidental character. It might be different, without
becoming therefore less beautiful and entertaining. The creations which
he offers are by no means always original; we repeatedly find portions
of his compositions for the voice, which he has simply arranged for
instruments. He once went with a clerical friend of his to take a walk
in the Vauxhall gardens on the Thames, at the hour of the usual public
concert. The orchestra began to play and both men drew near to listen.
After a time the old clergyman said: "It is wretched stuff." "You are
right," said Handel, "I thought so myself, after I had written it." But
just in this improvisatorial style lies one of the especial charms of his
instrumental music. It is necessarily unequal in merit, but when the
composer was in the right mood, he accomplished something which delighted
everybody and will always delight anew. Among the twelve _concerti
grossi_ of 1739, the third, in E minor, and the sixth, in G minor, are
works of surpassing beauty. The twelve _concerti_ are only written
for stringed instruments, to which Handel, for the most part confines
himself in works of a different class. This is the Italian fashion.
Bach employs by preference the most diverse sorts of wind instruments
in the six great concertos of 1721. To his complex, contrapuntal style
of writing, moreover, the transparent simplicity of Handel, who always
says exactly what he has to say without circumlocution, but with the
greatest emphasis, offers a sharp contrast. One may say, indeed, that
Handel's _concerti grossi_ are no _concerti_ at all, in Bach's sense of
the word. They have the form of Corelli's sonatas, freely adapted to the
resources of a fuller body of instruments. The organ concertos of Handel
are more in the prescribed form. It has already been observed that the
organ is here treated like a piano of richer tone, and not like a church
instrument, after the manner of Bach. English performers have had the
same idea and have just as often made use of the concertos for piano

[Illustration: Fac-simile autograph manuscript of passage from Handel's

The Italian cantatas of Handel are likewise to be regarded as a less
important branch, or even a component part of his operas, just as the
chamber duets, anthems and similar compositions belong in the domain
of his oratorios. For a brief survey of his works, it is therefore
sufficient to confine ourselves to the opera and the oratorio. The
opinion has been widespread and prevails even in our day, that so long
as Handel occupied himself with the opera, he was obstinately pursuing
the wrong path, which he only abandoned after many bitter experiences, in
order henceforth to devote himself to the oratorio, for which nature had
intended him. For it has always been considered one of the most marked
characteristics of genius that it discovers the right way unconsciously,
as it were, and impelled by inward necessity. According to this, Handel,
with his forty operas, would have mistaken his true bent during the best
forty years of his life. The opinion rests, however, upon the theory
of an antithesis between the opera and the oratorio, which has never
existed. During the hundred years preceding Handel's time, the two forms
of art, simultaneous in origin, kept equal pace in their development.
Through the changes wrought in the opera in the middle of the seventeenth
century at Venice, and from the end of that period at Naples, solo
song attained almost complete supremacy in that field, while in the
oratorio there was still room for the chorus. The extraordinary pleasure
derived from solo-singing is shown by the effort made to express the
individual personality in music, and the opportunity of doing this is
what attracted Handel to the opera. If we regard the poetic compositions
employed by him in the light of their dramatic value, their delineation
of character, the systematic management and increasing intensity of the
action, they are not, for the most part, calculated to excite a profound
interest. They are after the manner of all operatic poems in Italy in
1700, and generally derive their material from ancient history or from
mythological lore. But the poets certainly show skill in so arranging
their incidents that the personages concerned find opportunity to give
utterance to their feelings. The portrayal of character, by means of
music, was, then, the object in view. This Handel wished to accomplish in
his operas, and, within the limits which he prescribed for himself, he
was entirely successful. Not psychological processes, but psychological
conditions were what he wished to represent in his arias, and the
progress of the action lies always outside of the principal musical
themes. That this was intentional with him, and also with the Italians
of his time, is proved most clearly by the form of solo-song almost
exclusively employed. The aria, as fashioned by Alessandro Scarlatti, is
only adapted to a feeling which indeed rises above its original state,
but soon returns to it. The recurrence of the first part at the end,
after a weakly contrasting middle portion, is the image of a self-centred
exclusiveness. The direct opposite of this form is that in which a slow
movement is followed by a more rapid one, so that the feeling passes from
rest to motion, from contemplation to activity. This is certainly the
dramatic form, and therefore Handel's opera music is not dramatic in a
narrow sense. But no one will attempt to deny that his style has also its
artistic justification and is sure of producing great effects whenever
the hearer concentrates his attention upon the characteristic picture
presented, rather than upon the suspense resulting from an uninterrupted
continuous action. With inexhaustible inventive power, Handel has drawn
such pictures in his operas. No reproach is less deserved than that he
has acquired a stereotyped manner and turns out his productions as if
they were cast in a mould. Whenever the same forms and turns recur in
his works, they express exactly what is demanded by the situation and
is necessary for the accomplishing of a powerful effect. For the rest,
he seizes every problem firmly and repeats himself as little as the
circumstances of our lives are exactly repeated, even if they sometimes
seem to show a general resemblance. His work, to be sure, lies almost
wholly in the province of simple sensations--complicated, romantic,
psychological conditions are out of his sphere. So-called _ensemble_
movements, in which different persons with strongly-contrasting emotions
confront each other, whose utterances it has become one of the most
interesting tasks of the latter opera-composers to weave together upon
the ground of a certain universal sympathy, are of comparatively rare
occurrence in his compositions. Just as little does he concern himself to
give expression to a mood which proceeds from a single scene, considered
as such. The instrumental accompaniment, which finds herein one of its
heaviest tasks, is always extremely simple and restrained. Everything
really essential finds utterance through the singer. Singers of the
highest order are therefore demanded by his operas, those who have not
only command of the most highly perfected technique of their art, but
whose creative mind enables them to become thoroughly imbued with the
spirit of a piece of music. He lived in a time when the art of song on
every side was in a condition of the highest cultivation, and it was
under such influences that he was able to create those perfect specimens
of characteristic and artistic song, found in almost superabundant
measure in his operas. Because in our time this art has been lost, the
beauty of Handel's opera arias remains for the most part concealed from
us, but that another change will one day take place there is no doubt. An
immediate revolution, to be sure, is not to be expected. Music has fallen
by degrees from that lofty height, and only by degrees can she again
attain unto it. What the operas of Handel will then signify to the world
cannot to-day be even approximately estimated.


Reproduced from a photograph made for this work by special permission.
One of four life-size statues placed in the vestibule of the Opera House,
at the foot of the grand marble staircase.]

Exactly the same characteristic form of musical representation which is
peculiar to Handel's operas constitutes, in a still greater degree, the
essence of his oratorios. From an external point of view the oratorios
stand higher, because they are produced with so much richer musical
resources and because, in order to employ these properly, a much higher
order of art is required. The chorus, which was almost wholly excluded
from the operas, is here made use of in manifold ways, taking at least
equal rank with the solo-song, while it often predominates. But the
inner worth of the oratorio is greater, because in this we are no
longer concerned with transient emotions, confined to a narrow circle
of fictitious personages, who, in their totality, are indifferent to
us, but with the feelings aroused by momentous events in the world's
history, by the deeds and sorrows of great men and women, by legends
full of the deepest symbolism, by lofty, divine decrees, extending even
to the life, sufferings and resurrection of Christ, the son of God.
The mighty choruses in Handel's oratorios took a powerful hold upon
his contemporaries, to whom they appeared in the light of something
wholly new. His Italian predecessors were more or less wanting in that
sense of the sublime which caused Handel to seize upon such material as
demanded the full co-operation of a large body of singers, and in this
very direction was displayed most strikingly the immense superiority of
his genius and his strength as an artist. The imposing array of figures
which he leads before us in his choral pictures is astounding. From the
simplest choral melodies, like the songs of victory in "Saul" and in
"Judas Maccabaeus," to the gigantically towering, yet easily animated
masses of the chorus in "Israel in Egypt," they stand forth, exuberant in
strength, overpowering in the impression they produce, but at the same
time simple and easily understood, as if they were created by the power
of Nature herself. And in the case of these choruses again, the equipment
and co-operation of the orchestra are limited, the principal task
devolving here also upon the singers. With Bach the effect consists in
the complete blending of organ, chorus, and orchestral tone. The hearer
must be conscious neither of those who sing nor those who play; the
incorporeal essence of melody floats through the spaces of the church. In
listening to Handel's choruses, one rejoices in the consciousness that
it is human beings who are singing. Their tones are like the voice of a
victorious army, of nations blessed by God, of all sympathetic humanity.
The greater the number of people united in the expression of an emotion,
the less of his individualism does each retain. An oratorio chorus,
however marked its character, can still express only feelings of a strong
and simple nature. Joy and sorrow! So far as the meaning of a piece of
music can be interpreted, these two words paraphrase the utterances
of Handel's choruses. Both are to be understood in their fullest
significance; joy, from the bright, childish enjoyment of life, to the
tumultuous bursts of exultation after victory won, from pious adoration
to enthusiastic soaring up to God; sorrow, both as quiet sadness and
deep, intensest mourning. But it is always one of these two emotions,
which resounds full and clear. Mixtures of the two, such as often occur
with Bach, are almost never found in Handel's music.

In the last century, the opinion became fully established that Handel
was pre-eminently great in choral music, and, as there was a sudden
revolution of taste at this time in the line of solo-song, his arias and
glorious recitatives were thrown into the shade. But the only way in
which it is possible to be just to the composer, is to acknowledge the
latter as well as the former, to be necessary for the completeness of
the _ensemble_, and dependent upon each other for their effect. Since
the greater number of Handel's oratorios are biblical in subject, and
since from the beginning a certain edificatory purpose was associated
with this order of work, a strong desire prevailed in Germany to class
them as church music. But to do this is to thrust them out of the free
and elevated position which they rightfully hold. In them the distinction
between the worldly and the ecclesiastical is done away with, nor could
they with propriety be designated as religious in character, for, besides
his biblical material, Handel has also employed for his compositions
profane history (Alexander Balus), ancient mythology (Heracles, Semele,
Acis and Galatea), legendary subjects (Theodora), and pure description
(Alexander's Feast; Allegro and Pensieroso). A noble humanity was the
ideal of his art, and this he has completely realized in his oratorios.
The "Messiah" itself is no exception, but rather crowns them all in this


Reproduced from an engraving published at the time. Drawn by E. F. Burney
and engraved by J. Spilsbury. The plate bears this inscription:

    View of the Gallery prepared for the reception of their Majesties,
    the Royal Family, Directors, and principal Personages in the Kingdom,
    at the Commemoration of Handel in Westminster Abbey.

The characteristic musical style which from this time especially
distinguishes the oratorio demands no distinct form of poetry. It is
only necessary that events should be presented which are calculated to
hold the feelings in a continuous state of excitement. The portrayal
of these feelings by means of music can, however, just as well be
accomplished with a narrative text, as in "Israel," a descriptive, as
in the "Allegro," or with one which only _indicates_ events, like the
"Messiah," as with a poem in dramatic form. The latter is most frequently
employed by Handel and is particularly adapted to solo-song; still he
would by no means consent to have his oratorios regarded as real musical
dramas, otherwise it would have been easy for him to produce them on
the stage with full action. He objected to this, because a theatrical
representation seemed to him more likely to diminish than to increase
their effect, by diverting the attention from what was to him of still
more importance in the oratorio than in the opera--the working of pure

It was a long time before Handel's oratorios became naturalized in his
native country. The facilities for presenting them were wanting; in
the small private musical societies, which existed here at that time,
there was not room for works of such gigantic growth. But the centennial
anniversary, erroneously celebrated in England in 1784 and repeated in
1785, with its productions of Handel's works on a previously unheard-of
scale, aroused in the German people a spirit of emulation. In 1786,
1787 and 1788, Johann Adam Hiller organized in Berlin, Leipsic, and
Breslau great performances of the "Messiah," which created a profound
impression. The _Singakademie_ founded in Berlin in 1791 proceeded to
occupy itself diligently with Handel, and on the model of this there
soon arose a number of choral societies, which did the same thing. After
the year 1810 great musical festivals began to be held, and it was not
long before Handel's oratorios constituted their principal material. At
the most important of these, the Rhenish, which was established in 1818,
thirty-four oratorios, or other great choral compositions of Handel,
were given in the course of forty-four performances. But as yet, it must
be said, full justice has only been done to the choruses of these great
works; for an adequate rendering of the solo portions, the vocal culture
of our time is not yet sufficient.

Several attempts at a complete edition of Handel's works have been
already made; two of these were in England, in 1784 and 1840
respectively, but both were failures. On the occasion of the one
hundredth anniversary of the composer's death, in the year 1859, the
German Handel Society was founded for the express purpose of finally
accomplishing the desired result. The editor of the edition is Friedrich
Chrysander, and the work, intended to consist of one hundred volumes,
is approaching completion. For the first time, all the operas are here
published in connection with the oratorios. The inestimable service
rendered by Chrysander is not, however, limited to this task. He is also
the author of a biography of Handel (Leipsic, Breitkopf und Härtel),
which far surpasses all earlier works upon this subject and may be
reckoned among the best productions of our century, in the line of
scientific musical literature.

[Illustration: Philipp Spitta]



_Reproduction of a photograph from an oil portrait by J. S. Duplessis,
Paris, 1776. Gluck in his sixty-second year._ (_See page 223._)]


[Footnote 3: To the latter Charles Jennings had appended verses forming a
third part: "_Il moderato_."]

[Illustration: Gluck]



Poetry and Music, gracious twin-sisters sent from Heaven to comfort
suffering humanity, are seldom intimately united in the history of Art;
it may even be affirmed that the story of their evolution presents a
picture of ceaseless struggle in which the one is ever striving for
mastery over the other. Although these sister-arts (neither of which can
claim the right of primogeniture) at the time of the highest development
of Greek art displayed in united action an inconceivable power which has
never since been attained, they were compelled after a brief period, with
the rise of sophistic philosophy, to descend from that lofty position.
While language and music were developed as separate arts it was indeed
possible for them individually to reach a state of perfection, but the
efficiency subsequently attained by united strength and harmonious
coalescence was then impossible.

In like manner in the Middle Ages poetry and music strove for supremacy.
After the solemn melodies of St. Gregory, linked so closely with the
words, had comforted, inspired and sustained the Western World in a time
of her deepest abasement, song, which had been hitherto for one voice,
developed into polyphony, and with this mighty advance in music the
friendly relations between these arts was once more disturbed. In the joy
at overcoming difficulties which part-music offered the composers as well
as the singers, the former completely lost sight of their duty toward
the words, and were so utterly indifferent to the text of vocal work
that they did not hesitate to use in the same piece two poems upon quite
different subjects, yes, even in different languages, and in so doing
argued, and not without reason, that in the intricacy of the vocal parts
the words would scarcely be heard.

At the appearance of the modern opera in the year 1600, the struggle
of the two sister-arts was especially severe. Even as proposed by
its founders, who saw in it a revival of the antique drama, poets and
composers, during the first decades, were eager to coöperate. When,
however, the passion for the opera was no longer confined to the circle
of the aristocracy, when special buildings had been erected to which
the public could gain access for a consideration (the "Cassiano" in
Venice, in 1637, being the first), the noble simplicity striven for
by those lovers of antiquity came to an end. The popular craving for
the spectacular and the desire for music which was pleasing to the ear
strongly affected the further growth of the opera. In Italy, which
country in the course of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries set the
fashion for all Europe in operatic and musical matters, the public was
especially enthusiastic over strong, well-trained voices. No matter how
high the point of perfection reached by the art of singing, the singers,
male and female, received but one-sided recognition. Soon these obtained
undisputed control of the opera; in order to please the taste of the
masses, directors, even poets and composers felt obliged to surrender.
For them only was the libretto arranged, and in order to satisfy their
vanity did the composer tax his imagination. In vain did truly artistic
men--among them the Venetian composer Benedetto Marcello with his satire
"Il teatro alla moda" (1720)--raise their voices against "the mighty
abuse of music at the cost of the sister-arts," their warning words fell
unheeded. It was reserved for a German, after a desperate struggle, to
put an end to the nuisance of the singers' sovereignty and to give once
more to the opera a truly artistic significance, and this German was

Christoph Wilibald Gluck was born on the 2d of July, 1714, at Weidenwang,
a village of the Caprische Obersalz. He was the son of a forester, and
in childhood had occasion to steel himself bodily and mentally for the
warfare which in later years was waged against the power of fashion and
prejudice. When an old man, the master in friendly converse loved to
recall those early days when he and his brother followed their father
barefoot to the forest. Dreaming in the shadows of the woods, listening
to the rustling of the tree-tops and the songs of birds, unconsciously
a sense of music was awakened in the boy; there was no indication of
any special gift, however, and indeed, had such been shown, under the
circumstances it would hardly have been encouraged, for the father
was extremely practical and governed the education of his children
accordingly. The desire to give them a better education than was possible
in the vicinity of Weidenwang may have occasioned his moving to Bohemia
in 1722 and entering the service, first of Prince Kindsky and then of
Prince Lobwitz. Mention may also be made here of a third office held by
him upon the Bohemian possessions of the Grand Duke of Tuscany, in whose
service he died in 1747.

In the schools of the little towns of Kamitz and Eisenberg, which
henceforth became the homes of the family of Gluck, the young Christoph
found his first inspiration, for in all Catholic countries the scholars
were obliged to take part in the musical part of the service and received
not only the necessary vocal instruction, but instrumental as well; and
it is said the boy played both violin and violoncello with passable
skill. Beyond this, the schooling was so superficial that his father
placed him, in 1726, at the Jesuit College at Kommatau (Bohemia). That
the Jesuits are most thorough in their instruction is well known; but
whether the blind obedience and abject slavery exacted of the scholars in
the name of "a true Church" is calculated to develop mind and character
successfully, seems doubtful. Gluck's strength of character through life
shows that the pernicious influence of the Jesuitical teaching had no
serious effect upon his nature. Among the advantages derived from his
sojourn in Kommatau, the instruction received upon the piano and organ is
of the greatest importance.

Yet violin and violoncello were still his favorite instruments; they
were his comfort and support during years of study and wandering, for
from his slender income the father could but partially pay for his son's
maintenance. This did not deter Gluck, in 1732, from bravely taking
his staff in hand and turning his steps toward Prague that he might be
better informed both in music and science. Whether he then contemplated
becoming a musician or composer is uncertain; we simply know that in
order to make his living he taught the violoncello and singing, and that
in church celebrations, notably in those of the Tein Church, under the
leadership of the celebrated composer Czernohorsky, he played in the
orchestra. In his leisure hours and upon the numerous festival days of
the Catholics he did not hesitate to wander to the neighboring villages
and by his dance-music and his singing to earn a piece of money or a
meal. Toward the end of his sojourn at Prague, however (1736), he had
made such strides in music that he ventured his productions in larger
cities and before cultured audiences. By his rendering of violoncello
music he succeeded in attracting attention in the circles of the
aristocracy, and the princely family of Lobkowitz showed him special
favor. Under the protection of the influential and enthusiastic prince,
Gluck boldly ventured to express a wish to devote himself exclusively to
music, and the same year, encouraged by his patron, that he might better
accomplish his end he went to Vienna, then the fountain-head of musical
activity, where J. J. Fux, Conti and Caldara, musicians of European fame,
were at work together.

Unfortunately there are no reliable accounts of Gluck's first stay in
Vienna and the nature of his study there, but without doubt his part in
the musical life corresponded with the peculiar kind of training he had
previously received. An important fact remarked by A. L. Marx ("Gluck
und die Oper," I., 20) is that up to this time Gluck had held aloof from
the piano, "that curious instrument which is unsatisfactory in every
tone, and in melody suffers by comparison with every other, which is
yet the blessed parent of creative phantasies and lends itself to rich
and ever-varying expression ... which is capable of presenting various
melodies simultaneously, grouping independent voices and producing
dramatic effect with them; in a word, the only proper polyphonic
auxiliary to the dramatic in music." While for all the great masters of
the century, for Bach as for Handel, for Mozart as for Beethoven, the
piano was the basis of musical education, the lever of their creative
power, Gluck confined himself almost exclusively to vocal music and
stringed instruments, a significant fact which explains the merits as
well as defects in the master's later activity. The freedom and perfect
ease with which the aforesaid musicians overcame the difficulties of
counterpoint, we miss in Gluck's music, even at the time of maturity;
and if it be urged that his musical plans for reform did not allow a
development of the art of counterpoint, it may be remarked how little
of it he showed in his church compositions. True, he has given us but
one work of this kind, which appeared in Paris and later in Leipsic, a
"De profundis" which seems, with its frequent but never quite complete
examples of polyphony, a convincing proof that Gluck was not wholly
familiar with polyphonic expression.

Under these circumstances it may be inferred that Gluck was ill-content
in a city where, as chief Kapellmeister at the Court, the greatest
master of counterpoint of his time, J. J. Fux, had absolute control of
all musical matters. The attraction toward Italy, in which direction
the glance of every ambitious musician was turned, must have been, in
his case, peculiarly strong, and he therefore received with joy the
invitation of Lombardy's Prince Melzi (who had grown to know and prize
him in Lobkowitz House) to follow him to Milan, as chamber-musician. This
city, as the residence of Sammartini, one of the most celebrated masters
of harmony in Italy, afforded him excellent opportunity to make good the
defects in his musical education and to become fully acquainted with
the secrets of dramatic composition. Giovanni Battista Sammartini (born
about 1700, died about 1770) held the position of organist at several
churches; he began his career as opera-composer, but subsequently turned
his attention to instrumental music and gained high praise from his
contemporaries for chamber and orchestral compositions which might rank
as forerunners of the quartets and symphonies of Haydn. Under him Gluck
studied fully four years, when he ventured bravely before the public,
well equipped with the opera "Artaxerxes" (1741), text by Metastasio.
The success of this must have been pronounced, as the master, but
twenty-eight years of age, immediately received commissions for opera
compositions from Milan as well as from other cities of Italy. We know
the "Artaxerxes" mainly by hearsay, as the score, together with scores
of the operas written later for Milan--"Demofoonte" (1742), "Siface"
(1743) and "Fédre" (1743)--was burned in a theatre fire. In his "Studies
for Musicians," J. F. Reichardt tells us that "in 'Artaxerxes' Gluck
endeavored to depart as much as possible from the broad, well-trodden
road of the Italian composers of his time, and to write music more
nearly approaching harmonious expression, to which he later owed his
imperishable reputation and which, so to speak, he had himself created."
In spite of this and similar opinions it is highly improbable that these
first works of Gluck exhibited his individuality, for had they done so
it would still be apparent when making comparison with the works of his
contemporaneous rivals; it is all the more improbable as, for a number
of years, he adapted his style to the prevalent taste, and did not
materially depart from the stereotyped form of Italian opera.

[Illustration: GLUCK'S BIRTHPLACE IN WEIDENWANG, Near the Bohemian

The position in the musical world secured by Gluck through his first
opera, is shown by the fact that he received an order from London for
an opera for the Haymarket Theatre. In Paris, where he stopped on the
way to England, he may have had a presentiment that here was to be the
field of his future activity; in the absence of any detailed account of
his stay in the city, we may assume that here he became familiar with
the grand opera as created by Lully and perfected by Rameau, which in
its nature was infinitely nearer his ideal--distinctly seen later--than
the Italian opera. It cannot be said, however, that these first Parisian
impressions had an immediate effect on Gluck's artistic methods and mode
of expression, inasmuch as his opera "La Caduta dei Giganti," written for
London and brought out in the year 1746, was in the prescribed Italian
vein. But from the initiated, the "lion's claws" were not hidden. In
his "History of Arts," Burney says of an aria: "It is of very peculiar
creation but much too monotonous," and of the instrumentation "It is
original but drowns the melody;" finally "One wishes the melodies were
somewhat more graceful and had more artistic repose." In these criticisms
we read between the lines that the composer of "The Overthrow of the
Titans" already betrayed his individuality.

Gluck had little reason to be satisfied with his success in London;
his opera was given but five times, and though his "Artamene," written
for Cremona three years before, was somewhat more popular, this could
hardly compensate for the failure of his more recent work. He had no
cause to regret his journey to London, however, for here, as in Paris,
he gained impressions which materially extended his artistic horizon and
were of utmost importance to his development; here, also, he made the
acquaintance of Handel and his works. We know that the personal relations
of the two masters were friendly, but Handel does not appear to have
felt deep sympathy for his younger brother in the art. How could he, who
a few years before had broken forever with the opera in order to turn
to oratorio, which was better suited to his artistic nature, be other
than indifferent to the attempt of this youth to establish the success
of the opera? And how could it escape the great master of polyphony that
Gluck stood in this art far below him? Handel's terse word that "Gluck
understood about as much of counterpoint as his (Handel's) cook," was
certainly not intended for publicity, yet it shows so definitely the
relations of the masters at this time that it should not be omitted
from Gluck's biography. Further than this, we should not consider them
opponents in any way. Gluck treated the associate thirty years his senior
with utmost deference, and the latter from his experience advised him,
in a kindly manner, how to work as opera-composer in order to win the
approval of Englishmen.

Thus far, we have made as complete a review as possible of the factors
instrumental in Gluck's development, and shall dwell briefly on the
following years, in which he was obliged to reconcile the suggestions
received in foreign countries before they brought about a proper
revolution in his methods. Gluck proved effectually the truth of the word
"chi va piano, va sano," for though the oratorios of Handel with their
wonderful choruses filled with dramatic fire exerted a powerful influence
over him, there was need of a lengthy process of assimilation before his
own choruses could shape themselves after these models.

From London Gluck went to Hamburg, where the conductor Mingotti had
arrived with an Italian troupe. He does not appear to have contemplated
taking an active part,[4] for in the summer of the same year (1747)
we find him in Dresden, where Mingotti's troupe had in the meantime
arrived, presenting with them his opera "Le Nozze d' Ercole e d' Ebe"
(The Wedding of Hercules and Hebe) in celebration of the union of the
Princess Anna and the Electoral Prince of Bavaria. The fact that this
opera was presented in the palace theatre at Pillnitz, near Dresden,
and that court favor was shown the composer, gave rise to the erroneous
statement, repeated by different biographers, that Gluck, at this time,
was appointed Kapellmeister at the Dresden court. Such an appointment
was denied him, if for no other reason than because, at the time, the
celebrated Hasse was undisputed leader there, and Gluck was not a man
to occupy an inferior position. In this opera he seems to have made
no unusual exertion; the composition (which until recently was wholly
unknown, having been discovered but a few years ago by Fürstenau in the
Dresden archives) was quite in the prevalent style of Italian opera,
even though certain features were indicative of the coming reform.


From an oil portrait by J. S. Duplessis, Paris, 1776, Gluck being then
in his sixty-second year. The painting is now in the Imperial picture
gallery, at Vienna.]

From Dresden Gluck turned, for the second time, to the music-loving
empire city on the Danube (1748). He had left it a scholar, but returned
a master, and as such was recognized and honored in all the circles of
Vienna. He found a zealous patron in the Prince of Hildburghausen, the
favorite of Maria Theresa, through whose intercession he soon obtained
an order for the composition of an opera to be given on the birthday of
the Empress. This opera was the "Semiramide riconosciuta," by Metastasio,
a Viennese court poet then at the height of his fame. It is needless to
say that we look in vain for the least indication of a change in Gluck's
style, as it was in Metastasio's librettos that the type of the older
opera intended almost exclusively for vocalists was most pronounced, and
in setting these to music it was necessary to conform to the prevalent

Gluck retained this style, also, in his following works, which need be
merely mentioned: the perfected serenade "Tetide" (1749), given in the
theatre of Castle Charlottesburg at Copenhagen at a birthday fête for the
Crown Prince, afterward King Christian VII.; also the operas written for
Rome and Naples, "Telemachus" (1749) and "La Clemenza di Tito" (1751)
by Metastasio, both noteworthy, in that Gluck, later, availed himself
of several of their numbers in the masterpieces of his Parisian epoch.
These were followed by a long list of similar works, for Gluck displayed,
even then, a restless activity, though in 1750 he married, and with his
Marianna, a daughter of the rich Venetian merchant Pergin, experienced
all the joy of a happy marriage which remained undisturbed till his
death. Two impulses in the next decade of Gluck's activity deserve
special mention; one was his eager interest in literature. "Gifted by
nature with as great a love for literature as for music," says his
biographer Anton Schmidt, "he now worked with incessant energy in this
province as well. Though somewhat late, he applied himself to a thorough
study of Latin and French and to poetry. He made the acquaintance of the
most distinguished men of science, that through intercourse with them and
in the companionship of good books he might cultivate the ideas which had
so long been ingrafted in his nature concerning the mighty influence of
music and its close connection with poetry, of which at this time but few
had even dreamed."--"C. W. Ritter von Gluck," p. 79.

The second was his acquaintance with the French comic opera, which
until the year 1752 had been given only on the improvised stage; a new
era began for this when in the same year a troupe of Italian bouffe
singers arrived in Paris and was received with enthusiastic interest
by the public. For the first time scenes from daily life appropriately
staged were enacted upon the operatic stage in place of the customary
frigid representation of a mythological character. All this was to the
extreme disgust of the conservative, but to the unbounded delight of the
progressive who, with the representative of philosophic enlightenment
J. J. Rousseau, anticipated for art and life a healthy return from
artificial to natural conditions. In the bitter struggle between these
parties, a struggle to which the appearance of the opera-bouffe gave
rise, progress was victorious. The most competent poets and composers of
France did not hesitate to follow the lead of Italy, and while from the
modest "Intermezzo" they developed the "Opera comique," they showed the
world that owing to her artistic nature France, above all other nations,
was best fitted to represent this new style of art. In view of the
influence which France had exerted over the intellectual life of Europe
since the time of Louis XIV., it was quite natural that the neighboring
nations should wish to share in the new acquisition. From 1755 therefore,
the comic opera, which originated in Paris, was invariably performed in
Vienna as well. Meanwhile, in most cases the librettos were satisfactory
and the composition was confided to local musicians, among whom Gluck
took first rank, having been Kapellmeister since 1754. His works of this
kind which are preserved to us as "Airs nouveaux" to the respective
librettos, consist of songs with simple piano accompaniment in light
French style. One of these operettas, Lemonnier's "Cadi dupé," became
a great favorite throughout Germany under the title of "Der betrogene
Cadi," and when given again but a short while ago in the opera house
at Berlin, it maintained, in spite of its hundred years, its original
crispness and popularity. Gluck's French operettas may be regarded as
occasional works, as incidental to his masterpieces. They are not to be
lightly esteemed, however, for they virtually served to bring his ideas
of reform to a focus and to prepare him for the war which he subsequently
declared against the older Italian opera.

The beginning of this war coincided with the acquaintance made
by Gluck, about 1760, of Raniero di Calzabigi, counsellor of the
chamber-of-accounts for the Netherlands in Vienna (the Netherlands
were then under Austrian government), and the author of many excellent
dramatic works. In him Gluck found a friend who shared his convictions
that the Italian opera needed depth and improvement, that it could not
accomplish its end in the form which Metastasio had given it. Calzabigi
declared himself ready to assist the master in working out his plans,
and the fruit of their efforts was the opera "Orfeo ed Euridice"
(Orpheus and Euridice), which was first given Oct. 5, 1762, in the
Imperial Theatre at Vienna. This excited enthusiastic applause, but
was received with disfavor and astonishment as well, for many of the
hearers accustomed to the former style of the Italian opera, were far
more confused than edified by music based chiefly upon dramatic truth.
Gluck had given unusual attention to the artists of this opera; as he
later told the English composer Burney, it cost him ceaseless effort
during the rehearsals, to direct the singers, dancers and orchestra
to his satisfaction. "Very probable," as Marx remarks, "for they were
obliged to do what had never been before required--deny themselves their
special skill and inclination in order to lose themselves wholly and
unconditionally in the rôle they had assumed. It had been the custom to
adapt the rôles and the entire so-called drama to the habits and the
wishes of the singers." ("Gluck und die Oper," I. 300).

Gluck's energetic determination, however, overcame these difficulties.
As a director, he could rank with Handel in force, energy and insight.
His contemporary, the contrabass Kämppfer, describes him as "a veritable
tyrant who becomes enraged at the slightest failure and yields to
vehement expressions of anger. Twenty, thirty repetitions do not suffice
for the practised musicians of the chapel, among whom are certain
virtuosos; they must produce the _ensemble_ effect. He is so brusque that
they often refuse to obey, and only by the persuasion of the Emperor,
'You know it is his way, he means it not unkindly,' are they induced
to play under him. They always require double pay; those who have been
accustomed to receive one ducat, when _Gluck_ directs receive two. No
fortissimo can be strong enough and no pianissimo weak enough for him
at certain times. Yet it is quite curious how every emotion, the wild,
the gentle and the sad is expressed in look and gesture." It is natural
that even the most indolent was unable to resist the inspiring influence
of such a leader, and even the bearer of the title-rôle, the male alto
singer, Guadagni, willingly submitted to the master, and after each
rehearsal was more disposed to agree with his ideas. The final success
of the work was therefore established and actually after the fifth
representation the last remnant of opposition disappeared and applause
was unanimous. After the triumph gained by this first effort in the
new direction, retraction for Gluck would naturally be supposed to be
impossible. Yet he allowed five years to elapse which he filled with
works of lesser worth, among others an opera by Metastasio, "Ezio,"
brought out in 1763, before he again appeared upon the battle-ground.
This time he was armed with the opera "Alceste," given for the first time
Dec. 16, 1767, in Vienna. In writing this work, after years of reserve,
the master, in whose character prudence and extreme deliberation were
marvellously balanced by courage and self-confidence, followed the French
motto, "Reculer pour mieux sauter" ("look before you leap"); with a
mighty bound he cleared the chasm between the old opera and that which
agreed with his ideal, and that all doubt regarding his intention might
be dispelled, his "Alceste" appeared with a preface which may be regarded
as Gluck's confession of faith, and as such deserves special mention.
This was addressed to the Grand Duke of Tuscany and the most important
parts are as follows:--"In setting the opera of 'Alceste' to music I
have resolved to avoid all those abuses which have crept into Italian
opera through the mistaken vanity of singers and the unwise compliance of
composers, and which have rendered it wearisome and ridiculous, instead
of being, as it once was, the grandest and most imposing stage of modern
times. I have endeavored to reduce music to its proper function, that
of seconding poetry by enforcing the expression of sentiment and the
interest of the situation, without interrupting the action or weakening
it by superfluous ornament (raffreddata con degli inutili ornamenti). My
idea is that the relation of music to poetry is much the same as that
of harmonious coloring and well-disposed light and shade to an accurate
drawing, which animate the figures without altering their outlines. I
have therefore been very careful never to interrupt a singer in the
heat of a dialogue in order to introduce a tedious ritornelle, nor to
stop him in the middle of a piece either for the purpose of displaying
the flexibility of his voice on some favorable vowel, or that the
orchestra may give him time to take breath before a long-sustained note.
Furthermore, I have not thought it right to hurry through the second part
of a song if the words happened to be the most important of the whole, in
order to repeat the first part regularly four times over; or to finish
the air where the sense is complete in order to allow the singer to
exhibit his power of varying the passage at pleasure. In fact, my object
has been to put an end to abuses against which good taste and good sense
have long protested in vain.

"My idea is that the overture should indicate the subject and prepare
the spectators for the character of the piece they are about to see;
that the instruments ought to be introduced in proportion to the degree
of interest and passion in the words; and that it is necessary, above
all, to avoid making too great a disparity between the recitative and
the air of a dialogue, in order not to break the sense of a period or
awkwardly interrupt the movement and animation of a scene. I have also
felt that my chief endeavor should be to attain a grand simplicity (una
bella simplicità), and consequently I have avoided making a parade of
difficulties at the cost of clearness. I have set no value on novelty
as such, unless naturally suggested by the situation and suited to the
expression; in fact there is no rule which I have not felt bound to
sacrifice for the sake of effect."

As may be readily imagined, the freedom of this artistic manifesto
created great commotion. How could the majority of music-lovers listen
with indifference to the statement that its favorite, the Italian
opera, was "absurd and wearisome"? And why should not the professional
musicians be horrified that one of their number set forth the "Violation
of the Rules of Composition" as allowable, nay, even as desirable? As
far as the effect of the opera itself was concerned, "Alceste" met with
the same reception as that accorded its predecessor, "Orpheus." Though
Gluck and Calzabigi had done their best, the new opera found but little
favor. Well might an enthusiastic admirer of Gluck, Sonnenfels, in his
"Letters on the Vienna Stage," exclaim: "I find myself in the land of
wonders. A serious opera without eunuchs, music without solfeggios, or
rather, throat sounds, an Italian poem without cheap wit or bluster. With
this threefold wonder the theatre nearest the Hofburg is re-opened."
The great majority of music-lovers remained cold, at least at the first
representations of "Alceste," and scoffers remarked that "if any tears
were shed they were purely from exhaustion." There is no doubt but that
this reserved attitude was assumed especially toward the poetry, which
suffered from a certain monotony, inasmuch as it presented but one actor,
if, indeed, his decision to die may be regarded as an act! The authors of
"Alceste" were not ignorant of this weakness of the libretto, and in a
third work they set themselves the task of portraying the conflict of man
with man. This they tried to carry out in the opera "Paride ed Helena"
(Paris and Helen), which appeared the following year (1769), but this
time they deceived themselves in the selection of the text; since there
is no real climax--the catastrophe of the destruction of Troy, brought
about by the capture of Helen, being merely suggested at the conclusion
through Athena, who appears as goddess _ex machina_--the whole poem
dwindles into a commonplace love-story. The embellishments, conflicts, a
sacrificial feast, etc., could not compensate for the lack of a dramatic
nucleus, and Gluck was obliged to see this work, with which he had taken
infinite pains, disappear from the stage.

The dissatisfaction of the master was still further increased by the
scornful attitude assumed by his critics with regard to his efforts for
reform. In North Germany especially, the appearance of "Alceste" and of
its defiant preface gave the signal to break the staff over the head of
the audacious disturber of the peace. One of the most prominent Berlin
critics, Frederick Nicolai, did not hesitate to assert that "Alceste"
had no merit, though he had only heard several numbers of the opera at
a rehearsal. This attitude of competent judges induced Gluck in 1770 to
come before the world with a new manifesto, the dedication of "Paris and
Helen," to the Duke of Braganza. This was not a whit less forcible than
was his first dedication, and was chiefly directed toward his critics. It
ran as follows:--

"Whereas I dedicate this work to Your Highness, I am less concerned to
find a patron than a judge. Only a mind above the prejudice of custom,
a sufficient knowledge of the sublime teaching of art, a taste formed
by great ideals as well as by the unvarying principles of the true
and beautiful, are what I seek in my Mæcenas and find united in Your
Highness. Only in the hope of finding imitators did I resolve to bring
out the music of 'Alceste,' and flattered myself that men would follow
eagerly the path which I had opened in order to suppress the abuses which
had crept into Italian opera and impaired its worth. I am convinced,
however, that my hopes were vain. Smatterers, would-be judges of poetry
and music, a class of people which is unfortunately very large and is
always a thousand times more detrimental to the progress of art than is
ignorance, threaten to be the death of their own presumption. Because
of imperfectly studied, poorly conducted and still more poorly performed
rehearsals it has been unjustly condemned, and the effect which the opera
might produce upon the stage has been judged by its effect in a room.
Is not this the sagacity of that Greek city which had miscalculated the
effect of statues near at hand that were intended for tall pillars? Any
one of these eccentric music-lovers whose soul is only in his ear will
find many of my arias too rough, many passages too hard or imperfectly
prepared, but he does not consider that in accordance with the situation,
an aria or passage requires just this lofty expression and that thus
the happiest contrasts are obtained. A pedant in harmony will detect
carelessness and occasionally a false start, and consider himself
justified in condemning both as unpardonable sins against the rules of
harmony, whereupon many will agree in pronouncing this music exaggerated,
barbarous and wild.

"The other artists fare no better in this respect, sentence is passed
with quite as little justice and insight, and Your Highness will readily
divine the reason, since the more one strives for perfection and truth
the more necessary become the attributes of accuracy and justice. The
qualities which distinguished Raphael from all other painters are
possessed by few. Slight change of line may not destroy the resemblance
in a caricature, but it may entirely disfigure the appearance of a
lovely countenance. In music I will cite but one example, the aria from
the opera Orpheus, 'Che farò senza Euridice.' Should one make the least
change in the movement or manner of expression it would become simply
an ordinary air for puppet-shows. In a piece of this kind the effect of
the scene may be utterly destroyed by a more or less sustained note,
an increase of tone, carelessness in tempo, a trill, a passage, etc.,
etc. When it is a question of carrying out the theme according to the
principles laid down by me, the presence of the composer is as necessary
as the sun to the creations of nature. He is the soul and the life,
without whom all is in disorder and confusion, but he must be prepared
to meet all obstacles even as we would meet men who, because they have
eyes and ears, without regard to the structure of these organs, feel
called upon to pronounce judgment upon the fine arts, simply because they
_have_ eyes and ears, for hastily to pass sentence upon things which he
least understands, is a common failing of man. Nay, one of the greatest
philosophers of this century recently dared to write a dissertation on
music which he published as oracular with the superscription, 'Sogni di
Ciechi e Fole di Romanzi' (Dreams of the Blind and Stories of Romance).

"Your Highness must already have read the drama 'Paris' and remarked
that it does not offer to the composer those intense passions and tragic
situations which in the 'Alceste' stir the souls of the spectators and
afford opportunity for strong emotion. In this music you would as little
expect the same strength and force as in a picture painted in broad
daylight you would demand the same strong effects of light and shade and
the same sharp contrasts which the artist can employ only on a subject
painted in a subdued light. 'Alceste' treats of a wife who is about to
lose her husband, to save whom she courageously conjures up the spirits
of the nether world in the blackest shadows of night in a dark wood,
and who, even in her last death-struggle trembles for the fate of her
children and forces herself to part from an idolized husband. In 'Paris,'
on the contrary, the question is of a loving youth who has to contend
with the reserve of a truly noble but arrogant wife, a reserve which,
by means of the arts of inventive passion, he finally conquers. I have
therefore taken pains to think of an interchange of colors which I find
in the various characters of the Phrygian and Spartan races, while I
have contrasted the rude and stubborn disposition of the one with the
tender, gentle disposition of the other. Hence I believe that the song
which in my opera wholly takes the place of declamation, must imitate in
the Helen the native rudeness of her race; I have thought, also, that
because I sought to sustain this character in the music, I should not be
blamed if I occasionally descended to the trivial. If one really wishes
to follow the truth he must never forget that according to the measure of
the subject in question even the supreme beauties of melody and harmony,
if employed in the wrong places, may become faults and imperfections. I
expect from my 'Paris' no better success than from my 'Alceste' as far
as effecting the desired change in style of composition is concerned;
yet all the long-foreseen hindrances shall not deter me from making
new efforts toward the accomplishment of my good aim. If I but win the
approval of Your Highness, with contented mind I may assure myself: Tolle
Siparium; sufficit mihi unus Plato pro cuncto populo."

[Illustration: GLUCK.

From a pencil drawing of bust by the sculptor Houdon; probably a study
for the statue in the Paris Opera House. See page 237.]

With the appearance of this second declaration of war the attacks of
criticism against Gluck became more numerous and violent, and it must
have been the master's earnest wish to find a place for his activity
which should be less under the musical influence of Italy than was
Germany. Such a place was Paris, whose artistic conditions were the
more favorable for Gluck's plans of reform in that the representatives
in philosophy and _belles-lettres_ set the standard in musical matters
also, and with cultured people their opinion went much farther than that
of the exceedingly conservative professional musicians. What attractive
conditions for a composer who, at war with tradition, assigned to poetry
the first place in the opera, while music should be but its servant!

Gluck did not hesitate to seize the opportunity, in 1772, of becoming
more intimate with the Bailli _du Rollet_, a man fond of literature,
highly cultivated, and enthusiastic over his music. Gluck had known
him in Rome and now met him again as Attaché of the French Embassy in
Vienna. A closer acquaintance with du Rollet gave the composer the means
of carrying into effect his plan of going to Paris. Without regard to
his former co-worker, Calzabigi--Gluck's relations with the latter may
well have been changed since the failure of "Paris and Helen"--the
master bound himself to du Rollet, who agreed to prepare, with his help,
Racine's "Iphigénie in Aulis," and to bring about the performance of the
work in the great Parisian Opera. The difficulties which arose from the
business transactions with the directors of the Grand Opera were entirely
overcome by an emphatic word from one of Gluck's former pupils, Marie
Antoinette, who had been placed, in the meantime, upon the French throne,
and in the autumn of 1773 Gluck was able to leave Vienna for Paris.

In Paris the German master was received with open arms by the court as
well as by leaders in the literary circles. The protection of the former
was of special consequence to Gluck, as he was to have infinitely greater
trouble with the singers and musicians than he had experienced in Vienna.
Even at the first rehearsals of his opera he was convinced that the
principal actors of the "Académie royale de musique" (Royal Academy of
Music), which was the official name of the Grand Opera, left much to be
desired in singing, pronunciation, acting and all else. The dancers, who,
until within a few years, had always entered with masks, entirely lacked
the ability to assist the action by their pantomime as Gluck desired.
The chorus was accustomed to march up and down in rank and file, the men
on one side and the women on the other, and then to stand immovable. The
orchestra finally reached the extreme height of laziness and lawlessness;
in cold weather the entire company played in gloves, and the only way the
leader could achieve any kind of _ensemble_ was to beat the time loudly
on his desk. And now Gluck made short work of the belligerents. To the
singer who assumed the rôle of Iphigenia and in a rehearsal refused to
follow instructions he said: "Voyez-vous, Mademoiselle, je suis ici pour
faire exécuter Iphigénie; si vous voulez chanter, rien de mieux; si vous
ne le voulez pas, à votre aise. J'irai voir la reine et je lui dirai,
il m'est impossible de faire jouer mon opéra. Puis je monterai dans ma
voiture et je reprendrai la route de Vienne." ("Mademoiselle, I am here
to bring out Iphigenia: if you will sing, nothing can be better; if not,
very well, I will go to the Queen and will say: It is impossible to have
my opera performed; then I will take my seat in my carriage and return to
Vienna.") Certainly the majority of the coöperators would have been glad
to get rid of the master in this way, but knowing the court to be on his
side, there was nothing to do but submit.

The day of the representation of "Iphigénie" (19 April, 1774) was
anticipated with excitement by all Paris. In literary circles--the
so-called bureaux d'esprit (offices of wit)--there were arguments for
and against Gluck. In the first place here was a composer who had spoken
the apparently paradoxical words which were nevertheless true: "When I
compose operas I try, first of all, to forget that I am a musician,"
and in these circles there was violent opposition to the extremely
self-confident reformer. Baron Grimm, a subtle critic and known as
the patron of young Mozart during his second sojourn in Paris, thus
describes, in a most graphic way, the ruling sentiments: "For two weeks
Paris has been thinking and dreaming nothing but music. Music is the
subject of all our debates, of all conversation; it is the life of all
our suppers, and it would be simply ridiculous to show interest in
anything else. To a political question the reply is a melody, to a moral
reflection, the ritornelle of an aria; if one tries to excite interest in
Racine or Voltaire he is reminded of the effect produced by the orchestra
in the recitative of Agamemnon. Need I say that it is Gluck's 'Iphigénie'
which has excited such a furore? A furore all the more tremendous because
of the difference of opinion and the fanaticism of parties. One party
swears that no other gods than Lully and Rameau shall be recognized;
another believes only in the melodious revelations of Jomelli, Piccini
and Sacchini; a third will hear of no other composer than Gluck, who
has found the only true dramatic music drawn from the eternal fount
of harmony, from the most intimate union of mind and soul; a music
that belongs to no land, but which he has genially appropriated to our

It goes without saying that opinions differed even upon the evening of
the first representation, but upon the second, applause was unanimous,
or, as Grimm expresses it, "Iphigénie" was applauded "aux nues" (to the
clouds). The series of successful representations was interrupted by the
death of Louis XV., in consequence of which the theatre was closed for
thirty-four days. This interruption was, however, employed in studying
the "Orpheus," which meanwhile had been translated into French by Moline.
Gluck had to make several important changes in the music, for the Academy
of Music had no eunuchs among its members (the French public never
having found pleasure in such singers), and the master was obliged to
transpose for the tenor the title-rôle written for alto. Although by the
substitution of the brilliant tenor for the melancholy alto the part of
"Orpheus" lost something of its charm, "Orphée et Euridice" still had a
success which far exceeded that of "Iphigénie." It was a special joy to
Gluck that J. J. Rousseau, who had been one of his partisans, soon after
the appearance of "Iphigénie" became one of his enthusiastic admirers.
The philosopher of Geneva affirmed that the music of "Orpheus" had
reconciled him to existence, and the reproach cast upon Gluck's music,
that it was lacking in melody--a reproach, by the way, which no musical
innovator, up to the present day, has been spared--he met with the words:
"I believe that melody proceeds from every pore." Besides this, after
Gluck had taught him better, Rousseau did not hesitate--and this does
him honor--to publicly acknowledge that he had made a serious mistake in
stating that the French language was unsuitable to set to music.

[Illustration: NICOLA PICCINI.

Gluck's rival in Paris from 1776 to 1779.

Of the 150 Italian Operas written by this composer not one has survived.]

It would lead us too far to enter into the reasons given by Rousseau
in his "Lettre sur la musique française" (Essay upon French music)
in support of his former opinion. In the main he accused the French
language--and justly--of being devoid of all accent (destituée de
tout accent) and concluded that Gluck's efforts to bring about a
reform in French opera had no chance of success. But he did not know
or did not consider that language without accent to a German is quite
incomprehensible, that a German composer cannot do otherwise than satisfy
his inborn love of accent in the use of a language that is foreign to
him. While Gluck thus breathed a vital element into French song, a need
felt by the French themselves, but which they did not know how to meet,
he won the warmest recognition of all truly musically-gifted Frenchmen
and that of the French-Swiss Rousseau among them.

Results of such importance could not be affected by the fact that two of
Gluck's earlier works, the operetta "L'arbre enchanté" (The Enchanted
Tree) and the opera ballet "La Cythère assiégée" (Cythera Besieged),
when performed in Paris the following year (1775), found but a lukewarm
welcome. The master had left Paris before the representation of the
latter work, not to rest on his laurels, but to begin at once the
composition of two new operas, "Roland" and "Armide," both by Quinault,
which, with the French adaptation of "Alceste," were intended for
representation in Paris the following year. In the midst of his work,
however, he was surprised by the news that, at the instigation of his
opponents, the directors of the Grand Opera had called to Paris the
famous opera-composer Nicola Piccini, and had likewise confided to him
the composition of "Roland." In a violent rage Gluck destroyed what
music of "Roland" was already completed and wrote an angry letter to his
co-laborer du Rollet, who was then tarrying in Paris, in which, without
denying his respect for the talent of his rival, he accused his opponents
of treachery and overwhelmed their spokesman, the author Marmontel,
with bitter ridicule. This letter, which du Rollet had printed in the
periodical "L'année littéraire," gave the signal for a literary war,
which in matters of art has never been surpassed in bitterness except,
perhaps, at the appearance of Richard Wagner. A vivid picture of this
is given in the collection of newspaper reports, brochures, eulogies
and satires (which appeared in Naples in 1781 and in German translation
in 1823) called forth by Gluck's opera-reforms, and entitled "Mémoires
pour servir à l'histoire de la révolution opérée dans la musique par
M. le Chevalier Gluck." (Memoirs: a Contribution to the History of the
Revolution brought about in Music by M. le Chevalier Gluck.)

When, at the beginning of the year 1776, Gluck returned in order to
rehearse "Alceste," he found the cultured people divided into two parties
under the names "Gluckists" and "Piccinists," drawn up in line of battle.
Again, as in 1752, at the appearance of the Italian bouffe-singers there
were formed in the theatre the King's party and the Queen's party; for
the king, though not in the least musical, thought it his duty to defend
the older opera, while the queen with unwavering fidelity remained true
to her countryman and former instructor. At the head of the Gluckists
stood the _Abbé Arnaud_ and _Suard_, the proprietor of the "Journal de
Paris," while for Piccini, who had arrived in Paris before Gluck, stood
_Marmontel_ and the editor of the noted paper "Mercure de France,"
_Laharpe_. At the first representation of "Alceste" victory for the
Piccinists seemed assured, so utterly did the opera fail, the last act
being actually hissed. But, as frequently upon former occasions, the
public altered its opinion with each successive performance and bestowed
ever richer applause upon the "Alceste" in the thirty-eight consecutive
representations. Gluck's fame rose still higher, however, with the
presentation of "Armide" (Sept. 23, 1777), in consequence of which his
bust was placed near those of Lully, Rameau and Quinault in the foyer of
the Grand Opera.

And what were the personal relations of the two masters whose adherents
fought so bitterly? Fairly friendly, as among fellow-artists, after they
had become acquainted at a banquet which _Berton_, one of the directors
of the Grand Opera, had happily given in their honor. Later, they had
occasion to put this friendly feeling into action; when Piccini's
"Roland" was being studied and at a rehearsal the composer was thrown
into the utmost confusion, being unused to conducting and unfamiliar
with the French language, Gluck, who happened to be present, rushed
impulsively into the orchestra, threw aside wig and coat and led with
such tremendous energy that everything ran smoothly; he also joined
most cordially in the applause given his rival upon the appearance of
"Roland" in January, 1778. Piccini, on the other hand, when he heard
of Gluck's death, expressed his regard for the departed by starting a
subscription for the establishment of a yearly concert to be given upon
the anniversary of Gluck's death at which nothing but his compositions
should be given. The friendly relations of the rivals had another severe
test. After Gluck had found a new co-laborer in the poet Guillard, and
had gone to Vienna with the text of "Iphigénie in Tauris" to set it to
music, the directors of the Grand Opera, as in the case of "Roland," were
again speculating on the Parisians' love of sensation and induced Piccini
also to compose an "Iphigénie in Tauris," which should appear before that
of Gluck. This time, however, our master did not propose to relinquish
his rights; toward the end of the year 1778 he returned to Paris, and
with the aid of the queen so carried his point that the supposed warfare
"man to man" ceased and his work gained the precedence. His "Kampf ums
Recht" (Fight for the Right) was crowned with brilliant success; not
only did those who were co-operating in the production of "Iphigénie"
show themselves well-disposed and even enthusiastic in their task, but
at the first performance of this work (May 18, 1779) the effect upon its
hearers was magical. The ideal of all earnest friends of the opera seemed
attained in the "Iphigénie in Tauris," and even the cautious Grimm,
overcome by the impressions of this representation, wrote: "I know not if
what we have heard be a melody. Perhaps it is something much better; I
forget the opera and find myself in a Greek tragedy."

After this memorable evening it could no longer be doubted that the war
between the Gluckists and Piccinists was over; that the German master had
been victorious. True, the "Iphigénie in Tauris" of Piccini, given about
a year later (January, 1781), was also extremely successful, but when the
experiment was made, soon after, of producing alternately the operas of
the two masters, after slight hesitation, the public decided by a large
majority--as is shown by the receipts--in Gluck's favor.[5]

Unfortunately Gluck's Parisian activity closed with a failure. The last
opera which he produced there, Baron von Tschudi's "Echo and Narcissus"
(autumn of 1779) was coldly received, and after a few representations
disappeared from the repertoire. From the fact that in this the master
lavished his skill on a dull, dramatically ineffective text, we may
conclude that he owed more to chance than to his literary ability in
finding such an excellent text for "Iphigénie in Tauris." Even his
follower, C. M. von Weber, was quite doubtful in regard to the dramatic
effect of a text, as is proved in his choice of "Euryanthe." In this same
year Gluck left Paris and never returned. In possession of a considerable
fortune and loaded with honors he passed the last years of his life in
Vienna in comfort and ease. Owing to an iron constitution he recovered
from a severe illness the following year and his adherents in Paris
did not relinquish the hope of seeing the master again in their midst,
but this they were forced to do when, in 1784, Gluck had a stroke of
paralysis. It is true he recovered from this, but a second stroke, three
years later, put an end to his life. In his death the whole artistic
world shared the heavy loss sustained by art. Vienna in particular
honored the memory of her celebrated citizen with grand funeral services,
when his "De profundis" came to light, as well as other treasures of his
mind to which he had devoted his constant and most loving care.


From a photograph.]

After what has been said concerning the progress of Gluck's development,
stress need hardly be laid upon the fact that, in reviewing his work,
poetry no less than music must be considered. In the first place we
cannot refuse the poet of "Orpheus," Raniero Calzabigi, the honor of
having had a considerable share in the reform effected by our master. In
view of the then prevailing indifference of the opera-lovers to the text,
we cannot be surprised that the credit of the opera-reform was attributed
to Gluck, whose name entirely eclipsed that of his co-laborer. That Gluck
himself, however, is not accountable for this mistake, is proved by his
letter sent to the "Mercure de France" in Feb., 1773, in which he says:
"I should bitterly reproach myself were I to consent to having attributed
to me this new kind of Italian opera, the success of which has justified
the experiment. To Calzabigi, rather, belongs the special credit, and if
my music proves effectual I must thank him who has put me in a position
to draw freely from the well-springs of my art." Due allowance should
be made for Calzabigi's own statement, as this was published after
Gluck had parted from his first co-worker in the inconsiderate way
already mentioned, and the latter had every reason to be incensed with
him. In a letter addressed to the "Mercure" (June 25, 1784), he says,
among other things, that he had convinced Gluck that musical expression
should be based upon an expressive rendering of the libretto, that he
had begged him to banish from his music all ornate passages, cadenzas
and ritornelles, and Gluck had yielded. We may confidently assent to his
closing words: "I hope you will concede from this _exposé_ that if Gluck
is the author of dramatic music he has by no means created it out of
nothing. It was I who gave him the material, or, if you will, the chaos;
the honor of this creation should, therefore, be shared equally between
us." Finally, the following words from Gluck's preface to "Alceste" are
sufficient proof that Calzabigi's claims were just. "By a lucky chance
I happened upon the very _libretto_ in which the celebrated author had
developed _a new plan_ for the musical drama," a statement which only
through an inconceivable blunder could have been given the interpretation
"the celebrated author of 'Alceste,' Herr von Calzabigi, _carried out
my plan for a lyric drama_" attributed to Gluck by Anton Schmid and his
numerous followers.

Let us now consider Gluck's works, beginning with "Orpheus." Even in this
first opera we find the libretto as well as music at the extreme limit
of his departure from the old forms. The break with the old opera is a
complete one; it seems to be the opinion of successive generations by
whom the "Orpheus" has been considered Gluck's most sympathetic work,
that it would have been impossible to reach a greater climax. The action
is of the most extreme simplicity; to the myths transmitted from Virgil
and Ovid the operatic poet makes no material addition. In the first act
we hear the lamentations of Orpheus and his companions at the loss of
the beloved; whereupon Amor (Cupid) appears, to bring the singer the
consoling word that Euridice can be restored to him provided he possesses
not only courage to descend to Hades, but the moral strength to refrain
from looking at his love until they shall have again reached the upper
world. The second act is laid in Hades and begins with the dances and
songs of the furies. To the entreaty of Orpheus to abate their wrath,
they answer with a horribly inexorable "No!" At length, however, they are
unable to resist his supplication and open to him the door of Hades. The
scene now changes to a charming region of the Elysian Fields, enlivened
by the song of the departed spirits and later of Euridice herself. The
prayer of Orpheus to the shades that his wife may be restored to him
is not unheeded; she is brought to him, he seizes her hand and without
looking at her, leads her away. The beginning of the third act represents
the tragic conflict of the lovers. Euridice, who knows nothing of Cupid's
injunction, is in despair that Orpheus stubbornly refuses to regard her
or to make reply to her words of soft entreaty; but finally his power
of resistance fails, he turns toward his wife to embrace her, whereupon
she sinks back lifeless, now apparently irrevocably lost. Once again,
however, the gods have compassion, and at the moment in which Orpheus, in
desperation, is about to end his life, Cupid again appears, and satisfied
with the fidelity of Orpheus pardons the false step and leads the lovers
to the upper world to unite them there forever.

[Illustration: Fac-simile autograph letter and musical manuscript by

Judging from his own words, the simplicity of the action did not deter
the composer from employing extensively all aids to his art. In order to
do full justice to his music we must remember his great successor who,
much more richly endowed and filled with a spirit of a new time, far
surpassed him as a musician--Mozart, who in this case could confirm the
old saying: "Let well enough alone." Still more, if we look backward and
contrast the greatest representative of the older Italian opera, Handel,
with Gluck, we are astonished at the progress made by opera-music through
the former. The old-fashioned ornate music of Handel has disappeared;
true expression has gained the supremacy, although it never reigns at
the expense of the melody which is almost inexhaustible and in its grace
betrays in every measure the country whence it came. The celebrated aria
"Che farò senza Euridice" is an example of Gluck's power to harmonize
the greatest nobility of sentiment with the insinuating charm of melody.
A sharp characterization corresponding to modern emotion is of course
excluded here, and one of Gluck's French critics is not incorrect in
his assertion that one can sing to the aforesaid air "J'ai trouvé mon
Euridice" as well as "J'ai perdu mon Euridice." (I have _found_ my
Euridice as well as I have _lost_ my Euridice.)

In the part of Euridice and in the duet of husband and wife, Gluck's
power of musical delineation is even greater, but most impressive are the
choruses in which the influence of the Handel oratorios is unmistakable.
The chorus of the furies forbidding Orpheus the entrance to Hades is
one of the most affecting, most impressive in the entire province
of dramatic music, and serves to heighten the restful effect of the
graceful ballet of a chorus of blessed spirits led by a flute solo, which
immediately follows. Here the effect produced by the orchestra must not
be overlooked, neither the modest means of this orchestra, which in the
"Dance of the Furies" consists merely of a string quartette, two horns,
oboe and flageolet.

As regards the music, the "Alceste" is more admirable than the "Orpheus,"
in that the uniformity of the libretto has put the skill of the composer
to the more severe test. Even J. J. Rousseau averred that he knew of
no opera in which the expression of the passions was more uniform than
in "Alceste "; that all revolved about the two conditions of the soul,
love and fear, and to describe these two sensations over and over again
without monotony, required the composer's utmost skill. Rousseau makes
also the just criticism that in the last act, where a climax is most
needed to hold the listeners to the end, the interest flags. In point of
fact the action of the "Alceste" is more feeble than that of "Orpheus."
In agreement with Gluck, Calzabigi has preserved in his poetry the entire
strength and simplicity of his prototype, the "Alceste" of Euripides;
even the element of the unexpected which appears in "Orpheus" is not here
employed. Admetus, King of Thessaly, is dangerously ill; his death is
hourly expected. Apollo, who once, when driven from Olympus, found favor
with the King, wishes to express his gratitude and causes his oracle to
proclaim that if another person will voluntarily die for him, Admetus
shall live. While the people, horrified, take flight, Alceste declares
herself ready to sacrifice her life for her beloved husband. She dies,
but Apollo (not Hercules, as in Euripides) appears at the same instant,
rescues her from death and restores her to her family and people.

In his "Alceste" Gluck has exercised all his talent as composer in order
to give the most intense musical expression to the evangel of devoted,
self-sacrificing love. Naturally, it is to the noble, touching figure of
the queen, wife and mother that he devotes the greatest love and care.
Courageously she faces death with the words of the famous aria, "Ombre,
larve, compagne di morte"; and the tenderest mother speaks in her when in
parting from her children she makes her last petition: "Venite sovente
alia mia tomba ornatela di fiori."

Further, the choruses in "Alceste" are overpowering in effect, which
fact indicates a step in advance of "Orpheus" in so far that here the
orchestra conduces infinitely more to the portrayal of the situation.
Even in the first mentioned arias of "Alceste" the instruments,
especially the trumpets, are employed in the most telling manner.
Still more stirring is the orchestral action following the decree of
the oracle, in the chorus "Fuggiamo!" Scarcely have the words of the
gods died away when the basses are heard, in dull, sustained tones,
descriptive of the murmur of the multitude. The murmuring grows louder
and individual cries are heard until finally the entire mass of orchestra
and chorus unites in the cry: "Let us away!" The full power of the Gluck
orchestra, however, is revealed in the chorus of the gods of death which
is sung upon one key by the basses, while the melody is sustained by the
instruments. As an orchestral piece of the highest, most imperishable
worth the sacrificial march in the first act deserves special mention.
In this the melody, sustained simply by stringed instruments and low
flutes, is quite different in character from ordinary marches and cannot
fail to produce upon the mind of the hearers the mood corresponding to
the high religious action.

Of "Paris and Helen" the reader knows already that, in spite of the
sanguine hopes of the composer, the work was decidedly rejected by the
public. He will remember also that Gluck, in this case, was not disposed
to recognize the "vox populi" as the "vox dei," as he gave vent to
indignation at his failure in the dedication of the work to the Duke of
Braganza. Later, however, he must have acknowledged the justice of the
judgment pronounced by the Viennese public, proved, if in no other way,
by the fact that he did not consider "Paris" suitable to appear at the
Paris Opera with "Orpheus" and "Alceste." Still, this almost unknown
opera has its significance in the resumé of the master's development. In
his endeavor to draw a sharp contrast between the principal figures--the
effeminate Phrygian and the pure, true Spartan maid--Gluck has gained
perceptibly in this direction of his art, and in the vocal as well as
in the orchestral parts the peculiarity of each distinct nation is
expressed. This is apparent even in the overture, which is more nearly
related to the drama than in the case of Gluck's former operas, in that
certain of its motives are repeated in the course of the action.

The overture to "Paris and Helen" may serve as a bridge from those
works to which Gluck had given his whole creative strength and in which
he had, so to speak, surpassed himself, to the works of the Parisian
period, which is commonly regarded as the master's third period, though
incorrectly, for in point of fact, Gluck's activity is divided into but
two sections: the time before and the time after his acquaintance with
Calzabigi. This is not saying that Gluck, in the presence of a drama
as important as "Iphigénie in Aulis," the first real drama which he
undertook to set to music, took, as it were, new impetus in order to
outdo himself if possible for the sake of the Paris public whose judgment
he so thoroughly respected. This is demonstrated in the overture to the
aforesaid opera which, corresponding to this sort of ideal prologue,
transports us to a higher sphere, in which we are prepared for the drama.
"Here, as in the overture to 'Don Juan,'" says Richard Wagner, "it is
the struggle or at least the juxtaposition of two adverse elements which
determines the movement of the piece. Even in the action of 'Iphigénie'
these two elements appear. The army of Greek heroes is assembled for the
purpose of a great mutual undertaking; inspired by the thought of this
alone, all other human interest disappears before that of the masses.
Opposed to this is the interest attaching to the preservation of a human
life, the rescue of a tender maiden. With what characteristic perspicuity
and truth has Gluck almost personified these contrasts! In what lofty
proportion has he measured them and made such contrast that by this
juxtaposition alone is the opposition, and in consequence the movement
given! By the ponderousness of the principal motive advancing solemnly,
the mass of the people united in one interest is recognized, while
immediately in the succeeding theme the interest in the suffering, frail
creature fills us with compassion. The repetition of this single contrast
throughout the composition gives us the great idea of the Greek tragedy,
filling us alternately with fear and pity. Thus we attain to the lofty,
excited state which prepares us for a drama the highest meaning of which
it reveals to us at the outset and so leads us to understand, according
to this meaning, the action which immediately follows."

In his treatment of the subject-matter of "Iphigénie in Aulis," Gluck's
co-worker, du Rollet, has closely followed Racine's tragedy of the same
name, even as the latter followed the drama of Euripides. The army of
the Greeks has embarked for Troy in order to avenge the insult to their
country by the capture of Helen. In the harbor of Aulis the warriors are
detained by a tedious calm because their leader, Agamemnon, has killed a
stag sacred to Diana and called down upon himself the vengeance of the
goddess. Kalchas, the high priest, inquires of the oracle what may be
done to propitiate Diana and receives the terrifying answer that naught
but a human sacrifice, even the daughter of the king, Iphigenia, can in
any wise appease her wrath. At these words, paternal affection, pride,
love of country and military glory wage a fearful battle in the heart of
the king, who becomes still more desperate when his wife, Clytemnestra,
appears at the camp with her daughter who is to be forthwith united in
marriage to the hero Achilles. The murmurs of the warriors clamoring
for the sacrifice and the repeated warning of Kalchas reveal the
frightful truth to the unsuspecting one; but Iphigenia declares herself
ready to obey the gods. She kneels at the altar and is about to receive
her death-blow, when Achilles with his Thessalonian warriors hastens,
by force of arms, to save his bride from sacrificial death. Kalchas,
however, steps between the combatants and tells them that their zeal has
already appeased the anger of the goddess; the altar is destroyed by
lightning, a favorable wind arises and amidst gay dancing and songs of
great rejoicing the reunion of the lovers is celebrated.

(Only in the conclusion does du Rollet differ from Racine and the latter
from Euripides, on whose account Diana herself saves Iphigenia by taking
her to Tauris enveloped in a cloud. Racine brings about the dénouement
through Eriphile, who loves Achilles, and recognizing the hopelessness of
her love, offers herself a willing victim.)

This material offered the musician the richest opportunity to describe
various conditions of the soul, as well as to satisfy the desire for pomp
and show inherent to grand opera. The rejoicing at the appearance of the
queen and the bridal couple, and also after the rescue of Iphigenia;
the encounter of the Greek and Thessalonian warriors; the solemnity of
the sacrificial rites are all illustrated in most glowing colors by the
music. The dances are distinguished by greater brilliancy than those
of Gluck's former operas, aided by a richer instrumentation--besides
the string quartette two each of the flute, oboe, horn and flageolet.
A passecaille in the third scene of the second act is so charming in
effect that even Gluck's most bitter enemy, Professor Forkel, was obliged
to give it his approval. But the master appears most admirable where
the libretto allows him to display his skill as a dramatic author,
chiefly in the ensemble pieces in which essentially different characters
are united, as in the mighty ruler Agamemnon, the loving Clytemnestra
wildly incensed by the loss of her daughter, the suffering Iphigenia
ready for any sacrifice, and the youthful hero Achilles impelled by
impetuous strength. Later composers surpassing Gluck as regards skill in
counterpoint may have excelled him in _fineness_ of distinction, but for
truth, sincerity and strength of conviction there is nothing greater to
be found in the entire realm of operatic literature than the love-duet
of Iphigenia and Achilles in the first act, "Ne doutez jamais de ma
flamme!" than Clytemnestra's outburst of despair in the words "Etouffez
des soupirs trop indignes de vous"; than the scene of Agamemnon in the
second act, "O, dieux, que vais-je faire? C'est ta fille," in which the
remorse of the unhappy father is vividly portrayed; than the trio, in
the same act, of Iphigenia, the mother and Achilles, in which the mild,
forgiving spirit of the maiden contrasts effectively with the passionate
ebullition of her partners. In relation to this trio we must agree with
Marx's assertion that "Gluck had no need of the perfected art of later
time, nay, its possession might have confused him and led him far astray.
The characters of Gluck's conception needed nothing other than what
was already at hand. As well clothe Raphael's chaste madonnas with the
splendid garments of Veronese as to adorn Gluck's character with later
ornamental art." ("Gluck und die Oper," II. 93.)

When Gluck brought out "Armide" he was sixty-three years old. He was
exceedingly daring in this venture, for he had closely followed the
libretto of Quinault and therefore ran the risk of being compared to
Lully by many who still adhered to him in Paris, and also of seeing
the "Armide" of the older master preferred to his. In the flush of his
egotism, however, he believed he had no reason to fear this comparison;
besides, it was a fascinating thing to lose himself for once in the
romance of the Middle Ages, for up to this time he had set to music only
subjects from ancient mythology of gods and heroes. At first Gluck seems
to have intended to make no unusual exertion; the overture to "Armide" is
none other than the one written for "Telemachus" and subsequently used
in the festival play "Le feste d'Apollo;" the aria of Hatred, "Plus on
connait l'amour," is an imitation of the Jupiter aria in "Philemon and
Baucis," and the main features in the conspiracy-scene in the second act
(Hidraot and Armide) are likewise taken from "Telemachus." In the course
of the work, however, the novelty of the material and the opportunity
for musical description allows greater and finally the greatest display
of power, and this opera becomes well worthy to rank among his strongest


Executed by the sculptor Houdon. Reproduced from a photograph made for
this work by special permission. One of the four life-size statues placed
in the vestibule of the Opera House, at the foot of the grand marble

Quinault used as material for this libretto an episode from Tasso's
"Jerusalem Redeemed." Armide, the Queen of Damascus, is an enchantress,
and with the help of her genius Hidraot, has beguiled into her net
a number of the crusaders who had started with Gottfried von Bouillon
for the Holy Land. The captured knights are to be delivered over to the
king of Egypt--when Renaud appears and releases them from the hands of
the guards. "Un seul guerrier!" cry Armide and her train filled with
astonishment and rage, these words followed by a chorus of irresistible
power, "Poursuivons jusqu'au trépas l'ennemi." In the second act Armide
and Hidraot proceed to summon the demons in the awful words mysteriously
rendered by the orchestra, "Esprits de haine et de rage, demons
obéissez-nous!" Here the scene changes to a charming landscape, Renaud
appears, and in sharp contrast to the preceding movement a lovely idyl
led by the flute is rendered by the orchestra. Ensnared by the charm
of the region, the knight sinks into slumber, but Armide approaches
to take her revenge. In her magnificent monologue "Enfin il est en ma
puissance," she believes herself near the goal, but the beauty of the
sleeping hero transforms her hate to love and she becomes inspired with
the single wish that she may chain him to her. In the third act she
seeks to overcome the passion and again evokes the demons of hate, this
time entreating them to free her from her love. "Venez, venez, haine
implacable!" Hatred appears also, with his followers (avec sa suite) but
is powerless to heal the love-wounds inflicted upon Armide. Her attempt
to awaken responsive love in Renaud's breast, after having chosen an
enchanted island in the ocean for a dwelling-place for both, forms the
subject-matter in the fourth act, the music of which, though dramatically
insignificant, is nevertheless fully calculated to disprove the assertion
made by Gluck's opponents, that he lacked a sense of the grace and beauty
of true melody. In the last act we see Renaud in Armide's arms entranced
by her witchery. The dances executed at her command, among them the
Chaconne (which at that time was indispensable to the French opera), have
bewildered him, robbed him of his senses and his knightly power, when
two messengers--Ubalde and the Danish Knight--appear, having been sent
by the army of crusaders to his rescue. At the imperious word "Notre
général vous rappelle!" he summons all his strength and frees himself
from Armide's arms, but she, torn with remorse and anger causes the abode
of their brief happiness to disappear in flames.

In his "Armide" Gluck made great concessions to gratify the love of
the spectacular and the craving for the sensual of the opera-loving
public; in the main, however, this opera owes its chief success to the
earnestness with which the master performed his task as a dramatist. As
an instance of the way in which he obtained the best dramatic effects
in "Armide," at the time of the representations in Paris, Gluck begged
the famous singer, Larrivée, to undertake the part of the Danish Knight,
though he acknowledged it a slight part for his talent. "But," he added,
"it contains one passage which will be sufficient compensation." He did
not say too much, for the words "Notre général vous rappelle," rendered
with tremendous effect by Larrivée, called forth a storm of applause at
every representation.

After this "Ride into the Land of Romance" Gluck returned again to the
antique and created his last opera, "Iphigénie in Tauris," which takes
first rank among his masterpieces. If in "Armide" he had dealt rather
too much with externalities, in "Iphigénie in Tauris" he kept even
more strictly than before within the prescribed limits of the drama,
scorning that embellishment which had been added to the opera in order
to distinguish it from the drama. His co-worker, in this case, was the
young poet Guillard, who had framed the text of this his initial work
after the tragedy of Guimond de la Touche, adding nothing, but on the
contrary, discarding, with dramatic _savoir faire_, all which was not
suitable to set to music. The opera does not begin with an overture, but
with a short orchestral prelude which describes at first the peaceful,
then the stormy sea. When the curtain rises we see the ship sail by,
which bears Orestes and Pylades. After the storm--which is a masterly
piece of orchestration--has subsided, Iphigenia tells her dream to her
companions. In her father's palace she has seen her mother murdered by
the hand of her brother Orestes, while by a supernatural power she seems
compelled to murder him. Sorely oppressed by the remembrance of this
dream she beseeches Diana with the touching words "O, toi, qui prolongeas
mes jours" that she who once saved her life may now take back her gift.
In the meantime the Scythian inhabitants of Tauris have imprisoned the
Greeks cast upon the shore, and Thoas, the ruler of the land, condemns
them to be offered upon the altar of Diana, and Iphigenia the priestess
of the gods, to perform the sacrifice.


In the second act we see the two friends as prisoners in the temple. To
Orestes' outbursts of despair Pylades replies in the touching aria "Unis
dès la plus tendre enfance." In vain! He is powerless to banish the
frightful memories of Orestes, who is plunged again into despair at the
separation from his friend. His words, "Le calme rentre dans mon cœur,"
are only a self-delusion, his real state of mind being betrayed by the
feverish movement in sixteenths of the bass-viol. Not even in sleep can
he find peace, for scarcely has he closed his eyes when the Eumenides
appear and terrify the murderer with their cries of revenge,--and here,
for the first time, the trombones are introduced. After their frightful
song "Vengeons et la nature et les dieux en courroux" and the succeeding
words "Il a tué sa mère," given pianissimo by the entire chorus and the
orchestra, Iphigenia appears, questions the stranger and learns from him
the terrible fate of her parent, and that Orestes himself is no longer
among the living. The second act closes with a funeral celebration in
honor of her brother's memory, during which the priestess mourns her loss
in the aria, "O, malheureuse Iphigénie!"

One of the most beautiful and ennobling scenes of the opera is that
of the third act, in which the friends contend as to which shall be
sacrificed for the other, for to only one of the prisoners does the cruel
Thoas, moved by Iphigenia's prayers, grant life and the permission to
return to Greece. As Orestes threatens to take his own life in case he is
not made the victim, Pylades yields, only with the intention of effecting
his friend's release, however, immediately upon his own deliverance.
This aria in praise of friendship, "Divinité des grandes âmes, amitié,"
is characterized at first by sweet simplicity, but at the words "Je vais
sauver Oreste," the music becomes so grand--especially at the sudden
introduction of the kettle-drums and trumpets, which have not been used
in the entire act--as to produce an irresistible effect upon the audience.

In the fourth act Iphigenia entreats Diana, in the words "Je t'implore
et je tremble, Déesse implacable," to spare her the frightful task of
sacrificing the young stranger, but her supplications are unheeded. As
she seizes the sacrificial knife with which she is to stab Orestes to the
heart, the latter half-involuntarily exclaims: "Ainsi tu péris en Aulide,
Iphigénie, o, ma sœur!" The ensuing scene of recognition in which all the
composer's depth of feeling, all the passion of his heart are embodied,
is of most intense theatrical effect. Now follow, one after another, the
most thrilling scenes. The brother and sister resolve to escape, but
are surprised by Thoas, who insists upon the sacrifice--when Pylades
appears with his faithful Greeks, slays the barbarian, and amid songs of
rejoicing the curtain falls for the last time.

We have already stated that "Iphigénie in Tauris" was the only one of
Gluck's operas which was fully appreciated by the public at its first
representation. How is this remarkable fact to be explained? First of
all we should say, without hesitation, by the impressive force of the
material which is qualified to move and thrill the hearts of men in all
ages, and to which has been given a form exactly suited to the operatic
stage. Secondly, by the music, in which Gluck has adhered more strictly
than in his previous works to his principle of according the first place
to the libretto, for its very subordination to the text heightens rather
than lessens the effect. Concerning the general character of this music,
it is noticeable that the lyric element, which in the course of his
reform Gluck sacrificed more and more to the dramatic, appears again in
the sad "Iphigénie." In the choruses as well as in the arias, some of
which, as we have seen, date from his Italian period, the lyric element
is undeniable, while in the recitatives Gluck the dramatist is revealed
in all his power. This beautiful symmetry of the forces governing
the drama, the well-balanced alternation of the passive mood and the
excitement called forth by the action, together give that solemnity to
the music of "Iphigénie in Tauris" which fills the soul of the listener,
even to the present time, and have given it the precedence of Gluck's

Applause, honors and material reward for his work fell to Gluck's lot in
richer measure than to any musician of his time. On the other hand he
endured all those affronts seldom spared the pioneer artist who is true
to his convictions. It must have grieved him especially to encounter only
ill-will and crude misconception from the majority of his countrymen.
Nearly all North Germany refused to recognize his works, following the
example of Berlin, which, thanks to Frederick the Great, had now achieved
a leading position in artistic and scientific matters. Frederick the
Great himself saw in the Dresden kapellmeister, Hasse, the foremost
representative of the opera, and asserted that Gluck knew nothing of
singing and understood nothing of great operatic style. His sister,
Princess Amelia, who had made a thorough study of composition under
Kirnberger, upon becoming familiar with the "Iphigénie in Aulis" sent the
following verdict to her teacher: "Herr Gluck, according to my opinion,
will never rank as a skilled composer. In the first place, he has no
inventive faculty, secondly his melody is miserable, and thirdly there is
no accent, no expression, everything has a tiresome sameness. Finally and
in general the whole opera is very poor, but it is the latest craze and
has numerous supporters."

[Illustration: Portrait of Gluck, made during his stay in Paris by Aug.
de St. Aubin. From a delicate engraving on copper.]

Professor Forkel, one of the first musical authorities of North Germany,
pronounced an even harsher and more unjust judgment on the master. As
late as 1778, when the latter was about to attain the highest point
of his activity with the "Iphigénie in Tauris," Forkel published in
his "Critical Musical Library" a criticism of 157 pages on the works
of Gluck, in which he exerted all his energy and made use of all his
musical knowledge in order to prove their worthlessness. The professor
took special exception to the passage in the preface to "Alceste" in
which Gluck says he was trying to attain to a noble simplicity. "What
the Chevalier is pleased to call 'noble simplicity,'" says Forkel, "is,
in our opinion, nothing more than a miserable, empty, or, to speak more
clearly, an ignoble stupidity arising from a lack of skill and knowledge;
it is like the stupid simplicity of common people compared with the
noble simplicity in the conduct and conversation of those of culture
and refinement. In the one case all is awkward, faulty and defective,
in the other graceful, true and perfect. In short, Gluck's kind of
noble simplicity resembles the style of our bar-room artists, which
has simplicity enough, it is true, but, at the same time, much that is

Similar expressions of professional prejudice--not to say
stupidity--might be cited by the dozen; but the reader may prefer, in
conclusion, to hear the voices of the noblest, most enlightened of his
countrymen, which amply indemnify the master for the injustice done him
by the "Leckmessern" of his time. _Goethe_ expressed his reverence for
Gluck in the beautiful verses which accompanied the copy of "Iphigénie in
Tauris" which he sent the singer Milder:

    "Dies unschuldvolle, fromme Spiel
    Das edlen Beifall sich errungen,
    Erreichte doch ein höheres Ziel
    Von _Gluck_ betont, von _dir_ gesungen."

    (This noble drama, from corruption free
    Won the unfeigned applause of thoughtful men,
    But reached a still more lofty purpose, when
    To music set by Gluck, and sung by thee!)

Just as sincerely did Wieland, the great master of poetry, pay homage to
music and its great exponent. "I have moments," he wrote on July 13th,
1776, "in which I long inexpressibly for the ability to produce a lyric
work worthy to receive life and immortality through Gluck. And oh! that
we might once be fortunate enough to see and hear him in our midst! That
I might see the man face to face and in his presence give some slight
expression to the emotions kindled by the little I have heard (and very
poorly rendered) of his splendid works!" The year before, Wieland had
spoken still more specifically in regard to the Gluck reform; in 1775, he
wrote in the "German Mercury": "At last we have lived to see the epoch
in which the mighty genius of a Gluck has undertaken the great work of
a musical reform. The success of his 'Orpheus' and 'Iphigénie' would
lead us to hope everything, if, in those capitals of Europe where the
Fine Arts have their chief centre, innumerable obstacles did not oppose
his undertaking. To restore their original dignity to those arts which
the populace have been accustomed to regard as the tools of sensual
enjoyment, and to seat Nature firmly on a throne which has been long
usurped by the arbitrary power of fashion, luxury and voluptuousness, is
a great and daring venture. Gluck has shown us what might be done by
music, if in our day there were an Athens anywhere in Europe, and if, in
this Athens should appear a Pericles who should do for the opera what he
did for the tragedies of Sophocles and Euripides."

Words of this kind were not spoken in vain; their power, together with
Gluck's music, could not but succeed in breaking down the opposition of
even the strictest adherents to the old régime, and before the beginning
of another century all the master's enemies had left the field. From that
time to the present day, there has been no serious-minded lover of music
who has not cheerfully agreed with the motto to be found upon the bust of
Gluck in the Grand Opera in Paris:

    "Il préféra les Muses aux Sirènes."
    (He preferred the Muses to the Sirens.)

[Illustration: W. Langhans.]


From a photograph.]


[Footnote 4: According to Fürstenau ("History of Music and the Theatre
at the Court of Dresden," II., 249), it is not improbable that Gluck
conducted the opera at Hamburg from Nov. 15-27, 1747.]

[Footnote 5: At the twentieth double representation Gluck's work brought
3115 livres, that of Piccini, but 1483 livres. It goes without saying
that the number of people in the audience can never be a criterion for
the intrinsic value of a work of art, unless the author has made no
concession to the taste of the masses. But as Gluck, since his "Orpheus,"
had absolutely refused to do this, the applause of the general public has
all the more weight.]

       *       *       *       *       *

  |                          Transcriber notes:                         |
  |                                                                     |
  |        Please note: text with _surrounding_ it are italics          |
  | P. 3.  'Van Quickleberg' changed to 'Van Quickelberg'.              |
  | P. 21. 'rythmically' changed to 'rhythmically'.                     |
  | P. 28. 'of the the work', taken out one 'the'.                      |
  | P. 35. 'having disapeared', changed 'disapeared' to disappeared'.   |
  | P. 39.  'He died Oct. 24, 1825', the year is '1725', changed.       |
  | P. 47. 'is probab y' changed to 'is probably'.                      |
  | P. 154. 'Neapolitan musican', changed 'musican' to 'musician'.      |
  | P. 158. 'best musican', changed 'musican' to 'musician'.            |
  | P. 159. 'Sonzogno competion', changed 'competion' to 'competition'. |
  | P. 164. 'ecclesiastial music', changed to 'ecclesiastical music'.   |
  | P. 184. 'extented organ', changed 'extented' to 'extended'.         |
  | P. 220. 'musicial activity', changed 'musicial' to 'musical'.       |
  | P. 223. Illustration, 'CHRISTOPH WILIBALD GLUCK' should be          |
  |           'CHRISTOPH WILLIBALD GLUCK', changed.                     |
  | P. 234. 'is dangerrously ill', changed 'dangerrously' to            |
  |           dangerously'.                                             |
  |                   Corrected various punctuation.                    |

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