George Grove.

A dictionary of music and musicians (A.D. 1450-1889) by eminent writers, English and foreign : with illustrations and woodcuts (Volume 4) online

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SUMER IS ICUMEN IN {continued from
vol. iii. p. 768).

While receivinpr with due respect the judg-
ment of the writers already quoted, we cannot but
feel that, in most cases, their authority is weak-
ened, almost to worthlessness, by the certainty
that it rests on evidence collected entirely at
second-hand. Neither Forkel, de Coussemaker,
nor Ambros, ever saw the original document ;
their statements, therefore, tend rather to confuse
than to enlighten the enquirer. Still, great as
aje the anomalies with which the subject is sur-
rounded, we do not believe them to be irrecon-
cileable. Some critics have trusted to the peculiar
counterpoint of the Eota, as the only safe guide
to its probable antiquity. Others have laid
greater stress upon the freedom of its melody.
We believe that the one quality can only be
explained by reference to the other, and that the
student who considers them separately, and with-
out special reference to the caligraphy of the
MS., stands but a slender chance of arriving at
the truth. We propose to call attention to each
of these three points, beginning with that which
SKoms to us the most important of all — the cha-
racter and condition of the MS.

I. The style of the handwriting corresponds
so closely with that in common use during the
earlier half of the 33th century that no one
accustomed to the examination of English MSS.
of that period can possibly mistake it. So positive
are the indications, on this point, that Sir Fred-
erick Madden— one of the most learned palceo-
graphers of the present century — did not hesitate
to express his own conviction, in terms which
leave no room for argument. ' The whole is of
the thirteenth century,' he says, * except some
writing on ff. 15-17.* And, in a later note,
comparing this MS. with the 'Cartulary of
Reading' (MSS. Cott. Vesp. E. v.), he states his
belief that, 'in all probability, the earlier por-
tion of this volume' — i.e. that which contains

VOL. IV. TT. 1.

the Rota — ' was written in the Abbey of Read-
ing, about the year 1 240.' ' The present libra-
rian, Mr. E- Maunde Tliompson, unhesitatingly
endorses Sir F. Madden's judgment; and the
Palseographical Society has also corroborated it,
in connection with an autotype facsimile — Part
VIII, Plate 125 (Lond. 1878)— referred to the
year 1240.

Fortunately the MS. is in such perfect pre-
servation that the corrections made during its
preparation can be distinctly traced. In a few
places, the ink used for the Antiphon on the
preceding page can be seen through the vellum :
but, apart from the spots traceable to this cause,
there are a considerable number of evident
erasures, clearly contemporary with the original
handwriting, and corrected by the same hand,
and in the same ink. The second note on Stave i
was originally an F. The first and second notes
on Stave 4 were originally two C s ; the fourth
note was a D; and the fifth, a C Between
the sixth and seventh notes, in the same Stave,
there are traces of a D, and also of an F : tlie D
has certainly been erased to make room for the
present notes ; the appearance of the F is pro-
duced by a note showing through from the
opposite side. The eighth note on this Stave was
an E. Over the ligature which immediately
follows, there are traces of a C ; and, towards the
end of this Stave, a last erasure has been made,
for the insertion of the solitary black square
note.''* The marks which show through the vel-
lum are to be found near the beginning of Stave
3, and in several other places. Neither these,
nor the erasures, are to be seen in our facsimile,
though traces of both may be found in the auto-
type of the Palaeographical Society.

2. The mixed character of the Part -Writing
has puzzled many an able commentator ; for, side
b}" side with passages of rudest Discant, it exhibits

1 See vol. ill. p. 263 a (note) ; and 7Go i (note).
' Compare wlth/acsi'miie, vol. iii. p. 2(i9.


progressions which might well have passed un-
censured in the far later days of Palestrina.
The 4th, 6th, 7th, 8th, and 24th bars* are in
Strict Two-Part Counterpoint of the First and
Second Order, of irreproachable purity.^ But,
in passing from the 9th to the loth, and from
the 13th to the 14th bars, a flagrant violation
of the First Cardinal Rule ^ results in the form-
ation of Consecutive Fifths between the First
and Third Cantus Parts, in the one case, and
between the Second and Fourth Cantus, in the
other. The same Rule is broken, between Cantus
II, and BasBus I, in passing from bar 17 to bar
18; and, in bars 37, 38, 39, a similar infraction
of the Rule produces no less than three Con-
secutive Fifths between Cantus I, and Bassus II.
Between bars 29 and 30, Cantus I and II sing
Consecutive Unisons ; and the error is repeated,
between bars 33, 34, by Cantus II and Cantus III,
simultaneously with Consecutive Fifths between
both these Parts and Cantus I. Similar faults
are repeated, as the Rota proceeds, with per-
sistent regularity.

Now, the smooth progressions shown in the
4th, 8th, and 24th bars, are as stringently for-
bidden in the Diaphonia of the nth and 12th
centuries, as the Consecutive Fifths in bars 37,
38, and 39, are in the Counterpoint of the 15th
and 1 6th, or even in that of the 14th century.
To which of these epochs, then, are we to refer
the Rota ? The peculiarity of the Part- Writing
clearly affords us no means whatever of answer-
ing the question, but is calculated rather to mis-
lead than to throw new light upon the point at

3. Turning from the Part-Writing to the Me-
lody, we find this pervaded by a freedom of rhythm,
a merry graceful swing, immeasurably in advance
of any kind of Polyphonic Music of earlier date
than the Falas peculiar to the later decads of
the 1 6th century — to which decads no critic has
ever yet had the hardihood to refer the Rota.
But, this flowing rhythm is not at all in advance
of many a Folk Song of quite unfathomable
antiquity. The merry grace of a popular
melody is no proof of its late origin. The
dates of such melodies are so uncertain, that
the element of Chronology may almost be said
to have been eliminated from the history of
the earlier forms of National Music. In most
cases, the original Poetry and Music owed their
origin, in all probability, to the same heart and
voice. The melodies were not composed, but
inspired. If the verses to which they were in-
debted for their existence were light and trip-
ping, so were they. If the verses were gloomy,
the melodies naturally corresponded with them.
And, because their autliors, however unskilled
they might be in the Theory of Music, were in
the constant habit of hearing Church Melodies
sung in the Ecclesiastical Modes, they naturally
conformed, in most cases, to the tonality of those

1 In this, ana all other cases, the references apply to our own Score
in modem Notation, toI. iii. p.76fi.

2 See Strict OonNTEHPOlNT, vol. iil. p. 741—743.

3 lb. p. 741 a.


venerable scales. We believe the Melody of th
Rota to be an inspiration of this kind — a Folk
Song, 2'>ur et simple, in the Transposed Ionia'
Mode, owing its origin to the author eitlier c
the English or the Latin verses to which it i

Now, some Folk-Songs of great antiquit
possess the rare and very curious peculiarity c
falling into Canon of their own accord. A:
old version of ' Drops of brandy ' forms a ver
fair Canon in the unison for two voices. In th
days of Madame Stockhausen, tlwee independen
Swiss melodies were accidentally found to fi
togetlier in the same way, and were actuall
published in the form of an English Roimc
which soon became very popular.

The melody of the Rota — if we are right ii
believing it to be a genuine Folk-Song — possesse
this quality in a very remarkable degree. Wha
more probable, then, than that a light-heartei
young Postulant should troll it forth, on som
bright May-morning, during the hour of recrea
tion ? That a second Novice should chime in, ;
little later ? That the effect of the Canon shouL
be noticed, admired, and experimented upon, unti
the Brethren found that four of them could sin|
the tune, one after the other, in very pleasan
Harmony ? There must have been many f
learned Discantor at Reading, capable of modi
fying a note or two of the melody, here an(
there, for the purpose of making its phrases fi
the more smoothly together. So learned a mu
sician would have found no diflBculty whatever ii
adding the pes, as a support to the whole — an(
the thing was done. The Harmony suggested
in the first instance, by a veritable ' Dutch Con
cert,' became a Round, or Canon, of the kinc
proved, by Mr. Chappell's opportune discover
of the Latin pun [see vol. iii. p. 768a], to havi
been already familiar to English ears ; for whicl
very reason it was all the more likely, in a casi
like the present, to have been indebted for it
confection to a happy accident.

The foregoing suggestion is, of course, purel;;
hypothetical. We do not, however, make i
with the intention of evading a grave chrono
logical diflBculty by a mere idle guess. Th
influence exercised, by the jioint we are consider
ing, upon the history of Mediaeval Music ii
general, and that of the Early English School ii
particular, is of so great importance, that thi
element of conjecture would be altogether out o
place in any chain of reasoning professing t'
solve the difficulties of an enigma which has puz
zled the best Musical Antiquaries of the age
We venture, therefore, to propose no conjectura
theor}', but simply to epitomise the results of
long course of study which has rendered th<
Reading MS. as familiar to us as our owi
handwriting ; submitting it to our readers wit]
all possible deliberation, as a means of accountin|
for certain peculiarities in the Rota which wouh
otherwise remain inexplicable. It accounts fo
a freedom of melody immeasurably in advanci
of that attained by the best Polyphonists o,ii
the 15th century, whether in the Flemish o


Italian School. It accounts for the transcription,
in a handwriting of the 13th century, of pro-
gressions which were not sanctioned by scholastic
authority until the 15th ; and, at the same time,
for the admixture, with these, of other progres-
sions, which, in the 15th century, would have
been peremptorily forbidden ; in other words,
it accounts for simultaneous obedience to two
distinct Codes of Law diametricall)' opposed to
each other ; two systems of Part-Writing which
never were, and never could, by any possibility
be, simultaneously enforced — viz. the Law of Coun-
terpoint, which, in the 14th and 15th centuries,
forbade the approach to a Perfect Concord in
Similar Motion ; and that of Diaphonia, which,
in the nth and 12th, practically enjoined it,
by employing no other Intervals than doubled
Fourths, Fifths, and Octaves. It accounts for the
erasures to which we have already called atten-
tion ; placing them in the light of improvements,
rather than that of necessary corrections. More-
over, it accounts, with still greater significance,
for the otherwise inexplicable absence of a whole
army of familiar progressions, conventional forms
of ornamentation, Cadences true, false, plain,
diminished, modal, or medial, and of Licences in-
numerable, which, after the substitution of Coun-
terpoint for Discant, never failed to present them-
selves, at every turn, in Polyphonic compositions
of every kind, produced in every School in Eu-
rope. These anomalies have not been accounted
for by any critic who has hitherto treated the
subject. Yet, surely, those who doubt the antiquity
of the Rota, on the ground of its advanced construc-
tion, owe us some explanation as to the presence
of this advanced style in certain passages only.
We sorely need some information as to how it
came to pass that the piece was written in three
distinct styles: two, of part-writing, separated by
an interval of two or three centuries, at least ;
and one, of melody, which, if not the result of an
inspired Folk- Song, of remotest antiquity, must
bring us down to a period subsequent to the in-
vention of Monodia in the 1 7th century. Our
theory, if admissible at all, explains all these
things. A learned Musician, deliberately in-
tending to write a Canon for six voices, would,
had he lived in the 1 2th century, have adopted
the style observable in bars 37, 38, and 39, as that
of the entire composition. Another, flourishing
in the 15th century, would have confined himself
to that shown in bars 4, 6, 8, and 24. But,
though the later savant would never have passed
the Fifths and Octaves, the earlier one, had he
possessed sufficient natural genius to enable him
to rise above the pedantry of the age, would
surely have excused a great deal of what he
considered, and taught, to be licence. Finding
that a Popular Melody of the day fitted together,
in certain places, in a — to his ear — delightful
succession of similar Perfect Concords, he would
surely have forgiven certain other passages which
defied his rules, but, judged by his natural in-
stinct, did not 'sound bad.' Whether John of
Fornsete did really construct the Rota on this
principle, or not, we can never know for cer-


tain : but, since the accident we have suggested
certainly has happened, and been turned to
advantage in other cases, there is nothing
improbable in the supposition that it may
have happened before, in that which we are now

The fact that no other English Rota of equal
antiquity with this has as yet been brought to
light, proves nothing. The wonder is, not that
we can find no similar examples, but, that even
this one should have escaped the wholesale
destruction which devastated our Cathedral and
Monastic Libraries, first, during the reign of
King Henry VIII, and afterwards, during the
course of the Great Rebellion. Moreover, we
must not forget that the Reading MS., though it
contains only one Rota, contains no less than
three Latin Antiphons, two for three Voices,
and one for ^four; and that the Chaucer MS.,^
of very little later date, contains several Compo-
sitions for two Voices, all tending to prove the
early date at which the Art of Polyphonic Com-
position was cultivated in England.^

These suggestions are made for the express
purpose of inviting discussion ; and, should any
new light be thrown upon the subject, in the
meantime, it will be noticed in a future article

on ViLLANELLA. [W.S. R.]

SUPERTONIC. The second note of the scale
upwards, as D in the key of C. It is brought
into much prominence in modern music as the
dominant note of the dominant key. The strong
tendency to find the chief balance and antithesis
in that key, and to introduce the second subject
of a movement in it, as well as the tendency to
make for that point even in the progress of a
period, necessarily throws much stress upon the
root-note of the harmony which leads most
directly to its tonic harmony, and this is the domi-
nant of the new key or supertonic of the original
one. It has consequently become so familiar,
that its major chord and the chord of the minor
seventh built upon it, although chromatic, are
freely used as part of the original key, quite
irrespective of the inference of modulation whicli
they originally carried. Some theorists recognise
these chords as part of the harmonic complement
of the key, and consequently derive several of the
most characteristic and familiar chromatic com-
binations from the supertonic root. [C.H.H.P.]

SUPPE, VON, known as Feanz von Sdppe,
the German Offenbach, of Belgian descent, though
his family for two generations had lived at
Cremona, was born at Spalato, or on board ship
near it, April 18, 1820, and his full baptismal
name is Fkancesco Ezechiele Eemenegildo
CAVALTBUiE SuppE Demellt. His tasto for music
developed early. At 1 1 he learned the flute, at

1 See vol. iii. p. 270 n.

2 Arundel MSS. No. 248. See vol. iii. p. 427 b. The Montpellier
MS. is certainly no older than this, and probably not so old.

3 Fosbroke, in his ' British Monachism ' (vol. ii. p. HS), tells us that
the Sonj of the Anglo-Saxon Monks consisted of a method of Sgurate
Discant, in vrhich the various Voices. followinR one another, were
perpetually repeating different words, at the same time. Surely, this
savours strongly of tlie ' form of the liound.'



13 harmony, and at 15 produced a mass at the
rranciscan church at Zara. His father, however,
had other views for him, and sent him to
the University of Padua. But music asserted
itself; he learned from Cigala and Ferrari, and
■wrote incessantly. At this moment his father
died, the mother settled in Vienna, where Fran-
cesco joined her; and after a little hesitation
between teaching Italian, practising medicine,
and following music, he decided on the last,
got lessons from Seyfried, and obtained a gra-
tuitous post as Conductor at the Josephstadt
theatre, This was followed by better engage-
ments at Pressburg and Baden, and then at the
theatres an-der-Wien, Quai, and Leopoldstadt
in Vienna, with the last-named of which he
is still connected. His work at these houses,
though for long mere patching and adding, was
excellent practice, and he gradually rose to more
independent things. In 1844 a ' Sommernachts-
traum,' founded on Shakspeare, and composed
by him, is mentioned in the A. M. Z. ' Der
Kramer und sein Commis ' followed. In 1847
he was at the Theatre an-der-Wien and (Aug. 7)
brought out a piece, ' Das Madchen vom Lande '
(The country girl), which met with wild success.
Ten years later (Jan. 8, 1858) a Singspiel,
' Paragraph 3,' spread his fame into North Ger-
many, and from that time a stream of pieces
Howed from his pen. His works are said by the
careful Wurzbach ^ to reach the astonishing num-
ber of 2 grand operas, 165 farces, comediettas,
and vaudevilles, etc., as well as a Mass ( 'Missa
dalmatica,' Spina, 1877), a Requiem produced at
Zara in i860 under the title of 'L'estremo Giu-
dizio' etc., etc. A list pf 49 of his operatic pieces
is given by Wurzbach, but a few only are dated.
Another list of 21 is given by Batka in Pougin's
supplement to F^tis, but the titles are French,
and it is hard to make the dates agree. Some
of the pieces are mere parodies, as ' Tannen-
hauser,' ' Dinorah, oder die Turnerfahrt nach
Hiitteldorf.' One, 'Franz Schubert,' is founded
on the life of Schubert, and contains five of his
songs. The only pieces of Suppe's known out
of Germany are ' Fatinitza,' produced at Vienna,
Jan. 5, 1S76 ; at the Alhambra, London, June 20,
1878, and at the Nouveautes, Paris, March 1879 ;
and 'Boccaccio,' which was brought out in London,
at the Comedy Theatre, April 22, 1882. The
overture to 'Dichter und Bauer,' the only one of
his overtures known in England, must be his
most popular work abroad, since it has been
arranged for no less than 59 different combina-
tions of instruments, all published by Aibl of
Munich. It is a stock piece in the Crystal Palace
repertoire. [G.]

SURIANO. [See Soriano, vol. iii. p. 638.]
SURMAN, Joseph, born 1803, son of a dis-
senting minister at Chesham, became a music
copyist, tenor chorister, and clerk at a dissenters'
chapel. On the establishment of the Sacred
Harmonic Society in 1832 he was appointed
itj conductor. In 1838 he became music pub-

3 Binj. Lexlkon iles Oesterrelch. Part 40 ; 1330.


lisher, chiefly of sacred music in separate parts f
About the same time he was assistant conductoit
of the Melophonic Society. In 1842 he wafj
chosen to conduct the Worcester Festival. An;
inquiry by a special committee into his officiail
conduct as agent for and conductor of the Sacredj
Harmonic Society having resulted in an unanim-j
ously adverse report, he was removed from his]
office, Feb. 15, 184S. He then attempted thfj
formation of the ' London Sacred Harmonic So-
ciety,' but failing to obtain sufficient members]
carried on concerts in the society's name at his,
own expense for 7 or 8 years. Sunnan died
Jan. 20, 1871. [W.H.H.'i

SUSANNA. An oratorio in three parts, bj
Handel ; the author of the words is not known '
The overture was begun on July 11, 174S, a!
month after the completion of 'Solomon,' nnd the'
work was finished on the 24th of the following
month. It was produced during the season oi
1749. [G.;

SUSATO. [See Tylman.]
SUSPENSION is the process of arresting the
conjunct motion of one or more parts for a time,
while the rest of the components of the chord,
proceed one step onwards, and thereby come to
represent a different root. The part which is
stayed in this manner commonly produces dis-
sonance, which is relieved by its then passing on -
to the position it would have naturally occupied
sooner had the motion of the parts been simul-
taneous. Thus in the progression of the chord
of the Dominant seventh to Tonic harmony (a),
the part which takes the upper note (or seventh)
can be delayed and made to follow into its position
after the rest of the chord has moved, as in {b),
thereby producing a fourth in place of a third

Online LibraryGeorge GroveA dictionary of music and musicians (A.D. 1450-1889) by eminent writers, English and foreign : with illustrations and woodcuts (Volume 4) → online text (page 1 of 194)