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

. (page 5 of 194)
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seems to have been when he had returned to
Salzburg in 1771 ; for between July in that
year and the beginning of 1773, it appears to be
proved that he produced no less than fourteen.
But this feat is fairly surpassed in another sense
by the production of the last three in three suc-
cessive months, June, July, and August, 1788;
since the musical calibre of these is so immensely
superior to that of the earlier ones.

One detail of comparison between Mozart's
ways and Haydn's is curious. Haydn began
to use introductory adagios very early, and
used them so often that they became quite a
characteristic feature in his plan. Mozart, on
the other hand, did not use one until his 44th
Symphony, written in 1783. What was the
origin of Haydn's employment of them is
uncertain. The causes that have been sug-
gested are not altogether satisfactory. In the
orthodox form of symphony, as written by the
numerous composers of his early days, the open-
ing adagio is not found. He may possibly have
observed that it was a useful factor in a certain
class of overtures, and then have used it as an
experiment in symphonies, and finding it answer,
may have adopted the expedient generally in
succeeding works of the kind. It seems likely
that Mozart adopted it from Haydn, as its first
appearance (in the symphony which is believed



18



SYMPHONY.



to have been composed at Linz for Count Thun)
coincides with the period in which he is con-
sidered to have been first strongly influenced
by Haydn.

The influence of these two great composers
upon one another is extremely interesting and
curious, more especially as it did not take eSiect
till comparatively late in their artistic careers.
They both began working in the general direc-
tion of their time, under the influences which
have been already referred to. In the depart-
ment of symphony each was considerably in-
fluenced after a time by a special circumstance of
his life ; Haydn by the appointment to Esterhaz
before alluded to, and the opportunities it afforded
him of orchestr.il experiment ; and Mozart by
his stay at Mannheim in 1777. For it appears
most likely that the superior abilities of the
Mannheim orchestra for dealing with purely
instrumental music, and the traditions of
Stamitz, who had there effected his share in the
history of the Symphony, opened Mozart's eyes
to the possibilities of orchestral performance,
and encouraged him to a freer style of compo-
sition and more elaborate treatment of the
orchestra than he had up to that time attempted.
The Mannheim band had in fact been long con-
sidered the finest in Europe ; and in certain
things, such as attention to nuances (which in
early orchestral works had been looked upon as
either unnecessary or out of place), they and
their conductors had been important pioneers ;
and thus Mozart must certainly have had his ideas
on such heads a good deal expanded. The quali-
ties of the symphony produced in Paris early in
the next year were probably the firstfruits of these
circumstances ; and it happens that while this
symphony is the first of his which has maintained
a definite position among the important landmarks
of art, it is also the first in which he uses
orchestral forces approaching to those commonly
employed for symphonies since the latter part of
the last century.

Both Haydn and Mozart, in the course of their
respective careers, made decided progress in
managing the orchestra, both as regards the
treatment of individual instrvmaents, and the
distribution of the details of musical interest
among them. It has been already pointed out
that one of the earliest expedients by which
contrast of eflPect was attempted by writers for
combinations of instruments, was the careful
distribution of portions for 'solo' and 'ripieno'
instruments, as illustrated by Scarlatti's and later
concertos. In J. S. Bach's treatment of the or-
chestra the same characteristic is familiar. Tlie
long duets for oboes, flutes, or bassoons, and the
solos for horn or violin, or viola da gamba, which
continue throughout whole recitatives or arias,
all have this same principle at bottom. Com-
posers had .still to learn the free and yet well-
balanced management of their string forces, and
to attain the mean between the use of wind
instruments merely to strengthen the strings and
their use as solo instruments in long independent
passages. In Haydu's early symphonies the old



SYMPHONY.

traditions are most apparent. The balance be-
tween the diS'erent forces of the orchestra is as
yet both crude and obvious. In the symphony
called 'Le Matin' for instance, which appears
to have been among the earliest, the second
violins play with the first, and the violas with
the basses to a very marked extent — in the fiisfc
movement almost throughout. This first move-
ment, again, begins with a solo for flute. The
slow movement, which is divided into adagio
and andante, has no wind instruments at all,
but there is a violin solo throughout the middle
portion. In the minuet a contrast is attained
by a long passage for wind band alone (as in
J. S. Bach's 2nd Bourree to the ' Ouverture ' in
major) ; and the trio consists of a long and
elaborate solo for bassoon. Haydn early began
experiments in various uses of his orchestra, and
his ways of grouping his solo instruments for
effect are often curious and original. C. F. Pohl,
in his life of him, prints from the MS. parts a
charming slow movement from a Bb symphony,
which was probably written in 1766 or 1767.
It illustrates in a singular way how Haydn at
first endeavoured to obtain a special eflect with-
out ceasing to conform to familiar methods of
treating his strings. The movement is scored
for first and second violins, violas, solo violoncello
and bass, all ' con sordini,' The first and second
vioUns play in unison thoughout, and the cello
plays the tune with them an octave lower, while
the violas play in octaves with the bass all but
two or three bars of cadence ; so that in reality
there are scarcely ever more than two parts
playing at a time. The following example will
show the style ; —










•-^-t-



Towards a really free treatment of his forces h(
seems, hovs^ever, to have been led on insensibb
and by very slow degrees. For over twenty year
of symphony-writing the same limited treatmen
of strings and the same kind of solo passages ar
commonly to be met with. But there is a grow
ing tendency to make the wind and the lowe
and inner strings more and more independent
and to individualise the style of each withi
proportionate bounds. A fine symjjhony (in ]
minor, ' Letter I ') which appears to date froi
1772, is a good specimen of Haydn's intei
mediate stage. The string's play almost incet
santly throughout, and the wind either double



«



if



SYMPHONr.

;he string parts to enrich and reinforce them,
)r else has long holding notes while the strings
:)lay characteristic figures. The following pas-
sage from the last movement will serve to
Uustrate pretty clearly the stage of orchestral
expression to which Haydn had at that time
irrived : —

Presto

Corn! in E



SYJMPHONY.



19



$



Corni In G








etc.


































J











s



:feF



P



^






^^



«



> r^ g"



Violas t Bassi.



^^



I I



t=t=it=tt=t:



f [W-Jim Jmn* » »-i



^Mff



M i l



In the course of the following ten years the
regress was slow but steady. No doubt many
;her composers were writing symphonies besides
!aydn and Mozart, and were, like them, im-
X)ving that branch of art. Unfortunately the
.fficulty of fixing the dates of their productions
sdmost insuperable ; and so their greater re-
■esentatives come to be regarded, not only as
ving an epitome of the history of the epoch,
it as comprising it in themselves. Mozart's
•st specially notable symphony falls in 1778,
his was the one which he wrote for Paris after
s experiences at Mannheim ; and some of his
annheim friends who happened to be in Paris
ith him assisted at the performance. It is in
most every respect a very great advance upon
aydn's E minor Symphony, just quoted. The
jatment of the instruments is very much freer,
id more individually characteristic. It marks
- . important step in the transition from the kind
symphony in which the music appears to have
en conceived almost entirely for violins, with
nd suboidinate, except in special solo passages,
the kind in which the original conception in
jpect of subjects, episodes and development,
ibraced all the forces, including the wind instru-
snts. The first eight bars of Mozart's sym-
ony are sufficient to illustrate the nature of
2 artistic tendency. In the firm and dignified
Tinning of the principal subject, the strings,
th flutes and bassoons, are all in unison for
-» 'ee bars, and a good body of wind instruments
es the full chord. Then the upper strings are
t alone for a couple of bars in octaves, and
! accompanied in their short closing phrase by
independent fuU chord of wind instruments,
ino. This chord is repeated in the same form
rhythm as that which marks the first bars of
I principal subject, and has therefore at once
deal sense and relevancy, besides supplying



the necessary full harmony. In the subsidiary
subject by which the first section is carried on,
the quick lively passages of the strings are ac-
companied by short figures for flute and horns,
with their own independent musical signifi-
cance. In the second subject proper, which
is derived from this subsidiary, an excellent
balance of colour is obtained by pairs of wind
instruments in octaves, answering with an in-
dependent and very characteristic phrase of their
own the group of strings which give out the
first part of the subject. The same well-balanced
method is observed throughout. In the work-
ing out of this movement almost all the instru-
ments have something special and relevant of
their own to do, so that it is made to seem as
if the conception were exactly apportioned to
the forces which were meant to utter it. The
same criticisms apply to all the rest of the
symphony. The slow movement has beautiful
independent figures and plirases for the wind
instruments, so interwoven with the body of the
movement that they supply necessary elements
of colour and fulness of harmony, without ap-
pearing either as definite solos or as meaningless
holding notes. The fresh and merry last move-
ment has much the same characteristics as the
first in the matter of instrumental utterance, and
in its working-out section all the forces havCj if
anything, even more independent work of their
own to do, while still supplying their appropriate
ingredients to the sum total of sound.

The succeeding ten years saw all the rest of
the work Mozart was destined to do in the de-
partment of symphony ; much of it showing in
turn an advance on the Paris Symphony, inas-
much as the principles there shown were worked
out to greater fullness and perfection, while the
musical spirit attained a more definite riclmess,
and escaped further from the formalism which
characterises the previous generation. Among
these symphonies the most important are the
following : a considerable one (in Eb) composed
at Salzburg in 1 780 ; the ' Hafiher ' (in D), which
was a modification of a serenade, and had ori-
ginally more than the usual group of movements ;
the ' Linz ' Symphony (in C ; ' No. 6') ; and the
last four, the crown of the whole series. The first
of these (in D major) was written for Prague in
1786, and was received there with immense favour
in J.anuary 1 787. It appears to be far in advance
of all its predecessors in fi:eedom and clearness
of instrumentation, in the breadth and musical
significance of the subjects, and in richness
and balance of form. It is one of the few of
Mozart's which open with an adagio, and that too
of unusual proportions ; but it has no minuet and
trio. This symphony was in its turn eclipsed
by the three great ones in E flat, G- minor,
and 0, which were composed at Vienna in June,
July and August, 1 788. These symphonies are
almost the first in which certain qualities of
musical expression and a certain method in their
treatment stand prominent in the manner which
was destined to become characteristic of the
great works of the early part of the nineteenth

C2



20



SYMPHONY.



century. Mozart having mastered the principle
upon Nvhich the mature art-form of symphony
was to be attacked, had greater freedom for the
expression of his intrinsically musical ideas, and
could emphasise more freely and consistently the
typical characteristics which his inspiration led
him to adopt in developing his ideas. It must
not, however, be supposed that this principle is
to be found for the first time in these works.
They find their counterparts in works of Haydn's
of a much earlier date ; only, inasmuch as the
art-form was then less mature, the element of
formalism is too strong to admit of the musical
or poetical intention being so clearly realised.
It is of course impossible to put into words with
certainty the inherent characteristics of these or
any other later works on the same lines ; but that
they are felt to have such characteristics is in-
disputable, and their perfection as works of art,
which is so commonly insisted on, could not
exist if it were not so. Among the many
writers who have tried in some way to describe
them, probably the best and most responsible
is Otto Jahn. Of the first of the group (that in
Eb), he says, ' We find the expression of per-
fect happiness in the charm of euphony' which
is one of the marked external characteristics of
the whole work. ' The feeling of pride in the
consciousness of power shines through the mag-
nificent introduction, while the Allegro expresses
the purest pleasure, now in frolicsome joy, now
in active excitement, and now in noble and
dignified composure. Some shadows appear, it
is true, in the Andante, but they only serve to
throw into stronger relief the mild serenity of
a mind communing with itself and rejoicing
in the peace which fills it. This is the true
source of the cheerful transport which rules the
last movement, rejoicing in its own strength
and in the joy of being.' Whether this is all
perfectly true or not is of less consequence than
the fact that a consistent and uniform style and
object can be discerned through the whole work,
and that it admits of an approximate descrip-
tion in words, without either straining or violating
familiar impressions.

The second of the great symphonic trilogy —
that in G minor — has a still clearer meaning.
The contrast with the Eb is strong, for in no
symphony of Mozart's is there so much sadness
and regretfulness. This element also accounts
for the fact that it is the most modern of his
symphonies, and shows most human nature,
E.J. A. Hoffmann (writing in a spirit very dif-
ferent from that of Jahn) says of it, ' Love and
melancholy breathe forth in purest spirit tones ;
we feel ourselves drawn with inexpressible long-
ing towards the forms which beckon us to join
them in their flight through the clouds to an-
other sphere.' Jahn agrees in attributing to it
a character of sorrow and complaining ; and
there can hardly be a doubt that the tonality
as well as the style, and such characteristic
features as occur incidentally, would all favour
the idea that Mozart's inspiration took a sad
cast, and maintained it so far throughout; so



SYMPHONY.

that, notwithstanding the formal passages which
occasionally make their appearance at the closes,
the whole work may without violation of prob-
ability receive a consistent psychological ex-
planation. Even the orchestration seems appro-
priate from this point of view, since the prevailing
effect is far less soft and smooth than that of
the ])revious symphony. A detail of historical
interest in connection with this work is the
fact that Mozart originally wrote it without
clarinets, and added them afterwards for a per-
formance at which it may be presumed they
happened to be specially available. He did
this by taking a separate piece of paper and
rearranging the oboe parts, sometimes combining
the instruments and sometimes distributing the
parts between the two, with due regard to theii
characteristic styles of utterance.

The last of Mozart's symphonies has so obvi
ous and distinctive a character throughout, tha*
popular estimation has accepted the definit<
name ' Jupiter ' as conveying the prevalent feel
ing about it. In this there is far less humai
sentiment than in the G minor. In fact, Mozar
appears to have aimed at something lofty anc
self-contained, and therefore precluding the shad
of sadness which is an element almost indis
pensable to strong human sympathy. When h
descends from this distant height, he assumes
cheerful and sometimes playful vein, as in th
second principal subject of the first movemeni
and in the subsidiary or cadence subject that fo
lows it. This may not be altogether in accorc
ance with what is popularly meant by the nam
'Jupiter,' though that deity appears to ha\
been capable of a good deal of levity in his timf
but it has the virtue of supplying adniirable coi
trast to the main subjects of the section ; and
is so far in consonance with them that there
no actual reversal of feeling in passing from oi
to the other. The slow movement has an appr
priate dignity which keeps it in character, ai
reaches, in parts, a considerable degree
passion, which brings it nearer to human syi
pathy than the other movements. The Minu
and the Trio again show cheerful serenity, ai
the last movement, with its elaborate fugal trer
ment, has a vigorous austerity, which is an (
cellent balance to the character of the fii
movement. The scoring, especially in the &
and last movements, is fuller than is usual w:
Mozart, and produces effects of strong and ch
sound ; and it is also admirably in character wi
the spirit of dignity and loftiness which seems
be aimed at in the greater portion of the musi
subjects and figures. In these later symphon
Mozart certainly reached a far higher pitch
art in the department of instrumental music tl:
any hitherto arrived at. The characteristics
his attainments may be described as a freed
of style in the ideas, freedom in the treatm
of the various parts of the score, and indep
dence and appropriateness of expression in
management of the various groups of instrume
employed. In comparison with the works of
predecessors, and with his own and Hay(



v;li



Iz



SYMPHONY.

earlier compositions there is throughout a most
remarkable advance in vitality. The distribu-
tion of certain cadences and passages of tutti
still appear to modern ears formal; but compared
with the immature formalism of expression,
even in principal ideas, which was prevalent
twenty or even ten years earlier, the improve-
ment is immense. In such structural elements
as the development of the ideas, the concise and
energetic flow of the music, the distribution and
contrast of instrumental tone, and the balance
and proportion of sound, these works are gene-
rally held to reach a pitch almost unsurpassable
from the point of view of technical criticism.
Mozart's intelligence and taste, dealing with
thoughts as yet undisturbed by strong or pas-
ionate emotion, attained a degree of perfection in
the sense of pure and directly intelligible artwhich
later times can scarcely hope to see approached.
Haydn's symphonies up to this time cannot
oe said to equal Mozart's in any respect ; though
hey show a considerable improvement on the
tyle of treatment and expression in the ' Trauer '
:)r the ' Farewell' Symphonies. Of those which
ire better known of about this date are 'La
Poule' and 'Letter V,' which were written
both for Pai-is) in 1786 and 1787. 'Letter Q,'
)r the ' Oxford ' Symphony, which was per-
brmed wlien Haydn received the degree of
3octor of Music from that university, dates
rom 1788, the same year as Mozart's great
riail. ' Letter V ' and ' Letter Q ' are in his
nature style, and thoroughly characteristic in
very respect. The orchestration is clear and
resh, though not so sympathetic nor so elastic
a its variety as Mozart's; and the ideas, with
Jl their geniality and directness, are not up to
lis own highest standard. It is the last twelve,
?hich were written for Salomon after 1790,
/hich have really fixed Haydn's high jjosition
s a composer of symphonies ; these became so
opular as practically to supersede the numer-
us works of all his predecessors and contempo-
ajries except Mozart, to the extent of causing
hem to be almost completely forgotten. This is
ving partly to the high pitch of technical skill
;hich he attained, partly to the freshness and
eniality of his ideas, and partly to the vigour
nd daring of harmonic progression which he
lanifested. He and Mozart together enriched
ais branch of art to an extraordinary degree,
nd towards the end of their lives began to
itroduce far deeper feeling and earnestness
ito the style than had been customary in early
'orks of the class. The average orchestra had
icreased in size, and at the same time had
ained a better balance of its component ele-
lents. Instead of the customary little group
f strings and four wind instruments, it had
jme to comprise, besides the strings, 2 flutes,
oboes, 2 bassoons, 2 horns, 2 trumpets, and
rums. To these were occasionally added 2 clari-
ets, as in Haydn's three last (the two in
► minor and one in Eb), and in one move-
lent of the Military Symphony. Neither
lozart nor Haydn ever used trombones in



SYMPHONY.



21



symphonies ; but uncommon instruments were
sometimes employed, as in the 'Military,' in
which Haydn used a big drum, a triangle and
cymbals. In his latest symphonies Haydn's
treatment of his orchestra agrees in general with
the description already given of Mozart's. The
bass has attained a free motion of its own; the
violas rarely cling in a dependent manner to it,
but have their own individual work to do, and
the same applies to the second violins, which no
longer so often appear merely ' col i mo.' The wind
instruments fill up and sustain the harmonies
as completely as in former days ; but they cease
merely to hold long notes without characteristic
features, or slavishly to follow the string parts
whenever something livelier is required. They
may still play a great deal that is mere doubling,
but there is generally method in it ; and the
musical ideas they express are in a great measure
proportioned to their characters and style of
utterance. Haydn was rather fond of long
passages for wind alone, as in the slow movement
of the Oxford Symphony, the opening passage of
the first allegro of the Military Symphony, and
the ' working out ' of the Symphony in C, no. i
of the Salomon set. Solos in a tune-form for
wind instruments are also rather more common
than in Mozart's works, and in many respects the
various elements which go to make up the whole
are less assimilated than they are by Mozart.
The tunes are generally more definite in their
outlines, and stand in less close relation with their
context. It appears as if Haydn always re-
tained to the last a strong sympathy with simple
people's-tunes ; the character of his minuets
and trios, and especially of his finales, is some-
times strongly defined in this respect ; but his way
of expressing them within the limits he chose is
extraordinarily finished and acute. It is possible
that, as before suggested, he got his taste for sur-
prises in harmonic progression from C. P. E. Bach.
His instinct for such things, considering the age
he lived in, was very remarkable. The passage
on the next page, from his Symphony in C, just
referred to, illustrates several of the above points
at once.

The period of Haydn and Mozart is in every
respect the principal crisis in the history of the
Symphony, When they came upon the scene,
it was not regarded as a very important form
of art. In the good musical centres of those
times — and there were many — there was a great
demand for symphonies ; but the bands for which
they were written were small, and appear from
the most natural inferences not to have been very
efficient or well organised. The standard of
performance was evidently rough, and composers
could neither expect much attention to pianos
and fortes, nor any ability to grapple with tech-
nical difficulties among the players of bass in-
struments or violas. The audiences were critical
in the one sense of requiring good healthy work-



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 5 of 194)