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 6 of 194)
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manship in the writing of the pieces — in fact
much better than they would demand in the
present day ; but with regard to deep meaning,
refinement, poetical intention, or originality, they




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appe.ir to have cared very little. They wanted
to be healthily pleased and entertained, not
stirred with deep emotion ; and the purposes
of composers in those days were consequently
not exalted to any high pitcb, but were limited to
a simjile and unpretentious supply, in accordance
with demand and opportunity. Ha3-dn was
influenced by these considerations till the last.
There is ahvaj's more fun and gaiety in his music
than pensiveness or serious reflection. But in
developing the technical part of expression, in
proportioning the means to the end, and in
organising the forces of the orchestra, what he
did was of the utmost importance. It is, how-
ever, impossible to .apportion the value of the
work of the two masters. Haj^dn did a great
deal of important and substantial work before
Mozart came into prominence in the same field.
But after the first great mark had been made
by the Paris Symphony, Mozart seemed to rush
to his culmination ; and in the last four of his
works reached a style which appears richer,
more sympathetic, and more complete than any-
thing Haydn could attain to. Then, again, wlien



he had passed away, Haydn produced his greate
works. Each composer had his distinctive cha
acteristics, and each is delightful in his o«
way; but Haj'dn would probably not ha-"
reached his highest development without tl
influence of his more richly gifted contemp
rary ; and Mozart for his part was undoubted
very much under the influence of Haydn at :
important part of his career. The best th
can be said by way of distinguishing their i
sjjective shares in the result is that Mozart's la
symphonies introduced an intrinsically music
element which had before been wanting, ai
showed a supreme perfection of actual art
their structure ; while Haydn in the long seri
of his works cultivated and refined his o\
powers to such an extent that when his h
symphonies had made their appearance, t
status of the symphony was raised beyond t
possibility of a return to the old level,
fact he gave this branch of art a stability a
breadth which served as tbe basis upon whi
the art of succeeding generations appears
rest ; and the simplicity and clearness of his st;



SYMPHONY.

and structural principles supplied an intelligible
model for his successors to follow.

One of the most important of the contem-
poraries of Haydn and Mozart in this depart-
ment of art was F. J. Gossec. He was bom in
I733> one year after Haydn, and lived like
him to a good old age. His chief claim to re-
membrance is the good work which he did in im-
proving the standard of taste for instrumental
music in France. According to Fetis such things
as instrumental symphonies were absolutely un-
known in Paris before 1754, in which year Gossec
published his first, five years before Haydn's
first attempt. Gossec's work was carried on
most effectually by his founding, in 1770, the
•Concert des Amateurs,' for whom he wrote
his most important works. He also took the
management of the famous Concerts Spirituels,
with Gavini^s and Leduc, in 1773, and furthered
the cause of good instrumental music there
as well. The few symphonies of his to be
found in this country are of the same calibre,
and for the same groups of instruments as those
of J. C. Bach, Abel, etc., already described ; but
Fetis attributes importance to him chiefly because
of the way in which he extended the dimensions
and resources of the orchestra. His Symphony
in D, no. 21, written soon after the founding of
the Concert des Amateurs, was for a full set of
strings, flutes, oboes, clarinets, bassoons, horns,
trumpets, and drums ; and this was doubtless an
astonishing force to the Parisians, accustomed
as they had been to regard the compositions
of Lulli and Rameau as the best specimens of
instrumental music. But it is clear from other
indications that Gossec had considerable ideas
about the ways in which instrumental music
might be improved, analogous on a much smaller
scale to the aspirations and attempts of Berlioz
at a later date. Not only are his works carefully
marked with pianos and fortes, but in some (as
the Symphonies of op. xii.) there are elaborate
directions as to how the movements are to be
played. Some of these are curious. For instance,
over the ist violin part of the slow movement of
the second symphony is printed the following :
* La difference du Fort au Doux dans ce morceau
doit etre excessive, et le mouvement mod^r^, k
I'aise, qu'il semble se jouer avec le plus grand
facility.' Nearly all the separate movements of
this set have some such directions, either longer
or shorter; the inference from which is that
Gossec had a strong idea of expression and style
in performance, and did not find his bands very
easily led in these respects. The movements
themselves are on the same small scale as those
of J. C. Bach, Abel, and Stamitz ; and very
rarely have the double bar and repeat in the
first movements, though these often make their
appearance in the finales. The style is to
a certain extent individual ; not so robust or so
full as that of Bach or Stamitz, but not without
attractiveness. As his works are very difficult
) to get sight of, tlie following quotation from the
I last movement of a symphony in Bb will serve to
] give some idea of his style and manner of scoring.



SYMPHONY.



2a.



Allegro hallabile. ,




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Another composer of sympho.nies, who is often
heard of in juxtaposition with Haydn and
Mozart, and sometimes as being preferred to
them by the audiences of the time, is Gyrowetz.
His symphonies appear to be on a larger scale
than those of the prior generation of composers
of second rank like himself. A few of them
are occasionally to be met with in collections
of ' Periodical overtures,' ' symphonies,' etc., pub-
lished in separate orchestral parts. One in C,
scored for small orchestra, has an introductory
Ada<?io, an Allegro of about the dimensions of
Haydn's earlier first movements, with double bar
in the middle; then an Andante con sordini (the
latter a favourite device in central slow move-
ments) ; then a Minuet and Trio, and, to end with,
a Rondo in 2-4 time, Allegro non troppo. Others,
in Eb and Bb, have much the same distribution of
movements, but without the introductory Adagio.
The style of them is rather mild and complacent,
and not approaching in any way the interest or
breadth of the works of his great contemporaries ;
but the subjects are clear and vivacious, and
tlie movements seem fairly developed. Other
symphony writers, who had vogue and even



24



SYMPHONY.



celebrity about this time and a little later, sucli
as Krommer (beloved by Schubert), the Rombergs,
and Eberl (at one time preferred to Beethoven),
require no more than passing mention. They
certainly furthered the branch of art very little,
and were so completely extinguished by the ex-
ceptionally great writers who came close upon
one another at that time, that it is even diflScult
to find traces of them.

The greatest of all masters of the Symphony
followed so close upon Haydn, that there is less
of a gap between the last of Haydn's Symphonies
and his first than there was later between some
of his own. Haydn's last was probably written
in 1795. When Beethoven wrote his first can-
not be ascertained; sketches for the Finale are
found as early as the year last mentioned ; but
it was not actually produced in public till April
2, 1800. Like Schumann and Brahms in later
days, he did not turn his attention to this
branch of composition till comparatively late.
The opus-number of his first symphony is 21.
It is preceded by eleven pianoforte sonatas,
several works for pianoforte combined with
other instruments, the well-known Septuor in
Eb, and several chamber compositions for strings.
So that by the time he came to attacking
Symphony he had had considerable practice in
dealing with structural matters. The only works
in which he bad tried his strength with the
orchestra were the two concertos — theBb, op. 19,
which was written in or about 1795> and the
C major, op. 15, which was written about
1796. He showed himself at once a master of
the orchestra ; but it is evident that at first he
stepped cautiously in expressing himself with
such resources. The 1st Symphony is less free
and rich in expression, and has more elements
of formality, than several works on a smaller
scale which preceded it. This is explicable on
the general ground that the orchestra, especially
in those days, was not a fit exponent of the same
kind of things which could be expressed by solo
violins, or the pianoforte. The scale must neces-
sarily be larger and broader; the intricate
development and delicate or subtle sentiment
which is quite appropriate and intelligible in
the intimacy of a domestic circle, is out of
place in the more public conditions of orchestral
performance. This Beethoven must have in-
stinctively felt, and he appears not to have found
the style for fuU expression of his personality in
either of the first symphonies. The second is
even more curious in that respect than the first,
as it comes after one of the richest and most
interesting, and another of the most perfectly
charming and original of the works of his early
period, namely the Sonatas in D minor and Eb
of op. 31. However, even in these two sym-
phonies there is a massiveness and breadth and
seriousness of purpose, which mark them as pro-
ducts of a different and more powerfully consti-
tuted nature than anything of the kind produced
before. At the time when the 1st Symphony
appeared, the opening with the chord of the
minor 7th of C, when the key of the piece was



^



SYMPHONY.

C major, was looked upon as extremely daring ;
and the narrow-minded pedants of the day ielt
their sensitive delicacy so outraged that some
of them are said never to have forgiven it.
The case is very similar to the famous introduc-
tion to Mozart's C major String Quartet, about
which the pedants were little less than insulting.
Beethoven had to fight for his right to express
what he felt to be true ; and he did it without
flinching ; sometimes with an apparent relish.
But at the same time, in these early orchestral
works he seems to have experimented with
caution, and was content to follow his predecessors
in a great deal that he put down. There are
characteristic things in both symphonies ; for in-
stance, in the 1st the transitional passage which
begins at the 65th bar of the Allegro, passing
from G to G minor and then to Bb and back again,
and the corresponding passage in the second
half of the movement. The working out of the-
Andante cantabile and the persistent drum
rhythm are .also striking points. In the 2nd
Symphony the dimensions of the Introduction
are unusual, and the character of all the latter
part and the freedom of the transitions in it are
decisive marks of his tendencies. The Slow move-
ment has also a warmth and sense of genuine
sympathy which is new ; the Scherzo, though
as yet short, has a totally new character about
it, and the abrupt sforzandos and short striking
figures and still more the coda, of the Finale,
are quite his own. In the orchestra it is worth
noting that he adopted clarinets from the first,
apparently as a matter of course ; in the first
two symphonies he continued to use only the
one pair of horns, as his predecessors had done ;
in the third he expanded the group to three.
In the 4th he went back to two, and did not
use four till the 9th. The disposition of his
forces even in the first two is more indepen-
dent and varied than his predecessors. The
treatment of the several groups of instruments
tends to be more distinct and appropriate, and
at the same time more perfectly assimilated in
the total effect of the music. The step to the
3rd Symphony is however immense, and at last
shows this branch of composition on a level with
his other works of the same period. It is sur-
rounded on both sides by some of his noblest
achievements. Opus 47 was the Sonata in A for
violin and pianoforte, known as the 'Kreutzer.'
Opus 53 is the Sonata in C major, dedicated to
Count Waldstein. Opus 54 is the admirable little
Sonata in F major. Opus 55 is the Symphony,
and opus 57 the Sonata known as the 'Appas-
sionata.' It appears that Beethoven had the idea
of writing this symphony as early as 1 798, but
the actual work was probably done in the summer
and autumn of 1803. There seems to be no |^»
doubt that it was written under the influence of
his admiration for Napoleon. His own title-page ;
had on it ' Sinfonia grande, Napoleon Bonaparte,' t Wi
and, as is well known, the name 'Eroica' was
not added till Napoleon became Emperor ; after
which event Beethoven's feelings about him
naturally underwent a change. To call a great



I-



SYMPHONY.



SYMPHONY.



wrork by the name of a great man was quite a

lifferent thing from calling it by the name of a

iTowned ruler. However, the point remains the

same, that the work was written with a definite

purpose and under the inspiration of a special

subject, and one upon which Beethoven himself

issuredly had a very decided opinion. The result

yasthe richest and noblest and by far the biggest

symphony that had ever yet appeared in the

vorld. It is very possible that Beethoven meant

t to be so ; but the fact does not make the step

rom the previous symphonies any the less re-

aarkable. The scoring throughout is most freely

listributed. In the first movement especially

here is hardly any one of the numerous subjects

,nd characteristic figures which has not pro-

lerties demanding different departments of the

•rchestra to express them. They are obviously

onceived with reference to the whole forces at

ommand, not to a predominant central force and

ppendages. The strings must necessarily have

de greater part of the work to do, but the sym-

hony is not written for them with wind as a

pecies of afterthought. But it is still to be

oticed that the balance is obtained chiefly by

efinite propositions and answers between one

roup and another, and though the effect is

elightful, the principle is rendered a little

bvious from the regularity of its occurrence.

he second movement is specially noticeable as

caching the strongest pitch of sentiment as yet

lown in an orchestral slow movement. In the

irliest symphonies these movements were nearly

.ways remarkably short, and scored for fewer

istruments than the first and last. Frequently

ley were little better than 'intermezzi,' attached

1 both sides to the more important allegros.

ven Mozart's and Haydn's latest examples had

ore grace and sweetness than deep feeling, and

equently showed a tendency to formalism in the

:pre6sion of the ideas and in the ways in which

:e ornamental fiorituri were introduced. In

e Eroica the name ' Marcia funebre ' at once

ifines the object ; and though the form of a

arch is to a certain extent maintained, it is

ivious that it is of secondary importance, since

t! attention is more drawn to the rich and noble

;pression of the finest feelings of humanity over

e poetically imagined death of one of the world's

Joes, than to the traditional march form. The

usic seems in fact to take almost the definite-

•ss of speech of the highest order ; or rather, to

press the emotions which belong to the im-

,. ined situation with more fulness and compre-

^.jnsiveness, but with scarcely less definiteness,

^|an speech could achieve. In the third move-

ent appears the first of Beethoven's large or-

estral scherzos. Any connection between it

d the typical Minuet and Trio it is hard to see.

le time is quicker and more bustling ; and the

aracter utterly distinct from the suave grace

d somewhat measured paces of most of the

evious third movements. The main points of

inection with them are firstly the general out-

es of form (that is, the principal portion of the

Lerzo conespouding to the Minuet comes first



and last, and the Trio in the middle) and secondly
the humorous element. In this latter particular
there is very great difference between the naif
and spontaneous fun of Haydn and the grim
humour of Beethoven, sometimes verging upon
irony, and sometimes, with evident purpose, upon
the grotesque. The scherzo of the Eroica is not
alloyed with so much grinmess as some later
ones, but it has traits of melancholy and serious-
ness here and there. The effect in its place
is chiefly that of pourtraying the fickle crowd
who soon forget their hero, and chatter and
bustle cheerfully about their business or pleasure
as before ; which has its humorous or at
least laughter-making ironical side to any one
large-minded enough to avoid thinking of all
such traits of humanity with reprobation and
disgust. The last movement is on a scale more
than equal to that of all the others, and, like
them, strikes an almost entirely new note in
symphonic finales. The light and simple cha-
racter of Haydn's final rondos is familiar to
every one ; and he was consistent in aiming at
gaiety for conclusion. Mozart in most cases
did the same; but in the G- minor Symphony
there is a touch of rather vehement regret-
fulness, and in the C major of strength and
seriousness. But the Finale of the Eroica first
introduces qualities of massiveness and broad
earnest dignity to that position in the symphony.
The object is evidently to crown the work in a
totally different sense from the light cheerful
endings of most previous symphonies, and to
appeal to fine feelings in the audience instead
of aiming at putting them in a cheerful humour.
It is all the difference between an audience
before the revolutionary epoch and after. The
starting-point of the movement is the same
theme from the Prometheus music as that of the
pianoforte variations in Eb (op. 35). The basis of
the whole movement is mainly the variation- form ,
interspersed with fugal episodes ; and a remark-
able feature is the long Andante variation im-
mediately before the final Presto — a somewhat
unusual feature in such a position, though
Haydn introduced a long passage of Adagio in
the middle of the last movement of a symphony
in F written about 1777 ; but of course in a very
different spirit. The Finale of the Eroica as
a whole is so unusual in form, that it is not
wonderful that opinions have varied much con-
cerning it. As a piece of art it is neither so
perfect nor so convincing as the other move-
ments ; but it has very noble and wonderful
traits, and, as a grand experiment in an almost
totally new direction, has a decided historical
importance.

It is not necessary to go through the whole
series of Beethoven's Symphonies in detail, for
one reason because they are so generally familiar
to musicians and are likely to become more and
more so ; and for another because they have been
so fully discussed from different points of view in
this Dictionary. Some short simple particulars
about each may however be useful and interest-
ing. The order of composition of the works which



26



SYMPHONY.



succeeded the Eroica Symphony is almost im-
possible to unravel. By opus-number the 4th
Symphony, in Bb, comes very soon, being op. 60 ;
but tlie sketches for the last movement are in
the same sketch-book as parts of Fidelio, which is
op. 72, and the Concerto in G, which is op. 58, was
begun after Fidelio was finished; It can only be
Been clearly that his works were crowded close
together in this part of his life, and interest
attaches to the fact that they represent the warm-
est and most popular group of all. Close to the
Bb Symphony come the Overture to ' Coriolan,'
the three String Quartets, op. 59, the Violin Con-
certo, the PF. ditto in G major, the Symphony in
C minor, and the 'Sinfonia Pastorale.' The Bb
is on a smaller scale than its predecessor, and of
lighter and gayer cast. The opening bars of
the Introduction are almost the only part which
has a trace of sadness in it ; and this is probably
meant to throw the brightness of the rest of the
work into stronger relief. Even the Slow Move-
ment contains more serenity than deep emotion.
The Scherzo is peculiar for having the Trio re-
peated — altogether a new point in symphony-
writing, and one which was not left unrepeated
or unimitated. What the symphony was meant
to express cannot be known, but it certainly is
as complete and consistent as anj-.

The C minor which followed has been said to
be the first in which Beethoven expressed him-
self freely and absolutely, and threw away all
traces of formalism in expression or development
to give vent to the perfect utterance of his musi-
cal feeling. It certainly is so far the most
forcible, and most remote from conventionalism
of every kind. It was probably written very
nearly about the same time as the Bb, Notte-
bohm says the first two movements were written
in 1805; and, if this is the fact, his work on
the Bb and on the C minor must have overlapped.
Nothing however could be much stronger than
the contrast between the two. The C minor is, in
the first and most striking movement, rugged,
terrible in force ; a sort of struggle with fate, one
of the most thoroughly characteristic of Beetho-
ven's productions. The second is a contrast ;
peaceful, though strong and earnest. The Scherzo
again is one of his most original movements ; in
its musical spirit as utterly unlike anything tliat
had been produced before as possible. i'uU of
fancy, fun, and humour, and, notwithstanding the
pauses and changes of time, wonderful in swing ;
and containing some devices of orchestration
quite magical in their clearness, and their fitness
to the ideas. The last movement, which follows
without break after the Scherzo, is triumphant ;
seeming to express the mastery in the wrestling
and striving of the first movement. It is histori-
cally interesting as the first appearance of trom-
bones and contrafagotto in modern symphony ;
and the most powerful in sound up to that time.
The next symphony, which is also the next opus-
number, is the popular 'Pastoral,' probably written
in 1808, the second of Beethoven's which has a
definitely stated idea as the basis of its inspira-
tion, and the first in which a programme is sug-



SYMPHONY.

gested for each individual movement; though
Beethoven is careful to explain that it is ' mehr
Empfindung als Malerei.' Any account of this
liappy inspiration is clearly superfluous. The
situations and scenes which it brings to the mind
are familiar, and not likely to be less beloved as
the world grows older. The style is again ir
great contrast to that of the C minor, being
characterised rather by serenity and content
ment ; which, as Beethoven had not heard of al
the troubles of the land question, might naturalb
be his feelings about country life. He usee
two trombones in the last two movements, bu
otherwise contented himself with the same grou]:
of instruments as in his earliest symphonies. j
After this there was a pause for some year!
during which time appeared many noble an^
delightful works on other lines, including th
pianoforte trios in D and Eb, the Mass in C mino:
op. 86, the music to Egmont, op. 84, and sever,'
sonatas. Then in one year, 1812, two symphonic
appeared. Tiie first of the two, in A major, nun
bered op. 92, is looked upon by many' as the moi
romantic of all of them j and certainly has qua]
ties which increase in attractiveness the betti
it is known and understood.' Among special]
noticeable points are the unusual proportioi
and great interest of the Introduction {po
sostenuto) ; the singular and fascinating wilfi
ness of the first movement, which is enhanced 1
some very characteristic orchestration; the not
calm of the slow movement ; the merry humo
of the scherzo, which has again the same pecu
arity as the 4th Symphony, that the trio is i
peated (for which the world has every reason
be thankful, as it is one of the most complete
enjoyable things in all symphonic literature) ; a
finally the wild headlong abandonment of t



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