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 68 of 194)
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tium aus verschiedenen Sonaten, nebst ihren
Arien, Balladen, AUemanden, Couranten, Sara-
banden und Giguen, von 5 Partieen bestehend,
Dresden, 16S7'; and (2) ' Musikalische Tafel-
bedienung (Dinner-Service), Dresden, 1674.'
Thomas Baltzar was, according to Burney and
Hawkins, the first violinist who came to England.
He appears to have greatly astonished his au-
diences, especially by his then unknown efliciency
in the shift, in which however he did not exceed
the 3rd position. It is amusing to read, that a
certain D. Wilson, who was then considered the
best connoisseur of music at Oxford, confessed
that, when he first heard Baltzar play, he had
looked at his feet to see whether he had a hoof,
as his powers seemed to him diabolic. Baltzar's
compofaitions consist of Chamber Sonatas in the
sense of Suites of Preludes, Dances and Varia-
tions. Burney, in the fourth volume of his



VIOLIN-PLAYING.

History, gives an Allemande of his. Two sets ol
' The Division Violin ' were published in London
in 16S8 and 1693. [See vol. i. p. 451 a]. Of fai
greater importance than Baltzar are two Germar
violinists, Johann Jacob AValther (bom 1650),
and Franz Heinrich Biber (died 1698). Wal-
THER [see that article] appears to have been a sori
of German Farina, with a technique much f urthei
developed ; he ascends to the 6th position anc
writes difficult double-stops, arpeggios and chords
His compositions are, however, clumsy and pooi
in the extreme, and if we consider that he was : 1
contemporary of Corelli, we cannot fail to notic I
the much lower level of German art as comparec
with that of Italy. Biber was no doubt an artis \
of great talent and achievement. [See vol. i. p. 240.
His technique was in some respects in advanc(
of that of the best Italian violinists of the period .
and from the character of his compositions W'
are justified in assuming that his style of playin;
combined with the pathos and nobility of th
Italian style that warmth of feeling which ha
ever been one of the main characteristics of tU
great musical art of Germany.

In tracing the further progress of violin-play
ing we must return to Italy. After Vitali it i
ToRELLi (165 7-1 7 1 6) who chiefly deserves ou
attention, as having added to the Sonata a ne\
and important kind of violin-composition, th
Concerto. In his Concerti da Camera and Cod
certi grossi we find the form of the Sonata d
Chiesa preserved, but the solo-violins (one
two) are accompanied not only by a bass, as ir
the Sonata, but by a stringed band (2 orclie;
tr.1l or ripieno violins, viola and bass), to whic
a lute or organ part is sometimes added, a
arrangement which on the whole was followe
by Vivaldi, Corelli, and Handel. If no remarl
able progress in the technique of the instruniei
was effected by the introduction of the Concerti
it is all the more striking to notice how henci
forth the best composers for the Church contr
bute to the literature of the violin. We have, i
fact, arrived at a period in which the mo:
talented musicians, almost as a matter of cours'
were violinists — just as in modern times, wit
one or two exceptions, all great composers ha\
been pianists. The most eminent representnti\
of this tj'pe of composer- violinist is Arcanget
Corelli (1653-1713). His works, though j
the main laid out in the forms of his pn
decessors and, as far as technique goes, keepir
within modest limits, yet mark an era both i
musical composition and in violin-playing. H
was one of those men who seem to sum up in thei:
selves the achievements of their best predece
sors. Corelli's place in the history of instrument
music is fully discussed elsewhere. [See Corell
vol. i. p. 400; Sonata, vol. iii. p. 556.] Here
remains only to state that in both main branch
of violin-composition, in the Sonata and the Coi
certo, his works have served as models to the best
his successors. They are distinguished chiefly 1
conciseness of form and logical structure. The
is nothing tentative, vague or experimental
them; the various parts seem balanced to



VIOLIN-PLAYING.

icety, the whole finished up and rounded off
ith unerring mastery. His harmonies and mo-
cdations, though not free from monotony, are
)und and natural; simplicity and dignified pathos
a the one hand, and elegant vivacity on the other,
re the main characteristics of his style. The
Kihnical difficulties contained in his works are
ot great, and in this respect Corelli's merit does
ot lie in the direction of innovation, but rather
[limitation and reform. We have seen how the
iolin at the beginning of its career simply
lopted the style of the vocal music of the period,
ow later on it took in the orchestra the place of
le cometto, and how, though very gradually, a
jecial violin style began to be formed. Now
(llowed a period of experiments — all more or
!ss tending towards the same end — a style which
lould correspond to the nature, ideal and
lechanical, of the instrument. In both re-
jects, as we have seen, remarkable progress was
lade ; although exaggeration was not always
TOided. The virtuoso par excellence made his
ppearance even at this early period. Corelli, by
dent and character had gained a position of
uthority with his contemporaries, which has but
3W parallels in the history of music. This au-
hority lie used to give an example of artistic
urity and simplicity, to found a norm and model
f violin-playing which forms the basis of all
Qcceeding legitimate development of this im-
ortant branch of music.

Before mentioning the most important of
lorelli's pupils we have to consider the influence
xercised on violin-playing by the Venetian
avALDi (died 1743). Though by no means an
rtist of the exalted type of Corelli, his estra-
rdinary fertility as a composer for the violin,
lis ingenuity in making new combinations and
evising new effects, and especially his undoubted
iifluence on the further development of the Con-
erto-form, give him an important position in
be history of violin-playing. While in the Con-
erti grossi of Torelli and Corelli the solo- violins
re treated very much in the same manner as
he orchestral violins — the solo-passages being
:sually accompanied by the bass alone — Vivaldi
lot only gives to the solo-violins entirely distinct
lassages of a much more brilliant character.but he
Iso adds to his orchestra oboes and horns, which
lot merely double other parts, but have inde-
lendent phrases and passages toperform — thereby
;iving the earliest instance of orchestration as
pplied to the Concerto.

As an executant the Florentine Yekacini^
xercised a greater influence than Vivaldi.
)wing in great measure to its connexion with
he Church, the Italian school of violin-playing
lad formed a pure and dignified style, which
vas brought to perfection by Corelli. As far as
t went, nothing could be more legitimate and
atisfactory in an artistic sense — yet there was
omething wanting, if this severe style was not to
apse into conventionality : the element of hu-
nan individuality, strong feeling and passion,
iome German masters — especially Biber — were

> Francesco Haria (about 1685-1750). See Tol. iv. p. 239,



VIOLIN-PLAYING.



291



certainly not devoid of these qualities ; but their
efforts were more or less crude, and lacking in
the fine sense for beauty of form and sound
which alone can produce works of art of a,
higher rank. Veracini, a man of passionate
temperament, threw into his performances and
compositions an amount of personal feeling and
life, which in his own day brought on him
the charge of eccentricity, but which to us ap-
Ijears as one of the earliest manifestations of a.
style which has made the violin, next to the
human voice, the most powerful exponent of
musical feeling. His Violin Sonatas are remark-
able for boldness of harmonic and melodic treat-
ment, andof masterly construction. The demands
he makes on execution, especially in the matter
of double stops and variety of bowing, are con-
siderable. His influence on Tartini — after Co-
relli the greatest representative of the Italian
school — we know to have been paramount. [See
Taktini, vol. iv. p. 58.] Tartini (1692-1770)
by a rare combination of artistic qualities of the
highest order, wielded for more than half a
century an undisputed authority in all matters
of violin-playing, not only in Italy, but in Ger-
many and France also. He was equally eminent
as a performer, teacher, and composer for the
violin. Standing, as it were, on the threshold
of the modem world of music, he combines with
the best characteristics of the old school some
of the fundamental elements of modem music.
Himself endowed with a powerful individuality,
he was one of the first to assert the right of
individualism in music. At the same time we
must not look in his works for any material
change of the traditional forms. His Concertos
are laid out on the plan of those of Corelli and
Vivaldi, while his Sonatas, whether he calls them
da chiesa or da camera, are invariably in the
accepted form of the Sonata da chiesa. The
Sonata da camera in the proper sense, with its
dance forms, he almost entirely abandons. The
difference between Tartini's style and Corelli's is
not so much one of form as of substance. Many
of Tartini's works bear a highly poetical and
even dramatic character, qualities which, on the
whole, are alien to the beautiful but colder
and more formal style of Corelli. His melodies
often have a peculiar charm of dreaminess and
melancholy, but a vigorous and manly tone is
equally at his command. His subjects, though
not inferior to Corelli's in conciseness and clear
logical structure, have on the whole more breadth
and development. His quick passages are freer
from the somewhat exercise-like, dry character
of the older school ; they appear to be organically
connected with the musical context, and to grow
out of it. As an executant Tartini marks a great
advance in the use of the bow. While no ma-
terial change has been made in the construction
of the violin since the beginning of the i6th cen-
tury, the bow has undergone a series of modifica-
tions, and only toward the end of the 1 8th century
attained its present form, which combines in such
a remarkable degree elasticity with firmness. [See
Bow, vol. i. p. 264; TouRTE, vol. iv. p. 155.}

U 2



292



VIOLIN-PLAYING.



Whether Tartini himself did anything to perfect
the bow, we are not aware, but the fact that
old writers on musical matters frequently speak
of 'Tartini's bow,' seems to point that way. At
any rate, we know that in his time the bow
gained considerably in elasticity, and in some
letters and other writings of Tartini's we have
direct evidence that he made a more systematic
study of bowing than any one before him. The
task of the violinist's left hand is a purely
mechanical one : all power of expression rests
with the bow. If we consider the character of
Tartini s compositions, we cannot but see what
great and new claims on expression, and conse-
quently on bowing, are made in them. That
these claims were fulfilled by Tartini in an
extraordinary degree, is the unanimous opinion
ct" his contemporaries : in the production of a
line tone in all its gradations, as well as in perfect
management of a great variety of bowing, he had
no rival. As regards the technique of the left
hand he excelled particularly in the execution of
shakes and double-shakes, than which there is no
better test for those fundamental conditions of
all execution, firmness and lightness of finger-
movement. At the same time, to judge from
his compositions, his technique was limited even
in comparison to that of some of his contempo-
raries — he does not exceed the 3rd position, his
double-stops are on the whole simple and easy.
He appears to have adhered to the holding of
the violin on the right side of the string-holder,
a method which was a barrier to further develop-
ment of the technique of the left hand. With
him the exclusive classical Italian school of vio-
lin-playing reached its culminating point, and
the pupils of Corelli and Tartini form the
connecting links between that school and the
schools of France and Germany. In this respect
the Piedmontese Soiiis (about 1700-1763) must
be considered the most important of Corelli's
pupils. We do not know much of him as a
player or composer, but as the teacher of Giak-
DINI (1716-1796), and of PUGNANI (1727-1S03),
the teacher of Viotti (1753-1S24), his influence
reaches down to Spohr and our own days. The
most brilliant representatives of Italian violin-
playing after Tartini were Geminiani and Nar-
DINI. [Seevol.i. p.,s87; vol.ii.p. 446.] The former
was a pupil of Corelli, the latter of Tartini. Their
style is decidedly more modern and more brilliant
iliau that of their great master's. Nardini's influ-
ence in Germany — where he passed many years — •
contributed much towards the progress of violin-
l>laying in that country. Geminiani (16S0-1 761),
who fur a long time resided in London, was the
first to publish a Violin-School of any import-
ance. Compared with that of Leopold Mozart
(see vol. ii. p. 379), which appeared a few j-ears
later, and on the whole is a work of much higher
merit, Geminiani's ' school ' shows an advance
in some important points of technique. Here for
the first time the holding of the violin on the
left side of the string-holder is recommended —
an innovation of the greatest importance, by
which alone the high development of modern



VIOLIN-PLAYING.

technique was made possible. He goes up to the
7th position. As affording the only direct evidence
of Corelli's method and principles (which in all
main respects have remained ever since the
basis of aU legitimate and correct treatment oi
the instrument), Geminiani's book is still of the
greatest interest. In Locatelli (1693-1764)
another pupil of Tartini, a curious instance it
afforded, how, in spite of the strongest school-
influence, a powerful individuality will now and
then, for better or worse, strike out a path foi
itself. While some of Locatelli's composition;
afford clear evidence of his sound musicianshi[
and genuine musical feeling, he shows himself ir
others, especially in a set of Caprices, to havt
been, to say the least, an experimentalist of th(
boldest type. In overstepping to an astonishinf
degree the natural resources and limits of tht
instrument, these caprices afford one of thi
earliest instances of charlatanism in violin
playing. [See Locatelli, vol. ii. p. 155.]

"The beginnings of violin-playing in Franct
date from a very early period. We have alreadj
seen that the very first known maker of vio-
lins, Duiffoprugcar, was called to France b}
Francis I., and that there is some evidence
the violin having very quickly gained consider
able popularity there. Musical guilds spreac
throughout the country as early as the 14th cen
tury. The most important was the 'Confrerie di
St. Julien,' headed by ' Le Koy des Menetriers di
lioyaume de France.' [See-Eoi des Violoxs
vol. iii. p. 145.] Whatever historical or auti
quarian interest may attach to these guilds, the;
did little to further musical art in general or tli
art of violin-playing in particular. We have n^
means of forming an estimate of the proficiency a
violinists of these menetriers, but, to judge froi:
the extreme simplicity of the violin-parts in tli
scores of LuUi, who in i652wasappointedDirecto
of the Royal Chapel (Les vingtquatre violons d
Roy), it cannot have been great. [See vol. \\
p. 266.] As late as 1 75 3 a certain Paris musiciai
Corrette, writes that when Corelli's Violin Sonata
came to Paris, no violinist was to be found wh
could have played them. The violin compositioi;
Frenchmen of the same period, among which c
the Suites of Rebel (about 1700), a pupil c
LuUi, were counted the best, are in every ri.
spect inferior to the average of Italian and eve
of German productions of the same period : th
setting is as poor and even incorrect as the treat
ment of the instrument is primitive. Feaxcoi
Fkancceur, in his Sonatas (171 5), shows decide
progress in both respects. (As a curiosity i
may be noticed that Francoeur, in order to pre
duce certain chords, adopted the strange expedier
of placing the thumb on the strings.) As wa
the case in Gennany, it was owing to the inflt
ence of the Italian school, that violin-playing i
France was raised to real excellence. The firs
French violinist of note who made his studies i
Italy under Corelli was Baptiste Anet (aboi)
1700). Of much greater importance howevt
was Jean Marie LECLAiR(i697-i764),apupil(
Somis, who again was a direct pupil of Corelli'i



VIOLIN-PLAYING.



VIOLIN-PLAYING.



293



s a composer for the violin Leclair has among
renchmen down to Rode hardly a rival. If
est of his works are characterised hy the essen-
ally French qualities of vivacity, piquancy, and
•ace, he also shows in some instances a re-
arkable depth of feeling, and a pathos which
16 would feel inclined to ascribe to Italian in-
aence, if at the same time it did not contain
1 element of theatrical pomposity characteristic
' all French art of the period. His technique
lows itself, within certain limits — he does not
) beyond the 3rd positiim— to be quite as de-
;loped as that of his Italian contemporaries.
y the frequent emplo3'ment of double-stops a
imarkable richness of sound is proiluced, and
le bow is used in a manner requiring that
jility and lightness of management for wiiich at
later period the French school gained a special
iputatiou.

Among other French violinists, directly or in-
rectly formed by the Italian school, may be
.entioned Pagin (born 1721), Touchemoi'lin
72 7-i8oi),Lahoussate(i735-i8iS),Barthe-
2M0X (died 1808), and Bekthalme(i752-i828).
[eanwhile an independent French school began
(be formed of which Piekee Gavixies (172S-
3oo) was the most eminent representative. Of
is numerous compositions, ' Les vingt quatre
latinees ' — a set of studies of unusual difficulty
-have alone survived. Without partaking of
le eccentricity of Locatelli's Caprices, these
udies show a tendency towards exaggeration in
chnique. Beauty of sound is frequently sacri-
:ed — difficulty is heaped on difficulty for its
vn sake, and not with the intention of producing
2w eflFects. At the same time, so competent a
idge as Fetis ascribes to Gavinies a style of
aying both imposing and graceful.
Not directly connected with any school, but
I the main self-taught, was Alexandre Je.\n
OUCHER (1770-1801). He was no doubt a
layer of extraordinary talent and exceptional
ichnical proficiency, but devoid of all artistic
imestness, and was one of the race of charlatan-
lolinists, which has had representatives from the
\ys of Farina down to our own time. If they
ive done harm by their example, and by the
iccess they have gained from the masses, it
lUst not be overlooked that, in not a few re-
)ects, they have advanced the technique of the
iolin. The advent of V^iotti (1753-1S24) marks
new era in French violin-playing. His enormous
iccess, both as player and composer, gave him
1 influence over his contemporaries which has no
irallel, except in the cases of Corelli and Tartini
jfore him, and in that of Spohr at a later
jriod.

In Germany the art of Corelli and Tartini was
)read by numerous pupils of their school, who
atered the service of German princes. In
erlin we find J. G. Geaux (i 700-1 771), a
irect pupil of Tartini, and F. Bexda (1709-
786), both excellent players, and eminent mu-
cians. In the south, the school of Mannlieim
'.imbered among its representatives Johanx
akl fcJTAMiTZ (,1719-1761), and his two sons



Carl and Anton — (the latter settled in Paris, and
was the teacher of K. Kreutzcr) ; Che. Canxa-
BiCH (1731-1798), well knowm as the intimate
friend of Mozart; Wilhelji Cramer (1745-
1799), member of a very distinguished musical
family, and for many years the leading violinist
in London; Igxaz Feaxzl (born 1736) and his
son Ferdinand (i 770-1833). The Mannheim
masters, however, did not contribute anything
lasting to the literature of the violin. On the
whole, the Sonata, as cultivated by Tartini, re-
mained the favourite form of violin compositions.
At the same time, the Concerto (in the modern
sense) came more and more into prominence.
The fact that W. A. Mozart, who from early
childhood practised almost every form of compo-
sition then in use, wrote no sonatas for violin^
solo, but a number of concertos for violin and
orchestra, is a clear indication of the growing
popularity of the new form. Mozart in his
younger years was hardly less great as a violinist
than a piano-player, and his Violin Concertos,
some of which have been successfully revived of
late, are the most valuable compositions in that
form anterior to Beethoven and Spohr. While
they certainly do not rank with his Pianoforte
Concertos, which date from a much later period,
they stand very much in the sam.e relation to
the violin-playing of the period, as his Pianoforte
Concertos stand to contemporary pianoforte-play-
ing. Here, as there, the composer does not dis-
dain to give due prominence to the solo instru-
ment, but the musical interest stands in the first
rank. The scoring, although of great simplicity
— the orchestra generally consisting of the stringed
quartet, two oboes, and two horns only — is full
of interest and delicate touches. On the other
hand, the Concertos of Tartini and his imme-
diate successors are decidedly inferior to their
Solo Sonatas. The Concerto was then in a state
of transition : it had lost the character of the
Concerto grosso, and its new form had not yet
been found, although the germ of it was con-
tained in Vivaldi's Concertos. On the other
hand, the Solo Sonata had for a long time
already obtained its full proportions, and the
capabilities of the form seemed wellnigh ex-
hausted. Meanwhile the Sonata-form, in the
modern sense of the word, had been fully deve-
loped by composers for the pianoforte, had been
applied with the greatest success to orchestral
composition, and now took hold of the Concerto.
Mozart and Viotti produced the first Violin Con-
certos, in the modern sense, which have lasted to
our day. Mozart, however, in his later years
gave up violin-playing altogether,^ and although,
like Haydn, he has shown in his chamber-music
how thoroughly in sympathy he was with the
nature of the violin, he did not contribute to the
literature of the instrument any works wherein
he availed himself of the technical proficiency
attained by the best violinists of his time. In
this respect it is significant that Spohr, whose
unbounded admiration for Mozart is well known,

1 That is. for violin without accompaniment.

- His latest Violiu Cuucerto dates IromlTTti. (See Kiichel. Xo.268.)



294



VIOLIN-PLAYING.



seems never to have played his Vicilin Concertos
in public. Viotti and Rode were Spohr's models
for his earlier Concertos.*

Towards the end of the 17th century Paris
became the undisputed centre of violin-playing,
and the Paris school, represented by Viotti, as
depository of the traditions of the classical Italian
school; byKKEUTZEK (i766-iS3i),-who, though
born at Versailles, was of German parentage,
and a pupil of Anton Stamitz ; and by Eode
(1774-1830), and Baillot (1771-1842), both
Frenchmen, assumed a truly international cha-
racter. The single circumstance that four
violinists of such eminence lived and worked
together at the same place, and nearly the same
time, would be suflBcieut to account for their
essential influence on the taste and style of this
period. Differing much in artistic temperament,
they all took the same serious view of tlieir art,
and shared that musical earnestness which is
averse to mere technical display for its own sake,
and looks on execution as the means of inter-
preting musical ideas and emotions. As teachers
at the newly fonnded Conservatoire, Eode,
Kreutzer, and Baillot formally laid down the
principles of violin-playing as they prevail to this
day. If it is to Germany that we have to look for
their true successors, apparently because their
style, founded on a broad and truly musical
basis, irrespective of national peculiaiities, found
its most congenial soil in the country of the great
composers, who in their works are truly inter-
national, as all art of the very first rank must
be ; while the strongly pronounced national
character of French violinists was bound sooner
or later to assert itself, and to return to a charac-
teristically French style of playing. Baillot, in



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 68 of 194)