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

. (page 69 of 194)
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his 'L'Art du Violon,' points out as the chief
distinction between the old and the modern
style of violin-playing, the absence of the dra-
matic element in the former, and its predomin-
ance in the latter. In so far as this means that
the modern style better enables the player to
bring out those powerful contrasts, and to do
justice to the enlarged horizon of ideas and
emotions in modern musical compositions, it
merely states that executive art lias followed
the progress, and shared in the characteristic
qualities of the creative art of the period. A
comparison of ]\Iozart's String Quartets with
those of Beethoven, illustrates to a certain extent
this difference. The style of playing which was
admirably adapted for the rendering of the works
not only of Corelli andTartini, but also of Handel,
and even Mozart, could not cope with Haydn,
and still less with Beethoven. The great merit
of the masters of the Paris School was, that they
recognised this call for a freer and bolder treat-
ment of the instrument, and approached their
task in a truly musical and artistic spirit.

The manner and style of the Paris school were
brought to Germany by Viotti and ilode, who

' Mozart's Eolo Violin Concertos, with two exceptions, remain in
MS., and indeed seem to have uiider^'one a:i almost total eclipse till
our own days, when one or two iit them have been resuscilati:d by
David, Joachim, and others.



VIOLIN-PLAYING.

both travelled a great deal, and by their per-
formances effected a considerable modification ia
the somewhat antiquated style then prevailing!
in that country. The Mannheim school, a»^
already mentioned, was the most important centr©;
of violin-playing in Germany during the second
half of the iStli century. It produced a number
of excellent players, such as the three Stamitzes,
Chr. Cannabicli, Ferd. Franzl, and others. They
had adhered more closely than the French player*
to Tartini's method and manner, and not only
Spohr, but before him Mozart, speaks of their,
style as old-fashioned, when compared virith thatj
of their French contemporaries. The fact that
the Last and final improvements in the bow a& ':■
made by Tourte of Paris, were probably un- '
known to them, would account for this. [See '
p. 155.] Another remarkable player belong- -
ing to this school, was J. F. EcK (born 1 766), '
whose brother and pupil Fkaxz Eck (17 74-1 809), •
was the teacher of Spohr. Both the Ecks ap» '-
pear to some extent to have been under the in-
fluence of the French school. Spohr in his .
Autobiography speaks of Franz Eck as a Frendh
violinist. Spohr therefore can hardly be reckoned^
as of the Mannheim school, and we know than
later on he was greatly impressed by Eodej
and for a considerable time studied to imitat^
liim. His earlier Concertos are evidently worked:
after the model of Rode's Concertos. Thus— •;
granting the enormous difference of artistic tem^
perament — Spohr must be considered as the direct
heir of the art of Viotti and Rode. At the same -
time, his individuality was so peculiar, that he
very soon formed a style of his own as a player
no less than as a composer. As a composer he "
probably influenced the style of modern violin- ;'■
playing even more than as a player. His Con*
certos were, with the single exception of Bee-
thoven's Concerto, by far the most valuable coB»
tributions to the literature of the violin, as 4
solo instrument, hitherto made. Compared even
with the best of Viotti's, Rode's, or Kreutzer'B
Concertos they are not merely improvements^
but in them the Violin Concerto itself is lifted
into a higher sphere, and from being more or
less a show-piece, rises to the dignity of a worki
of art, to be judged as much on its own merito'
as a musical composition, as by its effective- f"
ness as a solo-piece. Without detracting from
the merits of the works of the older masters,
it is not too much to say that there is hardly
enough musical stuff"in them to have resisted the
stream of superficial virtuoso-music which more
than ever before flooded the concert-rooms during
the first half of the 19th century. We believe
that it was mainly owing to the sterling musical
worth of Spohr's violin compositions that the
great qualities of the Classical Italian and the
Paris schools have been preserved to the present
day, and have prevented the degeneration of
violin-playing. Spohr had great powers of exe-
cution, but he used them in a manner not wholly
free from one-sidedness, and it cannot be said
that he made any addition to the technique of
the instrument. He set a great example of



ii.



VIOLIN-PLAYING.

irity of style and legitimate treatment of the
strument — an example which has lost none

its force in the lapse of more than half a
ntury.

Next to Spohr no one has had a greater in-
lence on the style of modern violin-playing
an Paganini. The fame of Corelli and Tai'tini
id spread far beyond their own country ; the
Idlers of Italy, like the singers, travelled
iringthe iSth century all over Europe in search
gold and laurels. Some of them returned to
ijoy a quiet old age under their native sky ;
hers, like Viotti, never came back, A great
any either settled abroad, in Paris or London,

were attached to some of the many courts of
srmany. Thus we find Geminiani and Giar-
ni in London, Viotti alternately in Paris and
jndon, Locatelli at Amsterdam, Nardini at
uttgardt, as soloists, leaders, and teachers. In
is way the school of Italy was virtually trans-
rred to France and Germany by the pupils of
irtini ; and at the beginning of the century it
as practically extinct in Italy, where violin-
aying, with few exceptions, had sunk to a
iry low level. But Italy afterwards produced
few violinists of great eminence, who, more
' less self-taught, achieved enormous successes
virtuosi, and no doubt have largely in-
lenced modern vioUn-plaj-ing. Lolli (about
'30-1802) was one of these ; an extraordi-
iry fiddler, but a poor musician. Of much
eater importance was Paganini ( 1784-1840).
tie sensation he created wherever he appeared
fis unprecedented. By his marvellous execu-
)n, and his thoroughly original, though eccen-
ic personality and style, he for a time held
e public and the musicians of Europe spell-
lund. His influence on the younger violinists

the period could not fail to be considerable
-more so in France than in Germany, where
e more serious spirit prevailing among niusi-
ins and the presence of such a master as Spohr,
ere powerful enough to keep the influence
ithin bounds. The growing importance and
•pularity of chamber-music for the violin, espe-
ally of the String Quartet, since Haydn, Mozart,
id Beethoven, were another barrier against the
edominance of an exclusive virtuoso style of
olin-playing in Germany. French violinists,
pecially Baillot, were certainly anxious enough

attack these highest tasks ot the violinist, but
lere can be no doubt that in their hands the
orks of the German classics assumed an aspect
hich was too frequently more in accordance
ith the French character of the performers
lan with the intentions of the composers. In
lis respect the minute directions which Baillot
ves for the performance of a great number of
issages extracted from the works of most emi-
iut composers, is extremely curious and in-
ructive. It was but natural that Paganini
lould have a number of imitators, who copied
ith more or less success his harmonics and
)ubIe-harmonics, his long and quick staccatos,
zzicatos with the left hand — in fact, all those
clinical feats which, though not invented by



VIOLIN-PLAYING.



205



him, he brought to the highest pitch of perfection.
The style of the man, which had its source in his
genius and originality, was inimitable. He could
not, and did not start a school. SivoRl (bom
181 7) claimed to be his only actual pupil. But,
pujiils or no pupils, Paganini caused nothing
short of a revolution in the technique of the
French school. The striking change which the
general style of violin-playing underwent in
France during the third decade of this century
has, however, other and deeper causes, and finds
its explanation in the complete revolution in
musical taste which took place at that period.
The Classical Paris school was in reality the
school of Italy, which for the time being had
made Paris, as it were, its healquarters. Founded
by Viotti, the Italian, at a time when German
instrumental music, in the persons of Haydn
and Mozart, was occupying the attention of the
whole musical world, this School hardly reflected
the salient points of the French national cha-
racter, although it harmonised well with the
classical tendencies of the sister arts in that
country. In Baillot's ' L'Art du Violon,' we
cannot fail to recognise already a leaning
towards a style which was more in harmony
with the genius of the French nation — a style,
brilliant, showy, fuU of shrewdly calculated
effects, elegant, and graceful, aiming chiefly at
a highly polished execution, and distinguished
by what they themselves untranslateably call elan.
At the same time, the French school gained, in
what might be termed its classical period, a basis
and a systematic method for the technical train-
ing of violinists, the advantages of which are
still so apparent in the highly finished technique
of a large number of French violin-players of the
present clay.

It is only within the last fifty years that in-
strumental composition, apart from the stage,
has gained any great importance in France, As
in Italy, so there, the operatic style of the period
determined the general musical style. Thus
we find the chaste and graceful style of Mt^hul
and Boieldieu reflected in Rode and the best
of his contemporaries. The success of Rossini
threw everything else for a time into the
shade, and brought about a complete revulsion
of musical taste in France ; but if Rossini's
sparkling and graceful style appealed to one
prominent feature of the national character, it
was Meyerbeer, with his supreme command of
theatrical eS"ect, who took hold of another. The
most eminent native opera composers, Adam,
Auber, Herold, and Halevy, while no doubt
strongly French in character, did not escape
the powerful influence of these two masters ;
and it is but natural that in common with
all other branches of musical art, violin-playing
and composition for the violin had to submit to
it. While in Germany the spirit of instru-
mental music was almost as dominant on the
stage as in the concert-room, and delayed the
formation of a truly dramatic style of music, in
France the operatic style was as supreme in the
concert-room as on the stage ; and in that sense



296



VIOLIN-PLAYING.



Baillot's characterisation of the modern style
of violin-playing as the dramatic style is quite
correct.

The two n-.ost eminent representatives of the
modern French school, De Beriot (1802-1870)
andH.ViEUXTKMPS(iS20-iS8i), were of Belgian
nationality. The Belgian school of violin-playing
is, however, in reality but a branch, though a
most important one, of the Paris school. De
Beriot's style as a composer for the violin seems
to have been formed under the influence of the
modern Italian opera composers, especially of
Kossini, Donizetti, and Bellini ; and his Con-
certos and Airs varies, which have attained an
immense popularity all over the world, share the
strong and weak points of modern Italian music.
They have plenty of melody, though of a somewhat
sentimental kind, and their general style, without
affording much difficulty to the player, is most
brilliant and effective. If De Beiiot's ideas
are on the whole superficial and often not free
fi-om triviality, they are also unpretentious and
unaffected. The same can hardly be said of
Vieuxtemps. He certainly was a great violinist,
and as a musician decidedly superior to Beriot.
His compositions contain ideas of great beauty
and are often cleverly worked out, but at the
same time there is in them too frequently an
element of theatrical bombast and pretension
which is analogous to Meyerbeer's grand-opera
style, just as De Beriot's is to the spontaneous
melody of Italian opera. De Beriot's treatment
of the instrument, though often commonplace,
does not go against its nature, while Vieuxtemps
not unfrequently seems to do violence to it, and
in some of his tours de force oversteps the boun-
daries of the beautiful. Both these great artists
travelled much, and gained by the great excel-
lence of their performMuces universal success in
almost every European country. Vieuxtemps was
also the first violinist, of tlie highest ranlc, who
visited America. De Bt^riot, as leader at the
Brussels Conservatoire, formed a great number
of excellent violinists, the best known of whom
are the Spaniard Monasterio (born 1S36), Sau-
EET (born 1852), ScHEADiECK (bom 1846), and
Heerjian (born 1844). Jean Becker (born
1836), and Lauterbach (born 1832) also studied
for some time under him.

Among Baillot's pupils F. A. Habeneck (i 78 i-
1S49) attained a great reputation as conductor
and as teacher. He counts among his pupils
.Sainton (born 1S13), Prdhe (1816-18^9),
Alaed (bom 1815) and Lkonard (born 1819).
The two last, with Massart (born 1811), a
pupil of Kreutzer, have for thirty yeai's past,
as teachers at the Paris Conservatoire, headed
the Franco-Belgian school. Alard's most emin-
ent pupil is Sarasate (born 1844). Marsick
and M. Dengreiiont (born 1866) studied under
Leonard.

WiENiAwsKi, Lotto, and Teresina Tua, are
pupils of Massart. Wieniawski (1S35-1880) was
indeed a wonderful player. He possessed a beauti-
ful tone, an astonishing technique of the left hand
and of the bow, and threw into his performances



VIOLIN-PLAYING.

an amount of life and warmth which, if it now

and then led to some exaggeration, was irre-
sistible. The marvellous perfection of Sarasate'a
playing, and the gracefulness of his style, are too
well known to require further comment. The
character of his repertoire deserves, however,
special attention. It is a very extended one, and
illustrates a remarkable general change in the
repertoires, if not in the style, of the younger ]
generation of French violinists. Formerly the
French violinist, no less than the German one,
as a matter of course, wrote his own Concertos —
or if that was beyond his power, his own Fan^
tasias or the like. Unfortunately, Frencli vio-
linists, with few exceptions, have not been highly
trained musicians. We know that Rode and
De Beriot had even to seek assistance in the
scoring of their Concertos. The descent from the
compositions of Rode and Kreutzer to those of
De Beriot, Alard, and Leonard, is only too ap-
parent. The operatic Fantasias of the last two
mark, we may say, the lowest point to which
composition for the violin had hitherto descended.
Of late years the taste for serious instrumental
music has grown more and more universal in
France, and a reaction has set in. Not that the
public has left off its delight in brilliant technical
display. The fabulous successes of some modem
virtuosi prove the contrary. But these triumphs
have been won as much by their performance of
the best Concertos by the best composers as of
brilliant show-pieces.

In Germany we find the schools of Cassel,
Leipzig, and Vienna taking the lead. Spohr at
Cassel had a great number of pupils, but his
manner and style were too exclusively individual
to form a school. His most eminent jiupil was
Ferdinand David (1S10-1873) who as founder
of the Leipzig School exercised great influence
on violin-playing in Germany. It can hardly be
said that he perpetuated in his pupils Spohr s
method and style. Entirely diS"ering from his great
master in musical temperament, enjoying from
his early youth close intercourse with Mendels-
sohn, and strongly imbued with tlie spirit of
modern music as manifested in Beethoven, he
represents a more modern phase in German
violin-playing and an eclecticism which has
avoided onesidedness not less in matters of tech-
nique than of musical taste and judgment gener-
ally. He was the first who played Bach's Violin
Solos, and all the last Quartets of Beethoven
(not even excepting the Fugue) in public.
Schubert's Quartets and Quintet were on the
programmes of his chamber-concerts at the time
when they had, except perhaps at Vienna, no-
where yet been heard in public. [See vol. iii.
p. 356 b.] As a teacher his chief aim was to give
to his pupils a thorough command of the tech-
nique of the violin, and to arouse and develop
their musical intelligence. There as elsewhere
the classical works of violin literature naturally
formed the main stock of teaching-material. At
the same time David laid great stress on the
study of the modern French masters, maintaining
that, irrespective of musical value, their works.



VIOLIN-PLAYING.

ag as a rule wi-itten with the aim of bringing
I the capabilities of the violin, contain a large
ount of useful material for technical training,
ich in the end must benefit and improve the
cution of music of any style. The correctness
this theory is strikingly proved by Joachim,
3 as Boehm's pupil at Vienna, was made
roughly familiar with the technique of the
dern French school, while he studied most of
classical repertoire at Leipzig under David's
dance, and in what we may term Mendels-
n's musical atmospliere. Joachim's unlimited
imand over technical difficulties in music of
' style, which enables him to do equal justice
Paganini and Bach, is undoubtedly largely
ng to the fact that his early training was
i from onesidedness, and that he gained
3ugh the study of brilliant modern music the
best finish as well as the completest mastery,
s^id trained a large number of good violinists :
apha (Cologne), Rontgen (Leipzig), Jacob-
n (Bremen), Schradieck (who succeeded him
Leipzig), F. Hegar (Ziirich), and many more,
far the most eminent of his pupils is WiL-
/MJ (born 1845), a virtuoso of the very first
k, who combines a fine broad tone with a
mique of the left hand unrivalled by any
sr living violinist.

L most powerful influence on the style of the
man violinists of the present day has been
rcised by the Vienna school, more especially
;he pupils of BOEHM (i 798-1 876). Although
3 ditiicult to trace any direct connexion be-
en the Viennese violin-players of the last
tury and the school of Italy, Italian violinists
le very early to Vienna, and the local players
pted their method and style. We know that
tini was for three years in the service of
nt Kinsky, a Bohemian noble, and also that
ni, Ferrari, and other Italian virtuosos came
Vienna. It is remarkable that the leading
nnese composers of the last century, down to
?dn, were almost without exception violinists,
le of them, like Anton Wranitzky and Ditters-
', were virtuosos of high rank, but most of
n were in the first place composers and
iers, and in the second place only violinists,
urally they excelled less as solo-players than
he performance of chamber-music, which at
; period hardly enjoyed anywhere so nmch
ularity as at Vienna. It was the time of
jaration for the great classical period which
led with Haydn, and the circumstance that
violin was even then cultivated in Vienna
more in connexion with good and serious
iic than merely as a solo-insti'ument, has
oubtedly contributed much towards giving
he later representatives of that school their
•oughly musical character, and towards
king Vienna the earliest home of quartet-
'ing. As a quartet-player Schuppanzigh
^6-1830), a pupil of Wranitzky, attained
tt reputation, and may be regarded as stand-
first on the roll of great quartet-players,
many years in close intercourse with Haydn
Beethoven, enjoying the advice and guid-



VIOLIN-PLAYING.



297



ance of these great masters in the production
of their Quartets, he established tlie style of
quartet-playing which has been handed down
by the most eminent Vienna violinists to our
days. His greatest pupil was Maysedek (1789-
1S63), a brilliant solo-player, of a style more
elegant than powerful. Among his pupils the
best known are Miska Hauser (born 1822),
and De Ahna~ (born 1835). The latter, an
excellent soloist, has lived for many years at
Berlin, and plays second violin in Joachim's
quartet.

It is however through the pupils of Joseph
BoEHM (1798-1876) that the Vienna school
attained general renown and importance. Ernst
(i8i4-i865),G. Hellmesberger sen., DoNTsen.,
Joachim, Ludwig Sthaus, Rappoldi, and Gbun,
all studied under Boehm. Boehm himself can
hardly be reckoned as belonging to the old
Vienna school, since he made his studies under
Rode, and no doubt was also influenced by Spohi-,
who resided at Vienna in 1813, 14, and 15. The
modern Vieima school therefore, though cer-
tainly not uninfluenced by the musical traditions
of Vienna, appears in reference to technique and
specific violin-style to be based on the principles
of the classical French school. Counting among
its representatives players of a great diversity
of talent and artistic temperament, who after-
wards formed more or less a style of their own,
the Vienna school, or, strictly speaking, Boehm's
school, can hardly be said to have been directly
continued at Vienna. Boehm, although a,
thoroughly competent violinist, was not a player
of great genius, but he was possessed of an emi-
nently sound and correct taste and judgment in
musical and technical matters, and had a rare
talent for teaching. Ernst, next to Joachim the
most famous of his pupils, came largely under the
influence of Paganini, whose style he for some
time closely imitated. Undoubtedly a violinist
of the first rank, and by no means exclusively a
bravura-player, he did not to any extent affect
the prevailing style of violin-playing, nor did he
train pupils. An enormous influence on modern
violin-playing, and on the general musical life of
Germany and England, is exercised by Joachim.
He combines in a unique degree the highest
executive powers with the most excellent musi-
cianship ; and while through his brilliant example
he may truly be said to have given to modern
German violin-playing a peculiar character, it
has not been without effect even on the style of
tlie French school. Unsurpassed as a master of
the instrument, he uses his powers of execution
exclusively in the service of art. First musician,
then violinist, seems the motto of his life and the
gist of his teaching. His performances undoubt-
edly derive their charm and supreme merit from
the strength of his talent and of his artistic
character, and are stamped with a striking origin-
ality of conception ; at the same time fidelity to
the text, and careful endeavour to enter into the
spirit and feeling of tl>e compose!-, are the prin-
ciples of executive art which Joachim throuL;h
his long career has invariably practised. In the



298



VIOLIN-PLAYING.



rendering of Bacli's Solos, of Beethoven's Con-
certo and Quartets, he has absolutely no rival,
and it seems impossible he should ever be sur-
passed in these highest tasks of the violinist,
in which both his conception and execution
appear to fulfil the ideal of the composer. With
Ernst, and still more with Joachim, an element
derived from the national Hungarian, and the
Hungarian gipsy music has come into promi-
nence. Haydn, and still more Schubert, made
frequent use of its peculiar melodic progressions
and characteristic rhythms. [See vol. ii. p. 197.]
It is fiddle-music par excellence, and if introduced
into serious music with such judgment and dis-
cretion as in Joachim's Hungarian Concerto and
transcriptions of Brahms's Hungarian Dances, it
is not only artistically legitimate and musically
interesting, but opens a field for telling and
beautiful violin-efi'ects. It evinces the same
desire to make the resources of popular national
Jiiusic available for artistic purposes, which
showed itself in Chopin's idealisations of the
Polish element, and of late in Sarasate's adapta-
tions of Spanish meloLJies and dances, Joachim
has trained a large number of excellent
violinists. Among the best of his pupils are :
J. Ludwig, well-known as teacher and quartet-
player in London, Hiinflein (Hanover), Walde-
mar Meyer, Hollander (Cologne), Kruse (Berlin),
Xotek (Berlin), Schtiitzler (Rotterdam), Hess
(Frankfort), Petri (Leipzig), Halir (Mannheim),
Schiever (Liverpool), Gompertz (London), T,
Nachez, and many more.

In addition to Boehm's pupils, the Vienna
school pi-oduced a number of eminent violinists,
such as Joseph Hellmesberger, a pupil of his
father, who for a great many years has been



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 69 of 194)