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 9 of 194)
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 9 of 194)
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the horns, which have the last utterances be
the second subject appears, continue to rej
its rhythm with diminishing force. The sec
subject necessarily presents a different aspecf
together, and is in marked contrast to the f
but it similarly depends upon the clear chara
of the short figures of which it is compc
and its gradual work up from the quiet be
ning to the loud climax, ends in the reapp;
ance of the rhythmic form belonging to
principal figure of the movement. The w
of the working-out portion depends upon
same figure, which is presented in various
pects and with the addition of new feat
and ends in a climax which introduces
same figure in a slow form, very emphatic
corresponding to the statement in the Intro
tion. To this climax the recapitulation is
welded on. The coda again makes the
of the same figure, in yet fi?esh aspects,
latter part is to all intents independent, i
rently a sort of reflection on what has
before, and is so far in definite contrast i
explain itself. The whole movement is c



al
«aj
ilii

in
ipair,
'mofe



mv^
h



> See the curious anecdote, vol. iii. p. 413.






SYMPHONY.

!.d simple in style, and for Schnmann, sin'ru-
-ly bnght and cheerful. The principles upon
iich he constructed and used his principal
bjects m this movement are foUowed in the
St movements of the other symphonies ; most

all in the D minor; clearly in the C major-
d least m the Eb, which belongs to the later
nod of his life. But even in this last he
OS at gaining the same result, though by dif-
•ent means ; and the subject is as free as any
•m the tune-qualities which destroy the com-
ite individuality of an instrumental subject in

most perfect and positive sense. In the first
.vement of the D minor he even went so far
to make some important departures from the
lal outlines of form, which are rendered pos-
le chiefly by the manner in which he used the
iractenstic figure of his principal subject. It
irst introduced softly in the latter part of the
roduction, and gains force quickly, so that in
3w bars it breaks away in the vigorous and
Bionate allegro in the following form



SYMPHONY.



35




ich varies in the course of the movement to

t^




one or other of these forms it continues
est ceaselessly throughout the whole move-
it, either as actual subject or accompaniment ;
the second section it serves in the latter
w:ity. In the latter part of the workino'-out
ion a fresh subject of gentler character is
educed, seeming to stem and mitigate the
smence expressed by the principal figures of
first subject : from the time this new subject
^es Its appearance there continues a sort of
lict between the two ,- the vehement subject
tantly breaking in with apparently undimin-
i fire and seeming at times to have the upper
i, tiU ]ust at the end the major of the origi-
liey (D minor) is taken, and the more gental
ect appears in a firm and more determined
I, as if asserting its rights over the wild

subject; and thereupon, when the latter
pears. It is m a much more genial character.
Its reiteration at the end of the movement
3 the impression of the triumph of hope and
. m good, over the seeds of passion and
air. The result of the method upon which
novement is developed is to give the impres-
_ot both external and spiritual form The
^?^f''i%v^ key modulation, and subject
fulfilled though, from the point of view of
leal orthodoxy, with unusual freedom The
;ual form,— the expression in musical terms

type of mental conflict, so depicted that
^g beings can perceive the sequence to
rue of themselves-is also very prominent,
s the most important element in the work
■' the case in aU Schumann's best works-
over m this movement everytliing is stron<^ly
idual, and warm with real musical life^in



his own style; which was not altogether the
case with the first movement of the Bb In
the C major Symphony (op. 6i) the first allegro
is ushered m by a slow introduction of important
and striking character, containing, like those
otthe two just mentioned, anticipations of its
principal figures. In the allegro the two principal
subjects are extremely strong in character, and
the consistent way in which the whole movement
IS developed upon the basis of tlieir constituent
figures with aUusions to those of the introduction
is mostremarkable. Here again there is a sort
ot conflict between the principal ideas. The first
subject is just stated twice (the second time
with certain appropriate changes), and then a
start IS instantly made in the Dominant key
with new figures characteristic of the second
section ; transition is made to flat keys and
back and an allusion to the first subject ends
the first half; but all is closely consistent,
vigorous, and concise. The development portion
IS also most closely worked upon the principal
subjects, which are treated, as it seems, exhaus-
tively presenting especially the figures of the
second subject in all sorts of lights, and with
treshness and warmth of imagination, and variety
of tone and character. The recapitulation is pre-
ceded by allusions to the characteristic features
ot the introduction, considerably transformed,
but still suflSciently recognisable to tell their
tale The coda is made by fresh treatment of
the figures of the principal subjects in vic^orous
and brilliant development. °

The Symphony in Eb has no introduction, and
bchumann seems to have aimed at gettin<^ his
strong eff-ects of subject in this case by means
other than the vigorous and clear rhythmic forms
which characterise the first movements of the
eariier symphonies. The effect is obtained by
syncopations and cross rhythms, which alter-
nately obscure and strengthen the principal
beats of the bar, and produce an effect of
wild and passionate effort, which is certainly
staking, though not so immediately intelligible
as the rhythmic forms of the previous sym-
phonies. The second subject is in strong con-
trast, having a more gentle and appealing cha-
racter; but it is almost overwhelmed by the
recurrence of the syncopations of the principal
subject, which make their appearance with per-
sistencyin the second as in the first section,
having in that respect a very clear poetical or
spiritual meaning. The whole development of
the movement is again consistent and impressive,
though not so fresh as in the other symphonies'
As a point characteristic of Schumann, the
extreme conciseness of the first section of the first
movement in the Bb, D minor, and C major
Symphonies is to be noticed, as it bears stronc^ly
upon the cultivated judgment and intellitrence
which marks his treatment of this great instru-
mental form. The first half is treated almost as
pure exposition; the working-out having logi-
cally the greater part of interesting development
of the ideas. The recapitulation is generally
free, and in the D minor Symphony is practically

D2



36



SYMPHONY..



supplanted by novel methods of balancing the
structure of the movement. The coda either
presents new features, or takes fresh aspects
of the principal ones, enhanced by new turns
of modulation, and ending with the insistance
on the primary harmonies of the principal key,
which is necessary to the stability of the move-
ment. In all these respects Schumann is a
most worthy successor to Beethoven. He re-
presents his intellectual side in the consistency
with which he developes the whole movement
from a few principal features, and the freshness
and individuality with which he treats the
form ; and he shows plenty of the emotional
and spiritual side in the passionate or tender
tiualities of his subjects, and the way in which
they are distributed relatively to one another.
Schumann's symphonic slow movements have
also a distinctive character of their own. Though
extremely concise, they are all at the same time
rich .ind full of feeling. They are somewhat in
the fashion of a ' Roinanze,' that in the D
Symphony being definitely so called ; and their
development depends rather upon an emotional
than an intellectual basis; as it seems most just
that a slow movement should. His object appears
to have been to find some noble and aspiring
strain of melody, and to contrast it with episodes
of similar character, which carry on and bear
upon the principal idea without diverting the
chain of thought into a different channel. Hence
the basis of the movements is radically lyrical ;
and this affords .in important element of contrast
to the first movement, in which there is always
an antithetical element in the contrast of tlie
two principal subjects. The romanze of the
D Symphony is constructed on a different prin-
ciple ; the sections and musical material being
strongly contrasted; this may be partly owing
to the closeness of its connection with other parts
of the symphony, as will be noticed further on.
The scherzos, including that in the 'Overture
Scherzo and Finale ' (op. 52), have a family like-
ness to one another, though their outlines are dif-
ferent; they all illustrate a phase of musical and
poetical development in their earnest character
and the vein of sadness which pervades them.
The light and graceful gaiety of most of the
minuets of Haydn and Mozart is scarcely to be
traced in them ; but its place is taken by a
certain wild rush of animal spirits, mixed up in
a strange and picturesque W9.y with expressions
of tenderness and regret. These scherzos are in
a sense unique ; for though following in the same
direction as Beethoven's in some respects, they
have but little of his sense of fun and grotesque,
while the vein of genuine melancholy which per-
vades tliem certainly finds no counterpart either
in Spohr or Mendelssohn ; and, if it may be
traced in Schubert, it is still in comparison far
less prominent. In fact Schumann's scherzos are
specially curious and interesting, even apart from
the ordinary standpoint of a musician, as illus-
trating a phase of the intellectual progress of the
race. Schumann belonged to the order of men
with large and at the same time delicate sym-



SYMPHONY.

pathies, whose disposition becomes so deeply
impressed with the misfortunes and unsolvabl©!
difficulties which beset his own lot and that of
his fellow men, that pure unmixed lighthearted
ness becomes almost impossible. The poetical
and thoughtful side of his disposition, which
supplied most vital ingredients to his music,; '
was deeply tinged with sadness ; and from this/
he was hardly ever entirely free. He could
wear an aspect of cheerfulness, but the sad«
ness was sure to peep out, and in this, among
thoughtful and poetically disposed beings, he
cannot be looked upon as singular. Hence the •
position of the Scherzo in modern instrumental
music presents certain inevitable difficulties ,
The lively, almost childish, merriment of earlj
examples cannot be attained without jarrinj 1
upon the feelings of earnest men ; at least ii
works on such a scale as the symphony, wher
the dignity and importance of the form inevit
ably produce a certain sense of responsibilife I
to loftiness of purpose in the carrying out 4 „
the ideas. A movement corresponding to tW
old Scherzo in its relatioi\ to the other mow
ments had to be formed upon far more compli
cated conditions. The essential point in whi(J
Schumann followed his predecessors was the d(
finition of the balancing and contrasting sectioni
The outlines of certain groups of bars are near]
always very strongly marked, and the movemfflf
as a whole is based rather upon effects attainaH
by the juxtaposition of such contrasting sectiffl
than upon the continuous logical or emotioni J
development which is found in the othi
movements. The structural outline of the ij,;
dance-forms is still recognisable in this respec! _
but the style and rhythm bear little trace of tlj ,
dance origin; or at least the dance quality has beij <
so far idealised as to apply rather to thought aii .'
feeling than to expressive rhythmic play of limlj
In Schumann's first Symphony the scherzo hi
some qualities of style which connect it witht)
minuets of earlier times, even of Mozart; bj
with these there are genuine characteristic trajj^,
of expression. In the later scherzos the poetiij l
meaning seems more apparent. Infact thescheij ,
and the slow movement are linked together as f J j;^
two sections of the work most closely represeni 1'
five of human emotion and circumstance ; the ii |
and last movements having more evident depeij
ence upon what are called abstract qualities; l,
form. In its structural outlines SchumaEj"' '
Scherzo presents certain features. In the Sj,
phonies in Bb and C he adopts the device of t
trios. Beethoven had repeated the trio in IrJ
symphonies (4th and 7th), and Schumannf
vanced in the same direction by writing a se
trio instead of repeating the first, and by mal
the two trios contrast not only with the schl
but also with each other ; and as a further rl
the trios stand centrally in relation to the!
and last statement of the scherzo, while it ijj
turn stands centrally between them, and thuil
whole structure of the movement gains ifl
terest. It is worthy of note that the codas «|
Schumann's scherzos are specially interestiu






SYMPHONY.

ill; and some of them are singular in the fact
lat they form an independent little section con-
jying its own ideas apart from those of the
•incipal subjects. His finales are less reraark-
Je on general grounds, and on the whole less
teresting than his other movements. The difB-
dty of conforming to the old type of light
ovements was even more severe for him than it
jas for Beethoven, and hence he was the more
nstrained to follow the example set by Bee-
oven of concluding with something weighty
■td forcible, which should make a fitting crown
f the work in those respects, rather than on the
I inciple of sending the audience away in a good
imour. In the Bb Symphony only does the
[st movement aim at gaiety and lightness ; in
e other three symphonies and the Overture,
herzo, and Finale, the finales are all of the
me type, with broad and simple subjects and
ongly emphasised rhythms. The rondo form
only obscurely hinted at in one ; in the others
e development is very free, but based on binary
•m ; and the style of expression and develop-
^nt is purposely devoid of elaboration.
Besides the points which have been already
ntioned in the development of the individual
vements, Schumann's work is conspicuous for
; attempts to bind the whole together in various
.ys. Not only did he make the movements
1 into each other, but in several places he
meets them by reproducing the ideas of one
vement in others, and even by using the same
portant features in different guises as the essen-
l basis of different movements. In the Sym-
3ny in C there are some interesting examples
■ this ; but the Symphony in D is the most
aarkable experiment of the kind yet produced,
1 may be taken as a fit type of the highest
er. In the first place all the movements
i into each other except the first and second ;
[ even there the first movement is purposely
ended as to give a sense of incompleteness
Jess the next movement is proceeded with at
e. The first subject of the first movement
il the first of the last are connected by a
mg characteristic figure, which is common
Iboth of them. The persistent way in which
i figure is used in the first movement has
Bady been described. It is not maintained
the same extent in the last movement ; but
makes a strong impression in its place there,
jtly by its appearing conspicuously in the
Jompaniment, and partly by the way it is led
I to in the sort of intermezzo which connects
y scherzo and the last movement, where it
kxis to be introduced at first as a sort of re-
(ider of the beginning of the work, and as if
Kgesting the clue to its meaning and purpose ;
||. is made to increase in force with each re-
lation till the start is made with the finale.
Ijihe same manner the introduction is connected
ih the slow movement or romanze, by the use
.3 musical material for the second division of
1g movement ; and the figure which is most
spicuous in the middle of the romanze runs all
>ugh the trio of the succeeding movement. So



SYMPHONY.



37



that the series of movements are as it' were inter-
laced by their subject-matter ; and the result is
that the whole gives the impression of a single
and consistent musical poem. The wa)' in which
the subjects recur may suggest different ex-
planations to diff'erent people, and hence it is
dangerous to try and fix one in definite terms
describing particular circumstances. But the
important fact is that the work can be felt to
represent in its entirety the history of a series
of mental or emotional conditions such as may
be grouped round one centre ; in other words,
the group of impressions which go to make the
innermost core of a given story seems to be
faithfully expressed in musical terms and in
accordance with the laws which are indispens-
able to a work of art. The conflict of impulses
and desires, the different phases of thought and
emotion, and the triumph or failure of the different
forces which seem to be represented, all give the
impression of belonging to one personality, and of
being perfectly consistent in their relation to
one another; and by this means a very high
example of all that most rightly belongs to
programme music is presented. Schumann how-
ever wisely gave no definite clue to fix the story
in terms. The original autograph has the title
' Symphonische Fantaisie fur grosses Orchester,
skizzirt im Jahre 1841 ; neu instrumentirt 1851.'
In the published score it is called 'Symphony,'
and numbered as the fourth, though it really
came second. Schumann left several similar
examples in other departments of instrumental
music, but none so fully and carefully carried
out. In the department of Symphony he never
again made so elaborate an experiment. In his
last, however, that in Eb, he avowedly worked
on impressions which supplied him with some-
thing of a poetical basis, though he does not make
use of characteristic figures and subjects to con-
nect the movements with one another. The
impressive fourth movement is one of the most
singular in the range of symphonic music, and is
meant to express the feelings produced in him
by the ceremonial at the enthronement of a
Cardinal in Cologne Cathedral. The last move-
ment has been said to embody ' the bustle and
flow of Rhenish holiday life, on coming out into
the town after the conclusion of the ceremony in
the Cathedral.' ^ Of the intention of the scherzo
nothing special is recorded, but the principal
subject has much of the ' local colour ' of the
German national dances.

As n whole, Schumann's contributions to the
department of Symphony are by far the most
important since Beethoven. As a master of
orchestration he is less certain than his fellows of
equal standing. There are passages which rise
to the highest points of beauty and effectiveness,
as in the slow movement of the C major Sym-
phony; and his aim to balance his end and
his means was of the highest, and the way in
which he works it out is original ; but both the
bent of his mind and his education inclined him
to be occasionally less pellucid than his prede-

1 For Schumann's intention see Wassielewsls.i', 3rd ed. 200, '272.



38



SYMPHONY.



cessors, and to give his instruments things to do
which are not perfectly adapted to their Idiosyn-
crasies. On the other hand, in vigour, richness,
poetry and earnestness, as well as in the balance
which he was able to maintain between origin-
ality and justness of art, his works stand at the
highest point among the moderns whose work is
done ; and have had great and lasting effect
upon his successors.

The advanced point to which the history of
the S3'mphony has arrived is shown by the way
in which composers have become divided into two
camps, whose characteristics are most easily
understood in their extremest representatives.
The growing tendency to attach positive mean-
ing to music, as music, has in course of time
brought about a new position of aflfixirs in the
instrumental branch of art. We have already
pointed out how the strict outlines of form in
instrumental works came to be modified by the
growing individuality of the subject. As long as
subjects were produced upon very simple lines,
which in most cases resembled one another in all
but very trifling external particulars, there was no
reason why the structure of the whole movement
should grow either complex or individual. But
as the subject (which stands in many cases as
a sort of text) came to expand its harmonic out-
lines and to gain force and meaning, it reacted
more and more upon the form of the whole move-
ment ; and at the same time the musical spirit
of the whole, as distinguished from the technical
aspectsof structure, was concentrated and unified,
and became more prominent as an important
constituent of the artistic ensenible. In many
cases, such as small movements of a lyrical cha-
racter for single instruments, the so-called classi-
cal principles of form were almost lost sight of,
and the movement was left to depend altogether
upon the consistency of the musical expresion
throughout. Sometimes these movements had
names suggesting more or less of a programme;
but this was not by any means invariable or neces-
sary. For in such cases as Chopin's Preludes, and
some of Schumann's little movements, there is
no programme given, and none required by the
listener. The movement depends successfully
upon the meaning which the music has sufficient
character of its own to convoy. In such cases the
art form is still thoroughly pure, and depends upon
the development of music as music. But in pro-
cess of time a new position beyond this has been
assumed. Supposing the subjects and figures of
niusic to be capable of expressing something
v?hich is definite enough to be put into words,
it is argued that the classical principles of struc-
ture may be altogether abandoned, even in their
broadest outlines, and a new starting-point for
instrumental music attained, on the principle of
following the circumstances of a story, or the
succession of emotions connected with a given
idea, or the flow of thought suggested by the
memory of a place or person or event of history,
or some such means ; and that this would serve
as a basis of consistency and a means of uni-
fying the whole, without the common resources



SYMPHONY.

of tonal or harmonic distribution. The story oi jl
event must be supposed to have impressed th« ri
composer deeply, and the reaction to be an out- je
flow of music, expressing the poetical imaginingi j
of the author better than words would do. It m
some senses this may still be pure art ; when m
the musical idea has really sufficient vigour an< tk
vitality in itself to be appreciated without th |e
help of the external excitement of the imagina n
tion which is attained by giving it a local habi [jj,
tation and a name. For then the musical idts jit
may still have its full share in the developmen ^
of the work, and may pervade it intrinsically a , ,
music, and not solely as representing a stor ^\
or series of emotions which are, primarily, as m
ternal to the music. But wlien the elemen ^
of realism creeps in, or the ideas depend for thai
interest upon their connection with a give jg
programme, the case is different. The test seen;
to lie in the attitude of mind of the compose: (jj
If the story or programme of any sort is merel
a secondary matter which exerts a general infli
enoe upon the music, while the attention is coi
centrated upon the musical material itself an
its legitimate artistic development, the advai
tages gained can hardly be questioned. Ti
principle not only conforms to what is known
the practice of the greatest masters, but is c
abstract grounds perfectly unassailable ; on tl; j^j
other hand, if the programme is the primal
element, upon which the mind of the composi
is principally fixed, and by matins of which tl
work attains a specious excuse for abnormal d
velopment, independent of the actual music
sequence of ideas, then the principle is open
question, and may lead to most unsatiafacto:
results. The greatest of modem programn
com])osers came to a certain extent into tl:
position. The development of pure abstra
instrumental music seems to have been almc
the monopoly of the German race ; Fren
and Italians have had a readier disposition i
theatrical and at best dramatic music. Berli
had an extraordinary perception of the pos



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 9 of 194)