John Alexander Fuller-Maitland Sir George Grove.

A dictionary of music and musicians (A.D. 1450-1889) online

. (page 148 of 194)
Online LibraryJohn Alexander Fuller-Maitland Sir George GroveA dictionary of music and musicians (A.D. 1450-1889) → online text (page 148 of 194)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


treatise by him, and the same work is quoted by
Ravenscroft, from a marginal note in whose
'Briefe Discourse' (1614) we learn that Dun-
stable's treatise was on ' Mensurabilis Musice.'
Until comparatively recent days it was thought
that the fragments printed by Gaforius and Mor-
ley were all that remained of his works. But a
little more than this has been preserved. A
three-part song, ' O Rosa bella/ was discovered
in a MS. at the Vatican by MM. Danjou and
Morelot ('Revue de la Musi que Religieuse/
1847, P- 3 44> an< * another copy was subse-
quently found in a MS. collection of motets,
etc., at Dijon. This composition has been
scored by M. Morelot, and printed in his mono-
graph ' De la Musique au XV* Steele.' It
may also be found in the appendix to the 2nd
volume of Ambros' 'Geechichte der Musik.'
Its effect in performance, considering the period
when it was written, is really extraordinary, and
quite equal to anything of Du fay's. Besides
these compositions the British Museum possesses
two specimens of Dunstable's work. The first
is an enigma which has not yet been deciphered.
It occurs in a MS. collection of Treatises on
Music (Add. MS. 10,336), transcribed by John
Tuck at the beginning of the 16th century.
Owing to its being written at the end of fol. 18,
and signed ' Qd. Dunstable/ an idea has arisen
that it forms part of the preceding treatise,
which has therefore been sometimes alleged to
be the lost treatise ; but this is not the case, for
the treatise, as Coussemaker has shown, is that
which is nearly always ascribed to John de
Muris, and Dunstable's enigma is evidently
written in to fill up the page. In a similar and
almost identical MS. at Lambeth, transcribed
by William Chelle of Hereford, the treatise of
» See also Book III, cap. 4 of tht seme work.



DUNSTABLE.

de Muris and enigma of Dunstable occur in th«
same juxtaposition. The other composition of
Dunstable's in the British Museum is to be
found in a magnificent volume which formerly
belonged to Henry VIII. (Add. MS. 31,922).
It is a three-part composition of some length,
without words: the tenor consists of a short
phrase which is repeated in accordance with
the Latin couplet written over the part. In
addition to these may be mentioned a MS. col-
lection of 15th-century Astronomical Treatises
in the Bodleian at Oxford, which contains at
p. 74, ' Longitudo et latitudo locorum pnecipue in
Anglia, secundum aliam antiquam scripturam
de manu Dustapli.' At the bottom of the mar-
gin of the page the date occurs : • Anno Gratis
1438 die mensis Aprilis.'

The Liceo Filarmonico de Bologna also pos-
sesses an early 15th-century MS., which contains
four of Dunstable's compositions, viz. a *Pa-
trein,' a * Regina coeli laetare,' and two motets
— • Sub tua protectione,' and ' Qoam pulchra es.'
(Ambros, vol. iii. p. 441.)

Tin 8, then, is probably all that remains of the
work of this remarkable man. It is hardly suf-
ficient to enable us to judge how well founded
his reputation was, but it is enough to show that
for his time he was a man of remarkable power.
He forms the one link between the early English
school which produced the ' Rota,' and the school
of the early 16th century which produced such
men as Cornysshe, Pigot, and Fayrfax. But
between the two there is a distinct break. The
men of the later generation are far inferior
to their Netherlandish contemporaries, while
Dunstable was equal, if not superior, to Dufay
and Binchois. This singular fact can only be
accounted for by other than purely musical rea-
sons. The death of Dunstable took place in
1453, at the very time when the Wars of the
Roses broke out, and for years England was
thrown into a state of hopeless confusion and
disorganization, which must have stopped the
progress of all the arts of civilization. 3 During
thin period, music, like everything else, must
have suffered, and it is doubtless for this reason
that we possess so little of Dunstable's work.
On the re-establishment of order under Henry
VII. the old English school — probably consist-
ing of only a small knot of men — was dispersed
or forgotten, and the inspiration of the Court
composers of Henry VII. and of the early years
of Henry VIII. was distinctly derived from Bur-
gundy and the Netherlands, which had been
making rapid progress under Dufay 's successors
— Okeghem, Hobrecht, and Josquin — while
England, plunged in the miseries of civil war,
had forgotten the art in which she had made so
good a beginning. Thus it was that Dunstable
was forgotten. Fuller, when he came across bis

s It hat been the misfortune of English, music to miflbr more thaa
onoe from politic*! events. The violent interruptions caused by the
Reformation nod the Great Rebellion were as disastrous to their
effects upon later schools of English nnnic as were the Wars of the
Roses upon the school of Dunstable. More peaceably, but no ten
unfortunately, the advent of the Hanoverian dynasty, with Its Ger-
msn court and Italian opera, crushed the school of English open
which PurceU founded.



Digitized by



Google



DUNSTABLE.

epitaphs, made merry that a • person of such per-
fection* should be bo unknown. The epitaphs
are worth reprinting. The first was on his tomb-
stone in St. Stephen's, Walbrook. Stow l says
it was inscribed on ' two (aire plated stones in the
Chaucell, each by other.' It runs as follows : —

Claudit hoc tumulo, qui Cesium peofcm claastt
Dunstaple I. jurif, aetrorum conscius illo*
Judice novit niramis abscondita pandere cceli.
Hie vir erat tua laua, tua lux. toa mnsica princeps,
Quique toas dulcea* per munaum sperserat 4 onus,
Anno Mil. Equator, semel L. trias jongito Christi.



Pridlo natale sidnt tranamigrat ad astra,
SoBcipiant proprium ciyem coeli aibi civea.

The other epitaph is preserved in Weever's
'Funerall Monuments' (1631), where it is
quoted from a MS. in the Cottonian Library,
containing a number of poetical epitaphs written
by John of Whethamstede, Abbot of St. Al-
ban's : —

Upon John Dunstable, an astrologisn, a mathema-
tician, a mnaitian, and what not.
Musicus bio Michalua alter, nornsqne Ptholomeua,
Junior ac Athlaa sopportans robore celoe,
Fausat tub cinere; melior vir de muliere
Nana nam natns erat; Ticii quia labe carebat,
Et vlrtutibuB opes posaedit vlncus omnes.
Cur exoptetur t sic optandoque precetur
Perpetufa anms celebretur fama Johannis
Dunatapil; in pace requieioat et bio tine fine.

[W.B.S.]
DTJPONT, Auoubtb, born at Ensival near
liege, Feb. 9, 1828, was educated at the Liege
Conservatoire, and after several years spent in
successful travel as a pianist was appointed
a professor of the Brussels Conservatoire. His
works for the pianoforte are numerous, and
show a thorough knowledge of the instrument.
They are cast in a popular mould, and may be
said to belong to the class of drawing-room
music, but they are free from all that is mere-
tricious. A * Concertstuck ' (op. 4a) and a
Concerto in F minor (op. 49) both with orchestral
accompaniment, are his most ambitious works.
Among his solo pieces the best are ' Roman en
dix pages ' (op. 48), a set of short pieces showing
the influence of Schumann in their structure,
and * Contes du Foyer ' (op. 12). A set of songs
called ' Poeme d'amour,' contains much that is
pleasing and original. His younger brother,

Joseph, born at Ensival, Jan. 3, 1838, edu-
cated at Liege and Brussels, has attained great
distinction as an operatic conductor. He has
held posts of this kind successively at Warsaw,
Moscow, and Brussels, where he has been pro-
fessor of harmony at the Conservatoire, and
conductor at the Theatre de la Monnaie, and at
the Association des Artistes Musiciens since
1872. In the following year he succeeded Vieux-
temps as director of the Concerts Populaires.
During the final seasons of Mr. 6ye*s manage-
ment of Italian Opera, M. Dupont conducted
many of the most important performances given
at Covent Garden. [M.]

DUPORT, Jean Pierre. Add date of death,
Dec. 31. Add that Jean Louis Duport made
his deT>ut at the Concert Spirituel in 1768, and
died Sept. 7, 1819.



1 Blow's Surrey. 1833, p. ftiS.
••fulce*' (Fuller).



* Taller reeds ' me.'
«' (Taller).



DVOftlK. 621

DUPXJIS, Dr. Correct date of birth to 1730,
and add day of death, July 17.

DURANTE, Francesco. line 17, for not
£20 read about £55.

DUSSEK, J. L. P. 4770, in catalogue of
works, add that * The Captive of Spilburg ' was
written in collaboration with Michael Kelly.
It should of course be spelt Spielberg.

DUSSEK, Sophia. line 1 1, /or i8iorsacZ 181 2.

DVORAK, 5 AntonIn, born Sept. 8, 1841,
at Muhlhausen (Nelahozeves) near Kralup in
Bohemia. His father, Franz Dvorak, the butcher
and innkeeper of the place, destined him for
the first of these trades. The bands of itin-
erant musicians who used to come round on
great occasions and play in the inn, roused his
musical ambition, and he got the village school-
master to teach him to sing and play the violin.
His progress was so remarkable that before long
he was promoted to singing occasional solos in
church, and to playing the violin on holidays.
During one such performance, in Passion tide,
he broke down from nervousness. In 1853 his
father sent him to a better school at Zlonitz,
putting him under the care of an uncle. Here
his musical studies were superintended by the
organist, A. Liehmann, who taught him the
organ and pianoforte, as well as a certain amount
of theory, such as would enable him to play
from a figured bass, modulate, or extemporize
with moderate success. Two years afterwards
he was sent to learn German, and so to finish
his education, at Kamnitz, where the organist
Hancke taught him for a year, after which he
returned to Zlonitz, his father having in the
meanwhile removed there. He prepared a sur-
prise for his relations in the shape of an original
composition, a polka, which he arranged to have
performed on some festive occasion. The musi-
cians started, but a series of the most frightful
discords arose, and the poor composer realised
too late the fact that he had written the parts for
the transposing instruments as they were to
sound, instead of writing them as they were to
be plaved! By this time his intense desire to
devote himself to music rather than to the
modest career marked out for him by his father,
could no longer be disguised, but it was not
until many months had been spent in discussions,
in which the cause of art was materially helped
by the organist, who foresaw a brilliant future
for his pupil, that the father's objections were
overcome, and permission given for Anton to go
to Prague and study music, in the hope of
getting an organist's appointment. In Oct. 1857
he went to the capital and entered the organ
school supported by the ' Gesellschaft der
Kirchenmusik in Eohmen.' At the beginning of
the three years' course he received a modest
allowance from his father, but even this ceased
after a short time, and the boy — for he was little
more — was thrown on bis own resources. His
violin-playing came in most usefully at this time,
and indeed without it it is difficult to see how
• The accent orer the B indicates the presence of a letter pronouooed
as the French J.



Digitized by



Google



622



dvoMk.



he could have kept himself alive. He joined
one of the town-bands as viola-player, and for
some three years lived upon the meagre earnings
obtained in cafes and other places of the same
kind. When a Bohemian theatre was opened in
Prague in 1862, the band to which he belonged
was employed to provide the occasional music,
and when that institution was established on a
firm basis, as the National Theatre, Dvofrfk,
with some others of his companions, was chosen
a member of the orchestra. While here he
benefited by his intercourse with Smetana, who
held the post of conductor from 1866 to 1874.
A kind friend was found in Carl Bendl, a native
of Prague, who after holding important musical
posts at Brussels and Amsterdam, had returned
in 1866 to Prague as conductor of a choral
society, and who gave Dvorak every opportunity
in his power of becoming acquainted with the
masterpieces of art. His own resources were of
course not sufficient to allow him to buy scores,
and the possession of a piano of his own was not
to be thought of. In spite of these drawbacks,
he worked on steadily at composition, experi-
menting in almost every form of music. As
early as 1862 he had written a string quintet;
by 1865 two symphonies were completed ; about
this time a grand opera on the subject of Alfred
was composed to a German libretto, and many
songs were written. The most ambitious of
these efforts were afterwards committed to the
flames by their author. In 1873 he was ap-
pointed organist of St. Adalbert's church in
Prague, a stroke of good fortune which allowed
him not only to give up his orchestral engage-
ment, but to take to himself a wife. He in-
creased his scanty salary by taking private
pupils, but as yet his circumstances were ex-
ceedingly humble.

It was in this, his 32nd year,, that he first
came before the public as a composer, with the
patriotic cantata or hymn, written to words by
Halek, 'Die Erben des weissen Berges* (The
heirs of the white mountain). The subject was
happily chosen, and the spontaneous and
thoroughly national character of the music
ensured its success. In the same year one
of two Notturnos for orchestra was per-
formed, and in 1874 an entire symphony in
Eb, and a scherzo from a symphony in
D minor were given. Neither of these sym-
phonies appear in his list of works ; they were
not the same as the two earlier compositions,
which were in Bb and E minor respectively.
By this time the composer had begun to make
a name for himself, and the authorities of the
National Theatre resolved to produce an opera
by him. When ' Der Konig und der Kohler '
('The King and the Collier') was put into
rehearsal, however, it turned out to be quite
impracticable, owing to the wildly unconven-
tional style of the music, and the composer
actually had the courage to rewrite it altogether,

5 reserving scarcely a note of the original score,
n this form it was successfully produced, and, the
rumour of his powero and of the scantiness of his



DVOfcAK.

resources reaching Vienna, he received in the fol-
lowing year a pension of about £50 per annum from
the Kultusininisterium. This stipend, increased
in the following year, was the indirect means of
procuring him the friendship and encouragement
of Johannes Brahms, who, on Herbecks death
iu 1877, was appointed to succeed him on a
commission formed for examining the compo-
sitions of the recipients of this grant. In this
way the delightful collection of duets, called
4 Klange aus Mahren,* came before the Viennese
composer, and it is not to be wondered at that
he discerned in them all the possibilities that
lay before their author. A wonderfully happy-
use of national characteristics is the most at-
tractive feature of these duets, and a good
opportunity for again displaying his knowledge
of these peculiarities was soon given him; he
received a commission from Simrock the pub-
lisher to write a series of * Slavieche T&nze for
pianoforte duet. The work, completed in 1878,
had almost as great a success as the Hungarian
dances of Brahms, published several years before.
The wide popularity which the dances rapidly
attained in all parts of Germany led, as was
only natural, to the publication of compositions
of every form, which the composer had almost
despaired of ever seeing in print. It was now
evident to all musicians that a new and fully
developed composer had arisen, not a mere
student whose progress from lighter to more
elaborate forms could be watched and discussed,
but a master whose style was completely formed,
and whose individuality had, in its development,
escaped all the trammels of convention. His
long experience of orchestras had served him
well, and had given him a feeling for instru-
mental colouring such as has been acquired by
very few even of those composers whose education
has been most complete. But though musical
culture and the constant intercourse with artists
and critics undoubtedly tend to crush distinctive
originality, they have their advantages too, and
a composer who wishes to employ the classical
forms with ease and certainty will hardly be
able to dispense with these necessary evils. In
judging of DvoraVs works, it must always be
remembered that a large amount of his chamber
music was written without any immediate pro-
spect of a public performance, and without
receiving any alterations such as judicious
criticism might have suggested.

Since the publication of the • Slavische Tanze,'
the composer has been in the happy position of
the country whioh has no history, or rather his
history is to be read in his works, not in any
biography. Of late years England has played
an important part in his career. Since the
dances above referred to were arranged for
orchestra, and played at the Crystal Palace (on
Feb. 15, 1879) hi* name has become gra-
dually more and more prominent, and it cannot
be said that the English musical world has
been remiss in regard to this composer, whatever
may be our shortcomings in some other respects.
An especial meed of praise is due to an amateur



Digitized by



Google



association, the London Musical Sooiitt, which
on March 10, 1883, introduced to the metropolis
his setting of the ' Stabat Mater/ composed as
early as 1876, though not published tall 1881.
Public attention was at once aroused by the
extraordinary beauty and individuality of the
music, and the composer was invited to conduct
a performance of the work at the Albert
Hall, which took place on March 13* In the
autumn of 1884 he was again asked to conduct
it at the Worcester Festival, and at the same
time received a commission from the authorities
to write a short cantata for the next year's
Birmingham Festival. This resulted in the
composition of 'The Spectre's Bride,' to a
Bohemian version by K. J. Erben of the fami-
liar * Lenore ' legend, which, although it was
presented in a very inadequate translation of a
German version, obtained a success as remark-
able as it was well-deserved, carrying off the
chief honours of the festival This, as well as an
oratorio on the subject of St. Ludmila, written
for the Leeds Festival of 1886, were conducted
by the composer himself.

This is not the place for a detailed criticism of
Dvorak's works, nor can we attempt to foretell
what position his name wilt ultimately occupy
among the composers of our time ; it may how-
ever be permitted to draw attention to the more
striking characteristics of his music An inex-
haustible wealth of melodic invention and a
rich variety of colouring are the qualities which
most attract us, together with a certain unex-
pectedness, from which none of his works are
wholly free. The imaginative faculty is very
strongly developed, so that he is at his best
when treating subjects in which the romantic
element is prominent. It must be admitted that
his works in the regular classical forms are the
least favourable specimens of his powers. When
we consider the bent of his nature and the
circumstances of his early life, this is not to be
wondered at ; the only wonder is that his con-
certed compositions should be as numerous and
as successful as they are. As a rule, the interest
of those movements in which an adherence to
strict form is necessary, is kept up, not so much
by ingenious developments and new presentments
of the themes, as by the copious employment of
new episodes, the relationship of which to the
principal subjects of the movement is of the
slightest. But in spite of these technical de-
partures from time-honoured custom, the most
stern purist cannot refuse to yield to the in-
fluence of the fresh charm with which the
composer invests his ideas, and in most of his
slow movements and scherzos there is no room
for cavil. These two important sections of the
sonata or symphony form have been materially
enriched by Dvorak in the introduction and
employment of two Bohemian musical forms,
that of the ' Dumka ' or elegy, and the • Furiant,'
a kind of wild scherzo. Both these forms,
altogether new to classical music, have been
used by him in chamber music and symphonies,
and also separately,as in op. 12, op. 35, and op. 42.



To his orchestral works the slight censure
passed upon his chamber compositions does not
apply, in his symphonies and other works in
this class, the continual variety and ingenuity
of his instrumentation more than make up for
any such deficiencies as we have referred to in
the treatment of the themes themselves, while his
mastery of effect compels our admiration at every
turn. Beside the three symphonies, op. 24, 1 60, and
70, and the overtures which belong to his operas,
we may mention a set of ' Symphonic Variations *
(op. 40), a ' Scherzo capriccioso ' (op. 66), and
the overtures 'Mein Heim' (op. 62) and 'Hu-
sitska' (op. 67), both written on themes from
Bohemian volkslieder.

Although in such works as the concerto op.
33, the pianoforte quartet in D, op. 23, and
the three trios, op. 21, 26, and 65, Dvorak
has given evidence of a thorough knowledge of
pianoforte effect, his works for that instrument
alone form the smallest and least important class
of his compositions, and it cannot be denied that
though the waltzes and mazurkas contain much
that is piquant and exceedingly original, his
contributions to pianoforte music are by no
means representative.

His songs belong for the most part to the
earlier period of his career, but considering the
extraordinary success attained by the ' Zigeuner-
lieder' on their publication, it is surprising that
the other songs are not more frequently heard.
These 'gipsy songs' show the composer at his
best, uniting as they do great effectiveness with
tender and irresistible pathos. His use of gipsy
rhythms and intervals is also most happy.

In his operas, if we may judge from those of
which the vocal scores are published, his lighter
mood is most prominent. ' Der Bauer ein Schelm '
(' The Peasant a Rogue') is full of vivacity and
charm, and contains many excellent ensembles.
Both in this and in ' Die Diekschadel ' (' The
obstinate daughter/ literally < The Thickhead ')
his love for piquant rhythm is constantly per-
ceptible, and both bear a strong affinity in style
to the ' Klange aus Mahren * duets.

None of his earlier works for chorus gave
promise of what was to come in the 'Stabat .
Mater.' The • Heirs of the White Mountain *
is melodious, and contains passages of great
vigour, and the 'local colour/ though by no
means prominent, ia skilfully used; but even
those musicians who knew his previous compo-
sitions can scarcely have expected his setting of
the Latin hymn to be full of the highest
qualities which can be brought into requisition.
Perhaps the most striking feature of his work is
the perfect sympathy of its character with that
of the words. The Bohemian composer has not -
only thrown off all trace of his own nationality,
but has adopted a style which makes it difficult
to believe him not to have studied the best
Italian models for a lifetime before setting pen
to paper. We do not mean for a moment to

» Tht Symphony In F. written In 1875. to which the abote number
should have been affixed, has Just been published as op. 76. The
first performance took place at the Crystal Palace, April 7, 18*8.



624



DVORAK.



hint at any want of originality, for here, as else-
where, the composer is indebted to no one for
any part of his ideas. But in such numbers as
the ' Inflammatus * and others the Italian influ-
ence is quite unmistakable. It has been well
remarked that he treats the hymn from the point
of view of ' absolute music ' ; that is to say, that
he dwells, not so much upon the meaning or
dramatic force of each verse or idea, as upon the
general emotion of the whole. It is this, no
doubt, which leads him into an apparent dis-
regard of the order and connection of the words
of the hymn, though a more commonplace
reason, must, we fear, be assigned for the not
infrequent false quantities in the setting of the
Latin verse. These errors in detail serve to
remind us of the deficiencies in Dvorak's early
training, and to increase our admiration for the
genius of a composer, who, in spite of so many
drawbacks, has succeeded, more perfectly than any
other modern writer, in reflecting the spirit of the



Online LibraryJohn Alexander Fuller-Maitland Sir George GroveA dictionary of music and musicians (A.D. 1450-1889) → online text (page 148 of 194)