John R. Parker.

A musical biograhy: or Sketches of the lives and writings of eminent musical ... online

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tive to a general audience. There are few persons to whom
her enchantments are unknown as a singer, so extended
has heen the fame of her talents, that there is scarcely a
provincial meeting of any consideration at which Mrs« Sal->
MON is not engaged to assist. As this has been the case
for some seasons past, her merits may be said to be uni*
versally known.

An opinion has been entertained, that peculiar organiza^
tion is in some sdrt hereditary, or at least partaken by va-
rious branches of the same family. Mrs. Salmon is a
member of a family celebrated for vocal as well as gene-
ral musical ability. Her first master was John Ashley,
but time, practice, and observation appear to have beea
her most capable instructors. With all her acquisitions she
certainly belongs to no school. She sings English and Ital-
ian with the same brilliancy of tone, and with the same fa-
cility, the two circumstances that form the characteristics
by which every body sees the eiBTects of this lady's perfor-
mances.

Mrs. Salmon's intonation is very correct, though singing
with male voices, it has in some instances been knoi^n to
sharpen. It is however well known, that intonation mclin-
ing to be sharp rather than flat, bestows a superior brillian-



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VAUGHAN. 173

ey. It is analogous to the elevation of the general pitch of
which instrumentalists are known to be always so desirous.
In her tone lies the delight. Her voice possesses neither
extraordinary compass nor volume, but it comes the near-
est to the tone of musical glasses, if we can imagine that
sound to be somewhat thinned and refined. "How," says a
critic, " shall we find words to convey any notion of the
syren who steals, away the soul by tone so liquid, resonant,
brilliant and delicious, that it leaves us scarcely any power
to search beyond the pleasure we derive from the mere
pulses of the sound."

Mrs. Salmon fehctiously disables the severity of judg-
ment. Clearness, beauty, rapidity, poHsh, invention, and
taste are her attributes. Though never grand, and seldom,
if ever, pathetic or touching, though never extorting the
tribute of applause by sudden, powerful, and irrisistible ap-
peals to the imagination or^ to the heart, she nevertheless
captivates by sweetness, delicacy and uncommon ease.



MR VAUGHAN.



Mr Vaughan is a native of Norwich, and be received the
first rudiments of his musical education in the choir of the
cathedral church. There were at that time subscription
concerts upon a good scale, where the best secular music
was performed under the direction of an amateur, and at
these, young VAnoHAN sung with great applause. His
voice, his countenance, and his manners, were alike prepos-



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174 MUSICAL BIOGRAPHT.

setsing, and what adds interest to the relation/his father
died and left him an orphan very young, at the very in^
stant when the first notes of a concert for his benefit were
performing. He was immediately befriended and pro-
tected. Dr. Beckwith, a very sound musician, then the
organist of the Cathedral and St Peter's and the most es-
teemed teacher of his day, continued to instruct him ; but
he was still more fortunate in the friendship of a clergy-
man, deeply learned in the science and enthusiastically
fond of it, who used such exertions to forward his promo-
tion as belong only to warm disinterested affection. His
merits aided by such assistance, soon translated him to the
chapel of Windsor, and he has gradually gone on till he ar-
rived at the eminent distinction of succeeding Mr. Harrison
in the choirs and concerts of the metropolis. We have de-
viated from our tract into private anecdote, because we are
desirous not to withhold what is so honorable to all the par-
ties.

We are now to consider Mr. Vaughan in the high pro-
fessional light he has placed himself. His intonation is
mathematically correct and the clue to a precision so diffi-
cult to attain is to be found in the accurate knowledge he
possesses of the extent of his power and in the rigorous aus-
terity with which he limits his efforts to his faculties. The
nice application of this rule of judgment is seen at the ve-
ry commencement of an analysis of his qualities. — It will
be found to accompany us at every step of our progress,
and to predominate by its general bearing over every oth-
er element of his excellence, natural or acquired. Nature,
exercise and taste, are all employed in the formation, pres-
ervation, and practice of tune, although it is very common
to attribute perfection or approach to perfection in this
particular to nature alone or to the ear as we familiarly
$ty. But in truth ear is perhaps the least concerned at



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VAUGHAN. 175

iast. At first we regulate the scale by this faculty, but it is
exercise, that in the second stage confinns the organs of
sound and fixes them to just degrees by the force of habit ;
and finally is the knowledge of what stress these organs
will bear, that teaches us to confine the imagination with-
in the bounds which nature has assigned to the functions of
the throat. It will therefore easily be estimated for how
considerable a portion of knowledge, observation, and abil^
ity, we give a singer credit when we grant to him that his
intonation is mathematically correct.

Now we are about to aim at the description of Mr.
Vaughan's tone, we feel all the difficulty which the want of
precise terms, the necessity for a technical language of
sound, impose upon us. We can call to mind neither
voice nor instrument that bears any resemblance to his. It
is perhaps neither so rich nor so sweet as Mr. Harrison's,
but we should describe it as naturally more pure, if its{ be-
ing less modified may entitle it to such a distinction, more
free and quickly formed, less brilliant, though more
penetrating and various, not less ductile, certainly more
powerful, less adapted to tenderness, better fitted for the
expression of passion, deep pathos, and declamatory passa-
ges as well as for the rapid and forcible execution of di-
.visiJns, and equally suited to light and delicate ornament
Still we find that we can convey no definite and precise
idea of the voice. If we say that we think it dififers from
other tenor voices in the manner that Mrs. Billington's dif-
fered from those of the generality of female singers, or that
it partiakes neither of the reed nor the string in any re-
markable degree, we do not know whether we sliall h^
more exact, though we think the description is susceptible
of all these destinctions. If adopting the fanciful illustra-
tions of Sir Isaac Newton's supposition by a modem wri-
ter W9 should endeavour to assign a particular color ai



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176 MUSICAL BIOGRAPHY.

analogous in its effect : we should not add a tittle to th«
likeness. Our readers must therefore be content to per-
ceive that we have not spared our pains in hunting for si-
militudes and to discover that words will not convey any-
more precise idea of tone . We have, however established
already a standard of comparison and we shall go on to
complete the graduation of the scale by the notice of par-
ticular effects. The recitative and air " Oh ! loss ofsigM'*
and ^^Total eclipse^'* from Samson, we consider to be the fin-
est of Mr. Vaughan's performances, because the composi-
tion in itself is majestically simple though pathetic to the
very depths of pathos, and because there is nothing that re-
quires so much elevated dignity of tone as well as concep-
tion and execution as this unadorned simplicity. If we re-
gard the words they are the plainest but the most natural
and therefore the most touching description of the mental
suffering of the blind champion in servitude and chains.
This dignified simplicity it is that constitutes at once the
difficulty and the praise of singing Handel. The shades of
passionate enunciation are so nicely and intimately blended,
they melt into darker and darker hues from the first strain
of complaining sorrow to the climax of reproachful anguish
and misery in the exclamatory reflection,

" Why thus deprived thy prime decree ? *

Swa,moon, and stars are dark to me !"

that there is no song within our remembrance requiring
more peculiar, more gradual, more delicate, nor more pas-
sionate expression of tone as well as general manner, than
" Total jEc/ipsc." Mr. Vaughan is here pre-eminently
great over all his predecessors and competitors. He ex*-
ceeds Mr. Harrison in force and pathos, Mr. Braham in
dignity, temperance and delicacy. Mr. Vaughan is not a
singer that takes by storm. As a very fine female singer of
the present day and still finer judge of singing has been



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VAUGHAN. 1?J

heard to say of Madame Camporese, ^' she steals upon
jou ;" he first possesses himself of your heart, and he af-
terwards satisfies your understanding. Thi^ is much the
work of tone. His is not the rapid, bold, irrisistible draw-
ing of Mortimer^ hut the finely-laid picture of exquisite
propriety, grace, feeling, and finish, where may be seen
the true taste and talent of the artist subdued and temper- '
^d by study and acquaintance with all the principles of the
art. The opening recitative of the Messiah " Comfort ye
my peopUy^^ and the succeeding air << Every valley shall be
exalledy'* are .entitled inour/esteem to equal praise, though
dissimilar in the class of sentiments to which they are ad-
dressed. " The Soldier^ 8 Dream^^ and " Alexia^^ are alike
inimitable and inestimable in the chaste and beautiful can-
tabile s<yle of tone, mixed however with sensibility, ele-
gance, and delightfully chosen ornaments

A name appears to be wanting for HandePs songs of di-
vision — ^we mean such as " fVhy does the God of Israel
eleep ?" from Samson, or " Uiou shalt dash them*^ from the
Messiah. The Itahan term " airs of agility" fails us, be-
cause it does not imply the powerful expression which we
Venture to call vocal datamation, and which forms the
characteristics of those compositioi^s, for if lowered to
mere execution, they forfeit all their true and oHgical de-
sign. Critics who deem theai,e divisions to be merely of
mechanical construction, have never heard Madame Mara
in " Rejoice greatly," #r Mr. Vaughan in " Why does the
God of Israel sleep." Mr. Vaughan images throughout
every note of the most harrassing divisions, the rapid and
impetuous thoughts which impel Samson to commune with-^
in hiniself, to raise himself up before his Creator, almost
fo remonstrati, and to point the xengeance which is to
%nv\ his enemies to their destruction.
QS



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^78 MUSICAL BIOGRAPHY.

We consider Mr. Vaughan to be a genuine finglisb
singer ; his tone in Italian^ music is not transmuted
to that of Italian formation, and therefore his singing may
be thought to want the foundation of the style, he is thor-»
ought acquainted trith the difibrence of the two styles, and
though he executes Italian music well, in every other re-
ispect, we can but applaud the good sense that confines him
to his proper excellence.

Mr. Vaughan realizes an image of perfection in the vo-
cal art, which had begun to think was unnecessary and not
to be found but in the hopeless contemplation of ideal pos-
i^ibihty . His singing assures us that the chastity of English
taste, the manly eloquence of English elocution amd th^
genuine pathos of English expression may be combined with
the purity and sweetness of Italian tone, and the grace of
of Italian elocution.



N. STEIBELT.



N. Steibelt, was bom at Berlin in the year 1756. He
very early displayed a great disposition for music, and the
then King of Prussia being made acquainted with his de-
cided ability for this science, placed him under the instruc-
tion of the celebrated Kimberger, who was then at Ber-
lin. Under this master he rapidly improved, and laid the
foundation of future excellence. • n

Steibelt's compositions for the Piano forte are exces-
sively numerous. They consist of Concertos, sonatas,



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TAYLOB. 17^

potpourries, and airs with variaiioas. His fourth opera of
Sonatas are held in hi^h estimation, and also his Studio
puUished in England.

Wh^e this Composer was at Paris he wrote Lr Reiour ie
Zej^wTy ahallad and an opera called Zm Princt8$ de Boby-
lom^ hoth of which were performed at the Imperial Acad-
emy o£ Music with success. This opera was bis last pub-
lic performance previous to his departure for St. Peters-
• burghs Dming his stay he composed for the Theatre Fey-
<deau, Momeo 4* Julieiy an opera which was ireceived witiik
universal applause. While in London, in 1797, he per-
formed with Viotti at the opera Concerts under the direc-
tion of S^mon. On the 26th January 1805, his Ballad Ld
LaUere or Blanche Remne de CtudiUy was performed at the
opera house^ it was allowed to possess considerable merit.

STEIBEJ.T finaHy went to St. Petersburg, where his abili-
ty receivecl that encouragement which eminent merit de-
mands. H<! died in the early part of the present year 1324.



RAYNER TAYLOR.



Mr. R ayner Taylor the organist Mid Composer ; One
of the DO ost accomplished musicians in this or any other
country. . Bom, I believe in London, he entered at an ear-
ly age, i he Kings's singing school, as one of the boys of the
Chapel Royal : an institution that has sent forth much
valuable » talent to the world. In this capacity he often
attende ;d occasions which have since become historical
events , such as the funeral of Handel in 1769— That of



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tSO MUSICAL BIOGRAPHY.

fieorge the second in 1 760— ^as well as the marriage and
Coronation of George the third and his estimahle consort.
Upon leaving the school, he was immediately in active em->
ployment as composer, vocalist, organist and harpsichord
perfbrmer pPiano fbrtes not heing there known.] Subse-.
quently, for many years, he was established at Chelms-
ford, a large town in the county of Essex, where he was or-
ganist at the church and had an immense round of teach-
ing, both at the principal fbmale academies in private fam-
ilies. From this he was called to be the composer and di-
rector of the musk to the Sadlers Wells theatre, a pleasing
place of amusement, open during the summer months,
which began to rise somewhat above the level of a mere
show box fbr rope dancing, tumbling &.c. and for which
H was no less indebted to Mr. Taylor as composer, than to
Lonsdale, who had assumed the office of author, as well
as that of stage manager ; so that while the burlettas and
pantomimes were formed upon some historical fact or
passing occurrence, or had some classical allusioa, eminent
professors of music who visited this place of amusement to
pass a leisure hour were astonished to find the little orches-
tra well disciplined, correct and efifectiye, and were de-
lighted with the pleasing yet scientific style of the music.

Mr. Tayloe's song of " A Sailors, life at 8eay^\\n a piece
which represented the distress and return of the Cruardiau
Frigate in most impressive dumb show,— ^and the ear tick-,
ling and the comic trio of ^^ Chin chet qvavP^ simg iii^ a panto-
mime exhibiting cheese manners and scenery received fot*
several seasons. Qn every night, -a certain enc(yfe ; and in,
a spectacle founded upon events then passing in France,
the solemn and impressive solo and brilliant chorus that was
sung upon the scene representing Louis the XVI. as taking,
the oath in the champ de mars constantly produce^ peals
^ applause.



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TAYLOR. 181

Moat 1792, he emigrated with his famfly to America,
and passed some time in the southern states \ hut in 1793,
he settied in Philadelphia where he has since remained, and
where hy age and infirmity, he has retired from public life.

Mr. Taylor's talents are various. As a composer, he
stands upon the highest ground both as to science and origi-
nality, as well as to knowledge of effect, and in every res-
pect is certainly highly entitled to public favour. But the
best of his compositions were consigned to his shelves ; yet
of those he published in this country. " Thefadtd IMlyy'^
and the '< JBeech Tree^s petitiony^^ are dehghtful specimens of
that melodious flow of air and harmony which formed the
style of the last century.

As an organist he is second to no one. Any person ac-
quainted with the true style of organ playing who has ever
heard Mr. Taylor, will testify to this. Not his voluntaries
alone, but each passing interlude to a common ps^lm tune
was full of taste and ingenuity. But on various occasions,
after church service, when he has obliged a favoured few
who remained for the purpose, with extemporaneous effu-
sions, a never failing strain of harmony and science would
burst upon the senses. His ideas flqwed with' wonderful
freedom in all the varieties of plain chant, imitation and
fligue. Subject follows subject in quick succession, through
all the mazes of modulation by the hour together. But I
am sorry to be compeUed to bear testimony to the fact,
that his talents were not of the marketable kind. Scientific
organ playing and shelves groaning under manuscript file?
of overtures, operas, anthems, glees &c. were neither pro-
ductive of fame nor emolument to their worthy possessorv
The drudgery of teaching and a scanty organ salary have
been his pnly recompense.

As a vocaUst, Mr, Taylor has not met with that approba-



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182 MUSICAL BIOGRAPHY.

tion to which hii talents mo justly entitle him. This, in a
great measure, is supposed to arise from his always se-
lecting comic songs for hb public exhibitions, and the cir-
cumstance of his singing not being iti the fashion of the
day. In short, many of his warmest admirers have regret-
ted that so much talent should stoop to the performance of
a Vauxhall ballad ; yet his merriment and vivacity in glees
and catches of a humorous nature, have often added to so-
cial naerriment. Sometimes among particular friends be
would in perfect playfulness sit down to the piano forte and
extemporize an Itahan opera, giving no bad specimen^
though a highly carricatured one, of that fashionable enter-
tainment. The overture, recitative, songs and dialogue,
by singing alternately in the natural and falsetto voice
were all the thought of the moment, as well as the words
which were notiiing but a sort of gibberish with Italian ter-
minations. Thus would he often in sportive mood throw
away ideas sufficient to establish a musical fame.



T. S. WEBB.



This gentleman was a distinguished amateur in Music,
and attained a high degree of celebrity, having been ap-
pointed iiie first Presideni cfthe Bo&tmi Handd and Haydm
Shcietyy an institution under whose aui^iees, were laid a
foundation which aspires to an eminent rank among the first
of musical societies in this country.

Col. Wbbb was the son of the late Samoel Webb.
He was bom in Boston, 1771, and shared the advantages of



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WEBB. 183

the public Latin School, by his rapid imptovement, he be-
came a proficient in the French language. Endowed by
the bouiitiful Creator, with a mind abo^e the common
rank, the sweetness of his disposition, and the amiableness
of Jiis manners, while they procured for him the esteem of
his instructors, and young associates, riveted also the pa-
rental affections, and strengthened the hope, that he would
one day become both an ornament and a blessing to socie-

The early buddings of his genius were soon discovered in
the poetry of his youthful pen, and rewarded by the smile
of approbation, which they excited. As an occupation
congenial to his natural taste for mental improvement, he,
at a suitable age, served an apprenticeship at the printing
business in this city. Being thus qualified, he left the de-
lights of home, and removed to Keene in New Hampshire,
and thence to Albany in the state of New- York. He mar-
ried a Miss Martha Hopkins of Boston, and had five chil-
dren, three of which, with their mother died, after which,
he married the sister of his wife. From Albany he remov-
ed to Providence R. I. where he acquired, from his person-
al activity and industry, a handsome property in a domes-
tic cotton manufactory. With an intention to increase his
wealth, he embarked a considerable portion of his property
in machinery for the weaving of Cotton Goods, in tlie Wes-
tern Country. He was about to settle in Ohio, hoping there
to meet with greater success, where there was less compe-
tition, and to arrive at that enviable state of pecimiary in-
dependence which he had despaired of obtaining in New-
England. He was on his way to Columbia, the place he
had selected for his future residence, when he died.

Thus departed from the scene of his mortal labors and
affections, a gentleman who was respected by the public,



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194 lVttJ3ICAL BIOGRAPHY.

honored by, his acquamtance, and loved with the fondest
enthusiasm by his friends. In him were embodied a soul
of feeling and philanthropy : an understanding clear and
penetrating ; a disposition, kind and complacent, a taste,
exquisitely delicate and refined.

As a member of the masonic brotherhood, he was every
where known ; for those who had witnessed his personal
labors, had received the benefit of them, in the explana-
tions and illustrations which he published, and which are
received in most Lodges in our country as a manual of mo-
rality and religion. He had studied masonry as a science,
and found that it might be made auxiliary to the noblest
purposes, and his example was a powerful witness, that its
tenets might be incorporated with every action, and give
life, spirit, purity, and honor to the most exalted as well as
to the himiblest occupations of man. He was not a free-
mason in theoiy only ; his daily pursuits were a practical
commentary on the usefulness and internal worth of the
principles he professed and advocated. His researches in-
to the remote history of the fraternity were fruitful in the
production of information, instruction and amusement, to
others as well;as to himself ; and he would have done vio-
lence to his urbane and j^ocial feelings to have kept for a
moment from his companions and friends a scrap of histo-
ry, an anecdote, a maxim, or an observation which had af-
forded pleasure to himself. The continual advances he was
making in masonry as a science, and the facility and scru-
pulousness with which be applied every moral obligation to
practice, had procured him some of the highest distinctions
in the power of his brethren to confer. These honors
he wore with dignity and modesty ; not using them as
means to gratify ambition or disseminate the seeds of inno-
vation. His authority was exercised with mildness, and



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WEBB- 18|>

tkose oT«r whom he was csDed to preside weve sever mmie
t» feel that office conferred power ob the man^ but they
saw that tbo mam ixnparrted honorto ike ^office. Cooi->
Dftettdfltioiif frotti hina wa» felt to be rakiabfe, and adroom^
iUHQ^ whenever emplojed, was expressed in terms that cem<^
mainded teneration, and- strengthened the ties of atfec-
tion.

To the other endowments of nature, the nauniificent au-
thor of good, added the gift and taste for music, which
from his early youth, began to make their appearance ;
and his succeeding life has shown that his whole mind and
soul was attuned to harmony, every chord of which, vibra-
ted at the slightest touch, and gave the softest tones of mu-
sic's power.

To vocal and instrumental music both inclined ; the fife
and the flute were among the choicest companions of his
chili^ood ; they cheered his evening walks, and supplied
the place pf a friend in retirement. To sing, ever gave
him the sweetest delight, and his personal exertions while
they have excited emulation, have also tended to enlarge
our ideas of a most pleasing and ennobling science. It
may be remarked with much truth, that his urbanity of
manners and persuasive conciliating disposition, as Presi-
dent of the Handel and Haydn, and Vice President of the
Phil-harmcmic Societies, evinced powers of mind peculiar-
ly calculated to the discharge of those offices. The abili-
ty with which he carried into execution the laudable ob-
jects of these meritorious institutions, must be universally
acknowledged, and to his endeavours may in a great meas-
ure be attributed their success. His influence in guiding the
versatile talents of their numerous members, and in com-


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Online LibraryJohn R. ParkerA musical biograhy: or Sketches of the lives and writings of eminent musical ... → online text (page 14 of 20)