John R. Parker.

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

. (page 16 of 20)
Online LibraryJohn R. ParkerA musical biograhy: or Sketches of the lives and writings of eminent musical ... → online text (page 16 of 20)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

«^yig permission than by disregarding its refusal. We con-
sider the young lady in the light of a collegian who is pub-
licly announced to have obtained a glorious scholastic prize;
and therefore must still persist to justify ourselves in having
taken the same libei«ty with her name.

The uncommon musical capacity of this young lady was
very eajrly displayed in a manner equally extraordinary.
When scarcely more than three years old, she was known to
catch, as if by inspiration, all the popular airs of the day, and
to sing them with such precision as to admit of free scien-
tific accoqipaniment.

Tlie first attempt to instruct her, at the age of six, was
after a few trials, abandoned as too onerous. The second^
only a year after, proved decisive. Her talents unfolded
thoQiselves with a rapidity that, at the first onset, outstrip-
ped the regular pace of tuition. Every new lesson was

Digitized by



learned with such ezpeditioiis ease, as to render indispensi^
ble the intervening burthen of Jiome instruction, which plac-
ed her several pages in advance of the ensuing lesson, and
which daily increasing, made it at last an act of justice to
unite the credit with the labor. Accordingly she became
exclusively the pupil of her own father, who found himself
thus uneicpectedly compelled to teach, while he himself had
yet to learn ; the piano-forte not bein^ an instrument on
which he is a distinguished amateur.

When she was entering upon Pleyel's sonatas, Mr. Utien*
ne made a professional visit to Boston ; and by his liberal
conduct proved that sympathy between talents, and their
reciprocal homage, are not imaginary. At a glance he
perceived the kindred gem as yet in its native bed, and un-
able to watch over it in person, he left behind him such ad-
vice as powerfully aided in its progressive polish. The
lustre which it has since acquired, probably surpasses his
utmost anticipations ; but the mode and course of in«
sitruction which were adopted at his recommendation, en-
title him to that strain of eulogy and gratitude in which he
is generally spoken of by the family.

In the year 1817, having occasion to visit St. Peters-
burg, where Steibelt and the much celebrated Field resid-
ed. Miss Eustaphieve's father took her with him for the
express purpose of hearing those great masters, and, if
possible, of profiting by their instructions. But this pur-
pose, in a great measure, though not wholly, was defeated
by the circumstance of her being obliged, sooner than was
expected, to return to Boston'. She left the imperial cap-
ital after staying there onlyiwo months, just long enough
to make both these eminent characters regret her depai*ture«

Thus, guided chiefly by the general taste of her paternal
instructor ; without the opportunity of hearing great per-
formers either late enough, or often enough to derive ben^

Digitized by



efit, being removed from all competition which might excite
laudable emulation and a necessary portion of ambition; with
no association even to reheve her daily task, which must have
s^ppeared to her without a definite object and therefore more
tedious than that of Penelope *, bereft of all inducement vol-
untarily to prolong her practice which never exceeded five
out of twenty-four hours,and which decreasing,as other stud-
ies interfered, is now reduced to about one half of the time;
she nevertheless in the progress actually made, excels the
European student as much as he does her, in the possession
of all these superior means, and positive advantages. Such
is the triumph of genius !

To convey some idea of her masterly performance, would
be impossible without violating our pledge, not to advance
any thing, ^n the form of opinion ; but we are fortunately in
the possession of some well known Tacts, which can be ad^
duced even on this point apparently incapable of demon-

At the very commencement of her ninth year, she as-
tonished a nimierous audience at the Philharmonic Society,
and in private assemblies, by a successive, rapid, brilliant,
and in the strictest technical sense, faultless execution of
" The Battle of New Orleans," " Viotti's Concerto,"
" The Conflagration of Moscow," the ** Storm Concerto"
and the like compositions. Having since passed with the
same success to the master pieces of Kalkbrenner, Ries,
and the gigantic Beethoven himself ; having frustrated the
^utmost efforts of science to arrest her career by an accu-
mulation of difficulties, and exhausted the moderate means
of supplying her with new music, she is now laterally con-
fined within the circle of her own musical library, which
though not the largest, forms perhaps the choicest private
collection in the United States. Every page is at her com-

Digitized by



mand at a moment's notice, yet every page to be mastered,
requires powers at least equal to her own.

A genius like this, would have had in Europe, the invalu*
able privilege of exercising itself in the well-supplied stores
of music without additional expense ; yet, though deprived
here of this advantage so essential to make a good reader,
or sight player, how much she excels even in this highly
artificial branch, may be known from the concurrent testi-
mony of our professors who witnessed, and often accompa-
nied her on such occasions.

In the art of accompaniment she had still less practice ;
yet, with what taste and dexterity she can even here ac-
quit herself, we appeal with confidence to all those who
have heard her accompany " The Creation" or the
*^ Moimt of Olives" and particularly to the late eminent mu-
sician Doct. Jackson, who was very justly placed at the
head of this scientific department.

Such is her confidence in herself, arising from the mod-
est, yet full consciousness of her powers ; that spirit of
her performance, instead of being abashed, invariably ris-
es in proportion to the number of her hearers qualified to
form a critical judgment. It is particularly worthy of re-
mark that she has never been known to commit one single
mistake, such as would attract notice, or make correction
necessary in any of the great number of pieces which she
was called upon to play after ever so slight a preparation.

Such too is the accjuracy of her ear, that, like the celebrat-
ed Master Crotch, she can, with her face averted from the
instrument tell every single note,or a group of notes, soon
as the keys are touched by another person. This she can
do even on instruments with which she is totally unac-
quainted ; a gift very rare even among the first rate

She has never yet failed to exceed the highest expecta-

Digitized by



lions and to subject the eje so mueh to the novel illusion
of the ear, that one does not even suspect himself to be in
the presence of any other than an eminent, mature, profes"
sional performer. • All these positive, though extraordinary
facts, and they will be acknowledged as such, by all those
who have enjoyed an opportunity, and possess the necessa-
sary requisites, to form a correct opinion, are recorded of


We might be expected to notice, by way of comparison
several remarkable instances of musical precocity, which
have come to* our knowledge, and have appeared at
different times in various parts of the worid ; but it
would be an useless waste of labor, as, with the exception,
presiently to be made, none appears fairly entitled
to stand in the list of competition. We must ex-
clude even Master Crotch, because, as Dr. Crotch, he has
since made no great figure ; and was celebrated only for a
gift valuable on the score of curiosity, but uncon-
nected with any merit of acquirenoent ; a gift, whieh, as
we have already shewn, is fully possessed by Miss Eusta-
PHiEVE, without any importance being attached to it either
by herself or her friends.

There remains only Mozart : not the Mozart at the prime
of manhood, matched, and perhaps excelled by Haydn and
Beethoven, but the infant Mozart who never had, and, in a
certain sense, never may have his equal. To yield to him,
and him alone, is to excel all that have appeared since hit»
time. The most craving ambition cannot wish for more.
As regards, however Miss Eustaphieve, he is rather a sub-
ject of contrast, than of comparison.

Mozart was bom and reared in apart of Europe, the most
celebrated for musical science ; his father was an eminent
composer and profound teacher of harmony ; his associ-
ates, visitors, almost the whole community in whicfh he liv-

Digitized by



ed, even his play-fellows, were, more or less, zealous culti-
vators and admirers of music : he may be said to have im-
bibed harmony with his mother's milk, and inhaled it from
the very atmosphere he breathed : the reverse of all this
has fallen to the lot of Miss Eustaphieve. Mozart lived
among friends, relations, countrymen, interested in the fame
and progress, and attached to the pursuit itself, which they
deemed honorable and dignified ; Miss Eustaphieve on
the contrary, has been placed amongst strangers, some of
whom, are only so far interested in her talent as to en-
deavor to bring it into discredit and array against it the
whole formidable host of local prejudices. Mozart's ge-
nius is transmitted to us, as regards details, through the
medium of history, mellowed by distance, consecrated by
death, placed beyond the reach of detraction, magnified;
or at least embellished by the endearing touches of surviv-
ing enthusiasm, cherished and guarded by the most faithful
of centinels, national pnde^ which frowns on the smallest
attempt to examine, with the critical eye of incredulity,
the flowers upon his grave.

Thus we might fairly insist on a rational deduction from
the wonders recorded of Mozart ; but we have neither in-
chnation nor interest to disturb the ashes of that great
man ; and will rather run the risk of acquiescing at proba-
ble exaggeration, than of committing injustice.

Mozart, as a composer at thirteen years of age, a fact
which we will not question, must therefore enjoy his supe-
riority for ever. In this respect we acknowledge him un- ■
rivalled, wKhout the smallest qualification to be drawn from
a retrospective glance «at the superior advantages of edu-
cation which it was his good fortune to enjoy. We may,
nevertheless, consider it is an obvious inference, that the
very same cause which so early prompted him to compose,
would now prevent him from making the attempt. The

Digitized by



pian« forte compositions at his. time were so few and mea-
gre, that his genius, naturally dissatisfied with so poor a
face, sought to supply the deficiency from its own resoaic-
es ; but Miss Eustaphieve has now to contend with the
opposite diflSculty, which consists not in the want, but in
the choice and mastery of the astonishing {Production-
which have, since his days, enriched and ennobled t'^a' Ir.
strument, ittelf greatly improved. The very study of UiftL-
masterpieces must necessarily, and very profitably, cmplc^
the whole space of that early life which otherwise might hav ^
embraced the art of composition. To compose tolerably
well, was a great merit, while there was none greater^ [w
speak exclusively of the piano ;] but to acquire such mei
it at this stage of improvement, one must be a full growi:
giant in composition, or nothing. We are quite sure that
Miss Eustaphieve, for the very reason that she has acquir-
ed a taste for the greatest productions extant, will neve:
compose, unless sh^ can equal thcni ; a thing absolute!}
impossible at her time of Hfe, since It v/as impossible eve:
for Mozart himself at any period of life ; his best and lat-
est compositions, with all their undeniable beauties, b.^ir..
inferior to those we have mentioned. It was good policy
to encourage him in the career of composilion, as it was
evidently superior to that of his cotemporaric^ , but it
would be downright impolicy to give the same directi j!i
to the scholar of the present day^ whose premat ir.*
vanity, as a composer, would not fail, for it has never -^^X.
failed, to divert him from the great masters, before i^e ha.;
sufficiently studied them, and reduce him to be the constant
retailer, of his own comparatively worthless trash. Mar}
a performer of promise, that would have arrived at the pin-
nacle of excellence, has been ruined by this mode of pro-
ceeding. The scholar must now laain to cuil* h's i.npa-
tience, and for :i long time console hi w-.^X: v'«(a 'he co^.-

Digitized by



sciousnes^ that in music the distance, between the project-
ing head and executing hand, is not near so great as in some
other arts. Genius can alone give utterance to the sounds,
which genius has originated. The great performer submits
to be guided by the great composer only to become a guide
in turn and be the first to inform the latter of the effect of
his own combinations. The mdependence which exists be-
tween the dramatic author and the actor, the former hav-
ing the power to present himself to the public without the
intervention of the the stage, is impracticable in the science
of music, unless both the characters are united in one
person. Theseus, the groping hero, and Ariadne the
tutelar spirit leading him out of the labyrinth, present a
just emblem of that close alliance which subsists be-
tween the great composer and the great performer, and
which elevates the latter far above the mere mechan-
ism of execution. Nay, a composer of moderate reputa-
tion is absolutely inferior to a performer of rare, but ac-
knowledged merit ; as it requires much less genius to con-
stitute the one, than seize, as does the other, the mas|;er-
key of witchcraft, to wield the mysterious machinery, and
to put in motion the whole mighty creation with the dark
towering spirit of a Beethoven !

The proper question, then, is, was Mozart, as a perfor-
mer on the piano, equal at the age of twelve, to the young
jady of the same age, whom we are describing ? We an-
swer without hesitation, no : not even at a far more advanced
period of life. A presumptive as well as a positive evi-
dence are both on our side . Whatever skill he may be
supposed to have evinced in encountering the masterly and
scientific works of other composers of his day ; the pau-
city and almost the non-existence of these, render such a
supposition quite gratuitous. The whole extent, therefore,
of his powers of execution, may be infallibly traced in his

Digitized by



own works transmitted to us entire, and placed at once with-
in the scope of our own judgment. They present, it must bo
confessed, strong proofs and no ordinary trials, but by no
' means equal in magnitude to those which Miss Eustaphieve
has already sustained with so much credit.

We have, therefore, a right to conclude, that as a per-
former, she has never yet been excelled or even equalled
by any of the same age ; and that in applying to her the
word prodigy y we restore the word itself to its legitimate
owner, and rescue it from the profanation to which it has
so often been subjected.


Digitized by


Digitized by



Mr. LociER,(a German by birth, but who has resided for
fifteen years in England,) teaches the piano forte, togeth-
er with the principles of harmony, on a new plan of which
he himself is the inventor. The most remarkable fea-
ture of this new system is, that the pupils, who freqi^ntly
amoimt to thirty or forty in number, all practice their les-
sons at the same time. Mr. Logier has written thr^e
volumes of studies, all grounded on a simple theme, of Gxe
notes to each hand, and advancing progressively to the
most difficult combinations.

While the begftmers play merely the Thema, the more
advanced pupils practice variations more or less difficult.
It might be supposed that the confusion arising from this
method would render it impossible for the master to detect
the faults of his pupils, but as all who practice the same
lesson are ranged close to each other, the master when
near them is csipable of judging of their performance with*-
out being disturbed by those who are playing other lessons.
He occasionally orders one half or all the scholars to stop,
while he directs his attention to each individual. Forb«-

Digitized by



ginners he employs his Cbiroplast,* by which the children,
even in their earliest lessons^ acquire a proper position of
the hand and arm. It cannot be denied that this machine is
admirably adapted for the object it is intended, to fulfil ; and
it of course affords vast assistance to Mr. Logier in super-
intending a number of pupils at once. It might also be
advantageously employed for learners in general ; for al-
though at the period of giving a lesson, the master has the
opportunity of pointing out and correcting bad habits, yet
children when abandoned to themselves, are but too apt

'''Tbe se'^eral ingenious contrivances to whic hthe learned ap-
pellation of Chiroplast is given, are, The Ckimut Board, The
Position Framed The Finger Guides and The Wrist Chiides. The
« Gamut Board" is 'to direct tiie pupil how to find the pi^er
key for every note, and consists of an oblong board, which on
one side has drawn iipon it two staves of five lines each, one foe
the treble and the other fbr the bass, exhibiting' the notes so
written, that, when slid over that part of the pianoforte ^hich
Ss li^ediately behind the keys, and which l^enerallj 1^0%%
the makers naoodie,' each note, with its Aacne^ frill l^ exactly
af^ove its Corresponding key.

*l The Position Frame," consists of two parallel wooden bars,

covered lengthways over the whole board, so as to be before it,

and admit the hands passing between them nearly as far as the

wrists, by which means the hands can move liorizontally.

«< The Finger Guid6s"^are two moveable brass plates^wlSi five di-

*visions,throiigh wliich the thumb and four fiagensaire introduced •

The divisions corre^nd perpehdicularlyiirith tl^ keys of the

. instrmnent, and may be moved and sct^wed fast to abittss 'lyid,

on which they are made to slide.

"jjThe Wrist Guide," is a strong brass wire projecting from
the finger guide, so as to confine the wrist in a jproper position,
and to prevent its being inclitied buttrards.

It would therefore appear that the ChrioplAst is % mtisical
stock, in which the hand^ and fingers are Solionfined as to pre-
clude the poteibility of fktilty actioh or motion.

Digitized by



to contract awkward positions of the hand and arm in the
practice of the piano forte .

As soon as the pupils are so far advanced as to know the
notes and keys, the machine is removed first from one
hand, and then from the other, and they are next taught
the proper motion of the thumhs, and to run up and down in
the difierent keys ; these runs are performed by the pupils
all at once, and with the strictest accuracy as to time •
When a certain class is advanced to a new lesson and can-
not aH play it wilii equal rapidity, they strike only a few
notes in each bar ; the difficulty, however, it may readi-
ly be supposed, is soon overcome, and in a short time the
new lesson is played with as much facility as the old one .

Anotiier advantage of Mr. Logier's system, is, that he
instructs his pupils in Hhe principles of harmony along with
the first practical lessons on the piano forte. How this it
done i know not : it is a secret, which, for the payment of
100 guineas, he commimicates to those teachers who choose
to adopt Mr. Logier's system, as evinced by the progress
of his pupils, is most astonishing. Children of from 7 to
10 years of age, who have been learning not more than
four months, solve ttie most difficult musical problems.
I wrote down a triad on a tablet, and mentioned the key in-
to which I wished it to be modulated, and one of the young-
est girh after a little reflection, noted down, first the
figured bases and then the upper notes of the chords. I
repeated this proposition in the most difficult ways possi-
ble, requiring that the scholars should modulate it into the
remotest keys, where. the harmonic changes were necessa-
ry, and in no instance did they commit a fault. If one
pupil hesitated, a second wrot^ down the notes, and her
figured bass was again corrected by a third, while, at the
same time, they 'pointed out to their master the funda-
mental hass of all the chords.

Digitized by




Metronome or Musical Time Keeper. The Metronome
in point of correctness and practical utility, claims a de-
cided preference over all the numerous attempts at Chro-
nometers that have been made for a century past. It is a
portable instrument, which beats both the vibrations to
which it is set, and the scale of which being deduced from
the divisions of time into minutes, is universally applicable
and intelligible in every country. The principal part of
the Metronome consists of a flat steel rod, of the breadth
of a small pea, the thickness of the back of a penknife, and
the length of about eleven inches.' Supposing this rod
placed upright, its lower end is fixed to an immoveable
round weight of the diameter of a shilling ; at the distance
of about four inches upwards, a steel pin is fastened to the
back of the rod. On this pin, as on an axis, the rod is sus-
pended vertically, so as to swing sideways to the right and
left, in the vibration which it thus makes are produced by
an escapement, two wheels and a main spring, wound up
like that of a watch. The upper and longer part of
the rod or pendulum, (i. .e. that which is above the point of
suspension, and measures about seven inches,) has attached
to it a counter weight, which slides from thq before men-
tioned point of suspension to the upper extremity of the
rod. Immediately behind is a scale similar to that of a
Thermometer beginning at the top with the number of 50,

Digitized by



and proceeding downwards, with the omissions of some in-
termediate numbers, till it ends near the axis of the rod
with the number of 160. By means of a small spring in
the sliding weight, and small notches in the rod, the sliding
weight can be stopped precisely opposite to any of the num- •
bers on the fixed scale behind.

All these numbers have reference to a mtntUe of time so
that at 50 the pendulum will vibrate fifty times, at 80 eighty
times, at 160 one hundred and sixty times per minute, &c'
&c. ; and by a particular contrivance in the mechanism^
these vibrations are not only visible, but audible, so as to be
distinctly beard even in a room adjoining. The whole of
this apparatus is confined in an elegant little obelisk of
about a foot in height.

The object of this invention is^as Mr. Maelzel states, two

Ut. " It affords to composers of every country the means
of indicating, in a simple, and decisive manner, the degree
of quickness with which their works are to be executed."

2d. " It accustoms the young practitioner to a correct
observance of time, which it beats with unerring precision,
and according to any velocity required, during the whole

With respect to the first of these two objects, every
musical man has foi^this century past felt the insufficiency
of the vague Italian term^, adagio, allegro, &c. for this pur-
pose ; and if there were a doubt on this point, Mr. Mael-
zePs observations, and his quotations from classiq works,
not only tend to remove it but actually create a degree of
surprise at the patience with which these Italiairterms have
been so long endured. This, no doubt, was owing to the
want of a universal scale for musical time, and this univer-
sal standard measure being now obtained through the Me-
tronome) we should hope that in a short time no sensil)]e

Digitized by



composer will irisk the propev executioo of works, an4 con-
sequently his Dame, oa these Italic terms al^ue^-rtermsi,
which mean nobo(i^ knows rightly what. In this hope we
are fvdly confirmed by the strongest testimonials of appro-
bation <xa the part of the first rate CQinposers, who by tl^ir
declarations, have formally {hedged themselves to time all

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 16 18 19 20

Online LibraryJohn R. ParkerA musical biograhy: or Sketches of the lives and writings of eminent musical ... → online text (page 16 of 20)