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Jeanette McDonald Raymond 3~





THE LIBRARY

OF

THE UNIVERSITY
OF CALIFORNIA

LOS ANGELES

GIFT OF

Je&nette MacDon&ld



GREAT WORKS OF MUSIC



GREAT WORKS

OF

MUSIC

[SYMPHONIES AND THEIR MEANING]
BY

PHILIP H. GOEPP

Three Volumes in One




GARDEN CITY PUBLISHING CO., INC.
GARDEN CITY NEW YORK



FIRST VOLUME

COPYRIGHT, 1897, BY J. B. LIPPINCOTT COMPANY
COPYRIGHT, 1925, BY PHILIP H. GOEPP

SECOND VOLUME
COPYRIGHT, 1902, BY J. B. LIPPINCOTT COMPANY

THIRD VOLUME
COPYRIGHT, 1913, BY J. B. LIPPINCOTT COMPANY



PRINTED IN UNITED STATES OF AMERICA



TO

MRS. A. J. D. DIXON

WHO ENCOURAGED THE LECTURES

FROM WHICH IT GREW

THIS BOOK

IS
DEDICATED



PREFACE

book must stand its own defence, which lies
in the fulfilment, not in the words of the
promise.

There is, at the outset, no value whatever in
a mere theoretic exposition of themes and de-
velopment. Undoubtedly the subjective in-
tensity of the impression is strongly to be
reckoned with. But there must be the bal-
ance, the rein which resists allegory run riot.

In such a view is the true mirror of the
master. It is an unfailing, perfect test. From
such a quiet, all-surveying study, as one looks
at a painting standing off, it is possible to see
the pervading quality, if it is there, or to de-
tect its lack. The beauty will ever appear
more clearly, or the faultiness, the meretricious
deceit, the patched pretence of homogeneous
whole.

Another word about the " meaning" of the
symphonies. In the title this word has a
negative intent, quite as strong as the positive.
The book is meant to restrain the wrong in-
terpretation, as to urge the right. True listen-
ing lies in the balance of intense enjoyment
and clear perception. There must be no cloud-
ing by the one, nor too much interference of



PREFACE

translating thought. In a simple setting forth
of a serious enjoyment will be all the "mean-
ing" that the master will claim for his work, or
the musician for his art. But to tell just how
far the music gives the spirit of the master
were idle in a preface, as it is the purpose of
the book.

Thus the aim is primarily to set forth the
impression of each of certain chosen sympho-
nies, and through them to get, at first hand, a
clear glimpse of the individuality of each of
the great masters. Secondarily, it is intended
to suggest, by the mode presented, an atti-
tude in the listener which will increase his
enjoyment by an intelligent perception of the
intent of the master, or which, for critical pur-
poses, may serve in testing a new work. An
ultimate object, which it is not intended to
pursue categorically, is the suggestion of an
underlying purpose in the art, and, similarly,
of its scope, wherein will be involved certain
incidental questions of the connection between
the art-work and the intent or unconscious
thought, the personal tone, even the morale, of
the master.



FIRST SERIES
CONTENTS

PAGE

PREFACE 7

CHAPTER I. Introductory 13

CHAPTER II. The Symphony 23

CHAPTER III. Haydn 42

Symphony in D (Peters Ed. No. 3).

Symphony in E>? (Peters Ed. No. l).

CHAPTER IV. Mozart 68

Symphony in G Minor.

Symphony in C Major ("Jupiter"),

CHAPTER V. Beethoven 94

Symphony No. 3 (Eroica) . loo

CHAPTER VI. Beethoven (Continued).

Seventh Symphony 125

Fifth Symphony 147

CHAPTER VII. Schubert 177

Unfinished Symphony 193

Symphony in C Major 201

CHAPTER VIII. Schumann 248

CHAPTER IX. Schumann (Continued).

Second Symphony (in C Major) 2/0



CONTENTS

PACK

CHAPTER X. Schumann (Continued).

Third Symphony (" Rhine") 310

CHAPTER XI. Mendelssohn 342

Italian Symphony 354

CHAPTER XII. Brahms 366

CHAPTER XIII. Brahms (Continued).

Second Symphony 377



SECOND SERIES
i

CONTENTS

PACK

PREFATORY 7

CHAPTER I. Mozart 13

Symphony in E Flat.
CHAPTER II. Beethoven 34

First Symphony.
CHAPTER III. Beethoven (Continued).

Second Symphony 59

CHAPTER IV. Beethoven (Continued).

Fourth Symphony. (The Poet of Pathos and

Humor) 87

CHAPTER V. Beethoven (Continued).

Eighth Symphony. (An Epic of Humor) . . 1 1 1
CHAPTER VI. Beethoven (Continued).

Sixth (Pastoral) Symphony. (Tonal Depic-
tion) 233

CHAPTER VII. Beethoven (Concluded).

Ninth (Choral) Symphony. (The Final Need

of Words) 153

CHAPTER VIII. Schumann 195

First Symphony, in B Flat 195

Fourth Symphony, in D Minor 210



CONTENTS

PACE

CHAPTER XU.SiteRtu

A Finnish Symphony 178

CHAPTER XI IL

Bohemian Symphonies . . 189

Smetana. Symphonic Poem: "The Moldau River" . 190

Dvorak. Symphony: "From the New World" . . 195

CHAPTER XIV. The Earlier Bruckner 208

Second Symphony 2lo

Fourth (Romantic) Symphony 211

Fifth Symphony 214

CHAPTER XV. The Later Bruckner 215

Ninth Symphony 218

CHAPTER XVI. Hugo Wolff 230

" Penthesilea." Symphonic Poem 230

CHAPTER XVII. Mahler 243

Fifth Symphony 244

CHAPTER XVIII. Richard Strauss

Symphonic Poems 261

"Death and Transfiguration" 263

"Don Juan" 273

"Till Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks" 278

"Sinfonia Domestica" 288

CHAPTER XIX.

Italian Symphonies . "... 299

Sgambati. Symphony in D major 300

. MartuccL Symphony in D minor 301

CHAPTER XX. Edward Elgar

An English Symphony 308

CHAPTER XXI.

Symphonies in America 321

Henry Hadley. Symphony No. 3 321

Gustav Strube. Symphony in D minor . . . .'329

Chad wick. Suite Symphonique 342

Loeffler. "The Devil's Round." Symphonic Poem 351



GREAT WORKS OF MUSIC

SYMPHONIES
AND THEIR MEANING

I

INTRODUCTORY

THERE are some truths concerning the right
attitude of listening to music, which had best
be mentioned at the outset. They are not to
be proved, like a theorem, in the pages which
follow ; there is no such deliberate or definite
intent. On the contrary, they seem almost
axiomatic ; they are fundamental in all dis-
cussion and enjoyment of music. But they
have been so long forgotten that they have a
new look. The present generation may weii
be reminded of them.

In so far as they will be regarded as necessa-
rily true, they may stand as the landmarks of
the view, here presented, of the great master-
pieces. In so far as they may be challenged,



SYMPHONIES AND THEIR MEANING

will the first step ever come, if our taste in the
original condition of ignorance is to be the
touchstone ? There can be no progress, either
in argument or in fact.

The fault lies, in reality, in that phase of
modern art which casts to the winds sound
principle, clear process, and rests all in the
sensational and emotional effect, in utter in-
difference to the true or the false, the right or
wrong of the workmanship.

We do not intend, surely, to let music be to
us a mere narcotic, to affect us in a passive, un-
reasoning state. Therefore, I say, now more
than ever there is need for true leaders, to save
us from the false ; but far more still, for each
to become his own critic, to master the prin-
ciples which underlie true art, and the right
attitude of reception and of perception.

In the classical past it was our good fortune
to have none but true leaders. We learned to
trust them unconsciously as well as implicitly.
But with later democratic stirring there came
inevitable demagoguism. Men appealed over
the heads of those who had the true, the saner
intuition to the ruder mob to whom clear
thought was naught, sensational amusement

16



SYMPHONIES AND THEIR MEANING

all. Democratic as we must be in govern-
ment, there is no doubt that the bursts of
popular will throughout the nineteenth century
have had a sinister effect upon art. The lower
instincts with the lower classes have broken
away from the higher. Within the right
meaning, the true democrat in government not
only can, he must be the true aristocrat in art.
And thus we may explain much of what is com-
monly charged of late against art, under such
words as degeneration and decadence. Our only
cure is, as we must act as a democracy, to
have the feeling and thought of true aristoc-
racy.

We must pay art, in general and special,
the respect of an intelligent attitude, which we
can only acquire by mastering its process, the
mode of its working, and its intent. A cen-
tury ago all this could not have been seriously
thought in need even of suggestion.

The second premise relates to a question
which has always raged with much uncer-
tainty: the connection between the master's
thought and his art-work. How far does
he translate* a "meaning" into his music?
How far has he an intent that must be re-

2 17



SYMPHONIES AND THEIR MEANING

garded ? Or is it merely a pretty amusement,
a delight of the senses, by nice combinations
of beauty in tone, in color, and in outline?
And this latter alternative cannot be disre-
garded, when it seems to be held by one who
is accounted the greatest German critic of the
day. Gradually, however, the truth is break-
ing, that, while the apparent purpose is that of
mere delight, the true essence of music is its un-
conscious subjective betrayal of a dominant feeling,
in contrast with the conscious, objective depic-
tion in poetry and in the plastic arts. At once
the charm and mystery is the stress on the
unconsciousness of purpose. And yet it is
not strange. Throughout life consciousness
of action or of utterance is not only not need-
ful ; its effect is actually weakening as a use-
less diversion of the mind. It is this very
absence of self-observation which gives music
its overwhelming power as a means of expres-
sion. This is in harmony, too, with that
modern experience' which believes more and
more in personal force and influence, which,
without materialism, believes less and less in
the virtue of definite dogma.

In a talk with a friend, the spoken word is
18



SYMPHONIES AND THEIR MEANING

not essential, rather the personal attitude un-
consciously betrayed. So in a symphony of
Beethoven the ultimate purpose is the utter-
ance of the high thought or feeling of a great
man. However unconscious this aim may be,
I think it may justly be called the true intent
of the master.

It may be thought, however, that there is
here too little stress on the art proper, in its
perfection of form and detailed beauty. The
answer is, perhaps subtle : between the in-
tensity and nobility of the feeling which domi-
nates the poet, and its artistic expression is a
close and curious connection, and, further, an
analogy. As, after all, the apparent, the con-
scious purpose is a beautiful work of art, the
nobility of the poet is measured by the nobility
of his work ; his clearness of vision, by the per-
fection of detail. The truth is, a high feeling
compels a great utterance ; and conversely,
where there is a beautiful expression there must
be nobility of the prompting thought. Thus
the greatest poets will have the purest form. In
proportion as the feeling or thought is intense,
its utterance will be sustained in a work of
high structure. A true poet does not roar

'9



SYMPHONIES AND THEIR MEANING

himself into a state, in order to convey his
emotion ; that is not the kind the world cares
to hear. Therefore it follows, of course, that
the feeling at the source is only reached by a
perception of the beauty of the art-work. And
the object must always be so to study the
master-works as to feel most keenly the un-
conscious intent, the mood-purpose of the
creator.

It is clear how the first premise leads to the
second as a natural preliminary, and how each
reinforces the other. So the third will prove
but a larger view of the second ; and all are
but different phases of the whole truth.

In poetry we do not hesitate to regard the
moral quality of the poet. In music this
seems never to be thought o Yet in music
this personal tone of the poet is more potent
far than in the other arts ; it is more subtly
conveyed, and needs most to be watched. All
moral influence is exerted, we know, not so
much logically or intellectually, as emo-
tionally. Music, which affects the feelings
most powerfully, most easily conveys the per-



SYMPHONIES AND THEIR MEANING

sonal influence of the poet to the hearers.
We all know the moral force of companion-
ship, of mere neighborhood. Yet how could
this personal tone be conveyed more directly
than by a word uttered in living figures of
sound.

The mystery, of course, is how we are to
detect this moral quality, where there are no
tell-tale words and story. Impossible, however,
as it is to sum up in systematic philosophy,
nothing is so clear to the persistent and open-
minded listener in both phases, the good and
the bad, the moral and unmoral. I have
pointed above to the curious connection or
analogy between honesty of art and honesty
of feeling. It is equally true between the dis-
honesty of the one and of the other. In an
unbiassed and intelligent attitude, no category
of evidence in court is clearer than from the
four corners of the document of symphony or
opera. For thoroughly following out such a
plan it might be well to embrace works of
both kinds. It must follow that if we glow in
tune with the high aspiration of a Beethoven,
we must be ready to discern the trick of the
false prophet. But in a work like the present



SYMPHONIES AND THEIR MEANING

the negative phase of criticism cannot be more
than suggested.

It is just here that musical criticism has
been lacking. It has followed an even tenor
of so-called catholic tolerance of good and
bad, of the false and the true. Again, it has
lost all thought, it has taken no account what-
ever, of any element beyond the mere aesthetic.
In fact, it is the moral that rouses the greatest
enthusiasm, in art as well as in life. The
charming, after all, gives mere temporary
pleasure. It is precisely in so far as the moral
element has been forgotten that music has not
been highly regarded.

Thus, then, in the attitude of the intelligent
point of view first insisted on, we see, from the
second, how the intent, the feeling of the
master is reflected from the particular work;
and finally, from the third, how, from a broader
view even than the second (rather from a suc-
cession of such impressions), the morale of the
master shines clear throughout his art.



II

THE SYMPHONY

ART, it would seem, begins its career, like
man, by leaning on another. Thus, sculpture
was first subordinate to architecture. Paint-
ing, in turn, was the foster-child of sculpture,
in the beginning merely tracing outlines and
features, much like an infant writing with
guided hand.

Music in Greece followed slavishly the
metre of the poetry.* In the early church, be-
fore Gregory, the words of the liturgy were
intoned with complete subservience to the
rhythm of the verse, so that agreement of
singing was possible only when the chorus fol-
lowed the arbitrary leader.

It is most valuable to see clearly the final

* With all the "discoveries" of Pindaric odes, nothing
has ever established the fact of a Greek conception of
musical rhythm independent of that of the verse. Greek
" music" lacked the first requisite for a tonal art.

2"?



SYMPHONIES AND THEIR MEANING

evolution of the independent art of absolute
instrumental music as the latest link in this
chain. Leaning on the words and story of the
drama, music developed, on the stage of the
opera, melody, and its accompaniment in tones
colored by various blending and contrasting in-
struments. She was preparing her pallet. In
the church, following the lead of the service,
music was exploring all the possibilities of poly-
phonic combination and of architectural com-
plexity by algebraic computation. But in
neither church service nor in opera was she
progressing unaided. Of course, walking with
a cane is different from depending on a guiding
parent. So differs the music of Paliestrina from
that of Ambrose. But even in the great Bach's
works music had not thrown away all her
supports. She first learned to tread her inde-
pendent course, speaking her message purely in
her own language of tones unaided by words,
when she lisped the first sonata, which, in
orchestral dress, is the symphony.

It must be remembered that the entire

growth of the art of music, and what was

really the slow manufacture of its elements

and forms, was wrought within the Church.

24



SYMPHONIES AND THEIR MEANING

This development began when to the unison
chant was added the servile accompaniment of
a second voice, keeping always its unaltered
respectful distance. It ended when all the
changes of fugai counterpoint had been rung
with mathematical ingenuity. But until mod-
ern centuries there had not been a thought of
music without words, of unsung music. When
the absurdly artificial forms were abandoned
by mutinous singers, the organ took the place
of the unwilling voice, and invited further
composition for its special performance.

But this had nothing in common with
secular instrumental music and its origin.
For the elements, we must go back to the
strange attempts at opera by Italian amateurs.
The very convenient date of the first opera
1600 is an excellent landmark in gauging
the growth of unsung secular music, the year
when Peri's " Eurydice" was produced in
Florence. It is in the formless preludes and
interludes of the players that the germ of the
symphony lies. The first conception of flow-
ing cantabile melody, which is the very fibre
and tissue of every movement, came in the
early opera. (There is absolutely no kinship
25



SYMPHONIES AND THEIR MEANING

between this melody and the fugal theme of the
church school.) With these the dance, of ob-
scure origin, completes the foundation on
which sonatas and symphonies were reared.

If we enter the forge in which these ma-
terials were being welded into the great forms
of the symphony, in other words, if we study
the precursors of the masters, we find, indeed,
little promise of intellectual significance, or, for
that matter, of pleasurable amusement. But,
in art, periods of exclusively formal growth
always lack imaginative power. It is like
latent heat, when ice changes to water. Great
men, it would seem, are content with the form
they find, hiding the lines with their fulness of
thought. Shallower minds, sensitive to popu-
lar demand, tinker at new devices of outward
novelty. Thus, Sebastian Bach did not find
the sonata sufficiently perfected. Haydn was
the first master to approve. Therefore, in a
review of the history of musical thought rather
than of musical structure, it may fairly be said
that the sonata and the whole school of secu-
lar instrumental music did not begin before
Haydn.

The analogy between Bach and the seculai



SYMPHONIES AND THEIR MEANING

masters is striking. In his earlier generation
he found nothing but the strict forms of the
church school. He gave them their essential
artistic purpose ; he crowned their development
by endowing them with the highest expression
of religious feeling. When a master thus
reaches the greatest height, a lower level must
be started in another direction, leading to a
second master.

If we take a survey of this new stream of
worldly composition melodies with artificial
accompaniment, digressions of rippling scales
or tripping arpeggios and suddenly intruding
crashes of full chords and contrast it with
what is found in the church school with its
precise, dignified, and elaborate structure of
voices, independent in melody, yet interdepen-
dent in harmony, the question comes, What
new spirit moves here? How can there be,
almost at the same time, two opposite phases
of the same art, both honored by the greatest
masters ?

Clearly, here is the latest, though not the
weakest, wave of the Renaissance pulse. The
same rebellion against the all-absorbing intel-
lectual domination of the Church, the same
27



SYMPHONIES AND THEIR MEANING

resistless wave of earthly feeling and its ex-
pression, apparent in painting and in the litera-
tures of England, France, and Italy, is here
manifest in the youngest of the arts. Why
the movement is so late in music need not
be discussed beyond again saying that the art
was jealously and exclusively fostered by the
Church. All its forms, its whole framework
had been devised solely for worship. An en-
tirely new garb must be created before it could
venture from the cloister into the gay world
without great awkwardness and stiffness. Much
depth of feeling or intellectual emphasis must
not be expected of the first century of this
new phase. The early works show their re-
actionary origin by utter frivolity and shallow-
ness. Until an actual fitting form was ob-
tained, there was a constant striving after a
satisfaction of this very need, a self-conscious
kind of emphasis of mere sound ; the composer
sought to fill in as many black notes as pos-
sible.

The beginning of Haydn's career marks the

final attainment of this form, and at the same

time a sudden spring of true poetic feeling.

The result was what is commonly called th.

28



SYMPHONIES AND THEIR MEANING

sonata, which is really what we are consider-
ing; for a symphony is nothing else than a
sonata written for the orchestra. In the light
of the absolute newness of unsung music is
seen the fitness of the name "sonata," that
which is merely sounded, in contrast with that
which is sung, the "cantata." Nowhere, I
venture to say, in any phase of art, is the shock
greater than of this burst from the sombre,
confined, careful, intellectual process of the
cloister to the free, irresponsible fancy dancing
first over the meadows and in the forests, then
into the life of men, the turmoil and the
triumph of war, the romance and ecstasy of
human affection.

It is clear, then, why the expected order
first of the less defined, second of the more
clearly significant phase of the art should be
reversed. Within the cloister music had
reached a high and complex power of expres-
sion of those feelings which were there sanc-
tioned. Without, all was new and vague ;
there were no words or forms of expression for
the new life. It must begin with the ABC
of a new language. To condemn the first

fruits of this stage for lack of definiteness of
29



SYMPHONIES AND THEIR MEANING

meaning would be to misunderstand the very
purpose of all art. While definite language is
not impossible to art, this is not its chief func-
tion ; no more is mere beauty of outline. If
a sentiment be expressed and transmitted, the
medium of its transmission will be entitled to
its place as an art of form. The language of
prose has not the power thus to express and
transmit all sentiment, though it may entitle its
field in a rough sort of way. What prose can-
not, the other arts must do, each in its pecu-
liar region, not, perhaps, without encroaching
mutually. Each art, beginning with primordial
feelings, will translate more and more delicate
shades in a constantly refining process, the
form always reacting on the sentiment and sug-
gesting an advance.

This must account for the vagueness of the
earlier great works for instruments. But even
in Haydn the pastoral element, the poetry of
nature, discovered anew, is unmistakable, as is
the peculiar playfulness of his humor. In fact,
the appearance of humor of any kind in music
in the eighteenth century is as absolutely new
as anything can be under the sun. Imagine
how utterlv inconceivable it would have been



SYMPHONIES AND THEIR MEANING

to the long line, stretching through many cen-
turies, of the worthy fosterers of music in the
Church.

The sonata was said by a German critic to
be intended by the earliest writers to show in
the first movement what they could do, in the
second what they could feel, in the last how
glad they were to have finished. The sim-
plicity of this interpretation and no doubt it
is accurate emphasizes the vagueness of the
real sentiment. In the hands of great men
the form very soon attained a much more dig-
nified plan.

In technicalities the essence is often lost.
There is no value in analysis in itself. Yet
a clear view of the general purpose is not
dimmed by a glance at those elements which
have in them more than mere technical value.
The question is not merely what is the general
purpose of the symphony, but what is the
special value of the accepted model in carrying
out this purpose. And, as has been said
above, the first requisite in the listener is an
intelligent grasp of the work.

In short, what is the essential of the much-
mentioned sonata form ; of the outline of the
3'



SYMPHONIES AND THEIR MEANING

other movements ; indeed, of the structure of
the whole? A few relentless wherefores will



Online LibraryPhilip H. (Philip Henry) GoeppGreat works of music; symphonies and their meaning → online text (page 1 of 50)