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the old masters,—have always a repugnant effect; that certain chords (page 71) generally or always advance in a determined progression; moreover, that retardations or suspensions must often or always be prepared and resolved, if they were not to have a repulsive effect; then, according to right reason, these principles should be of universal application, or it must be maintained that in non-ecclesiastical compositions, it is of no consequence to the composer or to the hearer, whether the effect be repulsive or not; or again, it would be necessary to imagine that something repugnant in itself, in one place, would not be so in another;-that for example, this succession of fifths and octaves, or progression of chords
is indeed repulsive in itself, and would sound ill in church music, but would sound differently, and be proper in an opera, or in chamber music.
This distinction is contrary to the old theory, for that holds as the foundation of its rules, the principle, the superficial principle, that that is good which sounds well, and vice versa. But he who has penetrated deeper into art, and become familiar with it, knows from his own experience, and from the innumerable testimonies of all artists and enlightened men, that the object of art is not to tickle the senses of the multitude with pleasant sounds or pretty combinations, but that its function is to convey the spiritual emotions, the inward feelings of the musician-poet, to the minds of his audience. From this high position it is no longer the question, whether anything (a movement of chords for instance) sounds pleasantly or otherwise; but what mental emotion is manifested by it, and is thereby created in the hearer. This brings us to the second point of the preceding question.
If the distinction between church, opera, and chamber styles should not be entirely vain and frivolous, with no more meaning than that such things are, as church, opera, and chamber music, it must be maintained that in the one species of music, representations and sensations occur, which have no existence in the other; and that accordingly also, a suite of musical expressions and forms are compatible with the one species and not with the other.
This is in part true. We can scarcely imagine the admission of dances into the divine service, or of fugues into a ball room. But is so trivial an observation worth utterance; or further, of being considered the foundation of the high-flown distinction of artistic styles? Or can the distinction be carried out? Cannot pious and even religious feelings occur in the opera, and in instrumental music? Cannot even ecclesiastical representations take place; have they not, hundreds of times? Or, do not religious impressions produce joy and suffering? Are they not elevated to zeal, and still more passionate emotion? Is this not seen both in the Old and New Testament, nay, prefigured in the discourse of Our Lord himself? and has it not been employed by Bach and Handel, and all genuine artists? And with regard to technicalities, have not fugues, &c.
been used times out of number in secular music; homophonic phrases in spiritual; and even march and dance forms in the oratorios of Handel, and those more recent of F. Schneider; and with apparent indispensable necessity? And, in fine, have either the elder or the modern masters, Seb. Bach and Handel, Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven, used any other principles of harmony, of arrangement of parts, &c., in their ecclesiastical compositions, than those which they have employed in their secular productions? They have everywhere let their large hearts speak faithfully from the full inspiration of their subject, without prudery or reservation. There, no idle differences of styles were required, or rather to the true artist they are impossible.
It is only in quite another sense that the idea of STYLE
has a true meaning. Every real artist has a peculiar manner of viewing the universe and its combined attributes, and so forms his own method of expressing and representing its impressions on himself, which method may be observed in all his works, and may be called the type of his artistic creations; or, in short, his style. Thus it is, that artists of a school, or of a country, or of a particular period, agree more or less in their manner of representation; and in this sense we may talk of the style of Palestrina, of Saxony, of the Italian Opera writers, &c. But all these conceptions can be fully investigated only in the philosophy of art.
ON ARTISTIC PERFORMANCE.
FIRST SECTION.-GENERAL IDEAS OF
What we have hitherto considered, is that general information or knowledge which is necessary for every person who is engaged or interested any way in music.
From this point, two paths of practical application branch out, besides the scientific study and art of teaching music. One path is that of the composer which leads to the invention and production of musical works of art; the other is that of the performer-artist or amateur, whose function is the instrumental performance of music.
The performance of music seems to require two capabilities. First, the perfect understanding of the notation, and, in vocal music, of the text; and secondly, the technical and mechanical skill to execute what is written. Both of these are indispensable. The preceding divisions of this book are an introduction to the first requisite; the second must be obtained by professional instruction and diligent practice.
But we soon become aware of a third qualification, which is also essentially necessary. It has long been an honoured saying, that the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life; and for this reason, that it is impossible to confine the spirit in the letter. This is the fact, in the greatest force of the words, in our musical notation; and would perhaps be equally the case in any other system that might be invented;
for it does not seem to proceed merely from the imperfection of the notation, but from the nature of things. We have signs for all the tones of our system; that is, for all the gradations of sound which we consider as essential, and which we consequently must be capable of producing. But we know that a whole tone is divisible into nine perceptible and distinguishable gradations, the nine commas; and that countless gradations are perceptible, although not generally and determinately distinguishable. It is true that we make no express use of these gradations; but an approximative advantage to be derived from them is quite imaginable, as we shall comprehend further on, and under certain circumstances, is allowable and serviceable. We shall be taught by experience that it may be expedient to raise or depress a given tone in a small degree, from its pitch, according to our temperament. We shall have to observe, moreover, that in the closest legato passage from one tone to another, intervening sounds are perceptible, for which sounds we have neither notes nor names.
We must also have observed, in the articles on rhythm or measure (page 26), that the length or shortness of each single tone is not absolute, but only relative, in respect of other tones; and that, also, the usual indications of quickness or slowness of motion, by the words allegro, &c.,† are quite indefinite and uncertain. The metronome gives us, it is true, the means of measuring and marking absolute time. Everyone, however, can easily convince himself of the impossibility of using this measure in works on a large scale, or of observing it in any compositions with uniform exactness. For all the finer gradations of ritardando, accelerando, &c., of course any measure is not to be thought of.
In like manner, we have no determined measure for force. We know that piano is weaker than forte, but neither how strong the latter, nor how much weaker the former. In this matter, also, we can give only general ideas, unless the page is to be so overcrowded with signs and letters, that no eye can unravel the entanglement.
In No. 128, we have an instance of such an excess of directions. In fine, we are taught by particular instructions for performance, that the same indications to the performer (f, p, and so forth) under different circumstances and in different places, require different expression.
Thus, no written language has sufficient letters to express all the shades of sound; all the intervening gradations from a to o, or from b to p. In short, everywhere, whether in notes or in letters, we find writing incapable of expressing the finer distinctions of our organs of sense, or of the understanding.
But it is just in these finest, constantly varying and interchanging gradations, that the gentle and delicate, but mighty wave of inmost feeling resides, immeasurable and unutterable; and he who cannot seize and exhibit it in his musical performance, and
* Every one must have heard these, unpleasantly enough, in the tuning of a piano, when a sounding string is drawn up or let down.
To this must be added, that these indications, at different periods, and by different composers, vary considerably in their force or meaning, and therefore require a different interpretation.
make his listeners participate in the emotion, must not hope to render the full scope and meaning of a work of art, intelligible, either to himself or to his audience.
In the previous portion of this work we have spoken of the elements only of a work of art, not of their meaning and object as a whole. A work of art, as we all know, contains, or ought to contain, more or less abundantly, matter for our senses, for our feelings, and for our judgment. These contents, however, are manifested to us only by writing and signs, but feebly capable, though the best imaginable, of the full accomplishment of their functions; and yet from these only must we grasp the dimly shadowed spirit, and convey it to our hearers.
What writing has done in this respect, is the following in the first place, it has endeavoured to point out by artistic expressions (taken from the Italian) the intention of the whole or of particular parts of the composition. Here we give the most usual:
Con abbandono-despondingly, with submission.
Affabile—in a friendly manner, familiarly.
Con afflizione-afflictedly, with grief.
Agitato with agitation or emotion.
Amabile, Con amabilità-lovingly.
Amoroso, Amorevole-tenderly, lovingly.
Animato, Con anima, Animoso—with animation, boldly.
Brillante-shewily, with splendour or display
Calmato, Con calma-calmly.
Commodo, Commodamente comfortably, with ease.
Delicatamente, Con delicatezza—delicately, tenderly,
Grazioso, Con grazia-with benignity and loveliness or kindness.
Impetuoso-impetuous, hasty, violent.
Irresoluto-irresolute, undetermined, hesitatingly.
Languente, Languido-fainting, languishing.
Lusingando-flatteringly, soothingly, coaxingly.
Mancando faintingly, with diminishing power.
Alla Marcia-as a march, with measure strongly marked.
Mesto doleful, grievous, sad.
Morendo, Smorzando-dying, decreasing.
Con moto-quickly, with animation.
Piacevole, Placido-pleasantly, composedly.
Risvegliato awakened, with increased energy.
Con sentimento, Con molto sentimento-with feeling, with deep feeling.
Smanioso, Con smania-distractedly, infuriated with passion.
Smorzando-waning, falling off in force.
Spiritoso, Con spirito-animated, with spirit, briskly.
Tenero, Con tenerezza-tenderly.
Tranquillo, Tranquillamente-quiet, tranquil.
Vigoroso-with energy, fire.
Vivace, Con vivacità-with gaiety, briskness.
In the second place, individual composers have endeavoured to ascribe and fix a character to their different works by a name. To this class belong the well-known titles of
PASTORALE,-a pastoral composition,
Moreover, there are the titles of Eclogues, Elegies, Funereal and Triumphant Marches, and many others which indicate the particular intention and significance of the composition.
Thirdly, composers have sometimes endeavoured
But here, also, it is easy to perceive, that with all these artistic directions and indications, merely a most general significance is imparted; while the different forms and gradations of feeling-the whole range of ideas, the circumstances of the soul and of the outward world,-cannot absolutely be given in words, are not susceptible of adequate expression by signs and epithets.
Fourthly and lastly, an appropriate system must be devised, by means of which the higher and more important passages in a composition may be distinguished from those of less consequence. This is the choice among differently named, but equally significant kinds of bars.
Essentially, every bar of two parts, of three parts, or of four parts, &c., is equal to every other bar of two, three, or four parts, &c. The chief and secondary parts, the great and smaller accents, remain the same. Here, for example, in a four part bar,
the parts may be minims, crotchets, or quavers; and in like manner, the division into members is the same, whether the members be crotchets, quavers, or semiquavers. Also, the size of the parts of a bar has no influence on the quickness or slowness of the measure: an Allegro in measure, and an Adagio or Andante sostenuto in 4, or a Presto in 4, and an Allegretto in, may have equal velocity of motion.
Nevertheless, a very general feeling has attached a distinction between these characters. An impression seems to have been largely assented to, whereby the larger notes are considered to indicate more important matters, while the smaller characters have been assumed to represent ideas of a light and transient description. Therefore we should write serious and important phrases preferably in 2, 3, 1, *and measure, light and frivolous phrases in 3, 3, fix the quickness or slowness according to the kind of notes. Herein, also, we have a hint as to the character of the composition. But apart from the consideration that as such it is very imperfect and general, we must add, that this fact is subject to very numerous exceptions, particularly among the elder composers. Many deeply serious phrases and movements of Seb. Bach are written in measure;
*However strange it may appear to a non-composer, the mere technical business of writing exerts a certain influence (as every composer has experienced) on the construction of his works. Large notes, such as semibreves and minims, are written wider, and more slowly, and are less combined, and therefore invite to a larger or broader, and less light and evanescent, or fugitive arrangement of our thoughts. Fugues, or even corales in 2 or 3 measure, are more easily drawn into a broader and more serious progression, than in 2, 4, or 3 measure. The mind will not, indeed, allow itself to be governed by the pen, but nevertheless we choose the most appropriate form of writing.
while lighter and less important subjects are composed in, or even .* We must therefore, in this 3.* instance also, recognize the insufficiency of all prescription, and in this respect there is no remedy, since various other circumstances may influence the choice of the composer.
We therefore feel convinced, that after technical skill (of which we shall say no more) a perfect knowledge and observance of the notation, &c., is indispensable to correct performance. But for this object we hold susceptibility and perception of that which no writing can completely express, to be also necessary. The power, in short, is required, of exhibiting the full meaning, scope, and tendency of the whole work of art, and of all its parts, be they written down and determined, or must they derive their manifestation from our own sensations. We must not omit to mention, that all the separate features can have received their form and destination from the idea and object of the whole work only; and that we also, in the comprehension, study, and performance of a work, must therefore proceed from its fundamental idea.
The perfect comprehension and exhibition of a work from this fundamental idea in all its parts, is the object of
Up to this acme of musical executive pertection, there are several grades.
He who contents himself with making the notes and signs of a composition perceptible, without further notice of its contents, performs mechanically. His highest pretension is to produce distinctly that which is distinctly marked; that is, everywhere the right tones, everywhere correct measure, everywhere the exact interchanges of piano and forte, of legato and staccato, &c. What is praiseworthy and positive in this kind of production we may call the CORRECT PERFORMANCE.
He who, in addition to the foregoing, affords an insight into the construction of the composition, not apparent from the mere notation, may be said to have exhibited an
The correct and the intelligent modes of performance may be taught and learned according to capacity.
He who has received from nature, and preserved, a sensitive feeling for equipoise in tone, motion, and all the properties of sound, will perceive at once, without any reference to art or works of art, where the charm lies which affects the senses, in the separate parts of an artistic work. He will obtain from the instrument, or select from the parts, the most pleasing effects and passages; he will constantly vary, by agreeable changes, the gradations of piano and forte, laying peculiar accentuation in one place, combining the melody in all varieties of ways, enhancing occasionally the rapid passages by a successful staccato, avoiding always the precipitate, rough, or shrill counter-phrases, and procuring by the interchange and blending of all these and similar means, the satisfaction of the senses, and a participation in the charming though superficial excitement. This exhibition we will call the
and wish it may constantly be united to the intellectually comprehensive. For this performance, after the natural disposition, nothing is more desirable and more improving than frequent and attentive listening to similar performances of others. Appropriate materials will be found, also, in the sweet coquetries of a Rossini, sung by superior artists; in the beautiful playing of some of our pianists; and, in a higher sense, from many of the works of Haydn and Beethoven, in whom, however, grace and beauty are merely the outward garb of deep and important
But the playing of superior violinists is peculiarly instructive. They produce from their obedient, subtle, and plastic instrument, more kinds of playing, combinations, contrasts, &c., and finer shades and transitions, than any other instrumental performers.
If the execution of a composition should produce in us an unknown emotion, we may attribute to it the praise of a FEELING PERFORMANCE; but feeling, as such, gives no account of its perception, or of its action,-not even when it is derived from intelligent comprehension. It lives and works in the moment, from moment to moment, perhaps in all the single moments, but not in the whole as such. It may move and excite us in each single moment; but it remains doubtful whether, in this succession of excitements, we have received the full idea and sentiment of the work,—whether the intentions of the composer have been produced in us,-whether it were the composition that we felt, or merely its perbyformance; whether we appreciated the work itself, or the undetermined representation of the performer.
This latter brings into action the perceptions of rhythm. Here the performer knows that the sections, phrases, passages, and parts, form small connected portions of the whole composition, and endeavours to make the combination of some parts, and the separation of others, clearly perceptible, by binds and similar playing on the one hand, or on the other, by varying force in playing, contrast, &c. So also, he seeks to give greater importance to the larger rhythmic constructions, and to allow to each its due influence, without disturbing the flow and entireness of the whole. In movements in many parts and polyphonic phrases, he endeavours to make each part distinguishable from the others
* A misunderstanding on this point has caused in many places the erroneous performance of the music of the school of Palestrina; indeed, of all compositions anterior to the period of Bach. When the uninitiated see the works of Palestrina, Orlando Lasso, Gabrieli, Joaquin de Pres, and others, chiefly composed in semibreves and minims, they are easily induced to perform them too slowly. But these elder musicians only used larger notes than we do. In general, their minims should be considered in this regard as crotchets.
This power, of such high value in itself, and quite indispensable to the artist and amateur, exists and operates as it is and as it chooses to manifest itself; it cannot be taught nor formed, but it may be nourished and enhanced; indeed, it shrinks in its
nature, from an intimate inspection, since its being and beautiful existence would be thereby disturbed without any adequate compensation.
If all these powers and acquired faculties be left to themselves, they may produce much, but not all, and fundamentally, not the right object; for a work of art contains more than all of these: it has a quality in a degree indescribable and ineffable; it has, in conjunction with that which charms the senses, a spiritual power; it has, beyond the dark perceptions of individualities, the idea which originated its development, and gave it force and significance. Its exhibition in this sense, is what we have called above the artistic performance.
For this we need
ARTISTIC EDUCATION, in whatever form it be attainable. Rare indeed is the existence, from the beginning, of so strong, safe, and pure a feeling, and at the same time, such selfsufficing activity, however obscure in its operation,* as to lead its possessor always in the right path, and preserve his footsteps from all deviations and errors.
This, in a word, is the gift of the highest genius. But we employ in our choirs and chapels, in our schools and public amusements, thousands and thousands of musicians against one artist elevated by his genius. And besides professional musicians, many thousands of amateurs wish to take an active part in music, who still less can all of them hope for that high distinction of musical pre-eminence. It cannot, therefore, be recommended to any one to trust to his feelings only; since, to the greater number, help and instruction are absolutely indispensable.
Now, there are two ways of acquiring this instruction. The one is the immediate dedication of oneself to the practical participation in the business and work of music. It is absolutely indispensable to everyone intending to be educated and actively engaged in music. The hearing of much good music, well performed indeed, and practising oneself with choice and zeal, awakens, animates, purifies, and corrects the feeling; it even produces a kind of instinctive perception, whereby in the performance of similar compositions, of which we have heard no pattern or model to direct us, we often accomplish them with tolerable success. But feeling, that most obscure and least manageable activity of the soul, is formed, as we must have been obliged to confess, but very tardily, and with the greatest uncertainty. Therefore our inward consciousness urges us constantly outwards, to seek for higher security.
As we become improved by good music and good performance, so by bad we are led into error, and our feeling looses its liveliness and its accuracy. However sincerely, indeed, we may wish to select the good out of the music offered to us, we must always be apprehensive of taking the false, through our dark and undisciplined feelings.
Our self-knowledge, therefore, urges us beyond the circumference of our feelings to the other way, which has no other object than to form a safe criterion of judgment upon the proper consti
* For example, in Mozart.-See the author's biographical remarks on him in the Universal-Lexikon der Tonkunst.
tution of art, whereby to estimate the contents and tendency of each work of art and every part thereof. Here again, direction and instruction can lend assistance, while mere feeling and its experiences must be set aside. This, then, is the proper object of the doctrine of performance: to awaken the consciousness of the spiritual contents of art and artistic works, or to direct its path aright.
If this consciousness is to be fruitful, it must be true and living. The acceptance as truth, of the explanations or calculations of any teacher or book of teaching whatsoever, the carrying about and referring constantly to works of art, are fruitless and dead observances. To cling literally to the words of any teacher, would lead to most fatal one-sidedness and perversion; for most assuredly, the nature of musical configurations is not such as to be comprehended in a word. The word, therefore, must be considered merely as an indication of these transient æriform appearances; and he who has not felt the indicated forms as living in his own soul, will find all elucidation and comment dead and profitiess. We must give especial warning against those playful pseudo-poetical descriptions, in which æsthetical poets and poetastering aesthetical philosophers so much delight, and by which they pretend to give a satisfactory description, all in a mass,† of a whole musical subject or instrument, &c., by an imaginary representation or fancied axiom; such as, for example, "The clarinet is the instrument of love;""A wind instrument and a bowed instrument form a musical marriage;" "The measure is peculiarly adapted to the expression of love."
These expressions, even if there were a particle of truth in them, would of course be considered by the serious student as idle dreams. But the thoughtless scholar who should be seduced by them, would snatch at a phantom, while the rich reality of art would escape him.
On the other hand, we will not abandon ourselves to the cold and dead abstractions of those who assure us that music has no spiritual existence appreciable by our consciousness-simply because it cannot be demonstrated to the understanding, or because it cannot be satisfactorily expressed in one word, or because the supporters of spirituality have so often erred and contradicted each other. We will not allow ourselves to be led astray by this idea, but rather endeavour to penetrate deeper and deeper into the nature of art, its forms and works, that we may thereby render our consciousness more and more enlightened. Herein we may profit by the experiences of those who have gone before us, but they must serve us only as hints and encouragements. It is from our own observation, and from the sensations and feelings of which we are conscious, that further progress must arise.
Therefore, let everyone be governed in our future remarks by his own impressions and observations.
+ Many similar expressions, taken from other writers, may be found in the Charinomos von Seidel, in Wagner's Ideen über Music (Leipz. Mus. Ztg. vs. 1823), and others, old and modern.
The most respectable and the most learned author in favour of this opinion is Nägeli, in his lectures on music. See, as to both opinions, Ueber Malerei in der Tonkunst, ein Maigruss an die Kunstphilosophen, by the author.