��published. He made a great sensation on his first appearance, and Moscheles, who heard him at this time was wont to say that, had he chosen a pianist's career, few virtuosi could have rivalled him. But to be a composer was the only goal worthy of his ambition, although ab this moment it seemed to recede as he pursued it. The ' Two Caliphs,' performed in 1814, had again been an utter failure. Dejected disheartened to such a degree as almost to doubt whether he had not from the first deceived himself as to his vocation, he was somewhat consoled by the veteran Salieri, who reassured him, affirming that he wanted nothing in order to succeed but freedom from scholastic trammels and, above all, knowledge of the human voice and how to write for it, a knowledge, Salieri added, only to be acquired in Italy. Accordingly, in 1815, Meyerbeer went to Venice. It was Carnival time. Rossini's fas- cinating Tancredi ' was then at the height of its pristine popularity ; its new and irresistible melodiousness had created a universal delirium ; all Venice resounded with 'Di tanti palpiti.' To Meyerbeer, accustomed to associate Italian opera with the dreary works of Nicolini, Farinelli, Pavesi, and others, this was a re- velation, and he surrendered spell-bound to the genial charm. Hope awoke, emulation was re- kindled. He had no style of his own to abandon, but he abandoned Vogler's without regret, and set to work to write Italian operas. His success was easy and complete. Romilda e Costanza' (produced at Padua in 1815, Pisaroni in the leading part), ' Semiramide riconosciuta' (Turin, 1819), ' Eduardo e Cristina' and 'Emma di Resburgo' (Venice, 1820), were all received with enthusiasm by the Italian people, and this at a time when it was difficult for any one but Rossini to obtain a hearing. The last-named opera was played in Germany under the title of 'Emma von Leicester,' and not unsuccessfully. 'Margherita d' Anjou,' the best of these operas, was written for the Scala at Milan. ' L'Esule di Granata' made but little impression. 'Al- mansor' was commenced at Rome, but not com- pleted. In 1823, while engaged in writing the 'Crociato,' the composer went to Berlin, where he tried, but failed, to get a performance of a three-act German opera 'Das Brandenburger Thor.' This was a time of transition in his life. He was wearying of the Italian manner, and he could not be insensible to the murmurs of dissatisfaction which everywhere in Germany made themselves heard at the degradation of his talent by his change of style. Foremost among the malcontents was C. M. von Weber, who had looked on his friend as the hope of that German opera in which were centred his own ardent aspirations, and who in 1 8 1 5 at Prague, and subsequently at Dresden, had mounted "The Two Caliphs' with extraordinary care and labour, hoping perhaps to induce him to return to his old path. 'My heart bleeds,' he wrote, 'to see a German composer of creative power stoop to become an imitator in order to win favour with the crowd.' In spite of all this the friendship of
the two men remained unshaken. On his way back to Italy Meyerbeer spent a day with Weber, who wrote of it, ' Last Friday I had the happi- ness of having Meyerbeer with me. It was a red-letter day a reminiscence of dear old Mann- heim We did not separate till late at
night. He is going to bring out his ' Crociato' at Trieste, and in less than a year is to come back to Berlin, where perhaps he will write a German opera. Please God he may ! I made many appeals to his conscience.' Weber did not live to see his wish fulfilled, but the desire which he expressed before his death that an opera he left unfinished should be completed by Meyer- beer, showed that his faith in him was retained to the last.
The 'Crociato' was produced at Venice in 1824, and created a furore, the composer being called for and crowned on the stage. In this opera, written in Germany, old associations seem to have asserted themselves. More ambitious in scope than its predecessors, it shows an attempt, timid indeed, at dramatic combination which constitutes it a kind of link between his ' wild oats' (as in after years he designated these Italian works) and his later operas. 1 In 1826 he was invited to witness its first performance in Paris, and this proved to be the turning-point of his career. He eventually took up his residence in Paris, and lived most of his subsequent life there. From 1824 till 1831 no opera appeared from his pen. A sojourn in Berlin, during which his father died, his marriage, and the loss of two children, were among the causes which kept him from public life. But in these years he undertook that profound study of French character, French history, and French art, which resulted in the final brilliant metamorphosis of his dramatic and musical style, and in the great works by which his name is remembered.
Paris was the head-quarters of the unsettled, restless, tentative spirit which at that epoch per- vaded Europe, the partial subsidence of the ferment caused by a century of great thoughts, ending in a revolution that had shaken society to its foundations. Men had broken away from the past, without as yet finding any firm standpoint for the future. The most opposite opinions flourished side by side. Art was a conglomeration of styles of every time and nation, all equally acceptable if treated with cleverness. Originality was at an ebb ; illustration supplied the place of idea. Reminiscence, association, the picturesque, the quaint, ' local colour,' these were sought for rather than beauty ; excitement for the senses, but through the medium of the intellect. Men turned to history and legend for material, seeking in the past a torch which, kindled at the fire of modern thought, might throw light on present problems. This spirit of eclecticism found its perfect musical counterpart in the works of Meyerbeer. The assimilative power that, guided by tenacity of purpose, enabled him to identify
1 It Is significant that, with the exception of the ' Crociato,' not one of these early works, so enthusiastically received, held the stage after their composer had left Italy.