Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 1.djvu/402

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
390
CONRADI.
CONDUCTOR.

orchestra and beating time with a baton, though apparently long known abroad, is in England an institution of comparatively recent date. In former times the chief musician sat at a pianoforte in the orchestra with the score before him; but it does not appear that he beat time continuously, or in any way influenced the band, or did more than put in a few chords now and then when the orchestra was going astray, which when heard must have had a very bad effect. The leader it was who kept the band together or as nearly together as possible beating time with his bow, stamping, and occasionally tapping on the desk. But as he stood in the middle of the violins and was therefore out of sight of the majority of the orchestra he could have had but a very small influence on the other players.

The programmes of the Philharmonic Society (founded 1813) for the first seven years always end with the following words, 'Leader Mr.——, Pianoforte, Mr.——,' and the names are rarely if ever the same for two concerts together. 'Mr. Cramer' and 'Mr. Clementi' took it nearly turn about at the piano till Sir G. Smart shared it with them: but the leaders varied between Salomon, F. Cramer, Spagnoletti, Viotti, Yaniewicz, Weichsel, Mori, Baillot. Thus the band was each time under a fresh head, and the 'reading' of the works, and the style of performance—as far as such things were then attempted—must have changed with each concert. With the second concert of 1820 (March 20} the announcement changes to 'Leader, Mr. Spagnoletti; Conductor, Mr. Cramer,' a change apparently due to the resolution of Spohr, who in a pleasant passage in his Autobiography describes the old state of things and his action at the concert which he had to direct (during the series of 1820), when he produced his baton and insisted on conducting from the front in the present sense of the word, and as he had been accustomed to do (Selbstbiographie, ii. 87). 'Henceforth,' says he, 'no one was ever again seen seated at the piano during the performance of symphonies and overtures.' But the alternations of leaders and conductors continued for many years. The first attempt at uniformity was made in 1844, when the 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th concerts were conducted by Mendelssohn, the leader still changing each time. The concerts of 1845 were conducted, 3 by Sir H. Bishop, and 5 by Moscheles, and at length in 1846 we find the simple announcement 'Conductor, Signer Costa,' and the commencement of the present system. That system is obviously the right one. The office of conducting is to a great extent a mechanical one. A perfect performance depends far more than it might be supposed on such matters as the legibility and accuracy of the parts, and the intelligibility of the conductor's beat and of his communications with the players; and it is obvious that this part of a conductor's duties can only be adequately performed if he is constantly engaged with the same band. In a perfect conductor mechanical excellence must be accompanied with knowledge, feeling, appreciation, enthusiasm, poetry, and the highest qualities of the musician; but these last will be of little avail without the former, or without the familiar relation between the conductor and the band which long knowledge, or at any rate several rehearsals, alone can give. Composers do not always make good conductors. Beethoven, apart from his deafness, was too strange and eccentric; Schumann forgot what he was about; Mendelssohn, on the other hand, had the practical intelligence and the rare tact and temper which made him an exceptionally good conductor. But it is better that the two offices—the composer and the conductor—should be kept apart.

So far the Philharmonic, as representative of London concerts. At the Opera the change is said to have been brought about by Chelard, who conducted the German Company in London in 32.

Of late years—with Herr von Bülow—the practice of conducting from memory has come in, and for those who can stand the enormous strain which is implied in the recollection of every nuance and the exact entry of every instrument in a long and complicated work, no doubt it is a great comfort not to have to think of the book, but the power must surely be confined to a few and must always be full of risk.

It would be difficult within the limits of this article to give any definite instructions on the art of conducting, even if such instructions could be practically useful; but conducting, perhaps more than any other business, is a matter of natural gifts and practice. Those however who wish to see what has been said on the subject by three great musicians may consult the 'Vollkommene Capellmeister' of Mattheson (1739), the 'Orchestral Conductor' of Berlioz—the appendix to his Modern Instrumentation and Orchestration—and (less didactic and more polemical) the 'Ueber das Dirigiren' of Wagner. There is a description from a different point of view, well worth reading, in Berlioz's letter to Liszt, No. 3 of his ' Voyage musical.'

[ G. ]

CONDUCTOR'S PART. A substitute for a full score, in which the parts are condensed into two staves, and the names of the various instruments are inscribed as they enter. Spohr's D minor Symphony is published in this shape only.

CONFORTI, Giovanni Luca, was a Calabrian, and born at Mileto about 1560. He was admitted into the Papal Choir in 1591. He was doubtless a successful and accomplished singer according to the fashion of his time; but his chief title to notice seems to have been the publication of a volume containing a series of vocal ornamentations of all kinds wherewith to overlay the Psalms in ordinary use in the church on Sundays and holidays throughout the year. Baini ascribes to him what he considers the restoration of the 'trillo.' [Tremolo; Trillo.]

[ E. H. P. ]

CONRADI, August, born at Berlin 1821 [App. p.597 "June 27"], studied harmony and composition under Rungenhagen. In 1843 he produced a symphony,