Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 1.djvu/457

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
DICTIONARIES OF MUSIC.
445
 

Taking into account the enormous difficulties under which they laboured, both authors are deserving of great praise for works so eminently useful to students of musical terminology. Amongst their imitators may be named Walthern, Grassineau. and J. J. Rousseau. Walthern's work, 'Alte und neue musikalische Bibliothek, oder musikalisches Lexicon,' was originally published at Weimar, but the second edition (Leipsic, 1732) is the important one. In it he so far adopted the plan suggested by Brossard at the end of his dictionary, that his work forms a kind of complement to that. In his 'Musical Dictionary' (London, 1740, 1 vol. 8vo.; 2nd ed. 1769) James Grassineau has made ample use of Brossard's definitions and examples; but his work is much more complete, and his remarks on the music of the ancients and on musical instruments evince much reading, and may still be consulted with advantage. J. J. Rousseau in his 'Dictionnaire de Musique' (Geneva, 1767) also utilised the labours of Brossard, especially with regard to ancient music; but it is to his literary ability rather than to his elevated views on aesthetics that the enormous success of his dictionary is due. Not only was it translated into several languages, but it was imitated by Meude-Monpas (Paris, 1788) and by Reynvaan (Amsterdam, 1795), only half of whose 'Musikaal Kunst Woorden-book' was ever published. Rousseau's influence may be traced also in the 'Dictionnaire de Musique' contained in the 'Encyclopédie Méthodique.' That enormous mass of undigested material forms two huge 4to. volumes, of which the first (1791) was compiled under the superintendence of Framery and Ginguend, with the assistance of the Abbé Feytou and of Surremain de Missery, and is far superior to the second (1818) edited by Momigny, whose theories were not only erroneous but at variance with those of the first volume. In spite however of its contradictions and errors, both scientific and chronological, a judicious historian may still find useful materials in this dictionary.

Whilst Rousseau's writings were exciting endless discussions among French musicians, the labours of Gerber and Forkel in Germany were marking a new era in the literature of music. By his History (Allg. Geschichte der Musik, Leipsic 1788–1801) Forkel did as much for the musicians of Europe as Burney and Hawkins had in all probability done for him. His influence may be recognised in Koch's 'Musikalisches Lexicon' (Frankfort 1802), a work in all respects superior to that of G. F. Wolf (Halle 1787). Koch also published his 'Kurzgefasstes Handwörterbuch der Musik' (Leipsic 1807), a work distinct from his Lexicon, but quite as useful and meritorious. But the happy influence of Forkel is more especially evident in the biographical work of Gerber, 'Neues historisch-biographisches Lexicon der Tonkünstler' (Leipzig, 1812–14, 4 vols.) a work in every way a great improvement on his first edition (Leipzig, 1790–92, 2 vols.), although incomplete without it, owing to his habit of referring back. Gerber was the model for the 'Dictionnaire historique des musiciens' of Choron and Fayolle (Paris, 1810–11), the first book of the kind published in France, and preceded by an excellent Introduction, by Choron, of which Fétis in his turn has made good use.

In Italy the Abbé Gianelli was the author of the first dictionary of music printed in Italian (Venice 1801, 2nd ed. 1820); but his book has been entirely superseded by the 'Dizionario e Bibliografia della Musica' of Dr. Lichtenthal, the first two volumes of which are devoted to music proper, while the last two contain an historical and critical catalogue, which has been largely utilised by Fétis. Lichtenthal doubtless took many of his materials from Forkel and Gerber, but his work shows a marked advance upon those of Koch and Rousseau in the definitions of words, the descriptions of instruments, and the historical articles. It was translated into French by Mondo (Paris 1821, 2 vols. 8vo.). The 'Dictionnaire de Musique moderne' of Castil Blaze (Paris 1821 2nd ed. 1825, 2 vols.), in part copied from that of Rousseau, attained a certain amount of success from the position of its author and its animated style; but it is by no means equal either in extent or accuracy to Lichtenthal's work. Partly founded on a similar model is the 'Dictionnaire de Musique d'après les théoriciens, historiens, et critiques les plus célèbres' (1844; 5th ed. 72) by MM. Marie et Léon Escudier, a compilation, as its title indicates, but containing much useful information in a small space, especially on ancient musical instruments and on contemporaneous matters. Jos. d'Ortigue, on the other hand, opened up a new line in his 'Dictionnaire liturgique, historique, et théorique de Plain-chant et de Musique d'e'glise …' (Paris 1854 and 60), an interesting and valuable work written from the point of view of an orthodox Roman Catholic. It has the merit of quoting distinctly all the sources from which the author derived his information, and of mentioning by name all those who assisted him; and for the special branch of which it treats this dictionary is hitherto without a rival.

The 'Biographie universelle des Musiciens,' by the late F. J. Fétis, is hitherto equally unrivalled. The first edition (Paris and Brussels, 1835–44), in 8 vols. 8vo., double columns, contains a long and admirable introduction, not republished in the second edition. That edition (Paris, 1860–65), also in 8 vols. 8vo., though a great advance on the former one, is still very imperfect. It swarms with inaccurate dates; its blunders, especially in regard to English musicians, are often ludicrous; it contains many biographies evidently written to order; and its author, while severely criticising his victims, has an ugly knack of borrowing from them at the same time: but his labour and spirit were prodigious, he is always readable and often impartial, and while he developes a shrewd and even philosophic critical faculty, he has the art of expressing his judgment with great clearness. The misfortune of biographical dictionaries is that they are never