Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 1.djvu/532

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520
FIGURE.
FIELD.

menti and Co., and from whom, up to his 22nd year, he received regular instruction in pianoforte playing. In 1802 Clementi took Field to Paris, where his admirable rendering of Bach's and Handel's fugues astonished musicians; thence to Germany, and thereafter to Russia. Here he was encountered by Spohr, who gives a graphic account of him. Clementi kept him to his old trade of showing off the pianos in the warehouse, and there he was to be found, a pale melancholy youth, awkward and shy, speaking no language but his own, and in clothes which he had far outgrown; but who had only to place his hands on the keys for all such drawbacks to be at once forgotten (Spohr, Selbstbiographie i. 43).

On Clementi's departure in 1804 Field settled at St. Petersburg as a teacher, where his lessons were much sought after and extraordinarily well paid. In 1823 he went to Moscow, and gave concerts with even greater success than in Petersburg. After further travelling in Russia he returned to London and played at the Philharmonic—a concerto of his own—Feb. 27, 1832. From thence he went to Paris, and in 1833 through Belgium and Switzerland to Italy, where at Milan, Venice and Naples, his playing did not please the aristocratic mob, and his concerts did not pay. Habits of intemperance had grown upon him; he suffered from fistula, and his situation at Naples became worse and worse. He lay in a hospital for nine months in the most deplorable condition, from which at last a Russian family named Racmanow rescued him, on condition that he should consent to return with them to Moscow. On their way back Field was heard at Vienna, and elicited transports of admiration by the exquisite playing of his Nocturnes. But his health was gone. Hardly arrived at Moscow he succumbed, and was buried there in Jan. 1837.

Field's printed compositions for the piano are as follows:—7 Concertos (No. 1, E♭; No. 2, A♭; No. 3, E♭; No. 4, E♭; No. 5, C, 'L'incendie par l'orage'; No. 6, C; No. 7, C minor); 2 Divertimenti, with accompaniment of two violins, flute, viola and bass; a Quintet and a Rondo for piano and strings; Variations on a Russian air for four hands; a grand Valse, 4 Sonatas, 3 of which are dedicated to Clementi; 2 'Airs en Rondeau'; Fantasie sur le motif de la Polonaise, 'Ah, quel dommage'; Rondeau Ecossais; Polonaise en forme de Rondo; deux airs Anglais, and 'Vive Henry IV' variés; and 20 pieces to which in recent editions the name of Nocturnes is applied, though it properly belongs to not more than a dozen of them.

[ E. D. ]

FIERRABRAS. An opera in 3 acts by Schubert, words by Kupelwieser. It was commissioned by Barbaja, but owing to his failure was never performed, and remains in MS. in the Library of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde at Vienna. Act 1, 304 pages, is dated at beginning and end 25th and 31st May (1823); Act 2, 31st May and 5th June. The overture is occasionally played at concerts. [App. p.636 "the full score has lately been printed by Breitkopf and Härtel, as one of the earliest volumes of their complete edition of Schubert's works."]

[ G. ]

FIFE. The smaller variety of the simple flute, possessing at most one key. It is made in several keys, F, B♭, and E♭. It is seldom used in Orchestral music, and only for the production of peculiar effects. Fifes are combined with drums in military use. They play simple melodies, without bass, of a marked character and rhythm, suitable to mark the time of marching.

[ W. H. S. ]

FIFTEENTH is a stop or set of pipes in an organ sounding 2 octaves, or 15 notes, above the Open diapason. Thus when the Fifteenth and Open diapason stops are drawn out at the same time, and the finger is placed on the key of middle C, two notes are sounded—middle C and C two octaves above it.

FIFTH. A Fifth is the perfect consonance, the ratio of the vibrational numbers of the limiting sounds of which is 2:3. It is called fifth because 5 diatonic notes are passed through in arriving from one extreme of the interval to the other, whence the Greeks called it δια πέντε, Diapente. The interval consists of 3 whole tones and a semitone.

FIGARO. See Nozze di Figaro.

FIGURANTE. A ballet-dancer who takes an independent part in the piece; also, in France, a subordinate character in a play, who comes on but has nothing to say.

FIGURE is any short succession of notes, either as melody or a group of chords, which produces a single, complete, and distinct impression. The term is the exact counterpart of the German Motiv, which is thus defined in Reissmann's continuation of Mendel's Lexicon:—'Motiv, Gedanke, in der Musik, das kleinere Glied eines solchen, aus dem dieser sich organisch entwickelt.' It is in fact the shortest complete idea in music; and in subdividing musical works into their constituent portions, as separate movements, sections, periods, phrases, the units are the figures, and any subdivision below them will leave only expressionless single notes, as unmeaning as the separate letters of a word.

Figures play a most important part in instrumental music, in which it is necessary that a strong and definite impression should be produced to answer the purpose of words, and convey the sense of vitality to the otherwise incoherent succession of sounds. In pure vocal music this is not the case, as on the one hand the words assist the audience to follow and understand what they hear, and on the other the quality of voices in combination is such as to render strong characteristic features somewhat inappropriate. But without strongly marked figures the very reason of existence of instrumental movements can hardly be perceived, and the success of a movement of any dimensions must ultimately depend, to a very large extent, on the appropriate development of the figures which are contained in the chief subjects. The common expression that a subject is very 'workable,' merely means that it contains well-marked figures; though it must be observed on the other hand, that there are not a few instances in which masterly treatment