Mazurka is remarkable for the variety and liberty allowed in its figures, and for the peculiar steps necessary to its performance. Indeed, the whole dance partakes of the character of an improvisation, even the invention of new steps and figures being allowable. The music (in 3-4 or 3-8 time) consists usually of two or four parts of eight bars, each part being repeated. In the earliest Mazurkas the bass was invariably on one note, usually the tonic. There is often a strong accent on the second beat of the bar, which was emphasized in the bass by the breaking off of the regular accompaniment. The tune should also end on the second beat of the bar, but in old Mazurkas there is often no definite conclusion, and the repeats are made ad libitum. The Tempo is much slower than that of the ordinary waltz. Chopin, who wrote eleven sets of Mazurkas, treated the dance in a new and characteristic manner. He extended its original forms, eliminated all vulgarity, introduced all sorts of Polish airs, and thus retained little more than the intensely national character of the original simple dance tune. (See Karasowski's Life of Chopin, chap, vii; and also the somewhat rhapsodical but still interesting remarks of Liszt in his essay on Chopin.) No less than 14 sets of his Mazurkas have been published, containing 52 in all (op. 6, 7, 17, 24, 30, 33, 41, 50, 56, 59, 63, 67, 68 and one without opus number). Weber gives the title 'Masurik' to the 4th of his six pieces for the P.F. à quatre mains (op. 10).
The following example is a simple Mazurka popular in the neighbourhood of Warsaw. The first part of the melody has a vocal accompaniment:—
[ W. B. S. ]
MAZZINGHI, Joseph, son of Tommaso, of an ancient Corsican family, born in London in 1765, was a pupil of John Christian Bach, under whom he made such progress that, on the death of his father in 1775, he was, although but 10 years of age, appointed organist of the Portuguese Chapel. He then studied under Bertolini, Sacchini and Anfossi. In 1784 he became musical director and composer at the King's Theatre, and produced the operas of 'Il Tesoro' and 'La Belle Arsène,' besides many songs, duets, etc., for introduction into other operas, and the music for several ballets. The score of Paisiello's opera 'La Locanda' having been consumed in the fire of the Opera House in June, 1789, Mazzinghi rescored the work so faithfully as to admit of its continued performance. For the English theatre he set the following pieces;—'A Day in Turkey,' 1791; 'The Magician no Conjuror,' 1792; 'Ramah Droog,' 1793; 'The Turnpike Gate,' 1799; 'Paul and Virginia,' 1800; 'The Blind Girl,' 1801; 'Chains of the Heart,' 1802 (the last five in collaboration with Reeve); 'The Wife of two Husbands,' 1803; 'The Exile,' 1808; and 'The Free Knights,' 1810. The last piece contained the duet 'When a little farm we keep,' which for nearly half a century was highly popular and constantly introduced into other pieces, and is even now occasionally heard. The manner of its original performance was strikingly characteristic of the utter want of regard for congruity which prevailed among the stage managers of that day. Although the piece was represented as taking place in Westphalia in the 14th century, the duet was accompanied upon the pianoforte! [App. p.715 "To have made clear the incongruity in the manner of the original performance of the duet 'When a little farm we keep,' it should have been mentioned that the duet was accompanied on the pianoforte by one of the singers of it, upon the stage."]
Mazzinghi was music master to the Princess of Wales, afterwards Queen Caroline, and had an extensive practice as a teacher of the pianoforte, for which instrument he composed nearly 70 sonatas and arranged a multitude of pieces, besides writing an 'Introduction' to it. His glees, trios, harmonised airs, songs and other vocal pieces, were legion. His pastoral glee, 'The Wreath' ('Tell me, shepherds,') was long in favour. He likewise composed a mass for 3 voices, and 6 hymns. Having about 1830 attained the rank of Count he retired to Bath, where he died, Jan. 15, 1844.
[ W. H. H. ]
MEAN (Old Eng. Meane, Mene; Lat. Medius.) 1. An old name for a middle Voicepart, whether Alto, or Tenor.
2. A name given to the second instrument in a Concert of Viols, as in Orlando Gibbons's 'Fantasies in three parts, for Viols,' reprinted by the Musical Antiquarian Society.
3. The name of the Second and Third Strings of the Viol—the former being called the Small, and the latter, the Great Meane.
4. The title of an ingenious Fugue, for the Organ, composed by William Blitheman, and printed, by Hawkins, in the Appendix to Vol. V. of his History.
etc. The piece may probably owe its singular title to the obligato character of the middle part.
[ W. S. R. ]
- William Blitheman was a noted Organist, and Gentleman of the Chapel Boyal, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth; and is, moreover, celebrated as having been the Master of Dr. John Bull. He died, in London, on Whitsunday 1591; and was buried in the Church of S. Nicholas Cole-Abbey, where his talents were set forth in a poetical Epitaph, which was destroyed, in the Great Fire, but has been preserved by Stow, and reprinted by Hawkins.