Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 2.djvu/327

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MERULO.
315
METASTASIO.

Steccata, he enjoyed an evening walk before going home. In the night he was aroused by a pain in his right side, succeeded by great fever and violent sickness. The fever continued from day to day, giving him no rest even for a few minutes. The doctors, Sig. Cernidore and Cerati, his son-in-law, after using many remedies with little or no success, determined at last to give him a medicine with strong ingredients—rhubarb, etc. This was on Sunday, May 2nd. When the poor old man had taken the draught he cried out, 'Alas I how cruelly these doctors have treated me'; for they had given him to understand it was merely a syrup. The effect was so severe that he died just as the clock struck 12 on the 4th of May. The Duke arranged the funeral, and had him crowned with laurel and ivy, these marks of respect giving great consolation to all. He was dressed as a Capuchin monk, music books were placed on his coffin, at each corner of which one of his scholars, clothed in black, held a lighted candle. They were D. Chris. Bora, M. Ant. Bertanelli, M. And. Salati. the fourth scarcely venturing to add his name, for he had only been under the good old man's care for a month, thanks first to his own gentleness and kindness, and next to that of our Sig. Chnstophero, who introduced me and entered me at S. Claudio's great school.… The Monday following, May 10th, the service took place in the Cathedral, when he was buried next to Cipriano [Rore], near the altar of S. Agatha.… We sang the mass with double choir, one placed near the organ, the other on the opposite side.…

Your affectionate servant,

Alessandro Volpius.

Parma, May 14, 1604.

As for Claudio's Organ [1]Toccatas and Ricercari, given to the world late in life, all indeed but one book posthumous, we do not think the composer's greatness is to be gauged by them at all. They cannot bring back to us the wonderful power of his playing, which could fascinate the most orthodox musicians, and attract students from all parts of Italy, Germany, and the North of Europe. As a faint resemblance of the living man (perhaps the little organ at Parana on which he played could recall him to us as strongly) these organ pieces are very welcome. They compare favourably with other works of the period. As historical examples they are also valuable. In them we have classical instrumental music quite distinct from vocal, we have again chord as distinct from part-writing, the greatest result the organists had achieved and the ultimate death-blow to the modal system. Claudio lived close on the borders of the new tonality. In his compositions he does not abandon himself to it, but he no doubt went much further in his playing than on paper, and had he lived a few years longer, Frescobaldi's bold and apparently sudden adoption of the tonal system would not perhaps have come upon him unawares.

MESSIAH. Oratorio by Handel; libretto from Holy Scriptures by Charles Jennens. Composition commenced Aug. 22, 1741; first part completed Aug. 28; second part, Sept. 6; third part Sept. 12; instrumentation, etc., filled in Sept. 14;—in all 24 days only. First performed (during Handel's sojourn in Ireland) in the Music Hall, Fishamble Street, Dublin, for the benefit of the Society for relieving Prisoners, the Charitable Infirmary, and Mercer's Hospital, April 13, 1742. The principal singers were Signora Avolio, Mrs. Cibber, Church, and Roseingrave; principal violin, Dubourg; organist, Maclaine. First performed in England at Covent Garden Theatre, March 23, 1743. Performed annually by Handel from 1750 to 1758 in the Chapel of the Foundling Hospital for the benefit of the charity. It was the last oratorio given by Handel, viz. on April 6, 1759, eight days only before his death. After the original performance Handel revised and rewrote many portions of the oratorio with great care. In 1789 Mozart composed his additional accompaniments to it, so admirably executed as to have received almost universal acceptance and to be regarded as nearly an integral part of the composition. No musical work has had such long, continuous, and enduring popularity as the Messiah, nor has any other so materially aided the cause of charity. Much of the veneration with which it is regarded is, doubtless, owing to the subject, but much also must be attributed to the splendid music, some of which—the stirring 'Glory to God,' the stupendous 'Hallelujah,' and the magnificent 'Amen'—is 'not for an age, but for all time.' The published editions of the oratorio, in various forms, are exceedingly numerous; the most interesting being the facsimile of the original holograph score (now in the music library at Buckingham Palace) in photo-lithography, published by the Sacred Harmonic Society in 1868. Many historical and descriptive pamphlets, analyses of the work, etc., have been issued at various, times.

[ W. H. H. ]

MESTO, 'sadly'; a term used three times by Beethoven, in the pianoforte sonatas, op. 10, no. 3, and op. 59, and in the slow movement of Quartet op. 18, no. 7. The slow movement of the first of these is called Largo e mesto, and of the second and third Adagio molto e mesto. It is also used by Chopin in the Mazurkas, op. 33, nos. 1 and 4.

METASTASIO, Pietro Antonio Domenico Bonaventura, a celebrated Italian poet, son of Trapassi, of Assisi, a papal soldier, was born in Rome Jan. 3, 1698. As a child he showed an astonishing power of improvisation, which so struck Gravina, that, with his parents' consent, he took him into his family, had him educated, and changed his [2]name. He was studying the classics, and engaged in translating the Iliad into Italian verse, when his benefactor died suddenly—a loss he felt deeply, although he was eventually consoled by the attachment of Maria Bulgarini the singer. In the meantime his fame had reached Vienna, and, at the instigation of Apostolo Zeno, the late court poet, the Emperor Charles VI. offered him that post. He arrived in Vienna in 1730, and remained there till his death, April 12, 1782, living with his friend Martines in the 'Michaeler Haus.' Henceforth he furnished the principal attraction at the private festivals of the Court, composing verses to be recited or sung by the young Archduchesses, set to music in the latter case by the Court composers, Reutter, Predieri, Caldara, or

  1. 'Toccata d'Intavolatura d'Organo di C. di M.' etc., lib. 1. (Rome 1698). An early example of copper-plate engraving. Another book of Toccate and 3 books of Ricercari were posthumous.
  2. 'Metastasio,'=trapissamento, or transition, is a play on Trapassi.