Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 2.djvu/37

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ISOUARD.
25
ISTESSO TEMPO, L'

In his own way he continued Grétry's work, but being no originator was eclipsed by Boieldieu and afterwards by Auber. The successes of his rival provoked him beyond control, and when Boieldieu was elected by the Institut in 1817 to succeed Méhul in preference to himself, his mortification was extreme. It was, perhaps, to drown the remembrance of this defeat, and of the triumphs of his opponent, that, although a married man, he plunged into a course of dissipation which ruined his health and brought on consumption, from which he died in Paris, March 23, 1818.

There is no biography of Isouard, nor indeed any sketch at all adequate. Several portraits have been published, but are of no artistic merit. From one of them was executed in 1853 the marble bust now in the foyer of the Opéra Comique.

Isouard is little known in England. The only two of his pieces which appear to have been brought out on the London stage are 'Les Rendezvous bourgeois' (St. James's, May 14, 1849), and 'Joconde,' English version by Mr. Santley (Lyceum, Oct. 25, 1876).

[ G. C. ]

ISRAEL IN EGYPT, the fifth of Handel's 19 English oratorios. The present second part was composed first. The autograph of it is headed 'Moses song. Exodus Chap. 15. Introitus. Angefangen Oct. 1, 1738,' and at the end 'Fine Octobr. 11, 1738, den 1 Novembr. völlig geendigt.' The present first part is headed '15 Octobr. 1738. Act ye 2d.' Three pages were written and erased; and on the fourth page begins the present opening recitative, headed 'Part ye 2 of Exodus.' At the end of the Chorus 'And believed' stands 'Fine della Parte 2da d'Exodus. { Octobr 20October 28 } 1738.' The autograph is in Buckingham Palace, and the two parts are bound in their present order, not in that of composition.

The title 'Israel in Egypt' appears in the announcements of the first performance, which was on April 4, 1739. On April 11 it was performed again 'with alterations and additions.' Elsewhere it is announced that 'the Oratorio will be shortened and intermixed with songs'—four in number. It was given a third time April 1, 1740, with the Funeral Anthem as a first part, under the name of the 'Lamentation of the Israelites for the Death of Joseph.'

Dr. Chrysander suggests that the adaptation of the Funeral Anthem as an introduction followed immediately on the completion of Moses' Song, and that 'Act ye 2d' followed on that adaptation; and it is difficult to resist the conconclusion that he is right, though beyond the words 'Act ye 2d and the addition of a short overture to the Funeral Anthem there is no positive evidence. The use of the word 'Act' prevents our taking 'Act the 2d' as 'second' in relation to 'Moses Song'; it was second in order of composition, but not in historic order, nor in order of performance—and 'Moses Song' contains the musical climax to the whole work.

The first subsequent performance in England of the work as composed, without additions or omissions, was given by the Sacred Harmonic Society, Feb. 23, 1849. In Germany it was first performed in any shape by the Sing-Akademie of Berlin, Dec. 8, 1831.

This oratorio is distinguished among those of Handel as much for its sustained grandeur as for the great number of allusions to previous compositions, both of Handel's own and of other musicians, that it contains. Those which have at present been recognised are as follow:—

'They loathed.' Shortened from Fugue in A minor in his own Six organ fugues.

'He spake the word.' The voice parts from a Symphony for double orchestra in Stradella's Serenata.[1]

Hailstone Chorus. From Stradella's Serenata.

'He smote all the firstborn.' From Fugue in A minor in his own Six organ fugues.

'But as for his people.' From Stradella's Serenata.

'Egypt was glad.' Almost note for note from an Organ canzona in D by Kerl.[2]

'And believed the Lord.' From Stradella's Serenata.

'He is my God,' almost note for note from the opening of Erba's Magnificat.

'The Lord is my strength.' From 'Et exultavit' in the Magnificat.

'The Lord is a man of war.' From 'Te eternum Patrem' in Urio's Te Deum, and 'Quia fecit' in Magnificat.

'The depths have covered them.' From Magnificat.

'Thy right hand.' From ditto, 'Quia respexit.'

'Thou sentest forth.' Almost note for note from ditto, 'Fecit potentiam.'

'And with the blast.' From ditto, 'Deposuit.'

'The earth swallow'd them.' Almost note for note from 'Sicut erat' in ditto.

'Thou in Thy mercy.' From ditto, 'Esurientes.'

'I will sing unto the Lord.' Repeated from beginning of Part II.

Notwithstanding this astonishing number of adaptations great and small, so vast is the fusing power of Handel's genius, and also perhaps so full of faith the attitude in which a great work of established reputation is contemplated, that few hearers suspect the want of unity, and even Mendelssohn, keen as was his critical sense, while editing the 'Israel' for the Handel Society, never drops a hint of any anomaly or inconsistency in the style of any of the pieces. Mendelssohn wrote organ accompaniments to the songs and duets, though, strange to say, they have seldom been used in public in this country.

As to the compiler of the words of 'Israel' there is neither evidence nor tradition. It is therefore possible that they may have been selected by Handel himself. In the first part some of the words are taken from the Prayer-book version of the Psalms. In other cases the ordinary Authorised version has been adopted, but not exactly followed.

[ G. ]

ISTESSO TEMPO, L', 'the same time,' a caution in cases of change of rhythm or time-signature. It may mean that the measure remains as before while the value of the note changes—as in the change from 9-16 to 6-16 in Beethoven's Op. 111, or from 2-4 to 6-8 in 'Bagatelle,' Op. 119, No. 6; or that the measure changes while the note remains—as in Op. 126, No. 1; or that neither note nor measure change—as in Op. 111, 6-16 to 12-32, and Op. 120, Var. 3. Or that a former tempo is resumed, as in his Sonata, op. 110—'L'istesso tempo di Arioso,' 'L'istesso tempo della fuga.'

[ G. ]

  1. See the Analyses of Urio's Te Deum and Stradella's Serenata, by Mr. Prout, in the Monthly Musical Record for Nov. and Dec. 1871.
  2. Printed by Hawkins, chap. 124.