Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 2.djvu/48

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36
JOMMELLI.
JOHN THE BAPTIST, ST.

JOHN THE BAPTIST, ST. An oratorio in 2 parts; the text selected from the Bible by Dr. E. G. Monk; the music by G. A. Macfarren. Produced at Bristol Festival Oct. 23, 1873.

[ G. ]

JOHNSON, Edward, Mus. Bac., graduated at Cambridge 1594, and was one of the ten composers who harmonised the tunes for Este's 'Whole Booke of Psalms,' 1592. He contributed the madrigal, 'Come, blessed bird!' to 'The Triumphes of Oriana,' 1601. Another madrigal by him, 'Ah, silly John,' is preserved in MS. in the library of the Sacred Harmonic Society. Nothing is known of his biography.

[ W. H. H. ]

JOHNSON, Robert, an ecclesiastic who flourished in the middle of the 16th century, was composer of motets, part-songs and virginal pieces. Burney says 'He was one of the first of our church composers who disposed their parts with intelligence and design. In writing upon a plainsong (moving in slow notes of equal length), which was so much practised in those times, he discovers considerable art and ingenuity, as also in the manner of treating subjects of fugue and imitation.' His part-song 'Defiled is my name' is printed in the Appendix to Hawkins's History and his motet, 'Sabbatum Maria,' and an Almain from Queen Elizabeth's Virginal Book in Burney's History. Two of his motets are contained in Add. MSS. 5059 and 11,586, British Museum. He was the composer of the part-song 'Tye the mare, Tom boy,' the words of which are printed in Bitson's 'Ancient Songs, 1790, p. 130.

Another Robert Johnson, a lutenist and composer, possibly a relative of the above-named, was in January 1573–4 a retainer in the household of Sir Thomas Kytson, of Hengrave Hall, Suffolk. In April 1575, being still in Sir Thomas's service, he assisted at the grand entertainment given by the Earl of Leicester to Queen Elizabeth at Kenilworth. He subsequently came to London, but at what precise date cannot be ascertained, and became a composer for the theatres. In 1610 he composed the music for Middleton's tragi-comedy, 'The Witch,' printed in Rimbault's 'Ancient Vocal Music of England.' In 1611 he was in the service of Prince Henry, at an annual salary of £40. In 1612 he composed music for Shakspere's 'Tempest,' and in 1617 songs for Beaumont and Fletcher's 'Valentinian' and 'The Mad Lover.' (See Add. MS. 11,608, Brit. Mus.) In 1621 he wrote music for Ben Jonson's 'Masque of the Gipsies,' some of the songs of which are contained in a MS. volume in the Music School, Oxford. He was one of the contributors to Leighton's 'Teares or Lamentacions,' 1614. A beautiful ballad by him, 'As I walked forth one summer's day,' is also printed in Rimbault's 'Ancient Vocal Music of England.' His name occurs Dec. 20, 1625, in a privy seal exempting the King's musicians from payment of subsidies.

[ W. H. H. ]

JOMMELLI, Niccolò, is the most conspicuous name in the long list of eminent composers who during the first half of the 18th century were the outcome and ornament of that Neapolitan school which had become famous under Alessandro Scarlatti. It was a period of transition in musical art all over Italy. It witnessed the abandonment of the old Gregorian modes in favour of modern tonality. Counterpoint itself, while pursued as ardently as ever, and still recognised as the orthodox form of expression for musical thought, was assuming to that thought a new and different relation. Ideas were subjected to its conditions, but it no longer constituted their very essence. The distinctive tendency of all modern Art towards individualisation was everywhere making itself felt, and each successive composer strove more and more after dramatic truthfulness as a primary object, while at the same time there was educated in the schools of Italy a race of great singers to whom individual expression was a very condition of existence. Pure contrapuntal Art—strictly impersonal in its nature, in that, while each part is in itself complete, all are equally subordinate to the whole, was being supplanted by a new order of things. In the music destined to convey and to arouse personal emotions one melodious idea predominates, to which all the rest, however important, is more or less subservient and accessory. Nor is harmony, then, the final result of the superimposition of layer on layer of independent parts, but the counterpoint is contrived by the subdivision and varied time-apportionment of the harmony, and partakes of the nature of a decoration rather than a texture—the work is in fresco and not in mosaic.

To the greatest minds alone it belongs to unite with intuition that consummate art which makes scholastic device serve the ends of fancy, and, while imparting form to the inspirations of genius, receives from them the stamp of originality. In the long chain connecting Palestrina, in whose works contrapuntal art found its purest development, with Mozart, who blended imagination with science as no one had done before him, one of the last links was Jommelli. Gifted with a vein of melody tender and elegiac in its character, with great sensibility, fastidious taste, and a sense of effect in advance of any of his Italian contemporaries, he started in the new path of dramatic composition opened up by Scarlatti, Pergolesi, and Leo, at the point where those masters left off, and carried the art of expression to the highest pitch that, in Italy, it attained up to the time of Mozart.

Born at Aversa, near Naples, Sept. 11 [App. p.685 "Sept. 10"], 1714, his first musical teaching was given him by a canon named Mozzillo. At sixteen he entered the Conservatorio of San Onofrio as the pupil of Durante, but was transferred to that of La Pieta de' Turchini, where he learned vocal music from Prato and Mancini, and composition from Feo and Leo. It was the boast of these schools that young musicians on leaving them were adepts in all the processes of counterpoint and every kind of scholastic exercise, but it seems that a special training at Rome was judged necessary to fit Jommelli for writing