Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 2.djvu/646

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634

��PAISIELLO.

��and now gave preference to his work over one by Cherubini.

When, in 1799, the Kepublican government was declared at Naples, Paisiello accommodated himself to the new state of things, and was re- warded by the post of * Director of the National Music.' At the Restoration he naturally found himself out of favour with his old patrons, and lost his former appointment. After two years he succeeded in getting it back again, but this had hardly come about when the First Consul de- manded the loan of his favourite musician from the King of Naples to organise and direct the music of his chapel. Paisiello was accordingly despatched to Paris, where Buonaparte treated him with a magnificence rivalling that of Cathe- rine of Russia, and an amount of favour that ex- cited frantic jealousy in the resident musicians, especially Me"hul and Cherubini, who did not care for Paisiello's music, and whom he spited in return by bestowing on their enemies all the patronage at his disposal.

He was occupied chiefly in writing sacred com- positions for the First Consul's chapel, but in 1803 he gave an opera, 'Proserpine,' which was not a success. This probably determined him next year to beg for permission to return to Naples, on the plea of his wife's ill-health. It was granted, although unwillingly, by Napoleon, who desired him before leaving to name his suc- cessor, when he surprised every one by designat- ing Lesueur, who was then almost unknown, and in destitute circumstances.

On Paisiello's return to Italy he was endowed with a considerable pension, was re-established in his old place at Naples, and was maintained in it by Joseph Buonaparte, and after him byMurat. But the favour he enjoyed under Napoleonic dynasties inevitably brought him once more into trouble when the Bourbons returned. He then lost all the pensions settled on him by the various crowned heads he had served. He retained, it is true, his salary at the Royal Chapel, but this, after the luxury he had known, was poverty. Anxiety had undermined his health, and he suf- ered a fresh blow in the loss of his wife, in 1815. He did not long survive her, dying June 5 in the same year.

As a man Paisiello does not command our sympathy, although by his industry and devotion to Art he merits esteem. Spoiled by success, he lacked generosity towards his rivals. Spoiled by prosperity, he had no endurance and no dignity in misfortune. Like many others of his time, he was a most prolific writer. He composed about a hundred operas, and at least as many other works, of different kinds. If novelty is not aimed at, or is only occasionallyexpected, the art of pen- ning easy, flowing melody seems capable of being cultivated into a habit. Expression, within certain restricted limits, was Paisiello's strong point. All his airs are remarkable for sim- plicity and grace, and some have considerable charm, such as * Nel cor piu non mi sento ' in the ' Molinara,' long known in England as Hope told a flattering tale,' and destined to

��PALADILHE.

' survive still longer owing to the variations on j it written by Beethoven. Some of his music ia tinged with mild melancholy, as in ' Nina ' (a favourite part of Pasta's), but it is never tragic ;

or with equally mild 'bonhomie, as in the ' Zingari

I in Fiera,' but it is never genuinely comic. It has great purity of style. No bravura songs for prime donne, such as figure in the works of Hasse and Porpora do we find in these operas. No doubt his simple airs received embellishment at the hands of singers; we know that the custom prevailed, at that time, to such an extent as to determine Rossini to write down all his own fioriture for himself. This may account for the degree of repetition to be found in Paisiello's pieces, and which, to our ears, seems insufferably tedious. In his work the principle of ' expo- sition, illustration and repetition ' is non-existent as to its second stage. His only method of expanding his theme to the desired dimension was numerous verbatim repetitions, with a short alternative phrase between, producing the feeling of a continual series of rondos, and which, for variety of effect, must have depended on the singer. Trios, quartets, etc. enter largely into his works, and he was among the first, if not the first, to introduce concerted finales into serious opera. In his orchestration he arrives at charm- ing effects through very simple means ; it is dis- tinguished by clearness and good taste, and by the independent parts given to the instruments.

The mild light of such men as Paisiello paled before the brilliance of Rossini. His music is practically obsolete, yet it must not be put aside with that of many so-called composers who merely illustrate the passing fancies of their day. It is music. Not immortal music ; for art that is immortal is always young, and this has become old-fashioned. Yet like many a quaint old fashion it has a certain beauty of association now, because it possessed actual beauty once. No one would willingly call it back into an existence where it would find itself out of place. Yet much of it may repay attention on the part of those who may care to turn aside for a mo- ment from the intricate path of modern art, and examine the music which stirred the admiration and moved the heart of a past generation of men and women like themselves.

For a complete list of Paisiello's compositions the reader is referred to Fe'tis's ' Biographic des Musiciens,' ed. 1870. They embrace 94 operas; 103 masses and other church pieces; 51 instru- mental ditto. [F. A. M.]

PALADILHE, EMILE, born at Montpellier June 3, 1844; at nine entered the Conservatoire under the protection of HaleVy, and studied hard, carrying off the first piano prize in 1857, and the organ-prize and 'Prix de Rome' in 1860. The cantata which won him the latter dis- tinction, ' Le Czar Ivan IV,' he neither printed nor sent to the library of the Conservatoire, doubtless from the consciousness that it was an immature work. The specimens of his composi- tion received by the Institut during his stay in Italy gave a favourable idea of his powers, but

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