Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 3.djvu/164

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152

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��but mention is made under ORCHESTRATION of some of the beautiful and truly romantic effects which he knows how to produce in his instrumentation. [See also OPERA and WAGNER.] We may however designate one of the greatest living composers as one of the greatest living romanticists ; and it is no disparagement to the individuality of Johannes Brahms to say that he is in many respects the disciple of Schubert and Schumann. The romanticism of such productions as the beautiful romances from Tieck's 'Magelone' (op- 33) or tne cantata Binaldo' (op. 50) is of course visible at a glance, but Brahms's roman- ticism generally lies too deep to be discovered with- out attentive and sympathetic study. As a rule, he is more concerned to satisfy the judgment than kindle the imagination, more anxious to move the heart than please the ear. Close observation will often find an adequate reason and justification for seeming harshnesses in Brahms's works, and re- flective familiarity with them will, in the same way, surely discover the genuine romantic spirit in passages where its presence would wholly escape the unpractised eye and ear.

Chopin holds a solitary position in romantic art. No school can claim him wholly for its own, and the best poetic gifts of the French, German, and Sclavonic nationalities were united in him. Chopin, says Liszt, refused to be bound by deference to rules which fettered the play of his imagination, simply because they had been accepted as classical. But the classic training and solid studies of his youth, combined with his exquisite taste and innate refinement, preserved him from abuse of the liberty which he was determined to enjoy. The mental atmosphere of his life in Paris may be felt in his works. In hatred of whatever was commonplace and ordinary, he was one with the French romantic school ; but unlike them he would allow nothing, whose only merit was originality, to stand in his compositions. Beauty there must always be to satisfy him ; and he would have recoiled from the crudities and barbarisms which disfigure some works of the French romantic period. So uni- formly romantic was Chopin in every stage of his career, that it would be impossible to illustrate this quality of his music by extracts.

The French romantic school of literature was of later date than the German, and was con- siderably affected by it. The general features of the two schools were very similar, but the French authors wrote even more than the Ger- man in the mediaeval and mystic vein, and were more prone to unhealthy exaggeration. In France, moreover, the antagonism between the romantic and classical schools was carried to a pitch which had no parallel in Germany. The completeness and universality of the empire which classic ex- ample and tradition had gained over the educated public of France, intensified the revolt against them, when at last it arrived. The revolt was as widespread as it was uncompromising : there was not a field of art or literature in which the rebel flag of the new school was not unfurled, and a revolutionary temper, inflamed perhaps by

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the political storms of that time, was manifest in all that they did. In the false simplicity and sickly sentimentality, in the stilted diction and threadbare forms of expression affected by the reigning school, the insurgent authors had indeed much to provoke them. But in the vehemence of their reaction against such faults they were apt to fall into an opposite extreme ; and thus, finish of form, clearness of outline, and coherent sequence of thought are too often absent from their works.

With respect to music, Berlioz is the typical name of the renaissance of 1830; but Liszt, on whom the French school exercised so strong an influence, may be associated with him. So far were these composers and their countless fol- lowers borne by the revolutionary impulse, that they did not shrink at times from a total rejection of the old traditional forms in their instrumental music ; but it cannot be said that very valuable results were obtained by their hardihood. They chose indeed romantic subjects for musical repre- sentation, as Weber and Schumann had done, but there the resemblance ceased. They aimed not, as the earlier masters did, to reproduce the feel- ings stirred in them by external objects, but rather to present the objects themselves to the minds of an audience ; and an undoubted loss of romantic effect was the consequence of their innovation. But while we cannot acquit the younger romanticists of the charge of an exces- sive realism, which too readily sacrificed artistic beauty to originality and vivid representation, nor deny the frequent obscurity and incoherence of their compositions, we are unable to acquiesce in the imputation so often fastened upon them that their romanticism was merely the veil of ignorance, and that they violated rules because they knew no better. As a matter of fact, even those among them who pushed extravagance to the farthest point were thorough masters of the strictest rules and severest forms of musical com- position.

To sum up, in conclusion, our obligations to the romantic school, we must acknowledge that they saved music from the danger with which it was at one time threatened of being treated as an exact but dry and cold science ; that they gave it a freer and more elastic form ; that they developed the capabilities and technique of various instruments; that being themselves always filled with a deep reverence for their own art they rescued from unmerited neglect some of the finest works of earlier composers ; and that by their own genius and labour they have added many a noble masterpiece to the treasures of music. 1 [A.H.W.]

1 For the foregoing article the following works have been consulted :

Schumann, 'Gesammelte Schriften'; Liszt, 'Chopin'; Hostinsky. ' Die Lehre der formalen Aesthetik ; Kttster. ' PopulSre Vortrage ; La Mara, ' Musikalische Studlen-kOpfe ; Wasielewski, ' Schumann ; Weber, Max v., ' 0. M. v. Weber ' ; Hoffmann. ' Kreisleriana ' ; Gautier.

Histolre du Romantlsme' ; N. Zeitschrift f. Musik, 1834-1839 ; Riehl.

CharakterkOpfe ' ; Brockhaus, 'Conversationslexicon' ; Eckermann.

Gesprache mit Goethe '; Mendel, ' Lexicon '; Brendel, 'Geschichte der Musik'; Marx, 'Musik des Neunzehnten Jahrhunderts'; KOstlin. Geschichte der Musik ' ; Weitzmann, ' Geschichte des Clavierspiels ' , Beissmann. ' Von Bach bis Wagner ' ; Letters from Dr. Zopff and Dr.

udwig.

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