Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 3.djvu/259

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SCHERZO.

eye as much as the sounded notes to the ear. In fact three crotchets, with their separate stems, impress far more vividly on the mind of the player the composer's idea of tripping lightness and quick rhythm than three quavers with united tails. Having once ousted the Minuet, Beethoven seldom re-introduced it, the instances in which he has done so being all very striking, and showing that a particularly fine idea drove him to use a worn-out means of expression. In several cases (PF. Sonatas in Eb, op. 7 ; in F, op. 10, etc.) where there is no element of humour he has abstained from the idle mockery of calling the movement a Minuet, because it is not a Scherzo, as others have done ; yet, on the other hand, the third movements of both the ist, 4th, and 8th Symphonies are called Minuets while having little or nothing in common with even the Symphony Minuets of Haydn and Mozart. Amongst Beethoven's endless devices for novelty should be noticed the famous treatment of the Scherzo in the C minor Symphony ; its conversion into a weird and mysterious terror, and its sudden reappearance, all alive and well again, in the midst of the tremendous jubilation of the Finale. Symphony No. 8, too, presents some singular features. The second movement is positively a cross between a slow movement and a Scherzo, partaking equally of the senti- mental and the humorous. But the Finale is nothing else than a rollicking Scherzo, teeming with eccentricities and practical jokes from be- ginning to end, the opening jest (and secret of the movement) being the sudden unexpected entry of the basses with a tremendous C sharp, afterwards turned into D flat, and the final one, the repetition of the chord of F at great length as if for a conclusion, and then, when the hearer naturally thinks that the end is reached, a start off in another direction with a new coda and wind-up.

As a specimen of true Scherzo that is, a movement in strict form and with quaint and whimsical humorous devices springing up un- expectedly, but naturally, throughout, the Scherzo of the gfh Symphony must ever stand without a rival. The tiny phrase which is the nucleus of the whole is thus eccentrically in- troduced :

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��SCHERZO.

��247

���preparing us at the outset for all manner of starts and surprises. The idea of using the drums for this phrase seems to have tickled Bee- thoven's fancy, as he repeats it again and again. Humour is more unexpected in Schubert than in Beethoven, and perhaps because of its un- expectedness we appreciate it the more. The Scherzo of the C major Symphony is full of happy thoughts and surprises, as fine as any of Beethoven's, and yet distinct from them. The varied changes of rhythm in 2, 3 and 4 bars, the piquant use of the wood wind, and

��above all the sudden and lovely gleam of sun- shine

��Oboe

���combine to place this movement among the things imperishable. The Scherzos of the Octet, the Quintet in C, and above all, the PF. Duet in C, which Joachim has restored to its rightful dignity of Symphony, are all worthy of honour. The last-named, with its imitations by inversion of the leading phrase, and its grotesque bass

��is truly comical.

It is much to be regretted that the more modern composers have lost sight of the true bearing of the Scherzo so completely. Mendels- sohn indeed has given it an elfish fairy cha- racter, but though this is admirable in the 'Midsummer Night's Dream,' it is perhaps a little out of place elsewhere. Lightness and airy grace his Scherzos possess to admiration, in common with his Capriccios, which they closely resemble ; but the musical humour which vents itself in unexpected rhythms and impudent up- startings of themes in strange places, neither he nor any later composer seems to have had an idea of. Mendelssohn has not used the title 'Scherzo' to either of his five symphonies, though the 'Vivace non troppo' of the Scotch, the 'Allegretto' of the Lobgesang, and the 'Allegro Vivace' of the Reformation are usually called Scherzos. It is sufficient to name the String Octet, the two PF. Trios and the two Quintets for Strings, as a few of his works which contain the most striking specimens in this line. As before mentioned, his Capriccios for Piano are pieces of the same order, and No. 4 of the ' Sieben Charakter-stiicke ' (op. 7) may be classed with them.

With Schumann we find ourselves again in a new field. Humour, his music seldom, if ever, presents, and he is really often far less gay in his Scherzos than elsewhere. He introduced the innovation of two Trios in his Bb and C Symphon- ies, PF. Quintet, and other works, but although this practice allows more scope to the fancy of the composer in setting forth strongly contrasted movements in related rhythm, it is to be depre- cated as tending to give undue length and con- sequent heaviness to what should be the light- est and most epigrammatic of music. Beethoven has repeated the Trios of his 4th and 7th Sym- phonies, but that is quite another thing. Still, though Schumann's Scherzos are wanting in light- ness, their originality is more than compensation. The Scherzos of his orchestral works suffer also from heavy and sometimes unskilful inotruineui-

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