Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 3.djvu/296

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284 SCHOOLS OF COMPOSITION.

firmly knit together in true logical sequence; while, as a general rule, the Anthems of Wise are broken into an infinity of fragmentary pas- sages, which, despite their pleasing changes of expression, lack the continuity of idea which undoubtedly gives a higher tone to many of Humfrey's more fully developed Movements.

Blow treated the Verse Anthem somewhat differently. Without seriously interfering, either with its general intention, or with the rough outline of its curiously irregular form, he not only developed it at greater length than had before been attempted, but contrived to clothe it with a certain individuality which marks a clear stage on the path of progress. Though unable to compete with Humfrey, or Wise, in gentleness of expression, he was always melo- dious, and always interesting ; and if, in some of his more ambitious works as, for instance, his two most popular Anthems, ' I was in the spirit,' And, ' I beheld, and lo ! a great multitude' he failed to reach the sublimity of the Text he illus- trated, he undoubtedly prepared the way for greater things. His full Anthems such as 'The Lord hear thee,' and ' God is our hope ' are written in a style more broad and forcible than that of either of his talented rivals; and his Services are admirable : yet he has not always received full justice at the hands of modern critics. Burney, generally so fair, and courteous, even in his censures, fills four crowded pages with ex- amples of ' Dr. Blow's crudities'; a large propor- tion of which are less harsh, by far, than many a cutting discord in daily use among more modern Composers; while others like the 'monstrous combinations ' so severely condemned by the editor of Byrd's 'Cantiones Sacrae' are clearly founded upon clerical errors in the older copies. The truth is, neither Burney, nor Horsley, seem to have attached sufficient significance to the fact, that, in the matter of Licences, our English composers were always in advance of their Con- tinental contemporaries. 1 We cannot ignore this peculiarity : and, (making due allowance for self- evident misprints,) it would be much better to accept it as a characteristic of our national style which it certainly is than to join with Burney in abusing the taste of our forefathers, or to say, with Horsley, that ' their practice was bad,' with regard to progressions, which, even when satis- factorily proved against them, are found, in many cases, to be perfectly defensible. There is, surely, very little to censure, in the following example from Blow; while the 'monstrous' Gfcj, in that from Byrd, is evidently intended for E, in response to the Altus in the preceding bar.

(Condemned by Dr. Burney).

, h. S ... DR. BLOW.

��SCHOOLS OF COMPOSITION.

��My heart is af - flict - ed

��i See vol. 51. p. 1926. We must, however, except the progression* affected by Mouteverde, and Gesualdo, Prince of Venosa two Com- posers whose taste for cacophony has never been rivalled.

��(Condemned by W. Horsley.) so - de sane - tu

��W. BYRD.

���Passing on to the second set of Choristers, we find Drs. Turner and Tudway doing good work in their generation, though distinguished by far less brilliant talents than their more illustrious predecessors. But, the works of these really ac- complished writers will bear no comparison with those of their great contemporary, Henry Purcell, a genius of whom any country might well have been proud.

It is difficult to say whether the English School owes most to PurcelTs Compositions for the Church or for the Theatre ; for he wrote with equal success for both ; displaying in his Sacred Music the gravity inseparable from a devout appreciation of its true purpose ; and in his Operas a greater amount of dramatic power than had ever before been exhibited by any of his countrymen, and more than had often been heard, even in Venice. In every branch of the Art he practised he was invariably in advance of his age ; not by a few short decads, but, by little less than a century. This assertion may seem extravagant, but it is capable of plain demonstration. Pur- cell wrote his Music to 'The Tempest,' including ' Full fathom five ' and ' Come unto these yellow sands,' in 1690. Dr. Arne wrote his, including ' Where the bee sucks,' in 1 746. Yet, the style is as advanced we might almost say, as modern in the one case, as in the other, and as little likely to be set aside as ' old-fashioned.' It may be said that the difference of calibre between Purcell and Arne is too great to justify the mention of their names in the same breath. It may be so. But our argument extends to greater men than Arne. Seb. Bach, who was exactly lo years and 8 months old on the day of Purcell's death, astonishes us by the flexibility of his Part- writing, in which the most beautiful effects are constantly produced by means of Intervals sedulously avoided by the older Contra- puntists. In all this, Purcell was beforehand with the German Master. In his well-known Anthem, ' O give thanks,' he uses the Diminished Fourth, at the words, ' He is gracious,' with an effect as pathetic as that which Bach draws from it in the ' Passion Music.' We do not say that he was the first to employ this beautiful Interval for it was used by Orlando Gibbons : a but, he was the first to make it a prominent feature ; and the first to demonstrate its true place in the Gamut of Expression. Again, in the splendid 'Te Deum' and 'Jubilate' composed for S. Caecilia's Day, 1694, and afterwards sung, for 1 8 years successively, in S. Paul's Cathedral, at the Festival of the Sons of the Clergy, there are

2 See the last bar but one of our example, on p. 277 of this volume.

�� �