Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 3.djvu/320
308 SCHOOLS OF COMPOSITION.
Bennett we owe 'The Woman of Samaria'; to C.E.Horsley, 'David,' 'Joseph,' and 'Gideon'; to Macfarren, ' S. John the Baptist,' 'The Resurrec- tion,' and ' Joseph'; to Benedict, 'Saint Csecilia' and 'S.Peter'; to Ouseley, 'Saint Polycarp ' and 'Hagar ' ; to Sullivan, ' The Prodigal Son' and
The Light of the World' ; to John Francis Bar- nett, 'The Raising of Lazarus'; to Bexfield, ' Israel restored' ; to Chipp, ' Job ' and ' Naomi '; to Dearie, ' Israel in the Wilderness ' ; to Costa,
- Eli ' and ' Naaman ' ; to Henry Leslie, ' Im
manuel ' and 'Judith ' ; to Barnby, Rebekah ' ; to Joseph Parry, ' Emanuel ' ; to Bridge, * Mount Moriah ' ; to Armes, ' Saint John the Evangelist'; to Pierson, ' Jerusalem,' and the unfinished Ora- torio 'Hezekiah.' Were we to speak of these works, or any of them, as on a level with ' Saint Paul,' or ' Elijah,' their Composers would be the first to contradict us. But we do say, that, with such a list before us a list far from complete it would be absurd to speak of the English Ora- torio as extinct.
In order to supply a pressing need at our Provincial Musical Festivals, the Oratorio has been supplemented, of late years, by the Choral Cantata, in which some of our best English Com- posers have attained considerable success. Among the best examples produced within the last thirty years, we may mention Dr. Stainer's ' Daughter of Jairus'; Caldicott's 'Widow of Nain'; Dr. Bridge's 'Boadicea'; Macfarren's 'Lenora,' 'May Day,' ' The Sleeper awakened/ ' Christmas,' and 'The Lady of the Lake'; Sterndale Bennett's 'May Queen'; Benedict's 'Undine' and 'Richard Cceur de Lion' ; John Francis Barnett's 'Paradise and the Peri,' 'The Ancient Mariner,' and ' The Building of the Ship' ; Hodson's' Golden Legend '; Hubert Parry's 'Prometheus Unbound' ; Cowen's Corsair,' S. Ursula,' and The Rose Maiden'; Madame Sainton-Dolby's ' Legend of Saint Doro- thea,' 'The Story of the Faithful Soul,' and ' Thalassa ' ; Gadsby's 'Alcestis,' and ' The Lord of the Isles'; Prout's 'Hereward'; Leslie's 'Holyrood,' and 'The Daughter of the Isles'; H. Smart's ' Jacob,' ' Bride of Dunkerron,' ' King Rent's daughter,' and 'The Fisher Maidens'; Mackenzie's 'The Bride' ; Sullivan's 'Kenilworth' and ' Martyr of Antioch'; and many others.
The extraordinary number of these ambitious works may be partly explained by the increasing zeal for the cultivation of Part-Singing mani- fested by all classes of English Society. Forty years ago, the Art was scarcely known beyond the limits of the Sacred Harmonic Society, and the Choirs assembling at the greater Provincial Festivals. But, in 1840, Mr. Hullah already well known to the public by his ' Village Co- quettes ' and some other Operas first set on foot the famous Classes, which, beginning at the Training College at Battersea, have since spread to the remotest parts of the country ; insomuch that there are few parishes in England, which have not, at some time or other, boasted a Class on the 'Hullah System,' and few towns destitute of a respectable ' Choral Society.' So great was the success of the movement, that, aided by his
��SCHOOLS OF COMPOSITION.
friend, E. C. May, and other coadjutors, Mr. Hullah was able, within a very few years, to raise the system of training to a standard much higher than that which he had originally contem- plated ; and, drafting his best pupils into a more advanced Choir, to perform the Oratorios of Handel, and other great works, first at Exeter Hall, and then at S. Martin's, in a style which did honour to the Association, even in the face of the Sacred Harmonic Society. The effect of these energetic proceedings was to educate, not only the taste, but the Voices of the people, also, to a point which prepared the way for the Choirs founded by Leslie, Barnby, and others, for smaller gatherings, for the Gluck Society, and for the now firmly established Bach Choir, which, under the able direction of Otto Goldschmidt, with Madame Lind- Goldschmidt consenting, from pure love of Art, to lead its Sopranos, has achieved its well-known success in the inter- pretation of choral works of the highest order. Moreover, this increased and increasing love for Choral Singing has already led to the produc- tion of countless Anthems, Services, and other pieces of Choral Music, many of which are in favour with our Church Choirs.
During the first half of the igth century In- strumental Music was chiefly represented, in Eng- land, by Clementi, John Field, John Cramer, the elder Wesley, Dr. Crotch, Thos. Attwood, G. E. Griffin, and B. Jacob. To these succeeded Mo- scheles and Cipriani Potter ; after whose retirement a newer style was developed, under the leadership of Sterndale Bennett. He first showed us how, to the refined technique of his predecessors, a new grace might be added more captivating than all the rest : and, crystallising this, in his written works, he has breathed a spirit into English Music which will not be soon forgotten. It is not too much to say, that, in perfection of form, clearness of design, symmetry of proportion, and delicacy of detail, his style has never been rivalled, since the death of Mendelssohn. These four great qualities especially the last distin- guish it from all contemporary methods. And these qualities served him, even before he left the Royal Academy, as a fortress, under shelter of which he might safely give free scope to his genius, in any desired direction. Pro- tected by this, he fearlessly suffered his Fancy to lead him into the very heart of the Romantic School. Not towards the spectre-haunted region so familiar to Weber and Marschner, but into the bright realm of Nymphs, and Sprites, and Faeries, and all the beautiful creatures of the woods ; the dwellers in lonely streams ; the dancers in the moonlit meadow; ethereal essences which he knew how to paint in colours as bright and beau- tiful as themselves. Where Weber shows us a Dragon, Bennett points to the gambols of a Squirrel ; but it is only just to say that we are made to see the one picture as clearly as the other. Still, Bennett was no realist. He painted bis pictures with an exactness of definition which compels our instant recognition ; but, he dealt with the Unseen, as well as with the Seen, and