Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 3.djvu/378

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366

��SCHUBERT.

��One of his great means of expression is modu- lation. What magic this alone can work may be seen in the Trio of the Sonata in D. As in his PF. works, so in the songs, he sometimes carries it to an exaggerated degree. Thus in the short song 'Liedesend ' of Mayrhofer (Sept. 1816), he begins in C minor, and then goes quickly through Eb in- to Cb major. The signature then changes and we are at once in D major ; then C major. Then the signature again changes to that of Ab, in which we remain for 1 5 bars. From Ab it is an easy transition to F minor, but a very sudden one from that again to A minor. Then for the breaking of the harp we are forced into Db, and immediately, with a further change of signature, into FJ. Then for the King's song, with a fifth change of signature, into B major ; and lastly, for the concluding words,

Und immer naher schreitet Verganglichkeit und Grab And always nearer hasten Oblivion and the tomb

a sixth change, with 8 bars in E minor, thus ending the song a third higher than it began.

In Schiller's 'Der Pilgrim' (1825), after two strophes (four stanzas) of a chorale-like melody in D major, we come, with the description of the difficulties of the pilgrim's road mountains, torrents, ravines to a change into D minor, fol- lowed by much extraneous modulation, reaching Ab minor, and ending in F, in which key the first melody is repeated. At the words ' naher bin ich nicht zum Ziel ' ' still no nearer to my goal ' we have a similar phrase and similar har- mony (though in a different key) to the well-known complaint in 'The Wanderer,' 'Und immer fragt der Seufzer, Wo?' 'Sighing I utter where? oh where?' The signature then changes, and the song ends very impressively in B minor.

These two are quoted, the first as an instance rather of exaggeration, the second of the me- chanical use of modulations to convey the natural difficulties depicted in the poem. But if we want examples of the extraordinary power with which Schubert wields this great engine of emo- tion, we would mention another song which contains one of the best instances to be found of propriety of modulation. I allude to Schu- bart's short poem to Death, 'An den Tod,' where the gloomy subject and images of the poet have tempted the composer to a series of successive changes so grand, so sudden, and yet so easy, and so thoroughly in keeping with the subject, that it is impossible to hear them unmoved.

But modulation, though an all-pervading means of expression in Schubert's hands, is only one out of many. Scarcely inferior to the wealth of his modulation is the wealth of his melodies. ' The beauty of these is not more astonishing than their variety and their fitness to the words. Such tunes as those of Ave Maria, or the Serenade in the Schwanengesang, or Ungeduld, or the Griinen Lautenband, or Anna Lyle, or the Dithyrambe, or Geheimes, or Sylvia, or the Lin- denbaum, or Du bist die Ruh, or the Barcarolle, are not more lovely and more appropriate to the

��SCHUBERT.

text than they are entirely different from one another. One quality only, spontaneity, they have in common. With Beethoven, spontaneity was the result of labour, and the more he polished the more natural were his tunes. But Schubert read the poem, and the appropriate tune, married to immortal verse (a marriage, in his case, truly made in heaven), rushed into his mind, and to the end of his pen. It must be confessed that he did not always think of the compass of his voices. In his latest songs, as in his earliest (see p. 321 a), we find him taking the singer from the low Bb to F, and even higher.

The tune, however, in a Schubert song is by no means an exclusive feature. The accompani- ments are as varied and as different as the voice- parts, and as important for the general effect. They are often extremely elaborate, and the pub- lishers' letters contain many complaints of their difficulty. 1 They are often most extraordinarily suitable to the words, as in the Erl King, or the beautiful 'Dass sie hier gewesen,' the 'Gruppe ausdem Tartarus,' the' Waldesnacht' (and many others) ; where it is almost impossible to imagine any atmosphere more exactly suitable to make the words grow in one's mind, than is supplied by the accompaniment. Their unerring certainty is astonishing. Often, as in Heliopolis, or Auf- losung, he seizes at once on a characteristic im- petuous figure, which is then carried on without intermission to the end. In * Anna Lyle,' how exactly does the sweet monotony of the repeated figure fall in with the dreamy sadness of Scott's touching little lament! Another very charming example of the same thing, though in a different direction, is found in 'Der Einsame,' a fireside piece, where the frequently-recurring group of four semiquavers imparts an indescribable air of domesticity to the picture. 3 In the ' Winterabend' the picture of a calm moonlit evening the accompaniment, aided by a somewhat similar little figure, conveys inimitably the very breath of the scene. Such atmospheric effects as these are very characteristic of Schubert.

The voice-part and the accompaniment some- times form so perfect a whole, that it is im- possible to disentangle the two; as in 'Sylvia,' where the persistent dotted quaver in the bass, and the rare but delicious ritornel of two notes in the treble of the piano -part (bars 7, 14, etc.), are essential to the grace and sweetness of the portrait, and help to place the lovely English figure before us. This is the case also in ^Anna Lyle ' just mentioned, where the ritornel in the piano-part (bar 20, etc.) is inexpressibly soothing and tender in its effect, and sounds like the echo of the girl's sorrow. The beautiful Serenade in the Schwanengesang, again, combines an incessant rhythmical accompaniment with ritornels (longer than those in the last case), both uniting with the lovely melody in a song of surpassing beauty. In the ' Liebesbothschaft,' the rhythm is not so

1 Op. S7, containing three songs by no means difficult, was pub- lished with a notice on the title-page that care had been taken (w trust with Schubert's consent) to omit everything that was too hard.

2 A similar mood is evoked in the Andante of the Grand Duo (op. 140).

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