Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 3.djvu/429

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SCHUMANN.

the concert-room to the German romantic opera. 'Paradise and the Peri' may be likened to We- ber's ' Oberon,' and Mendelssohn's * First Wal- purgisnight' to Weber's ' Der Freischiitz.'

In the fairy-tale of 'The Pilgrimage of the Rose' (op. 112) Schumann intended to produce a companion picture to Paradise and the Peri,' but in less definite outline and vaguer colours. The idea of the poem is similar to that of the former work, but Horn's execution of the idea is entirely without taste. Schumann was possibly attracted by its smooth versification and a few really good musical situations. The music con- taiHS much that is airy and fresh, as well as a beautiful dirge. On the other hand, it is full of a feeble sentimentality utterly foreign to Schu- mann's general character, and ascribable only to the decay of his imagination. The insignificant and wholly idyllic subject was quite inadequate to give employment to the whole apparatus of solo, chorus, and orchestra, and Schumann's first idea of providing a pianoforte accompaniment only was the right one. With a small section of Schu- mann's admirers the work will always keep its place, and produce a pleasing though not very deep effect. His other works in this form consist of four ballads: 'Der Konigssohn' (op. 116),

  • Des Sangers Fluch* (op. 139), 'DasGliickvon

Edenhall' (op. 143), all by Uhlaud; and 'Vom Pagen und der Konigstochter ' (op. 140), by Geibel. Moore's 'Paradise and the Peri' was peculiarly fitted for musical treatment, and lent itself happily to it. And it will always be easier to extract an available text from a poem of large dimensions, than from a ballad of more concise form. This Schumann had to find out by ex- perience. His chief error was not in taking widely-known masterpieces of German poetry and curtailing or even re-arranging them to suit his purpose ; Uhland's and Geibel's poems remain as they were, and a musician must always be permitted to take his subjects wherever and however he likes. He is rather to be blamed for not going far enough in his alterations, and for retaining too much of the original form of the ballad. What has been already said with regard to ' Paradise and the Peri ' holds good here too, and in a greater degree. It is painfully evident that these ballads were not really written for music. The way the principal events of the story are described, and the whole outward form of the verses, imply that they were intended to be recited by a single person, and that not a singer but a speaker. If necessary to be sung, the form of a strophic song should have been chosen, as is the case with 'Das Gliick von Edenhall,' but this would confine the varieties of expression within too narrow a range. It is as though Schumann's pent-up desire for the dramatic form were seeking an outlet in these ballads ; especially as we know that in the last years of his creative activity he was anxious to meet with a new opera-libretto. The faults of texts and subjects might however be overlooked, if the music made itself felt as the product of a rich and unwearied imagination. Unfortunately, however, this is seldom the case. VOL. in. FT. 3.

��SCHUMANN.

��417

��It is just in the more dramatic parts that we detect an obvious dulne.ss in the music, a lame- ness in rhythm, and a want of fresh and happy contrasts. It must be remarked, however, that isolated beauties of no mean order are to be met with ; such as the whole of the third part and the beginning and end of the second, in the ballad ' Vom Pagen und der Konigstochter.' These works, however, taken as a whole, will hardly live.

On the other hand, there are some works of striking beauty for voices and orchestra in a purely lyrical vein. Among these should be men- tioned the ' Requiem for Mignon* from ' Wilhelm Meister' (op. 986), and Hebbel's 'Nachtlied' (op. 1 08). The former of these was especially written for music, and contains the loveliest thoughts and words embodied in an unconstrained and agreeable form. Few composers were so well fitted for such a work as Schumann, with his sensitive emotional faculty and his delicate sense of poetry ; and it is no wonder that he succeeded in producing this beautiful little composition. But it should never be heard in a large concert room, for which its delicate proportions and tender colouring are utterly unfitted. The ' Nachtlied* is a long choral movement. The peculiar and fantastic feeling of the poem receives adequate treatment by a particular style in which the chorus is sometimes used only to give colour, and sometimes is combined with the orchestra in a polyphonic structure, in which all human individuality seems to be merged, and only the universal powers of nature and of life reign supreme.

Beethoven, as is well known, had the intention of setting Goethe's ' Faust ' to music. Of course the first part only was in his mind, for the second did not appear until six years after his death. The idea conceived by Beethoven was executed by Schumann ; not, it may be, in Beethoven's manner, but perhaps in the best and most effective way conceivable. Schumann's music is not in- tended to be performed on the stage as the musical complement of Goethe's drama. It is a piece for concert performance, or rather a set of pieces, for he did not stipulate or intend that all three parts should be given together. What he did was to take out a number of scenes from both parts of Goethe's poem, and set music to them. It follows that the work is not self-contained, but requires for its full understanding an accurate knowledge of the poem. From the First Part he took the following : (i) Part of the first scene in the garden between Gretchen and Faust ; (2) Gretchen before the shrine of the Mater dolorosa ; (3) The scene in the Cathedral. These three form the first division of his Faust music. From the Second Part of the play he adopted : (i) The first scene of the first act (the song <>f the spirits at dawn, the sunrise, and Faust's soliloquy) ; (2) The scene with the four aged women from the fifth act ; (3) Faust's death in the same act (as far as the words, ' Der Zeiger fallt Er fallt, es ist vollbracht '). These form the second division of the music. Schumann's third division consists

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