Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 3.djvu/538

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26

��SKETCHES.

��paper. Now, these studies were made by Raf- faelle himself, in preparation for the famous picture known as 'La bella Giardiniera'^ and they prove, when compared with the finished painting in the Gallery of the Louvre, that, though the general features of the subject may have presented themselves to the Artist's mind, in the form of an instantaneous revelation, its details suffered many changes of intention, before they perfectly satisfied the mind of their creator.

The Musician deals with his Composition as Kaffaelle dealt with this wonderful picture. Each Master, it is true, has his own way of working. Some writers are known to have re- frained from committing their ideas to paper, until they had first perfected them, in all their details ; though we cannot doubt that they modified those details, many times, and very ex- tensively, by means of some clear process of mental elaboration, before they began to write. Others have left innumerable MS. copies of their several works, each one complete in itself, but differing, in some more or less important par- ticular, from all its fellows. Some very great writers made one single copy serve for all pur- poses ; obliterating notes, and crossing out long passages, at every change of intention ; and so disfiguring their MSS., by blots and erasures, that those only who have carefully studied their handwriting can be trusted to decypher them. Others, again the Sketch ers, par excellence began even their greatest works by noting down a few scraps of Subject, which they afterwards modified, enlarged, and improved; scribbling a dozen different ideas on the back of a single sheet of paper, or in the random pages of a note-book ; and changing their plans so fre- quently, that, when a complete copy was written out at last, it was only by careful examination that the germ of the original thought could be recognised in any part of it. It is impossible to say which of these methods of Composition is the best ; for the greatest of the Great Masters have used them all ; each one selecting that which best accorded with the bias of his own individual genius. Let us consider a few examples of each ; for, no lessons are so precious as those which the Master permits us to learn, for ourselves, while watching him at work in his atelier.

And, first, let us clearly bear in mind the difference between a Sketch and an unfinished Picture. The analogy, in these matters, between Music and Painting is very striking, and will help us much. In both, the Sketch is made while the Artist's mind is in doubt. When his plan is fully matured and not before he draws its outline upon his canvas, or lays out the skeleton of his Score upon paper, leaving the details to be filled in at his leisure. The Sketch is never used again ; but the outline is gradually wrought into a finished Picture ; the skeleton Score, into a perfect Composition. Should the completion of the work be interrupted, the Sketches remain in evidence of the Artist's changes of intention, while the half-covered canvas, or the half-filled Score, show the foundation of his

��SKETCHES.

ripe idea, with just so much of the superstructure as he had time or inclination to build upon it. Among our promised examples, we shall call the reader's attention to MS. reliques of both classes.

The earliest known example of a bond fide Sketch like the earliest Rota, the earliest Poly- phonic Motet, and the earliest specimen of a Vocal Score is a product of our own English School. It dates from the middle of the i6th century; and was written, by John Shepherd e, either for the purpose of testing the capabilities of a Sub- ject which he intended to use as the basis of a Motet, or other Vocal Composition, or, for the instruction of a pupil. 1 Our knowledge of Shep- herde's Compositions is too limited to allow of the identification of the particular work to which this passage belongs ; but, by a curious coincid- ence, the Subject corresponds exactly with that of the 'Gloria ' of Dr. Tye's Mass, Euge bone/ though its treatment is altogether different.

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��We doubt whether it would be possible to find a pendant to this very interesting example ; for the Polyphonic Composers seem generally to have refrained from committing their ideas to paper, until they were perfected. So far was Pitoni, one of the last of the race, from advocating this habit of sketching, that he is said to have once written out a Mass for twelve Choirs in separate Parts, beginning with the Bass of the Twelfth Choir, and finishing each Part before he began the next an effort which, if it did not rest upon good evidence, we should regard as incredible.

Sebastian Bach does not appear to have been addicted to the practice of sketching ; but, like Painters, who can never refrain from retouching their Pictures so long as they remain in the studio, he seems to have been possessed by an almost morbid passion for altering his finished Compositions. Autograph copies of a vast number of his Fugues are in existence, changed, some- times, for the better, and sometimes, it cannot be denied, for the worse. Some twenty years ago, an edition of the ' Wohlteraperirte Clavier ' was published at Wolfenbuttel, giving different readings of innumerable passages, and, with singular perversity, almost always selecting the least happy one for insertion in the text. The Subject of the first Fugue, in C major, exists, in different MSS., as at a, and at 6, in the following examples ; and, as Professor Macfarren

1 Printed by Hawkins, Hi-story. App. 10.

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