Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 3.djvu/540

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528

��SKETCHES.

. (/) Compare with ().

���The connection of these passages exemplifies the legitimate use of the Sketch in a very in- structive manner. 1 Having first tried the possi- bilities of his Subject, Handel decided upon the form of Imitation which best suited his purpose, and then wavered no more. The complete Score of the Chorus shows no signs of hesitation, in this particular, though the opening of the Fugue exhibits strong traces of reconsideration. The primary Subject, which now stands as at (h), was first written as at (#) ; and the rejected notes are roughly crossed out with the pen, in the ori- ginal autograph, to make room for the after- thought. The Movement, therefore, affords us examples both of preliminary Sketches and an amended whole.

��(A)

��Mozart almost always completed his Compo- sitions before committing any portion of them to writing. Knowing this as we do, on no less positive authority than that of his own word we find no difficulty in understanding the his- tory of the Overture to ' II Don Giovanni.' The vulgar tradition is, that he postponed the prepar- ation of this great work, from sheer slothfulness, until the evening before the production of the Opera ; and, even then, kept the copyists waiting, while he completed his MS. The true story is, that he kept it back, for the purpose of recon- sideration, until the very last moment, when, though almost fainting from fatigue, he wrote it out, without a mistake, while his wife kept him awake by telling him the most laughable VolTcs- mdrchen she could remember. It is clear that,

i We belleye the musical world is indebted, for the Identification of these Sketches, to the late Mr. Vincent Novello. by whom the writer's attention was drawn to the subject

��SKETCHES.

in this case, the process of transcription was a purely mechanical one. He knew his work go perfectly, by heart, that the peals of laughter excited by his wife's absurd stories did not pre- vent him from producing a MS. which, delivered to the copyists sheet by sheet as he completed it, furnished the text of the Orchestral Parts from which the Overture was played, without farther correction, and without rehearsal. But, he had not always time to carry out this process of mental elaboration so completely. Though he made no preliminary Sketches of his Composi- tions, he not unfrequently introduced considerable changes into the finished copy. Some curious instances of such pentimenti may be found in the autograph Score of the Zauberflote, in the Andre" collection at Offenbach. Not only are there changes in the Overture j but in the Duet for Pamina and Papageno, in the First Act, the position of the bars has been altered from be- ginning to end, in order to remedy an oversight in the rhythm, which caused the last note of the last vocal phrase to fall in the middle of a bar instead of at the beginning. Again, the Score of the Pianoforte Concerto in C minor (K. 491), now in the possession of Mr. Otto Goldschmidt, abounds with afterthoughts, many of which are of great importance : yet this MS. cannot be fairly called a Sketch, since the pentimenti are strictly con- fined to the Solo Part, the orchestral portions of the work remaining untouched, throughout. Strange to say, the work in which we should most confidently have expected to find traces of reconsideration is singularly free from them. So far as it goes, the original MS. (Ursckrift) of the ' Requiem ' is a finished outline, written with so fixed an intention, that it needed only the filling in of the missing details, in order to make it per- fect a circumstance for which Siissmayer must have felt intensely thankful, if we may believe that no other records were left for his guidance. A more remarkable contrast than that pre- sented by these firm outlines to the rough memoranda of the Composer who next claims our attention, it would be impossible to conceive. Beethoven's method of working differed, not only from Mozart's, but from that of all other known men of genius ; and that so widely, that, if we are to accept the canon laid down by the author of ' Modern Painters ' at all, it can only be on condition that we regard him as the exception necessary to prove the rule. His greatest works sprang, almost invariably, from germs of such apparent insignificance, that, were we unable to identify their after-growth, we should leave them unnoticed among the host of barely legible memoranda by which they were surrounded. Happily, it was not his habit to destroy such memoranda, after they had fulfilled their office. He left behind him a whole library of Sketch- books, the value of which is now fully recognised, and, thanks to the unremitting industry of Notte- bohm andThayer.not likely to be forgotten. Of the three specimens now in the British Museum, one is a mere fragment, and another, of comparatively trifling interest; but the third (Add.MSS. 29,801),

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